A Cry For Justice

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

We All Begin in Naivete About Evil – But We Must Not Stay There

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?  (Luke 6:39)

Recently Mary made the following excellent comment in response to our blog post A Theory: Many Abuser Allies are Not Duped, but are Abusers Themselves as Well.  Listen to what Mary said:

I grew up very sheltered. I mean genuinely sheltered and protected in a godly Bible-believing home. And if someone had just walked up to me and started describing an abusive situation in a “nice Christian home”, I wouldn’t have been able to understand. I wouldn’t have accused the person of lying, but I wouldn’t have been able to grasp that level of evil and deceit hiding under the facade of Christianity. I would have looked for some other explanation, some way that there was some sort of misunderstanding or something.

I know now that that innocence and naivete on my part would have made me ripe for being manipulated into aiding the abuser, but it would have been genuine ignorance on my part, not evil. I didn’t even begin the process of really understanding that abuse as it really is even existed until I read A Cry for Justice a couple of years ago when I was 19, and things have been slowly filtering through my brain since then. I guess I’m just trying to say that though there are a lot of people whose lack of understanding hides the fact that they are themselves abusive, there are others like me who have just been so sheltered that they truly can’t comprehend such things in their most raw form.

So keep on going after the bad guys — especially the subtle ones — but please remember to give people like me a chance. (I’m not saying you haven’t been; I’m just sort of throwing the idea out there.)

Mary is the kind of genuine Christian who we want to help become wise in regard to evil. Like her, those of us who grew up in a Christian home, sheltered from evil, are (or were) largely clueless when it comes to the existence, the nature, and the tactics of wickedness especially when it parades as Christian and creeps into the church. We thought that our local church was a place where nice people come together and love one another and sing praises to the Lord and everyone is happy. Sometimes the pastor would mysteriously disappear and a new pastor would come, or at other times some people who used to be very active suddenly left to be seen no more. But those things were for the deacon board and such. We didn’t worry about it really.

But in fact, as we now know, evil lurked. It always does. Satan always comes into Eden. The moment Jesus entered this world Satan began his attacks to destroy him. The devil and his agents inevitably creep unnoticed into any place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed and lived. (However; he will never be able to come into the new heavens and new earth which God is preparing for those who come to faith in Christ.)

This is where we as the church have no excuse for this naivete. What I mean is that people like Mary, people who are genuine sheep, are in the local church so that the shepherds can protect them, teach them, and help them become wise. And that wisdom necessarily must include becoming wise about evil. The Bible is absolutely filled with such instruction. Teaching and preaching that fails to so equip the flock is like basic training that doesn’t teach soldiers how to shoot a rifle, or worse — that doesn’t teach them about the enemy!

Oh, sure, we had classes on the doctrine of Satan and demons. We heard about his origins and the various names Scripture gives him. But we weren’t taught about the actual hands-on tactics that he uses (the same kind that abusers use against us). We weren’t taught about what his agents look like. Sure, we were told that Satan can come as an angel of light and that his servants disguise themselves as sons of righteousness, but what we weren’t told is that this means that Mr. Smith, good old “godly” Mr. Smith that everyone believes is the pillar of the church, could very well be an emissary of darkness. We weren’t told that all of this deception Scripture identifies for us means that these things are happening in OUR church, and that the fellow up there reading the Scriptures each week from the podium is actually a most wicked abuser of his wife. We weren’t told that there are women in OUR church who are suffering horribly at the hands of an evil husband who parades under a cloak of saintliness each week.

Such things you see, are too unpleasant, too unbelievable.  And there is the crux of the thing. Unbelievable. Unbelief. Lack of faith in the Word of God that reveals these things to us. Study theology and Bible doctrine all we want, memorize catechisms and be well-versed in our confessions of faith, we will remain absolutely ignorant of the enemy and his tactics and his agents in disguise among us. There is a bridge that must be crossed from the realm of systematic theology to the world of practical wisdom about what all that theology necessarily entails in real life and in our churches. Most Christians haven’t crossed that bridge. Many don’t want to.

All of this reveals, in my opinion, a widespread scarcity of truly wise shepherds to lead God’s people. I used to think that such wisdom could be obtained by going to seminary. I no longer believe that. In my seminary years I never came across one single, godly, wise professor who was battle-scarred and understood the wiles of the enemy. On top of that, there was a climate in the seminary that squelched real honest discussion of and instruction about such things. Happy talk. That’s what we want.

27 Comments

  1. Teresa

    I used to (and still do, honestly) struggle with why seemingly good people, including pastors, seem so purposefully blind to abusive tactics, especially when they are clearly laid out by so many experts and are fairly easy to identify when you know what to look for. When I learned about the Just World Hypothesis it began to make a little more sense. It’s not excusable, but this makes it a little more understandable.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis

    • Hi Teresa,
      Yes, we’ve had others mention this link and the Just World hypothesis. It can help to make a bit of sense to the situation, but as you mentioned, it’s not an excuse.

