Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Ephesians 5:11 and Exposing Evil – A Real Case

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible  (Eph 5:11-13)
Jesus exposed evil. The Light of the World does that. His people are the light of the world and we are to do the same evil-exposing that He did. His Word shows us the pattern:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23:25)
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. (2 Timothy 4:14-15)
I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1:9-10)
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor 5:1-2)

Need I go on? This is the pattern of Light exposing evil as God commands. Is it the typical pattern we see in churches now? Hardly.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Notice very carefully that the failure to expose evil hiding in the church is necessarily then to participate in that evil. When child molesters parading as Christians are tolerated, excused, “forgiven,” “loved,” and thereby not exposed for what they are, the church leaders and members who refuse to obey the Lord are in fact molesting those children themselves because by their disobedience they are participants in these sordid deeds.

Every pastor, church leader, or professing Christian who makes the accusation that exposure of an evildoer is gossip or slander against a “Christian brother” is calling the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles gossips and slanderers.
Recently myself and our church elders had a firsthand encounter with wickedness. A man who had come to our church one Sunday over a decade ago suddenly showed up again. Walked right in, all dressed very meticulously in suit and tie, very pious looking, taking notes, carrying his Bible and so on. It took me a bit to remember who he was, but eventually I did. The last time he was there was his last time there! We had told him to leave and not come back. Why? Because he was on a mission. He was carrying a whole pile of books on marriage and divorce and the reason he had come was to “enlighten us” with his discovery that anyone who is divorced is not permitted by God to remarry while their ex is living and if they do, they are guilty of adultery AND therefore he was “called” to tell them that they needed to divorce from their present spouse. Fun guy, eh?
No, you aren’t going to do that here. You are gone.
Now here he is back again over a decade later. Pious smile. Pleasant greeting to me. Speaking of what a fine church we have. This is what you can call crazy-making. It’s like a guy smiling at you and saying in words how much he likes you while at the same time he’s pointing a gun at you! It’s all done very intentionally. “Ok, Mr. M., you need to come back to my office with me.” Certainly, that would be great!
So we sit down with M. “Don’t I recall that we had some trouble the last time you were here?” “Oh yes, you told me I was a prideful man and needed to leave.” Still a pleasant smile, pleasant tone, no hint of anger.” “Do you still hold to those notions about marriage and divorce that you did and is it your intent to tell others those things?” “Oh yes.” Still smiling. Calm tone. Friendly face. Meticulous tie, dress shirt, suit.
“Well, M., you have to leave. You cannot be here. You are not allowed here.” I opened the door for him.
“Oh, well, you want me to leave? If I had known that I certainly would not have wanted to cause any problems. Certainly I will leave.” Exit out the door. STILL mind-boggling “pleasantness.”
Ha! Our two elders who were present and who had been getting ready to pray for the worship service about the begin, looked up and said, “What just happened?”  We all just shook our heads. We knew this guy’s motives, whatever they were, certainly were evil. BUT I ASSURE YOU THAT IF YOU HAD BEEN THERE YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT HE WAS THE NICEST GUY. And you may well have thought that we were being harsh to the poor man. After all, he had also told us “my wife is still very ill.” Yes, and most people assume that his WIFE is the problem!
I have absolutely no doubt that many if not most professing Christians and pastors are convinced that to handle a fellow like this in this manner is unloving, unkind, un-Christian, and just plain wrong. The Bible says otherwise. I choose to go with Scripture. This man was exposed. His darkness was illuminated. Evil was put out from our midst. And if we could only know what such men have done and continue to do in the darkness, we would agree with Paul that it is so shameful it is hard to even speak about them.


Let Me Say this Once Again – Evil Claims it can Read Our Motives and Thoughts


New Book by Jeff Crippen is Now Published: Wise as Serpents: Growing Wise to the Evil Among Us


  1. Stomping Marigold

    Furthermore, if you analyze a women’s retreat as being New Age, citing sources. And you get pushback after pushback after pushback, being falsely accused of gossip. And this goes all the way to the pastor’s wife who asks you if you have an open mind. That tells you all you need to know. False church.
    Same thing with various book studies and seminars in the mega church. If you say anything critical, you are less-than, unenlightened. Evasive replies when you bring anything up. A worried look on their faces, “Oh no, is she going to be a problem?” Mistreating me and then jetting off to a “Leadership conference.” I used to call the women’s ministry The Book ‘O The Month Club. Full of “Alexandras” amirite?
    Most of it is very subtle like you say.
    If you get flak and/or obfuscation for rightly saying “Hey, this isn’t right,” you’re probably dealing with covert unbelievers.
    Hopefully exposition like this post will help some realize what they are dealing with before they waste DECADES in false churches like I did.
    Perhaps this current era is one where generally, the true believers move away from the buildings made with hands and into the new catacombs on fb live.

  2. Amy

    Wow, I think you are talking about my ex! LOL Seriously, this is exactly how he behaved and many people in the church we had attended thought my ex was the nicest guy, then when he walked out on me and our boys 11 years ago everyone thought he was the poor guy whose wife kicked him out and wouldn’t forgive him. He was just some poor lost soul in their eyes, but in reality he was playing them all like fools while most turned away from me like I was some wicked woman.
    Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for writing these truths about evil within our churches.

    • Innoscent

      Amy, same with my ex. Nice, smiling, “all dressed very meticulously in suit and tie, very pious looking”, he looked like a model at a fashion show. Appearance management.
      In a conversation with one sibling telling him the truth about my ex, he said that he “couldn’t help but feel pity for him”. So I asked “shouldn’t the pity be for the victim (i.e. me)?” It’s likely he saw my ex as the victim and me as the bad one letting down such a ‘nice guy’.

      • Amy

        Yes, it was the same with people feeling so sorry for my ex. He could bring on the tears at the drop of a hat and just appear like this super sensitive person. When we were out with people, he would reach over for my hand even though just before we got there he had been verbally abusing me to the point of me being in tear. He was and still is, a master manipulator yet there are people to this day, 11 years later after he walked out on me, that still think he’s just a poor lost soul. And those are the people who my ex would tear apart behind their backs.

  3. Cara

    That we are to expose evil and talk plainly about wickedness is such a crucial teaching. It’s almost never taught in churches. That’s why I was almost wistful about bringing back the ‘fire and brimstone’ style preaching because I feel that most churches have gone way to far in the opposite direction where everyone is welcome, let’s all hold hands, cheap, blanket forgiveness and grace for all, ‘lovefest’.
    Girls, especially, are drilled to “be nice” and “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all” and that “every time you point at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you” kind of nonsense. Then comes the “gossip” accusations where anything less than pleasantries is seen as gossip. It shames the person who is victimized and has something less than positive to say.
    Decades of indoctrination have their effect. I appreciate posts like this. Because the inner accusations of being “unkind” “not nice” and so forth are there, despite clear Scripture backing up one’s assertions. It’s not evil to tell the truth. If the truth is negative, then that’s not the fault of the victim. It’s not bad or mean to tell the truth. Nor is it bad for us to apply our critical thinking skills. It’s not bad for us to analyze, to critique.
    I think there are a lot of victims out there who have been taught that marriage is for life and if they are not with their abuser, then they must be alone or otherwise be an adulterer. But I believe that God looks at those widows (and victims of DV are widows) with compassion. They wanted their marriages to work. They didn’t know they were marrying evil. They tried to make it work. And evil insisted on being evil. They are widows, in my assessment. And widows are permitted to marry another. The “no divorce ever” teaching kept me in a nearly lethal ‘marriage’ for way too long. And almost nobody knew anything about my horrible reality with an evil ‘husband’ because I too believed it would be gossip or bad and sinful of me to divulge truth, as it was negative, instead of pleasantries and positive. It helps evil to silence and shame victims.

    • frankiesmith2064

      I was also trapped by the “it’s wrong to gossip” false indoctrination. And the never say anything negative about anybody trap. Wow does evil love it when we buy that garbage hook line and sinker!! I don’t buy it anymore. Thank God. I speak up when it’s safe and wise to do so.

  4. suzzieq07

    The scripture “The truth shall set you free” keeps coming to mind. Acknowledging evil is HARD to do, not easy, when the evil perpetrator is someone you thought loved you. It’s not easy for a church body to take a stand against the evil person either, as they want to believe he/she is all she/he claims to be. Acknowledging evil is often a gut-wrenching event, one we’d rather not participate in.
    Another “rule of thumb” I gained from Unholy Charade is: “If the person appears to be alternately good, and bad, believe his/her true nature to be BAD, not good! A bad person often tries to appear to be good, but a good person never tries to appear bad!” What an eye opener that was! Thanks again Pastor Crippen, for all you do to share God’s truth.

