A Cry For Justice

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

Living with an Abuser is Like Rooming with a Cobra

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” (Rom 3:13-17)

A few years ago we were riding our bicycles along an old railroad bed (tracks long since removed) that goes from the mouth of the Deschutes River (pronounce it De-shoots) at the Columbia River some 17 miles along the Deschutes. It is east of the Cascade Mountain range here in Oregon so that means the climate and landscape are quite different from the greenery on the west side. Sagebrush, not too many trees, much hotter and so on.

Anyway, as I was cruising along I looked ahead and right in the middle of the track there were two snakes near a rocky outcropping. As I got a bit closer I could see that they were in fact Northern Pacific rattlesnakes. They didn’t scurry off right away and I had my firearm along and thought about blasting them so no one would get bitten but decided not to when they slowly moved off the track and back into the rocks.

How do you feel when you come across a rattlesnake? Or, for that matter, if your idea of snakes is like mine, when you come across ANY kind of snake? I can tell you. Your danger warning signs start to go into gear. Heart rate kicks up a bit. Nervous feeling. Caution warnings. You are in the presence of danger, at least with a venomous snake. They have fangs, and poison, and they can kill you.

Now, I hear that most snakes would just as soon clear out and get away from you. Rattlesnakes even have a rattler that buzzes and says “keep away or I will bite you.” But I understand that there are a few species who are very aggressive, the black mamba in Africa being one of those. Those suckers will come right at you and their venom makes rattlesnake venom look like a bee sting.

Abusers are like poisonous snakes. Specifically, they are much more like the mamba than the more docile rattler. No warning buzz. No slinking off away from you. Nope. Abusers have, as the Apostle Paul states in the text above (a quote from the Psalms by the way) the venom of asps hidden under their lips. They’ve got fangs you see. And the Bible calls these kind revilers. Want to know what the Lord thinks of revilers? Here you go:

For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (Mat 15:4)

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Cor 5:11)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

The Greek lexicon (dictionary) defines this word translated “reviler” as  reviler,  an abusive person. So much for the wooden literalist interpreters who demand we show them THE word “abuse” in the Bible. Well, here it is. Reviler. Abuser.  Reviling is more than just “talking back to one’s parents.” It is mocking. It is holding in contempt. It is cursing someone. It is biting and burying poison-filled fangs into them. In other words, reviling is verbal assault with murderous intent. And that is what abuse is.

So, with this all in our minds, let us ask this question — How many churches are allowing murderers to sit in their pews? How many churches have venomous snakes holding hymnals, making public prayers, preaching sermons, counting the offering and generally playing the role of the finest saint of God Sunday after Sunday? You know the answer.

One final thought about the reviler:

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. (Isa 11:8)

Apparently even a cobra is redeemable. The reviler who plays the Christian masquerade? I will bet on the cobra before the reviler.

***

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42 Comments

  1. I have a good bit to say about revilers in “Untwisting Scriptures,” showing that those who abuse are the destructively “bitter” ones who cause grieving bitterness to others. And of course reviling–verbal abuse–is included (though I’ve also known people who think there’s no such thing as verbal or emotional abuse).

    • anonymous

      “…though I’ve also known people who think there’s no such thing as verbal or emotional abuse.” A mindset such as this is either someone who is already being verbally and emotionally abused and it has been a life-long pattern, for which they no longer know the difference – they do not know THE TRUTH and cannot recognize a healthy relationship because they have never had one. OR, such a mindset is that OF ANOTHER ABUSER. I opt for the latter.

      • Lea

        ” A mindset such as this is either ”

        I think you need to leave room for people who simply don’t understand, though. If you have never been abused, and are not an abuser, and people start talking about verbal abuse, it takes some level of knowledge to see the difference between a regular fight and abuse. I know I didn’t understand at all when people first started talking about this.

        Physical abuse, sexual abuse…those are more clear cut. Emotion and verbal might need a bit more of an explanation to those who have never experienced them.

      • Lea, I agree — there are some folks who are simply naive and ignorant that verbal and emotional abuse (reviling) is just as abusive/destructive as physical abuse. These folks are clueless about the dynamics of coercive control which abusers use. There are lots of messages society gives which promotes this naivety and ignorance (e.g. the platitude sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you).

      • E.

        Yes. And the Bible IS MORE TRUE THAN PEOPLE WANT TO ADMIT! The verses in the beginning of the article are LITERAL, not figurative. Verbal abuse IS physical abuse, and has a physically abusive affect on many, since our psyches are all capable of handling differing levels of assault, some of which results in very physical illness.

    • Gothard Survivor

      Hey, I thought we weren’t permitted to recommend books here?

      • Rebecca Davis

        That’s the newest book published by Justice Keepers Publishing, the publishing arm of A Cry for Justice. We can recommend books JKP books!

      • Jeff Crippen

        I am going through this book in our womens study on Wednesdays. Great stuff!

      • Rebecca Davis

        So glad you’re doing this! I just heard about a woman in my neck of the woods, who was accused of “bitterness” by her abuser, who read my material about bitterness and found that it brought her a lot of clarity. That’s very exciting–that term is such a tool of spiritual abuse.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Yes, it is vital information that sets straight some perversions of Scripture that have been around for some time now. And which have seriously hurt a lot of people. Gothard, among others, is going to find a specially hot portion of hell reserved for him, unless he truly repents, which I do not believe he ever will and nor even be capable of, so long has he spurned the truth and trampled under foot the blood of Christ.

      • Rebecca Davis

        Also, since you’re a Gothard survivor, I guess I’ll go ahead and add that Gothard gets a good bit of attention in this book, with sections about “giving up rights,” “bitterness,” and “taking up offenses.” I’m guessing those topics might be familiar ones to you?

  2. Anewanon

    Oh my. Now this begs the question.. how does one honor a parent who is a reviler? I’ve been so abused and confused all my life, no matter what I do I feel guilty and wrong .. even truth will undoubtedly bring on more wrath.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Give honor to whom honor is due. A reviler, even if they be your father or mother, are not deserving of honor. Neither is an abuser. You protect yourself with firm boundaries and often that means going no contact.

      • anonymous

        I went No Contact after fleeing from my terrorist abuser but only did so AFTER I realized Jesus also went No Contact!!

        I struggled to remain No Contact but then the Holy Spirit took me to and enlightened me in John 12:35 & 36…

        This is where Jesus talks about walking in the light and that we must put our trust in the light while we have it, lest we walk in darkness. I was stumbling over the part where after Jesus finished speaking to the crowds, Greeks and Jews, HE THEN LEFT AND HID HIMSELF FROM THEM.

        Jesus proclaimed these things to the crowds which was for their conviction and awakening. But since they had NO regard for what he said, HE HAD NOTHING MORE TO SAY TO THEM. They are joined to their infidelity, as Ephraim to idols; let them alone.

        Christ justly removes the means of grace from those that quarrel with him and he hides his face. He hides his face for HIS OWN PRESERVATION. He hides himself from their rage and fury and retreated to Bethany where he lodged (No Contact).

        By Jesus doing this indicates that what he said irritated and exasperated them, and they were made worse by that which should have made them better.

        I begun to see that if Jesus needed to hide himself for his own preservation, how much more so must I.

      • Jeff Crippen

        This is true truth! Thank you. I get quite weary listening to “experts” who dance around the no contact response. They talk about boundaries and love and forgiveness, but they never quite get to the reality that an evil person is an evil person and as long as they refuse to repent (which is quite rare) then we are not not even eat with such a person (1 Cor 5) particularly if they claim to be a Christian.

      • anonymous

        Remaining No Contact was NOT easy as I was harassed from my abuser morning, noon and night. True friends and SOME family encouraged me to stay No Contact, which I did for many months. However, my abuser / cobra eventually persuaded me to return to him (out of state) and ‘try again.’ It was the worst decision I ever made in my life. He was on ‘attack mode’ even worse than before, isolated me again, and after 5 weeks a family member, literally, rescued me!! I learned a good but very hard lesson. No Contact saved me and put me on a healthy road to recovery.

      • standsfortruth

        Amen and Amen.

