A Cry For Justice

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

More Thoughts on Why an Abuser Cannot be a Christian

Good people never pretend to be evil, but evil people pretend to be good.  Sheep don’t wear wolves’ clothing. 

In the beginning, when abuse still had me in the fog and I was a new pastor (the fog can last for years!) I used to think that the many abusers I had met in the church, people who profess to be Christians and were even highly thought of by the rest of the church, were Christians with problems. A hard childhood, shame issues, and so on. As long as I dealt with them that way, in my relationship with them as their pastor, I got nowhere. In fact, what I did do was enable them in their abuse, supporting them in their excuse-making. Have to hold the church together, you know.

Then, after almost 30 years of being emotionally and spiritually slapped around by these kind, the Lord opened my eyes to the real nature of abuse – its mentality and its tactics.  He gave me an extra-hard wakeup “whack” upside the head as they say down South.  The result was that I began to see what was happening to me, and to their other victims, and I also began to read the Bible like never before, with new understanding about what it says about the psychology of sin. Nothing illustrates the nature of sin better than abuse, in my opinion. I realized that when the Bible says things such as it does in the following verses, it means exactly what it says.  I say that again – it means exactly what it says!  I had been taught for years, like many of you in the evangelical church that these black and white words are actually quite gray.  Wrong!

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, (1 John 2:4)

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. (1 John 2:9) 

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15 )

Christ truly changes us when He saves us. I mean, He really changes us so that though we are not perfect by any means, the fundamental nature of our being becomes one that loves God and loves others.  Have you been taught otherwise?  I was taught “otherwise” at a conservative Bible college for Pete’s sake!

When I faced up to this, I realized that a person who is an abuser simply cannot be a Christian.  It can’t be. He may look like it in many ways and at many times, but he is a fraud. I learned that good people never pretend to be evil, but evil people love to pretend to be good. Sheep don’t wear wolves’ clothing. What is perhaps even more sobering is that this also means that many people in our churches who may not be classic abusers, nevertheless are not genuine Christians. Abuse victims in a church can really suffer at their hands too.

As I began to deal with abusers in this light, progress was made. Oh, they didn’t change and we didn’t all live happily ever after together. They blew up at the exposure and hated me and left. They still hate me.  It will be the same for you.  But now I have peace and these false sheep are gone. I wish I could have been better help to their spouses, but so many victims remain under the confusing fog cast by their abuser. Maybe one day some will see it.

28 Comments

  1. Marianne Lordi

    The highest calling in God’s service that a man can have is to be the priest of his family and to love his wife and exemplify Christ love of his church. If a man cannot do that, he doesn’t understand how to surrender to the will of Christ. An abuser could not have had his heart of stone replaced by God with a heart of flesh – willing to hear and obey!

  2. Now Free

    Abusers love to keep their victims and others in a fog. They know their victims’ weaknesses, and just like a general in an army who instructs his soldiers to attack the weakest parts of the enemy lines, the abuser also takes full advantage of their victims’ weaknesses. Outside of the home, in public, the abuser loves to play the part of charm and gentleness personified. It’s this persona that deceives so many. It is the fog that throws a net over the people who meet him. It is the rope that binds the wife to her husbands’ side. The abuser treats his wife as an enemy! I didn’t realize this until after 42 years of marriage…so don’t feel badly about being conned by abusers, Jeff. It’s no surprise that they hate you. I feel this hate even more now because I left him and abusers don’t like it when people leave them..some of the fog gets blown away.

  3. When as a Chritian wife, one comes face to face with the inevitable conclusion that one’s continually abusive and addicted husband cannot possibly be the self-proclaimed Christian he maintains he is, what is she left with in terms of how to now live with this man as a non-Christian???

    This is my own dilemma and I am uncertain of what God would have of me now in light of this illumination He is solidifying within my spirit. My heart is heavy.

    • Ellie

      Do you have a safety plan?

      Documenting the abuse will help you in many ways.

      As I prayed about my own situation, I saw that I was supposed to leave. I DID NOT want to. I prayed that there would be another way. But I left and God has provided. God will show you what to do. He is faithful.

      • ceekayellemm

        Thank you for your concern and encouragement. I am at present safely out of my husband’s immediate abusive reach. I intend to devote myself to prayer in the effort to know what God would have of me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      ceek – Good question. First, you can be encouraged to know that Christ’s salvation REALLY changes a sinner into a saint and progressively fashions them into the character of Christ. In other words, you can be free of any idea that somehow the gospel of Christ is a sham. That Christ is real and His true church is real. Secondly, you are free to leave him and divorce him. Why? Because of 1 Cor 7. You are not under bondage, as Barbara’s book shows. The abuser has long since abandoned/deserted the marriage, refusing to live together in peace with his wife. Thirdly, the final decision as to which path to take is between you and the Lord. No one can tell you what decision to make. Read more on the nature of abuse. Consider its effects on you. Make your decisions based upon the premise that he is not going to change. What he is is what he is. And of course if there are children in the home, that is another huge issue to consider. Living with both parents does not necessarily mean that such a scenario is the best for the children, though it sure seems like our justice system so often makes decisions based on that premise. But abuse survivors will tell you that their children really begin to heal when they don’t have to live with the abuser. With all of that said, the final decision is yours. Many survivors will tell you that they prayed and prayed and that at some crucial point the Lord showed them clearly what to do. May the Lord guide and keep and protect you in all your ways.

      • Thank you for your reply and input, I appreciate being responded to.

        There are no children in the home, we are in our 60’s.

        Yes, he has left the marriage through his embracing his addiction to alcohol for 2 years now.

        I am working my way through what God would have me do in the long run. In the short run, I left our home 2 weeks ago and am safely and peacefully living in another domicile we have across the state with no plans to return anytime soon. I have already enrolled in 3 new classes for the upcoming Spring semester.

    • ceekay, I hear your grieving.
      If you are thinking about whether to remain in the marriage or not, this book may be helpful. It’s on our resources pages but here is the [Amazon Affiliate] link Should I Stay Or Should I Go? by Lundy Bancroft and Jac Patrissi.

      • ceekayellemm

        Thank for your response and input, I appreciate it. I have found other books by Lundy Bancroft to be of great value to me, so I will check this one out, as well. Thank you for that resource!

  4. Valerie

    I came to this post; and while old in calendar days it is very much fresh and true today. This sums up the realization I have been coming to over the last year as well. The sobering realization that the way is much more narrow than I thought. In fact it seems the more I know Christ, the narrower it becomes.

    I feel the somewhat sting at the loss of relationships I have come to have because I have been unwilling to be led out of the sheep pen by other sheep. There is great pressure when the sheep are numerous, bleating incessantly while the Good Shepherd whispers to me to just remain in the truth. I am finding His whisper becoming a much louder voice in my Spirit than the bleating.

    Just as my head has had to lift from the FOG of my abusive marriage, I have simultaneously had to come out of the spiritual coma I had been in up to that point and finally be awakened to the complete truth of God’s Word I had never been taught by man. I just realized that is the key…it truly is taught by man. While the watered down Christianity may be able to pull verses out here and there to support their position, you will find that it is very difficult to find an example in scripture to support the mindset.

    Thank you, Pastor Jeff, for your vigilance for the TRUTH. This place has been the church of Acts for me to regroup and refresh to be able to go out and continue to fight the good fight.

    • Jeff Crippen

      You are welcome, Valerie!

    • emmellkaycee

      It is profoundly true that too much of Christendom dearly loves to pluck out verses to use as interpretation for justifying its desire for spiritual bondage, but when it comes to actual scriptural examples….. well…

      Thank you Valerie for that timely reminder!

  5. emmellkaycee

    Barbara! I did get and read Lundy’s book, Should I Stay or Should I Go? Thank you, it was very helpful!

  6. This is just dawning on me- that one who hates his brother probably doesn’t have the spirit. That’s why he hates his brother, just like the Pharisees hated Jesus, because the spirit is not in him. (And their father is the devil.)

    This statement is not about a Christian hating another Christian, but that the one hating the brother who has the spirit in him and shows the fruit of the spirit – probably doesn’t have the spirit like he claims to – the hating (like the devil – with murder in his heart) is the proof.

    I always felt so condemned by this statement but suddenly realize it is freeing and very identifying!!!

  7. Brooklyn

    What if I DO see a change in my spouse? Can I still leave the marriage with God’s permission? It has been emotionally, verbally, financially, psychologically and a little bit of physically abusive for 22 years. Now he is trying to change but I don’t know if my heart can take staying even though I do see that he is genuinely trying.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Brooklyn – Yes you can still leave. 22 years is more than enough time – much more. You can safely assume that his “trying to change” is still just one more false alarm and deception. Not gonna happen. You can be free.

  8. Abuseismurder

    I have been thinking a lot about things I have read regarding abuse ( most of what I have learned has been from this site, so thank you), that abusing someone and breaking their spirit is like murder. I have been in a bad situation for decades. Very long story short, the thing about abuse/murder has been on my mind a lot because I am facing the possibility that I have breast cancer. Even in the midst of this waiting to find out, my ‘husband’ has been mean, playing head games, and if I speak up for myself he accuses me of being cranky, with his little smile and that look he gets in his eyes….he calls himself a Christian and I am so tired of it. I see no way out at this time, I tried very hard to separate before but could not find a job. Looking for ways to manage this situation and keep my sanity. I have a child who has autism and I need to be home to care for him, there seems like no way out of this for me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Changed your screen name for your protection. Your observations and thoughts here about abuse being murder are absolutely true. Abusers are murderers.

