Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders+

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

  1. “He premeditates his actions. He uses people and every thing he can get as an alibi to cover or justify his actions. He is the master of excuses, a liar, a deceiver and frequently contradicts himself. He is very aware of his power of charisma and persuasive talk.”
  2. “He is not verbally or physically abusive. He sounds loving and caring.”
  3. “He admits he has failed in his role as a provider, protector and leader of the family and then asks for forgiveness and says he is not happy about it either and he needs help to understand why that happens in his life, but he never changes despite all the help is offered to him.”
  4. “I find this abuser the worst because it is not very evident. He disguises himself as a good father and loving husband thru words and showing himself very active in the family matters, but in the reality does not take responsibility for providing, protecting and leading the family.“

These descriptions of a wicked man were sent to us by a Christian wife and mother whose abuser claims to be a godly servant of the Lord. And he has been successful for many years in convincing the people in his church and in other Christian organizations that he is the real deal.

What makes such evil “tick”?  Consider the following Scriptures:

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. (2 Peter 2:17)
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13)

First of all, men like this abuser very often embrace the “christian” facade. Paul’s rebuke of those who do not provide for their own family is that such a person is “worse than an unbeliever.” In other words, this culprit claims to be a Christian. Peter and Jude paint the same picture in their imagery of waterless springs and fruitless trees. Each image is something that makes an offer. “Come to me and I will give you water and fruit.” What you have is a counterfeit of Jesus. An anti-Christ if you will (“anti” can mean “instead of”).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalms 1:1-3)

Wicked people, evil ones who have crept in among us in the church, claim to be the Lord’s tree and the Lord’s stream of water. They mimic Jesus’ wonderful invitation:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'(John 7:37-38)

But the counterfeit only has putrid water to give. Only rotten fruit.
In this particular case, the abuser of the lady who wrote us is a “christian” leader. Over and over again we see this. Abusers choose religion. If they cannot dupe a church or Christian organization to ordain and support them, they will strike out on their own. Have you ever noticed how common it is to see “ministries” advertised, or you see their signs on a storefront as you drive through town? “The Spirit of Isaiah” ministry center. “Holy Ground Ministries.” That kind of thing you see. Why? Why do these evil ones so often put themselves off as either a leading, eminent church “pillar,” a pastor, a missionary, an evangelist, or some other such supposed “calling of the Lord” role?
Because they are evil. They are the most evil of their kind. Here is a principle which our reader’s abuser is a classic example of:

The ‘kinder’ and more ‘saintly’ a wicked person appears to be, the more evil they are.

And thus, local churches and so-called christian organizations are the target of choice, the prime “arena of operations” for the putrid cream of the fruitless crop. Satan himself elects to disguise himself as an “angel of light.” Where do angels operate? In heaven. In the Lord’s presence. Satan tried to play his game there until Christ crushed him and gave him the boot. Now he and his minions creep in among us here, deceiving, lying, charming, and sucking life out of all around them like a black hole. Most Christians have never stopped and given sober thought to just how much of the Bible is devoted to describing and warning us about these wicked actors that will surely come our way. For all of the talk in churches about the Christian’s armor and “spiritual warfare,” the vast majority of pastors, church leaders, and church members get taken in over and over again by the very kind Christ warned us about. Satan comes to us in the flesh and blood of people like abusers, not as some vapory, ghostly “spirit.”
You will notice in the descriptions of this particular abuser quoted above, that his actions (or non-actions) betray what he really is. For all of his “god-talk” and churchy charades, he refuses to provide for his wife and children. He will not stand in the gap for them when they need protection. He is not willing to do the hard work of being a husband and father. This is NOT mere laziness. The sin of the sluggard is bad enough, but this particular slug actively clothes himself in the role of a fine, eminent servant of God “doing the Lord’s work.” As we have seen so often, he is a “nice” man. And as we concluded long ago, nice people are very often the most evil people. They offer water to those dying of thirst, but give none. They promise luscious fruit, but have only worm-infested, putrid rot to those who look to them.
Therefore we see that this passive, nice fellow is actually very aggressively, though covertly, abusing his wife and children. In his “service of the Lord” he has a convenient excuse and a powerfully deceiving disguise, but his true nature is revealed by his refusal to actively love and protect his family. He is that coward Scripture speaks of who will never see the kingdom of God because for all of his talk about doing God’s will, he never does it.

What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. (Matthew 21:28-31)


"How do I Avoid Getting Tied up With Another Abuser?" – A Common Question


Scriptures that Demonstrate an Abuser is Not a Christian+


  1. GladI’mout

    Oh my goodness. I can relate to this post so much. I was married to this type of man for 5 years. He was a missionary. He’s now a hospice chaplain and a pastor of a church. I was his second wife. He was divorced from his first wife. I believed everything he said about his first ex wife- that SHE was the cause of all their problems. He had a soft spoken manner with people he “ministered” to, but would have angry outbursts at me for offenses that would not offend the “normal” person. I used to call his fake voice his “missionary voice” (to myself). I listened to him preach the word and just CRINGE because I knew what a hypocrite he was. I left him, and true to form, I was blamed for all of it. And not one person from his (very small) congregation ever reached out to me to ask me why I left. After reading some books, including A Cry For Justice, I felt I was losing my soul living with this man. I feel for women who have been married to these types of men for long periods of time. Mine was only 5 years and it’s taking me a long time to recover.

    • CJ

      I’ve been married for 22 years. This description of the “Christian” leader abuser describes my husband who was a pastor for most of our marriage. He loved counseling and teaching, studying theology, and going to conferences and getting more degrees. But when it came to loving his children and caring for our needs, especially in our biggest times of need, he never had enough, we were always a burden. I’m in the process of separation hopefully soon to be divorced, and that’s his whole threat, that he won’t give me money, I won’t have enough, my children will live in a dump. He’s absolutely consumed with himself, his greed, and lack of taking care and responsibility. I have six children. The verses on God being a defender of orphans and caring for the oppressed have been life giving to me during this time. God will care for the neglected children and abandoned wife, it’s in His nature; He will never leave us nor forsake us.

      • Jeff Crippen

        CJ – I have been a pastor for 36 years and a church member most all of my life. My view of reality has become increasingly accurate over the years, especially in these last 11 years now ministering to abuse victims almost all who are Christians and most of whom are women. I have not kept count, but I can say that I have been contacted by many, many women married to pastors or missionaries who have wickedly abused them for years, just like your soon to be ex. The reality I have come to see is that the large majority of pastors and churches are counterfeit. It shouldn’t surprise us – it was the same in Jesus’ day. It really always has been the case. But the days of my assuming that most all church members are real Christians and most all pastors know the Lord and truly serve Him, are over. Men just like your abuser crave power and control and praise and often achieve it by becoming church leaders. They study and get degrees just like your abuser, they can preach the finest theologically accurate sermons, they mix it up at the conferences as you say and become denominational leaders – but Jesus has not sent them. He does not know them. He will reject them on that Day and their punishment will be eternal.
        I am so glad you are getting free and that you and your children are able to believe Christ’s promises to care for you, which He of course will. Thank you for telling your story and for the encouragement your words give to us all.

  2. walkinginlight

    Everything you have said here Pastor Crippen is true and eye opening to those who think everyone who says they are a follower of the Lord are not! I have known people through the years who have said “but he says he is a Christian” “oh it would be so evil and wrong to doubt his claim”. I say this is being willfully blind and a fool to what the bible says about this type of person. I even once pointed out the evil actions of a person (they were manipulating to get their own way) and I was told “but I can’t think like that”. And to that I say, I would rather learn what the Lord teaches about evildoers in the bible then to go through life being continuously abused and stream rolled by these evil servants of the evil one! It is better to obey God and learn the “wiles of Satan” then to remain ignorant and cause more grief for everyone by keeping ones head in the sand.

  3. Stormy

    I’ve experienced abuse in churches but mostly in the workplace. I pray that God would deliver me from evil. Yet I repeatedly encounter abusers on the job. I can’t leave my job. What should I do? I’ve tried my own business but couldn’t generate enough income. Do I have to wait till retirement to be delivered from evil? Then I see some women who skate by in life have never experienced abuse and seem insulated from evil. What does it all mean? I keep praying everyday to be delivered from evil- does anyone else feel this angst?

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