A Cry For Justice

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

Christ is for the Righteous and Against the Wicked — Ps Jeff Crippen’s message at York, PA 2016

The following message was given by Jeff Crippen at the Overcoming Powerlessness luncheon in York, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, May 14, 2016.  We are able to provide both a live recording of Pastor Crippen’s message and a written version.  Many thanks to Fred and Bonnie Wilt and all of the OCP volunteers and board members who made it possible.

[Note: we know that sometimes men are victims of domestic abuse. If you are a male victim of abuse we encourage you to reverse the gendered pronouns in this message.] 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalms 1:1-6)

The Lord pronounces His blessing and favor upon His people, and announces His curse upon His enemies, especially those who persecute His sheep. He promised the Thessalonian church that He is coming to set it all right –

…since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)

Christ is for the victim of evil, and He is against the wicked. Christ’s wrath rests upon the domestic abuser and in particular the abuser who wears a “Christian” façade.

We define an abuser as –

A person who has a profound sense of entitlement to power and control over another person which he is not authorized to possess, and who feels entirely justified in using a whole arsenal of evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

This is not some merely “difficult” person who can tend to be, for example, abrasive or who can slide into selfishness fueled by their pride getting out of hand. No. The abuser is by his/her very nature the center of their own world, the owner of their spouse who is their property and whose sole purpose in life is to serve and exalt them, and the victim’s judge, jury and executioner when necessary.

And in our ministry and in yours if you are a Christian, these abusers are very often hypocrites who hide behind a façade of religion, duping many gullible church members around them, and convincing most people that they are the pillar of the church, the holiest of the holy. They select this façade because in the church they find some of the most naïve people in regard to evil and a platform to obtain worship for themselves.

As a result, the church, those people who claim to belong to Christ, who are pastors and ministry leaders and missionaries…the church quite often if not typically becomes the ally of this evil. Christians are to be wise as serpents about evil and yet remain innocent in regard to actually doing evil. But this command of our Lord is largely and regularly being ignored and even denied:

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men….  (Matthew 10:16-17)

What is the dilemma of the abuse victim, particularly the victim who is a Christian? She is in bondage to evil that has crept into her life in disguise, appearing as an angel of light while in reality being a liar and a murderer.

Listen carefully now to this very important characteristic of evil –

Evil always desires to obtain worship for itself, to be God, to be like the Most High. To accomplish this, evil ones utilize the favorite tactics of their father the devil – lying and murdering/destroying anything or anyone who would interfere with this self-idolatry. Fundamentally, the abuse victim is the target of servants of the devil who desire to be God. Like Pharaoh, abusers enslave, use, and kill. And two of their favorite arenas for accomplishing this are the church and marriage.

What is the dilemma of the abuse victim? Answer: She is oppressed by her abuser AND by her church.

If you scan both the Old and New Testaments, you will find that evil always creeps in among God’s people with the goal of drawing them away from the living and true God, enslaving them, and demanding their worship. You see it right off in the Garden of Eden. Jeremiah had to fight against the false prophets and elders of his day. The Lord Jesus did battle with the “eminent and pious saints” who had set themselves up in His Father’s house and were oppressing and using the Lord’s people. Paul and the Apostles warn us repeatedly to watch out for these wolves.

And so it is today. If you have been or are the victim of an abuser, then you have been targeted by that evil one to be enslaved by him, oppressed by him, assaulted by him psychologically, spiritually and/or physically. AND if you are a Christian and you have been in a local church, you have very, very likely had that bondage and enslavement made even stronger and more bitter by the very people who claim to be Christ’s shepherds.

Abuse is enslavement. Abuse is like a psychological prison camp. Abuse victims suffer from the typical traumatic ailments that are caused by trauma. There are typically no cell bars or barbed wire fences, but there are all kinds of walls that imprison the victim in the abuse. Fear. Lies. The twisting of Scripture, and other bonds that are stronger than literal concertina wire. Abuse is a prison. Abusers are prison-keepers who have no right to enslave people, yet they do.

Now, what is the one thing that a prisoner or slave needs more than anything else? FREEDOM! And if the prison walls that hold the victim are typically constructed by lies, then what is the one thing that will bring down those walls and set the captives free? TRUTH! Christ’s truth!