        This is not only an effective way to deal with an abuser. (Leaving them alone – can also equate= to gray rocking them, or I’m busy so I can’t or won’t respond, or sudden need to make an emergency phone call, or need to pick up a phone call…. anything but responding to the abuser….) This can save you from the adder’s bite, or the abusers trap. This method not only protects the abusers target, but also disorients and frustrates the abuser’s ability to retaliate if done repeatedly! They go crazy if you don’t respond because they have nothing to twist!

        Btw… I always thought that the quote in Isaiah about the child playing safely near the adders hole, was refrencing when we are finally in the
        New Heavens and the New Earth.

    • Anonymous

      Who is your father? If you’re saved, your father is God. How do you honor Him? By having nothing to do with children who are of their father the devil.

      I too struggled with this because of all the garbage I’d been taught by the lies of the church. All the shame and guilt for fearing and hating my biological parents after decades of abuse. How this lie–that we must honor our parents by having a relationship with them so that we can model Jesus for them–kept me diving back into the cobras den. After the last time of once again allowing all the evil ones in my family access to me–God stripped it all away. He destroyed my life to the point that I was unable to deal with them, let alone my immediate family. I’ve written plenty about this but this stripping away and cleansing forced me to put my own needs first for the first time in my life. I was at the point that physically I could barely maintain so I HAD to think about myself or I’d be dead.

      When I was desperate and needed help, these evil people not only turned away from me but ADDED to my burdens. They were CLEARLY not of God and God used this to teach me through His word.

      Luke 8:19-21, “Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you. He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.””

      Notice who JESUS considered to be HIS family. Biological connections meant NOTHING! It is our HEARTS and who they belong to that matter.

      I was raised in the Catholic cult where Mary is worshiped and motherhood is a saintly position. My mom’s only claim to fame was the number of children she gave birth to. We were all abused and abandoned and many ended up homeless when my parents divorced. Neither of my parents has EVER acknowledged any wrongdoing and to hear them speak, they were fantastic parents who did a great job! My mom especially hated us last few children and we heard about her hatred of us often. As an adult when I told her that if it would have made her life easier if she hadn’t of had us last kids, that I would have kept her from having me. This made her VERY ANGRY! Why? Because even though I’ve had a horrible life and went on to marry an abuser because I thought I was worthless–my mother REALLY BELIEVES that I should be GRATEFUL that she chose to bring me into the world. Even though she has never loved me or any of her children she thinks it is my duty to worship her.

      We honor our father God when we have nothing to do with abusers. This separating ourselves from them also gives them the chance to figure things out. For the rare abuser that still has a conscience–this staying away from them can be what ultimately sends them down the path of hope. But this is not our responsibility–we as children of God worship and serve HIM and this means trusting that when He shows us that some people are evil–we believe what He has shown us and stay away.

  3. Seeing the Light

    I have a similar question to Anewanon. How do I handle the situation in our home where my children are now so disgusted with their father that the Matthew 15:4 quote scares me. He is not physically abusive, but would qualify as an abuser under other categories, including spiritual, emotional, psychological, and financial. His use of God to manipulate things has pushed each of them to the point of rejection of him. We are all still in the same home due to factors that I do not want to list here in case he is following my computer use and has been able to identify me. Suffice it to say, today at least, I can’t leave yet. Also, any time he has alone with them will be used to try to pull them back into his very cult-like belief system and unhealthy church. They are still vulnerable, especially one of them. All that said, I am so worried about how hateful they are toward him in their hearts. They even call him bad names when he is not around. The more I try to curb that, the more obvious it becomes that they are using that as a pressure-relief valve. As bad as things are here, they are not acting out as badly as they could, so I am scared to push back too hard on however they are dealing with their anger. There are other things they say about him that I don’t want to put here, but I fear in their own way, they are “reviling” the reviler. I don’t know how to handle this. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    • Jeff Crippen

      seeing the light – These are the effects of living with a reviler, and in many ways I suppose the results you are seeing in the children are more positive at least than if they were directing their anger at you. What you could do is gently caution them about not permitting an evil person to make us become evil ourselves. There is another possibility going on here that may or may not be true in your case. Could it be that the children are acting this way because they are really angry at you because they are all still having to live with him? I know that’s a hard pill to take and I certainly make no claim that it is what is happening in your home, but it is something to consider. Ultimately your healing and theirs is only going to be fully possible when you can all separate from him. And then of course, in the end, what you do have control over is how you respond to him and the example you set for the children. May the Lord bless you and lead you into freedom.

