Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Let's Think Some More about What it Means to Have no Conscience

Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalms 32:2-5)

The human conscience is a powerful thing. It is a powerful thing in the life of the Christian. As David found out when he sinned, the Lord uses our conscience to put a heavy hand upon us when we sin. So intense is the Lord’s working through our conscience that under His conviction we are without strength, dried up, like a man lost in the heat of the desert. The only remedy is genuine repentance and confession of sin, and then God’s forgiveness. Notice then that the truly repentant person can feel that forgiveness, in contrast to the heavy misery of a convicted conscience.
This is a powerful truth to hold onto when you come under temptation. Sin tells us that we can indulge ourselves and enjoy it. But the fact is, as David and myriads of Christians have found, when a Christian yields and sins, if there is any enjoyment at all it is over in seconds. Then comes that terrible heat of conscience. The heavy hand of the Lord driving us to confession and repentance. It is a miserable thing. Day and night. Day and night. You wake up at 3AM with a knot in your gut and your sin right before you. You cannot concentrate. You have done wrong and you know and feel that wrongness. So don’t be duped by temptation. If you are a real Christian, you cannot enjoy sin. It just won’t work.
Now, as most all of you know, the person we call an abuser has little or no conscience. He can play the holy saint outwardly, then all the while inwardly and out of sight he lives in wickedness. Think about this. He has no conscience, or a seared conscience (they are pretty much the same thing). If you have ever felt the intensity of misery that a violated conscience can bring, then just mull over the fact that the abuser can do what he does — abuse — and experience no pangs of conscience. He can sleep at night. In fact he even delights in his evil. He feeds on it. It is sweet to him.
Think about this. Dwell on it. The thing is incredible. It shows us the degree of the evil we are dealing with in this abuse thing. Here is a person who can do incredible wickedness against his own wife (who has hated his own flesh? as Paul says), and not only does it not bother him, but when he sees her suffering, he rejoices in it. He is energized by it.
Do you understand? Most professing Christians and pastors do not. This is evil. These are the evil people who most certainly are in this world. If we fail to understand the depth of their wickedness, the conscienceless nature of their minds, and if we instead assume they are like us, then we are going to go miserably wrong and we will be duped by them. We will think we can fix them. We will feel sorry for them. But Scripture tells us their true nature:

But these people, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed—speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed, suffering harm as the payment for unrighteousness. They consider it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, delighting in their deceptions as they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed.  (2 Peter 2:12-14a HCSB)

So we must know what we are dealing with. We must believe what God’s Word tells us about the reality of evil around us and particularly as it creeps in amongst us in the local church.
And largely, “we” (the visible, professing Christian church), do not.


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  1. Freesia

    I have since left an abusive relationship a few months ago and am out of the fog now but it’s frightening coming to terms with how prevalent evil is in this world. At this point, I absolutely do not trust anyone I come across and maybe it’s a good thing that I am alone (not by choice but many people who I thought would stick around hasn’t and has abandoned me). Dealing with the aftermath of realizing how bad things actually were in the relationship is excruciating and I’m not feeling a lot of comfort through prayer. I guess when you are in the thick of abuse your body (and mind) protects you by denial or disassociation mechanisms. I feel GOD has abandoned me as well. I just feel a lot of anger for what’s happened to me and the injustices of this world especially since I cannot comprehend how another human being can do evil acts to another without feeling any type of remorse .. this doesn’t compute in my head and is the point of this article. But GOD opened my eyes and now i KNOW it exists and it’s ever more prevalent that I initially realized. Is there any true redemption, Pastor Jeff? Am I even on the path to healing at this point? I have no desire to go back to the relationship at all. That will never happen but I wonder if what I am going through at this point is normal?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, it’s normal. One of the reasons so many people willfully remain blind is because they don’t want to face the facts that you now see. What this realization also requires is that we come to understand that most typically we have been taught false things which are wrapped up in a “christian “ disguise. We have to unlearn them and start seeing Christ and His truth as He really is. And as the Bible really is. In other words, the “god” who seems to have abandoned us isn’t the true and living God, but rather a false god pushed off on us by people who claim to represent the Lord. See Jeremiah 23 on this.


