Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

RASNs are not Rare

Gen 18:29-33 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” (30) Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” (31) He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” (32) Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” (33) And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

The people of Sodom were thoroughly wicked (although not as wicked as the people of the towns in the days of Jesus, Luke 10:13). But Abraham thought that surely there must be a few righteous people there and so his “countdown” prayer from 50 to 10 began. It turns out that only Lot and a few family members were to be rescued. Only Lot. Not even ten.

Think similarly of the evil in Noah’s day. Not even ten.

Now, not all of these wicked people were the kind we call RASNs, although I suppose some aspect of at least one of the 4 categories (revilers, abusers, sociopaths, narcissists) were evidenced in them. But the point I want us to see is how widespread, and one might even say, “universal,” wicked people were…and are.

RASNs in other words are not rare. In EVERY one of the 4 churches I have pastored, they were present. I didn’t fully understand it at the time and I wouldn’t for many years, but I know now that these people who assault with their words, who are defined by a stunning mentality of entitlement and superiority, who have no conscience and no love, who only use others to supply there demand for adoration…are anything but rare. They are everywhere. They are, with rare exception, in every local church parading themselves in disguise. The grief and damage they cause is beyond measuring.

Just think a bit about how, in our naivete and wrong-thinking, we so often lay a foundation and environment for these RASNs to operate. What do we reward in the church? What measures do we use for “success”? What kind of people do we place into leadership positions? When we get these things wrong, we cultivate fertile ground for wickedness to flourish. We create a structure, a ladder if you will, for evil men and women to climb to the top. That is precisely how Rome ended up with a Pope. But there are many, many mini-popes operative even in evangelical, Protestant churches today. They may hold official offices, or just as commonly choose to operate covertly and “unofficially.”

We must open our eyes and without partiality apply the truths which expose these evil ones who creep in among us:

  • Devoid of love
  • Produce rotten fruit
  • Focus upon external rules and work to enforce those rules

Here comes, for instance, the new fellow and his family. He is gifted in a number of areas. He is a champion of sound doctrine. He is a talented professional in his career. We are excited about having such a new addition to our church. But…

…Over time there are a number of caution signs which we should be seeing. We see them, but we don’t see them. We blow them off. And as we do, such a person works and works to establish his or her own kingdom. We become slaves, suckers for flattery. Those of you who have been in a marriage with such a person have experienced these very things in that setting.

RASNs are not rare! And I have concluded that with extremely rare exceptions, any local church today that is, let’s say 100 or 200 people in size – has capitulated to one or more of them. Think on this very, very carefully. Let’s say that you were a new pastor and your first assignment was…Sodom. What would/should be the size of your church? 50? 45? 30? 20? 10? Or maybe just one and a couple of his family members. Apply this question to Noah’s time. What would be the size of your church if you without compromise preached God’s Word and confronted counterfeits? 50? 45? 30? 20? 10? The answer is, eight. That’s all. Just eight and before Noah was married and had children, the answer was one. Maybe two.

And what do you suppose would be the evaluation of your pastoral peers or of the leaders of your denomination, if you were a member of one (I reject denominations now, but I save the reasons for another article)? I can tell you. You would be marked as a failure. It’s your fault. You are a failure. You haven’t worked on a “vision.” You didn’t “trust the Lord” for 50 new baptisms. Whatever you are preaching isn’t working.

RASNs are not rare. I certainly am not saying that a local church which is very small in numbers is necessarily free of this evil, but I can tell you that a church with a large number of members (I will let you define “large.” My definition is…more than a few!)…a church with a large number of members in our day is evidencing the symptoms of …what shall we call the disease…foolish Galatianism. “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?”


The RASN in the Pulpit


False Guilt and Fear – Two Wicked Friends


  1. lg

    God commands us in the Bible to not be naïve to evil and RASNs.

    Our naïveté  is often what entraps us to an evil person, organization, etc and will not an excuse that will stand before God on judgement day.

    1 Kings 3:9: discern between good and evil

    Hebrews 5:14: the mature, who by constant use have trained their senses to distinguish good from evil.

    James 1:5: Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

    2 Timothy 3:1-5: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

    1 John 4:1 do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits

    Matthew 10:16 Im sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves: be wise/shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves;

    2 Timothy 4:14: Alexander the Coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself;

    It was in large part my naïveté that allowed me to marry my ex-husband, a covert RASN, and the more I grow in God’s word, I realize that I must repent of my naïveté.

    However, I have found a lot of people who call themselves Christian’s interpret naïveté as an excusable, or positive trait, to justify poor decisions and resulting various entanglements with RASNs, whether being hoodwinked to buy tasteless art or actually marrying a RASN.

    • Wonderful scriptural applcations. Great job!!

    • Cordelia

      I like to give grace towards a
      Christian who was blindsided by or naive of an abuser. As a Christian we don’t think like an abuser and we don’t deal with others in an abuser’s manner, so we’re not expecting it and that’s why we can easily be unaware of the deceit they live by. But I also believe that any Christian who has been an abuser’s victim and gets the blessed chance to get away from such monsters, will have the light come on and we slowly, but surely, by God’s grace, experience the foggy veil lift; we then see and understand the abuser and the evil done against us for what he and it really are and we get to help others do the same.

  2. Holly

    In my estimation, Lot himself was very unrighteous. What good is it to feel distress for the sins of his neighbors when he would subject his own daughters to the worst kind of abuse and violation which can ever befall them? Even the bible says that no matter what believers do for others, if they neglect to take care of their own (biological and spiritual family), then they are worse than unbelievers. And the way that Lot can appear to be protective of his guests while throwing his own daughters to the wolves reminds me of a trait which narcissists (and possibly other RASNs) share: they can appear to have compassionate for people whom they have little to do with or people outside of their circle of direct imfluence/authority, but they are cruel toward and show little or no compassion toward their own wife, children, or whoever is subject to their complete control behind closed doors. As a pastor, how do you explain this description of Lot as a righteous man in spite of his clear disregard of his daughters’ safety and wellbeing? Passages like these have been a major deterrent for me when it comes to trusting God.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Holly – It is understandable to ask the questions you ask and wonder about Lot’s actions with his daughters. But let’s take care when we find things like this in God’s Word that we don’t understand, that we do not accuse God of wrongdoing. To say that God is not to be trusted because you find passages in the Bible that you don’t understand, is sin. God is not the author of sin. He is Light and there is no darkness in Him. He is holy, holy, holy. The Psalmist (see Psalm 73) said that when he saw the unrighteous prospering, he almost crossed the line and nearly accused God of wrong. But he repented and prayed and considered his own ways and ultimately realized that God will deal out perfect justice on the Day when Christ comes.

      So what about Lot? Well, God’s Word says – “and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); (2Pe 2:7-8)

      There it is. God says Lot was righteous and that he was tormented by the evil he saw in Sodom. So how do we reconcile this statement with this:
      But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” (Gen 19:4-8)

      Certainly this was sin on Lot’s part, and serious sin. He was in a panic and in his panic he sinned grievously. Here is how one Old Testament commentator put it – “In his anxiety, Lot was willing to sacrifice to the sanctity of hospitality his duty as a father, which ought to have been still more sacred, “and committed the sin of seeking to avert sin by sin.” Even if he expected that his daughters would suffer no harm, as they were betrothed to Sodomites (Gen_19:14), the offer was a grievous violation of his paternal duty.”

      How then is Lot a righteous man? Well, how is ANY man or woman righteous before God? How was King David righteous in light of his sin in regard to Bathsheba and Uriah? Or to press it further, how are YOU or how am I or how is anyone righteous in God’s sight? The answer is always and only this – by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. By faith alone in Christ alone. Lot knew, as his uncle Abraham did, of Christ and had faith in Him. This was no excuse for Lot or David or Abraham or Moses or for any of us to sin whenever and however we want. But our righteousness is in Christ, not in our own works. And for that reason alone, Lot is said to be righteous. He really was vexed in his soul due to the sin around him – we know this to be true because God’s Word says it is.

      • Holly

        I’m glad you affirmed the fact that his duty as father should have been an even more sacred duty to him than his duty as a host. 👍

        And I see your point. As I read your interpretation/explanation of Lot’s reaction as one of cowardice, I was prompted to remember a time when I caved out of cowardice (it was in 6th grade, I was being bullied by a classmate, and to appease her I said something which I remember and regret to this day). And over the past few days, God has shown me patiently how even my most righteous decisions and actions in the past were not actually righteous because not all my motives were righteous.

        You know what’s interesting? Over the past several weeks, God has made me see more clearly the urgency of making amends with Him (forgiveness, restoration, and salvation), and I really wrestled with it because I couldn’t bring myself to trust Him. I had actually attended church from 2007 to 2015 or so, but I never had the courage to really wrestle with God in regards to my unbelief (or rather, maybe I should say my distrust of Him) back then. I was so much of a compliant back then, and I was afraid to rock the boat even when I was treated with disrespect. And so likewise, I didn’t try to address my issues with God either even when I did pray, which wasn’t often because prayer felt hollow when I did it (because I wasn’t bringing my real issues to God in prayer, partly because I wasn’t even aware what my real issues were back then), and prayer seemed perfunctory and/or ineffectual when I saw other people pray (in church, in small groups, in one on one settings).

        It wasn’t until just a bit before Easter this year (several weeks ago) that God impressed upon me the urgency, and I realized it’s now or never. And in retrospect, I’m very humbled by the way that God patiently and gently led me to see my sins and imperfections (I mean both the sins of motive and volition as well as the soul/character wounds resulting from being twisted, warped, and damaged by decades of abuse, control, and manipulation). It’s like God is now doing for me what the church should have done. But maybe God couldn’t have done this until I had come to the realizations I had come to recently and confronted Him with what my real feelings and thoughts were. I’m starting to see why Jesus said no one but God is good, and how transcendent God’s goodness is, because no one else has ever been so patient, gentle, and considerate of my feelings, especially when showing me my flaws. It’s sad because even self-professed Christians don’t really confront each other in love. It seems that they don’t point out or try to help with flaws that they see in each other unless it has become an inconvenience or an offense to them. And when it has, they don’t confront that person in love. If that person doesn’t seem like s/he can be easily bullied, they will just talk about that person’s character problems behind his/her back and carry on with the person cordially when face to face. If, on the other hand, that person seems like a compliant, then they will scold that person as if s/he were a child, or guilt trip him/her into compliance, and henceforth take advantage of that person whenever they like. I need an emotionally/psychologically/spiritually healthy support network of people to help me develop the healthy boundaries that I was robbed of, but there are so many toxic people around, and the church often either doesn’t seem to recognize the toxicity in these people, who are many, like you said in this post, or they don’t care enough or aren’t brave enough to do what it takes to discipline these people and protect their church. I feel so unsupported and beset by troubles on all sides.


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