Dale Ingraham with Rebecca Davis
Dale and Faith Ingraham are warriors for justice and righteousness in Christ’s kingdom. They know all too well what it means to be a victim of sexual abuse within the community of the local Christian church. Sharing their own story about how Faith was molested for years by her Baptist pastor father, the Ingrahams open their lives to us and help us learn how this evil creeps into churches, hides behind a remarkably effective facade, and when exposed is so often covered up and enabled by the church community.
This is a good one! It is listed on our resources page here for easy ordering. Thank you Dale, Faith, and Rebecca for this good work.
[This post was written by IAmMyBeloveds, a long-time reader of this blog and abuse survivor]
Luke 17:1-2 Then said He unto the disciples, ‘It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones’. (KJV)
As I was praying one morning, struggling through the prayer due to more abuses being hurled at me, God led me to this passage. I’d read it an innumerable amount of times before. But this time, I decided to really open it up and pull it apart and look deeper into it, believing God had led me there for a reason and for a deeper understanding of Who He is and how He felt about what was happening in my life. This post, is the result of that study.
Let me start by sharing with you some definitions. The word “offence” here is not what one would most likely think. It is not about being offended by something someone said to you like “having a bad hair day, aren’t you” or “your yard was prettier last year” etc. It is not about giving that kind of offence. In short summarization, offence in this passage means,
“A trap set, which causes entrapment, resulting in possible ruin for the one entrapped.”
This is much more than someone saying they don’t like your hairdo or saying your yard isn’t as nice as it used to be! This offence has to do with the ruination of the one being offended in many ways, but also includes the ruination of someone’s faith – causing them to doubt God in their life or to stumble in their faith or to turn completely from their faith in God.
The term little ones in this passage is referring to the lowly humble people of God, which could include children, but it is not singled out to just be children. So it is you and I folks. All of us that belong to Christ, young and old alike. There are instances where the term is used just for children, but that is not the case here.
Next let me address the word offend at the end of verse 2. Its meaning is much the same, but is more about the one causing the offence.
“To be a stumbling block to someone. To cause to offend; lead astray; lead into sin; to fall away from the truth.”
Let’s apply this now. When one is living in abuse, one is pretty much living in constant offence. A trap is set by the abuser and it is definitely intended for your ruin and from what I have read from victims of abuse here on this blog, including myself, more often than not, it involves your faith. So, the intent of the offender is to cause you to stumble in your faith to your own ruination. Does he come right out and say that? Of course not. The ruination of the offence comes in many other forms as well, not just your faith. It includes everything that could be ruined about an individual, such as their character and reputation.
Now people may say that is carrying it a bit too far to use this in dealing with abuse, but we have all lived it and know what the intent really is. If an abuser can get his victim to turn from God or as in a lot of cases, the abuser can ruin his victim’s witness with the Church and the Church in turn sees her as the guilty party, then there remains the possibility in the abuser’s eyes that his victim will turn from God and belong solely to him. Isolation in its completeness. It is the age old story of satan in the garden, thinking that if he can draw Eve away into his darkness, she will turn from God and follow him instead. Remember, an abuser belongs to the father of lies – he is not born again of the Spirit and therefore not an adopted son of God. We know that abusers love power and control and being on top, right? We know that abusers have murder in their heart, right? This passage is very clear about these kind of offences. They are meant to entrap and ruin an individual.
If a victim is not a Christian, the intent remains the same. Even though the abuser may not be trying to draw her away from her faith in Christ, he is bringing ruination nonetheless and it is his intended trap for her. There are many ways to ruin someone. For example, the term can also mean to bring to financial ruin. How many victims of abuse are financially devastated by their abuser? And this verse makes it clear that the offence (entrapment) is set with the intent for ruination – no matter what form that takes.
The trap is always laid by the one causing the offence. That would be the abuser. At the very least, the offence is meant to entrap someone. How many of us feel/felt trapped in the abuse?
The good news is, that we don’t have to allow the offence which has entrapped us, to lead us to ruin. In Christ’s strength, we can remove ourselves from it. We can stand in our faith and the truth and say “not anymore”. I believe this is all part of coming out of the fog of abuse.
Jesus says that it would be “better”, meaning the best thing that could happen to a person like this, would be for a millstone to be hanged around his neck and for him to find himself at the bottom of the ocean. That would be much better for him. God is saying that there is a day coming for abusers and their cohorts that they will wish they had never seen. He is saying that their punishment will be so horrible, that they will have thought it better to be cast with that millstone tied around their neck into the ocean. That is what God has to say on the subject.
Now let’s apply this to the Churches that send victims back to their abuser. It seems to me, that they would be partners in this judgment, as they are sending the woman back to live with the evil one who has offended, ie entrapped her to her own ruination. They entrap the victim all over again with words like “reconcile”, “forget”, “look at your own sin”. So, is there a millstone for them as well?
