Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

"But King David Did it" A Line we Hear Repeatedly When Some Leader's Evil is Outed

Recently we had a bit of a go ’round with a fellow who has been a Bill Gothard follower for years. He still wanted to defend Gothard by insisting that we must withhold judgment until “the facts are in.” We maintain that the facts ARE in and Gothard is to be rejected now as still another example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Anyway, this fellow pulled the King David card on us and I think it is important that we carefully think through this typical tactic used by people who simply will not admit that their idol is in fact an evil person hiding behind a facade. Here is what he said:

A man [i.e., King David] committed adultery then murdered to cover it up. Pretty bad. In time, God’s prophet confronted the man, he eventually repented and now and for all time, God says “David is a man after my own heart”.  And the episode, though destructive short term, did not invalidate all the good that David did before the adultery.

There is sooo much wrong in these words. First of all, it is erroneous to compare someone like Gothard with King David. Why? Because, yes, David did in fact repent. Genuinely. Authentically. We have seen none of this in Gothard, nor do we see it in most all the big name “Christian” celebs and leaders who get exposed for what they really are. What we do see in them is denial, superficial tears, and even more telling, their insistence that since “God has forgiven me, you all must forgive me too and let me keep right on in ministry.” David did none of this. David knew he deserved nothing but death. He knew he didn’t deserve to be king. Furthermore, God pronounced longstanding consequences upon David and his family for David’s sin. Yes, David WAS a man after God’s own heart. And that is the fundamental difference between him and these scandalous icon types we see so frequently today.
So don’t let anyone pull the David card on you. Abusers do this all the time, as most all of you know. You have to forgive them, they say, no matter how evil they have been against you, because God forgave David. Well, Mr. Abuser, here’s the catch. YOU are no King David whose Seed would be Messiah and of whose throne there will be no end. You are not, unlike David, a man after God’s own heart. Unlike David, you do not authentically repent. And therefore, not only does your victim not have to forgive you, God Himself does not forgive you.


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  1. walkinginlight

    How very true. And another thing Mr. Abuser will do is yell or scream “I’m sorry”!! indicating he is still in “control”. The tone is very nasty and in their twisted demonized minds they actually expect you to forgive and forget with this pseudo “apology”. Mr. Abuser thinks he is never ever wrong for anything he does and has a “justification” for every horrendous act he commits. Boy, I can’t wait for judgement day and watch how Jesus shows these kind how evil their behavior was.

  2. no one down here

    Just about every day, God is bringing “coincidences” into my life to open my eyes and grant me clarity.
    Was JUST talking about this yesterday, actually. Compare Saul and David. Saul started off “well,” praising God, looking humble. Saul sinned… Saul repented. Saul’s repentance “looked good,” but was rejected by God.
    David started off well, praised God, WAS humble. David sinned. David repented. David’s repentance was accepted by God.
    What in the world is the difference?
    1) a matter of the heart. God sees the heart, God knows the one with the real repentance vs the one who is “repenting” for show.
    2) David’s repentance was shown in that he accepted God’s judgement, God’s consequences, and fell down castigating himself – against You, God, You only, have I done this horrible thing. It is my fault. I did it. God, don’t cast me away forever. Please have mercy. Emphasis here is on David’s understanding that it was ALL his fault, and that his fellowship with Yahweh was broken. David knew he could not live without God.
    3) Saul’s “repentance” was a “sorry that I got caught.” It’s obvious in that he excused himself and blamed the people of Israel, he confessed to Samuel only, not to God, and he showed that most important to him was saving face – asking Samuel to return with him and honor him before the people …. demonstrate to everyone that he was all about worshiping God.
    4) God’s rejection of Saul shows that these characteristics are RED FLAGS that help us discern what only God knows – the truth of the heart.
    In both situations, there were real consequences that did not go away.

  3. Riley

    Can we please stop using the word ‘adultery’ when referring to David? What he did was rape. There was an unequal power dynamic. David and Bathsheba were not peers. She couldn’t have refused if she had wanted to. It was rape, not adultery. Acknowledging this will help the eons of women who have been coerced into unequal-power dynamic relationships with male clergy in modern times. It will help us label current issues with this topic as rape, and not adultery. It will also put the blame where it belongs – on the perpetrator, and not the victim.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Agreed. The unequal power dynamic. The ground is not level.

    • GypsyAngel

      Good point! Words Have Power!
      Part of the problem that is facing victims of Domestic Violence and Rape is the language used in everyday conversations. Language that somehow; if not laying the responsibility for the act directly at the feet of the victim, places part of the blame on the victim. Language has so much to do with how individuals view an incident. Especially where the media is concerned; when they talk about how a victim”pushed him over the edge,” they are blaming the victim. When they say where a victim was (club, dark street, home alone) or what they were doing (jogging alone, drinking, dancing), they paint a picture of culpability. We can not change how perpetrators are held accountable unless and until we change the language in how these events are described and therefore, how they are perceived.
      If we want to change how the courts and police deal with abusers, rapist, and IPVmurders, we MUST change how we talk about them.

  4. Debby

    I have seriously decided that the only sign of true repentance is the abuser’s INSISTENCE that they lose any and all places of prominence and authority and their own willingness to make sacrificial restitution. A truly repentant heart is NOT INTERESTED IN WHAT THEY CAN WALK AWAY WITH OR MAINTAIN. And that’s ALL I see with these haughty Bill Gothards of the world.

  5. Enough

    Wow. I just read the story about this wolf in sheep’s clothing. If I have learnt anything over the last decade, it is this:
    A predator wears his God mask well. Only when it slips, can we see the true evil behind it. I am so sick of hearing the phrase: “Let’s wait until we have all the details before passing judgement.”
    Nope. I was married and subsequently divorced a ‘God mask’ predator. It took 18 years for me to finally see behind the mask and when I did, it has taken seven years for me to process the level of evil behind it. I’m still in therapy over what I have and continue to discover years later, post divorce.
    It’s like Maya Angelou’s quote: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
    Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for this timely article and your explanation behind it. It only solidifies what I continue to learn about the wolf and his sheep. I won’t ever stop learning.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Enough- you’re experience is mine as well. It took years to understand. I was willing to learn but was loaded down with false teaching in church and seminary

  6. GypsyAngel

    As was noted by NODH, God used the examples of David and Saul to show us the difference between true repentance and “lip service” when an individual is claiming to have repented. David truly repented, God forgave him. We can note too; that David also dealt with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life and never once tried to deflect away from his responsibilities for that sin. On the other hand, Saul attempted to use the prophet Samuel as a flying monkey to create a smokescreen to cover up his sin. Quite similar to what is happening in the case of Gothard. His minions are more than willing to go to bat for this “poor repentant sinner.” All I can say is look at the fruit. The evidence is indeed “in.”
    We see this way too often not just with supposed Christians, but with politicians and others in positions of authority who have been caught in immoral and harmful acts. They have others of similar ilk, and those they have bamboozled, go to bat for them proclaiming repentance and change. Only to find out later that they remained the same evildoers that they were before being outed. Abusers everywhere often try to play the “repentance” card while trying to pull their target victims back into the fog. I know of several examples, including the ex-abuser in my life. While he looked good on the surface and had convinced the clergy and elders of his repentant heart, his fruit was still as rotten as a desiccated, bug eaten tomato.
    I do have a question though; how do we tell? How do we not get drawn back into the trap of accepting false repentance, until we see the bad fruit emerge again. I fell so often for the “I’ve changed, I’m different” ploy. And while I know better concerning the ex [I won’t pick up that snake again, he bit me too many times], and I have fine-tuned my narcissist detector; we aren’t always able to view the rotten fruit until its too late. I suppose taking a watch and wait position is acceptable, but what if the person has genuinely repented, and is allowing God to do the work in them? Is it better to forgive while leaving yourself vulnerable to harm? I guess I’m stuck between being forgiving and being careful.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Here is how I tell the difference- abusers as we define them NEVER change. Never repent. I reject their claims.

    • GISB

      GypsyAngel, for me it’s the old adage: “Once is a mistake, twice is a pattern.” I will never again not question someone who repeats a pattern of deception. If someone has deceived me after I have forgiven them and they repeat the pattern, they’re OUT. That person will be cut out of my life immediately. I’ve come too far to allow the devastation of energy vampires to suck the life out of me. No thanks.

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