A Cry For Justice

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

What About Bob?: An Abuser’s Tactics Named and Exposed

We do not often feature abusive comments that we receive because 1) we don’t want to give attention to them, and 2) they are not really worth the time and energy to respond to.  However, once in a while, and this is one of those once-in-a-while times, we put one out there for all of our readers to see.

I decided to deal with this particular comment in part for my own personal benefit and in so doing I hope that all of you who have been victims of abuse will be helped.  As a pastor, I have been the target of these very kinds of manipulations and tactics which in the past have placed me under a pile of false guilt and self-doubt.  But I have learned a few things about abuse in the past few years.  I can recognize it, name it, and give it right back to the person shooting at me.  So that is what I am going to do now.  These kinds of comments are not honest discussion or constructive criticism.  They are arrows and missiles of abuse — the same kind of abuse most of the readers of this blog have been victims of far too often.

This comment was received in connection with the review/critique I posted on this blog of Pastor Voddie Baucham’s sermon in which he teaches the permanence view of marriage to his congregation.  This view says no divorce for any reason ever.  Period.  Baucham tells his people that if any of them come to him or his two elders saying they need to divorce their spouse, he and the elders are going to tell them “You are the problem,” and send them back to their marriage.  Baucham utilized, as some of his main points in this sermon, not Scripture but points copied verbatim from Jim Elliff’s book, Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View.  He stated them authoritatively, giving the listener the clear impression that they were the Word of God.  Any pastor being unbiased in reviewing that sermon would tell you that if it had been preached in seminary homiletics class, it would have received a failing grade.

So, here we go. I will refer to this commenter as Bob and I will insert my comments as we go along. I have omitted nothing from Bob’s message (except one link to a lexicon he listed) , and not altered any of his spelling. Bob’s words are in dark red (as is suitable for ‘red flags’ of abuserese)  and his quotes from my previous post are in green —

Jeff :

When you start reviewing another preachers sermons the way you have, I would question your heart.

“Baucham is grossly narrow and wooden…” (is that really necessary…?)

Bob, yes it really is quite necessary.  It identifies Baucham’s hermeneutic as one root of his problem.  When he does deal with a Scripture in this sermon, he handles the naked, bare letter on the page divorced from its context, both biblical and cultural.  And Bob, how is it that you would actually question the heart of a person who is comparing a man’s teaching with the Word of God (1 John 4:1), and when that teaching comes up contrary to Scripture and oppressive to Christ’s people, saying so?

Abusive Tactics Identified: 1)Inappropriate familiarity.   2) Defining reality: claiming special or superior insight into the victim’s thoughts and motives – “I would question your heart.   3) Shifting blame from the guilty party to the victim, working to instill self-doubt  – “Is that really necessary?”

Bob, we have heard these tactics before many times.  We reject them.

“HOMICIDE, MAYBE, DIVORCE, NEVER!” (Exact quote from Baucham, followed by laughter in the congregation) I wonder how funny that joke would be in Ohio right now after the terrible and tragic shooting of Katherina Allen and her two daughters by her evil, wicked “husband”?

Your quote here clearly illustrates that you’ve forgotten what God said:
– None are righteous, no, not one
– There is none who understands
– There is none who seeks after God
– There is none who does good, no, not one

Her evil, wicked husband? We are all evil, we all have deceitful hearts. We are all deserving of the righteous judgement of God. If you have ever so much as broken one of God’s commandments your judgement is the same as Katherina Allen’s husband.

Abusive Tactics Identified:  1)False guilting the victim with accusations.   2)Justifying even the most wicked person and condemning the innocent.   3) Using distortions of Scripture to destroy the self-esteem and confidence of the victim (shaming).  4) Defending men because they are men and accusing the victim because she is a woman, no matter how evil the man’s deeds.

Bob, we say again, we have heard this all before.  These tactics are not new to us.  We recognize them and we reject them.  Your use of Romans 3 to justify wickedness is obvious.  The first 2 1/2 chapters of Romans are God’s condemnation of idolatrous humanity, including the false religion form of idolatry.  These verses in no way can be applied to Christians.  I am not an evil, wicked person.  I am a son of God, a child of the king, a saint, a beloved one.  I love God’s Word and I love Christ and He loves me.  My heart has been regenerated and it is not a deceitful heart.  It would not take me very long to make a huge list of Scriptures that call evil, wicked men just that.  Hypocrites.  Dogs.  Hidden reefs.  Those aren’t my words, they are the Lord’s.

