Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

**Abuse Victims are Being Thrown to the Lions in Local Churches+7

1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

This passage of Scripture is often misapplied to keep victims of domestic abusers in bondage. However, in this post I want to focus upon God’s promise of “the way of escape.” Obviously it is God’s will that when we are in a trial or test and we see a way of escape, we take it! After all, God Himself provides it!
Now, there are people who claim to be Christians who will tell you that it is always better (and in fact that God requires it) to remain in the trial. Even “unto death.” In other words, they promote martyrdom. Of course they are characterized by the ever-present double standard of the abuser. No way would they become a martyr, but you are required to be one.

Years ago there was just such a fellow in our church. He was all the time talking about martyrs. Missionary martyrs. Fox’s book of the martyrs of church history. And when someone was suffering, he was always right there to say something like – “just submit. This is the Lord’s will for you. Just think how great your reward will be.” Apparently he disregarded Jesus’ rebuke of the devil. We are forbidden to put the Lord to the test.
Most local churches, pastors, “biblical” counselors, and church members approach domestic abuse in their midst in this very way. They forbid divorce, and often even forbid separation. You know the routine. It is very common that they tell the victim not to ever call the police. She is to suffer. She is to suffer silently. Otherwise she doesn’t have faith, and you know, her abuser’s salvation (if they even acknowledge he isn’t saved) depends on her, right? This all is nothing less than promoting martyrdom. Requiring the victim to be a martyr. We have known more than one account of the response by a local church in which the victim was murdered by her abuser to be something like: “In the end they are all free now and in heaven together.”
In the history of the church there were people, in times of intense persecution, who actively tried to become martyrs. The church had to stop them and make it clear that if God providentially allowed a Christian to be martyred, that was His doing. But to set oneself up intentionally for martyrdom was wrong. If there were a way of escape, a Christian should take it.
And so it is today. Or at least, that is how it should be.
When your pastor or church or some “christian” book you are reading tells you that God requires you to remain in a marriage to an abuser, they are in fact throwing you to the lions in an arena of their own making. What they are saying is, “you must be a martyr.” And often they will remind you, “you know the Bible says”:

Heb 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

“So get back out there to the arena and let the lions do what they may. Exit doors may be wide open, but you are not permitted to take them,” they say.
No one has a right to throw you to the lions. No one. God is in the business of providing a way of escape. Don’t ever be afraid to use it.


Dealing With the Abuser – First Deal With Yourself – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen


Wisdom for Pastors Series – Introduction


  1. anonymous

    Yes, good ol’ Hebrews 12:4! That is such a weapon and they do say it just like you said. Get back out there and suffer….your cross to bear…..He won’t give you more than you can bear……life is not easy, we are to struggle……are you submitting enough? are you giving him enough sex? are you a good cook? Call him ‘lord, as Sarah did…….you just need to pick your battles, choose your words carefully, communicate in the right way, don’t make him mad………

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yuck! That stuff is soooo wrong. And so typical.

      • anonymous

        I wonder how much of this advice is given out because of cultural norms where the women are seen as responsible for the well-being of the marriage/relationship. So people try and troubleshoot or problem solve in how to cajole an abuser into not abusing, as though it’s not a character issue at heart.

  2. Praying Lady

    Amen! Amen!! Amen!!!
    I would be dead right now if I had not called the police. My ex was strangling me when the policeman arrived and the officer had to use physical force to end the strangulation!
    Many times before that day, I had warned my ex that I was going to call the police when he was in uncontrollable rages if he did not stop. One day the Lord told me to stop warning him and tell him that I would just call and not warn him any longer.
    I thank God that I called the police when I did and it does NOT make me any less of a Christian. It just makes me a LIVING witness of decades of abuse that I suffered from a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    I praise God that I am finally free and can continue to help others.
    Thank you again, Pastor Crippen, for another excellent post.

  3. Franny Flag

    I continued with the troubled Youth minister aka “domestic abuser” because I thought all suffering was sent by God to grow my character.
    A heart to serve Christ and examine yourself was being taught and exploited by the abuser.
    The abuser and his allies are telling you your to blame it’s all your fault, your the problem.
    The false teaching that says marriage is hard and relationships are meant to make you holy not happy is being taught from the pulpit.
    That’s exactly what the abuser is telling the victim!
    All this rolled into one big mess allows the abuser to continue to abuse, it allows his allies to get off the hook as they support the abuser and it messes with the heart mind and soul of the victim while the abuser hangs out with the head minister, teaches his bible studies and pretends to be a saint! It’s truly sickening!

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