A Cry For Justice

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

Let’s Get “Do Not Judge” Right and Stop Using it to Justify the Wicked

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Mat 7:1-5)

We have all had the “do not judge” card pulled on us when we pointed out some wickedness in an abuser who is pretending to be a Christian. “Now, don’t judge. We are all sinners, you know.” That nonsense. And let me show you that it is indeed nonsense by asking and answering just one simply question that should be quite obvious in this Scripture passage:

Who is Jesus speaking to here?

Answer: hypocrites.

“You hypocrite.” Pretty plain, right? And yet how is this verse usually applied? It is typically wrongly applied to the righteous who are pointing out the hypocrite. Duh, right? Jesus is rebuking the wicked, and specifically he is calling out the religious wicked. And yet today so often this is the proof text of the wicked man! “Now, don’t judge,” he and his allies tell us. “Matthew 7, you know.” That is 180 degrees out of whack. These words are applied by Jesus for the very purpose of judging the wicked hypocrite, the false Christian hiding in wool, you see. They are targeted at abusers who attack and accuse the righteous, finding some minute speck in the victim’s eye while all the while having a log of sin in their own.

We see it all the time, right? Abusers parading as eminent saints, going around looking for a grain of dust in the life of their victim while their own evil protrudes like a giant redwood log that they can’t even see past. Thus, the “speck” they claim is in their victim’s life is a pure invention of their own evil heart. They are incapable of seeing past their own evil.

So let’s stop permitting the wicked and their naive, duped allies, to lay this common distortion of Matthew 7 on us. Don’t wear the “speck” these blind hypocrites accuse you of having in your life. They are blind fools. And, I must also say, so are preachers and teachers in our churches who use this text to let the wicked man off the hook.

The righteous person, the genuine Christian, is capable of seeing that hypocrite’s log. So judge the wicked in righteousness and expose his evil.

NOTE: The last two verses of Matthew 7 show us who the people were that Jesus was addressing in Matthew 5-7 (the Sermon on the Mount)

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Mat 7:28-29)

Crowds. Crowds of Jews. People who were born into the Old Testament covenant people of God. So you will find parts of this Sermon addressed to true Israelites, but other sections such as this one (7:1-5) are targeted at wicked hypocrites who, though physically born as children of Abraham, were not true Israelites (like the Pharisees). Therefore it is an error to conclude that because Jesus uses the term “brother” in these verses He must be speaking to real Christians. Here “brother” is more properly considered as a synonym for “fellow Israelite.”

 

 

74 Comments

  1. Lydia

    Thank you! The entire sermon on the mount is used to shut down the spiritually abused or any disagreement among Christians. I keep trying to explain that Jesus is not giving Jews here carte blanche to use each other or do harm to each other because the one harmed has to be meek and consistently take it.

    That makes no sense!

    Instead, we need to remember the Roman occupiers and the religious leaders when reading.

  2. Wow, LOVED this! Now that I am out of the fog, I am sometimes embarrassed that I could not see these things but know that a good part of that was false teaching I had believed over the years. When you hear something often enough, it becomes “truth.”

    This is a new thought on this that I wanted feedback on: it seems that an assumption can be made here that Jesus is suggesting/saying/proving that some sins ARE greater than others, not for salvation sake, but for human relationship sake? So maybe this should be used to counteract the “sin-leveling” tactic as well? Since He is talking to hypocrites (false “believers”) can we also use it to illustrate to true believers that not all sins are equal?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, Debby. And also recall Jesus’ rebuke of these people, showing some sins are worse than others –

      “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
      (Mat 11:21-24)

  3. LH

    Thank you!!!

  4. keeningforthedawn

    Thanks for the insight here. I do have a question, however. When you say that abusers are “incapable of seeing past their own evil”, do you mean that they are so entrenched in justifying their own evil that they consistently refuse to see past it, or do you mean that they simply don’t have the ability? Or is it something else? Could there be a variety of answers?

    • Suzanne

      That’s a question I’ve heard for years and I believe that it muddies a lot of water for abuse victims. It boils down, I think, to whether or not they have lost the ability to distinguish between good and evil or if they have no ability to choose to do or not to do evil things. To my knowledge there are very, very few psychiatric or medical conditions that would deprive someone of the ability to know that they are committing an evil act and those conditions are so severe that the patient wouldn’t be able to function normally in any other areas of life (employment, shopping, paying bills or taxes, keeping house, travel, etc.). That a person who hurts others justifies that to himself (she didn’t make dinner the way I like so it’s OK to hit her) or doesn’t think of it as evil (it’s good for people to know when they’re wrong so it’s OK to scream at them in public) doesn’t mean that he is not responsible for the harm he causes. God made each of us with a conscience so we have no excuse when we sin.

