A Cry For Justice

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

God’s Law as a Protection Against Abusers

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.

***

John 4:16-18 “Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” (17) The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; (18) for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.””

Ok, this is a dangerous subject.  It’s dangerous because I run a real risk of being misunderstood, having an unmerciful and uncaring attitude toward victims of abuse.  Some readers might think that I am in company with the old school of thinking that a rape victim “brought it on herself.”  I hope that isn’t true, but then I’m not infallible.  With that said, let me just state my thesis –

“If we obey God’s Word, especially His commandments regarding sex and marriage, we go a long way in protecting ourselves from the abuser.  Conversely, when we violate God’s commandments, we make ourselves very vulnerable to the tactics and deceptions of an abusive person.”

As I read victim’s stories, with some regularity I notice that their initial relationship with the abuser broke the instructions of God’s Word about sex and marriage.  NOT always and perhaps for Christian victims, perhaps not even that frequently.  For any victims reading this article, I remind all of us of God’s forgiveness and grace in Christ for all who believe in Christ and repent of going their own way.  Christ does not intend for us to be weighed down forever by the load of our past sins and foolishness.

I like to read Ann Rule’s true crime books.  Numbers of them, like Dead by Sunset [*Affiliate link] and Too Late to Say Goodbye [Affiliate link],  are sad stories of horribly wicked sociopath abusers who ultimately killed their victims.  As you read them, you find yourself wanting a time machine so you can go back there and take the guy out before he kills her.  But, that cannot be.  Anyway, in these true stories, I read about women who gave into the abuser’s wiles and engaged in sexual relations with them outside of marriage, moved in with them without being married, and sometimes did so while the abuser was still married to someone else.  Let me say again – I fully understand the incredibly deceptive tactics of these kinds of abusers, and how easy it is to get drawn in by them.  To pity them.  To be charmed by them.  They are really a kind of “spell-caster.”  I know this and I don’t deny it.

However, God’s Word is very clear on basic points.  Sex is only for a man and a woman committed by marriage covenant to one another.  A man and a woman are not to live under the same roof in a romantic relationship unless they are married.  In fact, apart from some possible rare exceptions (caring for an invalid, etc), it is not wise for a woman to live in the same residence as a man who is not her husband.  One wonderful young woman ended up being drawn in by a murderous, incredibly evil man when she agreed to live in his house as a hired nanny.  The man was going through a divorce at the time.

In addition, God makes it quite plain that a Christian is not to marry a non-Christian (Romans 7).  We are not to be bound together with unbelievers –

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (15) What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (16) What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.””

Of course we realize that many abuse victims got deceived into a marriage with an unbeliever who was hiding behind a Christian facade.  (It is my opinion that a classic abuser CANNOT be a Christian).  But today it seems that young people, and even some older ones, profess Christ and yet they insist upon knowingly marrying an unbeliever, and those marriages are being accepted by pastors and churches and other Christians.  I recently heard of a case in which a young woman who professes to be a Christian intentionally, and against the advice of the elders of her church, married a non-Christian.  The pastor of the church would not do the ceremony – to his credit – however, one elder and his wife put on a gala reception for her and invited the whole church to it!  When a Christian marries a non-Christian, they can be increasing their chance of entering into an abusive relationship.  Not always – but the thing is not right in God’s sight.  His Word is very clear on this.

A very good test of the character of a person is to refuse to violate God’s Word in our relationships with them.  If a woman, for example, refuses to commit sexual immorality with a man and insists upon honoring God’s wisdom in her relationships, an abusive man is not going to like it at all.  He will see early on that this is a woman whom he cannot manipulate.  She is going to obey God rather than man.  And, if she is fortunate enough to have a godly man as a father, she will have further protection if she includes him in her decisions.  I know a man who ended up marrying a terribly abusive woman who ruined his life and family – with continuing ramifications even to this day – and he did so against the advice of some of his best Christian friends.  She was a pastor’s daughter and a real manipulator and a very, very abusive person.

Now, once more – I realize that there are godly, Christian women (and men) who have worked very hard to obey the Lord in their life, and especially in regard to sex and marriage and family.  Yet they got fooled by an evil, abusive man.  This does happen.  I do believe however that if our churches were what they should be and if we were teaching our people about the ploys of the enemy and what abuse looks like and operates, we could do much to minimize these sad situations.  To abusers who have deceived and victimized a Christian woman (or even a non-Christian woman!), I say, your Day is coming.  You have touched the apple of Christ’s eye, and if you think that you are going to get away with it, you are most surely going to find out differently.  In due time, you will slip.  There are thousands of ways for God to take you out of this life in a moment, and then what will you do?  Your lies and facades will be nothing then, as you stand before the One whose eye sees into the very depth of your being.  Nothing is hidden from Him, and you will give account.

For now, we must be wise.  Obey God’s Law.  It is life.

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ  gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

8 Comments

  1. Now Free

    I think it is very brave of Jeff to speak on this subject of sex outside of marriage. When I first met my husband over 40 years ago, I let him know that I was against having sexual relations outside of marriage. He said in a most quiet, insidious way that if I didn’t yield to his wishes, that he would chase after every “skirt” around. Loving him and not wanting to lose him, I agreed.

    I should have known that this would be the start of his abuse and manipulation, but then if I realized what was happening, I would not have married him. This is a classic case of abuse…the man is very charming during courtship, but after marriage, when he feels secure in knowing that he “has” you, he can and will allow himself the pent-up force of his emotions to smack you right in the face…if not physically, then verbally or emotionally. In my case, I experienced all three forms.

    If you are considering marrying your sweetheart, or even wondering if you should continue seeing him, think hard and long about how he (or she) treats you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions should any doubts arise. And they will..even with non-abusve people, there are always matters that arise that we want to have more information about…it’s a given. It’s part of getting to know the person.

    Now Free

  2. I know I’m really late commenting here, but I too want to say THANKS Jeff for bringing up this subject. I know this from my own experience, having married a non-Christian with whom I was having sex before we married. At the time I had been born again but had never gone regularly to a Church, hadn’t read the Bible much and didn’t know that believers should not marry unbelievers. But the sex before marriage bit was unwise; I discovered that from much bitter experience. Too much to tell here.

    I hear many stories of young Christian women who were pressured to have sex by their boyfriends and initially refused but later gave in. In many cases, these woman was raised in families where abuse was the norm. Some of these young women were so unsupported by their families (abusive, selfish, addicted parents who were not safe to live with because they only exploited their children) that they fell into (took refuge in) a relationship with a boyfriend, got pregnant, and knew it was all wrong, but married him anyway because they didn’t think they could take any other course and didn’t have a safe ‘family home’ to go back to. Sometimes there were older Christians around this young ‘couple’ who were urging them to marry to make their relationship right in God’s eyes. The older couple knew the guy was abusing the girl, but they still pressured them into marriage.
    Frying pan into fire. Over and over again I hear this kind of story. It’s sad.

    Yes, all of us would be wise to heed God’s rules (which in essence are His guidance to protect us from painful outcomes) about sex and relationships. And we give in to impulses at our peril. But even those who tread the right road morally can be targeted and cruelly hurt by abusers. There’s no guarantee, but there is probably (statistically speaking) a somewhat greater chance of marital happiness if we stay sexually pure before marriage.

  3. Heather Black (formerly H)

    This line is hard for me to read:

    “If a woman, for example, refuses to commit sexual immorality with a man and insists upon honoring God’s wisdom in her relationships, an abusive man is not going to like it at all. He will see early on that this is a woman whom he cannot manipulate. She is going to obey God rather than man.”

    I so desire to be that kind of woman, but for years the lie that I was NOT kept me in silence and in bondage.

    My abuser saw my desire to keep God’s law as a great tool he could use to entrap me, not as a sign I would be difficult to manipulate. He physically forced me to have sex shortly after we began a relationship. Only now after MANY years have I realized it was indeed rape. I believe his thinking was, “aha… she regards God’s law above all else” (as evidenced that I even verbally told him Jesus would not approve of this when he was assaulting me) …”therefore, if I rape her and then tell her she’s broken God’s law, she’ll feel so guilty, she’ll be mine forever.”

    It sounds like many Christian women, but not all, who end up falling into the trap of premarital sex didn’t have much of a choice. “Giving in” after tons of pressure, manipulation, and threats doesn’t count as consent. I only understand now that anything short of full, enthusiastic willingness is a “no.” Any godly man would heartily agree and respect that! But that’s not what my abuser said. According to him, I had clearly consented because I hadn’t “stopped him.” Since I cried, pleaded, shook with fear, said Jesus is watching and doesn’t approve, I’m assuming he meant, like physically restrained him, which is absurd. But for years I had the word “condemned” written on my heart because he was right, I “didn’t stop him.” I thought God wrote it there. Turns out it was the Father of Lies working through his son, my abuser.

    Add to that people don’t understand how someone can stay in a relationship with a person who assaulted/raped them. My abuser himself would also use this against me. “You didn’t want to have sex? I forced you? Well then why are you still with me? Clearly you wanted it.” Again, only years later can I say no, I clearly didn’t want it. But the emotional and spiritual trauma of sexual assault can have unusual effects on a person.

  4. This comment was submitted by a regular reader who asked that it not come up under her normal blog name.

    This is so triggering for me, and I have never, ever shared about it, the shame is so strong. The pressure was incredible, just a little bit, not all the way. I cringe at how far I, and solidly raised Christian young woman, let him go before marriage. He had so many ways of justifying just a little more, wording it to sound like we weren’t really departing from what was acceptable. He never went “all the way”, but seeing the affect it has had on my mind, it was. There was an instance of rape early in the marriage, too, but it took well over 20 years and a deep fog for me to finally realize that there were so many red flags in the pre-marriage courtship, and it is hard for me to accept how “easy” I was, when I never thought I would be.

    Now, I know what he is, and am in for the fight of my life trying to limit his influence in the children’s lives. If I hadn’t married him, I may have had a much better life, maybe not, since I fell so easily for all his lies and manipulations, I probably would have fallen for someone else’s, and I wouldn’t have the lovely children I do have, and quite possibly I would not have grown in the Lord like I have had to just to survive those awful, fog-filled last years. I don’t even want this to come up under my normal blog name, but I know this is the most supportive community in the world. Thanks Jeff, Barbara, twbtc, and others, for all that you do. This is a lifeline.

    • Jeff Crippen

      One of the great deficiencies in how Christian parents “train up a child in the way she should go” is in regard to the existence, nature, and tactics of evil. This leaves young Christians (and many older ones too) extremely vulnerable to the lies and deceptions of the wicked. This is what many of you have shared – that your “Christian” upbringing set you up as a target for the abuser. And so it did.

      For this lady sharing these words that are hard for her to share, the Lord in Christ cleanses our conscience and washes away guilt and shame. You are now wise. As you said it, “Now I know what he is.” In that statement you show yourself far, far, far ahead of the vast majority of professing Christians. You know what evil is.

      There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

      Many blessings to you.

  5. Finding Answers

    (Heavy airbrushing…)

    Trying to find the words….

    I write this tentatively, in a agreement with Pastor Jeff.

    I hurt, knowing all that went wrong in my life, though understanding significant chunks were beyond my control….or at a minimum, beyond my comprehension.

    I used to think I was rebellious.

    Now, I understand these were the lies of my abusive family of origin.

    So hard to write….

    I used to think I was sexually promiscuous.

    Now, I understand the few attempts I thought were sexual relationships stemmed from a broken emotional boundary due to sexual violation in infancy.

    I….

    I am who I am.

    There are too many “what if’s”.

    I can only agree with Pastor Jeff in the academic, “head stuff” sense.

    The rest of me hurts too much, knowing the past can’t be undone.

    I still feel guilty for my choices.

    I still cannot cry.

    And I feel like the woman at the well.

    Only…

    I feel defiled.

    I had more choice than she….

    • Dear Finding Answers, we none of us know the woman at the well’s full history. We only know what is recorded in the Bible.

      Maybe she was sexually abused in infancy and childhood too. We will be able to ask her when we meet her in the New Earth that God is preparing for us. 🙂

      You were defiled. The people who sexually abused you defiled you.

      There is no sin in not being able to cry.

      Please don’t be hard on yourself. God is ever so gently bringing you answers, and He knows best how to help you face and feel the answers …the truth. He knows best how to time the process, the unfolding… the compositing… He is the author and finisher of our faith.

      (((wordless hugs))))

      • Finding Answers

        Hugs gratefully accepted, Barb…..and further thoughts / processing added in response to your reply.

        With the passage of time – and a deepening understanding of the Bible / cultural times – I have empathized with the woman at the well. She had fewer options / choices. My abusers would condemn her, not I.

        On the surface, I have the appearance of greater opportunities. In hindsight, perhaps less than previously thought – the chains / bondage were covert.

        Perhaps the same hindsight applies to my sexual relationships.

        The inability to cry is symptomatic, not sinful. I have few outlets for emotion – anger, sadness, betrayal, grief….hindsight tells me my ability / inability to express emotions depends on safety on multiple levels (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual).

        You wrote Please don’t be hard on yourself. God is ever so gently bringing you answers, and He knows best how to help you face and feel the answers …the truth. He knows best how to time the process, the unfolding… the compositing… He is the author and finisher of our faith.

        I apply God’s thinking to everyone else….In hindsight, I apply my abusers thinking to me.

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