Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Author: Jeff Crippen Page 1 of 165

Does the Bible Teach Meritorious Suffering?

The following illustration has been used to convince abuse victims that the abuse they are suffering is God’s determined will for them, and they need to submit to it.  Divorce is out of the question –

There was a man, who was given a cross to bear through life. As he traveled he noticed that this cross was very long and it kept getting caught on stuff. He decided to cut it down a bit and make it easier to carry. After a while, it got heavy again and he decided to cut it down some more. He did this repeatedly until it was easy enough to carry. After all, it still looked like a cross. Well the day came for him to cross over to the “other side” and he was told that he needed his cross to span the great chasm between him and eternity. He laid his cross down but found it to be too short…

In other words, stay in the abuse, suffer, and you will make it to heaven.  Refuse to keep suffering and you will come up short on the day of judgment and end in hell.

There is nothing biblical about this illustration.  In fact, though a professing Protestant is telling it, this is far more Roman Catholic in its theology of suffering.  WE DO NOT SAVE OURSELVES BY OUR CROSS-BEARING.  Jesus Christ has made full atonement for every one of His people.  Following Christ in obedience, no matter how difficult, is to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.  But WE do not pay a meritorious, suffering death on that cross.  It is the Cross of Christ by which we are saved.

Furthermore, when Christ calls us to take up our cross, He is telling us to follow HIM. Not for the purpose of carrying out supposed meritorious deeds of suffering so that we can earn our salvation, but to follow Him in obedient faith.  Every genuine Christian will most certainly do so.  Not FOR salvation, but because of salvation.  And we are following Him.  That means that if this illustration is correct, then every abuse victim must agree that the Lord Jesus Christ is leading them into that abuse and that if they depart from it by leaving and divorcing their abuser, they must necessarily leave off following Christ.

That would require any person pushing this illustration to be a prophet.  It means that they are authoritatively able to declare the Word of God to every victim of abuse – Thus saith the Lord, stay here and let this wicked man abuse you and your children.  I can only call such a person a false prophet.

Can You Change a Wolf into a Sheep by Counseling?

There are popular “ministries” out there that focus on the issue of domestic violence. They can and do provide some good help to victims, but even though they profess to be Christian and biblical in their core beliefs and methods, they are fundamentally flawed in regard to Christ and the gospel. You need to beware because groups like this can end up enabling your abuser and guilting you as the victim.

Here is a real life example of these things. It is taken from the website of one such well known group. It says that it works to educate church leaders and counselors to this end:

As a church leader, learn how to shepherd both the victim and the abuser in a way that honors God and provides safety and accountability for all involved.

Now, think this through. How is anyone going to “shepherd” a wolf? How? This statement means that the wolf is going to be regarded as a sheep. How is it that we are supposed to provide “safety” for the wolf? And what is the inevitable effect of this approach going to be for the victim of the wolf? I think you know the answer?

The Bible never tells us to shepherd a wolf! It tells us to be discerning and not be duped by a wolf in wool. We are to put such a person out from among us, not pet him and tell him “poor wolf. You just don’t understand how much God loves you and we are going to teach you so that the good in you breaks forth.”

I don’t know precisely why, but I do know that these kind of ministries gather a large following and enjoy popularity in the professing Christian world. I suppose it has to do with what Paul said to the arrogant Corinthians:

1Co 5:1-2 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

This kind of unbiblical theology allows man to pat himself on the back for being soooo loving and merciful and gracious to everyone. It really fancies itself a better Christian than Christ!

Watch out then for any person or group that takes this approach to dealing with evil. Inevitably they add to the fog and confusion that abusers love to spread.

How Evil Lies

Joh 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

I have mentioned that I am reading William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. As Shirer describes Hitler and recounts how he came to absolute power in Germany, wreaking death and suffering upon millions and ultimately devastating the German people who believed him, I was impressed with Jesus’ words to the Pharisees. The devil is the father of lies, there is NO truth in him. If his lips are moving (he probably doesn’t have lips), he is lying.

Here is an example of this lying evil. These are the words of Hitler after he had obtained from the German legislature (the Reichstag) the “Enabling Act” which gave Hitler a four year period in which he could deviate from the constitution “for the good of the nation.” And this is what he said:

The government [Hitler promised] will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures. Neither the existence of the Reichstag not that of the Reichstrat is menaced. The position and rights of the President (Hindenberg) remain unaltered…The separate existence of the federal states will not be done away with. The rights of the churches will not be diminished and their relationship to the State will not be modified. The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one.

We must understand that evil, wicked servants of the devil, can stand up before an audience, look right at them, and most “sincerely”…..LIE. We fail to recognize this because we cannot conceive of ourselves doing such a thing. But Hitler was not us. Hitler was a psychopath, a devil, a servant of Satan in the garb of a son of righteousness. A wolf in wool.

This is why the Apostle John warns us:

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

How do you test the spirits? How do you tell if someone is a child of God or a child of the devil, a speaker of truth or a liar of lies? For one thing, you just stop for a minute and cease looking at things as they appear on the outside. You stop quickly accepting their claim to be of Christ. You take some time to examine the fruit of the person’s life. You compare what they are saying with God’s Word. You ask the Lord to show you. You admit that MANY such liars exist, and that these liars which we most often deal with are to be found in the ranks of visible Christianity.

Act 20:29-30 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (30) and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

How many pastors and church elders really believe this? When a victim of domestic abuse, for example, comes to them for help – how many truly acknowledge that evil can look like an angel of light? That an evil man or woman can appear to be soooo godly? That is is very possible for a wicked child of the devil to, without conscience, look right at them and lie? It would appear that not many church leaders believe these things.

So if you do not want to end up being a dupe of the devil, used by him in his wickedness, admit that you need to wise up. Admit that you need God’s wisdom…and start asking for it.

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