A Cry For Justice

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

The Most Common Reason Churches Enable Abusers and Oppress Victims

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. (Galatians 4:28-29)

When we first began this blog some five years ago, we said that one of our primary purposes in this ministry was to educate pastors, elders, church members, counselors and others about the nature and tactics of abuse. Particularly in regard to how the abuser is hiding in churches, disguised as a sheep, all the while cruelly enslaving and abusing his victim. While that purpose still stands, the fact is that very few such people have been willing to open their eyes to this evil, learn about it, and stand with victims. The most amazing and overwhelmingly encouraging response to our blog has been from abuse victims. Especially abuse victims who are Christians, who have been abused by a wicked spouse, and who suffered even further when they asked their church for help.

Why do local churches treat victims this way so often? In fact, it is fair to say that they typically oppress abuse victims, and most all of you know the drill that can be expected when help is sought from a pastor or church leadership or members. Why? Are they naive and thus easily duped by abusers? In part. Do male church leaders tend to side with a male abuser against a female victim? Certainly that happens quite often.

But I still do not believe these reasons explain the thing.

Let me suggest what I believe to be the fundamental reason churches enable abusers in their wickedness and oppress abuse victims. I will begin stating my theory with a summation of my 34 years as a pastor.

I have been the pastor of four churches since 1983. I was at the first one for eight years and during the last three of those years I planted a second church nearby, pastoring both churches then for those last three years. Following that I was the pastor of another independent Bible church for nearly three years and then in 1993 came to my present pastorate where I have now been for nearly 24 years.

In every single one of these churches, as I think back over our experiences in them, the vast majority of the church members, though professing to be Christians, were not. I can say this even more confidently now, having had the opportunity to watch them and their children over all these years. Bad fruit because the root was and remains bad. And, to say it once more, this represents easily 90% of the membership of each one of those churches when I first came to them. Even the church we planted from a Bible study ended up drawing in a large majority of people who had a form of godliness, but in the end proved themselves to be deniers of its power. They did not know Christ and do not know Him to this day, though many have continued to play the charade.

I could tell you story after story, firsthand data from my own personal experiences and observations that support my claims here. In some cases I think that the 10% saved estimate is overly generous.

How do I know they weren’t and aren’t saved? I know them by their fruit. I know them because:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:8-9)

Genuine Christians, regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit of God, are new creations in Christ. As such we cannot walk as we used to walk. We are children of light, no longer of darkness. We are not yet perfect. On occasion we still sin, but when we do we quickly repent and are grieved, confessing our sin and asking the Lord’s forgiveness because of Jesus our Savior. The wicked are not so. They walk in sin. It is the defining course of their life. They might claim the new birth, but their life betrays who they really are —  children of the devil, the brethren of Cain.

That is how I know.

Now, I propose to you that my experience in these four churches is not unique or untypical. Quite the contrary. I maintain that this 90%+ unsaved estimate is the norm in most local churches. [By the way, our church here presently consists of a small congregation, but I can confidently say that the large majority of them give good evidence in their lives that they truly belong to Christ. Quite different than it was 24 years ago here].

And this then is what I am suggesting to you here. No, I am confidently stating it for you, not merely suggesting it.

The primary reason local churches ally with and enable abusers, and turn against the abuser’s victim, is stated clearly by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4 quoted above. The children of the flesh have always persecuted the children of the promise. That is how it was with Ishmael and Isaac, and that is how it is today.

Unregenerate people, still walking in sin and darkness, still children of the devil, inevitably hate and persecute Christ’s true people. And if most local churches consist of those very kinds of people, children of the flesh, Christians in name only but not in spirit, you can be sure that they are going to persecute the children of the promise. They strive to enslave Christ’s people through legalism, false teachings, accusations, slander, and by setting up their own traditions as the Word of God, binding upon everyone. When one of their own is threatened with exposure by a victim giving a shout-out to him, the rest immediately rally around him like a pack of wolves.

This is how it has been all down through the history of the church. It is madness, except in extremely unusual and plain circumstances (such as times of widespread revival as in the time of George Whitefield, the Wesleys, Jonathan Edwards, etc) to function in our Christian lives with the assumption that local churches should characteristically grow in number and that number even get to be quite large. No. What Scripture plainly reveals to us is that it is God’s remnant that will be saved. That real believers can expect to become so few in number and so out of sight that even an Elijah can despair and wonder if he alone is left. Understand?

In our day the churches are filled with dross. I remember for instance a man I knew very, very well, who would claim to be a Christian but showed absolutely no evidence that he knew Christ, and plenty of evidence in fact to the contrary. When this man and his wife began to attend a new, fairly large, church, in just a very short time the church officers asked this fellow to serve as a deacon! I contacted the pastor myself and said, “you don’t even know this man. There is no way he fulfills scripture requirements for the office of deacon!” This was a no-brainer and yet the pastor and his team really did not like what I had to say. But this kind of thing is happening all the time.

This is how you turn a church into a synagogue of Satan. And this is why so many Christian victims of abuse are being additionally abused by their churches. Those churches, you see, are for the most part not churches at all. So take heart. When you get put out of a fake temple, you find the real Temple outside the camp. You find Jesus:

“If this man were not from God, he could do nothing,” [said the man whose blindness Jesus had healed.]

They [the Pharisees] answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:33-38)


Further Reading

Five Reasons church leaders don’t treat the wounds of abuse survivors – by Jimmy Hinton


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.


  1. trstupar

    Completely agree, have suspected the same thing myself.

  2. freeatlast8

    My question is this. Can one experience a moment of salvation and yet not move forward in the sanctification process because of lack of discipling and direction?

    I married soon after I was saved, but I was not involved in a church for many years. Even then, when I did go to church, attend Bible studies, and do all the churchy stuff, I wouldn’t say that I was operating by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    It wasn’t until after my divorce a few years ago that in my desperate need for help and direction, I knelt before the Lord and asked for His help. It was a defining moment for me when He spoke to me in my spirit and told me He was giving me me hope. From that moment forward, I have had a very real relationship with Jesus. Although I had asked Him to save me nearly three decades ago, I don’t feel I have had a true personal connection with Him until after my divorce.

    I know that I put my husband in the driver’s seat of my life all those years, and I was depending on him as my source, not Christ. I was not feeding myself from the Word, and I fell into the trap of believing that the husband is the spiritual leader of the home. I kept waiting for my h to lead our home. When he did lead, it was more out of anger and a judgmental, legalistic point of view than of love. His ideas about God and God’s punishment and wrath were predominant. I had never really examined or experienced or considered the love aspect of who Christ is, and how this is the epitome of what my salvation rests upon…the love of Christ…His love for me, not His wrath.

    My reliance on my husband to lead me, led me into a very misguided understanding of who Jesus is and how He sees me. Even after attending churches for many years and doing all the Christian stuff, I only just recently have scratched the surface of Christ’s love for me. How could I have missed that for so very long?

    In that respect, I do ask again, can a person have a moment of salvation, but still not truly be a Christian? Being ignorant in the “how to’s” of walking in truth after salvation and being spiritually misguided by the man who introduced me to Christ led me far off course. But, does that mean that the initial act of salvation for that person / me was not legitimate?

    • Clockwork Angel

      Hi Freeatlast8,

      My 2 cents. Yes, a person can have a “moment” of salvation, but be slow in growth due to misguidance. There is, of course, a difference between being immature and being utterly wicked. You don’t sound like you were living in wickedness, so I wouldn’t fret about the “when” you were saved.

      I’m glad Jesus gave you hope and that you feel a real connection to Him. Many of us don’t, and this, I think, has much to do with the years of abuse warping our image of God and damaging our inner connectors to God. That may have been the case with you. That doesn’t mean you weren’t saved. God has us live by faith, and not by whether we feel connected. Your feeling of being connected might go away during a tough time. It might come back. But either way, we must live by faith, even when we can’t feel or see it. If the feeling of connection goes away, this doesn’t mean you aren’t saved or that God has turned His back on you. I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt connected, even though I’ve cried out for it. Maybe some fleeting moments, but I’ve always wondered if it were just my own emotions hoping it was God. God never promised we would feel warm fuzzies 24 / 7. He did, however, promise that He would be with us, whether we feel Him or not.

      I have to put my trust in God that He really does love me like the Bible says He does. It’s hard sometimes, because I really don’t feel anything on the other end when I pray. But, again, I’ve been traumatized since childhood. My conception of a “father” is warped and invokes an image of terror, aloofness, and capriciousness. I’ve had to concede that I will probably spend my life not feeling particularly connected, no matter how much I ask God for it. It’s tough. I don’t know why the people who need that feeling of connectedness the most don’t get it. It seems the people who haven’t gone through anything hard in their lives get the most warm fuzzies from prayer time. I’m glad you got it, of course, but my point was that we live by faith, and not by sight. If the feeling goes away, don’t be surprised. And don’t think you weren’t saved just because you didn’t have warm fuzzies. It’s true of a lot of people. We all live through a dark night of the soul. Some spend their entire lives in that dark night, others only a short season. You’ve just come out of a hard season, and are healing. God loved you through that season of terror even though you couldn’t feel it.

  3. coloradolover

    Thanks for this story. It is so true but what is a person to do when everyone in the church believes the con artist?

    • DyingStar

      Unfortunately, I would say you would want to find another church. If they all believe the abuser, it definitely wouldn’t be a healthy environment.

  4. GypsyAngel

    Excellent as always.

    I used to mourn that I was put out of the church and the abuser was kept in the flock. I walked around asking God what I wasn’t doing right, or getting right. Until the night He told me quite plainly that it wasn’t me but the church that was lacking direction from Him, and that in fact the head of that church was also an abuser. A decade down the road, a real church FAMILY and many lessons later, I have come to know the truth of what He told me.

    Thank you for blessing ME with your ministry, and the hundreds of others I know this blog reaches. I do know of at least two Pastors who read it and I also know that they pass it on to others. God is working through you to change the hearts of those who really want to know Him. May you continue to be Blessed and be a Blessing. ❤

  5. CeeKay

    This has been my own recognition and spiritual stance for more than a decade now. God does not live in “church.” God lives in the hearts of men… and few men are they.

  6. questioning

    In my own experience disbelief and doubt is a common reaction by other people toward a victim of abuse. The exception to this is absolute proof that cannot be denied. This kind of proof is nearly nonexistent in situations involving emotional and psychological abuse. There is very little help for a person in this kind of situation other than a happenstance upon a qualified and alert professional. It is a sad testimony for the church that it has no greater discernment than worldly sinners.

    I’m wondering if in the last 15-20 years or so God has been changing the minds of men. The scripture says if we do not love the truth we will be given over to a reprobate mind. Scripture also says if we do not guard our hearts we will be overcome by the evil one. There has been a prevalence of Christian teaching in our time saying that we do not have to worry about our sin. That we cannot judge other believers. That a simple declaration of belief in Jesus Christ guarantees eternal life in heaven forever, and that God wants us to enjoy the pleasures of this world along with the ungodly.

    It is a scary thought that many believers have lost their way with God. Current church teaching has corrupted them. This is largely the doing of Christian leaders and they need to own this problem. At the present time these leaders continue to blame others. Our society is changing also. Narcissism is increasing in the population. Evil is being declared as right and good by our governments, counselors, educational institutions, etc.
    We are in perilous times as a believer but there is a saying… “It was the worst of times and it was the best of times”. While evil and wickedness are working in the world, God is working in us. We mustn’t be afraid.

  7. Amy

    Excellent post! I was one of those abuse victims years ago that was treated by some in my former church, certainly not all, as if I was the abuser instead of suffering at the hands of an abuser.
    I had pieces of scripture thrown in my face to hold me hostage to an abusive marriage; I was condemned for not respecting and submitting enough; had the burden of reconciliation placed on my shoulders; and often told that we all are sinners and I should forgive and forget.
    It wasn’t until my Christian counselor who knew all about abuse helped to educate me on what my then-spouse was doing, crazy-making, and how forgiveness does not mean forgetting or reconciling. Thank goodness for this woman who helped me see clearly and to reject the nonsense said to me.
    I left that church and never looked back.

    And re: not being a true Christian…it took me a long time to accept that my ex is not truly saved. After all we were baptized on the same day, he carried his Bible everywhere and even knew it fairly well. He attended Bible studies, went to church on a fairly regular basis and for the most part appeared to walk the talk. At least in front of others and in church.

    The minute the car door shut after we left church he would often start spewing off about some person that he had just minutes before praised and patted on the shoulder. And when we got home and the front door closed, well he certainly didn’t walk the talk. But whenever someone would later suggest to me that he wasn’t really saved I would balk at that claim because of the reasons I stated above. Even my counselor said it on more than one occasion, but it took me years to really know in my heart that no, my ex was not truly saved. He played the part so that others would not see through him, but I often would think to myself, how can he profess to be a Christian and yet abuse his family??

    Well, he couldn’t.

    He was a master of disguise and manipulation and control…and still is.
    How thankful I am to not live a life like that anymore. I’m now married to a true Christian man who doesn’t walk the walk, but lives the truth.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, we really are not rightly prepared to understand the nature and tactics of evil. We are not taught it in our churches, in seminaries, by the other more mature believers who are supposed to disciple us. In fact we are taught false things about who a Christian is, along with a whole pack of other false teachings that enslave us and blind us to what is really going on. Amy, you can now truly say, “once I was blind, but now I see.”

      • Amy

        Yes, how true! I never thought of that way before!

