A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

These people have turned the world upside down!

Paul and Silas in Thessalonica

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.

But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” (Acts 17:1-7 ESV)

Truth and light is resisted by those who love darkness because their deeds are evil.  These people fight the truth.  They fight those who are telling the truth. They try to crush them. They attack them. This passage calls them ‘jealous’: they were jealous of Paul and Silas. Why? — because Paul and Silas were getting converts. The jealous Jews knew this was eroding their power base. The people who were being converted to Christ couldn’t be so easily browbeaten and intimidated by the power-hungry Jews. They would be liberated from and would see through the mind control that the Jewish leaders had spread with their countless minute regulations for ‘right living’.  They would no longer look up to these Jewish men as the Great Leaders who were more holy than them and whose word was vernerated. Hey, these Jews’ very livelihoods might be at stake. Where would they get their income if the tithes stopped coming in?

And they didn’t fight like gentlemen. They enlisted allies — wicked men of the rabble. They formed a mob. They set the city in uproar. They attacked the house of Jason. They wanted to bring Paul and Silas out to the crowd where they would be pelted with invective and blows. Unable to find Paul and Silas, they manhandled Jason and some of the brothers and dragged them before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

The apostles had turned the world upside down. Actually, they’d turned it right way up.

When the victim tells her abuser the truth, he tries to crush her. He fights against the truth and he fights dirty. He enlists wicked men to be his allies. He levels accusations against her to the authorities: “I am her head but she is saying that she doesn’t have to submit to me. She’s become a feminist: worldly, rebellious, ungodly. She’s acting against all the decrees of Christianity and if you let this go on it will turn church upside down. Do something about it!”

The allies chime in: “The people at A Cry For Justice are teaching that you can just label anyone you don’t like as an abuser and put them out of the church with no possibility of forgiveness. They are violating the gospel! Shame on them!” 

Opponents of our Cry for Justice slanderously misrepresent what we are doing. But what they say does not deter us. We are in the business of turning the church right way up.


dark dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
and glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

Resisting slanderous misrepresentations of our work, like the claim that we say ‘you can label anyone you don’t like as an abuser’.

Recently a pastor asserted on his blog* that Jeff Crippen basically teaches that we can take anyone we don’t like, label them as an abuser, and then shun them and run them out of the church without due process or possibility of forgiveness.

Let it be know to all and sundry that Jeff Crippen does not say we can label anyone we don’t like as an abuser. Let it be known that at A Cry For Justice we do not advise our readers that they can label anyone they don’t like as an abuser.

What we say is this: There are certain common marks that are found in abusers. And as part of our job as maturing Christians, we all do well to learn what those marks are.

We also say that church discipline takes more varieties and forms than just the Matthew 18:15-17 procedure. Sometimes church discipline should be much more sharp and quick than the step by step Matthew 18 process. The case study and principles of that ‘sharper quicker discipline’ are found in 1 Corinthians 5.

It is possible for Christians to learn how to discern and identify abusers and bullies.

Yes, believers still battle against their own flesh and so they must guard against becoming proud or arrogant about their powers of discernment. But as believers we do have the Holy Spirit guiding and leading us, and if we work on our sanctification we can indeed become more wise and more discerning as we live our Christian lives. It is rather harsh and unbending to denounce or discount any claim by a Christian who asserts he or she has learned to discern the common characteristics of evildoers and how one may generally detect evildoers from knowing these ‘red flags’.

Not only is it harsh and unbending; it is foolish. We are supposed to be as harmless as doves and as wise as serpents. If we aren’t as wise as the serpents, the serpents will trick and oppress us. They will trap us in their smoke and mirrors.

Furthermore, this denunciation of discernment is a tactic frequently used by abusers who fight against their evil characters being exposed.

Good Pastors: if you were to read and learn and study about the mentality and tactics of abusers as much as Jeff Crippen has, and if you were to get runs on the board for ministering to as many victims of abuse as he has ministered to, I think you would come to agree with him about the marks of abusers, bullies and coverts-aggressive individuals. Some of you are well down the track in this learning, and are doing good work with victims of abuse. Others of you think you are doing good work and don’t need to learn much more about it. It’s a spectrum, of course, not two watertight categories of pastors. And God is sifting. — Where are you on that spectrum?

What about false accusations of abuse?

Yes, there are such things as false accusations of abuse. In our observation (and the professionals who work in the domestic abuse and violence field agree with us on this) false accusations of abuse are COMMONLY made by the perpetrators of abuse.

Naysayers and those who want to pick on me, please note that I am saying ‘commonly’ not ‘always’. I try to refrain from ‘all or nothing’ assertions. One of the marks of a disordered character, by the way, is that they make ‘all or nothing’ assertions (see Dr George Simon’s book Character Disorder). (Affiliate link**)

Genuine victims of abuse commonly take years if not decades to realise that what they are suffering is properly called “Abuse”.  If they do come to that realisation, they are often very tentative and self-doubting about it at first, so they may not assert it very firmly when initially seeking help from bystanders. When the victim does seek help from bystanders or officials in authority such as church leaders, the perpetrator typically turns the tables and accuses the target (their victim) of being the real abuser. In other words, perpetrators usually feign victimhood and seek pity and ‘support’ from bystanders and authority figures.

That knotty problem means that a standard Matthew 18 process could easily end up with the church leaders condeming the true victim and condoning the perpetrator. Seminaries do not teach this stuff adequately, so most pastors are ill-prepared for recognising the marks of a true victim versus a pretend victim. And likewise, they are ill-prepared to know how best to deal with abusers.

Good pastors, you might like to read this article of mine: Marks of a pretend victim versus a true victim.

