Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Harems of the Evangelical Church

1Pe 5:2-3  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;  (3)  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

It has been my experience with evildoers who parade as Christians to be betrayed by many who I was sure were my genuine brothers or sisters in Christ. Hard lessons learned. Many of you have “been there done that” as well.  As a result, I have had occassion to give serious thought to what such people really were all the time. They wore a mask, yes. But why?
Just like Judas, and like all false pastors and elders who “domineer” over those in their charge, people like this are self-serving as they pretend to be a fellow saint, your right hand man, etc. That is to say, they are getting something out of the deal. They are getting something from you. You are being used. What looks like genuine love, isn’t, and that becomes apparent on the inevitable day of the betrayal. “Love” turns to hate and contempt. They are done with you, as if no real friendship ever existed at all.
It didn’t.
Let me give you a very common example of this kind of dynamic of evil. It is from this brand that I draw the title of this article: The Harems of the Evangelical Church. You all know what a harem is. It is an owned company of women who exist for the sole pleasure of the king/rich man, owner. Harems are always made up of women. I have never heard of a male harem though I suppose some female tyrant of old somewhere may have had some male slaves for a very similar purpose.

Now, recently I was talking to a lady who survived horrid years of domestic abuse, who ultimately went to her pastor for help. The pastor, she was certain, was her good friend who she could count on. There was no doubt about the abuse. The evidence was overwhelming. That wasn’t even an issue. What soon became the issue however is that this “friend,” and “pastor” was neither. He allied with her abuser and very nearly got her killed. Her suffering was immensely increased due to this false shepherd’s evil betrayal.
So what in the world was he doing all those years before, acting as her pastor and friend? What were his motives? I can tell you. He was fulfilling his own pleasures and lust for self-glory by being in a dominant position over her. She, no doubt, was quite submissive to him. After all, that is what we are all taught in our churches, right? Obey your leaders. Submit to them. And though she didn’t realize it (and how could she, after all?) his flesh was feeding off of this domination.
It is my proposal to you that this very kind of evil tactic is operational in many, many evangelical churches. Harems. The women are viewed as the harems of the leader. Not as fellow heirs in Christ, but as subordinate servants owned.
So what happened when this “friend” and “pastor” turned on her? She drew a line in the sand. She said “no” to him when he ordered her to submit to him, to go back to her abuser, to get into line. Suddenly he was no longer getting what his facade was designed to get for him – submission and service from his harem member. The fangs came out and she saw for the first time what he really was…what he had been all along.
This harem construct is largely the reason why domestic abuse victims are treated so oppressively by their pastors and churches. They are there, after all, like all harem members, for the pleasure and service of those in power. And generally that means the men, the male leaders of the church.
If you are a member of a local evangelical church there is a pretty good chance that there is a harem right in front of you. And if you are a woman, that you are in it!

Est 1:10-12  On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus,  (11)  to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at.  (12)  But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.


Abusers Often Betray their Disguise in Subtle Ways we Must not Ignore


The Error of Seeing the Abuser as Victim


  1. kd

    I’m not intending to malign the pastor who counseled me to reconcile with my husband, but I have to say that when I resisted, and then outright refused, his counsel, I felt like he became just like my husband in many ways. The “Godly” man who was supposedly caring about me, but truly only caring about himself and ready to “strike back” if I didn’t fall in line. Such a sickening feeling, first from my husband when I put it all together, and then the shock of recognition when the pastor showed himself to be so much the same.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Hard realizations for sure, but knowing truth frees us. Thankyou kd

      • eagerlabs

        Yep..and as a much wiser one than me has said…”look at the fine print”. Lo and behold…under the London Confession, (on a website no one is privy to of course …unless they look) Galatians 6 says the elders will decide ” if a member seeks a divorce, the elders will decide….blah blah blah”. NO ONE has a right to make relationship with another, UNLESS you’re a piece of property. Galatians 2:20… I am obstaining from a SLEW of obscenites..but I will repeat what Paul said…emasculate yourselves as you already did!! Galatians 5:12 UGH!!!

    • Jeff Crippen

      And kd- good for you for refusing his counsel.

    • This information is priceless.
      Thank you.

  2. walkinginlight

    Wow!! what you described Pastor Jeff I went through not with a male but with a female!! Right down to the fangs coming out for not “submitting” to her agenda.
    I have found through the years that people like this both male and female have a very controlling spirit. God hates this in a human and they will be judged for it.
    It is also idolatry in Gods eyes as the Lord does not control us in the manner this spirit works in people, elevating itself over God!
    It is also witchcraft, a work of the flesh. Controllers out there should shake in their shoes. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  3. Debby Seguin

    This is so well articulated. 100% agree. I have FELT that self imposed subservience to pastoral leaders. At first, when you are reaching out for help about abuse, they are kind and soothing and give you platitudes and encouragement, but their goal IS for you to STAY WITH THE ABUSER. Once they realize you aren’t just accepting those platitudes that still lead to staying with abuse, they get uglier and uglier. So the original “nice” response and the later guilting, blaming, shaming responses, are all one and the same: manipulation. And I’ve experienced this mostly with men but also my bible study leaders wife. For years she just kept being kind and encouraging but never gave any solutions to abuse. Then she escalated to giving me “advice” about trying harder, blah blah blah. Finally after I moved to another city away from my abuser, she texted HIM “I’m through reaching out to Debby. She is a waste of time and effort.” Isn’t that ridiculous?! Luke why would you make it so personal?! Bc she lost her subservient follower who had boosted her own ego.

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