A Cry For Justice

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

Christians Have No Excuse for Not Knowing Abusers Lurk Among us in the Church

For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?    Jeremiah 5:26-29

The Bible speaks over and over and over again to the fact that Satan and his children are always at work to infiltrate Christ’s people. You have it constantly in the Old Testament and the New Testament continues these warnings. Much of the New Testament in fact was written to educate us about evil so that we can identify it and put it out of our midst. Satan came into Eden right at the start.

Here we have the Lord speaking through the prophet Jeremiah. “For wicked men are found among my people.”

  • What are they doing there? “…they lurk like fowlers lying in wait, they set a trap, they catch men.”
  • How evil are they? “…they know no bounds in deeds of evil. “
  • What is one of the most typical expressions of this evil in the church?  “. ..they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy.” In other words, they deal in the currency of injustice. Instead of defending the afflicted, they oppress them further.

The Lord sees it and He vows to punish these wicked ones.

So why do professing Christians today balk when we tell them, “you have evil abusers in your church. They are parading as saints, but here is how you can spot them”? Why do the walls go up when we tell pastors and churches these things? Why do they accuse us of exaggerating and overstating the seriousness of things? It certainly isn’t because God’s Word is silent on these themes.

Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you.  Ezekiel 22:6-7

“Oh, but that is all Old Testament. The church in the New Covenant is not the same.” No, the true church isn’t the same (and neither was it in the OT era), but the visible church is. The wicked still creep in and in some cases they even take control of the entire church. Victims and the oppressed will always receive injustice at the hands of these kind.

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.    Jude 1:4

And yet here again, even in response to NT verses like this one, professing Christians typically refuse to believe that such is the case in their church. But is not Satan always on the prowl? How do we think he is going to war against us? In some vision? Most often he is on the prowl through people who parade as Christians. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. That means there is someone who has crept in and who needs to be resisted. Abusers are classic examples.

For proof, listen to these chilling words from a convicted child molester as quoted in this article by Victor Veith.

“I consider church people easy to fool . . . they have a trust that comes from being Christians… They tend to be better folks all around. And they seem to want to believe in the good that exists in all people . . . I think they want to believe in people. And because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words.”

Yes, professing church, the Lord is talking to you!

How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?  Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:2-4

Here’s one more:

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.  2 Thessalonians 3:1-3

See it? I mean, who are these wicked and evil men Paul needs to be delivered from?  Well, they are mixed in with the “all who have faith.” That is to say, these agents of the evil one are in the visible church and claim to be Christians. Our primary battle as Christians is not with the world. It is with principalities and powers who creep in among us wearing disguises made of wool.

21 Comments

  1. StrongerNow

    In the case of church leaders (if they aren’t abusers themselves) they are loath to listen to victims for yet another reason: pride. They simply don’t want to admit that the abuser has pulled the wool over their eyes.

    Yes, Christians have a desire to see good in everyone. Yes, we can be naive. But a person in church leadership has the responsibility to care for the needy, the fatherless, the widow, the victim. Why would they refuse to believe an abused wife?

    Coming to them and stripping the mask off the lurker, the wolf in disguise, mingling among the flock, reveals their inability to see the evil on their own. Many times the pastor has assured himself, “I’d know if we had such a man in our church. He wouldn’t be able to fool me.” So when we come to him and tell him straight out, “My husband is not who he appears to be,” they simply cannot accept the fact that they have been blind.

    This is what I found whenever I tried to tell a pastor how evil my husband was.

    I suspect there might even be a bit of misogyny working here. I doubt the pastor would be as quick to dismiss the accusations of a man who came and said, “My wife pretends to be so godly and saintly when she’s at church, but at home she’s a shrew!”

    • Herjourney

      I heard in a sermon, that a wife is not a widow unless the husband is dead.
      How about if the husband is dead in his sins? Does that count?
      I have yet to be asked how are you doing ? and the Pastor knows my story.
      Is it time to move on?
      Where are those churches that help the abused wife and women and children?

      • Herjourney,

        Here are some posts that will answer your question.

        The Abuse Victim as Widow

        The Widows and Orphans of Our Time

      • Herjourney

        Thanks
        The church we attended together has pull for the abuser.
        Nasty is the leadership. Short version. They are not leaders but wolves! The victims are my children who listen to false doctrine. Or are in big denial of any wrongdoing from the abuser.

        The court has been helpful in that I get support. Also I asked for the bills when he left. I guess his thinking was. . . I can still control the income. I was neglected financially to the point in the legality of it all.

        The house payment was late several months. I asked him if he could make a house payment. No answer back.

        I had to use the local food bank. My child living with me at the time said you can’t afford to feed me. How cunning! The abuser has a winning mentality. No conscience. The house? Is in my name. How generous of him.

        He might be using this against me. Saying to himself … “My wife is not submitting to my demands as head. So I will watch her struggle to meet the demands a home has for upkeep.”

        Btw I am doing ok. Even had some house problems fixed. Needed for many years.

        God is good! God knows what he is doing!

        (Ed note: comment lightly edited to protect identity of commenter.)

      • Where are those churches that help the abused wife and women and children?

        in our observation, they are few and far between. When victims leave the church the abuser is in (the one he has allies in) and go to a new church, it is not uncommon for the new church to appear to be welcoming and supportive of the victim and her children . . . but then the cracks may begin so show. THe cracks being the poor doctrine about divorce, suffering, forgiveness, reconciliation, etc. And if the abuser works on getting allies in the woman’s new church, the church’s support for her may quickly evaporate or become paper-thin.

      • Barb
        Exactly
        This is my experience.
        The abuser will continue to go to the church where he can hide out.
        Where he is welcome. If there has been marriage counseling.
        That too will give the leadership power behind the abuser. There is power in numbers. Ya know the old saying? It’s true. 😳

        [rest of comment read but removed by Admins, as it was too identifying to publish.]

