A Cry For Justice

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

Three years and One million views later. . .

On January 7, 2012, A Cry For Justice published its first post. That makes ACFJ three years old today! And if that isn’t exciting enough — thanks to you, our faithful readers — we just hit 1,000,000 views!

In light of these two memorable events, we have decided to re-post ACFJ’s first post. Even though the post is three years old it is exactly the same message that we are writing about today: Diotrephes, the abuser, is wreaking havoc in churches, marriages and homes all the while masquerading as an eminent ‘christian’. The evangelical church has not been doing well in coming to the aid of his victims. In fact, we have been discounting them and harming them instead. A Cry for Justice is seeking to remedy this injustice.

Thank you, dear readers, for helping us in the Cry for Justice!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Diotrephes and the Evangelical Church

by Ps Jeff Crippen, originally posted on January 7, 2012

3 John 1: 9-10, “I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. (10) So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.”

Our book, A Cry for Justice [*affiliate link], was written because the evangelical, Bible-believing church has a problem – a big problem. Diotrephes is hiding in our pews. Or rather, he is hiding in plain view. He (or she) is the person who wears a mask of eminent saintliness, having convinced most everyone in the church of his godliness, but whose real motive is a craving to be first. Diotrephes likes to put himself first. He sees himself as entitled to power and control and regards himself as fully justified in using whatever tactics are necessary to ensure that he lords this power over the people of Christ. Perhaps you have known him?

Diotrephes, and people like him, are abusers. Some abuse the flock of Christ – all certainly deceive the sheep – while others exercise their diabolical tactics in their marriage and home. They are perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse, and their target of choice is their wife and children. If you want to learn about sin – how it thinks, what methods it uses – study this subject of domestic violence and abuse. You will probably find that you won’t have to go far to find it. There are few local churches that are untouched by it, though even fewer who realize what is happening.

Christ has a particular care for the helpless and defenseless – the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the land. Today, such people are often among us as victims of abuse. Most frequently they are women and their abuser is their husband. Don’t limit your thinking about abuse to physical assaults only. Abuse is a mentality – a worldview. The abuser is a person whose conscience is largely dysfunctional, or even inoperative. He sees himself as superior – as the center of the universe. He is, in his thinking, entitled to have power over and to control his wife and his children. His arsenal of weapons to effect and maintain this control is quite large. The abusive person does not think like normal people do. One of our biggest mistakes in dealing with this sin is to assume that he does think like us, and this becomes one of his biggest weapons to deceive us.

Who are the victims in your world – in your church? Don’t be too quick to dismiss the possibility that they are there. It is not a possibility, but a probability! The statistics are that one in four women are victims of domestic violence. And there are some male victims as well – they have an even greater shame that keeps them from asking for help. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of our book that may serve to introduce you further to what we are speaking of here. In future posts, we will work to educate you to the thinking and tactics of the abuser, helping you to recognize him and to render justice and aid to his victims who are among us. Please understand that we have a problem. The evangelical church has not been doing well in coming to the aid of these victims. In fact, we have been discounting them and harming them instead. A Cry for Justice is seeking to remedy this injustice.

From the book A Cry for Justice*

Pastor Andrews was continuing with his sermon series on marriage. And the congregation was listening, mostly with smiles and knowing, nodding of heads as the Pastor struck upon some of the common difficulties in the home. It was quite a pleasant atmosphere; Pastor Andrews was so good at giving light and humorous illustrations. “You know, Sunday mornings can be really difficult for families, can’t they? All the rushing about to get ready and get to church on time. How many of you had some conflicts this morning at home or in the car on your way to church?” Husbands and wives looked at one another, smiled and chuckled. It was all so foolish – but funny too. Yes, they were just human beings with all of their glitches. The Lord knows all about it.

But in this congregation of some 150 people, there were two women who didn’t seem to be sharing in the joviality. Oh, there were some strained smiles from them at this point or that but for Rose Jansen and Elizabeth Bettson these words hit a little too close to home. Both were distraught and distracted. Rose avoided looking at her husband and fiddled with the pages in her Bible. Elizabeth rolled up the corner of her jacket, unrolled it, then rolled it again as she stared straight ahead. Unlike them, their husbands “got it”. Laughing and nodding their heads, they seemed to appreciate the Pastor’s point. “It really is funny, you know – isn’t it?,” Pastor Andrews continued, “how we argue on Sunday mornings and then put on a happy face and come into the church building all smiles.” Preparing to wrap up, he smiled at his congregation. “But God understands. Jesus knows we are all fallible and frail. That is why He went to the cross. May He bless each one of you this week. Let’s pray.” Heads were bowed as the prayer was offered. The amens were said, the closing hymn was sung and people stood to leave. On the way out a happy atmosphere prevailed: hands were shaken, the Lord was praised repeatedly and the people headed home to their roasts or to meet friends at the Sizzler.

For Rose and Elizabeth it was different. As they left with their husbands, they did so to return to a world that no one in the church knew about nor could even imagine. They left with husbands whom everyone thought they knew, but didn’t. Welcome to Rose and Elizabeth’s world. It is the world of abuse. It is a foreign land to most of us but one that exists right within the church, often in the pew just next to us.

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

15 Comments

  1. Anonymous Pastor's wife

    Congratulations Pastor Cripppen on your three year anniversary. I’m not sure I started following the blog on Jan 7, 2012, but within a few days of the start-up. What a wonderful blessing it has been to me and to so many victims of abuse. You, Barbara, and your team are to be commended. I know your writing and work has changed my husband’s (a Pastor) and my view of abuse and even more importantly to us: our view on divorce. From the postings on the blog, I think we are not the only ones who have changed how we handle these situations. Thank you for your commitment to this crucial issue in our time. We continue to pray for you, your pastoral ministry and your ministry to so many through the blog.

  2. Brenda R

    Congratulations on 3 years of success and reaching the many of us that needed someone to shed truth on the abuse we lived in or are still living in. This was the first time I read this post. I know Rose and Elizabeth well. Their names are changed, but I still know them They are the ones that the rest of the congregation do not notice or want to know what their lives are like. They probably aren’t smiling or if they are it is a forced smile. They are the ones that once in the car after the Sunday morning service are belittled and mocked once they get back to their car. They hear how their husbands really feel about the people in the church. They noticed how “all those hypocrites” were pretending to know God and were only their to act high and mighty. So why was the H there. Possibly to make sure their wives didn’t get opportunity to find support.

  3. Isaiah40:31

    Right on, Brenda R!

    I am so thankful for this blog. I found the sermon series 2 1/2 years ago, and the blog a little over a year ago. It has been so helpful, so important in my recovery after decades of abuse. Thank you to all who work together to make this blog possible. May God continue to bless each of you, as you bless those who have been subjected to domestic violence.

  4. Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

    Woohoo!! Thanks so much for all you do!

  5. StandsWithAFist

    I found this blog thru “Grace for my heart” & Dave Orrison. I was dying in soul & spirit, contemplating suicide, so it is not rhetoric when I say both blogs saved my life. Literally.
    The story of Nehemiah comes to mind, as he set out to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. That is what you & Barb & other authors here are doing, and it is a remarkable work.

    • StandsWithAFist

      Oops–hit the send when I meant to paste this:
      Nehemiah’s abusers were many, including Sanballat & Tobiah, who ridiculed, lied, opposed, taunted & conspired against him:

      … when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard all this, they derided us and expressed contempt toward us. They said, “What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”
      “The God of heaven will prosper us. We his servants will start the rebuilding. But you have no just or ancient right in Jerusalem.”
      But Nehemiah continued in his work:
      So it happened that the Jews who were living near them came and warned us repeatedly about all the schemes they were plotting against us.
      So I stationed people at the lower places behind the wall in the exposed places. I stationed the people by families, with their swords, spears, and bows. When I had made an inspection, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awesome Lord, and fight on behalf of your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your families!”

      You have encouraged us to fight against the ignorance, you have given us the right to defend ourselves to restore what is broken, and like Nehemiah, my prayer for you is from the last verse: “Remember me for good, O God”. Nehemiah was not being a narcissist, he didn’t ask God to remember HIM, but rather the “good”, the work God gave him to do.

      May He bless and remember you & Barb & Dave & all who write “for good”. You are saving lives & restoring broken people with strong walls, with His word & in Truth.

  6. A Bruised Reed

    Praise God Pastor Jeff and Barbara! Thank you for all you do!

  7. Lisa

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! and, SO AWESOME! and, THANK YOU! Just this morning I was pondering over what God has done in my life in the past 3-4 years and tried to remember when it was that I “came upon” this site. I couldn’t remember exactly, but I also didn’t realize how young you are (but, oh so mighty!). I also was marveling at how denial really clouded my mind and beliefs regarding me and my marriage (of almost 21 years). It is really amazing to see all those clouded, twisted thoughts translated to clarity and truth by you all. I am grateful.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Go Lisa! Thank you:)

  8. LH

    Congrats and Thank You!!!

  9. Moving Forward

    At one time I was Elizabeth. But no longer. Thanks to this site, I am moving out of the fog, and forward to freedom. God carried me through, but He also led me to this site, and I don’t know where I would be without it, especially its Christian viewpoint. I hope you are here for many more years, to help those who at this moment are in the fog, but about to come here and find hope any day now.

  10. Barnabasintraining

    As is so often the case for me with the really good blogs, I can’t remember how I found ACFJ or Barbara’s original blog initially. I might have found ACFJ through Barbara’s blog, but I’m not sure. But I thank God you were both and each there to be found! Incredibly dark days I don’t think I could have kept grounded in without you. Thank you ACFJ team, and thank God for you!

  11. Congratulations on a tremendous achievement!

    I found you when my heart was tormented by the can’t marry again stance my pastor’s wife advocated. It felt like a punishment when I was the one left in the dust trying to make the marriage work. Your articles help us to understand that God has not forgotten us…He hates abuse.

    Thank you for all your hard work. God bless you all.

  12. “…the root of the righteous bears fruit” (Prov 12:12b). And the fruit that ACFJ produces is good. Thank you for your WORK all these years!

  13. DaughteroftheKing

    All I can say is thank you. THANK YOU! Your words have been balm to my soul, a voice of reason in a world of insanity. Time and time again you put into words and provided clarity to issues that I “just happened” to be struggling with at exactly the time that you post. Hm. Coincidence? Of course not! I thought I was alone in questioning the church’s focus on saving marriages at any cost. But even more vexing for me was the hypocrisy of an abusive husband who purports himself to be a Christian, and the very clear messages I absorbed that said I was WRONG for leaving. I could not quite understand it… until I found this site. Thank you for opening my eyes to the truth of the scriptures, which allowed me to shed the huge millstone of guilt that my stbx, his “upstanding” family, and my former church placed around my neck. So please accept my grateful thanks. I pray that God continues to bless you and give you the strength to carry on the good fight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: