Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

**Thoughts on Wolves Hiding Among the Flock

Here is the entirety of 2 Peter 2.  You have to read the whole thing in order to get the “punch line” at the very end.  Go for it, then I have some comments below.

2 Peter 2:1-22 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2) And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. (3) And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (4) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (5) if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (6) if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; (7) and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (8) (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); (9) then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, (10) and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, (11) whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. (12) But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, (13) suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. (14) They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! (15) Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, (16) but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (17) These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. (18) For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. (19) They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. (20) For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. (21) For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (22) What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.

While there certainly are some difficult parts in this passage, I just want to focus on two predominant themes.  These relate to the question regarding whether an abuser will ever repent and change.  Here are the two points drawn from this passage:

  1. There are people who have come to a “knowledge” of Christ, even showing initial fruits of repentance, who return to the world and are marked out by God for eternal destruction.  In other words, they are reprobate.  The doors of grace are closed to them.
  2. These people can be known.  At least the kind that Peter is talking about here.  He identifies them.  They are false prophets. But not just any false prophet.  They are people who once professed Christ.  Then, like a dog returning to its vomit, they returned to their corruption.  They begin to renounce Christ by teaching heresy, denying Christ and trying to persuade others to follow them.

I suggest to you that many Christians who are abuse survivors can tell you stories about how their “Christian” spouse did this very thing.  Like a pig who has been washed, he jumped back into the muck and  filth of the world.
This is completely in agreement then with what we see in Hebrews 6:4-8 when we talk about people for whom repentance is now impossible.
And I want to suggest one final point which I realize will be highly controversial with many Christians.  I don’t write about these kinds of topics just to stir things up and get attention.  Believe me, after 37 years as a pastor, the last thing I want is attention!  Anyway, here is the point:  I believe that the Lord does not require us to pray for such people.  I think they are the kind that John had in mind when he wrote:  1 John 5:16 “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.”
I don’t presume to have the last word on these things and I am certainly open for everyone’s comments.  But please consider – do you see Peter praying for the salvation of the people he is speaking about in 2 Peter 2 (above)?   Of course not.  What if…..just what if….we are doing a real disservice to the work of Christ, to the world, to our churches, by failing to teach and warn that it is quite possible for a person to cross a point of no return?  Does not the Bible very often caution us to not look back at Sodom, to press with violence into the kingdom of Christ, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and so on?  Hebrews is filled with warnings like this.  But our pulpits do not seem to be.
We need to be reminded that ships do not drift into safe harbor.  And neither will we. Abusers sitting in our churches need to be warned clearly and plainly that if they persist in what they are doing, they will surely become the very people 2 Peter 2 is talking about.  Dogs to the vomit.  Pigs to the muck.   We need to turn up the heat so these kind of wicked ones leave. Sin is way too comfortable in our churches.  And victims of abuse are paying the price for it.


Do not Take Your Guidance from Fables Like this


Saul of Tarsus was not an Abuser – Let me show you why


  1. Rowan on the high mountain

    Thanks again Pastor Jeff. I’ve found myself thinking along similar lines over the past year or two–that it’s hubris to believe we can save everyone by preaching to them or praying for them. It isn’t that I think it’s impossible for any particular person to be saved, but that’s for God, not us. We may be able to have some influence on those who are merely unknowing, apathetic, or self-indulgent, but once people are capable of harming others without remorse, they’re beyond human rescue. No matter how much empathy we have, how much we might care about them, we can’t help them.
    What I now think about those entangled in narcissistic or abusive patterns is that we can do nothing for them until they choose to feel the weight of the harm they’ve caused and turn toward God. Most people who’ve spent years hurting others are not willing or able to bear this, so they continue the same pattern and justify their actions by minimizing the harm or blaming their victims. If they go on long enough in this way, they eventually pass their own point of no return, where any glimmer of light causes so much pain that they prefer to cut themselves off from even the possibility of redemption.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Rowan. Truth

    • livinglifeontheswitchfoot

      So good! “We can do nothing for them, until they feel the weight of the harm they’ve caused”. I had no idea what was happening to me in my marriage. It’s “a slow burn” chipping away piece by piece so it’s not even noticed until the fire is blazing. Just like the frog in a pot if water on the stove. Blessings

      • LookingUp

        As a result of this post and comments, I’ve been rereading and pondering Jeremiah this morning and had an “ah-ha”moment, which I will get to shortly. This blog and the comments are so valuable. Been a silent follower for years.
        I have always liked the Old Testament. Without the Old you can NOT appreciate nor rightly handle the New. Taking verses out of context is rampant and drives me crazy. So do “bible” studies where…for the sake of not making newbies uncomfortable, they say. ….. we can only talk about the exact passage of the day, not the whole counsel of God! ARRRRGGGHHH! Never mind the stupid things said that everyone, including the leaders, nod their heads to! I end up being the odd woman out who speaks up offering opposing/balancing scripture. Or I say, let’s read what’s before and after, so we know what the “therefore” is there for.
        If we can’t really ponder and chew on scripture together in order to rightly handle it, what are we there for? Apparently not that. I’ve even been “talked to” later about breaking that cardinal rule that everyone can make their own conclusions as long as they’re using only the exact passage in the study at hand. No corrections allowed.
        Now to my ah-ha as it applies to abuse and the current discussion of when to stop praying.
        In reading from Jeremiah 7 on through 14 this morning, 13:23 jumped out. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? THEN ALSO you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” (Obviously , the correct answer is NOT!) Don’t you love the humor sprinkled through Scripture to get a point across – when you keep it in context!
        Ta-da! Now I really see what that visual comparison is in there for. More solid ground to stand on to tell guilt trippers, Depart, you obviously don’t know scripture!
        I prayed for 5 decades. That’s more than enough. Quit praying for him years ago cause scripture says to stop. No guilt.
        Been physically on my own almost 7 years now! Wohooo! Before that I was little more than death warmed over by the abuse. Terrified to get out. Healing takes so much work and time. Out with lies believed. In with Truth. False friends fell away quickly. The real few held fast. New girlfriends have come alongside. Joy comes. Heaven’s longed for more than ever.
        God’s word proves true. Prov 30 :5. Hallelujah!
        Be brave. Learn to use the whole counsel of GOD to walk in truth. And hold your head up! Jesus is coming again to set it all right!
        Thanks everyone for your helpful comments.

        • Jeff Crippen

          Truth here! Oh man, yes. Those “Bible studies.” “Now everyone, let’s share what this verse means to you.” Put a stop to those things long ago.

        • livinglifeontheswitchfoot

          Thank you for jumping in here with your comment. Your words encouraged and fed my spirit today. It’ll 5 years in May. Yes, healing takes so much time and work. More than I ever realized. My brain is waking up and I’m finding me again…piece by piece. And yes! False friends fell away! These past 10 days are the first sweet peaceful joyful contentment that I can recall. Pure joy. I too am “looking up”.

  2. Praying Lady

    This is another excellent post, Pastor Crippen. Thank you!
    There are 3 verses in Jeremiah where the Lord told Jeremiah NOT to pray for people. They are Jeremiah 7:16, Jeremiah 11:14 and Jeremiah 14:11. The Lord highlighted those verses to me after He told me to stop praying for my ex-husband. I had been praying for him for over 30 years when he tried to kill me. 1 John 5:16 was another verse that the Lord showed me, confirming that I needed to stop praying for an evil man.
    My ex told me at one point that he “sat around trying to think of the best ways to hurt me.” He was an “ordained minister” who put on an incredible act in public, but was the exact opposite at home, practicing known sin on a daily basis and abusing me in every way possible. Narcissists and sociopaths like him do not stop because they get satisfaction from hurting others.
    I will be forever grateful to God for rescuing me from over 3 decades of living with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I pray that women who are currently being abused, or escaped from an abusive relationship with a wicked man, will be able to receive the healing and freedom they need.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Praying Lady – those are VERY important verses. Thank you.

    • These are the three verses from Jeremiah that Praying Lady referred to in her comment:
      Jeremiah 7:16 16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”
      Jeremiah 11:14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.”
      Jeremiah 14:11 “The Lord said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.”
      1 John 5:16 “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.”

    • livinglifeontheswitchfoot

      That is ALOT to think about as I continue to pray for my ex-spouse (I refuse to call him my ex-husband as he never behaved as such). So thought provoking and I’m certainly going to reread it and study it.
      I prayed for him for 30 years, then couldn’t even speak his name. I’ve encouraged my sons to pray for him, but am I doing damage to them and myself by continuing to do so? I’ll never mention it to them again. I think the Lord May be taking this off my plate. I’m actually understanding a few things as I type this…it’s becoming clear. I’m continuing to accept responsibility for him. He put all the blame and shame on me from the minute we met and in this area I’m still accepting it. No more. Done and done!! Journaling is cathartic and often we get down to the core of it. Blessings

    • Z

      Thank you Praying Lady and Pastor Crippen for all these important but never preached Bible verses commanding us NOT to pray for those God Himself has destined for destruction. Because of their KNOWING CHOICE of living in habitual evil (especially after having known God and His power). We are not the Holy Spirit. God is telling us in His Word that there are those even He has turned His back on. What freedom in knowing those verses! I always felt guilty because I felt no urge of the Holy Spirit to pray for my abusers. Now I know why I felt that way! I wasn’t supposed to be praying for such reprobates. How exciting it is when the Word of God is rightly taught. It always leads to our freedom from any condemnation that false and plainly wrong teaching puts on us.
      Thank you Praying Lady and Pastor Crippen for your sharing your Holy Spirit-led teachings.

    • Innoscent

      In an online Bible study on prayer several years ago, the pastor quoted 1 Samuel 12.23 to the group, which made it sound that we should never ever cease to intercede for people.
      “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:” (Samuel is speaking here).
      I then quoted the Jeremiah verses you mentioned Prayer Lady and I never got a reply from the pastor.
      When you look at the context of 1 Sam 12, the people had just repented of asking Samuel for a king and were still redeemable and teachable. That’s the danger of pulling verses out of context.

  3. livinglifeontheswitchfoot

    Can you please break down 1st John 5:16.?

    • Jeff Crippen

      1 John 5:16 has those Jeremiah verses as context. Jeremiah helps us interpret 5:16. Both Jeremiah and John are speaking of hardened, apostates – the same as described in Heb 6:4-6. These abusers who have played Christian but are actually evil fit this category.

  4. no one down here

    Never saw the Jeremiah verses before. So, as I process, I’m thinking about this:
    Jeremiah 7, starting in verse 3 – God tells the people to “correct their ways and their deeds and He will allow them to live in that place.” God continues and says “Do not trust deceitful words, chanting: This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD. Instead, if you REALLY CHANGE your ways and your actions… I will allow you to live in the land”
    what are the actions they are supposed to change?
    starting in verse 5:
    *Act justly toward one another
    *no longer oppress the stranger, the fatherless, the widow (all people they are responsible for the care of… just like their own family…)
    *do not shed innocent blood
    *do not follow other gods (idols are not just pieces of wood or stone, they are anything that you place in higher esteem than Jehovah)
    Then, God says – But look, you keep trusting in deceitful words that can’t help. (They are lying to themselves and to everyone around. They are saying, “We are good. We are repented. We trust the one true God” but it is all lies, based on fact of their behavior.)
    From God again: (vs 9-10) Do you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, follow other gods? and then you come and stand before ME (Holy God) and say “we are delivered”?
    Because they have done all those things… and because he spoke to them time and again, and they never changed behavior, He will drive them out. (vs 13-15)
    Then. “Do not pray for these people… Do not offer a cry or prayer on their behalf, do not beg me… I will not listen to you.” Later, vs 20 … Look, my anger, my burning wrath is about to be poured out.
    And on and on and on, pictures of complete destruction, burning wrath of God. HUGE defense of His name. (Because, it is all about God, not about us)
    In Jeremiah 14, Jeremiah asks God … “Oh no, Lord God! The prophets are telling them, you won’t see sword or suffer famine. I will certainly give you peace” (reference current modern day pastors telling these wicked abusers “oh, it’s okay. you said you repented. good. God will give you peace.”)
    God’s answer?!! These prophets are prophesying a lie in My Name. I did not send them. I did not command them or speak to them. They are prophesying a false vision, worthless divination, deceit of their own minds…. By sword and famine these prophets will meet their end.
    Really, a lot of commentary is unnecessary. It’s all laid out in black and white. The people are oppressing other people, they are idolatrous, and they go to the temple (church) and declare their repentance, while still serving gods of their own making. God declares judgement not only the wicked ones, but also on the pastors who enable this.

    • Jeff Crippen

      And that is why the churches today for the most part are counterfeit. It is why they ally with abusers and oppress victims. They are wicked, idolatrous, and unrepentant yet continue to insist the Lord is with them. For such people we are not to waste our time praying. Thank you!

  5. livinglifeontheswitchfoot

    I have a question! I’m looking at two of your books to read, a Cry for Justice and Unholy Charade. If I read Unholy Charade will I learn most of the info in the first book? Deciding which to buy now

    • Jeff Crippen

      A Cry for Justice is longer, in some ways more thorough. Unholy Charade is a shorter read but pretty well covers the important topics. I would say it depends on how thoroughly you want to read up on the subject. One of the reasons for Unholy Charade being published as the second book is that I wanted to tell additional accounts of abuse that I had learned about since ACFJ was published, and I wanted something a bit shorter and lower price to serve as an alternative for people.

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