Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Matriarchal Kingdom of Abuse

1Ki 15:11-13 And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done. (12) He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. (13) He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. And Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron.

We know that the very large majority of domestic abusers are men and that churches have been enabling abusers by teaching and practicing what we call patriarchy. The father this. The husband that. It’s all about the father and everyone else in the family exists to serve him and further his “mission” in serving the Lord. The father becomes the “priest” of the family – a virtual mediator between them and God. Men who lust for power and control and self-glory love this system. The Lord does not.

But what I want to talk to you about here is a very similar system in which it is the wife or mother or grandmother in the family who is “queen.” I know this evil exists because I have met it numerous times over the years, and as the scripture above demonstrates, we find examples of it in the Bible as well.

The matriarchal kingdom is established by an abuser who is a woman. In the circles we are most familiar with, in Christian circles that is, a mother or a grandmother craves power and control. She uses her religion (just like Asa’s mother did) to establish an idolatrous dynasty over which she rules. It looks something like this:

  • She presents herself to her husband, her children, her grandchildren, as kthe most saintly, godly, wise woman they have ever known.
  • Her verbage is filled with Bible talk and scriptures (twisted and perverted of course).
  • She is regarded by her offspring and their offspring as a virtual prophetess.
  • She is very skilled at punishing anyone who demonstrates any hint of independence from her kingdom.
  • Her punishing tactics include, guilting, shaming, threatening, removing her favor, hinting at taking away their inheritance, turning other family members against the “wandering sheep,” etc.
  • Anyone who breaks from her control will pay the price of being a non-person, rejected by all in her kingdom.

Get the picture? And don’t miss this – an evil matriarch like this always establishes a false religion. She and her “family” system are the idol-god which is to be worshipped by all…or else.

And here is a sobering, sobering warining: Very few people in a matriarchal system ever break free. They yield to fear and when Christ in some way calls them to come out from this enslavement, they cling to the false god.

Anyone who is born into such a kingdom of darkness is blind to what it really is. Like everyone else in it, they think “mother” or “grandmother” is indeed the model of a true saint. It is only the Lord who can open their eyes and begin to show them the bondage they are in. You can tell them and tell them and tell them in order to help them see, but ultimately the Lord has to give them the eyes to see. And then they have to make a choice which no one else can make for them. Stay in bondage, or leave it to follow Christ.

How many of these matriarchs of darkness hold key and noteable positions in many local churches? More than most people imagine. It must have been something like this at Thyatira-

Rev 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Recently Lynn commented on this blog, sharing her experience of getting free from such a family system – ruled by numerous tyrants. Her comment is worth repeating here:

When God opens your eyes, it is an invitation to let go of what you think you know and embrace his loving truth. While his gift to each of his elect is free, it is also extremely costly.

It will cost you family, friends, and reveal to you who are the wolves, who are the sheep, and who are the goats. Anyone who has appeared as godly on the outside but ends up being rotten to the core, we are commanded to remove ourselves from. That’s hard. None of us want to lose people, but the truth of the matter is that if your faith is genuine and you are obedient to Christ, you will not be able to hold onto all of your relationships. Your faith will reveal those who hate God in your midst. Don’t be surprised when you experience the hatred Jesus talks about when he tells us that they will hate us just as they hated him. We live in a day and age and a nation that refuse to be obedient to God’s word yet profess to carry his name.

It was hard leaving my entire family, including my extended family behind. While leaving my immediate family was less painful – they are a pack of narcissists wearing the guise of godly saints. I’ve had to purge most of my extended family and church relationships as well. They may not all be the wolves Christ mentioned, but they are also caught up in deception of false teaching around who Christ is, and what their responsibilities are as the Christians they claim to be. They refuse to separate from those who the Bible instructs us to avoid because they are family. Family means more to them than obedience. They refuse to seek to understand who God is for themselves nor gain wisdom in the face of evil. They let their ears be tickled by lies all the while being convinced they are walking in truth.

One of the things that has been so many fail to take seriously is that when Jesus said he’s come to separate fathers from sons, mothers from daughters and that if you choose family over obedience to him you are rejecting him. That instruction is missing in much of today’s churches. Rejecting unsaved family, especially if they wear the clothes of godliness yet are filled with dead men’s bones, is deemed unchristian.

How dare you be so unloving as to reject your family? Don’t you know you’re not being Christ like you know? And other such accusations are what you will hear from those who proclaim to be Christ’s yet refuse to obey him.

It’s not the narrow road for nothing. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But it’s not. It is hard and costly, yet nothing in this world is worth more than being Christ’s. Not family. Not friends. Not position. Not possessions. Nothing.

So to all those who are broken by wicked people parading around as godly, come out from the wolves den and live. You too can find the healing, hope and belonging your heart craves in the arms of Christ and his true sheep. No longer must you remain in the hands of wicked abusive people. Embrace the freedom granted to you by Christ. If the son sets you free you are free indeed.


Friends May Desert Us – Christ Never Will


Listen to Me! – A Common Demand of Abusers


  1. Free

    Thank you and Lynn for your insightful and, again, accurate depictions of how this all plays out. The part that has consistently caused me to take pause about the matriarchal family system is the notice of the spouse who lets the matriarch railroad the whole family – and it seems quite often they are angry, passive and essentially what is considered a spineless spouse…. many times hiding behind their religion, their hobbies, their jobs, etc. They stand by and let her run the children into the ground and ruin the family of what it could be – and the spouse can blame her all day long, but the spouse standing silently by speaks volumes of their back door support.
    After leaving the abuser and yet again deep diving into my high level of tolerance for abuse, it shed light, again, on the grooming that occurred in the family of origin. It wasn’t quite the Bible-quoting holy matriarchal picture, but it was still the know-it-all-better-than-you matriarchal cult. There was the Christ-less religion on one hand, the silent / angry / passively endorsing spouse on the other – and the railroad – your family – sucking-the- life- out-of- them matriarch on the other…. talk about a toxic triad. And this was a standard setting in the religion… sometimes the husband and wives switched roles but the abuse was still there, and Christ was never allowed in – there was / is no room for him in this type of family system.
    Years and years of resisting the reality of this family system did not pay off – the only thing that did and does was physical distancing from the entire family of origin, not giving in to the horrible gossip and covert yet childish moves of the matriarch’s system, leaving the Christ-less religion, and accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior. Sounds easy, step by step moves, but it has left many tears in this path. I used to think the tears were a sign of weakness, isolation and rejection, and then I noticed the stronger I became in my relationship with the Lord, the tears changed, and so did I. I was / am strong (albeit can get tired!), there was no longer a feeling of isolation – it was happiness and /or optimism, and there was no feeling of fundamental rejection – I KNOW I am loved!!! The tears were different – in a good way. I knew that minus a supportive family of origin, the tears were wiped away (figuratively) by the Father that was there for me, really there. It wasn’t a flip the switch and poof it’s all better – but step #1 was definitely saying no to the toxic triad (in action, words don’t seem to effectively work with that matriarchal family system).
    If you need a visual, this is how I see it… our tears drop from us to the ground, enough of them it is as if they form a stream, that feeds into a river, that feeds into the ocean. Water is the most gentle flowing force (we will cry in this world), but when funneled and correctly directed (in Christ), can literally wear away stone (life barriers), move the heaviest of objects (resistance) and all the while sustaining life just by being water (let your tears bring you new life). So if you think that moving from the toxic matriarchal cult is going to be too painful, if I may so graphically remind, watch the tears roll from your eyes as you endure the Christ-less (as Pastor Crippen rightfully called them) matriarchs of darkness. When you see your own tears fall, think of the stream, the river and the ocean – and the strength and life that your tears can bring – yes – YOU can turn your tears into your strength, into your freedom, into your new life. That is the difference, you can do this with Christ, your tears will serve a different purpose and there is a whole “ocean” of life awaiting – it is literally called freedom, and it is only in Christ. Freedom is taken in a matriarchal family system / cult – and it can be regained in Christ. Sometimes it’s one step, one tear at a time until you are ready… the beauty is, he is there when you are.

  2. oh my goodness!
    a pack of narcissists wearing the guise of godly saints

  3. C

    Thank you for that wonderfully typical description, to both of you, Pastor Crippen and Lynn, and also to Tears to freedom.
    My heart goes out to you, your pain, your wisdom and the courage it needs to live in strong resolve for righteousness in Christ, to bear the abuse and the isolation.
    By playing the goodhearted and/or Christian mother, an abusive mother gets many allies – I’ve seen this many times. Oftentimes people help her to get information or to interfere in an adult child’s life – many of them assuming that she means well and they are helping, while actually helping a bully.
    (Example: Oh, your mother was so happy to hear you were applying for that job/course/conference/whatever – or finding new friends /a new church /you name it – she then smears or causes trouble.)
    How many churches put family on such a high ground?
    Rightly so for the abused, who would do everything to care for their children and to protect and nourish them.
    Wrongly so, when there’s abuse in the appaerance od godlyness.
    I just re-read Psalm 26, and – lo and behold – this chatches my eye:
    Verses 4-5 ESV:
    4 I do not sit with men of falsehood,
    nor do I consort with hypocrites.
    5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,
    and I will not sit with the wicked.
    Now, verses 1-3 describe perfectly, where my heart is – and that of yours, I bet:
    1 Vindicate me, O Lord,
    for I have walked in my integrity,
    and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
    2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
    test my heart and my mind.
    3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
    and I walk in your faithfulness.
    I’d suscribe to the following resolve – verses 11-12:
    11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
    redeem me, and be gracious to me.
    12 My foot stands on level ground;
    in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.
    May they be encouraging to everyone here, to stand your ground, to stand His ground
    May God bless you all,

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