A Cry For Justice

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

Power impairs the neural process of mirroring which leads to hubris & lack of empathy.

Power Causes Brain Damage explains how leaders lose mental capacities—most notably the capacity for reading other people. The article is by Jerry Useem from The Atlantic. Here are some excerpts from the article.

If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. But can it cause brain damage?

The historian Henry Adams was being metaphorical, not medical, when he described power as “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.” But that’s not far from where Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, ended up after years of lab and field experiments. Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.

Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, recently described something similar. Unlike Keltner, who studies behaviors, Obhi studies brains. And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy. 

What is mirroring?

Mirroring is a subtler kind of mimicry that goes on entirely within our heads, and without our awareness. When we watch someone perform an action, the part of the brain we would use to do that same thing lights up in sympathetic response. It might be best understood as vicarious experience. 

Lord David Owen—a British neurologist turned parliamentarian who served as the foreign secretary before becoming a baron—recounts both Howe’s story and Clementine Churchill’s in his 2008 book, In Sickness and in Power, an inquiry into the various maladies that had affected the performance of British prime ministers and American presidents since 1900. While some suffered from strokes (Woodrow Wilson), substance abuse (Anthony Eden), or possibly bipolar disorder (Lyndon B. Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt), at least four others acquired a disorder that the medical literature doesn’t recognize but, Owen argues, should.

“Hubris syndrome,” as he and a co-author, Jonathan Davidson, defined it in a 2009 article published in Brain, “is a disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years and with minimal constraint on the leader.” Its 14 clinical features include: manifest contempt for others, loss of contact with reality, restless or reckless actions, and displays of incompetence.

Read the full article at The Atlantic.


Related posts

A Real Test of Character: How do we Treat the Powerless?

Abuse and Power: The First Shall Be….First?

Power and Abuse: How to Identify the Abuse of Power

All Power and Control Regimes Share the Same Basic Characteristics

Power, Control, and Authority: Their Use and Abuse

Misuse of Power and Injustice to the Innocent: One follows the Other

The One Behind all Quests for Power





Giving Wisdom to the Simple — sermon by Ps Sam Powell

Giving Wisdom to the Simple
Proverbs 6:1-5 (NKJV)
Ps Sam Powell

My son, if you become surety for your friend,
If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,

You are snared by the words of your mouth;
You are taken by the words of your mouth.

So do this, my son, and deliver yourself;
For you have come into the hand of your friend:
Go and humble yourself;
Plead with your friend.

Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids.

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.


You can listen to the sermon by clicking on the link above.




Don Hennessy speaks to Emma Murphy in an Irish documentary about Domestic Abuse

Don Hennessy appears in this Irish documentary which follows 26-year-old Emma Murphy as she tries to use her experience of domestic violence to make a difference.

Filmed over two years, Emma undertakes a journey to increase awareness about domestic violence, and encourage other young women to speak out.

At 29:16 in the doco, Emma talks to Don Hennessy:

#emmamurphyfightsback is the hashtag to use if you are sharing it on social media.


We encourage you to read all our posts about Don Hennessy.
Find them at our Don Hennessy Digest.

Caveat: in this Irish documentary there is a brief shout-out for same sex marriage — one of the secular DV workers Emma Murphy interviews talks about how good it was that Ireland voted to allow SSM.

We want to assure our readers that the A Cry For Justice team does not endorse same sex marriage or same sex practices. But we do admire and honor Emma Murphy for speaking out about her experience of domestic abuse and raising awareness of the issue of domestic abuse.


A sure sign of an unsafe church is when it says abuse victims may not separate or divorce without permission from the church leaders

A Sure Sign a Church’s Claim to be a Friend of Abuse Victims is False – a reblog from Jeff Crippen’s site Light for Dark Times.   [ACFJ have given it a slightly different title; we trust Jeff doesn’t mind.]

Currently, we are seeing churches and organizations jumping on the band wagon of supposedly exposing domestic and sexual abusers in the church and coming to the aid of their victims. Occasionally these claims are genuine, but most frequently they are false efforts to “cover the bases” and preserve the institution. After all, there is an increasing outcry against evildoers hiding in and even leading churches and supposedly Christian organizations. The Southern Baptists, for example, are under the gun and rightly so.

So in such a climate you can expect that the guilty will start trembling a bit. They have plenty of skeletons in the closet in which they have enabled abusers and disregarded the pleas of abuse victims, so they do what I call a “pre-emptive strike.” They hold conferences on abuse. They make announcements about how they are the defenders of the abused. And they do so without repentance. By that, I mean they do not come humbly broken, confessing their many sins and wrongs they have dealt to the innocent, confessing that they are ignorant of these evils and have been duped by the wicked. Oh no. Suddenly THEY are experts to whom we are all to go now for help and aid. 

Recently I received just such a claim. It comes from Faith Bible Church in Spokane, Washington. This is a John MacArthur church in that the pastor was trained at The Master’s Seminary and teaches at a TMS satellite. If you have followed A Cry for Justice (blog) or read my books, you know that John MacArthur has consistently taught that divorce for abuse is forbidden by God. [click herehere and here for evidence]

Below are the outline points of two messages given by the lead pastor of Faith Bible Church, Dan Jarms, and his associate, Brian Sayers. Following these two outlines I have included the Faith Bible Church Doctrinal Elder Paper on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. I could go on and on pointing out to you how these two sermon outlines and doctrinal paper evidence clearly that Faith Bible Church’s claim to be a friend to abuse victims is false and that in fact, this church has not truly changed its positions at all. Don’t be naive. The claims here that divorce is permitted for abuse are going to be practically (in practice) denied when it comes right down to a victim divorcing her abuser.

Rather than, as I said, going on at length regarding my criticisms of these things, I have simply bold-faced one major, plain evidence of falsehood that is repeated throughout the outlines and paper. This one persistent demand made by this church is all we need to know to be able to conclude that the church is in no way truly repentant of past wrongs to victims and that in fact its supposed “change” is feigned and false.

As you will see, this single demand is that abuse victims are required to place themselves under the authority of the pastor and elders and are not to proceed with divorce, separation, or any other action without the church’s authorization. I can tell you that anyone who does this is going to find themselves further oppressed and wrongly controlled by church leaders who arrogantly claim this privilege for themselves but who are ignorant of the evils which oppress the victim.

THIS is the most certain proof that a church like this and pastors and elders like these men have not fundamentally changed at all. That is to say, they are continuing to demand that abuse victims place themselves under their authority, never acknowledging the history (as is easily found in MacArthur’s teaching and practice) of dealing out injustice to victims and enabling the wicked. They are not humbled in other words. They remain arrogant. This is plain Pharisaism.

I will also underscore several other portions of these documents that I am convinced demonstrate that these men in this church do something else absolutely unbiblical and damaging. Namely, they treat the abuser as a Christian. Thus they proceed with the idea that they are going to rescue the marriage, fix the abuser, and all that this requires is their counseling and that the victim “gut it out” in the abuse “for the glory of God.” All Christians, you know, (say these pastors) can be abusers and an abuser can be a Christian who simply needs to “make war on entitlement mentality.” Absolutely false teaching.

Of course I know they will deny these charges and say I don’t know what I am talking about. Well, so be it. I do know what I am talking about. You are never going to instruct, teach, disciple an abuser who has been faking it as a Christian all along into a godly, loving spouse. Not gonna happen!  And yet you will notice the total absence of any of that truth here in these documents, with no mention at all of God’s plain command that we put such counterfeits out of the church (see 1 Cor 5).

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane….  He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B. Ed. at Eastern Washington University , MDiv and DMin in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary.

Sermon Notes (Dan Jarms)

1. Cultivate Love

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Titus 2:4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.

1 John 4:7-11

  • Keep the love of Christ in constant view.
  • Become a Romans 12 friend/spouse.
  • Make war on an entitlement mentality.
  • Put “cherish my friend/spouse” on your daily to do list.’

2. Cultivate Christlikeness

Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

  • Get the log out of your own eye first (Matthew 7:3-5)
  • Pray for specific Christlike qualities
  • Husbands convey warning and teaching with a servant’s heart
  • Wives convey warning and teaching with a respectful heart

Sermon Notes (Brian Sayers)

Brian Sayers is the Pastor of Discipleship and Counseling at Faith Bible Church.

  • How should we define abuse?
  • Individuals should put themselves under the care and counsel of godly shepherds
  • Church leadership must understand and respond properly to abuse
    • Scripture requires God’s people to protect the innocent sufferer, and to seek justice toward the oppressor (Psa. 82:3-4; Psa. 10)
    • God-given authorities exist to bring justice where it is needed (Rom. 13:1-4)
    • Discernment must be used to measure and apply principles of repentance, confession, forgiveness, and accountability
  • Victims must understand and respond properly to abuse
    • To not “cry out” ignores God’s desire for justice, and neglects God’s provision and protection for you and others
    • The abused must overcome fear, and entrust themselves to God and those called to protect and care for them


Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage

Prerequisites for Marriage
1. God’s design is for one man to be married to one woman, for life.
Gen. 1:27 …male and female He created them. Gen. 2:24 & Eph 5:31 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
2. The foundational requirement for Christian marriage is that a believer should not marry an unbeliever. 2 Cor. 6:14-18 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
3. A couple must have a pure relationship if they desire to know God’s will about marriage.
1 Thess. 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.
4. Those preparing for marriage should also be mature and responsible so that they can meet the appropriate biblical expectations of the partners in marriage.
Eph. 5:22-33 wives, be subject… Husbands, love your wives…
1 Tim. 5:8 But if any one does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse that an unbeliever.

Foundational Principles of Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage

1. Marriage was established by God to be a life-long, intimate, covenantal relationship between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18, 24; Malachi 2:14; Proverbs 2:17). Jesus issued a general guideline that what God joins together, man should not separate (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9).
2. Christians must exhaust all biblical means to preserve their marriage. Permanence in the marriage relationship has been, and always will be, God’s ideal and intention.
3. While every divorce involves sin, not every divorce is sinful (Jeremiah 3:6-10; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:15; Jeremiah 31:31-32; Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
4. This pursuit of permanence may involve enduring a marriage that is less than God’s ideal (1 Corinthians 7:12-14, 16; 1 Peter 3:1-2). The desire for God’s glory must supersede one’s desire for comfort or happiness. This principle would not require someone to indefinitely endure unrepentant acts that constitute biblical grounds for divorce (see biblical grounds below). Decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the elders.
5. Divorce may be permissible, but is never commanded. Two believers should always be willing to pursue repentance and reconciliation as part of a life seeking to honor God.
6. Biblically allowed divorce implies the right before God to pursue biblical remarriage. They must seek the counsel and care of church leadership in this process.
7. In cases where Christians come to Faith Bible Church having already participated in unbiblical divorce or remarriage situations, the church will strive to provide compassionate counsel that will lead to
personal understanding of these biblical principles, and a careful repentance for all involved.

Biblical Grounds for Divorce
Divorce is allowed for two reasons. Below are explanations of those two broad biblical categories.

1. Divorce is allowed in cases of unrepentant sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9).
• The “sexual immorality” referenced (Greek, porneia), is broader than adultery, and would include the litany of sexual sins listed in the Old Testament (specifically Leviticus 20:10-21).
• This provision may also include other violations not specifically mentioned, but which are similar in nature. To constitute biblical grounds for divorce, the sexually deviant behavior of this kind must be continual and unrepentant.
• Evaluations and decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the local church elders.

2. Divorce is allowed when an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage covenant (“unbelieving” may be determined by their profession, or through the application of church discipline).
• The unbeliever leaves. First Corinthians 7:12-15 clearly teaches that when an unbelieving spouse “consents to live with” the believer, then the believer should remain married to them. When the unbelieving spouse separates/leaves, however, the believer is not bound to the marriage covenant.
• The unbeliever says they want to, or are going to leave, but will not. An unbelieving spouse’s unwillingness to remain married (1 Corinthians 7:13-15) may be broader than physical separation or
leaving. Repeated expression of resolve and/or desire to divorce, while not pursuing the good will of a mutually beneficial and healthy marriage, may also be not “consenting to live with.”
• The unbeliever does not threaten leaving in any way, but live as though they have abandoned the
marriage. There may be other extreme cases where church leaders determine that the unbelieving
spouse has “effectively abandoned” the marriage covenant, although they do not pursue or express a
desire to separate or divorce.
 Evaluations and decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the local church elders.


