Untwisting Scriptures Used Against Abuse Victims

Abuse victims are often kept in bondage by the use of scriptures that have been twisted and then misused.  Below is a list of posts that address some specific scriptures and / or biblical concepts that are commonly used against victims.

* * * *

“Do not take a brother to court” – does it mean you can’t seek a protection order against your abuser? — 1 Corinthians 6:1-8

A Word for the church and a word for victims, from Hebrews 12 — Hebrews 12:13-16

A Scripture Often Used Against Abuse Victims — “Count it all joy when you meet trials” James 1:2-4

Meek does not mean weak, but a special strength that does not pay back evil for evil. — Matthew 11:28-9

Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters?  (1 Peter 2 & 3) — 1 Peter 2:13 – 3:7

1 Peter 3:6 — Sarah’s children do what is right and do not give way to fear

Philippians 4:8 used to get you to shut up?

The Matthew 18 process — is it just the province of the church elders?

Church discipline and church permission for divorce — how my mind has changed — Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5

Judge not — are we forbidden to judge? — Matthew 7:1, Romans 2:1-3

Scripture Does Not Preclude Abuse Victims from Suing Abusive Churches — Romans 13:1-4

Twisted bible verses found in the Patriarchal bible

Untouchable Scriptures

Untouchable Scriptures, part 2

A much misunderstood passage about reconciliation — 2 Corinthians 5

Abuse and 1 Corinthians 7 Desertion

Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser? — Ephesians 4:26-27

Abuse and Submission:  We Have Gone Very, Very Wrong — 1 Corinthians 11:3

Love covers a multitude of sins, but not all — 1 Peter 4:8, James 5:19-20, Proverbs 1:9, Proverbs 19:8

When is suffering God’s will for us? — Job 1-2

Abuse and Divorce:  We’ve Got it Completely Backwards — Matthew 19:7-9

Obeying the Abuser:  Insights from Abraham and Sarah — 1 Peter 3:1-6

Abuse Counseling:  How Long is “Forbearing”? — Ephesians 4:2

Does “Turn the Other Cheek” Mean We Must Submit to Abuse? — Matthew 5:38-39

18 thoughts on “Untwisting Scriptures Used Against Abuse Victims”

    1. This article by Steve Tracy addresses your question, Anonymous100.

      What Does Submit in Everything Really Mean? The Nature and Scope of Marital Submission [Internet Archive link]

      And btw, in the menu at the top of the blog we have a tab About. Under that tab, clink on the link Headship & Submission Errors. This will take you to the page What Headship and Submission Do Not Mean.

      The article by Steve Tracy, along with a host of other links, is mentioned on that page.

  1. I was wondering about 1 Corinthians 7:10 where it says Now a wife must not leave her husband, but if she does, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.
    I’ve had that one thrown at me and I wondered what it really is talking about.

    Also, you may have written about this somewhere on the blog and I missed it, but I have also had people speak about how persecution is part of the Christian life and point to those who have been beaten, tormented, killed, who have reached out to their rapists or their abusive parents with grace and mercy, to say that abuse is not sufficient grounds for divorce or remarriage, but only for separation. I have wondered about that myself and would be grateful for some clarification. Blessings to ya!

    1. Hi Kind of Anonymous,

      Two very good questions, and we have some posts that I believe will bring clarification.

      1 Cor 7:10: Remarriage after divorcing an abuser — in a nutshell

      We have the tag ‘suffering’ on the top menu bar. If you click on it you will be taken to a lengthy list of posts that deal with suffering. Some posts will pertain more directly with your question than others. Here are a couple of posts to get you started:

      When is suffering God’s will for us?

      Suffering, Abuse, and the Providence of God

      Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

      1 Peter 3 does not command victims to remain in abuse — help from David Desilva

    2. Kind of anonymous – you will find, by using the search engine box on our home page, numbers of blog posts that provide answers to the questions you ask here. Also check out the resources on our resource page. We have posts on all the false teachings you have mentioned here.

  2. What are your thoughts on requiring women to wear head coverings to church to show their submission to their husbands as their “head”? (1 Cor 11)

    I was in a toxic and abusive marriage for over 20 years, understanding that it was my duty to submit to an unbelieving husband in the hopes that he might be persuaded to Christ by my faithful testimony. Now that I’m out of that marriage, wearing a hat to church as a symbol of submission is becoming more and more difficult, as I understand more fully how Scripture supports mutually respectful marital relationships.

    I love my church very much, and it supported me beautifully as soon as it realized my situation and during my exit from the abusive marriage. It is a very conservative church with respect to allowing divorce, yet supported me in acting [on] my conscience in this matter even though not all of the leadership agreed with all of my decisions. I was supported, prayed for and upheld.

    However, this church does require hats to be worn by female members and I am almost feeling re-traumatized each Sunday that I must again put on a hat for the service. Also, while the church fully supported me, I disagree with some of its teachings of how wives are to keep the home (like many churches, it downplays the liberties described in Proverbs 31 given to a woman in the keeping of her home). I also disagree with some of its teachings about marital roles. I feel it is more patriarchal in some areas than Scripture is. Because of these subtleties, I feel that wearing a hat to church is endorsing something that I don’t fully agree with – and worse, endorsing something that caused such pain to me.

    1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      What a good question! I think your feelings about wearing a hat to church are very understandable, given the context you described!

      Are you ready for a scholarly foreign word? “Adiaphora” is the word theologians give for practices and beliefs which are not essential for Christians to have. Adiaphora are things which the Bible doesn’t clearly prescribe or proscribe. As you are aware, the vast majority of Christians do not think that the Bible says women MUST wear a head covering to church. There are various arguments put forward against the idea that women must wear a veil or a hat or some kind of head covering. I won’t go into all those arguments because that’s not really the place of this blog, and you can easily research them elsewhere.

