A Cry For Justice

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

An Arrogant Church Enables the Wicked

Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. (1Co 4:18)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good….(1Co 5:1-6a)

We have often written on the topic of local churches enabling abusers, allowing them to remain in the church, even allowing them in many cases to be members in “good standing,” while — you all know the familiar scenario — the victim of the abuser is guilted, dismissed, or even ex-communicated. And we have often discussed why this happens. How can it be? I believe the Apostle Paul gives us the answer in the verses cited above, at least the answer in a good many cases — arrogance.

Look what Paul says to these Corinthians. He is shocked. They are permitting a grossly evil man to remain among them, no doubt counting him as a brother in Christ. This was no small sin. His fornication was of a startling nature, so much so that not even the pagan world would permit it. And you are arrogant. There it is. They should have mourned and been grieved that such a terrible sin was in their midst. But they didn’t. They boasted. I suppose they boasted about the grace of God and about how gracious they were in not being judgmental. Same old shtick we hear today so often.

Now, I want to tweak this Scripture just a bit. I think it’s ok with the Lord. Here goes:

It is actually reported that there is domestic abuse among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man is cruelly abusing his wife while he claims to follow Christ. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good…

You say that you want to “help” this wicked man? Then do what the Apostle says. Put him out of the church. Deliver this abuser over to Satan not only to protect the church from thinking this evil is permissible, but also so that Satan can have at him and maybe, just MAYBE, he will repent and his spirit be saved when Christ returns. THAT is God’s prescribed therapy for the abuser. Don’t keep him in the church. Don’t get him into some kind of therapy program to cure his anger. Don’t “love on him” until he is overwhelmed with warm fuzzies and repents. Put him out! Pronounce him cut off from Christ. Put him out into the world that he wants to be like and let Satan have at him.

All of this of course will require some serious humbling. That spirit of arrogance has to be confessed and rejected. Heads need to hang low and tears of repentance need to be shed, then action in keeping with that repentance must be taken. Put the man out.

What is wrong in our churches today? Why is this abuse hiding in the pulpits a virtual plague? And why won’t pastors and church leaders, for the most part — or church members — listen when we try to tell them what is going on among them? Why do so few pastors come to training seminars on domestic violence? Why? I am convinced Paul would tell us the answer in these words:

“And you are arrogant.”

29 Comments

  1. Freed

    I wish, so much, more pastors and Christians understood this. I’ve used this passage before, and been met with eye rolls and a proverbial pat on the head, as if I’m stupid. And this is always at conservative churches. It’s my liberal and non-Christian friends, just as this passage points out, who are appalled, and who actually stand up for victims.

  2. joepote01

    Good post, Jeff! And I absolutely agree with you.

    What is the source of the arrogance?

    I suppose it may come from many sources. However, one source I see as being very prevalent is legalism. Legalism always breeds arrogance. Legalism says, “I know the ‘correct’ biblical position on any given topic. I don’t need input from anyone else. I don’t need to pour my heart out to God asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, because the ‘correct’ position has already been made clear to me. I can show you the scripture verses to back up my position…and if I don’t have approrpiate texts readily available I’ll find some to back up my position.” Legalism quenches the Spirit of God, replacing relationship with laws and loopholes. That’s how legalism was displayed in the first century, and it still holds true.

    And guess what? Abusers are experts at exploiting legalism! Legalism is their native language. How many stories have we heard of abusers being confronted with the effects of their abusive behavior and responding by asking for a list of what they are, and are not, supposed to be doing? Even in their supposed ‘repentance’ they are looking for ways to substitute law in place of relationship. Why? Because they know how to find, invent, and exploit loopholes in legalism.

    And, yes, it is thru legalistic doctrine that they are able to gain allies in the ‘c’hurch…convince people that they are doing what they are supposed to do…and that their innocent spouse is guilty of wicked rebellion against their legalistic rules.

    The Spirit of God can guide us to see past the smokescreen that legalism can never penetrate.

  3. healinginhim

    Lest anyone attempt to criticize Pastor Crippen for ‘tweaking’ the Scriptures it should be noted that quite often where there is “sexual immorality” within a church, there is often abuse of varying dark shades. That is my testimony. Several churches were scarred by sexual sin and the man I married did not want to confront leadership and as our own ‘m’arriage continued to crumble I was given excuses by him that “he feared man” … and then the ‘c’hurch condoned his excuse for not confronting sin … meanwhile they are dissuading from their own lack of leadership with their excuses, claiming one of the deviant men had repented … yeah, only to keep on offending as we discovered??

    The man I married just wanted to ‘get along’ with everyone, even when he knew this sexual perpetrator could have harmed our children? Still no action and then I’m considered too passionate about my faith and too emotional?

    So you have sexual immorality and then ‘weak, manipulative’ men and women who want to just keep the doors open and hide the sin under the carpet… Yes, it’s arrogance. Actually had one couple tell me that if it weren’t for them and their extended family, “This church would not be here.” I had to leave this ‘c’hurch.

  4. Annie

    And yes! Domestic abuse … of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans! There are signs all over my community, that, if posted in our church parking lot, would not be true. But hose signs are not posted on our church parking lots. In fact, the should not HAVE to be posted on our church parking lots. Everyone attending and in the community ought to already KNOW that “Domestic abuse is not tolerated in this community [church]”. Period.

    Another great article. Thank you.

  5. cindy burrell

    Bravo, Pastor Jeff.

    The unspoken traditional church dogma too often infers that to exercise discernment (spiritual insight) is somehow cruel. The dogma says that, since none of us can claim perfection, there is no inherent moral standard we should anticipate or adhere to at all when dealing with any who identify themselves as ‘believers.’

    “So what if he treats his wife like garbage; he’s a good Bible teacher – and he tithes… Praise the Lord!”

    To call out the wicked, to identify the destructive, ungodly fruit that falls from his tree, is deemed gossip or slander or a failure to extend grace. So to accommodate the dogma, the truth must be compromised and the Spirit must be quenched so that wickedness can find a safe place in the body of Christ.

    Dear God, what have we done?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Cindy – Thank you. This is wonderful insight. Absolutely true.

    • joepote01

      And yet, bafflingly, that same acceptance…the willingness to give each “the benefit of the doubt” as a fellow struggler, is often NOT extended to the victim trying to escape abuse.

      It is almost as though we have come to perceive the heart of the gospel to be “forgive, forget, and reconcile.” Anyone claiming to be a believer and giving even the least indication of willingness to “forgive, forget and reconcile” is given the “benefit of the doubt.” However, anyone refusing to “forgive, forget and reconcile”…no matter how valid their concerns or how egregious the crimes committed against them…is treated as an unbeliever.

      It is as though “forgive, forget and reconcile” has become the litmus test of the believer’s heart.

      Justice, mercy and faithfulness have been discarded in favor of “forgive, forget and reconcile.”

      How have we gone so far wrong?

    • Tess

      So true….the real victims become outcasts …as has happened to me due to arrogant leaders.

      • Hi Teresa,

        Welcome to the blog! We like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. You will notice that I changed your screen name so it wasn’t so identifying. If you change your mind and feel that even this screen name is too identifying just let me know and I can change it to whatever you would like. My email is twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

        Again, welcome!!

  6. grace551

    I agree with Annie – another great article. I am so grateful to this ministry. Thank you!

  7. For Too Long

    Agree with the others – great article. In my experience, even before being put through the church discipline process, I noticed that some of the leaders in our congregation were preoccupied with their own self-importance. An underlying, arrogant attitude that prevailed was that this particular local body of believers was “their church.” However, the truth is that the body has one head – namely Christ. They have been given the responsibility to shepherd, but not to “lord it over” others.

  8. Jan

    This is exactly what happens! They believe my ex is a wonderful man and said I was just making “accusations” although I provided the pastor with the PFA. I even sent pics of my bruised body. They don’t care. So I’m doing whatever I can to put this out there. I’ve contacted the local news and they want to do an interview with me.

    • KayE

      Wow Jan that’s amazing, good for you!

    • Jan

      Plus, I also contacted Grace (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) http://www.netgrace.org/
      I reached out to them to see if there was anything they could do. I want to be able to somehow, someway push for PFAs to prevent abusers on the church team.

    • Hi Jan, what does PFA stand for?

      • Jan

        ‘Protection From Abuse’ It’s same thing as restraining order but in some states it’s called a PFA.

  9. Concerned Mom

    Would the PFA, Protection of Abuse, only mean, protection from physical abuse or could it also cover protection from emotional/verbal abuse?

    • Hi Concerned Mom
      From my general knowledge (I’m not a lawyer) each State (or county) tends to have its own laws about what kinds of behaviour protection orders prohibit. In my state (Victoria, Australia) they cover emotional abuse, financial abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, stalking and harrassment. But in some places they only cover physical violence. The criteria for obtaining an order from the courts also varies quite a bit. I suggest you research the laws in your state that pertain to domestic violence. you could use this page on our site to get your research off the ground. Also, you could ask the police and the DV support services (aka women’s centres) in your area.

    • Also, bear in mind that protection orders only prohibit the abuser from doing the prohibited behaviour in the future. They don’t punish him for having done that behaviour in the past. And if the abuser does any of the prohibited behaviour once the order is in place, it is often quite tough to get him convicted of breaching the order. You need to have evidence of the breach(es) to show the police, so they have enough to get the court to convict him of breaching the order. It’s not always easy! But it’s usually worth trying, and keeping on trying. Here is an article (from Australia) that gives tips for how to gather evidence of breaches of protection orders (note: in this article, they are called ‘intervention orders’) —
      http://whwest.org.au/family-violence/court-support/safety/

    • Jan

      There’s nothing you can do about the other abuse unfortunately. I was abused in every way.

      • I’m so sorry Jan.

        However, we don’t know what laws apply in the place Concerned Mom lives in. I know that in many places there may nothing one can do (legally speaking) about non-physical forms of abuse, but we do encourage readers to find out about the laws in their area, just in case there are some legal provisions that might help their case. The law is a complicated thing, and we try not to make blanket statements about it on this blog.

      • Jan

        Sorry

      • no need to apologise to me Jan. I was hesitant to write my comment because I knew it might sting you, but i have to try to think of all the readers here. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Please keep commenting 🙂

  10. Annonymous

    Hi Barbara

    My church encourages wives to submit to husbands in everything except if the husbands ask them to sin. That means if there are decisions to be made, the wife can give her views but the husband has the right to make the final decision. Husbands are called to lead their wives. Wives who do not submit are called rebellious with the spirit of Jezebel.

    I work outside the home and am financially independent. I love my family and work hard to support them. I will never do anything to harm my family. I will not divorce my husband for any reason. With this in mind, I am not sure why husband has to lead me. Lead me in what, apart from Bible knowledge and prayer? I am an adult and not a wayward, who needs to be brought back to the right path.

    I have also found that this teaching can lead to abuse, as what I read on this site. Sometimes husbands are not overtly abusive or manipulative but when they are given the right and authority to make a decision in every matter, can this not lead to abuse? For example, I know of my close friend (also in my church) who has to ask permission to buy a handbag. If the husband says no, she does not get to buy one, even though she is working and has her own money. This same wife has to put up with inconsiderate in laws in her home on a frequent basis as the in laws drop in for a visit whenever they feel like it. Her husband obviously enjoys these visits but the wife feels overwhelmed as they encroach her privacy and rest time. She feels obliged to tolerate her in laws but secretly dreads these visits. God knows her heart and how she despairs over the visits but doe God expect her to put up with all this simply because the husband allows it. It may look trivial but my friend is considering a separation after years of resentment building up.

    I know of another wife who wants to use savings for her children’s education. Her husband wants to use a substantial amount of savings on house renovations. Does the wife give in to the husband knowing that it will financially deplete their savings and may be detrimental to the children’s future? This is what is being taught in many churches today. It appears that a wife may give her opinions to her husband on a subject matter but the husband has the right to override everyone of her opinions and make the final decision., this is as good as not having an opinion as the end result is the same, ie the husband gets to do what he wants. I am confused. I always felt that the Bible taught us about fairness and equality and justice for men and women. If I say these things in church or within christian circles, I will be labelled a feminist, which I am not. I will appreciate what you think about this verse on submission. Thanks.

    Annonymous

    • Annie

      My husband believes what distinguishes him from me as the “man” is that he gets to make all the decisions. In our last argument he kept telling me I don’t know what a wife is. He accused me of wanting to be a “partner”. I’ve never said that word to him but he kept throwing out at me as if I had. I guess in his way he saw what I wanted as more of a partnership versus what he thinks a marriage is where he gets to do what he wants and I have to wait on him to give me anything.

      Over the years we’ve had blessings of small amounts of money (a few thousand) come into our lives a couple of times. I always wanted to sit down and discuss the best use of the money. Not my husband — he’d go buy something with it–what he wanted. This is the same man who no longer will give me money to tithe at church because we need to save(supposedly) even though we have the money for tickets to events.

      I wish I’d researched the church and pastor he grew up with before we were married. But I don’t think I would have understood the implications of what he believed back then.

  11. Jan

    I need some advice. Some of you may have seen my post about the neglectful discipline of my ex bf in the church because he is friends with the Pastor. Well, I was contacted by an investigative reporter with the local news to talk about my story and I’ve been praying for God to show me what to do. Then, 45 mins ago I received the email. Any suggestions?

    • Well, I’m not a lawyer, but here’s what I think.
      There is nothing wrong in telling the truth. There may be a risk or risks to your safety (your abuser and his allies may attempt to retaliate on you for exposing their wrongdoing). If you have thought about that, and decided you nevertheless are willing to take that risk, then I would say it is okay for you to tell your story to the reporter.

      I suggest you use non-emotive language as far as possible. Simply state facts. And beware because sometimes news media try to cast the victims of oppression and injustice in a bad light: making out that they are crazy, overly emotional, not trustworthy, etc. So if you sense that the reporter is searching for that angle, to put you in a bad light, then you are free to stop the interview. I don’t want to make you feel too afraid, but I have heard stories like that so I just thought I’d give you the heads up.

      Remember, usually the media’s chief purpose is to sell their product and please their advertisers. The media is not always to be relied on to uphold justice, truth and righteousness, but sometimes they do do righteous things, especially when it helps them sell their product.

      • Jan

        Thank you so much Barb!!!!!

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