Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Being Abused does not Justify Abusing

Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

1Th 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1Pe 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

I hope that all of you know by now that I fully understand the typical false nonsense laid upon victims of abuse that twists the Bible’s teaching on things like forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation, and so on. And I also, like all of you, hunger and thirst for righteousness, for justice, and even for God’s vengeance upon the wicked.

But I want to take the time in this article to be sure that in holding to these biblical and right positions, no one takes what we say here as grounds for doing to others what has been done to them. I am afraid that there are people and books floating around out there that justify such sin. They say things like “hurt people hurt people” and the implication is that somehow we are to give hurt people a pass when they hurt others. Not true. Nope. Having been the target of evil does not give me license to launch evil upon others.

Years ago there was a lady in our church who had gone through a bad marriage – I don’t know the details. But this lady was mean. She was demanding. And when she did not get her way she threw anger fits. She has hated me ever since the day I confronted her about her sin and told her that it had to stop. Her adult son took me aside one Sunday and said “we know my mother is a bitter woman. But we all have decided to love her anyway.” By “loving” her of course he meant “we ignore her nastiness and let her get away with it.” That is not love.

All of us have been abused by wicked people. Most of you who follow this blog have experienced deep, even intense evil and you have suffered greatly. The Lord knows and He will render His perfect justice to your persecutors. But this does not give us the right to be mean, to be seeking personal revenge, to snap at and lash out at anyone who does something we don’t like.

One form of this sinful nastiness is to become a person who hates men (or women) as a result of being wronged. I know such people. They have been abused by a man, so they resolved to hate all men. And they teach others to hate men. Where do you find that kind of thing anywhere in the Bible? You don’t. We are to love one another – love the brethren. That means loving both men and women. What are we doing to our children if we teach them such hatred? Girls, never trust a man. Men are evil.

Well, think that through. The Lord Jesus Christ is a man – the God-Man. While God is Spirit and in that sense without gender, nevertheless the Bible refers to Him as Father, as “He” and as “Him.” Can you see that a person who is taught to hate men is going to have a pretty tough time loving God?

We abused the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins put Him on the cross. And yet He set His love upon us. Thankfully, He did not choose to hate all human beings.

So let’s examine ourselves carefully in this regard. Perhaps someone reading this has been taught to hate men – or if your abusere was a woman, to hate all women. And maybe you, as a result, have become, well, mean. That is a trap. It does not lead to anywhere good. And it is sin. Ask the Lord to show it to you, grant you repentance, and set you free.


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  1. Denise

    Excellent! Thank you for another great one, Jeff.

    Hurt people do not hurt people. Selfish, self-centered people hurt people.

  2. Jess

    Timely reminder for me. I was betrayed by a friend last week, and was trying to decide how to deal lovingly with them in the future. Thank you!

  3. Lynn

    This is why the study of the theology of evil and what scripture says about it is so critical. Evil is deceptive. If you don’t understand what evil is, what it looks like when it shows up in your life, it’s easy to fall into the trap that says your actions are justified because [fill in the blank] abused me.

    That was my mom’s excuse. She had the most horribly abusive parents in her own mind. 👀They only gave her most of what she demanded, not all of what she demanded. It’s also how she justifies her abusive behavior. Others abuse her by not giving her everything she believes she deserves and then calls them abusive.

    When we don’t have a right view of what is evil, we can be deceived into believing right is wrong and wrong is right. A great example of this is how much of the professing church views imprecatory prayer. They view it as evil because they can’t see that there is a time and place where asking God to bring his promised judgment in the form of the curses he’s explicitly stated are a consequence of disobedience to God’s law as being a loving act. They’ve misunderstood grace, extending it to the wicked, while punishing and shaming the innocent. They don’t understand real repentance and try to force victims to reconcile with unrepentant people. They invite the wrath of God on their own head as they reveal they are not children of God, but children of the devil.

    Cursing is not always sin. Much of the time it can be, but it isn’t always. You have to know and understand the context. God is perfect, holy, and just and cannot sin. So if he can curse a person or nation and not be in sin as it’s shown to happen in scripture, it stands to reason that there are times when it is okay for Christians to ask God to curse an evil person who’s inflicted harm and broken God’s commands. David models this in the psalms. Jesus curses the fig tree. The Holy Spirit curses Anninias and Sapphira and they are struck dead.

    So be careful not to let the influence of others, who at best haven’t thought through their own beliefs and at worse are trying to deceive you, tempt you into believing lies about the nature of evil. Test the spirits. Be diligent in your study of the word so you can become spiritually mature.

    Unfortunately we live in a fallen world where abuse can happen in so many forms. When it happens, don’t try to avenge yourself. Leave vengeance with God. His justice is perfect, better than we can ever imagine.

    Invest in your own healing and invite the Holy Spirit into that place of pain. He can transform that evil into something beautiful. It will take time, but it’s so worth it. It’s so much more rewarding than revenge. And it’s a great way to punish your abusers. They hate to see you heal. It shows them how they weren’t able to break you.

    You’ve got to fight for your freedom, healing, and calling. So be strong and courageous. God is with you. He is for you. He won’t leave you or forsake you. Whom the son sets free is free indeed. Walk in that freedom by faith and watch what God will do.

  4. Be free

    Thank you Pastor Crippen for posting this – definitely an assist as we head into the new year. The mean doesn’t always come out as the bold, growling and scowling kind – I have seen (and been stung by!!) the haters who mask it under a charming front and in their core have a mean-ness that cannot be masked for long, mean is mean….. they can fix it if they wanted to, we cannot. Once someone chooses that mean path, regardless of what someone else did to them, they are choosing satan. Sure they can be angry at what an abuser did – but that is separate from having overall mean motivations.

    Lynn, Your added comments gave me goose bumps, thank you – they are right on the spot of the key areas I have wrestled with in a time of constant reminders of the abuser, and holding firm in distance from my toxic family of origin. Their excuses echo in the holidays when so many expect that a Christmas tree and holiday music is suddenly a magic fix-all. It’s not. You called to light some very key and awesome reminders in this time, and the / his powerful statement in healing!

    Forward in and to freedom……

  5. Innoscent

    This is such an important topic, thank you Jeff for posting this.

    In my healing journey from abuse I have been puzzled many times by abuse victims turned nasty in more or less subtle ways, people I thought would be empathetic and supportive. So it was one more danger on my path to recovery for me to be aware of. In fact, it is the ultimate trap the devil lays before victims of abuse. If they yield to that temptation, then the abuser will get the perfect evidence that she is the abuser. She seals her fate… She is being made into the image of the serpent.

    If we follow the logic of abusing because of being abused, then we give ourselves full license to break every commandment. We can steal because we are poor and others robbed this and that from us. Or we seek comfort and more with someone else because our husband committed adultery. And so on…

    Finally, I thank God that I didn’t reject Him because I had an abusive earthly father. He showed me what a true loving father was as well as true womanhood and manhood.

    • Susan

      Your comments echoed a Netflix documentary I recently watched “Worst Roommate Ever.” There were 4 or 5 separate stories. The last one was a 2-part segment that highlighted an extremely narcissistic and dangerous man. One childhood friend knew of the abuse he had endured as a child and in the interview almost seemed to be giving the guy a pass, or at least “understanding;” but ultimately he wasn’t able to do so. The documentary very explicitly shows the progression of a life that CHOSE to go the same (or worse) direction of what they had experienced as a child. You were spot on in your comments.

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