    • Z

      Dear suzzieq07,
      There’s a well-researched psychological practice by abusers called “Intermittent Rewarding”. It is what you describe as the “Good Acts” vs “Bad Acts”. Of course, BELIEVE the BAD act because that isn’t an act! That is who the abuser really is.
      Intermittent Rewarding is when the abuser abuses regularly but then throws in some occasional kindnesses in between. Crumbs usually. But sometimes grand gestures. Unexpected when abuse is the norm. But these kind ACTS (fake and so manipulative) are what keep victims off-balance. Keep them “in the fog”. Falsely hopeful. They keep the victim from seeing the abuser as the truly evil person he really is. Intermittent Rewards have been proven by studies on animals’ in labs that show them having the strongest responses and attachments to Intermittent Rewarding with food and attention rewards, etc…
      As opposed to CONSTANT/NEVER “punishment” or CONSTANT/NEVER “rewarding”. Intermittent Rewards make it much harder for abuse victims to leave their abuser. Their attachment to the “Intermittent Rewarder” grows stronger because those times of (fake) kindness muddy up the true picture. As they are meant to do! It’s so conniving and evil on a whole other level. Because it’s intentional. The abuser knows he is playing with the victim’s mind and emotions by throwing those “kind crumbs” at her every so often, keeping her hopeful and making it more difficult for her to make the clear-headed decision to leave her abuser. He makes her think he’s not “all bad”. Or maybe he’s not really an “abuser” because he acts kindly towards her once in awhile. And of course these “acts of kindness” fool others and solidify the abuser’s duping of others to be on HIS side. It’s so destructive to the victim’s ability to properly process what’s going on. She’s got others telling her he’s NOT an abuser because he sends her flowers once in awhile (making sure EVERYONE knows he did!). And so others say she can’t leave him because of these ACTS. The victim’s mind is a mess. Exactly as the abuser wants it. She’s always waiting for the next kind act. (Just like the animals in the studies salivated waiting and not knowing when or if their next possible reward would come.) What’s the worst is this scheme right from hell has been shown to be so successful by studies. Evil, evil, evil.
      We must be wise to this tactic! BELIEVE the BAD ACTS! Because they are NOT “ACTS” but show the abuser’s TRUE self.

  5. Rowan on the high mountain

    So this guy felt called to tell people they had to divorce loving spouses rather than tell people it was wrong to abuse spouses and children? It’s interesting how many so-called Christians think the real sin lies in people’s healthy response to mistreatment rather than in the mistreatment itself.
    I’ve had the experience of seeing abusers put on a hurt puppy face and act like victims when I set boundaries, so your experience doesn’t shock me in the least, Pastor Crippen. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Innoscent

    At the end of the day, it’s about having and demonstrating true love. Love for Christ, for the oppressed, and for truth. Courageous love. It’s that side of love most church folks and leaders sadly don’t possess. Why? Because it is based on discerning the truth of God in His Word. It has to do with having “the love of the truth” 2 Thess 2:10, and search for it as the most precious treasure (Mt 13) in order to keep on the path of obedience and live a righteous life in honour to God. And to seek the truth requires humility, the desire to learn and amend ones’ way.
    That that man persevered so long (10 years..) with the same lie tells you that he’s emboldened by pride and error, and won’t accept truth, even though he had the opportunity to do so the first time around. And so, God can’t help this man who wants to remain in his delusion 2 Thess 2:11.
    Thank you Jeff for sharing this particular story. It is soothing to see someone stand up to such agents of Satan.

  7. suzzieq07

    Z – I really appreciated your comments on “good” vs “bad” in abusers. It’s been 32 years since leaving my husband, but I am on hyper-alert as far as whether or not my son is evidencing the exact same, or similar, behaviors! At times I think “no,” I’m imagining things; at other times I’m positive I see the same behaviors but to a much lesser degree. You can imagine how a mother would want to believe there is no abusive tendencies in her child, but it’s a little tough to tell. He certainly does not put me down in the ways his dad did (or to the same degree). His behavior is more in the way of not listening to me, being dismissive, being difficult to contact, not checking in on me. That said, he seems to be dealing with some of these things over time. For one thing he has stopped being sarcastic, he listens more, he is somewhat more available. I think he realizes the pattern he learned from his dad isn’t one he wishes to repeat. Mostly, I’m just thinking out loud. With the help of Pastor Crippen and armed with his extremely informative books, (and most importantly the Bible), I am prepared to take a stand against evil, but I also wonder if the abusive treatment by my husband has made me unnecessarily hyper-vigilant.

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