    • Are abusers so entrenched in justifying their own evil that they consistently refuse to see past it? Or is it that they simply don’t have the ability? Or is it something else? Could there be a variety of answers?

      Here are some things Lundy Bancroft says in his book Why Does He DO That? which pertain to those questions.

      The abusive man wants to be a mystery. To get away with his behaviour and to avoid having to face his problem, he needs to convince everyone around him — and himself — that his behavior makes no sense. He needs his partner to focus on everything except the real causes of his behavior. To see the abuser as he really is, it is necessary to strip away layer after layer of confusion, mixed messages, and deception. Like anyone else with a serious problem, abusers work hard to keep their true selves hidden. (p. 18)

      … As we clear away the abusive man’s smokescreen with these understandings, you will find that abusiveness turns out to be far less mysterious than it appears at first.
      Inside the abuser’s mind, there is a world of beliefs, perceptions, and responses that fit together in a surprisingly logical way. His behaviour does make sense. Underneath the facade of irrationality and explosiveness, there is a human being with a comprehensible — and solvable — problem. But he doesn’t want you to figure him out.
      The abuser creates confusion because he has to. He can’t control and intimidate you, he can’t recruit people around him to take his side, he can’t keep escaping the consequences of his actions, unless he can throw everyone off the track. When the world catches on to the abuser, his power begins to melt away. (p. 20)

      Eds. IMPORTANT NOTE: While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns.

      • surviving freedom

        I actually have come to believe that abusers absolutely know right from wrong, they just don’t care. The tactics might come automatically to them, as they’ve been well practiced and worked well in the past.

        This is kind of how I see it … if an abuser didn’t realize his way of thinking, entitlement, desire to control, win, lying, etc. were so wrong … then he wouldn’t put so much effort into to trying to hide it from others. So yes, I fully think that most abusers know good from evil, but again … they just don’t care.

    • And another quote from Bancroft’s book which sheds light on your questions, Keening.

      Is he really sorry?
      The good news is that remorse is often genuine; the bad news is that it rarely helps. To make sense out of this contradiction, we need to look first at a crucial aspect of what is going on inside the mind of an abuser: Abusers have numerous contradictory attitudes and beliefs operating simultaneously in their minds. A few examples of the typical contradictions include:

      “Women are fragile and in need of protection but they need to be intimidated from time to time or they get out of hand.”

      “My partner and I should have equal say over things but my decisions should rule when it comes to issues that are important to me.”

      “I feel terrible about how I treated her but I should never have to feel bad in a relationship, no matter what I did.”

      “I shouldn’t raise my voice but I should have control over my partner, and sometimes I have to get loud to control her.”

      “You should never hit a woman but sometimes a man has no other choice.”

      When a man feels sorry for his abusive behavior, his regrets collide with his entitlement. (p. 131)

      • A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

      • Not really Scared anymore!!

        This always makes me think of Harry Potter when they realize Voldemort has made numerous horacrux that tear the soul apart. They only way to “put his soul back together”…to be a real person again, is for him to recognize the evil he has done and be truly remorseful, which would put him back together but also be horrible to face. I am not describing it well. But whenever I re-read Harry Potter, this part reminds me of why abusers tend to stay where they are, they don not want to face the reality of what they have done and who they really are. They like the reality they have created. It is difficulty to look at truth.

      • keeningforthedawn

        Thank you, Barbara, Surviving Freedom, Not Really Scared Anymore, & Suzanne. You all have helped to clarify. The subject of abuse is so very complex, but the bottom line is that at some point, a choice/decision is made by the abuser to habitually harm his victim(s). (I especially appreciated Surviving Freedom’s point about going to such great lengths to hide the truth.) And Lundy Bancroft’s book is a life-changing resource. Thanks, Barbara, for bringing that into the mix.

      • Charis

        It’s interesting, reading these Bancroft quotes so long after the first time I read them. New observations are sprung.

        For instance, while I was at the first counseling center for women whose partners had revealed infidelity – the facilitators introduced what I now refer to The Power of the Ampersand. They assisted us women in joining together two opposing thoughts/concepts. It is natural to do so using the word “but.” For example: “I love my husband but he cheated on me.” or “I understand what my husband has done but I just don’t know if I can forgive him or stay married to him.”

        They encouraged us to consider the power of using “and” in our sentences. Doing so allows us to pull together two opposing thoughts in place them firmly in our reality. Yes I love my husband AND he has cheated on me. I understand what he has done AND I’m just not sure I can forgive him or stay married to him.

