Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Sorry, not Sorry – Thoughts on False Repentance

The wicked we deal with – those abusers who crave power and control and use all kinds of self-justifying tactics to get it – never say they are sorry. Never. Oh, they might mouth the words sometimes, cry some crocodile tears, “confess” to some wrongdoing, but the whole thing is a sham still designed to deflect guilt and blame from them to….you.
Know what one of the abuser’s favorite movies is? Love Story. You know that mushed up sentimental line – “Love means never having to say you are sorry.” I mean, what better enablement could be found than in that kind of warped thinking? The truth is that genuine love means wanting to say you are sorry when you sin against someone.

I have known many abusers, sociopaths, narcissists and other evil people. And I can say with certainty, none of them have ever offered a genuine “sorry.”  None. It is always your fault, you know. Always.
The wicked of this ilk will at times throw out what I call a “pre-emptive strike” of fake confession or apology. They do it to obligate us to forgive and forget. “Hey, I said I am sorry, now you have to forgive me.” But if you reflect on such false confessions, you will find that they never concern the issue at hand. Their apology in other words never hits the bullseye but is always off on the edges of the matter. “You really spoke in a mean manner to me last night when you said I was a worthless mother.” Reply – “Alright, alright, I’m sorry that I was grumpy last night.”  But being grumpy isn’t the issue at hand, is it? We might be grumpy, we might be tired, we may not feel very good, but we do not tell people we vowed to love that they are worthless. This the wicked person will never own up to.
Think back to all the interactions you have had (that you can recall) with evil people of this type. Has even a single one of them EVER genuinely confessed their sin against you and acknowledged their guilt and sin? Have you ever seen them wracked with a violated conscience so that they had to coness and ask for your forgiveness? I can tell you that I never have seen it. Never.
And we never will.

1 John 1:10 ESV  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


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  1. walkinginlight

    I also have NEVER gotten a true apology from evil wicked people. They have however told their “flying monkeys” that they “apologized” but I was “unforgiving” for not accepting their fake insincere “I’m sorry”. These evil types are also ignorant of the fact that a fake I’m sorry does not equal reconciliation. I had one of the evildoers ask me “what can I do to make it up to you”? regarding him helping to steal a inheritance that was left to me. I said “read Luke chapter 19 and get back to me”. Never heard from him again until a year later when he faked concern for my daughter’s surgery. These evildoers will NEVER admit to committing sin against someone , much less appropriating a biblical apology. I once even had a person scream “I’m sorry” to me expecting me to accept a abusive apology? They want to remain in control and to repent is just too much for these “controllers”. If a person can not give me a biblical definition of a apology, I will not accept it. Of course a true Christian being remorseful to another brother or sister in the Lord is a whole other story.

    • Laura

      Wow. Yes. “Sorry” was always a means of getting off the hook for his cruelty and sin. “I said I was sorry! If you’re not going to forgive me, there’s nothing I can do!” (angrily yelled)
      “You said you forgave me, so you have no right to act like it’s inconvenient!” (When his criminal actions had major consequences that I was bearing the weight of. As I gradually stopped being willing to do that + cover for his sin and criminal activity, his abuse of me escalated.)

  2. Anonymous

    My ex- attended years of marital counseling with me (a huge mistake in hindsight), so he knows exactly the right words to say when apologizing, but it’s never sincere. Even my daughter has commented that his apologies are all about him and getting himself ‘off the hook’.

  3. Free

    You are absolutely correct! It’s NEVER! Truly n-e-v-e-r. After decades of this, I finally see it – the abuser and the flying monkeys- it’s all the same, NEVER. Thank you for sharing your insight.

  4. Sarah Howard

    Sorry….they got caught.

  5. Anonymous

    It is the repentance of Saul v the repentance of David. One says, “Fine, I sinned. Forgive me. Now let’s get back to holding me in high esteem before people. I have an important ministry, you know.” The other says, “Oh my God! What have I done to Your name? How I have dishonored You! Please forgive me for sin. I am willing to accept any consequence that comes my way because of my sin.” Still waiting for the David repentance, the repentance without excuse or blame.

  6. Christmas Days

    The top reason that I doubt that abusers truly repent is that I’ve never met one who’s completely honest about the seriousness and frequency of their behaviors. When they’re dishonest to others, and maybe even with themselves, how can they even begin to fix what’s wrong?
    At my old church, there were several convicted abusers of every category. I eventually learned that the explanations they and their friends gave the rest of us about their arrests minimized or downright fabricated what really happened. Everyone believed the abusers’ version of events and accepted their “repentance.” Several new victims were gained. That ministry eventually collapsed from the fallout.
    Every time I’ve reviewed an admitted abuser’s court files, it turns out he and his friends left out a lot of the story. For example, a felon and his friends will tell everyone in the congregation that he had just one arrest that stemmed from a loud, non-physical argument he had with a roommate several years ago. Yet when I’d search the court record, it turned out he’d seriously battered several women and children fairly recently.
    I’ve found that the honesty problem extends beyond the church. There’s the fellow parent you meet at your kid’s soccer game who will swear to your face that he’s on the sex offender registry only for one mere “accidental” photo download but it rarely turns out to be that simple or innocent if you check later. Predators lie.
    Pastor Crippen, could I ask what are your views on congregation leaders or parishioners criminally screening all new members or regular attendees? I realize many churches today are already reviewing their new volunteers and employees. Is there a Biblical way that uniform checks can be applied that’s palatable to most church-goers? Should existing members be grandfathered in or should they be checked too? I don’t mean every member should submit to an investigation on the expensive level of government security clearances. What about at least checking the free national sex offender registry?
    Obviously it’s a hot debate in religious circles about whether a convicted abuser, once detected, should be banned from a congregation or certain ministries. I’m just curious about the step of basic screening all adults who attend regularly so that at least the current honesty deficit might be addressed. One problem this might pose is that it might turn off a potential attendee who only had a non-violent misdemeanor arrest 30 years ago but doesn’t want to talk about it.
    If a member like myself knows that a convicted abuser is grossly misrepresenting his criminality to the membership and leaders, is there a Biblical way to share that information? Is an anonymous tip acceptable? Thank you for your work, and Merry Christmas.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Christmas Days- we have done background checks on every newcomer for several years. Some are offended and never come back. I don’t care. Anyone who objects either 1) has something to hide, or 2) doesn’t care about protecting innocents, or 3) willfully denied the prevalence of evil and chooses to live in fantasyland. I do not want any of the three in our church.
      As for churches operating a “ministry” to, for instance, domestic abusers or pedophiles – I say its utter foolishness and even disobedience to Christ. These kind of evildoers don’t change. We are to put them out, not invite them in.

      • Christmas Days

        Thank you for your reply, Pastor Crippen. What can Christians do if we suspect that a convicted, several-time abuser is misrepresenting his past and name with a new congregation? I believe that the secular authorities should be always notified immediately, but most of those won’t act on your tip unless you have proof that a new crime is definitely happening again. Safety and privacy are concerns when an abuser is involved. Is it acceptable from a Biblical standpoint to make an anonymous, factual call to the church or denomination? What about his new employer/clients, social/hobby clubs, and others who might not know about him yet?

        • frankiesmith2064

          Your posts are always so helpful. The phony Christian abuser and the flying monkeys never even felt one pang of conviction for their abuse. Never got an apology and I never will. Yet they are still pretending to be pious god fearing Christians. It’s disgusting!

        • Jeff Crippen

          If a person is using a false identity for evil purposes then there are plenty of ways to obtain there true identity. I would recommend taking your suspicions and reasons for them to the church leaders. It is then in their hands.

  7. twosparrows

    Repentance does not simultaneously show humility and make demands.
    When someone is doing that it actually is a form of manipulation. It is giving to get.  I will give this “sorrow” for having done something wrong in exchange for you giving me some form of comfort in return (forgiveness, reconciliation, empathy, sex, etc).
    It can be seen in the perspective of “repenting” and saying the sinner’s prayer in order to go to heaven.
    No, true repentance recognizes that through the offense the offending party is inextricably linked to an undeserving position.  That is what distinguishes the act of forgiving as an act of mercy, rather than of justice.

    • Grace

      twosparrow, what wise words. The demand shows that the humility is false. True humility will do what it takes to make things right, and demands nothing of the other person.

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