Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

When Men as leaders Forfeit Their Right to Lead

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Jdg 4:4-5)

I am no expert on the era of the Judges and I do not claim to know with certainty why a woman, Deborah, was chosen by the Lord to be the judge of the nation in those days. I do know that it was a dark time “when every man did what was right in his own eyes.” But certainly one explanation could be that the men of the nation had forfeited their right and duty to lead.
Sin in the life of a leader in the household of God can mean forfeiture of his position of leadership. God could have removed David as king, though for His glory and His faithfulness to His covenant, He did not. In Saul’s case, kingship was removed. And so it had been in the history of the kings of Israel.
Recently I read an article by the boys over at The Gospel Coalition, for whom I have no respect. I do not respect them because they continue to rally to each other’s case when one of their “buds” is in trouble. See the whole CJ Mahaney, SGM fiasco as an example. TGC fellows have been sounding the “anti-abuse” trumpet lately it seems to me, and in this article I just read you have them going on and on about how the Bible and Jesus in particular show the value of women.
It is true that the Bible and Jesus in particular show the value of women. Jesus highly valued women and the examples given in the TGC article are accurate. Then the article moves on to its main point —complementarianism. Men are to be the leaders in the church, in the marriage, in the family, and so on. I don’t want to get into that whole debate here. I hate people demanding that I embrace the label “complementarian” or “egalitarian” for myself. I prefer to say “I believe what the Bible teaches about men and women and marriage and family and church.”
My point here is this. Ok, let’s say that the Bible teaches that men are to be pastors and elders in the church, not women. And that men are to be the leaders in their marriage and in their home. That women, all things being equal, are not to be in those positions. Then here is my challenge to the men.
Why should the Lord continue to entrust any man with the oversight of Christ’s church when that man continues to cover for and enable wicked abusers? What makes you so certain that the Lord would not appoint a godly woman in the place of such an ungodly man? It is evident and plain for anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear that evil, wicked, oppressive abuse IS being enabled and covered for by church leaders, many if not most of whom are men. Do you really think that male leadership in the church is more important to the Lord than justice and mercy and courageous defense of the oppressed? Do you think that the Lord would rather have a “good ‘ol boy” who protects evildoers leading His flock than a woman who is a true daughter of Abraham?
Evil, power-and-control hungry, wicked men ARE being protected and covered for in many if not most local churches. Those who want to deny that, well, we have nothing to say to you as long as you choose willful blindness. Will the Lord be with any such “shepherd” who feeds himself and not Christ’s lambs? Of course not. To the boys at TGC and really to all men who are leaders in the church and who protect abusers and add to the oppression of victims, I say: You should take a very hard look at yourself and your ministry to see if the glory of the Lord has not already departed from you and that shepherds after His own heart are not being raised up elsewhere in places you might never even think to look. You may well find yourself and your ministry “Ichabod.”
And then one final note. Just because a woman is a woman does not guarantee that she will be a friend to the oppressed. Notice that in my above statements I specified that the Lord may use a GODLY woman — a woman who truly knows Christ and who knows His Word and possesses His wisdom. Many professing Christian women, like many men, do not. Many of the abuser-friendly comments which side with the abuser are made by women.
If the Lord does raise up a woman to lead, she will most certainly be a woman like Deborah, full of His Spirit and His wisdom. One of the chief signs that she has those qualities is how she responds to evil and the victims of evil.


Patriarchal Abusive Marriage is a Counterfeit of Marriage — and thus is very Deceiving


Where Should we Expect to Find the Enemy?


  1. Debby

    This sounds a lot like God is saying, “Well, dudes, if you won’t be Godly leaders, I will be forced/choose my SECOND PLACE choice, a WOMAN, and don’t think I wont, mister!
    This: “Do you think that the Lord would rather have a “good ‘ol boy” who protects evildoers leading His flock than a woman who is a true daughter of Abraham?” seems to indicate that “all things being equal” (which usually precedes statements supporting something NOT equal) God WOULD “rather” have a true, Godly man who calls out evildoers leading His flock “than” a true daughter of Abraham doing the same thing.
    And perhaps you DO agree that He would “rather.” To be honest, after years steeped in patriarchy, I am grappling with the whole issue of comp vs. egal. Why would God give leadership gifts and talents to a woman if His expectation is that she can’t lead BECAUSE she is a wonan, or can ONLY exercise her God-given gifts if a leadership role is only available through forfeiture? Rhetorical question. As I said, grappling…

    • Jeff Crippen

      Debby – Yep, agreed. That whole subject has been so fogged up by Scripture twisting that I also find it difficult to sort out. It’s odd because as I look back over these years of pastoral ministry, I see that I had all these false traditions laid on me (in regard to head/submit, etc) BUT in fact not practicing those things with my wife. I mean, we just never related that way in the sense of I’m the boss and you obey.
      I think that the Lord has appointed men to be leaders BECAUSE when you lead, you do battle with the wicked and you protect Christ’s flock. And when you do that, the battle gets intense and the arrows fly at you. And I think that the Lord expects the men to stand in front where those arrows are flying, not hide behind while the women and children get shot. And I think that is the very thing that is happening today in so-called churches. Men (in the church) are so often abusing their leadership. They are not fighting the real battle they are called to fight and instead they are oppressing the women and children.
      When I say that God would rather have a godly woman than an evil man leading His church, I do not mean that women are second best choice. The vast majority of my true Christian friends are women and I highly respect their insights and wisdom. But what I do mean is that the wicked men who are so typically leading churches today should hang their heads in shame because it is largely the women who are fighting the good fight in Christ while the men cower. I mean, just look at this whole domestic abuse thing in the churches. Look at the commenters on this blog. Who are they for the most part? Women. Who has the insights and wisdom about evil? Women who have been its victims.
      In the end, I can say this. I know very, very, very few men who are pastors who I respect. As a whole, I don’t like pastors at all. But I know MANY godly women who largely became godly through all the suffering from evil that they have gone through. They aren’t pastors or elders, “officially.” But I ask, in God’s sight, just who are the real leaders of Christ’s flock? Those who truly know Him and understand the enemy’s doings? Or those who willfully remain blind to evil and in fact become its allies?
      Oh, and let me just suggest this to everyone. I dumped the egalitarian/complementarian labels years back. I don’t find them helpful because they really are not biblical words. I say, “I believe Ephesians 5.” And it is up to us to work that Scripture out in loving truth.

  2. Z

    The issue of ungodly men in leadership of churches and families is a very real one and seemingly more rampant now only because these things are being exposed more.
    I’ve had this experience first-hand with male pastors and elders to whom I disclosed my abuse at home as a child by professing “christian” parents. Then again later I sought pastors’ and elders’ help as an abused adult. As commonly happens to abused children as adults, I married another abuser. Conditioning. Didn’t know what red flags were. Abuse was my “normal”. But all these pastors and elders failed me greatly and caused me to endure MUCH more and longer physical and mental harm because of their defense of the abusers. I was to be “more submissive” to my abusive parents and later “more submissive” to my abusive husband. NO COMPASSION from these “men of God” for a victim-a child of God-whose whole life was filled with nothing but abuses.
    But the worst betrayals came from women church leaders in my own “christian” family. One was and is a church elder of long standing. The other is an ordained minister and associate pastor. They too enabled and excused the abuses of my parents and now ex-husband/abuser and they still cover up the abuse they know about FIRST-HAND. They witnessed it.
    Do I think God long ago departed them? Yes, 100%. They engaged in bigger lies and a more blatant charade by cozying up to my abusive “christian” parents to excuse their cowardice and complicity in evil. I finally spoke honestly and Biblically to them and called it what it was-walking with the wicked, enabling known abuse, complicity in evil and hypocrisy. I called it into the light. Their continuation in their acts against God are abhorrent to me. I believe they are abhorrent to God as well.
    As the Bible says in Ezekiel 33:8-9:
    “When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and YOU do not SPEAK OUT to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person WILL die for their sins, and I WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR BLOOD.
    But if you DO WARN THE WICKED PERSON TO TURN FROM THEIR WAYS and they do not do so, they will die for THEIR SIN, but you yourself will be saved.”
    I have no blood on my hands. I spoke the truth to the wicked.
    However, the hell the continuing abusers are facing will also be blood on the hands of their “christian” enablers. They are still at it. They are complicit in evil and therefore will be judged by God as such. Facing the same fate of hell as their abuser chums.

