Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Pressing on in Christ

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Joh 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

For over a decade now I have been writing and speaking about how evil creeps into the church and hides among us. Specifically, I have focused upon that wickedness of domestic abusers wearing their disguises, parading as the finest and most eminent Christians, all the while oppressing their victims. And I will, by God’s enablement, continue to do so. Exposing this evil. Helping victims of it understand more clearly what they are experiencing and how to get free of it. These are good and necessary things.

However, I am also going to increasingly focus upon ultimate freedom. The freedom that only Christ can give. Because without this focus as well, there is a great danger that victims and survivors of abuse will end up stuck. Treading water, you might say, regarding growth in Christ and never coming to the freedom and enjoyment the Lord intends for us.

It is a good thing to read books about domestic abuse, about narcissists, about sociopaths and so on. I have written books like that myself. But we must not stay there. We must not just keep on talking about abuse, about abusers, about what has happened to us, and so on. Knowledge of these things is certainly important – but we must go further. We must immerse ourselves in the Word of God because it is only by God’s truth as applied to us by the Spirit of God that we are going to grow up into the new creations Christ intends us to be. This all begins of course with this: you must be born again. To try to seek after healing from trauma and from the evil acts foisted upon us by abusers – to seek after this and yet not be born again is a futile enterprise. I have seen it and it is a sad picture. Such people, devoid of Christ, only end up in an unending cycle of perpetual victimhood. Wrapped up in themselves and even, as can often be the case, becoming mean and abusive themselves.

So let me ask you. Are you born again? Do you really know Christ? If you have any doubts at all – and be ruthlessly honest with yourself – then go to Christ immediately. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord WILL be saved.

And then let me ask you – if you are born again, where is your focus? Are you giving yourself to God’s Word so that by it you are growing in the Lord? We have soooo many opportunities around us in this regard. Just in our little ministry here we post two Bible studies each week online at Facebook, Youtube, and Sermon Audio – one on the Gospel of John and one on Revelation. Then we share links to our Sunday morning class and we post the Sunday sermon on these same sites as well. If you faithfully follow a couple of these series you will be enabling the Word of God to do its work in you.

Christ wants His people free. He wants us to be wise with His wisdom. He wants us to know Him more and more. And it is by His powerful Word that He effects these things.

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22 Comments

  1. Glenna

    I am stuck in a marriage with a psychopathic husband. He has not been diagnosed as such, but fits almost all of the symptoms on a checklist. I am mainly stuck from the financial aspect.

    When I started the journey “many years ago” of educating myself on what was wrong, I really thought God was going to rescue me from this evil, especially since there are many scriptures about God delivering us from evil. To date, I’m still here looking for a way out. I get discouraged and lack focus in prayer and sometimes discipline in my personal life. I lack discipline in time, goals, structuring my day, and etc. I feel like I’m just wandering through each day with no direction. I’m looking for what the true meaning of “God delivering us from evil” means. At times, I thought God would just reach down and rescue me. And other times I’ve made plans to leave, but for one reason or another they didn’t work out. I am entangled, and only looking for God’s help. But, now so much time has gone by, I’m thinking I may have misunderstood the real meaning of “God delivering us from evil”. Perhaps, God delivers us when we move in faith not really being able to execute a plan. In other words just leave blindly knowing God will help. But, that goes against many scriptures in Proverbs that tells us to have a plan. Any thoughts on being delivered from evil?

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    • Jeff Crippen

      Glenna – You are a strong and courageous person, persevering in very hard trials. It is right to continue to pray that the Lord will deliver you from it. I think that when the Bible talks about deliverance, it most specifically is speaking of the deliverance from being overcome with evil. In other words, preservation from our faith being destroyed. You have persevered in faith. It is by our faith in Christ that we conquer. Many, many Christians over the centuries have never been delivered from physical suffering at the hands of the wicked in this present life, yet they overcame by their faith. Ultimate deliverance comes when the Lord calls us home, when Christ comes again, when He comes to judge the wicked. By your faith you are showing Christ’s protection of you.

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    • Mjoy

      I am in the same boat as you. Every time I think I can leave a new or old health issue comes soon me.

      Technically the financial aspect of it is working out in my favor….but I struggle with leaving because even though my husband lacks empathy and lies over the smallest things and is verbally mocking etc…..I could stay as I’ve made it this far. It’s a scary choice for me and I’m not sure if God is in favor of me leaving or if he has brought about any health issues to stop me. It gets over whelming and I kept thinking the same thing…. that God will rescue me. He wouldn’t have wanted this for me.

      I just feel if I stay what is the point…its not a real marriage by the way he treats me and how that treatment causes me to feel. Everyone has told me to leave. I guess you have to have somewhat of a plan financially but trust that God also gave you free will. He will be with you whatever you choose to do.

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      • Lynn

        Mjoy,

        I’m sorry that your health has been a stumbling block from leaving your husband.

        Your health issues are a warning sign from your body trying to let you know that something’s not right. It’s how some people can have their depression and anxiety symptoms go away when they are no longer in the environment that caused the stress that triggered the response. Your health won’t get better if you are living in an environment that is hostile to you and your needs. Living with abusive people is like slowly sipping poison each day, yet being surprised that you are getting sick.

        Is it possible that your health issues could improve if you weren’t living with your abusive husband?

        You don’t win extra points with God for staying in an abusive marriage. That is not what is meant in the Bible by suffering for the gospel. Marriage is not meant to be a life sentence that robs you of your joy, your health, and your life.

        In Christ, God has broken the chains that once held you back from walking in freedom. Now it’s up to you to determine how much freedom you are willing to walk in? There is an element of faith involved. Are you willing to trust that God that if you take that step out of this abusive relationship, he will guide you and protect you and provide for you? I know it’s scary. I’ve been there. I literally had to sell everything and move across the country and cut ties with all of my family – immediate and extended – in order to get free.

        I won’t lie and say that it’s easy or that you won’t have challenges to face, because you will. But there is also tremendous freedom and peace that comes from knowing those who hurt you for so long can’t do so any longer.

        I hope this helps.

    • Lynn

      Glenna,

      I am so sorry that you’re dealing with a psychopathic husband. I’ve had to deal with a psychopath or two in my life. Not fun at all.

      God delivering us from evil can take on many forms. It will probably look different from person to person. Some people for their own safety may find themselves in situations where they have to flee in the moment in order to get free. Others are given time to put a plan together before they leave.

      I understand the desire to have God swoop in on a white horse and sweep us away from our wicked family members but rarely is that his mode of deliverance. Most of the time God grants us the agency to make our own choices in life. We still have to be willing to choose and take that step of faith.

      Proverbs is correct in stating the wisdom of having a plan. A plan is a great start, but until it is implemented it isn’t of much use. Maybe consider doing some research online for tips and tricks to help you better manage your time. I’ve found breaking up my day into smaller chunks of time – like 15 or 25 minutes in length – and then assigning tasks to them makes it easier to stay on track with accomplishing my goals. When writing goals check out the SMART (specific, measurable, acheiveable, relevant, and timebound) method. This can help you create better goals that you can then go turn into reality.

      Pray about what kinds of things you could do, and what skills you have that could be used to help you become less dependent on your husband financially. Maybe it’s cooking or baking or working with kids or something else entirely. What do people compliment you on most? That could be a hint at a gift God’s given you that could help you provide for yourself financially. It’s a matter of figuring out what those are and adding them to your escape plan.

      I hope this helps.

  2. Glenna

    Jeff Crippen, your comment “preservation from our faith being destroyed” does clarify my quandary on the meaning of God delivering us.

    The majority of stories that I have read about people leaving a toxic person, is about them going through the journey of leaving and trusting God along the way. In other words unshakable faith in God while going through the process of leaving. While writing this I am thinking of Psalms 23, it takes on a new meaning when leaving a toxic person.

