A Cry For Justice

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

Most “Christians” Cave When it Comes Down to Standing With an Abuse Victim

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. (Luke 22:59-60)

If you are an abuse victim or survivor, you know all too well what I am talking about in the article. Namely, that very, very few people (including professing Christians) actually stand firm alongside an abuse victim when standing is going to cost them something. That is when the “come on, just forgive the guy” business starts. In most abuse cases, the abuser holds trump when it comes to finances, influence, allies, health, and power. To stand with his victim means that his loaded deck just might come down on you as well.

And yet Christ has told us quite clearly that if we are not willing to stand with His people, especially when they are suffering or in need, then we do not belong to Him. Listen to Him for yourself:

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:41-42)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ (Matthew 25:41-45)

There it is. If a person who claims the name of Christ for themselves will not pay the price required to stand with the oppressed, like an abuse victim, paying the price for doing so right along with the victim, then Christ will reject them on that Day when He comes to judge all humanity.

We have seen this thing in our church over and over and over again as the years have gone by. If it is going to cost someone something to turn away from a wicked man and stop enabling him in his evil, the majority of professing Christians will refuse to do so. And I think that is one chief reason why we have all this distorted nonsense in our churches about forgiveness and reconciliation and so on. Because, you see, if an abuse victim will “simply forgive and forget,” then suddenly all is well and there is no price for anyone to have to pay. Except for the victim of course, but never mind her.

Refusing to stand with the oppressed is, as Christ Himself said in the above Scripture, equivalent to denying Christ Himself. And on this matter of confessing or denying Christ, the Scripture is very, very plain:

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
(Matthew 10:32-36)

Yep, it’s gonna cost to follow Christ. The gospel separates and divides the sheep and the goats. Following Him means we all have to decide just whose side we are on.  Christ is on the side of the oppressed. Are you?

54 Comments

  1. Seeing Clearly

    “whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple” What beautiful words to reflect on. This disciple is one who was paying attention, with heart looking downward in humility. The disciple took the time to kneel with the child, hear her need for life giving water, believed her, and shared it with her.

    That is really all we ask for. For someone to sit with us, listen to us, believe our need is real, respond by going out (to get the water) where others can see that there is a need, returning to us with life giving water. So simply put, we are God’s children, in great need. Like children, we often intuit that things are not right, but can’t put it in words. We just know that we are very thirsty.

    • healingInHim

      A very timely message as I have once again attempted to re-enter ‘church’. Many invitations to join them and worship?? … just don’t share my life; let’s just smile and by all means don’t question some of the heretical teaching because it opens you up to more abuse. This is so difficult:-(
      Carol – I agree. “… we often intuit that things are not right, but can’t put it in words. We just know that we are very thirsty.”
      Very thankful for internet access to a few sound Biblical teachers/preachers.

      • Heidi

        So true in my experience.

      • Heidi

        Church is the worst place!

    • Still Reforming

      Carol,
      You wrote: “That is really all we ask for. For someone to sit with us, listen to us, believe our need is real, respond by going out (to get the water) where others can see that there is a need, returning to us with life giving water. ”
      So true what you write, and yet, once there are problems identified (or divorce – gasp!), we’re like the lepers of the church. That’s how I feel – more than a widow, I feel like a leper. The untouchable.
      No one at church wants to know what happened. No one wants to “take sides.” No one wants details. They all want to be Switzerland and remain neutral. I don’t see any words in God’s Holy Writ about neutrality though.

      • SR. I feel the loneliness at times as well. I became a member of a church about 6 yrs ago and no one has ever really asked about my life. When we attended a new church together about 15 yrs ago, it wasn’t too many weeks before I realized that this minister was a pastor, he would be my pastor. In all of my life, I had never felt that I had a pastor of my own. Of course my ex did not respect him, but because my ex was to come on staff, we stayed for 6 yrs. When this pastor was relocated in my “new neighborhood” some years later, I began attending and because of the pastor, I became a member. He knew my story, but now he is gone. Churches who do not desire to get to know the “new” people” do not grow. On one hand, I think it is sad and wrong. On the other hand, It is a place where I am who I choose to be, not who my ex tried to tell me I am. There is so much more to us than the wounded, struggling, suffering “us”. I take the time to present myself as a “put together” person. I look for the person who is sitting alone to sit by and smile at them. I make a point to welcome visitors. There are those who are always friendly, but have never invited me out for coffee. Will I stay forever? Probably not. I don’t know that I will ever really fit in anyplace. That can be a lonely statement.

        There is one very significant part of this church that has been the primary reason that I have stayed. There is a vital Stephens Ministry at work. I was asked, early on if I would like one of their people to walk alongside me. I was assigned a remarkable woman who prays for me every day. At first we met weekly, then every 2 weeks and now less often as I schedule. She mostly listens and guides very gently. She is compassionate and keeps everything confidential.

        It is tragedy that we, mostly women, are judged harshly by people who have no heart, just a big Bible. Since my divorce, I have tried to navigate the political network within one church in particular. The authorities did not know my past, but neither were they interested in my passion for a certain ministry. I was tolerated, verbally disrespected, told to drop it, and lied to. I left in tact, but hurt and reminded of where I do not belong.

        In my personal life, I have those who stand beside me, but I have no confidence that more than a very few would not cave if they had to confront my abuser. That is a very sad statement.

      • Still Reforming

        Carol,
        Yes, “tolerated.” I know that feeling. That feeling of trying to connect with people, get to know them as family, invest in them, thinking all the while they too are investing in you and connecting – only to find out… it was just “tolerance.” There is no love lost in leaving. How sad. It’s not unlike our marriages really.
        I remember the day it finally dawned on me that my husbands words and actions were intentional. That he was making things up. That he was pretending and lying and it was all like a “game.” That turned my stomach.
        And yet, then many of the relationships in church turned out similarly. Like a farce. Some kind of pseudo “Christian club.”
        “Tolerated.” Isn’t that strange?
        I find that relationships I’m making since both my marriage and church affiliation went kaput – well, I’m still trusting people, but at the first sign of abuse of trust, it’s done. I don’t keep giving the benefit of the doubt over and over as I used to.

  2. rebecca

    This post is so, so extremely good. Thank you, Jeff.

  3. Bitter But Getting Better

    Pastor Crippen This is excellent!! It is exactly why I am bitter: I spent years laboring for the Lord in my church. Answering every call or need their was. I was never a pew warmer!!!!! And as soon as I had this desperate need about my relationship with my husband the leadership were no where to be found. There is a belief in recovery programs that you can’t get bread @ a Home Depot. I finally and sadly left my church, because there was no bread there!!!!

    • healingInHim

      Another good quote: ” … you can’t get bread @ a Home Depot. I finally and sadly left my church, because there was no bread there!!!!”
      Praying for you BBGB.

    • Still Reforming

      Bitter But Getting Better,
      You and me both. What astonished me was not so much that I gave to those I thought my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but that I labored for nearly a decade alongside them, and I thought they would know me by my testimony and my service. That I spent years teaching their kids and grandkids on Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesday nights. That we served food together, ate dinners before Wed. evening fellowship together. I thought they knew me. And as one professed to me just before my husband left us (when things really were getting intensely difficult), “No one at church really knows him.”
      And yet….. knowing much of what happened at the end, those same sisters in the Lord (and the brothers I thought were mine in the pastor, youth pastor, deacons) – no one called. My husband left us physically and financially – and we had been dependent on him for more than a decade. (He worked; I homeschooled.) And not one person from the church asked me about it, though I later found out my ex- told the pastor he had left us. Ex-h disappeared from the church, and I continued to serve, until he showed up again at church out of the blue. So we fled. To this day he still attends on Sundays, never serves (but had the gall to wear a “camp staff” t-shirt this past VBS, but didn’t serve – Who knows who provided that t-shirt to him, but someone had to). And yet, he’s welcome. I confess that I’m delighted to leave that church, but with sorrow for the fact that they’re not truly serving Christ. I suppose it was known to me deep down for some time, because I prayed for a change for years. The Lord is teaching me – much via this website – His real truth not just a semblance thereof.

      • Bitter But Getting Better

        Still Reforming- my heart actually hurt when I read your response. You were rejected by your spiritual family. Thankfully God will never reject us!!!! The Lord is teaching me too, many gems of wisdom through this blessed website! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  4. Bitter But Getting Better

    Carol-your comment is beautiful. (That is really all we ask for. For someone to sit with us, listen to us, believe our need is real, respond by going out (to get the water) where others can see that there is a need, returning to us with life giving water. So simply put, we are God’s children, in great need. Like children, we often intuit that things are not right, but can’t put it in words. We just know that we are very thirsty.) God’s precious word says: Psalm 69:20 Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity but there was none; and for comforters but I found none. Debby Boone had a powerful song titled Wounded Soldier. You can find it on Youtube.

  5. a prodigal daughter returns

    The true values of the gospel are upside down from what is so predominantly featured in the vast majority of churches. My prosperity, my ease, my comfort, the advancement of my marriage, my children, my life, my little Disneyland or American dream is what sermonettes promote. In fact, Jesus spoke of servanthood, laying down life and personal desire for the sake of others, loving enemies, being gentle, forgiving, loving, and kind. His followers spoke of the same things James 1:27 External religious worship religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

    The worldly contamination spoken of in this passage is greed and the worship of the god of self. Those attitudes that turn blind eye and cold shoulder to the poor, homeless, sick, alienated and rejected in our society. Not only does the church not typically truly live sacrificially for the suffering but the add to suffering with their judgment, rejection and indifference.

  6. Brenda R

    There is so much talk about not discussing so much about your beliefs on abortion, the marriage controversy, politics of any kind, abuse and focus on Jesus. I don’t know about y’all but when I speak of these things, Jesus is always in the middle of it. He is the Creator and let us know how he feels about these things. My beliefs come from him.

    “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” I know some abusers that acknowledge….but wait, is there anything that is coming from their heart or have they got the script down.

  7. Bitter But Getting Better

    HealingInHim-Thanks for your prayers!

  8. Still Reforming

    “And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

    As every single one of us reading and writing here can attest to.

    The bottom line of course is whose side we’re on – Christ’s or the anti-Christ’s. Because if you’re not for Him, you’re against Him, and those against Him are those tormenting His people.

  9. bright sunshinin' day

    Jeff, you are speaking truth and asked the right question…you are reading your Bible…both Old and New Testaments. It’s all in there just as you say. You wrote:

    “Yep, it’s gonna cost to follow Christ. The gospel separates and divides the sheep and the goats. Following Him means we all have to decide just whose side we are on. Christ is on the side of the oppressed. Are you?”

    • Anewanon

      INdeed, here is a perfect OT example… Proverbs 9:7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. This doesn’t mean “don’t stand them down” what this means is “you’ll pay a price – do it anyway.” Right Jeremiah? RIght Ezekiel?

  10. kayE

    As a pastor’s kid I grew up in church. But after I got married my husband prevented me from relating in my own right with anyone at church. No-one, NO-one heard my cries for help. In the end he used physical violence to prevent me from attending church at all. But he kept going along and giving them money. He told them I didn’t want to go. Then he left us, and as a result the pastor’s wife told me I was to attend church separately from my husband and separately from my children. Years and years of mistreatment made me really terrified of church.
    Finally (after several years) I got the courage to try one more church. I knew right away this church was different from all the others. Instead of boasting about the great things they are going to do for God when revival comes, these people were overflowing with gratitude for what Christ has already done for them. They did not know me, but they were so kind to me that I couldn’t stop myself from weeping. I told them how hard it had been for me to come to church again.They replied “You are safe”. “You are one of us now and we will look after you”. When they found out that no-one in the other churches had stood up for me,they were sad and they said,”If it has happened to you it has happened to others as well”.
    Isn’t this the way it should be?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes! Exactly KayE. The way it should be!

    • Still Reforming

      kayE
      You wrote: ” the pastor’s wife told me I was to attend church separately from my husband and separately from my children.”
      This is something I still don’t understand. The women of my former church likewise by and large encouraged me to be silent and submissive, even if mistreated. Your pastor’s wife laid burdens on your shoulders, although you had been abused.
      From the men of the church, I can intellectually understand their buying into a patriarchal system. But the women? I don’t get it. Unless they’ve been so bullied and cowed and indoctrinated over time so as to buy into the role of martyr for the cause.
      Perhaps in your case the wife was also into lording it over the flock. She may have relished the power that came with her husband’s office.

      • healingInHim

        Still Reforming – re: your answer to KayE concerning how the women of the church treat the abused women. I am in the same camp. It is only through remaining in the Scriptures and seeking out sound Biblical teaching and preaching that I was able to see that indeed like you said; “She may have relished the power that came with her husband’s office.”
        So often you will find “a family” who keeps the church doors open regardless of the sins within their own family units. Many elders have been womanizers and the wives allow it just to keep the church so-called operating.

      • KayE

        Still Reforming, your conclusion about a pastor’s wife and power is probably correct. There are definitely women who enjoy the power that comes from their husband’s position.

      • KayE

        Adding to my reply, I also suspect that the pastor’s wife may have been sent to relay a message that really came from the pastor. I suspect the pastor didn’t want to speak alone with a woman who had no husband.

      • Oh yeah, because we all know, don’t we, that when women go to a male church leader to disclose ‘abuse’ they are really looking to seduce the leader! Those dangerous women! They can’t be trusted. They are so driven by their sin natures that they can’t control their lust! (sarcasm)

        And why do some men think this? Could it be that they have given themselves over to lust and so assume that all women do so too?

      • Yes, she may have relished the power that came with her husband’s office. Or she may have simply been so brainwashed by all the legalistic teaching about gender roles and responsiblities in the church and the home, and was finding her solace in comforming to the legalistic box. Some of us who are now out of the fog, can testify that we did that in times past, and that we gave dreadful advice to victims of abuse during that time — advice for which we now repent.

      • KayE

        What I do know for sure is that she contemptuously dismissed me when I said I was getting abused. She insisted it was a communication problem, and it would be solved by couples counselling.

      • when people say “It’s a communication problem”, one way to pull them up in their tracks is to reply “He tells so many lies; how can you communicate with someone when they tell so many lies?”

      • KayE

        I’m sure that wouldn’t have worked in my situation. This man actually admitted to the pastor and his wife that he lied, and that seemed to be perfectly OK with them. I was surprised about that.

      • Still Reforming

        KayE,
        I’m replying to this comment because it came into my email as a reply to me:
        “I’m sure that wouldn’t have worked in my situation. This man actually admitted to the pastor and his wife that he lied, and that seemed to be perfectly OK with them. I was surprised about that.”
        I think I’ve lost in the thread what you’re referring back to specifically, so I’m not sure what you mean by “that,” but I’m presuming “couples counseling”? It never worked for me either. In fact, the comments on this thread about “communicating” reminded me that my first port of call in my troubled marriage was a “communicating class for couples” at a local community college. That went nowhere either, although I met a really lovely woman there with whom I became friends, but it never helped our “communications” in marriage. As Barbara astutely observed, how could it? How are communications benefited when dealing with a liar?
        Re: “this man,” I presume you’re referring to your husband? I had the same thing really when I exposed some lies that my husband told in the home to my former pastor. My pastor flat out said that it wasn’t about the issue at hand, but something else going on, and yet…. my husband was never held accountable for the lies. I don’t know that he was ever addressed about them at all. The last conversation I had with that pastor, he told me, “Well, I speak with (my now ex-husband) about things. I talk with him about stuff.” As if to say he’s handling it. Not very well apparently, but I think the pastor has his own controlling behavior going on, and I thank the Lord daily to be freed from both of them. Birds of a feather they are. Vultures.

      • KayE

        Still Reforming-yes, I was talking about my ex husband.When I said “it wouldn’t have worked”, I was referring to Barbara’s suggestion, that is – if people were told my husband was a liar, they might stop dismissing it all as a communication problem and instead listen to my cry for help. Fat chance.
        So you also encountered a pastor who tolerates lies. I find that really sickening.

  11. IamMyBeloved's

    And so often IF there even is an offer to stand with the victim, is it hinged on whether the victim is going to take the advice and counsel given to them by the ones standing with her. The threat of “go against us and we will not stand with you” may not be said out loud, but defy the counselors and see what happens. Even then, the counsel is usually to remain with the evil and forgive it and reconcile with it or to be a good Christian and let the abuser take advantage of you in the Court system.

    It is also pretty lonely to be in a place where no one confronts you or mistreats you, but never actually says they support you, because your divorce is a sin in their eyes, so you just have to stumble your way through the pain of it all alone. But in the end, these passages actually prove who is right in God’s eyes and who is not.

    I remember sitting in the past “c”hurch and hearing a message preached by the “p”astor there on the Good Samaritan. It was then that I realized they were not the Good Samaritan but were the ones abusing as they walked by, or ignoring the fact that me and my children were bleeding on the side of the road. It was so obvious to me that day what was really going on in that place, that I actually had to laugh. It was ridiculous.

    • Anon.

      Yes, the conditional support of we’ll only stand with you and help you IF you lay back down and take some more abuse in the home OR you lay down and be abused in the courts, as such is expected of a good, ‘c’hristian woman.

      Glad to see someone else talk about the threat there.

  12. Dodie

    I don’t know what kind of church you attend, but all the ones I have attended take this very seriously. I’m sorry this person had this experience, but this has not been true for the churches I’ve attended. However, they do insist on privacy. Period. Privacy for all concerned. The reason is that people will not attend a church where they feel shame or that they associate with something painful from their past. Every church I know offers counseling, support groups, etc for victims of abuse and also help for the abusers. I hope this person will give other churches a chance. I really hate it when people or organizations lump everyone together by race, religion, or whatever and spread a mantle of accusation over everyone, no matter who they are. That’s very damaging and unfair.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Dodie- be assured that your experience is a rare exception if what you describe is actually true. But though I assume you sincerely believe what you have said here, the very high likelihood is that your conclusions are wrong. I say this not only because of the hundreds of Christians we know who relate a very different account of how their church treated them, but also because of this very curious thing you mention about secrecy. If tgese evils are kept secret from the congregation then how can you or anyone really know how abuse victims are handled there? And where in Holy Scripture are we instructed to keep wickedness in the church a secret? Something sounds very fishy here.

      • healingInHim

        Excellent response Jeff. You are so right about the secrecy.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Dodie – You said, “However, they do insist on privacy. Period. Privacy for all concerned. The reason is that people will not attend a church where they feel shame or that they associate with something painful from their past.”

      Insist on it how? Maybe you wouldn’t mind sharing with us “how” is that accomplished? What’s the consequence for not maintaining privacy? Who enforces those rules?

      I believe that the next statement you make, is not completely true. I know a lot of people in a lot of Churches who have been hurt and still attend that Church. I also believe that it may be that the leaders of your Church could be using this “privacy” thing as a way to control the conversation at your Church. Also, I find it disturbing that no one is to know about anyone else, because how can you bear one another’s burdens, if you don’t know what they are. I think privacy should be up to the individual involved. It should be their choice who they talk to about their live and who they do not talk to about it.

      I agree with Jeff’s response, that in fact, you really cannot know whether abuse victims are being treated biblically and right, because you have no idea who they even are or what the conversations consist of or what type of counsel they are being given.

      I think you lost me, when you said, “and also help for the abusers”. Why are they even still in your Church, if they are abusing their wives? Perhaps it would help for you to read some of the articles here or the books written about abuse, so you could gain a greater understanding and be a good help to those in need in your Church.

    • Still Reforming

      Dodie,

      Hi. If Every church you know offers counseling, support groups, etc for victims of abuse and also help for the abusers, you’ve been extraordinarily blessed. I really don’t know of a single church I’ve attended faithfully over the last two decades that offers those things. At the time of my own abuse coming to my attention (please bear in mind that in domestic abuse, it’s not all physical, but mental and emotional, including mind games, gaslighting, lying, manipulation, trickery, deceit, and on and on) – at the time I began to get a clue that my husband’s behavior and words were intentional, I was nearly 20 years into the marriage and had already raised red flags with the women of my church, the leadership, and others. Those red flags included making them know I was reading up on passive-aggressive (aka covert aggressive) behavior and sociopathy and had been to three marital counselors (two billed as Christian) over the course of the marriage. I would cry in different meetings now and again and share details of my husband’s spinning the car around with me and our child in it, outbursts of rage, lies, etc.

      By and large my church responded with telling me to be silent and submissive (quoting Scripture) and to forgive and reconcile. Even when divorce was imminent, the pastor told me that God uses divorce to bring about reconciliation (citing God’s own relationship with Israel).

      I don’t know quite to whom you’re referring when you write: “I really hate it when people or organizations lump everyone together by race, religion, or whatever and spread a mantle of accusation over everyone, no matter who they are. That’s very damaging and unfair.”
      Do you mean the people here? I don’t think that’s what targets of abuse who come here for prayer, understanding, counsel, and support are doing. Instead, we are sharing our experiences (which are remarkably common – and before I found this site I had no idea how many people out there were and are going through the same kind of abuse). I don’t even know if I understood that I was being abused because it was so deceptive and wicked. Secretive and two-faced. Jekyl and Hyde stuff. And so, the church buys into it. In fact, my ex-husband is still at the church. (Just last night my daughter brought back to me from his place one of those portrait studio daddy-and-daughter photos, taken where? At the church. For the directory. It’s framed. She said he wanted her to have it here – to remember him when she’s not with him. She said she wanted to bring with her a photo of her alone for me, but he wouldn’t let her. And he wouldn’t pay for any, but those two were free.)

      All just to say that when finally the target of abuse raises her voice for one last time (or maybe the first time) and says, “This is happening to me behind closed doors,” of all places and people, the church needs to stand with her (usually a her, but can be a him). From all of the testimonies I’ve read, it’s more common that the church lets her go (as they did me, in spite of serving alongside me for close to a decade and my husband not serving at all) and prefers to let the abuser remain. In my own case, ostensibly to “love him to Jesus” (a phrase not found in Scripture).

      If I got it wrong regarding to whom you were referring when you wrote about spreading a mantle of accusation, please do correct me and let me know instead who you mean by that.

      • Anon.

        The “love him to Jesus” baloney. It’s everywhere! It infects Christian radio stations’ programming, comes out of so many people’s mouths (who, I believe, are largely well-meaning, deceived people), the vast majority of the stuff you’ll find in Christian bookstores and are not the latest Hollywood ‘c’hristian movies touting this same sentiment?!

        From Catechism, I learned there is both the Law and Gospel, both of which are needed in a sermon. The Law shows you your sin and need for a Savior and the Gospel proclaims the good news of Christ Jesus.

        “Love him to Jesus” oh how wrong that is. Indeed, it is nowhere in the Bible. The only thing I can think of is where God says to rebuke but then don’t be so harsh as to cause the believer to despair, assuming he repents.

  13. healingInHim

    Dodie – It’s not a matter of lumping ‘everyone together’ … it is just the blatant sad fact that many so-called Christians are not there for the oppressed and sadly do favor the abuser. Ministries like ACFJ, Cindy Burrell, Leslie Vernick, Chris Mole …. they are all attempting to awaken the leadership.
    If your church is strong then please join the fight and help. Besides being a good example it would be glorifying to the Lord if your church’s leadership met with other pastors and elders and exhorted them to do the same. Praying for the strength and fortitude to do so. Thank you so much for commenting.

    • KayE

      I’ve personally experienced cruel judgement and rejection from something like 20 churches, either through attending them or from people who were active members and leaders in those churches. They represent many different denominations. Those people knew me and had served in church along side me, sometimes for years.
      Some of those churches might say they take abuse seriously, but if the perpetrator is one of them it’s a very different story. When you are treated like this time after time after time, it’s very hard to believe that any church will be safe.

      • healingInHim

        KayE – I hear you loud and clear. I’ve received the same treatment from every denomination offered in my community. I too served to the best of my ability until I could not take the spiritual and marital abuse any longer.
        As I contemplate the rejection of spouse, children, etc and shed many tears praying for the lost; I am so very grateful for God’s faithfulness in leading me to true Christians even if it is via the internet. The Lord knew my needs ahead of time; thankful for His gift of technology. 🙂

      • a prodigal daughter returns

        I believe you KayE and share the same experience. I wouldn’t write about my disgust and disappointment or grieve about it if I had no expectations of the so called Church. Those people meeting together are supposed to be “the body of Christ” and somehow represent Him on this earth. Oh what a long way from doing so. I appreciate this blog because people have the same lived experience. I am encouraged today if my heart wasn’t so directed to the Lord, I’d find those places tolerable. But, because my soul clings to Him those faulty representations of Him are a stench. How they treat the battered and oppressed brothers and sisters that arrive at the doors is how they would treat Jesus himself, they are places I do NOT want to be. Maybe it is lucky that they wouldn’t have us, because ultimately they disgrace the name of Christ

  14. Mandy

    Briefly, I can SO relate to those who spoke of the coolness of ….uh….church ‘friends’….those who looked away, those who never called, the one who said she understood but didn’t have a clue…the pastor (as well as a deacon) who admitted he knew for 18 months that my now-ex husband was cheating on me but did nothing, and I could go on and on, as you all well know. Just saying it’s been 20+ years and it still hurts. My husband and I do not plan to join our current church of 5 years because we both found membership benefited us nothing. Big hugs to us all. We can pray for each other.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Mandy – The thesis I want to write about in another book is exactly what you have stated here. Namely that evil is tolerated and enabled in our “churches” rather than being called out for what it is and expelled from among us. And this toleration is most frequently carried out by the church leaders, followed by the typical professing Christian. Such people are not Christians. Jesus said that those whom He pronounces blessed (Matthew 5) are people who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” The Holy Spirit cannot endure evil and He is in every true Christian. It is my contention that evil is in our churches like a plague. Wicked people parading as eminent “saints” often actually are the power broker “pillars” of local churches. And this is why the oppressed and downtrodden are treated so cruelly in most churches today. I am a pastor of over 30 years shepherding Christ’s church and I love His Church. But I detest the counterfeit, and the counterfeit is rampant in our time.

