Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

A Second Vital truth (from Lynn)

Here is another great insight taken from Lynn’s recent comment. Like the first, I want to highlight this one because it is so important. Here you go:

A big part of why I was so vulnerable was I longed for a place to belong and people who would love me for me, not what I could do for them. Growing up where love was transactional and the bar to meet it was constantly moving left me feeling unloved and unworthy of love. While I knew that God loves me, it’s taken me a while to believe it because many who profess the name of Christ aren’t saved. They don’t want to do the work of loving the brethren because that requires real effort, commitment, and sacrifice. They want their comfy lives where it doesn’t cost them much to be a Christian, while the victims of abuse languish. Or they use their generosity as a tool for manipulation and control.

Fierce loneliness and desire for human connection was a tool that the enemy exploited for a long time in my life. I’d share personal information too quickly in a relationship in order to try and make genuine connections. That choice left me vulnerable to untrustworthy people who used that information to get their own needs met at the expense of my own.

Oh man, how many times I have blown it in regard to this trap. When we follow Christ, we are not going to be popular. Like, for instance, the Apostle Paul – we can find ourselves quite alone and that loneliness can make us very vulnerable. Add to this toxic mix that wicked people will act like they love us when in fact all they are doing is using us because they see us as being in a position to do for them. As a pastor I have fallen for this one over and over. And guess what? The second you become of no use to them, you are dumped – in the blink of an eye. “Fierce loneliness and desire for human connection is a tool that the enemy will exploit.” Truth! Beware.


Some Very Important Points (from Lynn)


And a third Piece of Wisdom (from Lynn)


  1. Lynn

    Thanks for sharing this Pastor Crippen.

    This lesson is the most challenging one to work through for me because we are wired for connection. Many churches teach that it’s sinful for a Christian to not attend a local fellowship of believers and you must be busy building the “kingdom” or they question the sincerity of your faith.

    Too many times building the kingdom was code for we want your money and free labor with the promise that God will reward you for sacrificing your time and treasure for the church. I’m not saying there aren’t times where volunteering to help out a brother or sister in Christ or when a real need arises at the church that we are to come together and support each other for. That does happen. I’m talking about when you work on staff and they don’t provide you with enough income to support yourself, but the pastor’s kids are all driving around in new cars, new clothes, and such. Or where you are pressured by pastors or elders to provide them with a specific product or service, because you have a very specific set of skills that would be out of their budget if they had to pay market rates, for very low cost or no cost.

    I want to be able to have relationships with other believers, but I’ve encountered too many wolves both in the pulpit and in the pew to put my trust in people who profess Christ too quickly. The rampant deception and numbers of professing Christians who really aren’t, make it a challenge to build new relationships because it’s hard to know who’s genuine and who’s counterfeit. I live in the bible belt and haven’t met one person who I would consider a genuine Christian in the last few years of living here. Maybe I’m wrong, but I find it telling that while they may be great at the moment, but when the rubber meets the road and they have to actually invest time, money, energy, in building a relationship, their true colors shine through.

    On one hand, I’ve learned to be content in the fact that I don’t have many close relationships. Jesus had 12 disciples, with one being a devil. His inner circle was comprised of 3 men. So we shouldn’t be completely surprised by the small numbers of genuine Christians in our midst.

    Does betrayal hurt? Of course. But I seek to discover the lesson and gain the wisdom it offers with the hopes that I will not repeat it again. Don’t let your feelings of loneliness cause you to accept unhealthy relationships in order to have some human connection in your life. There are worse things in life than being alone. Being in an abusive relationship is one of them.

    Being alone has been a necessary tool for my survival and healing. It has increased my dependency on Christ to sustain me. When everyone else leaves or betrays me, Christ is with me. Not everyone gets that. They interpret withdrawal from the visible church as something sinful when it’s not. Can it be sinful? Yes. But operating under that assumption is dangerous. Many times it’s the victim trying to take back control after being abused and to heal from those who claim Christ but who aren’t. Too many times the professing church inflicts even more pain on genuine believers because they shame victims of abuse for not being the ones to reach out and build relationships. They claim we are unloving when we refuse to blindly obey their words or can’t muster up the energy to reach out for fear of being hurt yet again adding to the victim’s pain and unnecessarily increasing their burden.

    Yes, we are to love the brethren. But that goes both ways. Placing the onus on the victims to seek out other believers who haven’t demonstrated they are safe people is evil. They place the blame at our feet for not taking action, not caring that their attitudes, actions, and words only drive us farther from the visible church because we feel unsafe and judged in their presence. This is one of the reasons why I don’t really like megachurches. It’s too easy to hide and you most likely will not have a genuine relationship with the pastor. How can you know the man’s character if you don’t get to know him as a person? It’s really easy to pull the wool over people’s eyes for a couple of hours once a week.

    Until the visible body of Christ deals with her sin and removes the wolves from among her midst, it will not be safe for those who’ve suffered abuse. This is not to say there aren’t genuine believers out there and genuine churches, but they are few and far between. That’s why being able to gather online has been such a blessing to me. Do I wish it could be done in person and get to meet the larger group in person? Absolutely, but that’s not where I’m at right now. I trust that God will work it all out, even when I can’t see it.

    I rest in Him and his promises, knowing he will never leave me, nor forsake me, focusing on my continued healing, applying the wisdom I’ve learned, and sharing that wisdom when I get the chance.

    • Z

      Lynn, I don’t think this could have been explained any better. Here and in your earlier posts. I too have gone from the despair of loneliness because I don’t easily trust people, especially “church people” who ware among those who hurt and betrayed me the worst, to relishing the blessing of intimacy with my King. My isolation led me to seek sufficiency in Him. And He did not disappoint! There was no other way this could have been brought about. I never thought I’d get to this point. I thought I was so broken by so so many traumas and betrayals buy professing “christians” that I’d be lonely for the rest of my life. Jesus turned what I thought would be a life of ashes from all the fires I walked through to the BEAUTY of a true, close fellowship with my Lord and Savior.
      (Sorry for the spelling errors. Somehow, this new format will not allow me go back and correct spelling errors or change wording!😩)

      • Lynn

        Thanks for sharing Z.

        One of the things that I’ve come to realize is that there is a difference between being lonely and being alone. As an introvert who loves solitude – probably because it’s when I feel most safe after all the abuse growing up – I tend to feel more lonely in groups of people I don’t know than when I’m by myself.

        I’ve had family members who have shamed me for isolating myself, especially after a really rough patch with one or both of my parents, which only added to the guilt I was feeling for not being able to resolve the issues with my abusive family. In the last few years of completely letting go of all of my family relationships in order to heal, coupled with the pandemic that has forced me into an even deeper time of aloneness, I’ve found that it’s been more healing than anything else.

        Yes, there are times when I wish I had girlfriends locally I could hang out with, but I wouldn’t trade the growth, peace, security, and clarity I’ve received in this season of solitude for anything else in the world. God’s used it to help me really start to better understand Him, His Word, and has brought me tremendous healing and freedom that is priceless.

      • Susan

        Your errors were few and you made excellent points. I belong to a very small congregation and yet there are some undercurrents even so. I hadn’t realized until recently that it is so common for there to be discord in many, if not most, churches. At least now I have stopped beating myself up for being a bit “anti-social.” I think it is more a matter of discernment and probably that’s as it should be.

        • Lynn

          Thanks, Susan. I’m glad you’re not beating yourself up over being a bit anti-social. I do believe it is a wise and discerning move. I’ve found it to be freeing.

          One of the challenges I see with many in today’s visible church is a pressure to “not forsake the assembly” meaning that you must be in fellowship with a local church, yet they refuse to create safe environments for their members. I would like to be able to do so. Given the amount of abuse I’ve endured at the hands of pastors and laypeople coupled with mostly negative or apathetic responses by professing Christians, it has made me very wary of believing everyone who claims to be a Christian.

          Finding a local church that is doctrinally sound and is willing to invest in building a healthy, mutually beneficial, Christ-centered relationship with me has been non-existent. I’ve tried mega-churches and small churches. While all of them have the possibility of corruption, I do find megachurches more likely to be corrupt because they typically are driven by a cult of personality. Even the professing reformed churches with thousands of people end up evidencing corruption. They end up being wooden in their theology and have no love for their brothers and sisters in Christ.

          Small churches too can run into that cult of personality as well. The congregation buys into the charisma and assumes that equals character which is false. I’ve been abused in both megachurches and small bible churches which is why I’ve migrated to attending church online. It’s the only way I’ve found to feel completely safe.

          When I’ve revealed my concerns to pastors about their teaching to and about women, their inadequate theology about evil, and abuse, they haven’t made an effort to ease those concerns and fully address my issues. I refuse to remain in a local church that won’t make an effort to help me feel safe. I’ve spent too much of my life trying to please others and not taking care of myself. No more.


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