A Cry For Justice

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

Wayne Grudem’s change of mind on divorce for abuse falls short

Wayne Grudem has changed his mind on divorce.

I’m glad Wayne Grudem has changed his mind but his change of mind doesn’t go far enough.

His new position still falls short because he

  • implies victims can only divorce if church leaders permit it
  • doesn’t take into account how easily church leaders are snowed by abusers
  • doesn’t warn about the dangers of couple counseling
  • gives no apology for his past teaching.

Wayne Grudem says: Clergy decide whether a victim of domestic abuse may divorce.

SBC’s ChurchCares curriculum says: Leave the choice to divorce to the victim.

I say: The Bible gives liberty to victims of domestic abuse to divorce their abusers.

From Christianity Today’s article Wayne Grudem Changes Mind About Divorce in Cases of Abuse:

Wayne Grudem, a leading Calvinist theologian and prominent complementarian, has changed his position to affirm a scriptural basis for divorce in cases of abuse and shared his new stance at a major gathering of evangelical scholars last week.

After hearing examples of real-life couples whose Christian beliefs led them to endure abuse rather than separate, Grudem said he looked closer at Scripture to conclude that abuse may be grounds for divorce, provided pastors and elders seek discernment from God in leading a couple to this outcome.

Read the whole article here, or click here to read it at the WebArchive.

You can download Grudem’s paper here. He presented it on 21st Nov this year (2019) at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting.

I have written extensively on divorce for abuse

The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse.

Biblical divorce for abuse explained in a nutshell.

Does God hate divorce? Not always.

The tangled mess of mistaken notions about what the Bible teaches on divorce.

What is the purpose of marriage? Is it to display Christ’s love for the church?

Is adultery the only ground for divorce?

Does the victim of abuse need church permission to divorce?

Liam Goligher is a PCA theologian who says abuse is grounds for divorce

David Clyde Jones trained generations of pastors at Covenant Theological Seminary, where he taught for 40 years. He commended my book Not Under Bondage.

David Clyde Jones said abuse is grounds for divorce.

In Wayne Grudem’s ‘change of mind’ paper, he mentions David Clyde Jones work but he ignores my book/my work. I’m a woman. Does Wayne Grudem think my work is not worth reading because I’m a woman?

In his paper Wayne Grudem cites the Puritans who said that abuse is grounds for divorce. He cites the same Puritans that David Clyde Jones cited. (catching up late much?)

Read about the Puritans who said that abuse is grounds for divorce.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer said abuse was grounds for divorce.

CLICK THIS LINK to dig more into the question of divorce for abuse.

If you are a CHURCH LEADER who wants to learn how better to respond to domestic abuse, click HERE.

I invite all twitter users to like/retweet my twitter thread about Wayne Grudem’s change of mind.

Wayne Grudem thinks the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father. That is heresy: it goes against the Nicene Creed.

Listen to this sermon by Liam Goligher if you want to be sure that Wayne Grudem is wrong in his understanding of the Trinity.

I intend to publish another post at this blog where I will examine Wayne Grudem’s paper in detail.

I think Grudem is still in the Pharisaic mindset where clergy lord it over the sheep…and men lord it over women.

21 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    I read through the article in Christianity Today, as well as Wayne Grudem’s paper.

    I agree with Barb’s key points on where he (Wayne Grudem) falls short.

    I am looking forward to Barb’s post examining Wayne Grudem’s paper in detail, as the picture in my mind for his (Wayne Grudem’s) paper currently resembles something like the list of links Barb provided. 🙂

  2. Helovesme

    I read the CT article but not the entire paper. I too look forward to Barb expanding upon what she has described here.

    I have never heard of Grudem, but he sounds extremely prominent and/or popular if his ideas and changing of ideas is greeted with such pronounced, public and (IMO) passionate responses.

    I did appreciate how he examined “52 uses of the phrase” to be as thorough as possible. It sounded like he aimed to be diligent.

    First let me be clear that I am not as studied and informed as this man obviously is. I do not want to show any disrespect. These are just my thoughts and very personal views in reaction to what this article said, without trying to debate him on his intellectual level.

    But a tweet claiming “This information will give so many women freedom from their abusers!” puzzled me—-was she claiming that Grudem’s permission was needed in order for abused women to finally be believed, taken seriously, and potentially be freed from abusive husbands? So his changed view was the turning point that was needed? Or was that just me?

    Believe me I was glad to read things like: “More than one person said to me afterward, ‘I came prepared to disagree with you, but you persuaded me.’” It MATTERS how those within the body of Christ think—-if an abusive marriage is discovered within the church, it matters how those within the church react and/or respond.

    Again, this is just me—I balk a bit at how influential a church leader or pastor is, or can or should be. No matter how educated a church leader is, we all have access to the same Holy Spirit, who IS our Wisdom—–and all we have to do is ask and He will generously give it to us. I have to ask how much we seek the Lord ourselves to give us His wisdom directly, and how much we depend on others to seek the Lord and tell us what His wisdom supposedly does and does not dictate.

    This paragraph threw me off:

    “However, he clarified that restoration is still the first goal when the question of divorce comes up. If the abusing spouse is a Christian, then counseling and church discipline should be pursued, but if abuse doesn’t stop then a church leader should consider that this may be a case where the victim is free to seek a divorce.”

    I found that to be troubling, especially since he seems to be highly respected as a theologian. Believers look to him, it seems, for guidance and insight when it comes to Biblical wisdom.

    Counseling and church discipline are one thing, but safety of the victim should be the first, main and only priority. Not only that, but IMO, “restoration” shouldn’t be brought up as the goal—-that sort of mindset (again, IMO) can be used to manipulate an already vulnerable victim. An abuser can latch onto that and insist that the victim not be separated from him, even for the sake of her safety, or else how can their marriage be restored?

    An “abusing spouse” is not worthy to be assumed to be a Christian, IMO. He may profess Christ, but that doesn’t mean he truly is one. That is another trap that the victim might be led into. How dare you separate or consider divorce from your supposed God-fearing husband?

    This line also gave me pause: “if abuse doesn’t stop then a church leader should consider that this may be a case where the victim is free to seek a divorce.”

    I have never liked the idea of anyone trying to tell a victim when it is okay to leave a marriage, and when they should not. No one but the victim knows what it like to live with her spouse. Even the most apt and detailed of descriptions of her experiences cannot fully capture what those experiences were LIKE.

    I’m going to sound a bit of a smarty pants when I say this, but bear with me: Who are you (“church leader”) to tell me what to do (“the victim is free to seek a divorce”), when to do it (“if the abuse doesn’t stop”) and even IF I am free do it (“a church leader should consider….the victim is free to seek a divorce”)

    Let me be clear that I don’t thumb my nose at seeking wisdom and discernment. Leaders ARE put in place for a reason—-they’re not just there to shake hands and organize events. But where they counsel and offer comfort, and where they command and give orders—is where my concerns are.

    Hope I expressed things properly, and also made sure to clarify that a lot of my thoughts are personal and based on very limited experience.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (1ST DECEMBER 2019 – 6:06 PM) “…..heard of Grudem, but he sounds extremely prominent and/or popular if his ideas and changing of ideas is greeted with such pronounced, public and (IMO) passionate responses.”

      ACFJ and many other individuals published information on Grudem’s faulty Biblical interpretations in the past, and I will leave it to Barb to expound on the topic in her post on Grudem’s change of mind.

      For me, researching ANYTHING inevitably leads me to seemingly irrelevant information.

      For example: I read / heard of Wayne Grudem during my research into many different things I did not have the words to express.

      For me, Grudem’s original views on divorce (no divorce EVER) were a reflection of the picture in my mind for being saved as a Christian.

      For me, the pictures in my mind for marriage and divorce were more reflective of God’s love for saving individuals from living hell on earth.

      • Here is a link to our Tag for Wayne Grudem. If you click the link you will be able to find all the posts at this blog where we have critiqued Grudem’s teaching in the past. So far we have given that tag to 11 posts. It will be 12 when I publish my next post.

        Grudem is VERY influential. He co-founded CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood). The other co-founder was John Piper. He has written a Systematic Theology book that is widely used in seminaries and much admired by many. He is a professor at Phoenix Seminary.

        Grudem holds an aberrant view of the Trinity. In 2016 there was a prolonged of debate about whether his view of the Trinity is orthodox. He was challenged by many heavy-weight theologians and pastors but did not change his mind on the Son being eternally subordinate to the Father. You can read about that debate by looking at our ESS Digest ESS stands for ‘Eternal Subordination of the Son’.

