Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Trap of Assuming Everyone is "Good"

I have had the opportunity recently to watch an ongoing debate (to put it lightly – “war” is probably a better word for it) between professing Christians. I read what they write and listen to them speaking, and I have observed something that just makes me shake my head in amazement. There is an unwritten tradition, a rule if you will, that says that in the church we all must speak “nice” to one another. After all, so goes the assumption, we are all Christians and therefore we are all “good.” Oh, someone here and there might get off track and be mistaken, but we must never stop believing that their motives are good. That’s the thinking, you see. And so in these battles you see the participants calling one another “brother” or going on at lengths to be sure everyone knows that no matter what they say, they don’t doubt the heart of their opponents and everyone just loves one another.  In such settings, it is an absolute no-no to speak of an action or a motive or a person as being evil.
And that, I am proposing, lays fertile soil for the wicked to practice their wickedness unmolested.

You see, the fact of the matter is that the Bible tells us over and over and over and over again, in both Old and New Testaments, that we MUST be on guard against the enemy. We are warned repeatedly that the devil is out and about, prowling around, sending his secret agents in amongst us in the church in disguise. He brings false doctrine, he abuses people, he lords power and control over them, he works to bring us away from Christ and into bondage. You know the classic warnings about wolves in sheep’s clothing, right?
So why is it that we are required, it seems, to never ever call a wolf out? Why is it that we talk a lot in the church about wolves and how we must be cautious, but we never are? We are required to function and speak and write as if wolves in the church are an extinct species, or at least so rare that most of us will never see one in our lifetime?  Why is that? It is because we simply think too highly of ourselves and because we are entertaining unbelief in Christ’s Word. Throw in the incredibly deceptive nature of the wolf in wool and you have the blind leading the blind.
Not everyone in the visible church is good. Let me say that again. There are wicked, evil, counterfeit “Christians” in most every local church. They are not rare. Some if not many of them are church leaders. They are like a household fungus which, if not combated continually, will always crop up amongst us.
Do not call them good. Do not use “nice” to them. Do not proceed in your dealings with them based on the assumption that they are real Christians, brothers or sisters in Christ, who have simply gotten off course. They are not. All you need do is read, for instance, Paul’s letter to the Galatians or his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, and as you read think carefully about how Paul describes these wicked ones who had infiltrated these churches. Paul does not make nice with them. And you all know well that our Lord Jesus Christ didn’t either – “Woe to you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!”
So let’s stop being naively nice. Let’s call wolves what they are. Let’s be wise as serpents in discerning evil, and innocent as doves in regard to its practice.


A Chief Reason that "friends" Betray Us


Please Watch this Video Bible Study – "Does God Love Everyone?"


  1. Free

    Thank you Pastor Crippen, this is much needed message – and again, precisely spot on! I learned the very hard way on this and it was only when I had sustained enough physical abuse that I started to see the bigger picture of what was really going on with the spiritual abuse in families be it origin, friends and the church body. My hope is those reading your wisdom and insight in these posts will not go that far. Call it what it is, do not give into the masks of deception and do not recant to become quieted in the eyes of the misguided and veiled family / friends/ Christians who will call you a brother or sister in one breath and back the abuser in the next, often twisting scripture to further abuse you and others in the process. Stand firm, this is not a social media likes contest – this is literally heaven and hell we are talking about, and the church is becoming the devil’s playground. The ones who state it ARE NOT alone – it might be far between but you are never alone.

    • Innoscent

      “The church is becoming the devil’s playground” that’s a sad reality. Jesus referred to them as “synagogues of Satan” (Rev 2.9 and 3.9). Too many agents of the devil are leading them, perverting the teachings, such as this one that Jeff addresses here. Yes the Bible presses us to prove all things, discern the spirits by their fruits and act accordingly with boldness and righteousness for the honour of Christ.
      The true church is mostly out there.. refugee, dissident and underground. Only to be gathered together when God’s time comes.

    • HK

      This is so true. I’m in Ohio , (northern portion) churches all over. Honestly Jeff I won’t go into them anymore. So much abuse takes place in the church. Even home bible studies are now little fractioned entities of want to be dictators or Bob Jones’. God has given me so much wisdom to try to walk and survive in these days it’s really crazy right now. I work in a secular hospital right now cause it’s where the Lord brought me. Hated it. But it has taught me wisdom amongst the wolves, how to walk my faith not just pronounce it, and to listen to who He wants me to talk to an encourage in Him. You are very on tract with abusers and thank you for your articles. HK

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thank you HK. I haven’t been to your state, but I know that in so many parts of the midwest and South there are, as you say, church buildings on every corner. I noticed that when I was in South Carolina for example. BIG brick church buildings everywhere. Huge white pillars out front. But it is almost entirely show in every case. I can say that because I have received soooo many reports from abuse victims whose abusers are fine, upstanding church members. And the pastors know at minimum that many, many in their congregations live like the devil – but they are like hired men on an old English Lord’s manor and function as the powers that be direct. Inevitably, victims of abuse are thrown under the bus and given the boot while the evildoers are embraced.

  2. Had to Learn

    My pastor, my husband, was just this. I had to learn he wasn’t good, which was hard to process and harder to accept. To this day, many still see him as good, a “man of God” which he portrays publically. Christian churches are such fertile soil and trusting, it is clear he and Satan use this to their advantage. We must “be shrewd as serpents, innocent as doves”. Mat 10:16

    • Jeff Crippen

      Had to Learn – If I could make a list of all the abusers brought to my attention who have been or are pastors now, it would be a very long list I assure you. Missionaries also. And of course heads of “christian” entities as well. As you say, the “pickin’s” are very good amongst people who are taught from the pulpits that “God loves everyone, and you had better too or else.” In my now 38 years as a pastor, I have come to the place in which I have no desire to find pastor friends. I know of one or two that I trust, but after being burned over and over and over by men who turned out to be fakes, cruel, arrogant, self-serving, I finally woke up. As in the days of Elijah and Elisha, the real servants of God are to be found in caves, not on the stages of conferences or in pulpits being adored by the thronging crowds.
      I am very glad you are free. And wise.

  3. kylenfreeman

    I remember watching one of the prominent Reformed teachers give a teaching series on the fruit of the Spirit, and he was promoting this exact same line of thought (that is, that we should assume the best of everyone), and he even acknowledged the difficulty of maintaining both this idea along with his beliefs about our fallen nature, but never provided resolution to the problem. He was teaching from 1 Corinthians 13 and went the route of “love believes all things” (or I think in some translations it is “love thinks no evil”), and the answer was essentially “we must always give the benefit of the doubt because God says so.” I suspect this is where a lot of this notion comes from, is (in part, but not exclusively) from a faulty understanding of the meaning/application of this passage that divorces it from the rest of Scripture (especially the book of Proverbs!). What would a more biblical way of understanding of that statement in 1 Corinthians 13 be? In particular, how do we reconcile the warnings of Proverbs and the epistles about bad people with 1 Corinthians 13?

    • Jeff Crippen

      kylenfreeman – well first of all teaching like that guy did certainly leaves the door wide open for the wicked to get away with most anything. We have to believe them you know – we have to assume their “repentance” is real, blah, blah, blah. But as you mentioned, the Bible is filled with texts that teach us NOT to believe everything people say. The fundamental reason we don’t believe them is because God doesn’t! God does not “think the best.” He does not “believe all things” in that sense. Jesus (John 8) told the Pharisees they were liars just like their father the devil. And John tells us (1 John 4) to test the spirits because many false prophets have gone out. So it is absolutely impossible that Paul means there in 1 Cor 13 that we are to always “think the best” and believe whatever people say.
      So what does Paul mean?
      1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
      The issue here comes down to the definition of “all things.” The context (vss 1-6) show us what is meant. Paul means (read vss 1-6 again) that ALL THINGS we do – particularly all the things we do in Christ’s name – must be energized and driven by LOVE. If that is not the case, if our motive is anything else, then we are clanging symbols, I am nothing, a noisy obnoxious grating in God’s hearing and sight. We bear, we carry, share the load out of LOVE for the Lord and for others. Our faith, driven by love for Christ, believes all things He says. Our love impels us to confidently hope in all the promises Christ has made. And we endure all things for Christ, even if our body be burned as a result, because we LOVE Him. Without that motivation of love for Christ and others (first and second greatest commandments) everything we offer Him is NOTHING. That is why on that Day when He comes to judge all men, he will say to those on His left (who boast about all they have done in His name) to depart from Him, He never knew them.
      Do you see how a superficial rendering of this passage such as that prominent preacher gave, absolutely guts the greatness of this scripture?

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