Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

What if Timothy Continued to Hang Out with Alexander the Coppersmith?

2Ti 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. (15) Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.

We are not told in Scripture what it was specifically that Alexander had done. It involved opposing the gospel with great and evil energy, and must have done real damage to Paul. “Great harm” are the words Paul described it with. But these two little verses have been very important to me. They demonstrate that:

  • It is not slander to specifically name our abuser and expose his evil
  • It is right to look forward to the day when Christ will repay the wicked for what they have done to us

And let me now add a third point to this list:

  • We should expect, (and really the Lord requires) those who claim to be our friends and certainly those who claim to be Christians, to have nothing to do with the wicked one themselves.

Think of it. Alexander was an evil enemy of Paul and of Christ. He had done Paul much harm. Paul warns Timothy to beware of Alexander. (I like to think of Alexander as Alexander the Copperhead!) Does that mean that Timothy should keep hanging out with Alexander, but just be a bit wary of him? Of course not! It means that Timothy must realize that Alexander is an enemy of Christ and that he has done great evil to Paul. Obviously this means Timothy is not going to go over to Alexander’s house for dinner if invited.

And if Timothy did accept such an invitation, if Timothy thought that Paul might be exaggerating, or if Timothy listened to Alexander’s “take” on the gospel, what would that say about Timothy? Specifically, what would it say about Timothy’s real attitude toward Paul?

You see the point, right? All of you who have been wickedly abused by wicked people know that one of the most hurtful and frustrating aspects of it all is that when you make the evil known, when you reveal it and ask for help, when you identify your persecutor, family members, supposed Christian friends, and others you thought would surely help you, continue to maintain relationship and social interaction with the evil one. They do not obey the Lord:

1Co 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

An abuser is what the Bible calls a reviler. A reviler villifies. He accuses and guilts and condemns his victim. And a reviler is on the list that Paul gives here. We are to have nothing to do with such a person, especially if he claims to be a Christian. But is that what you see typically happening when an abuser is identified? No. You see the victim paying a price, but the majority of “friends” keep right on eating with such a one.

Why is this? What makes someone want to keep hanging out with Alexander? Cowardice? Refusal to pay the price of standing with the victim? Denial of the reality of evil? Whatever the reason, there is no good reason for this. It enables evil and causes greater harm to the victim. Furthermore, it raises serious doubt as to the reality of these “friends'” profession of Christ.

I have seen this thing play itself out over the years. People who claim to belong to Christ, people who insist that they are our friends and fellow believers, who then refuse to break off with a person who has cruelly treated someone, eventually end up standing with the wicked and against the victim. And really, this is what they had been doing all along.

If Timothy had not heeded Paul’s warning, if Timothy had socialized with Alexander and regarded the unpleasantness as just some squabble that was between Alexander and Paul, you know what would have happened. Timothy would no longer have been in ministry with Paul and his claim to be Paul’s fellow soldier for the gospel would have been exposed as a sham.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Timothy’s faith was real and he continued to be a great comfort and encouragement to Paul:

Php 2:19-22 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (20) For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (21) For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (22) But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.


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  1. Debi

    Thank you for this encouraging post! It is discouraging the extent that this goes on in “the church”, heaping injury upon injury to the victims of such wickedness. It shouldn’t be so, and bears witness to just how broad the way that leads to destruction truly is.

  2. Elly

    The abuser who claims to be a Christian and is safeguarded by a church is a very destructive and pervasive kind.
    My abuser, my ex, who would never fulfill his role as a spiritual leader in our marriage and instead turned from his faith, now uses this to further abuse me and condemn me and my family (specifically my father). This past weekend he layed on more vindictive attempts via text, below is a segment of one such text. He has made it clear to me that the divorce is entirely my doing and is the “unchristian” thing to do.
    “I only want the divorce to be finalized for the sake of closure. There has not been a single day since you left that I have not thought about our marriage and every day has been painful. I really did love you and I wanted to be a family that loves each other and keeps God at the centre of the marriage.
    I hope that one day you ask God to search your heart and show you where it is lacking. I have done this and I can advise that if you that you should be prepared to have your life turned upside down. But it will only be for your good.”

  3. Cece

    I have been dealing with this for 4 and a half years. I have been separated from him for a year and a half. I went to the elders (there’s no Pastor) and told them about his verbal/emotional abuse, his rage and his drinking(hiding his alcohol in the garage in a cooler). I was told by one of the elders wives that if he treats me like a doormat, I’m supposed to take it. Really? There has been no discipline or accountability for him. Hes been allowed to participate in ministry events, even with youth group. I told my husband and elders I would not go there on Sunday mornings and be a part of his charade. I’ve stayed in contact with one of the elders wives and she says they love us both and don’t want to take sides. Ummm, isn’t that taking sides? My husband texted me after he left church 3 weeks ago, saying he had met with an attorney and is divorcing me. I told the elders about him filing for divorce with no grounds, yet he has been allowed to contie there like nothing is wrong. I would appreciate your thoughts.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Cece- you are doing right. Press on and be free. That church like so many is a false church and those are false christians. It is a toxic place to depart from and be free from. Look at your abuser divorcing you as a blessing.

  4. Free

    Thank you Pastor Crippen, you, again, spoke such truth in an area of such detrimental results in our church community / body.
    Ultimately, my “family” and most “friends”, even after the disclosures of the abusers abusiveness in every way (physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, social, etc.), in one way or the another supported the abuser – either by their dismissal of what happened to me, their literal friendliness with the abuser (ongoing or intermittent contact, comfort, gossip, church support, social media, etc.) and /or lack of holding him accountable and worse, many blaming me for his choices and the outcome of his choices to abuse.
    I am completely horrified by the reality of their choices and the toxicity of my relationships with them – but if I look at it – it is basically the whole enchilada so to speak, and that boils down to my WHOLE life was with this disaster of a network. I see it now, like in a big way….The back door smear campaigns alone are horrible as I tried/try and disassociate and they parade as victims / martyrs because I am disassociating. They are supposedly Christians which only serves to be more horrible.
    Which ALL of this circles back to the Bible’s point of not associating!!!! Period.
    The disassociating process is almost as bad as being associated when you experience the jabs and false presentations etc. -EXCEPT for the fact that there is a sense of profound and life altering freedom and acceptance in my life. Not here, never will be with them, but it is with Christ.
    I have thought many times of Christ, and his most devoted followers, just speaking their peace and moving on…. I kick myself for not listening to the Word, I mean see – hear – listen – to why we should not associate with those we had been warned against! Upside is…. to your point, heed the warning and we will be better for it…. never fails, always true… the Bible is our bedrock of successful life instruction, heed the warnings.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Heed – thank you! True words learned in hard trials. Press on to freedom👍

  5. LA

    Pastor Crippen…I am so grateful for your ministry and taking on the mantle of calling out the church and how they add abuse to abuse. My story is like most others…people believe the narrative that I was the one led astray, never stopping to consider that I ran for my very life. The ex, still working in ministry, plays the victim and people “of the church” believe the narrative that I left for no reason. Somehow my divorce has to mean something in their lives and they must vilify me in order to keep their own lives neat and tidy. I had found the 1Cor 5:11 scripture some months back…hard to argue with the truth. But they sure try:/. Bless you and thank you for fighting for the oppressed and to oppose the wicked!

    • Jeff Crippen

      LA – Thank you for your encouragement. It is always a real boost to hear that we are helping. I am convinced that I am not exaggerating when I keep saying that the majority of local churches today are corrupt. A decade or more ago I would have read a statement like that and just thought that the person making the claim was a troublemaker looking to glorify themselves. But now I am the one saying it! Christ said that His real sheep WILL hear His voice and follow Him. And Scripture says that the Lord gives His people the ability, increasingly, to discern good from evil. This ability is of course hindered when you have false shepherds standing in pulpits week after week issuing forth their false gospel and other perversions of God’s Word. But eventually real believers will indeed hear and follow Christ and refuse to follow the stranger. I have no doubt that increasingly we are seeing God’s flock scattered, looking for a place where Christ is speaking and where His real people can be found. That is why we started our online church outreach and invite His people to join us. Thank you again for your encouragement here.

