The “Christian” Abuser and Hebrews 6:4-8
Jeff Crippen ♦ 25th February 2012 ♦ 28 Comments
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.
[July 1, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
(Hebrews 6:4-8 ESV) (4) For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, (6) and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (7) For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. (8) But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
What do you think? What I want to discuss here is the possibility that an abuser who has chosen to wear the mask of Christianity is what theologians call a “reprobate.” The subject relates to the common question — is he really a Christian, this man who says he believes in Christ and who appears as a pious saint in his church, yet is consumed by a lust for power, and control? And the question goes further — is it possible that such a man, if we assume that he is not saved, ever can be? A reprobate is a person like Pharaoh, raised up for the very purpose of demonstrating the justice of God, a vessel appointed to destruction (Romans 9). Let me emphasize that it is not my goal here to suggest that we can know with certainty who such people are. Ultimately they are known only to God. Rather, the purpose here is 1) to warn all of us of the dangers of persisting in hypocritical, false Christianity, and 2) to encourage abuse victims to consider why waiting and waiting for her abuser to “get saved” is probably not a very wise way to deal with an abusive situation.
I know a lady who is focused upon her abuser’s salvation. She is wise and has separated from him. But she believes Christ is going to save him. May her faith increase and if she believes this is her calling, then blessings on her. But I would not advise it in general to abuse victims. In fact, most survivors will tell you that their eyes began to be opened to what was happening to them when they came to realize that their abuser was never going to change.
When a person decides to embrace Christianity as a mask to hide behind, they commit a sin that is very odious to the Lord. Consider what the writer of Hebrews is saying in the verses above. There are people, he says, who have been in Christ’s visible, local church, people who have eaten the bread and who have drunk the cup of Christ in the ordinance of communion, people in whom the Holy Spirit has worked so that they really know the Gospel is true and that the promises of Christ are sure, but who then reject it all. Christians differ a bit on their interpretation of this passage, especially in respect to whether it is possible to be a Christian and then fall away from Christ and end in hell. For myself, I do not think this is possible. Christ does not lose one of His sheep whom the Father has given Him (John 10, John 17). But that aside, at least we know that there are people who are in the very midst of Christ’s body, His church, who reject what they know to be true.
Now, notice what the Scripture says of them. It is impossible to renew them again to repentance. They are Esaus. Their end is to be burned. This is why I have often told our church here that the pews of the Christian church are the most dangerous place in the world if anyone who sits in them, listening to Christ’s truth week after week, rejects it.
Yet this is precisely what the “Christian” abuser does! Many of you could give first hand accounts, and I have heard many of them, of how your abuser played the game in church. How he deceived and even continues to deceive the church. He is an apostate – having rejected what he knows to be the truth, but he remains in the church anyway. What kind of mind does it take to do that and still be able to sleep at night? It is the mind of the sociopath – the mind with no conscience. In some way, this kind of person is especially wicked in God’s sight because he holds up Christ to open shame, just as the mockers did when Christ was crucified. They mock Him by their evil façade.
My point is this — the abuser who is pretending to be a Christian is the hardest and most treacherous of all abusers. And we are told by the Apostle John that there is a category of person for whom he does not require us to pray —
(1 John 5:16 ESV) If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life — to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.
I think John is speaking of the unpardonable sin, and I think that this sin is committed just as Hebrews 6 describes it. It is committed by a person who, by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, has come to know the truth of Christ and even, you might say, have been given a glimpse and taste of the glories of heaven, but who, like Esau, despises it. And I submit that the abuser who plays the Christian is exactly such a person.
Now, someone might point to Saul of Tarsus and how he horribly abused Christians, yet God gloriously saved him and we know him as the Apostle Paul. But I would simply answer — Saul of Tarsus believed and repented when Christ appeared to him. This is something the abuser does not do. Paul even said of himself —
(1 Timothy 1:12-13 ESV) (12) I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, (13) though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, [Emphasis added.]
I do not presume to know the final word on all of these things I have discussed here. I would love to hear your comments. But I do think that I am correct in saying that victims of abuse need to at least have the information that their abuser, if he is playing Christian, is one of the hardest, most evil kinds of sinners. The likelihood that he is ever going to repent and come to faith in Christ is very slim. That he has already had truckloads of God’s mercy shown to him through hearing the Gospel, and probably through the faithful testimony of his wife. Yet he rejects it all. She needs to know these things in order to make an informed decision about her future.