      Freesia, the anger, confusion, pain and effects of the trauma you have endured are very common. Healing for your heart, mind and spirit will take time, but trusting the Lord is the beginning of the healing process. He will never abandon you. True healing and restoration of your heart and spirit are possible through our Most High God and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the time that you need to really nurture your relationship with the Lord, and read His Word out loud, listen to worship music and sing to the Lord, and spend daily time focusing on His goodness. The devil will lie to you and try to discourage you in any way that he can. Do not let him do that. He is the father of lies, but our Lord Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There is life after living with an abuser. The fog will continue to lift as time passes and you will be healed one step at a time.

    • OneStepAtATime

      Freesia, I can relate to your post. I have been divorced from my abuser for over 2 years now and sometimes it’s still a daily battle. I continue to struggle with denial and dissociation. My ex was spiritually abusive as was the church I was attending. So it’s a struggle to hold onto my faith. I think it’s okay to be completely honest with God and be angry at Him. I have chosen to stop attending church as I wrestle through my doubts and I know God understands. You are the one walking this path. Don’t let anyone guilt or shame you on your path of healing. My path is a slow one. I have days I feel I’m doing great and days I feel I can’t continue on. Everyone’s path is different. Give yourself a lot of grace. You deserve it.

    • J. D. Gallé

      Blessed are they whose eyes have been opened to perceive the prevalence of unjustness in the world, and the evilness of evil. The fear of Yahweh is hatred of evil (Prov. 8.13).
      I do know this: it shall not go well with the wicked (Eccles. 8.13).

    • lg

      Hi Freesia
      I was in a total fog of confusion during my entire marriage and I remember the first year after separating from my abuser feeling stunned after learning how much he lied to me during our entire marriage and marriage therapy and just trying to digest that and coming to terms with it. I remember my therapist telling me he sounds like a sociopath, but that was such a foreign and outlandish idea to me, it would be a few more years of evilness against me in family court for me to finally come to terms with that.
      I think understanding it even exists and its prevalence is the first step, then being able to articulate it and identify it as second steps in healing.
      There have been a number of things God has given me to help me: one of which reading every one of Pastor Crippen’s books and listened to his sermon series on sermon audio.com on the psychology of evil and abuse; This, along, with a few other books about what is called / labeled as “narcism” and “sociopathy,” although calling it evil, and even perhaps demonic at times, seems more accurate to me, but it has helped me articulate and understand what is going on.
      Another is doing my own Bible studies on the psalms and God’s promises – I like to use Bible.hub a lot to help me; and learning more about the Old Testament scriptures.
      Also going little to no contact. I am not able to go completely no contact due to family court demands, (family court encourages and like to see constant contact, which he abuses) but have been able to drastically reduce contact with him and although he wants to penalize me for it reducing any contact with him, I can now better articulate to the court why it is healthier for me and our daughter for me to limit my contact with him to emergencies and essentials only.
      I also stopped talking to people who do not understand the abuse yet want to pass judgement and give bad advice, etc and anything else that is not helpful, but instead rather harmful. This unfortunately has included family members which is another heartbreak and adds further to the isolation, but it is is way too stressful otherwise.
      I shared the Monica Lewinsky TED talk about online shaming for a social media unit I was doing with my HS students, one thing that really struck me about her story is how much support she had in the midst of the public shamming – the support of her mother, family – she had a refuge at home – I felt so sad at how I did not have that support, but also realized how important it is to offer this to others.

    • Susan

      I can totally understand your lack of desire for another relationship. In the short term this is very normal and probably the best protection from getting into another potentially bad relationship. Depending on your age, I would say that you will gradually begin to trust again and will be able to form healthy relationships. Until then, the Lord (as always) will be your husband! (Isaiah 54:5)

  2. Free

    I am so sorry to hear your pain, also so very glad for your awareness of things. That was incredibly honest what you described about the aftermath. And if you are wondering if these feelings are normal – yes! You just went through hell.
    Like you and some of the others, I went through some similar situations and through the course of all I started to become SO grateful for the alone time. It became alone time with God, not the fake one that was shoved down our throat by the abuser, or the false god from the – show – me- church – but the real God. He becomes more than a trinity we talk about – he is it. Hard to place into words the shift that occurs after such a grossly abusive relationship(s) with the abuser and those that silently support him in their actions – but the shift is a new reality of who God is and what it is to be his. This period may very well become a period that could later be seen as one of detoxification of the past and a unique close to certain things – yet also a unique openness and awareness of a whole new future.
    I can also relate to some of the daily encounters the other readers wrote of – that’s just it… each day is new and each day will have a new something to it. Some will be hard, some easier, some a blend of both.
    I never thought I would say it – but the situation with the abuser has launched me ten-fold forward in life. It took time, but it became a forever dividing line from not only the abuser and his horrific abuse, but also a toxic family of origin, church, some toxic friends, etc. and into a life of awe and depth in our Lord ….. and as hard as it may be to hear this at the moment….. years later – after all of the hell has some distance behind you, there is an opportunity for such incredible joy in just being.
    May God bless your path Freesia with everything you need to launch into a life beyond every possible imagination that unfolds through your journey. And may you be comforted with the Lord’s unyielding supernatural peace and direction. What you feel now is completely understandable – and after what you went through – I would wonder what was wrong if you didn’t feel what you do.
    Please know you are not alone and although not in your exact situation, we do understand the wave that comes in the aftermath… There are several messages that Pastor Crippen has posted that are spot on. Even now I find I go back to them – it helps to read it from someone who gets the evil scope of the abuser and the path that they follow. And be reassured – it is not our path to be drug on with them ever again. We may be scattered all over the country, but you are not alone.

    • Free

      Btw Pastor Crippen, absolutely agree. The abuser has no conscience-literally none. Thank you for putting this message out there so clearly, and yes, we have to know the evil we are dealing with!
      Any appearance of concern the abuser pretended to express had such a massive hook on the other end I shuttered when he did his pretend concern over a human being – that was his definite mark, the monster was on the hunt.
      It was frightening to see him in action, I could predict it – it was like watching a wolf circling his prey – I knew it all too well, I had been the prey enough times that I got it! And all the while… oh yes… he made sure he was circled around with adoring Christian (really?) supporters after I just up and randomly fled (he forget to mention because of his escalating violent attacks, calculated schemes and wildly arrogant manipulation of the Bible and every loving aspect of Jesus’s life…. among many other things…….. ).
      You nailed it, the abuser has no conscience…. none.

  3. Freesia

    Thank you all that have posted back – I have gotten more validation from you all in this one post than I have in a very, very, very long time. I gave up the past few months of reaching out to anyone because a lot of people don’t understand or don’t care to understand – it caused far too much pain dealing with others’ rejection/invalidation of my situation. As Pastor Jeff stated, “many are not willing to face that truth.”
    Yesterday (prior to posting), I was having one of those days where all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs for no reason….but I can’t, I feel stifled and only thing I can think of is my body is trying to unload some heavy feelings or stress. Then I got an email notification of this post and felt compelled to post.
    I am new Christian also and I feel like I am not doing a good job at growing or keeping my faith in these times and it adds to my feeling like a failure. I feel like I should have much more gratitude at this point since GOD led me out of my situation intact. It’s really hard trying to figure out why I don’t feel more gratitude or relief. Several close people in my life (including ex abuser) were self-professed Christians so I don’t know what to think anymore and that adds to my confusion in my faith. I think I will gain more clarity as time goes on. But I just feel fragile in every way possible and I don’t like this feeling.
    To Pastor Jeff or anyone else – I’m not quite following what you mean when you say I have been lied to about the true GOD? And not the one that is taught in some churches, etc? I am requesting clarification or if someone could point me to another post that would be most appreciative. Thank you to you all for your responses.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Fresia- what I meant was that churches today for the most part, and the professing Christians who fill them, are teaching a false gospel and a false God. They are mouthing man pleasing “truths” that allegedly come from the Bible but do not. “God loves everyone” – false. A real Christian can continue to habitually sin without repentance – false. We must not judge others – false. God expects abuse victims to remain married to their abuser – false. And on and on.
      You may have an advantage in being a new Christian. Many of us grew up in church being fed this stuff.
      Anyway, that is what I meant.

      • Freesia

        Pastor Jeff, I understand what you are saying now. Growing up, I went to church randomly with friends but I was never consistent but I do know some of these “false truths” that you just listed (without realizing they were false).
        And thinking back, I can recall some of these false truths were told by abusers in my life. One abuser (family member) in my life told me all you have to do is believe in Jesus and pray to get to Heaven. I couldn’t understand this all the while he raised me in an oppressive environment because I knew deep down (intuitively, even as a child) what he was doing was wrong. He was not renewed in Christ nor did he seek to be more like Christ because his behavior/mindset would have told a different story. So that makes sense. I will now have to discover the real truths now but I don’t know how to start this “unraveling.”
        One thing that crosses my mind a lot: is it a blessing to have your eyes wide open to all this? Sometimes I feel like GOD has too much faith in me because the more my eyes are opened to evil in this world, the more I am like “am I ready to know or see all this?” It’s like getting a crash course that started before I was able to put my seatbelt on, if that makes sense. The ride is not what I was expecting, it’s actually realizing how fallen this world really is. And so many people are “asleep.” But then I look at myself and to think what it would be like to not know evil in this world? The world would have just ate me alive and perhaps I would have never left? Then I wonder why me? Why haven’t others’ eyes been open to this? When I was trying to talk to people about my situation/evil present it’s like they look at me like I’m speaking an alien language. I wonder why GOD opens some eyes and not others?

    • So much more!

      Freesia – the second you hear a shaming, blaming, you’re-going-to-hell-no-matter-what, accusatory, seeking to harm you and throw you back into the abuse-type of god used against you – particularly in reference to escaping the abuser and his allies – that is NOT God… that’s, at best, pretend Christians running their mouths spreading evil. Run, literally or figuratively, from the people who use this talk of anything but God… If you are able to get a study Bible, if you don’t have one already, it may help to read the notes below as you go through it – and write notes – highlight in it, etc. Perhaps it may help to read, or re-read? through the New Testament first, “meet” Christ in a new light…
      For what it’s worth – I found the further I got physically away from the abuser, and the other extensive circle of toxic and abusive people I had in my life, the more words started to jump out as I read the Bible – could look at a single word and see the text and suddenly see a completely new and vastly expanded understanding. This is the part of the abuse recovery when it gets fun! Literally! You may find even craving stealing seconds sometimes to dive into just one verse and get lost in it all. Or taking a scripture verse Pastor Crippen references in his messages – just one tiny part of it – and spending quite a bit of time reading it, the notes and enjoying the “a-ha” moments! The verses here at this site are AMAZING references to go back to – and when you read them combined with the Pastor’s message – kid you not – it’s “a-ha” after “a-ha” after “a-ha” moments! It all starts to come together.
      These are the things that you can’t script – this is your journey – take it to where you feel led – you basically author this part – so please explore like you are …. This is exactly the part of the journey where you may experience why the Holy Spirit is not only real – but makes sense! And if that sounds a bit out there right now – that’s ok…. this is your journey now, you get to go it at your pace… the one thing the Lord will not do is leave you curbside in the abuse recovery – people might, but he will not.
      This is the time to see the abuse and abusers for what they are – and God for who he is and what he tells us – it is all in the Bible, all of it.

      • Freesia

        Thank you So Much More! This was helpful for me to start. I also just found the section in this website that shows “twisted scriptures” so will also review this as well

  4. Lynn

    You are on the right path. All of the emotions you are feeling right now are valid and an appropriate response to the abuse you’ve encountered. God’s not mad at you nor has he left you alone to fend for yourself.
    I understand that it may ‘feel’ like God left you, but that is a lie. Be careful about relying too much on feeling God’s presence as an indicator of whether or not he’s with you. When you are adopted into the kingdom of God the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in you. Are you going to always feel his presence? No. But that doesn’t mean you are alone. I know from my own experience in the NAR/charasmatic side of Christianity (BTW it’s a false gospel) that their emphasis on emotion and “feeling the presence of God’” was a manipulation tactic to help them teach their false doctrine.
    I want to recommend looking at getting a journal Bible. It includes sections on the right and left for you to take notes and jot down your thought and questions as you’re reading scripture. I also recommend downloading the sermon audio app and listening to past sermons that pastor Crippen has posted there. You can also listen to it on your web browser. His wise as serpents sermon series is super helper. That series what initially got me connected with the blog. He also has a book by the same name share the same info in written form if you prefer reading to listening. He digs into the nature of evil and shows just how naive and foolish much of the professing church is regarding what evil actually looks like. It mostly masquerades as an angel of light and gives off the appearance of godliness, all the while waiting for its opportunity to ensnare its next victim.
    His current Bible study series on ‘does God love everyone?’ Helps me think more critically about a lot of the Christian slogans that get tossed around, but aren’t actually supported in the Bible. You can find it on Facebook And YouTube.
    Coming out of decades of narcissistic, spiritual, and financial abuse my brains felt scrambled. I was angry at all of the evil I had been experienced at the hands of those who we’re supposed to love and nurture me. That anger that you feel when your eyes have been opened to the lies, manipulations, and abuses is a righteous anger. We are supposed to get mad in the face of abuse and injustice. The Holy Spirit’s anger is stirred up at the wickedness done to his sheep.
    I really encourage you to find healthy ways to release that anger when you feel it so that it doesn’t turn and harm yourself or other innocent people. Holding onto it for too long only further punishes yourself, not your abuser. Maybe writing it all out helps you. Maybe you need to go scream into your pillow and let all of that energy be released from your body. It’s up to you to discover what that release valve is.
    While my abuse didn’t come at the hand of a husband, I got a double whammy of narcissism with both of my parents being narcissistic. My mom was the ringleader who demanded absolute submission to her every whim. Any attempt to have a thought, desire or emotion apart from her was tantamount to treason. On top of the narcissism, I was raised with a false gospel. I was constantly surrounded by wolves and ended up being badly used by several including pastors causing me to completely disconnect with in person church. I have tried to go, but the lack of support and understanding of how to help traumatized people left me feeling very unsafe. The pandemic forced everything to move online which has been a real blessing for me,
    I had been searching for answers about how to deal with my family’s abusive behavior for a while before I found this blog. It has been such a help to me. Too many things about what I had been taught didn’t make sense to me when I started reading scripture on my own.
    Scripture begins to make so much more sense when you have the right lens to view it from. You start to see just how much of Jesus ministry and the New Testament spend on exhorting the audience to be wary of false teachers, false Christians and instructs us on what our proper response is to be – do not eat with such a person.
    Search this site for imprecatory prayer and take a look at the articles related to it. It may help you better express all of your anger and frustration to God in prayer and release it so that it no longer weighs you down.
    Give yourself some grace as you continue to process your abuse. Healing can be a slow process, but it’s worth the investment. I wish I could tell you it was one of those one and done healing experiences, but it’s not. Going no contact with my family has helped a lot because I know they can no abuse me because they have no access. I realize not everyone can go no contact with their abuser, but if you can, I highly encourage you to do so.
    You can do this. Continue to walk in the light that Christ has given you. Study scripture, even if it’s just a verse or two at a time. Spend time reading Psalms when you are struggling in prayer. It will help you put words to what you’re feeling and show you what the different types of prayer look like.
    One day we will not have to worry about all of the pain and sorrow and injustice we’ve experienced because God will make all things new. The wicked will get the perfect justice their evil behavior deserves, while we will be completely free, healthy, happy and whole in the presence of the King forevermore. I look forward to that day.

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