A Cry For Justice

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

If an Abuser Can be a Christian, then the Christian Abuser is Going to Skate on the Day of Judgment

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

I have studied the Bible’s teaching lately regarding this doctrine:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

All of us, Paul says, have been issued a divine summons to appear in Christ’s courtroom on that Day when He comes to judge the living and the dead. This doctrine confused me for a long time because the Bible presents it as something that the Christian should eagerly look forward to. But I didn’t.  Why? Because, well, how can I be excited about a Day when I have to stand before Christ and the whole universe and have not just my good works thrown up on the screen, but my sins as well?  Oh yeah, I can hardly wait!  Even a Christian, and perhaps especially a Christian, is quite aware of how often we sin and how many times I have broken God’s Law. I have repented. I have asked Christ’s forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins….” right? But then there is that Day coming in that Courtroom. Well, I now look forward to that Day.  Why?  Because I have come to understand that when the Bible speaks of the Day of judgment, the judgment seat of Christ before which all will stand, it is speaking to mankind universally. To all human beings in all places and all times. Here is the fact. Every human being is going to give account. Every careless word. Every deed. But for the Christian, justified and cleansed by the blood of Christ, here is how that Day is going to go down:

And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Matthew 25:33-36

This is why we can look forward to Christ’s return and pray with gusto – “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”  It is why we are motivated to live now in a manner pleasing to Christ. I do not see any place for the notion so many of us have been taught that this Day will involve every sin of the Christian being put up on a celestial power point presentation making the believer the subject of a kind of “The most shocking sins” program for all to watch.

Now, think this through carefully.  If an abuser can be an abuser, if he can be a person with a profound sense of entitlement (me, myself, I, center of the universe) to possess power and control over others, and who possesses a sense of conscienceless justification in using whatever tactics are necessary to possess that control and enforce it, AND be a real Christian who has been born again, forgiven, justified in Christ, indwelt by the Spirit of God (yet somehow sanctification just never took off in him, hmmm??), then your abuser, every “christian” abuser who has so wickedly oppressed all of you, IS GOING TO SKATE ON THAT DAY. Because remember, “there is therefore now no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus.”  “Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace with God.” Right? Am I right? Yes, because God’s Word is right. The wicked WILL skate on that Day IF a person can be wicked, their very nature defined by evil, habitually walk in sin without anything but the typical fake “repentance,” AND be a Christian.

No. It isn’t going to happen. The wicked will not escape the justice of Christ on that Day. Their teeth will be smashed. Their houses will be a desolation. They will hear the Judge send them away into outer darkness where there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. No man can mock God. No one can claim the name of Jesus Christ and yet habitually and without repentance walk in sin.

Here is proof. Read and be encouraged. Justice, perfect justice is coming. And not a word of condemnation for those who truly are in Christ Jesus!  Come Lord Jesus!  Come and make it all right!

Romans 8:5-9 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Romans 8:12-13 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

1 John 2:3-11 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,  but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.  Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.  At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

1 John 4:19-21 We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Matthew 7:17-21 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

71 Comments

  1. I struggle with this ….

    Since I must move away from my abuser to avoid the surge of adrenaline/cortisol in my veins, I feel as if I am acting as if I am hating him. And yet he maintains that he IS a Christian and that I am part of some alternative religious group. It is so hard to shake off his belief about me that I am walking in darkness., when I am so guilty of saying the same about him. One of us is wrong and I am afraid it is me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anewanon- It isn’t you. The fact that you are feeling the (false) guilt put on you by him is evidence of that. You know, the Devil maintains that he is a “Christian”! He parades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11) and he has spent thousands of years creating all kinds of “Christian” religions all of which deny the gospel and persecute the real saints.

    • Anewanon, when you move away from your abuser to avoid the surge of adrenaline/cortisol in your veins, you are wisely trying to limit the impact and consequences of toxic abuse on your soul and body. You may also be reducing the chance of your responding to him in a way that might put you at increased risk of abuse from him — and might decrease the risk of you falling into sin yourself in lashing out back at him. This is all wisdom on your part.

      The scriptures that Jeff quoted about about not hating your brother — it may help you to balance them against the Scriptures that talk about how God hates wickedness, deceit and evildoing. Since God hates evildoing, and since we as his followers are exhorted to be like and think like Him, you are not wrong to hate your husband’s wickedness in the way you do. In fact, it shows your righteousness and it is evidence of the prompting of the Holy Spirit within you that you have this feeling of hatred for the evil your husband is doing.

      And while you rightly hate his evildoing, from what you said I’m confident that do not see yourself in the position of God as able and entitled to take vengeance on your husband. While you are leaving vengeance to God, you are hating the evil that your husband is doing — the wickedness of his thought patterns and his scheming stony-heartedness. So the kind of hatred you are feeling is not sin. It is a sign of your thirst for righteousness. Let yourself off the hook of that false guilt. 🙂

      Ps 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (ESV)

      Ps 7:11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (ESV)
      God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day. (NLT)

      Ps 5:4-6 (ESV)
      For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
      evil may not dwell with you.
      The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
      you hate all evildoers.
      You destroy those who speak lies;
      the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

      Prov. 6:16-19 (ESV)
      There are six things that the LORD hates,
      seven that are an abomination to him:
      haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
      and hands that shed innocent blood,
      a heart that devises wicked plans,
      feet that make haste to run to evil,
      a false witness who breathes out lies,
      and one who sows discord among brothers.

      By the way, I changed your screen name. We have a post coming out this Tuesday (US time) about now to comment on this blog while keeping your identity protected. Hope you read it. And welcome to the blog, dear sister! 🙂

      • Anewanon

        Thank you Barbara for that protective move. But more importantly, thank you for your time, wisdom and scripture selections. THose scriptures are exactly what I needed today.

      • 🙂

      • Kay

        I was so glad to read this as I too at times feel confused and guilty. I try to forget the awful rage and verbal abuse and then I end up feeling sad for him and then which is even worse I seem to think I ought to help him. I know this is wrong thinking because if he is not willing to receive God’s help then who am I to think I can help. I am only fooling myself.

      • Hi Kay, welcome to the blog. Glad you are finding it helpful. 🙂 Hugs to you.

      • Kay

        Relieved at what I am reading

  2. In Christ Alone

    Oh my goodness… this issue… of an abuser acting as Christian has to be one of the most difficult aspects for me, as the victim. We’ve been separated for almost 8 months and his emotional/psychological abuse and manipulation has increased during this time… until… about 6 weeks ago when he mysteriously had a new “spiritual awakening.” (Interestingly, this was at the EXACT time I discovered Lundy’s books, as well as some others and this website & didn’t allow him to move back home.) Now, he is constantly listening to sermon podcasts and includes God, or some spiritual sounding phrase in every interaction. And, of course, he seems “nicer.” The one thing he seems to be focused on is the idea that God loves him and that when he can really grasp that, he’ll be able to fully love others. He’s also quite fond of the part of Romans 8 that refers to not being under condemnation. It just seems to me that it’s not coincidence that someone who is already completely self-focused would latch onto theology and Scripture that says, “God loves ME.” And, as the abused one, looking on… this spiritual focus just feels like further manipulation. Like it’s putting me in the position of looking like a real jerk for questioning the authenticity of his connection with God. But, then I have to remind myself over and over that this happened 6 years ago and if he had been truly reborn, we wouldn’t be where we are today. He wouldn’t have gone back to looking at porn and lying to me about it, or yelling at our son and blaming him for everything, or telling me that it was a sin for me to not have sex with him, and… the list is endless. The cunning deception is almost too much for me to accept. I have a hard time believing that it’s a show… My mind is constantly trying to condemn me for correctly labeling my husband as the abuser that he is. This is epic spiritual warfare…

    • Jeff Crippen

      In Christ Alone – Don’t believe any of it. You have correctly labeled him. It is evident in his “me, me, me” focus, even if that focus is his “new birth.”

      • In Christ Alone

        Jeff, thank you for your encouragement. This is the toughest road I’ve ever traveled…

    • Still Reforming

      In Christ Alone, I have had the same thing – when suddenly my spouse wanted to be baptized. He decided one day at lunch at our friends’ house because their daughter was being baptized that evening. So he said, “I think I’ll be baptized too.” I asked, “Shouldn’t you talk to someone first?” He replied, “Like who?” I said, “The pastor…” His response: “I don’t have a phone.” I said someone surely did, so he called the pastor, who told him he’d need a change of clothes and a towel. On the way from our friends’ house to ours to get said items for the evening’s baptism, I asked why he wanted to be baptized. I was hoping for something that would indicate the change of heart, but most of what I got was push-back, including a statement to the effect, “I would have thought that of all people you’d be happy for me,” and he wiped his eye as if tearing up. I felt bad about that, of course, and said that he had my full support and I do anything to help him, but nothing ever changed. Years later, our pastor said he did the baptism because my husband “gave all the right answers.” And in all the years since (about five or more), right up to the time my spouse abandoned us physically and financially (about six weeks ago), he never once discussed the Bible with me or mentioned the name of Jesus.

      It sounds like God gave you wisdom and discernment right when needed, as He does for His people. He still provides. He still delivers. Praise His holy Name!

      • In Christ Alone

        Still Reforming, I can totally relate! For the first 15 yrs of our marriage he never read the Bible or talked in a spiritual way at all. Then, 6 yrs ago a sudden transformation… out of the blue… and confession of all his sins in our marriage. Since then almost constant “God-talk,” oftentimes acting as though he had a personal phone line to God where he could get all the right answers and give me prophetic directions about our future. I totally bought that it was real because it wasn’t prompted by a person. I, therefore, assumed it was the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it initially was?? The spiritual intensity waned a bit, but never disappeared… he has always said and done all the “right” things. However, the abuse and rage escalated horribly and now, another “rebirth.” Initially it caused massive confusion for me and I still have to remind myself many times everyday of his history and who he really has been to the kids and me. I can also relate to the tears and giving all the right answers. It’s just so crazy making for us at times! My prayers are with you as you walk this road after being abandoned… There is freedom in that pain.

        It’s interesting that you mentioned that God gave me wisdom and discernment. Those are the EXACT two things I’ve consistently prayed for almost everyday for the past year. No kidding… God is good and He is always faithful.

      • Still Reforming

        In Christ Alone, I am so comforted by God to hear how similar your story – and others’ here – are to my own with my abuser. I too prayed and prayed for wisdom, and as I look back I can see how God gave me the wisdom I needed and the discernment (when to speak, when not to speak, and what was really going on) at just the right time in His economy. Not that everything I did was right, of course, but that I can see God’s hand through it all. Especially now.
        Like you, I was so confused by the appearance of godliness in my husband – at least saying or doing the “right things” – but lacking in honesty and integrity. Lacking sincerity. And it always eventually shows. The whitewashed tomb.
        I think those of us who are truly saved many times try to “think the best” or “give the benefit of the doubt,” and that is why I have tried and tried to not be too harsh (in my own mind or heart) with those in authority at my church, but I finally reached a point where I had to say, “Y’know, I’m telling them what I’m living. They know me and my service at this church. They should know me and believe what I’m saying, even though I know that they too want to grant my husband every benefit of every doubt as I did, but at some point, this has to stop. There has to be a time when truth and justice are going to be more important than giving the benefit of the doubt. I mean, just how long do they have to keep trying to figure out if he’s saved or not? If he’s truly saved, why do they have to struggle to figure it out? And with all of these testimonies from me of lies and deceit in our home, are they really going to not read my prayer requests and keep trying to help him while my child and I are left to suffer at his hand?”
        So God has delivered us. Is still delivering us. We’re in the process of divorce and working out those details, and it’s in many ways so much better now that he’s left us – something only God could have done. It’s even better though he suddenly cut us off financially – and he the only breadwinner, but “better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1) He’s been gone a little over a month and with each day there is renewed hope.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Still Reforming – You said ” I mean, just how long do they have to keep trying to figure out if he’s saved or not? If he’s truly saved, why do they have to struggle to figure it out?.” THAT’S GREAT STUFF! Excellent. One time after I had been trying and trying and trying to “help” a guy who used to be in our church see his sin and effect change, someone else said to me “Jeff, don’t you think that if he were going to change he would have by now?” Duh! That’s how it hit me. She was totally right.

    • dear In Christ Alone, you are right: it is epic spiritual warfare. You are doing what is says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 —

      Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (KJV)

      If he were really born again, I put to you that he would — without being urged by anyone except the Holy Spirit of God — be evidencing true repentance. See here for what that would look like. https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/2012/03/29/checklist-for-repentance-via-not-under-bondage/

      • In Christ Alone

        Barbara, thanks for the true repentance link. It was a good reminder. I’ve seen glimpses of those things, but nothing that ever lasts… The problem is that I tend to doubt my own conclusions even in the face of evidence.

      • I tend to doubt my own conclusions even in the face of evidence.

        I think every one of us here on this blog could put up our hand for that one! We’ve all been there.

  3. Still Reforming

    Yes, on that Day the wicked will skate – right off the edge of the cliff into the burning abyss reserved for the devil and his angels. I am reminded of an analogy I learned when I first read about Reformed theology. It goes something like this: Every human being ever born (with the exception of Jesus in His humanity) has been running as fast as s/he can toward hell, and in God’s mercy, He graciously puts down His hand and stops some from running straight off that cliff. It’s not that we are good people to being with. We are all born with the sin nature, and therefore we all chose to run to hell, but God graciously stops some. And the abusers continue to skate – but not into heaven.

  4. Lisa

    We must also account for the unseen. I do believe my ex was a real believer. He is with the Lord now. With his intelligence, the type of friends he had in high school and college, his education and upbringing and all the things he had going for him–pretty, intelligent wife who had eyes for no one else and three beautiful daughters, his behavior was confounding and incomprehensible. He has been dead for 6 years from a heart attack in his early 40s due to drug use, mismanagement of his health in general and self destructive attitude, especially after our divorce. Here is what I KNOW now: he was very likely suffering from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The culture he was from and the medical information available at the time, his mother probably drank socially quite a bit during her pregnancy. I know this is true. She talks openly about it. My husband suffered from poor judgment and impulse control issues and other characteristics of “mild” FESD. I have struggled for years wondering how a man who DID love me and his beautiful daughters could have done these things. I have always known that he is with the Lord, but now I have peace and am released from the doubts about myself, however minor but were hanging on. There is so much going on in this world that affects our mental states, health and behavior that medical science and psychology have not caught up with yet. We cannot condemn all of these people to Hell. I know as humans we want Fairness and Justice, but it is not ours to exact. The Lord has all of the evidence and it is for Him. Somewhere in Heaven, if there are any regrets about one’s Earthly life, I’m pretty sure my ex has them over who he hurt and the life he threw away. I challenge readers and Christians to entertain the idea that we all have blind spots–where the Unknown Unknowns live. Ask God to show them to you and then wait. Blessings.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Lisa- I leave your observations about your ex to you, as you knew him and I did not. However, here at ACFJ we are not dealing with people who have a mental disorder or whose raging, for instance is due to alcoholism or drug abuse. That is what you apparently were dealing with, and I am very, very glad that you made it through all those trials. The kind of person we are exposing here is someone who has a profound mentality of entitlement to power and control over others; who is defined by this mentality and who has a virtually or completely conscienceless sense of justification is using whatever tactics are necessary to gain and maintain that power and control. A thoroughly evil person in other words, who really is saying “I will be like the Most High.” And that kind of a person, we can indeed identify and yes, judge. Once the fog of their deception is lifted through truth, the blind spots are gone. We see them for what they are and in doing so, we begin to get free. Abuse victims MUST come to this clarity. Therefore we would never give them the advice that you are applying in your case – “…we all have blind spots where the unknown unknowns live. Ask God to show them to you and then wait.” No. We ask the Lord to show us the abuser’s evil and if we ask Him to show us any blind spots in our own lives, it is those blind spots about who the abuser is and what he is doing to us.

      • Lisa

        It seems in this and other posts that you are saying that abusers can’t possibly be saved. I may be wrong but it seems that this kind of gives the folks here comfort, like a kind of vengeance or explanation, which gives one the right to hate, vent and blame. I am grateful that there is a place where people who are in their healing process can safely go and work things out. But I am saying that some of these abusers (and they are indeed abusers) may have hidden conditions. My advise to an abused man or woman would be this same, regardless why the abuser was abusing, well or sick, saved or unsaved–protect yourself, boundaries, leave. I am not advising women in the midst of ongoing abuse when I say ask God to show you the unknowns and wait. This is advice for finding answers to the why questions that linger long after the abuse is over. Peace that doesn’t come from making yourself the judge of someone else’s soul, especially when there may have been hidden explanations that only God in His infinite Universe knows. It would give me no peace to have to tell my children, who had a sweet relationship with their daddy after our divorce, that he was evil to the core, never really loved them or me and had gone to Hell. (BTW, he was not raging from drug use. The drug use killed him after our divorce because he also had a heart condition. I was verbally, psychologically, financially and ultimately physically abused like most of the survivors here by a man who was not under the influence of drugs. I am not excusing his behavior, just making sense of what made no sense.) I guess I just can’t sit with what seems to me to be black and white thinking. That never gave me any lasting peace. Being open to another possibility has. Thank you.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Lisa- I maintain quite the opposite. This position provides victims with great vindication and hope, knowing Justice will be done. That is not bitterness. It is perfectly in line with the very character of God whose perfect holiness includes mercy and Justice. I have yet to see anyone actually engage with the Scriptures I included in this post as biblical proof of my thesis that an abuser as we define him is not and cannot be a Christian.

      • I may be wrong but it seems that this kind of gives the folks here comfort, like a kind of vengeance or explanation, which gives one the right to hate, vent and blame.

        Lisa, I’m glad you put in the qualifier that you may be wrong. I think a typical person at this blog does take comfort from the understanding that her or his abuser is not and has not been actually a Christian — despite whatever claims they may have made about believing in and following Christ. This gives comfort not because it gives the survivor the right to hate the abuser. It gives comfort because it makes so much sense of everything, and because it pushes off the false blame that victims have borne for so long on their own shoulders.

        This blog does give people room and a safe place to vent if they wish to do so. This is healthy. Victims have keep it all bottled up for so long, and pretended and denied their perceptions, thoughts and feelings in an attempt to walk on eggshells and play the dutiful meek Christian wife role in an impossible situation. When the fog clears and the un-numbing begins, venting is healthy. It’s part of the road to healing.

        Regarding vengeance, I encourage you to read the my post Vengeance and Vindication: What is the Difference? It might help you think this through a bit more.

        blessings to you

      • debby

        Keeping it bottled up-YES!! That is what is so freeing and healing right now. For the first time in 3 decades I can FEEL and express it! Mind you, i am still living at home (although in a separate room) and I am speaking TRUTH to my spouse about what he has done, but I don’t want to become an abuser myself so I say it with calm strength, but here I can say it with all the pain bottled up and know you all understand. I know it can seem like everyone is “negative” here, but life has been painful and being forced (out of fear of repercussions, by false guilt, by someone completely denying your pain,etc) to not be able to express it, is not healthy. We are here to get educated and healthy. There will come a time when I won’t feel it so deeply and it will be MY turn to be the encourager, but for right now, I appreciate the freedom to express my pain and confusion without judgement.

      • It seems in this and other posts that you are saying that abusers can’t possibly be saved.

        Hi Lisa, we are not saying that abusers can’t possibly be saved in the future, should they chose to repent. We are saying that no saved person would be an abuser, if abuse is defined as we define it in our side bar to the right. We are saying that a person cannot be indwelt by the Spirit of God and at the same time nurse the mentality of entitlement and the lust for power and control which characterises abuse.