    I’m going to change how I approach this; ask God for an open door and a clear path. And trust him with all of my heart.

    Thank you for ALL that you do.

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  3. Glenna

    Mjoy, I read your comment and wanted to say, I understand how you feel. The majority of the Christian world really has no idea what we go through.

    Your comment, “It’s a scary choice for me and I’m not sure if God is in favor of me leaving or if he has brought about any health issues to stop me. It gets over whelming” rang true for me as well. For me I think my health issues are from the way I’ve had to live. It is a very scary choice to have to make, especially if your pastors, church family, friends and family are not behind you. I’ve come to the conclusion “when” I leave I may need to completely start my life all over, that is awful scary. In saying that, I know God will go with us in what ever decision we make. Psalms 91 is an awesome chapter to read when it comes to God’s protection.

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  4. Mjoy

    Glenna, I do think that God wants what is best for us. I struggle with my whole life being a quantitative waste as I’ve spent most if it in abuse of some sort….ever since I was a little girl. Each section of my life is a bit better…but stil not good. I finally can see freedom from the abuse if I leave and go be on my own but then I’m not sure if it’s the final decision that does me in so to speak. I feel the devil has been in every decision….I just didn’t see it at the time. Now that I look back it looks like where the devil started to lose his hold on the situation….he just brought the next thing along and foolishly i thought it was the way to go. My struggle now is ….is leaving right? I dont trust my own ability to make a decision. I have prayed for over 4yrs as to what is the right way to go….but I hear nothing. It’s hard when your spouse can be kind and loving and then in a split second angry and horrible human being.
    I guess God did warn me before I married him but I had no real understanding at the time. A total stranger where I worked at a grocery store warned me about being unequally yoked just as I was all excited about planning my wedding. As I look back now I think God knew I wouldn’t heed the warning then but he knew I would recount that moment in the future and maybe see that He is ok with me leaving because he already saw the pain and heartache and destruction that was going to become my life. I guess I have that thought to lean on.
    I pray that whatever you decide to do you trust that God will walk with you as I must trust that he will walk with me. Fear can be a great motivator or it can cripple you. You don’t know that by getting out there on your own won’t open up a new independence and put you in the best position to serve the Lord fully where as right now you’re just too overwhelmed with your circumstances to serve Him and others that need you. Those of us who live abuse have so much to offer others and maybe that is why we go though it because God knows we are strong enough and can help those who aren’t.
    Wishing you the best

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    • Innoscent

      Dear MJoy, thank you for sharing, I seem to be reading my own story. From an abusive father, abusive siblings to an abusive husband, my life was a cesspool of abuse. I thought my then-husband was sent by God to save me from my past abuse, what an awful delusion! He was a professed Christian, charming man, wolf in sheep clothing, which I couldn’t understand at the time even though there were red flags, I wanted to see them pink.

      As a godly Christian and devoted wife, never in a million years would I have ever thought of my marriage going so bad year after year, to the point of having to leave. I clung to the last tiny bit of hope until I was suffering so much that I finally figured out either I’d die staying or live escaping. Either I fear man or I fear God. I finally understood the only way out for me was leaving, and I aligned myself with God’s will.

      All the while He’d been preparing my escape and when the time came, with hardly any money and support, yet He got me out working many miracles of holy providence, step by step. You know, like piercing the roof of the house and being brought down crippled and bruised to Jesus.

      He so wants to deliver His faithful ones from the evil one. And He knows how and when.

      Just like you I was put in a mold of abuse all my life. And it takes time to break out of it. I knew the more I’d wait, the more feeble I’d get as my physical and mental health was deteriorating fast. God snatched me right on time and gave me the strength and everything else to make it through.

      He relocated me far away, gave me means, professional training, counseling, healing, and so much more especially His loving presence in my heart. He educated me about abuse and has been rebuilding my life. Five years since the escape and divorce I can honestly say that I’ve never been so happy in my life even though I lost almost everything and still on a healing journey (last phase). But my faith in and my love for God are stronger than ever. I thirst for His word and presence always. He’s my Pastor, my Husband and Friend.

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  5. Anne

    It is so difficult to leave and even then the struggles go on. I cannot say that my life is easier. I am terribly lonely as I have no family but also fear I’ve done something wrong to deserve this isolation. It’s so hard. Friends have taken my ex’s side and though I have proof of his infidelity – a series of emails to the woman he was at the time infatuated with – I have not generally shared them as it seems cheap to do that. Should I do it?
    Also – I am really trying to seek God daily and not give in to my sadness but it is very challenging to do that. I want to find my joy in God but it seems too difficult. Anyone else feel like that?

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    • Lynn

      Anne,

      One thing I’ve had to remind myself of is that we each have to choose which kind of pain we are willing to endure. We don’t get to go through life pain-free. Suffering is a part of the human condition. The choice we have to ask ourselves, is what kind of suffering are we willing to endure? Are we willing to endure the suffering of abusive people or the suffering of healing and growth? Both are painful, but only one brings us the chance at freedom.

      Part of leaving is going through the grieving process. It’s okay to feel sadness. Find healthy ways to process any negative emotions you feel. Especially early on, those feelings of loneliness may come up.

      I get that finding joy is a challenge right now. Seek comfort in the Psalms. Know you aren’t alone. Try journaling and writing out what you’re thankful/grateful for on a daily basis. When you are struggling you can refer back to what you’ve written to remind yourself of the good you have in the midst of the struggle. It doesn’t have to be big things. Start small and work your way up as you continue to practice.

      I’m sorry that your friends have taken your ex’s side. When dealing with narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths, there is no upside in trying to convince others of their abuses. They have to come to that conclusion on their own. Taking action only puts you at more risk and opens the door for your ex to launch a full-scale attack on your character.

      As hard as it is, the best thing to do is walk away. Don’t argue. Don’t defend yourself. That’s what the abusive person wants. They feed off you reacting to them. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Your silence. Your healing. Your moving on will cause the narcissist much more pain than anything you can do to him.

      I hope this helps.

  6. Glenna

    Anne, I thought of your comment this morning while I was reading the devotional “My Utmost for His Highest”. I read it on their website rather than the book. The website has it in modern day English. It has helped me from the aspect of seeing everything through God’s eyes rather than through my own eyes.

    Feeling like we have done something wrong after dealing with a toxic person, can come faulty teaching in the church, well meaning people or our own thinking. We were bought with a price on Calvary. God is gracious, kind, merciful, long suffering, etc., and forgive us. He does not condemn us.

    Also, loneliness can be very very difficult. It could be a temporary time of healing without interruption from other people. God may have you there to do a work in your life. Pray for God to lead you out of the loneliness, trusting only Him.

    My 1st husband was killed, my 2nd husband cheated on me and I am divorced from him. My 3rd husband who I’m currently married to is a narcissistic psychopathic type of person. There is so much quilt, shame, condemnation etc. that goes with multiple failed marriages. My help only can come from God and professional counsel. I can say I know how you feel.

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  7. Anne

    Glenna, thank you for your reply. I appreciate it very much. It’s so true that we can become conditioned to blame ourselves and immediately think we’ve done something wrong when we are not to blame. Thank you for pointing that out. None of us are perfect and the devil always wants to bring us down.
    There are some resources that help me. When I am lonely I listen to sermons. I also supplement my prayers (sometimes it is so hard to pray) with Apps such as Lectio 365.
    Casual conversation with strangers can make all the difference. A simple smile…
    Mjoy, I identify with your experiences.
    After I left my ex and then was homeless (staying with different people in their spare bedrooms) afterwards people said I was brave. I never felt brave but just knew I had to live one day at a time and lean on God. Now that edgy period is over and I have time to look back and reflect on all the bad stuff and I think that is why I feel so down. But now it is time to start a new chapter.
    Corny though it sounds, Mjoy, remember God is always with you. You are his precious child and He will not and cannot leave you or forsake you.
    I can’t express everything very well but thanks again and thanks to Pastor Crippen.

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    • Jeff Crippen

      I really appreciate all of your comments and interactions here. Thank you to all of you.

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  8. Lynn

    As I read the comments, I empathize with all that you have gone through and are still going through. Your stories share so much of my own story. While my abuse didn’t come at the hands of a husband, it came at the hands of both of my parents, wolffish pastors, and enemies disguised as friends. I know the agony of trying to figure out should I stay in a relationship with my mom and dad when all they do is continue to emotionally, psychologically and spiritually abuse me. I wrestled with that for nearly 20 years before I finally said “Enough!” My breaking point came when my mother, who claims to be a Christian, without any guilt, tried to steal her own daughter’s inheritance. On top of all of that my father and brother had the audacity to insult my integrity, claiming I was the one who was ruining the family and causing division. I realized with such clarity that no matter what I did, nothing would ever be enough for them. They are children of the devil who have deceived themselves into believing that their actions will be forgiven by God because they said the sinners prayer once and religiously attend church. There is no fruit of the spirit in them. All the fruit they bear is poison and death.

    I knew that it was time to finally let go of those relationships in order to get free and pursue the healing my body and soul needed. I know some of you are trying to figure out if you should leave your toxic situations. God is not the one holding you back, looking to punish you if your divorce an abusive spouse. His desire for his children is to be free as they grow more and more like Christ. He calls us to separate from wicked people. That includes family, friends, spouses, and children.

    I get that leaving is scary. I get that stepping out into the unknown is scary. But remember you’re not alone. He’s with you. He’s for you. The loneliness you feel is not uncommon when you leave a toxic relationship. I still have moments of it myself, but I wouldn’t trade the solitude I’ve had over the last few years for anything. It’s driven me to learn more about God, to become much wiser about evil. The struggle isn’t forever.

    One day, we will be free from the pain and bondage that sin and abuse have caused us in this life. We will be in paradise. The pain and suffering we are enduring now will be but a light and momentary affliction in light of eternity. For whom the son sets free is free indeed.

    Go be free.

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    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Lynn! Great words

    • Z

      Lynn,
      You already know that almost verbatim your story is mine too. I take heart in the peace you’ve found even when loneliness-which is the result of separating from evil and its allies-has NOTHING to do with anything we did wrong. We obeyed God and broke ties with known habitual unrepentant evil (falsely professing Christian) parents and all who knew of their abuses and still-all professing Christians-ran to the sides of my abusers and left me on the side of the road. That was the hardest part. The fog of the mass abandonments and betrayals after the lying smear campaign that started long before that final act of violence happened and led to the permanent No Contact. I’m a pariah for calling the police on “family”. Now I have to laugh at that excuse by “Christian” relatives who all turned their backs on me. Family?? Does “family” lure back family members back into contact with lies of apologies for other abuses (for which my husband and I had gone No Contact then as we did many times but not permanently), lies to promise to change…all to hoover us back to their house and then retaliate and punish us with a violent ambush and attack us both with a deadly weapon?? It’s ludicrous demonic thinking and behavior to see THEM as the “victims”! Nice try with the mass gaslighting. And I’m glad to suffer some isolation as the price to get them out of my life. I’ve used the isolation to lean into Jesus and learn more about Him. Fruitful time instead of idle, aimless, lonely time. I also believe it is God’s protection from more hurt and betrayal from more abusive people out there. IF He wills, HE will send safe people into my life of HIS choosing. God put me here just like He Himself plucked me out of the abuse bondage I was in for many decades (born into it) and so many false teachings that I had to keep forgiving unrepentant evil. He opened my eyes so clearly with that preplanned violent attack.
      And I gladly walked away from their will-they wrote me out when I remained permanently No Contact. To the delight of my evil siblings who participated in the attack planning and execution. I believe they saw extra money in the will for themselves if I were to be out of the picture. I used to get upset that evil was being rewarded with their larger shares of that will. But now I’m so free of that lifelong chaos and wickedness that I’m GLAD to be cut out of that ill-gotten will. All dirty money that was accumulated by “Christian” ex-parents’ frauds of all kinds all their lives. Don’t want it. I have Jehovah Jireh.
      Lynn, you are so right to keep repeating “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!” As I use my time with my husband in this evil-imposed isolation, I now see it as a blessing to seek God’s Face, His Word, Jesus’ real Presence as Emmanuel and the Holy Spirit’s comfort and wisdom, I become more and more FREE!

