A Cry For Justice

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

Abuse and the Misuse of Church Authority

Perhaps this photo illustrates how many abuse victims feel when their church renders them injustice?  Our readers might like to add some comments!

This picture is not available.


  1. Desley

    I recently wrote “my story” in my journey beyond abuse group. “My story” was the *one thing* in the midst of all the abuse that hurt the most or was the hardest to get over. My “one thing” was the way the church mishandled the abuse for so many years and made me feel like it was my fault – although they still deny doing that. How they initially minimized the abuse and basically said it was all in my head. And then, when Child Services got involved, how they implicitly, but very clearly, regarded my husband’s abusive behavior as a “family problem” which we were all equal contributors to. And how my lack of submission and the disobedience of my son were the elephants in the room during every meeting wherein they attempted to “get to the bottom of things.” And finally, how I was made to feel like I had the spirit of Jezebel because I eventually came to the point where I refused this “god-glorifying” male hierarchy to pursue justice, mercy, and healing for my children and myself.

    My illustrations were Jesus’ gigantic sandal, inscribed with the words “God’s Glory” on the strap, and myself and my children being crushed lifeless underneath. The other was this gigantic church building with everyone inside except my son and I. We were the little lone figures outside, betrayed by the church that refers to itself as the body of Christ.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Dear Desley – well then, that monster “throne chair” resonates with you! Jesus’ letters to the 7 churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3 demonstrate that it is a minority of churches He is really pleased with, a majority He has serious issues with, and a final element that is not His church in anyway. Can we doubt that He has removed His lampstand from among many? And it is this whole matter of injustice being dealt to oppressed victims of abuse that is such a revealer of the real heart of a church, its leaders, and its members. Thank you!

    • Dear Desley
      You are not alone! Believe me, I’ve heard scores of survivors say that the ‘one thing’ that was more hurtful than all the other things was the way their church dealt with them. Spiritual abuse cuts very deep. Thanks for sharing.
      I like those two images. The only thing I would suggest is that you re-frame the sandal image so you see it not as Jesus’ sandal but as a Pharisee’s sandal.
      And we know what Jesus called the Pharisees: hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, nests of vipers.
      Jesus does not crush victims of abuse. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. (Matt. 12:20)

    • Anonymous

      Desley: Isn’t it awful! They play such mind games. They accuse you and then say, “don’t make false assumptions or accusations”. They place equal blame on the victim and her children and sympathize with the poor abuser who was just reacting to his Jezebel wife. Great visuals you have described here. Why does anyone believe that God has to abuse and crush His people to get glory for Himself? I like the post on this blog that deals with that and describes the difference between man-made suffering like abuse and God glorifying suffering, like Job, Joseph, David, etc. To me, the difference being, that abuse leaves the victims rendered helpless and poor and usually devastated and struggling in the end; and God glorifying suffering, brings exaltation and restoration to the people who suffered under His hand of suffering, making them kings and leaders of countries and rich beyond rich. Big difference.

  2. no name please

    My pastor was wonderful and supported me, even when he didn’t fully grasp the abuse as a daily thing, thought of it as “this instance” and”today’s email”. He believed me and supported me. My ex had just started attending another church when his affair came to light and his pastor, who was copied on all the email exchanges, repeatedly told me I was in sin because “God tells us not to be afraid” and recently I sent him a link to this site because he shepherds people he needs to know emotional abuse is TURE. His answer was that “it was a he said, she said situation”. Oh really, when he invaded my house and threatened me then tried to change history and say I enticed him to invade my house so I could call the police. No, not he said she said…classic abuser following the pattern when his control was taken away!

    • So a pastor said were in sin because “God tells us not to be afraid”!
      — that’s a putrid misuse of scripture!

      I’d like to know how that pastor would explain Jesus’ sweating blood at Gethsemane. Sweating blood is a medically recognised phenomenon that can occur when a person is in terror believing their life is in imminent danger. The tiny blood vessel walls break due to the intense fear, so blood seeps out the sweat pores. Jesus was afraid. Terrified. But we know Jesus never sinned. So how would that pastor explain his notion that it’s sinful to be afraid?

      Ooh I get angry about this stuff!

  3. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  4. My illustration is one in my art journal with a photo of a church and the line : “Here there be tygers>” (spelling is correct-the quote came from a book). My ex pastor once told me that it was his job to tell me how to be a wife to my husband-not my husband’s -or at least not only his.

    • Desley

      I am so sorry you had to go through that, Jodi. 😦

    • Jeff Crippen

      Perhaps he should have selected a religion that allows polygamy because at least in part that is what he was telling you!!

  5. Desley

    Thanks Barbara, that is a great Scripture!

    Deep down I do believe that the sandal of the pharisee is more true to reality than that of Jesus. But for many years that is exactly what I believed – that is, that God cared more about His own glory than about the safety or well-being of the children and myself.

    My church idolizes teachers like John Piper, and thus the institution of marriage and the hierarchy in the home which is “patterned after and reflective of the Trinity” are elevated above people themselves. I am constantly burdened with feeling like I have wandered away from the Lord in disobedience. Believe me when I say, He is the only reason I am alive right now and the only reason I can live in the future. What point is there to live if my whole life is worthless because I am walking out of God’s will? If I am only going to steer my children straight to the pits of hell? It’s a horrible thing to believe. I have been an absolute wreck. Sometimes I hate God. It is a horrible thing to believe that God thinks that the measure of my very value is the extent to which I display His glory through role playing – that I am nothing but His pawn – a means to His own end – and that He has no qualms about grinding me in the dirt in the process.

    In all rights it should be a pharisee sandal. But if I had have been able to recognize that, I don’t think it would have been the one thing that hurt me the most.I wish it were that easy to rectify now.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Desley – I suspect from your comments here that you are further along the path of healing than you might realize! I don’t sense you are accusing God, but just being honest about how all of this has made you feel because it was all done in the Lord’s name. Didn’t Martin Luther say something similar, that sometimes he hates God?

    • Jeff S

      “It is a horrible thing to believe that God thinks that the measure of my very value is the extent to which I display His glory through role playing – that I am nothing but His pawn – a means to His own end – and that He has no qualms about grinding me in the dirt in the process.”

      These words sound like they are coming from someone who’s identity has been attacked and quite damaged. I know because struggling with identity was a major thing for me in this process. Whether they realized or not, the elders at my church (along with my wife through her actions of disregard for me as a person) were preaching to me a doctrine of loss of identity. I began to believe that the ultimate goal of faith was for there to be nothing left of me- that perfection and being fully “in Christ” meant there was no concept of “Jeff”. I don’t think anyone realized this was what was being preached, but it was what I heard.

      The thing is, that is NOT the God of Christianity. He is intently interested in us as individuals- being subsumed into some global identity is the idea of eastern mysticism, not the teaching of the Bible. The Bible is full of accounts of individuals and their encounters with God and His will- some joyful and others tragic- but always about people.

      When I was going through the worst of it, I started reading through the Gospels paying particular attention to two questions:

      1) Who was Jesus empathetic toward (and he was a MASTER of empathy)? The broken, hurting, and oppressed.

      2) Who did Jesus rebuke? The proud religious oppressors abusing others for their own need to be exalted.

      Now I knew the above answers, but reading and seeing the accounts of Christ doing the above was immensely encouraging.

      One of the fundamental truths that got me through was “God sees me”. Knowing that helped me not let go of my faith. It helped me choose life.

      • Song

        What a breath of rare, fresh air! I am heartily breathing this conversation in, and loving the truth that is here! I heartily agree with your comments, Jeff Crippen and Jeff S., and am supporting you, Desley!

    • YES and YES again, Desley! I want to hug and dance with you round the living room for your marvelous summation of the implications of role-based theology:

      “God thinks that the measure of my very value is the extent to which I display His glory through role playing.”

      How false that idea is.
      God does not measure our value by how much we display His glory through role playing.
      God does not need us to display His glory through role playing!
      God displays His glory in many and varied ways, none of which require us to DO anything except believe in his Son Jesus Christ and trust in him for our salvation.

      Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
      (John 6:28-29)

      God so loved the world that He sent his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

  6. Cindy Burrell

    The magnitude of the harm that has been done by the legalists simply cannot be understated. I am infuriated when I read others’ stories that reveal once again the heavy weight of judgment that continues to be lain on innocent followers by those who declare themselves to be our guides and protectors. It is pastoral malpractice!

    It is really sad that sometimes we have to break free of church and even those who call themselves believers to hear from the One who loves us most.

    • Jeff Crippen

      In which case, the “church” has become no longer the church. Then we have to go outside the camp and find Jesus, which is where He always is anyway.

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.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: