A Cry For Justice

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

Our theology

We are not “liberal” Christians; we hold to the solas of the Reformation.
We believe absolutely in the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture.
We insist, along with God’s Word, that a person must be born again through faith and repentance in Christ if they are to be justified before God.

We say all of this because we have been hammered by critics who seem to think that anyone calling attention to domestic violence and abuse has to be part of some kind of radical, Christ-hating, liberal, feminism that is conspiring against men.

We also want to emphasize another point – we fully understand that women are sinners too, and that a woman can indeed be an abuser. We have known several women who certainly were. However, it is very common in literature on abuse to speak of the abuser as “he” and the victim as “she.” Why? Because most abusers are indeed men. There it is. Sorry, guys. But those are the facts.

27 Comments

  1. Thank you, Joy. One of the team members at the back of this blog, MeganC, may be interested in talking with you. I suggest you email her (you can find her email address on our About page). She is having difficulty with her computer at the moment and is temporarily unable to submit comments on the blog, but I am pretty sure she would like to talk with you about your experiences at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am very glad that your experience in domestic abuse is being recognized and respected by on of the professors there. And I know the feeling that it’s an uphill battle, but even a teeny bit of progress up the hill is better than no progress at all, eh? Thank you for putting your shoulder to the wheel 🙂

  2. I am so happy to have found you!!! 🙂

    • and we are happy you have found us! welcome to our not so little blog family 🙂

  3. Ann

    Hi Jeff, I am marvelling at your book “A cry for justice” as I have been a new comer for the past 5 years dealing with abuse of Christian women and children and have been using Lundy Bancroft, Leslie Vernick and Mare Fortune’s books to guide me. Yours is a wonderful contribution to the theological understanding and Biblical handling of the problem. I have been looking at your discussion of the abuser under the chapter “A look behind the mask” and in it you describe how Heb 6: 4 – 8 fits the abuser’s “Christian” experiences. On page 31 you use the words “by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit”. We all know that the problem with the abuser is a lack of conscience or a grossly impaired conscience. Could I ask you if the “convicting” you refer to, is a conviction of the benefits and glories of the Christian faith, but without a conviction of sin?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ann- Yes, that is what I mean. The good and righteous work of the Law of God is to bring the sinner under the terror of Mt. Sinai, thus showing him his lost and terrible condition, and then preparing him for Christ. Rom 3:20; 5:20; 4:15; 7:7-8; Gal 3:21; 2 Cor 3:6 and so on. The person who is rightly terrified then of the Holiness of God who is a consuming fire, will be ready (still by the work of the Spirit) to see Christ as their Rescuer. The man of Hebrews 6 never gets to that point. His sin is one of “knowing unbelief.” They know the truth. The Spirit of God has even shown them the truth of Christ. Yet they despise Christ.

      Thank you for your encouragement. If you haven’t read Barbara Roberts’ book, Not Under Bondage, I highly recommend it as well.

      • G. F. Mom

        Jeff, in light of Ann’s comment: “… you describe how Heb 6: 4 – 8 fits the abuser’s “Christian” experiences.” I often wondered about that passage in Hebrews and how it can reconcile with 1 John 3: 6? Just curious.

      • Hi G F Mom, I’ve just nudged Jeff to respond to this question of yours. I think he was probably busy and just overlooked it. 🙂

      • Jeff Crippen

        G.F. Mom –

        1Jn 3:6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

        I think that the key here is to realize that words don’t always carry the same meaning. So, for example, we have here the word “known” in regard to “knowing God.” The Hebrews passage describes a person who has “been enlightened,” “tasted,” and “shared” in various things: the heavenly gift, the Holy Spirit, the Word of God. Then such a person falls away and cannot be moved to repentance. Knowing unbelief. They “knew” that the gospel is true, that Christ is the Savior, that the Word of God is indeed the Word of God. The Holy Spirit so worked in them that they came to that kind of knowledge. But then there is the matter of “knowing God.” Romans 1 speaks of all human beings knowing God – but what Paul means there is knowing that God IS God and that man as creatures owes God thanksgiving and worship, but refuses to give either. The “knowledge of God” that John is speaking of here in 1 Jn 3:6 means something different. It means to know God in the sense of being regenerate. Of being known by Him as one of His children. It means salvation in other words. So John is saying that a person who continues to walk in a habitual and characteristic course of sin is unsaved. They do not know God in a genuine New Covenant relationship in Christ.

