A Cry For Justice

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

Be Done With Church Leaders who Prove Themselves to be Blind Guides

Here is what Jesus had to say about the established “clergy” of His day.

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Mat 15:7-14)

The Pharisees hated him for calling them hypocrites. And the disciples pointed this out to Jesus.

What did Jesus NOT say to His disciples?

He did not advise the disciples, “Well they are your pastors, so submit yourselves to them.”

He did not say, “Oh dear, I’d better go and apologize to them. After all, they are the religious leaders. And especially with Israel being a vassal state under the Romans, we’d better not have conflict amongst ourselves as religious Jews.”

He did not say, “I’d better check my Slippery Slope™ diagram from Peacemakers to see where I went wrong and how I can fix it.”

What DID Jesus say to His disciples?

He said, “Let them alone.”  NC — “No Contact”—  is the way to go. Try as far as possible to have nothing to do with them. Don’t engage with them. Steer clear of them.

He also said that His Father was going to take them out, because they had not been appointed by Him.

He advised His disciples: They are blind guides. Don’t follow them. Don’t go to their churches and don’t seek out their counsel or think you need their approval.

Once church leaders of our day prove themselves to be blind guides, Jesus’ instruction applies directly to us as well. Be finished with them. Don’t listen to them. Don’t go to their churches. In fact, don’t even burn yourself out trying to correct them. Let them alone. That is what Jesus said. If you keep following them and seeking their counsel and permission, they will lead you into a pit.

Let me say it once more: When church leaders or counselors or church members prove themselves to be blind guides by meting out rank injustice to abuse victims and enabling the wicked — be done with them. When by their action or inaction they prove themselves to be blind guides who were not appointed as shepherds by the Lord — leave them alone. And insist they leave you alone.

30 Comments

  1. HR

    This is very freeing. We were (as a family) in a place where we saw just enough shady things to distrust the leadership. Of course our concerns were treated with suspicion (“sounds like you are just burned out”). There is always that tiny nagging doubt of ‘perhaps we should have stayed and fought for a healthier environment’. But we weren’t a part of the inner circle, so we couldn’t have done much. It is so very difficult to find a decent church.

  2. kim

    I personally am an unchurched person, and have been for years. I do read my bible, follow sound online ministries, and have fellowship with real Christians. I have become cynical (or maybe it is just realistic) about organized churches, and I think there are a lot of other people in my situation, as well.

    When attending churches in the past, I had often felt that I was just as likely to encounter a Christian at random on the street as I was to find them in a church pew. Churches today seem, to me, to often pander to those who are seeking an “experience”- music, social interaction, business contacts, etc. And the preachers only teach a watered down subset of the entire gospel.

    I also do not tithe to any organized church, since I am uninterested in paying for someone’s building program, membership increase, or pastor’s Mercedes. Many churches seem to me to be more interested in increasing membership and getting others to speak the believer’s prayer, than they are in developing disciples. The believer’s prayer is not even in the bible, and I don’t believe that saving souls consists of providing someone with an emotional experience that gets them to speak the believer’s prayer, and then moves on to the next “mission”, all the while judging the mission’s success by how many souls were “saved”, while providing little or no support for the discipleship of those who were “saved”.

    Sadly, I think there are more blind guides than true shepherds leading the church today. And as has been proven by many of the scandals attached to prominent church mega-churches and/or popular Christian teachers, many such people are proven to be hypocrites, just as in Christ’s earthly lifetime.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Good stuff Kim. I agree

  3. Natalie

    I finally did this. If only I would have done it sooner, but I kept hanging on to hope that someone might “get it.” That never happened. My stress level has gone down drastically since I decided not to have anything to do with them anymore. Too many people are abused by their partners and then re-traumatized by Church People. It is difficult to view church other than a place where people tell and believe lies. No wonder people don’t want to go anymore. The most appalling thing about all this is that it represents the OPPOSITE of Who God is and His purpose for us. My church makes claims to care deeply about the “glory of God.” From my perspective, I have observed more of a commitment to the glory of MAN.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Right on Natalie. I am a pastor, yet I agree with you and I have had the very same experience. Our church is down to about 35 people now and it is the best Christian fellowship we have experienced. The wicked are gone.

      • Trapped

        Sounds like heaven.

  4. Anonymous

    Yikes! Another one of your posts that won’t be going on the “Things to Say to Make the Sheep Shut-up and Tithe” website that so many pastors seem to use nowadays. So, what on earth are we gonna spend our time on? I mean, what if we actually find a church that doesn’t let these evil ones in? And what if we are able to fellowship with each other through the Holy Spirit? Could we finally get things done? Could we finally be strengthened and encouraged? I don’t know Jeff. This sounds too good to be true and you know what they say about things that seem too good to be true……

    • Jeff Crippen

      We fought the battles with evil in our church for over 20 years and have finally come to a point where the small fellowship left is a joy to be with. Real unity. But it came at a real cost. However, not paying that cost is a price we refused to pay.

      • Anonymous

        What a beautiful testimony! And I think of how to most “c”hristians a successful church is considered to be one that is growing in numbers of people and number of building sites. Just like the religions that promote having as many children as possible, to them it’s the numbers that count. To God however, it is always the heart. And those with His heart will use His discernment through His Holy Spirit to rout out the evil ones even when it means they are left with a church that only has 35 members. Because in order to have true peace and real fellowship with the Jesus through His people, you’ve got to have HIS people present and those who belong to their father the devil are NOT included and should not feel welcome among them. Not quite the wisdom I was raised with or that’s promoted in every church I’ve ever attended, but it’s the truth through God’s word.

        Thank you Jeff and all the members of his church. I’m so grateful for you and so proud of you too!

  5. Misti

    Timely. I had that epiphany this week, that I was hurting my ability to say what I want/need to on the topic because I was splitting my focus between two incompatible audiences—and one of them (enablers in the church) isn’t who I should be targeting as my primary focus, anyway.

  6. braveandstandingstrong

    AMEN! Thank you! Thank you for truth.

    Leaving the blind guides was not the difficult part. Realizing most of the church “family” was moving to judgment rather than compassion when my children and I left was devastating. The pastors continue to allow my antihusband to attend and be involved in ministries.

    Where in the bible does it say when someone leaves a church you cease to love and care for them with the love of Christ? We were there for over 15 years!

    Yes, we have found a new church. Yes, they have helped us more than our previous church. Does that relieve the previous church of their responsibility to care for God’s children, whatever church they are attending?
    Aren’t we all called to love our neighbor?

    Does that mean I should be comforted by someone (from my xchurch) telling me we have been on their prayer list for months? That was after we had been gone for over eight months. They truly are not able to understand abuse. Otherwise, they would be moved to action, along with prayer.

    In the very beginning of my separation from my husband, we were still attending the old church. After a service, I tried to share what was happening to a “friend.”
    With her hand up in a stop sign stance she said, “I don’t need details, I’ll just pray for you.” That was the day I knew I could not stay. It must have eased their consciences to pray for us. Prayer is great, it is just that we could have used some Jesus with skin on, if you know what I mean?

    The pastors at my xchurch did absolutely nothing to help me or my children when I left my abusive husband on more than one occasion. (Maybe they prayed? for me to be more submissive?) When I was angry about the injustice, I was rebuked. They (my church “friends”) were more angry that I was angry at my pastors doing nothing than they were about the abuse my children and I suffered from my husband for decades!

    I go back and forth from being hurt by their lack of being moved to compassion, to feeling sorry for them because they don’t see truth. The place is looking more like a cult atmosphere everyday.

    A friend who still attends there asked if I could ever go back. I don’t ever want to be in that pit of despair again. No. Never. Done.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Stop sign hand signals. There you go. “I don’t need the details.” Translated – “I refuse to be burdened with your problems, so shut up about them.” Nope, don’t ever go back. Being done with the false means you can start seeing the true church, wherever you find it.

      • My children found me sobbing behind the wheel of our vehicle that day. Now, when people say, “I will pray for you,” it is difficult for me not to be triggered even when their intentions are good.

        Thank you for validating me.

    • StandsWithAFist

      Dear Brave: yes, “Jesus with skin on”
      Is absolutely the perfect metaphor.
      Jesus with both love & anger, with hands that heal & also hold a whip…the real Jesus, not the “Sunday school”, pretty-little-pious-prattle Jesus.

      • braveandstandingstrong

        Thanks, Stands with a Fist.

        Jesus would never say..”.I will pray..be on your way.”
        JESUS WAS ANGRY at times.
        When people are angry about the way we have been treated it is comforting.
        Anger Can be a healthy emotion, I actually think it helped to save my life!

  7. braveandstandingstrong

    I guess I am having a hard time being done with the members of my xchurch but not the pastors.

    I wanted the members to care, I still do, I suppose. I thought they were my friends, my family. I still need to grieve this some more.
    The church was my life. All my friends were there. It was and still remains a devastating loss and actually secondary trauma to the abuse of my husband. I never expected the isolation. I never expected people to not ask us what happened and just believe the lies my antihusband told them.

    I can’t make them be compassionate to my situation any more than I can make my husband stop being abusive. I can let go of the need for them to “get” this.

    I am going to be a loving, compassionate person even though I have not always been treated that way. We are moving on and have an incredible new life. We have a new church which is nice and scary at the same time.

    My pastor speaks truth and believes me. He encouraged me to go to the police when I was scared. This church has done things for us that cost time and money and skills. They have reached out and cared for us. We are loved there.

    God continues to keep His promises!

  8. ClarityTime2Go

    I was filled with clarity one Sunday morning when, after struggling for years to love and support my church and pastor through their inability to help victims of domestic violence, I looked up (from the front row) only to see the abuser of a dear friend on mine on stage with the worship team.

    My friend had gone to them for help; what she got was worse than the abuse she’d already suffered. She left the church because abusers are masters of manipulation! I begged my friend to come back and give them another chance because I was certain that if only the pastor understood domestic violence better he would surely see what this man had done. I even set up a meeting and went with her, I later gave them a copy of “A Cry For Justice”, I also tried to warn his new woman about what had happened to the two women before her. What I got was labeled:– labeled a trouble maker who was making false accusations about a fine upstanding man who had made some poor choices but was willing to go to marriage counseling. After all, he was still coming to church but the wife had simply left. Anyone who knows anything about domestic violence knows that she had to cut and run because, without their backing, her situation was about to escalate even further.

    They assigned the abuser with a mentor who was himself an up and coming pastor with rage issues of his own. The then seminary student wrote a letter to the courts on church letterhead in support of the abuser for the great progress he was making. It was later discovered that his “mentor/seminary student/pastor” was abusing his wife as well; she left him a few years after he had become senior pastor of a new church plant.

    My friend now lives in a basement with the child she fought so hard to protect. She is financially ruined, emotionally spent, spiritually abused and always waiting for the next shoe to drop. He on the other hand is now remarried, to a woman whose marriage he broke up, has a new child with her, plus children from his previous marriages, plus her children from her previous marriage, and he’s standing in front of me playing guitar while the victim is left broken and abandoned. [Eds: some details airbrushed in this paragraph]

    I knew it was time to go!

    • Hi “ClarityTime2Go” — you will notice that I gave you that screen name. You had commented from your Facebook ID so your FB name and Facebook URL was automatically inputted into the comments boxes.

      Welcome to the blog 🙂 I’m so glad you are supporting your friend 🙂

      I urge you to please read our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And if you comment here again, please make sure that the fields in the comments box do not give your real name or your Facebook URL.

      We want all our readers to keep safe, and we want your friend to keep safe and if your friend’s abuser could guess her identity from your comments on this blog, that would probably increase her risk (her danger). And we are ultra busy managing the blog so it really helps if commenters take care with what is in the name and URL fields in the comments form before they hit submit.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  9. Survivor

    Bravo! Thank you for stating this so succinctly and clearly.

  10. For Too Long

    This post reminds me of taking those first, tenuous steps of “disobeying” the church leadership and discovering I didn’t get struck by lightening after all! Having been in a church environment for the last twenty-five years where it was the general, if unspoken, view that only those who are either a trouble-maker or (gasp!) unregenerate challenged the leaders, being done with them was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life. In fact, had I not been so convinced of the “rightness” of my decision to file for divorce, I never would have made it through the horrendous ordeal of church discipline.

    As I’ve processed all this, I’ve come out of the fog about my marriage AND my church. I can see now that the church leadership is equally abusive. It keeps its members in line with veiled threats about ex-communication, as well as control-disguised-as-concern. For example, I was told that the elders were “concerned for (my) soul and salvation.” How is this any different from my husband telling me he didn’t know what had happened to me, then saying, “You always believed in Titus 2; I think you need to read that again and see if it still applies to you.”… Hmm, sounds strikingly similar to me.

    • standsfortruth

      Control-disguised-as- concern

      Thanks Far Too Long. Thats exactly the cover I got from the church as well as my ex. But they were seeing only what they wanted to see — to continue to hold me in bondage to my situation.

      And you’re right, as soon as I saw past this disguise to free myself, the church excommunicated me, but I’ve never looked back or regretted it since then.

      • For Too Long

        I would do it again in a heartbeat!

  11. Trapped

    What do you do when the blind guides are also in laws who have enabled your husband in his sin and abuse, and your husband insists you talk to them and associate with them as if nothing has happened, as if they are the stellar christian people they portray themselves as. When your refusing to have anything to do with such hypocrites is one of the added ongoing things he abuses you over?

    • StandsWithAFist

      Trapped: I am so very sorry about your in laws, and sorriest about your husband. He should be protecting you, not hurting you.
      I get it b/c I have a similar situation. Not exact, but similar. I felt trapped too.
      It’s beyond hard. But several years ago I read somewhere that “they who excuse abuse are themselves abusers”.
      Wow.
      Meaning, when others excuse abusers it is usually because there is some space in their minds that actually believes the abuse can be “justified” on some level.
      This is the dynamic that further victimizes the target of the abuse, “pathologizing” the target b/c due to perceived flaws. Since all of us have flaws & none of us are perfect, it becomes sin-leveling and promotes further abuse.
      That was an “aha” moment of clarity.
      And it was then that I went NC with the pious in laws.
      It was difficult beyond words.
      I was accused of “not honoring” his parents.
      I was accused of being unforgiving.
      I was accused of being self-righteous.
      I was accused of being the root of bitterness.
      I was accused of being un-Christian.
      I am still accused of much, but I held firm.
      I kept coming here for truth & wisdom.
      Predictably, NO one accused THEM of abuse.
      No one held them accountable. Ever.
      I am still NC.
      Perhaps if you are not able to go NC, you could be the “gray rock”, described here:
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/04/16/the-gray-rock-method/
      It might empower you in a way that cannot be denied, b/c you don’t announce it or explain it.
      Keep coming here to his blog, keep searching the posts here. It has been an oasis for many of us, and I pray it will be for you too.
      But be careful if you use a shared computer (or change the settings so that you can do so in peace.)
      Barb has written about that here too.
      Be safe.

      • For tips about cyber safety, see this page of our Resources:
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/resources/social-networking-and-multi-media/

      • Trapped

        Thank you so much for understanding. I feel so alone right now.

        Yes, I have been accused of all of those things too. The latest the abuser and they are running with is ‘the reason my in laws have been unloving to me is because I am ‘hard to love’, (and the reason I am accused of being hard to love is because I need genuine repentance from them before I will feel safe to interact with them again, and I won’t accept their self righteous, generalized, ‘we’re all sinners’, and ‘God is merciful’ emails as repentance.) It’s real crazy making stuff. Coming to this blog is one of my only sources of sanity and truth.

        I will check out that greyrock thing.

        I hope one day I can change my screen name to ‘nolongertrapped’. That is my hope and prayer and goal.

    • KayE

      That’s exactly what happened to me. I tried to be as polite as possible to the in-laws, who were just like that. Everyone thought they were wonderful Christians, but they were arrogant and vicious hypocrites who fully enabled their son in his abuse. After my ex left, they would come around without being invited and my ex mother-in-law would stand right in my face and say vicious, degrading things to me while my children listened. They also spread slander about me to every person they knew, even people I’d never met. I know this happened because I would keep meeting people who’d been informed of what a nasty, shameful person I was.even though they’ve never known me.
      I got to the stage where I couldn’t bear the gossip and slander any more, and I cried out to God to somehow release me from it all. Within two weeks my ex mother-in-law was dead. And the gossip stopped.

      • Trapped

        Wow KayE. God does deliver us.

        I totally know what you are talking about, and I am glad you are delivered from it.
        In the last day or so I have been reading more about narcissism on the net. To me this is just the worlds term, for ‘wicked people’, but a lot of unbelievers get these characters better than most Christians and explain/expose them well. I knew my husband was/is one, but this weekend as I read I allowed myself to consider if his family actually fit this description too. And they do. Except they do it in a ‘nicer’ way, with big smiles, and weekly church attendance and lots of twisted scriptures. It seems to survive in that family you must be fake, have a big phony smile and never deal with truth…

      • Anonymous

        Trapped, When I first started waking up I was reluctant to allow myself to admit that most people in both my husbands and my family, had an evil heart. But God just kept me growing and reading His word, and once I allowed God to show me the truth through His word and in my life, I saw that it was true. And it’s why the end times ARE SO HARD!

        2 Tim 3:1-5, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” http://biblehub.com/hcsb/2_timothy/3.htm (if you click on “Strong’s” and then the bible version you want of the top three, you can then click on each individual word and see how pinpoint accurate each of these terms is. And pay attention to those words that are ONLY USED ONCE. Super awesome how God has it all written down for us!)

        This is a checklist that perfectly describes these types of abusers and notice that it DOESN’T say that there will only be a few of these people. If it’s true that there are MANY of these evil ones, it makes sense why we who truly belong to Jesus and desire truth, are having such a hard time.

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