Holly T. Ashley

Oh did I type that outloud?

Intimate Partner Terrorism: The Church’s Response. (A Post from the Pastor of Pump – David Ashley)

The following is an excerpt from the Redemption. Restoration. Recovery. (R3) Domestic Violence Services and Training manual (Chapter: “Church Discipline”) and is used by permission.

David Ashley, M.A.Apologetics, M.Divinity

Church Discipline

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light (Eph. 5:6-14).

The most evident moral crisis of the church is the lack of church discipline. By neglecting this command to confront and to correct the members is unforgiving, loveless, and unkind. It is also a lack of courage and flat-out disobedience to Scripture.

Such a church is really hindering the Lord’s work and the advance of the gospel. The church without discipline is a church without purity (Eph. 5:25-27) and power (cf. Josh. 7:11-12a). By neglecting church discipline a church endangers not only its spiritual effectiveness but also its very existence. God snuffed out the candle of the church at Thyatira because of moral compromise (Rev. 2:20-24). Churches today are in danger of following this first-century precedent.[1]

The Reformers reiterated this fact, stating that there were three essential elements for the effective, true church: 1. The preaching of Scripture; 2. The observance of baptism and the Lord’s Table; 3. The faithful practice of church discipline. Further, if any church refuses to practice church discipline, it is to be considered a church without power, pathetic, and a “non-church.”

Jesus Christ enlisted and anointed His church to guard the Gospel (Matt. 16:17-18) and his people (Heb. 13:17). By not casting out the abuser, the church is not protecting the flock from harm and corruption (1 Cor. 5: 9-13). Theologian John Dagg stated that “when discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.”[2]

The bottom line and most important attribute of church discipline is to keep and present the bride of Christ pure and holy. The second most important attribute is to provide a pathway to salvation for the offender.

The church must understand that overlooking this sin of intimate partner violence – better stated as intimate partner terrorism (IPT) is sinful, dangerous and just plain spineless.  It is jellyfish Christianity. The more a church tolerates and enables chronic, unrepentant sin it takes away from the all-mighty gospel.  The more the church tolerates sin by not holding its members accountable the more they compromise the gospel. The more the church compromises the gospel the more they look like the world and are loved by the world.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

The IPT will not survive in a church that faithfully observes biblical church discipline.  If God calls it sin, then we the church MUST call it sin.  If unrepentant sin is going on in our churches, then we must act.

To those who are being abused please realize that with your silence you protect your abuser from the biblical correction that they urgently need to save their souls from hell.  It is not loving to hide the abuse; it will only end in total destruction for both the offender and victim.

Sadly, today’s women are often told to submit to abusive husband. Condemnation of abuse is not mentioned in the pulpit and most clergy consistently grossly underestimate the fact that abuse is happening in their congregations or simply ignore it all together – even though abused women report attending religious services on a weekly basis. [3]

Another factor to consider is that abuse is not pro-life. Statistically domestic violence destroys the marriage, the family, and the individual. Therefore, the church must realize that if it is truly pro-life than it must champion the cause of the battered woman.[4]

Let’s look at “got to” passages for church discipline from the Scriptures. Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5.

The typical “church discipline” passage for most churches is Matthew 18:15-17:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

The use of Matthew 18 discipline as I have studied is for that of civil offenses, not criminal. Matthew 18 is referring to offenses that are less severe and do not put any other individual in danger. I would be very careful about using Matthew 18 in regard to domestic violence.

Confrontation of the abuser is normally not a safe option in a domestic violence situation. Keep in mind, that the victim has confronted the abuser on many occasions already – with each occasion causing the abuse to escalate further. As a matter of fact, the abuser can be referred to as an intimate partner terrorist.

When dealing with this individual, you are dealing with one who prides themselves in their private sin, they will put on their best effort and behavior to look sorrowful and maybe even cry and apologize, but once the pastors/elders leave the house they will seek revenge on their victim for exposing them.

So, if using Matthew 18 to confront the abuser there should be a plan to have a safe house for the victim and the children to stay if they feel threatened – better yet, the victim needs to have left the home all together.

Matthew 18 discipline should be used very early in the marital problems, the longer the abuse goes the more violent it becomes because the abuser will, if they haven’t already, make the victim an object of ownership instead of an image bearer of God.

The Escalation of Abuse

Domestic violence begins from the bottom of the pyramid working its way up.[5] At each step, it is the church’s responsibility to invoke discipline – including the judicial responsibility to notify authorities.IPT pyramid

For more evil sins and those who refuse to repent and come under the authority of the church, 1 Corinthians 5 is specifically applicable.

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”   (1 Cor. 5:11-13)

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

In these cases of habitual, unrepentant sin we are to expose the abuser (they do not deserve secrecy any more) and purge the evil from among us (shine light on their darkness) releasing them back in to the world (giving them over to Satan) in hope for them, that their spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.  Abuse is an evil that feeds off secrecy, and silence.  We need to expose them, call them out by name. Paul did this with Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20) and Demas (2 Tim 4:10) and Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim 4:14).

Warning to all pastors- Most abusers will either be sociopaths/psychopaths or have many sociopath/psychopathic tendencies which will be on full display before you and they are to be recognized for what they are – evil.  Be on the lookout for the following and do not fall for any of this.

  1. Fake repentance
  2. The abuser’s ability to lie and manipulate
  3. The pity plays. The abuser wants to be seen as the victim.
  4. His charm and ability to gather allies. Niceness
  5. Excuses, excuses, excuses

“The Psychopath is often witty and articulate. It can be an amusing and entertaining conversationalist, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast itself in a good light. Psychopaths can be very effective in presenting [themselves] well and is often very likeable and charming.”[6]

This is vital to get hold of. Evil (the psychopath), is very often the most charming, “likeable” man in the room. The most “saintly” fellow in the church. I recommend to you that there are many, many, many of these flatterers in pulpits and pews today.

As we have already noted and as most of our readers well know from hard firsthand experience, abusers love to fake repentance.  And we have called upon pastors and churches to exclude the abuser from the church if the victim is in that church.  We need to provide a safe environment for victims.  So, it may well be necessary for a church to tell the abuser who is claiming repentance to seek fellowship elsewhere, with full disclosure to the leadership of the other church as to his history of abuse.  Hint: A truly repentant person will not object to this!

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6).

What True Repentance Looks Like

Born-Again Christian Intimate Partner Terrorist
1 John 4:20-21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Matthew 23:28 So, you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Romans 8:9 Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. 1 John 3:10 …whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Luke 6:44 …The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good Luke 6:44-46…and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Psalm 5:9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat and empty grave; they flatter with their tongue.
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Proverbs 3:31 Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Psalms 55:20-21 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant.  His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Proverbs 6:16-18 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Psalm 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So, it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. Proverbs 26:24 He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. Romans 1:29-32 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and hatred. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent new forms of evil; they disobey their parents.  They are senseless, faithless, heartless, merciless.  Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
1 John 2:5-6 By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. Romans 3:13-14 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips.  Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.


Ps. 101:7 No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
Ephesians 5:11-13 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.


Rom. 1:29 “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips.
Phil 2:15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. 2 Peter 2:10b Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones
Eph. 4:24 Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 2 Peter 2: 13b-15 They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray
Titus 1:7-8 Above Reproach, not arrogant or quick tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain, but hospitable, lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 2 Peter 2:18-19 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.
Titus 2:3-5 Women: reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to wine, teachers of what is good, and example to younger women, love their husbands and children, self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, submissive to their own husband. 2 Peter 2:22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
Ps. 15:2-5 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent.


Jude 12-13 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

For more information on R3 Domestic Violence Training and services – go to www.Redemption3.com or www.CrossStrengthMinistries.org

[1] Laney, C. (1986). The biblical practice of church discipline. Bib Sac: (10) 354.

[2] John Dagg, A Treatise on Church Order, p. 274.

[3] Tracy, S. R. (2007). Clergy responses to domestic violence. Priscilla Papers, 21(2). Retrieved from http://www.mendingthesoul.org/2007/04/clergy-responses-to-domestic-violence

[4] Alsdurf, J., & Alsdurf, P. (1989). Battered into submission: The tragedy of wife abuse in the Christian home. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Adapted from: Patricia Warford, Facing Nabal:  Working with Men Who Abuse, Priscilla Papers, PP 28:1 (Winter 2014) p.12).


[6] Hare, R. (1993).  Without Conscience. New York: The Guilford Press. p. 34.


One comment on “Intimate Partner Terrorism: The Church’s Response. (A Post from the Pastor of Pump – David Ashley)

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This entry was posted on May 1, 2018 by in Call to Action, Domestic Abuse and tagged , .
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