Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

More on Revilers I Have Known

Mat 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Reviler is the biblical word for an abuser. Other words are used in Scripture to describe the evil that abusers do, but this title “reviler” gets to the heart of it. You see that little root in the word – “vil” – which reminds us of related terms like “villain,” or “villify” or, hmmm…. “vile.” A reviler is vile. Anyway, what a reviler does is to make the innocent be the villain. And they do this by accusing. Revilers are accusers and that evil is part of the very nature of the devil himself:

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

I have known revilers and so have most all of you. The ones I have known are those who parade as Christians. They were church members and most often they put themselves off as the most pious and holy saints to be found anywhere.

Reviling is in the reviler’s nature. It proceeds from the devilish heart that defines who they are. They don’t have to really even plan the reviling attack – it just spews out of their mouth from their heart. The attack comes as we say “out of the blue.” Things can be going along quite pleasantly – some dinner or other church event, some gathering of friends – and then here comes the arrow. Sometimes in secret, sometimes in front of everyone.

  • I remember when you said I was to blame
  • You had no right to spend that money
  • I think you sinned when you told Jack to stop being mean to his wife
  • I know why you are taking that college class
  • I know why you bought that car
  • You are a very hard person to talk to
  • You didn’t come and visit me when I was sick

And on and on and on the list could go. Every single one of these statements is used by the reviler to accuse. To blame. To guilt and to attack.

Think about what this business of reviling requires. Most of us would be very hesitant to say such a thing, even if it were true. We season our speech. Of course the abuser counts on this and uses our hesitancy against us, knowing that we most often won’t expose his evil by speaking of it. But the reviler enjoys reviling. It gives him a rush of power and he loves it. He loves to see the hurt that his words inflict. He assaults with his speech and he loves to launch those arrows.

This is why the Lord says that a reviler will never see the kingdom of God. Revilers are going to hell along with their father the devil. Perhaps in the lake of fire for all eternity they will be reviling one another and trying to put the blame anywhere but upon themselves.

Don’t try to fix a reviler. You will only find grief for yourself and your efforts to “help” will be regarded by him as a weak spot for him to reviler you further.

Additional Reading:

Another Look at the Abuser as Reviler


More Thoughts on Imprecatory Prayer


The Disguised "Friend"


  1. Anonymous

    Dear Pastor Crippen,
    I have come to realize that these revilers, don’t bother tempering their speech because they find great sadistic joy in their verbal antagonism. An untrue accusation instantly creates a defensive mood/posture in any normal person. But these people are not normal and can not ever be thought of as normal for the sake of personal safety. This holds true for non-Christians as well. So a not normal response is called for, immediately look for the safest way to exit the presence of the reviler.
    A therapist once advised me to mirror and/or repeat back the accusation. Instantly, without hesitation I was full force slapped across the face to teach me a lesson.
    Lesson learned, do NOT ever believe any of these untempered speech people are willing to discuss and resolve their own accusations peacefully. It is them lighting a fuse and hoping that you will fan the flame into an explosion to further provide fuel for their sadistic pleasure. Your own safety is the only priority, period, the end.
    I look forward to the day when there is no more mingling with these hateful people and they only have each other to torment and abuse.

    • Susan

      I LOVE the therapist’s suggestion that you immediately repeat back the things the reviler is obviously saying to rattle your cage. Based on this I instantly thought of a time I could have done just that. A woman new to our Women’s group made a rather “ambitious” suggestion that we host meals after services about once a month. This would be hosted by… pretty much everyone in our Women’s group, i.e. all THREE of us (one of whom doesn’t even like to cook)! I said that I felt that might be a bit unrealistic for us to pull off. She responded to my unwillingness with a look of incredulity and said, “Well, I’ve never heard of such a thing!” That’s were I wish I had simply said, “You haven’t heard of such a thing?” That would have been PERFECT! Thank you for this idea!

  2. Anonymous

    What are your thoughts on children that exhibit this type of behavior? My teenage (17)son makes fun of me and laughs at me for things that he finds ridiculous. It can be anything from how I look to activities I engage in. If I tell him he’s being mean, he would say he’s just joking. Do you think there’s hope for someone his age to change as he gets older and matures? It was hard enough for me to admit my spouse (now ex) was emotionally abusive, but to think that my son is too, is agonizing.

    • J. D. Gallé

      Without intending to be glib in my (partial) response to your enquiry (and in full recognition that your message was not directed to me), I would have to say that the behaviour you have cited appears to be that of no more than a typical mocker/scoffer/scorner as described in the scriptural book of the Proverbs.

    • Anonymous

      I met my abusive ex when he was 17 and I was 15 years old. It (maybe that) your son is testing the waters and then minimizing his own hurtful behavior. It is just my opinion but I maybe he needs to be told that the choices he makes, including the words he chooses to use, have consequences that can not be carelessly shoved to the side. He is choosing to be hurtful, and then basically demanding you take it.
      I went to my ex’s sister at age 16 to let her know her brother is very hurtful and I was going to end the relationship. She told me all sorts of excuses, boys will be boys, he is immature and will grow out of it, etc. I believed her and it was the deadly mistake I made. I wanted to believe in the goodness of humanity. I am now in my 60’s and still need to be aware of this highly skilled violent abuser I met as a young girl.
      I want to share this with you to encourage you that you are not being overly sensitive or you can’t take a joke. I also do not doubt for a second that you dearly love your son. Patricia Evans has very good examples how to set boundaries with verbal abusers.

    • Susan

      I have a neighbor who does a lot of laughing. She will watch and see the tiniest thing I do “wrong” and laugh in a very annoying and disparaging way. I prepared ahead of time what I would do the next time she did this. The opportunity came up very soon as this behavior is so ingrained in her behavior. Well, I did something, I have no idea what it was as it was so very minor, and when she snorted out a laugh about it I asked, “Are you laughing AT me or WITH me?” She took a few seconds and answered, “WITH you.” To which I then replied, “Well, I wasn’t laughing.” She hasn’t done it to me since.

  3. Gwen

    Hello, I have been looking up the word reviler today, and I just came upon your website. I hate to admit this but my husband is a reviler and I know it’s a demonic spirit. I thought it was just the spirit of Jezebel in a narcissistic spirit but it’s also the spirit of the reviler. So this is a real eye-opener. Another tool in my arsenal to conduct further spiritual warfare. God bless you

    • Welcome to the blog, Gwen!
      In case you haven’t seen, Pastor Crippen has another post about revilers. I put a link to it at the bottom of this post, and also a link in this comment.
      Another Look at the Abuser as Reviler
      Again, Welcome!
      twbtc (the woman behind the curtain)

      • Gwen

        Thank-you so much. Still dealing with the same thing even though he got Covid in January and was in the hospital for a month, he’s back to his old ways now even though he still takes oxygen at night. I’ve been contemplating divorce but I don’t know yet ! 😳. Also thanks for the link.

  4. Articles such as this serve to reinforce my hatred of these evil beasts. I can attest that, for maligners, it truly is all about gaining power over those whom they target with their venomous tongues. They absolutely delight in working their evil upon others.
    Apart from the glee of engaging in the activity of reviling, a good part of the fun for these creatures, I believe, is in consistently managing to get away with perpetrating their evil (i.e. their reviling, vilifying, slandering). In my experience, people typically do not/will not hold revilers accountable, and victims suffer primary (and often) secondary gaslighting as a result. This leads abusees to question whether the charges (i.e. lies) levelled against them by the abuser/slanderer have some validity. It is psychological warfare through and through. Those who play such games must have corrupted minds in the first place.
    In my view, shunning and avoidance are the only appropriate responses to maligners, other than, if and/or where possible or necessary, taking some form of legal action against them (e.g. for libel).

  5. Free

    Thank you for the reviler reminders & lesson. The feedback from others reaffirms – it is completely shocking how many revilers there are in our churches & families – ceasing contact, if at all possible, seems to be the only method to escape their immediate attacks -it won’t stop their smear campaigns, deception & manipulations – but if you cease contact it will all be from a farther distance. This applies to the churches as well – they need to show them the door & drop their “fixer upper” dreamland.
    I’m observing the revilers now from a survivor position & over & over again it seems revilers are this way for most, if not all of their lives – they didn’t just wake up one day & choose to kill & destroy, they chose & chose & chose & chose over & over & over again. The difference was they became worse over time – & the older they become, the more evil & arrogant they seem to become as well – almost oozing their evil out their pores.
    You are right Pastor Crippen, you cannot fix them. Their repeated, willful alliances with satan is not something someone else can fix. In horror I’ve seen front and center an entire christian “healing” ministry claim otherwise as they cast aside the one who is being abused by the reviler, circling around to do their magic instead in the life of the poor reviler who was “abandoned” by the survivor who, ironically, had gone to them for help. Talk about twisting the Bible’s intent for healing – supporting a reviler?! Revilers, reviler’s allies = satan’s allies, that’s their choice – not yours, as is fixing themselves, that is their choice, not ours.

  6. lg

    There is are very strong parallels between personal abusers, the checklist of actions they engage in towards us: reviling, gas lighting, creating confusion, entitlement to double standards and contradictions, seeking power and control over, micro-managing, belittling, etc … and the spirit of our age in the political climate, no matter one’s religious affiliation. It is all part of the same spirit – Satan is the accuser.
    The best advice is to avoid such people (2 Tim 3:5), do not eat with them (1 Cor 5:11), do not engage, even if it costs you in some way. They like to bait and draw you in – reviling you, accusing you, putting you in the defensive posture – is one way they do this. It is a control game and another form of deceit and gaslighting and scheming.
    The best lies always have an element of distorted truth in them: like the serpent talking to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Taking something that was true, but representing it in a distorted way – it is a type of logical fallacy. One of the favorite logical fallacies used by my reviler is to take something I said and misquote it to pretend I said something I never said. Or vice versa – pretend I did not say something that I did in fact say. It is truley dizzying.
    I have to co-parent with this person…(…..)
    (editor’s note: the commenter tells how her reviler/abuser’s tactics have played out in the courtroom and the negative effects it has had on her and her children’s daily lives. We have edited this portion of her comment to protect her identity.)
    I just realized that one obvious clue on who doing the toxic reviling would be that they are most liking the ones who demand constant contact with the one they are accusing, while the one who is not doing the reviling wants limited to no contact with the accuser. Why doesn’t the family court see this? Instead, they punish the one who does not want to engage in the abuser’s toxicity.
    During my summer holiday I have been listening and taking notes on the GK Beale link Pastor Crippen shared last week to follow up with the Revelations bible study. The first five GK Beale lessons are related to the Revelations. He made a lot of really good points, and one is in Lesson 4 when he shows how the Great Tribulation is now and that if you do not think this is a highly charged time, then you are more likely “to be at ease,” and if you are more likely to be at ease, then you are less likely to be watchful and committed to the word of God, and therefore more likely to be deceived.
    We should also avoid people who try to downplay or minimize the destruction that engaging with revilers causes, and/or who try and talk us into, or guilt us into, engaging with revilers.

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