A Cry For Justice

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

Dear Church: Stop Trying To Convert Wolves — by Jimmy Hinton

There was a recent article published at The Gospel Coalition titled Beware of Broken Wolves [Internet Archive link]. While I [*Jimmy Hinton] appreciate the notion that we need to beware of wolves, this idea that wolves are broken is something that has permeated the church and has no biblical basis. We have spoken to dozens of churches in recent months and I can assure you that the vast majority of them are sympathetic to the wolves who are child rapists (this is not to suggest that only child rapists are wolves; more about this in the next post). I recently wrote about churches defending child rapists here. “We need to gently restore this brother” is the mantra of the day. It’s become so predictable that we expect this phrase to roll off the lips of church leaders as blood and flesh are dripping from the wolf’s. We have grown weary of churches who want to nurture the wolves back to “health.” The root of the problem is that church leaders don’t really think in terms of sheep and wolves. They are thinking like sheep, so they assume that wolves are really just broken sheep who can repent and come back to the sheep pen. They are not. They are wolves. Genuine wolves. Wolves do not convert into sheep. They disguise themselves as sheep. This is a crucial difference. What church leaders overlook is how wolves are described in Scripture and, most importantly, that Jesus and his disciples never spoke to their conversion or repentance.

Jesus used word pictures to drive his points home. He used parables and metaphors to describe the Gospel. He used images that connected the brain to the heart and moved people to action. When he was on a rural mountain, he told his disciples to “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15 ESV). He was in sheep country. It’s likely that there were sheep grazing within eyesight of the disciples as Jesus was preaching this very lesson. No shepherd would have heard these words and thought Jesus was calling them to be gentle, kind, or understanding of a wolf. Shepherds didn’t sit wolves down and say, “What pain is in your life to make you like this?” In fact, in this context Jesus didn’t speak of pain at all. He spoke in terms of fruit! “You will recognize them by their fruit. . . the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” He shifts images from a wolf to a tree. Does God’s justice require the wolves to turn their hearts and become sheep, or the bad trees to become good trees? No! In fact, Jesus’ words are chilling: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:19, 20). There was never a plea to rescue them from the flames, like we find in Jude 1:23. A clear distinction was made between sinners and wolves.

In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd who is the door for the sheep. Those who enter by way of the door will find pasture. What about the wolf? Does Jesus call him a “brother?” Does he speak about his or her pain? Let’s listen to His words, “The thief only comes to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Is Jesus clear enough? This is who they are. Though they deceive and disguise themselves as sheep, they are not sheep. They never were. Their diabolic mission, their very identity is to seek sheep to devour. They have no interest in repentance.

We also have the tendency to apply “wolf” to people in the church who cause division. Not all people who cause division are wolves. Some people are like wrecking balls and they are so ignorant they don’t even know it. Others are well intentioned but still manage to run people off. When the Bible describes wolves, it’s not describing what they do. It’s describing who they are. I grew up in a very conservative church where anybody who taught doctrine that wasn’t in line with our tradition was labeled a “wolf.” I received a letter after guest preaching once where I was described as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” by a youth minister from one of the extreme right schools in the Churches of Christ. Wolves are not other Christians with whom we disagree. They are not “brothers” or “sisters” who got caught up in sin. They are what they are. They are wolves. They are diabolic. They crave the flesh of innocent lambs. And they will do anything to kill and destroy the souls of people.

Contrast the descriptions and responses that Jon and I hear when we work with churches who have child rapists with the truths of the Bible. Here are the things we hear most often:

He’s a pillar of the community
This man is one of my best friends
I believe he genuinely loves the Lord
We are willing to do whatever it takes to help guide him back to the Lord
We want him to be surrounded with love
The Lord expects us to forgive
The Lord hates the sin and loves the sinner
Everyone has abandoned him, it’s our duty to rally around him
He’s been a member of this church for 30 years
Nobody is beyond redemption
The Lord’s grace is sufficient

Here are some of the things the Bible says about wolves and false prophets who, by the way, are false teachers because their goal is to ultimately destroy the souls of God’s children:

The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph 5:6)
Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim 3:13)
Secretly bring in destructive heresies
Irrational animals, creatures of instinct
Born to be caught and destroyed
They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime
They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you
They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin
They entice unsteady souls
They have hearts trained for greed
Accursed children!
Following the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing
Waterless springs and mists driven by a storm
For them the gloom of utter darkness is reserved
They entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error
The dog returns to its own vomit
The sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire (all the above from 2 Peter 2)

Make no mistake. Genuine wolves derive pleasure in inflicting harm on innocent souls, and the most effective way to do this is to do it in the name of Jesus. Why do we fail to see what’s already clearly laid out in the Bible? I will follow up with a blog post or two giving us practical things that we can actually do to identify who the real wolves are and how we protect the flock from them.


We at A Cry For Justice want to thank to Jimmy Hinton for giving us permission to reblog his post. The original post can be found here [Internet Archive link].

For more developments on the Beware of Broken Wolves article, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

*Who is Jimmy Hinton?

From Somerset Church of Christ Contact [Internet Archive link] page:

Jimmy Hinton is a native to the Somerset area.  He grew up in Shanksville, where United 93 went down on 9/11.  The Somerset Church of Christ is the congregation he grew up in.  He graduated from Harding University in Searcy, AR in 2001 with a B.A. in Bible and Religion and graduated from Harding School of Theology in Memphis, TN in May of 2007 with a Master of Divinity.  Jimmy is the 2007 recipient of the Jack P. Lewis Ministry of Study Award.  He began preaching at Somerset full time in June of 2009.

Jimmy married Natalie in 2005 and they are the proud parents of Eden, Cameron, and Isaac.

In 2011 Jimmy reported his father to police when allegations of sex crimes against children arose.  Jimmy’s father is currently serving a 30-60 year prison sentence.


Further developments on the TGC article “Beware of Broken Wolves”

After Joe Carter published his article Beware of Broken Wolves [Internet Archive link] at TGC, Leslie Vernick commented there objecting to way Joe Carter had quoted her in his post. Here is what she said:


I don’t know you but I hope you receive my words in the spirit they are intended.
I read your blog on Broken Wolves where you quoted me.

After reading it through several times I’m not sure what population you are targeting as broken wolves. Since you are an editor as well as an author, I assume you are being purposefully vague. Many readers responded with questions for clarification as to who exactly is a broken wolf since there is no such phrase in Scripture? I’m curious why you do not answer their questions directly? Isn’t that what writers do? If people are fuzzy or unclear about what you meant, why don’t you make it plain?

You quoted from an article I wrote, Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. However my article does not support the points you have written, therefore, I’m curious why you chose to quote me? Your blog says one of the primary ways that you can spot a broken wolf is by her refusal to submit to church authority. By that definition, Martin Luther was a broken wolf. What I said in my blog is that a wolf that masquerades as a sheep refuses to submit to any authority. He or she is his own authority. My definition includes any church authority that acts like a god with no accountability or true shepherding of the sheep.

I wonder if you are mislabeling broken sheep, individuals who have been wounded and are crying out for help and justice, as broken wolves? I also indicated in my article that another sure sign of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is that he or she is an expert in deceit. Some of those responding to your blog refer to a scandalous church situation in which there were allegations of cover-up of sexual misconduct and abuse. The sheep who were harmed by that injustice are not going to be silenced. They are bleating loudly because they want accountability and justice. They know that wolves in sheep’s clothing are also abusing sheep in other churches. These sheep are not broken wolves. They are practicing Proverbs 31:8-9 where it says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get justice.”

Thank you for removing my words from your blog and if you haven’t do so yet, I am asking you to do so. I don’t want readers to assume that I support what you have written, especially since you are so vague in what you meant. I hope you will clarify your words so that those who have been hurt by this grave church situation do not think you are referring to them. All sheep including those that are wounded must do all they can to help other sheep from being devoured by ravenous wolves.

Joe Carter then put an update on his post:

Update: In the original article I had quoted from an article on the website of the Association of Biblical Counselors titled “Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing [Internet Archive link].” Several LGBT rights advocates claimed that I had taken the quotes out of context and contacted the author, Leslie Vernick. I told Ms. Vernick that I would remove the quotes at her request. In the comments section she left a comment that said, “Thank you for removing my words from your blog and if you haven’t do so yet, I am asking you to do so. I don’t want readers to assume that I support what you have written, especially since you are so vague in what you meant.” Those quotes have now been removed.



  1. StandsWithAFist

    Great post.

    I especially love Jesus’ words in John 10.

    John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice”….note Jesus does NOT say “the wolves hear my voice and need to be loved”.

    Note: the sheep hear My voice….and follow Me.


  2. M&M

    And whether the perpetrator is a “sheep” or a “wolf”, why should that change how much they care about the victim? It never makes sense to me……

  3. freeing hope

    Why does Joe Carter’s update say that “LGBT rights advocates” contacted Leslie Vernick. I am suspicious that he was trying to redirect attention…

    • KayE

      I got the impression Joe Carter’s whole post was aimed at LGBT rights advocates. But he didn’t actually say that, so who knows? He could also have been talking about abuse survivors who advocate for divorce, and that’s the way some people would read it.

  4. M&M

    I used to wonder why the Bible didn’t talk about healing childhood trauma because I thought that healing the past would help people be more loving “it’s hard to give love you haven’t received”. That theory actually worked on one person in my family who became less angry after facing his past and counseling. However, I now see a crucial difference between him and the wolves, which is the desire to change and the willingness to admit doing wrong. Counseling and love only changes people who are willing to change, which is presumably why the Bible focuses on choosing right choices. It does talk about God healing the brokenhearted, but that is separate from a person being responsible for their actions.

    It was also interesting to me when I watched a secular documentary about a residential counseling and rehab program for sex offenders because the founder discovered that victims were less likely to recant when they knew that the perpetrator (who was often their father) was getting help. Whether it helps the offenders or not I appreciate that he had the motivation to help the victims stick to their testimony. I also appreciate his focus on responsibility. He was sympathetic to offenders who were victimized during childhood, but he said the past didn’t make you do it you still had a choice.

  5. ACON

    Very down-to-earth, no-nonsense article. Apparently (and unfortunately) there is a great need for what you do. I appreciate you’re doing something against this scourge.

    Genuine wolves derive pleasure in inflicting harm on innocent souls, and the most effective way to do this is to do it in the name of Jesus.

    Right, and the church is the best hiding place for the Devil and his minions.

    If it is really so normal for church leaders to enable child rapists, it is not safe to take a child to church, as these criminals get access to their prey through their church functions.

    Actually, I kind of doubt that those church leaders are just ignorant. I suspect they are complicit. Normally, people who defend abusers are abusers themselves. However, I don’t doubt the church leaders will tell you they’re innocent. Any abuser would.

    It is not safe to even attend a church that defends child rapists because there is no way such a church can be part of the true body of Christ (cf. Matthew 18:6). Most likely, it’s more like a pack of wolves.

    Incidentally, I just happened to be researching a certain church I was considering attending. What I found out was that they have a history of sexual abuse of children! Well, no church for me, for sure.

  6. MarkQ

    Some of the comments were quite applicable. Specifically, Jesus fits the definition, as does Martin Luther. Compounded upon this, the definition of “broken wolf” is one that revolves around submission to authority, so it’s easy for the church to be deaf to broken sheep who are hurting simply because they don’t respect harsh authority.

    I was thinking about Jesus and victim blaming. The Pipers and Tripps of the world want us to think that every conflict is two-sided. It’s two sinners who each bring their faults to the table. Yet, stick “Jesus” in there. Was the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees two-sided? Should we deny Jesus’s sinlessness because “there are two sides to every story?”

    If Jesus was involved in substantial conflict, despite his sinlessness, then we have to change our thinking. Not every conflict is two-sided. It is not the glory of leaders to badger victims until we can point the finger at them for their sin, nor the glory of leaders to level the sin of the abusers and demonstrate endless grace and mercy. No, in fact, Jesus showed grace to the victims by calling the Pharisees out for who they were – hypocrites and man-pleasers. Sons of the Devil. Blind guides. Condemning the innocent. People whose hearts were far from God. Neglecting justice and mercy.

    • Amen! I boldfaced some of your comment MarkQ because I thought it was so good.

  7. Unknown

    I couldn’t read it all without feeling compelled to comment mid-way. This is absolutely spot on and so true. The insanity of thinking that somehow these ravenous wolves are just poor wounded souls who need extra kindness, leeway, etc.! It’s nonsense.

    I remember I was staying somewhere and I was being preyed upon by some wolves who not only stole my stuff, but did all sorts of other things to harm and humiliate me. They bragged about how horrible they were being to me and laughed at the notion of me reading my Bible, saying a prayer before eating, etc. Literally snickering at such and taunting me about it. Just reeked of evil. The devil’s children, for sure. Endlessly setting me up just to further harm me. Vile people.

    It’s a con to think that somehow the wolves are just needing extra love and attention. Just like wife-beaters put on the false fronts of how they only beat their wives because of stress at work, the strains of this or that responsibility, or somehow the victim causing them to beat her. Nonsense. They beat their wives because they want to, they feel entitled to do so, they know they can and almost nothing bad will come of it, and it will get them what they want, as fear forces ‘compliance’/’submission’. Violence works to keep their slaves in line.

    If you coddle the wolves, they’ll only grow more emboldened, reproduce and increase in numbers, and eat way more sheep than they would have if you defended the sheep by battling the first wolf that came along and started snacking on some sheep.

    As for child molesters, I’ve read about those who were molested (raped) by their own fathers and then these women (or men) grow up, ‘forgive’ dad for his ‘weakness’ (read: evil) and then go on to leave their children with the grandparents for the weekend. What happens? The grandchildren are preyed upon. Go figure. People don’t change. Wifebeaters are going to beat every woman they have a long enough relationship with as sooner or later, their true self comes out.

    Even Bancroft (I’m pretty sure it was him, but I may be wrong) said that with the best batterer’s intervention program you have a success rate of something like 1 percent. ONE PERCENT! That’s reality. And I would go as far as to say that the ‘successful’ one-percenters merely stop overtly abusing and grow increasingly stealthy in their strategies of control, domination, and abuse.

    That’s reality, folks. And so many women’s lives are irreparably ruined because of all this nonsense, lies, myths, disinformation, etc. that is spewed out by all sorts of different sources.

    • Memphis Rayne

      You are so right. It is a con. So many of the church leaders themselves would have to be exposed if they were to do the unimaginable ……Stand up with the victims against the Wolf!!! If they did though, they would at some point have to glance at their own reflections. But that is never required of them because they shield themselves with such “Good Works” in the name of God.

      Also the abusers, generally in control of finances, also within the Church are the ones who control the money. So any kind of abuser will be ready for redemption-
      Just name the price.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Haha! Evangelical indulgences for sale!

    • standsfortruth

      Spot on, Unknown..
      The only thing that changes with abusers when given another chance, is their tactics… They cant use the old ones anymore, so they come up with new ones.

      • Memphis Rayne

        True. Sadly the only thing that changes with the church is how many different ways they can ignore the obvious.
        But just for fun!! Let’s take an abuser’s tactics, put it to a song and dance, add the soft flute playing in the background, perhaps the release of flying doves at just the right moment, (((somehow Doves that do not poop))) ….This way we can all leave with a clean white shirt….
        Blindness never looked so peaceful.

      • M&M

        Someone told me that a study showed that one night in jail reduced re-offense rates for domestic violence but unfortunately I don’t know the time frame because temporary change is common and long term change is uncommon. It also didn’t cover the possibility that they scared their victims into silence or that the victims left. I’m still in favor of jail to keep them away from victims, but a study would have to be years long to determine behavior change.

        Proverbs 27:22 Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

  8. He Delights in Me

    I feel confused about knowing the difference between a sinner who could possibly repent vs a wolf. My husband of about a dozen years has been like a roller coaster. While I have documented several verbally abusive episodes over the years, I keep thinking that he is sincere about changing. He does well for long periods of time. He’ll confess a bad episode to someone pretty accurately. He’s on meds. He has some accountability partner. Am I just too close to the situation to see?

    • That’s a tough one, He Delights in Me. Being close to the situation does make it harder to see, but it also means you probably have observed more of his behaviors, patterns and attitudes than other people who are not as close to him.

      With his verbal abuse — are you the only or the main target when he does it? Or does he behave the same way to other people as well? If you are the main target and he doesn’t do that with other people, that’s a bad sign because it shows he does it to you because he believes he is entitled to treat you and you in particular that way — because you are his wife, his spouse, and because you are a woman and he is a man.

      I encourage you to read the posts we have on this page. I’m pretty sure they will help you work out what is going on. What is abuse? How can I identify an abuser? How can I tell if I’m the abuser?

    • Also, going by your other comment on the animal abuse post, I get the impression your husband is indeed an abuser. His abuse of the animals was horrific, and he then justified it. That is a strong indicator that he is a wolf and that all his other ‘repenting’ behaviours are just fake — just more manipulation tactics on his part, to keep you unsure about whether he is a wolf or not.
      Here’s another page from our FAQs for you to read: What if the abuser is repentant?

    • Misti

      Even if you assume your husband actually is trying, that does not obligate you to put up with his abuse, nor does it give him free rein to abuse.

      You can try your hardest not to burn dinner and still burn dinner. The fact that you tried not to doesn’t make it any more edible, nor does it change that you won’t be able to eat dinner until after the burnt parts are cut off and gone (assuming it’s salvageable).

      Do you eat a burnt dinner, charcoal and all? Not unless you’re literally stuck with it (ex. too poor to replace it and too hungry to skip it — in which case, that means you need help from others, not that you “should” have to eat it). By the same token, you don’t have to put up with the “charcoal” of abusive behavior (unless you’re literally trapped — which, again, just means you need help from others, not that you “should” have to put up with it).

      In that framework, an abusive person can generally be thought of as a burnt dinner. Sometimes there’s something salvageable in there, but often not. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s burnt.

      • BreatheAgain

        That’s a great analogy,

      • Hi BreatheAgain, I’ve checked, and no published comment from you on this blog shows your real name.

        Every published comment from you on this blog has the screen name BreatheAgain except for one (on a different post) in which the screen name is Abuseismurder. Do you want us to change Abuseismurder to BreatheAgain?

    • Memphis Rayne

      Sometimes too the length of periods between are, can be part of the set up. He knows what he is doing when he is verbally abusing you at all times. If he was genuine, he would of already made those changes, meds or no meds. The problem is the actual intent to change is not sincere, however the “promise” that keeps you locked in, may be very sincere. Promises by abusers are only made when they want support, sympathy, and another chance to keep doing the same thing.

      For two years my MIW [Monster In Wedlock] was consistantly on a once every three day cycle of abuse, then out of nowhere, I went through a 4 month period of what seemed to be the BIG change. Just as I started to feel just a little more at ease with letting my guard down, and having all my self-talks “I do not have to be afraid anymore, God has changed him” “Relax and breathe” “Stop feeling anxious” “Remember he is different, it’s Ok to go home”……
      After those 4 months he unleashed complete utter horror on myself and kids. He had not changed. He faked very well repentance, and just stopped interacting which I mistook for change. He actually said to me “I was just trying it out to see what it was like, to see what you would be like”.. Verbal abuse is a horrible thing to endure, I use to keep journals of his patterns for myself also so I could feel more balanced mentally.

      I just REALLY believe a verbally abusive person is just that …ABUSIVE. Also they are aware of what they can get away with. Hope I did not overstep here.

      • He actually said to me “I was just trying it out to see what it was like, to see what you would be like”..

        Megan C said her abuser did that too. He went for months treating her really well, being totally non-abusive. Then he suddenly reverted to the abusive behavior. And he told her he had been just trying it out (being non-abusive) to see what it was like.

  9. roscuro

    What I found especially hurtful from the “Broken Wolves” blog post was the underlying suggestion that the abused become the abusers. There is a sense in which that may be true – a child who is beaten into submission may grow up to think that is the way to discipline. However, for many [of] those of who have been abused, having that kind of suspicion hanging over their head is incredibly painful. I know of someone who was sexually abused and now fears to go through the screening that her church puts for childcare workers, because one of the screening questions is “Have you ever been sexually abused?” How can she trust the church with her story, when the implication of the screening question seems to be that victims of sexual abuse are likely to become abusers themselves?

    • Keeningforthedawn

      Excellent point, and heartbreaking as well.

  10. Memphis Rayne

    The interesting aspect of how they handled things was….Looking back, that initially gave us false hope. We thought, well? If these people are giving him a chance? So should we? After awhile, I just had to stop going to any church. No matter where we tried to go, the Elders, pastors, counselors, whoever he could bend an ear to always lifted him up, and estranged my children and I. One time after we were terrorized, physically harmed and all the signs of what he was / and had been doing were in front of their eyes…..He cried, and they forced me into communion with him, they patted him on the back and said we had to go home with him. They were not responsible anymore, the blood of Christ was now on the hook.

    • Jeff Crippen

      That is akin to Benny Hinn pulling off a fake healing miracle. There, he’s all fixed. Glory and praise – to themselves.

  11. Memphis Rayne

    The church we were originally attached to gave abusers posts. Like the men who where guilty of abuse no matter what kind were immediately put to work as the Greeters. Imagine how fun it was to see our abuser lifted up at the gates of heaven by the pastors……They gave all members public, first row seats of the freak show. He would be so polite, so humbled, he could display to all how forlorn and pitiful he was. Then of course we would be forced to sit next to him as yet another centerpiece on public display. The church itself did not care at all, they just wanted Shiny Happy People, and for all those Shiny Happy People to be in their proper places, according to them.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Similar to sending “troubled” “Christians” out on the mission field so they can be fixed. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. As Jesus said of the Pharisees, they travel over land and sea to make a convert and when they do, make them twice the son of hell they are.

      • M&M

        I hadn’t heard of that one, but it’s disturbing for 2 reasons. Long term cross-cultural trips tend to increase whatever stress and problems a person already has so if there are non-abusive people on the mission they will be already under increased stress when the abuser starts abusing them. Also, if the host country is “third world” there will be a much lower chance that victims from the host country will get any help from the police. There are enough abusers who are born in other countries we shouldn’t export ours. ahhhhhhh

      • Lily

        I recently took a counseling course. The speaker who presented the lessons about sexual abuse said that across the hall from his office was a federal investigation office that was going after child molesters. They said that one of the biggest focus places for them at this point in time is the mission field.

        Also, a few years ago I saw / heard the author of a book which was recently made into a movie. He said he was raised on the mission field and was molested from age 3. Then on the first day of kindergarten at the missionary kids’ school, the Grade 6 kids (boys) molested all the new K kids, and by the time he was 8 he was a perpetrator. He, by the way, did change as an adult, by committing to years of counseling and accountability.

      • Raped By Evil

        Lily, thank you for this information!

        ….. a federal investigation…..that was going after child molesters. They said that one of the biggest focus places for them at this point in time is the mission field.

        !!!!!!! E V I L & G R O S S !!!!

        How many churches point this out to their congregations? I’m just taking a wild guess here—-none!

  12. Memphis Rayne

    Exactly!!! They passed the buck and took all the Glory and their hands were clean in their own mind. I was set up. They used the Blood of Christ claiming it was the end all and be all for our protection. Then the door was closed. So of course when trouble started as soon as we got home, I was punished by my abuser, he was thrilled that if that did not protect me and my kids then he felt more powerful. I could not call them back for help because it was my own weakness of faith that brought down my own house…I did not believe, or forgive enough. Therefore what?? The word of God is invalid? For me??? But not for an evil soul that hurts and terrorizes his own flesh and blood??

  13. Song of Joy

    Amen to this post by Jimmy Hinton. The Church Protect ministry is filling a huge need and void. The modern church does not want to address the existence of evil!

    Wolves do not convert into sheep. They disguise themselves as sheep. This is a crucial difference. What church leaders overlook is how wolves are described in Scripture and, most importantly, that Jesus and his disciples never spoke to their conversion or repentance.

    So very true.

  14. Anon

    I was amazed to find this article today. I know of a young person [who] was sexually abused and raped by a “Christian” teacher at a “Christian” school for several years. When this brave teenager finally went to the police, many in the church / school turned on them.

    The man (the rapist) died in prison. And people are STILL pointing fingers at the victim as if it is all their fault. I am shaking and my stomach hurts. I was in a group of people who were talking briefly about this case and I heard an abuser (who claims to be a Christian) make a big emphatic point about how the man reaped what he sowed….I felt SO angry. I guess this is what triggering feels like. … It was all I could do to not yell at this abuser, “You think you are not going to reap too????” Just shaking right now, my heart is racing, I feel like crying..

    • Dear sister, before publishing your comment I disidentified it a bit, for safety’s sake. And I changed your screen name to Anon. Do you want us to change all your comments so they give Anon as your screen name?

      I honour you for having a visceral gut reaction to the wickedness of abusers!

      • BreatheAgain

        Thank you very much Barbara for telling me that. I felt conflicted and even guilty, when I had this strong angry reaction. I was afraid I was judging him. I am too often feeling conflicted about really standing against this abuser and working to get away from him because most of the time he can act ‘nice.’ But I have to remind myself of the harm he has done, all of which he is not sorry for. I don’t know what else to do but distance myself as much as I can. Looking to get divorced in the near future. I am so scared to do this sometimes, but honestly I believe Jesus keeps showing me He’s got me and I will be alright on my own, with His help and presence with me.

  15. Misti

    I’ve had people reply to points about knowing folks by their fruits and about the wolves disguised as sheep by insisting that the context of Matthew 7 is only referring to pastors.

    As far as I can tell, they’re relying on the mention of “false prophets” to claim that—never mind that Scripture doesn’t put that limitation on what position false prophets can hold.

    Also never mind that if you do seek to apply the verse to pastors or other church leaders, as they claim it should be applied, other verses will be pulled out for whatever reason, like the 5th commandment (which is viewed as a command to show respect to your superiors and all disagreement is considered disrespect).

    Can’t say I’m terribly convinced by that misrepresentation and misquoting of Scripture.

  16. Anonymous

    Just was introduced to your site by a friend. Upon reading this article I am thrilled. Someone in the church FINALLY gets it!

    I was married to a Narcissist / Sociopath for between two and three decades. He led a double life with me and our children. He claimed to be a strong Christian. We were involved in a religious cult [name of cult redacted] for years. When I left the cult, he left. A few years later he left myself and our children. I went to a Christian Retreat Center [details redacted]. It was there I was told that I had been involved in what they called “A One-On-One” cultic relationship.

    After my husband left us he went to [city and state redacted] to a church there and found another hostage (a young woman who had a chronic incurable disease and was retired due to her illness). She was so thrilled that someone would be interested in her, and they were soon married. My ex moved her all over the country and when her money was gone, he moved her into an adult family home and left her.

    While he was still married to her he moved to [___] state and moved in with a woman for about half a dozen years while his wife was withering away in the other state she lived in. He never paid this woman he had shacked up with one penny, and had several other women on the side. His wife finally divorced him shortly before she died.

    Our story is incredible and heart-wrenching. He has now moved to [yet another state] to be near his family he wanted nothing to do with, as he is getting old and needs someone to be close by to eventually care for him. The strangest thing is that my children adore him and have both moved to to be near him. They feel that the sun rises and sets in him and that I am the one to be scorned. My daughter, in particular, seems to be like his emotional wife. As soon as he left me he turned to her and it felt like he groomed her. She abhors me, but maintains an alliance with him. All so confusing.

    I especially appreciate your article because it is Bible-based and answers my question regarding him being sick rather than evil. I always hoped he was sick so he would have a chance to repent. I will continue to try to process all of this. I have had Stockholm Syndrome & an horrific time trying to sort through all of this. Thank you for allowing me to share my sad but true story …. I am not a victim and know God has an incredible ending to this for my good and His Glory!

    • Dear sister, welcome to the blog! 🙂 We are very glad you are finding our site helpful.

      I encourage you to ‘follow the blog’ — click here for a page which explains how to do that. I also suggest that you read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I edited your comment quite a lot before publishing it — I removed or airbrushed many of the details you had given as those details would have made it very easy for your abuser, his allies and your children to identify you. We don’t want you to be unsafe, and so it’s important when writing comments on this blog that you don’t give details which would identify you. I suggest you read your comment as published, to understand what I did to disidentify it.

      By the way, we understand very much how trauma can affect the person who has been traumatized. We actually have a tag for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (And you are not really ‘post’ trauma as your children are still traumatizing you by the attitude they are taking to their father.) But you may be interested to know that the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ was actually invented by a psychologist who never even interviewed the woman he claimed was suffering from ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. You can read more about that here: The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and other labels which are used to discredit and pathologize victims of abuse

      We have quite a few posts about children becoming allies of the abuser.
      Some of them you can find them here: What if the abusers were one’s parents?
      And I think you will find these two particularly helpful:

      When the kids blame the victim too

      Restoring Relationships With Estranged Children

      • M&M

        I’m glad you’re careful about not pathologizing victims, but I’ve learned about a few cases where the theory of Stockholm Syndrome actually made victims feel better. Those involved a victim who defended the abuser and later felt guilty about it. The theory was used to say that defending the abuser was a normal reaction to surviving the immediate trauma so the victims wouldn’t feel guilty.

      • Hi M&M, yeah, I know that for some of us when we learn about the theory of Stockholm Syndrome, it makes us feel better. That was true for me, when I first learned about that theory / label / term. It’s the same with the term ‘co-dependency’ — quite often learning about that turns on a lightbulb for the victim.

        Much later, when I learned the background of the term Stockholm Syndrome, how that term came about, I was shocked. By that stage I’d learned heaps more about the mentality and tactics of abusers and their allies. I’d also learned heaps more about how bystanders and professionals often disparage and belittle victims in the ways they talk about them (and the ways they talk TO them). So I was shocked when I learned that Stockholm Syndrome was a term invented by a psychologist who never even interviewed that Stockholm Bank hostage! And it made immediate sense to me that a psychologist who lacked integrity and was full of himself would do that in order to become admired as an ‘expert’ in the public eye.

        So yes, when the theory of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is explained to a victim, it may first give her helpful light upon what she is experiencing. But our duty of care for our readers, and for all victims, is that they learn the truth about this term and all the other terms which have sprung from that cistern…. so that they can be more discerning about how people in society pathologize victims in subtle ways.

        We believe in HONOURING victims’ responses, rather than PATHOLOGIZING victims for having those responses.

        See the free booklet Honouring Resistance [Internet Archive link] from Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Alberta Canada. That booklet was written by colleagues of Allan Wade, who is the guy who interviewed the hostage of the Stockholm bank robber and found out that she had never been interviewed by the psychologist who coined the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.

        If any diligent reader wants to edit the Wikipedia page on Stockholm Syndrome, please go ahead! At the moment Wikipedia says nothing about this.

  17. BreatheAgain

    One weird thing with the abuser in my life is that he never has done any of the promises to change, asking for another chance, none of that. I have made a point to see if he ever asks for anything at all, and I have found he generally does not. The only thing he will ask for is “can you do me a favor ” regarding some kind of paperwork or phone calls he needs done, but he never asks for anything as far as interpersonal or relationship issues. He will try to get what he wants by guilting me or complaining about something. I know now to not respond to that.

  18. Nathan

    So what do you do with 1 Corinthians 6:11?

    • 1 Cor 6:9-11 [emphasis added]
      Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

      The people being referred to here are no longer unsaved and wicked. Paul lists some things which they were: they may have been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers before they were born again. But they are those things no longer. God convicted them of sin and under the power of His conviction and the thunderings of His wrath they were utterly broken and humbled … and God by His grace gave them the gift of repentance unto saving faith.

      The people who are still being wolves, revilers, etc, are NOT broken. They are hard-hearted, stiff necked, hypocritical evildoers. Being stiff necked is the opposite of being broken.

      • M&M

        I agree that the verse is talking about those who are saved, but I think the word “broken” can be ambiguous. Some use it to mean “humble, repentant” while others use it as “in need of fixing”. A wolf can be in need of fixing, but not humble.

      • Yes M&M, you’ve put your finger on it.

        Some people use “broken” to mean “in need of fixing” — like a mechanical item that is broken which you need to take to a person who is experienced in fixing that kind of mechanical item – a clock, a watch, a car, a bicycle, an industrial machine….

        But in biblical usage, “broken” means broken in spirit. Our spirits are not machines. Our spirits are created by God. Our spirits are individual and unique; but when we are born into this temporal world our spirits — yours and mine and everyone’s — are dead in sin, because sin has blighted the world and all that is in it ever since our first parents Adam and Eve sinned – it’s an inherited condition. Theologians call it ‘original sin’ because it’s the condition we are all individually born with when we came into this temporal world.

        And unlike machines that can be fixed by mechanical experts, our spirits do not simply have a few defects that can be fixed. Our spirits are dead — DEAD — unless and until our Creator brings our spirits from death to life. Life in Christ: life in Him who knew no sin but who became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (cf. 2 Cor 5:21)

        So the wolf — and the foolish aiders and abetters of wolves — who assert that wolves are broken…and who thereby imply that wolves can simply be ‘fixed’ by mechanical (humanly delivered) pastoral teaching and guidance, by claiming that ‘wolves are broken’ they are showing that they don’t understand what the Bible teaches about God, sin, and salvation.

      • M&M

        That makes sense. When I said “they need fixing”, I knew that couldn’t be accomplished by other people’s efforts alone. The person that needs “fixing” would have to respond to God themselves, which may or may not come after hearing a sermon, but often doesn’t. My observation of different definitions of “broken” wasn’t to contradict the cautions that Jimmy Hinton wrote.

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