Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

How many Sins Are Required to Demonstrate that a "Christian" is not a Christian?

How can you know if a person who claims to be a Christian, isn’t? Does it take years of watching and testing and waiting? Nope. Not at all. Here you go:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1John 2:9-11)

One of the greatest sins of the church today is refusing to apply what the Apostle John and many other Scriptures say on this subject. “Oh, well, none of us are perfect you know. We must be patient. The fellow professes Christ and we must think the best of him.” Bleah. Let me paint a picture:
Here is Fred. Fred is a “fine upstanding” member of his local church. Why, Fred even grew up in that church. He “went forward” at the altar call and “got saved” when he was just a boy, got baptized — hallelujah! Fred is on his certain and sure way to heaven.
But…pick one of the following. Just one —

  • Fred is cruel to his family’s animals and has no trouble at all sleeping after stomping a new puppy to death for chewing up a shoe.
  • Or, Fred humiliates his wife in front of others, putting down her abilities and even mocking her “frigidity,’
  • Or, Fred demands his wife tell him wherever she is at all times,
  • Or, Fred makes his wife pay all the bills out of her salary (if he lets her work at all) while he blows his on himself as fun money,
  • Or, Fred throws tantrums of rage when….well, whenever something isn’t to his liking.

How many of these characteristics are required to demonstrate that Fred is NOT a Christian? Any single one of them. Just one. “But hey, we aren’t any of us perfect! How can you say such a thing!! Only God knows the heart.”  How can I know? Because any single one of those wicked patterns of behavior clearly demonstrates that such a person does NOT love others, does NOT love the Lord, does NOT love his wife. It really is quite simple. Oh, and here is the clincher — FRED CAN DO ANY ONE OF THESE THINGS AND THEN GO TO SLEEP THAT NIGHT WITH NO QUALM OF CONVICTION WHATSOEVER. HE WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FROM HIS HEART. Never. That seals the diagnosis you see. Fred is a phoney baloney “Christian,” a wolf in wool.
Do you understand? Some sins are soooo evidently characteristic of an unconverted heart that it really does not take a genius to diagnose that heart. Doctors, you know, can very quickly diagnose certain diseases or ailments. It isn’t always a big confusing puzzle that has to be sorted out by a panel of specialists. “Yep, there it is. This is what you have.” Boom. So it is with many of the wicked. “Pastor, my husband does such and so to me and….” — No more info needed. Got the diagnosis right here. He is unsaved, he is an abuser, that is what you are facing.
Yet how many people just like Fred are pillars in their local church, Sunday School class teachers, youth workers, pastors, etc, etc, etc ? Answer: LOTS. LOTS. LOTS. More than most Christians even want to know.
Really. For all the talk about “winning souls for Jesus” and “evangelism to the world,” many, many visible local churches have these wicked ones right in their midst and refuse to look, refuse to see, refuse to do anything about it which is a flat refusal to obey the King of kings!!  And the King knows it. And the King’s wrath is easily and quickly kindled against it.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1Peter 4:17-18)


Thank You to Carma for this Term: Toxic Positivity


Some Thoughts from Proverbs


  1. On a related note, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”.

    • Free

      Thank you for saying it, I have wondered how we address this since it seems like there’s a magic number that people are seeking, eg so many dismissed the abuse with a rationalization that the abuser should be absolved, not held accountable at all (anywhere) since it was only xx amount of times he hit you , or xx amount of injury to you, or xx amount of time you were abused. Just like you said – it doesn’t take a genius to know when you have encountered the abusers (and their fans). Yet we are greeted by denial and dismissals within so much of the church body, including people we thought were family and friends.
      Time and time and time again we are told to be aware, wise and stand firm in what the Lord has said, and that’s exactly what came to mind while reading this posting -and it’s exactly what we must continue to do when we come across the abusers, which we do, and we will.

  2. emmellkaycee

    It took me years to shed myself of the piles of false “A wife’s love…” teachings that bent my back and broke my spirit over years of abusive marriage. Teachings so twistedly insistent, that I could not even recognize God’s voice as my Shepherd’s. I had to completely leave the buildings where those teachings were housed, and the organized “Christianity” that stocked them by the hundreds, exposing me to them from my childhood.
    I praise God that because of His mercy, and the formidable will He wrought in me, I came to *know* what I know, and not what others would have me know. He gave me the reward of discernment and wisdom through my very long journey to spiritual freedom, and those gifts of His character cannot now be dampened. He is faithful!

  3. wingingit

    Where the spirit of Christ dwells, there is compassion and wisdom and real broken heartedness over sin and over any habits or actions that cause others hurt.
    It is easy to tell by their patterns of actions and by their reaction to being asked to be accountable.

  4. Sue

    Dear Pastor Crippen, which is why your sermons and website is so valuable. So, so few Bible-preachers are willing to discuss this reality. Really boggles my mind. P.s., i think it was precisely the pollyanna-ish invalidation which drove off both my parents, when they were still kids. So, i don’t know where my parents are. Those churchian snakes almost ran me off too.

  5. Ms. E.

    I’ve heard the “only God knows the heart” and “no one is perfect” arguments so many times in the church and am weary of them. People think that I have “no right to judge” whether or not someone is unconverted because it is “God’s job to judge.” But Jesus said that we will know the tree by its fruit (Luke 6:43-45). Discernment does not equate to me placing myself in God’s judgement seat; it just means that I see abuse for what they are.

  6. Finally Free

    Thank you, Pastor Crippen. To me, it’s not about whether or not an abuser is a Christian. One day I might eventually forgive or otherwise not stay angry at my abuser, but forgiveness doesn’t equal reconciliation. Forgiveness, in my experience, is best from afar. If I ever do forgive, it won’t have anything to do whether or not my abuser has “found Jesus Christ.”
    I look at abusers like an uncontrolled car that’s speeding and careening from the other direction, into my lane. I pull my car to the side of the road immediately. I don’t keep driving forward, hoping the other car is going to correct itself. Once the other car is past me, I drive out of harm’s way, and maybe anonymously call the authorities from a safe distance.
    Same thing with an abuser. I already wasted far too many years on the premise that change was possible. I’m not obligated to risk more injury by reevaluating the abuser’s current demeanor when people tell me things have improved. It’s more satisfying and productive to use that energy to advocate for stronger domestic and sexual abuse laws, report or expose enabling organizations, and otherwise prevent these crimes.

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