  8. Suzanne

    This post brought a question to my mind: can someone be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and still succor, support, and pray endlessly for the wicked just because they attend a church? Assume that the person in question has not studied the scriptures that God gave us to enable us to identify and know what to do with the wicked. Assume also that they’ve not attended a church where these scriptures are taught. Is it correct to conclude that ignorance of these scriptures is no excuse because the Holy Spirit is sufficient to tell us that we are morally culpable when we consistently support an evil person, sometimes for years, with no change in their behavior? If the answer is yes then many of those I have believed to be true and Holy Spirit-filled followers of Jesus are, in fact, unredeemed.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Suzanne – While all Christians begin as spiritual infants, there are some things that are necessarily true of all of them without exception. Yes, we can be ignorant for a time. We can be deceived for a time, but we will not continue in that deception. Consider Christ’s words in John 10 – “my sheep hear my voice, they flee from a stranger.” Then you have the inevitable separation of the wicked from the righteous – “they went out from us because they were not of us. If they were of us they would have remained” (see 1 John for that one). Christ has given us the ability by His indwelling Spirit to discern His truth from error (also see 1 John for this). When a professing Christian continues to support the wicked, they are doing exactly what the Corinthians did and for which Paul rebuked them – see 1 Cor 5. Had they chosen after that to continue to embrace the wicked man, there is no way that they could have been considered to be Christians.

      I have come to the same conclusion you propose. that many, many people who I initially assumed were believers – are not.

      • Suzanne

        It makes me wonder just how many truly born-again believers there are in the world and how many who thought themselves to be children of God will be left behind when Jesus comes for His bride.

  9. Mr Q


    I’m been swimming a sewer for the past three years dealing with two men who are exactly as you describe. You know, the sanctimonious, hold-your-hands-high-in-worship type while all the time secretly destroying their wives and children. I knew them both for 10 years before the women and children left them after two and half decades of miserable marriages. I’ve come to understand a lot more about the sickness and, being better educated and more aware, I’m seeing the “fruits” of this depravity everywhere. The church visible is literally eaten up with it.

    But you know, in the process of looking and learning, I’ve come to see myself with clearer vision too. And my own theory about why churches are reluctant to deal with abusive men I think has a great deal to do with our own un-confessed sin.

    When we look at the manipulations, lying, projection, guilting, anger, shaming and denial, if we’re honest, we have to confess we’ve done it too. Maybe not in the quantity we see in the case of these abused women and their children, but we know in our hearts that as men, we’ve shamefully treated our family in the same way in times past, sometimes justifying our wickedness under the mantle of “God-given authority.” And our first tendency is to recoil from a label of “abuse,” just like the pharisee’s prayer of thankfulness that they aren’t like other sinners. Men in church leadership are particularly prone to wanting to gloss over the problem–and their protection of their position and authority and status bias makes them the worst sort of “blind guides;” it’s easier to say “well, when I’m honest, I must admit to myself (if nobody else) that I’ve done such things and I know I’m not an abuser, so it must be that this poor man is a victim.” And off they go, seeking to justify HIM as a way of justifying themselves…

    God forgive us for our arrogance, wickedness and self protection!

    It seems to me the root cause of the Western churches problem is related directly to lack of meaningful, regular confession. I’m not talking about the little spot in the weekly liturgy where we silently confess our secret thoughts to God, however valuable such exercises may be in self-reflection. I’m talking about James’ plain command to confess our sins TO ONE ANOTHER. “Why?” he asks? “SO THAT WE MIGHT BE HEALED.” Without confession, we fail to see ourselves “as others see us,” and “thinking ourselves wise, we become fools.” We also progress in our sinful illness, drifting farther and farther from God’s call on our conscience until He has no choice but to turn us over to our own hardness of heart.

    One of the silver linings in the slog of the past three years has been that for the first time in many years I’ve been forced to honestly look at myself. What I saw was not something I could be proud of. I now deeply regret the years I spent in less-than-full love and support for my dear wife and children. Sadly, at the twilight age of 66 I now can see my own sinfulness in the harsh light of God’s truth and now must vow that in the time I have left I can show real love and caring for those that God has graciously gifted me. I read the story of the talents with new eyes and wonder if the talents I have been given and buried were these precious sojourners. God, please forgive me for my stupid, willful abuse of your gifts.

    But therein lies on of the many mysteries of how God works: if it wasn’t for the ugliness and unrepentant sin of these two evil twins, I might never have seen my own sin and crying need for confession.

    Thank you so much for your ministry! I’ve learned so much from you and your team!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Q – Thank you. This is excellent and you really give some insightful points. Yes, the sin of abuse in our midst in the church threatens to expose us as….well, less than the perfection that we would like the world to think we are, and less than the perfection we like to see each other in. The thing is false and very, very dangerous. As you say it enables evil among us and oppresses the oppressed even further.

      I swam in that same sewer for two decades dealing with deceptive, false, “eminent saints” who continually worked secretly behind the scenes to destroy the work of Christ among us. Maybe they were just “difficult” people, or perhaps Christians “dealing with a burden of legalism,” etc. Those are the things we try to tell ourselves. But in the end, the truth was revealed. They are false Christians, wolves in wool, enemies crept in among us. And of course when they were ultimately dealt with, they always managed to take a following with them.

      Thank you again for your insights here.

    • Mr Q

      I also want to thank you for your references to ChurchProtect.org. Much of my personal struggle over the past three years to decide how to deal with the men I referenced in my post was the charge they repeatedly made that “We all are sinners. ALL have sinned against God and are worthy of punishment.” How could I call them out in the midst of my own sin and inability to love God with “all my heart, mind and soul.” I was, as they reminded me often, the worst sort of hypocrite.

      Because of Church Protect’s excellent work, I experienced one of those “Ahha!” moments when I realized what I’ve always known to be true, but failed to apply to the struggle I was facing. The idea that an appropriate view of sin is more like a disease model–a progressive worsening of the congenital illness we all are born with. While we all are infected, some of us are further along the path to death than others. The only treatment for any of us is Christ and Him crucified, but the efficacy of His “medicine” diminishes as we grow sicker.

      So as James reminds us, confession is the mechanism that keeps Christ’s efficacy working. Confession is what turns us back to the great physician for renewed application of His healing blood. Without confession, we are like diabetics that continue in a high carbohydrate diet unchanged and unmoderated and the cumulative effects begin to cascade to the point that no intervention is possible. Blindness, loss of heart and feeling are the inevitable end of that road.

      He CAN heal. He alone CAN save. But the scary message of Romans 1 is that at some point He turns us over to our arrogance and pride and we are forever lost in the final stages of our sin. God be merciful to us all and bring us to repentance for our sin so that it remains possible for The Medicine to work its power in us.

      • Amy

        @ Jeff — I didn’t realize that Christians in the Testament are referred to as saints and not sinners until just a few years ago! And that was a real turning point for me. I wish I’d known that years ago when people were throwing around the ol’, “But we’re all sinners” rhetoric. I would have responded a lot differently and perhaps even gotten out a lot earlier from that abusive marriage. 😉

      • Jeff Crippen

        Confession really is an integral part of repentance, and as Pastor Larry Dean frequently reminds us, the biggest void in today’s “gospel” is the hole where repentance used to be.

        By the way, here is a project I found very useful. Try to find in the New Testament where a Christian is addressed as a sinner. And look at the titles and names the Lord uses for us – saints, children of God, heirs, new creations and so on. In fact it is not true that “we are all sinners.” The Christian is not a sinner by nature any longer, but a new creation. The abuser is fully and completely a sinner, in agreement with darkness. Believers need to have this confidence when the “all of us are sinners” ploy is fired at us.

      • an appropriate view of sin is more like a disease model – a progressive worsening of the congenital illness we all are born with. While we all are infected, some of us are further along the path to death than others. The only treatment for any of us is Christ and Him crucified, but the efficacy of His “medicine” diminishes as we grow sicker.
        … Confession is what turns us back to the great physician for renewed application of His healing blood. Without confession, we are like diabetics that continue in a high carbohydrate diet unchanged and unmoderated and the cumulative effects begin to cascade to the point that no intervention is possible. Blindness, loss of heart and feeling are the inevitable end of that road.

        The disease model produces many useful analogies. When diabetics do not carefully manage their disease, they get many serious problems—

        The following info in italics is quoted from here [Internet Archive link] with my comments inserted in regular font.

        Neuropathy means damage to the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy. It most commonly affects the nerves to the feet and hands, but any nerves can be involved, including those that control internal organs (autonomic nerves).

        When pricks of conscience are ignored or blown off, when sin is not confessed and repented of, the conscience becomes progressively more tolerant of sin and the ‘nerves’ of conscience becomes progressively more diseased, more neuropathic. This commonly affects the more peripheral parts of the person’s character at first, but if left untreated the disease progresses to the more core parts of the person’s character and conduct… ending in the conscience being so seared that it will never respond to the prompting of the Spirit to repentance and the person is reprobate.

        Up to half of all people with diabetes develop neuropathy during the course of their disease.

        Every unregenerate person is dead in their sins, but only some of them get to the point where their conscience is so totally seared that they never feel any guilt for their sins.

        There is no cure.

        This is where the diabetes analogy does not apply. There IS a cure for sin: it is only found in repentance and faith in Christ — being born again by the Spirit and working out one’s salvation in fear and trembling.

        Management aims to ease symptoms and reduce the risk of further complications. Most people with diabetic neuropathy are unaware that they have nerve damage, until it is picked up on routine screening by their doctor.

        Typical symptoms vary from person to person, but may include one or more of numbness, pins and needles, tingling, discomfort, or weakness, which usually begin in both feet and spread symmetrically up the legs (like stockings).

        About half of those people with diabetic neuropathy experience significant pain in their feet and increased sensitivity to painful stimuli (known as neuropathic pain or painful neuropathy). Neuropathic pain is often worse at night, and can seriously disrupt sleep patterns.
        These symptoms can have a major effect on health and wellbeing because:
        —balance problems increase the risk of falls
        —weakness leads to deformities in the feet, like claw or hammer toes, and bunions
        —numbness means damage to the feet may go unnoticed.
        Together, these can lead to the formation of a foot ulcer.

        Balance problems … the more a person has habitually blown off their pricks of conscience, the more likely they are to get unbalanced in their lives. Their outward compliance with morality and ethics gets more and more unstable and erratic, their sins cause serious problems in their lives. As the twelve step programs say, ‘their lives become unmanageable’.

        Weakness problems… their muscles and nerves of self-control become more and more weak and atrophied. They know they need to resist temptation but they haven’t got the muscle and nerve to do so. So they keep shambling and falling.

        Numbness problems… they don’t notice when they have stepped on a nail or a thumbtack and it is lodged in the sole of their foot. They don’t notice that they are sitting too close to the fire and scorching the skin on their legs. They don’t notice they have ulcers on their feet or legs. The diseased conscience has got ulcers growing in it, and the person is practicing heinous sin. The ulcers stink as they exude infected pus and dead tissue. The sin stinks. It is putrid. They may get gangrene from the ulcers and need to have toes, feet or legs amputated — which compounds their balance problems even more, so even if they wanted to stand up straight and walk straight, they couldn’t.

      • joepote01

        I’ve begun very vocally denouncing that title. When a Sunday School teacher or other leader says, “Well, we’re all sinners,” I say, “I’m not! I am not a sinner. I used to be a sinner, but Jesus died to make me a saint. I am a child of God, not a sinner!”

        I’ve been surprised at how shocked some people act to hear this spoken…almost like they’ve never even considered it before.

    • Thanks so much, Q. 🙂 I gather you are in church leadership — is that so?

      My prayer is that God will wake up more men like you and move them to begin commenting on our blog and on other blogs that are telling the truth about how the visible church is literally eaten up with the fruits of this depravity.
      The other blogs I would recommend are Church Protect [Internet Archive link] and My Only Comfort [Internet Archive link]

      • Stuck in the cycle

        I love the neuropathy image! That is so helpful!

  10. Bunkababy

    I feel like jumping for joy all over my house!! I feel tears welling to the surface right now, so thankful that you wrote this. Sometimes I feel so alone in my own thoughts because deep inside things I have been a witness to or read of just don’t line up. My own experience in church was horrific.
    A new church movement we attended and were a huge part of in the mid 80s and 90s that swung away from conservative thinking was a bust. We left and all of those folks have left, digressed, or slipped so far into a false pit of doctrine I don’t think they will ever get out.

    What I am saying is although there were some good people in both church camps both experiences left me wondering more than ever who the “few” are that find that narrow road. That thought has been deeply embedded in me for about 9 years. The more I seek truth the more I realized how few that is, but if I were to talk to anyone about it they either just don’t get it and think I am judgey, cynical , or think too much etc. I think I am all those things really. Sometimes I feel harsh in my thinking, or mean spirited. I know my thoughts are fuelled by a major need for justice, and anger with a dose of bitterness to be honest.
    I need to suss people out. I think it is a deep seated pattern I developed to keep myself safe. And I don’t trust anyone until you prove to me what kind of Christian you are. Even then I run away from Christians. To be honest I loathe meeting Christians. I don’t hang out with them, or seek them out. If and when I do, through social contact from family members it ends in disappointment.
    I think of the last contacts I have had through my daughter, and those situations were so tragic, hurtful, and almost demonic in nature, I think there is zero point. Watching your kid learn how utterly venomous, hateful Christians can be has driven my own experience deeper. I hate that my daughter has experienced such utter betrayal, and vile cunningness, against her person and reputation. I hate that my daughter (28) has learned that Christians can’t be trusted. And to top it off her pastor whom she really liked committed adultery and slithered away quietly. It really was an eye opening year for her.
    I guess what I am trying to say is my bad experiences with Christians made me seek harder to find truth. In the depths of despair during recovery from my childhood torture I was drawn into the vastness of the beauty surrounding me. The oceans and mountains just could not be compared to the evilness I experienced in the church. I knew that God who created such immense beauty, and intricate detail in the smallest petal, must be worth seeking out despite my experience. God did not disappoint. I can say with utter thankfulness and humility, He proved Himself with a vengeance so fierce but so gently loving I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He will never forsake me, or leave me wanting.
    But I must say that finding church people who I can relate to is few and far between.

