A Cry For Justice

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

If You Refuse to See the Ugliness of Evil, You will be the Ally of Evil

Most people refuse to see evil, because evil is unpleasant. It is ugly. And dealing with it is not pretty either. But if we refuse to see evil, to confront it, to take action against it, we will not only become its ally, we will never see the glory of God’s righteous justice. Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount that it is those who hunger and thirst for righteousness that are blessed. You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness if you do not yearn to see evil dealt justice.

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. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2)

…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. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10)

In our culture, we pay people to deal with evil and we want them to deal with it out of our sight. Just ask a police officer and he will tell you. When I was a police officer, I faced evil every single day. The ugly stuff. People don’t call you to their home when they are having a fun birthday party. Nope. They call when someone is drunk or assaulting someone and they want the police to deal with it.

One time I was on patrol in SE Portland and covered a traffic accident. There were no injuries but the driver at fault was wasted on booze. When I went to arrest him, he wanted to fight and I let him have it with my nightstick. He sustained a cut on his scalp and, as scalp wounds do, bled rather profusely. After I put him in my car, some bystanders came up and said “boy, that really looked bad when you hit him.” They didn’t like it. They didn’t want to see it.

Another time we responded to a fatal accident in NE Portland where a drunk driver had run over and killed a pedestrian. Before we could cover up the body, people gathered and one of them started yelling, “cover that up! We shouldn’t have to look at that.” My partner (with his Oklahoma drawl) looked at the guy and said “I don’t see anyone forcing you to stand there and look.” Ugliness you see. The ugliness of evil. Sometimes we police officers would remark that we were the garbage men of society, paid to take out the trash but to do it in such a way that the citizenry didn’t have to smell the stench.

I am convinced that this is one of the reasons that churches refuse to deal out justice to abusers and to protect their victims. Because, you see, if we admit to the fact that holy Mr. Jones the pillar of the church is actually, in reality, an evil wicked counterfeit, then we are forced to admit that evil is among us. We don’t want to see it. So we deny the reality of it. We don’t want to hear about it, so we tell the victim to just shut up and/or go away.

You see this tendency to shield ourselves from the ugliness of evil in the ways that Christians so often tend to sanitize the Cross. Do you realize just how ugly that evil event of crucifying the Son of God would have been? Stripped, beaten, mocked, crown of thorns, nail-pierced hands, suffocation…so beaten that Isaiah says you would have wondered if this were a man. But professing Christians wear these nice little gold or silver crosses. We put beautiful wooden crosses in our church sanctuaries. Because, you see, if the cross we think of is really kind of a pretty thing, then our sin doesn’t seem to be so ugly either.

So if the abuser among us is just a misguided Christian, a victim in his own right of some past wrong suffered, if he really is the nice, holy Mr. Jones we have always seen him to be, then his evil really isn’t evil — it’s just an imperfection and after all, none of us are perfect, are we? And once again we don’t have to look upon the ugliness of evil.

Harold’s Burial Memorial Bonzagni, 1919. Sculptor: Adolfo Wildt.

 

Not too long ago we had to deal with wickedness as a church. Longstanding, extremely deceptive evil that crept in among us. After that wickedness had been dealt with according to God’s Word, some people who profess to be Christians heard about it. Their response? “Well, we just don’t think that treating people like that is showing the love of God. We don’t think that is right.” In other words, as Pastor Sam Powell recently wrote in his post The Theology of Niceness, no one is really evil. No one who says they are a Christian and who is in our church could possibly be so wicked as to merit being put out of the church. The thing is unthinkable to them, you see. It is willful blindness to evil. It is refusing to look at evil. It is a refusal to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Such people willfully tolerate abusers and other heinous perpetrators of wickedness in their own churches at the expense of the victims.

I must wonder. Do these kinds of people think that fundamentally even the Devil is a nice guy and we ought not talk about how he will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity one day. It’s just too, too…..unpleasant. It seems that they really want God to back off and be a kinder, gentler God who cuts most everyone a lot of slack in the end.