        When we use the word “but” it cancels out the validity of the first phrase and the focus subtly shifts to the second half of the phrase – elevating it in our mind. The word “and” is an equalizer. A lot of good has been done in my life by paying attention to how I use these two words. A lot of good grieving and accepting the truth of my reality – whatever that is for me.

        In Mr Bancroft’s example – the tactic of conflicting and contradictory attitudes of abusers – his statements made using the word “but” are perfect. We can look at each example provided and reduce it down to the entitlement issue by canceling out the first half, which simply leaves the “true” attitude behind.

        they need to be intimidated from time to time or they get out of hand.
        my decisions should rule when it comes to issues that are important to me.
        I should never have to feel bad in a relationship, no matter what I did.
        I should have control over my partner and sometimes I have to get loud to control her.
        sometimes a man has no other choice.

        When seen in the second half (after the “but”) it is clear – isn’t it? And revealing.

        Another interesting place I have paid attention to this use between “and” and “but” is in the Bible. So far, I’ve not found an example that fails.

        Here is one example to ponder:
        “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
        What is the focus: “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Why? Because Christ’s death has canceled our sin. Just as the word “but” cancels “For the wages of sin is death.” What a beautiful thing.

      • WOW!
        Thank you Charis! I’ve never heard this before — and it is so true.

      • Brenda D

        “I feel terrible about how I treated her but I should never have to feel bad in a relationship, no matter what I did.” If this was really true, SHE should never have to feel bad in a relationship, especially since she did not do anything wrong–other than his PERCEIVED (made up excuse for his behavior) idea of something he wanted to believe she did.

  5. lauralee

    yes, yes, yes!!!! How often have I heard this thrown in my face?? Time and again, that and the grace thing….greasy grace as I have heard it called…I am so sick of all scripture twisting used as another weapon of destruction against abuse victims……thank you so much for clarifying this twisting of scripture….

  6. Debbie

    Again, thank you so much for this clear teaching Pastor Jeff! This kind of twisted thinking permeates all sectors of society. Even as a child in grade school, and both my daughter’s years in school, bullies were rampant, but it was only the child who fought back and called them out that were chastised and scolded “that’s not nice!”
    The “un-niceness” of the perpetrator’s mean and provocatory actions went completely unacknowledged and unpunished, and the victim gets no justice.
    Like it says in Isaiah chapter 5:20:
    “They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”
    We are living in a dark fog it seems, where the majority are completely blind to the danger – and warfare – going on all around us.

  7. RomansEightOne

    Thank you!!
    “do not judge” twisted to mean “assume the best of the wicked and assume the worst of the innocent”.

  8. cindy burrell

    Seen in this light, the truth and the revelation of God’s heart is so clear, I wonder how I missed it. As always, thank you…

  9. Carradee

    I find it outright disturbing how much of Scripture is yanked out of context, with audiences changed, while those who do so insist they’re the ones being consistent with the context. :/ All part of psychological projection and gaslighting, I suppose.

  10. Rose

    Thank you for preaching the Truth…God bless!

    • Hi Rose, welcome to the blog 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  11. surviving freedom

    Yes, I was often told (or had read in ‘c’hristian marriage articles) “don’t judge,” and “you need to check your own heart first,” with the above scripture being used to justify the stance.

    What I’ve now come to understand:
    — that even people attempting to be helpful but are naive, are wrongly judging those who are actually attempting to use godly discernment that we are specifically given in His Word.
    — That often the people who are using this Scripture and many others, need to be applying them to themselves rather than admonishing those who are attempting to seek the truth or gain understanding and help for the evil they are faced with.

    I’ve really began to see how many people will use teachings from the Bible that are meant to help those being oppressed and they actually use them against the oppressed and then further use them to justify or enable evil. It is disheartening, and at times seems hopeless. Thank God for sites like this one and a (very) few others that actually can see abusers for what they really are.

    • Abby

      We make judgments everyday so when we are told to “never judge,” it sends us into a confusion. After all, We want to do what is good. I just looked up the word discernment and it said “the ability to judge well.”

      • Jeff Crippen

        Very good observations Abby.

  12. Tracey

    This is a life saver. Married to a deceptive, called himself a believer man, I had scripture used against me for most of my marriage. I was told the man was head of me even if it hurt myself and my children emotionally. I was told God knew and He would take care of us. My husband was to come first. I unwittingly made myself and my children into victims. I empowered an evil man who by his actions did not even care about us, only himself. I have had to ask for forgiveness for I think, making an idol out of him. Yes I was misled but I still feel bad about doing it, and believing it.

    • surviving freedom

      Tracey:
      “I unwittingly made myself and my children into victims.” I really encourage you to read as much as you can about the true nature of abusers, read this site, read material by Lundy Bancroft and Dr. George Simon Jr. Check out the resource pages for more reading.

