Note: Men are more than welcome to read and share this article, but please be mindful that this website is for women-only. Thank you.
In honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness month, I have decided to broach the difficult subject of domestic abuse in the professing Christian community.
The personal accounts of survivors of domestic abuse indicate that there is a pressing need for believers–especially ministry leaders–to get informed about domestic abuse, in order to spot and avoid domestic abusers in sheep’s clothing, and to be equipped to serve and assist victims of domestic abuse.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to gain and maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship, more specifically (in the context of this article) a marital relationship between a husband and wife.
Domestic abuse involves behaviors that cause physical/emotional/mental/and spiritual harm, arouse fear, prevent the abuser’s target from doing what she wishes, or force the abuser’s target to behave in ways she does not want.
Domestic abuse often involves physical abuse, but it isn’t limited to physical abuse. It can take different forms such as sexual abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, verbal abuse, spiritual abuse, and economic abuse. These different forms of domestic abuse can occur at any one time within the same marital relationship.
What is a Domestic Abuser?
A domestic abuser has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over his wife. He believes that he is justified in using evil tactics (such as threats, intimidation, manipulation, isolation, physical violence, economic deprivation, and a variety of other abusive behaviors) to keep his wife subordinated and under his control.
Domestic abusers don’t have a certain “look” — they have a certain mindset and pattern of behaviors. They exist in every ethnic group, skin color, culture, religion, theological system, political ideology, socioeconomic class, educational level, career, neighborhood, and family background.
Contrary to popular opinion, domestic abusers are not always easy to spot–especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. I find that many people are looking for overtly hostile and abusive behaviors. For example, they are looking for a husband who hurls profanity at his wife in public or physically abuses his wife in front of his neighbors.
Although these behaviors are abusive and some domestic abusers are overtly hostile and abusive towards their wives, believers are being naive, overestimating their level of discernment, and underestimating the calculated nature of domestic abusers by thinking that it is always easy to spot a domestic abuser by simply looking for overtly hostile and abusive behaviors.
Domestic abusers–especially the extremely cunning and deceptive ones who claim to be Christians–are more calculated, strategic, and self-controlled than believers give them credit for. They rarely behave in an overtly hostile and abusive manner in front of outsiders (people outside of their household), because they don’t want people in their local community and church to see their true nature. They know how to turn their abusive behavior on and off depending on who they are around and where they are.
This is why many professing Christians will insist that a domestic abuser is a “good Christian man,” defend his “godly character,” and doubt the personal testimony of his wife, children, ex-wife, ex-girlfriends, and other individuals who have been on the receiving end of his abusive behavior, personally witnessed it, or have evidence of his past history of domestic abuse. They have never seen his abusive side because he “turned it off” around them.
Crafty domestic abusers know how to fool even the most discerning believers with their charming personality, pristine reputation, and “form of godliness.” They know how to behave nicely in front of outsiders and take off their sheep’s clothing around those they abuse. They even know how to covertly abuse their victims right in front of unsuspecting outsiders without anyone detecting it.
The most dangerous domestic abusers are calm, collected, composed, and abuse their wives psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually without leaving bruises and broken bones. As their abuse escalates, they sometimes become physically and sexually abusive, and some end up murdering their wives and children in domestic violence-related homicides or homicide-suicides. When these tragic incidents happen, the local community is left shocked and amazed at how a “nice Christian man” could seemingly “snap” and do such a thing? “They seemed like such a happy couple”. . . .
A little known fact that many believers need to know is that most victims of domestic violence-related homicides did not experience any physical violence in the months preceding their deaths. I repeat. Most victims of domestic violence-related homicides did not experience any physical violence in the months preceding their deaths.
According to the CDC, only 11% of victims of domestic violence-related homicide experienced some type of violence in the months preceding their deaths. I mention this fact to make the point that just because a domestic abuser doesn’t appear to be physically abusive, that does not mean that his wife and children are safe from imminent danger and death, that it’s safe for them stay with him since “he isn’t physically abusive,” or that his abusive behavior should be downplayed, ignored, and minimized as “no big deal” “less serious” or something that can be “fixed” through marriage counseling since “he’s only verbally/emotionally/mentally/or spiritually abusive.”
If only 11% of victims of domestic violence-related homicides experienced physical violence in the months preceding their deaths, this means that the other 89% of victims did not experience any physical violence in the months preceding their deaths, and yet their lives were in just as much danger as those who did experience physical violence.
In other words, what I am saying here is that whether an abusive marriage involves physical abuse or not, the victim’s life is still in imminent danger and her claims of abuse should be taken just as seriously as a woman who has been shot, stabbed, or beaten. A domestic abuser who is unrepentant and possessed by hatred and a desire to dominate and control his wife, is capable of murdering her whether he ever laid a finger on her in the past or not.
In Scripture, we see examples of evil-doers who never laid a finger on their victim in the past, then suddenly murder their victim out of hatred, jealousy, or persecution. For example, Cain.
“We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them.” (1 John 3:12-15, NRSV)
Another example would be the scribes and Pharisees who persecuted Jesus. They restrained themselves from laying a finger on Jesus throughout His earthly ministry, but because of their lust for power and control and their jealousy and hatred of Jesus, they sought to murder Him and handed Him over to Pontius Pilate to be killed by crucifixion.
Outside of Scripture, we have the example of the Short family tragedy, “. . .a jarring reminder that abuse doesn’t have to be physical to turn fatal.” This truth should compel the body of Christ to take all forms of domestic abuse seriously.
Excerpt from news article:
“Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said it’s a common misperception that only relationships with physical violence turn deadly.
“Just because someone is being emotionally abusive and not necessarily physically abusive, doesn’t mean that the same dynamics don’t exist,” she said.
Abusers gain power and control through their abuse, she explained, regardless of whether they are using physical or psychological tactics. When a victim attempts to separate themselves from the relationship, it can become a potentially lethal situation ― even if the abuser has no history of physical violence.”
Christian Women & Domestic Violence
While doing research about domestic abuse, I was appalled, but not surprised, to learn that Christian women often stay in abusive relationships several years longer than secular women.
When I reflect on my personal experiences as a Christian woman and my experiences engaging other Christian women, I can definitely see some religious factors that influence Christian women to stay in abusive relationships longer than secular women.
For starters, Christian women are encouraged and coerced through the use of select Scriptures (taken out of context to promote false teachings) and pseudo-spiritual language to “save their marriage” at any cost and endure domestic abuse as a “cross of suffering” to bring their husbands to repentance.
The Scriptures (when taken out of context to promote false teachings) and pseudo-spiritual language are the most powerful influences on human thought, emotion, and behavior. This is why Satan approached Jesus in the wilderness quoting Scripture out of context and using pseudo-spiritual language, because he understands the power of Scripture and religious jargon.
Billions of people down through history have been deceived, exploited, led to their death, and wiped off the face of the earth, due to Scripture-twisting and the use of pseudo-spiritual language. So the influence of Scripture-twisting and pseudo-spiritual language must not be overlooked or understated in any discussion about domestic abuse in the professing Christian community and why many Christian women feel spiritually obligated to stay in abusive marriages.
If a woman wants to please God by being obedient to Him and she has been wrongly taught (via Scripture taken out of context and pseudo-spiritual language) that it is God’s will for her to stay married to an abusive husband and “save her marriage” at any cost, she will feel an immense amount of pressure to stay with him due to the powerful influence of false teachings.
Secular women do have false beliefs that influence them to stay in abusive relationships, but those beliefs are not religious and therefore do not carry the additional weight and semblance of “Divine authority.”
The fact that Christian women often stay in abusive relationships several years longer than secular women should be a cause for alarm and a wake up call for Christians. We need to examine our beliefs and have honest conversations about the ways in which certain select Scriptural texts and false teachings are being used to influence Christian women to stay in abusive relationships.
