In a video posted by Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pastor Jason Meyer introduced Pastor Chris Moles’ presentation on domestic abuse at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Meyer explained headship and submission and he gave an example of how he counseled an ‘insensitive husband’.
Meyer told the husband, “You’re tearing each other apart”.
By saying ‘each other’ Jason Meyer was mutualizing the blame: he was depicting both spouses as tearing the relationship apart.
Here is a transcript of a portion of the video where Meyer is talking about the ‘insensitive husband.” (transcription starts 26:35 in the video vimeo.com/218959931 )
…Two halves of one. Become one flesh. And so now he says husbands – it’s not just sinful to not love your wife. It’s stupid. It’s incredibly stupid. Because when you hurt her it’s a boomerang – you’re just hurting yourself. And he says nobody does that. When you wake up in the morning you don’t just say, “Huh, Should I take a brick and should I drop it on my toe this morning or should I go have breakfast.?” Yes, of course, you always decide to care for yourself. Nobody’s going to beat themselves up that way. And so He says, Husbands, you already do this in caring for yourself. Now your wife is one flesh with you. So hurting her is hurting yourself.One time I really tried to get this home to somebody that was just really an insensitive husband. And I was saying, “Brother, you’re not happy at all. Do you see what’s happened? You’re in this tug of war all the time. You’re trying to get control. You’re being coercive and oppressive. Neither of you are happy. You know why? Because you’re one. And you’re tearing each other apart….”
PS. I had hoped these foolish words were a slip that Pastor Meyer might now have repented of. But that seems to have been a vain hope. How can I be so sure? Because we clipped that section of BBC’s Vimeo video and put it on my YouTube channel in order for us to show it to you here. And we posted the clip in an ‘update’ on a previous post we had published about Jason Meyer. Either Bethlehem Baptist are lurking at our blog and saw our update, or they are tracking whether their Vimeo material is being posted elsewhere, because I received a message from YouTube telling me that Bethlehem Baptist had complained that I’d infringed their copyright by posting that short clip from their video onto my YouTube channel.
Since I got that message from YouTube, I have checked and verified that Meyer has not removed that part of his original video — so presumable he must think it is all fine. Nothing to apologise for there, nothing to retract there. Just demand that Barbara not be allowed to have the clip on her YouTube channel.
And by the way, as I understand copyright laws, they permit “fair use” of a small part of other creator’s content. And “fair use” includes for the purpose of review and critique. The clip we made is no longer on my YouTube site and I’m not going to fight Bethlehem Baptist over that. It’s not worth my time.
Jason Meyer is the teaching pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper’s old church).
Other ACFJ posts about Jason Meyer and Bethlehem Baptist Church:
My Defense Against the Public Attack by Bethlehem Baptist Church — a reblog from Natalie (published at ACFJ in Feb 2017; originally published by Natalie in Dec 2016)
Jude 22-23 seems to tell us that we must make a difference between the weak and the wilful. The weak we must treat with tenderness. But in seeking to save the wilful we use fear. Abusers are a class of people who can be aroused only by the terrors of the law. Their conduct is loathsome and contagious. We must admonish them with sharp reprehensions and severe language, setting before them God’s judgments against obstinate sinners.
Why do I say that Jude 22-23 only ‘seems’ to teach this? Because we need to be a little cautious with those two verses since there is uncertainty about the Greek text.
The ancient manuscripts of Jude differ
One difference is the main verb
The manuscripts differ on the main verb in verse 22. Some use a word that means ‘have mercy’, while others use a word that means ‘reprove’.
…one must determine if the main imperative verb should be “have mercy” (eleeite) or “reprove” (elenchete)? (source)
Another difference is the number of classes of people being referred to
When you come to Jude 22-23 you realize that the conservative Greek scholars don’t agree on the original manuscript. One scholar notes “The most striking feature of the textual tradition is that some witnesses divide the text into two clauses, while other witnesses divide into three.” That is a somewhat significant variant. (same source)
I will indicate each clause with a bullet point. The King James version has two clauses, indicating two classes of people:
- And of some have compassion, making a difference:
- And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
The ESV has three clauses, indicating three classes of people:
- And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
- save others, snatching them out of the fire;
- and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
And then there’s the question of how to translate diakrino
The word diakrino at the end of verse 22 can be translated as ‘doubters’. Or as ‘disputers’ (those who contend against the doctrines of the faith). Or it can be translated ‘discern’ (make a difference between, distinguish between).
Please don’t get too hung up on the textual variants.
I asked Ps Sam Powell for his thoughts on this post and he urges us not to despair of ever being able to read and understand the scripture on our own, even when there are textual variants. He doesn’t think that there are as many variants as most modern scholars seem to suggest, and he thinks that in most places the overall point is clear. I’ll share more of Sam’s thoughts at the bottom of this post.
So bearing in mind Sam’s helpful words, I can tell you that scholars and translators have not been able to decide which of the existing ancient manuscripts of Jude is correct. And they differ over how to render diakrino. Let us look at what some of the commentaries say. All boldface emphasis in the following quotes has been added by me.
Sensual men separate from Christ, and his church, and join themselves to the devil, the world, and the flesh, by ungodly and sinful practices. That is infinitely worse than to separate from any branch of the visible church on account of opinions, or modes and circumstances of outward government or worship. Sensual men have not the spirit of holiness, which whoever has not, does not belong to Christ. The grace of faith is most holy, as it works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world, by which it is distinguished from a false and dead faith. …
We must watch over one another; faithfully, yet prudently reprove each other, and set a good example to all about us. This must be done with compassion, making a difference between the weak and the wilful. Some we must treat with tenderness. Others save with fear; urging the terrors of the Lord. All endeavours must be joined with decided abhorrence of crimes, and care be taken to avoid whatever led to, or was connected with fellowship with them, in works of darkness, keeping far from what is, or appears to be evil.
And others save with fear – That is, by appeals adapted to produce fear. … It is undoubtedly true, that while there is a class of persons who can be won to embrace religion by mild and gentle persuasion, there is another class who can be aroused only by the terrors of the law.
Pulling them out of the fire – As you would snatch persons out of the fire; or as you would seize on a person that was walking into a volcano. Then, a man would not use the mild and gentle language of persuasion, but by word and gesture show that he was deeply in earnest.
Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh – By “the garment spotted by the flesh” there may be an allusion to a garment worn by one who had had the plague, or some offensive disease which might be communicated to others by touching even the clothing which they had worn. … While the utmost effort was to be made to save them, they were in no way to partake of their sins; their conduct was to be regarded as loathsome and contagious; and those who attempted to save them were to take every precaution to preserve their own purity. There is much wisdom in this counsel. While we endeavor to save the “sinner,” we cannot too deeply loathe his “sins;” and in approaching some classes of sinners there is need of as much care to avoid being defiled by them, as there would be to escape the plague if we had any transaction with one who had it. Not a few have been deeply corrupted in their attempts to reform the polluted.
And others; those that are further gone, not so easily reducible, and in great danger.
Save; i.e. labour to save them, as instruments under God.
With fear; by more severe courses, sharper reprehensions, setting before them God’s judgments against obstinate sinners, 1 Corinthians 5:5.
Pulling them out of the fire: it is a proverbial speech, Zechariah 3:2: the sense is, that as they that are in the fire, and like to be destroyed by it, must not be gently exhorted to come out of it of themselves, but speedily and forcibly pulled out, in consideration of their eminent danger; so they that are more stubborn sinners, being in apparent danger of being destroyed by the fire of their lusts, and being as it were in the mouth of hell, must be more harshly and severely dealt with, by setting the Lord’s terrors before them, 2 Corinthians 5:11, and inflicting church censures on them.
