A Cry For Justice

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

How the Arrogance of Professing Christians is Enabling the Wicked (Part 2)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

In the first post of this series, I pointed out that pastors, churches, Christian counselors, and professing Christians in general are leveling the playing field of wickedness by insisting that all people are to be dealt with in the very same way. Repentant or unrepentant, the prescription is the same: tell them how much God loves them, how Jesus will forgive them, and shoot them an invite to our church (or continue to embrace them as a “brother” if they are already in our church). This, as we said, is promoting and enabling evil in our churches. Local churches become then, as most of you all know first hand, instruments and allies of the wicked for further torment of the victim.

The Lord on the other hand applies Law or gospel, depending upon the nature of the person being dealt with. You see His gracious dealings with the woman at the well in John 4, and then He pronounces the Law’s condemnation on the wicked in John 8. “You are of your father the devil.” We see this distinction in Christ’s use of parables as well. For example:

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.”
(Matthew 13:10-16; quote from Isaiah in blue)

This is of course in the context of Jesus’ parable of the soils. Our Lord goes on to explain the parable clearly to His disciples in 3:17ff. Two kinds of people. Those who see, those who are blind. Those who hear, those who are deaf. Those to whom He gives clearer sight, and those whom He blinds. He is speaking, of course, of spiritual blindness and deafness. And then Jesus goes on to apply the words of Isaiah 6 which the Lord spoke to Isaiah upon his commissioning as a prophet. You know, the famous “here am I, send me” scene. Two kinds of people.

Isaiah’s message, given him by the Lord, is so commonly misapplied it is appalling. You know, I mean how many missionary drives or fund-raising mailings come to your mailbox stamped with the slogan, “here am I, send me!” on them? But have you ever read Isaiah 6, or its use here in Matthew 13, and really gotten hold of the obvious? Namely, that the Lord gave Isaiah a message of judgment to pronounce to a wicked, unrepentant, disobedient people. Isaiah’s ministry was one of pronouncement of the curses of God’s Law upon people who claimed to be the covenant “church” of God, but who consistently and hard-heartedly pursued idols and every other kind of lawlessness imaginable, defying the Lord and expecting Him to keep right on blessing them. And there was NO promise of some second chance or miraculous revival. Jesus is telling His disciples that HE has the same kind of announcement for the wicked. Listen to Isaiah 6 again:

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
[13] And though a tenth remain in it
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.

That last verse (vs 13) by the way is not necessarily the clear promise of revival it is so often interpreted as. It is more probably a pronouncement of the burning destruction of an idolatrous people. (See G.K. Beale’s take on it in We Become What We Worship).

But do you see what Isaiah’s mission was? It was to pronounce judgment upon the wicked, unrepentant, idolatrous and hardened “people of God,” even effecting greater blindness in them. His “gospel” wasn’t good news of “Jesus loves you and we love you and….”. No. It was a mission of Law. In fact, the powerful Word of God preached by Isaiah actually and actively effected even more blindness and deafness upon the hearers. “Keep on hearing but…keep on seeing, but…”. All of this to say that this is why Jesus spoke to them in parables, and only explained the parables to His disciples. His good news was not for the wicked, unrepentant ones.

Which brings us back round to the church today. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a two-edged sword. Listen to it:

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

And again:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:16-20)

But as most of you know, most churches today only have one message. Wicked or repentant, arrogant or humble, give ’em all the same dose of the homogenized love of God. After all, “it only takes a spark to get a fire goin’. That’s how it is with God’s love…” and soon ALL those around will be warming up in its glowing. Wow! Come on Mr. Abuser-who-has-been-pretending-all-these-years in church, “come on over here to the love-fire with us. Warm yourself up. Can you feel it? Do ya feel the love?”

What Mr. Abuser and every wicked person should feel is fire alright. But not that marshmallow-roasting kumbyah kind of flame he is being offered by so many Christians today. No, he needs the thundering fires of Mt. Sinai in the Law. And he needs the consequences of the Law. Namely, that he be put out from among us while we devote our energies to helping his victim, his evil exposed and announced to the church, validating the victim. That validation, by the way, is one of the chief and therapeutic functions of the Law. It is called JUSTICE! God’s glorious, praise-worthy justice that will be as much the theme of the redeemed church on the Day of the Lord as His glorious, praise-worthy grace.

That is how our King did it. That is how He still does it. He offers the grace of the gospel to the broken, and He pronounces the terrors of the Law with a voice too terrible to hear to the wicked. And at some point in the continued career of the wicked man, the Lord pronounces permanent blindness and deafness upon him, and his eternal fate is sealed. Blessing and cursing, you see. We are disobedient to the King if we announce any other message.

Finally, back to our opening verse in this post:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

Test them. Test the popular professing Christian authors and speakers — even the ones who claim to be experts in this area of domestic violence and abuse — including us here at ACFJ. Test them! How? Simply ask:

Are they properly pronouncing both Law and gospel? 

