The Patriarchal Father as Idol god

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.


[June 10, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
(1 John 5:21)

I have known the family members — wives and children — of patriarchal men. Men who parade as eminent Christians. Men who have been taught and who believe that they are the “priests” of their home. And I have experienced the frustration and grief of being rejected by these wives and children “because daddy said….”. These kinds of men have set themselves up as idols. They are much like Nebuchadnezzar:

And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:4-6)

Bow down, or else.

The little verse quoted above from 1 John is profound truth. It is the very last line in John’s first epistle, put where it is intentionally for emphasis. Keep yourselves from idols. Watch out. Be on guard. Don’t end up worshiping a false god. I find it interesting that John once more addresses us in this warning as “little children.”

Patriarchalism sets up the husband / father of the home as an idol. A false god. He is the one who distributes “God’s Word” to the family. It is his prayers that really count. He is the one to be served and praised. His word is the word that is infallible. A little papacy is established. And whoever does not fall down and worship him….

As children grow up in such deception, and particularly as long as the wife / mother still embraces that deception herself, all of the Bible, all input regarding just about any subject including the very nature of God Himself, is going to be perceived through the idolatrous grid entrenched in their minds. That is to say, through the idol called husband / father. Daddy says….

When such a man perceives that anyone — whether it be the pastor, an author, a church member, a friend of his wife — that anyone is starting to see through his idolatrous false kingdom, he goes on the offensive to squelch any and all opposition. He will slander that person speaking truth. He will accuse them. And if all else fails, he will isolate his family from them.

And his family believes him. Try to reason with them. Try to warn them. It will be to no avail. Daddy says….  Translated? God says….

And THAT, little children, is idolatry.

I saw a news documentary once on North Korea and the cruel dictatorship that reigns there. The reporters found that certain questions would be met with blank stares on the faces of the people. “Have you ever thought that perhaps your leader could be wrong sometimes?” It wasn’t that the people got angry at this question. No. Worse than that, they lacked the ability to even process the possibility, so thoroughly had they been brainwashed. “Our glorious and beloved Leader, wrong? What does that mean?” They had no mental paradigm or apparatus to take in such words. You may as well have said something like “How do you like the taste of purple?”

And so it is with the children of the kind of idol father I am speaking of here. “Daddy, wrong?” Show them hard, concrete evidence to the contrary of what their father said, it will not get through. He has become their surrogate Christ. Really, an anti-Christ.  And such a god can do whatever he wants.

Little children, little children, please….keep yourselves from idols.

[June 10, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to June 10, 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 June 10, 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 June 10, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 10, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


45 thoughts on “The Patriarchal Father as Idol god”

  1. As a homeschooler, I watched certain patriarchal families and the natural patriarchal tendencies in my own husband with serious concern, yet followed along for a time. Having lived in an [Eastern Religious] culture for two years, I saw some very strong similarities with the male dominated, father venerating Eastern religious households. Daddy is served food first (even if he is not home to eat it), daddy’s word venerated, after death, daddy’s picture is put on a shelf and offerings of food, candy, cigarettes, and incense are left for him daily.

    The patriarchal movement really does have a similar form of worship behind it, though I’m sure they never admit it. It is “biblical” of course. I know a woman who will not attend church regularly, because she follows the submit to husband / do what daddy says mantra. He has mental illness, yet she submits her life and faith to him. From the outside looking in, it is so obviously abusive, but from her vantage point she is a good and godly wife for letting him control her. It is sad and there is so much strain and sorrow in her eyes and criticism of others in her life. It makes her unpleasant to be around and she has no idea how bad a testimony she is leaving for Christ within the community.

    1. If Vision Forum were still in “business” they could probably make some big bucks on selling a patriarchal version of those fat-bellied Buddha idols that are set up with incense burned to them. Sarcasm – yep, mostly. But in reality this is what is truly happening in such homes and being promoted in many churches. Children in such families never really “launch,” They look like “such a wonderful loving family” as the adult children set up their households near daddy and continue to be controlled by him. Many will never, ever break out from his spell.

  2. Recently, such a man split our church. He and his many adult children, and as many allies as he and his wife and kids were able to gather, all left at once. Some of my adult children are friends with his adult children, and they also left. Our pastor’s offense? Not bowing down to this patriarch’s demands for the “direction” of the church.

    When my kids asked his kids why they all left, the answer was simple. “My father felt that he needed to leave. If he has a good enough reason to leave, we don’t need to know what it is, the fact that he’s leaving is all we need to know.”

    Everyone who left assured anyone who asked, that there was no sin or wrongdoing on the part of church leadership. They had no accusations against them.

    Many, many people also left because of the division and strife created by this family. Nobody has any accusations against the pastors, except for a few who were confronted for becoming allies of people who were creating divisions. They didn’t appreciate the Biblical confrontation, so they left. The rest left because “something terrible must be going on for all of the X family to leave!” Such a godly family, don’t you know!

    However, behind closed doors, at the deacons’ and trustees’ meetings, it was a different story. This man insisted on his own way and became enraged and verbally abusive when the pastors stood firm against him. And since his boys were also on the boards, he fully expected to have everything go his way, since they would always vote with daddy.

    Nobody in that family knows how to think for themselves. It’s a shame. I feel so sorry for all of the women who have married those boys.

    1. Stronger Now – You just described the exact scenario that happened in our church, culminating several years ago when the culprit was sent down the road and took a number of people with him. Same scenario with his adult children. Daddy is never wrong. Daddy is such a godly man. And no matter how much evidence of his divisive power and control tactics we presented to the church body, no matter how many witnesses verified it and no matter that it had gone on secretly undermining the ministry here for two decades (it took us that long to sort out what this evil really was), still, there were people who left with him. Oh, and the capper on the story? Within two years he was appointed as an elder in a nearby church and the leadership there never even contacted us for a character check on the guy. So, as it is with wickedness, evil is able to continue to play its masquerade in the church leading people into bondage and away from Christ.