One of the false teachings that we need to reexamine and discuss is the belief that saving a marriage is always the number one priority.
I’m in quite a few groups for Christian women on social media, and it is very troubling and upsetting to see woman after woman come forward to disclose that her husband is abusing her (mentally, emotionally, verbally, sexually, spiritually, physically, or economically), and most of the advice from other women is for her to “save her marriage.”
When we are more focused on
preventing divorce “saving marriage” than saving human lives, we can be sure that we have elevated marriage so highly that we have turned it into an idol. . . . and like all good things that we turn into an idol, we end up sacrificing human lives for it thinking that we are serving God.
I understand that many believers are making a sincere effort to stand up for traditional marriage and the nuclear family against an array of attacks on the institution of marriage and the family unit. However, the Church is not standing up for traditional marriage and the nuclear family by encouraging and coercing Christian women to stay with abusive husbands and “save their marriage” at any cost. They are actually contributing to the number of toxic marriages, broken families, and keeping women and children imprisoned in abusive situations in their well-meaning efforts to prevent divorce.
Teaching Christian women to save their marriage at any cost–no matter how noble one’s intentions are–is of the devil and God hates it. It is an anti-Christ teaching because Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly, and instructing women to remain in destructive and potentially fatal relationships steals, kills, and destroys, which is the agenda of the enemy and the exact opposite of Jesus’ mission.
“When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:16-19, NRSV)
Saving a marriage is not a priority when abuse is occurring. The priority is to help the abused spouse (and her children if she has any) reach safety, recover, and pursue justice. I think that most Christian women agree with this. But some women are confused about how to respond to domestic abuse, partly because of mixed messages that they receive from influential women who lead women’s ministries.
Enters Heather Lindsey & Her Pinky Promise Movement.
For a brief description of Heather Lindsey and her Pinky Promise Movement, click here to read the following article by the Unfit Christian.
Heather’s official website can be found by clicking here.
First let me say that I’m not a fan of Heather Lindsey, but I’m not a staunch opponent either. I don’t camp out on her websites hunting for minor errors and trivial things to take issue with, but I do have a few serious concerns.
My first concern is that Heather sends mixed messages to abused wives, and my second concern is that she promotes Debi Pearl, a false teacher who gives dangerous advice to women, especially women who are married to domestic abusers.
Let’s deal with the first concern.
On one hand, Heather takes a stand against domestic abuse and encourages women not to accept an abusive relationship. See the screenshots below for examples.
The posts above kind of skim over the subject of domestic abuse, but they do contain some helpful advice.
At this point, some of you might be wondering, since Heather Lindsey gives helpful advice to women in abusive relationships, what is the problem? The problem is that Heather mixes helpful advice with dangerous advice.
For example, on Heather’s official blog, she wrote an article called “I Want to Leave My Marriage” on October 20, 2014.
In this article, Heather strongly rebukes Christian wives for wanting to leave their husbands and get a divorce. At the beginning of the article, Heather says that divorce isn’t an option for her and her husband, Cornelius, and they “will work through everything.”
Further down in the article, Heather says the following:
“Now, if you are getting physically abused I DO recommend counseling and for the couple to get HELP. If your husband is abusing you, he has an anger problem and I believe that God can even heal that. (whoaaaa, Heather! How dare you?) Yes, I believe that God can heal a broken, battered, marriage.”
If you are educated about the subject of domestic abuse, or if you are a professional with formal training and experience in the area of domestic abuse, I’m sure that you can spot the many problems with this statement. But for those of you who don’t see anything wrong with this statement, we’re going to unpack it.
The purpose of Heather’s article is to encourage Christian women to fight for their marriages and do not get a divorce. In the process of encouraging Christian women to stay with their husbands and fight for their marriages, Heather runs down a list of common marital problems:
A husband who doesn’t listen when his wife brings what upsets her to his attention.
A husband who creates messes around the house and doesn’t clean up behind himself.
A husband who refuses to help with household chores.
A husband who doesn’t help his wife take care of the children.
A husband who ignores his wife’s “love language” and doesn’t even try to romance her.
A husband who is dishonest with his wife.
Then Heather mentions domestic abuse. This is a huge problem because domestic abuse isn’t a normal marital problem, so it should not be lumped in with common marital problems in an article that rebukes Christian women for wanting to get a divorce and encourages them to stay with their husbands and fight for their marriage.
As I stated above, domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to gain and maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. This sin is diabolical and should not be viewed or treated in the same manner as other marital problems, because it is potentially fatal and puts the wife and children at risk of criminal neglect, injury, and death. Any sin that makes a wife and children unsafe should be addressed separately and should not be lumped in with encouragement to save one’s marriage.
While I would agree with Heather that there are women who are impatient and ungracious with their husbands, and seek an unbiblical divorce as an easy way out of a marriage that can be restored. . . I vehemently disagree with Heather’s implication that women in abusive marriages fall into that same category, and need to be rebuked and admonished to stay with domestic abusers and “fight” for their marriage.
A woman who is seeking to divorce a domestic abuser isn’t seeking an unbiblical divorce as an easy way out of a marriage that can be restored. She is seeking God-given, Constitutional freedom from oppression, captivity, and slavery. She is seeking liberty from the domination and control of a dangerous malicious person. She is seeking to save her (and her children’s) life and escape from a destructive and potentially fatal relationship.
Seeking to divorce a domestic abuser does not fall into the same category as seeking to divorce a normal husband, because a domestic abuser seeks to dominate and control his wife to the point of using physical violence against her — even murder, if she tries to leave him. This grievous sin should not be lumped in with normal marital problems and included in an article that encourages Christian women to stay with their husbands and fight for their marriage.
Considering that Heather Lindsey’s audience is composed of mainly women, the safe thing to do is address the subject of domestic abuse in an entirely separate teaching, apart from any message that encourages women to stay married.
While it is good to encourage couples to work through normal marital problems that make a marriage unhealthy, what many Christian leaders, relationship gurus, and counselors need to understand is that an abusive marriage is not just unhealthy, it is potentially fatal and causes lifelong damage.
Abusive marriages are not like other unhealthy marriages and cannot be healed, fixed, or transformed into loving marriages by telling the wife to pray, fast, study her Bible more, be more obedient to God, love her husband more, “win him without words,” report her husband to the police (in hopes that he will repent), or even seek a temporary separation. When abuse is happening, the priority should not be to save or heal the marriage in the first place, but to help the woman (and her children) be safe.
Heather Lindsey said that if a woman is being physically abused, she recommends counseling and for the couple to get help. I would like to know what sort of counseling and help she is referring to. If she is referring to marriage/couples counseling, that is an unwise recommendation.
Domestic violence experts and professionals do not recommend marriage/couples counseling when abuse is present. Why not? Read the following excerpt from “Why We Don’t Recommend Couples Counseling for Abusive Relationships” by the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
“In order for couples counseling to be successful, both partners must be willing to take responsibility for their actions and make adjustments to their behavior. Abusive people want all of the power and control in the relationship and will focus on maintaining that imbalance, even if it means continuing unhealthy and hurtful behavior patterns.
Many callers to the Hotline have related stories of trying and “failing” at couples counseling because of an abusive partner’s focus on manipulating the sessions to place blame, minimize the abuse, and attempt to win over the therapist to their side. If the therapist tries to hold the abusive partner accountable for these tactics, they will often refuse to attend further sessions and may even forbid their partner to see the “biased” therapist again. The abusive partner may even choose to escalate the abuse because they feel their power and control was threatened.
The primary reason we don’t recommend couples counseling is that abuse is not a “relationship” problem. Couples counseling may imply that both partners contribute to the abusive behavior, when the choice to be abusive lies solely with the abusive partner. Focusing on communication or other relationship issues distracts from the abusive behavior, and may actually reinforce it in some cases. Additionally, a therapist may not be aware that abuse is present and inadvertently encourage the abuse to continue or escalate.