        That mentality and intentionality is the key. There are some people who treat others badly but their behaviour cannot be classed as abuse by our defintion. I’m thinking for example of someone with an ABI (acquired brain injury) or someone with a major chemical imbalance or infection — say their liver is not working or they have blood poisoning and it’s affecting their emotions and cognition. Or someone who has schizophrenia and is having delusions. Or someone with dementia, an organic brain disorder. While those people may sometimes treat other people badly, they are not primarily driven by the intentional striving for power and control that springs from an overweening mentality of superior entitlement.

      • I agree with Jeff here. Over the past ten months, I’ve read a lot – here, other blogs, books both Christian and secular, the Bible itself. And I’ve become unable to make any more excuses for my husband’s bad character. Admitting to myself that his behavior (characterized by things like deceit, greed, selfishness, envy, strife, lies, and more) is clearly called out in Scripture as wickedness, and that he is not truly a brother in Christ, has freed me to pity him rather than hate him.

        I often feel anger and the injustices, lies, and unlovingness that he still practices. I feel angry at him, at his family who support him, at the people who choose to value him over than me because I’ve chosen to divorce. I don’t believe I’d feel grief if he died, except for a little sadness at some “good” memories, and wishing things had been different. But I don’t truly hate him. I feel grief that he will likely be separated from God forever when he dies, especially if he has truly deceived himself for so long that his conscience has become seared and he is no longer able to repent, but I also feel free to let the Spirit work in his life, whatever the outcome for him.

        I’m not super spiritual over all this, or trying to say the right things, or wanting to look like a good Christian. In fact, I’m in the deep darkness of that I’ve been told Catholics call “the dark night if the soul.” So this lack of hatred doesn’t come from me, but from the Spirit. The truth has made me free, and is still making me free. Jeff, Barbara, Ellie, the community of commenters here – all help me see the truth.

    • soldiergirl

      “And God will wipe away all of their tears”
      A comforting promise given in Revelations to the children of God who have suffered, cried, and witnessed the continuous undermining of their family at the hands of their abusers.
      Our God is a just God, and he will judge righteous judgement upon all who proclaim to be a christian.
      “You will know them by their fruit”,Jesus said.
      A bad tree produces bad fruit, but a good tree produces good fruit.
      (Look at the wake they leave behind; is it smooth or destructive?)
      Lets face it, the abusers uncanny ability to feighn Christianity so he can “use the church” to shuttle the victim back into his control, is indeed a genius scheme.
      The shame of the matter is that the church is asleep to reality of the phychological damage being done to the spouse and the children growing up in this abuseive cycle.
      How will this affect future generations for serving God?
      It is time for the church to “wake up” as “they are being played” by the abuser to further subject the spouse and children to the destructive tactics of this insidious warfare on their minds.

      • Still Reforming

        soldiergirl, you wrote: “The shame of the matter is that the church is asleep to reality of the phychological damage being done …”
        Something that keeps niggling at me the more I learn about abuse and its insidious nature and cycles is how the church is only preaching half the gospel message. What kind of gospel is there really if it’s only all love and mercy, forgiveness and grace? Where is the need for any kind of justice or repentance at all in that picture? It’s only half the story. And that means that the church is not just asleep, but dangerously naive and simplistic. I ponder these things regularly and wonder how and why it’s come to this in at least the American church these days. It bothers me greatly. It also leaves many victims without close Christian family – and yet, I have found, there always seem to be somebody – even if from afar, such as on this blog, who “gets it.” And certainly Christ is always leading us. Always. He never forsakes or abandons us. Jesus’s warnings in Revelation to the churches ought to shake them out of their slumber, but I suspect the sleeping giant needs a more personal wake-up call. Something that’s going to separate wheat from chaff and gold from dross.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Still Reforming – you are dead on! This is happening all over the place – love, mercy, forgiveness, grace. The Law is left out, the holy justice and yes, even holy wrath of God against evil is sidestepped. People are told God loves them all no matter what and they go away fromo such meetings assured that all is well. I say to such preachers – what do you do with Romans 1-3? Skip it all? Without the wrath of God set out in those chapters against the wickedness of man, then there really is no problem is there? No repentance needed. No Savior needed, really. And we wonder why our churches are filled with “christians” who live like the devil, unchanged, unaltered, un-concerned.

      • Still Reforming

        Pastor Jeff and Thepersistentwidow, it started niggling at me when I saw a video posted on Facebook of a man at a trial of another man who raped and killed the first man’s daughter. The relatives of multiple victims of this serial rapist and killer were allowed to address the defendant at one point, and the video was posted to show how the defendant broke into tears when this particular father said to the killer, “My Lord has made it very hard for me, but because of Him, I must forgive you – and so I do. I forgive you.” The defendant appeared to be moved. This video was posted by a Christian who stated, “Look at the power of forgiveness.”
        At first glance, the video seemed to have a message, but as I thought a bit more deeply, I wondered, “Okay, what if every parent there forgave the defendant, and then the judge forgave him as well…. Let’s play this out to the end. Then …. what? A serial rapist and murderer goes free to commit more of the same crimes? This doesn’t make sense.”
        And thinking more deeply…. Does this mean that we are – in essence – to be more forgiving than God, who casts souls into hell? Just where does this all lead?
        It lead to a lack of justice – and that doesn’t make any sense. If our God is not a God of justice, then Christ died for nothing – and therefore, there is no good news, no gospel. It’s a vapid, empty message.
        On a personal level then I started pondering, “Okay, I think I forgive my abuser because I don’t have any animus toward him. I just don’t have any feeling at all anymore toward him. I am detached. But…. does that mean I have to forgive all that he is to do in the future toward me or our child?”
        And when our pastor was exhorting me to forgive another leader of the church for said leader’s refusal to read my prayer request (involving the possible physical abuse and certain emotional abuse of my child), I told the pastor I had been doing quite a bit of thinking about forgiveness, and I mentioned the intrinsic link of forgiveness with repentance. I told him part of my thinking this all through, wondering about the extension of forgiveness to all acts my abusive husband could commit, and that’s when my pastor said, “Sometimes you think too much.”
        I am dismayed at the sad state of affairs of exegesis in the church at large. Yet I am gladdened by the deliverance of the Lord that would appear to be at hand in my own life. And I expect that days are coming for the faithless church to be shaken up. How does that saying go? “There is none so blind as he who will not see.”

      • thepersistentwidow

        Still Reforming, You are absolutely correct! Overall, the American church is naïve and simplistic, a result of their shallow theology. After leaving the PCA, I found refuge in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod whose theology is essentially identical to Luther’s Wittenberg. They teach that all of Scripture is interpreted in the lens of two doctrines, Law and Gospel. I am excited to be learning so much.

        Our founder C. W. Walther writes in his book, Law and Gospel: “The law only issues commands and demands. The Gospel, on the other hand, only offers. The Gospel does not take anything, it gives.” pg. 14

        The law is for the unrepentant. It’s theological function is to drive the sinner to the Gospel. The Gospel is only for repentant sinners, not those hardened in their sin. The churches that have abused us have no distinction of Law/Gospel theology. From that we find spiritual abuse of believers, works-righteousness, Christ being turned into a new lawgiver, confused view of what the Gospel actually is, and a host of other errors. These churches are hitting true believers with laws, some of which they have invented. They are telling unbelieving abusers that all is well for them, which is essentially gospel. By mingling the two, they have lost their Christian bearings and become persecutors of God’s people.

        The LCMS has been working hard to develop a position paper and other resources for domestic abuse victims. It is due out soon and I think that our readers will be pleased to see what the outworking of the proper distinction of Law/Gospel looks like.

      • As a non-American, I would like to just put in a gentle reminder that this blog is read by people from all over the world. We have readers from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea (I think), Sweden, Holland and probably India. There may be other countries that I’m not aware of as well. People from outside America tend to feel a tad offended when Americans talk as there is no other place in the world other than America. And for those of us who are victims, this feeling that ‘we are invisible’ can be a trigger for the feeling of how we were ignored in our churches and families.

        The church problems that impact domestic abuse victims are found all round the world, so far as I am aware. Wherever there are churches, these problems are fairly common. So please let us remember that this blog is not just about America or the American church. 🙂

      • thepersistentwidow

        Barb, I can only testify to what I know, and that is the dismal theological state of the American church. I have lived it, studied it, and suffered under it. I am not aware of any denomination making positive progress other than the LCMS, and if there are others, we need to encourage them for their work. Perhaps their example will motivate other churches to follow how domestic abuse cases are handled. The LCMS does have sister churches in other countries that may be a viable option for some.

        If anyone would like to contribute to the conversation on the progress and/or problems in conservative denominations outside of the USA, it would be much appreciated. I think that we are in need of those outside the USA to testify of how their church handles domestic abuse personally. Unfortunately, lacking information, I am not qualified to comment on outside the USA churches at this point. I will gladly research any church system, or provide information concerning the LCMS if one would contact me at persistentwidow@outlook.com

      • Thanks for your gracious reply PW. I’m sorry if I was mistaken in interpreting any comments in this thread as making the non-Americans invisible. And I agree that you (and each of us) can only talk about the churches and countries we know.

        At the same time, I think it’s worth bearing in mind that quite a few of our commenters at this blog are not in America, and in their comments they are telling how their local church has mistreated them and/or has an abuser-friendly ethos — but they can’t identify what country or denomination they are from for safety reasons. I know this because I’ve had direct email contact with quite a few of them and have learned where they live.

        It is even less safe for non-American readers to identify what country they are in, because countries other than America have a much lower proportion of church-attending Christians. That makes it easier for an abuser or his allies to pinpoint the I.D. of a non-American commenter if she were to mention what country she is in.

        I can assure all our readers that from where I sit, I know that the abuser-friendly ethos in the church is certainly not confined to America. I know for sure it is often found in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and Japan. And with the other countries I mentioned in my earlier comment, I could infer that same thing applies in some churches.

        I would never claim that an abuser-friendly ethos is in all churches, but I am confident that it is a lot more widespread than the worldwide evangelical church realises.

      • Still Reforming

        Barbara, I do hope that my comment didn’t cause any offense. I thought of you specifically in fact when I qualified my understanding as “it’s come to this in at least the American church these days.” I specified in “at least the American…” because I don’t know enough to speak for the Australian church. Truth be told, I certainly can’t even speak for the entire American church outside of my own experience and what I hear from brothers and sisters who do reside in my own country, however I suspect that the church may well be much the same in other developed countries – that is, where there is no widespread Christian persecution anyway. I mean no offense to those outside of the United States, but wanted to qualify what I was stating as my own experience as an American – which is why I stated it as I did. 🙂

      • no offense, SR, it’s all cool! 🙂

      • Not Too Late

        I think that the Western evangelical church has similar problems everywhere, whether in USA or UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. After all, the same types of books and ideas are popular and propagated. Churches in Asia and Africa are influenced by the teachings of the West, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they too, hold, to similar theological positions around forgiveness, repentance, abusers, etc.

        It’s not just the church but the para-church organizations, the family associations that get involved in political causes, that largely dismiss domestic violence, particularly violence against women, and they are many times vehicles for mens rights movements.

  5. Sunflower

    I think, in a case like Lisa’s (ok, in all cases), I would ask myself what he was like while dating. And what he was like in the presence of others, like in church or at any outing. Was he able to control his impulses then?

    • Lisa

      He wasn’t perfect but he seemed pretty normal to me. He was quite the stand-up guy.

  6. rncsd

    One of my revelations this year was that I will face the judgement seat alone and that my h. will face the judgement seat alone. It was wrong for me to think ( I’m not sure where or when I ever got this picture ) that we face the judgement seat, married, together. New revelations about judgement and the righteousness of God changed my erroneous thinking pattern that I was responsible for him. This new revelation may have come after listening to the L.Vernick youtube lessons or some other counsel that made me realize and accept that God cares more about me as an individual than about the institution of the marriage. This revelation made me feel free and drop one of the chains that bound me.

    • wow, rncsd,
      that doctrine that a wife faces the judgement seat with her husband, that’s similar to what Mormonism teaches. But Mormonism actually is worse than that: it says that the wife will only be resurrected from the grave if her husband calls her out of the grave! What a weapon for living husbands to use against their living wives, eh?

      • Still Reforming

        Barbara, she may prefer to stay in the grave – even if he calls. I can hear her voice now, “No thanks. I’ll stay here. It’s more peaceful.”

      • selah

        Yes, that is an evil weapon against women. Fitting with the evils of patriarchy. What?!?even beyond the grave. Sigh. Contrast this with the sweet voice of Jesus, savior, redeemer. Maranatha.

  7. KayE

    When Pastor Crippen explains that the scripture shows abusers can’t possibly be saved, it does give me great comfort.I’m not at all bitter or vengeful,nor do I want to vent or unfairly blame the abuser. To the contrary, I would like to see the church people around the abuser hold him to account, so that he could have an least some chance of seeing his need for repentance, and therefore be spared God’s final judgement. Instead the church people tell him he is a very good person and that what he is doing is right. That is his tragedy and it fills me with sorrow, not hatred or anger.

    I’m really grateful for Pastor Crippen’s convincing arguments. I still have to deal with friends and relatives of mine who feel sorry for the abuser- “poor man, he can’t cope” or ” divorce is always so sad” or “some people are carnal Christians”.I’m the last person to rush into judging someone’s motives, but eventually there comes a time when it’s necessary to make such an assessment, for your own safety.

    The comfort I feel comes from being heard and validated.Rightly or wrongly, I did ask God to show me what my particular abuser was really like- and what has emerged is so much worse than I imagined.That person is fully responsible for his own choices,and my recognizing that doesn’t mean I’m judging his soul, it just means I’m seeing it as it is.

    • thepersistentwidow

      KayE, I don’t think that Jeff is teaching that abusers can’t be saved. If they repent of their sins and hold to the promises of the Gospel, they will be saved. They must have true saving faith,(not just hypocritical motives), and good works will naturally flow from them. They will stop abusing people. They will turn from their wickedness. They will exhibit true Christian fruit.

      All things are possible with God. If God chooses to convert the abuser, he will. Regardless, the abuser’s actions has consequences in the here in now. His sin has cost him his marriage and that is his own fault. You are not obligated to remain in a marriage that was broken by abuse. You were the victim of his sin.

      The church leaders have let you both down by not holding the abuser accountable to the law. How will he repent if the law is not applied to him? That is a dereliction of duty on their part and an indication that they are incompetent to be leaders . And the others making you feel bad with their judgmental comments should be offering you comfort. They are also in the wrong.

      I am sure that you did all you could with him (and them) in good conscience. I suggest that you seek for a church that will encourage you with Christian love. You are a daughter of the King and deserve better from your church. Praying for you.

      • KayE

        I realize that anyone can be saved if they repent.I am also 100% sure that the particular abuser I was talking about is not saved, despite claims made. The thing I have come to realize is that probably the majority of church goers in my part of the world are not saved either. They are the product of a wider evangelical church which is man-centered and believes that God gives out free passes to heaven to anyone who asks, without the need for true repentance and acknowledging our dependence on Christ alone for forgiveness.
        If I say things like that to Christians known to me, I am practically considered a religious nutter. Most churches go to great lengths to show mercy to an abuser, but none to me.
        It simply hasn’t been safe for me to attend church.

  8. Searching

    The personal application really hit me. How many of you here whether during marriage or separation could barely feed yourself and the children, and he did nothing. How many could buy food but couldn’t buy shoes and underwear, even from the thrift shop, and he did nothing. How many watched over a sick child day and night, maybe even while sick yourself, and he slept in the next room. We often feel like “one of the least of these”, but our Advocate in heaven feels every pang and shiver and fever, and cares so deeply that in His time, justice will be done. Been there, and am still there, but ever trusting in Him.

    • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

      Yes Searching. Oh so much yes. The ex was overseas and bought underwear for himself so he did not have to do so much laundry and it was $41 a piece and he bought 7. At the same time I was buying crackers at the dollar store to feed my kids and begging the electric company for one more week to pay them. He saw NOTHING wrong with how he spent money. After all, he “needed” underwear and I should have just magically made the money in the bank account multiply. He was always doing things like this and blaming me that I couldn’t make money out of nothing. I realized just the other day that one of the reasons I feel guilty that I can’t easily pay all my bills( 2 1/2 years without chid support, just restarted Friday) and that I have to juggle is that for 17 years it was my responsibility to magically make money appear out of nothing. Intellectually I know that is not possible but being told repeatedly that you are wrong for not being able to…you do start to believe it.

      • for 17 years it was my responsibility to magically make money appear out of nothing.

        heartfelt sigh of empathy for you, SS/Cindy.

  9. In Christ Alone

    Still Reforming, I, too, am so immensely comforted by knowing there are others out there like you who share this journey. NOT that I’d wish it on anyone, but for the first time I don’t feel so isolated and alone. I like what you said about those of us who are saved tending to “think the best” or “give the benefit of the doubt.” I totally get that and do it all the time! That seems to be one of my biggest personal struggles. One thing that has helped me when I’m stuck in this place of doubt is to mentally go over the fruits of the Spirit as a sort of quick checklist. And when I compare my husband to this, it’s always obvious. Scripture is so full of very specific attributes of the true Christian and also of those who are not. I have to tell myself… those things aren’t listed out for nothing! Duh… But still the battle often rages on in my mind. But, it has been utterly amazing how God has recently shown up and provided me with very specific information about my husband’s true heart, that I would never have known otherwise. In the face of professed spiritual renewal, God has revealed the opposite in a very unexpected and clear way. I am truly humbled…

    We are not in the process of divorce… yet. I’ll admit that I feel fear and hesitation to initiate divorce proceedings, even though I know it is the right thing to do. He is also our only breadwinner. I wish he would file, but I know I can’t wait for that. Thank you for the reminder of Proverbs 17:1. So much encouragement and hope in those words…

    • soldiergirl

      I want to encourage anyone who is dependant on their spouce for finances to possibly consider getting a part or full time job.
      Many jobs allow for on line applications to be submitted now, so its easier than you might think to get the ball rolling.
      Even taking a small step of submitting an online application is a step towards your independance..
      I can tell you from experience that the job i now have gives me a sence of safety , security, and self confidence that i have not found for many , many years.
      I must add that as odd as it sounds I feel the safest, and confident at my place of work and it is the easiest part of my day to navigate. (Probably because it is a large company and it involves public interaction and i know that my abuser is not comfortable in this setting, nor does he have any power to affect my life there as well.)
      Remember most companies do like to hire people that call afterwards and show intrest, once the application was submitted, because they want to know that you really want the job.
      ( I called at least 4 times in 4 weeks to show my intrest before they hired me)
      God will bless you by taking this or any steps towards your independance.
      Also i am discovering my skills in this setting, and realizing that i am capable of aiming for a job that pays more now.
      just putting in a word of encouragement to some, that if you take this step of faith, God will be there to bless it, and part the waters for you as he has for me.

  10. Kay

    I am so very encoraged thro reading the very sound biblically based advice that has helped me to now give myself permission to think straight and to know for sure that it is ok to view the abuser in the light of God’s character and truth and to stop making excuses for him. I need so much courage to keep strong and not to cave in.

  11. debby

    I know all about “caving” Kay. Round and round the cycle we would go for almost 3 decades and after every reconciliation (well, I saw it as real reconciliation, he saw it as, “Ok, she’s back. Now let’s get on with the way things are.”) I would have such hope that this time things would be different.

    What finally helped me be strong is knowing the TRUTH. I totally GET the verse “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Truth, whether hard to swallow, whether a “new” idea, whether nobody else agrees with it or understand it, no matter how LOUDLY or how long hubby shouts the opposite, truth is truth. And once I knew the truth, it isn’t even hard to stay “strong.” I am granite. Not in an unfeeling, cold way but in a beautifully created strength born under tremendous pressure and I know what I know what I know.

    Read as much information as you can get your hands on! Knowledge IS power. Ignorance is NOT bliss, but bondage. Especially read the articles about what real repentance looks and sounds like and you don’t open that “door” (whether it is figurative or real) until it is really, really obvious that it’s real. Don’t give yourself a time table. It’s not your problem to solve; It’s his.

    I pray STRENGTH into your life! Ps.98:3 You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of HIs saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.” People who control and abuse are WICKED and EVIL. Use those words and know truth.

    • soldiergirl

      Such beautiful words of strength.and encouragement Debbie,
      I think these words below are true for many of us as well, but perhaps some of us have not realized it yet.

      I am granite not in a cold unfeeling way, but in a way that was created from strength born under tremendous pressure.

      This is also what happened to Joseph in the bible, when he was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into the pit, and sold as a slave to the Ishmaelites, who then sold him as a slave to Potiphar, until he was tempted and falsely accused by Potiphars wife, which got him thrown into prison for years before the butler finally remembered his promise to tell the king about him. (An act ultimately prompted by God)
      Durring this time Josephs charactor was being tested and perfected and his work was continually blessed where ever he went before he was given the position of second in command over all of Egypt by the king.
      We too must seek the truth and continue to trust in God to help us with our exodus when it is time.
      We need to know who is our enemy is, and realize that we cannot change him, but insted we can be intentional with getting our ducks in a row to protect our families from further abusive phychological harm, in the same way that Joseph was instrumental in saving all of Egypt from the famine.

  12. StandsWithAFist

    This is for anewanon, Lisa & others who found their way here seeking truth and refuge. I am posting under a new name b/c I am still raw from the criticism & fear. My abuser is not my spouse, but a family member. After decades of verbal abuse, character assassination, manipulation, deceit, false accusations, blame, scapegoating, undermining….I had enough. ENOUGH!
    So, I post the following in response to an email I just received, that speaks to the failure of the church to take abuse seriously in all its forms. This is why we need to vent here and sometimes rage against the injustice b/c our voices are silenced everywhere else.
    So, having said all that, just today I received an email from someone I trusted & considered a dear friend, a lifelong friend, someone who has spent decades in ministry. This person told me that it is my “biblical sense of justice” that is hurting me, that I simply needed to “put aside the pain of this [abuse]” & “identify with Christ & His pain”. I am thunderstruck. I want to scream, “It is the abuse that is hurting me–NOT my biblical sense of justice!” This is what we are up against in the church.
    Why am I now accused of hurting myself by wanting God’s justice, rather than by the actual abuse?
    When did I suddenly become suspect?
    Why is the abuser not held accountable for the hurt?
    Why is my opposition to the abuser’s behavior in question, rather than the abuser’s actual, ongoing, intentional, destructive, malicious, unrepentant behavior?
    Why is it suggested that I suffer at all??
    In essence, I am the guilty one for daring to have a clear understanding of justice!
    Sadly, this is yet another example of the “church” not getting it…of those in the church who place the burden back on the victim and give the abuser a pass. Abusers will never be held accountable in this church, but I will be dismissed as being judgmental, vengeful and having a “biblical sense of justice” which is the thing actually hurting me. This particular church has a history of silencing the voices of truth-tellers while giving voice to abusers. Having sought “pastoral” counseling of one kind or another in this same church for decades regarding this same abuser, and while clearly exposing the pattern[s] of abuse and the lack of repentance, not only has this church never held the abuser accountable in any meaningful way, it now appears to me that this church is more concerned with their own reputation than with “biblical justice” for targets of abuse. They follow the Pied-Piper and believe that only physical abuse defines ALL abuse. Discipline of verbal abusers & deceivers & malicious gossips & slanderers might make them look bad in the community, so they really just want me to shut up and call it “pastoral care”, but they will not identify the abuse nor put out the abuser. A It is beyond maddening.
    So here at ACFJ we have a voice that is heard, valued, & affirmed. Reason prevails, justice is celebrated, truth is pursued, & errors corrected. Blessed are they who hunger & thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” My cup runneth over here.

    • Valerie

      “So here at ACFJ we have a voice that is heard, valued, & affirmed. Reason prevails, justice is celebrated, truth is pursued, & errors corrected. Blessed are they who hunger & thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” My cup runneth over here.”

      Crying after reading this. Yes. The injustice that continues even after truth is brought to light feels too much to bear at times.

  13. joanne

    Jeff, help me out here. I’ve been following news about Philips and Driscoll because my family belong to PCA. I am being “disciplined” according to their doctrines which include Patriarchy, family-integration and Dominionism. This exile keeps me from the grand-kids who I love dearly. They are toddlers and will only grow up once. We won’t know each other. It is so painful, literally heart-breaking.
    If abusers are not Christians, what should I think? It never crossed my mind that my family wasn’t saved.
    An open letter of apology was written by one of Driscoll’s elders. He admitted to the abuses he participated in and repented. He wants to stay with his church family and the PCA. I was very impressed by his sincerity. Would you please comment because I’m really confused.
    God bless
    https://www.evernote.com/shard/s349/sh/8f13044c-2fe6-4a6b-a6a8-e69c638f7e85/7d49dc010aa92dcee9a5a8e4390744a1

    • Jeff Crippen

      Hi Joanne – Well, I would say that most likely the abusers in your case are the leaders of such a church. It could be that your family members are blinded and deceived by a cult-like “church.” Now, I am assuming that the church discipline you are speaking of is of the nature of some claim that you “sinned” by violating that group’s cult-like legalism in some way and not that you are actively and without repentance walking in actual sin (as Scripture defines it) which they have called you to repent of. If your case is of the former nature (unbiblical discipline for not keeping legalistic man-made rules), then as I say I would focus my initial “search” for the actual abusers on the church leaders themselves – the ones who perpetuate such a false system. Anyone who has a defining mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over others and who sees themselves justified in using abuser tactics to gain and hold that power and control is an abuser as we define them here. Apply that definition and if a person, even including a family member who professes to be a Christian, fits that definition then it is my conviction that they are not a Christian. If they are truly deceived by wicked leaders and are really believers, then one day they will come to their senses. That may be a long, long time however. I would also suggest that if you consider the possibility that they are not saved, you will find some personal encouragement. Could it be that the bottom line here is simply that darkness hates light? In other words, that you are being persecuted because they see Christ in you and He is not present in them.

      • joanne

        Anyone who has a defining mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over others and who sees themselves justified in using abuser tactics to gain and hold that power and control is an abuser as we define them here. Apply that definition and if a person, even including a family member who professes to be a Christian, fits that definition then it is my conviction that they are not a Christian.

        Love this. You are very insightful in your comment. Thanks.

    • Ellie

      I am confused. Mars Hill isn’t PCA. Phillips isn’t/wasn’t PCA. Do you mean Reformed? What is the PCA you are referring to? In the Presbyterian Church of America circles I am familiar with, specifically, with the Aquila Report and its readers, Phillips and Driscoll are not held in high regard.

      • joanne

        Sorry, you’re confused because I’m confused. All the terminology is new to me. I’m just a non-denominational, bible-believing, conservative follower of Jesus. It has taken weeks of research starting with the Aquila Report to try to understand what my family believed that would justify their actions. They are PCA, and you are right, Philips and Driscoll are Reformed; all Calvinists. What ties them together is Patriarchy and a collection of, what seem like great pro-family beliefs. The problem is that they are not biblical. Or maybe you could say extra-biblical, doctrines of men. They take perfect scripture and add something. The inevitable result, though it took years and many wounded souls before the fall, was abuse.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Joanne- Very good. Yes, it is confusing, isn’t it? While God’s Word is deep and profound, it is not confusing and it’s truth rings true with the Spirit in us, as it is doing in you. “What seem like great pro-family beliefs” – and there is the facade, isn’t it? This idolatrous worship of a man-made system which is then foisted off on us as “biblical” does indeed produce abuse. Thank you

      • thepersistentwidow

        Joanne, You are very observant and wise Christian and I am sorry for your distress in dealing with the PCA. I personally have suffered greatly at their hands having been ejected from their church and slandered by the local pastor. I counted it up and I would have to write five posts to explain all the abuse they heaped on me. Perhaps the problem is that I had wrongly assumed that they being from the Reformation, believed in the freeing doctrine of being justified by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone. Yes, they claim that, but if you examine their practice you will find that they prefer to force their own brand of works onto Christians.

        I have now studied the Reformation more carefully and see that Calvin went immediately to work in adding laws to the doctrine of free justification in Christ. His churches have continued to follow his example and so that is what PCA doctrine largely consists of, banning Christian liberty and articulating laws for people to follow. They demand the sheep give full authority to the “ruling” elders. If one doesn’t submit as they deem appropriate, or asks questions they don’t want to or are unable to answer, they will throw that “troublemaker” out.

        My heart goes out to you for the pain that they have caused you by alienating family and making you seem to be an unbeliever. But that is how they remain in control. Jeff is right, the honest truth is that you are being persecuted for being a Christian. This is not your fault. Keep this in prayer and give it all over to God. His will be done.

        “…All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Tim.3:12

      • Ellie

        I have had a positive experience with the PCA and I feel very blessed to have landed where I am. I know others whose local bodies did not support them and have added to their suffering.

        The Aquila Report and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals have had many many articles and/or podcasts opposing Patriarchy. I hate to hear that your family has fallen in with a group that promotes it. In the circles I am familiar with, Patriarchy is not embraced. I hope and pray that your family gets good BIBLICAL teaching and they are delivered from this deception.

      • Hi Joanne, and everyone in this little discussion 🙂

        Maybe part of the problem here is what people variously take to be the meanings and semantic ranges of various words:
        ‘Calvinism’ is a word that seems to be used with various meanings
        “Reformed’ ditto
        then there is what some people call ‘The New Calvinism’ — a theological approach which has appropriated the label ‘Calvinism’ but which in fact seems to be not all that authentic to what Calvin taught
        then there is ‘Patriarchy’
        and ‘hyper-Calvinism’

        . . . and all these labels get tossed around without us necessarily all agreeing with what we mean by the labels. It’s easy to come to misunderstanding and to stereotype people (each other) when this is the case.

        And having watched how this plays out on other blogs (eg The Wartburg Watch and to a lesser extent Spiritual Sounding Board) I’m aware that it can be difficult discussion and it’s all too easy for people to grate on each other. Since our focus at this blog is to awaken the evangelical church to domestic violence and abuse in its midst, it is not our core role to tease out in full detail the truths or errors of any of these -isms. We DO tackle Patriarchy head on, becuase it impacts and fertilises the practice of domestic abuse so much, but our role is not to make a final judgement on the other issues (the -isms, the various theological streams). Where any of those streams or -isms have a direct impact on victims of abuse, we do say so. But my caution here is that we all need to be careful not to make blanket statements that are too generalised. For example, Persistent Widow most definitely was mistreated by her church which was a member of the PCA denomination (Presbyterian Church of America). But Ellie has happened to find that her PCA church is a safe place for survivors of domestic abuse.

        And the likes of Doug Phillips and Mark Driscolll — while each of those men in their own ways professed to be Reformed in their theology (Calvinist) they were in actuality examples of
        ** hyper-Calvinism
        ** a kind of Roman Catholicism . . . ‘baptism makes you a believer’— esp in Vision Forum and Family Integrated Churches, and
        ** plain old bullying tyranical leadership.

        Just beause a man claims to be ‘Reformed’ and is lauded as such by other big shot leaders (e.g. John Piper, TGC) does not mean he IS reformed. The big shot leaders are so often blind. The charismatic / well-published leaders Buddy Club seems to be operating much more strongly than genuine theological concerns in many cases. Bullies can lurk anywhere and everywhere — and many people in many different streams of christianity are blind to the wolves in their midst.

      • joanne

        How would you define Calvinist and Reformed?

      • Do you mind if I pass on that one, at least for the moment. I’m concerned that if I start defining them here it might fan the flames of a controversy/debated I’m trying to avoid on this blog. But if Jeff C wants to answer you, I don’t mind. He has formal theological training and I don’t.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Joanne – yes, I think I will pass on that one as well. Not because it isn’t a good question, but blog discussions can so easily get sidetracked and spin off the main issues we want to address. You might want to check out R.C. Sproul’s set of lectures “What is Reformed Theology?” as a good into for you.

      • thepersistentwidow

        Ellie, Although Piper is not Presbyterian, he is highly esteemed and influential in the PCA. I know that a few years ago, Driscoll books were being sold in the bookstore at PCA Covenant Seminary. Providentially, the whole physical book store has since been shuttered. Maybe due to poor sales. Maybe due to complaints/controversy? I personally complained loudly that such junk was being sold there myself. Wouldn’t it be something if my continual complaints shut it down?

        Anyway, it seems that if you see a celeb pastor promoted at the Gospel Coalition, Westminster Bookstore, or Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, they are accepted with most (all?) churches that agree with Calvinism, whether they are Presbyterian or Baptist. The Calvinists do a lot of teacher swapping. One just needs to be charismatic, sell a lot of books, and claim to be Calvinist to become a superpastor and/or promoter of special teachings to this group.

  14. joanne

    Barbara and Jeff, I can certainly respect that. You are doing great work here.

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