      For a long time, through misguided theories concerning victims of abuse, I believed I had a part to play in “allowing” (even without being aware I was) the abuse to happen. Even though I can slip into guilt or old thinking patterns, I do now know that I had no part to play in the abuse except that I was the target of it. I really needed to take a long time and consider all of the ways that I attempted to avoid his behaviors and even take a stand for myself in spite of the subtle shaming or punishments I intuitively knew would occur. Then I needed to carefully think about all the ways he would manipulate, twist experiences, or shame me for taking those stands or setting boundaries. No matter what I did, his abuse increased.

      I also know, for myself, there was a time when I sought ‘c’hristian help for some of the things I was experiencing, and I was greatly misled. I, too, needed to ask forgiveness for putting my trust in man’s interpretation of Scripture rather than trusting God to show me the truth, and yes I too made an idol out of marriage and my husband. But, I do know in my heart, that I was earnestly seeking to be a godly wife … and that earnest desire to be faithful was turned and twisted against me, used by the abuser to continue in his evil.
      Did I sin? Absolutely! But I think of Jesus words in Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

      I know now where I sinned and I am careful to not do it again. But I do truly believe that God has grace and mercy on the victims of abuse. I have experienced it myself, once the fog and deception started to lift … God was right there, putting things in my path, to show me His truth. At times I refused (and sometimes still do), or found it exhausting, to hear God’s truth and follow it, but He is continually working on me. At times I step off the path (but it’s getting less and less often), then I usually end up stubbing my toe on a rock or stepping on a sharp weed which work as a great reminder or warning that I’ve gone astray.

      • I really needed to take a long time and consider all of the ways that I attempted to avoid his behaviors and even take a stand for myself in spite of the subtle shaming or punishments I intuitively knew would occur.

        Well said! You are talking about how victims always resist abuse. When violence or oppression is occuring, victim resistance is ever present. Many people don’t recognise all the ways the oppressed resist being oppressed. Alan Wade and his colleagues at Response Based Practice talk about the importance of elucidating and honoring victims’ resistance.

        Here are the resources we most often recommend on this topic:
        Honouring Resistance – a wonderful resource for understanding abuse

    • standsfortruth

      I was told the same thing by the church Tracy, but did not realize at.the time like you, that I was following twisted scripture.

      They caused me to submit to my husband’s harsh ruling, as if somehow it might change him, but even if it didn’t, they said God would somehow be pleased with my tolerance of his abuse.

      I would have never stayed with my abuser if I had known the real truth in God’s Word, and neither [I think] would you.
      We wouldn’t have put our children through any of that if we knew the truth.

      And for this – we need not carry the guilt that goes along with the damage of raising your family with an abuser.
      God knew our heart and he knows that we were unknowingly duped and gaslighted by our abuser and the church acted as his ally.
      And since God looks upon the heart, He knew we had good intentions.

      Those twisted scriptures once delivered to our trusting hearts, will no longer have the power to deceive us.

  13. Jan

    Jeff,
    Thank you! You have saved my life. I am now on a road to recovery. I was abused for years by my bf who is on the worship team at church.

    • Hi Jan, welcome to the blog 🙂 We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  14. Annie

    If a man is revealed to be keeping slaves I have no doubt there would be outrage. A man who enslaves his wife with abuse is no different.

    Abuse and slavery have a lot in common. Both begin with a decision to exert power and control over another for one’s own benefit. It is tacitly encouraged by others who turn a blind eye–blaming the victim, not wanting to get involved, choosing not to see it, etc.

    What is amazing is this power and control attitude of my husband’s comes from a man who can’t keep a job and is lazy beyond belief. If he’s so great why doesn’t he turn all his greatness into doing something good and helpful? I believe it’s because deep down he knows the truth about himself and abusing me is his cover for that truth.

    • Abuse and slavery have a lot in common.

      Yes. Domestic abuse is a capture crime. Those are the words of Evan Stark, author of the book Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (2007).

      I’ve been slowly reading this book and will be writing a post or posts about it at some point. It is a good book, but very dense reading because it’s aimed at professionals who have worked for years in the DV sector. It’s not aimed at victim-survivors; but a victim-survivor who is willing to read academic/professional discourse could get valuable things out of it.

  15. Jan

    Should I expose this sin to an elder to try to get help? I have been going through all of these things.

    • surviving freedom

      This is such a difficult question, and really does depend on the attitude of those at the church you belong. I chose not to expose the abuse to elders or pastors. I had to carefully reflect on the attitude the church had in the things they taught concerning marriage. Also for me, I had sought help at the church for ‘marital concerns’ in the past and was given the generic … pray more, forgive more, love more, seek out your own heart and ask God to show you how you may become a better wife, etc. Also attitudes of submission and leadership within a marriage were not in line with Christ-like attitudes.
      I have read so many accounts of much more damage being done to the victim when she exposes it to the church, so it’s a place I think needs to be considered carefully. One question I had asked myself when I first started seeing the marriage for what it was: “Has anyone in the past sought help from the church concerning abuse?” In my case there was no one that I knew of still in the church. There was one couple that the wife had divorced the husband and she did say he was abusive. I don’t know if she sought help or if the church got involved, but I do know that she went to a different church and he continued to attend the one I was going to. This was a red flag for me.
      I think it’s important to look for red flags in any help or support I find. I start out small to check the reaction first.

      • Jan

        What about sending an anonymous letter?

      • surviving freedom

        Jan;
        I think I may have jumped to conclusions. I had assumed that your question about going to the elders was concerning an abusive spouse. Now that I’ve reread I’m thinking it was concerning abuse from your bf who is on the worship team at your church. Are there any others who have experienced this from your bf that would be willing to approach an elder with you?

      • Jan

        Sadly, no. It’s just been me. I honestly believe he’s a psychopath. The last time he physically hurt me was on Tuesday. I had to file an order of protection from abuse.

      • Jan, since you have filed an order of protection against him – I think it may be a good idea to show the order to the elders, so they know that a man on their worship team has a protection order against him.

        But if you do show it to them, stiffen your spine, expect them to be suspicious of you, work out a concise way of telling them the basic facts of what he did to you (without getting emotional or rambling if you can help it, as the elders are likely to misconstrue any emotion and verbosity on your part as indication that you are a bit crazy…).

        If they treat you well, then it will be a bonus. But if they treat you with suspicion or disbelief, you will already be prepared for it by having mentally thickened your skin while you are telling them.

      • not that you are crazy, Jan, but I just know how church leaders tend to react when women report domestic abuse. 😦
        And btw, the term ‘domestic abuse’ also covers boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.

      • Jan

        He compartmentalizes his life. That way no one knows who he really is and he hides behind the church. Should I b concerned of being accused of slander if I show Pastor the pfa?

      • Jeff Crippen

        Jan – I would not trust a pastor to reveal these things to unless he has shown himself plainly to be a protector of the victim and an enemy of abusers.

      • I second what Jeff said. And since the abuser has so easily hoodwinked the Associate Pastor/ Music Team Leader, you have clear evidence that the Associate Pastor is NOT a protector of victims. That Assoc Pastor has shown you by his behavior that far from being an enemy of abusers, he is an ally of abusers. Whether he is just naive and therefore unaware that the abuser has recruited him a an ally, or whether he is aware and is wittingly colluding with the abuser, makes very little difference. He is UNSAFE.

        And since the Associate Pastor is unsafe, that suggests the Senior Pastor is likely to be unsafe too. You may already have some experience of how the Senior Pastor responds to disclosures of abuse. Even tiny red flags are good evidence, don’t dismiss ‘little’ things you have seen and noticed in the way those pastors behave. The ‘little’ acts and omissions and tones of voice often reveal the heart of a man. Like the tip of the iceberg.

      • Yes, there is fair chance you would be accused of slander (or malicious ‘gossip’) if you show the pastor the PFA. That is why I talked about stiffening your spine.

        The decision whether or not to tell the pastor is up to you. There are real risks for you if you do tell the pastor. Many of us have been hurt by unjust pastoral responses.

        The fact is, the guy who was your bf is dangerous. If a malignant person like him who disguises himself behind such a godly mask is in a church, and especially if he has been given a place of responsibility like being on the music team, that church is a dangerous place because it is NOT seeing the wolf amongst the flock. If it is not detecting one wolf among the flock, the chances are it is not detecting other wolves in the flock. There may be many malignant people in the church passing themselves off as believers, because they are skilled at lying (like your bf is). So … my suggestion to you is: weigh up the risks for yourself, follow your gut feeling, and consider all options, including leaving the church.

        Evangelical christendom is rotting on the vine. In our experience, there are many churches where they are naive about evil and many where they are even complying with or cooperating with evil — and in some churches the leadership are actively committing evil from the very top leadership down, so it’s often very hard to find a safer church. Some of our readers have found a relatively safe church, many have not.

        Sorry for all the bad news.

        Bottom line: trust your gut feeling / intuition, it is very likely the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

      • Jan

        I have went to the Assoc Pastor (the leader of the worship team) for help before to try to get us counseling and he told my ex and I received a beating and my ex just told him I was crazy.