If they do the following things, they fail the test. They speak from a spirit that is not from God:

  • Are they applying the gospel to the unrepentant, hard-hearted practitioner of evil (such as the abuser who puts himself off as a fine Christian), and applying the curse and condemnation of the Law to the broken?
  • Are they calling evil, good and good, evil by giving the promise of the gospel to everyone without discrimination?
  • Do they tell you that you must ‘have compassion upon’ the wicked?
  • Do they tell you to ‘love’ the wicked and to do everything you can think of to ‘save’ the wicked?

With the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down. (Psalm 18:26-27)

The Lord Jesus Christ did not and does not deal with everyone in the same way. To some He gives the hardening of blindness and deafness, lest they be saved, because they have so long willfully rejected Him. To the broken, to those who have even begun to just see “men like trees walking” in the dim dawn of Light, the Light of the world shines all the more brightly.

[Go to part 1 of this series]
[Go to part 3 of this series]

71 Comments

  1. StandsWithAFist

    Kumbaya indeed.
    I recently decided to “test” the powers-that-be and directly asked for my abuser to be held accountable & put out. The response? I was “exhorted” that my “sense of biblical justice was hurting me” and to “stop dwelling, percolating & ruminating” over it [abuse]. I just needed to “identify with Christ and His pain”, while “breathing deeply, trusting completely”.
    Thud.
    I thot long and hard about my response, and then decided it wasn’t worth it. There is no healing in the presence of blind, deaf, dumb, ignorant, hard, undiscerning, dead hearts.
    Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said “Let the dead bury the dead”?
    Thx, Ps. Jeff, for this series of posts.

    • SWAF — what an awful, but bluntly HONEST reponse those Pharisees gave you. Honest in that it actually exposed their cranky ideas. Actually, as you were recounting their advice to you, it seemed to me like maybe they were closet Buddhists, since Buddism teaches that ‘all life is suffering’ and what one needs to do to practice Buddhism is breathe deeply, concentrate on your breathing in the moment, and let go of all thoughts (**stop percolating and ruminating**). Good grief. These emperors have no clothes.

      You made the right decision to not waste your energy responding to them.

      • Still Reforming

        “not waste your energy responding to them.”

        I think that’s wise counsel. I considered buying “A Cry for Justice” for my pastor, but then decided if he’s really interested, he’d get it for himself. He knows of this website and has read passages from it after reading some of my (now deleted, for reasons of protection while going through “dissolution of marriage” process) posts on social media. After reading these posts, my pastor told me that he’d reconsidered his position on divorce. Ever hopeful, I replied, “Oh?” He went on to say, “Yes. I realize now that God can use divorce as a tool for reconciliation.” (I mentally smack myself on the forehead.)

        Why waste money my family needs on giving the pastor a book he won’t (care to) understand anyway….

  2. joyisnowfree

    If the unrepentant wicked person was never truly saved to begin with, should his sins be confronted? I mean God has already set His judgement upon him or her.

    • Jeff Crippen

      joy – I would say that the answer is, “yes.” Many if not most of the abuse cases we come into contact with via our readers involve an abuser who claims he is a Christian and is masquerading as such in a local church. Christ confronted the religious Pharisees. He calls on His church to do the same (see Revelation 2-3, letters to the 7 churches and also 1 Cor 5). As to the wicked who make no claim to be Christian, the answer once again is, “yes.” Romans 1 is an example. There, the Apostle Paul exposes the fundamental sin of mankind – namely, living this life all the while refusing to acknowledge and give thanks to the Creator. In other words, living as if God did not exist or worse, is irrelevant.

      • joyisnowfree

        Yes, according to the Word of God, you are right. My Pastor is supporting me 100% He told me not to go near the x anymore because it’s dangerous. He want to wait until the x seeks him and then rebuke the x. And the Pastor said that the x is not allowed to be in the same church service when I’m present with my daughter. But I doubt he will come around because the x moved (thank God) So now my Pastor wants me to change the locks of the house and get a restraining order, because he won’t stop texting me.

      • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

        Joyisnowfree, your pastor sounds like a good one. Mine was like that too!

  3. A Bruised Reed

    Pastor Jeff, this series of posts is amazing. When is the church going to wake up to the evil in her midst? And that is truly what it is, wicked and evil. And for the same scenario to happen time and time again (like in my case) – the victim being disbelieved, discounted, and miscounseled while the wicked, evil abuser is believed and supported and stays in the church! What is WRONG with this picture? And why does it happen so often? As my good friend says (who was formerly married to an abusive, railing, alcoholic, demonic man), God has a remnant and it is just that, a remnant.

    Men of God need to rise up against this evil! Call a spade a spade and excommunicate these wicked men!

  4. DaughteroftheKing

    Jeff, I cannot tell you how healing these posts have been for me. Since very shortly after we married I was shocked by my husband’s abusive behavior and I wondered how he could behave as he did while considering himself to be a Christian.

    I am free from him now but I am still dealing with the aftermath, especially with regard to the church. I had found a new church to attend but chose to remain anonymous, I knew I had to give myself time before jumping into ministry again. But I now realize my hesitancy was also because of an unnamed confusion and pain that I didn’t realize I had until one Sunday morning as I was sitting in church waiting for praise and worship to begin. I looked around at all the couples and it occurred to me that it was highly probable that some of the women there spent the evening before being abused by the man sitting next her. I knew this because for years, until I broke free, that was was my life. That Sunday morning was the last time I was in church, I cannot stomach the hypocrisy.

