Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Why Couple’s Counseling is a Disaster and a Setup

Anything you say can and will be used against you.

Mat 26:59-61 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, (60) but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward (61) and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”

Most of you know by now, either from reading on the subject of domestic abuse or simply by hard experience, that the typical approach to “marriage troubles” is the prescription of marriage counseling. And that means of course, having both husband and wife come into the counseling sessions together. For healthy marriages in which the spouses genuinely desire to learn more about how God wants them to love one another, raise up their children in Christ, and so on – this approach may have some value. I say “may have” because so much of what is put off as “biblical counseling” just isn’t.

BUT, when you are dealing with an evil person as one spouse in a marriage, couple’s counseling is gasoline on the fire. It provides ammunition for the evil one to use against the victim. And let me tell you why.

When we honestly share our thoughts and feelings with another person, that trust entails taking a really big risk. It assumes that the person we are sharing with will recognize the trust we are extending to them and they will guard that trust carefully, using it only for our good.

The wicked do not guard this trust. They use it as a weapon.

So, when a victim of abuse, for example, at the encouragement of a counselor (“speak honestly. Share what is on your heart. Tell your spouse what you are thinking”) when the victim opens up, it is like handing a loaded gun to the abuser. Just like the Pharisees searching and searching for some accusation, the wicked spouse’s goal is to accuse, blame, and shame.

Honesty, you see, is not always the best policy. The wicked are not to be entrusted with the treasure of our trust. And yet this is exactly what normally is encouraged in couple’s counseling. You can be sure that your honest words will be used against you. Especially if that honesty entails some type of confession of a sin or failure or mistake. Let me give you an example.

When I first came to this church here in Tillamook, it was a hotbed of counterfeit Christians. There was literally no peace from the very first day. The attacks began immediately from people who demanded power and control and who disguised themselves as eminently holy types. This all, needless to say, weighed me down. One day a fellow who had rarely attended the church and who really was unknown to me, committed suicide by overdose. I visited the hospital while he was still in a coma but of course was unable to talk to him. By this time, in this atmosphere of constant accusations and darts of attack, I was wearing a considerable degree of false guilt. So, the Sunday after this man died, at the beginning of my sermon, I told the congregation that I had not been diligent enough to visit them one by one, including this man who was now dead. Of course what carnal people like this really want is a happy social club, special attention from the pastor, and so on – they don’t want the preaching of the Word. But, I wore that cloak of false guilt and made confession of it.

Well, some months later during another Sunday service, the “leader of the pack” stormed up to the podium during the service and began to rant and rail and accuse me of not appreciating his efforts in building the church building and on and on he went, finally storming out while muttering it was time for him to leave the church. Of course what he expected was for everyone to come to his cause and give me the boot. That didn’t happen.

But what I wanted to point out here is that during this evil man’s rant, he said “why, HE (meaning me) admitted by his own mouth that he didn’t go visit the (dead guy) often enough.” So I was to blame for the suicide, you see. And this is exactly what happens when we share honestly with the wicked. They use our trust against us. They use our honest, humble words to try to alienate others from us and to put the blame for all the troubles on our shoulders.

And THAT is the primary reason why couple’s counseling is a setup. Don’t fall for it. Don’t trust the devil.


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  1. S

    AMEN and AMEN

  2. Wade

    This has been one of the most difficult things we have had to navigate with our daughter as we travelled down this road. Not only does “couples counseling” in these situations give the enemy ammunition, you also need to be careful with those in your family or church family that may use your vulnerability either intentionally or unintentionally for ill will. For our daughter, it took a number of years to weed out the supposed “friends”. So, pull the weeds. Hang on to the “Jonathans” that our Lord brings into your life. And most of all move closer to our/your Lord and Saviour who loves you and gave Himself up for you.

  3. Z

    100% agree! Been there with the Biblical counseling. A real “set-up” scenario for the victim. And potentially dangerous. I’d add that even secular counselors are largely ignorant of the tactics of abusers and sociopaths. They get taken in and duped as well. But Biblical counselors are worse. No discernment. So how can they be representatives of the all-knowing God? How can His Word guide them if they don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear?
    Something that stood out to me as a pivotal moment in your story of the man falsely blaming you and storming out of church. Although he expected many to follow him or beg him to stay, etc..gain allies in evil and much flattery and attention, he got none. That at least must have felt encouraging to you and I’m glad that’s what happened. That isn’t what usually happens. In my case and that of many others who comment on this blog had the opposite happen. All their “church friends” and “christian” relatives DID join the abusers and left the righteous and innocent victim standing utterly alone. That was worse for me than the abuse in some ways (I was born into abuse and it was my “normal” at that time). The total betrayal and abandonment of others was more shocking, harder to process and recover from. I now see it as a blessing! I’m glad to have had the wolves’ masks uncovered so I could be rid of them. Now it’s my choice never to associate with them again. But I’ll admit, it was very devastating to have the masks drop en masse. Being the victim of evil yet left to stand alone. Hard to wrap my brain and heart around that at the time. And that caused pretty bad health conditions. But Jesus faithfully came alongside me and stood with me and gave me His strength. He’s gently tended my wounds and showed me His sufficiency. He showed me it’s better to be alone with Him than surrounded by fake friends who secretly are out working in the enemy’s camp to destroy me. They were exposed and expelled by what I see as an act of God. As Paul said should happen to the wicked who call themselves “brothers and sisters”. Jesus prevented them from succeeding in the enemy’s plan to destroy me! I’m still standing and believing that Jesus is and is continuing to Himself restore me to good health-mental and physical-even BETTER than before!

  4. Veronica

    I’ve worked in the secular realm as a therapist and in the Christian community as a biblical counselor. When in the secular world, the therapists were told that if we were doing marital counseling and found out that it was a domestic abuse situation, we were to immediately stop the couples counseling and send the husband to an abuse counselor sand only meet with the woman. That was not the case when I worked at a church. The mentality is that Christ can reach and save anyone, and that the husband was just another sinner, saved by grace. The world was wiser than the so-called children of God! ““The master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted astutely. For the sons of this age are more astute than the sons of light in dealing with their own people.” Luke‬ ‭16:8‬ ‭HCSB‬‬. It’s a disgrace.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yep, and you have to wonder – how many people in churches are really born again?

  5. lg

    Hi — I have a friend who keeps telling me they are “praying for….(my abuser)” and when I tell her that the Bible says we are to not even pray for such people (Jeremiah 3x) and that God hates the wicked, she responds in the NT it says God desires for every one to be saved, we are to pray for our enemies, and that the NT “trumps” the OT.

    I do not know how to respond w/out seeming argumentative, except to say I am not an Evangelical and don’t believe that.

    It has happened 3x now, and was wondering if there is something I could quickly say in response to the idea that the NT “trumps” the OT and the seeming contradictions b/t the NT idea that God desires everyone to be saved, loves everyone, and we are to pray for our enemies and OT idea God hates the wicked, imprecatory prayers, and do not pray for those people.

    She is not at all interested in engaging in a debate or “argument” as she put it and feels confident her knowledge of the Bible is superior to mine, but I would still like to have a quick retort.

    I’ve listened to the series, Does God Love Everyone, but I am still unclear on how to respond with more clarity and precision to people who believe this.

    • Jeff Crippen

      LG – Check out 1 John 5:16 where John is alluding to the verses in Jeremiah. John says there are indeed people we are not to pray for. Anyone who says that the NT and OT are in contradiction knows nothing about the Bible. Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law, not to annul it. He is the fulfillment of the OT and every jot and tittle of it is fulfilled in Him.


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