      • G. F. Mom

        Okay, thanks Jeff. I have come across both of those wondering about certain people. I think I understand. You are saying one is deliberately sinning after experiencing Him in an undeniable way and the other is not. So they aren’t conflicting.

      • Oh that is so good and so clarifying Jeff. Thanks for asking the question, G F Mom, because it prompted Jeff to give us this explanation. I love this blog! 🙂

      • Ann Pohl

        Thank you, Jeff. I will get Barbara’s book.

    • Ann thanks for asking that question and Jeff thanks for your answer! I found it all helpful. The sin of ‘knowing unbelief’ — that’s it! I’d never heard that phrase before.

  4. just thinking

    Hi Jeff,
    The Hebrews passage has always made me feel frightened and insecure esp. since I mess up a lot in the same old area. Is there a difference between a christian who tries to walk after God but gets snared in the same sin and repeatedly falls, struggling to escape the same old bondage, or perhaps a person who continues in a sin out of being deceived, and the deliberate sinner of Hebrews? I mean there is a sense in which all sin is deliberate. Few of us yield to temptation without knowing that what we are about to do is wrong, insane, such as when we yield to old sinful patterns of trying to prevent loss or secure something we want desperately, or give in to temptation in areas where we’ve had problems before, like lust. I’ve always wondered about “repetition compulsion” as well; is that the same thing as the hardened sinner willfully choosing to live a life of despising Christ, or just someone being a bit of a dummy and not realizing that the power to remain victorous over those things that have beeen besetting bondages and sins doesn’t come from us in the first place? I’m guessing that engaging in repetition compulsion may be an attempt to face one’s feared tormentors and enemies in order to see if one is really free this time and can respond differently but it probably doesn’t work out so well in practice. What do you think? How would scripture interact with such things? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Just thinking, Jeff may take a little while to answer your question, as he’s pretty busy for the rest of this week. I just wanted to let you know this, in case you got anxious.

      I think that by asking this question, you have been brave and shown admirable honesty and a thirst for righteousness. 🙂

    • Just thinking, I know you put your question to Jeff, but may I tentatively give you a thought I’ve had? (I’ve been thinking about your question all day…)

      For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. (2 Peter 2:20 ESV)

      Notice the word ‘overcome’. To me there is a difference between (1) falling into a sin one has practised and habituated for a long time but after one has fallen and sinned feeling disgust and shame for one’s sin and turning again to Christ in repentance and striving to avoid sin in the future, and (2) falling in a sin and being overome by it so it is where one’s soul and character is all the time.

      Here is some of what the London Confession (the Reformed Baptist Confession) says about repentance:

      Saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.
      ( Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Psalms 119:6; Psalms 119:128 )

      As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death, and the motions thereof, so it is every man’s duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly.
      ( Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13, 15 )

      Such is the provision which God hath made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation; that although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent; which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
      ( Romans 6:23; Isaiah 1:16-18 Isaiah 55:7 )

      And here is what the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly says about repentance:

      Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.

      The reason I am offering you these quotes is to point to the phrases “endeavour after new obedience” and “with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.”

      My own journey:– in my teens I developed and habituated the sin of bulimia. This conduct became a ‘go to’ pattern of behaviour whenever I was very stressed or over-tired or emotionally log-jammed. I still have the potential to fall back into that sin. I believe that because I practised that habitual sin for so long, it’s a deep groove in my character/soul which will probably never be fully removed. I have found from long experience that I am pretty much unable to resist the fall when I’m right at the brink.

      But I have found that when I am not at the brink, I can resist it quite well. I have learned that the way to minimise my falls is to become very aware of my early-warning signs of getting too stressed, and to keep self-monitoring and make adjustements in my day to day life so I get enough sleep if at all possible. And I have learned to craft ways to manage my life so that I am less likely to get too near the brink. I have found a lot of ways to creatively and incrementally develop habits that keep me from getting so close to the brink that a fall is almost inevitable.

