Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

There is Only One Who can Deliver You

Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

This scripture is profound and it is my intention in this article to help you see why it is one of the very, very most important truths for you to know. It is, in fact, the answer to all – yes, ALL – of your troubles.

I have been writing and teaching about the evil of domestic abuse hiding in churches for over a decade now. The things I have written are important to know. We must be wise about evil and be able to recognize its disguises and tactics. I have been contacted by scores (perhaps even several hundreds now) of domestic abuse victims, most of who are targets of a wolf in wool hiding in “christian” disguise. And they have asked me many questions as they sought help:

  • Do you know of a good attorney?
  • Can you help me find a sound church?
  • How can I survive the family court system?
  • What do you think about this verse of scripture my abuser uses against me?
  • The pastor and elders have sided with my abuser. What can I do?
  • How can I educate my pastor about abuse?
  • My children and other family members have sided with my abuser against me? How can I show them they are wrong?

And, as I said, these are important issues. Great pain and suffering is brought about in these things.

But…in the end there is only ONE who can deliver you. In a sense, as a Christian you only have ONE friend who will never fail you. And that Friend is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. But if He is to help you, then you must know Him. You must be born again.

Listen now – just because you are a victim of abuse does not in itself mean that you truly know Christ. Many, many people who profess to be Christians – aren’t. They are not saved. They are not regenerated. The Spirit of Christ is not in them. Their religion is one of outward forms, only on the surface, a religion of traditions and motions, but not of the heart.

I say these things because far more than a few times I have been contacted by a victim of abuse who professes to be a Christian. But when I respond to their questions with answers like these:

  • Pray and keep on praying. Ask the Lord to direct your ways and lead you where He wants you to go.
  • Read your Bible regularly, earnestly, and believe the promises of the Lord.

…when I respond to them this way, it is not a rare thing for them to respond to me with something like:

  • I have tried that, but nothing happens.
  • Those things just don’t seem to work for me.
  • I don’t think God is really good or He would rescue me.
  • I don’t want anything to do with church or the Bible anymore.

And the central point of this article that I want to put right out in front of you is this – without faith, it is impossible to please God. If you really don’t believe His Word, if you really don’t believe that He answers the prayers of His people, if you don’t believe that He rewards those who seek Him, as He promises, then He is not going to hear you because, in fact, you aren’t born again. You are not one of His children.

It is by faith in Christ that we are born again. It is faith in His promises that is a fruit which demonstrates we really know Him. The person who has no faith in Him has a heart that is still as hard and cold as stone.

Tell me, do you believe God? Do you possess faith which He gives to us as a gift when we are born again? Do you pray, in faith, and keep right on praying, believing that He hears you and will answer you in His way and in His time? Because, I say again, if a person does not possess this faith, they do not belong to Him.

There is NO problem, NO experience of suffering, NO grief – that the Lord cannot deliver you from. No matter how impossible it looks. Think of it – how possible did it look, what were the chances, that Moses could go before Pharaoh and effect the deliverance of the Jews from that cruel, enslaving bondage? It wasn’t possible. It was IM-possible. And yet it happened. By faith Moses…By faith, Abraham…by faith, Daniel…and the list goes on and on.

So chew on these words seriously. Stop listening to yourself and start talking the promises of God to yourself. And start right here:

Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.


Why Does the Lord Permit Suffering?


Are You Ready?


  1. Sarah

    It seems some targets of abuse want God to outbully their abusers, which is hard-hearted revenge and retaliation. Or to send a rescuer to do all the hardwork for them.

    Great lesson, Ps Crippen!

  2. GF

    What better place than the church for a wolf in woolen to be. The Bible gives many warnings about these type of people, but for whatever reason we over look it in the church. In the world (non church) arena trust is earn, in the church we blindly trust people because they sit on a pew.

    Pastors need to “be on the look out”, on gard as it were, for wolves among their people. Afterall, he is a type of overseer. Often pastors are to busy keeping everyone happy so the church morgage, their salary, and expenses will be covered. There can be a price to pay when standing with a victim.

    For me, I don’t trust people, even pastors, without first seeing fruit in their lives. We currently have a new pastor, and I’m not sure yet if I can trust him. One good fruit in his life is, his adult children highly respect him and it seems like he raised his children properly. I’m not looking for mistakes in his life but looking for fruit. The Bible tells us “we will know them by their fruit”. For me that is the best way to start to trust people.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Wisdom! Thank you.

    • That is really smart. It reminds me of, “Trust and then verify” Looking for fruit first in their life. thank you. I was actually a victim of abuse for almost 16 1/2 years. The Bible was used against me. It was used to coerce me and manipulate me into actions. But yet he never held himself to the standard God has in the scripture. I remember I prayed and I ask God to put it on the wall if I was supposed to separate from him. I went into church the next day and on the wall they had projected the scripture I needed. I don’t remember what it was. But my church supported me at leaving my abuser. There was a ministry called ARMS Abuse Recovery Ministry and Services- They helped me alot. They had a class for the abuser and the victim. Her Journey was the class. And know they even have a class you can take via the phone.

      I believed every lie he told me. I kept thinking- He looks like a Christian, talks like a Christian and went to church. It seemed like I saw fruit. He seemed kind when we were with other people from our church. My neighbors when they found out about the separation were also supportive. Then they started telling me things that he had done and said. Which totally shocked me. I never really even knew who he was. He lived behind a mask and I kept thinking he is just having a bad day. He really is sorry. My neighbor told me he would tell his mom lies about me. It just amazes me.

      I am grateful God delivered me from him. I also did not know how to speak about the abuse. I didn’t have the words: spiritual abuse, financial abuse, social abuse and manipulation. Legal abuse was a huge one. My divorce took 3 years. But we continued to go to court for 6 more years where he just kept telling lies. Finally my lawyer made a motion for him to pay the court cost and part of his fee. That finally ended him taking me to court.

  3. Carolyn

    This is spot on. I have been a born again believer for 24 years. At that same time, my husband also “professed” faith albeit false. Due to this unequal yoke, I lived in oppression for 2 decades. It took me such a long time to see it clearly because the leaders of our church looked and acted exactly like my husband did. Here’s the thing though…I never ever departed from the word of God. Not one day. God brought me through and eventually wrecked my husbands life to bring him to true saving faith. I have lived out 1 Corinthians 7:16 “For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?”

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Carolyn. Yes, sometimes that is what the Lord does – wreck the wicked man’s life to totally humble him. The Lord led you in the path you took. In other cases He leads abuse victims to divorce and leave the abuser. I always tell victims that abusers never change and that it is wisdom to base all decisions upon that premise. If in the future the Lord does break and humble a wicked abuser, we would all rejoice. But often I talk to victims who, in a real desire to glorify God, hold on to a notion that “if only” they (the victim) does this or does that or doesn’t do something else, the abuser will repent and come to saving faith. That can keep someone in bondage that the Lord would have them leave. We must always fervently ask the Lord’s direction and wisdom.

      • Carolyn

        Agreed. I suffered in the opposite direction. “Why did you stay so long? “The Lord never released me from this marriage. He knew the longterm plan. So either way, whether released or not, the imperative is to always seek the Lord. Thank you for your reply. This blog and your book Wise as Serpents have ministered to me deeply and kept me afloat a lot.

        • Daughter of the King

          As I read this post I was thinking back to all the promises I found in scripture that God led me to during the “bad times.” I would cling to to them for dear life! Just as God’s people had so many tangible ways to praise God for what he did in rescuing them from the hands of evil Pharaoh, I also praise Him for all the good things He did to rescue me and my four daughters from the clutches of evil. I had people who cared and supported me, but only God could bring beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair. I love my Heavenly Father for using what my enemy intended for evil and making it good! I would go through the fire again to have the very personal relationship I now enjoy with my Father!


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