And, once more I am the bearer of bad tidings: she probably will not hear these things from her church. Instead, she is going to be given a false hope. “God loves everyone, even your husband. Just be faithful and pray for him and be patient and Jesus will save him.” I have concluded that these kinds of things are not only bad advice, they are bad and unbiblical theology. God’s Word tells us differently.
[July 1, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to July 1, 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 July 1, 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 July 1, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 1, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
- Posted in: Abusers
- Tagged: church response to abuse, false Christians, Hebrews, identifying abusers, Jeff Crippen, praying for the abuser, protecting victims, reprobate
Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments. Cancel reply
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
I understand what you mean and could see the validity of your argument, I don’t know how how this could be applied in actual practice. I don’t know of any Christians that would specifically point someone out as committing the unpardonable sin of 1 John 5 or achieved the enlightenment of Hebrews 6 and fallen away. We can rest assured instead that God is not mocked and will render to each one according to his works.
It is of first importance however to be active in defending the flock of God. We should demand that appropriate demonstration of repentance accompany the abuser before admitting him to fellowship, and if he does not meet those he should be banned, even getting restraining orders on him. It requires discernment but God has given us the resources in His word and through prayer to acquire that discernment. Does the abuser complain about how people view him or lament how judgmental people are of him? Does the abuser cite reasons besides his sinful heart? These often are signs that mock repentance, something like the pseudo-repentance of Judas.
Additionally, if a former abuser is truly repentant and forgiven, he should be willing to subject himself to the direction of his leaders and act in a way that is best for the church. Take for example if the abuser wants to attend a church of a former victim. This means a pastor should be able to meet with him and guide him to a different church. If he is repentant he should be willing to undergo this inconvenience.
Thanks, Ben. Very good. Yes, there is no way that we can pronounce someone reprobate – until that Day. But as you say, these Scriptural facts are vital for us to know so that we can wisely understand what we may well be facing as we deal with evil in the church. I am finding out something very interesting now that I have studied abuse and talked with quite a few Christians who are victims of abuse. They get it. Once they understand abuse, they understand sin.
If I were to write this blog post and deliver it to the average evangelical congregation, the response would not be a very welcome one. Your insights into recognizing real repentance are, in my experience, a rarity in the church. When it comes down to it, it is our ignorance of sound Bible doctrine that is permitting wolves to hide among the flock, and victims to be dealt injustice. Ignorance, and of course, our own sin. I really appreciate your stance that a former abuser who asks to return to the church of his former victim must be directed elsewhere. Amazingly, that is not a typical reaction to such a request and the victim is virtually run out of her church, accused of being unforgiving.
I hope and pray that we are going to be able to correct many of these false ideas that seem to be deeply ingrained among Christians today. Thanks again very much for your comments. Very helpful.
Thank you, Jeff, it means a lot to hear this coming from you as I know you have much experience dealing with these situations.
You’re probably right about the reception you would have in many evangelical congregations perhaps also in non-evangelical as well. One compounding factor I think is the glorifying of “having a past” or a radical testimony. The evangelical community has a soft spot for stories about folks that were junkies and prostitutes who spent time in jail but God saved them. And these are generally stories that we should rejoice in to show that Jesus saves sinners of even notorious sins. These style of testimonies only go so far in their helpfulness towards the church. I have known of some lifetime church-goers to be jealous of people with juicy testimonies, which is definitely a wrong perspective!
So on its surface someone confessing to being “formerly abusive” fits the mold of a notorious sin that folks are eager to say “Yes! Jesus forgives even the most vile sinners!” This is true! But! You as you know abuse is a very complicated sin because it involves so much manipulation and the damage is always much deeper than it appears on the surface.
I am young – 23 years old, but God has put several abuse victims in my life that I have been able to speak with and offer some counsel towards. One was going to a “Christian” [school?] where two separate men were “disciplining” her after school and infusing so much shame into her life she could not bring herself to voice anything. Some even followed her home and she was living in constant fear. My counsel was to “call the police, tell your parents, get transferred to a different school” and a few practical things like this. I also brought to her attention the lies that she was being told to believe. Lies like “God is punishing you” and “you deserve this.” I told her to write down these statements in a journal and label the page: “Lies.” Just to reinforce the fact. I asked her if she had seen someone else being treated like this if she would tell them that they deserved it, which she of course answered “no”. I told her clearly that these men were not Christians regardless of what they said. I also asked my pastor to get in contact with someone within the denomination to arrange for some no-cost Christian psychological counseling (she lived in a different state).
Another girl, a friend of mine was a rape victim who was raped again by the same person the following night. He broke into her house and it was someone she knew. The police were already involved and all I knew to do was spend as much time with her as possible.
It is all a scary thing, and once you go down the rabbit hole you are exposed to the depth of depravity and it is hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that demons are at work. I am so glad that this blog exists and think the church at large can use the education about this blind spot we seem to have.
Hi, Ben. You said:
Well I’m one Christian who can point out that kind of person. (And I bet there are many other Christian survivors like me who can tell similar stories.)
My ex-husband is a reprobate. He abused me for 4 years in the first part of our marriage, in which neither he nor I were professing Christians. I left the marriage and got child custody sorted after a big court battle. I started attending church and became a professing and practising Christian. I gave him a Bible and witnessed to him many times when our child was being handed over for visitation. He wasn’t interested in Christianity until we’d been separated for 4 years; then he accepted my invitation to come to an evening church service where he responded to the altar call and said the sinner’s prayer (Pentecostal church). For the next few months he showed quite marked signs of true conversion: he loved to read the Bible and go to church and be with other believers, he heard the Lord speaking to him in his dreams with instructions like “Read Matthew 18:3” (“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”). And although at first I hadn’t been wanting reconciliation, I began to want it, seeing these changes in him.
So we reconciled, renewed our vows, and within 12 months he had shed all his Christian colouring and was assaulting me again. Mind you, in those 12 months he’d been very verbally and psychologically abusive, but I didn’t SEE it ’til he assaulted me again.
Once during those 12 months he’d even heard God telling him very sternly and specifically “Go and tell Barbara you are sorry for treating her the way you’ve been treating her, and ask her how she would like to be treated.” I nearly fell off my chair when came home from work that day and told me what God had said to him. But his brief flash of reform didn’t last even 24 hours.
He remains unrepentant to this day. How do I know? Because he’s lied; he’s never apologised to me or our child, and he told his family a pack of porkies to cover up the real reasons why I kicked him out, divorced him, and eventually pulled the plug on visitation.
Surely this man is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is talking about:
Like the seed sown on shallow ground: it springs up with great promise but it comes to nothing.
I can only speak from experience and — as Ben says — it’s not for me to have the final say although I don’t really think that’s needed.
Practically speaking, Christian victims stay because a) they want to please God and b) they believe that with time, prayer, fasting, and their faithful witness, the abuser will see the error of his ways and repent. In fact, many victims have been told it is because they haven’t prayed, fasted and lived out a sufficiently gentle and quiet witness that they are still being abused and the husband has not repented.
But what if this person does not see anything wrong with their actions? They see no need to repent. They enjoy their rage, their hate, their fury and they certainly enjoy unleashing every bit they can get away with on the ones who love them and look to them for protection, all the while hiding their actions, justifying their behavior and living a double life with one face for the family and another for the church.
Is this sinful? You bet it is. Check out that list of the fruits of the Spirit. When someone hates their wife and children, determines in their heart that his family deserves to be punished any way he chooses because this is his right and privilege and all the while, pretends to be the picture of Christian piety to others — that is a dangerous position spiritually speaking.
In my case, the estranged did not get to this position over night. I think at first, he realized he had a problem. He had opportunity after opportunity to repent. He did not. He refused counseling, refused offers of mentoring by stable men, refused to grow up. His heart hardened toward me first, then his children.
Maybe there’s a time for holding out hope. Maybe there’s a window. But the hardened abuser who blames everyone else in the universe for their actions and plays the hypocrite day after day has made a decision. Eventually those catch up with you.
So — practically speaking to the woman trapped in this kind of mess? You can pray from a distance but protect yourself and your kids. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking he’ll change if he’s kept this up, hardening his heart with every encounter and refusing true repentance. Highly unlikely to happen.
A man who hates and believes he is entitled to hang on to that hatred, punishing those who love him is one hard-hearted individual.
Ida, I could not agree with you more.
