A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

CBMW’s new Statement on Abuse still falls short. #ChurchDV

CBMW have published two Statements on Abuse. How do their 1994 to 2018 statements differ? How much have they learned in 24 years?

CBWW is the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is an interdenominational organisation which champions “complementarian” doctrine — the belief that the Bible says that men are to lead in the church and the home and women are to submit.

I will show their 1994 Statement in blue and their 2018 Statement in pink. (No gender inference intended with those colours!) My comments are in black.

CBMW did not number the points in either of their statements. But I have numbered the points to enable me to share my further thoughts at the end of this post.


  • We understand abuse to mean the cruel use of power or authority to harm another person emotionally, physically, or sexually.
  • We believe abuse can be defined as any act or failure to act resulting in imminent risk, serious injury, death, physical or emotional or sexual harm, or exploitation of another person.

There is some change there. But their new definition of abuse is still inadequate.


  • We are against all forms of physical, sexual and/or verbal abuse.
  • We condemn all forms of physical, sexual and/or verbal abuse.

Insignificant change there.


  • We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7-8; 1 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).
  • We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18Eph. 5:25-29Col. 3:181 Tim. 3:3Titus 1:7-81 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).

No change there. That is significant and I will say more about it below.


  • We believe that abuse is sin. It is destructive and evil. Abuse is the hallmark of the devil and is in direct opposition to the purpose of God. Abuse ought not to be tolerated in the Christian community.
  • We believe that abuse is not only a sin but is also a crime. It is destructive and evil. Abuse is a hallmark of the devil and is in direct opposition to the purposes of God. Abuse must not to be tolerated in the Christian community.

They’ve added “it is also a crime’ – but that just shows how little they still understand about domestic abuse. I’ll say more about that below.

They’ve made a minor change from  “it ought not be tolerated” to “it must not be tolerated”. However, their word “must” rings hollow unless they call their own big-shot leaders and founders to account and call for them to be stripped of all their leadership positions and perks.

Paige PattersonJohn Piper. Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware have all given advice that put victims of abuse in harm’s way and enabled abusive men to continue their mindset of male entitlement. (Click on each man’s name to see the evidence. And click here and here to see further evidence about Paige Patterson.) 

If CBMW wants to stand by its rhetoric, it must do all it can to get these men exposed as men who have condoned, tolerated and taught things which coerce women to “tolerate” abuse.

John Piper and Wayne Grudem were founders of CBMW. When the founders of an organization have enabled men to abuse women, what hope does the organization have to turn the ship?


  • We believe that the Christian community is responsible for the well-being of its members. It has a responsibility to lovingly confront abusers and to protect the abused.
  • We believe that the local church and Christian ministries have a responsibility to establish safe environments; to execute policies and practices that protect against any form of abuse; to confront abusers and to protect the abused, which includes the responsibility to report abuse to civil authorities.
  • We believe that church and ministry leaders have a special obligation to report abuse to civil authorities. Moreover, these leaders are responsible for knowing the laws of their state about reporting the suspicion or accusation of child and spousal abuse, and for following those laws in good faith.

That’s a significant improvement. But who at CBMW will lean on Paige Patterson to report himself to the police for advising an abused woman to do things that put her at increased risk of danger from her abusive husband? Patterson instructed her to pray at her husband’s bedside and the husband retaliated by giving her two black eyes. And if it turns out that Paige Patterson was fabricating that story, who at CBMW will denounce him for lying?


  • We believe that both abusers and the abused are in need of emotional and spiritual healing.
  • We believe that God extends healing to those who earnestly seek him.
  • We are confident of the power of God’s healing love to restore relationships fractured by abuse, but we realize that repentance, forgiveness, wholeness, and reconciliation is a process. Both abusers and abused are in need of on-going counseling, support and accountability.
  • In instances where abusers are unrepentant and/or unwilling to make significant steps toward change, we believe that the Christian community must respond with firm discipline of the abuser and advocacy, support and protection of the abused.
  • We believe that the church must offer tender concern and care for the abused and must help the abused to find hope and healing through the gospel. The church should do all it can to provide ongoing counseling and support for the abused. The wounds of abuse run deep and so patience and mercy are needed over the long-haul as the church cares for the abused.
  • We believe abusers need to confess their crimes both to civil and church authorities, to repent of their sin, and to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and forgiveness from their sin.

This is an improvement. I’m glad they removed the bit about the victim needing ongoing accountability. That was one of the most awful things in the first statement.

But I’m uncomfortable when they talk about the abused finding healing “through the gospel”. That can offend the abused who already believe the gospel and are therefore genuine Christians.

I’m very glad they have removed the bit about the abuser needing ongoing counseling and support.

