Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Watch out for Flattery

Galatians 4:16-18 ESV  Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?  (17)  They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.  (18)  It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you,

As I have written before on this topic, I won’t write at great length here. But this subject deserves repetition and reminder. The wicked use flattery to dupe us. That is what Paul is warning the Galatians about here. They make much of you. But it is for an evil purpose, not a good one.

This is a common tactic of evil and we must be wise to it. Every single evil person who I have seen creep into our church over the years has started out with this business of flattery.

  • This is the best church I have ever been in
  • You are the best preacher I have ever heard
  • You all are so much better than my old church
  • That was the most insightful lesson on Scripture I have heard
  • blah, blah, blah, blah

Domestic abusers will “court” (ie, “set up”) their target with flattery. They can use an avalanche of romantic talk and actions and, as they say, sweep the potential victim off her feet. Love-bombing is another fitting phrase here.
So beware. I am not the best preacher in the world. You are not the most beautiful woman who ever walked the face of the earth (though you may be very pretty!). It is not “normal” for someone to go over the edge with flattering comments. As soon as such behavior starts to make you uneasy, as soon as it “feels” inappropriate, it is time to look out. Most likely you are being set up. As Paul put it, their purpose in making much of you is so that they can take you captive and demand that you make much of them – or else.


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  1. walkinginlight

    Thank you for the reminder. I have found when one comes out of the fog and gains much wisdom and insight into the manipulative tactics, and “grey rocks” these abusers, they go ballistic! These kinds of people have a narcissistic injury meltdown. They want to be catered to and worshiped. And when they see you have grown wise and they can’t manipulate you anymore they do not know how to handle it. In my case the abuse tactics changed. Grasping at straws, any straws to get back that power and control. It did not work. God stood in front of me like a mighty tower giving me the strength to not budge one inch. I surely can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!! 3John 1:9 speaks of Diotrephes “who loves to be first”. Abusers all love that much be made of them.

  2. Brother Maynard

    I would add to that another aspect. They also will look to be involved in a ministry and bring that up as well. Look at me, always involved in children’s ministry, setup team, whatever it is. I am involved in this school program and model Jesus to everyone. At home group it’s turned into, oh I had such a difficult week, I stumbled but because of your prayers I was able to do so much for the glory of God. Nothing is ever specific though, it’s couched in generalities and you don’t see it at first. You get sidetracked by their “Christianese” This is what happened to me, when we had issues with another family at a former church. Then you have to fight the battle of how could this be? They are such awesome Christians, involved in church, doing so much here, don’t say anything negative about them, we like them. It has to be you, you’re being judgmental and unchristian…

    • Jeff Crippen

      Total truth here. I’ve seen it many times. Thank you!

    • Innoscent

      Good point Brother Maynard. Another aspect is what my ex-husband did a couple times early in our courtship, by having flowers sent to me at my workplace. That put me on the spot in front of colleagues who found that charming. That was all calculated as part of his image management and to set me up.

  3. Liberty

    I wanted to thank you for this blog. It has helped me tremendously along with the book Wise As Serpents as I am coming out of the fog of a spiritually abusive marriage.

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