A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers in the Pew Indicate a Deficiency in the Pulpit

But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.” (Jeremiah 23:14)

“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds. (Jeremiah 23:21-22)

If you have been a reader at this blog for very long at all, you know the old, old story. Abusers hide in local churches, parading as model Christians. They gain allies in the church. Their victims are ostracized and blamed and sometimes even ex-communicated. This is not an occasional event. It is the sad norm in the churches.

When evil is able to exist unchallenged among the Lord’s covenant people, it is a direct reflection upon the preaching ministry in that church. The function of preaching is to declare both the Law and the Gospel in the plain language of Scripture so that the Spirit of God will wield that Word like a mighty sword, convicting the wicked, encouraging the righteous. God’s Word is not only a revelation from God, it is a revealer of what is hidden. It is Light shining in darkness, giving hope to the weary and contrite, but also shining upon evil for all to see.

This was not happening in Jeremiah’s day, except by Jeremiah’s own preaching. The rest of the “clergy” were idolatrous scoundrels whose preaching and behavior “strengthened the hand of evildoers.” The result was that no one repented. No one turned from their evil. These preachers were not sent by the Lord, yet they ran to their pulpits, commissioned themselves, and claimed to have God’s Word.  They did not turn the wicked from the evil of their deeds.

When evil can continue to hide and function in a local church over time, it is a sad reflection upon the pulpit ministry in that church. The evildoer’s unmolested practice of wickedness indicates that they are not being exposed and challenged by the preacher. And that means that God’s true Word is not being proclaimed faithfully. Today many churches are led by people whom the Lord has not sent, yet these kind run to the pastoral ministry. They do not proclaim God’s Word to the people. And how do we know? Because the wicked are prospering in churches. The innocent are oppressed. Injustice rather than justice is dealt them.

Pastor, your calling is to declare the Word of God so faithfully and clearly, in its entirety, that a wicked counterfeit masquerading as an eminent saint in your church will start to squirm. As his mask is torn away each Sunday, his comfort zone must shrink. At the same time, the Gospel you proclaim will function to heal the broken-hearted and deliver the captive from the wicked one’s oppression. In most cases today that means the numbers of people in your church are going to reduce. And yes, you might just even get thrown out of your pulpit if your church has been left to go to weed seed for a long time. But let me give you some personal encouragement here.  That is exactly the kind of church that existed over two decades ago when I first came to my present pulpit. It was a weed garden controlled by counterfeits. They hated God’s Word and they hated the preacher of that Word.

But they are gone. None of them repented, not one. But they found the Light of Christ far too brilliant and they ran. The remnant stayed, and enjoyed peace. The hand of God’s people has been strengthened, not the hand of the wicked.

28 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    Oh, amen and amen!

  2. Still Reforming

    Many if not all of the churches I’ve frequented as of late have a sense of “Christian country club” about them. That’s not to say that there aren’t genuine blood-bought Christians in the pews. Likely there are. But their leaders aren’t fostering a real church. They’re fostering the semblance of “church” that is actually a cultural Christian club at the core.

    • Not Too Late

      I agree. I sense that most Christians in these kinds of popular churches stay because of the social advantage of being members of a social group, one that also happens to proclaim spiritual, respected, community-endorsed virtues. They get two for the price of one – a social group to which they belong, and at the same time they can say that they pay serious attention to their spiritual life.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Not Too Late – You stated the fact of the matter very well, IMO.

    • Velour

      Spot on, Still Reforming! That’s the same thing that I saw in my former church.

  3. Seeing Clearly

    The words you have penned today are absolutely true. They bring tears to my eyes and heart as I think of churches in my town; 1) my childhood church, 2) a close family member’s church, 3) the one I tried to volunteer in, only to be silenced by 3 different church leaders, 4) the one we attended when I filed for divorce. The following facts are about the church we were attending when I filed for divorce. My ex and 2 other former pastors were hiding out in the pews of this church during the short period of time that we attended there. While in that church, an elder requested that my then abusive husband be his prayer partner. And the pastor felt lead of his god to ask my husband to be the leader of the men’s group, which he agreed to accept.

    I know for a fact that abusers have been and are sitting in the pews of these churches. And there are more that I know of because women who experience abuse share their stories with other women who they sense are safe to share with. In many instances, I have been that safe woman.

