Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

**Abusers Fail the Test of Love – A Very Clarifying Fact+6

Joh 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1Co 13:1-2 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Every real Christian, that is people who have truly been born again, have been taught to love one another by the Spirit of Christ in them. This is our new creation nature in Jesus. His Law is written on our hearts so that it is part of who the new man is. And this is why Jesus and Paul and other biblical authors tell us that love, the real love of Christ, is THE evidence that we know Him. Specifically, this love is love for Christ and love for Christ’s people. Certainly we show love toward unbelievers as well in various ways but the real test is a person’s response to the Lord and to His people. The “nicest” pagan to be found will eventually cease to be “nice” if pressed in regard to his thoughts on Jesus.
Paul tells the Corinthians that a person can wear the finest most convincing “holy” disguise all they like, if they do not love then they are phonies.

Over the years as a pastor I have known hundreds of people who claim to be Christians. But I have known only a remnant who evidenced the true love of Jesus being present within them. The latter were children of God. The rest were not.
If you are in an abusive relationship – domestic, spiritual, or otherwise – then I can assure you that your abuser fails the test of love. Oh sure, the abuser in his setup stage mouths the words “I love you, baby” over and over, unloading flowers and gifts on you. Blah, blah, blah. It is all meaningless. After all, love does not abuse!

1Jn 2:19-20 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (20) But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

Now, where I have really seen this test clearly do its work? Answer: when the victim finally separates from the abuser. Think carefully.  What you see is an incredible coldness. No grief (it is fake if the tears come). No mercy. No sense of loss of a loving spouse. No love, in other words. And – mark this down – YOU must be careful that your love is not projected into his mind or else you will think that he is thinking like you are? Understand?
And finally, here is something that is no fun at all to realize and yet a victim at some point must get hold of it. The abuser never loved you. The person you loved, in fact, did not exist. He was a fictional character that he projected to you, but it was fiction. An act. Such people are incapable of love because they do not desire to love. Love requires giving. The abuser wants only to possess.
Start to understand these things and more of the fog the abuser casts will clear away from your eyes and mind.


**Angry Tears – Don't be Duped+5


Bow Down — The Abuser's Command – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen


  1. I have escaped from a destructive marriage, this was a was a shock to me – that there was no love and that’my ex husband does not think or feel like I did at all. The gloves go on and the disguise comes off and the abuse ramps up, now there is no honeymoon period and the abuse and greed is no longer masked.
    My ex did verbally express that he wanted to stay married but by that point I already knew I was living with an enemy, accuser and very greedy man, an enemy and not someone who loved me.

  2. Christy

    So true! So very true! Thank you, Pastor Jeff!

  3. Anne

    Wow!, your posts are so timely—I said those very words to myself a few days ago, “He never loved me.” All through the divorce & post divorce I have had to remind myself how he *really* treated me, because in moments of loneliness my thinking minimizes his actions and project how I just knew he could be. I received SO MANY flowers, cards, gifts over the years. Then I came across a devotional by Amy Carmichael and in it she likens false love to imitation flowers which can also have an imitation scent. WOW! THAT spoke so powerfully to me as I was grappling with ‘he must love me, he gave me all these things.’ I was so love starved that I was equating *things* with love.
    I started REJECTING the flowers, the cards, the gifts and you should have seen his reaction! He was livid! He wasn’t giving any time or effort to fixing the things that hurt me, no, he was incredulous! that I would DARE not accept the flowers, etc… I started taking those flowers in their vases and would leave them in random driveways of people I didn’t know. He would ask the kids where the flowers were and they would say, “We don’t know.” Then one day, before I could take the flowers, he took them, but get this, he coupled them with the garbage from my side of the bathroom–as in purposely mixed it all together–it was so weird and creepy, it gave off a vibe like he was saying I was garbage and throwing me away, like he wanted to bury me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Plastic flowers. There you go.

    • Praying Lady

      Your story, Anne, about all the flowers, cards and gifts was my story for over 3 decades. I also asked my ex to stop giving them to me, which made him angry, because they were all a means of manipulation. Of course, he would always say, “I love you,” when he thought he was losing his grip on me and it took many years before I realized it was not real love at all, but empty words.
      I too have gotten lonely without him, but now every time, the Lord tells me, “Remember.” When I remember all the lies, all the betrayal, all the pain he caused me, it snaps me back into the reality that he never loved me.
      Phony “love” traps us into a life of abuse and trying to be a better partner so that the abuse will end. I spent so much time and energy trying to help my ex who most people thought was a godly man. However, nothing I did ever helped, because he did not want to change.
      Thank God that many of us are seeing the light and getting set free. Jesus came to set the captives free! PRAISE THE LORD!!!

      • Anne

        They’re all from the same mold. I was participating on a few blogs and especially Pastor Crippen’s that was a great help. He told me the only thing I would come to regret was not leaving sooner and that is true. My health situation prevented that to a large extent, but once I started down the path of removing myself from the relationship, it started to improve. I’m glad you found freedom from the “hooks” of your abuser. God bless you.

    • Notlongnow

      Hi Anne. Would you happen to have the link to that devotional about the fake flowers/fake love analogy, or know which of Amy’s books it was in?
      Another very truthful post Jeff. Thank you for shining the light.

  4. Anne

    Pastor, your words, “Such people are incapable of love because they do not desire to love. Love requires giving. The abuser wants only to possess.”
    I think this really explains why so many abusers are porn addicted–it requires no investment in the life of another–just possessing that person in their minds for own sick lust.

  5. Jeff Crippen

    True! Absolute truth here

  6. Paula

    This is an excellent post. As I started to see through the fog of two decades of abuse, I still did not fully understand what was going on. I tried to speak with him about our relationship. I tried to get him to look with me at the foundation of our marriage. He reisted, but behaved much as usual.
    The difference upon separation, however, was shocking and I saw my husband more clearly than I ever had before. I stopped physical intimacy and no longer slept in the same bedroom and spoke in terms of separation. His response was to quote a verse and with that “incredible coldness” looked at me and said, you keep your vows, like a warning. There was no emotion. There was no – wait a minute, honey, I had no idea you were this unhappy (or other adjective), I don’t want to lose you, I love you – nothing like that at all.
    After that, he tried to bring the church in to discipline me back into the bedroom and into the marriage according to his rules of marriage Two decades of life with him finally became clear. Separated within the home, his inability to effectually hide his disdain and disgust for me began the process of the kids slowly and gradually seeing him for who he was.
    There were other factors as well like his treating the kids worse in snide and nasty ways now that the scapegoat and receptacle for his abuse (me) had become a less efficient one. It’s a longer story than that with many twists and turns, but now the kids are all alienated from him and true to form, I am the one to blame for that.

    • cindy burrell

      Hello, Paula. My story is so similar to yours, it’s almost scary. And with regard to your kids seeing who he really is and distancing themselves from him, you wrote, “…I am the one to blame for that.” Like you, my former husband accused me of “poisoning the kids” against him. I remember telling him straight-faced, “I don’t have to. You do a fine job of that all by yourself.” For once, the man was speechless.
      I pray you are finding peace and contentment in your new life…

      • Paula

        Thank you, Cindy, for your prayer and for sharing your experience. We are in the middle of divorce proceedings right now, with him doing everything he can to fight for joint custody of older children who are nearly adutls and want nothing to do with him. I find moments of peace in the midst of the battle, but I eagerly long for the day when they are not minors and he has no more power to use the court system as a weapon of abuse.

  7. cindy burrell

    Hello, Paula. I pray right now that your children have the opportunity to speak and choose for themselves in this situation and that the Spirit of God will intercede on your behalf.

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