Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Our Yes Must Mean Yes

Rom 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

2Co 1:16-18 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. (17) Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? (18) As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.

Have you known people who regularly leave you guessing? They say something but then later you find yourself wondering – what did they really mean by that? They take you halfway there when they say something, but it’s as if they are purposely leaving it to you to complete the thought. In fact, I suspect that more often their motive is to leave you in the dark about the rest of their thought.

Why would anyone do this as a habit? I can only think of a couple of reasons – 1) They have secrets to be kept, or 2) They enjoy keeping you in the dark, keeping you wondering. If it is the latter, it seems to me that some real arrogance is involved. “I know, but you don’t.” That kind of thing. And maybe there is a third reason – 3) If they speak clearly, if they plainly complete the thought, then they are going to have to defend what they say. But they can’t defend it. They can’t prove it. So they just speak in halfways. Half-truths are good fuel for unproven accusations. Implications. Nuances. Innuendos.

Darkness is not to be something that characterizes a Christian. We are people of Light and our Lord is the Light of the World. His truth is Light. As Paul put it, we are to be yes OR no, not both. We are to say what we mean and mean what we say.


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  1. lg

    Yes! Unfortunately I have intimate experience with this. It is diabolical. I now know that people who do this — never providing a straight answer, speaking out of both sides of their mouth, making suggestions but not finishing the thought (leaving you to finish it) are doing this on purpose and intentionally. It is a red flag. There are speaking in riddles to intentionally confuse. It is another form of gas lighting.

    Some people say Jesus spoke in riddles. I do not believe he spoke in riddles at all. He was never trying to trick or deceive anyone. Trickery and deceit are satan’s tactics.

    One of my favorite life saving verses is: ( 1 Cor 14:33) For God is not a God of confusion.

  2. Z

    I’ve experienced this willful darkness in a little different way. I had a best friend of over 30 years who has always had a problem with keeping her word, being anywhere close to on time when we had plans, not returning calls or texts, following through on commitments…I used to chalk it up to her being ditzy but found out it was more than that. Took a long time though!
    We met the first day of college and became like sisters-really close. I spent ALOT of time at her family’s house in another state to get away from my abusive home and parents. But by the end of college I’d had enough of the roller coaster with her. My own family abuse trauma was enough to deal with and I didn’t need shabby treatment by a “best friend”. So I told her why I needed a break from the friendship. Too much drama and uncertainty. And disrespect. She cried. But I held to my position.
    I’m very prompt and I take commitments seriously. I always return calls and texts in a timely fashion. It’s called manners and respect. She wasn’t a bad person. But it was infuriating that it was such a clear constant pattern. I spent a lot of time “waiting”. She always had a “dramatic” excuse for everything. Then I realized it was a more a kind of “power play”. Making me wait for her all the time.
    It’s not like I was a demanding friend. I gave her too much leeway for far too long! I never did those things to her.
    So after college I distanced myself for many years and she knew why. Then in more recent years she contacted me to PLEASE get together. I figured after all this time she’d have matured and grown out of her disrespectful behaviors. She was a wife and mother now. I decided to give her another chance. Made a plan for lunch at a restaurant. Was she on time? Not even close!!! Same old lame excuses. So I decided no more plans. I’d stay in detached contact with her only by occasional phone calls/texts to politely check in and birthday & Christmas cards..It was out of my nostalgia for the closeness we once shared as college best friends. But I’d forgotten that in college she was pretty ignorant! Even with limited contact, her behaviors were the same! Didn’t return calls or voice messages or texts. I mean she just ignored them! Then she’d call or text me and never mention that she hadn’t responded to me a month before! Even her birthday/Christmas cards to me over the years were weeks late or there were none. I didn’t retaliate or do the same. I still answered her calls and texts. Sent her birthday/Christmas cards on time. Then in recent years, a violent attack by my ex-family happened to my husband and me. I reached out to her as my only friend who knew about my family’s abuse history. I got the same treatment. Texts and calls unanswered or returned weeks later. Mind you, it’s not like we called or texted a lot. A few times a year! But when it was an emergency situation and I needed a friend to talk to, she still played those power play games. Knowing that all my extended family and lifelong friends had been turned against me by my ex-family’s smear campaign and that I had no one to talk to.
    Then my brother died suddenly. I was in No Contact with all my family-him included-and was feeling really in shock and conflicted about the circumstances. I reached out to her after she’d pretty much ignored the severe trauma I’d already been through being violently attacked by my ex-family. She knew them all very well and knew of the abuse I’d suffered as a child and as an adult. She’d witnessed it at my childhood home when she visited. Again, the trauma of losing my brother while in No Contact (he sided with the criminals-his own abusers too-because we dared to call the police on our “family attackers”) didn’t seem important enough to cause this “best friend” to “show up” for me in my time of need. I’d been there immediately for her when her mom died and when her younger brother died suddenly. I was there for her calls/texts whenever she had problems with her narcissist sister and wanted to vent! She just somehow didn’t feel any need to be respectful, available, aware of manners..no matter how serious the situation was. No matter how diligently and compassionately I’d always treated her in her times of need.
    So I texted her a generic “Hello” text intending to eventually try to address this 30+ year constant pattern and how it felt to me. No answer. I texted again to ask if she’d gotten my first text. (I ALWAYS had to send a follow up text or call to see if she’d gotten the first one! Asking if she’d maybe changed her phone number?… ) Finally I texted my honest feelings. That although I valued the friendship we had shared, that I could no longer be OK with her dismissive and disrespectful and unreliable behaviors. And more recent hurtful ones. I said I wouldn’t be texting her or contacting her anymore for those reasons. Same scenario as over 30 years ago! I haven’t heard back from her! It’s been 2 years.
    I won’t be falling for another attempt by her to “get together” like last time I detached from her.
    It was always some kind of power play to have the “upper hand” somehow. To be in control. All the fun we had and memories aren’t worth allowing someone to act so disrespectfully and even callously towards me. Not what I consider a “best friend” that’s for sure! Though she wasn’t at all abusive in the classic ways I was used to at my home, it was abusive. It was sly and covert-unlike the violent abuse familiar to me in my ex-family. But my eyes have been opened. There doesn’t have to be a logical reason people do these things to good people. It’s a ploy of the enemy to hurt and confuse us through others. Took me a longer time than it should have to put a stop to it. (The forgiveness false teachings-again.) But now it’s OVER.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I could plug a couple of names into your narrative and everything you said would fit them in relationship with me as well. Ultimately these kind (though they professed to be Christians) always go back to the world. Always. Because that is what they love.


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