January 2, 2009 / Uncategorized

Rick Warren: Abuse is no excuse for women to seek divorce


Wives do not have a “right” to divorce abusive husbands, according to Rick Warren.

Warren, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to deliver the Inaugural Invocation, instructs his parishioners that the Bible says physical abuse is no excuse for getting a divorce.

Warren explains:

Having been involved as a pastor in situations of abuse, there’s something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says if they abuse you in such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.

“God,” Warren says, “hates divorce.”

This teaching is posted in the “Bible Questions and Answers” section of the Saddleback Family website (#32, “What should I do when abuse is happening in my marriage?”).

Warren’s preaching is alarming, especially in light of recently released figures on violence against women in the United States. Incidences of reported domestic violence increased by 42% from 2005 to 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The projected number of violent crimes committed by intimate partners against women increased from 389,100 in 2005 to 554,260 in the 2007 report. (By comparison, the number of violent crimes against men by intimate partners went down.)

Warren recommends that couples temporarily separate while they participate in counseling to repair the marriage. According to Warren, it is better to maintain an abusive relationship than seek the immediate relief of divorce.

It’s not like you can escape the pain… You don’t — you don’t escape the pain. And I’d always rather choose a short term pain and find God’s solution for a long term gain, than try and find a short term solution that’s going to involve a long term pain in life.

Warren’s views give abusive spouses one more tool to control their victims: the Bible. His teaching undermines the resolve of women who are debating ending an abusive marriage. According to Warren, a Christian who divorces another Christian will ultimately look back and say, “I told myself it was for a right reason but now I realize it was more my selfishness than anything else.”

Law enforcement and public health experts and women’s rights advocates have long agreed that many women will not leave abusive relationships without a holistic approach to support that provides for emotional, medical, legal, and financial needs. Warren’s teaching — that a wife’s ultimate priority must be saving the marriage, rather than herself — is a direct challenge to this approach.

As he puts it:

I want to tell you the advice that we give in our counseling ministries. First of all if you are in this kind of a situation, I strongly recommend that you take advantage of our lay counseling ministry. Go in and talk to someone and let them minister to you. And the advice that we give is not divorce but separation.

Warren omits mention of contacting the police, seeking medical attention, or obtaining legal assistance to secure orders of protection for yourself and your children.

Temporary separation combined with counseling is the only path he recommends, because it “has proven to provide healing in people’s lives.” Healing the marriage — avoiding divorce — is the ultimate goal.

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  • jj

    I know divorce is acceptable in the Bible if there is adultery and fornication….of which a great deal of abuse is the main factor of these two actions against a spouse. Its done to punish, degrade, humiliate and justify the adultery and fornication. The Bible also says “Thou shall not kill”…and abusive behavior is a form of killing the spirit, the emotional and mental spirit as well as eventually the body as the statistics have proven to expose the magnitude of offenes against the women. The Bible is to be used as a guidline as to how we should live our daily lives….”Do Unto To Others As You Would Have Done Unto You”. If there is nothing wrong with spousal abuse and an individual is expected to stay in such a relationship then according to the preachings of Rick Warren, there is no consideration of the pain, sufferings and serious ramifications that affect all those exposed to the abuse. Children see abuse when they are young and this programs them to be abusive or to turn to other negative behaviors. Abuse is not justifiable under any circumstances and it should also be made clear that the abuser does not stop when there is divorce or separation…many times it stops for the victim who bravely or submissively thought she had no other choice but to remain in the marriage and the “til death do us part” in the marriage vow became a death sentence for her…and sometimes the children as well. The Bible is a GUIDELINE….not something that should be used as a cover for the abuser…we can now expect the courts to unindated with the reprobate men who will use all this to justify their right to kill (in any manner) his spouse.

  • Amy Siskind


    A friend of mine who is on the board of a domestic abuse shelter wrote the following to me in email:

    The article about Rich Warren, should be send to NY times and USA today if it is based on a record. The public need to know it to protect women’s right. The judge need to be educated by reading on newspaper and TV, internet…..

    There is a professor at Columbia, she has wrote book about Gas lightening , How man abuse their wife by terriffying women they share life with.. We should get her comment on this if we have evidence Rick warren did say those words.

    One of the staff manage our shelters , her sister was murderd by husband last week. We all shocked. If Rich Warren say those, Is that means she should be dead ? She was not safe with the murder. She should get divorce long time ago. And you know how difficult to get divorce for women. Lots of terrifying and humiliations.

  • Lonni

    I am a twice-divorced Christian woman. My first marriage was abusive and I wasn’t a Christian then. But, even had I been, I still would have divorced because God also said “what hath light and darkness have….”(paraphrased)in common. In other words, a man who is abusing his wife and children is in no way, form or fashion a Christian man. The wife is under no obligation to be yoked to “darkness” when she is in the “light”. Rick Warren is taking the easy way out of a very complicated situation which is helpful to no one. He is all about compromise is so many areas that it’s painful for a true Christian to even consider what he has to say.

  • I bet Michelle would have something to say about that position. As for me, someone who has been the victim of spousal abuse from my ex-husband, I’d love to know how Warren would feel if he had a daughter who had suffered that? It’s always convenient to take a position on these issues until you have the reality of them in your own family.

  • Karen

    I remember reading an article in a Christian magazine which stated divorce IS acceptable because the husband by being abusive is breaking his Christian vow to provide love, safety and shelter. Divorce in this case would be the most Christian thing to do.

  • Zee

    Thanks for continuing to highlight Rick Warren’s stance on women.

    Obama has no shame.

    Here’s an underreported story from Iran:


    While police watched, protesters shouted death threats and vandalized the home Nobel Peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, a women’s advocate in Iran

  • Constance

    This choice of Obama’s really is very strange. If there is one thing the Obamaites are good at it is planning so we can assume the choice of Warren was planned. They can’t have been blindsided by the outrage. So what did they hope to gain from this? There has to be some calculated reason. Personally I think it is the bunch who now control the Democrat party seeking to grab a permanent majority and permanent power. In the process they have tossed both women and gays from their constituency. Gays are lound but not that big of a group but women are 52% of the population so what is up with that. Obviously they think feminism or women’s causes are a fringe concern.

  • Sis

    This is where is starts: men invisibilizing the abuse they inflict on women. It’s the enslaught of those harmless passive sentences again. “if abuse is happening”. No actor here. No subject no object. Just, abuse happening. See how men write out what they do? Men abuse. Men abuse women. “If your male partner is abusing you” is what he should be saying.

  • Zee

    Good point, Sis.

    As to the “why” we can make an educated guess.

    I’ve seen some good write-ups on this, but what stood out for me was the “megachurch” aspect.

    Prosperity theology I’ve seen it called. The Moonies, Mormons, and megachurches are all about power, money and building a huge cult-like following. The Moonies even used our goverment offices and our own representatives to participate in a “coronation” where they threw out the “cross” and replaced that “outdated” symbol with the “crown” that Papa Rev. Moon now wears.

  • Nina M.

    Dear JJ and Lonnie,

    Warren’s interpretation is very, very strange. He says that the Bible allows divorce under two conditions – if there is adultery, or abandonment (“I wish there – so adultery is one, and abandonment is the second. I wish there was a third” he says).

    If one were to use his framework, I’d think one could easily categorize abuse as a kind of abandonment – abandonment of the role of a supportive, nurturing spouse. I think it would have been very easy for Warren to make that interpretation, but he doesn’t. Its baffling to me. I don’t know whether its because he’s a narcissist who doesn’t grasp the impact of his words on other people, or whether he doesn’t want to alienate the abusers in his audience, or what. He’s awful.

  • Sis

    And the Catholics are any different?

    But let’s keep the focus here where it belongs. This is not a discussion about religion. This is a discussion about Obama enabling men who abuse women: because that’s what it will crack out to if he doesn’t finally take some stand against the rampant women-hate in his hand-picked ‘cabinet’. Larry Summers–women are born dumb; Jon Favreau–sexual assault is just fun; Rick Warren–wife battering and abuse? Stand by your man.

  • Anna

    I hope TNA is sending this out as a press release.

  • The problem–well ONE of the problems–with literal interpretation of the Bible (how Warren interprets the Bible) is that it was written for the people of the TIME. In those days, women were hardly considered equivalent in society… and we women are STILL dealing with this paternalistic approach to this day.

    To suggest that women and children be subjected to abuse because God doesn’t like divorce is akin to suggesting that torture is okay because we don’t like terrorists.

    Having come from a family of abuse, the only way I made it to adulthood is by my parents separating and eventually divorcing.

    Warren is plain wrong.

  • We are thinking about doing something here in the New Year. Not precisely sure what as of yet.

  • Sheryl Robinson


    this is a great post.

  • Yes thank you Nina.

    Based on the emails that we seem to get with much too great of frequency, I believe that TNA will have DV as one of our focuses during 2009. Barely a day passes where a story from one of our members, or a friend, family member of neighbor of a member, is impacted by DV. And as you aptly point out, the trend is going in the wrong direction!

  • Anna

    …And I fear the trend will continue to go in the wrong direction since economic hardship typically heightens the problem….

  • Constance

    Sis: Well I am sort of Catholic and I think the leaders of the Catholic church are so out of touch with Americans who call them selves Catholics that they are pretty much ignored by the lay people. Or in many cases people treat priests with suspicion and make sure to keep their children away from them. So there is that difference between today’s Protestants who look up to their leadership and Catholics who merely tolerate their leadership.

  • the15th

    The Catholic Church allows civil divorce, just not remarriage.

  • Ali


    Yeah, I think DV is the way to go as a focus. I don’t think my friends/family understood why sexism was so important during the election because they don’t understand the larger narrative. How treating a woman as whore/ bitch (no matter who this woman is) only spreads violence toward other women. DV is seen as personal. But it is also political as DV statistics vary from country to country and DV rates are even increasing in this country as you already mentioned. I wonder why???

    BTW, I used the Facebook feature here for the first time today. Love it! Thanks.

  • Anna

    the15th – So great to “see you” on the blog!

  • Zee

    “And the Catholics are any different?”

    Sis, I’m not sure if you are talking about divorce or the rise of the prosperity cults. I was referring to a disturbing connection between these prosperity cults and our government…but my references were in no way exhaustive. For instance, Opus Dei is the Catholic cult, and Justice Scalia is part of it, as well as that Hansen spy, and others.

  • Femisex.com has done a ‘quick roundup’ on the response — mostly non-response — of the older women’s groups to the Warren issue.

    Where’s the Beef? Feminist Leaders on tiptoe with Submission to Obama and Rick Warren?
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:07 pm — admin
    A concerned reader wrote us to ask if any Feminist organization has publicly denounced Obama’s decision to have Rick Warren give the invocation on Jan. 20th. Excellent question…we decided to do a quick round-up.


  • ER

    Ann and TNA,

    How about writing a press release on Warren and relating it to the larger issue of escalating DV? The facts speak for themselves. ‘Connecting the dots’ for the public and sharing the facts will speak for themselves. It will be clear how far off Warren is. See below from an earlier post:

    See the article: “US: Soaring Rates of Rape and Violence Against Women: More Accurate Methodology Shows Urgent Need for Preventive Action” on the Human Rights Watch website at: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/200.....inst-women

    Quoting from their website:
    “Human Rights Watch’s national recommendations include:

    • The Obama administration should appoint a special adviser on violence against women in the US;

    • Congress should restore full funding to the Office on Violence Against Women;

    • The Department of Justice, through the National Institute of Justice, should authorize comprehensive studies that more accurately track sexual and domestic violence in the US, especially among individuals who are least likely to be surveyed by the National Crime Victimization Survey;

    • Congress should increase funding for sexual and domestic violence prevention, intervention, and treatment programs;?

    • Congress should amend the federal Debbie Smith Act, a grant program designed to eliminate the rape kit backlog, but that states can and have used for other kinds of DNA backlogs;

    • The US should ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to prevent, protect against, and punish violence against women.”

    Possible ACTION PLAN:

    1. How about a press release on Warren’s DV position and clearly connecting the dots about DV and the need for Obama to address this important issue?

    2. Ask Obama to follow the recommendations of the Human Rights Watch group, including appointing a Special Adviser on Violence Against Women in the US.

    3. It will be harder for Obama’s administration to dismiss women as a ’special interest group’ as data like this (increasing violence against women) becomes widely known and disseminated. It also makes clear we aren’t just complaining, but that major problems exist that must be addressed.

  • ER

    Whoops. Meant to ‘address’ the above email to Amy and TNA! My apologies. Sitting around the table here with kids and friends and a bit of chaos . . .

  • Anna

    Was just wondering, in a country like the United States why should ANY religious leader preside over any part of an inauguration? It’s offensive and disenfranchising.

  • Kathy in CA

    Anna – I am not offended by having a religious leader at an inauguration. As Americans – we need to stand up for relgious freedom and free speech. Obama is using his free speech in having a Christian minister give the prayer. If the new president was Jewish – I would expect a Jewish priest (I don’t know the correct term here). Same for any other religion or no religion at all. Obama has told America religion is important to him – and the ceremonial nature of the inauguration is a lifetime achievement for he and his family. And, no ladies, I did not vote for him, but I do repect his choice to have a Christian prayer. As for his choice of minister – purely political, and not in good taste. If, as he says he is doing, chosing Mr. Warren is due to trying to reach across all isles and support those that he does not agree with, tells me two things.

  • Kathy in CA

    Sorry Ladies – hit the send button.

    1. Obama does not consider that offending a broad array of Americans is important (I have read very little approval of his choice, and very weak reasons why he said he chose him).
    2. Rick Warren was the moderator of a very controversial debate. Many consider Obama not the winner of that debate. It’s as if he wants to “win” by bringing him back into the political forefront for the inauguration.

    Ladies, the cabinet watch on this blog site is only the beginning. We have a lot of work to do.

  • Anna

    Kathy – Enjoyed your post(s!) (Glad I’m not the only one who inadvertently hits some button that posts before I’m finished typing!).

    You wrote some very interesting ideas, including why you believe Obama selected Warren.

    My perspective regarding my post is that by choosing a religious leader for a ceremony that is about the entire country, it sends a message that disenfranchizes those who are not Christian. I don’t think the selection of who one chooses should be founded upon that President-elect’s religious persuasions, it should be founded upon the nature of our government and how we view the relationship, or lack thereof, between church and state, as it were. All of the activities and ceremonies surrounding inaugurations are powerful symbols and statements about who we are as a nation. Likely we just see this differently…

    BTW, rabbi is the term you were looking for.

  • Anna


    Does anyone have a link to where I can gather direct, first hand info about Rick Warren and his views?

  • Thia, GA

    Click on the Saddleback Family link in the article above. You can listen to sermons, read about the church etc.

  • Anna

    Thia, Thanks. I always forget to find links in the text. I think the color of the links is so similar to black that it’s hard for me to differentiate it. Will go do now…

  • Anna

    fsteele – Clicked on the link you posted on 1/3 but it comes up as “page not found”

  • Anna

    I’m going waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out on a limb here and will likely incur the wrath of many for posting this, but here goes:

    Went to Rick Warren’s web site and listened the his full response to the question about abuse. I heard all of what was excerpted here and a few other things. I also have a few thoughts. NONE of this is to say I support him. His views toward women, submissiveness, etc are alien and go against my own views. BUT, I think in order to be credible, it’s best not to cherry pick comments, so…

    Warren also states that one “should not put up with abuse.” In addition, since he encourages counseling, I don’t think any of us can fairly say what is discussed in these counseling sessions, including whether the woman is encouraged to seek medical treatment, get a restraining order, etc.

    As for his views on seperation vs divorce, I agree that this is problematic, along with many other aspects of his perspective. In theory, one could remain seperated forever, but in reality, this would limit a woman’s ability to re-marry should she choose to do so at another point in life.

    Again, I’m not defending Warren. I’m simply noting that just as none of us would appreciate our words being taken out of context, I think it’s always best to go to the source, read or listen in full and draw one’s own conclusions.

    My conclusion is that Warren is misguided, but perhaps no more so than many religious leaders may be on this subject. Therein lies the rub. I think it would be interesting to research how common or uncommon his stance is within the evangelical Christian community. I wonder if he’s an outlier, or just more well known and therefore more exposed.

    Perhaps we might contact Warren and ask him some of our questions. Mine would be:

    Are women encouraged to seek medical attention?

    Are women educated about how to get a restraining order?

    Are women given resources for safe houses/shelters?

    You appear to feel that “healing” is the ultimate goal. Does you definition of healing involve the end of abuse?

    What are your views regarding situations where seperation and counseling is not sufficient and the cycle of abuse does not end?

    Since patterns of domestic violence are often intractable, does your position that divorce is not an option trump the woman’s safety?

    Are you aware of the statistics of domestic violence against women and the number of women who are killed as a result?

    Do you feel that God would prefer a woman die rather than divorce?

  • the15th

    Hi Anna! Good to see you too.

  • Anna

    Just sent my questions off to Rick Warren. Will keep you posted.

  • Nina M.

    Hi Anna. I’m glad someone else shared the pain of listening closely to Warren’s statement!

    I think what Warren is doing in his statement on abuse – and elsewhere – is trying to please everyone. He doubles back on himself constantly.

    That said, after listening to the “abuse” segment more than a dozen times (so I could accurately transcribe it), I think some of his statements have more weight than others. He quite clearly states that there are two conditions under which the Bible will sanction divorce, and abuse is not one of them. “God hates divorce” is an unambiguous statement that really jumped out at me.

    The point of his digression on divorce in cases of abandonment or infidelity is to muddy the waters – he’s trying to say he’s not totally against divorce in all circumstances; that he’s not an extremist. Nor does he hold non-Christians accountable for divorce, etc. But he comes back around to saying it is not Christian – it is against the bible – to divorce because of spousal abuse. That message comes through loud and clear.

    I agree that we don’t know what is discussed by Saddleback lay counselors, and Warren does say you shouldn’t put up with abuse, that abuse is not Christian. But he separates this thinking from his position on divorce. What he is saying is – ‘no one has the right to abuse you – so if this is happening, tell Saddleback and we’ll help you (to not divorce).’

    But taking a step back for a moment – the advice anyone and everyone should give to a person experiencing abuse is – first and foremost –

    – secure your own safety and the safety of your loved ones. Get real help. This frequently means calling 911, going to the hospital, and/or variations thereof.

    Warren doesn’t say that, and here’s why (IMHO). If you call 911, the police may arrest the abusive spouse, and then the rule of law takes precedence.

    Warren wants the woman’s first call to be to Saddleback. If you call Saddleback first, what happens next is within Saddleback’s sphere of control. Warren’s influence over his flock is extended. If you call the police, the power shifts to the person bringing the charges, the arresting officers, the courts, etc. Warren is left out of the picture.

    Philosophically, I suspect Warren is not unlike those who want Sharia courts to take precedence over civil courts in matters of family law (see the UK, Pakistan, etc). Not that he wants to dismantle our criminal and civil court systems, but he is part of the Christian right movement that seeks to peel away powers from the government and put them in church hands instead. That movement views the government as a rival to church authority. The more dependent people are on the church – rather than government – for a variety of services (education, housing, poverty relief, medical care) the happier they are. Its part of the movement to “Christianize” the country.

    So that’s where I think he’s coming from, philosophically. In terms of people-pleasing, Warren is handing abused spouses an “easy out.” He’s saying to them – “you don’t need to make the hard decision to give up everything you have to get away from your abuser, or to call the police and have him put away – you can just come to our counselors and let us tell you what to do. We will fix it. You don’t need to assert yourself, or make big changes. We’ll just magically turn the person you married into the person you wish he would be. And then your marriage will be saved and everything will be okay.”

    Sadly, I can imagine that message appeals to a lot of his parishioners, abusers and the abused alike.

  • Anna

    Nina – Really appreciated your response. Greatly. I hear where you’re coming from. I think you’re smart and make a very strong and clear argument. And, believe me, I’m not out there trying to defend Warren. I just needed to listen and think for myself in addition to reading your piece. Also, for what it’s worth, and right or wrong, there is now a new latest-greatest perspective on how to handle domestic violence (I used to work in health care and dealt with this issue on a regular basis) which is not to automatically direct the victim to leave and/or call the police. I learned this via 1) a course for mental health professionals on domestic violence, and, 2) my supervisor semi reading me the riot act when I had, indeed, been rather direct with a woman who was being abused about the urgent need to leave. Won’t go into a lengthy diatribe here about this new line of thinking, but, in brief, it involves a line of thinking that it’s ultimately more helpful to work with the woman over time toward getting out. I no longer work in this field, but if I recall, there were stats that showed greater long-term success with this newer approach than when women were told to leave without laying a foundation first. (I’m butchering this, I know.) Likely part of how the pendulum swings re: fads in thinking about serious matters. I never fully bought into this new approach since the experiences I had with women in violent relationships where I worked with them to leave immediately seemed to stick in most cases.

    Again, thanks for your really thoughtful response.

  • Nina M.

    Anna – one more thing. I think it is significant that Warren’s statements about divorce are not offhand or cherry-picked comments or part of a talk he’s given that only a few people might have heard. Nor is this a case of being “misguided.”

    Rather, this is the response Warren himself posted on his website in its Q & A on the Bible section. It is his answer to the question he himself posed – “What should I do when abuse is happening in my marriage?” This is a resource that troubled parishioners are supposed to look to for advice. Its his articulation of what the Bible says – what God would say – about divorce and spousal abuse.

    If he were to comment on divorce now – now that’s he’s booked for the inauguration – i’m sure he would use a bunch of platitudes and mushy language to cover up his position, just like he did when he made his “i love everyone, even gays” statement and reached out to Melissa Etheridge.

    But actions speak louder than words – Warren helped to push Prop 8 in California, and Warren’s statement on abuse and divorce is a ‘permanent’ fixture of the Saddleback website.

    Regardless of what he says now, this is the person Warren was before he was chosen for the inauguration, and its the person he’ll return to being once the inauguration is over.

  • Anna

    Nina – I only meant “cherry picked” cause in that same statement you’re referring to, he does also state quite clearly that abuse shouldn’t be tolerated and that was not noted in the quotes. But, I hear you and trust your perspective a lot.

    I’m still curious to try to understand if Warren is representative of evangelical views. If so, it matters little whether Obama picked him or someone else from within the same religious community. Then the bigger issue is that of the position of the evangelical community on domestic violence.

    Meanwhile, back to your post(s): You lay out your perspective in such a thoughtful manner. Have you considered submitting it as an Op-Ed piece somewhere? If not, perhaps winnow it down to 200 words and write a letter to the editor. Now would be the time with inauguration day approaching. I hope you’ll consider doing that.

  • Nina M.

    Thanks, Anna, for all your comments. I have zero background in the domestic violence field so i was trying to be as vague/flexible as possible by saying “secure your own safety.” How interesting that the prevailing wisdom is a gradualist approach!

    I can imagine why a gradualist approach might yield better results in terms of the woman not returning to the abusive relationship in the long run – if you lay the groundwork for a divorce ahead of time by securing the appropriate documentation, etc., the whole process goes more smoothly – to generalize wildly – but I wonder what the results are in terms of health / injury. How many more injuries are sustained, how much more psychic damage is done, how many more chances are there that a woman could lose her life because she didn’t leave immediately?

    I would think that every time a woman *doesn’t* call the police after being assaulted by a spouse, an opportunity is missed to get a police report and documentation of what happened – documentation that may be essential later on down the line. That’s the scenario that popped into my head – a woman goes to the Saddleback counselor instead of calling the police, and months later she winds up in court having to document the abuse and she has no paperwork. And she has to explain why, if the abuse was so bad, she didn’t call the police.

    I think the way Warren mixed messages was really interesting (in a sick kind of way). By saying, essentially, that abuse is not as important a marital breach as abandonment or infidelity, and discouraging women from seeking divorce, he downplays the significance of the issue… but then he builds it up again by saying no one should tolerate abuse. Its like a one-two punch to get people into his counseling program. Its important enough for counseling, but not so important that you need to involve extra-church authorities.

    And I can’t even begin to explain his bit at the end, when it seems like he’s telling people to sin as much as they want, because hey, we all do it and we can sort it out later. I mean, if god’s going to forgive all our sins anyway, why behave at all?

  • Linders,

    Nina’s piece did not ,make that comparison. Perhaps you saw it on another blog where her piece was pinged?

  • Lili

    Amy, did you see that Sharia law was mentioned above in Nina’s conversation with Anna – see 6.23 pm?

  • Anna

    Nina – I think this newer approach to handling domestic violence against women has to do with many factors (getting divorce papers in order being far down on the priority list). Some of it relates to psychological/emotional work with the woman in order to reduce the chances of her returning. (I believe that, statistically, most women DO return, but don’t quote me. I’ve been out of that loop for several years.) Also, calling the Police every time is by no means the obvious way to go in every situation as there are many factors to consider regarding the fallout from doing this. It’s complex. In my view, speaking very broadly, horrid situations rarely have simple, one-size-fits-all answers.

    As to the additional cost a woman may pay by remaining for longer while groundwork is laid, yes, of course that risk exists. And, when assessing these situations, there’s a hierarchy of things to consider (just as there are in suicide risk cases). For example, if there’s a gun in the household, the urgency typically rises to the highest level, etc.

    What can I say? It’s horrible. And the fallout for children if there are any involved adds a whole other layer that is beyond heartbreaking…and so the cycle continues, generation after generation….very hard to break. My hat goes off to all of those who work in the trenches every day with these situations, trying to ensure safety, help shift the mode of functioning, etc.