    I now find myself without a church home because I simply do not trust that I’m not going to find the same hypocrisy in a new church. I know I have more healing to do. I trust that God’s gonna get me there. In fact, I am evidence that He is working in me because I’ve been following ACFJ for months now, daring only to click “Like” on posts that resonate with me. Which happen to be all of them! And now here I am writing my very first reply. Yay God! I am very thankful for the opportunity to learn from you and Barbara and all the amazing women (and a few men!) who contribute to these posts. My journey continues.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Daughter – Yep, your journey is continuing! Thank you for sharing with us and for the encouragement. I think we all can identify with going to various places, including church, looking around and wondering “how many abusers and victims are there here right now?”

    • anotheranon

      DaughteroftheKing, I cannot speak for the husbands of couples attending church, but speaking as an abused wife I know I am there to really worship the Lord. It may be the only opportunity for some women to hear the Word of God and pray and have Christian fellowship from week to week. Years ago when things were worse I would yearn for Sunday to come so I could be fed spiritually. It was like having been in the desert and then getting a cool drink of water. Fellowship with real believers has strengthened me (and I understand that there are some members of churches who haven’t trusted in Jesus and are not saved, they are just “there” for whatever reason).
      Praying God will provide healing for you day by day!

    • My story exactly! I NEVER thought I would EVER consider NOT going to church but I cant go right now. I am separated (although still living in my home, he is respecting my boundaries right now) and will not attend church with my spouse, and lately, not by myself. After I left the mega I have been attending for about 20 years, I had gone to a quiet country church near where I teach and enjoyed just listening but then, someone there I knew from my community asked me, “So how are things?” and I said, “Fine” as if they were actually FINE and then bawled my eyes out in the car, unable to trust anyone. It has driven me where I need to be, though. One on one with my God who LOVES me and is FOR me. I feel 1000 times closer to HIm than I have all these years at church. I use that time as a quiet praise and worship and read my Bible, studying these posts mostly for now. I am in the process of trying to convey to my church how their treatment of me made things worse on so many levels but as of yet, have heard nothing back. I just never in a million years imagined myself being at odds with the church. I am beginning to see why God has “refined” me all these years because talk about your David and Goliath, but I feel compelled to pursue it. I cant stand the thought of “the woman sitting next to me” being in the same position I have been for 28 yrs. I feel like standing on the sidewalk with a big sign that says, “GOD DOESN’T CONDONE ABUSE! CALL ME IF YOU NEED HELP!” But sadly, many women don’t even KNOW it is abuse, as was my case. I am SO grateful for this website! I feel accepted and I can really say what I feel without condemnation. So glad you have found it, found truth, and are healing. ❤

    • Hi DaughteroftheKing 🙂 Welcome, and so glad you are part of the family at ACFJ.

  5. T

    When does Justice come to save the victim from the abuser?

    • Answer: When truth comes and replaces our need to please and be accepted by everyone who says we should stay and “love him” and “forgive” and “reconcile.” They make a mockery of God’s true character. God is THE only One we are to be accountable to and on this blog, I am learning TRUTH for the first time. God does NOT condone abuse, he is AGAINST the oppressor and FOR the brokenhearted. Once you know truth, you will never go back to the lie.

    • Hi T, I changed your screen name as a precaution. If you haven’t already done so I suggest you read our New Users Info tab at the top of the blog as it has some tips on safety for commenters.

      When does Justice come to save the victim from the abuser?

      Good question!

      Seldom (I don’t want to say ‘never’ as I am cautious about making absolute statements) have we seen justice come in the form of a pastor and elders fully believing the victim, supporting and encouraging her to make her own choices for how to obtain safety, and fully holding the abuser accountable.

      NEVER have we seen or heard of an abuser, off his own bat, holding himself accountable and either making a full reformation so he is no longer abusive in any way shape or form, or else giving his victim a wonderful divorce that makes sure she is financially well provided for, the kids are not compelled to see him on visitation, and he diligently goes round confessing all the lies he told to all the bystanders.

      Quite often we have seen justice come in the form of God prompting and leading the victim to awaken from the fog, exposing and washing away the false doctrines which have greatly contributed to her entrappment, and leading her to escape from the abuser, often giving her miraculous provision along the way.

      And often we have seen God provide justice in the form of quiet vindication for the survivor. Little things that maybe the wider world don’t see, but which the survivor knows are signs of her vindication: that she was not to blame, she was not at fault, the ways she responded to the abuse were good and righteous and totally understandable in the context, and that God has given her this conviction in her heart that she can separate, can divorce, and can shed all that false guilt which people had laid on her.

      And we will ALL see Justice in the end, on that Great Day.

      • Faith

        I am thankful for all these post. this year I was married for 33 yrs. I left my husband almost 2 yrs. ago due to his verbal and mental abuse. His last words he yelled at me on the phone the day I left was, “You are so worthless. Why do I have you do anything for me? Everything you do is stupid.” I had a dear friend that came and got me and took me to another state. I left a letter telling him he needed to go get professional help and gave him the areas he needed help in. I told him I was going to get my health back and I would not be able to be reached. Only our son would be able to get messages to me. I changed my number, went to a different state, got a new email account and left no trace of me.

