Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Why do we Pretend?

1Sa 2:22-23 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. (23) He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?

Eli’s sons were extremely wicked, so much so that eventually the Lord killed them. But this evil had gone on for a long, long time. Even here in his old age, Eli still didn’t take the action God required of him. He weakly said, “Why do you boys do such things?” Eventually, the Lord severely rebuked Eli:

1Sa 2:29 ‘Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’

Eli was guilty. He actually had been participating in their sins because he was honoring his sons above the Lord.

Now there are some parallels here which we ourselves need to face up to. When we are in a relationship of some type (marriage, friendship, etc) with a RASN (reviler, abuser, sociopath, narcissist), we most often pretend. By this, I mean that we overlook, we deny, we assume, we excuse. I have done this far more often than I would like to admit and I bet most of you have too.

Now, there may well have also been elements of commendable motives in this pretending (ie, pretending that things aren’t so bad or that the red flags are imaginary) – commendable motives such as patience, love, forgiveness, and so on. But when the problem exists because we are dealing with a RASN, this all becomes pretending. Living a fiction – a lie, if you will. So, why is this? Why do we pretend?

I can tell you why I have pretended in the past – 1) I was naive as to the nature of evil – and this evil is so deceptive I didn’t see it, 2) I didn’t want to believe the person was a RASN, 3) I almost subconsciously realized that to confront the person would result in a blowup, a war – because RASN’s are always sending out wavelengths of “don’t ever cross me or say anything negative about me, or else,” 4) there were benefits to the relationship which would certainly dissolve if I didn’t keep up the pretense, 5)…….you can probably add to the list yourself.

It is not an easy thing to admit that a person who we believed was our friend, who we thought loved us, and who we depended upon for many things, is in fact wicked. A counterfeit. That the “love” was just a fiction and that if we confront the person with the evidence we have been ignoring for a long time, we are going to suffer great loss. Loss of friendship. Loss of perhaps even custody of children. Loss of our job. Loss of friendships of other people.

So is it any wonder that we pretend? Eli knew, and yet he pretended. And in the end he and his sons perished. Eli participated in his sons’ sin. I have known pastors’ wives who chose to pretend rather than to confront the hypocrisy and abuse of their husband. In so doing, they eventually become participants in the hypocrisy.

I have been guilty of this kind of pretending in years past. I have not said, for example, “you are trespassing in my life. You are violating the boundaries of my personhood by trying to have power and control which you have no right to.” With the Lord’s help, I do not intend to keep doing that.


Trust in the Lord at all Times


The Mantra “But We are All Sinners” is an Evil Statement


  1. My fifth reason of putting up with a RASN husband is like many women’s: we were told and we believed we could not divorce him for abuse, that only infidelity and abandonment were reasons for divorce as a Christian. That’s why so many of us are part of your church now and/or support your ministry. 🙂 I believe as we mature and are able to discern good from evil as the word describes the result of maturity does, then we just have to be obedient and stop excusing the RASNs in our lives and separate from them. One of my tells in identifying a RASN is if I have to make excuses, or justify in some way, their behavior. That’s a sure-fire sign that they are most assuredly a RASN.

  2. Lynn

    Many in the professing church behave like Eli. They place their family above God. They will stand by family even when they commit horrible evil on others instead of standing for God’s truth and justice. Jesus is not a get out of jail free card. Actions have consequences. Trying to remove consequences from evil actions is how we see the slide of western civilization into rank paganism and idolatry.

    I know I have done this in the past. I made excuses for my family and their hypocritical behavior. When I tried to seek guidance from other professing Christians, they advised me to maintain relationships with my familial RASNs, citing the old “honor your father and mother” tactic as a means of keeping me in line.

    When God finally opened my eyes and allowed me the chance to escape and go no contact with my family, it was such a relief to no longer be chained to their manipulations. I also realized just how few genuine Christians I’d actually known. This was a revelation since I’d grown up in the church and attended private Christian schools all 12 years before getting thrust out into the real world.

    As I look back a how I was raised, I realize that my parents didn’t want a fully functioning human. They wanted an eternal child they could emotionally and financially bleed dry when ever they wanted. It’s why no contact is my only option with them. Any access to me will only create more harm for me.

    One of the truths that hit me as I went no contact and as I reflect on the state of Christendom is how few professing Christians actually believe and put into practice the age old truth that being a follower of Jesus requires he be preeminent. That means he must be first, above ourselves, above our family, above our friends, above our jobs, above whatever things we cling to as identifiers. Your gender identify isn’t more important than Jesus. Your sexual identity isn’t more important than Jesus. Your political affiliation isn’t more important than Jesus. He must be preeminent. Anything less is idolatry.

    Too many pastors and laypeople in the church seem to think it unloving to adhere to traditional beliefs about gender identity, marriage, and sexual identity amongst other things. They demand everyone blindly support what the culture has deemed appropriate and a happy to twist scripture to fit their agenda. Standing up for these truths will bring forth resistance from those inside and outside the church. You will be called judgmental, harsh, and unloving. But that doesn’t negate the fact that those who affirm such beliefs are practicing idolatry.

    We are called to remove ourselves from these kinds of hypocritical Christians. We are to boldly and compassionately call the hypocrites to repentance and then trust the Holy Spirit with the outcome. So if you are someone who has been placing something or someone other than Jesus in the place of preeminence or as your identity, please repent of that sin today. None of us know what the future holds. For who the son set free is free indeed. Go and be free.

  3. One step ….. then the next one…. then the next one….

    This is by far the hardest – catch 22 of sorts – particularly because the RASNs are often the ones in our what we had once considered friend or family circles, or both.. I have gone no contact with the most physically dangerous RASN, and blocked their primary associates, including now – all of the church. The family of origin is a mix, and the only way it was even possible to begin unclenching the horribly toxic jaws was moving – first to a different city, then a different state, then not giving a home address, etc. it was/is a slow process and with each step it’s been and remains focus only on that one step. It was not easy to accept the reality of the roots, but it did and does gets easier as time moves on. Sometimes I felt like the Lord allowed just enough so that I would have that scar as a reminder when I helped someone else through the process. If someone would have told me then, what I know now, I would’ve done it decades earlier – like right after I moved to the new city. The more horrible pain was pretending it didn’t exist to the outside world – lying every day by covering up their games. That was the most toxic of all – knowing to stay in the mix you had to keep pretending…

  4. Tracey

    Thank you Lynn ❤️


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