Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Exposing Sin and Evil is not Gossip

Many thanks to one of our readers for writing the following to us:

It’s not called gossip once a wife’s murder is reported after many years of hidden domestic abuse, but it’s called gossip if she talks about it before her murder. It’s not called gossip when it is reported that a company/man goes into bankruptcy, but it’s called gossip if his wife talks to people about her husband’s laziness and refusal to work (financial abandonment) prior to the bankruptcy.

Here is a lady who knows from hard experience. Abusers and their allies love to accuse truth-tellers of being “gossips” when the victims expose the evil that is being done to them. Don’t wear that accusation. It is false. Telling truth is not gossip or slander. Shining light on evil is not sin. Notice her keen insight into the irony of it. Report a murder AFTER the murder, and it’s not gossip. Report the abuse BEFORE the victim is murdered, and suddenly here comes the accusation of gossip. The same stands for financial abuse or any other form of abuse. I guess it takes a dead body laying in a pool of blood in the living room before people will finally say, “he abused her.” Well, maybe the dead body is enough. Some will still say “she drove him too it.”  I have had this gossip nonsense thrown at me more than once by the wicked. What was fascinating is that birds of a feather, you know, flock together. When you expose one abuser, the others who may be around rush to the guy’s defense. “Don’t say such a thing about that man! I don’t want to hear it!” Well, why not? I can tell you why. Because if one abuser is exposed, when abuse is brought to light, it threatens any other such wicked people in the vicinity.
Sometimes this gossip card comes at you in a bit different forms. “Well, you know, we are all sinners.” “We just need to love people anyway.” “Jesus loves them too.” Most all of you have heard that nonsense. It’s all quite wicked and cowardly because it enables and protects the wicked. It really is an accusation against the person exposing the evil.

Excuse me, what did you say? Gossip? Is it gossip to say that the devil is wicked? Are we not to ever say anything bad about the devil? Jesus must have been guilty of gossip then?

I have observed firsthand over many years experience as a pastor all of these tactics exercised by the wicked. I used to be duped by them. Not any more. More than once I have had “fine ‘C’hristian church members,” pillars of the local church you know, accuse me of gossiping about them when in fact all that was happening is that they had realized that their wicked facade was no longer working. Abusers, you see, love secrecy, darkness, and silence. It suits their purposes and furthers their deception. By their “reasoning,” the Apostle Paul was a gossip. And actually, so is the true Church, and so is God!

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. (2Ti 4:14-15) But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. (1Co 14:24-25) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1Co 4:5)

As the lady who provided us with this topic noted, the Apostle Paul even mentioned the sin of gossip/slander and then turned right around and named names of people wicked people!

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous [“malicious gossips” in other translations], without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. (2Ti 3:1-8)

Also, our friend also noted,

Paul in 2 Timothy 4 says about himself, “I have kept the faith,”  and then further on he tells about all the people in his life who have disappointed him and done him harm (Demas, Crescens, Titus, Alexander). Yet, Paul is never rebuked for gossip.

Here is wisdom. Don’t be deceived by the gossip card.


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  1. Sally

    Thank you so much for your teaching. I am 5 years out of an abusive marriage and you are largely why I was able to understand what was happening to me. 

  2. Sue

    Terrific post, yaay 🙂

  3. Lynn

    Gossip is also the excuse used by pastors who refuse to name names and warn their congregation when abuse is brought to their attention. It happened to me in the last church I was a member of. While they quietly “revoked” the viper’s membership, they would not stand up and warn the rest of the congregation as to the abuse she continued to perpetrate on others.
    She threatened to falsely accuse, slander, and sue me in front of my pastors at the time if she didn’t have the debt she owed me wiped clean. Yet in spite of seeing her evil in action, they were too afraid to warn others of her narcissistic tactics, even after admitting they knew something was wrong with her prior to me getting abused. In their minds, I should have known better and been able to discern her tactics while I was being love-bombed.
    There is too much pain, deception, and manipulation operating in much of the visible church. When pastors and elders refuse to oust wicked people and inform their congregations of evil in their midst, it is their cowardice and willful blindness on display. It maligns the character of God whom they claim to serve, proving they are not children of God, but of the devil.
    Who needs enemies when you’ve got “church friends and leaders” like these?
    It’s responses like these that claim truth-telling is gossip in today’s visible church that keep the abused in chains. It’s why I struggle with trusting the visible church and choosing a church home. After leaving my last church and moved across the country, I’ve tried out several places, but none seem to fit. They all feel a little too unsafe. Not enough people know how to or are willing to walk down the road with abuse survivors. If you’re lucky, someone may reach out once or twice, but most of the time its just silence, with the onus placed on the victim to be the proactive initiator in those relationships. “Newsflash,” that rarely happens. We need to know you are a safe person, and your church will protect and nurture, not force us to conform to the neat little boxes ministries like to organize.
    Thank you for the work you’re doing Pastor Crippen. It has been a real blessing to me helping me peel back the deceptions and scales that were on my eyes about God, Jesus and the nature of evil people.

    • Z

      I wish I could “like” your comment 10 times!
      Your experiences and explanations of the feelings abuse survivors carry with us which make us so wary of new people and new churches-feeling SAFETY is essential!-are spot-on.
      I can say THIS church-CRC as my online church-has PROVEN to be SAFE! The leadership supported me totally and appropriately when I reported being abused by a so-called “Christian friend”. They believed me, looked at the evidence and took action quickly to protect me. Pastor Crippen practices what he preaches and identified a “wolf” and made sure that wolf could not continue to abuse me.
      I’ve NEVER found that in ANY church in my entire life of reporting the many abuses I was suffering at the hands of my professing “christian abuser/parents & family” since childhood up to recent years.
      This is my Safe Church. And I thank God for it. I don’t need a building.
      I know we need human (as opposed to virtual) fellowship as God wired us for community and Jesus modeled it. But as you said, I am not the one who would initiate new friendships in real life after the betrayals I’ve experienced. Too risky. And people have shown such callousness in response to my abuse journey I am unable to put myself out there to strangers. So I get what you are feeling and saying completely. So virtual friends have to suffice. Especially those who have walked the abuse & betrayal journey too.
      I will pray God brings safe people into your life just as I pray that for myself. Hasn’t happened yet but my faith in God’s will remains strong.
      God bless you, sister.

      • Lynn

        I agree CRC has been a godsend. I am truly grateful to have found it. I truly enjoy digging into the sermons that are preached on sermon audio. If there is a way for me to better engage at CRC and build relationships I am open to it. I’m not really sure how that works.
        My challenge right now is that I left everything behind when I left my last church. I also went no contact with my entire immediate family due to decades of narcissistic abuse. I sold my house and picked everything to try and get free and heal from deep emotional, spiritual and financial abuse. I am in a new state where I didn’t know anyone prior to moving because I needed a fresh start away from all the pain that happened as a result of the church abuse and the narcissistic abuse that all came to a head within 6 months of each other.
        I was just starting to meet people and then Covid hit and I’ve spent the better part of the last year holed up in my apartment because of all of the restrictions. I don’t have many connections in my new city and it’s been hard to meet new people when I’m struggling to feel safe. Meeting with people online isn’t quite the same, and the isolation has been hard on me mentally.

        • Jeff Crippen

          Lynn- we will contact you by email and explain how you can get more plugged in to crc. Its quite easy actually but very beneficial to us all.

        • Z

          Dear Lynn,
          I can’t believe how similar our paths have been! I too went No Contact with my family of origin/abusers as well as all my extended family who knew of the abuses, enabled them, then totally turned their backs on me, embracing the abusers and shunning me. All because I called the police on my family for a violent criminal attack they committed on me and for my going No Contact with them after that.
          I’m retired so I’ve long lost touch with work friends. I’m an introvert due to my abuse history so making new friends is now even harder for me. CPTSD and anxiety. I needed much counseling after the violent attack by “family” and the mass betrayal of pretty much everyone-friends and family who are professing Christians. That leaves quite a scar on top of the childhood abuses. But with the encouragement of my counselor, I’d been getting out more and had plans to join groups for new activities to at least be around other humans and possibly make a safe friend or two when Covid hit and put an end to those possibilities. So I know how hard it is. I’m married so it’s just my husband and Jesus right now to keep me company. And this church community is a support but unfortunately is virtual not tangible as far as making safe real friends. But the commenters on Pastor Crippen’s blogs are great. They’ve walked through all kinds of abuse situations. Many with their family of origin from childhood on, like us.
          They offer many insights and comforting Scriptures. And it’s so great to read of so many getting wisdom from the blogs and sermons and using it to get free from the bondage of abuse. It’s a “community of believers” who have abuse and a love for Jesus in common.
          Glory to God for those freedom stories that keep on coming!
          One good thing about Covid restrictions is that it showed me I don’t need a visible brick and mortar church. I find the Spirit of the Lord here on the blogs and I am fed by Pastor’s sermons.
          It’s still lonely without human interaction but it’s better than the “wolf-filled” counterfeit interactions I’d had all my life.
          By the way, Pastor, I’d also love to learn about how to get more plugged in to CRC, if there are ways to interact more and feel less isolated.
          Many thanks.

    • Holly

      I have those very same thoughts. Thank you for voicing them so succinctly. After decades of suffering abuse and manipulation by the hands of family, some friends and even church members at the local church I used to attend, I eventually wisened up and saw the abuse and manipulation for what they were. And then, I left that church and did not join another church for many years. This Easter, I decided to find a new church to attend, and this time I chose the church associated with the largest bible institute in my city.

      In the course of two weeks, I had two conversations with one of the pastors at this reputable church; the first over the phone, and the second in person. I told him about my history with these unsafe abusers and manipulators in detail and asked him both times to direct me to a group or person who would be able to help someone like me. In my second conversation, I even specifically said I was looking for “safe people”, and defined for him what that meant. What really bothered me about both conversations is his apparent lack of empathy, minimization of my feelings, prejudice against me because I was speaking poorly of the church I used to attend (I said I experienced many manipulative and even abusive, toxic people in that church), and his apparent denial of the responsibility of the church to be a “safe place”. To the best of my recollection and understanding, I think he basically said that apart from the preaching of the Gospel and the doctrines of God, the church is just like any other human organisation. The impression I got was that he was telling me my expectations were unrealistic. All I was asking for was whether or not there is a group or person who would be safe enough to help me walk through and come out of these experiences. He cut me off multiple times in both our conversations, and it seemed like he was less interested in hearing and understanding my experiences so that he could better help me and point me in the right direction, and more interested in hearing himself preach. In our second conversation (this one was face to face), getting him to name a person or group who may be able to help was like pulling teeth. He just wouldn’t tell me until he got like enough information to run a background check on me. I mean, seriously?! Why he gave me so much grief for just asking for emotional support/nurturing from the church is beyond me. If I go back to that church, I would probably look for another pastor to talk to. It’s so discouraging when a pastor of a big, reputable church associated with a highly reputable bible institute basically victim-blames someone in pain and desperately seeking help and support. Given his attitude, I don’t even know whether or not I can trust his recommended person. Not to mention he didn’t even offer to introduce me to her, he just told me her name and expected me to find her myself. All of this feels like an emotional backhand, and his tendency to control the conversation (cutting me off when I’m talking, then launching into a long-winded sermon and not allowing any interjections, then only allowing me to talk as far as getting answers from me) leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. In fact, it feels a bit abusive. And I’m very sad now because if this is a pastor at such a reputable church (not a megachurch, but a reputable bible institute kind of church), then is there any hope of finding a safe community within any church?

  4. Great post.
    Lynn said, “Gossip is also the excuse used by pastors who refuse to name names and warn their congregation when abuse is brought to their attention.” Amen to that.
    A friend became involved as a volunteer/leader at a pretty shady, secluded ‘ministry’ camp which I could tell was likely false and outright abusive. When a victim came forward with questions and ultimately escaped the ‘ministry’ in a cloud of ‘drama’ my friend stayed on. Even though privately I was encouraging her to speak up and flee the place herself. Eventually, as she stayed on and continued to tell me all that was going wrong with the ministry, and continued to ‘grace’ over the abuses she was witnessing, I could no longer tolerate hearing her excuses as to why she remained a volunteer there, as she was just staying silent about all that she noticed was wrong about it.
    As a survivor of spiritual abuse, and clergy sexual abuse, my heart and loyalty is toward the brave victim willing to stand up to a false system and abusive teacher. And so I told my friend that I could no longer listen to her justifications about this ministry and that her deciding to volunteer there in the first place and then staying silent after she noticed, for herself, what was wrong, was hard enough for me to witness. Knowing that she flat out missed an opportunity to stand in solidarity with a true victim who had spoken up and questioned the teachings, were all ‘telling’ of where her own loyalties lie.
    Instead of repenting herself, for her own involvement in this ministry, and her lack of standing up for a victim of false teaching, leaving the ministry herself and calling the errors to light herself: she confessed her ‘sin of gossip’ to me and said it was wrong of her to talk about the place, privately to me…
    I am certain it fell on deaf ears when I assured her that it was not gossip to speak the truth about a ministry, especially a public one, to a friend for private counsel. I tried to show her that it was just super disappointing to ME to know that she had a chance to stand up for the truth and to defend a victim and missed that chance. Even in that, she doubled down and insisted God had revealed her sin to be that of gossip against this ministry she had volunteered at.
    She remains a volunteer at the ministry, and has now stopped telling me all that she sees is wrong with it. Which is ok, as I can’t help but see her as a shepherd who refuses to ‘use the stick against the wolves.’ And that’s just not someone I can be that close with. But, yeah, it’s increasingly lonely in the churches when the massive failure to call abuse to light gets twisted into righteousness and avoiding of ‘gossip’.
    God help us all.

  5. My understanding of what gossip and related items are, has been informed by Scripture as well as by an academic understanding of communication. Defined as a transfer of meaning, communication is most accurate at the first step, but even at that first step there can be failures for the meaning to transfer accurately from one person to the next.
    As such then, communication hiccups are of supreme importance to the Author of Scripture because they result in falsehood, but He is the source of all truth. I believe truth, and truth telling are also wrapped up in that importance.
    So, in that light, gossip, which i believe is inherently “idle”, which so readily “goes down into the inward parts”, and tickles the ears, sometimes is “juicy”, is an abomination to the Author of Scripture not so much as a rule that is broken but more as an affront to His nature of truth. Slander is not idle, but a deliberate spreading of falsehood. Still an affront. And back to gossip, it can be gossip even if you are saying good things about another person. Still an affront if those things are false, or if they become false as a result of being transmitted through several transfers of meaning.
    I haven’t teased all this out yet in the context of abuse, because I’m just learning about that aspect of it, but prior to now, I solved for gossip and slander by the realization that the Author had also set down the matthew 18 thing, strictly interpreted as one time per step. Go to them once privately, then take another person to witness a single repeat of the first conversation, then tell it to the church. There is ample opportunity in that sequence, for truth to be revealed, if there is simply an innocent failure of the meaning to transfer accurately. That’s why the first step is private – in case you made a mistake you can resolve that in a way that allows you to avoid the embarrassment of being found out later as having misunderstood.
    Thereafter, I believe it is entirely appropriate for me to speak about the truth as experienced by me. There is no obligation to keep that first conversation confidential, as long as I limit my discussions to an accurate description of my experience. Even if I was shown to be wrong in the first conversation, I can still speak about my experience with the other person. And, I’ve come to believe that speaking about my true experience is not gossip.
    Not sure how slander fits in there, but at least legally in the US, I think it has to be false to be slander. Me speaking about an event or relationship as i experienced it, is not falsehood.
    Hope that adds to the discussion.
    Happy Easter to all.

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