Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Tentative Love of Counterfeit Brethren

One of the qualities of counterfeit “brethren” is that you always sense their relationship/friendship/love they claim for  us is tentative. You may not really be able to verbalize it right away, but you feel it. There is always an “if.” If you say the wrong thing…then. If you do something….then. All of this is of course very characteristic of a domestic abuser/sociopath.

But these fakes often creep into the church posing a Christians. I know that over all these years the “if” has always been hanging there like a club. And I wasn’t imagining it because inevitably the “then” on their part kicks in. They hate. They abandon. They revile and slander. Seemingly overnight.

But where there is the real article, there is no “if.” We love one another. We forgive one another. We forbear with one another.

Eph 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.


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1 Comment

  1. Lynn

    In addition to the tentative love, I’d like to add to watch out for the one up/one down position that some “Christians” like to play. It is a red flag. Watch out for the mentors, family members, and church folks who like to act like they are somehow better, wiser, or morally superior to you. It may be subtle or loud depending on the person’s personality. That is not the way of Christ.

    I’ve had family members who were somewhat helpful in coping with my abusive family when I was a child and a young adult, but they were never able to make the transition from treating me as a child to treating me as an adult. They would constantly try to parent – aka mother – me as if their “wise” words and actions could undo all of the programming that comes from a lifetime of familial emotional abuse. Their words may have initially sounded loving, but it always felt sharp, like I was somehow defective as a result of what I’d experienced and didn’t know. They had this attitude knowing better with a large hint of condescension. They were willfully blind to their own issues that they had no qualms calling me out for, which may have worked on 16 year old me, but doesn’t work on today’s me. It’s very offputting and irritating. When I was younger their words made me feel shame for what I didn’t know or hadn’t been taught by my narcissistic parents. The correction wasn’t accompanied by the assurance of love or safety in the relationship. It always felt like I wasn’t ever enough. I am no longer a child. I am a grown woman, and being treated like I’m a kid who’s in need of their rescue and guidance, especially when I didn’t ask for it, felt very disrespectful and invalidating.

    As fellow believers, it’s critical that we don’t slip into mindsets of either feeling or acting like we are superior to another brother or sister in Christ and treat them as less than for whatever reason. Inversely we shouldn’t be acting as if we are inferior, and allow others to treat us poorly as a result of that misplaced inferiority complex. Both positions lack humility and don’t honor the name of Christ.

    While every human is made in the image of God, not every human is a child of God. Some are children of the devil and we need to know what they look like. It’s imperative that we learn the difference, so we can be wise about how we interact with others. We are to be tenderhearted, not tentative towards the brethren. We are to be compassionate, not cold towards brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing trials and tribulations. We are to be generous when the situation calls for it and we have the means to fill the need. We are to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. We are to reject evil and cling to what is good. We are to separate from those who claim the name of Christ but do not obey him and rebel when called to account. We are to speak the truth in love. We are to forgive those who repent and ask for our forgiveness. We are to oppose evil in every form.

    Let us learn the true meaning and practice of agape love, so that we may apply it in our own lives, and recognize counterfeit versions of love and reject them.


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