  • goesh

    Warren preached, women got hurt – apparently it is quite easy for women supporting Obama to simply ignore this stench – has there even been a peep of dissent from Dem women in power? Our Sec. of State can’t say much, that’s for sure, she was groped into silence now wasn’t she? Sort of symbolically battered into submission.

  • Anna

    goesh – I don’t buy into that victim view of Clinton. Why do we make her exempt from speaking out? I was and am an ardent supporter of Clinton, but I have worked hard not to idealize her. She’s made political choices as she has a right to do, as a politician and a human being. Perhaps some of them have let women down. Perhaps I’ve expected too much. Not sure. But I do know that I cannot allow myself to fall into the line of thinking that she has been silenced or forced into some sort of submissive role.

  • Peter

    What astonishes me is that people in this day and age still believe that the bible is the word of “God”. God did not write the bible, man did. And man 2000 years ago was no more trustworthy than man is today. The bible was written by man, to be used by man, to control others through fear. Rick Warren, the Pope, right and left wing preachers, they all use the bible to control. God is about faith, it’s personal and you don’t need a bible to know right and wrong in your heart.

  • there’s something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says if they abuse you in such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.

    Hey, there’s nothing in the Bible which says you have to wipe your bum, either, when you, as you Americans quaintly put it, take a dump. What’s that stench? Oh…

  • Oh I think I’m gonna be ill.One always hear about how the woman is suppose to submit.Well now for the rest of the story…any man who wants to die on the cross for me I’ll submit to! Men love your wives like Christ does the church. What did Christ do? He died for me.I am blessed to have a very good husband and I often think of him when I hear the verse, “We love because He first loved us.” Rick Warren may mean well but he’s not helping the poor women and children who suffer the abuse.

    I would sure like to see and hear some men speak out against domestic violence, there aren’t many. Of course I’m also disappointed in the so called women’s lib movement not doing or saying more.

    “Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are.”
    -Solomon (635-577 B.C.)I believe it’s a real problem. My child is a Christian and she thought she was to keep turning her cheek. For 8 yrs she made that bad decision. Finally he was put behind bars. It’s taken months of therapy to help her get over that thought and yet we have to hear about that kind of thinking again and again. You’re not helping a batterer by forgiving him if he’s not sorry. The laws and the punishment needs to be upheld for their good as well as the innocent victims good. Forgiveness is between him and God. He hasn’t asked for forgiveness, he hasn’t shown any remorse, he doesn’t even think he did wrong. Why would I want to forgive him? That would only encourage his bad behavior.That’s why I was glad to read outloud in court my child’s victim’s impact statement. Him and his family have not heard the truth told to them very often. It was the most loving thing I could do. I put his sin in the son-light and now God will take care of the rest.Sorry for the sermon. That kind of Bible thumping really gets me mad!

  • It’s been 2 yrs of hell, we’re still in the court system. If you’re being abused get help from a professional!

    Link to video:

    Link to story 11/11/2008:

    Link to story 12/28/2008:

    Link to story 01/02/2009:

  • I haven’t had time to read all the posts on this thread yet but will do so later,.
    In the meantime, readers may be interested to know that the Bible does (I submit) give permission to divorce on the grounds of domestic abuse , and that includes abuse of the non-physical kind.
    To check out the my book which argues this carefully from the Bible Scriptures, you can go to http://www.notunderbondage.com where you will find
    – a browse book option for some of the book,
    – author bio,
    – reviews by theologians, pastoral carers and survivors of abuse,
    – a free resources that are helpful to anyone dealing with domestic abuse in a Christian context.

    I don’t wish simply to use this blog space as a marketing tool, and will get involved in the posted discussions, but am hurrying off to work right now.

    I am a survivor of domestic abuse, an evangelical Christian, and a researcher / author / publisher.

  • Also, my book shows that the common slogan ‘God hates divorce’ is based on a mistranslation of Malachi 2:16. I have found 18 scholars who say that verse has been mistranslated.
    The slogan has been derived from the mistranslated verse.
    The verse in many translations of the Bible says’ “I hate divorce” says the Lord God of Israel…’
    It should be translated something like ‘ “He who hates and divorces,” says the Lord God of Israel, “covers his garment with violence.” ‘

    The pronoun is clearly third person singular, not first person singular, if you look at the original Hebrew text.

  • E. Perez

    Mr. Warren has audaciously skipped over the last part of the verse in Malachi 2:16 and I quote “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I HATE A MAN’S COVERING HIMSELF (OR HIS WIFE (NIV foot note)) WITH VIOLENCE AS WELL AS WITH HIS GARMENT;” says the Lord Almighty.” God loves women (too), and instructs men to treat them with respect etc; (1 Peter 3:7) and in Ephesians 5:25 it says “Husbands LOVE your WIVES, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” If anyone was abused, it was Christ, and He treats his children, men or women, with love. Love and abuse do not go together ANYWHERE in the Bible, but then I sometimes wonder if some of the so-called Christian preachers really know the Bible as well as they profess. They give the real Christians a bad name.

  • E. Perez

    P.S. I forgot the part in 1 Peter 3:7 ” … treat them with respect… as HEIRS WITH YOU of the gracious gift of life, SO THAT NOTHING WILL HINDER YOUR PRAYERS. ” Abuse is not godly behavior, and we should not be yoked with unbelievers (or people who think they can be God’s friend and their wife’s tyrant all at the same time).

  • I am a recovering victim of domestic violence. I stayed in an abusive marriage for 11 years. It killed my spirit and ruined my faith. It wasn’t until GOD HIMSELF provided a way out for me that I was able to break free from the bondage of abuse and reconcile with God. I divorced due to adultery but wouldn’t have otherwise, because I too, at the time, believed in the out of context “God hates divorce” quote that came from the pulpit.

    The consequences of staying in that marriage would have been devastating and I’m fairly positive that somebody would have been killed before it was over with. Does the Mary Winkler situation ring a bell? She didn’t divorce her abuser and look where it got her.

    In context, “God hates divorce” is spoken on behalf of the suffering that came to women as a result. In biblical times, men divorced their wives for no good reason. Women who were divorced were shunned by society, abused, and left poverty stricken. That is the “no so literal” interpretation in context. Divorce is a mockery to God’s design for marriage…but it is an even bigger mockery to promise to love and cherish then to beat, kill, and destroy the spirit and even the body of that spouse and this is clearly not God’s design.

    Although I have had a great respect for Rick Warren, I totally disagree with this message. I agree that separation and counseling should be done and divorce should be the last option…but it should definitely be an option. My divorce broke the pattern of abuse for my children. Generations will be spared what has been passed down for generations. It stopped with my divorce. I have raised my children around healthy families in church. They now know better about living life to glorify God. Have mercy.

    I have been divorced now for 8 years and I have never once regretted my decision and I have never felt so free to worship and live out my faith in the God who provided a way out and has blessed ever since.

  • Thia, GA

    K. Blakely,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe it will help save others from suffering as long as you did.

  • Thia, GA

    Barbara Roberts,

    I especially love that your website has a section on “Does your abuser use this computer?” Teaching women how to cover their tracks while looking for help is a wonderful idea!

  • E Perez refers above to the NIV translation of Malachi 2:16. Having looked very carefully at what the Hebrew scholars say on this verse,I can tell you that at this point the NIV is not a good translation. I know the NIV seems to give encouragement to the victim and condemn the abuser, but it’s not as accurate as the newer translations that say things like “He who hates and divorces… covers his garment with violence”.
    In ancient Israel, the word ‘garment’ was used figuratively to indicate the moral state of a person. ‘Covering one’s garment with violence’ is a bit like our idiom ‘having blood on his hands’.

  • Don

    There is a verse that says one can divorce for abuse. It is Ex 21:11. However, it needs to be read in cultural context. See David Instone-Brewer’s works.

    I am sad that Rick Warren does not appear to know this.

  • jennifer

    the bible also says in isaiah that god wrote the nation of israel a bill of divorcement mr warren. perhaps reading your bible a little more would have told you that. i am a christian mr warren and have read the bible and spent many hours in study of that bible. you know what i found in the new testament in the writings of paul (who is the apostle to we gentiles) it says that i have liberity in christ. it says all things are lawful for me because i am no longer bound to the law that god gave moses, i am under grace.
    here is what i would encourage mr.warren to do. spend a year getting the shit knocked out of him for no reason at all. just one year. then tell me that i wasnt’ supposed to leave my husband who knocked me around for 5 years.

  • I have worked with the abused, the abusers, and those affected by abuse as a Pastor since 1993, visit http://www.narrowpathministries.org, and founded the Family Renewal Center, visit http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org, and can tell you there are many Christians who rightly divide the Word of God, see 2 Timothy 2:15 and would consider safety first. I have not and would not conduct couples counseling in abusive situations. There have been times when marriages and families have been restored, sometimes after a divorce. Most often people take years to heal from the affects of abuse.

    The Bible is the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. To say that Jesus would deny a divorce in an abusive situation is a misunderstanding of Jesus, who He is and what He stands for. I would be glad to help Pastors and Christians understand this.

  • This is disturbing, but not surprising that some church leaders pick passages from the Bible and use them out of context to justify what they preach. It seems to me that church leaders will change their tune as popular culture shifts beliefs. I have hope this will happen as more people like you all, posting here, continue the movement forward. Hopefully Warren won’t influence Obama’s work regarding this issue. Also, let’s all try to remember that domestic abuse isn’t just a woman’s issue. It’s a human rights issue.

    K. Blakely, I have a 501c3 org and as an artist, I create portraits of survivors of domestic abuse who want to share their stories through my artwork. It’s all about overcoming hardship and emerging that butterfly. I am looking for more people to volunteer their story with a free portrait (you will receive a copy) to add to my growing series. If you are interested, please visit my website and send me an email.

  • check out the statement on our web-site about Saddleback Church, Abuse and Divorce

  • Happiness

    I just noticed this new thread. I called Saddleback and talked to the pastor in charge of Domestic Violence and Crisis at the church. He was one of the rudest men I have ever talked to within a church setting. I am making a guess- although I have no evidence of such- but I believe it is possible that this man was a former/recovered abuser who decided to “head up” a ministry like this or takes its reigns. The man I talked to said he was an ex-cop- who was on the force 20 years. He was angry about my sincere questions- i remained calm. He said I obviously had a problem with religion- and at this point in the conversation I had given him no personal details of my life- at all,

    but he was surmising that I had some burr against the church. I asked him if he knew the statistics about abuse and he said, “We don’t care about the statistics. Do you trust in God? Can God do the work?” I thought he was presumptuous and his stupidity was too much for me. The statistics on this issue show that if a man hits a women he will most often do it again- but he will do it again. It’s not just a one time thing– and that’s not considering the emotional manipulation of these abusers and what their capable of. My guess is this man is one of the main men behind these decisions in this particular church and I’m guessing that he has gotten Rick Warren to go along with it. it’s sad- because it’s going to end up in their church getting a 25 million dollar lawsuit someday from the family members whose daughter was murdered in the church parking lot after Saddleback staff kept telling her to go back to her abuser. This will eventually bite them in the rear- bad philosophies and mismanagement always have a way of doing that.

    Just my two cents.

  • Rick Warren doesn’t know the Bible when it comes to divorce rights. He’s a busy man, we should forgive him.

    Take a moment out and visit


    No woman or man must take abuse in a marriage. Marriage is a relationship based on the morality of Jesus Christ.

    Let’s pray that Mr. Warren takes time out to study the Bible on this important issue, so that in the future he won’t mislead others on their God-given human-rights.

    Author’s email on site.

  • charmane readling

    i am done !! i am supposed to sacrifice my life for a marriage ??? what happens to my children? i suppose this is a situation of which Rick Warren has never been abused !! personally, the very fact that he would accept even being at the inaguration is enough for me…never thought …he was a wolf in sheeps clothing !! i am pretty well sick and tired of men using the Bible to accoplish “their” sinful actions !! where is the man’s responsibility mr. warren…glad i gave ur books away..i won’t believe anything u say anymore …i suffered a broken rib on the left side…it was the 7th rib…closest to my heart…the dr, said if it had pierced my heart i would have died…immediately…amazingly…eve was formed from the rib…and do not forget the verse that a husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loved the church and GAVE” HIMSELF” FOR IT..read the rest it’s amazing !! notice Christ gave HIMSELF for the CHURCH..not the CHURCH giving herself for CHRIST…in my book that’s blaspemy !!! go figure…..

  • Are you kidding me??? Stay in the abusive marriage??

    An abusive marriage is better to maintain than a divorce??
    Holy Crap!!! Literally!!

  • one more:

    Does not the “Bible” also state that the husband is supposed to love his wife as he would his own body, as Christ so loved you???

    Does not the “Bible” also read clearly that which you do the the least of his brothers….etc”???

    Staying in an abusive marriage is SUICIDE!!

    What does his book say about that?!?!?!

  • I am absolutely shocked to read that anyone could suggest that abuse is no excuse for a divorce.
    I am the author of the book LOOK ME IN THE EYE and my website helps men and women around the world, to understand exactly what the website is called PAINE ‘please abuse is no escuse’. We serve and worship a loving God who will never allow abuse of any kind what so ever.
    I am a Christian and not proud of the fact that I have been divorced 3 times. I have suffered abuse my whole life. Two step fathers who sexually abused me, a mother who did not know how to show her love, two husbands who beat me black and blue, broke my bones and broke my spirit. They had many affairs, and justified their unacceptable behaviour…that it was all my fault.

    I have been divorced 4 years and I have searched my soul and the Lord for understanding and I have taken responsibilty for any part I played in the abuse….but NEVER DID I DESERVE THE ABUSE I SUFFERED. My latest husband was a Christian and still he abused me so badly that I was almost driven to suicide.


    I for one will never attend a church where I am taught that divorce is not an option!

    Caryl Wyatt.

  • er

    On occasion I hope there is a hell so that people like this man can rot in it.

  • Thank you for posting your thoughts on this issue.

    Here is just one account of what it was and is like for an actual member of this congregation.

    May GOD HAVE MERCY on us all.

  • Here is just one account of what it was and is like for an actual member of this congregation.

    May GOD HAVE MERCY on us all.


  • Lived it,

    Thank you for sharing this. We will post something on our blog.

  • Cynthia Pawlo

    Too Bad, Pastor Rick did not read the whole verse in Malachi 2
    16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
    God hates a man who violates his wife, that is why we Christian women need to read the Bible for ourselves and not allow men to use Scripture against us. God loves women and did not make us second class citizens, and we have to stop pastors who use misquote the Bible and use it as a weapon. The only way we can stop this abuse is to know oursevles and use the Bible which is the truth.

  • Well, I got divorced after dealing with emotional and sexual abuse. Wonder what Rick Warren thinks of me? I know what I think of him . . .

  • Fred Barnes Jr

    Warren is an oblivious fundie freak…

  • diane ferguson

    So he beats you-throws a punch,pushes you down, verbally abuses you and the kids with VILE names, doesnt work,drinks all day long, expects you to do everything and you should stay? Whatever happened to : A man who doesn’t support his family is worse than an unbeliever? Where does it say in the Bible that the man can abuse you all he wants and you have to stay? I thought men were supposed to treat wives as Christ treats the church?