      • Hi Finding Answers, Grudem’s previous doctrine on divorce was not the Permanence View. The Permanence View says ‘no divorce ever’. Grudem used to say that divorce was allowed for (i) adultery and (ii) desertion by an unbeliever – with desertion meaning abandonment where the unbeliever walks out of the marriage.

      • Finding Answers

        Barb commented (2ND DECEMBER 2019 – 4:42 PM) “….Grudem’s previous doctrine on divorce was not the Permanence View. ….”

        Thank you for ^That correction, Barb. I knew I meant the Permanence View, but I had incorrectly associated Grudem with the picture in my mind for the Permanence View.

        I remembered ACFJ had a tag on Grudem, and a tag on ESS, and when I first started reading the ACFJ blog I read some posts on Grudem and some posts on ESS.

        In the process of all my reading, I did not realize I had unintentionally made a faulty association between Grudem and the Permanence View.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you for the responses Finding Answers and Barb.

        Especially to Barb for that extra background info. I’ve heard of Piper for sure and it’s clear he is mega-influential as well.

        I’m constantly cautious now (I didn’t start out that way) about any public figure who may or may not be “too” influential. We too easily get to the point where we take their word for something that may or may not be truthful.

        The thing is that we to look to set examples for one another, but that is NOT the same thing as looking UP to those that set those examples.

        Barb, for example—-sets a wonderful example for us, IMO. So do the others who comment and offer their thoughts. I find myself grateful to them and would like to emulate them, but I don’t want to idolize them.

        Idolatry is one of the worst things to do to another human being. It is not flattering, it is not encouraging and it is NOT loving. It is the exact opposite of all those things.

        Now, not every leader or person of influence or those that are setting an example—is looking to be idolized. Held to higher or impossible standards. Even if you try very hard to communicate that, it can happen anyway. Often times, these things can be out of our hands, out of our control.

        If you love someone, do not idolize them, and if you see that they are intentionally or unintentionally putting themselves into an idolized position—-step in and if possible, stop it before it goes any further and gets any worse—which it inevitably will.

    • James

      Hi Helovesme, you wrote –
      I’m going to sound a bit of a smarty pants when I say this, but bear with me: Who are you (“church leader”) to tell me what to do (“the victim is free to seek a divorce”), when to do it (“if the abuse doesn’t stop”) and even IF I am free do it (“a church leader should consider….the victim is free to seek a divorce”)

      BOOM! You nailed it!
      Not ‘smarty pants’ at all. Power corrupts – in this case, the mind. The presumption of authority to impose one’s ‘wisdom’ upon others causes harm to others and leads, in the end, to an insanity called megalomania for oneself.

      I believe this is why Jesus instructed the apostles to be servants – humility minimises harm and preserves sanity.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you James! A comment like that from an excellent writer like yourself is very generous and encouraging.

        The “smarty pants” response may have sounded more like: You’re not the boss of me (more like an immature child or teenager sort of comeback comment!)

        But in this case, I do think a response like: who are you to tell me what to do, about a marriage that is between myself and this person (and not you), who are you do judge it when you can’t possibly know what it’s like to BE in this marriage, and what gives you the right to act as if you are in the marriage and know what it has been like for me?

        A wonderful woman once told me that she believed she would answer to the Lord about her decision to divorce her spouse. This was in response to persons around her who were (IMO) being judgmental and self-righteous about her decision.

        I saw what she meant. You make a difficult decision like that, and everyone has to have their say about it. I liken it to “votes” being cast as to who agrees or disagrees with what you’ve chosen. And when it’s all said and done, the end result will “judge” that person—-condemn or condone? Support or snub? Include or exclude?

        And of course, everyone thinks they are in the right—-I have all the facts (or at least the ones that are relevant to me). I know the truth (at least how the truth was presented to me). I know how the Bible says things should and should not be (at least how I read and interpret the Bible).

        But in the end, you really do stand and answer to Him alone. He knows EVERYTHING. Nothing obscures His sight. You don’t have to go to Him and “explain” things to Him in order to make Him see your side of things—He already knows.

