A Cry For Justice

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

The one flesh covenant and divorce. In domestic abuse, divorce is NOT the worse possible outcome

The one flesh covenant is often broken in this fallen world:— A grievously mistreats B by a pattern of conduct or by one instance of adultery and thereby A breaks the one flesh covenant. Then B is free to divorce because the covenant is already broken.
#ChurchDV #Churchtoo

#notmysin is a good hashtag for victims who divorce their abusers

Marriage between a man & a woman is a bi-lateral covenant. In contrast to this, Christ’s marriage to the church is a uni-lateral covenant. God keeps all the conditions of that covenant; believers simply receive its benefits by grace.

Telling an abused spouse to keep all the conditions of the marriage covenant while the abusive spouse has broken those conditions is #SpiritualAbuse.
It’s cruel.
It prolongs and intensifies the suffering of victims of abuse.
It binds them in a cage of false guilt.

In domestic abuse, divorce is NOT the worse possible outcome. The worst possible outcome is that the abused person is murdered by the abuser, or the abused person takes their own life, or the abused person & their kids have to go on being exposed to the predations of the abuser.

@madamoiselleQ asserts that “Once we make an exit available to marriage, we are affirming that there are things that God can’t do.”
That’s not true.
God is sovereign. He could regenerate an abuser and bring him to total repentance & reformation. But abusers typically resist God.

All examples which folks like #PaigePatterson & @mademoiselleQ cite, of abusers becoming genuine Christians and renouncing their mentality of entitlement, are bunkum. It’s just abusers doing snowjobs on church leaders and counselors.



I first wrote this post as a twitter thread. Click here to see my twitter thread.

If you are a twitter user, you can retweet (RT) my thread.
If you are retweeting it, you can either just hit the ‘retweet’ button, or you can retweet and add a comment of your own. It would help me if you retweeted it and added a comment of your own, because then I will receive a notification of the comment you made when you retweeted my thread…. and then I can retweet what you said. This way of re-tweeting a PSA message keeps the momentum building.

Each block of text in this post fits into one tweet.
You may not want to retweet my entire thread. You may want to just retweet or like one of my tweets in that thread. Twitter allows you to do those things. Twitter is a great platform if you are an activist and victim-advocate in the #Churchtoo movement.


Further Reading

The One-Flesh Covenant as a Key to Understanding Abuse as Grounds for Divorce

If God put you together you’re not allowed to separate — says Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC

Good men: please denounce the Permanence View of Marriage that denies any reason for divorce.

Abuse and Divorce: The Case Against the “Permanence View”

‘Still Married in the Sight of God’ — how this expression has been used in Christendom


  1. Heidi

    Great article. I refer women to A Cry for Justice all the time. So many churches teach wives should just pray the abuse away.

    • twbtc


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  2. Chuck

    Hi, what you say .makes sense, can you show me scriptures that would affirm that or direct me to them. Thanks

    • Hello Chuck, at the bottom of this post I gave some links for Further Reading.
      I recommend you read the first and fourth links in that list.
      I also recommend you look at our FAQ page on divorce.
      And for an even more in-depth treatment of the scriptural texts about divorce, I suggest you read my book, Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion [*Affiliate link].

      The scriptures about divorce have been so multiply misunderstood – and some of them have been mistranslated – that untangling it all is not something I can do in a blog comment. Especially since I’ve already done it all in my book and my blog posts.

      *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
    • And welcome to the blog, Chuck! 🙂

  3. Song of Joy

    A big Amen on this post.

    Abusers are not your average sinner. They are incorrigible evil people who don’t ever intend to change. They are committed to having their depraved way at the expense of everyone else. It is a hopeless endeavor to appeal to their seared conscience. They do not have any real respect or fear of the Lord God Almighty (although some may pretend to).

    However, what is hugely appealing to abusers are unilateral covenants, where they can break all of their promises with impunity while abused victims are expected or commanded to keep their promises regardless. Wow, what a deal… made in hell itself.

    We (believers, victims, the church) waste our time, patience, effort, resources, empathy and lives attempting in vain to appeal to wicked people to repent and be saved. I did this with my abusive, sicko father. I hoped and prayed for literally decades that he would repent and change. What a waste! He was utterly depraved to the bitter end.

    Just like in the book of Revelation, certain people choose to take the “mark of the Beast”. They can’t ever be saved after they choose that path, even though they continue to live their lives on earth until the end. That’s how abusers live…with the invisible mark of the beast motivating everything they do. That’s my conviction now.