“We believe abusers need to…repent of their sin, and to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.”
Question: Do they really believe that abusers cannot be Christians? I hope so. But I very much doubt it.


  • We believe that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Christian community can be an instrument of God’s love and healing for those involved in abusive relationships and an example of wholeness in a fractured, broken world.
  • We believe that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Christian church can be an instrument of God’s love and healing for those involved in abusive relationships and an example of wholeness in a fractured, broken world.

They changed “Christian community” to “Christian church”. That may be insignificant. But it might be a covert upholding of the notorious Church Covenant documents which 9Marks churches get their members to sign to try to prevent disaffected members suing the church for redress of spiritual abuse.

Adopted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at its meeting in Lisle, Illinois in November, 1994.
Adopted by the CBMW Board of Directors March 12, 2018
This new statement is only adopted by the Board of Directors, not the whole Council. I’m not sure how significant that is.

The male-privileged leaders of CBMW are dragging their feet in facing facts.

Here are my further thoughts on some of the numbered points.

1. Their new definition of abuse

They left out coercive control by means of emotional, financial and spiritual abuse, gaslighting, isolation, micro-management of the victims’ daily lives. And they didn’t mention legal / systemic abuse which abusers can also employ in their arsenal of tactics (especially when the abused woman is getting divorced from her abusive husband).

3. The way they cited scripture implies that if a women doesn’t submit she is being abusive

They did not change the scriptures they cited here: “We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18Eph. 5:25-29Col. 3:181 Tim. 3:3Titus 1:7-81 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).”

So I will more or less repeat what I said in my Critique of the 1994 Statement, with a few added links.

Ephesians 5:25-29 tells husbands to love their wives, a command which clearly implies that it’s wrong to abuse their wives. Abuse and love are polar opposites; no-one would argue with that. But citing Colossians 3:18 (wives submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord) is below the belt. It implies that in the case of wives, being abusive and being submissive are polar opposites. Only CBMW, with their distorted understanding of the woman’s desire in Genesis 3:16, think that way. They claim that the woman’s desire for her husband is a desire to usurp authority over him, and they base this claim solely on one author, ironically a female author, Susan Foh, who in 1975 advanced a totally novel interpretation of Genesis 3:16.

Foh noted syntactic and semantic parallels between Gen. 4:7 and Gen. 3:16 and concluded that the meaning of the two passages must be the same. Just as sin crouched on the threshold, desiring to destroy Cain, and Cain was told he must overrule this temptation, so the wife desires to control her husband (by usurping his divinely appointed authority) and the husband must master her if he can. This interpretation dovetails perfectly into the lying claim of the abusive husband (and his pastor ally) that the husband was harsh towards his wife because the wife wasn’t submissive. The perfect theological excuse for abuse!

Only if you accept Foh’s aberrant interpretation, one that no commentator had conceived of for the first 1900 years of the Christian era, do you swallow the notion that wifely in-submission is, by definition, abusive to husbands. There has been surprisingly little debate about Foh’s interpretation within complementarian circles; they have gladly accepted and promoted it, and I count this as reprehensible on their part.

How Susan Foh’s interpretation fed steroids to abusers.

A more plausible interpretation of Genesis 3:16 is that as a consequence of the Fall, woman would desire to be cherished by her husband (Eve would want Adam’s forgiveness and abiding love, despite her mistake with the forbidden fruit), but that man would be inclined to rule harshly over woman. (I am not the first to propose such a view; some others who have preceded are Les Galicinski and Henri Blocher, In The Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis, Leicester and Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984, p 181-2.) That is that what we see all around the world: male abuse and violence against women—the elephant in the room that we have only recently begun to acknowledge.

The woman’s desire in Genesis 3:16 — let’s be consistent with the context and with actual life.

When abuse is being perpetrated, it is perfectly acceptable and right for the victim (whatever their gender) to say to the abuser: “Stop abusing me!” Any right thinking spouse ought to submit to this imperative. There is nothing abusive in a victim telling her abuser that he is mistreating her and she wants him to stop! There is nothing abusive in a victim failing to submit to an abuser.

If a wife fails to submit to a reasonable request from a non-abusive husband, she may be being unwise, slightly foolish, lacking in consideration for family harmony, etc. But it’s wrong to claim she is “being abusive”. Yet this is exactly what CBMW do when they cite Colossians 3:18 as as condemnation of abuse. They’re implying that when a wife doesn’t submit, she’s being abusive. This is a gross slander of women that CBMW needs to repent of.

4. CBMW now say “abuse is a crime,” which suggests they think that only physical or sexual assault count as “real” abuse.

Fact: A great deal of what domestic abusers do to their victims is not defined as criminal in many nations/states.