    • Stormy

      One of my favorite comments that I would like to say to the abusers if given the chance would be this. “You stood with the evil, wicked, conman, criminal abuser during this life and you can stand by him on judgement day too!”

      • Z

        Amen, Stormy! Our God always does what is RIGHT & GOOD & JUST. The very foundations of His Throne are Righteousness & Justice. I believe those who stand or stood with our abusers WILL hear something like your comment from Him on Judgment Day. His Word says they have blood on their hands. There will be eternal consequences for that.
        God bless you my sister! 🙏🏽

  3. walkinginlight

    Your comment really resonated with me and the Lord used it to confirm to me what I went through with evil abusers in the family and the complicit enablers, not standing up to evil or firmly speaking out against it. I am very familiar with the scripture in Ezekiel 33 concerning the “watchman”. The Lord personally gave me that verse many years ago concerning apostasy at my church. I have obeyed that scripture in the fear of the Lord and do not want to be guilty of having someone’s blood on my hands for not opening my mouth and warning when there was a chance. We all have the promises of the Lord that He will take care of those causing us great pain and affliction.

    • Z

      Dear Walkinginlight,
      I’m glad the Lord used my comment and experiences to speak to you and give you a confirmation. Praise God, He always has us in His sights and cares about every detail of our lives and our concerns. And He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit to comfort and validate us.
      I agree with you. I would not want to be in the position of knowingly having blood on my hands by disobeying God’s clear Word that we are to SPEAK OUT to evildoers to TRY to prevent their fate in eternal hell. At least TRYING & SPEAKING OUT absolves Christians of complicity and the blood on their hands. But too many are so arrogant and do not fear the Lord’s Holy Wrath! They seem to fear losing the “camaraderie” of the abusers, the “perks” of being in good standing with them, the avoidance of any “cost” to them like loss of relationships with the abusers’ allies..MORE than they fear God’s Judgment. What fools! Living for comfort in THIS world. Thinking God will forget His Word or change His mind about the blood on their hands. We know better. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. God’s Word says to>GET WISDOM! But they don’t. And they will suffer the consequences along with their abuser comrades.

    • Z

      Dear Walkinginlight,
      I forgot to add what I feel is something very important among us-victim/survivors of “fake christian” abuse. Whether it was done by family, pastors/church leaders or both, it doesn’t matter. We’ve formed a community here. We support one another. And we pray for one another.
      So, forgive me for forgetting to tell you I’m praying for you! 🙏🏽 God bless and keep you.

  4. IrisJane

    It’s a lonley road being the only one to ‘speak out’ against the abuse and evil so prevalent in one’s family and church, I’m so grateful for your ministry Pastor Crippen, and also for all the courageous women who see, hear, and understand the depth of the trauma that is being perpetrated on Christ’s true church.
    I pray the eyes, ears, hearts, and spirits of those being blinded by the doctrin of false forgiveness would be opened to the truth of the continual, permeating evil churches and so-called Christian families, and that their rose colored glasses would be torn/ripped off, so the truth can be seen clearly and unmistakably…and that they would truly repent of their blindness.
    This past week I was speaking out against some extreme covert abuse that was going on and of course I was the one labeled bitter, angry and wrong, even though it was obvious what was going on. The abuser got a pass, again, despite the poison being spewed from their mouths upon the victims.
    These comments and this thread have helped me to feel better about the fact that I’ve continually spoken out, and I pray that God has been pleased by it.
    Blessings to all of you!

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