When We Enable Abusers in the Church We are Guilty of Breaking the Third Commandment

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

What does it mean to take a name in vain? It means to lay claim to a name, let’s say, Australia, and insist that you are a citizen of that country when in fact you are not. You say you are “Australian.” But it is a lie. It is an empty claim. It is vain.

Christians take the name of the Lord. We call ourselves “Christians.” We say we are the children of God, and if in fact we are then this is a good and right thing to do. God really has, in Christ, adopted His people as His own and given us His name. We bear the name of the Lord.

However, if a person makes this claim falsely, as the hypocrite does, then they are grossly violating the third commandment. They are making an empty, false claim and they are using the holy name of God to do so. Every single time the hypocrite utters a “praise the Lord,” or a “Hallelujah” or prays “in Jesus’ name”, he is taking the name of the Lord in vain and is incurring more and more and more guilt before God. Even when such a person enters the church building on Sunday, he is taking the name of the Lord in vain. When he picks up his Bible or recites some verse of Scripture, he is breaking the third commandment.

“For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

Abusers who claim to be Christians are hypocrites. They are objects of God’s wrath. Their religion is repugnant and obnoxious to the Lord. They are like the Jews of Isaiah’s day:

Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:10-15)

Now, think this through. Not only does the abuser in his hypocrisy incur God’s wrath for this vain use of the holy name, but the entire church that is allowing this and enabling such a person to be in their midst is guilty. Yep. The whole lot of them, especially the leaders. The entirety of their worship, of their service, everything they do “in the name of the Lord,” is odious to God. They are coming before the Lord each week with the blood of victims on their hands, lifting them up in prayer, repeating their Amens and praise the Lords, and it is sickening to God. Listen to Isaiah again:

“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” (Isaiah 66:3-4)

See it? This means that the “worship” of hypocrites, of wicked abusers and their enabling allies, is just as horrid to God as if a person killed a man and dragged his dead corpse into the temple to offer as a sacrifice. It is as if they were bringing pigs’ blood or dead dogs or idol images to “offer” to God. THAT is how God views the “worship” of a local church that enables the wicked hypocrite.

Pretty serious stuff, wouldn’t you say?


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.


19 thoughts on “When We Enable Abusers in the Church We are Guilty of Breaking the Third Commandment”

  1. Good stuff, Jeff. I see this in so many American churches today. How can we possibly avoid a purging when we have churches like this?

  2. Like this?

    2013: “My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years.”

    “________ deny any liability to _______ and no admission of liability was made as part of the resolution of the case.”

    1. Note to moderators: I sent something like the following comment earlier, but it either got lost in cyberspace or maybe you wanted to check out the link first? I wanted to clarify for the readers what E is referring to. (Or maybe it was because Friday’s SSB article quoted 2013, but not that particular statement which I just discovered. I Googled that statement and found a different SSB link with the statement which is also included below.) Please consider posting my comment below (without this paragraph of course). Thanks!


      Exactly! For anyone who wants to know what E is referring to, see these links:

      A Closer Look at Doug Phillips’ Clarification Statement [Internet Archive link]

      Doug Phillips Releases Statement Attempting to Appear Innocent of All Sexual Allegations Against Him after Lawsuit Settlement

      [We have added this link in case the above link gets broken: Doug Phillips Releases Statement Attempting to Appear Innocent of All Sexual Allegations Against Him after Lawsuit Settlement [Internet Archive link]. Editors.]

      1. Thanks Sister.
        I’ve read those posts at SSB and they are good. But caveat to our readers: some of the comments in the comments thread on those posts we would not be okay with publishing here. So the posts themselves are are fine, just don’t think we are endorsing all the comments there.

  3. I totally said something very similar to this to some ex church friends on Facebook a short while ago.
    I had a fallout with my church because an assistant pastor. I felt was staring and stalking me and I confronted him in email and he forward to the counselor instead of trying to ease my concern he twisted it and the church counselor called me and twisted it on me. It was probably he that did the twisting but she didn’t carefully cross examine the issue she protected him and he continued with the funny behavior. When I kept bringing it up to them and the senior pastor I was just revictimized and practically kicked out of the church on Mother’s Day.

    Few months later I tried to seek friends and aquaintences from there on Facebook but they had practically nothing to say and some tried to silence me and others were just shoveling more dirt so I posted something similar about taking the Lords name in vain and fearing man rather than God using Christianese to hide cowardice but I saw right through it and they didn’t like it and reacted so I unfriended and blocked them.

    Anyway, […] I’m not afraid anymore and thankfully I got healed enough to be able to articulate it. But I know you guys are super busy all the time and you have to focus more on domestic abuse but I’m still glad for this post you wrote as it really resonates with me and supports what I already felt was true.

    Thank you for this post, P. Jeff!

  4. There are many who have left the local church claiming that false doctrine was being preached. This reason is warranted, however, these very same professing Christians have also caused me much sorrow as they still hold to the belief that ‘he’ is still a Christian even though ‘he’ does not want to be my husband? The onus is on me and ‘he’ knows it. He won’t speak to me but when questioned told someone that he still is in the faith.
    My question is, “Which faith?”

  5. We have been in a church for a year and a half and people there hardly speak to us. We’ve had some polite conversations but no one has really tried to get to know us, in fact during meal time they sit away from us. We thought when the new pastor came 6 months ago that things would change, surely he’d speak to us about whatever is going on (I know they speak against us but cannot prove it) but he too has also barely spoken to us. Is this considered abuse? I’m trying to understand what we are dealing with. Thanks.

    1. Hi, and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      What you’ve described does suggest abuse, since you say you know they speak against you (and I’m guessing you think they are speaking falsehoods about you). If you are an abuse victim from a previous relationship and you think your ex is feeding lies and slander about you to this congregation, that could explain how they are treating you.

      The only way to find out for certain is to ask the people in that church what they have heard about you and what reasons they have for not speaking to you. That would take courage! But it might help you understand or confirm what is going on.

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something other than glb21, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

      1. Thank you. No it’s nothing like that. I think I pieced together the actual problem the church has with us. We were in another church in the area, which we left because the pastor there had major theological issues. So we went to this church because we thought it lined up with out beliefs better. We got the cold shoulder from day one and simply not speaking to us. The church only has about 30 people in it, so its hard not to notice. What I have come to figure is that these people are either friends with or related to the pastor or people in the previous church we left. What amazes me is a new pastor comes in and listens to the previous group about us (again, we have no idea what is being said but I do know they sent out scouts on Facebook to spy on anything I “liked” and it appeared to me that sermons would always address that weeks posts on FB, if that makes sense). The Pastor had a conflict in his church and he never speaks to the other party? I really do feel it is his job to ask to speak to us what has happened is we have been marginalized hoping we’ll leave. That is how I see it.

  6. I am blessed beyond measure to be in a church that does call out hypocrites and abusers, listens to the cries of victims, confronts and where needed exercises Matthew 18 and excommunicates accordingly. To be in a church where this is not the case, is to be in a very dangerous place and is NOT the church of Christ.

    1. Anonymous – I can’t even imagine being in a true church of Christ like you described. So very happy for you.

      1. Healinginhim, it breaks my heart to hear you say this!! I will be praying for you to be led to a church where a true body of believers will surround you, believe you and love you!! Pastor Crippen shows us how to be wise in these matters, and the Holy Spirit will lead you. Love and prayers for you. 🌷

      2. Anonymous – Thank you for prayers. The ministry of ACFJ, Pastor Crippen’s sermons and other ministries recommended by them have helped greatly. I’m not sure how the Lord will lead me to a true church? I don’t want a large congregation unless that is His will. I just desire the pure Word to be lived out. I have so many opportunities to share the Gospel but am often asked what denomination I am a part of? Of course, this is where my testimony comes forth as to why I am unable to worship at the local churches. I recommend what the Lord has led me to a this point in time. Some are open and I have met a couple of young single mothers who have been grateful as they are learning much about the abuse they are attempting to escape.
        I’ve also met some gals who have a history of why the left the church and the patriarchal home life they lived under.

  7. “I just desire the pure Word to be lived out.” Healinginhim, I am continuing to pray for you!!

    Experience after years of heartache and abuse has taught me, when those around us, particularly in the church, and even more so in positions of authority, are NOT ‘living out’ the pure Word thereby seeking to deceive and dupe us, He gives discernment so we can know when there is danger and when we must flee to safety. He teaches us to recognize authenticity.

    Heard Alistair Begg once mention about a man in his congregation whose government job it was to study MONEY, literally study the paper, so that he would know beyond all doubt what the real deal looks like. He said to retain this knowledge, is the only way to know a fake / counterfeit.

    I know I cannot live out His Word perfectly, nor am I looking for a “perfect” church, but I would rather be with people who are broken over their sin than those who don’t think they need a physician.

    1. Experience after years of heartache and abuse has taught me, when those around us, particularly in the church, and even more so in positions of authority, are NOT ‘living out’ the pure Word thereby seeking to deceive and dupe us, He gives discernment so we can know when there is danger and when we must flee to safety. He teaches us to recognize authenticity.

      This is so very true Anonymous.
      The experience and discernment that we have painfully gained, once we come OUT of the abusive relationship / relationships- gives us the knowledge to identify and recognise evil in certain people and thereby avoid their baitings, set ups, and traps.

      I work in an environment that has been dominated by covert abusive people in authority.
      They have ignored and resisted my requests to be cross-trained and gain more knowledge in the company- because they know that I would have more equality with them.

      So a certain one has set bait out for me to compromise my position in the eyes of upper management “to see if I will take it” so she can afterwards tell her supervisor about it.

      Only thing is, – I know what she is doing and why she is doing it. (because of the experience gained living with my abuser)
      She is doing this so she can “head me off at the pass” of being given the opportunity of gaining more knowledge in the company.

      –She covertly hates me because I am a true believer in Jesus Christ and the spirit in her cannot be the same since she opposes me.
      (A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree can not bear good fruit.)

      –She also has trouble concentrating around me and tends to make mistakes when I am in close proximity to her, so she avoids me mostly.

      Truth be told, I think she is bored with her mundane job (as she once told me before), and is entertaining herself by trying to set me up to fail to achieve her pay off or “duping delight”.

      She trys to set up situtations, and traps where I did not yet get the proper training, so that she can falsely accuse me of not knowing information I was never taught..

      But because of my past experience with my ex-covert abuser, I am able to see most of it coming, and employ counter strategies to avoid her traps and set ups.

      There are also several “true believers” at this company, and one has become a good friend, and she was getting continuously targeted by one of these “mini manager abusers”.
      She was almost in tears on several occasions after dealing with this mini manager individual.

      I was able to share with her how to respond to this person to where she would no longer continue to verbally and psychologically target her. And it worked and she is very grateful that I told her how to respond.

      So once we get out of our initial abusive situtation, what we have learned becomes an invaluable resource that we can effectively employ against future abusers, and share with others in similar struggles.

  8. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Genesis 50:20 NASB1995)

  9. I never thought of taking His Name in vain in this light before. This is definitely sobering and frightening. Sometimes I would like to try to reason with the abuser about his faith, or rather the lack of it. But then I always come back to, “Would he even listen” and I know he wouldn’t. Especially if this came from me, he’d reject it outright. I am to the point now when he tries to talk about spiritual things, or brings up Jesus in a conversation it makes me feel so uncomfortable, I don’t know how to describe it.

    1. When he tries to talk about spiritual things or brings Jesus up in a conversation, it makes you feel uncomfortable. I honour you for having that feeling! I believe it is a feeling that the Holy Spirit is giving you — you are rightly discerning that he is talking about spiritual things and bringing up Jesus in conversations because he is trying to manipulate you or other people. He is trying to get people to think that he is actually serious about Christianity. But in fact, all he is doing is using Christianity as another tool in his arsenal of abuse. If he can con people into thinking he is interested in Christianity for real, then they are likely to give him umpteen more chances…. and he will utilise that to continue to further abuse his target(s).

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