      • I suggest you immediately dump this bf if you haven’t already done so. He is clearly an abuser. Abusers lie. Abusers falsely accuse their victims. Abusers retaliate on their victim when the victim discloses the abuse.This man is TYPICAL of abusers: he is doing everything they do, exactly on script. They all seem to read from the same playbook, which makes sense because they are of their father the devil. I suggest you get out of the relationship before he intimidates you even more!

        I’m writing this after writing my other comment a few moments ago. I suggest you don’t trust the Associate pastor or any of the other pastors: they are clueless about how to handle abuse! They won’t help you. If you show them the pfa they are likely to talk to the bf about it, and the bf will retaliate even more on you.

        I suggest you also look up the links in our Safety Planning page.

    • Hi Jan,

      I know your question was about speaking to an elder, rather than choosing a counselor, but I think this post may still give you food for thought. And there are a lot of links at the bottom of the post for further reading.

      Choosing & Assessing a Counselor

  16. Debbie

    I believe that the further one walks into evil, the more one is blinded and the more lies one believes. It’s a cascade effect. One can walk out of that but one has to want to and be willing to be honest with oneself no matter what it costs.

    • Abby

      You are right, Debbie. When I look back, I realize now that I had participated in evil, but I had to walk away from the evil to see it. It became clear over time. For me it was a big event, my husband held a gun to my head and shortly after that I walked away. If that hadn’t happened I don’t know how long I would have stayed in the craziness.

  17. ContextandPerception

    Please be careful: ‘I believe the further one walks into evil’ is a blanket statement and incorrect as it implies codependency another false comment and choice which ‘slaves’ do not have and more. It also once again blames a victim implying choice they did not make or have.
    A few targets may have chosen to ‘participate’ in evil, but most did not instead they found themselves facing evil and resisting evil as it attempts to surround and overpower. (See the resistance posts above.) No one says slaves chose to walk into evil. Just look at Mideast current events and human trafficking. As many in this blog have pointed out the church has done a superb job of misinformation on the whole domestic relations scene and many got married under false pretenses of the abuser pretending to be something else. A ‘Christian ‘ is always facing evil crouching and waiting to devour as opposed to seeking out evil to companionship with it (Gen. and 1Pet , Jeff has whole sermon series on evil, Barbara and Jeff have numerous posts on this.).
    Lastly, the assumption keeps getting made or ‘ shoulded as B.R. would say ‘ on targets that they would not have been targets had they …. Trusted God more…Asked for wisdom…used their brain to think for themselves…. people can be doing that and still God allows it to happen repeatedly in scripture NT and OT, as in the case of king Ahab killing an innocent man for his property…further on one finds out God did not forget that and repaid the evil king and justly so. As Jeff points out there will come a day, God will remember injustices done to His children….

    • Suzanne

      Some days the only thought that keeps me going is knowing that Gods justice, though it may be delayed from our human viewpoint, is inevitable. And it’s this knowledge that protects us from the temptation to take vengeance in our own power, a thing that never works well and is actually theft since God has told us, “vengeance is Mine. I will repay.”

    • Abby

      Sorry Context, I should have said that I was speaking for myself. Please accept my apology. I really don’t want to seem as if I participated in evil knowingly, so I will try to explain. My husband was a liar. He told lies, not just about me and our relationship, but about many things and many people. It was not until I was out of the relationship that much of that became clear. There was one person that I went to seeking the truth and I ended up learning that things were much different than I believed and I owed her an apology. That’s it. That was my big participation in evil. If I am honest, I can’t put the complete blame on my lying husband. Hopefully, now that I explained my situation and what was meant by my comment you all won’t feel like “evil participators.” So sorry guys.

    • Brenda D

      I’m not sure if this is the best place to put this, but a book that has helped me tremendously is called, “Mending the Soul”, by Steven R. Tracy. (Subtitle: Understanding and healing abuse).

      I grew up in a Christian home where the Bible was read daily, but never realized that there was so much abuse recorded in the Bible. This book points out Biblical examples of abuse, as well as the different types of abuse, and how they pervert God’s truths. (i.e.–Abuse is a perversion of the image of God–if a child has an abusive father, the child will grow up with an incorrect view of God–one who stands in judgement over him, rather than seeing Him as a loving father.)

      This book helps you realize that you are not the only one dealing with abuse, and shows you how people in the Bible dealt with/how they reacted to abuse.

      • Yes, we recommend that Mending the Soul on Resources section. It is very scriptural and very compassionate to victim/survivors. It focuses perhaps mostly on sexual abuse. The chapter on Forgiveness is probably the best thing I’ve read on forgiveness.

        We also recommend the website mendingthesoul.org .

  18. standsfortruth

    I agree on not blaming the victim in finding herself in such a predicament when she finally realises she is cohabitating with a full blown abuser.
    The abuser has strategicly undermined her over time with his arsenal of tactics to keep her confused.
    With me after decades of believing the fault was with me, ( because of my damaged self esteem, and the churches refusal to valadate my pain.) it was a HUGE awakening when I found a book that described, and put words to what I was going through.
    It was as if someone validated for the first time, that what I was living in was TOXIC and abusive, and that abuse was designed to keep me from understanding that truth.
    For the first time I realized that I was not at fault.
    It was so liberating to shed off the layers of shame and guilt, as I read count after count of covertly disguised tactic in the book that incredibly mirrored what I had been living through.
    After reading the book I knew and understood that I was in a predicament that was not my fault due to the charactor disorter of my abuser.
    This realization was empowering for me to adjust my thinking from that point on, and to start making plans to extricate myself from the situation .
    Knowledge is power, and unless the victim has the knowledge that she us a target of abuse, she has no idea that it is not her fault.
    (Like she is being gaslighted to believe)

  19. Jan

    in the state where I live, it is law that most statements made in a judicial proceeding, such as in an application for a PFA, are not slanderous/defamatory, and are not actionable as slander/defamation. There are exceptioins to this general rule.
    Just found this out.
    And revealing this has been very heavy on my heart. I feel it would be wrong if I knowingly know these things but don’t bring them to light.

    • Jan, you said

      And revealing this has been very heavy on my heart. I feel it would be wrong if I knowingly know these things but don’t bring them to light.

      I admire your highly sensitive conscience. But beware of acting in such a proactively conscientious way that you put yourself in higher risk of abuse from the abuser.

      I think your safety comes first. You have already tried to reveal your bf’s violence to the Assoc Pastor and it backfired on you badly because the foolish Assoc Pastor spoke to the abuser and the abuser “paid you back’ with more violence. If you show the leadership the pfa, there is a strong chance the same thing will happen again.

      So, my advice is read our Safety Planning page, get yourself into a situation of safety where the abuser cannot find you or use indirect means to retaliate against you, and then and only then your might (only might) want to consider exposing him to the church leaders. But be aware that abusers are often so determined to retaliate on their victims for leaving them and for exposing them to authorities, that leaving an abuser is a time of increased risk for the victim.

      Your Assoc Pastor has pretty much zero understanding of the risks a victim of domestic abuse faces. Yes, men like him need to be educated, but they often don’t think they need education and they resist anyone who attempts to open their eyes to how ignorant they are about the dynamics of domestic abuse and the wickedness of abusers.

      • Jan

        Thank you guys for the advice. How do we as abuse victims stand up for ourselves and bringing light to the abusers then? How do we then prevent this from happening to others? Because I know if my ex does this happens to someone else I will feel soooo guilty because I didn’t speak out.

      • Jan, of course, it’s up to you how you deal with this dilemma. 🙂 It’s not up to us to tell you what to do. All we can offer is suggestions and cautions based on our own experiences.
        My suggestion is to give consideration to the option of you speaking out about what he did to you after you are away from him and are safe.

      • KayE

        I don’t think it’s a victims responsibility to prevent their abuser from hurting others, a victim’s job is to protect themselves and heal. I know that my ex will probably keep on exploiting others for as long as he lives, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I did speak out to people who had the power to do something, but they ALL refused to believe me, and some of them joined forces with him to cause me more harm. It’s possible for a victim to speak out about abusers in general, and to help others that way. But it’s usually not possible to warn people about your own abuser because they have so many allies who are invested in making you look as if you are crazy or lying.

      • KayE

        I think I was feeling a bit too discouraged yesterday. Abusers need to be exposed and it’s a very good thing to do that. Just difficult that’s all.

      • Jan

        Ya I was discouraged by what you said. : (
        What if I kept the truth of who he was hidden and I could’ve saved his next victim from being hurt very badly or even killed? I would feel awful. I at least feel I did something right if I could just save or help one person.

      • KayE

        Jan- I’m so sorry for making you feel discouraged. I was having a low day and I feel now that I was being too cynical. I regret that, because I know you are asking extremely important questions. I admire your concern for future potential victims and your courage in being willing to speak out. What I really meant to say was that I don’t think anyone should feel guilty if they’ve tried to warn people but those people don’t listen. Maybe one of the answers is to find people who do listen?

      • 🙂

      • Jan

        It’s ok. Thank you for apologizing. I’ve had those days myself. : )

  20. Jan

    Hi guys! Barb, I have listened to Pastor Jeff’s 21 sermons on abuse and have bought the book but just started it. I am also seeing a domestic abuse counselor. Is there any suggestions of sermons by him to help me w healing.

    • Regarding sermons by Jeff that might help with healing, he doesn’t have a series with that specific title.

      But our experience is that as people come to
      — understand the tactics and mindset of domestic abusers, and
      — gradually come to see through the lies and the distorted or even totally un-Biblical doctrine they have been taught by the ‘c’hristian community, and
      — have an opportunity to share their experiences with other survivors (as they can do on this blog)
      they often testify that they are healing.

      Healing may not ever be ‘total’ — there will still be scars, reminders, triggers, and insuperable consquences in one’s life and the life of one’s children, but a large measure of healing is certainly possible — especially for those who are in Christ. Because HE is the Wonderful Counselor.

      • Jan

        Thank you so much. You guys on here have been a blessing for me. Lots of love.

  21. Mary

    Verses that I also get thrown at me by professing christian in laws is “not one is righteous, no not one”, and “God is merciful”, and “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and “mercy triumphs over judgment.”…all as a way to excuse sin.

  22. I have gained a wealth of knowledge from this site and am SO appreciative of the time and attention to detail in explaining the CORRECT meaning of God’s Word that has been used against many of us time and time again. I am looking for the post about “turning the other cheek.” That was used again last week and I need to brush up on it! I also wanted to share something I believe God put on my heart, that has opened my eyes to why living with an abuser is SO incredibly difficult.

    I heard a comment on talk radio the other day. I wasn’t really listening, but this one phrase caught my attention: “The aggressor determines the rules.” (I think they were talking about terrorism) For some reason it stuck in my brain and has been rolling around in there. These are some truths I learned from it. In the wild, there are carnivores and herbivores. The herbivores would happily go about their business of eating grass, never bothering anybody, being at peace, getting in a few tiffs over some tufts but mostly moving through life, being helpful and not hurting others. Unfortunately, the carnivores (the aggressors) have other plans. Does it do any good for the herbivore to say, “Can’t we just all get along?” The answer is no. Why? Because “the aggressor sets the rules.” I thought of a bully on the playground (I’ll bring it a little closer to home for us). Can the victim just say, “Can’t we just all get along?” The answer is no. Why? Because “the aggressor determines the rules.” So what is a “get along” person (a normal, healthy, compromising, cooperating, give-and-take person) to do? CAN we just “get along?” No. Why? Because the aggressor (the one who controls) determines the rules.

    Just like in the wild, when an aggressor surfaces, we have only 3 options at that point: Fight, flight or freeze. So I thought about those for awhile.

    Fight: Rising to the same level of aggression. 1) This can be extremely difficult for a target who has been beaten down and has little sense of worth. 2) This can be extremely DANGEROUS for some. 3) We are taught in church that to stand up for yourself or to “fight back” even if done in a respectful manner, is “un Christian.” Women are taught, “that’s not ladylike, or Proverbs 31 or attractive or submissive, yada yada yada. So even GETTING to the “Yes, I’m willing to fight” option is highly unlikely, at least before desperation and complete brokenness has finally happened.

    Flight: Leaving. 1) See #1 above 2) see # 2 above 3) No resources 4) logistics for children 5) We are taught in church that to leave a spouse is unGodly, uncalled for, unChristian, cursed, wrong, not Biblical, yada yada yada. So even GETTING to the “Yes, I’m willing to leave” often entails having what feels like the whole world against you (that’s a lie, by the way. There are LOTS of people who care about you and will help you!)

    So that leaves…FREEZE: Unmoving, unfeeling, trapped, give him what he wants, do what he wants, think how he says to think, acquiesce, make excuses for him, say you were wrong and sorry even if you did nothing wrong.

    In a healthy relationship, there is no aggressor! These 3 options are not necessary because reason and compromise and meeting of minds is the norm.

    But there is no reasoning with an aggressor (Please, Wolf, don’t eat me! Can’t we just all get along?”) There is no compromising with an aggressor (I have all the power and you don’t so why SHOULD I compromise?!) There is no meeting of the minds after a civil conversation of equals (It’s my way or the highway!) and yet what do all the “marriage books” tell us? Reason. Compromise. Come to a meeting of the minds. These marriage experts would do well to learn a lesson from nature.

    When the bunny follows all their great advice on how to get along with a wolf…the wolf eats it.

    • Jan

      So true!

    • Debbie

      Thank you Debby for this valuable analogy. It makes crystal clear what it’s like to try and reason with a completely unreasonable person! Even as a child I remember being told by teachers and other adults to “give in, let it slide, be nice, keep the peace” etc. etc. etc. when I was wronged. It’s really no wonder I stayed in an abusive marriage for 30+ years – I was very well trained!

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