Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Abusers Charge their Victims with sin and Threaten God's Wrath Upon them

John 8:48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
The tactics we can expect to be used against us when we confront evil of the kind we focus on here (abusers – entitlement, power, control, justified) include blaming, accusing, scapegoating, and the pronouncement of God’s wrath upon us. I have literally had a person raise their hands to “heaven” and call upon the Lord to “bring thy judgment down upon this man for this evil.” “This evil” they charged me with was my confrontation of the person for their ongoing, unrepentant abuse of others.

A few years ago our church resigned from ARBCA (Association of Reformed baptist Churches in America). We had been members for several years and sought to work together with other like-minded churches in the furtherance of the gospel and for fellowship with one another. Turns out we weren’t like minded with the core of that outfit at all. Wickedness lurked there. Bullying. Power and control lusting. The thing became obvious when the power mongers set out a 28 page “position paper” over the “how many angels are on a pin” subject of what is called divine impassibility. Never mind what that is. It wasn’t really the issue anyway. The issue was that these bullies wanted to show everyone that if they said “sign on to this position paper or get out!” then all had to do it or else.

We, along with many other churches, chose the “or else.” Good bye. Outta here.
But we didn’t go quietly.

I sent a “reply all” (gotta love that button!) to an membership wide email they had sent and told everyone that we were resigning and WHY. I pointed to the bullying, mean spirit lurking in the association “pillars.” A few pastors who agreed with us privately emailed me and thanked me for saying these things to all, but they also said “but please don’t mention my name.” Fear of bullies. Never a good thing.

Well, the dragon was awakened. You can be SURE that if you confront your dragon, he is going to launch missiles at you. If you are targeted by a domestic abuser, you know exactly what I am talking about. YOU become the villain. YOU are the one who is to blame for all the trouble. YOU are crazy and don’t know what you are talking about. Yada, yada, yada. (And I like to add “yawn.” Tell me something new).

So sure enough, here came the bullies via email. I can quote one of the honchos very words for you and I know that many of your will recognize the spirit behind them. So, here is what this guy said. Read his words and then I get to tell you “the rest of the story” that will make you smile:

Jeff, your email blasted entire committees and raised accusations that were neither gracious nor charitable in regards to matters of which you had very limited knowledge.  I know how important it is to you that we not forsake our first love (Rev. 2:4).  So I am assuming that you intend to hold to that same standard in your own personal interactions with your fellow servants of the gospel.
Are we to denounce hatred in a hateful way?  As your ally in the battle against sinful abuse, I am concerned that you do not sabotage the Lord’s blessing upon your ministry at [your church in Tillamook].
Brother, I would not be writing this if I did not honestly believe that you crossed the line by making hasty generalizations, and charging good men with evil doing in a very public manner.  How can you expect the Lord to bless your ministry when you made false accusations and publicly maligned their character?
Thus I am writing to appeal to you that you follow up your resignation letter with a letter of apology in which you take responsibility for your actions so that the Lord will continue to bless your work.  Should you disagree with my suggestion, please know that I will still count you as a brother in Christ and will still pray for the Lord to use you to build His kingdom. Blessed are the peacemakers.  Praying for you.
yours in Christ,
The Devil (Ha! Actually he went by another name)
Now I could go on and on and on about this statement because it contains so many typical tactics of our enemy. This guy’s words here I bet trigger many of you because you have been on the receiving end of them yourselves. “YOU have sinned. YOU are ignorant of the real facts. YOU dared malign a brother in Christ. YOU need to repent and apologize. You, You, YOU!! And if you don’t listen to me, God is going to get you for what you have done!”

Well, guest what? In these past months, ARBCA has been in the news. One of their “pastors” was charged and convicted of assaulting children in his church and is now in jail again awaiting trial for even more serious charges that include sexual molestation of children. It has come out that for some 18 years, this same core of nasty power mongers in ARBCA covered up for this guy, even commending him to become a teacher of children in a “christian” school, and eventually endorsing him to be a pastor at a church. THEN they covered all these abuse facts up and recommended him and his church to the ARBCA member churches for membership in ARBCA. The people were told NOTHING of these ongoing charges when they voted him and his church in.

And now it is hitting the fan. It has indeed come back to bite them. And here is the really cool thing. This very man whose words are quoted above turns out to be a key player in the cover up. So much so that his own elders (he is a pastor) confronted him before the whole congregation, presenting plain facts of his guilt of lying all these years, knowing full well the evil this other pastor was charged with, yet he himself voted as representative of his church to accept the evildoer into membership.

Is he repentant? Of course not. ALL his elders have resigned. Half of his deacons have resigned. Half of his congregation has left. No doubt though – it is all their fault, not his. They, they, they….

Now, here is my point. When we confront evil, we are RIGHT. We must expect to be maligned. We must expect to have the wicked try to convince us that WE are the wrongdoer, that WE are guilty, that the Lord is angry with US, that WE are foolish and ignorant. Count on it.

But do not believe it! All those years you were abused, all those years that you felt something was wrong, all those years that you believed what you saw was indeed an accurate perception of what he did or said….all those years….YOU were right!


The Abuser Wants You to Make Much of Them — Sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen


What do we Mean When we say "Believe the Victim"?


  1. Jeff Crippen

    This is the place to tell it! Glad you are here.

  2. Christy

    Oh my…abusers must all be using the same letter template. How often I have been the recipient of a text or email or phone call that is modeled after your letter….throw in a little scripture to underline their righteousness and a kind “promise” to pray for you. Oh brother “Brother”! You are right when you have said in the past that Satan’s tactics never change…

  3. Anne

    Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to defend a Christian couple who have been viciously attacked, slandered, and defamed in very public settings, the perpetrators attempting to extort money and destroy the couple and their family. I have defended this couple vigorously; I have been called all kinds of names by the criminals for doing so as they attempt to project their evil on me and try to change the focus of *their* wrongdoing. They tell me in so many words, “I will pay.’ These evil doers claim some sort of spirituality at times, but it is clearly apparent they live in darkness. There is a price in defending the innocent and many abusive victims know the reality that many people, including family and long time friends, will *not* come to their defense, because they do not want to have to contend with any backlash.

  4. Holly

    Pastor Crippen,
    I confronted my husband about a lie he told me. He stood over me with his bible in his hand and repeatly told me that “ It doesn’t matter how I or anyone else treats you, it is about how you treat them”.
    I do agree that it is about how I treat people.
    I do believe that it matters to God how I am treated. It also matters to me how I am treated.
    Pastor Crippen,
    Do you consider this as; emotional, mental, and spiritual abuse to me from my husband?
    Do you consider this as my husband is abusing me?
    Also, what do you think about my husband telling me that, “ Until God convicts him of his lying, he will continue to lie to me”. He demanded that I forgive him and to trust him.
    Your thoughts please.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Holly- What you have there is a full blown abuser husband. And the worst of it is that he is the kind who is using the Bible and his disguise as a Christian as a cover for his wickedness. Of course it matters how someone treats us. My treatment of someone who loves me vs someone who is my enemy is quite different. I am not required to treat my enemy in the same manner as I treat my friend. That would be foolish. This is not negated by Jesus’ command that we love our enemies. That just means we don’t seek personal vengeance upon them, but note that He says they are our enemies. I don’t extend trust to an enemy like I would to a friend. So your husband is lying, deceiving, and twisting God’s Word to oppress you. This is indeed emotional, mental, spiritual abuse.
      As to his claim that he doesn’t need to stop lying until God convicts him of it, well I would like to see him take that one up with God! Let’s see, we can sin all we want as long as we are not convicted of it. This is the nonsense that abusers use to control their victim. Don’t fall for it for a second.

  5. Holly

    Pastor Crippen,
    Thank you for responding to me. Thank you for a safe place to share.
    For the past several years, I have been coming Out of the Fog.
    My husband tells me to “ love my enemy “. I let him know that I am loving him by feeding him,clothing him, and giving him something to drink.
    I asked him to please share with me, backed up with scripture, if I am not loving him as my enemy and therefore sinning.
    Apparently, he could not find or twist any scripture because he has never brought this up again.
    Asking him to show me the scripture has always worked for me and has shut him down.
    Here is my question. Does God convict the unsaved?

    • Jeff Crippen

      The Lord does not and cannot save an unrepentant person. The Lord by his Word and Spirit convicts the lost who respond to His general revelation of himself (see Romans 1). But if the sinner refuses to acknowledge and give thanks to God, then He withdraws from them and gives them over to their sin. As long as your husband chooses to continue in evil even after having all the knowledge of the Lord that he has, then he is not going to come under conviction that he is evil and on his way to hell.

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