A Cry For Justice

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

Foolish Naivete About Evil Disqualifies a “Counselor”

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 8:42-44  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Romans 3:10-17  as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”

The doctrine of the total depravity of man does not mean that every human being is as evil (depraved) as they could possibly be. Nor does it mean that all people are equally evil or that all sins are as sinful as others. What it does mean is that the being of man is totally fallen. That the effects of sin have infected every part of the human: mind, body, soul, emotions, so that there is no “island of goodness” in man which has been left unaffected. In other words, Luke Skywalker’s opinion that Darth Vader had some good in him somewhere is mere fiction.

Many people, including pastors and counselors, profess to adhere to the doctrine of total depravity, and yet in practice they are more like Jedi knights, looking to the good side of the force in everyone. This totally disqualifies them from dealing properly with abusers. I want to say that again. Anyone who approaches an abuse situation with the notion that somehow through kindness and love, through behavior changes by victims, etc., the “good part” of the abuser can be reached and appealed to, needs to step down off of their high horse and just stop it!  Stop giving advice to victims of abuse. Stop counseling abusers or even listening to them. This kind of thinking is foolishness at best and rank arrogance at worst. And it is dangerous.

In my chapter on Dealing With Abusers in my book, A Cry for Justice, I addressed this foolish naivete about evil. I said that in dealing with an abuser you must believe nothing he or she says. You must seek corroboration to his claims. You must assume that he is trying to deceive you, that he is falsely blaming his victim, that he is lying. And then I wrote that if anyone is unwilling to use this approach, they are simply unqualified to be involved with abuse cases. Naivete is dangerous. There is no place here for “always keep thinking on the brighter side of life” because the evil of abuse is darkness.  It is very dark, and there is no light in it at all.  Yes, it is that bad.

Foolish naivete about evil leads to all kinds of crazy and damaging advice to victims: 1) You must be doing something to set him off, 2) We are all sinners, 3) The Bible says that if you just love him enough he will change, 4) He is just suffering from the torments of his childhood . . . blah, blah, blah. The reality of the abuser mentality is set out very plainly in Scripture however. There IS such a thing as evil. There ARE evil people. They won’t change. They don’t intend to change. They are indeed capable of appearing as angels of light. Remember, these “servants” Paul talks about are people:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

God’s Word is very plain on the reality and nature of evil. We have no excuse for not being wise in this regard. And therefore I conclude that foolish naivete about some supposed “island of goodness” in every human being that can somehow be reached in some way is a willful disregard of God’s own Word. When I was a police officer, two of the laws I enforced were “careless driving” and “reckless driving,” the latter being the more severe offense. What was the difference? The level of culpability. Careless driving was an action that, through careless inattention, endangered others. Reckless driving was defined as a willful, knowing disregard for the rights and safety of others. So what I am maintaining here is that much of the counsel given to abusers and their victims is reckless. It is a willful and knowing and intentional disregard for what God’s Word says about evil.

And thus, such reckless counsel is evil in itself.


  1. Madara Collins


  2. Wendell G

    Jeff, could the seed of some of the problem have to do with the way pastors are trained? If not in seminary, through typical mentoring, are they not taught to be gentle and not to confront? Any confrontation is to be done subtly through the teaching process, lest they offend their precious church members and lose them to other churches.

    Perhaps we need more Nathans in the pulpits, calling sin for what it is!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Wendell – Did you mean “they are taught to be gentle”? I agree. But gentle like Jesus means the shepherds are the wolf’s worst nightmare too! Yes, no doubt the seminary training and discipling is grossly lacking. Academics and theology, but when it comes to real wisdom, real recognition and knowledge of evil and its tactics – pastors remain in kindergarten. Bring on the Nathans. Oh, but that would be so unpleasant, wouldn’t it?

      • Wendell G

        Err, you are right. That is what I get for multi-tasking and not proofing! Thanks for the “gentle” correction 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      Amazing, isn’t it, how pastors who are “taught to be gentle” so easily end up showing their fangs to victims when pressed to take a stand.