        I’ve been in the awful position of practically pleading with people to open their minds and see my side of things. You don’t have to LIKE or even agree with what I have to say, but please incorporate that into your mind before you slam down your gavel and pronounce judgment.

      • James

        Helovesme, I agree with your friend; in the end, it is always between each of us and God. To my knowledge, the only religious leader who has had the temerity to insert themselves publicly between this arrangement and claim authority over others in place of God is Pope Boniface in 1302 in his pronouncement called Unam Sanctam – https://www.papalencyclicals.net/bon08/b8unam.htm

        In it, Boniface claimed authority over everyone on earth in God’s place, if you can believe it! Of course, no pope since has rescinded this nonsense. Anyway, if someone wants to claim that sort of authority over me, I want to see it written on the Celestial Legal Department’s letterhead and see God’s signature on the bottom!

  3. Gany T.

    Where to begin with this man, his widespread influence for decades, and the current responses to his news?

    Okay, his hubris & his following of idolatrous man-worshippers:
    ‘Pay attention world, God’s anointed is about to speak: Wayne Grudem [oohs & ahs uttered] has changed his position & [speaking ex cathedra, don’tcha know] to a major gathering of scholars [ah, those lucky, elite faithful]!’

    Yes, Barb, I certainly suspect your suspicions about Mr. Grudem are correct: he ignores my [Barb’s] book/my work. I’m a woman. Does Wayne Grudem think my work is not worth reading because I’m a woman?

    I would completely expect that mindset and behavior from a man who for years vigorously & successfully campaigned for his view of (unbiblical, unloving, abuse-enabling) gender roles in the church and home.

    His hubris against Scripture and the Godhead Himself (speaking of the Trinity) in order to support his authoritarian / hierarchical view of the church and home is astonishing. I saw someone on social media say something like, ‘If Grudem subordinated the Son of God, he certainly has NO problem subordinating women.’

    I look forward to your next post on this.

    • Finding Answers

      Gany T. commented (2ND DECEMBER 2019 – 12:50 PM) “His hubris against Scripture and the Godhead Himself (speaking of the Trinity) in order to support his authoritarian / hierarchical view of the church and home is astonishing. I saw someone on social media say something like, ‘If Grudem subordinated the Son of God, he certainly has NO problem subordinating women.’

      (Bold added by me.)

      ^That.

      Gany T. was most likely referring to the ESS debate started by Grudem and his ilk.

      The phrase I bolded, however, could also be interpreted as Grudem subordinating the Son of God to himself (Grudem).

      • Gany T.

        Finding Answers, yes, you are correct that I was referring to the ESS debate. Your comment regarding someone else’s comment online also possibly being interpreted as Grudem subordinating the Son of God to himself (Grudem) is chilling, and…I think a very real possibility in the recesses of Grudem’s (IMO, dark) heart.

      • Finding Answers

        Gany T.,

        You wrote “subordinating the Son of God to himself”

        Satan attempted ^That and lost.

      • BINGO! I’m repeating all this because it is so good ——

        “Grudem’s hubris against Scripture and the Godhead Himself (speaking of the Trinity) in order to support his authoritarian / hierarchical view of the church and home is astonishing.”

        “If Grudem subordinated the Son of God, he certainly has NO problem subordinating women.”

        “That ^ could also be interpreted as Grudem subordinating the Son of God to himself (Grudem).”

        “Satan attempted ^ That and lost.”

    • Helovesme

      Really liked the comment that Finding Answers put in bold print for us.

      The ESS debate seems to be so well known that even I knew what that meant. 🙂

      And whoa, Barb already pointed it out in her comment, but that was an amazing insight, Finding Answers. Never, ever have I thought of it that way—-not as succinctly as that.

      Walking with the Lord for a certain amount of time (aka whatever is perceived as a long time) can have two main reactions:

      You can feel truly humbled and grateful as you thumb through the peaks and valleys you’ve experienced and endured through—-with Him right by your side the whole way. He never left your side, and He never stopped loving you—no matter what. Most of all, you grew in Him. He revealed Himself to you more and more as the years went on—and everything you learned about Him and from Him has caused you to love Him and love people.

      As long as He is with me, who can be against me?

