A Cry For Justice

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

It Only Takes a Wink or a Glance to Abuse

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; (Proverbs 6:12-14)

I have probably written posts about these verses before, but they are on my mind again today and the truths they teach cannot be announced too often. As you read this, please note: I am in no way here being critical of victims who have not yet left their abuser. We realize that “just leaving the jerk” is not so simple.  No, I am primarily speaking of other people like church members who continue to associate with the wicked/abuser rather than dissociating from him. Ok, here we go:

When it comes to dealing with an abuser — with these wicked ones who see themselves as gods to be served and worshiped — we cannot employ half measures. And these Proverbs explain why. Let me explain further.

Over the years we have had to do battle with wicked people as have most all of you. Malignant narcissists. Covertly aggressive characters. Sociopaths. People with no conscience. People who use an array of evil tactics to control and punish others. Accusers. Maligners. Revilers. You cannot “reach the heart” of such people. You cannot appeal to their empathy. Because they have no heart (their hearts are stones) and there is no empathy to be found in them. This is why God’s Word tells us to put such people out of our midst. We have often pointed you to 1 Corinthians 5 as as example of such instruction. We are to put them out and we are to separate from them.

Now, in our church ministry for over three decades, we have observed a clear and repeated outcome for people who try half measures in dealing with the wicked. They don’t separate fully from them. They don’t seem to believe the warning of Scripture that bad company corrupts good morals. And the outcome? People like this don’t grow in their walk with Christ, or if they do, that growth is very slow. They struggle and they stumble over the same trials over and over again. They seem to remain in a fog of doubt, lacking the clarity of certainty regarding what is truth and what is not. They are like that king in Lord of the Rings who is under the sorcerer’s spell and have Wormtongue whispering in their ear, countering every truth that comes their way.

I think that these Proverbs explain why this happens to them. You see, a wicked man, an abuser, is able to sow discord and seeds of doubt in people’s minds with a mere roll or sideways glance of his eye, with a twitch of his lip, with a subtle motion of his finger or foot, or with a nod of his head. He need not say a single word! One of the tags we have given this post is language of abusers … the body language of abusers is just crafty as the spoken language. The abuser’s deceptive motions and unspoken innuendos can say it all for him.

People who continue to play with fire by having association with the abuser will inevitably say, if challenged, “Oh, I am very careful. If he ever were to speak against the truth, I would call him on it. So far he never has.” These are the foolish words of a foolish person who will not heed the warnings of Scripture. The fact is, EVERY time they are with such a person, they are in the presence of wickedness and that evil one is communicating all kinds of lies and falsehoods to them probably without ceasing.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6:14-18)

Churches are arrogant in this regard. Pastors are arrogant about this. Individual Christians are arrogant in this respect. They believe that they can “handle it” and therefore they choose to “love” the wicked man and allow him to remain among them. They become the targets of the glances of the eye and all of these other wicked non-verbal accusatory tactics. It is not strange then that they end up being allies of the wicked one eventually, drawn away from the truth and from justice by the very tactics God’s Word here in Proverbs specifically warns us against.

Think about it.  What action is required so that YOU will not be subjected to a wink, to a nod, to the flick of a finger or an elevated breath? I can tell you what is required. You must separate completely from such a person so that you cannot hear them, see them, or be touched by them. And guess what?  That is EXACTLY what God’s Word tells us to do:

Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!”

You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! (Psalm 35:19-23)

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24 Comments

  1. Angie

    Especially when the abuser is the pastor and he has an adoring audience. But the pastor continues to use and abuse and slowly the members leave as they realize what is happening to them….

  2. Anthea

    On car trips my abuser would often spend time “thinking” and stroke his mustache at the same time. Next would invariably come some scathing accusations of me, while I was trapped there with him. Oh, how I came to fear whenever he would start stroking his mustache! And ironically he would use the verse about not being unequally yoked together with unbelievers to justify having us completely isolated. I’m afraid even that verse still makes me tremble a little.

    • Jeff Crippen

      That was an emissary of the devil for sure, Anthea. The Accuser, Liar, and Murderer.

    • cindy burrell

      Anthea, I want you to know that are not alone in this. An abuser will invest a good amount of time and energy to fabricating a history of his victim’s so-called shortcomings and failures so that, when the time is right, he can spew out his lies and accusations. The abuser then has the audacity to claim an authority he does not posses by tossing in a well-placed Scripture.

      As Pastor Jeff notes, even body language can alert us to the abuser’s cruel and self-serving agenda. All of it together speaks to the truth of his nature – wickedness packaged in piety.

      I pray you find the peace and freedom you seek in the truth and wisdom of God as it is revealed to you.

    • freeing hope

      I can’t even remember how many times my abuser raged at me on car trips, whether or not the kids were with us. We were usually a long way from home or anyone we knew. Slipping in a verse out of context during his rages was also a favorite tactic of his. Those verses still trigger bad memories.

  3. KayJay

    How about the randomly placed chuckle (from a person who hardly EVER laughs)? I finally figured out several years ago that it is a way to bait me into asking “what?” To which he just smiles knowingly and says, “oh, nothing…” Or uses the opportunity to bring up something negative about me. I stopped taking the bait and have been ignoring it for years but he still tries occasionally. Insane. Praying for the Lord to lead me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      KayJay- Exactly! Perfect example of what Proverbs is talking about.

  4. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you, Ps Jeff for reminding us what Scripture tells us to do. It helps us to continue honing our God given intuition to stay far away, refuse to answer, refuse to look at their eyes, refuse to be intimidated

  5. Anonymous

    Pastor Crippen, I am so very thankful for the ministry God has entrusted to you. Your own firsthand abuse experiences with evildoers has given you great insight and understanding and so the courageous manner in which you call evil by its name, is a blessing to us all. Of courage Winston Churchhill said this: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others. Thank you for calling a spade a spade and always lining it up with scripture. God is using you to open our eyes.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Anonymous! Very encouraging.

  6. Moving Forward

    This verse strikes me every time I read Proverbs. It is almost a trigger, as I have watched all these manipulations being used against me as he worked the church body, turning them into allies before I even knew what was going on. He had everyone so ready to be on his side before and when he walked out. Strangely enough, he left church and we stayed, but people still have no problems continuing to spend time with him because he has them so hoodwinked by all the previous crooked speeches, winking eyes, and pointing fingers, and the discord could all be traced back to me, though I said not a word, he was so good at it. What I appreciate about this verse is that it helped me see what he was doing, and then told me what he was/is – worthless, wicked, and of a perverted heart.

  7. healinginhim

    More truth from the Scriptures. Thank you, Pastor Crippen.

  8. Seeing Clearly

    (You may choose not to post this if inappropriate)
    As I began to read this post, my mind went immediately to the truthful statements given by women who were perpetrated against by Bill Gothard. Yet, many have stayed closely connected to him, following his leadership, believing him, “drawing away from the truth and justice”. It is disheartening to think of the lives of those abused, robbed of so much in their lives. Finally, they are being heard. Hopefully, justice will win this time.

  9. KayE

    I think this has a lot to do with why so many abuse survivors don’t feel safe in any church. Most church people think they are stronger and smarter and more righteous than victims of abuse. They assume that victims are weak and that they themselves would never get caught out. But everyone gets caught out by abusers eventually.

    I can come to terms with all the harm that was done to me by one abuser. But I cannot deal with the fact that so many Christians over so many years saw what was happening, and instead of helping, stood by and condemned me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Absolutely KayE. The betrayal is great and it is rarely repented of. True churches with the wisdom of the Spirit to see and expose evil are rare indeed. At least in the western nations we know.

    • Most church people think they are stronger and smarter and more righteous than victims of abuse.

      Those who think that are haughty. They may not realise it, but they are.

      I agree with you KayE that getting over the ‘c’hurch’s response (and the response of some of my family members who initially suspected me and exonerated the abuser) was harder than getting over what the abuser did to me.

      And in some ways, I have never got over it and will never get over it. The outrageous way they treated me lit the fire in my belly to become an advocate for other victims. And now, that fire will not go out because I continue to be outraged about all the ways that other victims are treated by ‘c’hristians, which we hear about so regularly on this blog.

      • For Too Long

        I’m having a very hard time understanding how my church leadership could treat my kids and I the way they are. I had even worked for the church, knew the pastor and other staff well and now am in the process of being excommunicated. All the while my husband continues to hoodwink them and serve in the church – despite the fact that he is still abusing his family.

        Several times I’ve even emailed with evidence of financial abuse and our daughter has also emailed with her own perspective, yet they go unanswered because I haven’t repented of my “contumacy.” When I got the final certified letter from the leadership, I emailed my pastor and said that perhaps they owe me an apology for causing my daughter to stumble in her faith. She wants absolutely nothing to do with church or God anymore.

        The way the church has treated us will probably be one of the biggest challenges to healing my kids and I will face.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Contumacy. That word is used regularly by micro Presbyterian patriarchal churches that treat abuse victims exactly as they are treating you. Their ex-communication is powerless before Christ. Have no fear of it.

      • Not only micro Presbyterian churches, Jeff. It’s in the Book of Church Order of the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America). And the equivalent book of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

        A quick google search brought me many hits; these are only a few of the links —

        THE BOOK OF CHURCH ORDER OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA Sixth Edition (2012 Reprint) Includes all amendments approved up to and including the 40th General Assembly, in Louisville, Kentucky June 19-21, 2012

        http://www.pcahistory.org/bco/rod/32/06.html
        http://www.pcahistory.org/bco/rod/33/02.html
        PROCEDURAL CHECKLIST FOR PCA BCO RULES OF DISCIPLINE by T. David Gordon

        THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION, PROCEDURE and PRACTICE Published by the Code Committee of the General Assembly of Australia 2014

        The Presbyterian denominations seem to relish this kind of thing. I’m not a church historian, but I am guessing that the mindset probably goes right back to Calvin’s Geneva. I don’t think it’s altogether foolish, but these days it is used WAY too often against victims of domestic abuse, particularly in America, from what I’ve observed. The widespread injustice which PCA churches seem to be delivering to victims of domestic abuse shows how arrogant these leaders are. But the injustice is not confined to just Presbyterian churches. It goes right across the board. However, other denominations don’t seem to have quite as complex Code Books with minutely detailed rules and procedures, because they don’t have the system of church courts which Presbyterians have.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thanks Barbara. Excellent points. And thank you for the links.

  10. Anonymous

    This was the first passage of scripture I memorized after God woke me up. We had lost our home, we were thousands of dollars in debt, I finally realized that my husband had never loved me or his children or anyone; and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I had severe PTSD to the point that I could barely keep one thought in my head at a time. (I couldn’t even relax enough to pee. This is not uncommon with severe PTSD.) This passage along with John 8:44-45 were life-savers to me and when I found them I was so mad that nobody had ever pointed them out to me before as proof that GOD knew about these evil ones and hated these people.

    My body was nearly destroyed as well from all the stress and not caring for myself because I didn’t know that I was supposed to or even had a right to do this as my life had been for my family. So I started walking on a cheap treadmill I bought and had this passage written on a white board and as I walked I would cry out to God and attempt to commit this to memory. Took me about six months. As I searched the scriptures I found more and more truth and evidence that God not only KNEW of these evil ones but He had written it down in His word so that we would be forewarned and therefore forearmed. (Pastors who distort these verses and don’t teach them as forewarnings will stand before God and be held responsible for this.)

    Most of us have been under the tutelage of evil and Satan. Reading these comments is proof of this. For most of us who have been woken up to the truth for several years now it’s no longer so shocking to hear the stories, but no less heartbreaking and angering that such severe abuse is still going on. Believe it or not, you who are seeing the truth in your lives and through His word, are deeply loved by the Lord and he has beautiful plans for you life. You are not alone when you belong to Him and you can call to him day and night, 24/7. He NEVER gets tired and he can handle all of it. He WANTS to handle all of it so give it to him. Don’t be afraid to pray for YOURSELF. Pray for protection for yourself and your loved ones and ask God to bind up the evil one(s) in your life– to have no one believe them and whatever else you want to pray. God hears the prayers of his children. Your are loved.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anonymous- This is true truth! And it does make us very angry, doesn’t it? When we find out that the ones we trusted to faithfully watch over our souls in local churches weren’t doing so, that they suppressed the truth of God’s Word, and made covenants with evil.

    • Seeing Clearly

      Anonymous, your proactive choice was wise and well rounded; tread mill, white board, cry out to God, memorized scripture. Your wisdom and creativity brings a smile to me and to your Creator. Thanks for sharing all that you wrote. Amen

  11. BreatheAgain

    Anonymous, I am glad I found your post just now. A light went on for me as I read your words and I think I might have PTSD myself. I have been feeling so panicked and nervous, like I can’t keep my thoughts calmed down, ever since my h. recently showed his true colors again after a season of ‘behaving.’ I made an appointment with a therapist in a couple of weeks. So thankful for this site.

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