Malachi 2:16 “I had divorce”.

Abusive Tactics Identified:  I assume you mean “I hate divorce.”  Well, you won’t even find that statement in many Bible translations.  Tactic here? 1.  Selective, non-contextual use of Scripture to condemn the innocent.

We see it and we reject it.  What God hates is the treacherous breaking of covenant by the wicked.  In the case of the marriage covenant, God hates the one who, through evil and treachery, breaks covenant with a spouse.  That is what God hates.  He cannot hate the mere act of filing the paperwork for divorce because He Himself is a divorcee – the wronged party by His OT covenant people.  Jer 3.

If you live in the flesh you will think in the flesh. With eternity on your mind, the permanence view of marriage makes the most sense.  Knowing God’s perspective on divorce and taking into account Paul’s teachings (think Romans 14) I would suggest a person who requests divorce to be weaker in the faith. Divorce satisfies OUR needs, not God’s. We are the most self-centred, egotistical, ego-maniacal society to ever walk the earth. We actually think something is true just because we believe it to be true. I’d like to introduce you to a new teaching called: God doesn’t care what you think (not meant to sound cynical).

Romans 3:4 “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”

Truth is truth whether we *believe* it or not.

Voddie’s perspective on diverse  [I assume Bob means “divorce”] most aligns with God’s desire (whether it aligns with God’s law is questionable). But then, Romans 13:9-10 (quoting Jesus) tells us the righteous need to exceed the law and live in love.

Abusive Tactics Identified:

  1. Once again, using perversions of Scripture to justify continued abuse of a victim
  2. Exercising an attitude of superiority over the victim, “I’d like to introduce you to a new teaching…”
  3. Spewing accusations against the victim with hurtful, accusatory language.  Bob is pointedly accusing me, his present target, of  “thinking in the flesh.” He’s also slurring victims of domestic abuse by saying they weaker in the faith. And by generalizing that “we” (all of society) is “self-centered, egotistical, ego-maniacal”  he is covertly casting aspersions on any who don’t agree with his views, and most particularly, but in a veiled way, so he can  deny it and wriggle out of it, he is calling victims of  domestic abuse self-centered, egotistical, ego-maniacal. This is classic abuserese: the abuser claims that the victim has exactly the evil characteristics that he possesses in spades, but will never admit to.

So there it is Bob.  We see what you are doing, we have named it, and we reject it.  We won’t wear your false guilting, we won’t be shamed by you, and we won’t let you bring God’s condemnation upon us.  We’re all done with that in Christ and we will continue to be in the business of setting captives free.

35 Comments

  1. May God bless you richly for posting this! I have had anonymous comments on my blog when I discuss bullying and abuse issues, and they use many if not all of the tactics that you describe here. Horrid, horrid manipulation of God’s word, and blame for the victim. On posts where I am generically talking about abuse issues, they comment about my husband – one comment, “I know your husband. Were you always a blessing to him?” – and if I reply, they accuse me of “exposing” him. I have had to close comments and give my email address so those who reply must do it w/o anonymity. I don’t mind addressing their issues, but I won’t address anyone hiding under the cowardice of anonymity, especially as they seem to know my husband and I. If someone believes that physical and emotional abuse is justified in a marriage/parenting relationship, I think they should be brave enough to let their community know about it.

    Thank you for this, for the confirmation. I love reading these things and seeing what I thought and felt to be true, spelled out for me in such clear and concise ways.

    Kelly

    • Kelly
      we have found that moderating all comments before publishing them is the way to keep a blog safe for survivors of abuse. We simply don’t give any airtime or oxygen to abusers. Generally speaking we just send such comments to Spam, and then we permanently block the sender. We don’t usually email them privately as it is pretty much a waste of time, because most abusers don’t want to change (see yesterday’s post by George Simon Jr about contrition). If an abuser is truly contrite and wants to change, he or she can access help if they wish, but this blog is not primarily set up for that, although our Resources page has a few things that might prove useful to a repentant abuser.

      If we were to allow people who have an abusive mentality to rant, smokescreen, or throw spanners in the works on a blog like this, it would not be at all productive. It would only give them power to change the tone and topics of discussion by justifying and rationalising abusive tactics, spreading myths about abuse, blaming victims, slandering victim advocates, etc.

    • Katy

      “Were you always a blessing to him?”
      I sooo hate this line and the forked tongue that whispers it.

      The people who use it on others are without a doubt the most legalistic and soul-crushing Pharisees out there. As if a prerequisite to having a husband who treats you well is that you be perfect. That sort of throws out the entire Gospel, doesn’t it.

    • “If someone believes that physical and emotional abuse is justified in a marriage/parenting relationship, I think they should be brave enough to let their community know about it.”

      When I read this I instantly thought of John 3:20-21: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

    • Memphis Rayne

      Oh my word! I am sort of glad I missed this the first time around…..remove all Bobs reteric and all he is really saying about the murderer who killed his wife is….”Well I wonder what she did to deserve that? A guy has to wonder why he did it?”” duh? Oh? and yes how dare you Mr. Crippen call a guy that murders his wife or anybody else for that matter a sinner!!!
      “What WERE YOU thinking?” …..after all, thats Gods call, we are just humans that dont know right from wrong even if God spells it out for us? So BOB go ahead and Rape, murder, steal, lie, be a hypocrite, because after all nobody will call out your sin, because who are we to judge your heart? You most likely had good reasons for it, so let me pat you on the back and give you the kiss of death and send you on your way. Dont worry either because Gods going to judge your heart, and he wont mind if you look the other way while people murder their spouses, because God knows wether or not they meant it for good OR evil? According to your “Theory” and false applications of Gods words, your job as a christian man is to do what?
      Be a witness to the slaughter of innocent people and do nothing? Jesus never stood against evil? Never fought for the oppressed? Never suffered at the hands of the wicked?

      Sorry Bob if that was too harsh(not meant to sound cynical)

  2. Jeff C thank you so much for all that you, Barbara, and Megan do in keeping these abusive comments off the blog and keeping those of us that are still very fragile safe from them. I love the way you handled this comment and have learned a great deal about how to name it and then reject it. Very pastoral of you 🙂 I will be reading this again and again to study how to do this in my own life. Thank you again.

  3. Bravo, Jeff! Thanks again for the excellent work on this. I have had the exact same arguments thrown at me with the same air of superiority that Bob used. You are so skilled at showing how lightweight they are, I doubt that Bob would even have a reply. In fact, I have found that after lobbing this kind of junk at someone, they tend to run and hide because the truth is just too hard for these type of people to take. Your skill in properly handling the word of God is awesome! Excellent to see these arguments demolished by the Sword of the Spirit!
    Praise God for how well he equipped you to help us! Lets pray for Bob that the Lord will convict him of his Pharisaical thinking.

  4. K

    What a great post. Thank you for taking apart and analyzing this kind of comment, which unfortunately is too commonly found on blogs such as this.

    “I’d like to introduce you to a new teaching called: God doesn’t care what you think”

    Actually Bob, God does care what we think. Because He loves us. What we think doesn’t change the truth of right and wrong, sure, but God ALWAYS cares.

  5. Anonymous

    Well, obviously that comment came from a patriarchal control loving man. It’s a good thing you are writing this, because I would be tempted to put his real name out there for all to know, so everyone could know who he is. I love how you handle him and let him know that in this arena, he is on the bottom side of things — no abuse allowed here.

    As for his accusations, obviously he loves the idea of permanence in marriage, which we all know is unbiblical. It seems he also loves the ungodly binding of victims of abuse, to an abusive marriage — forever! Certainly not the true God, but the false one these men have made up, so as to continue the perpetual mistreatment and abuse of women, stating that God has given His approval of the same. Nonsense!

  6. Katy

    Oh yikes. I feel bad for the people in Bob’s close family.

  7. Wendell G

    I would like to introduce Bob to a new teaching: God doesn’t care for your flawed hermeneutic. He also doesn’t care for blatant eisegesis, and using it to club the innocent like baby seals!

    • Good one, Wendell!

    • MeganC

      You GO, Wendell! 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  9. Heather

    I am deeply saddened by the scripture twisting and continued spiritual abuse that is condemning victims and allowing the cruelty of a patriarchal system to be honored. It shows that so many have hearts of stone and are bound by their own man made legalism.

    In the end, each of us answers to God. It takes courage and searching the scriptures daily to stand alone in the Truth. Thank you so much for exposing these lions. I am learning so much from the articles that are posted. If only I had seen them a few years ago. I thought I was the most sinful woman for leaving my husband who was viewed as the nicest guy. I was confused and in such tremendous emotional pain. But the Lord kept me alive and gradually allowed me to see. It is crushing to find that so many throw stones at women who finally have decided to stop the madness in their lives while all the time supporting those who are cruel to them only because they do not see beyond the persona.

    I am grateful for the few who lifted me and cared for me or I would have gone mad. As I look back I can honestly say that I am grateful to God for allowing me to be broken and to see clearly. Though the journey was extremely painful I know that my Father will not waste it and I hope to provide compassion and grace for others who are in the midst of such trials.

    Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. You are all such a blessing in my life.

    • Anonymous

      It is always painful to go through the process of facing the truth but it leads to a better place. Abusers are adept at causing their victims to go to guilt. It is so helpful to have a resource available to show their tactics for wait they are (thank you, Jeff et al, you are doing a great job).

  10. As I See It Only

    I would attend a conference with an interactive component that would help me and others to ‘spot the looney’.

  11. Katy

    and one more comment! 🙂 This statement:
    With eternity on your mind, the permanence view of marriage makes the most sense.
    makes no sense to me. How can pondering eternity bring you to believe that marriage is permanent and unchangeable state? Jesus said there is no marriage in heaven. If that is the case, then marriages between men and women on earth are not on the same level as the relationship between Christ and His “C”hurch….

    • good point, Katy.
      Maybe we should introduce Bob to the Mormon church. They believe marriage lasts into eternity.

      • Katy

        lol i was gonna ask if Bob was a Mormon but he did identify himself as a Christian right? 😉

      • Jeff S

        My guess is Bob wasn’t talking about marriage being eternal, but in light of eternity we should be able to endure anything for a season. Thus we should accept our lot in life. This was the council I got a lot.

      • Yeah, you’re right, Jeff S. I jumped to a wrong conclusion because I let myself be enticed by the opportunity to have a slightly cheap dig at Bob. Thanks for setting me back on track. Yeah, the Bob’s of this world think we ought’a be willing to endure any amount of pain in this life, no matter how pointless the suffering is, and no matter how much our staying and suffering enables sinful behaviour patterns to dig deeper and deeper ruts. . . . All because we can remember that we will have joy when we get to heaven.

        Where did I put that tinsel sprinkle shaker?

      • Jeff S

        It’s very harmful, because it makes people feel faithless for not being able to endure the pain. And of course it is coming from people who don’t feel the pain.

        I remember thinking very clearly at one point “God, if that’s true, then I guess I’m just not a real Christian, because I can’t do it”. My next thought was that I was only not a Christian under their theology, not mine. And THAT freed me up to talk to God about want he wanted for me.

        Can you think of any examples in scripture of believers calling other believers to suffer? This “You should be willing to suffer for something I believe in” is not a pattern we see in scripture, at least not to my knowledge.

        I will tread really carefully in this next point, so please don’t misunderstand me. I do believe God can call individuals to remain in abusive marriages and work through that. But this is not a principled call, or one that John Piper has the right to make on anyone’s life other than his own. Just like no one is told they are to be a missionary and risk their lives for the Gospel, but some people ARE called to do that, it is the choice of the sufferer to make and no one else. Between them and God.

        People who call others to suffer blur the lines and make it more difficult to hear from God.

      • I’ll say Amen to all that you said, Jeff.

  12. MeganC

    So there it is Bob. We see what you are doing, we have named it, and we reject it. We won’t wear your false guilting, we won’t be shamed by you, and we won’t let you bring God’s condemnation upon us. We’re all done with that in Christ and we will continue to be in the business of setting captives free.

    YES, YES, YES!!! Amen and AMEN!!!

  13. Can I just say how beautiful this is? Jesus took the same approach with those who tried to slander him. I love how he was able to cut right through all the fog and get to the heart of the issue: the violence, pretense, hypocrisy, and malice in the hearts of his accusers.

    I am going to keep this on hand & re-read until I know it like the back of my hand. After having a rather unsettling online exchange with an abuser throughout the last couple of days myself, I am keenly aware now of the usefulness of being able to identify and label these tactics. This guy used the very same tactics on me – right down to calling my status before God into question! They can’t get you tangled up in their web of deceit if we are as wise as a serpents.

    Truth is so refreshing, liberating, and illuminating.

  14. L

    Bravo, Jeff. Very well stated. Thank you for a wonderful example of standing firm in the whole armour of God. You know who you are in the Lord and refused to be moved or jerked around by the abuser when he shoots his firey darts meant to disarm and stop you in your tracks which is the primary motive of all abusers. Thank you for such an invaluable life lesson and tool for those of us recovering from abuse who need help learning to recognize the abusers tactics when hit by them. Thank you, again. This is marvelous.

  15. I want to add my thanks for this post! I am also going to study this. It’s so helpful to see an example of cutting through the fog of all the accusations coming one after another. It really reminded me of the kinds of exchanges I used to have with my abusive ex. (Except I wasn’t so well armed!) I remember thinking I must be dull witted because I couldn’t reason through it. Now I know it’s because I had been beaten down, having been with him for many years, beginning when I was still a teen. If only I had read your blog back then!!!

  16. Diane

    Pastor Jeff C wrote~

    “Your use of Romans 3 to justify wickedness is obvious. The first 2 1/2 chapters of Romans are God’s condemnation of idolatrous humanity, including the false religion form of idolatry. These verses in no way can be applied to Christians. I am not an evil, wicked person. I am a son of God, a child of the king, a saint, a beloved one. I love God’s Word and I love Christ and He loves me. My heart has been regenerated and it is not a deceitful heart.”

    Just wanted to read that again! Thank you.

    If only more of the famous professing Christian leaders so many listen to would understand this basic Christianity 101 and quit teaching the opposite, we would be so better off.

  17. cindy burrell

    I am so glad that you took the time and energy to address the Bobs of the world. I am always amazed how they seem to look for those of us fighting this ongoing battle and seek to churn up doubt and chaos.

    This is what I have learned whenever these religious abusers surface: If these guys’ teachings don’t seem consistent with the heart of God, they’re not. When our hearts feel suddenly terrorized and confused, the issue is not with our Father-Savior-God, but with the enemy’s self-righteous disciple. These guys love endless debates over minutiae in the law, but the Spirit of God does not emanate from their hearts or their minds. These are worst kind of “Christian.” The fact that such men stand in a pulpit and preach such stuff and deceive many is all the more horrifying.

    Thank you, thank you for standing against the junk.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Cindy- You said it very well here. “These are the very word kind of ‘Christian.'” We are all learning that Christ is able to lead us and when someone’s words cause us to be, as you put it, terrorized and confused, we should listen to those feelings and not disregard them as these kinds of abusers would tell us.

  18. Anonymous

    Okay, re-read this (it’s your fault Memphis – jk) and now I have to say it. This is what is wrong with these kind of pastors and churches today. They do not believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, applied to His people, makes any difference in our lives at all. Salvation has no effect! We are all just in the same boat as the unbelieving — none is good, no not one. No, we were not good, but Christ changed all of that and it is now He that God sees, standing in our place, because “it is finished” – the work is done and Christ is victor for all who will trust in His work. That makes me different. That changes me. I don’t blend in with the rest of the world anymore, when God looks down on us. He sees from Heaven, all those who bear His Spirit, the mark of a true Christian today, and He knows that I am His, because of Him. Instead, Bob’s crew teaches it is basically useless to you and you are still in the mill with the unbelieving murderers of today. You are no different from the lost, you saved redeemed Christian! Not so fast now Christian! How dare you consider yourself as an adopted son/daughter of the Ruler of the Universe?!? How dare you apply the blood in a way that others (Bob) cannot. Well sir, maybe you cannot apply the blood of Christ, because it has not yet been given to you. Maybe you are a Pharisee. Maybe you just don’t understand the Salvation He has given you, or His Word. But here, we are redeemed and we know it. Hence, we live a life unto God, not out of obligation or works, like it appears perhaps you believe or even teach in your church, but out of love — pure love for Christ. Can and do we sin? Yes! Are we able to sin big time? I suppose so. But the point is, that my sin has a sign hanging over it that reads, “PAID IN FULL” – and the unbeliever does not. I have a new heart and am a new creation. The wife of that husband who murdered her, is with Christ. She is INNOCENT because of Christ. He was innocent and He has given us all that He has. That man, without repentance, will be in hell. He is GUILTY, because He does not have Christ. They will never be together – except for Christ giving Salvation to that man. The Scriptures say that we should pray that God may grant someone repentance. It is from Him. We don’t muster that on our own. You cannot even begin to compare the two. I pray you will re-evaluate your theology concerning Christ and His Salvation and may you find His truth, so you can stop blinding and binding others.

    • Memphis Rayne

      Ya what SHE said!!!! = )

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