A Cry For Justice

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

Open Letter of Thanks To Jeff Crippen And Barbara Roberts

I realize this is kind of a strange kind of thing to post on this blog, but in the end, even though I write the occasional post, I am more of a recipient of this ministry than I am a driving force- that is still the job of Jeff and Barbara. So I feel it is reasonable to offer them thanks for what they do as a person who has been blessed by this ministry.

Recently the blog has called out popular teachers for teaching doctrine that is harmful to abuse victims, and this has caused some return fire (some seen, some unseen, especially since now the blog is more heavily moderated). I also know that this fire does not go unfelt. No one wants to be thought ill of, especially by those the Christian community most respects. It’s hard to take the stand Jeff and Barbara have. So this is my open letter, and I hope this speaks for more than just me – that it speaks for many who have had no voice until they found this blog.

Open Letter of Thanks To Jeff Crippen And Barbara Roberts,

Thank you for being a voice for me (and others like me), and thank you for crying loud enough that those who teach oppressive doctrine have no choice but to hear. They may not like to hear what you have to say, but I am glad they do hear it.

You see, no one had to deal with my cries of pain when I left my church. They happily hired someone else to lead the music and let me walk away. I was very replaceable.

No one had to deal with me when I was standing in the parking lot talking to an elder begging for mercy – just some understanding that my marriage was destroying me and how difficult it was to believe it all was God’s will. The elder didn’t deal with it. I sat on the ground crying in despair, and he said nothing.

When I was emailed by that same elder and asked to show respect to the movers by making sure all of my ex’s boxes were downstairs, he didn’t stop to deal with me or listen to my pain. When he told my ex to ask for more alimony, he didn’t have to deal with me. I was no threat to him, nor did my situation prick his conscience.

I was ignored, left as a causality of theology. That my life fell apart meant nothing. No one stood up for me and heralded my voice. The voice that rang the loudest? The voice of John Piper, who I was directed to so I could learn about true brokenness. The voice of John Piper, who could explain marriage to me (because after 12 years, clearly I did not understand marriage). The voice of John Piper, who offered me the explanation as to how my marriage was more important than I, and that God found it acceptable for me to be destroyed. John Piper had videos, books, and a web presence. I had . . . my tears and my knees as I curled into a ball on the ground.

And Jesus. Always Jesus.

And unknown to me, many other spiritual sisters and brothers across the world who have been in the same position with no voice.

But then I found this blog, and I was amazed. I found I was not alone. And not only was I not alone, but suddenly I had a voice. And while I know those who oppose the message may not linger on this blog, I’m certain many are aware of it. I know there are those who have had to take at least a few minutes to read and wrestle with the content. And for a few moments, those people became aware of my plight and had to deal with it. They had to consider and worry about what would happen if others start to listen. They had to consider and react to their sin of neglecting people like me, and they had a choice to make. And do we know that none of them have heard? That none of them repent (or may repent in the future after the words seep in)? We don’t know- we only know that the cry for justice exists and it is more and more being heard by those who do not want to hear it.

Those who respond in fear – who suppress rather than engage – they will have to account for how they handled the truth. They will have to explain to God why people like me had to suffer without a voice for so long because they helped stifle it.

There are those who welcome this truth, and it is largely for them that you (and sometimes I) write. I do not think we shake the dust off of our feet at those who reject our message just yet, but that time is coming. Those who have ears to hear, will hear.

Thank you for being my voice; there was a time I thought it would not be possible to be heard, but today I know I am. And with you know I too cry for justice.

26 Comments

  1. Pepe

    How beautifully written. I am sorry that he has had this situation yet it has moved him out of what seems to have been a putrid fellowship …at least the leadership appeared to have been. He has been brought into the ‘wilderness’ where we are leaning upon the Lord for our nourishment and thus the truth will make him free. It is sad that it is through the pain of the way his situation had to expose what mire he had been in …but that is sometimes how we awaken to it.

    May his new life bring him closer into the fellowship with the Lord and despite the past wounds may his life now blossom forth in the presence of his Lord and Savior with more and more peace with God despite the way that Jesus told us the world …both in and out of the ‘church’ would react to the light of truth.

    Hugs for all who are recovering from such realities and are launching into the deliverance found in the truth of our Lord’s keeping.

  2. MeganC

    Jeff . . . I am so grateful that you wrote this. I feel much the same way. This ministry has blessed me (surely) much more than I could ever contribute to it. Jeff C and Barb have cultivated peace and hope into my heart and mind . . . I will never forget the first time they translated the abuserese that was assaulting me months ago . . . and their confirmation that the counsel I had been receiving for so long was not of God. They helped loose these shackles . . . in my tears and frustration, they lifted my chin with kindness and gentleness and I will never forget it. My life has been forever changed because they came alongside me (and so many others) and spoke truth into my heart — truly setting me free.

    I join Jeff S in thanking you both, Jeff C and Barb, for being my voice and for giving me a voice. You have helped to heal this heart and I don’t know if you even realize the extent of that healing. I love you both.

  3. Amen. The sad thing is that those pharisees who might bother to read this are so smug in their theological “purity” that they won’t care. At best, they will look on you as some poor, deluded soul in need of restoration to the “true” path.

    When I was in Bible College, I was told that one of the hallmarks of a good pastor is humility. It is echoed by Jesus many times about leaders being servants. I don’t see humility in the Piper’s, or MacArthurs, or Driscolls. I do see a lot of pride – pride in their orthodoxy.

    Be strong and courageous. Martin Luther started out as a single man, standing at the door of a church, yet began a mighty revolution! I hope that will happen here!

    • Memphis Rayne

      A mighty revolution indeed! That is what we all need!!! I really cannot express the difference this has made for me in our situation. To reflect on the despair of going it alone? All the questioning to myself “Well EVERYBODY around me is against me? And EVERYBODY around me supports him? I must be the one with the problem?”” My only support in a time of complete darkness was a Valium offered up by my brother…..God I hope this blog reaches everyone in that place of complete darkness.

      I can say I am very grateful, but that does not even touch the reality of how much better life is when you are not alone in the war. oxoxox to all.

  4. J. Ann

    “When you are not alone in the war…”
    Memphis Rayne, that has been so very important to me as well. I have felt so alone in this war and confused. Jeff and Barbara, you have done so much to help clear the fog in my thinking, and I have finally found good counseling. This blog has done so much to strengthen my exhausted heart, mind and body. Thank yous hardly seem enough. But you also know you have so many of us praying for you in your courageous stand for the truth. You speak for so many of us who are not yet strong enough to speak out as you do.

  5. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    Yes, Thank you for being our voice.For encouraging us we’re not crazy nor alone. For reminding us of Who God is and what it is to follow Him in the midst of confusing voices.

  6. Anonymous

    Great post and I will join in the thanks being shared here. What I found was love and acceptance and people who believed me and my children. Two people who wanted to protect and give godly counsel, but not force or jam it down my throat or make me feel less, if I was slow to even consider it. Priceless. Too bad we have all had an experience that puts Christ’s Church to shame. But, here God has chosen two people, who will help to bring justice, honor and mercy to God’s people who are hurting and just need the truth; who will balance it all out in light of God’s Word. Who needs wooden, unfeeling soldiers, who hack up the helpless with their wielding swords, all in the name of Christ? We need Christ and His representatives, who will operate in truth, mercy and discipline, if needed, but all in the name of Christ and His love for His people, and that is what I have found here.

  7. Anonymous

    A loud Amen to that. Jeff and Barb have stuck their necks out to care for and be the voice of the voiceless. For some, this might be the only beacon of hope, the one place where truth and justice (and sanity) prevail. It has also helped to draw together a community of survivors “who will not be slaves again”. Walking wounded, but healing and getting stronger by the day. Thank You Lord!

  8. Katy

    Me too!
    I have only stumbled here a couple weeks ago, thinking that I had dealt with the abusive marriage stuff the best that I could and tried to move on…but I still had a lot of religious chains tied around my legs. In just a couple weeks Jeff and Barbara have helped take off the rest of the shackles.
    there’s no better witness of the power of Christ than meeting his people face to face- after suffering with Pharisees for so long.

  9. Martin

    There’s really no way to describe how much Barbara Roberts and Jeff Crippen share here on the blog or in their books. You can see the heart of Christ working in them as they passionately seek mercy and justice for the oppressed. Witnessing their tireless commitment is of great value alone.

    I will never forget the first time I read Barbara’s book, Not Under Bondage, feeling the reality of the stories of domestic abuse. But even more I will always remember how carefully she handled God’s word in her discussions of church discipline, the end of excommunication for abusers, and the result being that the abuse victim is rightfully and biblically “not under bondage” (1 Corinthians 7:15). My first reading of her book was a real eye opener as it was for William Heth.

    Has the truth ever been right before your eyes and you could not see it? That’s what Jeff helped me to see when he taught me “abuserese” in the Pat Robertson article comments. Man – that was quite an eye opener! It’s been a real privilege to learn from the real life lessons God has given Jeff in over 30 years of pastoral ministry. Many of those same lessons he shares in his book – A Cry For Justice.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Martin. You are a good brother in Christ and an awesome solider in His army:)

  10. Belle

    Wonderful post. I add my thanks. The time and compassion given by these here is water to a weary soul and something I want to emulate. May God bless.

  11. Barnabasintraining

    I will add my thanks as well, Jeff and Barbara. And Jeff S and Megan and you too Martin. :)

    Jeff, you said your church was small at around 60ish people. I’d say it’s really much larger than that! I have no idea what we would do without your voice.

    It really cannot be stressed enough how incredibly important it is that the team here is speaking out on this and providing a place of sanctuary and education for those of us who need it.

    I do hope and pray your efforts are at the beginning of a revolutionary groundswell against domestic abuse and the injustice dealt to abuse victims (and sometimes their helpers).

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Barnabas, and thanks to all of you. We don’t even take “attendance” at our church (remember those wooden church window shaped thingies on your church sanctuary wall with last Sunday’s attendance, today’s attendance, and page numbers for the hymns)? But it might interest all of you to know that on any given day, our/your cyber church here at ACFJ has about 250 people “in attendance” viewing articles and comments from 600 to 900 times.