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      • Lynn

        Z – consider reframing isolation as solitude. Jesus spent time in his life where he went to be alone. It helped him prepare for his journey to the cross. You’ve gone through so much that it’s not surprising that you’re not jumping to meet new people. I get it. I’m the same way.

        Remember not all family is biological.

        Jesus says in Matthew 12:48b-50 – “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

        While both of our biological families have been absolutely awful to us Z, it’s because we were never truly theirs, and they hated us for that. They saw the genuine light of Christ in us. It made them crazy with rage because they love darkness. They love power, control, and themselves more than anything. They did everything they could to quell the light of Christ in us. But fortunately God, in His infinite mercy, showed us we don’t have to sit there and take their abuse. He was with us when we left and is with us as we continue our healing journey. He will do that for others who are looking for the courage to take that step towards freedom.

        It doesn’t mean the road will be easy. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be times of intense longing for what we’ve lost or that it will solve all our problems. But the freedom and healing that is found in obeying God by walking away from evil people is worth the struggle. We are called to pick up our crosses and follow him. Sometimes it’s into the unknown. Sometimes it’s going to feel like it’s more than we can bear. But with God, all things are possible. He is with us. He is for us. He will bring that perfect justice upon those who have harmed his people. None will escape his wrath for their sin. Not one.

        Don’t let the pain of the past rob you of the freedom that Christ offers. There is healing found in the pages of scripture. There is wisdom found in the pages of scripture. There is freedom in Christ found in the pages of scripture if we will seek after him.

        Let prayer be the weapon you wield as you seek justice for your past abuse. Let prayer draw you closer to the heart of the father through his spirit, so you are comforted, guided, and strengthened. Learn about the different types of prayer so that you know what kind to pray depending on the situation. Sometimes it will be prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving. Sometimes it will be prayers of supplication. Sometimes it will be imprecatory prayers that fall from your lips to God’s ears. That’s okay. When we are willing to pour out our hearts to God, it opens the door for him to draw near to us. He promises to be near the brokenhearted. He promises to free the captives, to give beauty for ashes, and joy instead of mourning. Rest in Him. He’s got this, even when we don’t see it.

        Let us both go and be free as God intended us to be.

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  9. Glenna

    In Matthew chapter 10 verses 34 -36 it tells us that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace, he came to divide. I beleive that division is, good from evil. It is a good thing to separate from family when they are evil, no matter the out come. There are many scriptures that tell us to flee evil. It’s not easy but often the right thing to do.

    34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

    35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
    36 Your enemies will be right in your own household! NLT

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    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes!

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    • Z

      Amen, Glenna! How true Jesus’ words have been in the reality in my “family” life. It comforts me that He predicted what it would come to when dealing with evil families. Cutting all ties with evil family is the path to the freedom Jesus died to give us.

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    • Innoscent

      Glenna, thank you for quoting Mt 10. These verses validate our escape from evil siblings. They go against the fake mantra of “reconciliation” and “loving your enemies” chanted within churches at large.

      I believe Christ was quoting from Micah 7:5-6…

      Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

      Throughout human history and church history, the worse enemies have been within the camp, starting with Cain killing his own brother; rape, murder, betrayal, robbery, persecution, inquisition, massacres, and on and on, even sacrificing and cannibalizing their own children.

      And so Micah continues in verse 7…
      But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

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