      • Anon.

        A woman used to talk about her mom being beaten and abused by her stepdad, who’d then go and play Mr. Superhero in church, beloved by all. Watching her mom be slowly killed by Mr. Superhero, knowing how celebrated he is to the church, no matter that he was destroying his wife…. a small minor detail that’s best ignored.

        Another woman spoke of her husband going to church every Sunday with her and proceeding to beat or abuse her that very afternoon or evening.

        I think this is so widespread. And I’m thinking of the small, conservative, traditional churches, not even getting into the mega-churches where it seems anything goes… Almost like an entertainment venue, with a Starbucks to boot, plus some shopping opportunities, too, which I find bizarre as you feel like you’re in a shopping mall, having just come from a rock concert.

  15. Mandy

    Thanks for your reply, Jeff. It is very refreshing and encouraging just to be able to hear from someone who “gets it”. Most people don’t–except, of course, the people who share in this column! Thank you for being a shepherd. You are a rarity. Oh, BTW, when I confronted the deacon about his silence in the face of clear long-term adultery, and I quoted Gal. 6:1 to him, he looked very stricken and said he did nothing because he was afraid of losing a friend (my ex). I said, “So, what am I? Chopped liver?” I next confronted the pastor, and he replied that he said nothing to me because he ‘preferred to speak to the man.’ But he never did that, and made excuses why he didn’t even though he lived just 3 miles away. Hey, Jeff, feel free to use any of my comments as examples in your new book. Blessings to you as you seek to put just the right words into the hands of your readers.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Mandy!

    • Hi Mandy
      could you kindly email TWBTC twbtc.acfj@gmail.com to discuss your screen name? Thanks. you haven’t done anything wrong, don’t worry. We just like to tidy up loose ends and help our commenters keep safe. 🙂

    • Still Reforming

      Mandy,
      I had the EXACT same words told to me, “I prefer to deal with the man.” Spoken to me by the music director after he outright refused to read a prayer request I had related to the abuse in my home. It involved a child, and the director still wouldn’t read it because he “prefers to deal with the man.” When I brought this up to my pastor, the pastor said that “maybe he (music director) is battling the flesh.” It was thereby excused. A few weeks ago when I saw the pastor unexpectedly, he told me that he had at the time considered dismissing “both of us” (I was active in teaching at the church) because “we couldn’t forgive one another.” I have NO idea why that was stated because I didn’t seek the director’s forgiveness about anything. I pointed out to the pastor that although I am no longer at the church, the music director still holds his position of authority, to which the pastor just shrugged. So that malarkey about considering dismissing the music director is just hot air.

      • Mandy

        Still Reforming: Oh, my, I can SO relate to your situation with the music director, the feeling of being ‘cut down’ and ‘put down’, and then the pathetic encounter with the pastor. I surely do hope you’re in a better situation now, and things are going well. Just in case the home situation still exists, I’ll pray for you.

  16. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    I have commented here in ACFJ before what I’ve gone through at the hands of a pastor and wife who “just “put me away quietly.”

    I often think of Joseph in the New Testament thinking of doing the very same thing when he found out his betrothed wife to be, Mary, was pregnant.

    Churches today are just doing the same. It chills me to think how much the body of Christ has suffered at the hands of such leaders. There’s going to be a lot to answer for on judgment day. Woe to them!!

    I served in the church I was brought up in from my teens (Sunday school teacher/ youth leader) put through bible college, supported in many ways through many years of ministry in many places. Supported and encouraged for many years as a missionary.

    I returned a number of years ago to my home area, got married, and began once again serving the Lord in my home church. My family and I were all servers and heavily involved in all sorts of ministries within the church. My family still are very much involved.

    In short, little did they know my wife was mentally and emotionally abusing me. I also received what I now know was psychological and financial as well as spiritual abuse also. I tried to hide it, and for the most part probably did a good job of keeping it hidden. I was so full of guilt and shame that I had helped others and was now under the same. So ashamed! My false guilt, sense of marital duty, and certainly my Christian beliefs held me captive in a relationship that almost destroyed me.

    Some people in church discerned a little as they had gone through the same, and said things privately to me to encourage. Often saying they knew things were going on as they could “read all the signs”. I never ever revealed anything to anyone in the church, despite their observations.

    My wife perhaps maybe once or twice a year for special services attended church. They rarely ever really saw her. She was always saying she was depressed and therefore pitied when she did ever appear. She of course played the victim and loved the attention. We eventually found out years later she had Asperger’s syndrome, so she also struggled with church too and talking to people. Mind you, all that surprisingly disappeared if she wanted to slate me in public. It was just like a switch. I definitely had a Jekyll and Hyde experience all through the marriage. Walking on eggshells and terrified who would appear. I still don’t understand it all. It was very much an added complication to the abuse and very confusing for me.