      I don’t know if that helps. Chuck it to the bin if it is not helpful.

  5. just thinking

    Thank you Barb, appreciate that, it doesn’t take much to make me anxious at this time in my life so the understanding is very helpful.

  6. just thinking

    Hmm. Not sure where I fit at this point, where I am in terms of being overcome or not. Feels like darn nearly . There are feeble little sparks of wanting to go God’s way still struggling out from under the ash heap, so to speak. But I am not feeling that wonderful sense of conviction and repentance I once knew, even though I did commit sin . I feel numb, dead, despairing and lost.

    I guess i feel ashamed, and kind of hopeless, because even after getting a glimpse of the cross and of my own depravity, and even understanding that such behaviours were wrong and amounted to an abuse of God’s gifts, even though I knew that this sin was connected to something that had done me grievous harm in the past, it didn’t stop me from saying yes to something I knew was wrong. Like Peter lying and denying Jesus to prevent the loss of his life and skin, even though he’d just pledged undying fealty to Jesus earlier, I also promised undying fealty to the Lord and then threw all that out of the window to compromise myself out of fear of losing someone’s love. From there, I increasingly began to fall until I just fell apart torn between the desire to do right and the desire to sin. You can bet that leaves me feeling pretty hopeless. i can image Peter probably felt as though he’d committed the unpardonable sin and was written off and not worth saving, hence going back to his old life of being a fisherman.

    I’ve been stuck under the spiriual oppression and bondage and all the other lovely goodies that go with such things, for the last thirteen years, my mind and emotions and life issues all piled up together in a heap, unable to sort out what is true and what is false, and my thinking frozen with terrified fear that I am beyond grace and will never escape the evil oppression that daily hassles me. I have no one to talk to who understands such things or has the patience and skills to help me walk through them, so I’ve been pretty isolated. I’ve actually experienced intense pressure to apostasize that felt like I was being blown over by a strong wind. It was really frightening. It took a bit of force on my part to resist it. Lately I’ve had thoughts along the lines of, well, I can still seek God for help and ask Him to remove the evil thing in my heart that caused me to do this. I think in a way I was trying to find out and undersand what made my life the way it had been, alhtough being rather stupid about the way I did it. The deliberateness of saying yes to the sin though I knew it was wrong, seems to be a place where the vile one is sayng “see? You did it knowing it was wrong and did it anyway, this proves that you were never really saved or sincere about wanting to obey God; God has given you lots of grace and you keep falling and now he’d done with you, you sin even when you don’t have to.”.

    Anyway, enough about that, you can see how tormenting this is. Thanks for listening.

    • Dear Just thinking, you will see I inserted some paragraph breaks into your comment. It was kept in a holding place at the back of the blog till we had time to read it carefully.

      Just a tip: when you write long comments here, it really helps us as moderators if you put paragraph breaks into your text. It makes it much more likely that your comment will be quickly published, rather than slowly published!

      You said

      I can still seek God for help and ask Him to remove the evil thing in my heart that caused me to do this.

      I agree: you can still seek God and ask for help from Him.

      I would suggest that you simply confess the sin(s) and ask Him to help you change — help you get bit by bit wiser and stronger so you can resist such temptations in the future. Rather than seeing it as ‘an evil thing in your heart that caused you to do it’‚ it might be more helpful and more appropriate to see it as character development and strengthening and a more solid understanding of good doctrine that you need. Rather than some kind of ‘surgical operation’ to remove an ‘evil thing’, I suggest you consider it as developing your character, developing new habits, changing patterns of thinking and conduct so that if and when you may get tempted again (and we all get tempted in various ways) you are more likely to have the strength to resist fleshly temptations. We are all on that kind of journey. We all have battles with the flesh. We are all still working on developing better characters. Sanctification is a process, a lifelong journey. Begin where you are.

  7. just thinking

    Thank you Barb. Will try to remember about inserting proper paragraph breaks 🙂
    I suppose that you are right regarding such things as character development. Will muse on that one for a bit.