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Related post:
Dear Church: Stop Trying To Convert Wolves — by Jimmy Hinton

 

51 Comments

  1. David Heddle

    I agree that there is a huge problem with abuser-excusing and victim-blaming in the church. I also agree that there is the related problem of turning a blind eye. I applaud the work that is being done on this and similar sites to shine sunlight on this hideousness. However, I’m wary of arguments along the lines of “if you don’t speak out then you are part of the problem.” I’ve seen those types of arguments used to shame people.

    Often people agree, but have other issues they are passionate about (this isn’t the only problem in today’s church) — we all get spread quite thin.

    • Hello David, yes, many genuine Christians in the church are spread pretty thin in that they are trying to address and respond to multiple issues and multiple problems — they have many demands on their time.

      However, surely if we are genuine Christians we need to be regularly reviewing our priorities? Yes, if we are in paid employment we need to fulfil our job description (which cannot be changed by ourselves). If we are responsible for caring for kids, the sick, the disabled or the elderly, we can’t change that. And if we are near burn-out or are traumatised from abuse or affliction, we may need to review our priorities and bump some them down the list for a while until we have got a bit more gas in our tanks. But for the part of our time and energy which we can freely dispose of as we choose, we need to review our priorities on a regular basis — to check that they are calibrated well to the bible’s principles and the promptings which we might be feeling from the Spirit.

      I don’t see Jeff’s post here as ‘shaming’ people unduly. For those who are genuine Christians and especially those who DO have some energy they can dispose of at their own choice, I see this post as prompting and urging those people to reassess their priorities to get them more in line with biblical principles.

      Jesus and the Apostles the OT prophets all used the technique of shaming their audience from time to time. They used it judiciously, and they used it well. Why are you so resistant to a bit of shaming?

      If it applies to you, why not take it on board as a motivator for you perhaps to reassess your own priorities? And if the shaming applies to others but not to you, why not let it rest? Why go into defense for those people? They can speak for themselves, can they not?

      Maybe the shaming will be like the goads of the Spirit which Paul was feeling before he was converted on the road to Damascus. Maybe the shaming will be like what Peter felt when Paul confronted him publicly for declining to eat with the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-14). Maybe the shaming will act on some people’s consciences to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10) to urge them to not focus so much on disputes about theological minutiae to put more of their focus onto the needs of the poor in the family of God — especially the women bereft of husbands (widows and divorcees) and the fatherless children (children whose fathers were rotters and irresponsible malignant narcissists). The biblical principle urged in both the OT and NT is to always remember and minister to the poor, the widows and the fatherless children.

      • dph

        Hi Barbara,

        I must respectfully disagree. In my view shaming, such as it may have occurred in the bible, is of the corporate variety. I have no problem with that. But I have a real problem with any variant of “if you aren’t for us, then you are against us” arguments aimed at individuals. It is a simplistic, un-nuanced argument. Let me give an example.

        A is passionate about the church mishandling spousal and child abuse.

        B is passionate about the church not doing enough to feed the hungry.

        C is passionate about the church’s neglect or even tacit support of racism.

        I’m all for A, B, and C shaming the church for her errors—and generally this site does a spectacular job is exposing the church’s often unspeakable treatment of abuse victims. However I’m not comfortable with A(for example) telling B and Cthat “if you aren’t with me then you are part of the problem.”

      • David (dph), there is nothing in this post that is aimed at individuals by name. The post’s title “If You Refuse to See the Ugliness of Evil, You will be the Ally of Evil” addresses ‘you’ but nothing in the post or the comments thread says who that ‘you’ applies to. Therefore, the admonishment (and the implied shaming) in this post is of the corporate variety. So the argument you’ve just presented doesn’t hold water.

        If you’ve followed this blog for a while you will be aware that on some of our posts we do admonish well known individuals, but only because their teachings are widely known in the public domain and it is therefore permissible and right to critique their teachings in the public domain.

        I’m glad you think that “generally this site does a spectacular job is exposing the church’s often unspeakable treatment of abuse victims.” But it disappoints me that you’ve only said this publicly now. It would have been so nice if you have praised and encouraged us publicly before – we get so few praises from Christians who are not victims of abuse, and we get very very few encouragements from Christian men. 😦

      • Do I, Barbara Roberts, ‘walk past’ and thus tacitly accept some things that are wrong? Yes. For instance, whatever the Australian Government is unjustly doing to asylum seekers and refugees who try to come to Australia, I am guilty of tacitly accepting that injustice, because I do not take speak out against it. I choose to focus my available time and energy on the issue which I feel I can contribute the most benefit to. And so do others who focus on their particular cause. I do not begrudge or push back against those who are active in seeking justice for asylum seekers. And I expect that people of good will who are focusing their energies on other causes would not push back against what I am doing. They would more likely applaud me as a fellow worker against injustice.

        But as I said upthread, there is nothing wrong with what we have published in this post, and I think David’s pushback is not standing up to scrutiny.

      • Lea

        I am not understand where some are coming from on this.

        One does not have to be passionate about a specific thing (such as abuse in the church) and seeking it out, for one to confront it when one does see it!

        I don’t care what a person’s particular passion is, if that person is willing to ignore something that he or she has seen and can fix (for instance, pastors who are brought allegations of child abuse and turn a blind eye), then that person IS part of the problem. And yes, that person has brought shame on his/herself by their actions. Taking care of hurting people when they are right in front of you should be a basic christian thing, imo. Ignoring that, or accepting the evil person regardless of their actions, is wrong.

      • M&M

        Although I’m not disagreeing with Jeff’s original post, I also relate to what David is saying. Everyone should be ready to believe and support victims who happen to be in their lives, but not everyone needs to join an organized ministry relating to abuse. I know Jeff isn’t telling people to join an organized ministry, but that seems to be what David is reacting to. And I do agree with David’s point about not pressuring people into specific ministries because you don’t know how much stress they already have.

      • Jeff Crippen

        M&M – I understand your point as well. What I want to communicate to everyone though is that abuse is FAR more than one issue in the church. It is, as I emphasized in my sermon series Wise as Serpents, evil. There is the thing. Evil. I don’t mean that abusers are evil wherein I use “evil” as an adjective. No. I mean abusers are evil like evil is evil. Like the devil is evil. By nature. By its very essence. And that is why we maintain that every Christian needs to get wise to abuse hiding in the church because what we really mean is that every Christian needs to get wise to evil. Its nature. Its tactics. In all of its hideously beautiful (disguised) forms. Pedophiles. Diostrephes who want to be first. Sociopaths. Psychopaths. Narcissists. Seducers. Deceivers. These are all manifestations of the very same thing – evil. Generally when I see someone who is ignorant/naive about domestic abuse hiding in the church, I learn that they are also ignorant/naive about evil in the church. They get duped by it. They become its ally. They add to the oppression of the victims. And it is in this sense then that I maintain that every Christian absolutely must get wise to evil – including this very common form among us, domestic abusers.

      • Amen to what you said, Jeff. 🙂

      • Jamie

        Well said, Barbara.

        Not to mention that I have yet to be a part of a church (or ministry of any kind) that didn’t have an excellent grip on the art of DELEGATING tasks to it’s willing (and less willing) members.

        If it is a priority…if it is even ON the list..surely there is someone with the gifts and time available to begin addressing this, now admitted, huge problem.

      • Barbara,
        I’m not sure if this comment will show up in the right location, but there is not a “reply” link that I see below your latest response to me.

        I won’t argue any more on the nature of this post, I’d just be repeating myself.

        I’m confused by your comment that I have never praised or offered encouragement to this site publicly. The only public venue which is available to me is my blog, and I certainly have favorably linked to posts on this site, for example in this post.

      • My apologies David, I had either forgotten about or was not aware of that post you wrote at your own blog. It’s hard to remember all the things I see on the web. Having just looked at you post, I see that Jeff Crippen had commented on it but I had not. That suggests to me that I hadn’t read it before now, as I usually comment favourably on other blogs that give a positive shout-out about ACFJ.

      • Barbara,
        It’s all good. I am in full support of the mission of this site. If I sent a message to the contrary, I apologize. I was really only commenting on the style of the message, in this one instance.

      • Thanks David 🙂

    • Jamie

      My comment just prior to this one, was address to David and Barbara’s original comments in this thread. (Please moderate that as you see fit.)

      To M&M’s concern re:

      “… but not everyone needs to join an organized ministry relating to abuse.”

      Not doubting that some might take Jeff’s challenge in that way, but I cannot even fathom this since within my own denomination I have been searching for a ministry relating to abuse for many months and cannot find a SINGLE one.

  2. Jessica

    I enjoyed reading this. Especially the part at the end where you stated how some people just want God to back off and be kinder and gentler and cut everyone slack in the end…

    The only way I have been able to move forward in my life after narcissistic abuse and “get over it” as so many say is to remember that in the end, the abuser will NOT get away with it. That is the thing that kept tripping me up. I couldn’t seem to get past it all because it seemed like he just keeps getting away with abusing people over and over and over. It seems so unfair and unjust. And it is! And the only comfort or healing I ever really feel is in remembering that they essentially do not get away with it in the end. They WILL be dealt with and justice WILL not be denied. God is boundlessly good and this includes being a just God as well.

    • Suzanne

      I agree with you completely. I don’t want revenge, but I do long for justice. And I am fully confident that my Father in heaven won’t forget the sins of the ones who abused me. That thought has carried me through many difficult days.

  3. M&M

    Even if there’s a logical explanation for victim-blaming, I still feel confused when they don’t think about “God’s love” for the victim. I wonder if it has to do with the emphasis on “saving souls”- that they want to lead the perpetrator to repentance, but if the victim is “already saved” she doesn’t matter. Church Protect has noticed that churches are far more likely to ask about how to “support” a pedophile than how to protect the children. I’m not sure if churches who do that don’t care about the children or if they think the pedophile will be “changed by the power of God”.

    • MoodyMom

      I feel like they then can “score points” for their program, their ministry. If the “complaining woman/ bitter” victim leaves the church, and the abuser’s “nice guy” mask settles back into place, then the biblical counselors can say their ministry brought about “change” or “repentance” in this guy’s heart and the “root of bitterness” has left the church, so things can settle back down, and we can all be peacemakers again. Hallelujah! Points for us!

      If the “complaining woman/ bitter” victim succumbs to church/ pastoral/ counselor pressure and goes back to her abuser, then the counselors can say they helped in the “restoration” of a broken family. Again… Hallelujah! PTL! Points for us!

      But, again, no one is helping the real hurting people here – the widows and orphans of abuse and divorce. They are crushed under the weight of the abuse they return to, or abandoned by the body who are supposed to be the hand and feet of Christ to the hurting.

      But the counselors sing:… Hallelujah! We won! We did it! Look at us! Look at our ministry! Look at our “success” rate! Scoring points all around!

      Psalm 2:4-5 says that at first, God scoffs at those who are working against Him (as these false prophets are). Then He gets mad.

      4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
      The Lord scoffs at them.
      5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
      And terrify them in His fury,

      What do they do with all their “points” then?

      • You nailed it, MoodyMom!

      • Eagerlabs

        Yeap nailed it MoodyMom!!:) But to answer, they bow, shut up for once while our Almighty God repays to their face ALL of the covenant breaker curse points he spells out in Deuteronomy and Revelation..muahhahha. He’s not slack in doing so either…(and I don’t read that means slack in time.;) )

        Thank the Lord he wasn’t slack with me either cuz that WAS me, now he’s given me the strength to turn, go and possess ALL of the blessings for obedience through Christ Jesus our Lord! I have…but not all and I repent of that and He’s being faithful in showing me as I am now. So nope…not even a boo hoo for them, it is beyooooooond obvious who is Trustworthy, Faithful, Righteous, Just, Merciful and Good for us and towards us and who gives His power to those to overcome AND DO IT: eat of the tree of life, which is IN Paradise. .the real one that means we will be there also. Shall NOT be hurt of second death. Gets to eat His manna AND a white stone with a NEW name!! Seriously that’s awesome and I wonder what it is? There’s more, POWER over the nations. (Abusers…He gave the power to HIS sons, not you.) His sons will not get our names blotted out AND He will confess our name (the old or new? Im thinkin the new ..) to GOD and will write it on us. Scribble all over me now please and thank you.

        And he will keep His covenant in changing us into His image from glory to glory, … He keeps His promises …:) Have a fab day everyone!! And p.s…still praying for those with night terrors that remember …

  4. Aloneontherange

    Yes, very true. And this leaves us victims to fight it alone. And when we come out of the battle, battered and bruised, the pressure to never talk about the depth of that evil, even at its most blatant point, is enormous.

  5. Misti

    Nah, the Devil applies to Them, see? Someone Other, who does whatever the people they know and trust disapprove of.

    This is, I think, at least part of why straw men and false equivalence are so common (among other logical fallacies). If evil looks like That, then they can be sure that they aren’t enabling it or engaging in it.

    Maybe it’s pride in one’s own discernment. Maybe it’s trust of the wrong persons. Maybe it’s idolization of specific behaviors or words. Whatever the cause, the result is the same.

    Although I also think that’s only half the story, because — at least, among reformed presbyterian I know — there’s this belief that “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” that if God weren’t actively preventing it, we’d all have the same urges and actions as the most heinous person we can possibly think of. That premise is so emphasized and focused on that it predisposes folks to see evil and have a first response of, “That could be me.”

    Jeremiah 17:9 and comparable verses all get applied to the believer as much as the unbeliever. So sure, they’ll talk about how evil warps the thinking, but they’ll also say we all have warped thinking and innately wicked instincts, and they thereby predispose people to doubt their own perceptions and observations and memories, just from the theology they’re teaching, and most questions about “But what about…?” are automatically dismissed as that old sin nature and inclination to rebellion and sin acting up.

    This focus on everyone being and having evil inside them that is actively restrained by God also affects how folks perceive and interact with others outside their group, and it often sabotages their ability to comprehend or clearly communicate or discuss with those outside it, while leaving them able to pat themselves on the back about what a great job they’re doing with their logic. Problem is that much equivocation results.

    Once, when some of the leaders of one church were lamenting how they couldn’t attract new members but only folks who’d grown up in comparable circles, I pointed out the differences in word definition and suggested they define their terms in communication. I was told point-blank that the onus was on the visitor or newcomer to learn what the words “really” meant. These same people would commonly bemoan word redefinition (by “the world” or “liberals” or “the left”) was common — and their claims about the definitions or historicity (or correct pronunciation) were usually incorrect.

    Between that and how adamantly they claim biblical Greek is so unique that you can’t understand the New Testament if you just learn secular or modern Greek, I find myself wondering how many wolves in sheep’s clothing were involved in ensuring those beliefs were entrenched.

  6. Suzanne

    This teaching is so necessary! I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with fellow believers who refuse to follow Biblical instructions for dealing with abusers. Quotes such as “the church is a hospital for sinners” (meaning that we should never put them out, even for sins such as pedophilia), or the ever popular pop-psychology mantra “hurting people hurt people”, drive me to the wall. The Bible is very clear that evil is not to be tolerated or enabled, especially in the church. I don’t understand how it is that professing Christians can demonstrate so much love for unredeemed, unrepentant sinners while denying justice and protection to their victims. Standing up to evil and evil-doers is messy, but it’s what we’re called to do.