The Christian calls to “turn the other cheek” and “pray for those who persecute you” are directed towards those who would suffer persecution for righteousness sake, not for those who are being tormented from within the home.
God has called us to pray and not lose heart. Yes! There is no need to qualify that. The Lord loves to hear our desperate prayers. But He has not called us to live like that.
The Bible says that if anyone does not care for his own family and especially those of his immediate household he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. A wife should not feel guilt for divorcing such a wicked man. The husband is bearing the guilt. He has demanded the divorce.
Thank you for writing this.
For years “turn the other cheek”, and other verses like these are thrown around if even just in my own head to blame myself somehow. I hate how Scripture is turned into catchy philosophical bits to give “credibility” to our own stupid justified thinking. My h loves the “wives submit” verse. No one ever seems to know what it means though and he loves that about it even more.
Being a covertly abused wife is a very terrible place to be.
He punishes me with stonewalling – it’s literally like I don’t exist. My kids do it too.
I’ve just lost it recently. I’m done – exhausted and tortured by the daily hate. Anyway – denied the faith and worse than an unbeliever. He’ll take care of the kids just great — but me — I don’t even exist. Isolating me in my own home. Still he acts like I don’t give him a chance to “grow and learn” b/c we’re all sinners and he’s not “perfect.” Oh and I’m “not innocent”. Oh wait but I actually am.
My “ex” was very abusive – physically, mentally and emotionally. He would go to church with me, but if I couldn’t attend, he would stay home….he just wouldn’t go without me. (And it was certainly not to look after me if I was sick.) It was as if he thought that I was an “extension” of him….or he of me….I’m not sure. I only know THAT was sick.
Never did I recall him ever reading the Bible on his own, even though he professed to being a Christian when he was baptized 40 years ago. Before we were married 42 years ago, during the marriage and since I left, I’ve read God’s Word daily. I mention this only to illustrate that it was not for lack of an example that he did not read the Bible.
He got baptized when I was baptized….he joined the choir when I joined. Going to church made him feel and “look” good. I can still see his “pious” and self-satisfied smile whenever we attended. I don’t pretend to judge anyone on who or who is not a Christian. I simply rest my case.
Have you had experience with applying church discipline to an abuser, and if so, what were the results? Good post. I think you’re right in what you say.
Thank you! Yes, myself and our Elders have had a number of experiences with disciplining abusers. The stories I could tell! Ultimately, these cases come down to putting the abuser out of the church. His lack of conscience does not bring about repentance. But we did protect the church, and the victim. The abuser never admits his sin, blames the victim, and when we confront him, he turns on us as well.
And then there is another interesting result in some of the cases. The victim sides with the abuser and leaves with him. Other churches readily receive these men into their fellowship, believe their story of how wickedly they were treated by us, and never bother to contact us. And, of course, there is normally one or two or three others in the church that exercise the discipline, that believes the abuser’s charges that we did not treat him fairly.
That is the real story. It isn’t ever enjoyable. But it is obedience to Christ and the protection of the flock. Oh, incidentally, the last abuser we put out of the church was just re-arrested last week for 6 felony charges related to stalking his victim and burglarizing her house. He professes to be a Christian. Right!
Wow! The church we are members of had to put a man out for abusing his wife. He actually had to be chased off church property at one point. He was readily received into another church and continues to slander his now ex-wife.
I could tell you stories of when my husband was a pastor and exercised church discipline. Not pretty.
How often does an abuser have to be put out of your church? How does the church feel after the abuser is gone? How about mothers who abuse their children? Have you had any cases like that? Anyway, I was just wondering if all the cases have followed the same pattern, or if there is variety in the cases you have dealt with?
Nice blog, and wonderful post. I think that you are correct in what you have said, and courageous, too. Thank you.
Thank you! You and your husband must have had a faithful ministry. Most pastors and churches today simply will not obey Christ and practice church discipline. They call it love. I think it is disobedience. Over the 20 years that I have been the pastor of Christ Reformation Church, we have had to discipline to the point of ex-communication, probably 10 people. Others, of course, have refused to repent but have simply left so they could continue to hide their sin. There is almost always fallout among the congregation, often with the same people who just don’t seem to “get it.” We have been criticized many times for being unapproachable, judgmental, and harsh. The wicked person who leaves or is put out continues to try to turn our people against us, and is readily welcomed into another church in town – who believes his or her story.
Abuse comes in different forms, but it is the same beast. It can be domestic violence abuse, or it can function in the workplace, or – in the church. Abusers all want power and control – they are entitled to it and justified in doing what they need to to get it. We have had both men and women abusers of this kind in the church, in addition to domestic violence abusers. Those who work their abuse in the church are like Diotrephes of 3 John. They want to be first. Usually they succeed in taking over a whole church, as was the case in our church before I was called here. One was in charge of the music. Another in charge of the office. Still another ruled the board. Dealing with them was not pretty. They never admitted ANY fault nor repented in any way. But Christ sustained us through it all. The cost was high in many ways. The 160 person membership is now about 55. We struggle financially. We are slandered among the other churches. But our children have grown up to love Christ.
I have been mulling over this post, struggling with accepting the fact that abusers aren’t Christians, and yet relieved that if that could be established once and for all, it would solve many issues. Post-separation violence would be curtailed, as much of it hinges on the ability of the abuser to involve church friends or pastors who feel they should help the “flawed” or weak believer transform. I can’t really push this idea with churched folk, and he must know it, because as he loses his grip on me, he is grasping ever so tightly to his church connections who would most likely reject the notion that they are dealing with a wolf.
As a pastor, what do you think is the best way of presenting this type of teaching to my church leadership? They seem to consist of genuine, God-fearing, God-loving, evangelical folk but they have not had a lot of exposure to domestic violence training and as a result, the congregation has been a safe haven for violent spouses. Those who are obviously aggressive and anti-church are dealt with effectively, but those who are more covert and hide under Christian pretenses manage to comfortably carry on. The leadership see no reason to ex-communicate him as he cries tears of remorse and he is not doing anything to physically harm anyone. The pastor also feels that he has no right to bar anyone from setting foot in a public place, and no right to warn others or he will be seen to be taking sides.
Well, I sure don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you what it required for me and our church here to wise up. First of all, we had to come to a right understanding of the Gospel. That is a tall order. What I mean by this is that we had a lot of baggage to un-learn. We needed to carefully examine Scripture and rely on it rather than blindly embracing many of the traditions we had been taught and then superimposing them on the Scripture instead of the other way around. We needed answers to questions such as 1) What is salvation and who does the saving? 2) Who and what is a Christian? 3) What is the church? 4) Can a person habitually walk and live in sin and still be a Christian? We came to the right answers after a 3 year in-depth study of the book of Romans, helped out by people like R.C. Sproul and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. When we emerged from that study, we realized that the old theology of “Easy Believism” that so many of us had been taught was wrong. We realized that we were Reformed Baptists.
And you know what? As we connected with more churches in Reformed Baptist circles, we heard our same story from them over and over again. They had all grown weary of sin being tolerated in the church. The Bible wasn’t making sense to them. And then they read a book or heard a Reformed teacher like Sproul and the lights came on for them. In addition, we have found that these churches practice church discipline. I mean, they really do.
At the root of the attitudes you have described in your note is bad theology. Your church leaders are (just like we were) naive about the real nature of sin and its deceptions. You will often hear Reformed Theologians talking about “the doctrines of grace,” and these are the fundamentals that we came to embrace as accurate biblical doctrine. By faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone, Scripture alone, and to God alone be all glory. These are also known as the five “solas”. Quite often when individual believers begin to come to an understanding of these fundamental doctrines, turmoil can ensue. Pastors have been dismissed for teaching them. Churches have split. Members have been asked to leave. At the root of the controversy is simply man’s refusal to understand that the sinner is radically fallen and dead in sin, and that therefore it is God alone who must save us from start to finish. There is no room for us to boast (Ephesians 2).
For a better understanding on all of this, I highly recommend the many DVD series by R.C. Sproul available at Ligonier.org. Perhaps begin with “What is Reformed Theology?” I can assure you from long, hard experience that this is all directly connected with the problems and frustrations you are facing in your church’s dealings with the abuser.
Secondly, a church will never handle an abuser and his victim correctly until they understand the mentality and tactics of abuse. You cannot apply a remedy to something that you don’t even know about. Abuse is far more serious and evil and deceitful than most Christians even imagine. Church leaders and pastors and members need to humble themselves and admit their ignorance and start reading about abuse.
With all of that said, I must caution you. The chances of even one of these things happening successfully, let alone both of them, is very slim. In most cases you will find out that the apparent God-fearing, God-loving folk turn out to be, well — not. That sounds terribly judgmental and harsh, but after you have talked with as many Christian women who are abuse victims / survivors, you will understand why I have come to this conclusion. The fact is that the supposed Bible-believing church of our day is in a terrible state. It embraces man-made traditions over the Word of God. Many in its ranks are not Christians at all. So, blessings on you if you go for it, but don’t be blown away if you get blown away!
Finally, I really, really appreciated what you have said here. You are truly thinking these things over and your conclusions about the positive things that would happen if a church would get its theology right and its knowledge about abuse (sin) right, is exactly correct. Just imagine a church where no deceptive abuser could pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Where victims are protected and believed and the wicked who won’t repent are put out. It would be….it would be HEAVEN!
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.
Amen! So true.
Reformed Theology is very important. Anyone who has the notion that a person can be saved simply by ‘making a choice for Christ’ of their own initiative, is yet to learn the whole truth of the New Testament. It’s God who chooses, God who elects, God who is Sovereign, God who ordains providence, God who quickens the spirit which is dead in sin and makes it alive in Christ. Only when God quickens us do we feel the impulse to ‘choose’ Christ. But we couldn’t have felt that impulse if God had not drawn us first, and enabled us to desire Christ as our Saviour, Lord, Friend and Brother.
And understanding of abuse (the language, the tactics, the ploys, the camouflage, the manipulation, the lies, the stony selfish heart, the gradual and subtle escalation….) is also vital. If the anti-terrorist agencies did not understand terrorism, they would be worse than useless at maintaining safety for ordinary citizens. When the church does not understand domestic abuse it is worse than useless at maintaining safety for victims of domestic terrorism.
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, Jeff. I am glad that you included individuals who want to dominate a church in the examples you gave of church discipline, whether they are male or female.
Sociopaths in the Bible (Commentary on 2 Peter 2) [Internet Archive link]
Thank you very much for this link, Survivor. The book that is being reviewed there looks excellent, and it’s very relevant to the post I’m composing now about mental illness and the perpetration of domestic abuse.
The Apostle Peter clearly understood the mindset of sociopathy. Psychiatry has given the mindset a fandangled new name, but truly there is nothing new under the sun.
This posting is one (of many) with which I so strongly agree.
People need to understand and accept the elementary fact that….both the term and the idea of a “Christian abuser”….is an oxymoron.
It is simply no more possible or plausible for a person to be a “Christian abuser” than it is possible or plausible for a person to be a “Christian satanist”; or a “Christian serial killer”; or a “Christian rapist”; or a “Christian child molester”; etc. –– and it’s not likely that a church would “encourage” anyone (including even a spouse) to stay with someone who “embraced” claiming to be an adherent of any of those (or other) “contradictory” terms.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that a person is EITHER a follower of Christ (and is, thus, repentant of their sinful ways and has turned away from them) OR they are NOT a follower of Christ.
For a person to hold onto and embrace wicked, violent behavior — while they are also (falsely) claiming to be part of the “body of Christ” / “bride of Christ” — is an insult to Christ and His work on the cross and an insult to and rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit (which then falls into the line of blasphemy) and makes that person into a “reprobate”.
I know several people who are quick to correct others and I personally can’t stand them.
[This comment was submitted by Voo Loo and I am publishing it under my gravatar now I’ve had email contact with her and am confident she is genuine. Thanks for your patience, Voo Loo!]
I found this post so very interesting and agree with just about all of it, except that I am not Reformed. Nevertheless, I do believe in salvation through faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone and don’t subscribe to “Easy Believism”. Or the notion that a truly born again believer can habitually continue in sin. My confusion or question is what about someone who claims to believe all these things and even steadfastly preaches about these very things and yet display ongoing controlling, manipulative behavior over others? Is someone such as this always pretending to be a Christian or can someone be so self-deceived and deluded that they actually think they are a Christian, when in fact they probably aren’t, but truly believe they are?
JesusmyJoy – it really could be all or any of the above. It is my opinion that an abuser, as we define him / her here at ACFJ (see the sidebar on our blog) cannot possibly be a real Christian, regenerated and in Christ. A new creation born of God does not continue to walk habitually in sin with a mindset that is still in the flesh. (See Romans 8 and 1 John). But the wicked can certainly be deceived and fancy themselves to be quite the holy saint when in fact they are still children of the devil.
To Barbara and Jeff, and the many others who are here contributing comments about an unbeliever in the guise of a so-called Christian.
May God help me to be clear and use clarity from the Holy Spirit.
I have been on a journey of finding out who I am in Christ, and also who my husband is of 40-plus years of marriage.
We were both raised in the same so-called Christian fellowship, where the ministers would have intense Scriptural debates with questions and answers as to what “we” believed so that we would be equipped to “go out into the world” to be able to confront and equip others with our indoctrination. It was a very subtle mindset which had one believing we were right, and many other denominations were wrong. One could not question what was presented as the Gospel and other Biblical principles and beliefs. If a person questioned some of the top ministers, they were intensely scrutinized with Scriptures which were taken out of context, to fit the belief. I won’t be specific here of what the doctrines were, but, once I began to reading Scripture on my own, I began to see the subtle mindset which kept people chained to an organization and not to Christ.
Because of this, my husband lived in an area 200 miles from myself [Before Many Years was married.]1, and the particular off-shoot of the denomination we were in were probably the worst as far as “talking the talk” and “walking the walk” as the young people were not allowed to “put a toe out of line” and thus many were unable to even grow spiritually for themselves as they had been indoctrinated and “thought” they were Christians, due to the fact they “knew it all” and had a “corner on the truth”. This created false senses of self, which I would call “pride” which is one of the false pretenses of sin, being: The pride of life; or in this case: The pride of self-righteous knowledge. This type of spiritual deception has horrible consequences if not put right within the heart of the individual. It was not about confession and repentance, and forsaking your sins. It was more about “conforming” to the set rules and regulations set down by the ministry.
When I married my husband, I thought he was a Christian just because we had belonged and had fellowship with “like-minded” Christians. I did not even dream my husband might not be a Christian. But he had rages, verbally abusing me, mentally exhausting me, he was way too friendly with other women, and did not care about my feelings on that matter, or it was the possibility that he could not even relate to how a so-called Christian husband was to emulate Christ concerning the church as His bride.
I won’t go into a lot of details. But it has been a ten year journey, trying to decipher the conundrum of my marriage to see what in the world was wrong.
I was very thankful for the internet, and “A Cry For Justice” was one of my first sites to come to, yet it took three more years to come to the point of discerning who my husband really is.
I began doing research not only from Christian sites, but also psychological sites, to confirm and reaffirm the personality type which fit my husband. I was gleaning information, but I was not getting any solutions. I now have a very discerning spiritual eye because of the research I gleaned. I have been going to Leslie Vernick’s site for the past two years have been comforted by others who have similar stories about their marriages. The Scriptures and the no-nonsense questions and answers fortified my strength in the Lord. Ten years before, I had found Cloud and Townsend’s “Boundaries” and I cried my eyes out, many times, realizing the subtle abuse I had endured as a believer in Christ, not only from the fellowship I had grown up in, but also from my husband whom I could barely hold any type of spiritual conversation with. With him, it was “we” believe this or that. It was never “I” believe this or that, or he would say: “Isn’t that what “we” believe?” Or the “perfect” prayer he would say at the dinner table which was more ritualistic and conformed to how he was “taught” to pray, not much different with children who are taught their first prayer when going to sleep.
It has been a sad journey, but it has also drawn me so close to my Lord and Savior. Six months ago, I began doing a search on how to discern if a person is really saved or not. And yes, there were always the sites which would tell the believing wife to “just obey, be nice, be calm, don’t preach and you may just win your husband over to the Lord.” I do have family whom I confide in and who also know my husband and know about his verbal abuse, including our children growing up in the same dysfunctional church life. Because of two of my own siblings — a sister and a brother — I have been able to confide in them, and we are older, over 50, so with our spiritual insight and input into each other’s lives — I have been able to come full circle, coming back to your site here, and getting positive confirmation that with all the facts that I have about my husband, I truly believe he has been a wolf in sheep’s clothing, even to the point of blinding himself, as my siblings admonished me to ask a revealing question of my husband.
They asked me to ask my husband what John 3:16 meant to him. They said it would reveal what was in his heart. So, an opportunity presented itself one evening, and I asked my husband “What does John 3:16 mean to you?” Now, if you think about it, most believing Christians would say something like “It means you have asked Christ into your heart and you have repented of your sins.” And the obvious fact that those who have accepted Christ have that unique oneness through the Holy Spirit, and the conversation would be one of joy and love in the Lord. Not so, with my husband. They say that narcissistic people, when asked a question will answer back with a question. And that is exactly what my husband did. His was not an affirmative answer. He said to me “What do you mean?” I began to get an ache in my heart, because, here before me, was my own husband, not being able to communicate readily in the Spirit. And then he said, taking the attention off himself (another “bait-and-switch” tactic of the narcissistic mind), he said: “You can express it better than I can.” Well, we have a handicapped son, who was standing right there in the kitchen, and he “gets it”, and he said, touching his own heart “God is in my heart!” What more could a Christian husband want from a child who confessed God, and readily responding, with no trepidation of spirit but just the simple truth of God! My husband had no reaction whatsoever to the comment from the beautiful, child-like faith of our son. I said no more to my husband as he walked out the garage door to tinker with one of his cars.
I did send my husband an email that evening thanking him for saying that he felt I could express what John 3:16 meant, yet I told him, “I wasn’t asking for myself, but I was asking you to tell me what that Scripture meant to you personally.” Then I said, “You can get down on your knees by your bed tonight and confess and repent of your sins to the Lord.” My husband never responded to my email. Which causes me to believe he is not saved.
So, it has been from that platform of proof that I have been put on a different journey than what I thought I was on. And when I began doing more searches about what to do with an unbelieving husband, I came across this post and your site, in God’s timing. All of our children are adults and married, so we only have our handicapped son who is left at home.
Satan and self is the worst enemy to face, if a person is not saved. The blinded heart is what it is, blind by choice. And it is sad and scary at the same time to see a person who has no clue as to what salvation is. Yet, like this post says, THEY DO KNOW, and they have been enlightened, yet they continue to live in their sins, and they are spitting in our precious Lord Jesus’ face, just as the crowds did on Calvary.
So, please pray for me, as I listen to the Holy Spirit, and crave God’s guidance as to what my next step is for this marriage. This has been a revelation; and an abuser who appears to have no control over his emotions and feelings, which rage (verbal abuse) can be triggered by the slightest human error, or “perceived” error by the abuser against the victim. This is no “normal” marriage scenario. I believe the “pride of life” is what has kept my husband from repenting, as he is too connected to his worldly success, his assets, and worldly possessions. And also “the fear of man” in his life being raised in a so-called spiritual environment where he would be banished from fellowship if he didn’t “keep up appearances” in front of other people. This is a resident spiritual evil of a long standing. I am safe for the time being. But I know now, that it is not my journey to try and save my husband. If he won’t listen to the faithful kindness of his wife, why would he want to listen to a powerful Holy Spirit?
1[November 22, 2022: We added the clarification about Many Years based on her comment of 11TH July 2018 – 5:05 PM, where she wrote: “I want to clarify one comment about my husband living 200 miles away from where I lived. That was BEFORE we were married.” Editors.]
Thank you for your comment, Many Years.
I am glad you are seeing all this with clarity. 🙂
I am sure the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you as to what your next step is for this marriage.
Perhaps is you browse through our Insights page, our FAQ page or our Resources page, there might be some things there which God can use to give you guidance.
I want to clarify one comment about my husband living 200 miles away from where I lived. That was BEFORE we were married.
Thank you, Barbara. I will definitely be browsing the website more for spiritual direction.
Pastor Jeff wrote:
(Bold done by me.)
I was raised in this and by this….
We attended “c”hurch when I was a child, my “parents” clothed in Sunday attire.
It was a facade.
When I grew older, I attended “c”hurch by myself. The Word spoken was lifeless, Pharisaical, and dry.
It was a facade.
When I got “married”, I was told my wedding dress could not bare my shoulders, there was certain music they would not play. They never taught me Who to wear in my heart.
It was a facade.
When I attended a different “c”hurch, they questioned Christ’s need to die on the cross.
It was a facade.
When I attended my last “c”hurch, the wolves sat in both pulpit and “pew”.
It was a facade.
I have had no security.
It’s been a facade.
The walls crumbled first….the facade has fallen, too.
Perhaps now I will find security….