Why is it so often that victims of abuse find themselves in a Church, where they are told to continue living with the offence of abuse that is known to be set upon them to their ruination – including the ruination of their faith? Why?
I am so disheartened. I am broken that the Church is so unconcerned for the evil that has besieged it. I am concerned when someone cannot discern between good and evil – and I am concerned when a Church does not care enough to know and interpret rightly the Word of God. I am concerned when they become unteachable.
There is a millstone awaiting every abuser and every supporter of the abuser or abuse in general. “Who is a supporter of abuse? Certainly not us”, they would say! “Now I’m offended that you would accuse me of supporting abuse” – they would say. But the truth is, if you don’t stand against the abuse by aiding and protecting the ones being abused and standing openly against the abuser and his tactics, then you really are an endorser and supporter of the abuser and his abuse.
A millstone for the abuser and for every person who endorses the abuser or forces a victim through coercion or guilt, to return to that offence. That is God’s judgment to them – not ours.
Wake up Church.
Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “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. “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations– I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:10-17)
We have here the Lord’s words to His own people, Israel, in the days of the Old Covenant. So corrupt had they become that He calls them Sodom and Gomorrah. They continued on with their multitudes of sacrifices, claiming to worship the Lord faithfully, but the Lord rejects it. He sees the reality of their hearts and motives and all that their “worship” is to him is a “trampling of His courts.” He commands it to cease. Their offerings are disgusting to Him. Rank iniquity and a supposed “solemn assembly” simply cannot co-exist. They stood in their worship services and spread out their hands to pray. Those same hands were covered with guilt — with the blood of the ones they had oppressed. They were doers of evil. Now notice very carefully in the Lord’s command to them to repent that the “good” they needed to learn involved seeking justice, correcting oppression, bringing justice to the fatherless, and pleading the widow’s cause. Isn’t that interesting? This tells us that one of the most wicked evils carried out by the “church” of that day was the oppression and abuse of widows and orphans. Therefore, as we have said in other posts on this blog, where there is injustice dealt out to abuse victims and where the abusers are allowed to remain in the assembly of the “church,” spreading out their hands in “worship” each Sunday, you can be sure what the Lord thinks of the entire mess. He calls for such a church to cease from its worship and repent. It would be better for the doors of such a place to be locked shut until everyone washes themselves from evil by true repentance. The oppression of the weak, of victims, even the abuse of children is quite widespread in today’s churches. Isaiah plainly tells us here what the Lord thinks of such places, AND what such “churches” truly are in reality.
This is just the first page or two of the sermon I will be giving tomorrow at Christ Reformation Church here in Tillamook, Oregon. I think you will find these thoughts to be an encouragement, particularly in light of the fact that we see sooooo much counterfeit in professing Christendom today.
July 19, 2015
Sermon Text: 1 Kings 19
Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-40
1 Kings 19:10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
In our ministry here at Christ Reformation Church, as with any person or church that strives to faithfully follow and obey Christ, we face up to much evil. Just last Lord’s Day we considered the fact that most professing Christians will end in hell, as we looked at Christ’s own words about the Narrow way vs Broadway and other portions of the Gospels and Epistles in which Christ repeats these sobering truths.
We have often considered the biblical teaching that many and ultimately most local “churches” are not truly in Christ at all. We compare God’s Word with what we hear and see being announced and taught from pulpits in churches that claim to believe in the authority and inspiration of God’s Word. And it doesn’t measure up to the standard. Most professing Christians are people who really dislike God’s Word and who want their ears “tickled” by leaders whom the Lord has not sent. False shepherds.
And, of course, we are immersed in this ministry to victims of wicked abusers. We hear about their evil tactics every day and we hear story after story of how these evil ones claim to be Christians and how they are accepted as such by their churches, all the while the genuine believers, the victims, are rejected and even ex-communicated.
These are negative things, though I still find myself really pumped each time this wickedness is exposed. I love to shine God’s light on it all. Nevertheless, I think it is very good for us on occasion to remind ourselves of some things, especially one particular fact, that Elijah was much in need of being reminded of. Namely, this –
“The Lord always preserves and maintains His remnant, his elect, and preserves them as His true church until He comes again. Always. In every era of human history, the Lord’s remnant has always been there, even if they are hard to find and see. Thus the Lord has His remnant now, in our day. We are NOT the only ones left.”
Here is a link to the audio and PDF of Pastor Crippen’s sermon: The Encouraging Doctrine of God’s Remnant
Thursday Thought — What does the process of change look like for an abuser? – Insights from Bancroft and Crippen
Lundy Bancroft provides some insight into what it looks like for an abuser to do the real work of changing and why it seldom happens.
Well, he can change, but what ends up mattering much more in the life of a woman who has a destructive partner is “Will he change? And we know that he won’t change, for example, unless he completely admits to all the things he’s done. If he’s continuing to deny a lot of the ways he has torn her down, or the ways he’s been violent or the ways he’s bullied her about sex — if he’s still denying part or all of what he did he’s not going to change.
And he’s not going to change by some sort of overnight realization that what he’s done was bad and he doesn’t want to be that way any more. That kind of epiphany change never goes anywhere. And he’s not going to change if he’s still abusing alcohol and he’s not going to change if he’s still finding different ways to make everything her fault. The change only comes if he starts to really take her seriously and respect her. And what I hear so many times — more times than I can possibly count from the stories of abused women — is the time when the guy says, “Oh, I feel so bad. Oh, I realize what a jerk I’ve been. I’m going to treat you really good from now on.” That never goes anywhere. That, unfortunately, I can tell you never goes anywhere. The only thing that does go anywhere is deciding to get really serious — saying ‘Yeah, I’ve got a real problem here. I have had real issues for a long time in how I’ve been behaving and I have to really look at this.” And then more importantly sticking with it for a long time — two or three years of working really, really hard on himself. So if she thinks a few months have gone by and he’s so changed — it doesn’t mean anything.
And women struggle a lot with the question, “Well, does he mean it when he says he’s sorry? I have trouble telling. He’s apologizing, but I have trouble telling whether he’s sincere or not — whether he really means it.” It doesn’t make any difference. This is what I’m eager for women in these kinds of relationships to understand. It’s not even worth putting a bunch of energy into trying to figure out if he means the apology or not. Because the real sincere apology and the fake apology are worth the same amount. They both go to the same place — they both go nowhere. The only thing that matters is does he get down to doing the work.
Unfortunately most abusive guys don’t really get down to doing the real work. There has to be a whole bunch of action over a substantial period of time that backs up the words. . . It only matters if he gets consistent about it. For an abuser to have sort of a period when he’s really generous and really focused on doing things for her is no different then how he always is. Like I’m sure at the beginning of the relationship he went thru a period when he was super focused on doing things for her. I mean all abusers have these phases when they’re doing things for her. And it doesn’t mean anything.
So again — does he get consistent about it? Does he stick with it? Does he start to actually see that what she needs is just as important as what he needs? And that’s where these guys tend to fall down. Pretty soon they’re back to “No, it’s what I want — me, me, me.”*
When Lundy says that the abuser needs to work really, really hard on himself for at least two or three years, Lundy is not talking about the abuser working through some self-help book and using his buddy as an accountability partner. No, the work is going to have to be through a program that is specifically designed for abusers and run by trained professionals who really understand the mentality and tactics of abusers. But yet there is still no guarantee the abuser will change. Lundy explains one problem with abuser programs:
I have not had a lot of clients make really significant changes. Now I’m not the world’s most stellar abuse counselor, but I was pretty good at it, so I don’t think that it was lack of technique. There are people who are definitely better at it than I am, but I was pretty good at it. But you don’t see huge rates of change in any really chronic destructive behavior pattern. In an abuser program we expect in the state of Massachusetts abusers to go once a week for 40 weeks. A substance abuser which is no more serious a problem, in some ways I would say it’s easier to overcome substance abuse problem than a woman abuse problem — a substance abuser is expected to go on the order of 150 – 200 meetings just to be considered to have made a good start towards sobriety. You do three, four, five meetings a week for a year and you’re considered to have made some significant beginning — you’re not considered to have done your work — you’re considered to be significantly out of the starting block. And yet after 40 meetings for someone who has been physically violent to women and this whole pattern of behavior that I have been talking about, we somehow think that in 40 meetings he has done his work?**
Christians need to be cautious of what we might call an “either/or” error at this point. Here we see Bancroft, a non-Christian, speaking about real change requiring hard, hard work over a long period of time. As Christians, we believe that what is really needed is a genuine new birth through faith in Christ. But holding to that biblical truth, we must not somehow think that the gospel negates the hard work Bancroft is speaking of. That is to say, we must not start thinking that faith and works are two different ways. Genuine faith and repentance will evidence themselves in the kind of hard work that Bancroft is talking about. I think that some Christians start thinking that “we will just pray that he gets saved and then instantly the whole thing will be fixed” and so they wait and wait and pray and pray for some miracle “zap” from the Lord. Rather, what we should say, and what is perfectly consistent with Bible doctrine, is what John the Baptist told the hypocrites – “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance.” Show me an abuser (I have yet to meet one) who claims a new faith in Christ, who claims repentance, AND who has done the work Bancroft is speaking about, and I will say “now, perhaps, maybe here is a man who has made a good start toward reformation.”
And by the way, such a man will fully agree that his previous victim need not have any relationship with him ever again.