        He went to a Christian counselor one time and my son was told by him that my husband was changing and to come back to encourage him to change more. Old friends and church members told me, “Oh he has changed. He’s a different man. But I knew he would change to a point to look good for a short time and again he would go into his raging temper fits.

        I would have left many years ago but I was trying to make it work. I had married for better or for worst. I thought I had to live with the worst. Life was like riding a roller coaster. The church taught me never give up on someone. They will come around in time. Just keep praying for him.

        We were church workers. Had a singing ministry and got together family camp meeting. (I look at it now and think that was a joke.) He was a elder in the church and gave sermons from time to time. But all this did not make him a Christian. He would for the most part be this bubbly kind person but became a different person at home.

        He served me divorce papers in Oct. of this year. I had filed in my state 5 days before him. People tell me he now is living in another state and has resumed his duties as a worker in the church. While he has made my name mud. He has told every friend and person we ever knew that will listen to him from the west to the east coast that I am not the person everyone thought I was. I have had affairs and our son is not his. He must tear down to build himself up. He knew our church’s stand on divorce. It must be a Biblical reason of adultery.

        I am now attending the church I grew up in. The people have been so nice and supportive. I am now able to have friends without worrying that they would find out what our home was really like. The weight of covering up for him has been lifted.
        I have people tell me, “You aren’t the same person as you use to be. You have changed! You are happy and helpful you are different.”

        I have to say yes it has hurt that some people believe his lies. Yes it hurts to know he is saying all kinds of trash about me my son and whole family. But I’m free from the screaming, the temper, the put down and fear.

        I have nothing to my name for he took all the life savings. I know I will see none of it. I am going back to school to better myself and helping make a difference in the lives God puts in my life. I have refocused.

        In my time of recovering God gave me words to poems. I really never wrote them much before but they became my comfort. I would like to share one. May it be an encouragement to all.

        Lifeʼs Raging Sea
        When I feel the angry waves from lifeʼs cold dark raging sea,
        They sound like crashing thunder as they fall all around me.
        I remember one story of a furious stormy night,
        The men were tossed to and fro holding on with all their might.
        The men tried so hard to keep the little vessel afloat.
        The conditions looked so bleak for all who were in that boat.
        When nothing more they could do they all cried out in despair,
        Lord will you not please save us, this is more than we can bear.
        Christ stood to His weary feet amidst all those death sot waves,
        He spoke the words Peace be still and many lives were then saved.
        God has promised in His Word, peace Heʼll give to us this day,
        When we face our storms in life we can go to Him and pray.
        Our waves may look defeating and press us from every side,
        But, there is something I know, Christ says, “Come all and abide.”
        Prayers for courage and for strength are ascending for you this day,
        May Christ tightly grip your hand till your skies turn blue from grey.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Faith – THANK YOU very, very much for your story and for that poem. Christ has indeed brought you through a raging sea.

      • joyisnowfree

        What a wonderful poem. I loved it.

      • Faith, thank you! It’s a wonderful poem. And welcome to the blog 🙂

    • Also, we have a tag for justice. There are quite a few posts with that tag; you might like to peruse them.

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/justice/

      • Faith, your poem made me cry. Your courage is an example. Please write more. I need to hear more of the strength in survival with Jesus.

  6. IamMyBeloved's

    Excellent post, once again! Thank you for this.

    Too often the leveling that goes on just keeps the victim(s) in a state of confusion and does not ever allow the healing to come. If the righteous are just as bad as the wicked, or if the righteous are loved by God just the same as the wicked, then there is no difference and Christ’s blood was shed in vain.

  7. granonine

    Domestic violence is one of the few things the secular world seems to understand better than the church does. Isn’t that strange? I’m glad, however, to have dealings with a (very) few pastors who are willing to hold the abuser accountable, and to protect the victim. How refreshing.

    • joyisnowfree

      The welfare dep offered domestic violence therapy and mental health therapy. I gladly accepted the help and they quickly gave me my first appointment. I don’t know if my counselor is going to be a Christian, but God has been using many people in the secular world to help take baby steps toward my recovery. I’m very grateful for this type of help.

      • granonine

        As a Christian who happens to be a therapist, I can tell you that I’ve worked with several women who are walking wounded as a result of appealing to their churches for help. I pray this is becoming less and less the case as we learn more. I met a pastor on the phone just the other day who has a wonderful heart for the victims of domestic violence and is doing all he can to help. What a blessing!

  8. Joe Godal

    Great series of articles, Jeff. The clear delineation of Law & Gospel and its application is not emphasized in counseling or in most churches generally. I can’t convey enough how your ministry has and is transforming mine. Thanks be to God for how He is opening my understanding. I especially appreciate the comments & writings of Barbara Roberts & Ellie. Thank you ladies for helping us understand. God bless you all. Joe G.

    • Ellie

      Thanks Joe! We hope to be an encouragement!

    • Thank you Joe!

  9. They treat my husband as a “saved, head of the family” member of their church. (and of course I am the “unforgiving complainer/bad-mouther of my husband even though I have been VERY careful in how I have tried to tell people what goes on)So they dont see him as unsaved. You are saying that the difference boils down to a repentant heart? If they dont have a repentant heart (saved or unsaved-because they will “distinguish” the 2) then they come under the law and if they do show true repentance, then they come under grace? This makes so much sense. The church should not be a “good-ol-boy club.” I think we need a good dose of Jesus turning over the moneychangers tables and calling people a brood of vipers!

  10. This is simply an amazing post. Thank you for the timely reminder of what Isaiah’s mission really was. I have dedicated my blog to exposing heresies and abusive doctrines in the Church, and have sometimes wondered if I’m being ungracious or if what I’m doing matters. Today, my answer is, “Here am I; send me!”

    Keep ’em coming, Jeff!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks April. I really know that feeling – “maybe I’m being too critical, too harsh….etc.” It’s a good question to consider, but for the most part I suspect that we aren’t being outspoken enough.

  11. StandsWithAFist

    I love reading these posts and all the replies; they are all so encouraging & liberating & nourishing.
    And yet: I am so exhausted sometimes. Does anyone else feel like that? It is a battle to oppose evil and speak truth and stand firm & be discerning & not be swayed or get played, or, or, or. The vigilance is necessary b/c the church is so ignorant and arrogant. We hear so much about “social justice” and “being on mission” yet they neglect the injustice sitting in the pews. I am weary today.
    “They heal the wound of my daughter superficially, and say Peace, Peace, when there is no peace”. Jer 8:11.

    • soldiergirl

      I do too SWAF, i am consoled by this site that others are fighting a similar battle.
      I thank God daily for the truth being spoken here, as too many are willing to compromise truth for appeasing the crowds.
      I have lost so much due to the church in general keeping me in a marriage that did not give glory to God.
      Now I am ready to do battle to stand for the truth.

    • I am so exhausted sometimes. Does anyone else feel like that?

      Yes! Me, for one. I’ve learned to be easy on myself when I’m exhausted and to not expect much from myself, to let myself take time out. But — BIG but — I have the luxury of being able to do that. I no longer have a child under my care, she is now an adult. I am not under financial pressure. And I have safe housing. And my overall health is good, except that it goes down a bit when I’m overtired.

    • In Christ Alone

      Yes… the last few days were like that for me. I finally consulted an attorney for the first time & all I’ve been able to do since is sob my heart out… telling God that I just can’t do this… that I don’t have the fight left in me. How did it get this bad? I have nothing but my kids (and for that I am grateful!). I totally get what you’re saying. And, this was on the heals of being on the receiving end of condemnation & judgement from a church “friend” for being separated & not being together for Christmas… The pain, loss, exhaustion & grief is great. Sending up prayers to the Heavenly Father for all of us tonight.

  12. joyisnowfree

    Hi T. I hope this helps you. The first thing I did was pray for the Lord to protect me and remove him (And God did) If I didn’t own my house, I would have gone to a woman’s shelter, because there the government moves quickly ti protect you and place you in an apartment or house under Section 8. Either way, whatever rout I would have taken, It was up to me to take the first step with God’s courage. The Lord has backed me up 100%, after I decided to remove the evil that was hurting me and my children. As far as justice and vindication, God will apply it ti the unrepentant abuser at His perfect timing. In God’s Word (Proverbs) The Lord says that the wicked continues in his wickedness because his punishment is delayed. I hope this helps you and God bless you.

  13. cindy burrell

    This piece is so clear and uncompromising! The WHOLE truth, not just the warm, fuzzy stuff. So many of us are hungry for it – starving, really. So, thank you, thank you.

  14. Amary

    Excellent post, Pastor Crippen!

    You said — “But as most of you know, most churches today only have one message. Wicked or repentant, arrogant or humble, give ‘em all the same dose of the homogenized love of God. After all, ‘it only takes a spark to get a fire goin’. That’s how it is with God’s love…’ and soon ALL those around will be warming up in its glowing. Wow! Come on Mr. Abuser-who-has-been-pretending-all-these-years in church, ‘come on over here to the love-fire with us. Warm yourself up. Can you feel it? Do ya feel the love?”

    …Which reminded me of another place in Isaiah where God talks about these types of fake-love ‘fires’:

    Isaiah 50:11 —
    “Look, all you who kindle a fire,
    Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
    Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
    This you shall have from My hand:
    You shall lie down in torment.”

    And the previous verse is excellent encouragement for those still struggling with the hurt and injustice of abuse:

    Isaiah 50:10 —
    “Who among you fears the Lord?
    Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
    Who walks in darkness
    And has no light?
    Let him trust in the name of the Lord
    And rely upon his God.”

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Amary – EXCELLENT Scriptures!