    • KayE

      I agree, there’s no excuse for Christians to believe that the world is just. The bible is very clear that it’s not.

  2. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog and commented:
    When it comes to issues of abuse, I think that most Christians are naive.

  3. Herjourney

    I am in a quandary
    After now knowing how evil infiltrates a church body. Personal experience talking. God has been revealing that wolfes are increasing in the fold. God brought a wife into my life. Sweet Christian with kids and a husband who has moved his family over thirty times in their marriage. Sad! I talked to the daughter
    She is in her mid-teens. I tried to warn this wife of what I now know about abuse. She is gone. It sickens me! Righteous anger within.

    Also after listening to a pastor talk about his friend who walked away from the Lord. He profoundly stated in a service
    that only God knows his heart and he would pray for him.
    Huh??
    God is nudging me to speak to this pastor about what you have been talking about. He knows I attend I woman’s bible study about abuse.

    God! Use me today! Use those who know the ugly truth about abuse. Give them courage to speak truth in Spirit and truth.
    Thank you, Lord for this throne [eds – thorn?] in the flesh. Now I understand.

  4. Bitter But Getting Better

    Thank you Pastor Jeff. It is just as you so eloquently said. I have been a Christian for 35 years and this wisdom is NEVER taught. Because we are not taught we are even more vulnerable to abusive people. I tell everyone I meet about this website because it is helpful not only if your in an abusive marriage but also to get that very wisdom, you spoke of, to deal with abusers inside and outside of our church. God Bless you all @ Crying Out For Justice!

  5. Valerie

    Yes!! I lament over the fact that I was raised to be naive- both at home and in church. The interesting thing is that my childhood pastor was not a “pleasant” man. People actually feared him. Little did I know that his disposition reflected the very people I would need to be guarded against later in life. Actually, that information would have been useful to me even in childhood as I encountered wickedness from other children, teachers and family members.

    You said, Teaching and preaching that fails to so equip the flock is like basic training that doesn’t teach soldiers how to shoot a rifle, or worse — that doesn’t teach them about the enemy! I would take that a step further to say that we aren’t being taught that the people we are training with can be the enemy! You describe that in your post but that really spotlights it for me. The very people whom you think are on your team, the very ones you look to to have your back in the foxhole, these may be the very ones who douse you with glow in the dark paint at night so others can shoot you. Betrayal from within is the most abominable of circumstances.

    I, and others like me, had information purposely withheld. There are some homes and churches where it is the blind leading the blind. In other cases it seems the lies of omission stem from the desire to shun anything remotely unpleasant or from the information coming from an abuser himself. Sometimes I get angry that I was misled. I wouldn’t call it being overly protected because as I look back there was no protective element to it. Rather I was denied any armor. My shell was cracked off and I was left a defenseless turtle trying to do the impossible- outrun, outmaneuver an enemy that I was told was just another turtle.

  6. Still Reforming

    Right. And if the shepherds don’t have the scars from protecting the sheep from the wolves or even know enough to speak of it, how shall they protect or even feed the sheep?

    I am reminded of David’s words to Saul,

    “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:34-36)

    Today, the shepherds are either also wolves in sheep’s clothing or they have adopted a secular mainstream form of “Christianity” that focuses only on being nice, loving, forgiving, etc – which essentially mocks God’s justice and righteousness as they are kicked to the curb or relegated to God’s judgment day. Unlike David, they’re not interested in keeping sheep for the Father.

  7. BetterEquipped

    Oh WOW! So terribly true! I spent the last five years learning these truths in a church atmosphere. While I knew and was cautious concerning non fruitbearing “Christians”, I was shocked into the existing reality of church/spiritual abuse. And worse still is the mentality of, again, “Christians”, who refused to listen to my experience; either chalking it up to an exaggerated tale or refusing to hear anything perceived as negative – equating negative truth and reality as synonymous with gossip and slander. This enraged me. Like telling a victim of rape her story is too negative so don’t ever bring it up around me! Though we know these evils happen under our noses, nonetheless the shock value will always remain because that is the nature of evil at its root -shocking. But let me tell you, how my senses of discernment are the keener because of my ugly experience. And that makes me a more equipped ambassador of truth and comfort for the oppressed.

    • Hi BetterEquipped,
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    • G’day, BetterEquipped! I love your screen name!

      Welcome to the blog and thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Kandyce

    so true……it must come from the pulpit but most pastors have no idea how much evil sits in their pews

    • HerJourney

      Jeff
      I received your new book about DV in the church. I am going back to Amazon to purchase a few more. Giving them out to Pastors and my daughters.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Excellent! Thank you

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  9. Anonymous

    Such a great post and the comments above remind me of another area in my life that contained a hidden blind spot.

    I was always taught to stay away from evil and not to touch any of it and not say the name of the evil one or even say the word demon because this would bring on trouble. Being the rule follower that I am and being afraid of most everything, I did this faithfully thinking I would be completely protected from evil. Well, as with all the rest of the lies in my life God chose to clean out this closet too. Off God sends us to a country that is into ancestor worship and is known for its haunted history. One of the homes we lived in was in an area very near one of the most popular temples of worship and those people that lived there witnessed the entire gamut of demonic activity from levitating beds, books flying off the shelves, hearing voices speaking in other languages when there were no other people around and seeing people in your home that don’t live there that would then disappear. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Along with this physical demonic activity came depression, thoughts of suicide and there were even cases of people who killed others due to voices that told them to. (These people had no prior history of schizophrenia etc.) How could I justify that some of this activity was taking place in my own home–a Christian home? Blessedly, there were other Christians who had dealt with the reality of this and helped me and my children combat it. One of the first things we learned was that it was okay to ADMIT that this WAS actually going on.

    Fast forward several years. Now, in the years after we came back from this country, God opened my eyes to the truth about people without a conscience, what this looks like, how it destroys those of us forced to pretend that all people are the same and how people will protect and believe the liar, over the abuse victim. Let me take a breath here, because as you know, the words contained in this paragraph alone represent so very much painful wisdom that I can’t believe that I am even alive.

    So I’m all done, right? No more harsh lessons or punches in the gut with spiritual truths that destroy yet another area of my life? Nope. No such rest was in store for me.

    God sends us now to an area of the US known for its wealth and humanitarianism. Should be heaven on earth right? As soon as we got off the plane, one of our family members stopped and said that this place was full of hopelessness and she started to cry! This person was the Pollyanna of the group, always positive and rarely depressed. On the drive to the hotel she cried and cried. Once at the hotel she became heavily depressed. We eventually moved into one of the “nicest” areas which should have ensured we would be happy but the depression continued. The things that happened here were mostly spiritual in nature, but God would not relent in forcing us to see how black (dark) life was without him. This area of the country HATES Christianity. In all my life overseas and in the many different states we’d lived in we had NEVER experienced such rejection, hatred and spiritual darkness as this place. (If you had a Christian fish symbol on your car you should expect to be vandalized and abused.) Thankfully I had read a book by a pastor who had a similar experience and that book helped us get through. God also blessed us with help on spiritual OPPRESSION and how it affects the mind of Christians. We fool ourselves if we think we are immune to this (spiritual oppression). We had done NOTHING to invite ANY of this evil in and we had no idea why God was putting us through yet another major trial but here’s one of the things I’ve learned. If none of us Christians have any first-hand knowledge of what this evil and hopelessness looks and feels like, can we truly understand the depths of it in others lives? The darkness and fear and hopelessness we experienced during this time gave us a very great insight into the emptiness of living without Christ. It also deepened the understanding we had about those without a conscience–that they don’t want to leave this darkness and actually revel in it–shows the vast expanse between us and the vast difference.

    I know this is a long post but I pray it helps any of God’s children who believes that they have caused or somehow invited their latest trail into their lives; no! Sometimes God uses those who are most faithful to him and those he loves the most, to go through things because he knows that they will turn to others with the things he has taught them and share the truth of it so as to ease the burdens of others or to encourage them. I pray this does just that.

    • Bitter But Getting Better

      Dear Anonymous, as I glance at all the hard learned smorgasbord of wisdom on this website I stopped and grabbed hold of your post. There are so many truths included that I cannot begin to address them. When God does indeed lead us through the shadow of death we escape to the other side with a depth of wisdom that others have never experienced. I am currently on the front lines of a spiritual battle and all day today was overwhelmed with indescribable sadness. Your words have reminded me that we fight not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities in very high places. Thank you for sharing from your painful journey!

  10. Rose

    Yes, my poor Christian Father was extremely naïve about my psychopathic mother. He always told me “Forgive and forget, turn the other cheek, don’t make her mad.” Well she was extremely charming and manipulative but I knew the real her having been an abused child, teenager, and young adult. My mother wound up killing my father but I could never get her prosecuted because the medical examiner said the insulin was already absorbed into his body and it couldn’t be proven. It is crucial that the churches teach about sociopaths/psychopaths ( Antisocial Personality Disorder).

    • Hi Rose, we changed the screen name you gave with this comment to make it consistent with one you’ve used here before. If you want us to change you screen name to something else, email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  11. Michelle

    Great article. Christians need to pray for discernment. I recently left aa position in a ministry in which the new leader was wicked. He was a smooth talker and a Jekyll-Hyde character. I called him out but instead everyone turned on me even though some of them had experienced his evil tactics first hand… all under the guise of “helping the ministry” when he was really serving his own ego. To recognize a false leader look for pride, ambition, lack of reliance on God, not giving God the glory, lack of a servant’s heart and lack of humility or false humility. I’m still amazed that fellow Christians could be more concerned about protecting their jobs than doing what is right and standing against evil. We must fear only the Lord because if we fear Him, we will not fear anyone else.

    • Michelle, Welcome to the blog and thanks for the encouragement 🙂
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  12. standingfirm

    Anonymous, The Lord spoke to me this morning reading your post. Yes, we go through trials to help ease the burden or encourage others is so true! I have had a similar experience in my home the past year. I personally did not invite the demonic into my home as I know better, but had a adult child staying with me that played occult video games in my house. Right after my adult child moved out the heavy manifestations started. This continued for a little over a year. Other family members who would come over also witnessed it so I knew I was not crazy! I heard things in my house I had no human words for as I had never heard those sounds in my life. A host of tormenting things went on I that would rather not describe here. I thought wow, most of my adult life I was being tormented by my emotionally abusive husband and now I am being tormented by the dark invisible side! It was almost too much to bear! I clung to the Lord and kept quoting scripture, praising His glorious name and attributes. One must stand strong in the Lord and show no fear.

    I had some other ministers come in last fall to pray with me in my house. They meant well but really did not know what to do about the situation. I even wonder now if they believed me as I almost could not believe I was going through such a situation.

    The Lord this morning, using your post has prompted me to tell my story at a Christian discernment website warning others to stay away from at all costs these dark demonic video games! With what I have gone through over the past year, I would cry, beg, and to plead with parents to closely monitor what games are being played in their home. These games open up a spiritual doorway to the dark that invites demons in. The same as playing a ouija board. I want to be able to talk to and help others going through something like this. I would also like to add, reading the post about the war room movie: name it and claim it does not work. They kept coming back! I had to solely rely on the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus crying out to Him to clean my house. I am so glad the Lord has prompted me today to get busy and contact that discernment ministry. God bless you all.

    • THis may seem like an obvious question, but is that person who plays the occult video games still staying in your house? If they are it would seem like getting them to leave is an essential part of cleansing your house.

  13. standingfirm

    Hi Barbara,
    I had mentioned in my above post that the demonic manifestations started after my adult child moved out. It was a week after he moved out to be exact. I was down in my finished basement tending to the cat box when I heard a door loudly slam. I was the only person in the house and I sure took notice to that! After that the paranormal escalated. One night I brought my daughter’s dog over to stay with me and he did not want to come in. We had to literally push him through the door. The house had a dark evil feeling and like a haze in it. I went to the basement with my bible and started reading scripture. I spoke of belonging to Christ Jesus and being forgiven of my sins by His shed blood. The haze and evil feeling left right after that but all of the other things went on for a little over a year. I would not trust my son to ever move back in after what the gaming did that he is involved in, He told me years ago he stopped doing it but by the terrible problems I had it is obvious he still is involved. By God’s definition in the bible, he is considered a wizard. It breaks my heart as he was in church all of his childhood. I pray for his and his father’s salvation every day, Thank you for your concern for me, I would never want to see anyone have to go through what I did, It has only been the last three weeks of complete peace and quiet in my home.

    I have been reading this website for over eight months now and praise God for you, pastor Jeff and all the precious people who post comments. No one truly knows what one goes through unless they have to walk in those same shoes. Our compassion for one another means so much. Keep up the great work for the Lord. This is the first time I posted a comment as the Lord used what anonymous had said to spur me on to telling my story to a discenment ministry who tries to warn Christians about playing these video games.

    • Thank you so much, standingfirm, for sharing these extra details here; your story may be of great help to others.
      And I’m sorry I didn’t read your first comment carefully enough. I’m having a busy day today.

      Bless you. 🙂

  14. standingfirm

    Your very welcome Barbara. I hope what I have said may be able to warn others who read and post at A Cry For Justice. I did not want to tell of all that went on as it would really be getting off the topic. I will say that I agree with Pastor Jeff, that “happy talk” is what the people want to hear in church anymore. Just Like Jesus said it would be in the last days. Wanting their ears tickled instead of pastors warning the flock about evil. In all my life I have not heard one pastor in church discuss abuser tactics or warn the people how the enemy disguises video games that children are playing to open the door wide to the dark side! In my case I and some discernment ministers I speak to by phone, could not understand why the manifestations went on for so long. Only the Lord knows. He kept me strong through it all and gave me scripture to strengthen me. I pray you have a restful day tomorrow. Maybe Pastor Jeff would be willing to discuss my ordeal with me in e-mail? Maybe I was missing something? Bless you also,

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