      1. Sorry about the church struggles Ps Jeff. That must have been hard on you and your family.
        Our church lost some folks in the last couple of years due to some challenging teaching. Wow, has it been a nice change!
        We have been growing slowly but steadily with families that are attracted by the pastor’s teaching and the church culture instead of clashing with the hold outs. Some periodic winnowing can be a good thing.

      2. So, as it is with wickedness, evil is able to continue to play its masquerade in the church leading people into bondage and away from Christ.

        This makes me so sad and angry. What a useless waste of souls. The weazened, pathetic enemy (who will eventually LOSE –hallelujah!!!) really tries hard to steal, kill, and destroy. This verse comes immediately to mind:

        Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your healing (restoration, new life) will quickly spring forth; Your righteousness will go before you [leading you to peace and prosperity], The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. (AMP)

        Read an even more comforting translation:

        Then your light will burst forth like the morning, your new skin will quickly grow over your wound; your righteousness will precede you, and Adonai’s glory will follow you. (CJB)

        And this:

        Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the Lord will defend you from behind. (CEV)

        So comforting to know that despite every wickedness, God’s got your back!

    2. Hi Stronger Now,
      Your comments always have a link to your WordPress ID that indicates your real name. We try to remove that link, but it’s not something we always do, our work load being what it is. I suggest you tweak your WP ID so it doesn’t show your real name. If you need coaching on how to do that, pls email TWBTC.

  3. So true. I finally realized about 20 years into the marriage that he wanted me to worship him as god, and have less devotion to the true God as that “stole” what my x believed belonged to him. When I first thought that, I immediately thought “That can’t be right. He’s a Christian!” But it was correct thinking; and later I finally realized that just because he claimed to be a Christian didn’t make him one. And realizing that he wanted me to put him in God’s place convinced me of that even more than the abuse I suffered from his hands.

  4. That’s the story of my marriage. My (now ex) husband wanted to be treated like a god. He actually told his daughter that if everyone in the whole world disagreed with him, he would still be correct and they (the rest of the world!) would still be wrong. The abuse progressively got worse. I finally realized that I was playing a game I couldn’t win because he kept changing the rules. He is a habitual lier (he is like his father, Satan, also a habitual lier). There was such cognitive dissonance in the relationship. That’s why it took so long to leave. He constantly had me in a mental and emotional tailspin. My seventh divorce anniversary is this month. So thankful to be truly free!

  5. Lundy Bancroft says that an abusive home is like a mini dictatorship complete with tyrant and propaganda. I think the lack of free speech and free thought and the fear and oppression of the family or population is your clue to the totalitarian agenda enforced upon the family members or residents.

  6. This is my husband exactly. The very first thing he did, years ago, was to completely isolate us, and talk bad about anyone and everyone who might possibly penetrate that isolation. No church, no school, no friends, no family, no neighbors, no organized activities. No church was ever good enough, and he actually said that his own personal particular set of beliefs are the RIGHT ones, and everyone else is in error.

    “Daddy says” was always the rule. And who was there around to possibly counter that? Nobody. Thank God I finally began to see the light. It was a long process for me. I had to finally come to the point of seeing that ALL of his actions and attitudes are wrong, proceeding from that self-serving mentality of entitlement to power and control. Any action that might look like a good one, such as providing for us, was in reality only serving to make HIM look good. And he does “look” good, never even hitting, much less yelling.

    He’s coerced the younger children into giving up most of their beloved activities, which I had long labored to support and encourage them in. He had one child nearly convinced to give up their successful college course, and their significant other, and move hours back home to work in an entirely different type of job. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but was hard to counter his sweet godly talk.

    Unfortunately most of my children still don’t see the magnitude of his wrong, or even hardly any of it. And like those North Korean subjects, they have lacked even the ability to process the possibility. That is what I’m working on now, with the help of my counselor: finding my own voice, being able to have and hold and express opinions. Learning how to realize that I have feelings, that they are valid, that I can trust them, that they can tell me something. As I myself learn to own these things, and be more open about them with my kids, I hope they can start to learn to feel and trust their own thoughts and feelings as well. How else, when I eventually leave him, will they ever be able to do something different than what “Daddy says”?

    1. Anthea, I’m so proud of you! It’s hard work as most of us here know (once God wakes you up to the truth), but He wants you to be free in Him and He will help you.

      What you’ve said about how your husband tried to have your child give up their schooling, job and spouse reminds of my husband and my sister too.

      When one of our children had saved up enough money to buy a used car and had been comparing prices etc., my husband (who tried to keep the kids from saving money by putting us in deep debt and trying to make them use the money they made from part-time work to pay for their own stuff) then tried to convince our son to buy a SCOOTER! This child needed the car to get back and forth to work in all types of weather (my husband wanted to keep the children dependent on him) and to attend college etc., but my husband tried to convince him that he didn’t need anything more than a scooter. Thank God this child wasn’t swayed by my husbands evil and bought the car and eventually gained his freedom. (This son is actually the same nature as his father so he had no qualms about doing what he wanted. Even so, I’m glad he wanted to leave and have his own life and didn’t let his father stop him from doing so.)

      When one of my adult daughters was getting married, one of my psychopathic sisters went to the wedding and cornered this daughter and tried to convince her that she didn’t NEED to get married and tried to act like she was concerned about this daughters happiness. Blessedly, this daughter knew of my sister’s manipulative ways and told her to get lost. What was my sister REALLY after? She wanted to be the only person in our family to have “successful” children. Her ideal of success is marriage and education and she’d hoped to keep my children from achieving any of these things so that her children looked so much better in comparison.

      It’s absolutely exhausting for those of us with a conscience to be trapped in endless game playing mode by an unconscienced spouse / relative / boss / coworker etc. but for them this is how they keep from being bored while on this earth. When the Bible says we are to have NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE PEOPLE it is for our own protection and to keep us from being “played” with by a child of the devil.

  7. @ACFJ: YES! This “because my husband said, because daddy said” was how I was raised in my parent’s household, as I grew up. Although my mom and I would sometimes give in to our husband’s / dad’s demands, other times we would fight back, especially lately, as both our eyes are being opened as we slowly come out of the fog from the abuse we have suffered from. Despite Dad claiming that he doesn’t want to be worshipped as God when I once asked if that’s what he wanted because he’s a “Christian”, his words and actions say otherwise.

    Through seeing my dad’s hypocrisy, I learned two things in my childhood, to hate hypocrisy in all forms and just because someone says he’s a Christian, doesn’t mean he is one. Something my mom once said to me, which really helped throughout my childhood and adolescence, especially when my dad became a pillar in several small town communities for the work he does and so is praised as a “good man”, is that Dad is not God, no matter how much he would like us to think so.

    I also make sure to get together with both sides of my family, continuing to see what healthy, male relationships really are like, instead of only basing male relationships on how my dad treats me. My grandfathers, uncles and cousins have been and still are excellent role models on how men should behave and act like, something I’m extremely grateful for. My religion, not the twisted words people say to keep me from speaking the truth, but what it truly means to be a Christian through my experiences and reading the Bible, has also greatly helped me, by giving me concrete, hard evidence at an early age, contrary to both what my dad and misguided people have said to me over the years, to keep me silent about what I lived through. I got more concrete, hard evidence of the abuse I suffered from when I went to college, confirming what I had suspected all along. This website has been a great support, encouragement and confirmation, as well. Thank you, Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts for creating it.

    I also feel blessed that both sides of my family, whom I’ve told I was abused growing up, promise that I would always be part of their family, even if my dad disowns me for showing everyone the false idolatry of his kingdom. I also have wonderfully supportive friends, who I consider part of my family and encourage every step I take out of my abusive situation. I’ve seen and heard of dictatorship, religious and family patriarchies over the years, how people treat one man like he is God, obeying every command, suffering any harsh punishment he gives out, calling his sentences discipline, much like what I suffered from and resisted. They submit to a cold, cruel, hard, angry, distanced master’s whims, not daring to question why they do so. That complete conformity of patriarchy families and dictatorships both scares me and gives me the determination to never live under that soullessness. This gives me the courage to start living my own life, instead of somebody else’s, in the hopes that someday, soon, I will be completely free.

  8. My husband fits the bill. He is so controlling except that I did not realize it in the earlier years of my 20 something marriage. My husband also controls our children and what they wear and what activities they should indulge in. He controls my income to a certain extent. In the early years of my marriage, I allowed him access to my account as it would make it easier for him to run the household. But he has abused his position on many occasions. He does not work and has no intention to find work.

    He has a weakness for women and was and is still into porn and had one affair I know of. When I confronted him about this, he shifted blame to me and said that because I did not take care of myself, and was not appealing enough and did not consider his erotic needs, he was in a way driven to the other woman. I cannot trust him now and have asked him several times to leave but he has refused. He will shout at me and use emotional tantrums, presumably to intimidate me. The other day he said he has repented of his affair and his past deeds but was enraged when I did not want to accept him back into my life. He yelled at me and said that I needed to get right with God over my behavior. He suggested counseling but there was a veiled threat in it as he asked me if I really would want to go public as a lot of dirty stories would be exposed. Meaning he would tell the counselor i.e. my pastor that I had contributed to his conduct in that if I had been attractive enough and appealing enough he may not have strayed or gone into porn. I cannot respect this guy at all as he does not know how to take accountability for his deeds of darkness and has a sense of entitlement.

    Problem is that one of my children has a slight medical issue and he is using that to stay on in the family. He says that I cannot look after my children and carry on with my work. I have a heavy schedule at work. He berates me and tries to tear away at my self esteem and confidence. I understand now why he never validated me a mother or appreciate the nice things I did for the family. He controlled me by the put downs.

    Not every woman is privileged to just get up and leave the husband. My family never knew about the abuse and I have very aged parents whom I doubt can handle the breakup / divorce. I also doubt that my husband will leave my house voluntarily unless I fight him in Court. I have valid fears that he will come to my place of employment and shout obscenities or spread lies about me to the bosses / staff. He threatened to, a long time ago. I have prayed so hard for him to leave us. I am just struggling to keep my trust in God although I am sometime so disappointed with the outcome. I am financially independent by God’s grace.


    1. Dear Lost,
      Welcome to the blog and please let me offer you (((hugs))).

      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.

      From what you’ve said, it sounds to me like your husband is DEFINITELY an abuser and you most certainly have grounds to divorce him. But we understand that leaving an abuser and / or making the choice to divorce is not an easy thing for victims of abuse. The fears you have about taking that course are real, and they are valid — given his past conduct and threats. We will support you whether you stay or whether you leave. And I want to honour [Internet Archive link] you for all the things you have done and are continuing to do to try to maintain your dignity and to look after your children.

      There is much on this blog that will help you. I encourage you to check out our Resources tab and keep revisiting it from time to time as the things we have there may help you on your journey at different times.

      And I hope you keep commenting on our blog. Here is a link that explains how to follow the blog.

    2. Hi Lost,
      I can totally relate to what you are going through.
      The threat of the abusers imminant retalliation loomed over me durring my awakening period.
      (where I was distancing myself from my abuser)
      He wanted to create a type of public shaming of what he called my lack of intimacy (sex) with him in front of my children.

      So one day when he was exceptionally angry with me for not giving him sex on demand he called all our children together for a family meeting. (Thinking he could get me to change my mind.)

      Yes I was scared of what he would say to them as he called them in to sit down, one by one.
      At that time their ages were 12, 15, 18, and 20.
      My heart was pounding as he started talking to them in front of me about how I was not fufilling my biblical role as his wife in the marriage…..
      But it didnt take long before the older kids figured out that this was all ABOUT SEX, and they muttered something like “I’m outta here” and walked out of the room one by one.
      Once 15 year old figured out what the subject was about and left, only the 12 year old was still sitting clueless about the what all the fuss was about.
      But finally said “well since everyone else left, I might as well too,” and walked out.

      So this backfired on my abuser because he got no support for trying to shame me for not giving him what he wanted.

      And as uncomfortable as that situtation was to me, it was so freeing to have it over with, because now it was one less thing he could threaten me with.

      I will pray that God gives you the strength courage, and wisdom to do what needs to be done.

      1. Standsfortruth, So much to relate to in your comment. How the shaming backfired and how you were glad it was over because it was one less thing he could threaten you with.

        My husband is doing double duty because there will be major changes in our family in the next few months and I can see he’s trying to tighten his reign on me so that no matter which way I turn he is ready to “prove” that I am not being a good wife and that he is justified in harming me.

        The most wonderful thing about this is that nobody CARES! I have refused to be bullied or shamed into submission for many years now and I have also let go of all ties to the many psychopaths in my family and in the children we have. As a result, nobody comes around him because he by himself is unlikable, whiney, manipulative and feels sorry for himself. Because of the many psychopaths he’s related to, if THEY aren’t able to get something out of it there’s no point in hanging around him cuz he will suck them dry.

        2 Thessalonians 2:4: He opposes every so-called god or anything that is worshiped and places himself above them, sitting in God’s temple and claiming to be God.

        This is true of every psychopath. Sitting on their spiritual throne, dubbing who they deem worthy of their approval. But NOBODY will ever be “worthy” of their approval for any length of time due to the nature of the devil (their father) and his inability to be pleased (786. aspondos). My husband is absolutely childish in his thinking as though we’re playing a game of “King of the Hill” and he has made it to the top and thinks he’s actually the King of all Mankind!

        Time will reveal what happens and which way I will go. God has been with me all the way and He continues to teach me and love me deeply…but due to all the trauma and abuse from childhood till now, I never look forward to change but I also realize that God always works it out for my good.

        Thank you again Standsfortruth for encouraging so many of us because through you we can see that there is life after divorce from an abuser.

      2. Towards the end, Anonymous I learned to NOT to accept any of my abusers seemingly carefree offers or suggestions, without careful scrutiny.

        So insted of accepting his offers or suggestions right away, I would say I’ll think about that, and get back with you on that,” or “Let me think about that”.

        I had to give everything he offered a fair amount of consideration from “all angles”. (and had to ask myself what would he would get out of it and how might this adversely affect me or give him a leg up on me – much like playing a deep mental chess game)

        I found that by spending time thinking and praying about anything he offered for a few days before considering it, the Lord soon revealed to me the major fly in the ointment.
        (Or the trap.)

        As you know abusers tend to use our own desires to oftentimes lead us into a compromising situtation that could box us in so as to further their control of us.

        And when living with someone like this, you have to always “keep fresh in my mind” that they are Not capable of doing good for the right reasons. So you must not take what they say at face value, and instead think it thoroughly through to protect yourself and any plan you have from their sabotage.

        Just like Jesus said, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.”

  9. Such an accurate, descriptive post about the idolatrous results of the patriarchal mindset! It is the perfect set-up for unbiblical control and abuse over others and so, so damaging to families when the father becomes a god in place of Jesus Christ.

    We are seeing the awful consequences of patriarchy in the lives of those we thought were friends and those who we thought had left behind the teachings of Gothard and Vision Forum. The adult children are crippled, cannot think for themselves, and are still controlled by their father or parents. A lot of the control seems covert and manipulative. When tried to approach the parents who we thought were our friends and discuss the idea of what we saw as unbiblical control and emotional abuse we then found out how unfriendly and hostile they could be.

  10. One thing I’m surprised no one has mentioned is that Patriarchal theology can effect the leadership of a church and how they view their “authority.” Do what we say – or else, becomes the modus operandi. And when this happens, and they begin to see themselves as “gods” over the congregation (though they would never say this, their general attitude betrays them), then it isn’t long before the husbands start treating their wives differently. What’s more, those already prone to be controlling become even MORE emboldened – as was certainly the case in my situation. My two kids couldn’t stand it anymore and had to get out of that church. They started referring to it as “The Boys Club.”

    1. Thank you, For Too Long for addressing this. For people like me who have been reading this blog consistently for years, I have read posts that discuss what you’ve written about and have even commented on it as well. I get sick of hearing (reading) myself and sometimes I forget that others aren’t aware of the many aspects concerning these thing– so thank you for bringing it up.

      Barb or one of the other moderators could probably put some links up that deal with this issue–some of them are really educational and hit the nail on the head regarding this topic!

  11. I had followed a religion loosely in the years prior to meeting my h, but I had no relationship with Jesus at all. Then my boyfriend, who soon after became my h, told me I needed to accept Christ. So I accepted Jesus, but over the years that followed, as husband and wife, we never developed and grew in relationship together as a couple in God.

    I never really noticed my h didn’t have much of his own personal relationship with Jesus because I didn’t know what a relationship with Jesus was supposed to look like. He would pick up the Bible and read from it every now and then. He listened to radio teachers. He’d pray before we ate. We’d go to church on occasion, but never for any length of time. He did not have a passion for Christ and neither did I. I knew I was forgiven and aware I had been saved, but I honestly did not have a close relationship with Jesus, myself. I looked to my h as my spiritual mentor because I honestly did not know how I was supposed to be doing this “Christianity” thing. And I spent most of my time trying to please my h.

    When we would go to a church for a short while, I would connect with the people quickly, but he never would. Church was like my extended family because we had no family nearby for many years. But it was always my thing, not his. And he would always, always unplug after a short while. Eventually he quit going altogether. I would end up going alone or with my kids over many years of our married life.

    He complained about me early on, telling me I was not feminine enough, I was not sweet and submissive like other women, that I was more like a man than a woman. He was the Christian first, and knew God better than I (at least I thought so at the time), so surely he must be right. I wanted so much to be a Godly wife, to make my h happy, to please him. So I began to learn all I could about how to be more of the things he wanted…which led me to resources by the Pearls and Vision Forum and the like. The info looked and sounded wholesome, but applying their ideas of submission and unquestioning respect and loyalty, etc, only served to to create a monster in my h. He became more demanding and I felt more pressure to perform in ways that I really didn’t know how. Then I’d feel condemned, shamed, and like a failure because the things I was learning and applying and trying to do and live up to, still didn’t seem to be enough, or to be the “fix” for my situation. I felt like Leah in the Bible who kept having sons for Jacob, each time thinking, “Now, Jacob will love me.” But she finally realized it wasn’t so.

    In my efforts to be the excellent wife, my h still found reasons to berate and criticize me. I was a homemaker, homeschool mom, Sunday school teacher, stay-at-home mom, had a big family, stayed fit and always tried my best to look good for him, making myself available to him whenever he wanted, all while doing the domestic stuff most men say they want. Yet, in all that, I was still falling short in his eyes all the time. And I found I really wasn’t enjoying my life anymore. I felt like a Stepford wife, just going through the motions. I was offering up sacrifices to an idol god who could never be satisfied.

    And my h, who you’d think would have been satisfied because I was the epitome of the all-American wife / mom, was continually raising the bar, or changing the standard, or finding fault, all the while demanding more honor to him–above all family, friends, and church.

    I didn’t know how to give him any more than I was giving. My girlfriend’s husband even said he wished his wife did for his household all the things I did in mine. I could not understand how my h could be so demanding of more. I was just so sure he was right about me missing the bar, that I kept trying another method to modify myself, my behavior, my attitude. I never really stopped to think that maybe my h was wrong. Maybe I was okay, and he was not. Maybe it wasn’t really me who needed to keep changing / morphing into someone else to keep him happy.

    As Jeff said, with my own parentheses added to make it more applicable to my situation:

    And so it is with the children (wives) of the kind of idol father (husband) I am speaking of here. “Daddy (Husband), wrong?” Show them hard, concrete evidence to the contrary of what their father (husband) said, it will not get through. He has become their surrogate Christ. Really, an anti-Christ. And such a god can do whatever he wants.

    That, in my experience, is exactly the truth.

    1. TB – this is soooo good and so full of truth. Thank you very, very much for sharing it. READERS – listen to this comment closely and carefully. It describes so well the devilish blindness that wickedness spins on us. Don’t wait ten, twenty, thirty or more years to find out.

      1. Jeff, sometimes after I post my thoughts like I did here, and I come back to read them a day or so later, I ask myself, “Did I really write that?” It’s like I have these moments of clarity where I can actually put into words the truth of what was going on. But when I come back to look at it later, I start to question myself.

        So to see you validate my post and tell others to pay attention blessed me, but it also confuses me. I think it might be because I still question the fact that maybe I wasn’t the problem so much as I thought I was. I still have a hard time believing that my h was evil and manipulative, even though there are plenty of evidences that that is the truth. Why is it so hard to come to terms with that? Someone please answer that question for me.

        I have spent a lot of time in self-examination over the past few years of being on my own. The Lord has shown me my insecurities, fears, wrong ways of thinking, sinfulness and selfishness, etc. I have a better understanding of myself now, but I still fall into self-blame very often. So I still second-guess myself about all that happened, and I still do find myself placing blame on me.

        A dear friend was with me a couple of days ago and she kept telling me that I was not to blame. I don’t know why I have such a hard time laying down blame. I want to be free from blaming myself. There is just some sort of stronghold that keeps me from being completely free.

        As I said, from time to time, I am able to see the truth of what was going on, but I can’t help but feel like it was partly my fault. I certainly did not respond well many times to the abuse, and I wonder if I was not an abuser myself. I could get very angry, use bad words, and feel hate toward him when he got upset with me. I know I was very selfish and immature spiritually when we first met and married. And because we were not involved in a church family or being discipled by anyone, we were not growing.

        The abusive patterns were being laid down in concrete the early years of our relationship. I realized early on there was a problem, but because I was married and loyally committed, I just figured I’d have to learn how to deal with it. So I just went along with it and fought back. It was ugly. I was ugly. I didn’t have the tools or knowledge of how to be different, so the cycle perpetuated.

        I have been reading this blog for a couple of years now, and I see that it is common for victims of abuse to feel it’s their fault. But, honestly, I did not respond well for many years to my husband’s poor treatment of me. And I treated him poorly in return.

        Over time and seeking out how to be a better wife, I began to apply the Christian principles of turning the other cheek, forgiving seventy times seven, thinking the best of others, dying to self, taking up my cross, etc. So my retaliatory attitude toward him dwindled over the years (even though it would still rise up inside when I was triggered…I just didn’t act on it much), but applying these Christian principles never seemed to help our relationship improve. They helped me maintain self control, but he continued doing everything the same way he always had. He seemed to take advantage of the grace I extended toward him. Grace (from me) = enablement (for him).

        In fact, any raised eyebrow, eye roll, crossed arms, heavy sigh, or droopy countenance on my part was called out as disrespect toward him. All while he could look me straight in the face while correcting me for my disrespect and call me a bitc***** or a dumb as*****. He could disrespect me straight up, but I was supposed to honor him without question.

        It was maddening!!!!!! The feelings of injustice and inequality would swell up in me ’til I thought I would explode. It was like a judge in a courtroom sending someone to jail for public intoxication all while he sits bleary-eyed behind his bench, with slurred speech, shot glass in hand, and an empty bottle of vodka next to his gavel.

        I’m thankful to be out now, but I’m not in counseling, and I rely on the Lord to lead me into freedom step by step. I spend time in the Word, reading information from web sites like this one, and gleaning from other online sources for people coming out of this stuff. I do wonder if I’ll ever be mentally, emotionally, spiritually whole and healthy.

      2. freeatlast8 – what you have here is wisdom. Wisdom gained by you through hard, hard experience. You learned, and then you learned some more. You saw firsthand that no matter what a victim of abuse does, the evil man will only use even kindness and patience to attack you. Because it is never about you as the cause. It is his lust for power and control and feeling fully justified in punishing you when you won’t submit to his dominion. No fixing this. The only remedy is to take that path through the Red Sea to freedom out of Pharaoh’s land.

      3. Dear Freeatlast8, I’m pasting your question here in the hope that others will offer you some answers.

        I still have a hard time believing that my h was evil and manipulative, even though there are plenty of evidences that that is the truth. Why is it so hard to come to terms with that? Someone please answer that question for me.

        Here is my attempt at an answer. Going by what you said in your comment, it sounds like in the earlier part of the marriage you were responding to the abuse in quite a few worldly / fleshly ways. But with the help of God and your own diligence in walking the path of Christian sanctification, you bit by bit gave up those fleshly behaviours, and sought to respond to your husband in ways that were more Christian, turning the other cheek, exercising self-control over your mind and your tongue, seeking to be a godly wife, etc. But because your husband was an abuser, he simply took advantage of all your virtuous behaviour and used it as enablement for his evil. As you changed for the good, he changed for the worse.

        I’m guessing that you may be finding it hard to stop blaming yourself because you are — rightly — judging your early conduct in the marriage as bad conduct / unwise conduct / immature conduct. And I’m guessing that every time your sanctified common sense brings your thoughts back to that right self-judgement, Satan is amping up that thought in your mind so that it overwhelms you and blocks you from thinking about the bigger picture.

        The bigger picture, the more true picture, is this: you were pretty immature and un-Christian in your earlier behavior in the marriage. But you matured and became more Christian during the marriage. Your husband, however, did not become more mature or more Christlike during the marriage, in fact, he went the other way. He took every inch of entitlement and domination he could get!

        Looking at this bigger picture — who was to blame? Who bears the blame for the marriage breaking down?
        You remedied your faults. You husband entrenched and intensified his faults.

        I hope this helps you.
        ((hugs)) from Barb

    2. I second what Jeff wrote: “It describes so well the devilish blindness that wickedness spins on us.”

      From another website:

      Signs of being gaslighted:

      1) You are constantly second-guessing yourself

      2) You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.

      3) You often feel confused and even crazy at work.

      4) You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.

      5) You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.

      6) You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.

      7) You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.

      8) You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.

      9) You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.

      10) You have trouble making simple decisions.

      11) You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.

      12) You feel hopeless and joyless.

      13) You feel as though you can’t do anything right.

      14) You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend / wife / employee / friend; daughter.

      All these evil games that abusers try to play only work if the rest of us play along. We need to be teaching true Christians about the nature and signs of an abusive personality so that we don’t instead encourage them to become victims and pawns in the evil one’s hands. Since we’re in the end times and all, we really need to help each other.

  12. I still have a hard time believing that my h was evil and manipulative, even though there are plenty of evidences that that is the truth. Why is it so hard to come to terms with that?

    Well I can think of a few good reasons but let me start with the one that tried to get me to think -“Egypt wasent all that bad was it?”
    It wasent until one day when my ex-abuser approached me one day sitting in my vehicle in a parking lot at a grocery store..
    I forget most of what he said, but one thing in particular stood out to me..
    And that was a very important question to him on how I answered. So it was a set up question to see if I was fully convinced of his evil. (Because he was still trying to get me to come back.)
    This question was seemingly innocent.
    “Not all the times with me were bad now were they?”
    I think at the time I did not answer the question accurately because I thought that perhaps their were “some” times that were ok.

    But afterwards I realized- that part of gaslighting a person involves giving them a “small moments” of false appreciation, in between the intentional chaos and disharmony to keep the target off balance.
    It is very calculated.
    Abusers know what there doing, and try to cover it up by the interjecting some “seemingly good times” between the attacks.

    So even the good times became a “set up”- to bring the target back at ease, for the next assault (verbal, emotional, phychological)

    This truth was hard for me to come to grips with because of so many layers of manipulation involved.

    But once I understood the depth of his evil intentions, I was able to shake the dust off of my feet knowing he was behind it all.

    1. Barbara, yes, thank you. That does give me fresh insight and oxygen in my lungs.

      Yes, my heart desire was always to make things better. That is why my book stack grew so tall. My ex hated my books. He felt the one book I most needed was the Bible, and truly, that is the book I neglected most. I was looking for an answer from a short read, not having to dig for truth in a big, thick, wordy Bible I didn’t understand. I didn’t know then, what I know now, that God speaks to us right where we’re at in his Word. So my h was right in that regard, but I didn’t see him doing the very thing he suggested I do.

      Part of the problem for me, I am realizing, is that I was striving in my own strength and ability to change and be the person my h seemed to want. I can’t say that there was a lot of going to my True Source for change, Jesus. He is the one who makes the kind of changes that are permanent and lasting and for our good. I would say many of my changes were behavioral, not necessarily empowered by the Spirit. I’m not sure how much difference it would have made, but now that I know Jesus as my Source, and not my ex h, I am quite sure my efforts at change would have been more empowered while I was married had I gone to the One who makes all things possible.

      I have had a great spiritual awakening since leaving my marriage. It’s as if I’ve truly been born again, although before I would have said I was saved, and I believe I WAS saved. But now I have the Holy Spirit and new faith that He is making me a new person. Before I felt doomed to being stuck in the ruts of my behavior and in dysfunctional responses and reactions to my husband.

      Even so, my heart was always to improve myself and my marriage, constantly searching for truth and answers. I did not see the same desire in my h. He did nothing to change or improve our situation. There was no attempt, ever, to come up higher, either through secular, spiritual, or just simply behavioral helps. I don’t even know that he thought there was a problem. That’s the strangest part of it all.

      1. Standsfortruth, I understand everything you said. My problem is with not being able to believe the abuser always knows he is abusing. I’m sure many of them do know what they are doing. But I think there is a portion of them who don’t, because if you call them out on it, they will not be able to see it.

        I think that some abusive people are not cognizant of the fact that they are being abusive. Just as a narcissist does not view himself as a narcissist. The way they operate is just part of their modus operandi — who they are, how they see reality.

        If they think you are a bitc*****, they have no problem telling you so. Because to them it’s a fact. It’s not that they’re trying to manipulate you or demean you. They truly think that is what you are, and therefore they say it as it is. They don’t realize their words might hurt or sting or be abusive. They don’t have any idea that what they are saying could possibly be wrong or soul damaging. They want to have their way, and get what they want, but they don’t have any understanding that what they are doing is actually hurting the people around them. They don’t have an awareness or regard for other people’s feelings, nor do they even consider their behavior is out of order. It’s almost as if they are missing a component of thinking that allows them any sort of awareness of what they are doing.

        My h could say the most hateful things and tell me he was just speaking truth. And if it hurt, that was nothing he should be apologetic about. I just needed to deal with it and get with the program.

        It reminds me of a sergeant in the military. He can yell and scream at a soldier, calling him names, demeaning him, all without an ounce of respect. And a soldier has to stand there and say, “Yes, sir!”

        The soldier doesn’t walk away and say, “I’ve been abused.” He knows it’s part of the drill, and accepts it. That’s how some of these husbands are with their wives. They treat them like military recruits. The wife is not allowed to say anything other than, “Yes sir!” and agree with her h. The h does not see it as abuse.

      2. I’m ‘re-reading your post, Barbara. I thank you for all that you said. It does make more sense, truly, when you look at it from the big picture. This helps so much, and I thank you for the investment of time you put into responding to all of our questions. Sometimes, just a short comment from someone can give us a better perspective and relieve us of so much of the burden that we carry. And your post has done just that. Hugs back to you!

      3. Freeatlast8, I agree with you that abusers don’t realize what and who they are–not all the time. They have moments of seeming to be in touch with reality but the Bible tells us in John 8:44 that there is no truth in them so when they ARE able to see truth for a minute, it fades away and they really have no concept of which part of their thinking IS truth and which part IS NOT. They don’t have a conscience–so yeah, sometimes they get it right–see / say / view the truth–but it has no deeper meaning to them than the lie. They are “twice dead.” Jude 1:12.

        From another website:

        Psychopaths always see themselves as victims, no matter how horribly they’ve treated someone else. Nothing is ever their fault—they’ve always been wronged in one way or another. To them, the problem is not their lying, cheating, stealing, and abuse. The problem is that you started to notice all of those things. Why couldn’t you just remain happy with the idealization phase? How dare you betray them by standing up for yourself? Encounters with these people are like drowning in a black hole, because no matter how much they hurt you, it’ll still be your fault.

      4. Thanks freeatlast8,
        I think alot of the fog clears when you give full accountability to the abuser regarding the failure of the marriage.

        Abusers know how to make it seem to their targets like they didnt know the full implications of what they were doing while being abusive, when the opposite is actually true.
        They are fully aware.

        Once I realized this through many books I read, it gave me much clarity, and my abusers whole charade started crumbling fast.
        He tried to convince me that he really did have SOME good in him…

        But can an evil tree produce good fruit?

        “If” he could convince me that he has “some” good in him-than he could still try to keep me in the FOG.

        He came up with many excuses for his bad behavior and abusive words…

        #1 That he didnt know he was hurting me when he was or he would have stopped so he was-“claiming ignorance”- hoping to appeal to my pity side.
        (Much like king Agag did with Saul when captured.)
        #2 That I never actually told him he was being abusive or hurting me. (A lie- he just choose to ignore it.)
        #3 He also claimed that no one ever taught him “how to treat a woman”, so how can he be blamed?
        #4 Or that his behavior was just his ignorant way of expressing himself.

        These and many more- were just excuses to try to make himself look redeemable in my eyes.

        It didnt work and still today he hopes that I might someday think “he wasent ALL that bad was he?”
        But the answer is and will always be, Yes he was, and still IS.

      5. Standsfortruth said,

        I think alot of the fog clears when you give full accountability to the abuser regarding the failure of the marriage.

        This is SO TRUE! But most of us have been trained to always take responsibility for our part–even when we were completely innocent.

        The truth is that “our part” was that we were never taught that some people are evil through and through, and they are not redeemable because they don’t want to be and have chosen their own way.

        People that the Bible describes in 2 Tim 3, Romans 1:29- and John 8:44 are 100% selfish / self-centered / self-loving. So yes, sometimes they take the time to think of ways to destroy us (really it is more like games they invent to keep from being bored) but other times they are simply acting on their nature. Loving others is NEVER part of their thought process–they are incapable of this due to the nature they have chosen for themselves–so yes, they ARE always ACTIVELY against us (and everybody) but again, it’s simply who they ARE.

      6. This is great stuff, Anonymous. I hope everyone gets a firm hold on what you have said here.

  13. My part was to stop believing him, stop giving him the benefit of the doubt, stop thinking he had pure or good intentions, stop trusting him with who I am, …: not waking up to the truth of his actions rather than his words was my part. I should have stopped trying to be malinterpteded Christlikeness and been truly Christlike by speaking truth, not squashing the initial outrage by his abuse, and seeing who he was years sooner because he was showing me!

  14. (Airbrushing as I write…trying to keep it short, without losing the meaning…grab a cup of coffee / water… 🙂 )

    TB wrote:

    He’d pray before we ate…..

    Odd as it sounds, this was the phrase linking all the dots to create the pattern.

    When I first started some multi-pronged research less than one year ago, the Holy Spirit gently led me in rebuilding myself, from the foundation to the attic.

    I progressed through Scripture, through many aspects of complex trauma, to the hard conclusion I had spent my entire life in abusive relationships: Entire family, ant-x, a short-term relationship, “friends”, and workplaces. No part of my life remained untainted.

    Barb wrote:

    Sorry but I’m too busy. If readers want to read more about that they need to do the work of looking into our tabs and using the search bar.

    I will take the liberty of adding to Barb’s comment, based on my own experience. Though circuitous, I intend to link it back to my initial statement.

    Because each person’s path is unique, determining what links might be pertinent could add too many bunny-trails. The intent of the original post gets lost, those just creeping out of the fog might become confused / discouraged / overwhelmed / triggered by the massive amount of information, and those looking for specifics have to wade through material extraneous to their quest. As Barb notes, a substantial amount of information has already been amalgamated in a variety of fashions of the ACFJ website.

    (FWIW, The Wartburg Watch gives an example of how to use Google to search their website. I have successfully adapted it to the ACFJ / other website(s).)

    Before the Holy Spirit led me to the ACFJ website, and after the Scripture and complex trauma research, I was led though other websites on abuse in the “c”hurch. Jimmy Hinton. Boz Tchividjian. SGMsurvivors. BJUGrace. The Wartburg Watch. Todd Wilhelm (at Thou Art The Man). Brent Detwiller’s expose blog (sorry, I don’t have the name handy). Tim Fall (Just One Train Wreck After Another). Spiritual Sounding Board. Mortification of Spin (Aimee Byrd). Dave Orrison (Grace From My Heart). Wade Burleson (Istoria Ministries). R. Scott Clark (The Heidelblog). Sam Powell (My Only Comfort). Pastor Jeff’s new site (Light For Dark Times).

    And that’s not anywhere near the complete list. 🙂

    For the longest time, I could not understand the “Why?” of the route. I could see some similarities to other abuse survivors, but not enough to reach a light bulb moment. And I did / don’t necessarily agree with all I read in terms of doctrine, etc.

    When one of the stops included the ACFJ website, I was gently guided though select posts, and to not include the comments on the initial reading. Finally, I reached the stage of reading / re-reading posts with the comments.

    And now, I am led to starting adding my own comments.

    Which leads back to my initial note about TB’s and Barb’s comments.

    My route was circuitous because I needed a bucket load of background information. I needed to have the material to construct a new foundation before having the old one bull-dozed.

    My upbringing was largely secular, though as I have written on another post, authoritarian / patriarchal. In one of the posts, I also wrote about my solitary reading of the Bible at a very young age. Other bits and pieces on other posts.

    I was still missing a tiny piece of the puzzle. From the secular patriarchal / authoritarian side of things, I could relate to many of the comments on the original post. I had even realised the overlap to “the patriarchal father as idol god”. Today, Bingo! Even though we stopped attending “c”hurch when I was very young, we still took turns saying grace before dinner!

    That connected the final dot to my false beliefs about God.

    I have been led to – and through – the ACFJ website at the pace I need. I would not have been ready without the prior research. I would have shattered. Instead, in computerese, I am recovering from a system crash and am re-booting. 🙂

    1. Adding on to my own comment….

      My route was circuitous because I needed a bucket load of background information. I needed to have the material to construct a new foundation before having the old one bull-dozed.

      I am learning the old foundation was rotten to the core, built on termite infested wood.

      Hindsight is turning the kaleidoscope, creating colour combinations found only on the Master Painter’s palette. In HIS book, I am not a “misfit”, whereas those written by man contain limited information.

      I have been led to – and through – the ACFJ website at the pace I need. I would not have been ready without the prior research. I would have shattered. Instead, in computerese, I am recovering from a system crash and am re-booting. 🙂

      The Master Programmer re-wired me with a new circuit board, updated my applications software, and completely replaced my operating system. The process of re-booting is fascinating, with new features to fine-tune.

      My life is vastly different than I ever dreamed, and I am OK with that, truly I am.

      The Master Planner is in charge of my agenda, He knows my “Why?”, my limitations, my strengths.

      He is my Father.

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