Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

I don't talk to Abusers

Gen 3:1  Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Over the years in this ministry to abuse victims, I have been contacted numbers of times by people (mostly men) who are domestic abusers and Christian pretenders. Their line is always pretty much the same: “I don’t want a divorce. I haven’t been a great husband, but that has all changed. I am willing to go to counseling with my wife but she refuses.” Done. Finished. Call ended. Communication over. Why?

Because he is a liar, just like his father the devil. Such wicked ones think they are sooo smart and crafty because they have been used to deceiving everyone and gaining them as allies against their target. But in fact, they are fools. No one who was truly repentant would:

  1. Call me and ask for my assistance
  2. Pressure the victim to go to counseling
  3. Oppose the divorce
  4. Quote the Bible
  5. Or even open their mouths – Job 40:4  “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.”
  6. Ask for her forgiveness (often in the form of a demand)

No, a truly repentant man would shut his mouth, be overcome with the weight of his sin, go away and leave the victim alone, and do all he could “from a far place” to send funds and provision to her but with no direct contact. And he would expect NOTHING in return. Nothing. He would lay all the blame where it belongs – on himself and he would plead with the Lord for salvation and forgiveness even though confessing he is the worst of sinners, deserving of hell.
Oh, and he would NEVER start a “ministry” to help or counsel others. Never (yet we see this kind of thing all the time).
So the moment an abuser phones or emails me, I know what he is. I know that all his claims are lies and furthermore I know that he is never going to change and that I am wasting my time if I try to help him.
This is why I am so critical of “ministries” that focus on counseling and teaching abusers with the goal of “fixing” the marriage. Oh, I know they make claims that they have seen “real results” through their ministry to abusers, but I don’t believe it is real change. Sometimes they aren’t dealing with abusers as we define them at all, but some “difficult” personality. But even then, I mean let’s be honest, which of us really wants to be married to a person who has to be pressured or taught to be kind to us? It would be a sham.

Fred is much better now since he went through this program for abusive men. The leaders are holding him accountable.

Ok, so Fred is a better husband now because he knows that the hammer is going to fall if he steps out of line. Yeah, that’s a real loving husband for you alright.
I hold to my basic anchors which I encourage everyone to found their decisions on:

  1. Abusers (as we define them and know them here) never change.
  2. A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed, it needs to be ended.

Because as soon as you stop talking to and listening to the abuser, you will also stop being fogged and deceived by the devil’s lies.
And that is why I never talk to abusers. Don’t call me. Don’t email me. It isn’t gonna work.


The Spiritual and Christlike Discipline of Rejecting Wicked People


Stop Saying "God hates Divorce"


  1. DC

    I can not thank you enough Pastor Jeff for this post..it is SO on time for me I can not explain it but you have written here what I could not formulate out loud yet it was inside me. I guess it is called truth, the witness of the Holy Spirit which others around me want to quench in the name of their god and make out like I’m a silly little woman who can not possibly hear from God herself about her own life! I am so grateful to read the truth you have written here. I tried to articulate to my abusive husband, who is very dedicated to his church, that a person doesn’t need a third party to tell them how to love their wife or family after he accused me of not wanting to see a counsellor despite years of his silence and contempt behind closed doors. After an entire marriage of problems i thought were all down to me, i woke up and realised this is lies and not what Jesus wants for us. It is sn extremely difficult place to be right now BUT reading these words today are a relief to my burdened soul. thank you

  2. Amy

    Right on! Several men from my former church, which my ex and I attended before he walked out, surrounded my then-husband trying to help him, but all they were really doing was patting him on the back and saying what a poor soul he was because his ungodly wife refused to lay down her bitterness and reconcile with him.
    While the men’s group was trying to ‘help’ him, I received nothing except to be told how no one could take sides, I needed to forgive because we all sinners, and of course,God hates divorce.
    Left that church and never went back.

  3. no one down here

    This is balm to the soul. I feel it should be sent to all the pastors out there… all of them. they won’t believe it, will call it ungodly council, who knows. But this.
    All that has happened by them talking with the person in question… who abused me and the kids… ALL that has happened, is a continuation of abuse and the abusive person feeling like he is untouchable now. Not just a continuation of abuse by the person in question, but now the church leadership is also abusing me by inference, by proxy, and in reality.
    Some infer that “HE” is okay now
    Some infer that “HE” is maybe not okay, but that the marriage can be put back together, and I can go back… even though that will most certainly mean a continuation and worsening of abuse
    They infer abuse by not even admitting that abuse is a thing. They think that by dealing with individual sins… they are going to change the character of someone who already knew that these individual sins were sins and did it anyway, on purpose
    They abuse by proxy by enabling the abuse to continue
    They abuse by proxy by convincing at least one child that everything is okay and I am in the wrong for not believing that the sin has stopped, even though abuse is still ongoing
    they abuse in reality by lying to me, by not admitting the truth, by changing the words of the abusive person before I see them (in the name of “helping the person see his wrong patterns), so that I might think things are better than they actually are, and by insisting that I am, at least in part, responsible for the abuse.
    They abuse in reality by insisting that I should be able to work toward reconciliation with someone who is a liar and who will not tell them the reality of what has happened.

  4. Eyes Open Wide

    Thanks for another timely post! I wanted to seek your opinion of Celebrate Recovery. My husband went there for his porn addiction, and instead of getting help he got empowered by the other men there. He chose a “mentor” that was worse. His wife and child fled to Canada. He brought another “friend” he met there to our house to steal all of our valuables. They also promote CR as their “church”, encouraging an us vs them mentality. Your thoughts?