      Neither Ps Crippen or myself are convinced that women MUST wear a head covering in church. We think that it is not essential for a woman to wear a head covering in church.

      The situation you face is that you are seeing this issue differently from your church and it is causing you a dilemma. The church has supported you in your separation and divorce from the abuser. (WOW! that’s pretty amazing they supported you, especially considering how patriarchal they are.) But you are feeling like, for you, wearing a hat in that church signifies you believe in something you do not believe in.

      I honour you for paying attention to your own feelings and your own conscience.

      Now, since I believe wearing a hat is one of those ‘adiaphora’ things, I do not think you would be sinning by wearing one, or not wearing one.

      Another scripture you can bring into this consideration might be James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (KJV) But it does not really hit the nail on the head either, because wearing a hat is neither sinful nor unsinful. So the question for you, I suggest, can only be resolved by weighing up —

      “Do I personally feel I will be sinning to wear a hat to church because that would be endorsing something that I don’t fully agree with – and worse, endorsing something that caused such pain to me.”
      over / against
      “Do I feel okay with wearing a hat our of respect and gratitude to the leaders of this church for supporting me, and for the sake of not being divisive in this congregation, even though I don’t agree with what a hat signifies in this church context?”

      You are free to decide it yourself. And I hope you can come to a conclusion that does not plague you too much!

    2. And welcome to the blog, Sunny Day! 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      Another thought on your head covering dilemma. Just imagine this: You could buy one of those plastic head coverings you get at Fancy Dress shops that make you look bald. Wear it to church. You would be wearing ‘a head covering’ — but one which wryly challenges their patriarchal beliefs. 🙂

      To actually do this, it would be helpful to do it with a good sense of humour and warm smile on your face showing you still love all those people. And you might need a thick skin and a bit of skill with quick repartee, to carry it off!

  3. Thank you so much for your quick answer, Barbara!!

    Yes, one of the reasons I was in very deep bondage to my marriage was because I expected to receive church discipline for divorcing due to abuse instead of adultery or abandonment. My unbelieving ex-husband ended up leaving and divorcing at long last…way too long of a last. So, I was free and discipline was not commenced.

    I met a wonderful Christian man who did not have such a clear story on his divorce. (By then, MANY thanks to this blog, I had come to realize Scripture does not limit divorce from abuse. I had personally witnessed instances and results of his wife’s ungodly and evil abuse. It was impossible to endure, even though he bravely did for many years. He divorced pursuant to the counsel of several experts. Therefore, my conscious was completely clear on our remarriage.)

    The support my pastor provided to our remarriage was so wonderfully unexpected – and so desperately appreciated. There was nothing left of me by then, so I don’t understand how some of the women on this blog can find strength to withstand spiritual abuse when they reach that situation.

    The leadership agreed, leaving it to my conscience even though they personally had doubts on the remarriage since their view is limited to only adultery or literal abandonment by an unbeliever as valid reasons for divorce. I did not receive discipline, but instead support and prayer. It was then that I realized how much my out-sized impression of the church controlled me – I cowered in fear all those years, afraid of church discipline, when instead they would have applied judicious grace to my situation.

    I realized that my fear of man was not only misapplied but also very, very wrong in the sight of God. In outlasting my marriage to its bitter end, the fear of my church controlled me over obedience to God (another long story). I’m growing in the realization that I have liberty in Christ and I cannot exchange that back again for the fear of man. Most of all, that takes recognizing the areas that are controlled by my fear of man.

    In reconsidering this story, and hearing your beautiful explanation about how it could be my choice to extend grace back in this situation even though my aversion to what it represents is tugging me another way, I may be able to stomach wearing the hat for some more time. Thank you for opening a way for me to consider a palatable and graceful resolution.

    And thank you SO very much for your ministry on this blog. I frequently check this blog’s explanations for various Scriptures that I encounter and I love the new light that provides to my understanding. And I’ve been married to the most wonderful, Godly, humble, loving man in the world for two years -and married with the clearest of consciences. Many thanks, and many hugs!! Sunny Day.

  4. Barbara or others – do you have a post or scripture refuting lies when someone says to you “But the Bible says divorce is sin!” I need a good counter-argument. Thank you.

    1. Hi MicroGal,

      We have many posts that address the issue of divorce. On the top menu bar is our FAQ tab which has the question “What about Divorce?”. On that page is a list of posts that will address your question.

      FAQ: What about Divorce?

  5. Possible Trigger warning:

    One Scripture I’ve had used on me recently was the one where Paul says a wife must not leave her husband but if she does, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. So according to this pastor, I am still married to my first husband in God’s eyes and my only options are being single for the rest of my life until one of us dies. If I remarry I am in adultery and will go to hell for entering into an ongoing state of disobedience.

    Figuring out what the truth is about all of this has been really difficult and distressing because there are so many stances and I find myself struggling, almost convinced of one, then the other, etc. Part of what some of these guys believe is that the one flesh union is not just intercourse, but is also a metaphysical bond whereby God, as third party, joins you to each other. They teach that this bond cannot be broken except by death and that marriage is indissoluble because of this. So according to them, one can get a divorce paper and yet because it’s man’s paper it means nothing, divorce according to them dissolves nothing.

    1. Hi, Kind of Anonymous, I suggest you look at our page What about remarriage? which is one of our FAQs.

      And in future, if you ever get bamboozled or confused by a pastor’s advice, I suggest you review our FAQs to see if there is anything there which will help you see the problems with that advice.

  6. Thank you, Barb. I didn’t realize I’d asked a similar question earlier, so my apologies. I just saw it in the previous comments. It is frustrating how easily my mind can be sent off in various directions.

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