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For further reading: Good men: please denounce the Permanence View of Marriage that denies any reason for divorce.

*  We will not link to that pastor’s blog.

** Amazon Affliate link. If you purchase through that link, ACFJ receives a small amount of the purchase price.


Thursday Thought — Victims invariably resist violence and other forms of abuse

Alongside each history of violence there runs a parallel history of prudent, determined, and often creative resistance.

The manner in which victims resist depends on the unique combination of dangers and opportunities present in their particular circumstances. Victims typically take into account that perpetrators will become even more violent for any act of defiance. Consequently, open defiance by victims is the least common form of resistance. In extreme circumstances the only possibility for resistance may be in the privacy afforded by the mind.

Too frequently, victims’ resistance is recognized or treated as significant only when it is successful in stopping or preventing the perpetrators’ violence. We maintain that this is an entirely inappropriate criterion. Victims resist in a myriad of ways that are not successful in stopping the violence but nevertheless are profoundly important as expressions of dignity and self-respect.

From the article Language and Violence: Analysis of Four Discursive Operations, by Linda Coates & Allan Wade

The ‘just war’ theory: how it relates to divorcing an abuser

Proponents of the ‘just war’ theory believe that aggression against others can be justified under certain conditions. Cicero was the first to argue for such an approach, but St. Augustine (AD 354-430) set forth its classic formulation:

 Just cause —a defensive war, fought only to resist aggression.

 Just intent—fought to secure justice, not for revenge, conquest, or money.

 Last resort—all other attempts to resolve the conflict have clearly failed.

 Legitimate authority—military force is authorized by the proper governmental powers.

 Limited goals—achievable, seeking a just peace.

 Proportionality—the good gained must justify the harm done.

 Noncombatant immunity—civilians protected as far as is humanly possible. (source)

This post was contributed by our reader Freeatlast8. Many thanks to her. 

Divorce was a last resort for me. It was not because I wanted to fight with my ex, but it was only to resist his aggression. The divorce was not for revenge, conquest, or money. It was to secure justice between him and me. All other attempts to resolve our conflict had clearly failed. I needed legal “force” to ensure the safety and well-being of my family. I was seeking a just peace for all concerned. I believe the good gained in the immediate and over the years ahead will justify any harm done by the divorce itself. My aim was to protect myself and my children as much as possible by removing us from the volatile environment we had been in.

All the parts of the Just War Theory underscore my decision to divorce, even though divorce was not what I ever wanted to do. 

When your mate refuses to work on issues, you are left to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, or take a new path. My path was not initially toward divorce but toward somehow finding help and healing for something very broken. My departure from home turned things upside down, and for safety and boundaries’ sake, divorce was where it happened to end up. It still makes me sick.

And, I didn’t ever really think of the divorce as a “war,” but more as a defense. I did not want a fight (there had been enough of that already), I just wanted peace. My ex continues to see ME as the aggressor and as his opponent. I don’t know if he will ever understand.

Why does it still hurt to think about this??? I so wish I could tuck it all away in a lost/faded/forgotten memory corner of my mind and bury it for good.


How Miles Davis misrepresented his assault of his wife Frances: a case study in the language of abusers

Here is the account which jazz musician Miles Davis gives of the first time he assaulted his wife, Frances.

I loved Frances so much that for the first time in my life I found myself jealous. I remember I hit her once when she came home and told me some shit about Quincy Jones being handsome. Before I realized what had happened, I had knocked her down… I told her not to ever mention Quincy Jones’ name to me again, and she never did… Every time I hit her, I felt bad because a lot of it really wasn’t her fault but had to do with me being temperamental and jealous. I mean, I never thought I was jealous until I was with Frances. Before, I didn’t care what a woman did; it didn’t matter to me because I was so into my music. Now it did and it was something that was new for me, hard for me to understand.
Miles: The autobiography, by Miles Davis in collaboration with Quincy Troupe, 1990, p. 228)

Allan Wade and his colleague Linda Coates say there are four major ways in which language can be used to construct an account of violence which misrepresents the nature of the act, the actions of the perpetrator, the responsiblity of the perpetrator, and the actions of the victim. And the flip side — there are four major ways in which language can be used to construct an account of violence which accurately represents the nature of the act, the actions of perpetrator, the responsibility of the perpetrator, and the actions of the victim.

In the heading of the following table the word ‘discursive’ simply means ‘relating to discourse or modes of discourse.’ In other words, the ways people speak and write.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.47.45 PM

Readers, let us analyse this account from Miles Davis. How does he construct his account to misrepresent the act, his actions, and the actions of Frances? Let us try to apply the idea of the four discursive operations of language to Miles Davis’s account.

  1. How does Davis conceal and misrepresent his violence against Frances?
  2. How does he mitigate and obfuscate his responsiblity?
  3. How does he conceal Frances’s resistance?
  4. How does he blame and implicity pathologize Frances?

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With grateful acknowledgements to Allan Wade and Linda Coates, especially their article Language and Violence: Analysis of Four Discursive Operations. This link takes you to an online pdf of that article which was originally published in the Journal of Family Violence (2oo7) 22:511-522.

Readers: once you’ve had a go at analyzing Davis’s account, you might like to go to the article in that link and see how Coates and Wade analyzed it. Look for their analysis of Davis’s account on page four of the pdf.  

My soul clings to the dust (Psalm 119: 25-32)

My soul clings to the dust;
    give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me;
    teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word!
Put false ways far from me
    and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
    let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
    when you enlarge my heart!

Dear Readers, feel free to say how this relates to your situation.

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Related post: Psalm 119 has a lot in it for survivors of abuse


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