Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

A Lesson in Evil – and Not Being Deceived by it

1Co 2:1-5 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (4) and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

It has become almost commonplace to read of still another well-known “happening” pastor being exposed in some wicked, hidden sin that has been going on for quite sometime, all the while he continued to preach to and teach others. We are all sick of it. And we are also sick of how these guys and their band of brothers treat victims of domestic and sexual abuse. One of the chief reasons for this oppression of victims in local churches is nothing less than the fact that the head guys are wolves.
But would you like to know what I am even more sick of? I will tell you – I am sick of these guys’ statements of “confession and repentance.” 
I am going to give you a fairly recent example of just such a case and then I am going to point out to you why most all of these claims of “repentance” need to be rejected by us. Ready? Here we go.

The pastor in this particular case was one of those widely known preachers, a mover and shaker in the church scene. He did it all. He could lead worship so that the whole building seemed to “feel the spirit.” He was a professor at a seminary specializing in pastoral training. He was a church planter who could easily gather a crowd and quickly have people saying “hey, have you heard about that new church so and so started? We gotta go check it out!” And this man was a particularly dangerous sort because he organized “ministries” designed to gather pastors from all over to come and sit at his feet. And so the leaven spread.
I met this fellow once. We hosted a pastoral conference way back when we still mixed it up in that sort of thing. Just after the opening of the first session, this guy who had it all came up to me and asked “Hey Jeff, do you mind if I lead the next worship session?” I said, “sure, go ahead.” I would NOT say that now even if I didn’t know what I know about him. Why? Because that request was a classic trait of a wolf. He wanted the stage. He wanted to be first. He want the oohs and aahs. And he could get them. Every time.
So what has been going on behind the scenes? Well, as it turns out, this eminent “saint” has been committing sexual immorality, adultery, unfaithfulness to his wife. And he finally got busted. His elders fired him, to their credit. And it also turns out that in addition to his most recent carnal exploit, this was not the first time he had violated his marriage vows and the woman he targeted. And lest we forget, all the while he kept right on preaching, getting up front, teaching preachers, getting those accolades.
I am done with this kind. Finished. Carefully, carefully, carefully read the Apostle Paul’s philosophy of pastoral ministry as stated in the verses above. Do you see it? You can spot the wolf because he does come with lofty speech and wisdom. He is not present with you in weakness and fear and trembling. No, just the opposite.
Now, I said that I am sick of the statements of “confession and repentance” these guys crank out after they are exposed. Here is just a portion from this wolf’s statement he put out publicly. And so convincing are these vipers, so naive are most of the sheep, that I am going to catch all kinds of flack for saying what I am saying here in this post. What am I saying? I am saying that every single word in this devil’s supposed confession is a deceiving lie. Read this (it’s just a portion of the statement) and then I will show you what should stick out to us if we are wise about evil: [The boldfacing is mine. But I quit because I would have boldfaced the whole thing]

Someone very wise once said: “Pastors must be the chief repenters in a congregation of repenters.” It is important that this proves to be the case now—not because I haven’t yet repented, but because my sin is of such a nature that I need to express my repentance to you.
Several years ago, prior to the inception of ______ Church, I strayed from my wedding vows, breaking the covenantal bond I made to my dear wife [many] ago. More recently, I again violated my marriage commitment. In both instances I engaged in adulterous relationships that were nothing less than acts of defiance to the will of my God and Father, as well as expressions of profound ingratitude for the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ that I prize so dearly.
I confess this sin and take full responsibility for it. There are no justifications, excuses, or rationalizations for my behavior. I, in acts of idolatry, chose sin over God. I am profoundly ashamed at the enormity of my rebellion, as well as the hypocrisy of exercising ministry while cloaking my sin in the shadows.
I am broken by the magnitude of my offenses to God, the devastation I have inflicted upon my wife, the grief brought to bear upon my children, and the disappointment I have produced among the people with whom I have been privileged to share ministry. Though it is entirely undeserved, I humbly ask you to forgive me for my betrayal of your trust and friendship. With each passing day the fresh awareness of this betrayal breaks my heart in greater and deeper ways, leaving me with nothing but a hope in the accomplishments of the cross to which I desperately cling.
Despite the profound grief and shame, I am deeply thankful to my heavenly Father for graciously exposing this sin and forcing me to turn from it. The promise that He chastises those He loves so that His children might share in His holiness gives me hope and comfort. My present and painful circumstances have become, to both my wife and me, the gracious verifications of God’s Fatherhood and my spiritual paternity.
Because of my sin I have disqualified myself from the office of elder. Furthermore, I have no desire to pursue ministry of any kind. My focus is entirely directed at making right the very thing I have ignored for too long: the well-being of our marriage. This long-term process has already commenced in meetings with experienced counselors and, under their supervision, will be extended to include a team of qualified people who will also contribute to the reestablishment and strengthening of our relationship….
I am certain that my sin has brought about waves of divergent emotions in many of you: hurt, confusion, sorrow, anger. All of these are appropriate responses to my failures that your Heavenly Father understands. Moment by moment I feel the heavy weight of inflicting them upon you. If, however, I may appeal to your mercy in Jesus Christ, dear friends, allow me to ask four things of you:
1) Please direct your anger and frustration at me, while extending love and support to my children (who have responded to my repentance and confession with kindness and compassion), and especially to my wife, who has revealed the depth of the gospel’s influence in her life by extending undeserved grace and forgiveness to me. She continues to display the likeness of her Heavenly Father in real and palpable expressions that overwhelm me with tearful humility and contrition. Though I have failed her egregiously, I love her deeply and desperately. With God’s help, our family will survive this season and eventually thrive for God’s glory;

