Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Hated Without a Cause

Psalms 69:4 ESV  More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?
Psalms 109:2-5 ESV  For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues.  (3)  They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.  (4)  In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer.  (5)  So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

I maintain that at the root of an abuser’s hatred for his/her Christian spouse is hatred for Christ. One of the most confusing things about domestic abuse – hating one’s own flesh – is, “why?” What is the reason he hates her so? What is the motive for all this evil?

We know that domestic abuse occurs in marriages where neither spouse is a Christian, but when the victim is a believer I can assure you that one of the main reasons for the abuser’s hatred and cruelty is that he hates Christ. This is one of the chief reasons the Bible tells  the believer to only marry “in the Lord.” Of course that is tricky because there are so many counterfeit wolves in wool.
Much pre-marriage “Christian” counseling addresses this issue of a Christian marrying a Christian. For all these years that I have been a pastor, I have done my best to only officiate at weddings where both bride and groom know the Lord. I haven’t always succeeded in this because, as I said, the human heart is so deceitful. But one of the reasons that we need to point out to people considering marriage is, if you are a Christian and you marry an unsaved person, it is the nature of the fallen, sinful human heart to hate Christ and all that belong to Him.  Usually the counselees are told something like, “well, you both need to be Christians or you won’t be able to share real intimacy in your relationship with one another.” And that is true. But we need to point out something that will hit them with a more powerful, attention-getting punch – an unsaved husband or wife will hate the Christian. 

John 15:18-21 ESV  “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.  (19)  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  (20)  Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.  (21)  But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.


If the Victim had Just Kept Quiet, All Would be Well….?


Watch out for Mean followed by Nice, followed by Mean….


  1. Amy

    It took me a long time to really believe my abusive husband was not a believer. After all, we were both baptized on the same day and we went to church together, so he must be a lover of Jesus right?? Wrong!
    When he walked out on me and our two boys 11 years ago after 20 years of marriage, I began to see more clearly and yet I still had a hard time accepting he wasn’t a true believer. Why? Mainly because those from our church would tell me how my ex was just a poor lost soul and a sinner like me that needed God’s grace and mercy.
    Fortunately, I chose to say to those people that I was NOT a sinner like my ex because I had accepted the salvation of Jesus Christ. Of course, most people just didn’t get it which also made me question their faith.
    I remember after episodes with my abuser saying or at least thinking it to myself, “If only you just liked me and didn’t hate me so much!” 🙁

    • Jeff Crippen


      • Jen

        I found your website after yet another attempt by my dad to get me to reconcile with him. My sister still talks to my dad and it’s caused some issues for us. I know this is mainly written for spouses but the message and the Scriptures are so relevant for children of abusers as well.
        I am an adult and have a family now of my own and finally realized my dad is an abuser. He never physically or sexually abused me so some people I’ve talked to will say it couldn’t have been that bad. It took me TOO LONG to admit it to myself and come to the realization that my dad doesn’t love me and never did. But my true Father DOES and I believe HE sent me a message in no uncertain terms that it was time for me to walk away from my earthly dad.
        Once I saw how his mind worked (I gave him a boundary) and his crazed rage that I received I just knew that he wasn’t going to change if I kept allowing him to apologize and absolving him of all consequences .
        I’ve forgiven him in my heart and I pray for his true salvation every day. I hold no ill will for him. Some people think I’m cold hearted for cutting off ties with my own dad but all his letters are PROOF that he has not repented! He tells me that I need to forgive him because it’s what God wants! Nope—that is proof that he’s using God to manipulate!
        Thank you for this invaluable resource! I wish my family could all read this and see why we have no reason to trust him!

    • Joan

      Thank you for your posts.
      It was very hard to accept that my former husband wasn’t really a Christian. He was a pastor! But I totally agree. People who love you don’t treat you like that. It makes perfect sense that if he isn’t a Christian, he would hate me. They actually try to make you sin.