    You can imagine my hurt and astonishment, therefore, when the pastor and his wife turned on me when my wife revealed I’d talked of divorce. (I’d had enough and was making a desperate bid for freedom). It was such a taboo word with this pastor. He often preached “Divorce!!! not on my patch!”

    I’ll not repeat what I’ve written before you can read my other comments. Needless to say a visit from him and his wife to my home within a few days occurred and a lot of what I know now as spiritual abuse took place.
    This resulted in that I was “put away – quietly!”

    Interestingly not long after I was “put away” and left totally alone, the same pastor’s daughter declared her husband and her were getting divorced. This was due to an affair he had but nothing to do with abuse. The pastor was faced with a dilemma. I’m sure he tried the same lines of biblical quotes but this would not wash with one of ‘his own’.

    He thinks now that he has seen a little behind the scenes he knows more of my situation. He understands a lot more he says. I say
    Yeh mmm …..perhaps.???

    However, not once has he approached me to say anything let alone an apology, if he truly has suddenly gained a greater knowledge. I’ve been civil at funerals and shook their hands. However, I cannot see how he now knows anything about me or understands more of what I went through. He has told one of my family these things, and that he regrets the way he handled things and is deeply sorry. To which they quickly replied “It’s not me who needs to hear this but (my name)!” Why? I asked myself? How can he possibly understand??

    Because even though he knew my character and how I thought and operated for all those years. He knew me more than many a person. He still quickly sided with my wife whom he hardly ever knew or spoke with simply based on the taboo of divorce. A word she uttered in a devilish scheme of manipulation to keep me under her control. She knew they were going to step in and try keep the two of us together. Often she threatened to tell them what I was really like at home and to destroy everything at church. Often she would turn up at my parents’ trying to make them “wise to me” — each time I stood up and said I had had enough and was leaving. She also knew they would have “a word” and try keep us together.

    This pastor’s wife heard one statement …. and they acted very quickly. They consulted with a lay preacher who had started coming to the church. This is for another comment as it involved someone very power hungry and equally steeped in false doctrine concerning marriage. An abrupt, harsh, straight laced, old style however relatively young preacher and very popular due to his charismatic nature.

    This elderly and very experienced pastor never ONCE asked me anything about the marriage or what was going on. Not ever, even when on many occasions after intense abuse I asked for their help. He never let me elaborate. He just kept stopping me after a few words, saying I needed to pray for more strength every time. Even when I once sighed when he asked how my wife was and I replied “It’s been 13 years of misery!!” (It actually ended up 20 years.) He sighed and uttered the same phrase as if disgusted with me and just started to pray for strength.

    How can anyone counsel without listening to both parties. How can you, without asking questions, make any conclusions or give true support and help. I was so astonished and deeply hurt that for years the very people I trusted and felt “could” help me seemed that they did not want to know or even get involved. What has changed. what has happened? Their reaction did not add up.

    My family went ballistic when I told them and severely admonished them, but the damage was done and they’ve never undone it or stepped back in to give proper help or at least seek professional people who could help.

    I was always taught, if you can’t handle something and it’s beyond your remit then go seek advice and help from others. Don’t attempt yourself and certainly never leave needy people high and dry. Despite my family who are well respected leaders quickly sharing things I never got to share regarding the abuse (they only knew snippets over the years) nothing was ever done. I felt the damage was done. I wanted no more help from them as I felt they had no time to listen to truly listen and would only continue to seek to keep the marriage together and certainly not want divorce.

    I honestly cannot see how after a divorce due to an affair suddenly makes them understand my situation.

    I was told in my home that day once we both got our marriage sorted I could come back any time to church, or if we wanted could still attend (my wife had no intention) but not have any role or part in the church – attendance only. This was not help; it was punishment. I could not believe how hurtful this person was. Me – sit at the back of the church where I was so heavily involved up front or behind scenes, suddenly to walk in and sit at the back like on a naughty step and just be there. I’d relish the break certainly but not under these circumstances. Not to mention the congregation all wondering what on earth has he done to warrant such discipline and questioning why I am not leading etc. How embarrassing would that be, especially when I have done nothing wrong. I was not the abuser.

    I was again astounded and thought how long have they been in ministry and have gained so little in how to counsel or deal with these matters. Highly respected and yet if people knew this reaction overnight that following would have dwindled massively. Out of respect for them and in protecting the good people in the fellowship I just stayed away, much to the hurt and misunderstanding of my family. This added greatly to my own pain. I’d no one to turn to. Totally let down.

    Even my wife said after that last home visit she was surprised the pastor never even asked her how she felt or what she felt was happening or gone wrong in the marriage. She was expecting it to be like other counselling we had. To which obviously she wanted to say things slate me and control. Hoping though it would keep us together.

    They just saw the big DV sign and with absolutely no listening or asking questions and seemingly no heart began to dictate and shove their views. They came with an agenda and no attempt to speak or ask questions was going to sway them.

    I was told it would be best for me to leave and both attend a church many, many miles away. There was no way with either of us that was going to happen. They totally disregarded my wife’s problems, in ignorance perhaps, and the fact she hardly could motivate herself to go a mile to church and meet people she knew well and mix.

    I also knew that particular church well and its people and doctrines. I did not agree with their views neither did the pastor surprisingly, yet he was now recommending it strangely. It would have been one of the last churches I’d ever have based myself in.