      • Jeff S

        Jeff, it’s the spirit of the age. The Relativist says “all ideas are equally valid”, but will quickly correct anyone who denies that statement, making the statement self defeating (if you are not allowed to hold a contrary opinion, then all ideas cannot be equally valid). It turns out, the real sin is not going along with popular opinion.

        The conservative church balks against this idea (with good reason), but our behavior is NO DIFFERENT from the world. While the church maintains a reasonable idea of truth and ideas (namely that some ideas are more valid than others), when it comes to behavior the only real sin is not going along. Making waves is not OK. An abusive husband? As long as he doesn’t bring it into the public sphere, it’s no problem. But a wife who won’t go along with it? That’s an issue.

      • MeganC

        I also feel there is some fear of man there. If a pastor is in captivity to people in “his” congregation . . . he is most likely afraid of rocking the boat . . . upsetting some of the big bread-winners out there . . . losing his job?

    • Kathy seldon

      I recently heard a pastor say that the definition of gentle is using the least amount of force to get the job done. If a solicitor is at your door you gently say “no, thank you” and turn him away, but if an armed robber is at your door you gently show him your firearm and tell him to get off your property (if he refuses and becomes truly threatening you gently use whatever force necessary to protect your family and yourself). Trying to reason with the criminal is not gentleness it’s foolishness, and shooting the solicitor is excess violence. The situation has to be considered before you can say what approach is gentle. This pastor defined the “you hypocrites” speech to the pharasees by Jesus as gentle, because Jesus by nature is gentle and that was the least amount of force required to protect his sheep from those wolves.

      • Barnabasintraining

        That makes good sense.

      • J

        Praying the church will wake up and see the truth and act on it!!!

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        Wow, Kathy, that is a perfect description

  3. anon

    Thank you, Jeff for being a champion of godly counsel. I was strung about for a year and a half with a well-meaning but wishy-washy Christian counselor (he selected) who kept saying things like, “You have your reality, and he has his reality.” She kept me hoping and believing that if I just tried hard enough, accepted and loved him through his verbally aggressive outbursts (he blamed on PTSD from childhood), or showed him enough affection/approval to help him past his instability and insecurity, then it would all be o.k. I now know I should have left after the first bad episode. I went to a wonderful, godly counselor who pulled me out of the mire in a one-hour session (I chose him carefully through the advice of a sweet Christian co-worker). He listened to me carefully, and immediately assessed, “This guy does not see reality. We see this wall as yellow, but he sees it as blue. He’s always going to see it as blue. Now what are you going to do about this?” He explained personality disorders and I began to understand how I had been manipulated and controlled by my hopes to help him. Despite the fact that I loved him and wanted the relationship to work (pleading that 80-90% of the time he was very kind to me), the counselor helped me understand that marriage to a man like this would destroy me.

    I understand now that godly counsel with the assistance of the Spirit is the only way to get to truth when you’re dealing with the mess and distortion of a personality disorder. I wondered aloud to the counselor how so many people had told me such bad advice (“Get engaged…he’ll feel more secure,” “Put the ring on!” “Try living with him,” “Just set the wedding date,” “Just take a leap of faith!”). He said, “My nine-year old daughter, who has a close walk with the Lord, has more commonsense because of the Spirit than many of these highly-credentialed psychologists. ‘Claiming to be wise, they became fools.'” My eyes were opened to the truth that day, and the weight and burden of 2 years of constant stress and fear fell away. The most loving thing I could do was turn this person over to the Lord, and I could walk away. I’m so thankful God used this counselor (so many people had been praying for me), and I’m so grateful to be saved one week from a disastrous marriage!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anon- You have said it here as crystal clear as it can be said. That godly counselor was dead on. “He is always going to see it as blue.” While we cannot make a victim’s decision for her/him, we can do what that counselor did – give the reality of the thing and then ask “now, in light of these facts, what are you going to do about it?” So glad the lights have come on for you and that you made the choice you did.

