Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Foolish Naivete About Evil Disqualifies a “Counselor”

John 8:42-44  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Romans 3:10-17  as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”

The doctrine of the total depravity of man does not mean that every human being is as evil (depraved) as they could possibly be. Nor does it mean that all people are equally evil or that all sins are as sinful as others. What it does mean is that the being of man is totally fallen. That the effects of sin have infected every part of the human: mind, body, soul, emotions, so that there is no “island of goodness” in man which has been left unaffected. In other words, Luke Skywalker’s opinion that Darth Vader had some good in him somewhere is mere fiction.

Many people, including pastors and counselors, profess to adhere to the doctrine of total depravity, and yet in practice they are more like Jedi knights, looking to the good side of the force in everyone. This totally disqualifies them from dealing properly with abusers. I want to say that again. Anyone who approaches an abuse situation with the notion that somehow through kindness and love, through behavior changes by victims, etc., the “good part” of the abuser can be reached and appealed to, needs to step down off of their high horse and just stop it!  Stop giving advice to victims of abuse. Stop counseling abusers or even listening to them. This kind of thinking is foolishness at best and rank arrogance at worst. And it is dangerous.

In dealing with an abuser you must believe nothing he or she says. You must seek corroboration to his claims. You must assume that he is trying to deceive you, that he is falsely blaming his victim, that he is lying. If anyone is unwilling to use this approach, they are simply unqualified to be involved with abuse cases. Naivete is dangerous. There is no place here for “always keep thinking on the brighter side of life” because the evil of abuse is darkness.  It is very dark, and there is no light in it at all.  Yes, it is that bad.

Foolish naivete about evil leads to all kinds of crazy and damaging advice to victims: 1) You must be doing something to set him off, 2) We are all sinners, 3) The Bible says that if you just love him enough he will change, 4) He is just suffering from the torments of his childhood . . . blah, blah, blah. The reality of the abuser mentality is set out very plainly in Scripture however. There IS such a thing as evil. There ARE evil people. They won’t change. They don’t intend to change. They are indeed capable of appearing as angels of light. Remember, these “servants” Paul talks about are people:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

God’s Word is very plain on the reality and nature of evil. We have no excuse for not being wise in this regard. And therefore I conclude that foolish naivete about some supposed “island of goodness” in every human being that can somehow be reached in some way is a willful disregard of God’s own Word. When I was a police officer, two of the laws I enforced were “careless driving” and “reckless driving,” the latter being the more severe offense. What was the difference? The level of culpability. Careless driving was an action that, through careless inattention, endangered others. Reckless driving was defined as a willful, knowing disregard for the rights and safety of others. So what I am maintaining here is that much of the counsel given to abusers and their victims is reckless. It is a willful and knowing and intentional disregard for what God’s Word says about evil.

And thus, such reckless counsel is evil in itself.


You Have the Right to Choose Your Relationships – and the Right to Reject Others


Zeal Without Knowledge: Bible Interpretation that Leads to Mercilessness and Injustice


  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for this TRUTH !!! I used to be a Jedi knight (as per the church instructions) until I was so abused that it became crystal clear that I was living with pure evil. I wondered why no one will hear me or listen to me or why this abuse does not matter, it doesn’t even register. The answer is so simple. The rejection of God’s word, the rejection of Jesus the Messiah. In its place is man’s convenient made up rules which equates to lawlessness. I am no longer shocked or stunned. Angered? Absolutely! If they refuse to hear the law as taught by the Son of God himself, why would they listen to me?
    Thank you thank you thank you. My awareness has expanded and is a blessing to me. I refer to Psalm 27 often.

  2. Jacob

    Amen! What a perfectly timed sermon! You are spot on!
    An Elder in the church I started to attend denounced his faith in Christ. Got up in front of God and everybody and said that he has “Moral Clarity” and that he doesn’t really know who Christ is and that hell is not real. The pastor let him too. As if lying to the congregation and leadership was moral. Correct me if I am wrong but I am thinking that if he isn’t removed from attending then I should leave? He was immediately removed from his leadership and got scolded by the congregation but I heard him say that he was going to be there for two more months. To protect the flock I am sure that he needs to be removed so that no one else becomes tempted by doubt like he was. I understand that God will raise the wheat with the tares but if we know who the tares are then action should be taken.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you. Yes he is to be put out of the church immediately. See 1 Cor 5. An elder who continues in sin is to be rebuked before all.

      Re the wheat and the tares. Take a look at that passage again. The field is the world, not the church.

  3. Interesting. I’ve never read that “competent to Counsel” but my H has it on his bookshelf. Since he was a “doctrinally correct” Lutheran I presumed that there was a healthy amount of “total depravity” in the book for him to pay attention to it. I wonder if … maybe not. I know you wrote about that book recently and others have too, such that I really don’t want to read it.


    Amen, Pastor Crippen! This is a very POWERFUL post and this truth needs to be shouted from the rooftops!!!

    “Anyone who approaches an abuse situation with the notion that somehow through kindness and love, through behavior changes by victims, etc., the “good part” of the abuser can be reached and appealed to, needs to step down off of their high horse and just stop it! Stop giving advice to victims of abuse. Stop counseling abusers or even listening to them. This kind of thinking is foolishness at best and rank arrogance at worst. And it is dangerous.”

    There are untold numbers of “Christian” counselors and ministers who NEED TO “JUST STOP IT.” They have caused, and continue to cause, so much harm to already wounded, traumatized, genuine Christians who are victims of wolves in sheep’s clothing. There is a special place in Hell for those reckless, so called counselors and ministers. The guilt, condemnation, and wrong counsel that they are adding to the already broken hearts and spirits of abuse victims is EVIL. It causes many, many sincere believers to continue in destructive and debilitating relationships for numerous wrong reasons. A relationship with an abuser needs to be ended in order for the victim to begin to heal and become more than a conqueror.

    This is definitely a 5-star article! Thank you, Pastor Jeff!!

  5. Check their resume & references

    Thank you Pastor Crippen, your account in this post is precise, accurate and well stated. It took me years to learn all that you summarized in one posting. During that time I experienced, as did others, severe consequences of the evil, educated and uneducated alike, counsel from those who arrogantly bypassed the oppressive situations and abusers, and instead jumped on the bandwagon to victim blame – tossing the responsibility of the abusers’ choices onto the ones they targeted. These “church” or “Christian” counselors are as you stated, reckless – reckless with the very lives they lead and counsel. Sadly, under the dangerous counsel, I have seen the abusers go on and threaten, physically beat, and stalk the ones they targeted – and the same counselors that were involved wash their hands of any responsibility, and once again, place the responsibility of assailant’s choices on the victim. Some even joined the prayer for restoration of the relationship with the abuser.

    After all of this, my advice now is anyone who promotes themselves as a Christian counselor should be avoided as a first choice, and if not, then vetted in the same manner you would screen someone applying for your life-dependent job – ask for their physical resume and references for counseling someone in your situation. Watch them run and/ or dismiss you – either way, they answered your question of their qualifications and intent.

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