I know they mentioned “verbal abuse” in point 1. But abuse victims who have ever tried to get protection from abusers quickly find out that verbal abuse is seldom defined as a crime.

CBMW still have their heads in the sand. They still need to humble themselves and be educated by those who understand domestic abuse best: the survivors who have well and truly come out of the fog, and the secular professionals who work in domestic/family violence.

And the leaders at CBMW need to stop thinking that biblical counseling organizations can teach them about domestic abuse. Going by what I observe and hear from Christian victims, the majority of biblical counselors need to humble themselves and learn more before they will be competent to teach others about domestic abuse.

Numerous Christian women who have been abused by their husbands have told us that the teaching disseminated by these ‘highly respected’ CBMW leaders and Christian counselors has enabled their husbands to get away with abuse.

Some women have testified that emphatic teaching on biblical gender roles incited a not-too-bad husband to become a definitely abusive husband.

Many abused women  – more than we can count – have told us that when they reported their husband’s abuse to church leaders, the leaders further abused them by siding with their abusive husbands. Often they promoted the husband to a higher leadership position.

Excommunication of the female victim is not uncommon in churches (particularly American churches that profess to have confessional Reformed theology). And when church leaders don’t actually excommunicate the abused woman, they often make it so uncomfortable for her to stay in the congregation that she leaves anyway.

Shaming and blaming of victims. Unjust slander. Failure to recognize and resist the manipulative tactic of the abusive man. These things are rife in the visible church.

6. Abusers do not need support or ongoing counseling.

Abusers need to be firmly held accountable and experience tough consequences for their bad conduct. The only thing which might work with some abusers is psycho-education, which is very different from counseling. “Might” is a key word there. And research on the longterm effectiveness of psycho-educational programs for abusers has not yet been done.

The Biblical principal is that God gave Cain one stern piece of advice, not ongoing counseling. And when Cain killed his brother, God gave him a lifelong punishment which included virtual banishment from human society.

6. They suggest that all victims of abuse are unregenerate.

I’m uncomfortable when they talk about the abused finding healing “through the gospel”. The gospel, in its narrow sense, is given to bring the unregenerate to faith in Christ. “Repent, and believe the gospel!” (Mark 1:15)

If we take CBMW’s words in this narrow sense, they are implying that abuse victims are not regenerate, not born again, so they need to repent and come to saving faith in Christ. That is offensive to all the abused who are already true Christians.

If CBMW meant the gospel in the broader sense in which it is often used today, it would have been better if they’d said: “We believe that the church must offer tender concern and care for the abused and must help the abused to find hope and healing through Christ, the Word and the Spirit (Luke 4:18).

I’ve offered help to CBMW for years

In 2010 I published my Critique of their 1994 Statement on Abuse (at notunderbondage.blogspot which is no longer online). I emailed key leaders of CBMW to tell them about my critique. Randy Stinson (who was their Executive Officer or some such title) responded to my email. He told me that CBMW would be reviewing their Statement on Abuse. …Crickets.

The next thing that I noticed was around the time Owen Strachan took over the executive officer role. CBMW revamped their website and their 1994 Statement vanished. But Mary Kassian quoted it in full in her 2012 Statement on abuse on the day for the elimination of violence against women.  (I’ve save that link to the web archive in case it gets scrubbed from Mary Kassian’s site.)

Soon after Mary Kassian published that post, I republished my Critique of CBWM’s 1994 Statement on Abuse here on A Cry For Justice:

It is now 2018. I am so angry they have taken this long to review their Statement on Abuse!

The evidence is indisputable: CBMW ignored the plight of victims for MANY MANY YEARS.

And now that #MeToo, #ChurchToo and #ChurchDV have gained traction, they are trying to play catch up.

All along, I had offered to help them. I reassured them that I’m not an egalitarian. I politely gave them suggestions. I encouraged and urged them to address domestic abuse better. And they impolitely ignored me. Ligon Duncan I’m looking at you. I gave you by hand a copy of my book and a few days later you told me you had liked the first three chapters and would be reading it all and would email me. Then silence.  John Piper I’m looking at you. I emailed and snail mailed you a copy of this post. You and your staff ignored me. I sent review copies of my book to several men who were in leadership at CBMW. They ignored it. Or they sent the book on to CCEF…. as if my book is about counseling! My book is about the doctrine of divorce. But I’m a woman and in CBMW’s world any woman who writes a book about doctrine is likely to be shunned…unless she writes about ‘biblical womanhood’.


Further reading on Genesis 3:16

The change of Genesis 3:16, ESS, the colonial code of relationship, and a call to bystanders – Barbara Roberts

Dr Janson Condren talks about Bible translations and the original meaning of Genesis 3:16b – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED — this is very easy to read.

Towards a Purge of the Battle of the Sexes, and “Return” for the original meaning of Genesis 3:16b – Janson C Condren.

How Should We Understand “Her Desire” in Genesis 3:16b? – Hank Miller

Complementarity Without Subordination: What Does it Look Like? – Barbara Roberts

Further reading on Paige Patterson and the SBC

Analysis: Paige Patterson’s Teachings on Domestic Violence Keep Victims in Harm’s Way – Julie Anne Smith

Not Only Did Paige Patterson Rejoice When a Woman Was Physically Abused By Her Husband, He Refused to Believe 25 Reports of Sexual Abuse by Darrell Gilyard — The Wartburg Watch

Paige Patterson and Doing the Right Thing for the SBC, Again  – Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today

Southern Baptist leader’s advice to abused women sends leaders scrambling to respond – Sarah Pulliam Bayley, Washington Post

The Scandal Tearing Apart America’s Largest Protestant Denomination – Jonathan Merritt, The Atlantic

The Contaminated Pulpit and Other Weird Things – by Wade Burleson, 2008. A quote from this article:

The pulpit from behind which Dr. Bullock spoke was eventually removed from Southwestern’s chapel under orders of the new President of SWBTS, Dr. Paige Patterson.  Dr. Patterson explained to those he had to remove it because “it had been contaminated by a woman preaching behind it.”

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution on Domestic Violence (1979) They have not made any resolutions on it since then!

Southern Baptist leader who advised abused women not to divorce doubles down, says he has nothing to apologize for – Sarah Pulliam Bayley, Washington Post

Paige Patterson and a culture that breeds a generation of abusers – Rebecca Davis

Letter from Southern Baptist women, PLEASE SIGN if you are from the SBC! Letter to SWBTS Board of Trustees [This link is broken and there is not replacement. Editors.]

Harem Building – the revealing patriarchy at Paige Patterson’s seminary  – Tim Fall [This link is currently broken. Editors.]

We are shocked’: Thousands of Southern Baptist women denounce leader’s ‘objectifying’ comments, advice to abused women – Sarah Pulliam Bayley, Washington Post

Conservative evangelical women are calling out a leader’s sexism. It’s a huge moment for #MeToo. – Vox.com

“Deep Down I Was Scared.” Dr. Sheri Klouda about Her Time at SWBTS under Dr. Paige Patterson – guest post on Wade Burleson’s blog

So You Believe in the Inerrancy of God’s Word, Bully for You – by Paige Patterson

A Recent Southwestern Baptist Seminary Graduate Urges Paige Patterson to Resign – John Fea

Paige Patterson on Domestic Violence: Audiofile Transcript and Resource Links – Spiritual Sounding Board.

Recent items from Comp leaders on divorce, and how some men treat women 

Russell Moore says Yes, Abuse Warrants Divorce – this post shows several tweets by Russell Moore in which he states that abuse is grounds for divorce but he also tells victims what to do (which is a no-no). Please note that Russell Moore has a track record of supporting C J Mahaney so we do not endorse Russell Moore. But it’s interesting that he does believe abuse is grounds for divorce.

What about divorce and abuse? – Denny Burk

Loving Our Sisters in All Purity – Denny Burk. He says: “Paul doesn’t say that Timothy should treat women as ‘temptresses in all purity’ nor as ‘inferiors in all purity.’ Timothy must treat them as sisters in all purity. A leader has an obligation to get this balance correct.”


  1. mr o shays

    The world over our church leadership suffers from a reliance on the legal profession which is an example of and a witness to, the rejection of trust in the God they are secretly abandoning.

    The church is blindfolded by its own foolishness and your efforts in reasoning with them will be cast aside in their presence for fear they would have to stand up and be counted among the saints.
    They will be called to answer in time.

    Thanks for posting.

  2. Dale Ingraham @ Speaking Truth In Love Ministries
  3. Suzanne

    Thank you, Barbara, for persisting in your work to help victims of abuse. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to work so long and so hard for such a noble cause and to be ignored by those who most need to learn what you have taught. May God continue to bless you as you speak for the victims.

  4. Heather Black (formerly H)

    Barbara, I just want to thank you (and behind the scenes teammates) again for running this site and being so dedicated for years to bringing awareness to this issue. I really believe that the voices of abuse victims are gaining traction, slowly and painfully, yes, but traction nonetheless. From the hashtag movements to high profile abuse cases in church that are publicly followed, to this statement released from CBMW, which is definitely as you say very late in coming and also woefully inadequate, but to me displays that they at CBMW are feeling some heat. Otherwise I think in their arrogance and lack of concern for abuse victims they wouldn’t even bother to update the statement at all.

    Any traction that’s being gained is because of people willing to stand in the shadows (where they’ve been shoved by people who don’t want to listen) and shout at the top of their lungs until people can’t help but listen. And you have consistently displayed reasonableness, thoroughness, patience, intelligence, endurance, and godly strength in your interactions with those in power who feel they don’t need to listen to you or to other abuse victims. Therefore it’s to their shame they ignore you. Furthermore, [no] one person alone is fighting against insurmountable resistance to correct injustice and false teaching in church culture, but you have led the way connecting dispersed abuse victims so that we can swap accounts, exhort each other with the Scriptures, and gain strength and vision to go forward within our own spheres to add our voices to the demand to be listened to.

    It infuriates me that the leaders you have specifically called out are for the most part doing business as usual and their follower-fans can learn about the outrageous statements they’ve made about abuse and then just shrug their shoulders and continue buying their books, going to their conferences, and citing them in Bible studies as if we should take their words seriously. I don’t have even close to the amount of patience you have for those people. And your comment about them not reading / reviewing your book because it’s theology written by a woman just kills me. You are spot on about that, and it is so wrong of them. Arrogance, arrogance, arrogance. The shepherds are feeding themselves and getting fat and living off the royalties gained from the sheep, completely forgetting their first task is to guard the sheep from wolves and feed the sheep from the Word.

    You mention how they say victims need the “gospel” and how that implies the victims are not Christian, otherwise they could have said they need hope and healing through Christ or something else that covers the broader use of “gospel” that is common in these circles. This makes me think of a series of articles I read recently about modesty and fundamentalism that discussed how Christian culture today is infected by prolific use of “newspeak” — the unspoken re-defining of words to mean different things than the original meaning in order to manipulate or dominate a conversation. I believe the use of newspeak is an abusive / manipulative tactic that is shockingly common in Christian culture today, from the celebrity pastors controlling what’s “in” theologically at the moment, all the way down to the everyday churchgoer in the average Reformed church. And this use of newspeak gives rise to the fog that remains over the theological issues of abuse and divorce. That’s how they can write things like abuse victims need the gospel above anything else, and then magically, any reasoned criticism about their wording or questions about are they implying victims are not Christians can just roll off them like water. I’ve seen it time and time again in “counseling” sessions, where you ask pastors pointed questions and they just reply “that’s not what I mean by that, how horrible of you to assume that,” even though that’s what their words definitionally point to. So frustrating. There could be a whole post about common terms that function as newspeak in today’s Christian culture.

    • Anonymous

      I, too, want to thank Barbara (and TWBTC) for this ministry. This, combined with Pastor Crippen’s and Pastor Powell’s sermons and blogs are my church.

      I really think many pastors are but wolves in sheep’s clothing. If they are not, they are badly duped and mis-taught and very, very mistaken. Then come the rare ones, the pastors who really care, who really get it, who are not in love with the sound of their voice, who don’t reek of arrogance and ‘self-love’ (most pastors are sexist, to say the least, making for church to feel and be ‘a mens’ club’…. By men, for men, with women and children sprinkled into men’s lives for ornamental purposes, mere decoration.).

      Women writers have long needed to use male pen names to merely get their writings read for possible publication. And then for wider audiences, they create pen names for half the world to not snub their noses at a ‘woman writer’. Isn’t that telling?

      • Z

        I agree totally that my “church” has become listening to sermons by Pastors Jeff Crippen and Sam Powell, reading their blogs and Barbara Roberts’ blog.

        I have been a victim of lifelong abuses by a “Born-Again Christian” family of origin. Even Christian extended family living in the same building as us heard us children scream for help and heard the sounds of vicious beatings occurring. They walked on by our door ignoring the horrors we children faced — with their BIBLES under their arms, proudly and hypocritically heading off to church or Bible study.

        To escape my family ASAP (I was forbidden by abusive father to leave home until I married). I married at a very young age to my first boyfriend. Guess what? He was an abuser too. As is very common and typical when all you know is abuse. “Red flags” mean nothing.

        10 years of abuses in that marriage, by another “Christian”, who gave money to the church regularly and “raised his hands in worship like a Godly man” (wolf in sheep’s clothing – it made me so sick to sit next to him I had to stop going to church). 10 years of my reporting his abuse to church leaders. They offered Christian counseling and Pastoral counseling for BOTH of us – mostly telling ME about “submissiveness”. Nothing about the abuser’s crimes against me. Nothing about keeping me safe. Nothing about exposing him. Nothing about removing him from their churches.
        He controlled the finances, as most abusers do, so he did the “tithing”, and thus all the church leaders catered to him. I was expendable to them.