Now, really, I must say – I don’t even know where to begin. Every single word of this is the classic deception that we see coming from wolves in wool. Let me just list a few observations and then you all can feel free to comment on what characteristics you see in these words that just don’t ring true with you (and may well remind you of the tactics of your own abuser).

  1. He is still preaching and telling us what we are to think and do.
  2. His mouth should be absolutely shut, not spewing out the same kind of glittering words he crafted in his sermons and classes.
  3. He tell us that he has repented and obviously he thinks we are to believe him.
  4. He “asks” for our forgiveness – but of course he absolutely expects it.
  5. He makes himself out to be so grieved and hurt – a victim if you will.
  6. He tells us that his wife is a marvelous Christian because she graciously has forgiven him. What would he say about her if she filed for divorce and was done with him?
  7. He says that he is convicted of his hypocrisy in continuing to minister as a pastor and teacher even while his evil sin was going on. BUT if he were a genuine Christian who came under that conviction, why did he not resign as a pastor long ago? He even went on to plant a new church! And then he committed the sin again.
  8. He says he “failed” his wife, but oh, how he loves her. Well, if you loved your wife that deeply, why did you commit repeated acts of adultery?
  9. And then there is this “team of counselors” who have come to help him and his wife restore their relationship. Don’t miss it, he loves this attention. You and I of course are not worthy of a team of counselors coming to our rescue when we “fail” but this guy is so vital to the kingdom of God, you know…
  10. Finally, make no mistake, this guy is already craving to get back into “ministry.” Real repentance would be shown by him shutting his mouth and going away, but we see none of that. He is just like Bob Wiley in “What About Bob?” “Gone? He isn’t gone! He’s never gone!” Only in real life, this Bob isn’t funny. “I’ll be back!” is his unspoken cry.

Well, that’s enough from me. I don’t buy any of it. If these kind are talking, they are deceiving. I hope you don’t buy it either. But be assured, plenty of “the forgiving faithful” will lap it up. And woe, woe, woe to his wife if she ever has the lights come on and realizes who he really is.


Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?


The Abuse Victim as Widow


  1. GladI’mout

    Oh my goodness. I love that movie “What About Bob.” And you’re so right. The movie was very funny. And Bob never went away. But this wolf will most likely come back. Just as you say. Just like Bob.

    • Stormy

      Thanks so much for saying this!
      The naive church people will now gather around him to congratulate him on his repentance and will provide him with support. In the group of supporters may even be his next victim.
      The wife will be expected to forgive and forget. She will be left alone while he is surrounded with support. The church ladies that admired the pastor from afar will talk about his wife behind her back.
      She eventually will slink away damaged and destroyed while he will be embraced to start up a new church with the new victim.

  2. walkinginlight

    Wow!! I would give anything to know if this “repentant” preacher is from the charismatic camp? They are great at spewing “glittery” words as Pastor Crippen has shown here. I will keep this post book marked for future reference. I have a severe problem with people telling me what to “think” as the anti-husband did that to me most of my life. I don’t think this preacher is at all sorry. He is only sorry he got caught! What a true hypocrite. He ought to keep his mouth shut and go hide with his tail between his legs. And if I were his wife, he would be getting divorce papers handed to him as he did this more then once! And in these last days, this is why I shy away from organized religion. Way more wolves in the church building then saints of the Lord. Great post Pastor!

  3. Alison

    Just wondering if this repentance is an example of “With a multitude of words, sin is not absent.” Pr 10:19

  4. Susan

    Wow Pastor Crippen!! You nailed it! Yes, if he were so ashamed and regretful and repentant, he would just bow his head and leave the scene! He was crying, “poor me,” please have PITY on me! That’s the ‘hook’ you taught us about! Beware of the ‘PITY’ hook of the abuser, oh compassionate one! And you’re so right about Bob Wiley. I truly felt sorry for Dr. Marvin, he was the victim of a “classic narcissist,” just like he diagnosed! (Still, it WAS a very funny movie!!!), my favorite in fact! Great insight in this post!

  5. Susan

    “I’m doin’ the work,….I’m not a slacker!” lol!

  6. Marlo

    My h said very similar things to our pastor as I was waking up to my abusive marriage. He’s so repentant and “sorry” for all he has done… yah, right! His tune will be changing once I file for divorce, this I am sure of! Great article!

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