  12. Gem

    Hear, hear!

  13. Now Free

    I will always remember the first time I became acquainted with Jeff’s ministry to the abused. Three weeks previously, I had left my home because of my abusive husband. I was alone in a hotel (far from luxurious) and had just finished speaking to a close family member who had called me and had spoken to my abuser shortly before. I had let this family member know that I was sure my leaving him was the Lord’s will, and that He was guiiding me every step of the way. Even so, I was covertly blamed, and the conversation ended with me feeling sad and very discouraged. It was one of the lowest points of my separation.

    Right after the the call ended, I prayed to the Lord for guidance and and then turned to my lap-top. Almost immediately after searching for help, I found Jeff’s sermons. I read at least one of them, and without delay commented on the encouragement his sermon gave me. His prompt reply provided further support and validation and we corresponded for awhile.

    Before I had known about Jeff’s ministry, I had bought Barabara Roberts’ book “Not Under Bondage” and upon reading this book, I felt a sense of peace that I was not wrong in leaving my abusive husband, who had physically, verbally and emotionally abused me in our 42 year marriage. Jeff Crippen’s recent book “A Cry for Justice” is very much recommended, along with Barbara’s book. These books will give the reader a very good knowledge of the abuse that is so widespread and dangerous and needs to be out in the open. I protected my abuser for 42 years. No longer.

    Thank you Jeff and Barbara for your continued courage, passion, compassion and dedication for us the abused. This is not a glamorous and popular cause. It will not garner you brownie points with the majority of people who may read your words. But your reward is far greater as the Lord has untold blessings for you. Here on this earth you there are many victims who have and will reap the results of your wisdom and courage. Thank God for both of you.

  14. Now Free

    I will add that before Jeff’s ministry was known to me, I had contacted at least 2 local churches during the time after I fled from my home. I received no replies in my cries for help.

    • Anonymous

      “I received no replies…”

      and a few articles ago Barbara reminded us that the silent treatment is a form of abuse!

  15. Desley

    I have to say, Jeff, you took the words right out of my mouth! This ministry has been such a liberating force for me. I am not yet back where I once was with the Lord but with the love and support of those who contribute here in any way, I am beginning to be able to reconcile what I intuitively know is right with what the Bible actually says. I can’t say enough about what that means to me – what you all mean to me.

    Thank you for posting this. Thank you all for this ministry. Thank you for having the courage to speak up and for putting yourselves out on a limb for “the least of these.”

  16. Just Me

    Love this post! And I love Jeff C and Barbara! Not only do you both have hearts of compassion, but I am regularly amazed and blessed by the depth of knowledge you both have. I want to be like Barbara when I grow up!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you JM. Very kind of you. For myself however, there still lingers sufficient stupidity to get me into trouble often enough:)

    • Giggling here, JM! You sweetie!

      Actually, I am not much different from many of you, but maybe I’ve been reading and working at this with my eyes open for longer than many of you have.

      One of my dreams is to be able to train many other survivors so they can de-code abuserese as well as I seem to be able to. For me, it comes pretty naturally, but that must be just because I’ve been working in this area for so long.

      De-coding the language of an abuser’s letter to his separated partner, or a letter from the abuser’s allies (like a pastor or a pastor’s wife), is something many survivors of abuse ask me to do. One day I hope to write more posts about this, to illustrate more about how to do it, so that many more people will be able to de-code these poisonous missives from the outraged abusers and co-abusers. That way we can all help each other, and especially be able to help those who are just escaping from the hot fryingpan.

      Thank you all for your kind words here. When I first read Jeff S’s post, I had such difficulty reading it I had to do it in stages. I wanted to hide under the doona and eat imaginary chocolate! You are all very kind.

      And one last word to any abusers who lurk on this blog. This thread might sound like a sycophantic rave that Jeff C and I contrived to draw worship to ourselves. I know you are unlikely to believe me if you have an abusive mindset, but no-one put Jeff S up to this. He wrote it entirely off his own bat.

      • Jeff S

        Yes, this was of my own invention, though I did ask if it would be OK to post. The original version was an email I sent to Jeff because of some heat he took for taking a stand in the blog.

        I know there are people would would be more comfortable if Jeff and Barbara just shut the blog down tomorrow- life would be more peaceful because they wouldn’t be making waves. And you know, I wish it COULD be peaceful, that there weren’t waves. But I wished that back at my church when people were using the teaching of John Piper to make waves for me. Back then I was helpless because no one stood up for me. So when I see Jeff and Barbara stand up for me (us), I am thankful that they are willing to make waves and be faithful to this ministry where God has called them.

      • Song

        Barbara, I am hoping and praying that your dream of helping others decode abuser-ese comes sooner than later. Education about abusive speech and language patterns is sorely lacking, especially in religious settings. The need to recognize it before, during, and after would be a tremendous help to us all. My hand is up in the air, waving, to say “Yes. Sign me up for your class!” :)

  17. Song

    I heartily agree with Jeff S. and the others in saying “Thank you to you two!”

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