      • anonymous

        My abuser’s grown daughter (my step-daughter) came to me (privately) when I was still married to her father and shared that she still ( her mother is 6 years deceased ) carries anger and resentment for her mother for enabling her dad to abuse. Loved her mother VERY much, but carried anger just the same.

      • Seeing the Light

        Jeff, thank you for your reply. Your suggestion to “gently caution them about not permitting an evil person to make us become evil ourselves” is probably my best course of action.

        In response to the rest of your comment, I do not believe that they are acting this way – hateful toward him, calling him names, bad speech about him – because they are angry with me. They do get angry with me and when they are, I know it. There have been many times I have to go to them seeking the source of the anger and reconciliation if I am at fault, as well as times when they ask my forgiveness. This is just a difficult circumstance and leaves people pretty irritable and easy to set off. They tend to get angry with me when I handle a situation poorly in our own interaction. They get angry with me if I try to curb their expressions against him (which I have done for their sakes, not his, so that there is no wedge between them and God). I am dealing with complex-PTSD, as well as serious health issues. I think there is some anger there that my weakness costs them something. Finding peace with this more long-term issue most likely can’t be dealt with now. I fully expect that when they are grown there will have to be a lot of relationship healing to do and I hope when they have an adult perspective and a fully matured brain, they will see even more then than they can now.

        In reference to the quote by Anonymous in response to your reply to me, I can sincerely say that I do not enable his abuse. It comes with great cost and is completely exhausting, but I resist it vigilantly on their behalf and they know it.

        Thank you so much for being here and for your help and very kind words. The Lord has blessed me through A Cry For Justice, and I do await His hand in bringing us freedom. God bless you, too.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Very good insights, STL. Thank you for sharing.

    • This post by Megan C may be of some help. Megan and her kids no longer live with the abuser, so it’s not a precise replica of your situation, STL, but it still may give you some things to think about.

      How I Teach My Children to Honor Their Abusive Parent

      • Seeing the Light

        Thank you, Barbara. I will read it.

  4. anonymous

    Seeing The Light, be assured of my prayers for you and your children. Thanking God for his many mercies and blessings, which most certainly include ACFJ. You are NEVER alone!

    • Seeing the Light

      Thank you so much, Anonymous.

  5. anonymous

    Lea, You make an excellent point, to leave room for those who have never been abused and do not abuse. All the more reason I am so thankful for ACFJ and the light that is being shed on domestic violence. More and more we are all being educated on this subject of EVIL.

    • Lea

      More and more we are all being educated on this subject of EVIL.

      I have learned SO much from this site! I hope I will be able to use that knowledge appropriately if I ever need to.

  6. E.

    I Peter 3:9 has been thrown at me for supporting a friend who separated from a reviler, as if this one verse means to disallow any response besides “blessing.”

  7. G. F. Mom

    * I understand this may not be posted because I don’t have the same degree of struggles as everybody else that comments here but I just wanted to say thank you.

    I believe I’ve been around abusers all my life but not the kind you’re talking about here. The kinds that I’ve had to learn to deal with is the kind that when you can finally expose them, and they know that you know their tactics, and you know what they’re doing, they’re afraid of the light so then they hide their tactics at least from you or they don’t come out as often.

    This website has helped me a lot in identifying stuff and so has Lundy’s and George Simon Jr. among others.

    I have a dominant personality but I’ve been a bit of a pushover with bad boundary skills and therefore at times passive aggressive and other times unashamedly “paranoid” and more daring to be “rude” against abusive behaviors. However, I don’t know if I have a healthy amount of cynicism or not so I go through seasons where I want to avoid triggers since my degree of sensitivity and empathy has caused me ptsd.

    I’m sorry for the people that have had to deal with these Black Mambas in their life. Sadly, many evangelicals are theologically imbalanced and [they] enable abuse and groom victims to have a sort of stockholm-syndrome theology. 😥

  8. anonymous

    Standsfortruth, my No Contact truly was for MY OWN PRESERVATION. “Dealing with my abuser” any longer far exceeded my capabilities. As I say, seeing CLEARLY that Jesus also went No Contact, nailed it for me!! I knew I was on the right path.

    • standsfortruth

      I would have done the same anonymous , except that in my case, i had minor children, and could not afford to have them stay with me once I was on my own after the divorce. And plus none of them respected, and actually learned to co-abuse me by that point so why would I want to fight for that ?

      I cut my losses, ( but truthfully it was a blessing to not have any with me,- since getting a place of my own is also financially challenging right now.)

      I can visit and take the minor children as long as I give a short 24 hour texting notice before hand to my ex-abuser,-as agreed on in the documented court mediation .
      And believe me- I leave it at that- short and to the point, and he knows i wont play into any more of his set traps, Praise be to God.

      But I am glad for you that you were able to navigate that no contact into your settlement.

      • Anonymous

        Standsfortruth, I certainly do recognize the dynamics of going No Contact when children are involved is completely different.

        From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your glad wishes and sentiment to me. Everyday, everyone at ACFJ is on my heart and in my prayers.

  9. That is not a blanket rule. We allow book recommendations when we know the book is good, and we know Rebecca’s book will be good because Jeff has read the pre-publication manuscript. And we allow readers to recommend books that we already have recommended on our Resources pages.

    Here is our policy on giving links or resources in comments: (pasted from our New Users Info page)

    If you want to recommend a resource, a book or a link, please do so by emailing TWBTC at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com. This is the only way we will consider them. The only exception to our policy is if a link is to a page or site that we already have on our Resources or our blog roll.

    With some frequency many of you, our readers, include links or books titles or other resources that you have found to be helpful to you. These suggestions are appreciated in that we know you are trying to share with everyone the things that have aided you in your journey out of abuse.

    However it has simply been taking us too much time to check out the links and books that have been recommended in comments. And it was tricky for us as moderators because we have usually wanted to publish the rest of the comment but couldn’t do so until we had checked out the link in the comment text. We explain why we don’t always publish links or Resources our readers suggest in this post.

    At the same time, please remember that we already have an extensive compilation of Resources which you can always access from our top menu, and that while we are prepared to add excellent new resources to that list, we suspect that our Resources are being under-utilized by readers. For example, quite often when a reader asks a question, there are already items in our list of Resources which would help answer their question — Please don’t feel that we are rapping any of you over the knuckles here! We know that many of our readers are more than exhausted and are battling on so many fronts that they don’t necessarily have time to look through the material on our site. But we do encourage readers to check out our resources more thoroughly, as you are able.

  10. freeing hope

    By “coincidence” I am studying and teaching 1&2 Corinthian in an in-depth Bible study this year. Last week, we studied 1 Corinthians 5, and this week, we’re on chapter 6. Last week during my study time, I looked up the word “revilers” in a dictionary an noted that it meant “verbal abuser” and thought about how much all the other sins on the list are looked upon as sinners by the church, but verbal abusers are not. According to most christians,verbal abuse is not really considered a serious sin and certainly nothing to confront anyone about or hold them accountable for doing. How sad for all who are victims of both those who verbally abuse and those who refuse to condemn the abuse! I’m also studying Isaiah this year in a similar way, and was on chapter 11 was last week. I love those “God-incidences”!

    • Jeff Crippen

      freeing hope – Excellent job in your studies! Yes, your point is very true. Scripture makes it clear that reviling is a major evil sin but most Christians blow it off as “well, it’s just words, he didn’t hit you.”

  11. Abby

    For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (Mat 15:4) This verse just puts fear in my heart since it is my kids that are my abusers. Please pray for them.

    • oh Abby! ((((((hugs))))))

      • Anonymous

        Abusers abuse. My sense is, no matter WHO the abuser is, protection for the victim MUST be sought.

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