Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

A Perversion of God’s Word Regarding Women

I am conservative in my theology. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. And I believe that God has instructed us to appoint qualified (godly) men to the offices of pastor and elder in the local church. (Even though I have known a lot of godly women I would rather have as elders any day than many of the ungodly men I have had the sad experience to work with!!).

But all of this said, I maintain that it is an error and a perversion of Scripture to base these requirements upon a notion that women are inferior beings. I want to give you an ugly illustration here that I came across recently of the kind of thing that infects the body of Christ so often. This statement was a comment to a social media post which (the post) was pointing out false teachers – and correctly so. The list happened to be 8 women who in fact are false teachers to be avoided. Here is what a man said:

Any, every and ALL women teachers and preachers MUST BE AVOIDED because God NEVERY CHANGES AND HE NEVER GOES AGAINST HIS SOVEREIGN WRITTEN WORD!!!!!!! Thou shalt not SUFFER A WOMAN TO PREACH OR TO HAVE AUTHORITY OVER MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those and every woman who does these are ABOMINATIONS UNTO THE LORD GOD AND ARE ACCURSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pretty ugly, right? I mean, even if the listed false teachers are in fact accursed by God – is it simply because they are women who are preaching and teaching Scripture? No, the grounds for their condemnation is that they are false teachers – Jezebels who lead God’s people astray.

You can pretty easily pick up on the fact that being married to this guy and his kind would be no picnic. As he walks into church on Sunday mornings carrying his King James Bible (nothing against the KJV by the way), he haughtily misses the log in his own eye while minutely looking for a speck in the other fellow’s.

I still am not crystal clear on the details of Scripture which address husband and wife in marriage, men and women in the church, and I am not ready to conclude that women just as well as men (godly women and godly men) should be pastors or elders. God meant something when He told us that the husband is the head of the wife, the wife is to submit to her husband as to the Lord, and so on. The Scriptures addressing this subject are in our Bibles and we must not ignore them. I cannot conclude that therefore every Bible commentary or theological or devotional book written by a woman must never be read by a man!!! Printed with some disclaimer on the cover – “For women’s eyes only. All men who read this will be seduced and led down Eve’s path to destruction.”

BUT, I can tell you this – whatever the specific applications of those Scriptures are, they do not teach what this evil man is teaching.

He put his name on his comment by the way. He says he is a retired pastor. We can be thankful he is retired. It would be interesting to learn more about his “pastorate.” You can bet that the women in his church were viewed and treated as pawns for the glory of men, brow-beaten into their “place.”

P.S. – Over my 40 years as a pastor, my experience has been that the numbers of faithful, godly, genuine Christian men and women have been quite equal. In fact I think that the numbers of such women may well have been somewhat higher. And I think that a look at the New Testament probably would reveal that the same was true in Jesus and Paul’s day. Think of the cross and who it was that remained there while others fled.

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13 Comments

  1. anonymous

    Wow, I feel like your excerpt from the retired pastor could have been written by my husband, a retired pastor. (But I know it wasn’t. And married to this guy is definitely not a picnic.) My husband has even ordered me to turn off Joni Erikson Tada in the car so he won’t be forced to listen to a woman. I pointed out that she isn’t preaching, she is sharing words of encouragement and his response was that she was teaching.

    I went full-on egalitarian a few years ago, mostly in response to my dh’s misogynistic behavior. After all, my own dd is a pastor under the authority of her husband who is overseer of three churches which is within an anabaptist denomination. How could I position myself against her?

    Now I’ve begun to swing back more to the complementarian view. And that phrase “as unto the Lord” was used wrongly against me and so many other women over the years. Now that I understand it better, I am more secure in my “unsubmissiveness” to my husband than before. The Lord never required me to lie or conceal dh’s sins, including adultery and abuse. But the man sure made it seem that way.

    Have you done a post on what “as unto the Lord” means in the marriage? If not, maybe that would be something to explore.

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  2. Esther

    I appreciate your work in exposing abusers, etc. You have helped me a lot in separating myself from my husband’s abuse.
    However, I believe to really get the picture that is God’s heart for women, we need to go back to the Greek and Hebrew and see what His Word says. There’s people I’ve found that have done that, and it’s so interesting! [URL’s removed by Editor] These have been very helpful for me!
    Thanks again for all you do! I bless and honor you for your heart to help women become free from the evils of abuse!

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    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you for your encouragement Esther. I had to remove the website addresses you provided because I am not familiar with them. I’m sure you will understand. Thank you again!

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  3. Jacob

    Pastor I really appreciate your stance on this topic. My Mother has taught me (and set a good example) the way a Christian should live their life. With the way fake Christians think then she should have never taught me anything past the age of 18. How silly is that? If the Lord cannot find Men to lead his Church then why not Women? I believe Jesus said ………

    Luke 19:37-40
    Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying:
    “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’
    Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
    And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
    But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

    Satan wants to silence all Men AND Women. It is Satanic for anyone to tell ANY Christian that they are not permitted to speak the word of Truth.

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  4. Veronica Miyake

    Thank you, Pastor, for pointing out how guys like this are no shepherds at all because Jesus would never treat his flock like this, screaming at women by using all capital letters and an endless number of exclamation points. No doubt this man would not have called out men in his congregation who look at porn in the same way. He is a hypocrite and a Pharisee. True godly men, born again and filled with the Spirit of God, treat women respectfully and hold them in high esteem without compromising God’s word. I’m grateful to the Lord that I have a pastor who falls into that category.

    9
  5. lg

    Also, Psalm 127 and 128, were other verses that revealed to me God’s blessings that a misogynist would never be blessed to enjoy.

    1
  6. Caitlin

    Hi Pastor Crippen

    I wanted to share this link because I thought you might agree with a lot of what he has to say. It’s good to see more Christian men admitting that the church has failed abuse victims, while also remaining balanced in their thinking like you make a point to do

    • Jeff Crippen

      Caitlyn – I removed the link you sent because I cannot recommend these people. It all sounds good on the surface – admission of past errors that these biblical counseling people give us – but I am quite familiar with them and their history. They always continue to insist two things which they usually don’t mention 1) Divorce for abuse is second best choice, not God’s will, He desires reconciliation and a “fixit.” 2) Because these people are counselors their meat and potatoes is to “fix” everything. They are going to “redeem” these things. Newheiser admits that real fixing of an abuser is rare, and says that “it will take a long time.” But that tells me they are still going to direct abuse victims to fixit counseling and that seeking a fix of the marriage and reconciliation with the abuser is still God’s most approved option. I don’t buy it. I say steer clear of these people.

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  7. sue

    Ever notice, when preeechers (not to be confused with preachers) thunder from the podium, they gloss over the “as in the Lord” part :/

    4
  8. Innoscent

    You bet that this retired pastor has never ever preached about the ministries of Deborah or Huldah as judges/prophets or Abigail’s godly admonishing to king-to-be David or Jael being braver than Barak. The pages of these accounts are conveniently missing in his Bible…

    2
  9. Lynn

    It’s interesting that this wolf’s screaming about women as he quotes Paul’s “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man ” section of scripture and automatically assumes that if a woman does teach about Jesus she must be an abomination. That’s a pretty large leap from sister in Christ to abomination for having the audacity to teach the Bible. As with anyone who claims to be a Bible teacher or pastor, we need to test their teaching against the word of God and see if it holds up. I don’t see how gender affects that.

    If a godly woman who has dedicated her life to studying the Bible and has a gift of teaching, is she in sin if she uses that gift to teach others about Christ and help illuminate the scriptures? If a woman seeks to become a pastor and she meets all other qualifications apart from her gender is she in sin if she becomes a pastor? Is God going to be displeased with her for that?

    If the passage that men use to withhold women from teaching men was meant to be universal, wouldn’t Paul have said, “I don’t permit all women to teach or have authority over men, and not used the singular pronouns? Could it be there was additional context that isn’t included in the text that would make this statement make more sense given that we see women in scripture heavily involved in the spreading of the gospel? Pricilla corrected Apollo’s incorrect theology and is typically listed first when she and her husband are mentioned together. Being mentioned first denotes a higher honor which would be unusual for a woman in the early church.

    One could ask the question if Paul didn’t want women teaching, then why did he send his letter to the Romans with Phoebe? She would have had to teach the Roman Christians, men and women, what Paul’s intent was behind the letter on any points they may have gotten confused or had questions.

    While I haven’t worked out all of my thoughts on women in the church, I do believe that much is lost by the current hierarchy of men in permanent authority and women in permanent submission. How much more abuse could have been prevented if women were given a seat at the table to help advocate for their sisters when abuse is uncovered? I don’t believe we will see any meaningful change until women are allowed to participate on elder boards to be the voice for the voiceless. It’s too easy for all male eldership boards to dismiss and actively encourage their sisters in Christ to return to abusive relationships that endanger their lives and the lives of their children. It keeps getting exposed in churches over and over again.

    How much more would we be modeling the equality of Genesis 1 & 2 , behaving as brothers and sisters in Christ, instead of this unsafe power dynamic if women could participate fully in church government. If hierarchy was good, why did it not exist until the fall? Patriarchy and all other typos of hierarchies were birthed with the fall in Genesis 3. Patriarchy has reaped such destruction on the image bearers of God. Neither male nor female can flourish in a hierarchical (patriarchal or matriarchal) home or church setting. It is an open invitation to abuse as we’ve seen throughout history and continue to see in current times.

    Christ calls his sons and daughters to freedom in Him. For too long, many professing Christians, have squelched the work of the Spirit by subjugating women to a second class status they were not called to. No more. Ladies you have been bought with a price. You are deeply loved by God. Don’t let anyone try to put you back in chains. It may mean losing some of your relationships. It may mean having to leave your church. It may cost you more than you expect, but know that the freedom on the other side is worth the cost. The freedom Christ offers is worth it. For whom the son sets free is free indeed. Walk in that freedom.

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    • Esther Faith

      Well said, thank you! If you research Scriptures, esp in the original language it was written in, there is no hierarchy in the New Testament church. Women were heavily involved in “church work”.

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