    Thank you ACFJ team.

    Also, last night, I watched for the first time the movie from 1944, “Gaslight”. There is nothing new under the sun.

    • “…pastor felt lead of his god…”

      What a great way to put that. It was obvious that he wasn’t led by the God of the Bible.!

    • That movie is great! I’m so glad I finally found it in an old video story that had lots of classic movies!
      But be aware, it can be triggering to watch. Triggering, but validating.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Thank you for the warning, Barbara. Triggering can be subtle and catch me off guard 2 or 3 days later. Watched it on TCM, Turner Classic Movies for the first time.

    • I know for a fact that abusers have been and are sitting in the pews of these churches. And there are more that I know of because women who experience abuse share their stories with other women who they sense are safe to share with. In many instances, I have been that safe woman.

      Ditto. Me too. Exactly.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Ditto double!

    • Carol2

      Carol, my story is so similar. I divorced 25 years ago and my ex continues to attend the church he and I attended. He continues to make negative and blaming comments about me and the pastor believes him so much so that the pastor will not talk to me.

      My brother attends the same church and believes my ex. In fact, when I made a comment about a past event regarding my ex and myself, my brother called me a liar.

      My brother and my ex sit in one of the first pews in the church.

      Carol

  4. IamMyBeloved's

    Well said and beautifully written. God’s house is no place for the wicked to prosper. It is a place for the repentant to come to be uplifted and encouraged in this dark world in which we live. It is for reviving the saints of God, not empowering the wicked. Anyone who walks in the door should be about the business of Jesus Christ or at least there to find out how to become about His business. It is not a place where the wicked come to hide or to fight and argue with the Christians!

    This is excellent for explaining what is happening to victims of abuse in the Church. I think sometimes abusers are allowed to gain power and control by the pastor because the pastor himself is an abuser!

  5. No name please

    I sure do feel like printing off a copy of this and sending it anonymously to my pastor but he would know it was from me. Its been almost a year now since I shared my H’s abusive behavior with him. He told me there were lots of couples in the church in the same situation, and he believed that with a little coaching, H could learn to be a better husband. H continues to be in charge of the ushers and handles the offerings. I want to suggest that H be put out of the church and/or send a letter to church leadership to expose him and the lack of an education on the pastor’s part, but I know that wouldn’t go over well. In the mean time I have stopped attending the church I dearly loved and was involved in because I can’t stand seeing the way H has everyone fooled into thinking he’s the greatest christian ever!!! One of the pastors from the church I am currently visiting is stopping by for a visit in the next few days. You better believe my first question will be what their stand on abusive husbands is.

    • Babylove

      I too wish i could email my previous pastor this article, but i am letting sleeping dogs lie and letting God deal with him and everyone else in the church in His way and His time…they all have to answer to Him, especially the Pastor. Thoughts of him disgust me to know end at his disrespect and inhumane treatment of me!! He helped my abuser by spreading the lies. God have mercy on his soul.

    • Not Too Late

      Me too.

  6. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog and commented:
    Very good article.

  7. Babylove

    My ex pastor not only believed his lies, manipulation and deceit he encouraged him!!! I have stopped going to church and want nothing to do with so-called Christians because of it. Compassionate people are everywhere but not in my previous church, they were more willing to help outside charities then a member of their flock. Churches…bah humbug. My faith remains however i have little use for church and church goers…some of the most judgmental people i have ever met where in church including my own sibling.

    • Velour

      @Babylove,
      There is a growing population of The Dones, committed Christians who are fed up with the problems in the institutionalized churches. (Even many older Christians are among the new ranks of The Dones.)
      There is some good spiritual food. Julie Anne’s Spiritual Sounding Board has an online gathering on Sundays of Scripture verses, music, and people post whatever they’d like to add.
      The Wartburg Watch has E-Church on Sundays, with sermons by Pastor Wade Burleson, a Baptist pastor from Enid, OK. Wade is a fair minded-man and has a great blog as well.

      • In addition, anyone can listen online to the live webcast of the services at Ps Jeff Crippen’s church, Christ Reformation Church Tillamook, Oregon. And all sermons from that church can be obtained online, after the service has been broadcast live. The sermons are avail as PDFs right away, and as audio files about a day after the service has broadcast live. For further details, see the Sermons tab at the top of this blog.

      • Still Reforming

        I am so glad you provided these on-line church links, Velour. Thank you.

        Count me among the “Done”s. I find it somewhat fascinating and revealing both that among congregants of my now former church (where my abusive ex-husband still attends; I refuse to say he ‘worships’ there), the question I am most frequently asked is not how I am or if I need anything – but, “Are you attending anywhere?” As if that alone is a way to size me up to see if I’m saved or in their minds okay. Just as long as I’m attending, sitting my self down once a week for an hour for any message, even if irrelevant or false, then I must be among the saints.

        Recently I asked a pastor whose on-line teachings I listen to about the Scriptural reference to not forsake the assembling of the brethren, as if I might be remiss in not attending anywhere for lack of finding a good church. He said that in context – at the time that book was written – the persecution of Christians was so intense it was more likely a scenario that saints might not get together at all, even in one’s home, which was where ‘churches’ (the people, not the building) would meet. He said it had nothing to do with attending each Sunday at this or that building, but instead was an encouragement to the saints in persecution. I was encouraged by that. We are assembling on line – as Christ’s real church.

        Thank you again.

  8. Valerie

    Yes!!! Thank you Jeff!! I told others that there was something very wrong that my abusive ex husband (who later outed himself due to his overt ungodly behavior) felt comfortable in the church he was going to. Even though the abuser deceives himself into thinking he really is good with God and even though the Spirit may not actively be convicting him due to the Spirit not indwelling his heart, I still believe that in a godly church members would hold an abusers accountable to the extent that an abuser would no longer want to attend because he would realize he can’t hide.

    You also make a very good point with the weeds. So true.

  9. Bitter But Getting Better

    The Title Says It All!!!!!

  10. Ang

    And it is especially sad when the abusers are in the pulpit and the pew….

  11. a prodigal daughter returns

    Thank you, again the truth. I have to assume that whatever gospel is being taught it isn’t the true gospel if the congregation fails to become equipped as mature believers that look like Christ.. Mature believes have discernment and they are ministers themselves involved in setting captives free. They see through “crafty schemes” of abusers, they grow in love, they look like Christ. So where are these people? Not in any church I’ve ever been too. I am personally crushed by the difference between what the church is supposed to be according to scriptures and what is actually is.

    I’ve gone to churches that taught women to put their brains away, their spiritual authority as a child of God and become incredibly dependent on husbands and “spiritual” leadership. It creates children, helpless and infantile, I was one of them. Eliminating the effectiveness of at least 50% of the body of Christ is satans work. Putting a burka or bushel over the gifts and callings of women to have a good ole boys club church is diabolical. When I attended that type of place abuse abounded. Men that believed they were entitled to a live in slave make truly horrific husbands and women that are subjected to it atrophy. I hate the desecration of the church and that we call this sick thing church at all… Like the anti husbands it creates, its anti Christ too

    Ephesians 4:12-16English Standard Version (ESV)

    12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
    15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Prodigal – very well stated. I know that speaking clearly like this means that we will be called judgmental and accused of overstating the case. I am convinced otherwise.

      • a prodigal daughter returns

        If we didn’t love Christ and His body we would be silently indifferent. Silent indifference is worse than hate. It is love for the churches innocents: the children, the women that aren’t taught better that prompts stating these hard things. Jesus wept when he said “I would have gathered you but you would not have it” to the city. That statement was also his judgement of the hard hearts found there. He saw their demise ahead and it broke his heart. It was love expressed by righteous anger that formed the whip to overturn the status quo in the market place. It was love of the honor of God’s holy name and the oppressed that called out Pharisees in front of those they oppressed. It was love the endured the consequences of telling the truth on a cross.
        Speaking the truth in love no matter how hard that truth is, is self sacrificing and a calling that is seldom praised or understood in this “anything goes” (except speaking the truth) culture

  12. ensouledbody

    This was a powerful message. The true gospel does free the captives from oppression and convict those who are guilty. A healing word for the brokenness of our hearts and our world.

    As I walk along the path that God has set out, I hope to be calling out the sin and creating a place for healing. No more church as it has always been – we must be about transformation into the image of Christ. He didn’t worry about offending the oppressors.

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: