The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders
Jeff Crippen ♦ 3rd March 2017 ♦ 36 Comments
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 20, 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)
These descriptions of a wicked man were sent to us by a Christian wife and mother whose abuser claims to be a godly servant of the Lord. And he has been successful for many years in convincing the people in his church and in other Christian organizations that he is the real deal.
He premeditates his actions. He uses people and every thing he can get as an alibi to cover or justify his actions. He is the master of excuses, a liar, a deceiver and frequently contradicts himself. He is very aware of his power of charisma and persuasive talk.
He is not verbally or physically abusive. He sounds loving and caring.
He admits he has failed in his role as a provider, protector and leader of the family and then asks for forgiveness and says he is not happy about it either and he needs help to understand why that happens in his life, but he never changes despite all the help is offered to him.
I find this abuser the worst because it is not very evident. He disguises himself as a good father and loving husband through words and showing himself very active in the family matters, but in the reality does not take responsibility for providing, protecting and leading the family.
What makes such evil “tick”? Consider the following Scriptures:
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. (2 Peter 2:17 ESV) [Emphasis added.]
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13 ESV) [Emphasis added.]
First of all, men like this abuser very often embrace the “Christian” façade. Paul’s rebuke of those who do not provide for their own family is that such a person is “worse than an unbeliever”. In other words, this culprit claims to be a Christian. Peter and Jude paint the same picture in their imagery of waterless springs and fruitless trees. Each image is something that makes an offer. “Come to me and I will give you water and fruit.” What you have is a counterfeit of Jesus. An anti-Christ if you will (“anti” means “opposed to”).
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3 ESV)
Wicked people, evil ones who have crept in among us in the church, claim to be the Lord’s tree and the Lord’s stream of water. They mimic Jesus’ wonderful invitation:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7:37-38 ESV)
But the counterfeit only has putrid water to give. Only rotten fruit.
In this particular case, the abuser of the lady who wrote us is a “Christian” leader. Over and over again we see this. Abusers choose religion. If they cannot dupe a church or Christian organization to ordain and support them, they will strike out on their own. Have you ever noticed how common it is to see “ministries” advertised, or you see their signs on a storefront as you drive through town? “The Spirit of Isaiah” ministry center. “Holy Ground Ministries.” That kind of thing you see. Why? Why do these evil ones so often put themselves off as either a leading, eminent church “pillar,” a pastor, a missionary, an evangelist, or some other such supposed “calling of the Lord” role?
Because they are evil. They are the most evil of their kind. Here is a principle which our reader’s abuser is a classic example of —
The “kinder” and more “saintly” a wicked person appears to be, the more evil they are.
And thus, local churches and so-called Christian organizations are the target of choice, the prime “arena of operations” for the putrid cream of the fruitless crop. Satan himself elects to disguise himself as an “angel of light.” Where do angels operate? In heaven. In the Lord’s presence. Satan tried to play his game there until Christ crushed him and gave him the boot. Now he and his minions creep in among us here, deceiving, lying, charming, and sucking life out of all around them like a black hole. Most Christians have never stopped and given sober thought to just how much of the Bible is devoted to describing and warning us about these wicked actors that will surely come our way. For all of the talk in churches about the Christian’s armor and “spiritual warfare,” the vast majority of pastors, church leaders, and church members get taken in over and over again by the very kind Christ warned us about. Satan comes to us in the flesh and blood of people like abusers, not as some vapory, ghostly “spirit.”
You will notice in the descriptions of this particular abuser quoted above, that his actions (or non-actions) betray what he really is. For all of his “god-talk” and churchy charades, he refuses to provide for his wife and children. He will not stand in the gap for them when they need protection. He is not willing to do the hard work of being a husband and father. This is NOT mere laziness. The sin of the sluggard is bad enough, but this particular slug actively clothes himself in the role of a fine, eminent servant of God “doing the Lord’s work.” As we have seen so often, he is a “nice” man. And as we concluded long ago, nice people are very often the most evil people. They offer water to those dying of thirst, but give none. They promise luscious fruit, but have only worm-infested, putrid rot to those who look to them.
Therefore we see that this passive, nice fellow is actually very aggressively, though covertly, abusing his wife and children. In his “service of the Lord” he has a convenient excuse and a powerfully deceiving disguise, but his true nature is revealed by his refusal to actively love and protect his family. He is that coward Scripture speaks of who will never see the kingdom of God because for all of his talk about doing God’s will, he never does it.
What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. (Matthew 21:28-31 ESV)
[October 20, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to October 20, 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 20, 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 20, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 20, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Abuse and Christianity: Why the “Christian” Abuser is the Worst Kind
Don’t be Duped by the Nice One
More Thoughts on Wolves Hiding Among the Flock
- Posted in: Abusers
- Tagged: abuser's mentality, abuser's tactics, deception, identifying abusers, Jeff Crippen, Jude, Peter, Timothy
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I could have written that description of my ex, it describes him so exactly. Always apologetic, never changing. Always declaring how well he provided for the family and how much it kept him away, never realizing there is more to being a husband and father than money, never listening to my concerns, making dozens of promises, never keeping them. The verbal abuse did become blatant near the end, and especially once he left, but before that it was so carefully couched in words of how I misunderstood him, and other subtle words to discredit my concerns. He has all the religious talk, but none of the action. How evil he is. Thank you for highlighting this type of abusive person.
All of the talk, none of the action. And yet most local churches and pastors will still pronounce such a person to be a Christian. NO!
This very verse has been used by an abuser’s ally (a first order abuser herself) on the abuser’s wife to try to manipulate and guilt her into “taking him back” with zero move to repentance and no provision for his family! The whole burden is dumped on her.
Such wicked Scripture twisting!
This is so spot on. It also applies to ‘friends’, who give false promises of help and support, only to stab you in the back and sabotage what you had asked help for….
Waterless wells indeed!
It is a pattern of years, not just a one-time event of failure and negligence (that would be be human….), it’s a willing passivity and resistance to whatever you hold dear….and when confronted, they are surprised, or act like it. And say they have no clue what the problem is.
It’s much better to be without friends than to have such ‘frenemies’ in your life.
Indeed, NG. It was really validating to read your comment. Same goes for actual persons in positions of power and authority who do nothing to help you in reality. Same goes for those in the ‘helping’ professions whose professional role is to actually help you, not groom you, befriend you to perp you, manipulate you, and sabotage you all the while claiming how much they are going out of their way to help you, be there for you, etc..
I’ve been victimized by so many, and it is these snakes that I loathe the most, the pretenders, the covert-aggressives, the groomers, the manipulators, those who do everything possible to harm you, sabotage your efforts, derail you, distress you, etc. all the while placidly telling you how much it is they wish to help you….and then act like you are imagining things, crazy, agitated, etc. in the event you confront them about anything….
I would much rather be brutalized, because at least then you have blood, bruises, broken bones, cuts, scrapes, etc. instead of having these wheedling types in your life. Gaslighting you, messing with your mind, grooming you to trust them, count on them, which is only setting you up for failure (though you don’t know it) because they have no intention on making good on anything they promised you….
It takes a really wicked person to do this sort of evil. I loathe such persons.
Thanks, Anonymous. My prayer is to be someone, who willingly helps and blesses whenever I can. We are all human, and flawed, but God still expects His people to love one another in truth and sincerity.
I believe there would be more answered prayers in the Body if all members were willing to love one another in reality. Keeping promises is so important for the Lord, because that’s His character.
Might I add. If there is a court order to pay support or alimony. The abuser hates orders. I remember a time while living on pennies a day. Going to my local food bank to feed myself and child. He would send a court ordered temporary support check with child support written on the bottom of the check. Showing to my daughter who had no idea the abuser made a 6-figure income. There was no court order yet for child support. Making it appear that the small amount should be sufficient to care for his target and daughter. It became apparent to me that his intention was not only about control. But also inflicting guilt on his target. Trying to upset me because I knew his income status. Although it had been many years he had been hiding his income from me.
Slowly taking away my identity as his wife. At one point I had no drivers license. He had stolen it in an attempt to get a credit card I only used for gas. I had no credit cards, no bank account. He closed our joint saving account without so mush as a heads up to me. I found out later that he moved the account to a different city.
Hmmm….I believe his plan was to finish what he tried to do earlier. Get rid of me. But God knew in advance his evil plans. I divorced him a year ago. He has since stalked me. I am careful now in who I tell my plans to. Especially the kids we have together. I am trusting God for His protection.
This is just a little of what I have gone through standing my ground against an evil man….who claims to be a Christian.
[Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]
This scenario is sooooo wickedly common. It always proves to me that these abusers do not love their children at all. For all of their efforts to get custody, it all boils down to the fact that they demand control and they don’t want to have to pay. Not even pay for their own children’s welfare! Economic abuse is one of the most vile.
Also, these kinds of very desperate situations in which a victim and children have almost nothing to live on, are the PERFECT opportunity for a local church to jump in and generously support them. Christians ought to leap at the chance to give and help. A local church has tremendous power to deliver victims and their children from wicked oppression. But, hardly any do. Why? IMO it is because many, many churches today consist of people who are not only clueless about evil, who have embraced the traditions of men as the Word of God, but also many who are just plain unsaved and do not know Christ at all. How else can we explain this gross lack of the love of Christ?
The worst are the ones that blame the victims and mock them.
God has provided beyond what I deserve. Yes! It was difficult to live on what he was giving me. But I made do with what was provided at the time.
I think through trials God will test our faithfulness in what He provides. Being faithful in little things….God sees the effort and will supply our needs. Being obedient to His word and to what He has allowed is a key to God’s unwavering faithfulness.
He will never leave me nor forsake me. This I cling to, every breath I take.
[Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]
My ex has an indwelling demon. Before my abuser left it took great pride in showing himself [itself?] to me. True story. My daughter lives with him. She has been swayed by his evil intent.
My ex abuser was so good at deceiving others including the church, which is where we met, hence my guard came down because after all, so many were talking about what a godly man he is I thought “surely, he must be – all these people couldn’t be wrong.” “Look at all the wonderful things he does for Christ’s kingdom”, they would say. However, having said that, since the truth is discovered from these ‘so many’ they are now quick to say, “You know, there was something about him that didn’t quite seem right.”
Ex would come to town to my home church at best, every two years, just long enough to perform in the pulpit, hustle those not paying much attention, smother everyone with “Jesus-talk”, make sure he is still on the books to receive financial support, get a few photo ops, get on a plane and fly back out. I call it his “hit & run.” Being from another country he did not spend much time here in the states initially, but it did not take him long to learn how to work “the system” here in the USA and get fed from the hands of the innocent and naive. Just as Romans 16:17-18 warns:
So this story here on this post is also my story, almost word for word. What I have witnessed behind closed doors with no one else but me looking, seeing, and hearing, to this very day — and in the words of Barbara — ignites the fire in my bones!!
Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog [Internet Archive link].
Just recently I discovered that “Tornadoes” are also sometimes described as “Waterless Clouds”.
(And — this struck me as “interesting” because (as you have pointed out) — Jude 1:12-13 openly refers to the “Abusers that pretend that they are Christians” in the very same manner that’s used to describe a certain type of extremely destructive “Tornado”.)
The Basics About Tornados [Internet Archive link]
Also — the description Jude uses in that same passage — of “Hidden Reefs” (to describe such people) — reminded me of that “Iceberg” the destroyed the hull of the Titanic and even split it in two.
Just the Tip of the Iceberg [Internet Archive link]
Not to mention how often many people can either become “paralyzed” (or can even experience “organ-failure”) — if they come into contact with a “predator” found “hidden inside” of a beautiful, captivating, (and yet often very dangerous) “coral reef”.
Coral Reefs [Internet Archive link]
9 dangerous coral reef creatures [Internet Archive link]
The “chaos” and “confusion” (that is caused by these “Waterless Clouds that are swept along by Winds”) — and “piercing divisions” (that are caused by these “Hidden Reefs”) often found “spotted” among (or invading the life-paths of) people who truly love and serve Christ….are truly able to completely “confuse, wreck, destroy and sink” both lives and ministries.
Yet — most of us have been constantly told by most pastors and “Christian” counselors that we are “obligated” (by Christ, no less) to just “love” and “tolerate” these human “Tornadoes and Predators and Icebergs” (even if the result is our own, or some other person’s, destruction).
THANK YOU, Pastor Crippen, for having the wisdom, the heart and the courage to share THE TRUTH about how our Lord commands for us to deal with such wickedness if or when it appears either in our midst or on our life-path.
Unfortunately, this is my stbx husband. He has left a few churches when he didn’t get his way or was confronted (by the church I currently attend) claiming that the Lord was leading him in a different direction. He started his own ministry. He REFUSED to talk to anyone regarding our marriage and the issues with our children. He claims if I was just a better wife and mother we wouldn’t have any problems. He would criticize and berate me among other things, but behind the pulpit telling everyone how wonderful I am.
He plays the forgiveness and grace card on me all the time. Everything is ‘covered under the blood’ (with no acknowledgment of wrong doing or repentance). Even recently, the things he says….ugh 😦 ….when I tell him he can’t talk to me like that and hang up, he says I’m making excuses and trying to justify my sin of leaving him. Then a couple of days later when he tries to do something ‘nice’ for me (something ‘helpful’ or ‘generous’) and I reject, he says I’m lying, I take offense too easily, I’m unforgiving and bitter. [He claims] he’s just trying to reconcile.
He also says he has the right to call me out and tell me when I’m wrong. The most recent was him disagreeing with me about [….details redacted]. He accused me of being divisive, irrational, causing drama, and [another accusation redacted because it would be too identifying].
For now, I will [according to him] be the bad guy, the backslidden one, and he will continue this portrayal of Jesus preaching the word and feeding the poor but now whining that he has to pay child support. I have to work very hard to make ends meet and I’m trying to finish my university studies. He is self-employed, we know how that works. My hope cannot rest in these people but in THE DAY that the lies and delusions will be broken. I can only continue to seek God for healing from the hurt and confusion.
I edited your comment to remove identifying details. Would you mind re-reading our New Users’ page for the tips it gives about how to avoid giving details that might identify you?
Well done for setting boundaries with your stbx. 🙂
Yes, I’m sorry. I guess I got carried away.
I was so amazed when I read this post this morning! I could have written it. My now-ex was exactly like this in many ways, and he often used the same admission / excuses almost verbatim. He also appeared kind and loving to people at church, and I had many women talk about him and tell me I was so lucky to have a husband like him. Why did he have all of the spiritual answers for those in “need”, while when I would ask him things like why there was no power of Christ in our life to change things, he would shrug and say he didn’t know – all in a mournful attitude.
I was wondering if you have resources covering, or would be willing to address, this issue of neglect that is really abuse. My ex was always generous with his time, money and energy to help others, while his family got the leftovers. There were good times when he gave those things to us, but they were very rare indeed. I remember always feeling like I was selfish to want to be loved and cherished and protected, while my husband was taking care of everyone else, doing the Lord’s work. The feelings of confusion about my role as wife made me feel guilty, and I begged God to take away my longing for those wifely things, and I asked Him why He created me with those desires when my husband would not meet them unless it was to his benefit, which really wasn’t meeting them at all.
Another thing I wanted to ask about was his way of dealing with confrontation [which] was to back off and rarely engage in conversation. You see, I would hold it all in until it exploded like a volcano. So he’d “listen” and then when I asked why he wouldn’t talk, he would reply with, “I can’t win no matter what I say, so I’m not saying anything.” This, of course, would leave me frustrated beyond measure. He was not a yeller or an arguer, and he seldom got outwardly angry at me. However, he could kill my enthusiasm and morale with a critical word, a short sentence, a wrinkled eyebrow of distaste, or allowing his many phone calls to interrupt us. Rarely was anything I did good enough, and I often had him tell me that he should have done it himself (whatever task I had failed him on). Have others experienced this same kind of treatment?
This is long, but I am grateful for the opportunity to finally talk some about the last 25+ years.
Set Free, have you read Lundy’s book Why Does He DO That? [*Affiliate link] Lundy has a chapter called ‘Types of Abusive Men’. One of those types is “The Water Torturer”. Your abuser sounds like that. And WHY does he do that? For the same reasons all abusers do what they do. Their tactics may differ but their goals are the same: to maintain power and control over their partner.
We have a post about Neglect as a form of abuse.
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
Yep….the good ol “Water Torturer”….been married to one of those for over three decades….but praise God I’m soon to be free….and the words “No Contact” have a sweet sound to them!
Set Free….if you haven’t read Lundy’s book, I recommend it….it’s an eye opener!
Barbara, if you see this….is there a difference between a “Water Torturer” type and a covert narcissist? I just realized last week that my STBX IS a covert Narc….I’d never heard the term before, as I was only aware of a overt Narc, which my STBX is not, so I was surprised to discover that he IS a Narc!
Off the top of my head, I’d say that there is a lot of overlap between those terms. The “Water Torturer” type, in Lundy’s typology, specialises in very covert tactics of abuse. All domestic abusers are covertly aggressive in some of their tactics….but many domestic abusers also use overt forms of aggression at times, because they like to employ both overt and covert tactics of abuse, depending on what they think will best work in the situation. The more overt types of aggression are physical violence and physical stand-over tactics like brandishing a weapon or blocking a doorway, or going into a verbal rage tearing strips off the victim and interrogating them, or preventing them from getting sleep….
The thing is, there are various terms out there.
The most common term used in the pop-psychology sites and books is “narcissist”. Personally, when I use the term narcissist in relation to an abuser, I prefer to say “malignant narcissist” because there is such a thing as a benign narcissist, and abusers are definitely malignant narcissists, though not all abusers would meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Then there is the term “covert aggressive”. We have learned that term from Dr George Simon Jr whose work we highly recommend. (See our Recommended Books list, and our blog roll in the sidebar of this blog.)
George Simon has taught us that “covert aggression” is different from “passive aggression,” and “covert aggression” is a more accurate term to describe the abuser’s behaviour than “passive aggression” — see here.
Then there is the term “coercive control”. This term is use by many professionals in the domestic violence sector, including Lundy Bancroft. We very much endorse this term. We highly recommend this article: What is Coercive Control? [Internet Archive link]. Understanding coercive control can be a light-bulb moment for many victims.
Hi, Set Free,
You may find this post helpful: Neglect as a form of abuse
Set Free, you’ve described my life to a “T”. My husband sounds like a clone of your husband….
What you said above….yup. He does it all. But I’ve been told for so many years by church folk….”Oh how blessed you are to be married to him….he’s so thoughtful, wonderful”, etc., etc.. I thought I was going crazy. I didn’t feel blessed at all. I felt oppressed, hurt, lonely, neglected….then I felt ashamed because how could I feel so negative towards my husband when everyone said how blessed I should be….it MUST be my fault!
Meanwhile, all his free time goes to church folk….other people’s families, kids, fixing things for them, thinking of ways to make their lives easier and better….and we make do with leftovers of his time and attention, our home is unhealthy, unsafe and falling apart. If we complain, we’re selfish and greedy, materialistic, nags, demanding.
Lundy Bancroft’s book was a lifesaver. Husband is definitely mostly “Water Torturer”, with “Mr Right” and some “Demand Man” thrown in.
You are not alone. There are far too many like yours out there, Set Free. But taking baby steps to freedom, healing little by little with knowledge I’m gaining about abusive men and how they operate. I’ve got light at the end of the tunnel after living in pain for decades. It’s been almost three years since the incident that opened my eyes to the knowledge that husband is abusive, but little by little, I’m loosening and dropping the chains….freedom soon!!!
I have often quoted someone else’s line I saw in a blog post reply here on ACFJ. The person said essentially —
I love that line, and I wish I could remember who said it. Clear and concise. “They are drawn to churches” because people who go there already have a mindset of worshipping Someone. It will be easy to capture a share of that worship.
When the abuser raises his head, and starts taking “Christian leadership roles” in churches, people are more than willing to hand over part of the workload. Then when he (he in my case) excels in “leadership” (excellent control of the clubs, the groups, the meetings, the children), everyone fawns about what a godly person he is. They already have a heart to praise and laud Jesus. So they see someone doing an excellent job of running programs in the name of Jesus, and the people gush praise, laud, and encouragement on the “Christian leader.”
But when cracks in the mask show and he does or says some awful things, they are willing to “forgive” his “slip”, because they love to worship. Meanwhile, no one asks her what’s going on at home. They listen to her prayer requests, which are often little cries for help, and they turn their eyes back to the “Christian leader” idol, and tell her to praise, laud, and encourage him, just as they are.
I truly, truly believe two things —
1) They are drawn to churches. That’s where the worship is.
2) That the “c”hurch takes the verse, “God is love,” and reverses it. “Love is god.” Love is god instead of Jehovah God in all His entire revealed attributes.
Churches say to victim, “Just Love him more.” “Love conquers.” “Love wins.” “Love forgives all.” “Love brings him around.” “Love hopes all things.” “Love never fails.” “Love believes all things” (no matter if you’ve caught him lying AGAIN for the zillionth time). “Love will soften his heart.” “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” “Love forgets, as far as the east is from the west.” They are willing to sacrifice women (and men) and children to this “Love” god — sometimes, horrifically, literally sacrifice. I heard more than once before we left that church, “if she loses her life to this abusive man, it was God’s will” (but “don’t be a doormat”….I never got that [inconsistency]). But while she lives, she must “keep submitting”, “trying to win him without words”, “a gentle and quiet spirit”, and “trying to win him with Love”….but, her life would not [be] a sacrifice, a life poured out, for God (either suddenly, or slowly over the years of pain and abuse). Instead, she would be sent home to be poured out for “Love”. And that’s not the same thing.
Thanks, MoodyMom! Wise words. 🙂
Here are a few of our posts which relate to your comment:
Love believes all things
What Does “Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs” Mean?
Does Love keep a Record of Abuse?
And one more: Love covers a multitude of sins, but not all.
This is the most excellent of commentary! So spot on!!
MoodyMom — WOW. Thank you for this insight. You have really made me think.
Your comment also reminded me of another aspect regarding the sacrifice of self that is often imposed on the abuse victim. Jesus Himself is the only acceptable sacrifice for the atonement of sin. In pressuring the abuse victim to sacrifice to this degree, it is like saying, “Jesus, Your sacrifice just wasn’t enough.” (Not to mention the fact that the sacrifice to “Love” is actually a form of idolatry.)
With mention of how abusers are drawn to churches and how they start their own ministries, do you have any tips on what the warning signs are that a church is abusive, and you should not join?
One tip is be wary of joining a church that makes its members sign a “Church Membership Covenant”. (See this page for more info on that.)
Also, you could consider asking the leadership what their view is regarding divorce for domestic abuse. Whether they allow divorce for abuse is a litmus test for whether a church is likely to be led by people who have real wisdom, and (sadly) our observation so far is that most churches are failing this test. This post amplifies this further:
Domestic Abuse is the Test Case for Our Theology (and we are failing)
And this article [Internet Archive link] by Jeff VanVonderen gives a good list of things to look for if you are choosing a new church.
Thank you; I’m thinking about sharing this with my friends.
When I was saved and stopped going to mass my Roman Catholic father was very critical of me. He was very proud of his faith. But he was a failure in every way as a husband and father. One of his worst faults was his supreme selfishness, especially with money. He complained bitterly when asked for money to buy food, clothing, shoes, or other normal expenses. Many times he simply screamed “I don’t have it!”, yet he worked steadily. He always had money for beer and cigarettes and nice clothes for himself, but had no problem letting his wife and kids do without necessities. I have tried to move on from the sad and painful memories of my father. But when I remember his selfishness I most often think of 1 Timothy 5:8. I wish now that I had quoted that verse to him.
Suzanne, your comments about your father opened my eyes to something I had never thought of. My grandfather was an abusive father to my mother, yet no one used the word “abusive”. She was labeled, “orphaned”, he was called, “deadbeat”, “irresponsible”.
My mother passed away in her 80s some years ago. She lived a tough life but chose to live with integrity. Our legacy is that she asked Jesus to take care of her every day.
Her wise choices do not negate the far reaching effects of active / passive abuse with tentacles that touched earlier and later generations. Oh my! Today I am thankful for your comment as it opens a new chapter of understanding and healing for me. At the moment I am a bit catatonic.
I’m glad you found my comment useful.
If you mean by catatonic that you are living with suppressed emotions, know that this is a common consequence of abuse, especially if it’s long term (62 years for me). I have been “no contact” with my abuser for a little over a year and I’m just now beginning to experience my emotions again. It’s not much of a change but it is [an] improvement. I pray every day that God will heal me and He is. Gaining knowledge, seeking therapy, and joining with other survivors for fellowship and affirmation are all good things to do. But ultimately it is God’s love that heals us.
The first two paragraphs of this post alerted me that the truth about my ex was to be penned explicitly, once again. He was a false Christian leader, a stingy spouse and parent. My father was dying suddenly in my college years. I would soon be fatherless with an emotionally absent mother. I was clueless about the manipulation to become engaged quickly and married less than a year after my father died. My precious mother did the very best she could, but her abusive upbringing greatly influenced her mothering.
While I am years past the divorce, sometimes memories burp up; this time of his evil. Over and over, I become aware of another and another evil person who posed as a minister. If they destroy their own lives, that’s ok. The devastation for me is that I know too well the mess it makes of the lives of those connected to them. I also know how other church leaders manipulate and lie to the innocent to protect the guilty; i.e. “Lying Minister”.
I will never know, but perhaps if my grandfather had not been an abusive man, my childhood would have prepared me to steer clear of marrying an abusive man, worse yet, one who claimed to love God.
I am thankful for this post, albeit upsetting because the truth needs to be told over and over. It assists us in making sense of our crazy lives and allows healing through instruction in Scripture.