A Cry For Justice

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

Whose Job is it? Taking Responsibility to Act in Behalf of Abuse Victims

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.

***

It is our job, given to us by Christ, to protect the defenseless.  The civil authorities are appointed by Christ to strike fear into the evildoer (Romans 13), but there is another institution appointed by Christ that also bears the responsibility and that is the Church.  Us.  Christians.  If we are to obey Christ then we must acknowledge and shoulder this responsibility.  But in many cases, we are not doing so.  In previous articles, we exposed the many devices used by churches, pastors and individual Christians to “pass the buck.”  Ultimately, we cannot pass it.  The job of defending  and protecting the defenseless is given to us, and the buck stops here.

In his history of the Second World War, Volume I, Winston Churchill documents how denial, a dangerous naiveté about “peace in our time,” and other foolish ideas resulted in the near destruction of Britain at the hands of Hitler.  There were years and years before the war when many warnings were given that Germany was re-arming in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.  Buck was passed.  Black and white was denied.  No action was taken.  And eventually the slaughter began.  Churchill said that in those years, he was reminded of some lines he read in a cartoon book when he was only a child.  And this is how they read –

Who is in charge of the clattering train?

The axles creak and the couplings strain,

And the pace is hot, and the points are near,

And Sleep has deadened the driver’s ear;

And the signals flash through the night in vain,

For Death is in charge of the clattering train.

That is what the evil of abuse is like so often in the setting of the church.  It is a train running out of control, or rather, under the control of Death. The signals are flashing their warnings – but to no avail.  The rest of the church sleeps. And the train rumbles on until…it is too late.

It is our job – the job of every single Christian and every single local church – to take back the train controls.  A local church, united in support of an abuse victim, knowledgeable of the evil mentality and tactics of this wicked sin called abuse, is a powerful and really unstoppable force against evil.  We can give the victim the means to get free.  We can provide her with necessities – food, clothing, shelter, protection.  We can vindicate her by rejecting her abuser’s accusations.  We can refuse to permit the abuser to continue to practice his hypocrisy in our church.  We can do all of this and so much more.  The Christian church has the potential to be the greatest single institution on earth to aid and rescue victims of abuse–far greater than the civil authorities all combined.

If you are a genuine Christian and not one in name only, the time comes when you simply cannot continue to sleep the sleep of denial. We must wake up, hear the warning signals, and wrest control of the train back from Death.

13 Comments

  1. ” the job of every single Christian and every single local church”
    How I wish more Christians saw this!
    So often I feel like I’m saying that and people just look at me blankly. “Why should WE do something about this? Why is it OUR business? You must be crazy! You must be full of bitterness that you keep banging on about this domestic abuse stuff! We don’t want to know what you’re saying! Just let us get on with our nice church stuff. This domestic abuse stuff isn’t CHURCH business.”

    It used to make me feel almost suicidal. But now I’ve got a few allies and friends who see it the way I see it, so I don’t despair.

  2. Liz

    I’ve been really thinking about all of this lately and believe that it’s true. I have felt the alienation even though I have a church that would probably support an abuse victim. My long time spouse was verbally and mentally damaging for 25 years. I came to the end at that point, and since he has forged forward with church friendships and involvement. Though he has been nice to me at home since he’s known I’m on my way out, in some kind of way it feels cruel that he moved forward so quickly to get more involved with the church just when I needed it’s support the most. It empowered him, but I feel very alone now.
    There is another lady at church who I think has been in the midst of abuse at her home. I saw clues but it was confirmed when her mom told me. She did not think her daughter would like that she told, and I’m not close with her daughter, but she has been on my mind alot. It’s hard because churches mostly talk about marriages being restored, and for the one who has been so crushed it feels like torture to hear that, like there is no way out.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Liz- You are in the company of MANY sound Christians who are presently going through the same frustrations, or who have been through it. Same old pattern. Abuser stays popular, deceiving the church. Victim leaves and is often blamed. Don’t fret. It isn’t fun but you aren’t alone. I believe that many supposed “Bible-believing” churches, aren’t. They have lost sight of sound Scriptural doctrine and teaching. They have wrong answers to basic questions like who is a Christian? What does Christ do when He saves a person? What is the evidence of genuine conversion? As a result, and because of a wisespread refusal to obey Christ in regard to church discipline, abusers are able to stay members in good standing. Now, lest we yield to the Elijah syndrome (I alone am left), Christ always has His remnant. There ARE true churches, but it does seem that they are getting harder to find. So glad you have seen what has been happening to you and that you are getting free. Keep praying that maybe you will have opportunity to share with the other lady. Until victims are ready to hear though, there isn’t a huge amount we can do except keep praying for them. Thanks very much for your comments. If you need to be connected with someone who is an abuse survivor and a Christian, let us know on this blog and we can email you a contact.

  3. Liz

    Thank you Jeff. Until recently I never even thought of seeking support or answers on the web but there is so much I am learning now. I am so glad there is support and understanding of how this all works. I would really like to be connected with a Christian abuse survivor! I live in Virginia in case you might have a contact here or in a nearby state. Thanks! Liz

  4. Dear Liz, your abuser saw you getting ready to leave so he quickly began enlisting allies in the church, so that you would have little or no support from your church family. This is a classic tactic of abusers. Shame on the church for not picking him as an abuser!
    You are not alone, dear sister. You are one of many multitudes.
    Do check out my website and you will find forums where you can chat to other survivors. I particularly recommend the Our Place forum.