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

I want to share some truth with you today that is powerful to lead you to freedom.

The Lord is for the oppressed! 

You have been told it is your fault. Always your fault. You have been told that you are worthless, ugly, that you are a pathetic Christian and mother. You have been pounded with the insistence that what you saw or heard never happened. And you have so often thought to yourself, “the Lord must be punishing me.”

Listen — anyone and everyone who turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and repentance and who is thereby made a new creation in Him, is the object of His love and mercy and kindness. Furthermore, though the world and even many who claim to be Christians, like Job’ s so-called ‘friends,’ would tell you otherwise, the Lord has made it abundantly clear in His Word that you are the apple of His eye. I will prove it to you. You are included in the company of the widows and orphans Scripture speaks of so many times –

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:22-24)

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (Deut 10:18)

You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, (Deut 24:17)

Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deut 27:19)

They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, ‘The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.’ (Psalm 94:5-7)

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jer 22:3)

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5)

And finally, listen to this:

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?'”Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:34-46)

Do you grasp that? If you are one of Christ’s flock, and if you are the target of an abuser or if you have been, then YOU are so important to the Lord of the universe that He announces here that how people helped you or oppressed YOU reveals whether they really belong to Christ or not.

And I want to tell you today that many, many, many people who claim to be Christians, many pastors, many church leaders, many celebrity “Christian” figures are going to be sent off into eternal punishment. How do I know? Because they did not come to the aid of these little ones who are His and are oppressed by evil. Am I exaggerating? Hardly. The majority of professing Christian churches not only fail to aid an abuse victim in their midst, they add to her oppression and they enable her abuser. They cast her out and they embrace the demon. They are the priest and Levite who passed the beaten man by, unlike the Good Samaritan who stopped and rescued him.

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37)

Christ sees it. Christ knows it.

The Lord wants you to be set free!

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Christ’s truth, God’s Word, is about freedom. Right from the beginning on through to Revelation, the Bible announces freedom, redemption, and exodus. Jesus came to set captives free. Every use of God’s Word that ends up keeping the abuse victim in bondage is necessarily a perversion of God’ s truth and is to be rejected.

Listen to this wonderful lady’s experience and how she has finally come to see that she was held captive by cruel and evil twisting of Scripture:

Ahh… Ephesians Chapter 5 – the chapter of the Bible I tried to live by since my conversion at age 10, and the chapter that has made life SO hard to understand.

It was what I heard as a child – between the beatings and horrible names our parents called my sister and me. It was what I heard as a teenager when I saved my money and sought Bible teaching and ended up at Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth. I didn’t have an opinion at all – wasn’t even allowed to choose my hairstyle as a high school student, but I thought that I needed to live that way because my parents wanted 100 percent allegiance. In youth group I learned that we needed to give thanks for our parents no matter what type of parents they were. So although they wouldn’t give me appropriate medical care and I had been a slave from about age 6 (and suffered horrible fevers that could only be traced to stress), I tried…and tried. In keeping with the Gothard information, my parents decided that I would marry a man I had known for three months. From the first night, it has been terrible.

Ephesians 5 was what I heard from the time I married my self-centered husband. He has been unwilling to form a relationship with me and treats me more like a favorite appliance. I could cite so many instances of abuse and total neglect toward me and our two daughters (grown now because we are in our 30th year of marriage), but it all comes down to what [he] says. I have a job and I have been taught that I will be the one at fault if I leave.

And then the church…I try to forget that the picture of body life isn’t there and ignore the wrong teaching (love– respect conferences, etc.), but I struggle. I struggle to love those who judged me for keeping the family going when my husband considers his only job “ministry.” I struggle to love those who indoctrinated my daughter with the same information. I struggle to love like I want to.

Ephesians 5. If we pair it with the verses in Peter that credit Sarah for calling her husband Master and the one in Corinthians that says our body is not our own we can have a life that is seriously hell on earth.

I really believe that instead we should pair it with the verses that teach how Jesus handled leadership — he got out the towel to wash the feet — and the verses in John 17 where he prayed that we would be one. If we treated each other that way, we wouldn’t dream of asking who was the most important. And if we did, we would get Jesus’ answer — the one who is the least of these!

Ephesians 5, like all of Scripture, is truth. But we have been immersed for decades now in the Christian church to rank distortions of it that turn marriage and family into cruel oppressive bondage for decades — for a lifetime.

And then there are the myriads of other lies that evil uses to enslave.

  • Lie: God hates divorce
  • TRUTH: This phrase is not even in the Bible, as most modern translations recognize. God hates the violent covenant-breaker who abuses his wife. God blesses filing the necessary civil paperwork to get free of the wicked.
  • Lie: We are all sinners.

Here is a real example: Everyone sins against other people, and sinful behavior towards others is always abusive. The remedy provided by the Scriptures for abusive behavior is the cross of Christ, and forgiveness and repentance. Abusers are not in some different category than the rest of us.” [Matt Powell, a pastor in Colorado who hates our ministry at ACFJ]

  • TRUTH: A Christian is a redeemed, new-creation child of God. The abuser is a particularly evil person often with no conscience at all. Even among the unregenerate there are people who are far more wicked than others.
  • Lie: You can and must win your abuser to Christ by loving to him and submitting to him no matter what.
  • TRUTH: Salvation is the Lord’s work. In fact, the long-time, Christian- pretending abuser may very well be an Esau for whom repentance is no longer possible (Hebrews 12. Also see Hebrews 6:4-6)
  • Lie: Divorce is always the worst thing for the children. Christians must stay married no matter what.
  • TRUTH: Most often young children begin to heal when they are finally free of the abuser.
  • Lie: It takes two to tango. You are both at fault in your marriage troubles.
  • TRUTH: It takes two to make a marriage. The abuser is single-handedly destroying the marriage and no matter how hard the victim might try, the abuser will see to it that nothing is going to change for the better.

My husband did the same thing with the kids. Got them all riled up then sat back to watch the show–seemingly innocent of any wrongdoing and acting like HE was the peacekeeper. It took me decades to see the truth of this because I’d been so trained to fix everything and to never think bad about others. Wow! What a load of LIES I’d been forced to live with! Anyway, I now know that this is a favorite tactic of MANY abusers because they are so bored that they like to have strife and controversy to fill in for the emptiness inside of themselves. They care nothing about the damage it does to others and in fact to them that is just an added bonus!

Putting all these tactics of the evil one out there for others to read helps us to gain strength and trust in the Lord (knowing that He already knows about it and that He hates it) and helps us chip away at the lies the evil one has built up against us. [Commenter at the ACFJ blog site]

  • Lie: You are sinning by being angry at your husband. You need to stop this and be content and quiet.
  • TRUTH: The Christian hungers and thirsts for righteousness and the Spirit of God in us leads us to hate the wicked just as the Lord Himself does and to hunger for justice to be done.

I need comfort and help. I need love and help. I have no money. I need God’s justice and help! I hate the injustice. I hate the PAIN. I hate the lies that the abuser pushed. The lies that I couldn’t see clearly and believed and the lies that I could see and did fight. I hate the deception.

I want God to rescue me and I want NEVER to forget Him, His law and His justice. I want to fight for other survivors! I want to comfort them and pay for their things the way I need that help now! I want to never let a comment or action go by that degrades and abuses women (or men) without standing up for the truth and doing what is right. I want to live with integrity and fight for the oppressed! I want to live and to tell the truth! [ACFJ commenter]

Many pastors and churches and professing Christians would tell her she is sinning, is showing a lack of faith, and should never be speaking so disrespectfully of her husband. Those are lies. All completely and totally, lies. THIS is what the Spirit of God in an oppressed Christian looks like!

For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death. He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from God’s justice and help! I hate the as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones! May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day! May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life! 

But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat. I am an object of  scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads. Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it! (Psalm 109:16-27)

THAT is the Lord! THAT is Jesus Christ. THAT is the Spirit of God!

At sites dealing with abuse, I hear survivors speak with a clearer understanding of what Biblical truths such as good and evil, repentance, forgiveness, love, reconciliation really mean than the church does. The Bible is filled with descriptions of evil people, their behaviors, and how to deal with it (which many times includes, “avoid, don’t walk with, stay away from…”). Yet, the church is so unwilling to see or offend or judge evil that it has become blind, gullible, and naive. It makes me angry because the church ought to have the deeper understanding.

Sometimes it seems to me that the church has blinders on, seeing only what they want to see. A little wisdom and common sense would go a long way. Their teaching is so contrary to what the Bible actually says, that I wonder if they actually read it. It’s like they put the Bible’s book cover on their own opinions. No, it’s like they are grooming victims to accept abuse. Abusers groom their victims to accept abuse.

The Bible warns about false teachers who pretend to be righteous infiltrating the church. I believe that many wicked people have gained leadership in the church where they teach a message to teach the congregation to accept their abuse. If we can’t ever call evil by its name, if we can’t ever judge between the righteous and the wicked–or the abusers and his victim–if we must always unconditionally forgive and unreservedly accept, if no true repentance is necessary, if we must submit no matter what the other person does, then we have been groomed to accept abuse. [ACFJ Commenter]

Anyone who remains ignorant of abuse remains ignorant of evil itself. The person who is ignorant about evil cannot properly understand God’s Word. Such a person’s theology is skewed, deficient, and dangerous.

Handling the Wicked – How do I Deal With an Abuser?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

The first most vital and freeing thing to get hold of when it comes to dealing with and relating to an abuser is this:

Realize what the abuser is in the very essence of his being. He is a person whose very defining mentality is one of profound entitlement to power and control and who feels fully justified in using an entire arsenal of wicked and deceitful tactics in order to obtain and maintain that power and control. These tactics are all designed to render victims powerless, increasing the level of bondage to the abuser.

The abuser is not:

  1. A poor adult child who can’t help himself because he was abused when he was little.
  2. Just a “difficult” person.
  3. A Christian who is still spiritually immature

No. The abuser is what he is, as we have defined him here. This quest for the power and control that he sees himself entitled to is what drives everything he does and says. Everything –

  • The car he chooses to drive
  • The job he pursues (or doesn’t pursue)
  • The things he reads and the TV and movies he watches
  • The sermons he listens to
  • The clothes he wears
  • Every word he speaks or doesn’t speak, every glance, everynuance of body language
  • And therefore every thought he thinks

This is why I teach that an abuser, as we define an abuser, cannot be a Christian. The thing is impossible. The very nature of the new birth in Christ and the radical transformation it effects in the very essence of who a person is, transforming them from a child of the devil into a child of God, precludes any possibility that a person whose very god is himself could be in Christ.

This realization of what and who the abuser is will serve you well in making decisions and responding to such a person. It will lead us into these wise courses:

  1. Deal with him as an unbeliever. Do not consider him to be a Christian. Churches very often go wrong here and in doing so enable the wicked and add to the oppression of the victims.
    When I first came out of my abusive marriage and began reading here, I found some of the articles harsh and discouraging about the fate of the abuser, my husband whom I was still extremely confused about and still love. At that time it was not comforting at all to think that he was not a Christian and probably will not become one. I’m not sure why exactly, but it was very distressing to me. But over time, it has become… Not comforting at all, but it just sounds right. I am hearing the truth in these statements. I read them in my Bible and the truth is plain as day. And the truth may not be all happy sunshine and flowers, but it’s a lot better than delusions and lies. [ACFJ Commenter]
  2. Do not pity him. Abusers LOVE to play the victim and lay down the pity card in front of you. Don’t be duped by this. Abusers are not victims. They are evil doers who oppress victims.
  3. Do not believe an abuser. As a child of the devil who is a liar from the beginning, abusers do the works of their father – they lie. Do not be duped by their claims of repentance. Don’t be sucked in by the apologies and flowers and “fun” things. There are no good times in life with an abuser. EVERYTHING they do is abuse, including the flowers and gifts they give during the “setup period” of the abuse cycle.
  4. Do not keep basing decisions for yourself and children on the “hope” that your abuser is going to change. That somehow the therapy program he is in will fix him. Or that God is somehow going to work that miracle you have been waiting for these 20 or 30 or 40 years. Base your decisions on the assumption that he is not going to change. [See Note at End]
  5. Do not hold on to the false hope that your marriage can be “fixed.” I tell people, “A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed, it needs to be ended.” I realize that is not just some simple, “I am going to leave the jerk tomorrow.” No. Leaving can be very difficult and take some time especially when there are children. And leaving can be a dangerous time. Develop an escape plan with the help of friends or family or your local women’s shelter.
  6. Do not expect to counsel about your abuser from your pastor or church or some “Christian” counselor. Don’t count on it. There are exceptions. But most of these are simply in the dark about abuse and worse yet, there are more abusers out there who have crept in as pastors and church leaders themselves.
  7. CHURCHES need to get educated right now about the abuser and repent of not obeying God’ s Word in this regard. Abusers need to be exposed in the local church for the hypocrites they are. Abuse victims need to be provided for and protected and validated. The abuser must be put out of the church according to 1 Corinthians 5 and the police contacted if crimes have been committed or threatened. Churches need to do a full re-boot of their theology of marriage and divorce and particularly their theology of evil, and stop living in denial that it is among them.
    … All this TALK about how much people know Christ and see Christ and have churches blessed by Christ and how they adore Christ… but I don’t see anything that FOLLOWS Christ in those people! Why?!?! I was crying out for justice! They LEFT ME ON THE SIDE ON THE ROAD and went on praising themselves for “being so close to God.” [ACFJ Commenter]
  8. Pray for justice. Pray for deliverance. Pray the imprecatory prayers of the Psalms against these evil ones.

