Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

This New Book on Domestic Abuse in the Church Looks Good…but…it isn't

1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
Hebrews 10:16 ESV  “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
1 John 2:27 ESV  But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
John 10:4 ESV  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

You must be born again. Every Christian, every true child of God, is born again. God’s Law is written on our hearts. His Spirit has made us new creations. We have been taught to love one another. The Spirit leads us and produces His fruit in us, enabling us by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
Kevin Giles’ new book, The Headship of Men and the Abuse of Women [Cascade Books, 2020] presents the thesis that the complementarian teaching of the headship of men and the submission of women to that headship promotes the abuse of women in the church, and really is a root cause of abuse particularly in conservative churches that teach it. Certainly complementarianism does this harm when men (and ironically many women) embrace its patriarchy and use it to justify oppressive, sinful abuse. Giles makes many correct points in this regard throughout his book.

There is an elephant in the room in this book. Or rather, I should say, the elephant is not even present. That “elephant” to which I refer is Jesus’ loud and clear declaration that, you must be born again. Giles seems to think that if we can just jettison the complementarian teaching on marriage and male/female roles, if we can just educate people about abuse and adopt what he says is the biblical egalitarian/equality view, great advances in eradicating abuse would take place. But…

Nowhere in this book does Giles address the new birth

Let me give some examples:

Needy and controlling men in the churches and among the clergy hear this teaching [ie, complementarianism] and put it into practice in their marriages. They insist on making all the major decisions, controlling what happens in the home, and in all things expecting submission by the wife. If she is not submissive the husband gets angry and abusive, often quoting the Bible’s teaching on male headship. When men believe, whether they are Christians or not, we know this is the context where abuse and violence in the home is most likely to occur. 

And if that isn’t clear enough to prove my point about this book, look at this:

This ‘biblical’ justification of abuse gives to the Christian abuser power that the non-churchgoer abuser can never have. The Christian abuser believes he has divine approval for the way he acts in his home. This is why headship teaching is so damaging for many churchgoing men and women.

Do you see my it? While many of the things Giles presents in this book are correct, his thinking is flawed at its foundation. Giles speaks of the “Christian abuser.” He leaves us asking, well, Mr. Giles – just who is a Christian? What is salvation in Christ? And his answer to such questions seems to be, a Christian is a person who is a church member, someone who belongs to a visible church, has been baptized, and claims to believe in Jesus. But he or she is a sinner, quite capable of being a domestic abuser and treating their spouse in a very abusive, evil manner.
Just the few verses I have quoted above disprove any possibility that a domestic abuser (Giles defines the abuser in the early part of his book, quoting Lundy Bancroft’s definition of entitlement, power and control, etc)…that a domestic abuser can be a Christian. The thing is impossible.

1 John 3:14-15 ESV  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.  (15)  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

I could go on and on and on quoting verses of Scripture that teach these things. A Christian is a new creation. A Christian is indwelt and led by the Spirit. A Christian has God’s Law written upon his heart. But Giles would have us believe (and the dangerous thing is that his thinking is woven through the book covertly) that a Christian can walk in sin, can have a defining mentality of entitlement to power and control, can twist God’s Word to justify his evil. This covert denial of the nature and necessity of the new birth is prevalent in a HUGE amount of “Christian” teaching and publicaitons on this subject. 
I am seeing that this lie is pervasive in the churches. The very definition of “Christian” is purposely left in the fog. If anyone, particularly a pastor, believes that a domestic abuser can be a Christian, then just imagine what kind of “therapy” that pastor or counselor is going to exercise. Oh, wait. Most all of you don’t have to imagine it. You have lived it already.
Do us all a favor, Pastor Giles, tell us who or what you say a Christian is. What is the new birth? Is it just something that man pulls off by sprinkling some water and saying a few words? Can a person be a Christian and walk habitually in sin and even have an essential mindset of entitlement ot power and control, justified in abusing others? What is your doctrine of the church?
Because these issues, answered wrongly, produce counterfeit Christians, counterfeit pastors, counterfeit churches, and a counterfeit doctrine that always, always, always oppresses the genuine.


What did Jack the Ripper look like?


The Lord's thoughts Really are Higher than Ours


  1. Isn’t it just like Satan to mix a little truth in with evil? My abuser would do the same thing. If there was some truth (not all) that came out of his heart/mouth. Then in his thinking he was justified totally by his actions. Write a book and you have the perfect storm for control of the victim.
    Rae Radika ________________________________

  2. lg

    Thank you Jeff for drilling in the concept about being “Born Again” and what that really means.
    I never thought about this until I have been listening to your series this past year and how the idea of a “Christian abuser” is an oxymoron / an impossibility.
    I think about this all the time now and an so thankful you are working hard to really bring this understanding to light and how we must all be “born again” and what that means exactly.
    Incredibly, even though I grew up in the church, this was not a concept really explained, except to “ask Jesus in your heart” and say those magic words and and work hard to maintain the “appearance of godliness,” as if merely having the “appearance of” was evidence of a changed heart/life.

  3. The same old tripe. Half-truth isn’t truth!
    Thanks for exposing this nonsense.

  4. Ginger

    First, thank you for all you do to draw attention to the problem of abuse and wolves hiding in the church and marriage. Your book has been an immense help and encouragement to me. I have not read the book that you are commenting on (I plan to, though), so this comment is not a defense of the book. It’s more of a question for you.
    For context, in my case, my ex-husband claimed to be a Christian, had a “salvation” experience (several, in fact), and was respected enough by the church people to be the treasurer, song leader, and deacon at several different Baptist churches. He taught our children everything that would be considered “Christian.” However, he was like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. He swung between kind/”spiritual” and controlling/demanding/abusive. Even now that I have been divorced for over two years, he has church people praying for me that we will get back together, and he sends gifts and money periodically and lets me know how much he misses me. We had been married 30 years when I left. It would be easy to accept these current gestures as evidence of change, but when I decided I had endured the pendulum as long as I could, I promised myself I would not return, no matter what.
    It seems to me from your review that the author of the book has chosen to address the subject of abuse with the idea that we are not able to judge people’s hearts and therefore are not equipped to say whether or not someone is truly saved or truly a “Christian.” So, he may be writing with the assumption that some “Christians” may be abusers because they are, in fact, not truly Christians–but we cannot make that determination because we can’t see their hearts. I have always been a little confused about when it is appropriate for us to determine who is a sheep and who is a wolf.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ginger- no he isn’t writing from that perspective. He means that a Christian can be an abuser and his idea of who a Christian is has nothing to do with being born again. To him a Christian is someone who is baptized, says they believe in Christ, and is a church member. Being born again isn’t even part of his idea of a Christian.
      You know, for example, that your ex is wicked. How? By his evil fruit. He is characterized by it. 2Tim 3:1-5 describes evil counterfeits and tells us to have nothing to do with them. All who walk in evil are evil.
      All of your ex’s show of “goodness” is fake. All of it. It is all more tactics to deceive and control you. He has not changed and he never will.
      We are indeed able to judge people’s hearts. We do so by seeing their deeds.

      • frankiesmith2064

        The entire carnal Christian teaching is what allows an abuser, a bully, a hateful, treacherous, liar, fake, phony person remain in good standing in Christian organizations.
        The abuse I experienced took place by professing Christians who were not Christians at all. They taught bible study, led worship and quoted scripture when they believed none of it.
        The doctrine of Campus Crusade for Christ pushes the carnal Christian philosophy. They teach that a person can be saved and act like a devil. When the leadership team acted like abusive bully devils I thought I had to respond like they were my brothers and sisters in Christ. This false teaching kept me in bondage to an abuser. The allies he gathered from the leadership team covered up his lies and make excuses for his ridiculous abusive behaviors.
        Viewing wicked abusers like they were my fellow believers caused me much confusion and pain. I should have run away from that fake bunch of wolves from the first weird encounter with the abuser. Oh the stories I could tell!! Criminal behavior, prostitutes, threats of physical violence, bullying, verbal abuse, bisexuality all from the leadership team in the para church organization.


    Yes, I caught it… “The Christian abuser.” THERE IS NO SUCH THING! Only phony “Christians” abuse people. A person cannot be born-again and continue to practice evil. Period.
    Thank you, Pastor Jeff, for exposing another “elephant in the room,” or “missing elephant.” May God bless you, Verla, your family and CRC!

  6. Rachael

    Also, where does Giles’ book leave people like me? I was sexually abused by a “Christian” grandfather as a child and he was an egalitarian.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Rachael- exactly. Educating people to convince them of egal or comp is not the remedy. Sin is sin and the only remedy is Christ. Giles is seeing Christianity as an external whitewash.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *