Here is a very, very good question —
Why is it that if a man goes to church, people find it hard to believe that he can abuse his wife mentally or physically?
I would have to answer this question in two parts:
- He is a master of disguise, and
- Christians often fail to take seriously the many warnings of Scripture.
We naïvely think that because we think or act in a particular manner, then that is how everyone else must think and act too. We profess to be Christians. We go to church. We pray. We read our Bibles. And we do so because we sincerely desire to follow Christ. “Therefore, surely” — we think — “everyone else who does these things must be a genuine Christian too.” But we are quite mistaken, and we really should know better in light of the plain and repeated warnings Christ gives us in His Word. For example:
(Matthew 7:15 ESV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
(2 Peter 2:1-2 ESV) (1) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2) And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4 ESV) (3) But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (4) For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
(2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ESV) (13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. (14) And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (15) So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Need I cite more? So why then do we find it so shocking that a person can come into our churches, speak like a Christian, pray like a Christian, behave like a Christian — yet be a devil in disguise? I can only say that we are careless and / or we do not believe God’s Word. We think too highly of ourselves and others. We are ignorant of the nature and depth of sin because we do not apply ourselves diligently to the study of God’s Word. So we are flabbergasted — no, actually, we don’t even get that far. We are not shocked that the abuser is doing the evil his victim reports. We simply don’t believe her because — in our minds — such a thing just cannot or could not be. It just can’t be! We are ignorant of the thing. Unlike the Puritans, we don’t write books today like The Sinfulness of Sin.
In addition, perhaps we just don’t want to pay the price that standing against an abuser will cost us. To believe the victim means that her abuser is not what we have assumed he was. He may have duped us into letting him become a leading church member, serving on committees, being an important donor, etc. We have to admit that we have been fooled. That is humbling. But we should not be so ashamed – we need not think so highly of ourselves. The fact is that wicked people are very, very good at disguising themselves. A demon can come as an angel of light! That’s a pretty good disguise! Eventually, however, if the church is a true church, the Spirit of Christ by the Word of Christ will expose him for what he or she is. If he repents, this will be the result:
(1 Corinthians 14:24-25 ESV) (24) But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, (25) the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. [Emphasis added.]
If he refuses to repent, he might leave because he will simply not be able to stand the Light.
Still another reason, I believe, is more common than we might realize. Many times professing Christians and professing Christian churches are not Christ’s at all. And I am afraid that there is far more of this very scenario today than most would suspect. The Levite and the Priest bypassed the man who had been beaten and robbed. Why? They were quite religious, but they were whitewashed tombs, rotten on the inside. The “church” at Laodicea was almost no church at all, yet looked to be quite successful. I absolutely cannot imagine that the people who covered up Christa Brown’s abuse, covering for the pastor who molested her, could have been genuinely, regenerate, true Christians indwelt by the Spirit of Christ (See her book, This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang [Affiliate link].).
Finally (there may well be more reasons too), pastors and Christians may not believe the victim because they have been caught up in the many unbiblical traditional teachings about marriage, divorce, headship and submission. Unaware of the real nature of the mentality and tactics of the abuser, Christians counsel the victim to do better at submitting, to try harder to not trigger her husband’s (or his wife’s) hot buttons, and do everything that can be done to preserve the marriage. Thus, this kind of thinking goes, the abuser can be won to Christ. He or she is simply an unsaved person, and by patiently enduring and suffering, the victim can be use to bring them to repentance and faith in Christ. Of course, this is not the proper manner to deal with the abusive mentality, who is very often a sociopath, lacking any conscience. For these reasons and more, the victim is frequently sent back to her terror.
[November 20, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to November 20, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to November 20, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to November 20, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (November 20, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
3 thoughts on “Why Won’t They Believe Me?”
Although I attended a church for twenty years that was abusive itself and I got NO help whatsoever when I needed it, my greatest sadness is the fact that my own family — my grown children, cousins, and brother — don’t believe how bad it was for me. My own children see me as the “bad one” because I left their “poor, poor” dad, who in truth is as sly as a serpent and phony as a three dollar bill. He lost me. I lost everyone and everything, save Jesus Himself, and that is enough. The grief however, is nearly unbearable at times.
(Writing through the fog….led by the Holy Spirit….curiosity in hand.)
Before I finished reading Pastor Jeff’s post, the New Matthew Bible translation of these verses kept coming to mind. I looked them up, read them, leaving the webpage open for comparison.
Somehow, I find words of the NMB translation more closely pinpoints the evil.
Tentative and trembling, I decided to add the NMB translation of the other verses Pastor Jeff cited.
(While inconvenient for anyone reading, for brevity’s sake, I am not copying down Pastor Jeff’s original quotes.)
Perhaps the idea to translate all the verses Pastor Jeff cited stemmed from Pastor Jeff’s reference to the Puritans. (See notes at the bottom of the post.)
From Pastor Jeff’s original post:
I find the differences in translation subtle, but somehow — if I may be so bold — more damning.
In the back of my mind niggles the discussion of The Matthew Bible versus the Geneva Bible.
I ask a rhetorical question: Has this — in part — influenced the answer to the post title’s question, “Why won’t they believe me?”
Barb, TWBTC: Perhaps it would be useful to add the Ruth Magnusson Davis post(s) to this page?
Good idea, could you please do this, TW? Add cross-links and maybe also the tag we now have for Ruth Magnusson Davis.