Both partners should feel and be safe in order for therapy to be effective. A victim may not feel safe with their abuser present and could be hesitant to fully participate or speak honestly during counseling sessions. Alternatively, a victim may have a false sense of security during a session and reveal information they normally wouldn’t disclose. Then, back at home, the abusive partner could decide to retaliate with more abuse.“
If Heather Lindsey recommends that abused wives attend marriage/couples counseling with their domestic abuser, she is giving bad advice which could further endanger the victim and empower the abuser. Abusers use marriage/couples counseling to further manipulate their victims and deceive outsiders.
The only kind of counseling that would be appropriate is separate, confidential, individual domestic violence counseling for the wife and a domestic batterer’s intervention and prevention program for the abuser.
When domestic abuse is occurring, there is nothing that a wife can do to make her marriage better or make her husband love and respect her as an equal human being, so there is no point in encouraging her to attend marriage/couples counseling. The abuse is beyond her control and the only person who can stop the abuse is her husband.
Abuse rarely stops because of marriage/couples counseling and the wife staying married to her abuser. As a matter of fact, a former state trooper and a police officer both told me (on separate occasions) that they have rarely seen a happy ending to abusive marriages. The former state trooper told me that he has walked up on crime scenes where the husband murdered his wife, children, and turned the gun on himself. The police officer told me that he has answered more homicide/homicide-suicide emergency calls than he can count. He also said that he always encourages abused women to leave, but they almost always decide to stay and then he is called back to the residence only to find the woman was murdered by her abuser.
Considering this stark reality, Heather Lindsey needs to clarify what she means when she says that she recommends counseling and for the couple to get help.
Next, Heather Lindsey says,“If your husband is abusing you, he has an anger problem.” This too, is a bit of a problem.
The widespread belief that domestic abuse is an “anger issue” which can be healed or fixed with anger management, is a common misconception.
Although some domestic abusers do display anger and rage towards their victims, the root of their abusive behavior isn’t anger or a lack of self-control over their emotions, but an extreme sense of entitlement and privilege. They believe that they are superior to their targets, that their targets are objects to be used and serve them, and that their imagined superiority gives them the right to use evil tactics to gain and maintain power and control over their targets.
I am not saying that anger management classes are a complete and total waste of time for domestic abusers. Anger management classes can be helpful for domestic abusers who are repentant, willingly attend, and committed to being honest about why they get angry (because they cannot control others and their target(s) will not do what they want).
What I am saying is that while anger management classes may address anger, they do not necessarily address the source of the anger (an extreme sense of entitlement and privilege, and a desire to control others). Domestic batterer intervention and prevention programs specifically address the mentality behind abuse. Yes, God can heal anger problems, but calling domestic abuse an “anger problem” or an “anger issue” is a misdiagnosis which obscures the real problem and gives the abuser an ineffective cure.
Heather Lindsey goes on to say, “I believe that God can heal a broken, battered, marriage,”
When it comes to domestic abuse and the chances of such a marriage being healed, it isn’t a question of what God can do, but a question of whether the abuser will repent of his abusive behavior, and a question of whether it’s a good idea for the victim to stay in such a destructive relationship.
As believers, we know that God has all-power and He can do whatever He wants. He created the entire universe, He resurrected Jesus from the dead, and He transforms unregenerate sinners into a new creation. However, this same God also gives domestic abusers the choice to humble themselves and repent of their wicked ways or not. He also gives abusers serious consequences for maliciously harming their wives, and one of those serious consequences is divorce.
Those of us who minister to women and aim to save marriages must remember this — the omnipotence of God does not rule out or negate the reality that men can and do choose to reject Him. And so, we are faced with what seems to be a paradox: that we are to “walk by faith” and believe that “all things are possible with God,” and at the same time, know that there is a very real possibility that we will not save a marriage because no one has the power to save their spouse and prevent abandonment:
“Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:15-16, NASB)
Domestic abuse is most certainly a form of abandonment. And in such cases, Paul the apostle says to let your husband go. In spite of the false teaching that you are to “save your marriage,” you are not under bondage in such cases, because God has called us to peace. How do you know whether you will save your husband? You don’t know. And both Scripture and data on domestic abuse agree that it is unwise and unsafe to have false optimism and stay with someone who has (through his abusive actions) abandoned you and your marriage covenant.
If a man chooses to continue abusing his wife and persists in his delusional belief that he is a godly man who loves his wife as Christ loves the Church, and insists that he is not the problem but his wife is actually the problem (because she won’t bow down to him and do what he wants), then he will remain abusive and self-deceived, and God will not change him or heal his marriage. Sin that is not repented of is regressive, which is why abuse escalates over time. The abuser only grows worse and worse, and the marriage becomes more and more turbulent.
“Can an abusive partner really change?
While people do have the capacity to change, they need to deeply want to and be committed to all aspects of change in order to begin to do so — and even then, it’s a lot easier said than done.
In discussing why abusers abuse , it’s clear that a lot of the causal factors behind these behaviors are learned attitudes and feelings of entitlement and privilege — which can be extremely difficult to truly change. Because of this, there’s a very low percentage of abusers who truly do change their ways.”
(excerpt taken from “Is Change Possible in an Abuser?”, The National Domestic Violence Hotline)
Telling women that God can heal a broken, battered marriage, places their focus on their marriage getting better instead of their own safety. It uses a cloak of spirituality to cloud the fact that she is in imminent danger and keeps her in bondage to a dangerous relationship.
When a woman is being abused, we should be trusting God to make a way of escape for her and deliver her from captivity. Not only does God restore marriages, but more importantly, He saves lives and delivers people from oppression and tyranny! The same God who set the children of Israel free from slavery in Egypt has the power to set women free from abusive marriages. This needs to be our message to such women.
God has the power to save, deliver, and transform domestic abusers. But it’s up to them to submit themselves to God and avail themselves of His transforming power. The onus needs to be placed upon abusers to change, instead of placing the pressure on women to remain bound to abusers through a false and unlikely guarantee that God will heal their marriage. The probability of an abusive marriage being restored is very slim, and the probability is very high that the victim will end up injured or dead.
Now to address my second concern, which is Heather Lindsey’s disturbing alliance with Debi Pearl.
At the bottom of Heather’s article “I Want to Leave My Marriage,” she recommends a list of books for broken marriages. See the screenshot below.
Notice the book titled “Created to Be His Help Meet” by Debi Pearl.
Who is Debi Pearl?
Debi and Michael Pearl are a married ‘Christian’ fundamentalist couple based out of rural Tennessee. They run a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called “No Greater Joy” (NGJ) which brings in between $1.5 and $1.7 million dollars a year through product sales and donations.
The Pearls are best known for their controversial book, “To Train Up a Child” (published in 1994) which promotes child abuse.
If you have even a modicum of discernment, just a few quotes from the book immediately reveal why it’s an “extraordinarily dangerous” and “evil book” in the words of Michael Ramsey, the California District Attorney who prosecuted the Schatz case and investigated the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl.
For just a small taste of the Pearl’s insanity, read the following excerpts from “To Train Up a Child”:
“At four months she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good, we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.” (To Train Up a Child, 1st edition p.9)
On page 56, Debi Pearl admits to whipping the leg of a fifteen-month-old baby ten separate times for “ten acts of stubborn defiance”:
“After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.”
On page 79, it says to spank a seven-month-old baby for crying:
“A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
To read more quotes from “To Train Up a Child,” click here.
Considering the scary and grossly unbiblical things that Debi and Michael Pearl teach about child discipline, we shouldn’t be surprised that their teachings on domestic abuse are just as heretical and abominable.
Let’s take a look at some of the crazy, harmful, and demonic things that Debi and Michael Pearl teach about domestic violence, and keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg:
In the following letter, a woman seeks advice from Debi Pearl for a friend who is married to a verbally abusive husband. Both Debi and Michael respond by twisting Scripture and using pseudo-spiritual language to instruct women to remain married to abusive husbands (even child sexual predators!). Their advice indicates that they believe that divorce is never warranted on Biblical grounds (even though Scripture does provide justifications for divorce under certain circumstances) and are extremely ignorant of the dynamics of domestic abuse. The fact that they would encourage a woman to reconcile with a child sexual predator is frightening! Read the letter here, I also encourage you to read the responses to the Pearls.
Like all books by false teachers, “Created to be His Help Meet” teaches some Biblical truths, but the truths therein aren’t the issue. The issue is that the Pearls mix truth with harmful errors. To read about some of these errors, read reviews of “Created to be His Help Meet” here.
The main problem with “Created to be His Help Meet” is that it promotes an unbiblical form of “authoritarian marriage” which exalts the husband as a demi-god and revolves around pleasing him and not Jesus Christ. It teaches women that they were created to be a man’s help meet, which is a false doctrine based on a misinterpretation of Genesis 2:18. Women–like men–were created to glorify God, and all women are not called to be married, some are called to be single.
Teaching women that their identity is wrapped up in a husband/marriage, and that their righteousness is based upon how subservient they are to their husband, is a serious heresy which robs God of His glory and undermines the Gospel truth that we are made righteous by faith in the Person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. It teaches women to be servants of men, instead of servants of Jesus Christ.
If Debi and Michael Pearl are influencing the religious beliefs of Heather Lindsey, then this might explain the mixed messages that Heather sends to abused wives. Are Heather’s followers aware of the demented heresies of Debi and Michael Pearl? Has Heather obeyed the Scripture which says to “test all things” by carefully examining the beliefs and practices of the Pearls before promoting them to her audience?
Considering that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, I cannot in good conscience recommend Heather Lindsey to anyone because of her doublespeak on the subject of domestic abuse. Her good advice is tainted by harmful unbiblical advice.
I am pleading with those of you who influence women to take an inventory of your alliances and religious beliefs. Do you support and promote people who encourage abuse? What influence would your beliefs have on a woman in an abusive marriage? Do your beliefs prioritize saving human lives over preventing divorce? Do your beliefs empower women to put their safety (and the safety of their children) first, or do your beliefs encourage women to make “saving their marriage” their number one priority?
Do your beliefs encourage women to consider divorce as a justified Biblical consequence and Divine provision for domestic abuse? Or do you teach abused wives that divorce is never an option and to remain married, even though Scripture allows divorce under certain circumstances, and even though the data indicates that many domestic abusers never change, domestic abuse escalates over time, and domestic abuse is potentially fatal whether physical abuse is involved or not?
Do your beliefs encourage women to view domestic abuse as a form of “God-ordained suffering” which can make them more godly and lead their husbands to repentance? Do your beliefs downplay, minimize, or trivialize non-physical forms of abuse (emotional and psychological, spiritual, and economic abuse) as “less serious” “less harmful” or “less threatening,” even though data shows that non-physical forms of abuse can end in domestic abuse-related homicide?
Do your beliefs encourage women to see themselves as inferior to men? Do your beliefs encourage women to have inconsensual sex with their husbands? Do your beliefs discourage women from pursuing an education and having a career or job outside of the home?
I could go on, but I will end here by saying that if you minister to women, assume that some of them are married to, courting, or dating a domestic abuser, or will possibly be approached by a domestic abuser at some point in the future. We cannot afford to be naive or assume that being a believer or having sound theology makes us immune to domestic abuse. We are not of the world, but we are in the world, so we need to get educated about the issue of domestic abuse, confront it head-on, and start by confronting our own beliefs about domestic abuse and marriage.
It’s not good enough for us to say that we don’t support domestic abuse. We need to do some serious soul-searching and examine the ways in which we encourage women to stay in deadly and destructive relationships.
If you or someone that you know is in an abusive relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233