    • M&M

      The church should be a hospital for sinners in which patients are never allowed to hurt other patients. This is why real hospitals have security guards.

      • AMEN! and all the staff can call a Code Black which summons the security guards to the location of the abuser pronto!

        And the staff and guards call the cops where need be.

        And when a felon has to be treated in hospital, one or two prison guards or police sit by the felon’s bedside every moment of the day and night, guarding him, making sure he doesn’t do any harm!

      • everydayBRAVE

        In our church hospital you see the victim of abuse on the bed, bleeding, bruised and near death. The church elders are standing around her assessing the damage. Forget helping her, praying for her, caring for her, protecting her. With their chests puffed out and arms crossed they do what needs to be done most in this situation. NOTHING. Wait for her to die. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. Yep, just stand there and wait until every ounce of life is gone.

        Then do the next most important thing and say, “See she had no grounds for divorce. Her pleas for divorce are unbiblical. Mr. Niceguy Jones didn’t really mean to do this. His intentions were right.”
        You know they have the ultimate power and wisdom to decide this being *the Lord’s anointed authorities* on this.

        Then comes their holy duty of cleanup. Get someone else to get her out of here. Make sure anyone who comes to her side her is dealt with swiftly as well. Discredit, silence, oppress. Get them out of here. These kind of things don’t happen in our church.

        Great post! It doesn’t matter what you have been assigned in your life, if evil crosses your path and you are a follower of Christ you don’t get to choose to look the other way. We are commanded to look right at it, no matter how ugly and do justice and give dignity to victims of evil no matter the personal cost.

    • Well said, Suzanne.

      Here is a link to our post about the ‘Hurting people hurt people’ saying.

    • Clockwork Angel

      Amen! Seriously, if the church is a “hospital for sinners”, then I want to sue the hospital for malpractice, because the sinners (the abusers) coming in are not getting better and are dying in their sins. They not only refuse treatment, but the doctors don’t even WANT to treat them, telling the abusers that they are fine. And with the healthy patients (who have been cured by Dr. Jesus) the doctors tell those patients they are the really sick ones! To top it all off, whenever a sinner does want to get better, they then hold them back from it, insisting they are just fine the way they are, preventing them from obtaining life.

  7. Laura

    Most people refuse to see evil, because evil is unpleasant. It is ugly. And dealing with it is not pretty either. But if we refuse to see evil, to confront it, to take action against it, we will not only become its ally, we will never see the glory of God’s righteous justice.

    Yes!!! Similar thoughts have been in my mind for a blog post of my own.

  8. kim

    I noted Pastor Crippen’s remark about people wearing pretty crosses. I believe the empty tomb is our hope, and I personally do not wear a cross or display one in my home.

  9. Angie

    I know there is evil out in the world. But the worst evil I ever experienced personally was perpetrated by pastors (and self appointed apostles, elders, etc.) that I had attended and served for nine years. It broke my heart, spirit and soul. People enter a church building open and trusting; they aren’t prepared to find the most evil inside the walls of the church.

    • Beloved

      I’m so sorry for your experience. I’m also a survivor of spiritual abuse- in a cult. Yes, it is incredibly damaging. Satan does disguise his ministers (servants) as angels of light. 😦

  10. greencleanserene

    He was rebaptized and is attending church. Admitting that he owes more than many thousands in court-ordered child support arrears, he is now complaining that if only he could have been allowed to have more freedom to connect with his children over the years it would have encouraged him to be a more faithful father. It’s a catch 22.

    The children don’t want to connect with him as his past connections have been only inconsistent and hurtful to them and have been used to manipulate the formerly mistreated mother. His recriminations still haunt the family. The mother has not remarried and faces continual hardship.

    How would you encourage the mother and what do you think could be done to bring hope to the suffering family members? Efforts to gently confront the father by church pastors and fellow members have not worked. Having no remorse it seems for his past course, what role could the church play in making a difference to this family and this erring member?

    • Hi greencleanserene, welcome to the blog 🙂 (since this looks like your first comment)

      The child support system where you live sounds awful. In Australia, where I live, the Child Support system is connected to the Federal Tax Office and if the custodial parent can ask the Child Support office to collect the ex’s payments through the tax system. The money gets taken out of his pay by his employer in a similar way to how the employer takes regular tax from the employee. The employer sends the money to the Child Support office who send it on to the custodial parent. And much as abusive men like to rant and rave about how they shouldn’t have to pay child support if they are not seeing the kids, their argument holds now water in the Child Support system. If the ex gets into arrears the goverment can even take the arrears out of his annual tax return. It’s a much better system than whatever system you are under.

      I know that’s not much encouragement to you, but it will give you a bit of a picture of how bad the system in your country is and thus why it is so hard for you to get child support.

      What’s more, the church which is cosetting your ex and treating him like a believer needs to be hauled over the coals! The leaders in that church need to read this page on our blog and all the link therein. And the leaders need to insist that this man (your ex) pay up ALL the child support he owes and he needs to stop complaining about not seeing the kids. They need to demand that he show them receipts of his payments to you, and they need to check with you regularly that you are indeed receiving those payments. Of course, the church is most unlikely to do this, because it sounds to me like they are pretty incapable of recognising and responding properly to domestic abuse.

      Furthermore, that church ought to tell the man that he will be excommunicated if he fails to pay child support or if he harasses or manipulates you or them in any way shape or form.

      The privilege or the right for the abuser to see the children is NOT in any way tied to child support payments. There is no ethical connection, no moral connection, between those two things. A non-custodial parent is morally obliged to pay child support whether or not he has any contact with his kids. That’s the bottom line. And the Bible agrees:

      1 Tim 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

      • Suzanne

        Unfortunately, the courts here in the US are woefully inadequate in the protection of victims. If the custodial parent withholds visitation because the ex is abusive and puts the kids in danger that is an argument the courts frequently don’t accept. They will still side with the abuser and order that visitation be allowed even if the kids are in danger and the non-custodial parent has never paid a dime in support. They do that by refusing to believe the custodial parent or the children, much as churches do. Fathers “rights” are deemed more important than the welfare of children, even more than the rights of children to a decent standard of living or even to necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. I see this as a parallel to the protection of abusers in the church, and for the same reason: evil.

      • Suzanne, I’m not fully up to date with how the courts in Australia are responding to cases where the protective parent withholds visitation because the abuser is dangerous to the kids; I gather it is similar to the USA but not as bad as the USA.

        However, in Oz the law at least makes clear that child support payments and obligations are in no way tied to whether or not visitation is taking place.

        Our Federal Govt in Oz is currently conducting a Senate Inquiry into how the Family Court is dealing with cases where domestic abuse is alleged. I hope that some good changes will come out of this inquiry. It’s a constant battle to fight against the lobbying of the Fathers Rights groups.

    • also Greencleanserene, we like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

  11. healinginhim

    Haven’t thanked ACFJ for quite some time. This post is an excellent example of how this ministry speaks truth.
    Many refuse, absolutely refuse to acknowledge the ugliness of evil or that it possibly exists within ‘a church’.

  12. Beloved

    Yes, Yes and Yes!!!!! Domestic abuse, narcissistic abuse are all manifestations of an EVIL heart that disguises itself as good.

    And I’ve also been meditating lately that evil is structured and intentional. It’s not random. it’s strategic.

    • Hi Beloved,
      before I published your comment I removed the quote you’d put in your comment which was a quote of what Jeff Crippen had said. I removed it because I thought it would confuse readers — readers might have thought it was you saying that. But I realised and understood that you had pasted Jeff’s words into your comment because you were agreeing with what Jeff had said.