We close with this survivor’s example. Here is a lady who has been through the fire and she has emerged as one who knows the Lord, who is wise as a serpent about evil, yet innocent as a dove in regard to its guilt. What she has learned is hard, and yet the truth has set her free:

I’m very outraged as you can hear from my voice on here. I resist abuse to survive. I’m beaten down at times and have become very poor and at times I’m very scared since I left the abuser.

I don’t love anybody more than doing what is right by God. And those who do evil I hate and I run from. I’m very cautious and realistic and decisive now. I love doing what is right and good and I fight anything that tries to prevent or pervert that.

I find comfort in the truth and I love knowing that I don’t ever have to excuse sin and abuse again because of “grace” like the church teaches. They even commanded me to show grace and just pray and wait on the The Lord. Those people heard my desperate cry and they literally laughed. I was crushed and in tears as they chastised me for my anger and hurt. They ignored my begging for help to call evil, evil. I fought hard to tell them the truth and they turned away in disgust and loved themselves and the abuser more than the truth.

~ ~ ~

End Note:

It is my conclusion that abusers never change. Let me explain. There are some men (and perhaps a few women) who used to act abusively toward their spouses. But they repented of it and now love their wives. It is my contention that such men never were the kind of abuser that we define here. Rather, I maintain that they were the kind of person the Apostle Paul was when he was Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee. Notice what Paul says about Himself –

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1Titus 1:12-16)

Saul, you see, was acting in ignorance. He really desired to serve God and was zealous for the Lord’s glory, even though he was dead wrong! But notice — Saul was not a hypocrite! As to the righteousness of the Law, Paul writes that he was blameless. And when Christ appeared to him that day, he repented and believed. Some who appear to be abusers can be of this genre, simply acting out what they have been taught. When these kind are confronted with the truth of their sin, they can indeed repent.

But the abuser as we define him, especially the “Christian” abuser, is a rank hypocrite in his very being. The vast majority of victims who contact us are Christians and their abuser claims to be a Christian, often serving as an “eminent saint” in their local church. And also in the majority of these cases, this façade and abuse has been going on for decades. Twenty, thirty, and forty years is most common. In my opinion, the likelihood that such abusers are the Esaus (reprobates) of Hebrews 12 (see also Heb 6:4-6) is extremely high. At minimum, they must be regarded as unsaved hypocrites who are to be put out of the church and handed over to Satan (see 1 Cor 5).

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The website of Overcoming Powerlessness

Jeff Crippen’s message at the 2015 Overcoming Powerlessness conference

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7 Comments

  1. Traddy

    So much harm has been done to me by those who had the authority to listen and help, but by the very nature of their lifestyle were of no help whatsoever, wearing their fancy vestments, standing on their pedestal soapboxes. They have little training in anything other than specific ideologies, and narrow mindedness that serve men, not women, and not the children. they must have a specific type of people to have all this work, and yes now I see why people left in droves. So I have much to thank you all for. And you are the very people with the training, and eloquence to explain that others might understand what I have lived all these years. I thank you for all this effort, I do understand how much hard work goes into the study of these characteristics. You have the ability to listen, and to learn- you are connected to your flock… many proud men in positions of high authority are usually not connected spiritually or otherwise. They live in their own narrow-minded blind world, and justify themselves in a myriad of ways. Much harm is done by those that ignore the true need at hand. AND THEN CLAIM THEY CAN’T GIVE WHAT THEY DON’T HAVE> What a lame excuse.

  2. Song of Joy

    Excellent message! If only more pastors preached like this… Thank you.

  3. Amen! Thank you, again for truth, Pastor Jeff!

    Going to a new church is difficult. It is triggering. After the abuse of our x church, we are wary. We have grown in discernment and with your help and God’s we can spot the entitled and arrogant.

    You bring such clarity to how the church is continuing the abuse the abusive husband started.

    Yes it has been decades and yet they looked to me to somehow fix him. He doesn’t need me or the church to help him he needs the Holy Spirit.

    It will take me and my children a long time to get over how utterly we were abandoned by our xchurch.

    Thank you for standing up for survivors. Thank you for not leaving us on the side of the road, beaten and hungry and thirsty. We are grateful for your ministry.

  4. I Can See

    THANK YOU.

  5. M&M

    I agree with the point that the mentality behind abusive behavior is important, especially when it comes to expectations of change.

    I’ve known several people who had some abusive behaviors and changed over time. However, I think those people had only a partial entitlement mentality and not an all consuming one and/or they were struggling with anger from their past. Their behaviors weren’t as bad as some of what I’ve read here – not to excuse them, but to understand the attitude. It is important to me to distinguish the difference because both types of people really exist (those who are fully motivated by control and those who have other motivations).

    I don’t use success stories to make anyone stay in a destructive marriage as I know that some don’t change. At the same time, I acknowledge the reality of what I have seen in some who changed. I agree that fully-controlling abusers can’t be fixed by anger management or healing their past, but semi-controlling people may benefit from those because I’ve seen it. It may be such stories that cause people to give bad advice to victims of the worst abusers, so it’s good that you’re warning about the worst ones. Also, even in the true change stories I’ve seen that real change takes years to do and years to prove. There’s a difference between slow fruit and no fruit and that’s a really important difference!!

    • Thanks M&M, I appreciate what you’ve said.
      The nuances are helpful.

      I don’t have time to keep fully abreast of the findings of professionals who are working in the field of “abusive men’s behaviour change” — but the bits I’ve read say that they are seeing some change with male abusers who are on the “less severe” end of the spectrum, but they are not seeing any change with their clients who are on the more extreme end of the spectrum.

  6. Anonymous

    Thank you for your ministry Pastor Crippen. How you and your congregation represent THE REAL CHURCH and your small numbers of true Christians who belong to the church you shepherd over, are the example of the shining light of truth that so many of us need.

    Thinking about Ephesians 5 and how it is so often used to abuse women. I started to write a comment listing only those verses directed at the men and looking up the meaning of the words more indepthly. Needless to say, it became obvious right away that the emphasis that is so often placed on the woman’s role, is abusive and glaringly lopsided and it’s atrocious that this focus solely on the woman’s role is STILL perpetuated!

    First of all, Ephesians 5 was written addressing true members of the body of Christ. Those who were born again (… God regenerating a believer (giving a supernatural, new birth)). As such, the men and women are understood to both have a conscience and that this conscience is owned and operated by Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. This passage of scripture should never be placed on just ANY man or woman because guess what could happen? IT COULD BE USED TO HARM GOD’S TRUE CHILDREN. Go FIGURE!

    And this passage of scripture (as many others such as the Beatitudes) can be used to show us who are NOT real Christians (their antithesis?). If a man cannot love his wife as Christ loved the church, and instead “peruses her with hatred” (the meaning of the word as it is used in verse 29 for “hated” ), can actually prove that a man is NOT a Christian.

    Thanks again!

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