    What was his amazing basis for this suggestion – an easy get out? “Oh we attended a function last weekend and a couple at our table have had marital problems.” He didn’t know I knew the guy from previous ministries, when he told me his name. He then began to tell me their sordid history and affairs, and that they have “come through”. Talk about pastoral privacy etc. I was disgusted, even my wife said, ”I wonder what he tells others now about us! Are we going to be part of his sermons in other churches!” I honestly felt the same. I’d have preferred not to have known these things about that man. Even when I revealed I knew him he still did not stop. Apparently this couple had started a counselling ministry – “here’s their business card – I think it would do you good.” They were so chuffed that God had directed them to this couple JUST FOR US! Isn’t God amazing they thought. They kept saying “so there’s hope!!” The way they saw that hope for the future was vastly different than what I saw and believed would have to happen to gain it.

    I have given in other comments other details of that terrible, unforgettable meeting. The main thing that astonished and deeply upset me was that I received no listening ear nor did my wife – just an agenda to “put us away, silently” especially to get me out of leadership and leading the church worship team, youth club etc.

    I’m still reeling and it is triggered often as I attend funerals, especially in that home church. The last one I couldn’t bear it to go in, only to the graveside. I made excuses but I know my family were not happy as it was a close friend and supporter. I felt so guilty. It’s too painful, but they don’t see it. They certainly aren’t getting all the questions and the deep pain and numbness of my loss. Nor the attempts and continual conversations to try get me back coming from people who apart from one contacted me when I disappeared. They were under the impression I was just taking a few weeks “time out” and were deeply hurt at my resignation of membership. I’m deeply hurt I have hurt them. Any wonder so few contacted me, if thinking that. I know them well and if only they knew the truth they would have reacted differently.

    A pastor trying to do right and protect the flock has damaged it very much but they don’t know it. Needless to say I burnt my bridges with this pastor-wife team and stopped all contact for self preservation and protection.

    The country I live in is still in ‘the dark ages’ around this whole thing of divorce remarriage and society here is leaps and bounds ahead, yet still lacking in many areas of abuse mental illness, etc. Thankfully it is slowly waking up on mental and abuse issues, but the Christian church is lagging way behind. This is partly why I struggle with going any where near a church or listen to sermons music etc and feel guilty about that. I need to continue to protect myself.

    If only the church of Jesus Christ woke up and became Christ on earth ministering properly in these areas our churches would be so different, dare I say it probably even packed out. Christless eyes would want to know more as they see the heart of Jesus in the church – true selfless sacrificial love and compassion. Churches are great at preaching it but few possess it.

    In my situation many in the congregation were what I call truly Christian. I know in my home church if they knew what truly happened with me they’d be fuming. They would be disgusted that I was treated so badly. They have had someone, whom we all grew up with in the church, share in the church who has been similarly abused and divorced. Although she does not speak on the matter publicly but other biblical things, She has revealed her past in private to the people and even the pastor accepts and invites her to share. She never stayed in the church as the former pastor when she revealed her abuse gave her no help. She turned to me at that time and I was the one who pointed her to another pastor who I believed had great insight and could help her. I knew he personally would ensure she got help. Sadly he died not long after, but not before he got her help and she broke free.

    I honestly don’t understand what took place and why I was not helped that day in my home. I have my suspicions another agenda was at play.
    I know it’s not the congregation’s fault.

    To this day I’ve said nothing. Even my ‘best friend’ knows nothing and only recently was told I’d separated and moved house.
    It is to the pastors and leaders shame in many churches (not all) they seem to ‘lord it over’ and make “lethal” decisions in the name of ‘protecting the flock’ or just because of their own personal agendas, false doctrines or interpretations. Could it even be they are ashamed to have people like us in their churches??

    Why did people flock to Jesus and many little children, so often by His side, even upon His knee??? He spoke truth, He is truth and He stood for truth! It was lavished with compassion and love. He spoke up for the Mary Magdalenes and those downtrodden or covered in leprosy. He accepted people right were they were at.

    He was firm and he rebuked the abuser; the money changers and cheats; the pharisaical nonsense in the church etc etc.
    If only the church would be true! If only the church would be Christ like and truly be the body of Christ! Listening to His headship not their own.

    I loved the phrase mentioned here in comments about having “a big heart not a big bible”. This is so true. We can all learn from that. Jesus fulfilled the law, truth and love married together. Oh how we need to be Christ ones!!

    Thank you again for all your words of encouragement it’s so good to have the ACFJ family. 😀

    I know this is very long but I hope something of it blesses you.

    • Bless you Now free(formerly struggling to be free)

      The way your pastor and his wife dealt with you was so dismissive. And they ended up preening themselves for their ability to refer you on to another couple who they claimed were ‘experts’. What a load of codswallop!

      Yes, it breaks your heart when you realise how many in the visible church are being misled, misguided and deceived by pastors such as this. Pastors can be good in so many areas, but yet they mishandle domestic abuse. Aaarrrghh! It hurts! And the victims are distraught and grieving in private, feeling forsaken and alone. 😦

      Jeff Crippen was spot on in this post he wrote for church leaders —
      Domestic abuse is the test case for our theology, and we are failing.

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