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.
[October 2, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV)
Largely, I probably only needed to cite this Scripture in this post and sign off! It says it all.
In the course of giving instruction regarding the care of widows in the church, Paul tells Timothy that primary responsibility for such care falls upon the relatives of the widow. But certainly we see here a fair application to the “widow” abuse victim. We have pointed this out before. Abuse victims are practical widows. They have no husband. What they have is worse than having no husband in fact. And their children are orphans. Widows and orphans, as made plain all through Scripture, have a special place in God’s eye.
Now, Paul says that anyone who does not provide for his relatives, especially for his own family, has done two things: (1) He has denied the Gospel. In other words, he is a practical apostate, and (2) He has revealed that he is an unbeliever of the worst kind. Worst, because many people who don’t even claim to be Christians nevertheless care for their own families.
So why is it then that we keep hearing things from churches such as “the abuser must be held accountable and taken under the care and discipline of his church. He must be informed that there are going to be consequences if he continues to abuse.” What?
You will notice in such an approach that the abuser actually is still being considered a Christian, still a member of the church, even though now busted with his guilty hand in the cookie jar (a pretty rare event in itself in most churches) he is going to be forced to put the cookie back and stop raiding it anymore. That is to say, this “Christian” is having external pressures put upon him to force him to live like a Christian! Of course we all know where such an approach is going to end. He isn’t going to change, except perhaps for the worse.
A true Christian is a new creation. He is indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus and taught by that Spirit. He is led by the Spirit and by the Spirit he puts to death the deeds of the flesh. Once a hater of God, he now loves God and loves God’s Law. He does not need to be forced to love others, including his wife and children, and stop abusing them. If these things are not true of a person, then he is not a Christian at all and HERE is the point — the church must not keep treating him as a Christian. He must be declared to be what he is — an apostate and WORSE than an unbeliever. And then of course put out of the church.
Because this single verse says everything. A man who does not provide for members of his own household has denied the faith (no matter how much God-talk he spews) and is the worst kind of unbeliever.
Why in the world churches and pastors and Elders and church members persist in treating the abuser as if he were a Christian just boggles my mind. Why will they not, for the glory of God and for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, openly announce the truth of the matter? “This man is no Christian and he is to be put out from among us. Do not even eat with such a one.” Why? Why is that so hard? What is “in it” for a local church keeping such a wicked person in their midst? I can think of a number of answers to that question. None of them are good reasons. Every one of them involves disobeying our Lord.
There is one final observation I would make regarding this Scripture. We all know that all too frequently pressure is put upon abuse victims not to divorce their abuser. That is putting it mildly. That they are frequently “forbidden” to divorce their abuser is more accurate. And one of the reasons given for this prohibition is that her husband “is a Christian” and she can only divorce (the claim goes) a spouse who is a non-believer and who doesn’t agree to live together with her (1 Cor 7 normally cited and misused here). But check it out. Paul says that the abuser is WORSE than an unbeliever! He isn’t just an unbeliever who is ignorant of the Gospel. Oh no. He is a person who KNOWS about Christ, who has professed Christ, who has “tasted” (Hebrews 6) Christ. And yet, he spits in our Lord’s face and tramples on our Lord’s blood by his wicked treatment of his own household. So of course an abuse victim has the right before God to divorce such a person.
[October 2, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to October 2, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to October 2, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to October 2, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 2, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
43 thoughts on “How to Deal Properly With Abusers Posing as Christians”
Back when I thought stbx could change, I so wanted to show him this verse. But, he had used Scripture so often to batter me, I could not in any way do anything that could be construed in the same way, especially as he twists anything I do. I now know that it would have fallen on deaf ears, and it would have been completely my fault that he couldn’t / wouldn’t provide, and am glad I saved myself from at least one episode of abuse. But it is sad that as we struggle along, using the food bank, thankful for food on the table, but nothing extra for clothes, etc., he has lived in church people’s homes, been fed by church people, and happily spent thousands on himself. When finally he has to pay proper support for one month, instantly he whines that he has nothing to live on. I am so thankful that God is my provider, and though times may be tough, He always provides enough.
But what exactly is meant by “provide for his relatives” in that verse, Pastor Crippen? Is it simply shelter, food, clothing?
I struggle with that very much. It makes me think that perhaps I am as selfish and worldly as he says I am. He has always provided the basics, we’ve always had shelter, food, clothing, a car to get to work (old and rarely pretty, but the clunkers have almost always gotten me where I needed to go even if they don’t always have working heat or air conditioning….and the one now though 13 years old — we got it a few years ago — is rust free, has no body damage, runs quietly AND working air and heat. I LOVE it! I blend in and no one notices me or the car).
But that’s the kind of thing that he uses against me and sometimes I feel he must be right. He says “I work hard to provide a roof over your head” but I feel upset that things are falling apart and he never has time to fix them because he’s doing “ministry” for others (he’s very handy). And if I want more than just [to] fix (want to make something pretty too), that’s just proof of how materialistic I am. It feels so unfair, but it’s true we always have had a home and he does work many hours at his job.
Years ago when he quit his second job, I thought we’d finally have a “normal” family life where we’d do fun things as a family and also take care of our home together, like I saw my mom and dad do. But the “free” hours went to the church. Then I felt guilty for being resentful of the church, it felt almost as if I was competing against God for my husband.
So if provision is just the basic necessities of life, he’s right. I am selfish. But if provision means more than that, being there not only physically, but emotionally too, being a willing participant in family life, then maybe I’m not wrong to feel so marginalized all these years. If the problem is me, I do want to address it and I’m human, I CAN and am selfish sometimes.
So what exactly does provision for relatives mean?
Anne – you aren’t wrong. Ephesians 5 speaks volumes into this regarding the husband loving his wife. That line “I work hard to provide a roof over your head” is one of the most common excuses we hear. Is that what he vowed to do at your wedding? To just provide a roof over your head? I have grown to be very, very suspicious of “Christians” who “sacrifice and give” themselves to the church to the neglect of their own families and homes. The fact that you as his wife are feeling empty is proof enough that he is not doing right. Namely, that he is not providing for his own family.
In the Old Testament Jewish tradition, the husband was to provide three things for his family. Financial support, emotional support and sexual intimacy. The lack of any of these things was grounds for divorce.
This dovetails right into what Jeff mentioned about what a husband is commanded to do in Ephesians, and I think withholding any of them is abuse and thus grounds for divorce.
Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for clearing that up for me. Provision is so much more than basics. I’m going to go re-read Ephesians.
Anne, that question is what I struggled with for a long time too. I felt guilty that him providing for my basic needs wasn’t enough. He never even had to hold it over my head but he did very strategically let me know now and then how he was “sacrificing for me” by working long hours (he was his own boss) 7 days a week. I begged him to come home to spend time with me and he was annoyed saying, “Well, what would we DO?” insinuating that being with me sitting at home was boring and he’d rather go work. Nothing in it for him, which I couldn’t understand at the time but I know now was true since he never loved me or even cared about me.
The question of what it means to provide I think shows our assessment of God as well. It was working through what Scripture meant by this that I had to consider what God thought of all this. Was God also annoyed / angry with me for wanting something besides food and shelter? Did God care that I was dying inside?
Realizing that “providing” goes beyond immediate physical needs in the Scriptural context was the beginning of me realizing the wrong concept of God I had my whole life. As I see it, if we think that verse is limited to basic physical needs then it seems we will have a hard time grasping the love God has for us – particularly evidenced in His HATE of the evil that is shown through actions like withholding by our abuser.
Thanks, Jeff, for another great post. You continually hit the nail on the head and in so doing are constructing a safe haven for so many.
Thank you so much for your perspective, Valerie. What you say makes so much sense. I thought about the Bible verse, John 10:10 where it says:
….abundant means full and rich and overflowing with good things. Why would He want us to be satisfied with just the basics when He says Himself that He comes to bring us an abundant life? Not just survival living, but amazing, full and overflowing life. Joy, peace, love, security, companionship, sharing, all good things that are supposed to be part of a marriage. By thinking that He judges me harshly for only wishing for what He promises….you are so right. I never thought about it that way.
God created us IN HIS IMAGE.
How is God’s relationship with Jesus? With the Holy Spirit?
A roof over their heads? Lording anything over them?
I can hear the “Judge not lest you be judged” crowd now! After all, it only takes a profession of faith and all is good, right? How can we judge another person’s heart, right? But he is such an upstanding member of the church, right?
More likely the real motives for churches like this is that they don’t want the embarrassment or the strife. More importantly, we will lose a number of members if we do this and they will take their tithes and offerings with them!
Wendell, I think you answered Jeff’s question in your comment:
The church husband is in bought tax liens in rigged auctions and foreclosed on people to make money. When it came to light, the pastor was made to leave, but the second in command, who actually was convicted of that crime, is head pastor because he knows how to bring in the money. But husband says I am nasty and judgemental for bringing that up as wrong because he’s a great guy who works hard for the church. Unbelievable.