    I guess that is why I am drawn here. Or to Sam Powell. I have a few other sources online that have proven righteous.
    Anyhow, I rejoice at your words because finally I am not alone in my own thoughts. Finally someone has voiced, and written the thoughts swirling in my mind. The utter relief of not being alone in this is taking my breath away.

    • b a berean

      Dear sister… bless your heart […] sadly, the institutional church adds so many blocks / hindrances to healing trauma, and far too often, even worse, the trauma gets added to through betrayal by trusted institutions like the Church and so trauma healing takes years and years because of all the garbage that gets added to it in the Inst. church… with leaders refusing to do what is right, protecting themselves at the expense of those they are meant to serve and support…

  11. Larry W Dean

    Sadly true. May God grant grace to His faithful people.

  12. Laurie

    Yes and Amen! Ezekiel 8, the “hole in the wall” chapter tells of religious systems that are AT THE ENTERING IN of the TRUE Gate and lead astray into abominations like nicolaitanism where man stands in as a God replacement system. In Matthew 13 Jesus gives us the legend or key to understanding the latter parables of the chapter by delineating the first parable. So when we get to the mustard seed we see a tree housing fowls of the air which are the children of the wicked one. But church doesn’t teach that. Church wants a big payday and so teaches growing the church to house everyone and so CHANGES THE NATURE OF THE MUSTARD SEED so it can be a tree for satan’s children. Jesus told Peter, after He picked him out of the waves…”Oh you of little faith (pure, not puffed up with the leaven of false teaching, small as ONE grain of mustard seed that moves mountains…not a faithless jerk as is supposed by the church), why did you DOUBT?” False believers, Jesus tells us when talking about His return with the disciples, will say, “The Lord delays His return.” because they do not see immediate repercussions to the sins they commit AND THEN BEAT UP ON THE CHILDREN OF PROMISE! They embolden themselves to eat freely at the Lord’s table and put on the outward appearance of righteousness but GOD WILL HAVE A PURIFIED CHURCH. The storm is coming…I have no idea when but tribulation is promised.

  13. But He Didn't Hit Me

    Yes it seems you may want to change the mission statement. The original statement is unrealistic.

    3 years out of the fog now and I find that I am much quicker to call out the wolves and tares. It makes for a much more realistic expectation when dealing with them. Don’t expect much when you try to get them to understand. They don’t really want to hear it or understand.

    When The Father opens your eyes to this evil, it becomes a gateway to much more truth I have found.

  14. Un-Tangled

    I agree with you, Jeff.

    It seems to me that many of the teachings of the church–the messages of hyper-grace, etc.–only benefits abusers. This makes me believe that unredeemed abusers are in positions of leadership where they have taught (victim-groomed) the sheep to accept their behavior and unconditionally love and forgive them without requiring any sort of repentance or accountability.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, I think that is entirely accurate. How much of our doctrine then is actually the doctrine of demons? False teachings on forgiveness, required reconciliation with unrepentant wicked ones, grace with no repentance, we are told we are not to judge anyone, etc. All designed to cover for evil.

    • Suzanne

      Some of the most frustrating conversations I’ve had have been with those who insist that we have to forgive everyone who sins (even though they have never shown even one sign of repentance) and love them (which is actually not love but enabling them to continue in their sin) because that is what God wants of us.

      When I show them the scriptures that tell us how to deal with the wicked they either have no answer or insist that they are obeying church teaching, as if that excuses their unscriptural beliefs. These false doctrines of wicked men have deep roots.

  15. Helovesme

    Bunkababy, just wanted to let you know how NOT alone you are in talking about not trusting other believers. That is a subject I deal with fairly frequently in my prayer times. I could have easily been quoting myself when I read your words in that department. I’m so sorry for all your pain & suffering, plus the additional burden from your daughter. When you wrote the words:

    Sometimes I feel harsh in my thinking, or mean spirited. I know my thoughts are fueled by a major need for justice, and anger with a dose of bitterness to be honest.

    I could again have been speaking those words myself!!!

    I too worry if I am being resentful, overly harsh or unfair / unjust towards certain Christians / others. I keep pushing those things over to the Lord–because He has the final say-so in those areas. I honestly am not the best person to assess myself in those areas. My feelings are often all over the map, and hard to pinpoint. But I trust Him to bring me to conviction, in His warm but firm hand–His kindness leads to repentance so I never fear an angry hand.

    And Q, thank you for sharing your personal story. I copied & pasted some of your words so I could be encouraged, and watch out for myself as well as He has commanded us. A wonderful sister in Christ talked about how we have forgotten daily repentance, daily getting it right with Him–and not watching how we speak, behave & treat others. We are too much like the world with its awful systems & attitudes that are an abomination to Him. Therefore we are pushing the lost away. I have some unsaved loved ones. I fear that I will not see them in Heaven if they see too many bad examples around them, and don’t understand that God just isn’t like that. I also of course am that much more concerned for my own salvation, and working it out with fear & trembling, b/c I never want to hear those words from Him:

    “I never knew you.”

    • Bunkababy

      Thanks for your kind words. Something about reading these blog entries and Sam Powell’s entries really bring my emotions to the surface when I respond. My deeper anguish seems to rise to the surface. On a day to day basis I can do my thing, live in my little cloistered world of safety. I can go online read, learn and listen to my teachings and sermons that have given me growth spiritually. And I get here and this inner angst surfaces and it is not until I read it later do I realize how much unfinished business I have with the church in general. In my days recovering and regrouping, and in therapy I was more internally vocal about my distrust, I just thought it had gone away.

      I fully realize my failings and I know when I am off course in my attitudes, thoughts, and then I come round and repent and keep plugging along.

      At the end of my days though my most earnest thing I want to hear, is “well done good and faithful servant………”
      Not because I think I am great or done much, but that somehow I am able to do it with all the obstacles given me in my path.

      Thank you, Helovesme, for your kind truth and openness. It means a lot.

      • Helovesme

        I am glad to have been any help or encouragement. I think back to very hard & difficult times in my life & realize how important it is that we exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13). It was absolutely missing from my life & while my walk with God is ultimately between Him & I–no doubt it would have helped if someone had stepped in to be a blessing. Why we hit the road or hit the ground when trouble comes is unlike Jesus Himself. He runs TO us when we are in danger, have been knocked down or simply tripped over an obstacle.

        I actually left out a lot of things that I wanted to say, mention or relate to you about, and I do apologize about that. I don’t know what my problem is–my reluctance to be frank & open about things that I have no reason to be ashamed of. Perhaps I’ll do better as I listen to others be so real & so honest.

        But I again related to you about how you thought certain things had gone away, and found out otherwise. Certain things still trigger me in a terrible, unexpected way, but then it’s good to talk about these things with the Lord & ask for healing. Sometimes I sure do get tired of crying, though, over things I couldn’t control, realizing I can’t change others & also doing my best to process the trauma it all caused. Grateful that the Lord sees every tear, though, and won’t waste a hurt. And someday He’ll wipe away every tear!

    • Anonymous

      Same with me, Helovesme. I am scared to death of hearing those words:

      “I never knew you.”

      I realize that faith is a gift and I can only credit the grace of God for me to even be reading a blog such as this.

      I also married evil and to have done that worries me greatly as how could I have enjoined myself with such an evil person who had no desire to do God’s Will and place Christ at the center of everything! Then came a number of brushes with near death and a person’s perspective changes pretty quickly. When the time comes and we draw our final breath, that’s it. We are locked in. Are we God’s children, whom He loves? Or will we hear:

      “I never knew you.”

      ….and be forever cast off. Deadly serious stuff.

      At one point there were some flippant T-shirts about hell that said something like “see you in hell” as though it’ll be one big party spot where all your ‘cool’ friends are….tough guys wore these kinds of T-shirts.

      If anyone thinks about the reality of hell and the great expanse of eternity and the finality involved in being cast away or not, it should terrify us all. Life is very, very hard and I’m hunted and mobbed and I despair and I worry so much that I’ll get to a point where I can’t take any more pain, and if I do despair and suicide, I’ll have chosen my eternal home.

      The numbers are so few as to who is really going to enter by that narrow route. It’s the most important thing we can do with our lives, in ensuring we know Scripture and are right with the LORD. Thank God for this ministry!

      • Hi Anonymous, it’s clear to me that you fear the Lord with godly fear and reverence and you desire to not disobey the Lord. 🙂 I encourage you to cling to these scriptures:

        John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

        John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

        1 John 5:11-13 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life. I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

        Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

        Nothing can separate a child of God from their Father.

      • Helovesme

        Anonymous may I offer another verse that often comforts me when I am scared, unsure, fearful & / or full of anxious thoughts?:

        Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity) Jude 1:24-25.

        Keeping us spiritually safe is His job, and boy is He ever good at it. We abide in Him, but it’s a two way process–He too abides in us! (John 15:4). Abide in Him, lean into Him, and know that His grace is truly sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). I’m so sorry you married someone who didn’t love you, or love the Lord. I look back at my own walk with Him & often make the mistake of condemning myself for not seeing clearly (in other areas) when the signs were there (I either didn’t see them, was in denial or didn’t trust His discernment). A combo of ignorance, spiritual pride & immaturity (in my case) seemed to all work against me to bring out great ruin, but I also have great (Living) hope in Him, despite feeling as though my life has been ruined, or is pointless at times.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you both, Barbara and Helovesme for your Bible verses and encouragement. 🙂 I’m trying very hard to cling to the verses and support I have so graciously received here on ACFJ’s blog.

        When so many people seek me out to further harm me, I think about how it is just all the more evidence as to their state of being (children of the devil) and if I was not saved and a child of God, I wouldn’t be such a great target, and I still pray it gets better because I’m amazed I ever made it this far.

        God bless you both!

  16. Raped By Evil

    Once again Pastor Crippen, you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head.

    …the vast majority of the church members, though professing to be Christians, were not.

    Denial of the truth doesn’t CHANGE the lie INTO the truth or the truth into a lie, but it does keep those trying to find it (the truth), from doing so or it takes them longer. This is the same as putting a stumbling block in our way or as the Bible says, “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2.

    Thank you Pastor Crippen for helping us remove the MANY millstones that were placed around OUR necks by abusers (who are 100% accusers) telling us that WE were the ones this verse was talking about. No. We are those doing what is biblically right — searching the scriptures, seeking God’s truth through His word and in our lives and trying to help our brethren. At ACFJ the millstones have been placed on their rightful owners — the abusers — and the stumbling blocks have also been removed. God sees it all, Pastor Crippen, and he LOVES the truth that is here. Thank you so much to everyone here who shares their wisdom.

  17. Me&myboys

    I also believe and there have been many cases to show that abuse has infiltrated the leadership of churches. Therefore there is a preference to just deny the existence of a problem vs. the risk of calling out one of their own. It’s the same strategy used by the Catholic Church with respect to sexual abuse of children. It will be exposed one day and these leaders will be held to a higher level of accountability by the Lord for not protecting their sheep.

    • twbtc

      Hi Me&myboys,

      Welcome to the blog!!

      If you didn’t see the links at the bottom of the post for new commenters, I encourage you take a look!

      Again, Welcome!

  18. Bitter But Getting Better

    Pastor this is excellent. You have the scripture from John 9 here which is just one of a myriad of examples where “the church” opposed Jesus and His work. Obviously they were not true believers. As you read the gospels the religious abuse was constant. His life is our example so I guess we should not be surprised. Although I always am. Was just reading how the Jews wanted to kill Lazarus too, after Jesus had raised him from the dead. His life threatened their power.

    On your resources page there is a video you recommend called Narcissism and the System It Breeds that backs up what you say perfectly. This is by Diane Langberg. If your readers are missing the daily posts by ACFJ they can watch her videos on YouTube. They are all outstanding.

    • Raped By Evil

      Thank you Bitter But Getting Better, I loved you comment!

      As you read the gospels the religious abuse was constant.

      So true, yet it was never considered to be “good” or “normal” by Jesus and He was continually calling people on it and refused to let even a smidgen of it get into His life. The exception being Judas Iscariot who still never fooled Jesus. Jesus allowed Judas to be evil and to do evil in order to once again show the disparity between the two (good and evil) and to demonstrate what evils’ ULTIMATE goal was–to KILL God.

  19. Rhonda

    I am so grateful for coming upon this post today. Thank you, Jeff Crippen, for your commitment to this ministry and to love. I am also grateful to that still small voice that told me to keep on scrollin’ through the posts until I came to the one by Bunkababy, above. So much candor, goodness, and the power of vulnerability in what she and others have written as response to your post. Obviously, you have hit a nerve here — a place of pain, of awareness, of sensitivity. Keep up your courageous work on behalf of the oppressed and the captives and the vulnerable. Bless you.

  20. ACON

    What I find particularly striking in churches is the total lack of discernment. They could have a practicing satanist in their midst who pretends to be a born-again Christian, and they wouldn’t notice. In fact, there is a good chance they would make him a leader or even their pastor. Among others, God gave the gift of discernment of spirits, and I believe in a church that is truly led by the Holy Spirit such a person would be found out.

  21. Starlight

    I have come to this conclusion over and over as well. People seem to hate a believer for no reason but it is true that darkness hates the light and those in darkness do feel threatened by the presence [of] light in another’s life. When a person is ruled by the darkness and the spirit of God is not in him then jealousy and other fruits of the darkness rear their ugly heads especially when threatened or exposed to the light.