      We appreciate your comments on this blog, Beloved. 🙂 Every comment from survivors and supporters of survivors is likely to help another survivor or supporter. 🙂

    • evil is structured and intentional. It’s not random. it’s strategic.

      Yes. Here is what Allan Wade says. He is a secular therapist I have learned a great deal from.

      Whenever individuals are badly treated, they resist. Perpetrators anticipate resistance from their victims and take specific steps to conceal and suppress it.

  13. Eagerlabs

    Btw…thinking about repay… That doesn’t sound like simply listing to ones face what they did (as so often abusers eye roll at their victims when trying to get them to SEE), but rePAYING what they did to Him and His children. Without repenting and bowing now and being obedient to killing the flesh through His power now and rather cleaving to His life, those wages are the second death….. And there’s more in that also..*raised brow*. Enjoy Deuteronomy and Revelation 😉

  14. Eagerlabs

    another tangent… Thinking on keeping our eyes on the Lord. He keeps His eyes on His Church which illustrates His holding fast as we are to do as He does also (tells us how to in that physically also..read His Word with your eyes as your heart follows your eyes, be holy as He is holy, love what he loves, hate what he hates etc *insert the rest of the motherly rant here*). But anyway, with respect to His enemies…and ours ..and the repaying, I got to thinking about *where* He repays them. Not to be gross, but considering what had happened to a number of us, getting repaid in the face SEEMS not as hard, but that obviously can’t be so and isn’t so. Check it out and read it, He repays them IN THEIR face…that’s ALL they’ll be able to SEE. That’s perfect judgment! Perfect grace necessitates it.

    🙂

  15. Eagerlabs

    (changed laundry..) ok..my final point, I know I ramble but I’m on a roll. I agree with Pastor Crippen’s post. God’s judgments is what we all are called to love ..for our GOOD whether we *primarily* are the ones who blog, write books, pastors, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, teachers, change diapers in the nursery, pick up garbage or the one who pull weeds..or all.lol Let us all pray we do not focus and love the work but rather focus and love Him. It’s where our eyes are is the point. He is the mark of the high calling..HIS MIND, we love him and love those who love him. His justice, His mercy for the repentant. Love Him!

  16. I cannot unsee what I see now

    I am the woman EverydayBRAVE writes about above. She and her husband have believed me and stood against evil in a small church full of friends and family. It has resulted in them having to leave the church, literally being shunned and affecting every area of their lives. I have never witnessed such prolonged courage at such cost by a young couple within their own (former) home church. At great personal cost they have demonstrated Christ’s care for me. To hear her husband express his sorrow over what has been done to me heals something deep in my hurting heart. I pray the Lord blesses them many times over for each sacrifice they are making. I have been humbled, honored and amazed to watch them stand up for me and get mowed down. It is an outgrowth of their passion for Christ. They have educated themselves on sites like this, poured over Scripture, and set their faces like flints. May the Lord encourage and strengthen their hurting hearts today! They didn’t have to say or do a thing…

    • Wow

    • I Cannot Unsee What I See Now

      My amazement has actually been horror as I watch them be so mistreated for speaking truth and daring to continue their friendship with me. I don’t think I could stand it if I didn’t realize it is ultimately love for the LORD motivating them.The abuser sits securely in the warm welcome of the church and pastor who knows clearly what has happened. It is a truly evil and destructive situation. And the LORD is bringing growth and maturity as we love Him first and always.

      • Your story and how you have been supported by EverydayBRAVE and her husband is a wonderful example of how victims can be so greatly helped by positive responses from bystanders. Praise the Lord you are out and free and that EverydayBRAVE and her husband are being like Christ calls us to be!

  17. everydayBRAVE

    Thank you for CFJ. The first thing I did is read your books and read all I could on the blog. This has helped us have so much perspective that we wouldn’t have otherwise had and helped us to not feel alone. What you do has great value. You have been one piece of what the Lord has used to save us from standing on the other side of his mess. I wouldn’t want to be where they are. Thank you!!

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