Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Author: Jeff Crippen Page 1 of 79

Naivete About Evil is Dangerous

“Besides,” Legion said, “if they discover our intentions, they may send to their King for aid. If they do that, I know very well what it will mean for us. For this reason, let us assault them with the false appearance of fairness, covering our true intentions with all manner of lies, flatteries, and deceptive words; feigning things that never will be, and promising that which they shall never find. This is the way to win Mansoul and make them open their gates to us and even make them desire us to come in to them.

“The reason I think this approach will be best is that the people of Mansoul are all simple and innocent. Every one of them is honest and true, and they don’t even know what it is to be assaulted with deception, cunning, and hypocrisy. They are strangers to lying and misleading lips. Therefore, we won’t be detected by them at all, if disguised in this way. Our lies shall be accepted as true sayings, and our counterfeit transactions as upright dealings. What we promise them, they will believe, especially if we pretend to have great love for them and that our intention is only for their benefit and honor, as we deliver all our lies and contrived words.” (For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. – 2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

Bunyan, John. The Holy War (Updated, Illustrated): Made by Shaddai upon Diabolus for the Regaining of the Metropolis of the World (Bunyan Updated Classics Book 2) (pp. 9-12). Aneko Press. Kindle Edition.

This passage is from John Bunyan’s allegory, The Holy War written sometime after he authored Pilgrim’s Progress. It is, in allegorical form, the account of Satan creeping into Eden and through cunning deception leading Adam and Eve into sin, thus winning the creation for himself. In this quote, we have Legion proposing to his diabolic allies in evil, the strategy to be followed in this plot to trick the inhabitants of Mansoul into handing their city over to these devils, and to do so willingly.

Notice carefully how these demons resolve to use the innocent naivete of the people against them. It will not even occur to them, the demons realize, that someone could be lying to them for evil purposes. They are simple, innocent, honest, and true and they do not even know what it is to be targeted by lying, cunning deceit.

Herein then in important wisdom. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. “But beware of men… “(Mat 10:16-17) Revilers, abusers, sociopaths, and narcissists and their kind all prey upon the simple. They use cunning and deception, putting on a disguise of righteousness, knowing that their target will never suspect their evil intent. Why? Because they are naive about evil. They assume everyone else is just like them. It won’t even occur to the victim that the RASN could be in disguise and lying to them.

Don’t be naive about evil. Don’t fall for the propaganda so many preachers of our day are spewing from their pulpits, telling us that people are all just like us, that their intentions are sometimes flawed but basically good, and that it is sinfully judgmental to not think the best about everyone. That is how Mansoul fell. And our enemy is working his same old schemes still.

Sugar and Spice but Nothing Nice

Pro 5:3-4 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech; (4) But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword.

Solomon is specifically warning his son here about the danger of the wicked woman, but I want to make a bit different application of these verses which, I trust, is not a misuse of the text. Specifically, I want to talk to you about another kind of woman who, I suspect, many of you have been damaged by.

In many if not most local churches, and certainly in the Christian “celebrity” circles, you will meet a woman (apply this to men also, but I am saving that for a separate post) who appears to be the epitome of godliness. She is the head of the women’s ministry. She teaches a Bible study. In larger churches she may even be on the speaking circuit or an author of books about the Godly woman. Or she may just be a “pillar” in her church to whom others looks as someone to emulate. She will tell you how to raise your children. She expounds on her “verse-for-the-day.” She is the source of biblical wisdom for struggling souls.

Have you met her? I imagine most of you have.

But so often the entire thing is a facade. A disguise. A deceptive show by a narcissist meant to gain praise and acclaim. The disguise covers up what she really is. Her words drip honey. He speech is smoother than oil. But in reality she is bitter as wormwood and her words, proceeding from her evil heart, are a sharp, cutting, reviling sword.

And if you disagree with her or confront her with error, that sword is going to come out. She is a bully. A user of others. Her religion is a lie. For all of her Bible talk, for all of her words about Jesus, He does not know her and she does not know Him. Religion and the church are simply her chosen vehicle for self-glory and for exercising power and control over others.

I would be quite interested in hearing some of you stories of encounters you have had with – what shall we name her? Mrs. Wormwood? Yes, let’s go with that title.

Let’s Talk about the Cruelty and Coldness of the RASN’s Abandonment

for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…(2Ti 4:10)

Where to begin with this topic? Narcissists – let’s start here (and the rest of the RASN crowd does the same thing anyway). A relationship – a friendship, a marriage, a familial relation, etc, with a narcissist can initially and perhaps even for an extended time, appear to be real. Love-bombing, flattering – these and more are all weapons of the narcissist to deceive and use.

But then the day comes – and I have had multiple people who have experienced this use the very same phrase – the day comes when just as if someone had thrown a switch, the Demas deserts you. Overnight, everything changed. From one day to the next. Over. Done. Gone. Desertion with no remorse.

I bet Demas had appeared to be a true Christian brother to Paul. But his real love was elsewhere. For whatever selfish purpose, he was happy to hang with Paul – until it was going to cost him. And then he hit the road. Back to the world and that is where his heart was all along anyway.

If you are born again, if you truly know Christ, then this kind of thing either has happened to you or it is going to happen to you. Count on it. I have had professing Christians tell me how much they loved me and how thankful they were for our ministry, and then boom! Gone never to be seen again. No apparent reason. Or, if pressed by someone, you can bet that they will put the blame on you. But you will still be flabbergasted and hurt at how someone like this could just desert?

Think of it – the coldness of this abandonment, so often followed up by persecution. And often the abandonment happens even if the wicked one is still living under the same roof as the one abandoned.

Desertion and abandonment clearly reveal the real heart and mind of a person. It is revealed that the friendship, the apparent love, was just a ruse. And once we understand this, as painful as it is, we will have grown wiser.

RASNs are Fools – Here is a Perfect Example

As a follow up to this previous post – RASNs are Stupid, The Lord Says So – I want to give you a perfect example provided by a friend who is an abuse survivor. Her story shows how these kind of toxic people are actually made to be fools by their mentality of superiority and entitlement. They are never wrong – just ask them.

My ex-abuser’s leg was broken because he didn’t get out of the way of a ski patrol snow mobile because he claimed he had the right of way. He sued the ski area and we got a settlement from the insurance company (which I used to put the down payment on a house since he took us through bankruptcy and I lost everything, including my piano). But he didn’t get as much as he wanted because witnesses said he could’ve easily avoided the ski patrol. It was typical of him – he continuously put my daughter and me in harm’s way just to prove he was right. 

RASNs, like this one, are entitled and superior. They are never wrong and everyone must bow to them. And it is these kinds of lies which make them a fool. What kind of person refuses to move out of the way of a truck? A RASN. And what kind of person refuses to admit fault and even goes to court to punish those who have not yielded to his entitlement? A fool. This is what RASNs are, and “fool” is what the Lord calls them.

The Terrible Danger of an Unconverted Ministry

Mat 15:12-14 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (13) He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. (14) Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Listen to this great and absolutely true quote from a true preacher of Christ in Scotland long ago:

A ministry destitute of vital religion is one of the most unnatural of all things and one of the deadliest curses which can light on a Christian body; and to the individual himself it is full of eternal hazard. An unregenerate man, after joining a Christian church, is less likely to be converted than he was previously. If he becomes a student of theology, the probabilities of final unrepentant are tremendously magnified; and if he enters into the function ministry (the pastorate), the hope of his being saved is faint indeed.” [John Brown, Hints to Divinity]

One of the fundamental reasons that false and hurtful counsel is given by a pastor to a victim of abuse is that the pastor is unconverted. This is not always the reason for such malpractice, but it is much more common than we might realize. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day held the people they were supposed to shepherd in spiritual bondage and actually prevented them from finding Christ.

Many pastors of local churches are simply not born again. As a result, the sermons they preach and the counsel they give, are not from the Lord. Such men are not teachable because with out the Spirit of Christ, a person cannot hear Christ’s voice. In fact, that voice is repugnant to such people.

If you have been ordered by a pastor or group of elders that you are not permitted to separate from or divorce a domestic abuser, then there is a very high likelihood that you are being counseled by people who do not know the Lord. Following the blind will only lead you to a pit.

I can remember a time years ago when I had been indoctrinated myself with the tradition of men which only allowed divorce for adultery or desertion. In fact, domestic abuse wasn’t even on my radar. I hadn’t really thought about it that much. But then, one day, the idea popped into my thinking – “aren’t wedding vows actually the subscription to terms of a contract? Isn’t marriage fundamentally a contract entered into before God and witnesses? And if that be the case, then if one party in the contract violates the terms and in reality never had any intention of abiding by them, is not such a contract rendered null and void?”

No one told me this. But the Lord was beginning to work in me to show me that people married to someone who habitually violates the vows he/she took, have a right to be freed from that marriage contract, the contract already having been broken by the other party.

And this is why I maintain that a pastor who persists in clinging to a position which binds an abuse victim to perpetual abuse is very likely not born again at all. Not a Christian at all. But in fact a false shepherd.

RASNs are Stupid – The Lord Says So

Pro 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Pro 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

A RASN (reviler, abuser, sociopath, narcissist) refuses to be corrected. He knows that he knows and no one is going to tell him otherwise. This is what makes him stupid – a fool.

RASNs do not look ahead and calculate consequences of their actions. They dwell on the present. If they were wise, they would realize that their self-worship is counterproductive. Domestic abusers for instance often have an excellent wife. And yet the abuser sets out to control her. He often sabotages her work. He destroys her relationships. He demolishes his marriage and has to spend thousands of dollars in a divorce. But he will never see it. He will never examine himself.

Pro 10:8 The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Pro 17:10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.

A fool is headed for hell. But don’t try to tell him so. Not only is it a waste of breath….

Pro 29:9 If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

This is the ultimate folly, the greatest act of stupidity habitually carried out by the RASN is his exaltation of himself so that he, not God, is the center of the universe:

Psa 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.

Turn away from such a person as soon as you can.

Let’s Talk About Alexander the Coppersmith Once More

Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.
(2Ti 4:14-15)

These two little verses have been a HUGE help to me over the years and I hope they are for you as well. What do we see here?

  • It is not improper to name a wicked person.
  • It is not wrong to specify the evils that such a wicked person has done
  • It is not inconsistent with true forgiveness to go no contact with a wicked person
  • It is not inconsistent with forgiveness to warn others to beware of an evil person
  • It is not inconsistent with true forgiveness of an enemy to hand them over to the Lord, and to look to the Lord to exact perfect justice upon that enemy.

These points cannot be denied without denying the plain truth of God’s Word. Yet in practice many churches, pastors, professing Christians and counselors do deny them. Victims of evil are told that they must not tell anyone about the evil person or they will be guilty of gossip. They are told that to announce the evil done is to be unforgiving. They are told that it is sin to desire the Lord’s vengeance upon the wicked person. And on and on and on the distortions go.

Beware of ___________ he/she has done me great harm. The Lord will repay them according to their deeds.

You fill in the blank.

The Things that Weigh Upon You don’t Weigh Upon a RASN

(Rom 3:18)

As most of you probably already know, one of the most common ways people fall prey to the RASN (reviler, abuser, sociopath, narcissist), is to assume that everyone thinks pretty much just like us. Oh sure, there are those serial killers and so on (even they use this naivete to their advantage however) but all in all we tend to believe that all people share a generally common mindset.

False. Not true.

RASNs do not think like the normal human being. They have very little or even no conscience at all. The things that bother you, that weigh upon you, that make you anxious. that make you happy – do not register with these RASNs.

So, for instance, if a RASN rages at their target, the target (that’s you) assumes that they will at some point feel a degree of remorse. Or guilt. But that is not true. They don’t. Even an “apology” is just another manipulative technic.

We assume that everyone has at least some care about how others around them are feeling or thinking. Wrong. The RASN does not, as Dr. Phil has put it, “read their audience.” They don’t care how others feel, so they never even consider it.

The RASN actually feels quite justified in using abusive tactics to gain and maintain power and control. He or she believes they are very entitled to posses this power and control and that others are present only to praise and serve them. These are not “normal” mindsets in non-toxic, functional people.

This disparity in mindset, in the way we think and the way the RASN thinks, is very often a means by which the RASN gains advantage over us. Our naivete in this regard plays into the RASNs hand. It makes us assume and thus to a degree, pardon, the abusive tactics. But when we start to understand the intentionality of it all, ie, the RASN knows exactly what he is doing, is devoid of love as a motive, has no conscience to torment him about what he does, then we begin to wake up and grow wise.

Do RASNs Grow Worse with Time?

Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (13) But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Sin, persisted in, grows stronger. You see this for example in children as they grow up. If they are allowed to persist in sin – lying for instance – they may well become habitual liars. And so it is with RASNs (revilers, abusers, sociopaths, narcissists).

If you have known a narcissist for a long period of time – let’s say from the time they were a young adult – you have probably seen this diabolic evolution. Now you can think back and realize that the evil was present in seed form, hard to detect at the time. The symptoms had begun but they were perhaps subtle. But after the passage of some years, that sin is very evident – which means you and others suffer at its hands.

Cain’s jealousy and resentment of Abel began, when? We don’t know precisely but we do know that it came to a point of murder. It grew like a deadly cancer. Finally, Cain’s hatred of Abel’s righteousness (see 1 John 3:12) came to deadly fruition.

Does the wickedness of the domestic abuser, for instance, grow over time or does the abuser simply keep it disguised at first? Probably a bit of both.

James 1:14-15 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (15) Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

One thing is certain, time is not going to heal such wickedness. If anything, the passage of time simply sees it grow stronger.

Why will so few Pastors and church members accept correction?

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

One of the chief impediments we face in exposing evil as it hides in local churches is the “haunches up” response by church leaders and members when correcting instruction is offered. Perhaps I have grown too pessimistic over the years, but I really feel little motivation anymore to try to teach church leaders about domestic abusers and other RASN types hiding in their pews. I would gladly offer help if I were ever asked, but I almost cannot remember the last time I was asked.

I came across this great quote recently in a book entitled Infallibility of the Church: A Refutation, by an Irish professor of divinity at Trinity College, Dublin named George Salmon. It is a collection of lectures delivered at the divinity school at the University of Dublin and is a refutation of Roman Catholicism’s claim to be the true, infallible church. He wrote this:

There are many nominal members of our Church (ie, Christian in name only) who adhere to the profession of a creed which was that of their fathers but who, in fact, have little concern for real religious truth. These kind are apt to think that a man’s religion is his own affair, with which other people have no business to concern themselves’ and that whether his belief be true or false does not really much matter.

Such persons are apt to regard any attempt to show that Roman teaching is false as a wanton attack on poor, harmless, Roman Catholics, and as little different from personal abuse of unoffending (ie, harmless) people.

I fear it will be a long time before men are so philosophic as to understand that a man is not your enemy because he tries to correct errors in your opinions, and that the more important the subject the greater the service he will render you if he makes you change your false opinion for a true one.

This is wisdom. It seems to me that this is the very attitude which infects so many professing Christians today. “A person’s religion is their own affair,” and no one else has any business intruding into it. No matter if the person’s beliefs are true or false. They are his or her business alone. Such thinking turns the body of Christ into a bag of marbles which never mix together. Each man is his own island, no matter that the New Testament tells us that we are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

This kind of individualistic mindset necessarily erects barriers against intruders into the private property of each person. So when we try to instruct those who are ignorant, attempting to correct their errors, our efforts are not seen as a kindness but as an attack to be repulsed. We are seen as trespassers and are told to get out, or else.

No matter then if someone holds to or even teaches dangerous, naive notions about evil and evildoers – it is none of our business to concern ourselves with. Such people simply do not want to understand that someone who tries to correct their false ideas is not therefore their enemy but is in fact attempting to do them good.

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