Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

**The Unholy Charade of the Domestic Abuser in the Church+1

2 Timothy 3:2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…

Psalm 55:20-21 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. (21) His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.

If you are a Christian, a genuine, real, child of God regenerated by faith alone in Christ alone, then it is essential that you become wise as serpents regarding the tactics and schemes of your enemy, the Prince of Darkness. Paul told the Corinthians that Satan and his servants come to us in disguise, masking themselves in a charade of false holiness in order to deceive and enslave us. Wise as serpents. Innocent as doves.
But most Christians are not wise. And as result, neither are they innocent because they foolishly become the ally of the wicked in oppressing their victims. This unholy charade is being carried out in the church which Christ calls to be a pillar of His truth!
One of the most common and numerous kinds of these charlatans is the evil man we call the domestic abuser. His unholy charade is one of “holy saintliness.” Here he is, a “fine” church member, a pastor, a missionary, an elder or deacon, present every Sunday at his “holiest.” He is often the “go to guy” who sacrificially stands ready to help others. He often puts himself forward as a model of fatherhood, ready to instruct others (especially his wife) what a godly wife and mother should look like. At other times, when it is convenient and more profitable to his quest for power and control over his target, this kind of man plays the victim. How he has tried and tried in his marriage, you know. Just ask him! But his wife…well…his wife is, rebellious, difficult, unwilling.
It is all a facade. The domestic abuser (we will normally simply call him the “abuser”) in reality is an entirely different man than those folks down at the church think he is. He takes off his disguise behind the scenes. The times he is alone with his wife. In his home or other settings, unseen to those who believe him to be the holiest of the holy. His arsenal of evil tactics, all used toward his primary goal of gaining and maintaining power and control, is very large. And most people have no idea that he is using them, so effective is his ability to deceive.
Many of you who have read my book Unholy Charade* or my first book, A Cry for Justice*, know what the standard, typical, widespread experience is of a Christian woman who is married to a domestic abuser. When she finally (we say finally because there are many factors working against her even realizing what is happening to her)…when she finally musters up courage to go to her pastor or other fellow Christians for help, her story does not proceed to “and they all lived happily ever after.” Not at all.
Her life takes even more turns for the worse. It gets much worse. With very few exceptions her local church works to keep her in bondage, minimizes the evil she has been enduring for years, and eventually focuses its energy on “fixing” her abuser and “fixing” her marriage. All of this is destined to miserable failure, and when it does all fall apart, the victim will be the scapegoat. “She just didn’t trust the Lord. She wouldn’t try hard enough.”
My purpose in writing at this blog is to continue to 1) expose these unholy charlatans hiding in the local church for what they are, and 2) to believe and validate victims, helping them to understand what is happening to them, to identify the false, unbiblical counsel they are receiving, and point them to the freedom that is theirs in Christ.
I invite you to come along with me as we shine Christ’s light into the darkness of this evil. This wickedness is in your church! I can say that without fear of being wrong. It is a wickedness that is of the most evil, vile and hardened kind. I know of pastors, right at this moment, who are living this unholy charade, preaching from their pulpits every Sunday, giving people “biblical” counsel in their offices, but who in reality are wickedly and habitually abusing their wives behind the scenes. Their flock think that they know him. They do not.
Let’s turn up the heat for these creeps who have crept in among us and in so doing see if we cannot also help the targets of their abuse find freedom.

The people who are secretly practicing evil while playing the game of pretend as good Christians are the hardest and most treacherous of all abusers. When a person decides to use the mask of Christianity for his unholy charade, he commits an odious sin which, if persisted in leads to a final departure of the Lord from him.

*Unholy Charade is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. See additional information here.


**The Quest for Power and Control – the Heart and Mind of the Abuser+2


  1. Amy

    So excited to see your new blog! I will definitely be passing this on to my readers.

  2. anon

    I appreciate the two points you made on your ‘About’ page.
    “(1) Abusers never change.
    (2) A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed. It needs to be ended.”
    Thank goodness this is being said. It’s a trap to believe otherwise about abusers. Men’s Change Programs, Batterer Intervention Programs, etc. are but a waste of time, dangerous, and deeply dishonest. Counseling abusers does not work. It’s but more quicksand for the victims and potential victims.
    Abusers do not change. They remain abusers. Only tactics change. That’s it.
    I distrust anyone who claims otherwise. Even if it is the self-proclaimed former abuser who now sees his wife as a human being and runs ‘respect women’ groups or whatever…..I don’t buy it. And that’s one in a thousand? Ten thousand? Million? About the only person who ran Batterer Programs even said the percent of clients who change is maybe one to three percent. Even then, it’s merely a changing of tactics in order to stay out of jail and measured in the very short-term.
    It takes so much strength to be a deeply wounded person who has dealt with the wicked and comes to a point where they can share wisdom, author a book, write a blog, and continue pastoring a church. So glad to read you posts. So glad you exist and you are sharing your hard-earned experience and knowledge.

  3. Anonymous pastor's wife

    Congratulations on your new blog! Praying the Lord will Bless you & your followers. A blog like this that will connect with the many victims of abuse is so needed. I remember how helpful & how much I learned in 2012 when A Cry for Justice was started. The need is even more needed today. You are in my prayers

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Anonymous Pastor’s wife. I had not planned to start another blog on this subject but the need is so great that we simply must keep shining light on this dark evil.

  4. Valerie Greenlaw Wolff

    I am looking forward to sharing this new blog with my clients, Pastor Crippen. I counsel women in my private practice who are in abusive relationships and have followed you on your other site, plus I read all that I can about this topic in order to best help these women. I am starting up a psychoeducational group for them in a couple of weeks (free of charge) as I truly feel as though this is my ministry. Thank you for your wisdom on this subject.

  5. Lorraine

    They are in our churches, faith circles and have infiltrated the house of God. Yet, they pretend to be caring, compassionate, and sincere. They misuse the power and authority God ordained them to have and inflict horrific and cruel inhumane treatment on those who succumb to such controls and manipulation. Praying God exposes them for who they are, lying deceitful wolves going around being ‘fake’, ‘plastic’ and demonic, all with the approval of others.
    It is an epidemic with not only Domestic abuse, but also spiritual abuse of those in the flock, I help woman and am constantly encountering those who were at the receiving end of horrific, callous and abusive treatment, shattering their faith, their sense of wellbeing and sometimes their sanity.
    It is in the protestant church and all kinds of evil and wickedness are at work. We must be discerning and continually filled with the Spirit to not be swayed by any person’s agenda.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, Lorraine, it is an infection throughout the visible church be it Protestant or otherwise. I trust that the Lord will use this site powerfully to validate victims, expose their oppressors, and identify false teachings that are holding victims in bondage.

  6. Dominique

    Such an important issue. Thank you for exposing this soul-crushing darkness and shining light onto it.

  7. Finally free

    Thank you Jeff for your honesty and bravery in revealing and talking about abuse that is hidden by the abuser and the church. Finally after 29 years of abuse I have left. I liken the emotional abuse to picking up a pebble each time it happens. The first is not much, neither is the 35th but after a lifetime it is like trying to swim with a back pack of bricks.
    Drowning ….
    Will you be talking about the new “complementarian” talk in churches that I believe is a veiled cover up for patriarchy !?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Finally free. I certainly will be writing about how patriarchal types distort the biblical teachings on marriage. My purpose in doing so however will not be to “fine tooth comb” nuances of doctrine, but to help abuse victims in particular understand specifically how such false teachings contribute to the abuser’s power and control over them. In other words, to help the targets of abusers come to understand more clearly what the abuser is doing and how false teaching in the churches serve to further the abuser’s agenda.

  8. Praying Lady

    THANK YOU so much, Pastor Crippen, for all you do to expose evil in the Christian community, especially the abuse being perpetrated by wolves in wool! We must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
    My decades-long abusive situation did not come to an end until I was being strangled by my now ex-husband. I thank God for law enforcement who forcibly made that stop.Even though the abuse increased to that level, I was abandoned by the church I attended when I told the pastor and other “friends” what happened. I was later turned away from a former church I had attended when I went to them for prayer. They did not want to get involved. I suffered the physical results of the strangulation for many months afterwards and I have been dealing with PTSD symptoms for several years. However, the Lord Jesus is healing my body, heart and spirit on a daily basis. Praise the Lord!
    I have been ministering to survivors of horrible abuse and trauma for decades. I will be recommending your blog to everyone who needs to know the truth about their circumstances and the incorrect teaching they have been subjected to regarding abuse perpetrated by charade practicing, deceitful, pretend believers.
    THANK YOU again for shining the light of the Word of God on this pervasive problem.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Praying Lady – Thank you! Over and over again your own sad experience with local churches, pastors, church members and others is being played out. Behind the scenes so many of these wicked abusers hide in the pews (or in the pulpit!) and these visible, local churches enable them, excuse them, and even commend them. Through the twisting of the scriptures, mercy and kindness are cast aside while the letter of the law written on stone rather than on hearts is enforced. No divorce for abuse. You must forgive him. You must reconcile with him. You must submit to him and respect him…..and on and on and on it goes. Thank you for praying and for your encouragement. So glad you are free!

  9. Not in Our Church

    I have several of your posts on our website. Thank you for bringing attention to abuse in the church. I’d love to add this link to the Domestic Violence Page!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Not in Our Church – And thank you for your work too. I plan to publish a new post each week on Wednesday mornings PDT and we will be running a sermon on Sundays beginning with my series on domestic violence from 2010. It’s on Sermon Audio but probably many people still need to be made aware of it.

  10. Michelle

    I’m looking forward to your blog. Thank you for writing your book. Your work is validating to me.

  11. Kelly

    Mr. Crippen, Thank you, thank you! Finally, someone who truly gets it. I have been in a verbally/emotionally abusive marriage for 5 years. The abuse started the day we got back from our honeymoon. My husband says he is a Christian and has all the elders and pastor duped. I have begged for help for years. I have been told that I need to get into alignment under my husband, be a vessel of mercy, be a door mat if that’s what it takes to make him love me, sleep with him even when he calls me worthless and vile names. He has separate checking accounts set up in his name only, is not acountable to me, comes and goes as he pleasesaid and has a double life. Oh, but he is at the church every time the doors are open, available anytime anyone needs something done for them,. All while I am ignored and rejected and told repeatedly that I am the biggest mistake he has ever made. 5 years is too long. Thank you for validating me while my “church family” enables his abusive, evil behavior. Blessings!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Kelly- you have grown wiser and stronger. Frankly those pastors and elders are fools. Arrogance coupled with ignorance is bad news. Stand firm and I hope one day you can be free.

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