    • Jeff Crippen

      While I know one person whom I trust that has had a good experience in a CR group, it entirely depends on the leaders and their teaching. I don’t recommend CR to people and certainly not for “recovery” by domestic abusers. Human beings are all the time coming up with gimmicks that replace the truth of Scripture.

  5. eagleovercomer

    Glory to God in the highest.

  6. Sweet Honesty (DJ)

    20+ years (out of almost 30 years) of going to counseling with the ex; he even tried to get me to go, while all along he had he planned to divorce me (I found papers to prove he had planned it 5 years earlier). That last attempt was to try and make himself look good in front of the Judge during the divorce (the case never did go to court) as in, “See, Judge, I tried to save my marriage, but she refused to go.” Counseling sessions are *fishing expeditions* for abusers; they learn all our weaknesses and then use them against us. The counselor never does get to the horrible behavior of the abuser, because the abuser *makes sure* the conversation revolves around all his lies about us and there’s usually physical illnesses we deal with along with anxiety/panic attacks from all the abuse. We look like the problem and the abuser will say just that. The injustices against us are in our homes and behind the doors of a counselor’s office, be it in the secular or “Christian” world.

  7. Praying Lady

    Pastor Crippen, this is a tremendous post! I am so glad that you do not talk to abusers!!
    This paragraph says volumes: “No, a truly repentant man would shut his mouth, be overcome with the weight of his sin, go away and leave the victim alone, and do all he could “from a far place” to send funds and provision to her but with no direct contact. And he would expect NOTHING in return. Nothing. He would lay all the blame where it belongs – on himself and he would plead with the Lord for salvation and forgiveness even though confessing he is the worst of sinners, deserving of hell.”
    Thank you for helping so many victims/survivors with your incredible understanding and Scriptural insight. God bless you and your family.
    Also, I have not been able to click on the “like” buttons and have them record my likes for the comments on this post and your last one when I am signed into my WordPress account.

  8. Kay

    Thank you for your God given insight on abuse

  9. Debbie trying to do good

    Thank you Pastor Crippen!
    One thing my domestic abuse advocate said to me helped seal my decision to leave. It was that if I continued to stay after my eyes were opened to my ex’s true motives and character, she could teach me how to “manage” the marriage. I knew right then that I did NOT want to spend any more of my life with someone who needed to be “managed” rather than someone who loved me. He had already stolen 32 years from me and I was done. I left, filed for divorce and have never regretted it. That was 5 and a half years ago. God truly leads me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Excellent!!! So glad you are free. Yes, who needs a marriage to a person who is like a toxic substance that will destroy you if some kind of “lid” is kept on it!

  10. Change Agent

    Thank you for this post. It can be disorienting to undergo abuse, gaslighting, harassment and slander only to be told that you have to return to a toxic relationship. I appreciate the truth you posted about divorce and the fact that it is not a sin. If the relationship is over and marriage will not even continue in heaven how do we impose on victims that an ended marriage is more important than the victim’s health and safety. Every tool of abuse and all out assault are not foreign to Jesus’ experience. He knows the pain of the victim.
    “They got up, forced Jesus out of the city, and led him to the edge of the hill on which their city was built, intending to throw him off. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. (Lk 4:29-30)”
    May your ministry help victims to push through the hateful crowd and go on their way to a better life.

  11. Ginger

    Jeff, I gave all I could for our 30-year marriage. Eventually, my health started to decline, and I could no longer live peaceably with the love/hate swings used by my husband. Your comments are extremely helpful to those of us who have been programmed by unBiblical teaching that we need to submit more, love more, be quiet more, forgive more, etc. etc. Even now that I am divorced, I need to keep hearing truth about what godly repentance looks like. My ex husband is flooding me with texts, emails, and comments whenever possible that he’s a changed man–all the while he lives in our home, dragging his feet on a court-mandated refinance with the hope that I’ll “see his changes” and give him another chance. He even asked if we could start dating again. It’s all so absurd I can hardly believe it is happening to me. There are really no words to adequately describe the horribleness of being abused in the name of love, and there are equally no words to describe the difficulties encountered in trying to get away. Thanks for all you do.

  12. Allison

    For sure: ” a truly repentant man would shut his mouth, be overcome with the weight of his sin, go away and leave the victim alone, and do all he could “from a far place” to send funds and provision to her but with no direct contact. And he would expect NOTHING in return. Nothing. He would lay all the blame where it belongs – on himself and he would plead with the Lord for salvation and forgiveness even though confessing he is the worst of sinners, deserving of hell.”
    Wow, if my husband would have done that, I would have been thrilled, ecstatic, and so glad to continue my marriage. Instead, he immediately moved on to the next victim soon after I left our 25 year marriage; all the while continuing to disparage me to anyone would would listen!
    I am finally at the point where I have to do no contact as something in me will not allow contact even if I wanted to. Needless to say, I am still recovering. Like our marriage, it’s been no bed of roses but I’m no longer walking on egg shells and suffering from the stress of constant emotional abuse.
    Like a friend recently said to me: “it’s like you were released from prison” The world has definitely changed since I was in prison and I’m still adjusting.

  13. Debby

    Thank you for standing for truth. The emphasis on “helping” the offender is so twisted. You perfectly described what true repentance looks and sounds like. And the reason I know it’s true is because I finally asked myself, “How would I respond if I had egregiously hurt someone?”

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