  6. Kesha

    This was such a truth-filled, thought-provoking, and encouraging post.
    As a sexual abuse survivor who grew up in a non-Christian home, filled with violence, drugs, and abuse…I know the terror of living with evil, perversion, and oppression.
    I know first hand the deception, manipulation, gaslighting of an evil abuser. So, I understand why the church is deceived by abusive men.
    Yet, for the last few years I have been scratching my head trying to figure out the church’s response to abuse victims. The defending, associating, and treating an abusive man as a “brother in the Lord” is truly mindboggling to me.
    I expect that response from unbelievers who do not have the truth of God’s Word and who do not know and love Christ.
    But for one who professes to be a Christ-follower who loves truth, hates sin (theirs and others), and seeks to glorify God…the response doesn’t make sense.
    It doesn’t make sense unless, as your blog pointed out, we doubt they are truly Christians. It is costly to follow Christ and many don’t want to sacrifice anything for Him…specially not the comfort of being loved and liked by family and friends (church family/friends too).
    And this is what saddens and frustrates me…the church being filled with false converts and false shepherds.
    I love the local church and have a high view of it. I love God’s people and believe true shepherds are a blessing to the body of Christ.
    Yet as someone who desires to help sexual abuse victims live victorious lives for Christ, which includes being a part of a local church, serving in it and being active in the fellowship….for the first time I am really concerned about the lack of true churches.
    I find myself asking how many true churches are there that I can recommend a sexual abuse survivor too, where she can hear the truth of God’s word being proclaimed, be loved on by compassionate memebers, a loving, gentle and patient pastor, encouraged in their weaknesses (from trauma), and built up so she can live an obedient life for Christ.
    Honestly, I have been discouraged by the fact there are very few good, biblical churches.
    Social media has seemingly revealed the hearts of many professing Christians and it appears that there are many enemies of the cross amongst us.
    These enemies are ministers of Satan seeking to destroy godly saints.
    I’m praying for wisdom on how to deal with such professing believers, and how to warn and defend the true sheep of God.
    Thank you for your blog, for sounding the alarm and your love for the oppressed and the true sheep.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Kesha- I have been a pastor for nearly 40 years now. There have been false sheep in every church I have pastored and in fact with one exception the majority of the people were counterfeits when I arrived. However, I do not believe it is my imagination that in these 4 decades the state of local supposedly Bible-believing churches has greatly corrupted. There are a number of reasons for this but the chief culprits are pastors in pulpits who preach a corrupted gospel which is no gospel at all. People are told they are Christians when they are not. Sin is not confronted. People can live habitually walking in sin and still be told they are the Lord’s children. Sermons and teaching focus on “the positive” and rarely expose the nature of evil that the Bible warns us so often about.
      The result is, as you stated, that there are increasingly few true churches. I always told people years ago that they need to be part of a local church and that people who stayed home and watched TV preachers were being disobedient to the Lord. And largely back then it was true. But today, here we are, inviting abused people to join our church online and we are excited about doing so. Why? Because over and over and over again these past years abuse victims who have been wickedly treated by their pastors and local churches have no church to fellowship in. They truly want to be with the Lord’s people, but where are those people?
      More and more I believe the answer to that is – they aren’t going to be found in the typical local brick church building on the corner. They have been scattered by wicked false shepherds who protect and embrace their abusers. Many have been so traumatized by all of this that they suffer triggering attacks just driving by a church building or by hearing hymns sung or, so sadly – even by certain passages in the Bible which the wicked perverted and twisted to their harm.
      I wish we had bajillions of dollars so we could build houses and bring Christ’s real people together and serve together face to face in the same church. But then, Christ’s kingdom and His true body ARE being built by Him and He does connect us and enable us to find one another.
      The foundational message that has been removed from the church so that it has mostly become the non-church is this: YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN. Born again! A new creation in Christ. A new person who now loves the Lord, loves His Word, and loves His people. Who hears the voice of the Good Shepherd and who will not follow a stranger. A person who does not walk, stand, or sit with the wicked and who finds Christ’s Word sweeter than honeycomb.
      But then, such a message does not bring the flocking crowds to the pews, it doesn’t result in piles of money flowing in, and it doesn’t propel the false shepherd up the career ladder in his denomination.

      • Free

        THANK YOU for this – please know it is a gift each time these blogs are posted and read. And you are absolutely correct, particularly impactful is the description of what happens with the triggers and the scattering that has occurred. We see this so clearly….. some days I wonder how many people really know what is going on …. then I see your inspiring messages of truth – amongst such a mangled mess of a church body – and I know there are many who know. We might be scattered physically- but that is all.

      • Kesha

        Amen and Amen.
        Thank you for sacrificing your time to write these blogs.
        Praying the Lord continues to give you wisdom and strengthen you to do the work He has called you to do. Keep fighting the good fight.

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