        Even the “Couple’s Counselors” in church – a husband and wife team – had the woman in that “counseling team” telling me all about “submission”! As I sat there sobbing with choke marks on my neck!

        And the arrogant abuser always admitted all his abuse – proud of it. Divorce was said to be out of the question by all church leaders / counselors. They said even adultery had to be “continual” to be a Biblical grounds for divorce according to them! They made up stuff that isn’t in my Bible!

        This admitted ongoing abuse was accepted by ALL church leaders and “counselors” and the abuser was embraced back into their congregations. No repentance needed – ever. In fact, he escalated! I firmly believe the church’s constant “non-responses” – inaction / acceptance of his admitted abuse, even after he indicated he WOULD continue, EMBOLDENED HIM TO BE MORE ABUSIVE. I suffered great harm physically, mentally and spiritually as a result.

        Thank God for all you people mentioned above – who are my “church” now – for your tireless, Scriptural, no-nonsense exposure of the failings of our Christian churches and even communities & “friends”. Thanks for pointing the finger rightly at those who are:
        –DOING EVIL – abusers

        Keep shining the LIGHT OF JESUS CHRIST onto the darkness that lurks all to often in our churches. They are supposed to be sacred, safe places of refuge and TRUTH. Representing Jesus in all their ways. Sadly they choose to either “gather the troops” and ostracize victims or willingly bury their heads in the sand.

  5. TookDecades

    Barbara you are doing God’s work. Bless you many times over. I’m stunned by the lack of understanding of abuse in religious / Christian circles.  I shouldn’t be since we are such sinful people, but there is a place for justice.  I need it to be a safe place.  Blessings.

  6. Anonymous

    They’re implying that when a wife doesn’t submit, she’s being abusive.

    This is so fundamental. And their ‘submit’ really means ‘obey’. Kind of like master / slave relationship and if the slave woman doesn’t ‘submit’ / ‘obey’, then of course the master is going to need to beat her until she ‘submits’ (which really means ‘obeys’).

    And for the ridiculous Patterson account, not only is the wife to pray at her abuser’s bedside, but she is to do it quietly, nicely. And the reward? 2 black eyes.

    The Law is for sinners to show them their sin. The Gospel is for repentant sinners to be afforded grace. The Law cannot be skipped and bypassed for Gospel-only ‘grace’. Nope. There is an order in the Bible, with repentance, turning from evil, ceasing that must take place first. That wife-beater wasn’t doing any of that.

    Patterson is a liar, a creep, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The slime factor is there. It’s just there.

    And 2 black eyes? Not just one black eye? But 2? The wife-beater wasn’t satisfied with just one, he had to further blacken her other eye and then after that he suddenly had a ‘coming to Jesus’ moment? What nonsense.

    And what is wrong with egalitarianism? This surprises me, Barbara.

    • Hi Anonymous, you asked me “What is wrong with egalitarianism?”

      I am not yet convinced by the egalitarian interpretations of Scripture I have read. I have been positively impressed by some of the egal arguments I have read (esp Phillip Payne’s book Man and Women, One in Christ).

      But so far, I don’t think any of the egalitarians have dealt with the ‘husband is head of the wife’ texts in a way that persuades me. I’m not convinced that head (Gk kephale) always means ‘source’ — it might mean that sometimes, but I’m not sure it means that every time it is used in the New Testament.

      And in reading the Old Testament, I see quite a few precepts in the Mosaic Law which point to the (greater) responsibility of men to women, than the comparative responsibilities of women to men. I can’t ignore that evidence from the OT. I am not like many people who think that the New Testament is to be obeyed but the Old Testament precepts can be pretty much ignored. I think that the OT gives us many precepts about godly living, and we need to wisely discern and divide between what is “obsolete” (the ceremonial law) and what is still to be applied, with spiritual wisdom and spiritual common sense, today.

      I think the Bible – and our practical experience in this fallen world – shows that men overall do have a great responsibility and men have a natural tendency to set the tone of leadership in the community, while women – speaking broad-brush – have a natural tendency to follow men and want men to protect and care for them and want to be men’s ‘ezers’ (necessary allies and helpers).
      The fact that these natural creational tendencies of the two genders have been abused and taken advantage of by evil men, and by some evil women (e.g. seductresses like the Potiphar’s wife who tried to entice Joseph into her bed), those facts just show that after the Fall these creational distinctives often come out in sinful expressions.

      I know that abuse occurs in both egalitarian and complementarian churches. Bill Hybels is a case in point. He did not stop women preaching or taking leadership roles in Willow Creek Church. But he was a serial abuser of women, and he often exploited the women by promising them he would elevate them into leadership positions!

