A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers cleverly disguise themselves. You will see what looks like Christ’s fruit, but He is not their root.

There are so many horrifying aspects to abusers. But one of the WORST is how they can and do cleverly disguise themselves. They can appear very nice, very kind and very friendly. They can even be encouraging, open minded and generous. And they can appear warm, affectionate and attentive as well. And others around them will attest to how well they excel in these qualities. They can testify that these persons are the “real deal.”

Note: Our reader Helovesme wrote this in a comment and with her permission we are highlighting it as a stand alone post. Helovesme continues:

All things that we tend to look for in friends, companions and of course—in fellow believers. And don’t fall for the narrative—abusers are only superficially Christ-like. Get to know them and their phoniness will become apparent.

So HOW could any of them be agents of darkness, when they appear to be anything and everything BUT?

“Abusers are so evil and the damage they inflict on their victims is murderous and so vast… Abusers are of the devil. And they absolutely ruin their victims.”

Keep in mind this amazing description of abusers. They are monstrous internally, but outwardly they are civilized citizens.

There is something to that, but there is so much more as well. It’s just not that simple.

Christ said that our righteousness has to exceed that of the Pharisees in order to enter His kingdom (Matthew 5:20). And the Pharisees were as good as it gets. They knew exactly where He would be born when Herod asked them. They knew Scripture well.

But Christ made it clear that they are not the real deal.

I’ve seen warm, generous, loving persons who are Christians AND non-Christians. They work hard, they care about people, they love their families and they are overall good citizens. They try to live by good morals, and install them in their kids. They try to do the right things, in the right ways, for the right reasons. And often times, their moral compass is not too far off. It can and does point in fairly accurate directions! Basically, their conscience is not obviously seared or evil.

We love to say that we will know them by their fruits. It’s one of the best ways to spot a fake and a phony Christian. It’s also the best way to VERIFY a sincere Christian. This is 100% and absolutely valid. This is one of our greatest tools of discernment.

But be careful to know WHAT is the fruit He looks for, and what fruits definitively define a born again believer. It is not just what you DO, or even what you are LIKE.

It is also what you are WILLING to do to demonstrate Who you want to be like. And what you are willing to risk, endure and possibly suffer through in order to be like Him.

Fruit of the Spirit is not always a gentle process. It can be hard work. It is often slow, patient and fire-refining work in us to produce something as precious and powerful as His fruit. Your sense of righteousness will ultimately come up against His, and only one can prevail. When He is refining us, it is often a battle to burn off our impure, imperfect sense of righteousness—-so that His can take center stage.

It is also not always considered praiseworthy by others. Not only that, but you might dang well offend or insult people by daring to stand for HIS righteousness, instead of your own. And instead of the “bad imitation” of His righteousness of those around you.

That last sentence is particularity poignant. Too many times you will see people take a self-made version of His righteousness, slap His name on it—and present it as His and His alone. But it is nothing but a bad imitation of the real deal. And that is the Pharisees in the nutshell. That is a cleverly hidden abuser, in a nutshell. Their righteousness is not pure and perfect as He is. It is not as obviously a filthy rag, as the Word says—but any amount of filth taints what must remain perfectly white and clean as snow to truly reflect and represent Him. that must be burned off by Him. And you have to be willing to let Him do just that, because you cannot serve two masters, and you cannot enter His kingdom while insisting on holding onto anything that does not belong there.

I have and continue to struggle with self-righteousness. I’m one the most prideful persons I know. But I know I am and I try not to hide it, or hide from it. That too is something you will never seen in a Pharisee, or an abuser. They don’t hide in the darkness (often they are in plain sight), but they live in it, and inflict it on others.

A true believer aims to be compassionate, and rightly so. This is one of the biggest fruits that is lacking in the church I think—person after person will testify to that. I’ve had the honor of leaning on non-Christians who are more compassionate than those that profess Him—and boy am I grateful to them.

But true Christ-like compassion will resemble His. And look at the Word to see what He went through, what it took, and what it often costed Him—in order to definitively display what true compassion looks like. He took risks. He defied public opinion. He boldly and brazenly stood up for others—often times in public view. He was not compassionate in a bubble so no feathers would be ruffled. So no one would feel offended. So no one would see what He was doing. He had nothing to be ashamed of, and He was not ashamed of those He helped, healed and gave hope to. Why hide in the darkness? He wasn’t interested in playing both sides—-you can’t do that.

He confronted people. He started conflicts with them, not to be combative, but to compel them. This IS His compassion on full display. I’ve seen compassionate persons who will not go down such paths. And you cannot always cushion the feelings of others while being compassionate to them at the same time. Sometimes you have to look at them full in the face and put them in their place—-and that IS His compassion at work.

Never believe the lie that a compassionate person is cruel when they confront out of love. Why are you being so cruel, you now non-compassionate person? NO. Compassion encourages and edifies, yes—but it also isn’t afraid of the ones they are aiming to show compassion to. Don’t back down from them, even when they cut you down for daring to look them in the eye as an equal. Compassionate persons are not His doormats. They are fully equal to those they serve, and when they are being served.

If you are compassionate on the condition that you will not pay a price, you aren’t bearing His fruit in its entire purity. There is nothing saying that every time you show compassion, you’ll offend someone—-but there is that risk. The Pharisees were only interested in power, control, authority and dominating those they felt were “beneath” them. They had nothing kind to say about the general population they supposedly served and shepherded—-so why take any risks for their well-being, especially if it came at a personal cost to them?

I’ve seen long term Christians who are nothing like what I want to be. They have a very strong appearance of godliness, but the power that it emanates is not of Him. They are nice, kind, generous, even compassionate—-but there is a strong streak of self-righteousness, smug superiority and an unholy lack of empathy that kills, condemns and aims to control, not compel. They use fear and shame tactics, manipulation and full on hypocrisy, they enable, endorse and expect people pleasing. They weaponize self-pity. They claim to be extremely sensitive so others will tip toe around them, but are brutally insensitive to everyone else. And they know how to punish those that are out of line to them, and control their own to keep them in line. They don’t always use words, but they know how to send such messages. They are interested in one way control, not two way conversations.

Don’t be fooled. A Christian family (or church family) can claim to be a close family, who claims Christian love and aims to spread the fragrance of Him—-yet they refuse to rebuke one another, stand up for and to one another, and stay silent when they should speak. They are dishonest and hide their true feelings. They are so afraid of one another that fear is the glue that holds them together—-it masquerades as unity, but not as He intended it. And not how He endorses it.

And you CAN see these things. They are not obviously seen, but they are not wholly hidden. I saw them eventually. You will know them by their fruits. You will see what looks like His fruit, but He is not their root. The power that emanates from His true blue godliness is the fragrance of life that you can sense and smell. The power that emanates from anything but is like an air freshener that is covering up a rotting corpse.

A line from a funny sitcom comes to mind. A woman was using air freshener to cover up the foul smell of fishing equipment. Someone came in and said: smells like a fish died and they all sent flowers. That is it in a nutshell.

***

Further reading

Abusers Often Betray their Disguise in Subtle Ways we Must not Ignore

2 Comments

  1. Suzanne

    “Don’t be fooled. A Christian family (or church family) can claim to be a close family, who claims Christian love and aims to spread the fragrance of Him—-yet they refuse to rebuke one another, stand up for and to one another, and stay silent when they should speak. They are dishonest and hide their true feelings. They are so afraid of one another that fear is the glue that holds them together—-it masquerades as unity, but not as He intended it. And not how He endorses it.”

    I have never seen a better or more accurate description of my family of origin. My father has died but his legacy of cruelty lives on. My mother is close to ninety, my youngest sibling is in her fifties, yet our family dynamic is no different than it was when we were children. No one will admit that our upbringing was one of abuse and neglect and that our mother (despite her profession of Christianity) is still exercising power and control over her family with abusive tactics. Yet to those outside the family she appears to be a normal, loving mother. And this persists because no one other than me was or is willing to stand up to her and say “no more”. I can’t help wondering how different our lives would have been if we’d put up a united front as adults and refused to tolerate her abuse, and I believe this translates to churches where victims of abuse aren’t receiving the care and protection they have the right to expect from people who claim to be Bible-believing Christians. This side of heaven we’ll never know how many women and children would be living lives of peace and freedom if only the churches that claimed to be part of the Body of Christ had obeyed Him and advocated for the abused instead of their abusers. Those churches will have much to answer for.

  2. Finding Answers

    From the original post “Keep in mind this amazing description of abusers. They are monstrous internally, but outwardly they are civilized citizens.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “….but the power that it emanates is not of Him…….”

    ^That.

    From the original post “….but there is a strong streak of self-righteousness, smug superiority and an unholy lack of empathy that kills, condemns and aims to control, not compel. They use fear and shame tactics, manipulation and full on hypocrisy, they enable, endorse and expect people pleasing. They weaponize self-pity. They claim to be extremely sensitive so others will tip toe around them, but are brutally insensitive to everyone else. And they know how to punish those that are out of line to them, and control their own to keep them in line. They don’t always use words, but they know how to send such messages. They are interested in one way control, not two way conversations.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “And you CAN see these things. They are not obviously seen, but they are not wholly hidden. I saw them eventually……”

    ^That.

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