Jeff Crippen is the pastor of Christ Reformation Church in Tillamook, Oregon, arriving there in 1993. He has been a pastor since 1983 and was a police officer for 12 years before that. He and his wife Verla have been married for 40 years. He co-led the A Cry For Justice blog with Barbara Roberts from 2012-2017.

Further reading

Church discipline and church permission for divorce – how my mind has changed

How does church discipline apply in cases of domestic abuse?

Christians are jumping on the bandwagon to ‘help the abused’. James has something to say about that.

Resistance and backlash to social change

Mumpsimus – a traditional notion that is obstinately held although it is unreasonable

As a pastor, what are the most important things for me to know about domestic abuse?

I’m Fine — a daughter’s poem

This poem was sent to us by the woman who set up the davidsslingshot site.

She has sent a complaint to one of the Presbyteries of the OPC regarding her former pastor and leadership.
The Presbytery appointed a special committee to investigate the pastor in October of 2017, and was granted a request for continuation in March of 2018.  So far, progress has been somewhat encouraging, yet she is unclear where things stand currently.

She has a requested the committee to come and meet with her children and hear their perspective about what happened and how they were all treated, compared to the support her ex husband continues to receive.  The committee has indicated they may do that in the next month.   … We will see.

Here is a poem which her daughter recently wrote, regarding how she feels about the way their former pastor and church has handled the situation.  This poem will be put on the davidsslingshot site as well.

I’m Fine
by “E” (20)
(by a young woman whose father is an abuser
and the church is still supporting him. 
The church is yet to seriously demonstrate that it
wants to support the abused wife and children.)

Can you hear me?
Can you read between the lines?
Can you hear the pain
Behind the words “I’m fine”

Are we friends?
Or am I blind?
Do you even care
When I say “I’m fine”

You are the church
Christ’s hands and eyes
You should notice when
I say “I’m fine”

You don’t listen
You leave me behind
You never even hear
Me say “I’m fine”

I’m watching you
As you take sides
With the one who caused
The ache behind “I’m fine”

You turn your back
While I slowly die
If you listen, you will hear
Me whisper “I’m fine”

“God is Good!”
You shout the line
Yes, God is Good
And I am fine

You sing so loud
Your faces shine
But you are deaf to hear
“I’m fine”

You don’t believe me
And I resign
From trying to tell you
I’m not fine.

You demand the proof
You want a sign
Why do you believe me
Now that I say “I’m fine”?

The gossip’s yours
The story’s mine
One day I’ll mean it when
I say “I’m fine”

The storm is passing
The sun will shine
But sometimes I’ll still say
“I’m fine”

God’s Spirit and his fruit – holy hypocrites have not once known nor yet tasted how sweet they are

This is Paul’s order: that good works grow out of the Spirit, the Spirit comes by faith, and faith comes by hearing the word of God, when the glad tidings and promises that God has made to us in Christ are preached truly, and received in the ground of the heart.

Of this – God’s Spirit and his fruit – our holy hypocrites have not once known, nor yet tasted how sweet they are, though they invent many good works out of their own imagination, in order to be justified thereby.

In their works there is not one crumb of true faith, or spiritual love, or of inward joy, peace or quietness of conscience, seeing they do not have the word of God for them, that such works please God. But they are even the rotten fruit of a rotten tree.

— William Tyndale, speaking about Romans 5 in his Prologue to the Book of Romans.

Ps Jeff Crippen talks about holy hypocrites and what it means to love your enemies in his sermon The Law Is Spiritual.

He is preaching on Matt 5:38-43 but he also brings in 2 Tim 3:1-5;  Psalm 139, 1 Cor 5:11-13 and 1 Corinthians 13.

I urge all our readers to listen to this sermon. It is a tour de force. 


Jeff Crippen blogs at lightfordarktimes.com

William Tyndale’s Prologue to Romans is given on pp 248-59 of the October Testament. The October Testament is Ruth Magnusson Davis’s gentle updating of the NT of the 1537 Matthew Bible.

You can also read William Tyndale’s Prologue to Romans gently updated into modern English by Ruth M Davis here:  https://newmatthewbible.org/PrologueRomans.pdf