  2. Babylove

    If you want to know how an abuser operates, you are going to have to go a lot deeper than just watching their public actions. That is what our churches, our courts, our family and friends so often miss. They fall prey to the innocent looking mask and actions, and they never try to look past the curtain and find out the truth. You will find the truth in the inconsistencies, in the subtle, but you won’t find it in the face they show you. These are wolves we are dealing with, after all. I WILL STAND (FB PAGE)
    [link added by Barb Roberts.]

    • Readers who are considering going to the I WILL STAND Facebook page and interacting there may want to review our Social Networking and Cybersafety Resources page.

      The I WILL STAND site is excellent. But abusers tend to use Facebook as Stalkbook, so just be mindful of your safety.

  3. Crazy Is Catching

    Regarding abusers that are masquerading as Christians in the Church, are we (the targets of the abuse) to still abide by Matthew 18:16 in the way that we confront them??

  4. healingInHim

    I had so much to learn as a new babe “in Christ”. In my heart, I was uncomfortable and yet my gratefulness to being saved had me believing that it was perhaps my immaturity as a Christian that caused me “to question” the fruit of others.
    Now, I am ‘triggered’ when I enter certain churches or meet certain professing Christians.
    I sense a reason to be cautious around these wolves or slithering snakes.

  5. Valerie

    What are the possible reasons for this ignorance of the wicked? I can come up with three.

    1) Leadership and/or congregants are lacking wisdom of scripture. They just aren’t familiar enough with the kinds of passages Jeff outlines. This ignorance either denies wickedness among them outright or their ignorance of biblical wickedness misinterprets biblical wickedness for the “sin nature”. The wicked person is seen as simply misguided or fumbling in his walk.

    2) Pride. Not our church! We would never allow that kind of thing to happen! We are good God-fearing folk here.

    3) Hardened hearts. Their conscience is seared. The yeast has been able to infect the dough long enough and is wide spread enough that they don’t zealously defend against wickedness. There may be so many wicked among them that it doesn’t hit anyone’s radar. This is just how it is. Or worse, this is just how it is and we like it that way. Pack of wolves. Shudder.

    • Pride is a major factor. Such people think, “We are not like that. Our son, brother, friend, elder, or pastor is not like that. We are good people. We are better than the other people.”

    • healingInHim

      #3 is definitely on my radar screen:
      ” … this is just how it is and WE LIKE IT THAT WAY. Pack of wolves. Shudder.”

    • Still Reforming

      Valerie,
      Bingo.
      #s 2 and 3 in my personal experience.
      With respect to 3, the yeast didn’t need to infect the dough. Yeast was there when we arrived, only I didn’t recognize it.
      These days, I seem to bump into controlling attitudes around every corner. I can’t stop recognizing it – and I’m not even looking for it. I don’t even want to see it, but it’s like mold on a ceiling. Once you see a spot and know what it is, then you know it right away the next time. And the next time. And the next time.

      • Valerie

        Exactly! I have had the same experience of now having frequent sightings of these controlling or manipulative people. So much so that I question if I am reading into things. Yet when I see there are others that I don’t have the slightest hint of concern about (i.e. safe, healthy people) then I realize there is a reason the hair on the back of my neck is up with certain people. Actually when I think about it I am also recognizing an abuser second-hand with as much frequency. A women will mention her husband, marriage or maybe how she generally feels (along with how she reacts to her husband in public) and at times my flag alert is going off that she may be in an abusive marriage.

  6. Charis

    “The Church must be forever building, for it is forever decaying within and attacked from without.” TS Eliot from The Rock

    Came across this quote today and it immediately elicited a deep groan of resonance…and brought to mind ACFJ with so many excellent posts about the church; including this one.
    Thank you.

  7. Megan

    Thank you for posting the link to the PDF article on the Nuremburg trials and the Lutheran Pastor who tried to bring the Gospel to the war criminals. It was very encouraging and affirming to me. I’ve often wondered if I’ve done the right thing with my father, as clumsy as I am.

    My father abused me and my mother, all while attending church and collecting his pastor-allies. As an adult, I tried writing to him some years ago, using the Law the same way this Lutheran pastor did with the mass-murdering war criminals. His entire side of the family has sided against me. My father did not read the letter in full, but the family sure did. How dare I confront him over grave sin? I was likened to the hypocritical Pharisee in that one parable, and my father likened to the humble man who was sorry for his sins–a perverse twist of reality.

    I beat myself up for a long time, wondering if this word or phrase or sentence sounded too angry rather than pleading. I had spent a long time on that letter, trying to get it right and praying so hard. But as one member of the family put it, I sounded “hateful and mean”.

    Now I at last have confirmation that I did the right thing, even if not every little sentence was phrased perfectly. God knows I did my best. Even to this day, my father still will not acknowledge that he abused me. He isn’t sorry. But I can rest assured with God that I did the right thing, even though it was hard, and even though it seems to have gone nowhere.

    It’s hard not to give up praying for him. It just seems so futile. Why not spend the extra prayer time praying over someone else? When is it time to shake the dust off your feet and move on completely? I wonder if this Lutheran pastor ever wrote someone off–not because it was too late for God, but because maybe God would use other means now. Though, to be honest, I do wonder if my father’s fate is sealed. What are the odds he’ll truly turn around at this point, especially with so much family willing to coddle him? I feel frustrated, because I’m at the point where I don’t even feel that he’s my father anymore. I care for him only as much as some other random human being. Does God really expect me to keep praying for this man after all this? Is praying to God one last time for his soul good enough? Can I ever truly move on? If not, I could use some motivation to keep going.

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