Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

When a Pastor Claims to be God's Prophet: Wicked and Harmful Words to an Abuse Victim

A victim of a very deceitful, habitually lying abuser shared an interaction she had with the pastor of a church she and the abuser attended. We thank her very much for allowing us to publish what this pastor told her. As is so typical, you see here the incredible arrogance such false shepherds have and the refusal to acknowledge his ignorance about the very evils he insists that the victim submit to his counsel upon.
Here are the highlighted points of the enslaving lies the “pastor” laid upon her, followed by my comments:
1) “What is your end goal, best case scenario?”  Here, in this “harmless” sounding opening question, the pastor is already trying to make the victim say that divorce for abuse is not an option and that her goal must be to stay in the marriage.

2) “Because God’s heart is for your marriage you will feel a bit of a burden.” These men play the role of Mr. Spirituality and we see this in the pastor’s words here. What does such a statement even mean? It really means nothing but is designed to present a lie in pious sounding language that deceives the victim. The Bible does not use language like this. Translated, this statement means “God requires you to remain in your marriage no matter what and if you are following His will and hearing Him, then you would feel a burden for your marriage and husband and you would stay in it.”
3) “I understand your marriage is toxic and a struggle.  We know God’s heart is for marriage.  Your struggles sound hard, but I don’t believe in divorce.” Incredible deceptive lies here, couched in the claim that the pastor is speaking for God. He is not. He says that God requires her to remain in a poisonous relationship and forbids divorce. “You must obey God and you must obey me” is what he is telling her.
4) “Will you do marriage counseling with your husband? Have you discussed it before? Here is the value of biblical counseling: there is accountability and lying will be exposed and confronted.  Counseling brings the issues to the surface.” Only rank ignorance will employ couples counseling in a domestic abuse case. This supposed “biblical” counselor is arrogantly setting himself above all other authorities. He will not expose the lies of the abuser. He will be deceived by the abuser and in addition he will accuse the victim.
5) “My approach is what God says.  It will be clear if a person is not willing to do what God has called you to do.  I don’t have the full picture of what has gone on in your life.  I know God’s Word is powerful and what will hinder things is you and [your husband’s] unwillingness to submit to God’s Word.” Just like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day who claimed God had sent them to speak His Word when He had not, this pastor is claiming prophetic authority for himself. “What I say is what God says. You must listen to and obey me.”  Once again here he accuses the victim of sin and unwillingness to obey God.
6) “Couples counseling would expose his (the abusive husband’s) deceit.” Couples counseling will enable the abuser’s deceit. This pastor is like the false exorcists of whom the devil’s demons said “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” The pastor has no concept of abuse and its tactics, but claims he is an authority.
7) “What is the ultimate goal here?  #1 Goal is that we have to honor the Lord and make much of Christ.  Honor the Lord the most.  Ministering by a believing wife; instead of saying ‘I can’t do it.’  You have a long history of a difficult marriage.  It’s not broken beyond repair…What does it mean to honor the Lord, knowing God’s heart is for marriage?  God wants reconciliation.” Beware of this kind of pious gibberish talk. It is worse than meaningless. These are the words of an out and out false prophet who is declaring “thus saith the Lord.” God Himself does not reconcile with the wicked and unrepentant.
8) “You were not in a church holding to the authority of God’s Word. You are now. My counsel to you now is to put the process [filing for divorce] on halt. Start the counseling. I don’t think divorce can be the end. So much momentum in place. You don’t grow close through divorce papers. Put it on hold. Revisit God speaking to you. Allow the church to play an active role in your life. [Your husband] said that he would be willing to do marriage counseling. I really think that that is your best option.” This pastor may as well start wearing a Pope’s costume because he is claiming that he and his “church” are infallible. “Allow the church to play an active role in your life” is really saying “you will do what I say or God’s wrath will be upon you.”  And once more he is accusing the victim of being the problem.
9) “…Without grounds for divorce it [divorce] becomes a sinful thing – rebelling and not doing it God’s way.  Even if [your husband] never changed God would call you to remain in the marriage. [There are] 0nly a few reasons allowed for divorce. There are two choices: keep proceeding with divorce or actually pursue reconciliation. Let’s work hard. Unless we do something different it will end in divorce. Even if it doesn’t get better, divorce is not permissible.” Lies. A lying prophet. No matter what the abuser does, this “shepherd” claims, God commands the victim to keep submitting to the abuse. This is the classic claim of these kind of “biblical” counselors. Black and white. Either…or. And the victim’s own sin is a big part of the whole trouble.
10) “I have counseled your husband to get active in the church. Let’s continue to be prayerful about things. Presently going in the direction of divorce, which is utterly opposed to God’s command in Scripture, is utterly opposed to God’s command in Scripture. Open rebellion against God’s clear command in Scripture. We can’t ignore the clear teaching of Scripture; even in a hard situation.” Huh? Here is a wicked, evil man parading as a Christian. And this “pastor” is encouraging him to “get active in the church.” Does not God’s Word plainly say that we are to put evil out from among us? Of course it does. He accuses the victim of “open rebellion” for filing for divorce. In other words, he is receiving the abuser into the church and threatening to expel the victim. He continues to speak as if he were a chosen prophet of God.
11) “I am going to pray and we will talk again later. Prayer: ‘My heart is burdened by the hurt of the [victim].  The resurrection power can transform her husband and marriage. There is value in the shadow of death. Convict her [the victim’s] heart to submit to your Word. That couples’ counseling becomes a reality. That she [the victim] will submit to you. Grant her wisdom.” His prayer is a lie. He is not burdened for the hurt of the victim. He has no concept of that hurt and he does not want to understand it. Once more we have the meaningless language couched in piety. “Resurrection power can transform…”. What does that even mean, we would ask this lying prophet. “There is value in the shadow of death.” Huh? He must be reading some mystic pietist’s writings as they whip their back and starve in a cave in the desert. And then of course still another accusation that the victim’s heart is sinning.
Do you see how the devil’s spokesmen love to use “Bible talk” that isn’t Bible at all? What I mean is that when you encounter people who put on the God-talk like this pastor does, we must realize that we are dealing with someone who is putting on a disguise that is meant to fool us. They are setting themselves up to be of a higher spiritual rank than anyone else so that no matter what they say, we must believe them. This is the enemy’s work and we must be wise to it.
One time not long ago a man came into one of our Sunday worship services. Afterward he approached me and said he was a local pastor on “sabbatical” for a year, during which God had “called” him to meet with all the local pastors and “wash the feet of the saints.” Now, first of all, most of the local pastors here are unregenerate people “shepherding” unregenerate flocks. They are not churches at all. Yet this man doesn’t question that fact. God has sent him to “wash the feet of the saints.”
And I knew he was a fraud. God had not sent him at all. That fact was exposed clearly when I told him about our ministry to victims of abusers who are hiding in churches, pointed him to my books and told him that if he really wanted to encourage me and our church, to go home and read those books and then come back and talk about this particular evil. Oh no. Such things are not for him. He does not involve himself in such “controversial” subjects you see. And we never saw him again. Good.
Whenever you have some supposed Christian pastor or “biblical counselor” talking like the false shepherd this lady encountered, you can know that you are free to walk away, to refuse his demands, and know that the Lord authorizes you to escape your abuser and walk into freedom. These false prophets have no authority over us.

Col 2:18-23 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, (19) and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (20) If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Update:  After the encounter with this church’s bullying pastor, the victim has left that church. Some time after the victim left, the abuser husband was baptized at that church and has since been self-righteously pressing the victim with the narrative “Are you following God’s will?”  In essence his messaging is parroting what the pastor said in #5 of the above highlights.  And in a recent letter to the victim the abuser (as a new ‘convert’ who loves to use “bible talk”) went beyond the question to outright accusing her of sin and unwillingness to obey God.  Fortunately now the victim is attending a new church where the pastor understands her circumstance.


Dealing With the Abuser – Part 2 — sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen


We Must Always Remind Ourselves – There is a True Church and a False One


  1. cindy burrell

    As I read this point by point, I found myself groaning. The breadth of arrogance and the cruel application of guilt and shame placed upon the shoulders of someone who is suffering is nauseating. Yet, for the abuse victim, having been trained to doubt her instincts, and with a sincere desire to honor God, this kind of Christian manipulation is hard to dissect in the moment. It takes time and distance to parse through the nonsense and the legalism.
    Thank you for shining a light on this kind of scenario, for we know it plays out in far more churches than we would like to believe.

    • anonymous

      Yes, I found myself holding my breath at points. It’s stuff I read when I was with a horrific abuser. No pastor said such to me as I couldn’t bring myself to speak of what was being done to me for a long, long time, but these same types churn out a ton of books, blogs, articles, and so forth that it’s kind of like the stuff I read online and elsewhere.
      Christian women are such ideal victims. Our hearts long to do God’s Will and our consciences are so tender, we’ve been raised to be so readily submissive….. my heart goes out to all the abused women. Abusers are nothing short of being of the devil.
      Has anyone seen how most churches today seem to forget to talk about evil and wickedness? It’s grace, love your neighbor, do good works, and forgive, forgive, forgive…..but what about saying the reality that is most people in the world are wicked?
      What about talking about evildoers? Not talking about how evildoers might be brought around by some outreach program of the church, or kind acts by the church members — because such is fantasy and doesn’t happen — but rather arming the church members with knowledge and getting them ready for the battle of their lives?
      I get that talking clear-headed about the prolific evil and wickedness in the vast majority of people is super difficult. It’s like nails on the chalkboard times 100. But it has to be done otherwise we’ll be served up on a platter and fed to the wolves and become mangled wrecks if not girded by a strong knowledge of evil, wickedness, the tactics involved, the deceptions involved, and so forth.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Anonymous – Your points here are right on. I can’t tell you how many times as a pastor I have been pressured by people to speak and preach and teach on “the positive.” They don’t want their kids to “hear about such unpleasant things.” After preaching on the evils of abuse hiding in the church I have even had people say “why in the world is he talking about THIS in church?!” Another person, who turned out to be an abuser hiding in our pews for many years say in regard to the abuse sermon series I preached – “My family and I have been just enduring it. It’s been very difficult to listen to this. It was just hell for us.” He is gone now. Moved down the road to another church where everyone thinks he is just the most godly man on earth.
        I often put things in perspective this way. When I am accused of being “too negative and unbalanced” because I preach on the subject of evil hiding in the church, I just ask myself and those I preach to – “How much of your Bible would you have to rip out if you removed every verse that addresses evil and evil in churches?” Think of it. How much of what Jesus said was about evil, and particularly evil parading as “holiness”? LOTS! How much of what Paul and the other Apostles wrote would have to be removed? TONS! So what does that tell us? It tells us that the subject of evil, of Pharisees, of people who want to enslave us, ALL of whom are wearing “Christian” disguises, is a chief and prominent subject in the Bible. Something we need to be warned about and wised up about every day.
        Because pastors and churches just want to “keep on the sunny side of life,” though, evil thrives. Working its evil in the darkness of ignorance, evildoers are welcomed with open arms, hearing the foolish sheep extending “love and mercy and forgiveness” to them even while the fangs are sinking in.

        • anon

          I, too, have fallen in the trap of wanting to shield the young from knowledge of evil, as they are so precious but it’s wrong to not teach the next generation about the wicked, and really drive home the reality that they are going out there among wolves, endless wolves. They should hear it in the church sermons, they should have it given in demonstrations, in devotionals, in daily increments. Otherwise the protected and sheltered sheep are quickly and readily devoured at first chance.
          And how many readers unknowingly married an abuser and had very little ability to process what was happening, no skills to deal with it, and were overwhelmed by it all? Abuse overwhelms the target in itself, but I wish somehow I’d had more exposure, heard it harped on in the church services, had evil being talked about again and again.
          How many of us ever use the formulas and equations learned in advanced algebra, trig or other high school classes in our adult lives? Probably almost none of us. The church, the educational system needs to integrate something into teaching the next generation about abuse, the warning signs, what batterers do to their victims, what the law is, how to access resources if they find themselves being abused, beaten, raped, etc. The stats say 1 in 3 women but there’s a ton of denial and secrecy and I think 1 in 3 is way too low. I’d estimate half of women endure abuse and violence. If women were valued, then there’d be a class or something for an entire year of high school equipping girls, safeguarding them. And I don’t see that happening any time soon, so why not the church?
          Same goes for the ready tolerance of abuse in general society. Abusers in the church pews. Abusers in the workplace. Abusers for neighbors.
          I forget how I came across your online ministry/blogs but it was a real life-saver. As uncomfortable and difficult as it is to talk about the wicked, about evildoers, and regardless of how traumatized some of us are, we must press on and become as wise and knowledgeable as possible. Otherwise we’ll be eaten alive and I truly wonder how many women are either dead from suicide or in the death spiral of being extremely suicidal because of what abusers do to the targets.
          There are Rape Defense Training classes offered on many college campuses for women. This kind of thing needs to be delivered by the church. Kind of how Jimmy Hinton took on pedophilia, child sexual abuse, and how to make sure churches are doing things to safeguard their young members. There must be stuff in Sunday school classes or something for girls and teenage girls. Abuse is murder. If it was someone shooting up the church, drastic measures would be taken, but abuse is slow-dripping poisonous murder.
          I’m sure pastors have it bad with other pastors having hierarchy, then comes pushy, abusive members of the congregation, and then comes the daily stress of running a church with little money and lots of demands. It’s helpful to hear that you’ve been beaten down by abusers waging war with you, that you’ve lost ministries, that people have strongly opposed you. It makes a well-hated, well-targeted battered woman feel less alone. Less of a mess.

          • Jeff Crippen

            I always tell anyone who thinks they want to be a pastor that they better get a good job skill established first. Because if they are faithful they won’t have a church big enough to support their salary. Also a job skill really frees a pastor from the threats of the wicked.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Cindy- Yes, the depth and breadth of it. Such a “pastor” is no mere naive person. He is ignorant of truth and abuse and abusers, yes, but grossly arrogant and that is what makes this kind so evil. To claim to speak for God with God’s authority when God has not sent him is a wickedness that incites the wrath of God.

  2. Jen

    They always hit you over the head with “God hates divorce!” People wake up! It’s not the paperwork or courts He hates! It’s the treachery, abuse and covenant breaking that He hates! So many sweet, godly women staying in abusive/dangerous marriages because they are told that they would be the one sinning if they sought a divorce! But I say in the case of unrepentant adultery and abuse, to divorce is a righteous act the the Lord blesses! It is an unyoking from evil! You.and your children are so valued by the Lord and He wants you to get safe and get whole!

    • Jeff Crippen

      As soon as we here that ugly “God hates divorce,” we know for sure we are in the presence of either rank ignorance or just plain evil. Yes, God hates the wicked who are violent and abusive toward their spouse. That is what He hates. How could He possibly hate a victim filing legal papers to get free? Yet that is the Pharisaical nonsense laid upon us in most churches. I say God blesses divorces just as He blessed and effected the exodus out of Egypt.

  3. Jane Smith

    Thank you Pastor Crippen. Please know how much you are loved by those who belong to your online church.
    I sympathize with you that those you ministered to, prayed for and loved have turned against you and have believed the smear campaign by evil people .
    I pray that any rejection by evil men that has pained you will be richly rewarded by God himself in this life and in heaven. And I pray the same for everyone that reads this post. We are here on this blog because we’ve felt that sting. May God heal all our pains, comfort us, let the balm of Giliead soothe our souls and may we all be united together and look forward to the time when we will all meet each other in heaven.
    Stay strong my fellow survivors. God himself is on our side! We will get the victory! Be encouraged!
    Love, peace, strength and victory to you all!

  4. Anonymous

    Yes, to hate evil is to love and fear God. God hates evil and we are to be like God. Hatred is a good thing when concerning evildoers, the wicked, abusers, and so forth.
    A person cannot have one without the other. If you truly love God, you hate the devil, evildoers, abusers, sin, and all wickedness. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4).
    “It is difficult or near impossible to find fellowship, comfort, relief.” I find this to be so true. I don’t think I’m really ever going to be a church-goer in the flesh again, but rather be an online congregational member. Too much bad teaching, too much hurt and harm by what seems to be conventional and conservative churches’ teaching, and I had a particularly devastating and bad experience with a pastor that left me disillusioned, with the abuser apparently gaining allies in the church, despite bragging about how demonic he is…..

  5. Jeff Crippen

    You’re welcome! And thank you!

  6. cindy burrell

    One more thought… Divorce is quite simply a legal acknowledgement of a spiritual reality.

  7. IamMyBeloved’s

    I love this one! “We will expose the abuser’s lies.” Hahahahaha! And exactly how will you do that, wise and exalted pastor, when you have already been entangled in the wicked web of deception the abuser has already woven you into? You didn’t even see it coming. Good luck untangling yourself from his sticky web. God will show you for the fools you have become. The victim? He will set her free! Amen!

  8. IsmMyBeloved’s

    Oh gosh. This is my second comment and I can’t even stand to read through this man’s statements.
    Let me tell you that I think this is another very unsafe church. Imagine a gunman walking through the double doors leading to the sanctuary on a sunny Sunday morning. It would not be too far fetched to imagine that this pastor might just yell from the pulpit, “Everyone to your feet! The gunman is here to take you to heaven and we don’t want to make his job hard for him, because we want to glorify the Lord above all.” Idiocy. If we want to glorify the Lord, then we need to do what Jesus came to do. Set the captives free and keep them far from oppression. Being abused by a spouse, is not the same thing as being persecuted for Christ. I wonder when leaders like this will trade in the “milk” for the “meat”.

  9. IamMyBeloved’s

    And all ends well for the pastor and his phonied-up-convert. I have seen this too many times. The phony pastor phonies up the abuser’s conversion, all to make people believe he was right and the victim was wrong. Deception breeds deception.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Nailed it. Exactly. It is 1 Cor 5 – should grieve over a wicked person in the church but instead they welcome him and boast about how gracious they are.

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