    We forget that our light shines, His light in us, even if we do not preach or witness verbally to it but our manner of being and the way we conduct ourselves sometimes is light enough to attract persecution.

    Freeatlast8, that was exactly my experience too. I had been a Christian for years but when I called out to God to deliver me from the abusive marriage I was in, then I really started to experience the leading and guiding and filling of the Holy spirit and now I do question if I was saved when I asked Jesus into my heart many years ago? Why did I not begin to experience His presence concretely until just the past few years? Maybe it is the crying out in desperation and soaking ourselves in his word that God responds to and not necessarily the ‘asking Him into my heart’ that we were taught for years in that brings us into the experience of new life in Christ?

    God truly loves and helps and walks with and instructs His own! I no longer listen when people tell me someone is a Christian, it is their fruit that identifies them not their words.

    Thank you pastor Jeff for teaching and leading us to truth and exposing lies we have been taught.

    • Helovesme

      Starlight, my thinking about salvation (and the test, the reality of it) comes to the parable of the 4 soils (Matthew 13). The same seed falls on the 4 different types of soils but only when the soil is good (not too soft, not too hard, not too rocky & has a root)–is when the fruit is borne (with patience). My understanding of Scripture is that many can have a “saving experience” with God; have some sort of confessional, even a “conversion” experience with Him–but aren’t really saved b/c that’s all it was–an experience but such persons had no interest in a real permanent, commitment to Him.

      1 John has lots of wonderful verses about those who claim to walk with Him or know Him, but are lying & not truly saved. I’m quoting a Bible commentary now:

      There are three tests to measure the proof of a genuine Christian: the truth (admitting we sin) test, the love (loving our brethren) test, and the moral test (practicing & growing in righteousness).

      I got a rocky, shaky start in my walk w/ Him at age 18, but I do think I meant it when I asked Him into my heart. It was just a lot to take in, a lot to digest & deal with–in terms of what to do next, how to proceed, what this “new life” was supposed to look like (and what it WASN’T supposed to look like!) & how to get there! There was no such thing as an overnight, miraculously changed conversion for me–and I suspect that’s true for all of us. I think heart wrenching experiences like abuse & trauma enable the Lord to become “very real” in our lives like never before, but that’s b/c we need Him like never before!

      I personally don’t think it means you should question your salvation at age four (although God knows best), but I’m open to others offering Scripture that will add or take away from what I have written. I do not want to lead anyone astray or misquote / misinterpret the Word.

  22. Seeing Clearly

    It is now [number redacted] years since filing for divorce from a long marriage to an abusive minister. He was abusive in most ways. With hard work, my healing is ongoing. There were no actual bruises, but severe medical wounds. I am now healing from my [number redacted] major surgery for various physical illnesses. Also severe mental, emotional, financial abuse….

    Having stepped away from ministry shortly before divorce, we attended a church that I was very uncomfortable attending. It was the last straw. The minister quickly approached my ex, claiming that ‘god’ had told him that my ex was to be the leader of men’s ministry. Of course, he accepted. Within hours of being served divorce papers, an Elder called me and said I could not divorce him (my now-ex) because I had no grounds for divorce.

    For the last two years [I] have been enjoying a totally different style of church. I am free of abuse. Only 2-3 women know that I was married to a minister. I keep it a secret. There are a few reasons, but primarily, I do not want him to be known as a minister for I find that blasphemous. People often think of ministers as honorable people and I want no one ever again to equate him with the word, “honorable”. He is honorable to neither God nor humans.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Seeing Clearly – We have been contacted many times here at ACFJ by abuse victims just like yourself whose abuser was or still is a “pastor” or “missionary.” It is far more common than most all people want to know. And you are absolutely right. There is no “minister” (i.e., “servant”) about such a wicked one, unless we specify “minister of Satan.” So glad you are free!

      • Seeing Clearly

        Ministers of Satan are capable of ‘nearly destroying’ their spouse. They naturally use tactics that are covertly evil. Satan intends to destroy. In a psychotic season, I was tormented, especially at night (in the bedroom with my evil ex). At that time I was not yet aware that I was sleeping with the enemy. At one point, the tormenter accused me of being a scarecrow, not a human. Throughout the torment, I stated over and over, ‘I am not a scarecrow, I am a child of God’. I was able to state TRUTH. I knew I was a child of God.

        From birth, my parents made certain I was taught about Jesus, at home and church. As a [very young child], I understood and chose repentance and salvation, at a child’s level of comprehension. I was sealed as a child of God. Within a [number redacted] months of that choice, I was severely sexually abused. At the age of [number redacted], the autonomic nervous system is not developed and this abuse affected the ongoing developmental process. Fast forward, it set me up to be groomed by a minister of Satan, to convince me to marry him.

        It is God’s fierce love and provision of unimaginable protection and security, that has brought me to where I am today.

  23. Joddis

    I do think this is A MAJOR reason that so many people attempt to help the abuser, but I also suspect another reason. Bear with me, as a decades long abuse victim, my ability to clearly articulate is not great.

    I think that too many Christians are just themselves struggling for victory (self-help book sales can attest) and always looking for that special person with the answers. Nearly always, the abusers are full of charisma and carry themselves as the person with answers. They often have stature, a strong presence, and charm. People often assume these types hold the keys, the answers, the power, etc. to fix, propel, inspire, glamorize, etc. their congregations. …

    One of the pastor’s wives who hurt me greatly by insinuating that I was lying, is truly a godly lady and a mighty prayer warrior. But while I fidget, fumble, and stutter, he [my abuser] is efficacious, brilliantly talented, charismatic, and charming. He led the worship teams in a way that made them all feel fantastic, while our family crumbled under the blows of his nefarious side daily. If I went back to that pastor’s wife now and gave more details, she would probably believe me, and be sorry. But I’m not doing it.

    There are others (here especially) who don’t “need” leaders and fixers and are hoping in, strengthened by, and empowered by Christ alone, and able to discern rightly, and don’t spiritually swoon around narcissists. A lack of discernment doesn’t always equal unregeneration. I think your proposed reason is, like I said, a MAJOR reason. It’s also a huge reason why people hate church and why children “jump ship” or quit church.

    I also, don’t think most these people are deliberately wolves in sheep’s clothing. I believe they have been fed a faulty gospel, belief alone. But “even the demons believe”.
    We need to make sure that people come to a SAVING knowledge of Christ through FAITH. Not merely “belief”.
    Thank you so very much for all you are doing!!!!! It has saved my life.

    • Hi Joddis, thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog. 🙂

  24. EverydayBRAVE

    Great post!

  25. R

    I have a need for clarity, please.

    As my marriage ended, I was put into a group of women with “difficult” marriages in my church. As I read Leslie Vernick’s book, and soaked myself with articles from ACFJ, and poured over “Why Does He Do That?” I learned so much truth! I shared your articles consistently, rejoicing over the truth I found, asking them to rejoice and learn with me. I reveled in finding all the “churchy” counseling I had received (you know the type) was wrong! I thrilled to find that I was worth something, worth saving, worth rescuing (even if it was me doing the leaving with no church help). I repeatedly shared that we were all worth saving, worth protecting, worth having freedom from oppression.

    The women liked hearing this stuff at first. But the dynamic soon changed. They were talking about how much they were learning by staying in their really bad situations. They talked about how much they were growing in patience, love, and learning to set boundaries as their “hims” continued or ramped up acting badly. They said they were learning to identify with Christ in their sufferings. They told me their love for God was growing through their trials by fire. They were removing their “hims” from the pedestal of their hearts, and were choosing to put God first but were continuing to love and pray for those that persecuted them and live with a quiet spirit with these men. They talked about how much closer they felt to God as they continued to watch their “hims” destroy, sell or take away their possessions. They said it freed from love of earthly things / pride of life. They were learning to hold their earthly blessings with open hands, and if God wanted to take those things away (because God could stop their “hims” if He wanted) then they loved learning that they could let their things go. They talked about how close they grew to Jesus as their “hims” tore down their religion and faith. They said they / we were all sinners, and these trials kept them humble, kept them looking for sin in their own lives, looking for sin similar to their “hims” only on a smaller scale, evaluating themselves constantly for pride.

    I told them what Ps. Jeff had said – that once we are saved, God no longer calls us sinners, but saints. They told me they can’t think like that. They had to continue thinking they were sinners, always on the verge of sinning, in order to keep themselves from getting puffed up with pride. I said we are new creatures. God says so. They said they can’t think of themselves that way, lest they fall.

    Over all, they were saying, through choosing to stay in their abusive homes, they never felt closer to God. They said that God was showing them so much, and He was blessing them so greatly. And they said they would never have been able to feel this way if they had “short-circuited” God’s work in their hearts by leaving. But I left. And I was the only one who did.

    I continued bringing articles to the group. They began smiling silently and putting them away without even looking at them. One lady even asked me to stop bringing her a copy of the stuff I had found. She had put away all the old ACFJ articles I had given her that she used to study and highlight and reread. She had to concentrate on loving “him” well, to learn to put up boundaries, to seek healing for her own heart and grow closer to God IN her situation, and to keep God on the throne of her heart. More and more they shut me down if I spoke about what I was learning. I kept saying “God wants us to be free from abuse. We have worth, too – not just the men. We are princesses in His Kingdom – daughters of the King. We have value.” They went on more and more about trying to maintain boundaries while identifying and growing with Christ in suffering. They told me I shouldn’t run from my problems, but should learn to face them. Soon, they ended the group.

    So my question for clarity: they spoke of all this spiritual richness and growth and “God showing them so many things” they were experiencing. What was that for them? Was God blessing all that?

    However, for me, I have felt a lot like this whole part of my life (the leaving, the divorce, the aftermath) has been a dry spell, spiritually-wise. I feel like the joy I was experiencing in finding all this new (new-to-me!) truth dried up, mostly because of their and other’s reaction. I would have thought all this truth would make them joyous. It just made them ashamed of me. So now I tail-spin and doubt and waver about my own mind, my own perceptions, my own judgment, rationality, or sanity.

    I have cried out to God, and at times, He has answered, even in surprising ways. I am in the Word. I pray tons. But for the most part, I have not experienced this “lush” growth these other women described – these warm, close-to-God feelings. For the most part, I have not seen prayers answered. Things are so hard. I feel like I throw up a lot of ceiling-bouncing prayers. I don’t have joy in my new freedom. No one around me (except the kids) puts an arm around me physically and says, “Good job. You did the right thing. You did a hard thing, but it was the right thing to do.” Most people have just stopped speaking to me. Those that still do, don’t want to talk about “it” or “him”. What is going on?

    The group ladies have home & hearth, a whole family, money, ease (except for the tough times that they endure from their “hims”), church support and adoration for hanging in there with their now-publicly-known “difficult marriages,” and a speak-from-the-platform testimony of spiritual growth and richness. I don’t have home & hearth. I now have a broken family. I don’t have money or ease. My life has lawyers, threatening emails, him not paying child support, sick children, insurance, debts he never paid being put on my shoulders, extended family that tells me I did the wrong thing and cuts me down even more. I definitely don’t have church support or adoration. I still have my discipline letter in my files. And even what little support I received from the group ended when they broke it up. And if I start to share my testimony with people around me, they look down at their shoes, and say, “Well, I can’t know for sure what happened in your home, I wasn’t there, so… I can’t really judge or speak to that… there are two sides to every story… but you did the leaving… God hates divorce… Yes, well… You could always go back…”

    For clarity: Are the group ladies doing it right? They are so blessed. When I see them, they just ooze about how close they feel to God, even or especially in their continued suffering of abuse – how it’s growing them to be more like Christ. Are they part of the 10%, but just doing it better? Or are they maybe misguided? If what they’re saying is wrong, why do they feel so close to God, so blessed? Or are they part of the 90%? If they are, what are all these spiritual feelings and closeness and blessings and growth they keep talking about? Am I doing it wrong? I feel so dry, pressed, alone, and squeezed out.

    • Jeff Crippen

      R – No, most assuredly the ladies group is not doing it right. They are deluded at best. They are slaves to false doctrine that is akin to the kind Paul rebuked the Corinthians for embracing:

      2 Corinthians 11:19-20 (19) For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! (20) For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

      In other words, they hold to a false gospel. They have chosen a system that brings them the acclaim of others but the price is that they are enslaved. And they are rejecting the truth you give them because it is exposing the falsehood of the things they are propounding.

      As to your hardships and loneliness, consider:

      2 Timothy 4:3-18 (3) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (4) and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (5) As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

      (6) For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

      (9) Do your best to come to me soon. (10) For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (11) Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. (12) Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. (13) When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.

      (14) Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. (15) Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. (16) At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! (17) But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (18) The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

      • R

        Thank you! Thank you for your sure-footedness in the midst of this.

        In other words, they hold to a false gospel. They have chosen a system that brings them the acclaim of others but the price is that they are enslaved. And they are rejecting the truth you give them because it is exposing the falsehood of the things they are propounding.

        This paragraph speaks volumes to me.

        When I read the 2 Corinthians 11:19-20 passage above, I started self-criticizing. “That means me. I bear with fools…” Then, when I saw the next paragraph, and I realized you were talking about the group ladies bearing with fools, it struck me how deeply ingrained my thinking habit is: “If it’s critical, it’s automatically about me.” Wow… Sometimes, when talking to people outside of my swarm of stinging criticizers – fault, blame, and shame are not heading for my shoulders. These thought patterns are well-worn and deeply grooved. Thank you for that freeing and heart-opening truth, even though that wasn’t the main thrust of your comment.

      • Raped By Evil

        Pastor Crippen, thank you again for enduring with us and speaking the truth through scripture. As R noted….your surefootedness helps us stand firm as well.

    • Raped By Evil

      R, What you’ve written reminds me of the original (1972) movie, “The Poseidon Adventure.” In this movie the ship is turned upside down and is being kept afloat by the air in the ballast. A group of survivors is forced to risk their lives while ascending towards the “bottom” (now the top) of the ship. This small group is led by a preacher (Gene Hackman), and on their way up they encounter another group headed in the opposite direction–and if memory serves–the other group is also led by a preacher.

      Gene Hackman’s group tries to forewarn the second group that they are heading to their deaths and explains how they have just come from that direction and that certain compartments were flooded and that there were fires in several locations etc. Wouldn’t you know it but the second group REFUSED to believe this and benignly said that they were confident that the correct way was down, even though they were walking on the “ceiling” (now the floor). They were “at peace” with their decision and “had faith” that all would be well. Their logic was clearly flawed, so even though it was now obvious that the ship was upside down and sinking, they chose to believe that they were doing what was wise.

      What you’ve written is the same story so many of us have heard all too often. When we are finally able see the truth through God’s word which is now brightly illuminated for us, providing us with the HOPE that comes with this truth, and yes–the FREEDOM in Christ that we have heard about all our lives but had somehow been missing all these years, we rejoice with each other! When we share this truth and the first seeds are planted and we see a glimmer of this truth reflected in the eyes of others, we have hope that they will also be set free and rejoice in Him too. But instead we see a version of the parable that Jesus spoke to us in Luke 8:13,

      Those [seeds sown] on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

      Yep……it’s a VERY narrow gate.

      • R

        Thank you for this analogy from the Poseidon Adventure! It is so apt, so timely, and so clarifying.

        Like I mentioned above about being self-critical, regarding the parable of the soils, I was / we are taught that we are to relentlessly examine the soil of our own heart. “No one looking around, every head bowed, every eye closed.” Always look inward, self-examine, always self-judge, be highly critical of all your motives, try to find hidden ones, look for any hints you might be self-deceived, never trust yourself. You may have hidden weeds or stones. You may have planks in your eye and may have become so used to them, you don’t notice them anymore.

        But to see it applied to the way OTHERS are receiving truth – wow… In my head, that just shifts the stripes in the outfield in a different direction.

        I just assume that most everyone is right, especially if it’s a comment about me. When lightbulbs go on, and I think, Hey, wait a minute… That’s not right, then I really have to process – giving examples, arranging points in a rebuttal, all in my head. But if I give this rebuttal out loud, and there’s pushback, then I just default to “yep, they’re right. I am ___.”

        So to see you people say, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s not right.” and to notice that the OTHERS, the supposed authorities on my life, might be getting it wrong, is mind-bending.

        Hello Truth! I love what it does.

      • Raped By Evil

        R, your reply to my reply was phenomenal. I’ll try to keep this short (for me anyway) by saying that this hyper self-focusing that we’re forced to do is anti-Christlike. We end up focusing on ourselves to the exclusion and quenching of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. Evil ones tell us to “deny ourselves” but what they really mean is that we should worship them and deny the Holy Spirit and our walk with Him, and use the gifts God has given us to serve them–children of their father the devil.

        The standards that we’re taught to use to check ourselves — such as the beatitudes — are also there for true children of Jesus to help us see if OTHERS are of God or not. Abusers are not meek or gentle or pure in heart or peacemakers or merciful, and when they “mourn” it is only for themselves (pity party) and THEY are not persecuted for their righteousness but in truth they persecute US 24 / 7, because their nature craves to destroy us. They are in fact THE OPPOSITE of what is described in Matthew 5…

    • Hi R, thanks for sharing you story! I suspect quite a few other readers here will relate to it.

      I’m curious: were you sharing just ACFJ articles with ladies in that group? Or were you sharing Leslie Vernick’s work as well? If you were sharing Vernick’s stuff, how did the ladies react to it?

  26. R

    One appreciated Leslie’s book “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” (especially the diagnostic quiz at the beginning to check if what’s happening is abuse) and her article about “5 Signs of an Evil Heart.” They loved these at first, especially since our church used her book as part of the counseling repertoire. So it was officially approved (but not emphasized). They loved identifying and confirming their suspicions that they all had abusive husbands. But as this one got further on in the book, she stopped. She said that the first chapters gave her a lot to think about, and she didn’t want to think about what else was in the book – what consequences his violent abuse should be bringing about in her life. At least not for a while, she said, But eventually those, too, were put away.

    There was always talk of some “Boundaries” book the rest of them had read, which I never saw. But no one spoke of their actually carrying through with real consequences when their “hims” violated the boundaries they said they set up (other than sitting in silence while a tirade goes on, or saying “This upsets me,” or “I won’t let you violate this boundary” and leaving the room for a while, but then coming back and cooking and cleaning “his house” and doing life as normal). So I didn’t understand why they all affirmed each other and said they had to stay the course in maintaining these supposed boundaries. It seemed to me that this strategy wouldn’t work, the way they were doing it. If it’s a good book, they weren’t doing it right, it seemed to me. If it isn’t a good book, then it seemed to me that following its advice was damaging to any progress they could be making towards freedom, safety, and sanity. They talked about forgiving their “hims”, always needing to show respect for their “hims” as head of the house, continuing to instill respect for the dads in the hearts of their children.

    My heart kept crying, “No! We are teaching the children to honor and respect abusers. They will continue to be victimized by bad bosses, bad people, or someday, bad spouses. Or they will see that abuse works, it gets its way, and will try it themselves.” I would say out loud, “That’s not right!” And I would go on to share what I’ve been learning. They would argue with me. They would tell me I had to temper my words with mercy, love, and respect for the “hims” in our lives and I needed to avoid bitterness. I’ve seen the good articles here on ACFJ about what that passage really means. I shared that as well. They told me that: well, they thought I showed signs of bitterness and I needed to not let it gain control of me. And they shut me down.

    The biggest line that was thrown out there was this: if the “hims” are not Christians (as YOU say they’re not, R) then “What do you expect?” If they are unsaved, unregenerate, then they are still in their sin. So what kind of behavior can you expect from an unsaved, selfish, depraved human being? We are all selfish and manipulative in that state. How can you expect them to act good and kind; in effect, act like a Christian? Even though the “hims” claim to be born-again Christians, and lead in the church, R, you say they’re not saved. Your articles you gave us say their not saved. So, if they’re not saved, according to you, how can you expect them to act like saved people? We need to accept that they are in an unsaved, selfish, lost state. Therefore, we can’t expect any better from the “hims”. We need to love them where they are. That “Well, what do you expect?” line was used a lot and still haunts me. When I run into them, and they talk about the roller coasters they’re still on in their marriages, they still say, “Well, what do you expect, right?”

    • Mr Q

      Oh R,

      My heart aches for you. I so strongly resonate with your story. It’s all so familiar, the sweetness, the caring comments, hiding beneath a rock-hard unwillingness to change or to even contemplate that their worldview isn’t as pretty as they want it to be. You’ve been ravaged and they want to walk on the other side rather than imagine that their idea of “church” could be flawed. They have an idol to protect and they can’t let you get in the way.

      Did you ever see the movie “The Help?” It’s like that, isn’t it? The saccharine sweet greetings, the happy-no-bitterness philosophies, all the while supporting and participating in a system that literally destroys brothers and sisters souls. Ugh. Another great movie analogy is a bit hard to watch for some, but perfect in illustrating the world you now see: The Matrix I. Our Christ figure in the movie chooses to see the truth as it is, in all its ugliness, but many others simply will not allow themselves to wake up and see life as it really has become.

      I’ve reflected quite a bit on what the Holy Spirit, through Paul, was telling us in 1 Cor. 5 (I read Corinthians quite a bit because I’ve concluded that the American Church IS the Corinthian Church). Paul says for a certain class of church member we are to put them out and have nothing to do with them… to not even eat with such as these. The list he provides is short, but this class of degraded sinner seems to have one thing in common: An overarching sense of self, the idea that “what I want is more important than than community, more important than any single person.”

      And Paul is careful to say that these “wolves” are worse than mere unbelievers, in direct contravention of what your friends are saying. Paul says these selfish canines are masquerading as brothers / sisters all the while they ravage, tear and devour. They must not, they cannot stay, he says. And the interesting thing is that his purpose in writing the chapter is not to focus on the sin or even the wolf, but to strongly chastise the church for their arrogance and pride. He’s dismayed that they are allowing and even honoring such behaviors. He tells them that they should be mourning for this lost soul as one unfit for God’s judgement, but they instead elevate and tolerate behaviors that not even pagans would countenance.

      Why would your sisters do such a thing? As you point out, they are not trying to be evil, they are trying to be accepting. They (like most American Christians) have bought into the idea that acceptance and tolerance is the standard by which we are to be judged. They willingly choose to ignore lots and lots of passages elsewhere in Scripture that are flat out exclusionary. Jesus himself wrecked the temple and talked of shaking the dust off of feet and was absolutely intolerant of unrepentant, unexamined, arrogant faith. Church leaders have urged Western Christians to see the world in terms of church growth, using attendance and cups of coffee served as the standard of measurement, rather than the evidence of the indwelling spirit.

      So you see, you’ve put them in a box. You’re calling them out into the wilderness, into uncharted contemplation of what it means to be a follower of Christ. You’re suggesting that everything they’ve come to love about living in Egypt must be left behind and they just simply aren’t willing to do that. They would rather continue to “make bricks without straw,” rather than change and living a free, but less predictable experience.

      You hang in there, R! As C.S. Lewis said, Aslan is not a tame lion! He calls you to a world that’s free and wild, where there are very few that find the door in the back of the wardrobe. It’s hard, but it’s real. Churches are not things and places on corners, but community and, like in the story of the Pevensies, you must find nourishment and support from brothers and sisters as you find them and cherish and love it when given. You make one half of the sign of the fish and they make the other and you embrace and share a meal and talk into the late night about your Savior.

      But it might mean that you no longer can continue to dwell in [the] old world you grew up in.

      Blessings of peace to you, my sister.

      • Mr Q

        Ooh! I just thought about another analogy (can you tell I love parables? 🙂 ). Plato’s famous analogy of the cave (taken directly from Wikipedia, no apologies offered [Link to the Wikipedia entry on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave [Internet Archive link]] added by the Editors.]):

        Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners.

        The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison; for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was. They discovered the sun, which Plato uses as an analogy for the fire that man cannot see behind.

        Like the fire that cast light on the walls of the cave, the human condition is forever bound to the impressions that are received through the senses. Even if these interpretations are an absurd misrepresentation of reality, we cannot somehow break free from the bonds of our human condition – we cannot free ourselves from phenomenal state just as the prisoners could not free themselves from their chains. If, however, we were to miraculously escape our bondage, we would find a world that we could not understand – the sun is incomprehensible for someone who has never seen it. In other words, we would encounter another “realm”, a place incomprehensible because, theoretically, it is the source of a higher reality than the one we have always known; it is the realm of pure Form, pure fact.

        Praise be to God! Jesus has set us free! We are no longer bound and chained, forced to live facing a reflected reality. We can leave our cave and live in the Sonshine without shadows and without filters!

      • Helovesme

        R, my heart too hurt for you. I almost cried, imagining what you went through & are still going through. I esp winced when you talked about the sadness & spiritual dryness you are experiencing, plus all that other “fun” stuff like bills, being a single mom, dealing with hateful persons. Will be praying for you & for all others like you.

        That’s something to remember, please–you’re not alone! When we are in a “wilderness” spiritual state, it’s lonely, dry & scary. Resources are few. Danger is all around us. We’re not in a safe, warm, consistent environment at all. We truly depend on Him like never before, though, because all others have failed us, left us or aren’t interested in helping us. I still believe that we can be (but not feel) very close to the Lord in such times, b/c He is never more “available” to us when we need Him the most.

        Jeremiah 17:7-8: “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

        What you escaped from must have been crippling & horrifying, and I truly pray your circumstances continue to improve so that you can breathe an even bigger sigh of relief from escaping your previous life. If you were still living like those ladies, the lies they are perpetrating (and so sincerely to boot) would be wrapping around you like a snake, choking the life out of you.

        I hate to say it, but I’ve felt like those ladies plenty of times, and I didn’t fully understand who He is & who He isn’t. What’s hard is how persuasive their words are, in how you described it. Who wouldn’t want to be less materialistic, less prideful & more like Him?? But that just isn’t the way to “get” there! Their lives are truly miserable, unfulfilled & so filled with lies. I cannot express how sorry I am for all the spiritual abuse you have suffered through. Bless you for trying to help your fellow sisters in Christ. Please don’t stop being that type of person, even though it hasn’t worked out too well.

    • Raped By Evil

      Thank you again R for more insight into what so many of us have been up against.

      You’ve verbalized EXTREMELY WELL the MANY arguments we run into as God is waking us up, so THANK YOU for writing them here. …

      The questions you ask are filled with wonderful insight and I pray that the responses you hear will not defeat you. God is allowing you to winnow out His truth and He is using these churchy people to actually drain out the dross. …

    • Believer

      Given that those “husbands” claim to be Christians, they must be held accountable to obey the Lord Jesus. How do those ladies justify their refusal to obey the commandment to disassociate from the persistently immoral professing believer? (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

  27. Helovesme

    Apologies R–I was going to recommend this article on this website’s FAQ area. It helped me a lot!: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” … so should a domestic abuse victim just put up with being abused?

    It’s in their FAQ section, just FYI.

  28. Gothard Survivor

    I do not get it! Many books still say we are to love not expecting any return. After 30 years with someone on the autism spectrum who has a personality disorder as well, I believe I know firsthand what loving without receiving is. I feel pity for my abuser and have not left him. And now you would say it is wrong to stay too? I don’t even hear you or the love-unconditionally side saying that it is our choice. To me it seems we are condemned no matter what we do.

    • Hi Gothard Survivor, where on this post did you think it said it is wrong to stay with one’s abuser?

    • Anonymous

      The pity play trap is one of the abuser’s favorite ploys. Abusers do NOT have it rough. The abused do. Yet who complains loudest and longest over anything and everything? Abusers. The abused are making headway whenever they dare to make a complaint. The abused usually have extremely high thresholds / tolerances for inappropriate / abusive / intolerable behavior.

      I don’t know what your particular situation is, Gothard Survivor, so if it doesn’t apply to you, by all means, disregard, but seeing the “I feel pity for my abuser” part was like nails on a chalkboard. EEK!

      Consider the following scenario:

      Abuser: “But you’re depriving me by not ‘servicing’ me all the time….Poor me!”
      Abused: “Maybe if you didn’t beat me, rape me, and abuse me near nonstop, I wouldn’t be curled up into a ball, praying for death, entirely non-functioning.”
      Abuser: “But I want! I deserve! I demand! You owe me! I have rights!”
      Abused: “Please let it be that I die right now, dear LORD, please let me die…..”

      In the above scenario, the abuser is NOT suffering and yet he claims to be suffering. The abused is just hoping to die. That’s her whole hope and wish. Who deserves pity / compassion / sympathy? Who deserves handcuffs? But the abused is so ground down, so relentlessly abused, berated, belittled, denigrated, degraded, insulted, criticized, and accused, she doesn’t even see it for the criminal setup it actually is. She doesn’t have the wherewithal to think or function that high level anymore.

      Thanks to ACFJ, I read it here on this website (I think) where Jesus indeed suffered scourging, abuse, and being crucified, but that was only because He was offering Himself up to fulfill the Law and be our Atonement. Jesus didn’t take up residence with these Roman soldiers who mocked Him, spit on Him, beat Him, and so forth. Jesus suffered for us in a constructive purposeful way. “It is finished.”

    • Clockwork Angel

      Please don’t let him use autism as an excuse to abuse you! Many autistic people know how to love and are not abusive. He’s using it as an excuse. The bottom line is that he is an abuser. Don’t let him pull the pity card on you. It’s an abuser’s favorite weapon of choice to get you to stay for more abuse.

    • Anonymous

      Gothard Survivor, I understand where you are coming from and this Bible verse from Luke 6:35, “But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return…,” is perhaps what you are referring to.

      One of the things Pastor Crippen is continually pointing out is that God’s word is to be taken on the whole–God’s nature is shown to be a certain way throughout the entire Bible–so when we focus on just ONE verse or passage of scripture to the exclusion of the whole, we get lost and confused.

      We are to test all the spirits—while we are loving our enemies.
      We are to test all the spirits—while we are showing hospitality to others
      We are to test all the spirits—while we are turning the other cheek
      etc. etc. etc. etc.

      While we are doing biblical actions, we are also supposed to be observing the people we are doing them to. What is their reaction? Why does this matter? Because there are certain behaviors that identify a person who God has rejected (because THEY rejected HIM). Whether this person has blasphemed the Holy Spirit or has a seared conscience or is an Antichrist or a shepherd who feeds only himself and is twice dead etc., there ARE people who God wants us to stay away from because they are evil. God has granted them their heart’s desire–they are completely unfettered –completely estranged from God, and we as his children, are to have nothing to do with them. 2 John is a short book forewarning a woman who was doing what she thought to be right by showing hospitality to ALL, but the author of the letter is telling her she needs to be discerning and why.

      Two last thoughts that have helped me see the “big picture” of the Bible. In the Old Testament especially, there are many stories that are absolutely heinous (Judges 19, for instance), but notice that GOD does NOT shy away from putting them in His word and He DOES NOT SAY that He agrees with what happened or that He thinks it was good or right, It’s simply a truthful HISTORY and He wants us to be able to trust Him, so He had His people document the TRUTH….as horrific as it was….. because He IS a transparent God.

    • Mr Q


      I’ve personally made the same sort of reflections about unconditional love. These brutal relationships are cause for deeply gazing into one’s own spiritual life. I applaud you for your candor.

      Bottom line: It seems to me that staying with a person such as you describe is not, cannot be, automatically right or wrong. Loving somebody “while they are yet dead in their sins” is the model Christ gave us and He is our pattern. The good shepherd gives up his life for the sheep in his care and will leave the flock to go in search of one that is lost IN ORDER TO SAVE THEM. [Note from ACFJ Eds: while that last sentence is true, we caution against making the assumption that an abuser is one of Christ’s flock or that God has chosen that individual unto salvation. And an individual who God does not choose (has not chosen) to save cannot be described as one of His sheep.]

      But as Anonymous has so clearly stated, our calling is bound by more than just loving somebody when they are incapable of returning love. Like a doctor attending a severely ill patient, we MUST from time to time make heartrending decisions. While no doctor relishes the idea of taking a baby to save a mother’s life or cutting off a limb to stop the spread of gangrene, sometimes competent medical training forces that kind of decision […]

      I believe there may be, for some, a set of circumstances in which staying might be warranted. But I also believe that staying is many times the exact wrong thing and we do it because it’s easier or safer and fool ourselves into thinking that this is what God wants of us. Nobody can provide a set of pat answers or a formula that will yield the right answer. There are many complex and soul-wrenching considerations that must be made under ardent prayer before finally deciding to stay or move on. But in a nutshell, these decisions fit within one of three simple categories.

      –What is this doing to you? […] Undoubtedly you’ve had to adopt techniques and strategies for dealing with your Disordered Person. But at some point, these strategies can become a Way of Life. A part of one’s soul is sacrificed in order to stay in the game. […] Jesus frankly tells us that it is better to cut off an eye or a hand that causes us to lose our own souls.

      –What is [this] doing to those around you? Is your patient harming others or is your continued support allowing him to ravage others in your family, circle of friends or church? Loving people well is [sometimes] hard and sometimes, like the doctor mentioned above, requires hard choices in a time-bound and evil world. Unconditionally supporting a smaller version of Adolph Hitler while he continues to torture, belittle and destroy children in his household isn’t love.

      –Is this a calling from God? Sometimes we do things because they are easier than taking up our mat and walking away. It’s interesting that in Matthew 20 Jesus asks the blind men “what do you want from me?”, when one would have thought it was obvious. Asking Jesus about this circumstance is fair. […]

      BUT. The tricky bit about discernment is that it’s hard for us to hear only His voice. We can overlay our own fear and desires on top of His and often end up with a confused mess. Prayer is important, but because it involves our own dialog with God, we aren’t always able to strain out what we want or are afraid of from THE message. Seeking out other believers who understand our struggle is vital. And here is where the rub happens as so beautifully illustrated in this blog: Many in the Christian family are as blind about these struggles as the one they seek to help. When the blind attempt to lead the blind, we know that both end up in the ditch. […]

      30 years is a long time to be laboring in this slog. Living without returned love is hard and may well be damaging. Let me encourage you to do like Jesus Himself and intentionally take some time to get away from the day-to-day and to look at the biggest picture of the forest you can. […] Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing, warned of branches being cut off and thrown into the fire, lamented that Jerusalem would not respond to His loving entreaties, told of the Rich Man’s torment, told His disciples to “shake the dust off their feet,” etc. etc. etc. Reflect hard on what that strange passage in 1 Cor 5 means: “…hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” Talk about tough love!

      God bless you in your struggles. It’s not easy. I pray for honest assessment and clear thought about where you go from here.

      • Hi, just letting you know that the ACFJ team have changed your screen name from Q to Mr Q – so that our readers know you are male. Hope you don’t mind.

        And also, I edited this comment of yours a little and added a small editorial addition in square brackets.

        Thanks for contributing to the blog. 🙂

    • b a berean

      dear survivor… we have a choice of fight or flight, stay or flee… what one does will be different for every situation dependant on various dynamics.. the key is that each of us listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit for what He is asking us to do, He is our counselor and knows what is best for us and those around us. Sometimes in some situations, staying is testing and training and maturing us1… in others, staying is causing deep, incalculable harm and possibly enabling the abuser in various ways… only you and God know your situation and the specific dynamics, and He is the only one that can determine the outcome of each choice… and no you are not condemned no matter what you do, God works all things for good for those who love Him… whatever choice you feel led to make, He will work it for your good and His glory… bless your heart with more of Him!

      1[Note from Eds: and sometimes a victim might be staying to protect her children from the greater dangers she thinks they might have to face if she left the abuser.]

  29. MarkQ

    There’s a lot of great wisdom and insight here. I really struggle with my old church in this respect. They teach what I would consider the true gospel, but the rest of it is very Pharisaical and abusive.

    Your post put me into a tailspin. In some respects, I would say I always acknowledged the gospel, but in other ways I guess I had a modern Pharisaical view – that is, I say the believer’s prayer, read the Bible, do good works and I’m saved from the flames. However, when I look at certain aspects, for example, love and grace, I still feel like I haven’t progressed much at all.

    I guess I struggle with the core of your message. Would you say that those who can make a credible profession are self-deluded, or would you say that they are somehow saying the right things to be in the club? I’ve seen others (and myself) waffle between acknowledging a theoretical “I’m a sinner” and really recognizing specific sins, and even when I recognize specific sins, my repentance can seem to me to be without depth. I lose my patience with my kids, say unloving and ungracious things. Then I ask God to forgive that and change my heart, but then a week or two later, I’m back in the same sin and I don’t really have any confidence that I’ve grown.

    I can look at ungracious members in my family in the same light. They say the right things and they’re church leaders, but there seems to be a common thread of wanting to be in power. Are they deceivers, or are they self-deceived?

    • Hi MarkQ,
      Going by what you’ve commented over quite some time at this blog, I can honestly tell you that I have never felt that you might not be a Christian. And you’ve obviously suffered a lot of spiritual abuse in your previous church(es), and mistreatment by your legalistic parents. So the fact that your sanctification is still very much a work in progress (and sometimes seems like a work-in-stagnance) does not indicate to me that you are not regenerate.

      The fact that you have been abused and have not become an abuser yourself, because you obviously feel mortified when you sin and you turn again and strive for renewed obedience, shows me that you are Christian and you have a conscience that is responsive to the Spirit and the Word.

      The church leaders who show that common thread of wanting to be in power, they are a different kettle of fish than people like yourself.

      When I was raising my only child, my daughter, I was walking as a Christian from the time she was four or five. I often lacked patience with her and said unloving and ungracious things to her, and sometimes to others also. It has taken me many many years to grow and gradually diminish those wrong habits in myself (character, thinking, beliefs, behaviour) and I still sometimes lose my patience with my daughter because her lack of wisdom and her unsaved state, her rejection of the gospel. I do not live with her any more, she is an adult, but if I did, I’m sure my lack of patience would be more apparent more often!

      Maybe it might help you to read the passages in the Westminster Confession or the London Baptist Confession about repentance and sanctification. I have found them very helpful myself, in trying to understand and deal with my own bad habits and my lack of self-discipline.

      You asked about whether church leaders who seem to want to be always in power are deceivers or self-deceived. I think it is more likely they are deceivers, since they are showing the power and control mentality so strongly and are mistreating other believers who they have a duty of care to shepherd and protect. Maybe some of them start off self-deceived to some degree— the Bible often talks about sin and blindness as being associated or co-occurring. But as they go on misusing power, they become more and more intentional about it and more and more hardened in their hearts.

      Compare your contrition about your sins with their resistance to even admitting their sins and their fighting back and evasion tactics when someone confronts them about their sins. I think you’ll see there is quite a difference!

      • Anonymous

        This is so helpful, Barbara!

        Compare your contrition about your sins with their resistance to even admitting their sins and their fighting back and evasion tactics when someone confronts them about their sins. I think you’ll see there is quite a difference!

        Because I struggle with sins that I seem to come back to doing, and I fear that I am part of the 90%.

        For example, profanity. I didn’t struggle with such until my abuser had so obliterated me so constantly I actually sat down with a notebook and the internet and seriously studied the comments section to webpages to learn the whole insult / curse lingo. Then I practiced it. I just didn’t want to feel so muted and childish anymore where I’d just cry and go mute and have little other than “that hurt my feelings” for a response. I thought I was toughening up. And now, when I lose my temper, which takes an obscene amount of doing, I can let off a string of profanity like no other, because it is in me.

        Perhaps by studying and practicing the profanity, etc. I lost my membership to the 10% club. At the time, I felt like it was the equivalent of Jennifer Lopez, going about training, learning to fight, etc., in the movie Enough (she’s a battered woman, she basically has had enough, her and the abuser fight it out, and he ends up dead). But it was foolish as now I just sound like a verbally abusive person if I lose my cool and go off on someone. It is rare, but it has happened more than once.

      • MarkQ

        Thanks, that’s very helpful and encouraging!

  30. Gothard Survivor

    Jeff’s response to R says “they hold to a false gospel.” That seems to say leaving is the “correct” thing to do. I don’t know– if it is possible loving enemies and staying with nonbelievers are also promoted in the Bible. I would say that neither way is wrong.

    • 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.


      Hi Gothard Survivor, thanks for responding. 🙂

      The false gospel, the teaching that makes people slaves to false doctrine which Jeff was referring to, is the doctrine that if one is being persecuted and abused one MUST bear it patiently, complaint and resistance is wrong, and leaving the abusive environment is wrong. This teaching says that we must just suffer and endure mistreatment and that will make us more Christlike and we will be giving a ‘good witness’ to those who are watching.

      The teaching is false because it is unbalanced. It omits and ignores all the teaching in the Bible which shows that is is okay to resist and complain about injustice, it is often wise to flee persecution if it is safe to do so, and becoming more Christlike involves becoming wise as serpents and harmless as doves: able to discern and denounce evil, with prudence, with strength, with zeal and Spirit-guided power.

      As Jeff said, the women in that group which R described have chosen a system that brings them the acclaim of others but the price is that they are enslaved. And they are rejecting the truth R is giving them because it is exposing the falsehood of the things they are believing.

      At ACFJ, we try to never tell victims of abuse to leave, or to not leave, their abusers. We know that each victim has the ability and liberty to make that decision in her (or his) own time. We offer them what we believe is biblically balanced teaching which can help them make their own decisions.

      In our experience, victims who are staying with their abusers have many reasons for staying. Some of those reasons may be really and truly wise and may never change: for example, a woman may figure that if she leaves her abuser will get custody and she won’t be able to protect the kids from his abuse and she won’t be able to financially support herself and the kids. Each victim knows their own situation best, and we do not judge anyone for staying.

      But sometimes, a number of the reasons victims stay with their abusers are based on false teachings they have been taught by the church… such as the false teachings of that church R was involved with. If that is the case, when those false teachings are exposed and rebutted and replaced with the truly balance teaching of the Bible, then some victims decide to leave their abusers. They weigh up the risks of staying vv the risks of leaving, and because the false guilt is now gone or going, they are not as bound into the ‘I MUST stay to obey God’ mindset. So they decide to leave.

      I think you might find it helpful to read the links on these FAQ pages of ours:

      Suffering is ‘blessed’ – so should I just put up with being abused?

      How can I leave when I’m the only one who is giving a gospel witness to him?

      Is my abuser’s mental illness causing him to be abusive?

    • Jeff Crippen

      By saying they hold to a false gospel, I mean that they are embracing a “redemption by suffering” unbiblical doctrine. They see remaining in suffering as behavior that will earn them merit with God and in some cases no doubt like that it makes them look saintly to other people. The Lord does not see it that way. Letting an abuser have at you is not in any way redemptive. We are redeemed by Christ’s sufferings which He has fully accomplished for us.

      • MarkQ

        Jeff, “redemption by suffering”. I’ve never heard that before, but it is SO TRUE. That is a common thread through my background. I wonder if that was what Jesus was getting at when he quoted, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”, to the spiritual leaders of the day.

    • Raped By Evil

      […] if you are staying thinking you are doing what is biblical and that you can win your husband over, these past few decades have proven that you can’t. Jesus, who is God Himself, after spending time in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, needed angels to administer to Him. Evil had worn HIM out. He gave us this example for many reasons but one is to show us that being with a truly evil being is not good, normal, safe, healthy or what He desired for us. […] and it was never His intention to stay with the evil one for decades while allowing the devil to [oppress] Him. Jesus didn’t try to woo him over. Jesus knew what He was dealing with and acted accordingly….He resisted the evil one until he fled.

  31. NG

    The ‘redemption through suffering’ is a religious dogma that mirrors the extreme prosperity gospel.. If some extreme Charismatic (and also non-Charismatic) fractions believe and teach that any trial, challenge and difficulty is because of sin and our own fault – something we opened ourselves to and thus are to blame, then this other extreme teaching says that God is sending us all this evil to test and purify us. Yeah, right… and we should subject ourselves to any abuse in the name of character refinement. 🙂
    That teaching of course is palatable to many religious leaders, who see their opportunity to oppress and subjugate sincere souls, all in the name of ‘God’s character training’ …
    It is so twisted: God has called us to lessen the sufferings and to bring healing to the hurting, NOT to heap more burdens on them (or on ourselves), in the name of some crazy character training boot-camp!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Very good, NG. You explain it perfectly.

  32. kim

    Thanks, Jeff, and community. I am grateful you are sharing your hard-earned wisdom. I know much of that wisdom came about because you have endured great pain and trials.

  33. Gothard Survivor

    Thank you so much for explaining, Barbara and Jeff.

    • Lily

      I would like to say that I went to a counseling course in February where the director of the mission is on the autism spectrum, and he does not use it as an excuse to be abusive. He has probably had to work harder than many of us to mature as a believer, and recognize his challenges, but he is in no way abusive. He is a model of humility and empathy. No matter what the condition of our body and mind, our spirits are intact. A few years ago the Lord said to me, “No more excuses.” I was not to make or accept excuses for unkindness. That’s when my eyes were opened to how often people do make excuses.

  34. MotherGoose

    How much of it is from the entrenched, traditional teachings (no matter what the denomination) that place more weight on the person’s outward walk assuming that if a person can get their outsides to look regenerated then it will trickle in and make them saved, regenerated and holy? So many places once they get someone stamped “saved” quickly jump from the power foundation of the gospel truths into all the hoops, forms and performances thinking that a good show is the sign of a good heart. I grew up in the church. I once looked far more “saved” (depending on the observer of course) than I do now. I could play it with the best of them. I thought I was saved because I did all the “right” things but inside I was a black mess until I found the truth. I now get accused of staying and talking too much about the milk of the gospel / word and not the meat, but what good is meat to babies who have barely begun to drink the milk?

    • Mr Q


      Like you, I grew up in that most stringent of conservative, independent, “book, chapter and verse” churches that arose out of the Great Awakening in the 1830 American Frontier. We were full of our own version of the “short catechism” with a bulging catalog of extra-biblical rules and requirements that would have bewildered even the most ardent Jewish scholar and his beloved Mishnah. We took great comfort in these checklists, jots and tittles, assuring ourselves that by honoring these “hedges,” we could approach perfection and satisfy God’s law and thereby assure ourselves of our own salvation.

      Many of us were whited sepulchres of the worst order.

      When I encountered the Good News of the gospel and allowed it to fully penetrate my darkened heart, I was transformed. It flooded over me that I was saved, not by reason of my rule-keeping and tithes, but by reason of the finished, completed, historical work of Jesus on my behalf! Like Luther before me, I grasp the concept and vowed never to turn again to my old path of self-redemption. Jesus called me down out of my tree of smugness and judgement and asked me to come dine with Him. I’ve never been the same.

      But during my “ordeal” with the severely disordered men I referenced in earlier posts, and too often since, I notice the comfort that abusers take in “being saved and forgiven.” They quickly claim for themselves the love and affection of Jesus, turning to any challenger and reminding them of that all too familiar pap that “Jesus has forgiven them, why can’t others?”

      They weaponize Christ’s beautiful work on our behalf and turn it into a bludgeon to keep brothers and sisters at bay and to get what they want by trading on Christ’s blessed name and finished, staggering work.

      I only mention this because these wolves know NO bounds when it comes to getting what they want. They will as soon employ the “milk” as the “meat” so long as they prevail. They robe themselves in pious works on one hand and then fall weeping, begging for forgiveness as just another sinner in the “bloody hands of Jesus.” If it suits them to be covered in what Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace,” then they will paint themselves in sepia tones of forgiveness and brokenness. Moments later they can rise up as Christ Himself returning with two-edged sword protruding from their mouths and surrounded by “his older brother’s” avenging angels.

      Bottom line: We cannot trust what such as these say, either by way of theology or confession. They are liars and masters of deceit. That’s why Paul says that once we figure out their true hidden nature, we must have nothing to do with them.

      • Bravo, — well said!

      • Anonymous

        Something you said struck a chord with me….. the abusers who have no doubt whatsoever as to how loved they are by Christ and how forgiven they are….. these narcissistic abusers are in for a rude awakening come Judgment Day.

        Truly, abusers “are liars and masters of deceit.” Murderers of one’s soul, spirit, mind, health, body, and life.

      • Seeing Clearly

        I am in complete agreement with your comment!

  35. Anon


    Some pastors say that marriage is a covenant not to be broken at all, at all costs, and that even if our spouses cheat on us causing us heartbreak we must forgive and forgive again and again as Christ forgives us. They also say that God will bless us with a good marriage if we learn to overlook our spouses’ sins and forgive.

    My husband has been emotionally, mentally and financially abusive. I have been married to him for more than two decades and yet I could not see I was being abused. He neglected me and had his fun with porn and other women. He did not like [doing things that would build up our family life or our relationship as a couple…. [details redacted to protect commenter from being identified]. I think he did just the basics to get by in this marriage. There are so many other things he did that I will not even mention here but suffice to say that he is evil and a user.

    I told myself that I was honoring God by staying on in this marriage as He hated divorce. My husband’s behavior indicates that he has not repented. I no longer love him. After I confronted my husband about his doings, he hardly talks to me now. Sometimes he won’t even answer me when I ask him something. Our marriage has completely broken down.

    My pastor told me I must forgive my husband and also love him if I choose to stay on with him. I don’t know how to leave and make a fresh start. I am in my fifties. He will not leave me either as he can continue to use my funds to support his lifestyle. […] I am in so much of despair with how my life turned out to be and shudder to think that this is how I may have to live until either my husband or I pass on.

    I know it is not God’s fault as I chose to marry my husband and must now live with the consequences. I just find it so hard to pray and worship God when I know my husband actually despises me and stays on only for the money. I feel like Leah the woman who was not loved by her husband. I can’t seem to hear what God wants me to do.

    • Hi Anon, welcome to the blog and thanks for sharing! 🙂

      I edited your comment a little to protect you from being identified by your abuser or his allies.

      You have been taught quite a few wrong doctrines about divorce. We have exposed all those wrong doctrines on this blog and I encourage you to start reading the links on this page: What about divorce?

      As you read the articles on that page, I believe you will come to see that you are not obliged to stay with this man and that you are absolutely free to divorce him.

      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.

      And you might also be interested in our Gift Books offer.

      Once again, welcome!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anon – Barbara gave you very good advice. I would add this – any “pastor” who teaches those wicked distortions of Scripture – that you must stay with an abuser for life – is himself an evil man and does not speak for Christ. There is a dark and evil motive at work in the spirit of those men who have taught you such things. It is not of God. Don’t listen to them.

    • Raped By Evil

      Your story is the epitome of the evil that’s done to God’s children by wrong church teachings that force those with a heart to love, to stay with children who belong to their father the devil.

      You feel as though, “…you made your bed and now you have to lie in it,” but this is NOT biblical and this is anti-Christian. From what you’ve described, your husband is an abuser and perhaps one described in 2 Tim 3, who would be a person without a conscience.

      That you have the money to leave is such a blessing and don’t think for a minute that this isn’t from God….please consider taking measures to ensure that your husband doesn’t somehow pull this out from under you.

      This is YOUR life beautiful one, YOUR walk with Jesus who is God. He desired and desires you to love and serve HIM, and living with an Antichrist is NEVER something He tells His children to do. If possible, take some time away from your church as it sounds highly unhealthy and highly controlling. Jesus and God do NOT tell us to forgive without true repentance as shown by a changed life.

      Your church IS NOT GOD and your church is teaching you anti-biblical rhetoric. It’s almost like they are slinging poop to see what sticks. Sling, sling, sling–is she buying this? Good, keep pushing that until she no longer buys it then we’ll switch to THIS tactic and wrong theology. If she gets wise to that one, just pull out the next abusive teaching. Time is ticking away for her and soon she’ll think she’s too old to make a fresh start so push that angle…yeah, that’s the ticket! Keep her imprisoned so we can brag that our church only has X amount of divorces cuz we are so awesome!

      I don’t know if this will help but try visualizing yourself ten years from now. What do you want to see? A woman in an extremely abusive marriage to a creature of instinct who has continued to humiliate her in every way by blatantly having affairs and throwing it in her face and using the church to aid and abet him? Or a woman who was woken up to the truth of this horrifically wrong teaching that kept her in a horrifically abusive marriage who realized it and made plans to leave while praying to God to help her. This woman made her way out by continuing to seek truth, peace, love through God by His word, and He never let her go. She divorced and started a new life and when she looked back she wondered what took her so long. It took her some time to let go of the anti-biblical teaching she endured but God NEVER let her go…not even for a second….and knowing this she was deeply loved and deeply changed.

      Please feel biblically free to RUN from your marriage AND your church.

    • standsfortruth

      If you will notice, the abuser is constantly pulling out the Lose / Win card with their targets.
      “You lose….-I Win…Always.”
      Otherwise they are not happy.
      They are hard-wired [have hard-wired themselves] this way.

      Normal and Healthy people generally seek to achieve a Win/ W in scenerio in their relationships because they understand the need of consideration for everyone involved.

      But Abusers “Have” to make their targets feel like they have lost something, in order for them to experience their much desired “Win.”

      No need trying to change them, as they won’t be ‘satisfied’ unless their target becomes diminished, reduced or put down.

      Their satisfaction is wholly dependant on the compromise of their targets..

      If you will notice they are constantly setting up situations where they can demonstrate this Win / Lose dynamic of their targets.

      • Anon

        So true, StandsforTruth!

        I once asked the monster if he would rather be right or be happy. He replied that he’d rather be right, because that’s the only way he’d ever be happy.

        And as long as I’m talking about being happy, this whole nonsense about how abusers, predators, criminals, and so forth are miserable in their sinfulness, that’s not true. These are exceedingly happy people. Crime pays. And it pays well. They are not bothered in the least as to the state of their lives, their depravity, and so forth. To think otherwise, is to be conned by them.

        Abusers are power and control motivated. Sadistic. Punitive. Wheedling. And yes, to do a win / win setup, would not be satisfying to them. Winning is everything in their life, and they don’t want to share in such. Winner take all. Gloating over the deliberate demise of their opponent. Kind of like playing ‘King of the Mountain’ on a big snow-pile, all day, every day.

      • Suzanne

        I have read a lot about narcissistic abuse but your comment that abusers are happy in their sins is something I have seldom seen. I have, however, seen that many people are convinced that abusers are miserable and that this misery is both the cause of and the excuse for their cruelty (“hurting people hurt people”). Abusers abuse because it works for them. It gives them all that they find most important in life. As you said, crime (abuse) pays well.

      • Hi Suzanne, one of the common myths or ‘misunderstandings’ about abusers is that they hurt others because they are hurting inside themselves.

        It is a myth. Abusers contribute to disseminating this myth (by ‘acting the victim’ when someone starts to hold them accountable). But other people in society spread the myth as well — many psychologists and counselors and pop-psychology bloggers and authors…. And many naive people in the world believe it.

        Think about it. Sometimes people who are NOT abusers hurt others. If you or I hurt another person, we don’t do it intentionally and we feel bad about it afterwards and try to apologize, seek their forgiveness and make reparation. If you or I are hurting inside, feeling really ashamed or distressed about things that have happened to us, we are more at risk of hurting others by being inconsiderate towards them. When we are triggered, we might sometimes hurt others by reacting very strongly to some mild thing they have done. Because normal (non-abusive) people do this, we normals think that abusers are doing it when they hurt others.

        But we are assuming that abusers are like us. That is a dangerous assumption. An abuser has seared his conscience and practiced his abusive and deceitful lifestyle. An abuser does not care about how much he hurts others. He doesn’t care that he is causing them pain. His whole mindset is self-centred and entitled. He doesn’t hurt others ‘because he is hurting inside’. He hurts others because he enjoys the benefits and perks of being King and having subjects whom he oppresses. Many abusers secretly or overtly take delight in oppressing their targets. They like to see their targets terrified. They like to put their targets on the back foot. They like to bamboozle and confuse their targets …. because doing all those things means the target is kept under control and the abuser continues to rule the roost. And when the target resists the abuse, the abuser escalates his tactics and amplifies his repertoire of tactics, in order to punish the target for resisting him.

        We recommend the work of Dr George Simon Jr. He is a Christian and a clinical psychologist who had done a great job of dispelling the myth that the primary reason abusers violate the rights of others is because they’re hurting inside. We have a list of Dr George Simon’s books here: Books by Author We also have his blog on our blogroll — see the sidebar of our blog.

      • Suzanne

        I long ago rejected the idea that I should accept any excuses from my abusers to justify their cruelty. My mother once tried to convince me not to hold my father’s abuses against him because of the way he had been abused by others in the past. That struck me as being very unjust, as I was not the one who had hurt him and didn’t deserve to be punished for sins committed by others. I was much younger at the time but I believe that discernment and longing for justice came from the Holy Spirit.

      • We have a post about the notion that ‘hurting people hurt people’ —
        ‘Hurting People Hurt People’

      • Raped By Evil

        Anon, “Being right” is a characteristic of psychopathy. In their mind they are god so OF COURSE they are “right.” Notice that “right” doesn’t mean or necessarily have anything to do with TRUTH. They care nothing for truth or goodness or love etc. except in how they can use it to gain access to others or to use it to harm or control them etc.

        You wrote,

        ….this whole nonsense about how abusers, predators, criminals, and so forth are MISERABLE in their sinfulness that’s not true. These are EXCEEDINGLY HAPPY people.

        So TRUE!

        Isaiah 66:3 … Yes, they have CHOSEN their own ways, and their soul DELIGHTS in their abominations.

        Same as the devil. Make no mistake….he DELIGHTS in his evil and DELIGHTS in keeping God’s true children shackled (married) to his evil children.

        Truths I Missed in Sunday School Class!

  36. Raped By Evil

    Standsfortruth, thank you for your wonderful truths and observations. You wrote:

    But Abusers “Have” to make their targets feel like they have LOST something…. they won’t be ‘satisfied’ unless their target becomes diminished, reduced or put down……..they are constantly setting up situations where they can demonstrate this Win / Lose dynamic of their targets.

    All I could think of again was this Bible verse: “The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10, and then Jesus’s immediate reply which is the opposite of what the “thief” comes to do which is….”I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (The word as used here for “abundance” means, “”I came in order that they [believers] might continuously have life, even that they may continuously have it all-around….over and above, more than is necessary, superadded.”) 4053. perissos

    Jesus gives us life; evil ones who belong to their father the devil are continuously slaughtering (killing and sacrificing) us. (See note below.) How evil is it that churches think they are acting biblically when they tell a spouse to stay with one of these creatures who is owned and operated by Satan?! Even Jesus could only endure the devil for a certain amount of time….and He was (is) GOD!

    The word for kill here is very telling, it means, “…to kill as a sacrifice and offer on an altar…..more than “kill” as it also suggests offering something as a SPIRITUAL SACRIFICE.” 2380. thuó

    Thanks for zero help churches who tell spouses it is their duty and “God’s will” to remain married to an Antichrist, while he or she is serving us up as a spiritual sacrifice and continually slaughtering us–you are bragging how successful your church is as evidenced by your low divorce rates. Best bring your toothbrush pastors who push this evil, cuz I hear that the gnashing of teeth tends to wear them out…

    Thanks again Standsfortruth for consistently Standing For Truth….!

  37. Maria

    For an extended amount of time I have been married to an abusive man. We’ve been seperated for a while now and after a lot of church counsel and other counsel I’ve decided to get a divorce. I realised that the only way to truly find the right guidance is with submitting myself to God and having a personal relationship with Him and to stop asking my church leaders. I truly felt so guilty for not wanting to follow my pastor’s advice as I got told by my abusive spouse I’m not even listening to a man of God. I really felt our therapy got used as another sneaky tactic of abuse.

    I thank my Heavenly Father that he delights in showing mercy and that mercy triumphs over judgement. I am rejoicing in a true Hero that knows my pain and that is setting this captive free. I worship Him for restoring my identity and self-worth in Him. I truly pray that more women under bondage will be set free. It is such a painful process especially when it feels like people mistake the abuse for conflict or normal marital problems. Could you please give me guidelines / tips on practical healing for my children. Thank you for sharing all the wisdom and much needed biblical insight on this subject!

    • Could you please give me guidelines / tips on practical healing for my children.

      What a good question! Since it is quite commonly asked, I’m going to make an FAQ page about it.

      In the meantime, I suggest you look at our Children tag, as many posts under that tag relate to your question. And within our extensive list of Resources we have a list of Resources for Children of Domestic Abuse.

    • And welcome to the blog Maria! 🙂

      You may have already read our New Users’ Info page but if not I encourage you to do so.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQs.

      • Maria

        Thank you!

    • twbtc


      Here is a link to our new FAQ page titled, How can I help my children heal from abuse?. It can be found on our FAQ page on the top menu. I hope you find this helpful.

      Barb, thanks for all your work on this new page. 🙂

      • Maria

        Thank you soooo much! My son is really struggling at the moment and my heart breaks for him. I’ve had no support from my church regarding my children’s trauma and just get told that divorce from my abusive husband is not a solution and a vey bad choice for the future of my children.

        I really appreciate your blog. I have so many questions about God’s word regarding divorce and re-marriage as my church leaders strongly believe my actions of separation and divorce from my abusive husband is not the will of God. It almost feels like the church is empowering him. I am so grateful that you are reaching out, teaching and healing. Thank you!

      • Maria, one of the topics on our FAQ page is “What about divorce?”

        If you read the stuff that is given there, I am confident you will feel supported in your decision to divorce your abuser, and you will feel less intimidated and oppressed by the people in your church who are telling you that “divorce from your abusive husband is not a solution and a very bad choice for the future of your children”. They are blind guides who in their blindness … or their misogyny … or their Pharisaic mindset….would lead you and your children into a ditch.

  38. ruth

    Hi, this was an excellent article content-wise. But something else interested me about it – when I read the phrase “When we first began this blog some five years ago…” that got me wanting to re-read through the older articles. I’ve only actively been reading for about 2 years.
    As far back as my phone would go on articles was Feb 22, 2012. Was that the earliest date or did my phone just freeze up (a true possibility, as I am not technically talented and we were driving through a place with low internet connectivity when I was doing that part of my search).

    • 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.


      What a good question Ruth!
      We have 1808 posts on this blog at the moment. And the first one was published on Jan 7th 2012.

      Here is our first post: Diotrephes and the Evangelical Church.

      By the way, your screen name was submitted as Ruth with some digits after the word Ruth. And there was also a URL given which might have identified you. I removed the digits after Ruth and removed the URL, for your safety. When you get time can you please review the New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to fill out the comment form safely. Thanks!

  39. Anon

    “Being right” is a characteristic of psychopathy. In their mind they are god so OF COURSE they are “right.” Notice that “right” doesn’t mean or necessarily have anything to do with TRUTH. They care nothing for truth or goodness or love etc. except in how they can use it to gain access to others or to use it to harm or control them etc.

    Oh yes, the whole psychopathy is well established. I really outdid myself when it came to finding a real, live monster…… And the criminality, abuse, etc. continues on, via others….. just endlessly stalked, harassed, spied on, etc. It’s gotten so very, very old.

    But, anyhow, I wanted to say that indeed they are gods in their eyes and the coldness factor is there. Being right, always right, is their glory….. UGH, getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking of my predator and his ilk.

    Good point about “right” versus “truth”. And yes, the abuser is a sadist, and so are the so very, very many others like him who roam the earth.

  40. MoodyMom

    I saw that you posted this link to “Hurting People Hurt People.” ‘Hurting People Hurt People’
    I was hoping you would. One of my faves.

    I wanted you and Jeff and Ellie (who wrote it) to know how much I have used and printed and shared this article when dealing with counselors and “well-meaning” recruits who try to tell me that my abuser(s) “just had a bad childhood” or has a “hurting inner child” or other such sick stuff.

    What was said before is true. Abusers do enjoy what they’re doing. It does work for them. And, shockingly but predictably, these others insist on enabling or even cheering them on. They don’t like the truth in this article.

    But it has been an anchor point for me. And the Finding Nemo shark Bruce link helped bring the truth home. Plus it’s cute.

  41. VictimNoMore

    I feel this is me. I was in a verbally abusive relationship for years and when it was brought to light my church took away a job [I had] at the church because they were afraid the abuser would get the key and do something. And they knew that we were not making alot of money and that job was needed. Also I was no longer allowed to teach Sunday school. I could still [do my music responsibilities] because they needed that service from me and there was no one to fill it. When they told me those things I was a lone woman in a meeting with a group of men. So I felt blindsided by it.

    Also when I left the church and joined another church and my abuser made me admit to the pastor [a previous sin] and I have to say I confessed to God and turned away from that sin. The pastor ended up ministering to the abuser instead of me. I was not allowed to serve but he could serve as a helper of children. Even though he was still abusing me at home and ended up being physical because I was evil and unfaithful and not an obedient wife. So I understand the hipocracy.

    To this day even though we are separated the Pastor feels he has grown and they accepted him and his girlfriend. We are not divorced yet either. That Pastor has even told me that he is growing in the Lord. How is that so when he is with another woman and we aren’t divorced yet. [A few years ago] God led me to a Bible believing church where I finally feel like I am not a victim any longer.

    [Editor’s note: Identifying details removed to protect the commenter’s identity.]

    • twbtc


      Welcome to the blog! You will notice that I changed your screen name and some details from your comment to protect your identity. If you would like a different screen name feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      We 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.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      Again, Welcome!

  42. anonymous77

    Ps Crippen wrote:

    Unregenerate people, still walking in sin and darkness, still children of the devil, inevitably hate and persecute Christ’s true people……When one of their own is threatened with exposure by a victim giving a shout-out to him, the rest immediately rally around him like a pack of wolves.

    This! This is very comforting to read because it is overwhelming to be persecuted by so many. An abused person already has very little to no confidence in themselves and things get even shakier when people assumed to be fellow Christians (as they claim themselves to be) viciously and continually target the abused person, persecuting, harassing, etc.

    That’s why this ministry of Barb and TWBTC is so wonderful. I had assumed I’d find a brick-and-mortar church here one of these days but such is way too daunting. SermonAudio, combined with the very wise and educational postings on this website, and that’s my church. It’s too risky to chance it in encountering those who would add to my struggles and the plight of any abused woman. Being among like-minded women, and similarly-situated persons being abused, or were abused, is very nourishing.

  43. Finding Answers

    Barb commented:

    Nothing can separate a child of God from their Father.

    Reading the original post and the many comments generated has taken most of the day. I am left with much to think about, and one mind-blowing revelation. All that being said, Barb’s comment is one I need to cling to the most – and the one I find hardest to accept.

    It’s like walking through a maze….

    Less than one year ago, my walls crumbled and I was faced with a completely different world. In the beginning, I needed to identify landmarks – areas I could understand and build on based on prior research and reading.

    Each new insight sent me in a different direction.

    Mr Q commented:

    ….As C.S. Lewis said, Aslan is not a tame lion! He calls you to a world that’s free and wild, where there are very few that find the door in the back of the wardrobe….

    I found the door in the back of the wardrobe. God called me into a world that’s free and wild. Thing is, God is not a tame God. There’s so much new landscape to explore, and some of it is scary. I don’t want to tame God….I want to know Him with every fibre of my being.

    I want….I want to walk hand-in-hand with God. I want my Papa God when things are really, really bad. I want my Teacher God when I need to be challenged about false beliefs / teachings. I want my Comforter God when I am lost, when I need convicting, when I am struggling.

    If nothing can separate me from God, acceptance may be easier to reach.

    • I was blessed by reading your comment, Finding Answers.

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