Wendell, good point re your other post (no reply feature under it).
I can’t even say I received one of these things then because despite my h’s making more than enough to provide for probably TWO families, I still spend hours a day working out in the hot sun and other elements, which I’d do without a thought to help out, but he demands that my paycheck be directly deposited into his bank account. I must also use a credit card for everything, I mean EVERYTHING, so he can track my spending online. I’ve said that if he continued giving me a hard time, I could have my entire paycheck deposited into an account of my own, to which he replied that I’d have to pay half the mortgage, half the utilities, half of everything, even though my hourly wage is much lower than his and I’m limited to 40 hours a week because SOMEONE has to be here for our child.
And surely people will say, “We’re not under the Old Testament now….” They always have an out….
You identified one of the main issues that was one of the dominoes that caused the ultimate demise of my marriage (thankfully), and that is:
In my case, I asked him for years to help me develop a budget. He didn’t. I bought a book on budgets, sat with him to write down a budget, he feigned not knowing what to do after the first month we tried it (tracking income and outgo) and I didn’t want to do it all myself, so we let it go.
Then, he started checking hard copy credit card bills, waiting outside the bathroom staring at me on the toilet to interrogate me about the smallest of expenses on the bills — then finally I thought, “This is bogus. I’m going to sign up for email delivery to a private account to get and pay bills.” If we had been in debt, maybe I could have understood his questioning (but not his methods, just an interest). Yet still, he ambushed me with old paper bills. So I started getting a clue about his accusatory tactics.
Then of course, the accusations started that I was hiding the bills, which he told the pastor. My now-ex- threatened to “return to the bedroom” if I didn’t show him the bills (For what? Just to disturb my sleep?). I said I’d put locks on the doors if he did (which then got our pastor nervous and said I needed to consult a lawyer — because of course, pastor washed his hands of it all, not unlike Pontius Pilate). The rest is history.
But credit card badgering is an easy tactic of the abusive husband. I think getting a private email account and having bills sent there was one of the best things I ever did. That and putting earphones attached to an mp3 player in my ears whenever I was alone at home with the now-ex-. I refused to listen to his lies and evil at that point.
[Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]
Still Reforming, my ex always wanted to budget but would only budget for his things not mine or the kids and then he would arbitrarily empty the account for some new computer and then demand I pay the bills….with what, I was supposed to make money appear out of thin air.
I was betrayed by the pastor and many many members of the church and eventually ostracized?? To this day I wonder if they realize they were wrong and that my ex was abusive and that he manipulated them all! Will God expose the truth to them after all this time; 2 years or will it come on Judgement Day?
I have a hard time thinking that members of the church (yours and mine both) are true Christians. I really do. Some may be and just caught up in their own trials and too busy to intercede on behalf of the abuse victim (but even then, I have struggled with making excuses for them, when I know they know some of the details and yet were content to say “I’m praying for you” on a Sunday morning and just in passing). By and large, I think many are not real Christians who are warming the pews.
Yes, I was told that I was expecting too much because “he provided” for the family. Implying sexual misconduct didn’t matter. I still live with the cloud of “that’s just the way some men are….”
If I had had even the smallest bit of support from the local church; I’m sure I would have left years ago while the children were young. Both of us were led to believe that “divorce” was totally unacceptable. Now, ‘he’ doesn’t care what happens; just leave him alone as continues on with his daily routine of ‘living’.
I understand, HealingInHim. Me too! They live such “righteous” lives on the outside, it’s a wonder some professing Christians don’t just grab us by the shoulders and shake us, saying, “What’s the matter with you? He works hard. He goes to church. You’re not being hit!”
My h wants to be “left alone,” too….but I fear what might happen when I actually do, for keeps.
God said it is NOT GOOD for man to be ALONE. Perhaps if he got what he wants God can show him what He meant. Just a thought.
My husband also holds it over me that he provides! Yet what he provides is “just enough”. He never has time to keep what he’s “given” us in good repair or even replaced [it] when it’s past its prime. But he always has time to tinker with his stuff or help the neighbors or watch TV.
Yes, Annie, that’s it exactly. Enough time and energy to do for everyone else except his wife. He used to do a lot “for” the kids, if it involved activities at the church or run by the church and they were involved (coaching the Christian school teams they were on, being involved in the youth ministry things they were in). Anything else, no. What I didn’t know was that he lavishly praised all the other kids he worked with and rarely his own. They felt he didn’t even “see” them. What they did, who they were was never “enough”.
Wendell, well he now has grounds for divorcing ME because I haven’t been able to bring myself to be intimate with him for several months, since the last time he made clear all he wanted from me was servanthood, not companionship and equality. I wish he would, but I know he never will. It would ruin his image at church. 😉
I have to laugh ruefully or I’d cry.
😦 Annie….sorry to hear that! Why are they like this?
The kids and I always got the junkier car, while he drove the better one. He purposefully wouldn’t get mine fixed, hoping I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. Years ago, both rear doors wouldn’t open from the outside, and my then-small children would have to climb in from the front. Once they got in, one of them bumped the shift (it was a stick shift), and the car rolled out into the highway we live on, almost causing an accident. I guess the parking brake was bad, too. Thankfully, they escaped before it went into the road.
I called him to tell him, and he said “God made it happen”. In retrospect I realize that my having believed all his lies, was why I backslid for years. I didn’t want to serve a God Who wanted to kill my children because I didn’t want to stay with a professing follower of His who treated his family so badly. Why did I believe so many lies….
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My husband claims to be a Christian. He does not provide well. It’s not that he doesn’t have the means (he’s in the top 5%), it’s about control. When he does not get his way, he threatens not to buy food, pay for stuff etc. He says these are consequences of my actions (refusing to stroke his ego).
Curious, the word for what your husband is doing is EXTORTION.
And guess what? Extortion is one of the six sins for which we should hand a professing believer over to Satan.
Yep, I got that also, esp from our 2nd counselor: “he provides financially so therefore he loves you.” Even though back then I wasn’t very good at defending myself, that time I was able to respond right away with, “I cook the meals, clean the house, wash the clothes, do the shopping, care for and homeschool the children, so that proves my love!” However, that was totally discounted by both my ex and the counselor. She had told [him] he was just a “little too harsh” when talking to me, however, “HE PROVIDED, so after that, our marriage problems were my fault because I was expecting too much.”
Being a “good provider” entails more than just paying the bills. Look [at] all the parents who “provide” physically for their offspring, but mistreat and neglect them in horrific ways. That counselor doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
My h makes lots of money, and always has, but looks down on a woman who doesn’t get out and work hard outside the home, in addition to being able to keep the house clean, take care of the kids, and do all the other unpaid labor that must be done, as “selfish” and “lazy.” I’ve been in the workforce for my entire adult life, except for a few months after the births of each of our children. For years, I worked 60 or more hours a week, just to keep him off my back. He acted like I needed to, while all along he was buying and hoarding it where I couldn’t touch it.
I’ve never objected to helping out by working outside the home. But, all the burden of maintaining the house / children was placed on me, as well. Everyone sees him as working all the time, even though he’s being just plain materialistic and greedy (the man in the Bible who decided to build more barns for his excess, only to be told that night that his soul was to be required of him [Paraphrase of Luke 12:18-20.], comes to mind). Nobody sees how he deliberately does this to neglect his family in other ways; instead he comes across as being rather noble.
If the house was ever unkempt, it was always on me. To this day I get anxious when I know he’s coming home; I’m sure to have all the dishes done, the laundry folded, etc. I hate feeling this way. But somehow, because he “provides” financially, he’s exempt from having to help out or wash a pan after frying an egg. It always falls on me.
When I was almost 9 months pregnant a female friend of his from church called him crying because of something her husband did. She wanted “advice.” He announced he was going off somewhere with her to “help” her. I was anxious because our previous baby had come a little early, and very fast. This was before there were cell phones, so I’d have no way to reach him if I happened to go into labor. He was gone for several hours. I had no idea where he was.
I later asked him why he’d done what he did. I said I’d gladly have gone to my parent’s or somewhere else, if they’d needed to talk privately. He explained that he was embarrassed that our apartment was untidy. 😦 It was far more important for him to show off as a spiritual advisor to his friend, than to consider his wife’s feelings and at least give her a way to reach him in an emergency….
Whoa, Poohbear. He should not be going off alone with a female friend, ANYWHERE regardless of your physical state or the state of your house. That is absolute BUNK. He is showing NO regard for you as a beloved wife. I hope things have changed for the better since then….
I had several thoughts after reading about Anne’s situation and the replies to it, but these thoughts could apply to other people as well….
Likely the person making the accusation of selfishness is far more selfish than the one who is questioning the validity of the accusation. The accuser isn’t making any efforts to weed out his selfishness, but the accused has already made efforts.
God’s concern for our emotional needs is shown in the following verses (paraphrased / summarized) as well as many others.
Deut 24:5 He says the husband should bring the wife happiness.
Psalm 34:18 He is close to the brokenhearted.
Matt 12:20 He won’t break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick.
Rev 21:4 He will eventually wipe away all the tears from our eyes.
For those who want to make stuff pretty (home decor, clothes, cosmetics, landscaping, art, anything) it isn’t “selfish” it shows we are made in the image of God because God makes stuff pretty. Genesis 2:9 specifically states that the trees God made were pretty (ok it says “pleasing to the eye” that’s how Bible people say “pretty”). Of course for the people who aren’t interested in “pretty girly stuff” that’s ok too because we each have different aspects of God’s image. In the same way we have different spiritual gifts we also have different physical and emotional gifts.
Regarding what benefit the church goers get from supporting the abuser I thought of another possibility. If it’s not one of the already mentioned motives of being ignorant, being abusers themselves, or loving money, it could be just wanting the path of least resistance. Sadly, it’s just plain easier to resist the victim than to resist the abuser and that’s my best attempt to understand situations that don’t make any sense. However, having a reason doesn’t remove the anger I feel toward all the injustices in the world.
Thank you, M&M, for your thoughts and the Bible verses. “Pleasing to the eye” refreshes my soul, whether it’s beautiful nature outside created by God or some little spot of beauty I’ve created in our home. It has always hurt to feel that using my creativity to make things beautiful in my eyes and welcoming to those coming into our home is somehow wrong and focused too much on this world. Most things are given to us, found “trash to treasures” or similar low-cost things.
We haven’t had new furniture in decades, since we first married. But I do what I can with what we have and a lot of people say they love the feel of our home. I hide the broken and ugly things that I can’t fix myself as best I can and hope that what I can’t hide is at least not as noticeable because I’ve tried to beautify where I can. But sometimes I just wish I lived with someone who didn’t think that wanting to have anything nice, new or pretty was somehow wrong.
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I agree….it’s like the “be warmed and fed then go on your way attitude”. I no longer share anything with other believers, except people here….I’ve learned that it’s futile.
I’ve never been a “girly-girl” but I DO so appreciate all the beautiful flowers God made, especially in the springtime. Yet, I’m not “allowed” to have a little flower garden, even though I have a very large yard. He always has some reason. His last was that he didn’t want to have to mow around it. I’m more than able to mow the lawn and mow around a flower patch, and would be happy to do so (in the past, I mowed on a regular basis, but he actually denies remembering me doing so!). He always comes up with some reason why he must do it himself.
We have some grass in front of the fence in our yard, by the street. There is a circular patch of some sort of weeds which remotely resemble flowers. He always mows ever so neatly around it….
I wish the church I was going to had at least acknowledged that my ex was an abuser. They didn’t. They blamed me, shamed me and effectively threw me out. They supported my ex and they provided him with a new wife, all the while that he was taking vindictive and dishonest court action against me. The new woman has a powerful position in the community and has been starting to alienate my child from me. I have never encountered such evil. It all seems more like a cult than a church, and more like witchcraft than Christianity.
I’m sure you are right, KayE — that that church is a cult and more like witchcraft than Christianity.
I was so lucky, after separating from my first husband, to find a church whose pastor recognised that my husband was an abuser.
And I was much much more fortunate than most of the readers of ACFJ, in that the Session (Elders and pastor) of that church eventually (in glacial Presbyterian speed and manner!) made a formal ruling that my divorce from that husband was biblically legitimate under 1 Corinthians 7:15, on the ground of my husband’s abusiveness. That vindication gave me much healing — healing which most of our readers here have not been able to find in their own church environments.
I’m so sorry to hear that KayE….it seems many of us have had such similar experiences!
GOD knows the truth….please try to hold on to that. (((hugs)))
It’s funny how I was not considered a ‘widow’ in our relationship. My ex actually used this very same Scripture against me claiming he was doing the right thing helping another woman (yes, she is a widow), her husband passed away several years ago. Throughout our marriage he had spent a lot of time helping this ‘widow’ who I also believe had NO problem accepting the help of another woman’s husband! I also truly believe, even to this day, it was more than just helping her! He is still involved with her. Need I say more?
I’m so glad this website and similar others exist to speak truth, say it like it is and sort through the cr*****p.
Is there any truth perhaps in thinking that the exposure of abuse in the church is a way God is separating wheat from chaff?
SR – yep. You got it! Fundamentally what motivates me to pursue the subject of abuse is that not only do we fight for justice for victims, but we actually are exposing the true and the false in the visible church. The visible church today is very corrupt with counterfeit believers. When we call the church to stand against the evil of abuse, right soon you are going to see who really belongs to Christ (and thus thirsts for righteousness) and who He does not even know. These church leaders and professing Christians who won’t stand with victims of oppression are showing themselves to be phonies, plain and simple.
I agree with that, Still Reforming….we are to be known by our LOVE, especially toward those who are hurting….that is the mark of a true believer….church attendance doesn’t count.
There is also the factor to consider of possible legal repercussions against a church that would “discipline” someone.
However, overall, I have to agree with the general consensus – “follow the money.” The financial motivation, coupled with general apathy and misinterpretation of the “judge not” passages, leads to everyone looking the other way. There’s no benefit to the church, either financially or otherwise, to ignore the pleas of the victim. No harm will come to them when they turn their backs on us, and helping us will not fill their coffers.
Not in this life, anyway. But I am comforted knowing the day will come when my Judge and my Comforter will set everything right.
I’m currently struggling with my pastors to get them to see that there is no way that my abusive husband is a Christian, since they insist it is possible (and apparently they must take him at his “confession,” although WHY they should do so, I don’t know) and therefore approach him that way and are shocked at how he slithers around in conversation and slithers out of full responsibility for his actions.
But it’s so clear. In addition to the amazing posts here on that topic, we don’t even need to go further than the plain simple reading of 1 John. No PhDs in Biblical interpretation necessary.
My pastors have also said that whether he is a Christian or not is something we should not focus on, but we take him at his confession on the surface in the dealings with him. But it is clear here AND ELSEWHERE that God WANTS us to be able to tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, and He instructs us in how to do so! If it wasn’t important and useful to know if someone is a true Christian, why would God devote passages to it? With the phrase “little children, let no one deceive you….” beginning it! Clearly the fatherly and protective heart of God is the one who wants to make it known who is a Christian and who is not.
I think that some churches and pastors that may have good intentions and really love God but don’t know anything about abuse may have the same stumbling blocks for exposing the abuser that victims have. I know I personally stayed 3 years because of the “path of least resistance” principle….” Although my marriage was painful and scary, leaving it was MORE painful and scary. Only when the scales tipped and it was finally more painful and scary to stay than leave was I able to contemplate leaving. And even then it wasn’t enough. I also had to realize that I was telling a lie about God by staying, saying that “it is ok in God’s eyes”. Only then, after truly seeing God’s heart for justice for the oppressed, was I able to face the embarrassment, shame, difficulty, confusion, fear of the unknown, and fear of leaving, because I was doing it for something bigger than me, for the sake of the Lord. Fear of God made me unable to continue telling that lie about God with my life.
In the same way, I’m sure pastors facing abuse in their midst would struggle with the feeling of “it’s just difficult”, or “it will be embarrassing / complicated”, “it’s just easier to ignore it and do nothing”, and “fear of what will happen if you don’t do it right 100%” or “what will it lead to in the end”. Maybe they don’t even understand what the Bible says about this subject, and they know it! It’s easier to do nothing in the face of all that. But the fear of the Lord and zealousness for His glory and for God’s justice to be shown properly can overcome those other hindrances, for victims AND for churches who are struggling but truly love God and want to help His hurt sheep.
This is my hope, at least. My pastors don’t in any way blame me and believe I have the right to divorce him, but it seems that they are struggling with how to handle HIM. I truly wish for him to be saved, regardless of the fate of the marriage, and so I want them to get a more realistic (and Biblical) view on his heart’s condition and the Bible’s commands for dealing with such a person. But it’s not easy in this day and age to follow the Bible’s tough commands for ex-communicating an unrepentant person claiming to be a Christian. Still, we have to strive to let the love of Christ compel us, not fear or embarrassment or the love of people or of money. Pastors are humans too, and I struggled with all of those fears as a victim, and it took time for me to get past that and to get courage to do the right thing.
[Note to readers from Eds: Here is another comment by Heather Black (formerly H), on another thread, which is also really worth reading if you found this comment by Heather Black (formerly H) helpful: I left him because I loved him.]
Thank you for your comment, Heather Black (Formerly H). It is so well expressed. As I was reading it I was thinking it might be adapted for posting as a stand alone post. But we have so many posts in the pipeline already….
I’ll compromise by repeating here what I thought were some of the real zingers in your comment: