.Review of the book "Lies Women Believe" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Summary: It is not recommended for wives in abusive or destructive relationships.

Review of Lies Women Believe

Many Christian women, especially Baby Boomers, have been influenced by a Christian book LIES WOMEN BELIEVE,[1] in which the author, Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth, makes this comment: “There is no marriage God cannot heal. There is no person God cannot change.”[2]

The author’s statement is partially true: God can do anything! Nothing is too big for God. God is a powerful God. But that’s not the message she is giving.

Her real message is that if a wife is "hurt" by her husband, and she justifies her decision to leave, SHE has a hard heart and SHE has “fallen into the Deceiver’s trap and [has] been ensnared by his deception.”  (If you don’t believe me, see it in context in the original edition of her book.  https://is.gd/p6O2PT.). This is a ridiculous claim when it comes to wives who are victims of domestic violence, betrayal, and child-molesting husbands. Yet Nancy gives no exceptions, even though 1-in-4 highly religious wives have experienced abuse in their current relationship according to the pro-family, pro-marriage think tank, Institute for Family Studies.


Many conservative Christian women were given these books at Christian women's conferences 10-15 years ago. If memory serves, somehow I've ended up with this book three times, and every time I read this section, I dumped it in the trash. You see, my life-saving divorce saved my life and sanity and it protected my children. Other Christian women have said the same thing.


P. 159 - The author talking about abused and betrayed wives who want to get to safety and leave.
P. 159 - The author talking about abused and betrayed wives who want to get to safety and leave.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth's accusations clearly do not apply to wives (and husbands) who are being abused or cheated on. A woman who stays, prays, and tries harder has already proven her dedication to her marriage over and over. Wives who have tried for a long time, in the face of repeated betrayal, do not have a hard heart. Their husbands do. These wives did not fall into the Deceiver’s trap. Their husbands did. (See this story as an example.)

Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth is telling abused wives that they are "deceived" and "hard-hearted" for wanting to get away from their husbands. Her advice is dangerous. Getting away from an abuser saves lives, and leaving such a marriage has a measurable beneficial effect, according to Harvard.

In the "updated and expanded" 2018 Kindle version of her book, she did change the wording a bit. She had been criticized for mentioning Satan, aka "the Deceiver," more than she did Jesus in this book. But sadly her message is still the same: Leaving an abusive situation is "giving up" and "hardness of heart" and evidence that the "Enemy's lies" are influencing the wife.

But wait! It gets worse. DeMoss Wolgemuth writes that a wife's desire to get away  is "falling prey to deception." She offers no exceptions for domestic violence against the wife or children. She also accuses the wife of being deeply entrenched in her "human selfishness," which is ridiculous. If the wife were selfish, she would not have stayed and hoped and prayed as much as she did.

One woman in my private Facebook group for divorced Christians pointed out this Bible verse:

"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the LORD detests them both." — Proverbs 17:15 NIV

Nancy is acquitting the abusive or cheating husband — and condemning his faithful wife — placing the full guilt of the husband's repeated sin on the wife's shoulders. How is that godly?


There are more than 400 negative reviews (1-star reviews) for Lies Women Believe on GoodReads and many of them appear to be from Christians who take their faith seriously but find that Nancy's message of absolving men of all guilt by shaming and blaming women is not how the Lord sees human responsibility. God is not mocked.



Some people criticize Nancy because she wrote the first edition of this book while she was still single. But I think that's unfair criticism of unmarried people. Single people aren't ignorant and heartless. Single people care about domestic violence victims just as much as marrieds do. Plus DeMoss updated her 2018 edition after she had married. Apparently, being married didn't make a difference in this regard. She continues to hold an ideology that endangers women and children.

Nowadays most conservative pro-marriage Christian organizations, including Focus on the Family, tell wives in these situations to "leave," "separate," "get to safety," and "stay with a friend/family." Their latest blog posts and interviews on marital abuse don't accuse wives of being satanically influenced or of being selfish. They tell wives to RUN.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss wants wives to stay—and gives no exceptions for those in danger. She doesn't seem to mind if a husband hurts the wife and "he doesn't care" when he does. Nancy doesn't give an ounce of empathy here. The fact that the husband has a seared conscience doesn't seem to bother her much at all. She doesn't seem to care about the wife any more than the abusive husband does. In my opinion, she sides with abusers.

Here's the 2018 Kindle text as she re-wrote it. (I copy-pasted the text onto one sheet of paper.)


2018 Kindle edition of Lies Women Believe, p. 208-210
2018 Kindle edition of Lies Women Believe, p. 208-210


Does God heal some marriages? 

Of course! We see some marriages improve. Some spouses do get better at communicating and working in tandem. Some people do grow up and mature. But anyone who has been in ministry for years knows how rare it is for a repeated adulterer or chronic abuser to change.

Do you remember hearing sermons where pastors proclaimed that within 5 years most unhappy marriages would become happy? The same researcher who found that ALSO reported the opposite for abusive marriages. Dr. Waite said, "Marriages with high conflict and domestic violence were less likely to become happy five years later." (emphasis mine).


Can God do miracles?

If you are like me, you believe in a God of miracles. I’ve seen miracles. My own mother had a miraculous healing when I was a teenager.

But the implication that God will heal every time if you are faithful enough, submissive enough, or pray enough is wrong.


God can—but does not—heal all cancer.

God can—but does not—heal all car accident injuries.

God can—but does not—heal all childhood birth defects.

God can—but does not—keep his followers from suffering and death.



Will God Magically Fix My Marriage?

My parents had elderly friends at our church who were an amazing, born-again Christian couple. They were loving and volunteered for everything at church. They were saintly believers and were devoted to prayer. They were wonderful models of Christian living and sacrificed their time and effort for others. They had no children, so they gave all their money to Christian causes.

The husband got very ill, and the church gathered to pray for him. The pastor and elders laid hands on him. The couple traveled to a revival where a faith healer invited people to come forward for healing.

Many people claimed to be cured, but our elderly friend wasn’t. They were told they didn’t have enough faith, that there must be hidden sin, and they hadn’t given enough money.

They were devastated and wondered what they did wrong.

They prayed, examined their lives, and went over and over to the revival meetings, but he still wasn’t healed. It was painful to watch this devout couple beating themselves up.

This story shows a toxic misunderstanding of God and his power, and it’s a shame these dear saints suffered from this false teaching.

In John 9, Jesus corrected this lie. His disciples asked him why a certain man had been born blind. Was it because of the man’s sin, or his parents’ sin? Jesus said, “Neither.”

Some troubles that afflict us and some challenges that we face are not punishments for our sin that God will remove and heal as soon as we repent. The entire book of Job also addresses this question. Job was accused by his friends of having some secret sin, but he maintained his innocence. In the end of the book, God tells Job’s judgmental buddies that they were wrong (Job 42:7-9).

The Prosperity Gospel and Marriage

In the story above, I showed the difference between Jesus’ teachings and the prosperity gospel mindset.

The False Logic of the Prosperity Gospel:

  • God blesses all people who are good.
  • God curses all people who are bad.
  • God’s sign of blessing is a loving marriage, money, and health.
  • If you do not have a good marriage, money, and health, you must be a bad person (even if you think you are good).

Jesus rejected this false belief. He taught that bad things happened to good people. The Bible says that God “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45, NIV). Sure, there is a principle of reaping and sowing, but that doesn’t mean only good people get rich, and only bad, lazy people become poor. We all know godly people who are poor and evil people who are rich.

Just because some people say they were healed doesn’t mean all people will be healed. Don’t be like the false faith healers who say you’re doing something wrong if God doesn’t heal your marriage right now.



When someone tells you "God can change anyone," or “God can heal your unhappy marriage” if you just pray harder.” It’s not very helpful.


I’m sure your friend is well-meaning, but the fact your marriage is getting worse doesn’t fit their beliefs. So they blame you for a  lack of faith.


Remember how Satan tempted Jesus? Satan told Jesus to throw himself off the pinnacle of the Temple, a leap from 16 stories high, saying that God promised to do a miracle by sending angels. Satan used Scripture (Psalm 91:12) to pressure Jesus.


It would have been quite a spectacular way of proving to all of Jerusalem that Jesus was a godly and special person.


Jesus rebuked Satan and said,  “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”


In other words, don’t stay in danger—or go in danger—and push God to do a showy miracle.


And by the way, if your well-meaning friend’s house was on fire I doubt they’d tell their children, “to stay and pray for a miracle.”




  1. Nancy Leigh DeMoss may be well-meaning, but she gives life-endangering advice.
  2. Your bad marriage may not be evidence of your lack of faith, your sin, your hardheartedness, or falling to the Enemies' lies.
  3. Bad things happen. And Jesus didn’t connect the blind man’s condition to his or his parents’ sin in John 9.
  4. We are not to stay in danger and demand that God saves us. Remember the Temptation of Christ in the wilderness? Satan wanted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple. Jesus said, no, that demanding miracles is tempting the Lord our God, and is prohibited (Mt 4:5-7).
  5. We can walk away from a destructive marriage to save our life and sanity. It is not sin. It is not evidence of “falling into the Deceiver’s trap.” It is listening to our God-given sense of self-preservation.


This is the first of several reviews of Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book. I plan to review other sections. But because this one actively endangers lives, I felt it was important to post on its own. 



[1] Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2001).

[2] Ibid., 159.

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Does God Hate Divorce? God Gave Divorce Due to Hardhearted Abusers & Betrayers


Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity


God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims


How to Find a Good Supportive Church


What If My Pastor Says It Would Be Wrong to Get Divorced for Abuse?



Divorce Saves Lives: The Surprising (Wonderful!) Truth About Divorce Nobody Told You

Will I Ever Find Love Again? Dating After Divorce: Good News

Finding Happiness and Health After Divorce


Thriving After Divorce: These Christians Tell their Stories

Self-Doubt, Second-Guessing Ourselves, and Gaslighting


Children and Divorce: Researchers Give Hope


High Conflict Divorce and Parenting


Recommended Reading List and Free Resources for Christians and Other People of Faith


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