Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Humility is a Mark of the Spirit – the Wicked are ‘Puffed Up’

Hab 2:4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

1Co 4:6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

Col 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

1Ti 6:3-4 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, (4) he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,

A frequent image of sinful pride which Scripture uses is this picture of being “puffed up.” We use a similar expression – “an inflated ego.” One possible meaning of the Greek work for “puffed up” as used in 1 Tim 6:4 is, get this, “mentally ill.” Think about that. The person who is “puffed up” is made to be mentally ill, crazy if you will, by his high-minded conceit.

Pride is a sin common to all human beings. Every Christian must battle against it. But we also know that there are certain evil ones who are particularly consumed by this sin. We call them narcissist, sociopaths, and other such terms which describe a particularly satanic category. I say satanic because pride unleashed is an especially dark sin which Scripture seems to indicate was the heart of the devil in his rebellion against God. “I will be like the Most High.” That kind of thing.

Pride is insanity. The puffed up person lives with a fantasy self disguise which is fictional. He or she sees themselves as exalted, almost divine, expecting to be worshipped. This is insanity because not only is it a lie, it is self-destructive. It destroys relationships. It removes God’s blessing. And it leads ultimately to hell.

Applying this horrid arrogance to the case of the domestic abuser, consider how such a person cuts off the branch he is sitting on. He does so in many ways. He resents any success or achievement on the part of his spouse. He actively works to undermine her success in order to keep her under his thumb. This is insanity. It is self-destructive. He works to destroy the helper the Lord has given him – attacking his own flesh as it were.

The puffed up man will always erode relationships. In his mind he is a huge success and any failures will be blamed upon others. But the failure is his own. No narcissist will ever come to the end of his life enjoying genuine, loving relationships with family and friends – nor will he be welcomed into the Lord’s house. Won’t happen.

Traveling the road to hell is insane. But that is the way a person consumed with pride will choose. In the end when he finds himself eternally separated from the Light and Life of Christ – he will only have himself to blame.


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1 Comment

  1. Lynn

    Pride is the default and pervasive state of mind that consumes those who exhibit dark triad (narcissism, Machivellianism, and psychopathy) traits – e.g. abusers. When pride is activated in the heart of a man or a woman, it desires to be seen and treated as if they are God, not creatures made in his image. The intent behind pride is a twisted desire for power and control over other people. We see this over and over in the life of abusive people. They do everything they can to ensnare and enslave those they are in a relationship with.

    Humans are most like Satan when operating from a place of pride. As Christians, we are called to put pride to death daily as we take up our cross and follow Christ. We are to cultivate humility, seeking to love and serve each other as Christ loved and served the disciples in the Gospels.

    Humility starts with the reverential fear and awe of God. It recognizes that we are creatures made in the image of God. We are not God, we never will be and never can be. It is a lowliness of mind that contrasts itself against pride which puffs itself up.

    The only person we have control over is ourselves. Trying to threaten, coerce, control, or manipulate others to do what we want is not of God. It is satanic and must not be found amongst God’s people. We are called to encourage, exhort, reprove, and support each other.

    That is why when abuse happens, it must be exposed for the evil it is so that those partaking have the opportunity for repentance while Christ tarries. Once he returns or they leave this life, they will have lost any chance of repentance for the harm they’ve inflicted.

    Do I have much hope for abusers to repent and turn from their sin? No. I don’t see evidence in scripture of that, nor do we have evidence that those who are abusive and exhibit narcissistic behaviors ever change their behavior. It’s not a lack of opportunity to change on the part of the narcissist, but a lack of desire. If they change their behavior, they won’t be able to get what they want which is the attention, adoration, and energy from other people to validate their own fantasies.

    What marks the abusers as different from others who sin grievously, is their inability to set aside their pride and repent of their sin when confronted. They will do whatever it takes in their mind to justify or excuse their wicked behavior. Think of King David versus King Saul. Both men committed very grievous sins against God and others. When confronted with his sin, King David repented, whereas when confronted with his sin King Saul did not.

    It’s up to genuine Christians to model godly behavior which starts with loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We are especially to demonstrate love to fellow believers as this is the main characteristic of how others will know we are Christians – by our love for one another.

    That is why when I see abuse exposed in the church and pastor after pastor, and elder board after elder board refuses to repent of their sins, instead, they double down on it, I can only conclude that their proclamation of faith in Christ is fraudulent. They are too wrapped up in their own pride to do what is necessary to bear the fruit of repentance. It is too costly to the false shepherds and false elder boards.

    If their repentance was genuine, they would fall down on their faces and repent of their sin before God and man. They would voluntarily go out of their way to make restitution to their victims. They would step down from their “leadership” positions and commit to doing everything in their power to help the victims they’ve harmed heal.

    If love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is genuine, then that would be evidenced by how we treat them. So much of what has been modeled as “godly” behavior in men as it relates to their interactions with the women in their lives harms women. It closer resembles cultural norms than scripture. When women call out that harm, they are dismissed, minimized, called awful names, or instructed to shut up and go back to their abusive relationships. This reaction is pride in action. It is devilish and must be repented of.

    The good news is that if you are someone who struggles with pride and is willing to repent of it to God and ask for forgiveness, He is willing to forgive you. Cultivate humility. Study the scriptures and ask for the Holy Spirit to help you gain the wisdom and insights you need to grow in spiritual maturity. Who the son sets free is free indeed.


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