Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Arrogance is the Friend of Evil

Isaiah 13:11 ESV  I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.

Repeatedly the Bible connects arrogance, haughtiness, and pride with the wicked. Evil has as its father the devil who is the god of narcissism –

Isaiah 14:13-14 ESV  You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;  (14)  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

There is in fallen humanity this bent to believe the devil when he promises, “you shall be like God.” And it is rooted in arrogance. Man exalts himself and insists he knows better and can be better than his Creator.

Arrogance, and this is the point of this post, produces allies of evil. For example, a pastor who has had no training or experience with domestic abusers or sociopaths or narcissists, fearlessly launches into “biblical counseling” in such situations confident that he and his Bible can deal with anything. What is going to happen? We know the answer. He will believe the wicked and reject the oppressed. And then he will be quite proud of himself – what a good boy am I.
We are all threatened with the temptation to arrogance. One common way it crops up in us is when we just easily and naturally assume that we know. For instance, a victim of abuse could be telling us about what is going on behind closed doors and our pride can jump right in and make us speak and behave toward her as if we knew more about it than she does even though SHE is the one who is there and WE are not. “Were you there?” No. “Then maybe you had better just stop talking and listen.”
Or someone tells us, “I feel guilty for being so suspicious but I just keep having this feeling that my husband is…….”. And Mr. or Mrs. Pride begins to expound. Inevitably they will become the ally of evil. “Oh, I’m sure it’s just your imagination. He is such a fine Christian. Don’t worry about it.” Suspicions quashed. Evil one exonerated.
If we are going to avoid being duped by evil and if we are going to be able to help the victims of evil then we must be humble. No one is going to be able to learn if they are not teachable, and that requires humility.


Idols are False Gods, a dream, an imagination


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  1. CS

    My exhusband, pastor, abuser was exceedingly arrogant, oh the examples I could give. In all areas of his life but exceedingly so in his family life. And for counselors and advisors to understand the cycles and recognize the patterns they need not only the Bible but specific education and training. These abusers are masters at deceit and manipulation, just like their father Satan.

    • Jeff Crippen

      So glad he is your ex!! These false shepherds are in so many churches today.

      • AJ

        Absolutely True. Thank you. Well said. I believe this particular blog by Mr. Crippen “ Arrogance is the Friend of evil” … Is answered prayer and vindication for me from past spiritual abuse from a pastor who berated me after meeting with my abusive and covertly manipulating spouse. It set me back for years in getting free. Confusion set in and robbed me of discernment and truth. I’m in clarity now. But it has taken many years of a terrible life with a covert narcissist. I thank Jesus everyday for making me free.

        • Jeff Crippen

          I am fully in favor of pastors and churches who practice this gross malpractice in dealing with domestic abuse cases. Any other profession is accountable, but these pastors and churches are skating. They prolong suffering, endanger lives and I am sure have gotten victims killed.

  2. Free

    This is it. Over and over and over from the abuser, and many other know-it-all “believers” who were/are his craftily-utilized flying monkeys. Not only did they arrogantly turn on me with their “better-Christian-than-you” know it best tactics (although they had never been assaulted multiple times by a “believer”, yet they knew how I should fix the abuser’s choices to be abusive???), they literally put me in harms way of the abuser’s ceaseless and multiple forms of abuse…. And yet, they know best????

  3. wingingit

    My ex abuser used to actually say out loud, in front of others, “Oh, I am (insert name here) the rules do not apply to me.”
    “I am not like YOU, I was not created for minutiae, I was created for MORE!”
    The sad thing is he still believes that he is above all others, he is entitled to get his way and nobody is ever allowed to have their own rights, possessions, interests, or even personalities, aside from the ones he assigns them.
    When I read the scripture about how Satan wanted to exalt himself above God, I can hear this man’s voice.
    He literally sees an exalted version of himself and does whatever it takes to retain his rights of control over the minds, feelings, and even bodies of those he feels he possesses…..just like all the demons do.
    But the eyes of those who have not been his victims see his shiny scales and crocodile tears, and hear his honey sweet lies and attack his many victims as false accusers of the innocent hero.
    No matter how large grows the crowd crying out about his abuse, he is a master deceiver and his sparkly show is more convincing than the ugly truth being told by the victims.
    His arrogance and confidence is his lies is confusing for those who do not understand evil.

    • lg

      “arrogance and confidence in his lies is confusing for those who do not understand evil,” — yes, yes! so true!
      During the month of October I read some darker stories with my H.S. students because many of them want ‘spooky stories,” for Halloween but I don’t like things that are gratuitously scary. So this year we read stories with narcissistic / sociopathic narrators. It is secular school so unfortunately I can’t not get Biblical, but I wanted to introduce the word / idea of evil to spur some discussion, so we started with Shirley Jackson’s story The Possibility of Evil. I love how Shirley Jackson recognizes evil as something hidden and disguised as goodness and light, how it is full of arrogance and entitlement, and the lying to self and deceiving others….
      The same arrogance, deceit, self delusion, justification, reviling and being easily slighted and offended is in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of The Amontillado (based on a true story).
      For Halloween, we also watched the Jack Black movie, Bernie. It is a dark comedy, but is very bright and sunny similar to the Shirley Jackson stories. What makes this movie really chilling is that is a true story. He really duped the whole town – even after they all knew he murdered in cold blood they were still duped into believing Bernie was the victim. We compared Bernie and the protagonists from our other stories to Robert Hares psychopathy checklist and I added descriptions of sociopathy and narcissism from the DSM to the checklist comparison. Many of my students have suffered from abuse and trauma, so many were really interested and related a lot to the unit, but some others were too triggered and found it too upsetting.
      In September and November we read stories and poems that are uplifting, redeeming, encouraging, and have beautiful and wise quotes…. This I had the students review key quotes, chose the ones they like the best and draw them out. I learned a lot about the ones they chose. The most popular were quotes from one of our September stories: The Marigolds by Eugenia Collier and Pablo Neruda’s poem, Ode to Thanks. Marigolds are a hearty flower that can withstand the elements and bloom from spring to late fall. They are is a symbol of strength and courage and their colors are warm, sunny cheery colors.
      Next week we will read Just Enough is Plenty: A Hanukah Tale and an Issac Bashevis Singer story, The Son From America.
      Although I did sneak some Bible verses in when we did Poe’s Masque of the Red Death in October when we were exploring and analyzing on the symbolism of the different colored rooms, but everyday I wish I could bring Bible verses more boldly into my lessons…. if you can think of praying for teachers out there to do this, please do!
      In the meantime, I like using a Joyce Carol Oates quote to guide my story selections, “true literature is an education on humanity and behavior,” and so far just keep a list of Bible verses that correspond to the themes in the stories and poems as my personal reference….

      • Jeff Crippen

        Wow lg! That is real wisdom and you are doing those kids a huge favor making them wise. I saw Bernie too and it is just as you described.
        Another evil character couched in a comedy movie I really like is Bob Wiley in “What About Bob?”
        Bob is funny in the movie but in real life he would be incredible evil.

      • Innoscent

        Amazing testimony Ig! May God continue to give you discernment and fortitude.
        Praying for you and the teachers.

  4. This is absolutely right, Pastor Jeff! Humility and a lot of listening are essential in order to help the victims/survivors of abuse from wolves in sheep’s clothing, HUMILITY is a rare characteristic in the world of pastors, counselors and ministers. Those who listen and learn are in the minority. Therefore, those who can truly be helpful and aid in the healing necessary from the emotional and spiritual pain and trauma experienced by abuse victims/survivors are few and far between. Thank you for being a humble man of God who is willing to listen and learn. God bless you!

  5. Innoscent

    Thank you Jeff for keeping these posts coming and for all the commentators’ insights and experiences, they help me to heal long term and keep mentally and biblically sane.
    I think that because most people, church folks, and counselors are uneducated about evil tactics, abusers schemes, they interpret arrogance as confidence and they think they obey to the authority of their leaders. It’s all very subtle and deceptive.
    When suddenly they awake (for some), they’re seen as the whistleblowers causing division, and not submitting to their elders’ authority, and yes… you guess.. as the arrogant ones.

  6. Aimee

    All so true. Thank you to Pastor Jeff and all the commentators.

  7. walkinginlight

    James 1:19 says to be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry. I have always witnessed the arrogant being the opposite. They do not want to be teachable and to really listen, but are very quick to speak blabbering quick fixes which don’t even scratch the surface of abuse! They are pushy with their advice which normally exasperates the victim at this point. I know, I was that person. It felt like being in a sea drowning and thrashing around screaming for help and one of these “know it all” so called biblical counselors would yell “you’ll be fine, just kick your legs a little harder to swim to shore”. Yep, been there done that! I remember way back I called this well known ministry in desperation for a ounce of validation to the mind bending craziness my abuser was inflicting on me. I got the gentleman on the phone and was telling him what was happening to me, and the first thing he said ever so calmly was “Is there not some deacons at your church who can MENTOR your husband (abuser)? At that point my heart sank and I felt like I was in the sea drowning. I praise God for personally sending me to pastor Crippen’s website almost seven years ago. Knowledge is power and brings comfort. The Lord has so much to say about these evil ones in the bible. I thank Him that His true people have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Seven years! Wow!

    • Innoscent

      Same here walkinginlight 😉 2013 when God guided me on line to the sermon series by Jeff on the psychology of sin, then the blog and the books. I’d just separated from the narcissistic husband and God knew I needed to hear the truth that I was not crazy.
      Praise God for such a vital ministry!

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