  8. Jenny

    New… So when a person is living in the surreal world of unbelief is there any hope in this world? I believe God is Sovereign, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, if He allows it (because it is happening worldwide) are we to ‘endure’ to the end??? I have never joined a blog before and do not know how they work.

  9. DazedAndConfused

    Hello. I’ve recently come to find out after many decades that my mother is most likely suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder which she likely inherited [or copied from] from her father, an overt and cruel narcissist. She, however, is a covert narcissist, using covert aggressive tactics (only when there are no witnesses) to control her chosen ones. I am her scapegoat. My sister is the golden child. I am currently working through my recovery process with the help of my husband and my children, but it’s slow going.

    What makes it exponentially more difficult is that fact that my mother and her new husband are both fundamentalist, evangelical Protestants, highly visible and well-respected leaders in their church. If I were to speak of this publicly, I would be immediately ostracized or worse.

    My dear sister is just about to come undone over this “threat” for the family to “fall out” as she puts it. Can you give me some very specific resources for how to deal with a mother who is an unrepentant covert narcissist who has been stifling me by quoting Scripture (used to help her avoid talking about abusive issues from her own childhood) and questioning my lack of faith and my approach to Biblical issues, theology ((“Why are you STILL refusing to accept [doctrine x], dear??)) Thank you for any advice you can give me.

    • Hi DazedAndConfused, I apologise for taking a little while to publish your comment and reply to it. I had to airbrush a few of the details in your comment first, to protect you from being identified.

      How to deal with this situation? It is pretty similar to the question of how to deal with any abuser. Set VERY firm boundaries against them. Expect that the abuser and her allies (like your sister, and your mother’s new husband) will rail against you and falsely accuse you of all manner of things, and try to blame you and shame you so that you back down. If you expect them to behave like that, you will be less likely to thrown off balance when they DO behave like that.. which they will.

      I encourage you to shut your ears to their lies and their blameshifting. Do whatever you feel you need to do to reduce contact with them. I encourage you to give yourself permission to NOT EXPLAIN yourself to them, to not defend yourself against their false accusations. And To say things to them like “Stop it. Stop bullying me. Stop falsely accusing me. Stop blaming me. Stop shaming me. Stop mistreating me. I’m not going to talk to you or listen to you if you treat me this way. I’m outa here!”

      You will not be able to change your mother. Give up hoping there is an easy way to solve the relationship problem. There isn’t. You can’t “deal” with her, you can only reduce contact with her and thus reduce her opportunities to sin against you.

      Posts on Family Scapegoating

      A Story of Lifelong Abuse by a Narcissistic Parent — And the Path to Freedom

      A New Kind of Insecurity and Trying to Overcome

      Poem by a survivor’s daughter

      You can find all the following books if you click here

      Four books by Dr George Simon Jr:
      Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age. Any abuse victim reading this book is very likely to say “he is describing my situation!”

      In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People. Discusses the mentality of abusers and the tactics of covert abuse.

      The Judas Syndrome: Why Good People Do Awful Things. Has a more overtly Christian tone than the previous two books.

      How Did We End Up Here?: Surviving and Thriving in a Character-Disordered World
      Dr. Simon’s most recent book. He answers questions such as: Can he (she) really change? Is there a chance for us? Should I stay or do I go? What do I do about the lies, deceit, and manipulation?

      Jeff Crippen with Rebecca Davis
      Unholy Charade: Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church (this is about spousal abusers, but you can apply a lot of it to your situation)

      David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church. Highly recommended apart from the fact that this book does not explicitly say that divorce is permissible in cases of spousal abuse.

      And for spiritual abuse, you can check out our tag ‘spiritual abuse’ — see the tags tab in the top menu.

  10. DazedAndConfused

    I’m sorry but I have no website to put in this blank. Do I need to create one just to reply and receive responses?

    • No not at all! You can submit a comment while leaving the ‘website’ field blank.

      In fact, on this blog, we as administrators often remove what is in the ‘website’ field before we publish comments, because the website field may give away the commenter’s identity.

    • also, DazedAndConfused, I suggest you read this page: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/for-new-users/
      It will help you understand the ins and outs of submitting comments.

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