  2. frankiesmith2064

    Exactly how the domestic abuser treated me. He hated me and tried to get me to sin.
    I agree it was for many years so confusing. How could a Christian treat another christian so horribly. All the while looking like an innocent sheep.
    The abuser was a leader in a para christian organization. Getting pats on the back from head Pastor, best buds with the leadership, anointed by the leaders to be in the highest layman office.
    He led music, bible studies and prayer meetings. Quoted scripture (when it made him look good)
    Did plenty of virtue signaling by going out of his way helping others(when people were watching)
    Behind closed doors He hated me, smeared me, jerred at my desire for righteousness all the while pretending he loved me.
    It’s crazy making. The devil is a liar. I thank God for this blog that reminds me of the truth. I read it every day as a way to renew my mind. The churches aren’t teaching this valuable insight to the flock. Forcing us into the catacombs. So be it!! I thank God for this truth.
    Thank you all and thank you Pastor Crippen for giving us this platform to support each other and be renewed by the truth!!

  3. notlongnow

    So very true.

  4. Kelly Orr

    Thank you so much for your faithfulness to point us to what God’s Word says, Jeff. It is always true.
    This post is spot on! The man I divorced after 23 years of marriage hated me, but tried to conceal his true feelings. He was not the same man behind closed doors that he presented to others. And even to me, he was not the same man behind my back that he often presented to me. I felt his hatred through controlling and abusive tactics, manipulatively executed, and so did our children. But he disguised his hatred through lies, and made me doubt myself. He confused what was real and true, so that I couldn’t see who he really is.
    He may have been able to deceive me for a time, and fully deceive countless others, but he will never be able to deceive God.
    Nothing can be hidden from God. Including the wily deceptions and evil hatred of a wicked man. Ultimately, abusers realize this- and they hate Him.

  5. katkollies

    This is very sobering, and the comments…well…it’s unbelievable how many are in the same situation, being hated by the very people who are supposed to love them. I once told mine that in fact, if someone is constantly belittling you or calling you names or otherwise undermining you, they don’t love you, much less even “like” you. Ugh.

  6. walkinginlight

    A few months ago I invited the anti-husband (abuser) to sit down at the kitchen table with me and list all of his grievances he has about me. I did this to prove a point to myself. I asked him in the most polite voice I could muster, “please tell me what I am doing to make you so angry”. He looked at me and replied “nothing”. I said “oh, I see”. I just wanted to hear it from his mouth as validation to me that he persecutes me with such evil and hatred as the pharisees did to Jesus. I think about and long for the day when I can be free from this evil man with the black heart. I pray every day for the Lord to open a door of escape for me. I can not stand to be around dark people as it unsettles my soul something terrible. Abusers are indeed power hungry children of the devil.

  7. Cara

    Christians seem to be easy targets, too, for evil, criminal people. Wolves don’t go after wolves, but they seek out harmless sheep to devour. It is good to remember that most of the world will hate you, because most of the world is of the devil, not of Christ. And even if you are good and kind towards them, they’ll victimize you all the same. There is a certain helplessness in being a good person. Sheep aren’t ravenous, chomping, toothy wolves. But thankfully, we’ll get to go home, to eternity spent with God, at some point. And so I guess we just suffer and bear the brunt of being sheep. A little pain (compared to burning in hell) now is nothing compared to the great gains in eternity. Life here though, is so, so hard. So hunted.
    I also like the inclusion of hatred without a cause. It is good to hate with cause. It is acceptable and right. But when one returns your good with their evil, it is without cause. Just them being evil.
    I find it hardest to identify abusers versus abusive. Context matters. I think that is why the wolves pull off their fake sheep act so well. We all are abusive at some point or another. But sheep feel genuine shame and remorse, versus the wolves’ feigned feelings of shame and remorse. Thankfully God will figure it all out. Thankfully we just need to keep our souls until our last moment alive.
    Sending my best to all the abused of the world. Much love to you all.

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