      OR:

      You can feel puffed up and proud at how you started at the bottom and “rose” through the ranks. I’m closer to His throne than ever. No, of COURSE I am not trying to dethrone Him, but now I’m one of His “closer, most trusted” vessels. I’m up close and personal to Him in ways that others are not, and people should respect and even admire me. I’m anointed in a very “special” way so my authority is solid and is here to stay. All my years with Him mean I paid my dues and I have “earned” the right to call the shots, ostensibly speaking for Him, but in reality I am speaking for my desire for power.

      If you’re not with me, you’re against Him.

      Finding Answers pointed out how the devil tried and failed. He wanted to be LIKE the Most High, and even above that (Isaiah 14:14) The devil was not interested in co-ruling the world WITH the Lord. Even the Lord Himself would have to submit to him (Luke 4:7)

      The latter example has no love for the Lord and for people. One thing that shines through about the Trinity (as the Word truly describes it) is how all three of them, 100% equal to one another, loved one another. Jesus constantly spoke of the love between Himself and His Father in Heaven. When He spoke of the Holy Spirit being given, it was a loving, joyous description as well.

      If you have not grown in love in walking with the Lord over “X” amount of years, you haven’t grown at all. Understanding His love for you, learning to love Him and others—-abiding in that love and bearing fruit in Him—-if that is not the main priority, not to mention visibly present, something is not right—-ask yourself if you are truly right with Him. Or, perhaps you have burned out and only a tiny spark remains—-and you need Him to fan that flame again (this happens, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you are unsaved).

  4. Gany T.

    BARB – I leave it totally up to you if you want to publish this comment. I can think of a few reasons & timing why you might NOT want to publish it. Thanks.

    This big announcement by Wayne Grudem is generating LOTS of discussion on the Internet. The Wartburg Watch has a post on it, too. One reader there, screen name Ken F (aka Tweed), gave a link which shows a little of the sickening wake of this man’s (Grudem’s) authoritarian and abuse-enabling teaching reaping for him personally (just a little of) what he sowed.

    It shows a man (the author of the linked article), with a large following apparently, who is even MORE abusive, or at least more OPEN about his misogynistic, abusive views than even Wayne Grudem is, criticizing Grudem for ‘going soft’ on ‘so-called’ abuse.

    Trigger Warning Link: https://reformationcharlotte.org/2019/11/26/wayne-grudem-caves-to-churchtoo-movement-changes-mind-on-divorce-in-abuse-cases/

    This short article criticizes Wayne Grudem for ‘caving to the #ChurchToo movement’ and posits that as a result, there will be a flood of church-approved divorces, based on (this article’s author’s view of) ‘soft, unscriptural’ definitions of abuse.

    I view this linked article as one wolf vying for title of Baddest Wolf of the Pack, but I think Grudem’s true heart (of darkness) is revealed in this rotten fruit of (some of) his followers (…ones who happen to have a large platform 😦 ).

    • Finding Answers

      Gany T. commented (2ND DECEMBER 2019 – 2:43 PM) “…..one wolf vying for title of Baddest Wolf of the Pack…..”

      ^THAT is SUCH an accurate description of my current struggle to find words to communicate the pictures in my mind. Thank you, Gany T., for helping me find the words.

      And while some non-Asperger individuals who think in words may experience extreme frustration communicating thoughts / ideas / etc., they won’t experience my uncontrollable Asperger “melt-down”.

      ^That is the biggest difference between me and those who think in words.

      I am thankful for ALL the words commenters write, as their (the commenters’) words help me communicate the pictures in my mind.

      Thank you, Barb, for deciding to publish Gany T.’s comment.

      I realize this comment of mine may be on a tangent from the original post, but not on a tangent from those comments discussing the Baddest Wolf of the Pack (Satan).

      • Your comment is most welcome, Finding Answers.

        All of us who are reading your comments are being given an opportunity to understand what the lived experience of Asperger’s folks can be like. 🙂

  5. Gany T.

    Finding Answers, I’m glad my few words were so helpful. 🙂

    Your comments about: the (outrageous) subordinating of the Son of God by Wayne Grudem (ESS teaching); which was also attempted by Satan & lost; and, Satan being the Baddest Wolf of the Pack

    ^That!

  6. Karen

    Praise our LORD. Jesus is not Wayne Grudem, nor are His Ways.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: