Why the “Christian” Abuser is the Worst Kind

Abuse and Christianity: Why the "Christian" Abuser is the Worst Kind

A Guest Article, reblogged with permission from Pastor Jeff Crippen

Acts 20:28-31 ESV (28)  Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (29)  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. (31)  Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

I think that Christians are faced with the worst kind of abuser — the "Christian" abuser.  The person who claims to be a Christian but who is nothing but a facade and who, in reality, is a power and control motivated, entitlement-thinking wolf in wool.  And it is important for us to realize this.  Not only are we often the most naive people when it comes to "getting it" about abuse, but we in the Christian church often have to face the most evil abusers.

Why do I suggest this?

Well, just consider what is required for a person to be an abuser and then in addition, play out his abuse in the charade of a Christian character.  Surely we must see that this kind of act requires a much harder heart and lack of conscience than doing the same thing "out there" in the world.   Notice that the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul both called wicked, abusive people within the visible church "wolves."  Does the Bible call any enemies of Christ who are outside the visible church by this same title?  Maybe I have missed such a Scripture passage, but I can't think of one.  A wolf who dons a sheep's disguise and sneaks in among the flock is a far greater danger and of a greater savagery than one that makes no pretense to be anything but what he is, a wolf.

So what does this mean for Christians?  It means that of all people on this planet, we are the ones who need to be and who should be the real experts on the nature, mentality, and tactics of evil.  We should know these things better than anyone else.  Because we are the ones who are going to have to face the greatest threat and the most cunning representatives of the enemy.  Right now, it does not seem to be so.  What we see over and over again is the most ill-prepared soldiers facing the most crafty agents of evil.  The result is that we are duped, victims suffer even more because of our ineptitude, and the enemy must be really enjoying himself watching all of it.

The fact that an abuser who is a professing Christian is the worst kind of abuser also has implications for victims and for those who would help those victims.  A woman, for example, whose husband is of this sort is actually facing an even more intensified degree of abuse.  Why?  Because, let me say it once more, being wicked and at the same time choosing to masquerade as a Christian requires a greater degree of evil.  The raging abuser whose violence is plain to see may look far worse than the nice, respectable, saintly fellow we know at church and yet who is a demon at home.  But think it through.  Which one of the two is actually called a "wolf" by Christ?

The Word of God very often points to evil people who sneak in among the church as particular dangers.  For example:

Jude 1:12-13 ESV (12)  These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; (13)  wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Where in God's Word do we find that level of intense condemnation for someone who is outside the visible church, making no claim of Christ at all?  It does seem that Scripture agrees with us then when we suggest that as Christians, we can expect to face the most evil kind of abuser.

And that fact alone should be enough to make us all sit up and take notice that maybe, just maybe, these victims who come to us for help just might be telling us the truth.

Jeff Crippen's Biography: I am now entering my 30th year as a pastor.  Prior to this I was a police officer for 12 years.  I have been the pastor of Christ Reformation Church in Oregon for 20 years and have studied abuse in depth since 2008.  I was compelled to begin this study after an incident of sexual abuse occurred which I as a pastor had to deal with.  Once I began studying sexual abuse with the desire to learn more about red flags in predators, I soon learned that domestic abuse is an overlapping area and began reading about it as well.  I was struck with the realization that the mentality and tactics of the abuser are identical to the mentality and tactics of abuse evidenced by power-control seeking people in the church, of whom I have so often been the target.  So this study also served to set me free from the long term effects of the abuse I suffered as a pastor.  In 2010 I preached a 21 part sermon series to our church entitled The Psychology of Sin.  The thesis was that if we want to come to truly understand and recognize evil, all we need do is study how it functions in the abuser.  That sermon series is posted on at sermonaudio.com/crc under the series on domestic violence.  We still regularly receive emails from people who have found it and who are intensely thankful for the help it has provided them. 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia Hinton February 25, 2017 at 10:51 am

I'm glad to see some pastors at least waking up to what you presented….


me I was kicked out of the church I was led to, and where the ex-narcissist flowed and ur ex every day against me….by the time I I understood what was going on in my marriage, the damage was done….


the the pastors at United Chirch of God, an International Association told me I needed to be a more godly wife and pray more…


one person in the church recognized the dynamics, and she was unable to publicly defend me for fear of being kicked out of the congregation as well…


the ex – spouse since remarried – despite the church stated stance on divorce and remarriage….I guess his tithe was considered when he was seeithe by approval to marry his next victim….


well, that church gets what they deserve – hopefully…


its been a in a very long 12 years waiting for the promises the bible states i can claim for enduring all I did, including having my own biological children (not the sociopaths) turned against me….


Susan Schiller February 26, 2017 at 8:38 am

When evil turns your children against you, there is nothing worse…. it’s the worst pain of all…. and all of it’s excruciating.

This long wait for our promises will be worth it all, for even in the waiting we are becoming enlarged…. At least, that is my solace.

I am glad you are awake and free, my friend…. thank you for writing!


Dee March 28, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Yes, you are correct. There is much abuse in Churches. My former Pastor OCD/ Narcissistic 


Susan Schiller April 7, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Thanks for being here today and sharing, Dee!


Dee March 28, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Wow, finally I am not alone in what Hod revealed to me about my former Christian husband. The Sociopath. He had my former Pastors side with him. I was given the third degree when I told them I was leaving him. I also left the state to start over. I was traumatized. I have never experienced abuse on this level before. He made my first husband look like a better husband. I also discovered my oldest daughter has a personality disorder also. She slandered me to my former Pastors. My husband on other hand told them how much he loves me. He told them all these plans of taking me away. Lies, he is a drug addiction and alcoholic. Pathological liar, manipulator, gaslightso and has pushed me and dragged me down a hallway because I walk away from him while arguing. Glad to be out miserable martiage. I knew it was bad when I wanted to die again. I believe many Pastors don't understand mental illness of this kind. 


Susan Schiller April 7, 2016 at 5:14 pm

You’re right, many church leaders don’t understand abuse of this kind and the mental illness behind it… we hope to change that with our stories. Thank you for sharing, Dee!


Olga Hermans August 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I beleive that Christians are naive and always believe the best of everybody around them, but things are changing though concerning all this. We are better informed than ever. Our eyes have been opened to the abuse in churches from what we always thought that they were the best churches in America.  Dealing with the people who are abused must be so difficult though; great article from Jeff Crippen who informed us; thanks for that.


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