    • Song of Joy

      I want to add that, as Christians, we would still want to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and warn wicked people of the judgement that awaits. I confess that I wish I had confronted my father more with his wicked deeds, rather keep trying to share the gospel and appeal to his (non-existent) conscience and emotions.

      But modern day church keeps teaching people that we need to continue to make appeals and continue to hope. A hope deferred makes the heart sick, as the Bible says. I don’t think it’s right to expect believers and victims to keep trying and hoping when the abuser has demonstrated that they are evil.

    • Helovesme

      Song of Joy: WOW. Nothing to add, but WOW, well said and well spoken!

      Your second comment was a great follow up. Never stop proclaiming Jesus as Lord. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. He is above all things and is above every imaginable evil that sin produces—and that includes abuse! There is healing in His wings.

      I know what you mean about trying to preach the Gospel to an abuser. I was under tremendous pressure to witness and “be bold” towards my abusive father when I first became saved. The Christians I was around at the time were very ignorant about my background, including the trauma from abuse. It made my bad situation even worse.

      Don’t feel bad about not confronting your dad about his wicked deeds. If he was anything like my dad, it would have just made things worse.

      I’m not sure how you tried to witness to him, because the Gospel is so clear that sin is the problem that requires His blood, which is how we are saved from our sins. It seemed you may have tried to make him see his guilt without actually spelling it out? No matter what the technique, it usually doesn’t go anywhere.

      God makes it clear that just because He desires all to be saved—does not mean that they will all BE saved! There are many, many instances in the Word that make that clear. We are blessed that He drew us to Himself and now calls us His own. Our earthly fathers let us down tremendously, but our Heavenly One is perfect in every way.

      My personal belief, when it comes to prayers for others to repent is simple: Listen to the Lord. When He says it’s time to stop, and let go, and stop praying—obey Him. But keep going until He tells you that you’re done. And when He says you’re done, let it go. You were faithful to Him, and that is all that matters. It’s not about results!

      My dad is still unsaved, and alive. I won’t stop praying for him until He tells me to. My whole side of the family is unsaved, as well as other loved ones in my life.

      For others, they really do need to stop wasting their time and energy hoping that certain persons will repent. I was 99% positive that my dad and I would never speak again, but we are speaking now, through a miracle of God that I haven’t quite understood, to be honest. I am not a fool, however, and I still guard myself carefully around him. I’ve never forgotten how he ruined my life for so many years, but I have stopped hating him for it.

      Abusers are not your average sinner.

      I think THAT is the trip up that most Christians engage in. Abusers are seen as people who simply need to be taught better, so they will know better? So they need counseling, or listening techniques, or anger management? Or their loved ones just need to know how to “handle” them better, and the abuse will stop?

      NO, double no and triple NO! They are irresponsible, reckless and arrogant to the fullest. They have no room in them to care for others, because they are so full of themselves. Everyone owes them, but they owe nothing to no one. They are incapable of loving others, because they don’t believe in giving anything to others, including love.

      Stop pitying the abuser. They are very good at crying, feigning repentance and making every and any promise under the sun to avoid any real consequences of their actions. This is hard on Christians, who so badly want to believe that abusers can and will change — if they are just loved enough and prayed for enough.

      Meanwhile, that same abuser is tearing down his or her victim(s), who are NOT being loved or prayed for. Who are feeling unloved, worthless and smaller than a speck of dust.

      That is not how Christ intended for them to live, just for the incredibly minute (minuscule, even) chance, that an abuser will repent. No one should pay such a price for someone else’s sin.

      • Finding Answers


      • Song of Joy

        Yes! The way church responds to abusers is to keep pitying them, praying for them, building them up, pressuring others to tolerate them, etc. All real effort stays focused on the abuser and making his life better in spite of all his horrible behavior.

        That is EXACTLY what all abusers want. All the focus and attention and resources. The victim is left in the dust as you said:

        Meanwhile, that same abuser is tearing down his or her victim(s), who are NOT being loved or prayed for. Who are feeling unloved, worthless and smaller than a speck of dust.

  4. Melissa

    So true thank you. I would also say that many abusive “marriages” were never truly marriages to begin with because the abuser never truly committed to love his wife as his own flesh.

    • owlamongtheruins

      This is something I have been mulling over. I’m curious as to your / others’ opinions as to my conclusion. At this point, I do believe that I was truly married to my abuser. I made a vow to him and entered into a legal agreement and covenant before God. The fact that he – as you so accurately state – appears to never have truly committed to love me doesn’t void the marriage. But the fact that he immediately broke our vows and continued to do so for some time does. I’m not saying that divorce is not biblical in this case or that the abuser is not the one who causes the divorce by their conduct and violation of the covenant. For me, recognizing that the marriage did exist – before God and man – helps me appreciate the seriousness of what the abuser has done. It makes sense that he faces consequences not just within our relationship but from the authorities under which we made our vows – legal and spiritual. Thoughts?

