Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

A Typical Way Abusers Deceive Us

Gal 4:17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.

One of the primary reasons we get duped by the wicked and fail to see who they really are, even when their victims tell us, is because 1) the wicked wear disguises, and 2) the wicked can be very charming and draw us into becoming their “friends”.

Think about it. If we come to “know” an evildoer via the disguise he or she wears, and if we enter into what we think is a friendship with them, what is going to happen when their victim tells us about the abuse? We will be so blinded that what she tells us simply does not fit the mental paradigm we have formed from the lie. It will take the Lord turning on the lights in our thinking for us to see the thing clearly. And on top of that, the “thing” is something we don’t want to see. We don’t want it to be true about our “friend.”

I don’t completely know the solution. Are we to just stand off from people and avoid close relationships? I don’t think so. In the church we love one another – if we are born again that is. Perhaps the defense is this:

Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Grow in Christ. Immerse ourselves in His Word. Pray that by His Word and Spirit we grow wiser and wiser in His wisdom so that we can see what is good and what is evil.


When Our Shepherds Go Wrong, We are in Big Trouble


Do we Really Want to be Well?


  1. This one takes me off into something that is fascinating to me. Please forgive me or don’t post if it’s not a proper response; it’s a genuine question. Also if it’s in violation of any rules about posting; not trying to do that.

    My FIL was a “doctrinally correct” Lutheran; started his own church because he was righter than the synod. My MIL marrried him young & my SIL thinks her courtship was classic grooming, now that we are all learning about family generational patterns. MIL supported FIL 100%. She would have been more the one to make much of people a la Gal 4:17a, possibly.

    The doctrines about “fellowship” in general in this particular denomination (the one he left), which he practiced, definitely correspond to Gal 4:17b. The teaching was that since everyone else is wrong, and they may not be worshiping the true Jesus but some other mistaken substitute, the most loving thing to do is exclude them from Communion and membership, so that they are not mislead into thinking they are saved by an incorrect Jesus, who cannot save.

    Personally, I don’t think the Bible teaches the doctrine of “fellowship” that they practice, so I never joined anything Lutheran. Maybe it’s a uniquely Lutheran idea. I didn’t let what they said about fellowship bother me; I attended w/ my H, I asked questions, but never desired nor sought membership. I eventually figured out my belief was that if you go to Jesus for salvation, then you have the right Jesus; any other list of characteristics is irrelevant to who Jesus is, when it comes to identifying “the correct Jesus”. I just couldn’t agree with so much they taught.

    However, my question from this post is the following: given that many conservative denominations of all varieties: Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, practice some version of doctrinal correctness, in contrast to the more liberal logic tendency of “God is Love. Therefore anything called love is from God and therefore healthy”, how do we teach discernment about a Biblical difference between proper correctness & toxic correctness?

    • Jeff Crippen

      I have seen those ultra narrow Lutheran groups so I know what you mean.

      As to the real Jesus – go to the Bible honestly. Be taught by all of scripture and don’t cut and paste. The Jesus who loves sinners is also the Jesus who drove the wicked out with a whip. The One who came to save His people is coming again to cast the wicked into hell.

      • Yeah, that’s helpful & I think jives with my experience. Thank God I had been a Christian for a long time before I got involved with them. I knew about boundaries, but couldn’t put my finger on the red flags enough to articulate the problem to myself much less compellingly to them. Now that I see, I cannot unsee. Being able to understand the Biblical reasons is so helpful

  2. Susan

    Also, I draw much comfort from “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:27-30). Also, “And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” (John 10:4-5). Somehow the Holy Spirit will bring comfort and assurance to a genuine believer. I especially think we know the “real Jesus” when we begin to see his mercy. Sometimes it does take awhile to grasp, especially when, in one sense or another, many churches tend toward works/legalism or they are just aloof and apathetic. Keep reading the Bible. Scripture as simple as “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench” can reach out to a hurting soul and you can just know that is the “real” Jesus speaking!

  3. Noka

    I’ve been thinking about this same thing, the problem of ‘what is the solution’. I’ve been listening to many advocates and survivors and I keep coming back to the same conclusion. It all comes down to wisdom and discernment.

    These evil people aren’t going anywhere, we won’t be able to eliminate them, God will on Judgment Day. In fact, they are so sinister and evil only God can deal with them. So when people like Lundy Bancroft tell us to have nothing to do with them, they are pretty much in line with the Bible’s advice: Avoid them. So up until their final judgment , we need to know what God told us about them.

    Something that has helped me, was to recognize the patterns. One advocate I heard say, ‘once you know what an abuser looks like, you will know who is not an abuser’. There’s a lot of truth to that, though that’s not to say we’ll be able to tell right away from meeting a person. But we’ll see the red flags earlier and implement proper boundaries before damage is done.

    One of the things I did that helped me was go through the Bible to find the references about the wicked, the scoffer, the proud, the arrogant, the insolent, the deceitful, the evildoer, the sinner. It’s a very eye opening exercise. I was amazed how much the Bible speaks to the issue of abuse and I’ve been ignoring it for many years.

    I loved seeing that God knows exactly who they are and how accurately the Bible describes them. I did this when I came out of a cultist church. Went to Bible Gateway and looked up these words individually from Genesis to Revelation, though they are more concentrated in the Wisdom literature (isn’t that ironic?) and read about what God has to say about them, especially how He’s going to punish them.

    Then when I read through the Bible like I normally was, all I could notice were the verses about evil people, they were so obvious to me now. Before I didn’t even know what to do with those verses and now that was all I was underlining. Then I realized this would have been a beneficial exercise for any Christian even if they weren’t abused.

    I was amazed how practical this exercise was in other ways. It helped me grow in discernment in general, I learned a lot about what a Christian is and isn’t, I learned a lot about the evils of sin and that challenged me to grow in my own sanctification, the whole entire Bible made more sense, I learned to rightly apply the Bible, learned about boundaries, emotions, relationships, and in the end it helped me to be able to read the Bible without being triggered because I knew that God was on my side and against them. I was blown away.

    The irony of God putting most of these references in the wisdom books of the Bible is that most people do want wisdom but never want to study evil and this is exactly the sort of thing God wants us to be wise about. If people don’t get wise about abuse, they won’t be wise about much anything else either– which is why it backfires on us when we disclose abuse. And because of ignorance about evil much of the rest of the Bible will be misunderstood and misapplied and lopsided. Hence, all the bad theology that leads up to and enables evil and destroys the innocent.

    Check this out: “Proud,” “Arrogant,” “Scoffer,” are his names, One who acts with insolent pride. –Proverbs 21:24. <–That's the narcissist in the Bible. God named him for us.


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