A Message from David Ashley to the Church: The Offender must be disciplined. 

The church must understand that overlooking this sin of intimate partner violence – better stated as intimate partner terrorism (IPT) is sinful, dangerous and just plain spineless.  It is jellyfish Christianity. The more a church tolerates and enables chronic, unrepentant sin it takes away from the all-mighty gospel.  The more the church tolerates sin by not holding its members accountable the more they compromise the gospel. The more the church compromises the gospel the more they look like the world and are loved by the world.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

The IPT will not survive in a church that faithfully observes biblical church discipline.  If God calls it sin, then we the church MUST call it sin.  If unrepentant sin is going on in our churches, then we must act.

To those who are being abused please realize that with your silence you protect your abuser from the biblical correction that they urgently need to save their souls from hell.  It is not loving to hide the abuse; it will only end in total destruction for both the offender and victim.

Sadly, today’s women are often told to submit to the abusive husband. Condemnation of abuse is not mentioned in the pulpit and most clergy consistently grossly underestimate the fact that abuse is happening in their congregations or simply ignore it all together – even though abused women report attending religious services on a weekly basis. [1]

Another factor to consider is that abuse is not pro-life. Statistically, domestic violence destroys the marriage, the family, and the individual. Therefore, the church must realize that if it is truly pro-life than it must champion the cause of the battered woman.[2]

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”   (1 Cor. 5:11-13)

In these cases of habitual, unrepentant sin we are to expose the abuser (they do not deserve secrecy anymore) and purge the evil from among us (shine light on their darkness) releasing them back in to the world (giving them over to Satan) and in hope of them that their spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.  Abuse is an evil that feeds off secrecy, and silence.  We need to expose them, call them out by name. Paul did this with Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20) and Demas (2 Tim 4:10) and Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim 4:14).

Warning to all pastors- Most abusers will either be sociopaths/psychopaths or have many sociopath/psychopathic tendencies which will on full display before you and they are to be recognized for what they are – evil.  Be on the lookout for the following and do not fall for any of this.

Fake repentance
The abuser’s ability to lie and manipulate
The pity plays. The abuser wants to be seen as the victim.
His charm and ability to gather allies.  Niceness
Excuses, excuses, excuses

“The Psychopath is often witty and articulate. It can be an amusing and entertaining conversationalist, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast itself in a good light. Psychopaths can be very effective in presenting [themselves] well and is often very likable and charming.”[3]

This is vital to get hold of. Evil (the psychopath), is very often the most charming, “likeable” man in the room. The most “saintly” fellow in the church. I recommend to you that there are many, many, many of these flatterers in pulpits and pews today.”

As we have already noted and as most of our readers well know from hard firsthand experience, abusers love to fake repentance.  And we have called upon pastors and churches to exclude the abuser from the church if the victim is in that church.  We need to provide a safe environment for victims.  So, it may well be necessary for a church to tell the abuser who is claiming repentance to seek fellowship elsewhere, with full disclosure to the leadership of the other church as to his history of abuse.  Hint: A truly repentant person will not object to this!

"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6).

 Copyright: Redemption, Restoration, Recovery (R3) Domestic Violence Services and Training©® All rights are reserved. Author: David A. Ashley, MDiv.

[1] Tracy, S. R. (2007). Clergy responses to domestic violence. Priscilla Papers, 21(2). Retrieved from http://www.mendingthesoul.org/2007/04/clergy-responses-to-domestic-violence
[2] Alsdurf, J., & Alsdurf, P. (1989). Battered into submission: The tragedy of wife abuse in the Christian home. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
[3] Hare, R. (1993).  Without Conscience. New York: The Guilford Press. p. 34.