  15. Tryingtosortitout

    When churches or christian organisations deal ‘kindly’ with abusers they cause more suffering for a victim. My observation is that as the abuser is embraced, the victim is treated with increasing suspicion. As his reputation is protected, hers is called into question. Those with an inkling of what may have occurred begin to wonder. Perhaps she exaggerated/fabricated events? (And if that’s the case isn’t he forgiving) Perhaps she doesn’t understand what abuse is? Maybe she is emotionally unstable? Maybe they both need to be shown ways of dealing with conflict. Perhaps she is the abusive one? (and if that’s the case isn’t he gracious in his dealings with her?)

    His comfort in this context increases, her discomfort increases. His attendance at church/bible study/prayer meeting/Christian workplace is good, hers is not so great. Then it becomes clear who is “truly walking with God”. He is growing in his faith, he’s keen, he’s useful, but is he really?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Trying – It sounds to me like you are sorting it out very accurately! These are excellent observations of the wicked dynamics that come into play in these cases.

    • soldiergirl

      I actually had friends in the church, and i knew i had no reason to feel guilty , so i continued to attend the services, as my concience was clean, and i knew this.
      But my abuser was starting to feel out of place and nervous in that setting, as i connected with many of the women there, and he could do nothing about it.
      He got frustrated and did some out of character wrong behavior at church, but i did not let that affect me or my attendance.
      Even though the Pastor was on his side, i felt vindicated sitting in Gods church with Gods people.
      Even though the pastor gave messages that were about reconciliation and forgiveness, it didn’t affect me, because I was there to worship the Lord, and serve Him with my whole heart.
      But because i could sit in church with a clean heart before the Lord, i believe this bothered both my abuser and the pastor, as i was not changing my position against my abuser.
      So my abuser ultimately devised a way to send my old private emails to the pastor and that gave the pastor the excuse he was looking for to shun and excommunicate me.
      (Regarding a grey doctrinal area)

      • Soldier girl, you are one strong lady!

      • Remedy

        Soldiergirl and Trying to sort it out…..I am in EXACTLY this position right now!!!! Thank you for articulating it so well! It is a living nightmare of crazy-making. I am crying daily all day to the Lord for deliverance. My children are the only reason I remain in the house but even that is becoming intolerable for me. Lord, help us!

    • Hi Trhingtosortitout, welcome to the blog, and I second everyting Jeff said to you. 🙂

      • soldiergirl

        One thing that helped me to stay true to my convictions, Remedy was to see that both the pastor and my abuser were trying to “redefine my truth”,
        Which was to “level the sin playing field and share the blame” to make me an equally guilty partner with my abuser for the state of my marriage.
        But as they both were doing this I had to continually tell myself while hearing the messages of forgive and be reconciled is
        “The Shoe of the Reconcilliation Message- Does not fit me,- So I refuse to wear it!”
        (The sin of abuse is not mine, and I will not share it with my abuser)
        I can forgive, and choose NOT to go back to the pain of willful abuse.
        “The Shame and the Blame of the marital breakdown belongs solely on the Abuser, and the pastor is wrong to support him in his cause.
        (Whether knowingly or unknowingly)
        Now theres a shoe that fits!
        Hang in there Remedy!
        May the Lord give you Wisdom, Strength and Discretion in how to order your steps, and continue to embrace His truth.

  16. Tanya

    I tried to tell a church member about the abuse once to which she angrily replied “You need to protect his reputation!” then proceeded to tell me i was “gossiping” It made me sick. I didnt bother after that and no longer attend a church.

    The abused shouldnt be the ones who have to stand up and fight, they should be protected, shown compassion and healing.

    Who after being truly and systematically abused and beaten down to nothing then has the ability to stand up to many and fight? Maybe after a LOT of healing first…
    But i personally came out broken with only the energy to leave, i dont even know how i managed that.

    • Ellie

      If the abuser wants his reputation protected, he shouldn’t abuse.

    • So speaking the truth about continuous and unrepentant sin is now referred to as “gossiping” and “not protecting his reputation.” After many attempts over a period of YEARS, one pastor told me when I asked him “Why did you not step in and say something when I told you what was happening? Did you not think abuse was going on” He replied, “It’s not that I didn’t think abuse was going on, it’s the way you came across with it.” My mouth just dropped. I was too stunned to say anything at the time. Another person, upon hearing my h yelling and screaming at me (that I managed to get on tape) said, “He is a very unhappy man. You are destroying your children.” So I am the one who goes for help and I am the one BLAMED?

      Again, it was like being out in a stormy sea. You see the lighthouse and work your way to it. You breathe a sigh of relief as you picture gently washing up on the sandy shore of Christian compassion and instead you are bashed into the concrete retainer wall of legalism and judgement. And so broken, you can’t even fight back at the injustice. The only reason I even still consider saying something or doing something is because of the other women (or men) who are living under abuse in my church just like I did and will be treated to the same “justice.” I just cant walk away and leave them to fend for themselves. I am not sure what action to take but if they think they have silenced me, they are grossly mistaken. I will cry from the rooftops.

      • Tanya

        I know what you mean Debby. You speak up about the abuse and they try to lump on you the whole “it takes two to tango” thing. Which in a healthy relationship may be applicable, but NOT when it comes to abuse.

        And spiritual, emotional, psychological abuse can be so subtle, there are no bruises.

      • Valerie

        You see the lighthouse and work your way to it. You breathe a sigh of relief as you picture gently washing up on the sandy shore of Christian compassion and instead you are bashed into the concrete retainer wall of legalism and judgement. And so broken, you can’t even fight back at the injustice.

        Wow, Debby…that is the word picture of exactly what I experienced. Thanks for putting it into words! I learned to not consider ANYONE a lighthouse unless they have first proved themselves to be. And even then I will not throw out my life raft to reach that lighthouse. My only reliable lighthouse and life raft is Christ. He has always proved to be faithful! 🙂

    • Still Reforming

      Oh Tanya, my heart breaks for you I completely understand. I’ve just started attending a new church – perhaps just as an interim church while I keep looking for a good church home for myself and child. We had to leave our other church of 10 years because our abuser returned there. But I so empathize with you because I was very active i the church we just left. I was ready to let go of some of the responsibilities because I just couldn’t do it given the stress of all that my current situation involves, yet I struggle with wanting this new church body to know I’m not just coming to receive, but to give. I want to contribute and serve God’s people, but I know that right now, my child and I both need to HEAL. And I just don’t know all that entails or how long it takes. I just know we need healing. We’re both still bruised and bleeding emotionally and very raw. Healing is a long journey, I suspect, not unlike mourning and grieving. The two have a lot of similarities, particularly given the fact that it’s the death of a relationship, no matter how repugnant.

      • Tanya

        Thank you for that Still Reforming.

        I cant bring myself to return to a church just yet, i just feel sick.

        Yes true, we need to heal FIRST. That is the most important thing.

      • Tanya

        How do i heal?? its been 18 months since it ended and i still am so wounded and traumatised and broken,Was with him for 5 years.He used my own faith against me and i almost lost my faith.
        I was already divorced 10 yrs ago (he was physically abusive but NOT a narcissist, he was actually an honest person, what you saw was what you got, there was no pathological lying etc like the Fiance. Fiance was not physically abusive but the spiritual and psychological abuse is indescribable) I was still healing from that when i met the narcissist.

      • Still Reforming

        Tanya – I honestly don’t know how to heal, but I suspect that the Lord will do it for us – with His guidance we find communities such as this one on-line. Under His protective wing, He brings people into our lives to speak truth and with whom we can form real trusting bonds. I think all is not lost. We may not know what to do or where to go, but He is our Shepherd, and He is trustworthy. He never loses one of His sheep. So I think that by praying and waiting on HIm, looking to HIm – as Peter was able to only walk on water when His eyes stayed on Jesus, but sank when they looked at his own situation – I think therein lies our ultimate healing. During this time of healing, I keep praying for God to lead us to the right church home to find a body of believers with whom we can worship and served and love and among whom iron can sharpen iron. And for my child and I also the right physical residence as we shall move, to be sure, within the next year. Healing takes its own time, I think. Like mourning and grieving. And the wounds from this kind of relationship run deep. There are times I feel very empty and have nothing at all left. Other times, I feel a modicum of strength and hope. I think all of the feelings are natural given what we’ve been through. And it’s okay to feel them all. It’s part of the healing process, I suspect.

      • Tanya, I want to encourage you. You have stayed away from your last abuser for 18 months. That in itself is probably a feat to pat yourself on the back for. Healing may not come as quickly as you would like it to, and it’s a journey that we are in one sense always on till we leave this vale of tears. But it does come, and if it does not come in perfection in this life, be assured there will be no more tears or fear in the life to come if we are Christ’s own.

        You may find some of our Resources or tags helpful. PTSD resources, for example. And the pdf on Honouring Responses of Victims that Calvary Womens Shelter have produced is excellent.
        Sorry if this comment is a bit under par for me. I’m very tired today.

  17. Tanya

    It seems in churches the abusers get treated how the abused should be treated and the abused get treated how the abusers should be treated.

    Its all reversed. Right is wrong and wrong is right.

    Seems satanic to me.

    • Still Reforming

      Tanya,

      Your comment brought this verse to mind: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20

      I would not want to be in any position wherein God would say “Woe….” to me. Just how far can the “Christian” church go with this without repercussion from the Lord?

      • Tanya

        Great verse. Amen.

      • Tanya

        Yes Still reforming, i wonder how far it can go…

        And its not “christian” I wont even call places like that “churches” their not.

  18. Figureitout,
    We received your comment and have been trying to email you, but are having a problem with your contact information.

    Is it safe for you to contact us? If so, please email Barbara at barbara@notunderbondage.com and TWBTC at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

    Blessings,
    TWBTC

  19. Tanya

    If you do try and stand up and speak out about abuse and fight you just get more abuse heaped on you.

    Who can take that when your already broken?

    Consistant narcissistic/sociopathic abuse leaves you feeling like the walking dead. Soul murder, soul rape.

    I also wrote an email to the Pastor (after i had left the church) about the pornography my fiance (ex) was into. I got no reply. And was later informed by the Fiance that all they said was that i was “bitter” they never even bothered replying. The pornography was only a small part of it too. At the time my Fiance was getting “prophesies” about how he was “called” to be a Pastor etc and the Pastor was going to train him up to be a Pastor.

    • Tanya, that church is getting what it deserves, a porn-watching, self-absorbed abuser, and your new church home will get what it deserves, a bold, tender-hearted daughter of the King who is a blessing to the congregation and the hurting people in it.

      • Tanya

        Thanks Debby 🙂 that bought a tear to my eye.

  20. Tanya

    Narcissistic abuse is a very hard thing to explain to people too. Most people have no idea and look at you like your talking about aliens or something.

    • Valerie

      Tanya, I can identify with much of what you say. It was my experience as well. In fact I have even told someone the exact same reference when trying to describe narcissism- like I was talking about aliens. “Its a conspiracy I tell you…they’re coming to get me and take me away” was what they seemed to translate when I spoke about the abuse that was occurring and that he was doing this purposefully.

      I wondered if I would ever want to set foot in a place of organized worship after the way my church unbiblically and cruelly responded to the abuse I suffered at the hand of my husband for many years. Yet, God is good! He introduced me to churches and TRUE followers of Christ who resemble nothing of my old church. I see now how worship and fellowship with followers (not just professing believers) can be! I pray that you are able to find that as well.

  21. I am revisiting these articles and really studying them. So much makes sense to me now. I do have a question. A friend brought up Luke 6:35 where Jesus says, “But love your enemies, do good and lend hoping for nothing in return and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High FOR HE IS KIND TO THE UNTHANKFUL AND THE EVIL.” I don’t think Jesus was being “kind” when he spoke to the Pharisees so I am having trouble putting His actions and His words in this verse into the proper context. Any help Jeff or Barbara?

    • Still Reforming

      debby,

      I’m not Jeff or Barbara, but I have a off-the-top-of-my-head response, if that’s okay.

      Jesus is kind to the unthankful and the evil as I understand it in what is called “common grace,” that is – The evil and unthankful enjoy the blessings of God’s green earth just as do the thankful and God’s own children. Jesus delays His anger and judgment, in which time the evil have opportunity to repent. Jesus allows them to continue in their ways, though He could have called down legions of angels in His own defense (and ours), but the evil are allowed – in this time and on this earth – to live their lives as they choose. Yet judgment is coming. It is only delayed for a time.

      In another sense, one could see that Jesus is loving (perhaps “kind” isn’t the right word here, but Jesus certainly was not unkind to the Pharisees) by telling them the truth. Only an unloving person would keep the truth from someone else. We too are loving when we face up to abuse and evil and call it for what it is. That doesn’t mean we go into tirades or be mean. Most of us here (I would venture to guess) haven’t been that way even in the face of abuse. I myself was silent for many, many years as I tried to figure out what was going on. When I did speak up, it was to try to \reason with the unreasonable man holding my child and me hostage in his lies and manipulations, although at that time I wasn’t savvy to his ways and means.

      Seen another way, consider how loving it is when, as a nation, the United States has gone to confront evil where it originates overseas, and while destroying the enemy (or trying to), not only standing between the evil men (terrorists and their organizations) and the innocent (those who would be victims at home), but also delivering food and clothing to the general population, demonstrating what freedom from oppression can be. That’s how I see “doing good to those who persecute you.” It does NOT mean allowing evil men to continue in their persecution of you or to look the other way; That is a twisting of that verse, I think. I does though mean that we do not return evil for evil.

      Does that help any?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Debby- Here is that verse in its context:

      Luke 6:19-38 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

      Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
      Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
      Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
      Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
      Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

      But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
      Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
      Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
      Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

      But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

      Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

      We know from Jesus’ other teachings and actions, and from the lives and teachings of the Apostles, that Jesus cannot mean here that we are to silently submit to the wicked and their abuse. Right in this very context, Jesus had just pronounced woes upon the wicked and rich. The emphasis here is that right NOW, in this present age, God extends (as StillReforming pointed out) His common grace to the wicked as well as to the righteous. Rains in season. Food, and so on. He doesn’t strike them dead immediately when the wicked do their wickedness (at least not often!). All of his kindness is designed to bring them to repentance AND to heap judgment upon them as they reject His kindness.

      We are called to do the same. Rather than taking personal vengeance upon our oppressors, we show them God’s grace even as they hate us for Christ’s sake. BUT, none of this precludes an abuse victim from divorcing their abuser, or confronting their abuser with God’s truth — just as Jesus confronted the wicked with “woes” and warned them of that Day to come in which they will have to give an account. Nothing here precludes reporting an abuser to the police. In fact, as has been noted, these kinds of things are the “kindest” things and most loving things we can do for an abuser. Bringing the Law of God to bear upon the wicked by reminding them of God’s wrath against them is not unkind. Drawing boundaries with them and divorcing them so that they face the consequences of their wickedness is not unkind.

      In addition, I think it is good for us to remember that in Jesus’ day many people did not have the rights that we have. That is to say, many were slaves. Women I suppose didn’t have a lot of rights either. So what were they to do in regard to their oppressors? Leave? Well, many of them simply did not have that I option.

    • Debby, you may like to read the posts in our Unconditional Love tag, if you haven’t already. And don’t be afraid by the title of the tag. We do a lot of mythbusting. 🙂

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