      • It makes sense that he faces consequences not just within our relationship but from the authorities under which we made our vows – legal and spiritual.

        I agree.

        Unfortunately, the ‘no fault divorce’ system which is prevalent in many parts of the first world gives ‘no justice’ to the victims of domestic abuse.

        But God is the judge and He will bring full and perfect justice in the end.

  5. Samuel Conner

    I think that the churches need to do a far better job of “vetting” couples in marriage counseling. Granting the validity of the statistics in Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door”, 4% of the population is severely deficient in conscience and empathy. If these people all ultimately marry, there could be a sociopath as one or both partners in as many as 8% of marriages. These marriages will usually fail, unless the weaker partner (which might be male; sociopathy is a condition which is found in both genders) finds a tolerable modus vivendi with the conscienceless spouse.

    The confidence that “God can do anything” might be an expression of faith, but it also might be magical thinking. It’s important to ask the question “what has God already been doing?”. God shows mercy but, according to Paul in Romans 9, He also hardens. Sociopaths may be an identifiable group of people who, for whatever reason, are being hardened.

    Prevention is the best cure. Daughters of Jerusalem, guard your hearts.

    Do not allow yourself to fall in love with a sociopath.

    • E

      Most church people I know do not actually believe that this sort of conscienceless sociopath truly exists (other than to pay lip service to the idea that “out there somewhere it exists”), or that they could be deceived by it.

      It is insidious and manifests in so many different ways, to varying degrees, and no one is 100% immune to being fooled by them, at least for a time, if targeted for deception. Yes, we must certainly do a better job at discerning this type of evil, the mind of sin, vs. the Mind of Christ.

    • Kind of Anonymous

      How I do agree very much, that the church needs to do a much better job of preparing people for marriage. Church marriage courses are lame and very topical. They don’t confront things like “Was there family violence in your home growing up?”, which would be hugely useful because everyone picks up ways of thinking and relating from their family of origin unconsciously even if they despise those ways and values, so being able to identify them in oneself is huge. So is having help to heal such hurts. Few people come to marriage with such things even identified, much less healed and dealt with. Teaching on how to walk in the Spirit and identify and crucify the flesh would be good not just for marriage prep courses but for the church. So would teaching people HOW to receive healing from God. We all hear about it but I don’t think most of us know HOW to do that. Few churches teach really practically on such things. Indeed, when there is trouble that indicates a need to draw aside and attend to serious matters, there is little provision for individuals and couples to be able to do that, and in some cases, an early separation for the purpose of healing things and dealing with repentance issues would intervene before things reach the breaking point. Yet there is often nowhere to go; one is forced to remain upright and keep dancing even though one is dying and at the verge of a breakdown physically emotionally or both.

      I’ve observed the same thing in new believer classes; they are so watered down and do little to prepare people for the realities of spiritual warfare, not just the kind from without, i.e. the enemy, but also the kind from within. They don’t prepare you for the reality that the flesh hates and opposes God and cannot and will not submit to Him, so it’s likely to reach out from behind you to sabotage your new found desire to serve God with all your heart. It’s like sending lambs out to a meadow to graze and not warning them that wolves and cougars are actually THERE and WAITING for them. ARRRGGGH.

      Sorry if it sounds extreme. It’s just been my observation that for people who supposedly believe the Bible and what is says, the church often behaves as if we are in the magic kingdom (Disneyland) and it’s the happiest place on earth and everyone is just a really nice person. Even sincerely nice people who mean well can have strongholds of evil and perverse bondages that affect themselves and others. As one author put it, we are in a multi-dimensional sin war.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Oops, I meant to nest that under Samuel Conner’s comment, sorry.

      • I agree with everything you said, Kind of Anonymous. And nothing you said sounded extreme to me.

        You speak with common sense and experience. 🙂

  6. bluebird

    I (as always!) appreciate your clear, logical tone and reasoning, Barbara. The arguments against divorce in cases of abuse are full of misapplied Scripture and emotional, faulty reasoning. It’s frustrating to me to see them bring dredged up time and again. But it’s refreshing to be reminded of the truth. Thank you!

  7. Oily Enabler

    Samuel Conner, I appreciate your encouragement to the daughters of Jerusalem, to guard their hearts and to not fall in love with a sociopath. The problem I see is that some sociopaths are great posers and hide their sinful nature until after the wedding. How can a woman spot that in advance?

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