      • AJ

        My Christian counsellor told me that if I chose to stay I would end up with Stockholm syndrome. Sometimes not only the abuser but the victim needs to be confronted, we don’t want to believe in evil either.

      • Jeff Crippen

        AJ – Yes, I have been seeing this very thing in victims who have chosen to stay with the abuser – though I am not criticizing them for making the choice they thought was best for them. It isn’t just a matter of “dump the bum” when there are children in the picture and other issues that complicate things. However, even if the abuser is a more covert “drifter” type whose abuse of choice is more of a passivity type, the fact is that the abuse continues AND it is all mixed in with occasional “nice” things he does. It really becomes a scenario of sleeping with the enemy, and that kind of prolonged and repeated trauma inevitably messes with our minds, forming that “traumatic bonding” that you are talking about.

    • Wendell G

      ““You have your reality, and he has his reality.”
      Oh, that verbiage irks me to no end! There is only one reality and that is truth. Truth is that which conforms to reality and this counselor obviously did not seem to get it, just like so many in the church today! It is just that kind of relativism that has brought so much compromise into churches and those who profess Christianity (though often not living it).

      His “reality” does not give him the right to abuse you!

      • Amen, Wendell. Exactly so.
        ‘His reality versus her reality’ … it’s true there are two different realities, but one is the reality of lying to maintain power over the victim, and the other is the reality of wanting an honest, mutually respectful relationship. Oil never mixes with water.

        Patricia Evans talks about the two realities in her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship. It was a big light-bulb moment for me when I read that book, because it was the first book I read that explained abusive relationships.

    • Anon, welcome to the blog! Many hugs; and congratulations for getting free!

    • Ellie

      Yes! This. My counselor chanted, “he’s not going to get it.” I finally listened.

    • King'sDaughter

      I’m right there with you! I have spent seven years trying to reassure the MIW that I was not the evil, manipulative person he said I was. I thought if only I could make him see that I really LOVED him and really was FOR him, that he would not have the anxiety and stress that made him so cruel…. maybe my love could actually change the poor misunderstood beast into the prince? Maybe, if he were actually a prince under a spell and I was actually Belle! But he’s not and I’m not!
      Once I recognized the abuse I thought, if only I can get him to SEE… if only this pastor or this family member would believe me and confront him??? The problem is that he doesn’t WANT to see that the wall is yellow! He wants to convince me and everyone else that it is blue and that I am controlling for wanting him to see the truth.
      What can you do with that? Nothing!

  4. Larry W Dean

    As clear and concise as I have ever heard.

  5. J

    This is so true! Experiencing as we speak!!!

  6. Anonymous

    I remember when my past counselor told my abuser, “She is trying to make you look evil!”, with the intent that my abuser would respond and put a stop to it, or at least allow the “counselor” in his evil, to stop me. This was a counselor who claimed to believe in total depravity, well – so they said. They were in the game of leveling the playing field and calling evil good and manipulating me to believe the best or think the best. I thought the best for all those years, but instead, I should have listened to the Holy Spirit trying to tell me the truth about my situation! Talk about living in denial!

    I also think that this form of “counseling” is nothing more than co-dependency training for victims, from co-dependents calling themselves counselors. Is that too strong?

    • I also think that this form of “counseling” is nothing more than co-dependency training for victims,

      That sounds sensible to me, not too strong.

      . . . from co-dependents calling themselves counselors.

      I’m no so sure about that part. I think it would be true for some counselors, but not all.

      But I love the first part of your sentence: it’s a really good insight and will be going in my sound-bites file! 🙂

      • Anonymous

        I should have been clearer. I meant that really, for my particular case, I think I was dealing with co-dependents trying to counsel. It seems it was nothing more than enabling the abuse to continue and making excuses for it and denying its existence. My understanding of co-dependency in abuse, (from the victim’s side) is when their abusers are enabled by them. The last thing any victim needs, is a counselor who is willing to enable the abuser to continue abusing.

  7. K

    Recently I read an article (I forget where) about how most romance movies and novels feature a troubled male protagonist who is transformed by a woman’s unconditional love and devotion. The Beauty and the Beast story, basically.
    I think a lot of us, including pastors and counselors, have bought into this idea, that no one is really bad, they just need to be loved more. It sounds so nice, and it’s partially true in that we all need God’s love to heal us. But it prevents people from understanding that some people are so lost that no amount of human affection and kindness will change them.

  8. Anonymous

    As a victim I have also had to lay aside my “foolish naiveté about evil” and grow up. It wasn’t until after I saw my abuser through God’s eyes that my abuser’s behavior made sense.

    As long as I was trying to reach the “good part” of my abuser his irrational behaviors, illogical actions, and random acts of kindness didn’t make sense. How could both good and bad fruit come from the same person? As scripture teaches – it can’t!

    Now that I see my abuser for who he is (a man who lives only for power and control – and believes he is entitled to that power and control) his behaviors, actions, and even those random acts of kindness make sense. (Well, at least they make more sense)

    My adult daughter is now having to learn this same lesson. Now that I am no longer acting as a buffer between my children and their father, she is experiencing the full brunt of his mentality, and it has not been good. She said to me, “Mom, I don’t understand Dad’s actions. I know he is good because he is always helping people and doing things for others. How can he be so mean to me?” I replied, “Don’t be fooled by his good deeds. Even deeds wrapped in pretty paper can come from a evil motive. A tree cannot produce both good and bad fruit.” She is starting to understand…

    Foolish naivete about evil has been a necessary lesson for me to learn during my recovery from my abusive marriage.

  9. speakingtruthinlove
  10. downtheroad

    Anonymus, i know what you mean by children having to see their Fathers without buffers, my son ran away to live with His Father when he was 16, he was treated so badly,the other day i was talking about inviting his Dad to church for a Bikers Church service, (where i thought maybe some of the testimonies might bring him to the Lord), Joe said ‘he would burst into flames in a Church ‘….because he is so evil….i laughed too, but felt sad too for Joe.

  11. jritterbrunson

    Reblogged this on jeanbrunson [Internet Archive link] and commented:
    Please take the time to read this blog. Those who abuse others for their own pleasure are evil and should not be trusted.

  12. jritterbrunson

    Thank you for saying this boldly and without reservation. People need to hear and read it. Too many survivors still want to blame themselves.

    • Jeff Crippen

      You’re welcome, jritter. After you once see it, you really can’t keep quiet about it!

  13. Not Too Late

    Jeff Crippen said

    The doctrine of the total depravity of man does not mean that every human being is as evil (depraved) as they could possibly be. Nor does it mean that all people are equally evil or that all sins are as sinful as others.

    Something as basic as the above is often not understood by Christians. This conveniently plays into the hands of abusers, who love to use the leveling tactic (“we are all sinners”; “you have things to repent of as well” blah blah blah…).The pastors who are naive about abuse will agree simply due to a lack of understanding about the doctrine of total depravity. Well does Scripture say that we err because we don’t know the Word of God. So true 😦

    • Jeff Crippen

      NTL- Ah yes, the old leveling tactic. The statement “we are all sinners” is a distortion if not an outright lie. Yes, we are all born into this world as sinners, cut off from God, enemies of righteousness by nature. But try to find anywhere in the New Testament where Christians are called “sinners.” The closest – but it is debatable – is Romans 7. But the norm is for the Word of God to address us as children, sons, saints, holy ones, and so on. In addition, some sins are worse than others and incur greater judgment – ie, there are worse sinners than others, even among non-Christians. For example, consider Jesus’ words concerning the sin of Chorazin and Bethsaida in rejecting Him as compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. It will be easier on the Day of judgment for the one than the other. So we must reject his leveling business, both on a doctrinal and a practical aspect. Abusers, especially the kind who hide behind a false profession of Christ, are much, much more evil in God’s sight than even the worst pagan who makes no such claim to godliness.

    • Barnabasintraining

      (“we are all sinners”; “you have things to repent of as well” blah blah blah…)

      Right. If that were true we would not have a legal system or police. It would all just be excused. “Oh he broke into your house and robbed you? Oh well. We all are guilty of something!”

      I suppose that’s one way to try and get out of jury duty….

      • Anonymous

        You’re too funny, b-i-t!

      • Barnabasintraining


  14. Janeane Welch

    Thank you!! If only my daughter would listen and read this!!

  15. Nicola

    Dear Jeff, thank you so much for your insightful article. I am a Christian and an escapee and survivor of domestic abuse. It has taken me many years to fully understand the truth of what you have expressed in your article. I rarely find anyone within Christian circles who fully understands your point regarding evil, sin and free will in relation to abuse (or any other sinful behaviour for that matter). It has been, surprisingly, secular support organisations who have been most insightful in diagnosing an abuser as unchangeable. Christian victims of abuse are in such enormous danger due to false teaching regarding evil and free will. They are so often encouraged to forgive and return to an increasingly dangerous situation based entirely on blind faith in a false or misunderstood biblical principal. They are encouraged to become a more prayerful spouse placing hope that a miracle from God can change the ‘situation’. This teaches that, as you say, the actions / faith / hope of a victim can change the abuser, essentially expecting the victim to do what even God does not – manipulate the free will of another. This is something that goes even beyond the realms of the miraculous and is an extremely dangerous, false and evil teaching. Abuse is a choice that abusers make because they enjoy it. Victims are merely utensils in that abuser’s bid to entertain or pleasure themselves by injuring (in any of they ways you mentioned, not necessarily physically) another individual. Abusers do not abuse their spouses because of some relationship problem or dynamic that they don’t know how to cope with. The truth is that they intentionally seek a spouse as a victim to abuse. Thank you again for your insightful article. I’ll be sharing with others.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Nicola – Thank you for your encouragement to us. It is obvious from what you wrote that you have had a long journey coming into the light of Christ’s truth regarding these things, and that seems to be the experience of most all of us. The fog of the devil’s deception is rather amazing, isn’t it? And when human traditions are taught in the church instead of God’s word, the fog just gets thicker.

    • Hi Nicola, welcome to the blog!

      • Nicola

        I’ve just realised that I can follow replies to my comments…a very late thanks for your welcome Barbara, and your message Jeff. I read your blogs regularly. They are a huge blessing to me. Thank you so much! I’ve recently passed your website details on to a UK organisation that is aimed at supporting Christians in abuse – Restored. They seem to be in the very early stages of set-up and I think they could really be helped by your teaching. I hope they contact you. Thanks as always for your continued wisdom, discernment, articulate teaching and commitment to this issue.

      • Jeff Crippen

        And thanks again to you, Nicola!

      • Thanks Nicola 🙂

  16. Anonymous

    My daughter has gone to numerous church counselors for help. She is repeatedly told that if she would be nicer to her husband & try harder that they just know that things will work out. Yet, no one addresses the verbal & emotional abuse that is going on. They don’t believe her. I fear for her. They have all made a point to tell her that divorce is not something she can do. Then I came across your articles, showing me that this is a very common thing. My question is – “Can she divorce”? I realize the church will probably kick her out but I say “So what” at least she is safe.
    Signed – Texas

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anonymous – We hold that God does indeed allow divorce for abuse. You can find numbers of articles here on our blog if you search under that topic. But you would also do well to get Barbara Roberts’ book Not Under Bondage (see it listed in our resources page). The abuser destroys the marriage covenant. To go to the courthouse and file the necessary papers is merely acknowledging the facts. And yes. So what if her church kicks her out. She wouldn’t be the first to have that happen to her. Many of our readers have experienced the very same injustice.

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