    • Liz

      Thank you Barbara. This helps alot. The last few years have been wonderful with the progress I have made, but very confusing in the sense of now he claims to want all the things I wanted for 25 years, but he waited until after I had enough. He knew beforehand it was coming because of things I shared and wrote, but now acts like he just can’t understand why I changed and won’t give this a try. I can’t describe how many times I forced myself to try over the years, and it got harder and harder each time. I have a question about the control thing too. He has little confidence, motivation and initiative. Could the control aspect look very different with this type of personality than what you would typically think of when you think of someone who is controlling? Btw, it was through your Our Place that I found your fb page and then this link. Thank you!

      • “He has little confidence, motivation or initiative”. My ex was the same in many ways. But a man can show these traits yet still have motivation to abuse his wife, take initiatives to abuse his wife, and use his lack of confidence to guilt trip his wife…
        An abuser is an abuser because he has abusive beliefs and attitudes: the problem originates in his thinking, his mentality. It does not originate in any emotional problems he might have. He may have emotional problems. But if he does, those are an extra set of problems from his abuse problem.

        Control in a relationship does not always look like Adolph Hitler type control (the demonstrative, grandiose issuing of orders and the fierce enforcing of submission). It can also appear very quiet and muffled. Look at the verbal abuse tactic of ‘withholding’ and ‘the silent treatment’ as explained by Patricia Evans in The Verbally Abusive Relationship. It can be control by stealth and innuendo. For example, my ex did not use physical violence all that often – he didn’t need to, because the unspoken knowledge that he COULD use it (he had, before) conditioned the whole relationship. He could abuse me simply by a subtle look of disdain or a snippet of sarcasm (and later say “Can’t you take a joke?”).

  5. Liz

    Jeff, I could use some insight. A few years ago when I emotionally detached from my spouse is when he started pusuing more church life, and he read this fireproof book and made me coffee each morning, etc. Was this his subconscience way of trying to hold on to any vestige of whatever he could once he saw things changing in me? I have so many other questions but I will take this one step at a time.

    • Liz – I would suspect that Barbara’s post right above your question is probably a pretty good answer for you. I don’t know the specifics of your case, so I can only comment with the presumption that he is a classic abuser. Of course abusers come on a scale from bad to worst, but as Bancroft tells us in his book (Why Does He Do That?) they all share the basics of the abuser mentality – entitlement, power, control, justification. Abusers are addicted to power and control. Can we say that everything they do is colored by that motive? Certainly for the worst abusers, yes. I must admit that I am pessimistic about an abuser’s real motives. I don’t trust them to be good. An abuser could very easily do all the things you describe your husband doing and be doing it for evil reasons. I also think that people more expert than myself in the area of abuse (Bancroft, George Simon, Jr.) would downplay the subconscience as a motive. They believe that abusers and sociopaths know exactly what they are doing. I think that seeing him doing these things to “hold on to any vestige of whatever he could” is too noble of a motive to credit him with. Deception is the name of the game for the abuser. More likely, he was trying to make himself look good, and you look bad. If any of our readers would like to jump in and comment here, go for it!

    • Liz,

      The morning my husband realized I wouldn’t cover for him any more, he headed back to church. Within three months he was teaching Men’s Bible Study classes and had assembled an entire congregation to rally around him. He also got a copy of that damnable book to display prominently on for everyone to see (excuse my language but that Fireproof thing is such a hot-mess– it gives abusive men a stinkin’ script to follow to prove they’re right, the wife is a horrible person and they’ve done all they possibly can to reconcile without one shred of genuine repentance). Your husband’s actions are classic and so very common. . .

      Sorry– I have to go unruffle my feathers a bit 🙂

      • Jeff Crippen

        Ida Mae – Yes, I am seeing that issue with “Fireproof.” Here is my question – if a man has to be given a step by step manual of how to love his wife, is there any hope? Christ teaches EVERY Christian to love. So, if the guy is a Christian, why hasn’t he already been doing it? And if he hasn’t, is he going to suddenly start? Yes, it can be nothing but more propaganda for an abuser playing the Christian game to use against her. “Hey, what do you want from me! I did the program, you ungrateful little….”. You know the routine.

  6. Hi Jeff,

    I have been enjoying reading the articles on your site. Lots of good stuff!
    The whole abuse topic is multi-faceted. Too bad church folk don’t get it.

    You might be interested in my doctoral research on spiritual abuse. My book is entitled: Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness.

    My website is: http://www.churchexiters.com.

    We have launched a new website that might be a good resource for many.
    It is: http://www.AbuseResourceNetwork.com.

    My email is: info@churchexiters.com.

    All the best,
    Barb Orlowski, D.Min.

  7. Dear Liz, I haven’t read ‘Fireproof’ – I felt bad vibes about it as soon as it got popular, and then I started reading stuff on Danni Moss’s site all about how it was dynamite-bad for victims of domestic abuse. Like so many books that have recipes for improving your marriage, it doesn’t address abuse properly (or at all? or only tangentially?). Any book or recipe for marriage that doesn’t address abuse head on and with robust understanding of the beast is gonna fail. Period. Because it’s gonna let abuse victims down big-time.

    Check out Danni Moss’s comments on Fireproof here:
    Is “Fireproof” Helpful for Abusive Marriages?

    Danni is now with the Lord, but her site will stay up because her family support what she was doing.

    Also Liz, a friend of mine is in a similar situation to you: her ex is playing all the right games at church. He began amping it up when she started showing signs of leaving him. And now she’s well and truly left him, he’s in church up to his neck. Only problem is, there is still mud between his ears and a stone in his heart.
    She hung out at the church trying to get justice (or even a fair hearing) for a long time. But now she’s gone to another church. Same old story.
    May it not be like this in the church forever! Let us work to change it, as we have the energy and ability. (For survivors who are exhausted, don’t take that to heart and lay another burden on yourselves: – you need a good rest and recuperation first, dear ones…)

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