      Now, as to there seeming to be no way out – it is very common to feel like this when trapped in an abuse situation. And for good reason too because it sure does look like there is no way out. But I (JeffC) can tell you absolutely that the Lord is totally faithful. In all the 34 years now that I have been a pastor and in all the dealings with abusers and evil people in churches I have had, Christ has ALWAYS provided for us, He has ALWAYS given us a way of escape or He has put the wicked out from among us. Always. No exceptions. Cast your cares on Him. You can be assured that He sees and He knows and He cares for you.

      • BreatheAgain

        Thank you for this encouragement Jeff. I had gotten as far as a 3rd appointment with a divorce lawyer….she said she’d be glad to take my money and file for me, but she didn’t recommend it. The amount that i qualified for child support was not very much at all, and since I didn’t get hired anywhere I figured there was my answer. Driving home from the lawyer’s that day i was so upset…I felt like I heard Jesus say in my heart, “Will you trust Me?” And yes I do…i have been assuming his answer has been for me to stay where I am but He can do anything…I should not give up hope.

  9. BreatheAgain

    I have to admit, one fear I am struggling with if it turns out I have cancer, is christian people who would likely accuse me of getting sick because of my supposed bitterness towards my h. As others have talked about here, if you don’t “put up and shut up” , then you’re accused of unforgiveness and bitterness.

    • Any so-called christian who accuses you of getting sick because of your supposed bitterness towards your h, is either:
      (a) a pseudo christian, not born again, not regenerate — in other words, still dead in their sins
      (b) a foolish naive mis-taught believer who has imbibed too much of the false/flakey doctrine in the pentecostal stream of the church
      (c) an ally of your husband
      (d) both (a) and (c)

      If you haven’t yet read it, I think you will find this post helpful:
      The “gall of bitterness” in Acts — it isn’t resentment, by Rebecca Davis

      • and btw, I am not against pentecostalism per se. I was in a pentecostal church for some years. And I believe that the gifts of the Spirit still pertain today. It was during my sojourn in pentecostalism that I became aware of how flakey and false some of the doctrines which swirl around in that stream were. I have not rejected all that I found in pentecostalism, but I have rejected what I believe are false doctrines that are taught by many of the pentecostal teachers.

  10. BreatheAgain

    Thank you Barbara, I will read the post you linked to here. I appreciate it.
    I have been in pentecostal type churches also. My h. and I don’t often go to church together. One of us needs to be at home with son most of the time, he won’t often sit through a service. But I stopped going with h. awhile ago also because I felt I could not take the charade anymore.
    I have decided to use BreatheAgain for my name here from now on. Thanks for protecting identity of your posters.
    I am glad to have found this site.

  11. BreatheAgain

    One time when in a counseling type situation, I shared with pastor that I wasn’t sure if h. was even a christian. He immediately cautioned me against becoming bitter, and that my thinking such a thing could lead to bitterness. It kind of threw me. I have struggled at times with feeling bitter, but it bothers me when I see myself feeling that way and I repent to God for it and ask Him to please help me not to be that way. Also I have struggled at times with feeling angry at Him over my son’s issues and lack of help for me. But I know it’s wrong to feel that way and I hate it when I do. I often think of the verse (not sure where it is exactly in the scripture) where God said, “it is to your harm that you are against Me, against your help.” I don’t want to be against Him ever. He has been abundantly good to me, I just get upset when things overwhelm me. It’s been humbling, that’s for sure.

    • Hi BreatheAgain, it is not a sin to feel angry! Anger is sometimes expressed in a sinful way, but it is not a sin as such to feel anger. This post explains:
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/09/27/abuse-and-anger-is-it-a-sin-to-be-angry-toward-our-abuser-by-jeff-crippen/

      • BreatheAgain

        Thank you Barbara, what a great post! I have ordered Rebecca Davis’ book about Untangling Scriptures, can’t wait to read it.

    • Oh my, your comment about your husband not being a Christian was based on his actions toward you and not your bitterness. That pastor distracted the conversation much the same that an abusive man who doesn’t want you to identify and deal with the real issue or divert the conversation would.
      When someone doubts if their abusive spouse is even a believer that is a very rational statement based on the fruit you have seen displayed in his life. Toward you in your home abdxwuth your kids. I am sorry that pastor didn’t get it and heaped guilt on you for your honesty and making an honest observation!

      • BreatheAgain

        Starlight, “Oh my, your comment about your husband not being a Christian was based on his actions toward you and not your bitterness. ” WOW….yes, exactly. That clarifies things quickly! I will remember this, thanks so much!

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