Abuse and the Doctrine of Headship and Submission Pt 3 – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

Abuse and the Doctrine of Headship and Submission Pt 3
Last sermon from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on January 9, 2011
Sermon Text:  1 Peter 3:1-7

NOTE: This is the final sermon in this series on domestic abuse in the church. It will of course remain available at sermonaudio.com/crc. Begining next Sunday, Feb 17th, we will be publishing the weekly Sunday sermons from Christ Reformation Church at our other blog, lightfordarktimes.com   You will find an important explanatory post there this morning which describes the changes we are making to that blog to make it a means through which our readers can fellowship with us at CRC, even as their own church if that is their desire and need. 

This blog, unholycharade.com, will remain the same, focusing upon exposing domestic abusers in the church and helping abuse victims come to clarity about abuse and get free. 


“Society usually labels women who are victimized by abusive men as fools for ever having gotten involved with them. But the word of God identifies the angry and abusive man as the one who is the fool.” [Elreta Dodds as quoted in Woman Submit! By Jocelyn Andersen]

And so it does! Nabal – the fool.

This morning we come to the last message in this series on Abuse and Domestic Violence which we have also called The Psychology of Sin, because in studying the mindset of the abusive person, we find ourselves gaining real insight into the very nature of sin. Sin, like the abusive man, craves power and control. It sees itself as profoundly entitled to have that power and control and entirely justified in using whatever means are necessary to get it and maintain it. What this evil does to its victims, we have only learned in part.

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Abuse and the Doctrine of Headship & Submission Pt 2 – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

Abuse and the Doctrine of Headship & Submission Pt 2
Sermon 20 from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on December 12, 2010
Sermon Text: Ephesians 5

The Danvers Statement was prepared by several evangelical leaders at a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood meeting in Danver, MA. in Dec of 1987. You can find it in the appendix of Wayne Grudem’s book Recovering Biblical Manoohood and Womanhood – A Response to Evangelical Feminism. Here are the first few of its affirmations-

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Abuse and the Doctrine of Headship and Submission – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

Abuse and the Doctrine of Headship and Submission
Sermon 19 from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on December 5, 2010
Sermon Text:  1 Peter 2 – 3:7

This morning I intend to introduce you to an examination of the biblical doctrine of headship and submission in marriage. It will not do to simply dismiss these doctrines, as today’s “Christian” liberalism generally does, claiming they are merely the ravings of male chauvinists like the Apostle Paul. No. Anyone who believes that the Bible is what it says it is – the Word of God – knows that God sets out these doctrines for husbands and wives. Nor are these truths to be dismissed as something archaic, fitting for an ancient culture but not for ours. Our Lord Himself takes us right back to creation, to the first marriage, as does the Apostle Paul. God’ s order for marriage in Eden was then and remains today the same for all marriages in all places.

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Abuse and the Jezebel – Women as Abusers – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

The Abuser as Jezebel – Women as Abusers
Sermon 18 from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on November 21, 2010
Sermon Text: 1 Kings 21

NOTE: Eight years have passed now since I delivered this sermon series on domestic abusers hiding in the church. As is true with us all, I have learned much more about this subject since 2010 and so, as is the case with this sermon, I often need to “tweak” a sentence or two when we publish here. In this case I found that I used the phrase “we are all sinners” but neglected to make it clear that my meaning was “we are all sinners when we are born into this world.” It is a gross error to claim, as is so common today, that those who are genuinely in Christ are “all sinners.” Try to find that teaching in the Bible. You won’t.

Also, let me say that as I re-read this sermon I was uncomfortable in regard to this subject. Why? Because the vast majority of abuse victims I know and communicate with are women. Christian women. I don’t enjoy speaking about women as abusers because I do not want to give any ammunition to those who want to “blame the woman” for the abuse they receive – after all, they “pushed his buttons” you know. However, Jezebel was a real person. And her progeny still exist as enemies of Christ and Christ’s people. So deal with the subject we must.

This morning we want to at least begin a consideration of women as abusers.  All through this series we have reminded ourselves that though we use “he” as the pronoun for the abuser (since in the great majority of cases the abuser is the man in the marriage), nevertheless women are sinners as well and women can be abusers.  If you have lived on this earth very long at all, you have no doubt met some.  Jezebel was a woman, and Jezebel was clearly an abusive, power-hungry, control-seeking abuser who had a profound sense of entitlement and justification to use whatever means necessary to obtain the power and control she believed she was entitled to. Jezebel and her daughters are still with us today. We see that she turned up again in the New Testament church –

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Dealing With The Abuser – He is a Trespasser – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

Dealing With the Abuser – He is a Trespasser
Sermon 17 from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on November 14, 2010

This is good stuff!!! Listen very carefully!

  • Locks and keys, safes and combinations
  • The outer doors of your home
  • The lock on your bathroom door
  • A “No Trespassing” sign
  • The property lines of your residential to or acreage
  • The orders of a nation or state or county
  • Passports
  • Rules of Etiquette
  • Passwords
  • A security clearance at a jobsite
  • Yellow tape around a crime scene

What do all of these things, and more, have in common with – this list

  • You shall have no other gods
  • You shall not make a graven image
  • You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
  • Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy
  • Honor your father and your mother
  • You shall not murder
  • You shall not commit adultery
  • You shall not steal
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  • You shall not covet

Do you see the connection? Boundaries. Just as locks and doors and property lines, proper manners and security clearances are all concerned with setting boundaries and providing proper means of granting selected people permission to cross those boundaries – to come into your home; to open a safe; to enter another country; to address a president or governor or judge – “you may approach the bench” – so the Law of God sets in place certain inviolable boundaries that are not to be crossed. In fact, these boundaries have no key nor password. They may not be violated.

Codes of law in society are boundaries, right? You shall do this. You shall not do that. A speed limit is a boundary. Shoplifting is a violation of a boundary. Our lives, it would seem then, are filled with boundaries against which we must not trespass. Boundaries are GOOD and necessary, especially in a fallen world.

Do you understand then why the Bible uses the word trespass for sin?

“…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

“Sin, in its very essence, is lawlessness. It trespasses the boundaries that the Law of God has established. As sinners then, we are trespassers. We have trespassed into areas that God has pronounced “Off Limits!” And therefore we came under the condemnation of God. Just as civil law recognizes that trespassing on private property is a crime, so the Law of God declares that sin is a trespass, a violation of divine boundaries. It brings condemnation.”

I. The Abuser as Trespasser

What does all of this boundary talk have to do with the subject of abuse? Well, because sin is a trespasser, we should understand then that the abuser is a trespasser of boundaries. Not only legal and social boundaries, BUT IN PERSONAL PARTICULAR, BOUNDARIES.

What do we mean by personal boundaries? Well, we might call them personal rights. The Declaration of Independence, for instance, recognized that –

We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So that these rights are boundaries that not even the king can cross.

The sinner in general and the abuser in particular and especially IS A VIOLATOR OF PERSONAL BOUNDARIES.

The abusive man or woman denies that all men are created equal. The abuser is far above everyone else. The abuser denies that his victim(s) have unalienable rights – he believes he has the authority to alienate them from those rights. The abusive person takes life, liberty, and happiness away from his victim and feels entitled and justified in doing so. The abuser is a trespasser, a violator of personal boundaries.

Examples of Boundaries and Trespasses

What does this mean? What does it look like? W ell, let’s think more about personal boundaries. We all possess them. Consider a few of these and let’s see how the abusive man trespasses them –

A. The right to various kinds of privacy.

Every person, every human being, has a right to expect certain levels of privacy. Of course there has been great debate about this – at what point can government for instance intrude upon our privacy? Search warrants are required. Unreasonable searches are illegal.

But a wife, for example, has a right to certain privacy in her life. Privacy connected with modesty. Privacy in regard to her thoughts. Privacy in respect to her conversations with others (phone calls, emails, etc). Privacy about what she did with her day. She may choose to share these things. And in a normal relationship, that sharing occurs. But ONLY because she granted permission for her boundary of privacy to be crossed by someone – her husband for example. AND IN A NON-ABUSIVE, LOVING RELATIONSHIP – THOSE BOUNDARIES ARE RESPECTED!

But the abusive man recognizes NO boundary of privacy in the life of his victim. He demands –

  • to know where she is every moment
  • to know to whom she talks to and what that conversation was about
  • to be able to intrude upon her – he despises locked doors, email passwords, unshared correspondence
  • He may even monitor her telephone conversation and isolate her by forbidding her to speak with certain people

B. The right to govern her own body

Now, here is a favorite Scripture passage of the abusive man who uses Christianity and the Bible as his façade and justification for abuse –

1 Corinthians 7:2-4 ESV But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (3) The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. (4) For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Of course, the abuser always rips Scripture away from its context AND he ALWAYS (don’t forget this) operates with a double standard – one for his victim and one for himself. Watch for it, the double standard will always be there in the abuser’s mentality. In this case of course, he emphasizes verse 4a, but leaves out the rest of that verse. He also perverts the Apostle’s meaning to justify any use of his wife’s body that he decides upon – regardless of whether she objects or not. It is not uncommon for the abuser then, in connection with his low view of women as persons, to force perverse actions upon her. Human beings have a right over their own body.

NOTE: Of course this argument is perverted, isn’ t it, in respect to abortion. Let’s just note that abortion is the taking of a life that is NOT the woman’s body. In some cases morality and ethics could conceivably justify aborting a pregnancy (not all will agree with this) – to save the mother’s life, for example. NOR does this right mean that any of us have the right to use our bodies in sinful, immoral ways.

Now, let me give you still another way in which the abusive man very commonly violates his victim’s rights over her own body. Ready? This one will get more argument, but we must not let the abusive man get away with this –

Many abusive men deny their victim/wife the right to bear or not to bear children. That is to say, the abuser dictates that she will use birth control and what kind she will use. Or, even more commonly, he will dictate to her that she will not use birth control.

Ephesians 5:22-29 ESV Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (24) Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (26) that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (28) In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (29) For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

Are you thinking now? Time for some self-examination perhaps? Some abusive men, have actually demanded that their wife NOT take any type of anesthesia during childbirth for pain, and if she does yield and have the doctor give her one, he flies into a rage and calls her vial, demeaning names!

Other abusive men deny their wives the right to decide about medical treatment that a doctor has advised.

Deny them the means to have a necessary surgery, etc.

Do you understand then? In a healthy, one-flesh marriage, these things are decided together. The husband recognizes that his wife has certain personal rights, personal boundaries that only she can give permission to intrude upon. From the wife’s standpoint, she will recognize that her husband has a part in these decisions as well – particularly as regards childbirth decisions.

Still another kind of boundary that an abusive man will commonly ignore is his wife’s/victim’s choice of clothing, makeup, or hairstyle. It is not uncommon for an abusive man to demand to select ALL of these things for his wife, claiming that this control is a sign of his love for her. Not so. It is abuse. It is a trespass of her personal boundary regarding her own body. Are we saying that a husband has NO say in these things at all? Of course not. But you must understand that the abusive man denies his victim any say, any rights, any opinion in these things.

“The next time you hear this – ‘Wow! What a great guy! He picks out ALL of his wife’s clothes for her” – I hope that a warning light goes off for you. What does this mean? It may or may not be a sign of real love for her.”

C. The Right to Happiness and Self-Fulfillment

Still another important boundary/right that every human being has is the right to happiness and self-fulfillment.

“Christians need to take special care with this boundary. We know that it is very often abused, and that the Bible tells us to consider others more important than ourselves, that we are to patiently endure with contentment whatever God brings our way. These rights do not give us the right to DEMAND of God! Any rights we have all derive from Him. Nor do these rights mean that we are entitled to become the center of the universe ourselves. To do that is to become the abuser!

But knowing these things from His Word must not lead us to deny that God grants us boundaries which other people are not to cross without permission. We are not to become enslaved to anyone except Christ – whose slavery is actually freedom.”

The abuser denies his victim the right to happiness and self- fulfillment. She exists only for HIS happiness and for HIS self-fulfillment! The universe revolves around him and if she forgets it, he has many weapons of abuse to remind her.

What are some examples of boundary violations in regard to happiness and self-fulfillment? (the abuser hates these things because they take time and energy that he insists must be spent upon him alone) –

  • Pursuing a hobby
  • Taking a course of study
  • Involvement in a church
  • Relationship with others
  • A decision to get a job outside the home
  • Selection of what she would like to read
  • Development of new abilities  – driving a car (some abusers prohibit this), learning to use a computer, running a marathon

More often than not, in a healthy, biblical marriage – the husband will support and encourage her in these things.

D. The Right to be Respected and Shown Consideration as a Person – i.e.  the Right to Have one’s Feelings Considered

We have all used the phrase “don’t hurt his feelings.” Human beings are emotional beings. We have feelings. If we are going to love one another, we must understand this and consider other people’s feelings – how saying or doing a particular thing is going to impact them on an emotional level.

The abuser is cruel in this regard. He has little or no consideration for his victim’s feelings and often trespasses this boundary. He mocks the notion –

Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Now, understand – we all hurt other people’s feelings sometimes. We all trespass against them and against God (we can grieve the Lord). But when we do – there are the convictions of conscience. In a Christian, there is the conviction of the Holy Spirit, so that we repent and even feel the pain we have caused.

Not so with the abusive man. The abuser trespasses with a profound sense of entitlement and justification. Coolly. He will tell his devastated victim

– Oh, you are just too sensitive!

But oversensitivity is not the problem. When boundaries are crossed, you feel it because it hurts. Love is a respecter of boundaries. Love is considerate – polite, you might say. Love does not intrude without permission –

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

II. Dealing With the Abuser Through the Enforcement of Boundaries

A. You Can Feel It

How do you recognize when you are being trespassed against by the abusive person? This is the first thing. You must understand that as human beings we all have the right to these boundaries – privacy, our own bodies, the right to self- fulfillment and so forth. THEN you must recognize when and how the abuser is violating your boundaries.

Let me suggest that the first warning is that you will feel the violation. Someone has trespassed into a region of your life and being and you have not granted them permission to do so. You are uneasy. Anxious. Something is not right. For example

As part of your right to LIFE and happiness, you have the right to a sense of safety and security. A common tactic of abusive men is to violate this boundary, putting the victim in danger and fear – without permission to cross that boundary. It might be through recklessly driving the car she is riding in. It could be unsafe use of firearms – pointing a gun at her but laughing because “it’s unloaded.” And the victim can FEEL this trespass. She feels unsafe around the abuser. THE ABUSER WILL TRY TO MINIMIZE AND RIDICULE THESE FEARS, BUT THEY NEED TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED.

Think about it – you FEEL boundary violations when someone –

  • Acts overly ‘familiar’ with you,
  • Begins to speak about an inappropriate topic,
  • Knocks on your door without permission and proceeds to intrude upon your values and beliefs,
  • Tries to control your personal, private life with no authority to do so,

NOTE: The church must take care not to cross boundaries that God has not given authority to cross. Obviously, the Christian is subject to the admonishment and discipline of the church and fellow believers. We are not our own, in this sense. We must glorify God with our bodies. So our “personal” business is the Lord’s business, and the Lord calls upon the church body to hold one another accountable. Nevertheless, churches themselves and church leaders CAN become abusers – and it has happened often in the history of the church.

  • Tries to dominate you by telling you what God’s will is for you, insisting that they know better than you,
  • Defines you. Defining is a term that means dictating to someone what their thoughts and motivations are, the abuser insisting that he knows his victim’ s inner being better than she does. This is VERY common in the abusive man.

These are trespasses. They are boundary violations. They are sin and they are examples of abuse. You can FEEL that they are boundary violations and your feelings are indeed valid. THERE IS A REASON FOR YOUR FEELING OF BEING VIOLATED – YOU HAVE INDEED BEEN TRESPASSED AGAINST.

Colossians 2:20-23 ESV If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations- (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)– according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

These false teachers, you see, were trespassing, crossing a boundary that the believers at Colossae had a right to in Christ. Notice that the Apostle Paul is calling US to enforce our boundaries – “why do you submit to these trespasses?” Stop permitting it. 

What About Bob? – The Intruder

Most of you have probably watched the movie, What About Bob? In the movie, Bob Wiley is funny. He forces himself and his desires on Dr. Leo Marvin and family, pressing himself into their home and even into their son’s bedroom! One of the reasons the movie is so comical is because we recognize the boundaries that Bob is violating – but in the movie he is harmless.

Not so in real life. A real Bob Wiley is an abusive, wicked man who victimizes people by intruding across their personal boundaries.

“Dolores, now in her 60’s, is the mother of four sons and three daughters. When her first husband died 16 years ago, she married a successful surgeon and is consequently rarely short of funds. Y et instead of taking expensive vacations or buying designer dresses, she spends most of her money on two of her children, Natalie and Larry.

Natalie, who is 40 years old, has never quite found herself, has been on welfare most of her adult life, and cannot seem to hold a job. Why should she? By supplementing what Natalie gets from the state, Dolores ensures that her daughter’s material needs are met. There is, of course, a blemish on the landscape of Natalie’s paradise, which is that she can do almost nothing without Dolores, who tells her what to eat, how to style her hair, and even where to buy groceries. [Do you begin to see that Dolores is a trespasser, a boundary violator? And the damage she is doing? Which of us do not have to admit some guilt here?]

Larry is a 38 year old ex-plumber who 4 years ago announced that he wanted to go to college. He has never taken more than one course per semester, rarely opens a book, and has less interest in learning than a tired frog. Dolores pays his tuition and keeps him supplied with cash. Not a bad life, you might conclude, until you notice that Larry is at his mother’s beck and call. He cannot even date without her approval. She picks out his clothes, shows up unannounced at his apartment, and insists that he take her out to dinner at least once a week. The surgeon doesn’t mind because she’s as intrusive with him as she is with her children.

On those rare occasions when Natalie or Larry tries to go it alone, to think or act independently, Dolores reminds them of how much she’ s sacrificed. And if that doesn’t work, she breaks into sobs, talks about how no one cares whether she lives or dies (‘Maybe it’ll be better for everyone if I’ m gone’ ), and locks herself in the bathroom. Because she once swallowed a bottle of pills, this makes short work of any attempt on their part to separate from her. [Toxic Relationships & How to Change Them, by Dr. Clinton McLemore]

Dolores is a trespasser into the lives of her son and daughter – big time. She is guilty of a mass of boundary violations – but Natalie and Larry permit this abuse to continue through their ignorance and their selfish desire for the things their mother can provide them. Dolores is a real life Bob Wiley, and she is not so funny at all, right?

What to Do – 

Do not, like the one lady in McLemore’s book, keep whimpering or trying to get him to understand your feelings. It won’t work. He has no feelings for your feelings. Others may, the abuser doesn’t.

If a victim is in real danger, then her course of boundary enforcement is to leave the abuser (which requires some planning and help). If she decides to stay, then she must learn to recognize boundaries, boundary violations, and begin to enforce her borders. “If you continue to speak to me in that manner, then I will need to leave.” It is vital that victims of abuse, and all of us really, learn and understand how the abuser violates the boundaries and rights of his victims so that we can begin to call him to account for his trespasses.

Parents: You MUST teach your children these things. They must learn about boundaries. How to enforce their own boundaries, and how to respect other people’s boundaries. We do this by teaching them the Law of God – raising them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.


What can we say then to all this as we bring the gospel, the redemption of Christ, to bear upon all of this?

1. Christ came to be the great Trespass Offering for us. Every single person here this morning, and every human being that has ever lived, has trespassed against the Lord. We have violated His boundaries – His Laws, and we stand condemned. So that even our WORSHIP of God becomes nothing more than a great trespass and trampling of His Temple –

Isaiah 1:11-12 ESV “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. (12) “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?

Christ’s sacrifice is the ONLY payment sufficient for our high crimes.  Christ is surely the only way that any of us can –

Isaiah 1:16-18 ESV Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, (17) learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (18) “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

2. Because of Christ, so thorough and complete is His redemption and rescue of His people – our feelings will never be violated again one day. No one will ever violate a boundary in heaven. In fact, there will not even need to be a single “trespass sign.” That is to say, the threatenings of the Law of God will not be required there. Because we will love the Lord and our neighbor perfectly. Even now, even now – it has begun in us. If you know Christ, His Law has been put right on your heart.

Revelation 21:3-4 ESV And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (4) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Go to Part 16 of this series
Go to Part 18 of this series

Dealing With the Abuser – First Deal With Yourself – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

Dealing With the Abuser – First Deal With Yourself
Sermon 16 from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on November 7, 2010
Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 5

It shall not be so among you. These are our Lord’s words – His command! There is no place in Christ’s Church for “lording it over” another person. Greatness in Christ’ s kingdom is measured in servanthood – with Jesus Himself as the supreme model, becoming obedient even to death for us.

The abusive man, of course, knows nothing of this – or what little he may know, he abhors. Lording it over his victims is what he is all about. He controls his victim by –

  • using jealousy
  • withholding love
  • ignoring her feelings or belittling them
  • calling her derogatory names
  • telling her she is worthless and stupid, lazy, or ugly
  • telling her that other people
  • say the same things about her
  • humiliating her in front of others
  • denying her reality, perceptions, beliefs, and values

And in many, many more ways.

Continue reading “Dealing With the Abuser – First Deal With Yourself – sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen”

Dealing With the Abuser – Part 2 — sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

Dealing With the Abuser – Part 2
Sermon 15 from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on October 31, 2010
Sermon Text:  Exodus 4

Last time we looked to the book of Nehemiah for a very clear example of how to deal with an abusive person. Nehemiah persevered in the Lord’s work. He did not leave off of it to go talk with Sanballat and Tobiah. He did not yield to fear which would lead him to act shamefully and even sinfully. The Lord gave him great insight into the true motives of enemy agents who were sent to him by Sanballat. THE LORD WILL DO THE SAME FOR EACH OF US IF WE WILL TRUST HIM AND NOT FEAR.

NOTE: EVERY real Christian whose heart is set on following Christ faithfully IS going to meet the abuser – the Sanballats and the Tobiahs. Satan is there and he sends his emissaries. Still another reason for all of us to learn about this matter of abuse since it gives us so much insight into the schemes of the enemy which WE WILL face!

Nehemiah was truly “purpose- driven” – in a true and biblical way. His purpose was to do the work the Lord had given him to do. Nothing was to be allowed to turn him to the right or to the left. He took action as well. He directed watchmen to be placed, he had all the workers get battle-ready. He put trumpeters in place to call for reinforcements at the very point of an enemy attack. But EVEN THEN there were things – unknown to him at the time – that the Lord was faithful to deal with. Enemy agents among Nehemiah’ s own people, hired by the enemy, hired to tell Nehemiah and the people what a great guy Tobiah really was. ALL OF THAT CAME OUT IN THE END. THE LORD BROUGHT THOSE WICKED SCHEMES TO NOTHING AND THE WORK WAS COMPLETED IN RECORD TIME.

NOTE: We all need to take care that we do not fall into the trap of  trying to “cover” every single possible enemy strategy. If we do this, the work Christ has called us to will not get done. Our energies and resources will be consumed. There are things we must do, as Nehemiah did – that are reasonable and wise defenses against the enemy. But faith is required!! The battle is ultimately the Lord’s.

So, for example, there are manypossible fronts that Satan could(and does) attack this church on. Slander. Double agents. Secret. But if we ever find ourselves spending the majority of our time and resources and energy trying to ensure that every single crack in the wall is covered, every single possible enemy strategy defended against by things we do ourselves – then what is going to happen? Our energy and time and resources which are to be spent on the work the Lord has given us to do will be re-channeled. The work will not get done, the wall will not be built, and the enemy will have been successful after all. Ultimately, by faith, we leave the rest to the Lord – and isn’t that exactly what we have here –

Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (12) For we do not wrestle against flash and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (14) Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one’ (17) and take the helm of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (18) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 

Understand? We do our part. We put on the armor. We stand. But when the armor is on and the sword is picked up, we still pray at all times. We WATCH through PRAYER. This is FAITH in action. And the Lord handles the subterfuges, the conspiracies, the secret enemy agents, the schemes plotted in secret against Christ, and so on.

“What good is an army that only defends, but never presses forward with its assigned mission? What good is a football team that only has a defensive unit but never, ever advances the ball to the end zone? No good at all!”

And these are the important lessons that Nehemiah teaches us. Don’t spend your time negotiating with Sanballat. Take measures. Put on the armor . Keep watch. But don’t be consumed by trying to defend against every single possible attack strategy of the enemy. There will be enemy agents and secret schemes that we do not and cannot even know about. But the Lord sees, the Lord Knows, and He will bring them to nothing. Remember Nehemiah’s response to the enemy at one point –

Nehemiah 6:8-9 ESV Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” (9) For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

I. Dealing With A Pharaoh

Still another classic example of an abusive man on a HUGE scale is – Pharaoh in the time of Moses. Pharaoh, in the history of redemption, is a type of Satan. Just as the elect people of God were enslaved and abused by Pharaoh in Egypt, so Satan enslaves sinners with chains no human being can ever break free of. The redemption of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt is, of course, a beautiful picture of THE Passover Lamb who redeems His elect from sin and death.

Here then is Moses and the Israelites. They are slaves. Moses has been a fugitive, in exile from Pharaoh for 40 long years. He was born into slavery. God’s purpose is to redeem and free them from this bondage of abuse. And so, He comes to Moses and He calls Moses to be the one.

“The Lord wants His people to be FREE. Free from Satan. Free from the condemnation of sin. Free from the power of sin. Free from anyone who would enslave us and rule us through fear.”

Perhaps this is the VERY FIRST thing you need to face up to. An abuse victim needs to know and believe that because of Christ, there is freedom from sin and its effects. There is a BETTER way to live – to really live! Christ has come so that we do not have to remain in Egypt, enslaved and abused. Do YOU believe that? OR HAVE YOU BECOME SO ACCUSTOMED TO SLAVERY AND ABUSE THAT YOU THINK THIS IS THE NORM AND THAT THERE IS NO OTHER  WAY???? [I think that there are entire families and entire churches that think the enslaved condition they are in IS NORMAL!]

Did you see Moses’ hesitation and even opposition to this great redemption? First, listen to God’ s promise of redemption –

Exodus 3:16-22 ESV Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, (17) and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘ (18) And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ (19) But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. (20) So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. (21) And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty,(22) but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

God’s stated and plain intent is that His people be FREE from Satan, from death and hell and condemnation and accusation. This is all an image of the redemption of Jesus Christ through His perfect life and His cross and resurrection. If you are here this morning and you do not know Christ, then the enslaved, hard, oppressive condition of the Israelites in Egypt under Pharaoh is YOUR condition.

“So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.

Moses hesitates. Moses fears. Moses is just like us. Moses is like a victim of abuse who is offered the freedom that Christ brings. He just can’t see it happening. The abuser is SO powerful. And Moses is SO weak. Who am I?

Exodus 4:1 ESV Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.'”

Exodus 4:10 ESV But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

Exodus 4:12-14 ESV Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (13) But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” (14) Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.

Moses is just like us, right? But the Lord meets each one of his objections, empowers him, and finally – with some righteous and chastising anger as of a Father – He compels Moses to go.

NOTE: I do not know the details of every abuse victim’s situation. HOW precisely God will lead in each case as to how to confront the abuser is going to vary. A woman, for instance, who is being abused by a dangerous, violent man who is very capable of killing her, is probably not going to be called to march right up to him and confront him and announce she is leaving and isn’t going to take it anymore. But we do know that in EVERY case, God wants her free! He leads her in Christ out of Egypt. That may not mean in every case actually leaving a marriage or leaving the house. But it does mean freedom.

The Battle is Going to be A Battle

Now, we know how the thing went with Moses. It looked bad at first attempt! Moses confronts Pharaoh – Thus says the Lord…Let My people go! But Pharaoh does not. He mocks God. And he increases the burden on the people so that their lot appears to be worse than before. Now they have to get their own straw and their taskmasters beat them even more. And then they come to Moses –

Exodus 5:20-23 ESV They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; (21) and they said to them, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (22) Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? (23) For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”

Man! What a low point!! This is NOT how Moses thought it was going to go down! Things look REALLY dismal.

NOTE: If you are trying to help a victim of abuse get free, do not be surprised if you experience something similar to what Moses did. She may turn on you and blame you when things don’ t happen as easily as she might have thought. W arn her ahead of time! Don’ t tell her “Hey, we’ll just pack up your things and you can leave and start a new life and that will be that.” No. It isn’t going to be that simple. But Christ’s people WILL make it out of Egypt.

II. The Path to Freedom – See Your Bondage and Admit it

Just as the Israelites had to admit that they were slaves in Egypt and in great need of rescue and redemption, so it is with the sinner. Man the sinner needs to SEE the plight he is in. Condemned. Dead. A slave of the devil. Unable to do anything to get free. The prodigal son had to “come to his senses” and see that he was in a pig pen before he was ever going to return to his father.

When it comes to this matter of abuse, something very similar is necessary. Both for the victim AND for us – for people who might be friends or relatives of the victim. Beverly Engle puts it this way –

“Step One: Admit to yourself that you are being emotionally abused and acknowledge the damage you’ve experienced because of it.” [The Emotionally Abusive Relationship, John Wiley & Sons, 2002]

Why is this so vital? Because, as we have seen, the abusive person is a master of façade and disguise, of brain-washing and blaming his victim. Of playing with her perceptions and self-confidence to trust them. As a result, blindness to and denial of abuse is typical.

Darkness and confusion are tactics of the devil. So that perhaps this first step is the most crucial AND the most difficult! To see it! To begin to grasp just exactly what is going on!

Let’s illustrate the difficulty by returning once more to the Israelites under Moses. They had been gloriously redeemed. The Exodus had been effected. Pharaoh had been totally humiliated and his army destroyed. The people had seen the might and power of God. They were fed by Him every day right there in the wilderness. And yet in spite of ALL of this, there were times like these –

Numbers 11:4-10 ESV Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!
(5) We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. (6) But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (7) Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. (8) The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handbills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in posts and made cakes of it.  And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. (9) When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it. (10) Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the LORD blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased.

Have YOU ever wanted to go back to Egypt? Abuse victims will surely experience this. On average, it takes numerous attempts by the victim to leave her abuser before she finally does it. And that, for many different reasons.

But one of those reasons is surely similar to the false thinking of the Jews in the wilderness. NOTE this very, very carefully and guard against it in your own life!!!

“Oh, this is soooo hard. I remember when I was still living with my abuser. Sure, it was tough in some ways, but look at all the benefits I had too. He fed me. He gave me a house to live in. And now look at me here in this little apartment without hardly any money.”

At such times, the victim (and all of u;s are prone to this) fails to recognize and admit to herself the devastating damage that is done to the victim by the abuser.  We have looked, in these weeks in this study, of many of the horrible emotional, spiritual, psychological, and physical havoc wreaked upon the abuse victim and upon her children. ALL OF US NEED TO FACE UP TO THIS AND ADMIT THAT WE, IN OUR IGORANCE OR IN OUR DENIAL, SIMPLY DO NOT COME TO TERMS WITH JUST HOW DAMAGING ABUSE IS.

How many times has the church – pastors, elders, church members – perhaps well-meaning, but well, ignorant or selfish – told an abused woman that God wants her to go back to Egypt and be a slave again under Pharaoh? I can tell you the answer – many times.

Divorce and Abuse

I am going to tell you something now that is guaranteed to stir up controversy, and worse, among Bible-believing Christians. Among people who are zealous to do God’s will. People, I hope, like us. And here it is. This is my conclusion –

“The victim of abuse, normally the wife but sometimes the husband, has a right before God to leave Egypt, to divorce the abuser. And I believe that anyone who comes to a true and proper understanding of the nature and tactics and evil of genuine abuse, will come to the same conclusion.”

Why do I say this is such a hot-button among Christians? First of all, because I have experienced the controversy myself. Secondly, because I have talked with other pastors who have come to the same conclusion and they have in a number of cases been attacked for their position. One pastor I talked to was really ostracized from the pastor’s fellowship he was in. Another paid the price of a long-time friendship with another pastor being lost.

Here is what I have experienced – that when I tell conservative, Bible- believing pastors and Christians that I have concluded that we must let abuse victims know that they have the right before God to divorce their abuser, at the very minimum there is often a look of shock and surprise. This amazes me.

By the way, I base my conclusion on (after coming to a true understanding of just what abuse is and what it is like and what it does to the victim) – I base my conclusion on 1 Cor 7 –

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 ESV To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (11) (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. (12) To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. (13) If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. (14) For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (15) But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. (16) For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Now, have you ever given real thought to just what it means to consent to live with a husband or wife? Or what it means (vs 15) to separate from a husband or wife? Far too many Christians, I believe, conclude and assume that this simply means –

  • to not file formal, legal divorce proceedings
  • to not physically throw the victim out of the house

I think that is the kind of application, or rather MIS-application that the Pharisees were characterized by.

Consenting to live with my wife, not separating from my wife, means rather that I keep my wedding vows made before God and witnesses to love, honor, cherish my wife. To live out a one-flesh relationship with her. To love her as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. To refuse to do so, to have ill-will (malevolence) toward her, to see her as an object and a servant for my glory, is NOT living with her.

“Abuse is, therefore, desertion. It is grounds for divorce.”

NOTE: Lest the libertine take this position and use it to justify divorce from a non-abusive man or woman, let me warn that you cannot understand what we are saying here unless you understand it in the context of all of these sermons we have presented in this series. That is to say, you must FIRST understand clearly what abuse is. It is not just something that “drives you crazy” about your spouse. It doesn’ t mean that your wife or husband has some flaw that you don’t like. No, abuse is a habitual, characterizing, ongoing mentality of power and control, of entitlement and of justification.

Now, if some – perhaps well-meaning – Christian objects to this conclusion that abuse is biblical grounds for divorce, that it is desertion – then I would put the following question to them –

“Can you explain, in some detail and with accuracy, what the nature of abuse is? That is to say, can you show me that you understand the mentality of abuse – indeed, that you understand that it is a mentality? Can you tell me about the methods and tactics of the abuser? Can you explain to me in reasonable detail what the effects are upon the victim of abuse? Upon the children in an abusive home?

Because, think carefully about this – how can anyone come to a conclusion that something is NOT grounds for divorce as long as they really know nothing about it? Let me ask that again – how can anyone come to a conclusion that something is NOT grounds for divorce as long as they really know nothing about it? 

“Well, you know, marriage can be hard at times. All marriages have their ups and downs. None are perfect. We are all sinners. We need to persevere through trouble and trust the Lord. Besides, you know, he has never laid a hand on her .”

Can you see yourself saying something like that? It sounds so biblical and true, right (except the last phrase – which is horrible).

“But what we are ignorant of and what we MUST come to grips with, is that this monstrous thing we are calling abuse is a unique animal of its own. What is true about other sins and troubles in marriage is simply not true about abuse. The diagnosis is NOT the same. The REMEDY is not the same.”


How do you deal with the abusive person – be it a man or a woman? The first place to begin, is to come to an understanding of what slavery in Egypt under Pharaoh is, what it is like, and what damage it does. And then to understand that the Lord wants His people FREE! Free from Satan, free from evil tyranny. He wants us walking in His truth, not in deception. Christ is the Passover Lamb whose blood delivers us from that bondage. And therefore, of ALL places in this world, the Christian Church must be the pillar and support of the truth; it must be a place where there is no place for abuse; where Christ’s people enjoy freedom from the enemy’s enslavement; freedom from fear. This is what Christ came for.

A Story to Read and Learn From

Here is a story. Be sure to read it! It is based on a true story but has been changed for confidentiality –

Once upon a time, a young Christian woman from a sound Christian family met a young Christian man. He was the most charming man she had ever met and he showered his attentions on her. She was swept away. 

Now, this young man was a church member. A FINE church member. People thought very highly of him, and YOU would have as well if you had known him. He was the first to be there when someone needed help. He was respectful, a pleasure to speak with. He was a student of the Word and sound in reformed theology. Many thought him a candidate for the pastoral ministry.

The engagement proceeded up to the wedding day. It was a big wedding. Exciting. The perfect Christian couple. They were pronounced man and wife in a sound, reformed Baptist church. A great and memorable reception, and then they were off on the honeymoon and to their new life together.

And then it began – that very night.

This man, whom the bride and everyone thought they knew so well, on the wedding night, started his abuse. He interrogated her. In many other ways, he made it evident that HE was master and SHE his slave.

Later in that first year of their marriage, he hit her. She left. A few days later , unwisely but understandably, she went back and met him to tell him with Scriptural authority that what he was doing to her was sin. He flew into a rage and began to throw dangerous objects at her. She fled.

Later in the week, the young man’s father and representatives from his church (they had moved some distance from the church the bride grew up in and where they were married and had been attending his parents’ church. Also a sound church). They asked to have everyone sit down together , including the pastor and an elder from the church where they were married. They were sure they could work things out with some counseling. And they were certain that divorce was not an option in this case.

What do you suppose the outcome was?

  • The pastor and elder of the church in which the bride grew up, and where they were married, along with the parents of the bride, said that there was NO WAY she could go back with her husband until and unless he went through some serious therapy and showed, over time, true change and repentance. They also maintained that divorce was justified – though they did not insist upon it immediately.
  • The pastor and others, including the groom’s parents, from the second church, insisted on short term counseling and reconciliation as an obligation.  Divorcee was not an option.
  • The people in the second church had been completely taken in by this young man, could not believe he could have done such things, and surely the bride shared some responsibility.
  • The young man said that he would agree to come back to the first church, the church where the wedding took place and where his wife was now attending church again with her parents. They would end their separation and live together again. He said he would submit to counseling, and that the people in that church would see, as he ministered to them, that he was very sincere and truly changed and repentant.
  • The pastor of the bride’s church, who would be working with the young man in counseling, told him this – “No, you are not going to be serving others and having even much contact with them if you come here. The only person that I am going to be consulting in respect to your
    behavior/change/repentance, is your wife.”
  • The young man left, never to return. He is in that second church with his parents. A divorce ensued. The young woman is happily re-married. The young man has found another victim and married her.
  • Those two churches’ fellowship remains broken to this day.
  • The pastor who had married them was ostracized by many conservative pastors for allowing for divorce in this case.

Do you see how the enemy works? Do you understand why we must know his tactics and deceptions?

Go to Part 14 of this series
Go to Part 16 of this series