      I have personally experienced misogynistic attitudes from some men who are leaders in the egalitarian Christian community. And I’ve experienced a lot of misogyny from men who claim to be complementarian Christians.

      And because my primary focus is intimate partner abuse in the church, I have steered away from allowing a lot of debate at A Cry For Justice about egal vv comp.

      I think that if we flatten out the problem of intimate partner abuse (and other types of abuse) – if we see it as something which can be fixed by having a ‘right’ theology of male / female relationships – we miss the main point. And we end up bogging down in that endless debate about comp vv egal.

      I detest and expose the distorted ideology of CBMW. But that doesn’t make me an egalitarian. I am not an egalitarian. Nor am I a complementarian as per the standard comp (CBMW) ideology. A few other people are like me in this respect — Ps Sam Powell, Rachel Miller [Internet Archive link], Aimee Byrd [Internet Archive link], Wendy Alsup [Internet Archive link], Persis Lorenti [Internet Archive link], Steve and Celestia Tracy.

      Bottom line:
      I believe that we will only grasp the nettle of interpersonal abuse and be able to effectively ‘turn the ship” if we talk about EVIL and the mentality and tactics of evildoers.

      I frequently and publicly say that assumptions about male privilege and “biblical womanhood” are large contributors to the problem of interpersonal abuse. I know that gender conditioning and teaching about gender roles is a large contributor to the problem. But I am yet to be convinced that egalitarian interpretations of Scripture really stack up in all respects.

      Let me also say that I have been spiritually abused and discounted by female pastors as well as male pastors, and I’ve been sexually abused by a female. But those personal experiences of mine a not the reason why I take the position I do on egal vv comp. I take my position because my understanding of the Bible brings me to this position.

      • Anonymous Woman

        I learn so much in reading your posts. Thanks for such an educational reply.

        There are many wolves in the egal camp that I, too, don’t think it’s necessarily egal vs comp. The comp. camp just seems to be much higher steeped in men as mini-gods (abusers with impunity) and hearing ‘submission’ ‘head-of-the-household’ hierarchal teachings rankles me to no end. Hence, comp is out for me.

        But you’re right, in that, comp versus egal is just a distraction when talking about abuse. Abusers abuse because they are evil abusers. There is a Proverb that says something like a cheetah can’t change it’s spots. Abusers are found in every camp, I just find fewer in the egal camp, perhaps because the abusers in that camp are better adept at hiding their misogyny and abuse.

        I’m sorry you were sexually abused. Especially with it being a female who did it. It’s the females who betray and abuse other females that is so bothersome and painful. If a male abuses a female, then the female at least has the temporary illusion that swearing off all men might help keep her safe, but when a female harms another female, in this misogynistic world, it leaves a person no safety, no illusions, no ‘solutions’.

        Women need to band together in this male dominated world, especially abused women. A person realizes the world is evil and trustworthy persons are super rare.

    • romans818

      In church counseling I was told we were abusing each other. When I asked how I was abusing him, the reply was by not submitting.


  7. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you, ACFJ, for your relentless pursuit of speaking truth, shining light in darkness, and carrying a very heavy burden. Your teachings are reaching further than you can imagine. Each of us who are learning from ACFJ, are practicing truth in small increments. As we come out of the fog, we now know healthy ways to move forward.

    There is health in knowing truth and having a support network here. We are defining boundaries that notify abusers that we are not in their sphere of abuse anymore. When other women share their struggles with us, we can tell them why what they are experiencing is, indeed abuse. (I often write ACFJ website on a piece of paper for them.)

  8. Seeing Clearly

    As I read this post the first time, I was boiling mad. Angry at leaders in CBMW, and so many, many other religious groups who continue to heap destruction on victims. They are doing so, claiming that it is what Scripture says. As decades of abuse, wrapped in confusion, has wasted much of my life away, a sheet of anger rolls out of me with each memory.

    Yes, there is anger, but alongside is grieving for new groups of women who are sharing their life experiences. The current exposure of decades of abuse to gymnasts has occurred in my neighborhood. These courageous women who have worked so hard to be the best gymnasts possible are just learning to use the term “abuse victim”, opening the long road to healing. I am so thankful for Rachel Denhollander.

    I am trying to inform my religious family members, who would nearly give their lives for this particular college’s men’s sports teams, that wickedness abounds. Their weekly church affiliation has kept them dumb about abuse and male dominance. I am mostly silenced by my extended family that boasts a “godly” heritage with numerous ministers in our lineage. Yet none gives me a voice for knowledge about abuse in the (c)hurch.

    Barbara, what am I to do with the ever flowing current of anger that stirs within me?

    • what am I to do with the ever flowing current of anger that stirs within me?

      Good question! The only thing that I have found to do with all my anger is to turn it into becoming an activist. This was a long process. I wanted to read a book which answered my scriptural questions about abuse and divorce. I couldn’t find one that answered my questions in nearly enough depth. That eventually led me to writing a book myself. I have read and read and read in the field of domestic abuse — both the secular literature and the Christian material about it. I’m naturally a researcher-type, so that comes easily to me. The more I read, the more sharply I see (or am led) to write and tweet and be an activist and victim-advocate.

      Each of us has different gifts and strengths. All I can suggest is that you ask God to lead you in ways He can use you as an activist / victim-advocate / victim-supporter.

      You might like to check out this page of ours too:
      How can I help spread the word?

      And I don’t always follow this advice myself, but I think it’s good advice. Steve Tracy gave me this advice years ago: Speak to those who will listen to you. Don’t waste too much time trying to get people to listen to you when they clearly have shown they will not listen to you.

      Now, in this post on CBMW’s statements on abuse, it might be said that I am not following that advice! But there is (I hope) some value in exposing the ongoing errors of CBMW so that those who have been infected with CBMW’s distorted ideology may see through the fog and get free from the fog. And then, hopefully, some of them will become activists themselves.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Thank you for sharing your insights. I had forgotten about the page about spreading the word. You have a gift for exposing errors, whether the offenders will listen or not. Exposure shines light and it becomes more difficult for them to remain in hiding.

        I am in [the] process, now, of realizing a thread of being silenced as a child and adult. It occurred from 1) threats stemming from childhood sexual abuse, 2) ECT treatments that should never have been administered, [and] 3) long term marriage to an abusive man who reminded me regularly that I did not matter. I mention all 3 in hopes of others recognizing sources of silencing in their lives. When the pastor in my last church felt that I was a threat, he easily silenced me. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and drove me back into therapy.

        It is difficult to be an activist with internal signals of silencing going off. Layers of healing are ongoing. Change is freeing. It is a common occurrence for women to share pieces of their lives with me, even at first meeting. I used to mostly listen but now, ACFJ has helped me understand and verbalize truths that resonate with their situations.

        My anger is perhaps, in large part, the warring within to disempower the silencing. Historically, I have no place to correctly place the external angers. This comes to me just now.

      • My anger is perhaps, in large part, the warring within to disempower the silencing.

        Exactly! Spot on! Bravo!

        I suppose you’ve read this already but it may be worth reviewing it: Honouring Resistance booklet [Internet Archive link]

        And here is our tag for all the posts which discuss Anger — Anger.

      • Seeing Clearly

        I have not read the booklet yet, and will also spend time with posts on anger. Thank you, Barbara.

  9. Seeing Clearly

    A common interpretation of “I / we believe” is “to have confidence in the truth”.

    Ministers and authoritarians use these 2 words extremely often. It becomes obvious when one begins to listen for them. It is so common, we barely notice. Yet, at a deeper level, when we hear those words spoken, we give more credence to the words that follow.

    CBMW’s belief system seems to have drifted from 1994 to 2018. If, indeed, they are following their Bibles, how can they take an honest look at what “Scripture” “God” was telling them, and now God appears to be shifting (God’s) beliefs.

    We need to [be] careful of carrying such loose Belief Systems. Or better yet, the term, “we believe” should be kept, guarded, and used only for the absolutes of God.

    There are many other phrases to choose to begin a statement. But then, CBMW might lose a grip on their authoritarian approach to leadership.

  10. Finding Answers

    I see many links for me to bunny-trail through, though I am commenting now because the research will take time to read and digest.

    First, replying to Barb’s comment Barbara Roberts MAY 5, 2018 – 3:58 AM:


    Anonymous Woman MAY 5, 2018 – 4:50 PM commented:

    But you’re right, in that, comp versus egal is just a distraction when talking about abuse. Abusers abuse because they are evil abusers. There is a Proverb that says something like a cheetah can’t change its spots. Abusers are found in every camp, I just find fewer in the egal camp, perhaps because the abusers in that camp are better adept at hiding their misogyny and abuse.


    From everything I read, both secular and Christian, the true battle of abuse gets derailed by the magician’s sleight of hand. The focus is shifted from the root causes – entitlement, power, control, etc. Anything can be twisted to fit misogyny and abuse….

    I add one thing to the original post and the comments generated….and I may have missed it in reading….

    In point number 6, I am glad to see the removal of the word “reconciliation” from the new Statement of Abuse.

  11. Finding Answers

    Thank you for including the link to the Les Galicinski document, Barb. I found it immeasurably helpful – and not solely on Genesis 3:16.


  1. Paige Patterson on Domestic Violence: Audiofile Transcript and Resource Links | Spiritual Sounding Board

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