And others save with fear,…. Meaning false teachers, who lead others into errors, and such as give themselves over unto sin, whether teachers or hearers, and who are obstinate and irreclaimable; even [with] such [people] as these, means should be used to save, if possible, by sharp admonitions and severe language; by denouncing the awful judgments of God, which threaten them; by inflicting on them church censures in a terrible manner; by declaring the terrors of the Lord, and of hell, and of everlasting damnation.
pulling them out of the fire; of their soul destroying doctrines, and of their filthy and unnatural lusts, and as it were out of the fire of hell, of which they are in great danger:
hating even the garment spotted, by the flesh; by which may be meant the conversation [conduct] of those men, even their filthy conversation, which is to be hated, though their persons are not; but all ways and means should be used to save them; and this is one way, by showing a dislike unto, and a resentment at their wicked way of living, excluding them from church communion for it, and shunning all conversation with them. The allusion is not to garments defiled by profluvious persons [those who have a copious discharge of a bodily fluid)], or menstruous women, as some think, but to garments spotted with nocturnal pollutions, or through unnatural lusts, which these persons were addicted to.
Calvin on Jude 22 & 23
...to the meek and teachable we ought to use kindness; but others, who are hard and perverse, must be subdued by terror. … if we wish to consult the well-being of such as go astray, we must consider the character and disposition of every one; so that they who are meek and tractable may in a kind manner be restored to the right way, as being objects of pity; but if any be perverse, he is to be corrected with more severity. And as asperity [harshness of tone or manner] is almost hateful, he [Jude] excuses it on the ground of necessity; for otherwise, they who do not willingly follow good counsels, cannot he saved.
… When there is a danger of fire, we hesitate not to snatch away violently whom we desire to save; for it would not be enough to beckon with the finger, or kindly to stretch forth the hand. So also the salvation of some ought to be cared for, because they will not come to God, except when rudely drawn.
Hating even the garment. … He would have the faithful not only to beware of contact with vices, but that no contagion might reach them, he reminds them that everything that borders on vices and is near to them ought to be avoided: as, when we speak of lasciviousness, we say that all excitements to lusts ought to be removed. … we should hate not only the flesh, but also the garment, which, by a contact with it, is infected.
hating even the garment spotted by the flesh– The “garment” is the inner tunic worn next to the flesh, and therefore thought of as contaminated by its impurity, and it serves accordingly as a symbol of all outer habits of life that are affected by the inner foulness of the soul that is in bondage to the flesh. As men would loathe the touch of a defiled garment, bearing the stains of a cancerous ulcer, so they were to hate whatever was analogous to it in conduct (compare Isaiah 30:22).
I asked Ps Sam Powell for his thoughts on this post and he kindly sent them to me.
Pastor Sam Powell’s advice and comments —
Dear readers, please do not despair of ever being able to read and understand the scripture on your own, even when there are textual variants. And I don’t think that there are as many variants as most modern scholars seem to suggest, I think in most places the overall point is clear.
In Jude, for example, however you come down on the variants, the overall point is that there are different classes of people that must be handled differently. It takes wisdom to see the difference between them. Wisdom takes humility and prayer. Pastoral wisdom isn’t a matter of checking off lists, but of listening and evaluating.
I think that the commentaries and even the texts don’t vary in the overall message – and I say that with trembling. The point is, in the context of the whole – that there are those who follow the doctrine of Balaam, who are spots in the feast – and they are hardened (Proverbs has a lot to say about them as well). They need to be snatched out of the fire with fear, while others need a more gentle approach.
I think that Jude isn’t really giving us specific instructions, such as “First, determine which category they fall in to, then, second, do this…”. You don’t find that approach in scripture very often.
I think that Jude is rather telling us that the work of rescuing people from false doctrine and deadly sins of pride, greed, abuse, etc. is difficult work, that must have different approaches. It is long, gruelling, and must be undertaken with fear and trembling – and with a great deal of prayer for wisdom.
- Difficult passages are to be read in light of clearer passages. Whichever side you come down on in the questions of the text must be compared to the whole of scripture.
- There aren’t as many difficult variants as modern scholars would have us believe, but that is a textual criticism question. I put almost NO weight in the Sinaiticus or the Vaticanus. I think both are hopelessly corrupt and I give them very little weight in my studies. [The Siniaticus and Vaticanus are two of old texts of the Bible; they are not the only old texts, another important text is the Textus Receptus.]
- The differences in Jude 22-23 text aren’t very great. Commentaries are on the whole agreed, and the overall thrust is the same. Whether the word is “rebuke” or “have mercy”, the point is the same and the difference negligible.
- But I am one of the rare birds who holds to the Textus Receptus – with some reservation…
Practically speaking – what everyone is agreed on is this. Some people, you speak to gently and kindly. Others you must snatch rudely from the fire…there might be a third category…
Either way, to know the difference, you need wisdom. Study scripture with much prayer and humility so that you might know the differences between people and how best to rescue them.
Snatched from the fire (this post gives another application of Jude 22-23)
Many people think that the abuser can’t see his sins, so he needs to be shown them.
But the abusers sees, he just disagrees. The abuser knows what he does is wrong, he just doesn’t care. He believes he’s entitled to do it. And he’s very dedicated to that belief. He wants to keep it. And he goes to great lengths to resist dropping it. He lies in a thousand ways to conceal how much he wants to maintain his belief that he’s entitled to abuse others. He loves his lies; they keep his fortress safe.
Revelation 22:15 speaks about those who love and practice falsehood. So Christians shouldn’t deny that there are people like this. Abusers don’t just utter a lie here or there; they practice falsehood as a way of life, as a full-body disguise. This is exactly what the domestic abuser or the skilled sexual molester does. His lying involves going to great lengths to make himself an object of pity and to throw up many smokescreens so that people don’t see his belief and how entrenched it is.
For further reading:
The abuse I suffered was a product of dominance, but the gender roles were switched.
My wife was older, had a dominant personality and was used to getting her own way. I was a quiet and sensitive person from a loud, working-class area and used to being bullied.
Our relationship had sprung out of that power imbalance.
Initially, I was shocked by her sudden, disproportionate rages. They developed into violence within months of marriage, with knives thrown and a lot of hitting.
Her violence pushed all of my buttons from a childhood of being bullied, and I sometimes felt an impulse to hit back, but my strong belief against hitting a woman prevented me.
I never told my pastor about the violence at the time because it felt weak, and I figured I could defend myself. I did, however, tell him about the rages, and he backed her up consistently.
I discovered over the years that this was fairly typical, that the role of pastor often attracts people who don’t like conflict and deal with it by encouraging the more reasonable party to give in.
There was a subset of Christians, largely from Pentecostal circles, who saw a problem. They talked about “Spirit of Jezebel”, by which they meant a woman who doesn’t know her place.
I was told by several people that my wife was not submissive enough, and that I needed to “take headship”.
This deeply disturbed me, because I felt they were encouraging me to violence while deliberately avoiding the words.
They may not have been, but I think that if you give such vague advice to a young man struggling to survive, that will too often be his interpretation.
None of these Christians knew what was actually going on. The verbal abuse was crushing to start with — she used to scream with such intensity what a useless failure I was.
But this often escalated, and it was the worst if I was subdued because I had done something wrong.
She would make me stand still so that she could punch me in the face. I remember sitting with our two-year-old on my lap, while she held a knife to my throat.
Several times she swung a poker at my head with all of her force.
After one particular attack, I went around to the local Baptist pastor’s house, not realising I still had glass in my neck. He was comforting, and suggested we come around for counselling.
We did, the next night. But when I told him about her violence, he corrected me. “Our violence. You need to own it as your violence too,” he said.
I explained that I had never been violent, but it was beside the point. I shouldn’t point fingers; who among us is without sin?
I received a similar response from other Christian counsellors I sought help from. They were often caring people who wanted to avoid conflict and do something good, but they seemed to lack answers.
Their unique field was Christianity, and the only guidance they had from the Bible was:
Wives obey your husbands
Husbands love your wives
Don’t get divorced unless there’s an affair.
Everything had to be answered with those three tools.
Unfortunately, I was just as bound by them. One Baptist pastor stood out from the others, because in the first few years of marriage, he saw my wife in a rage, then told me privately afterward that I needed to leave.
I was genuinely shocked. Divorce was a sin.
The only answer I could come up with was that I needed to love more. Surely, then whatever was keeping her prisoner to this would eventually drop away and she could be free to become a whole person.
I had to lay down my life, prefer to be wronged, forgive no matter what, and absorb her hatred like Jesus absorbed hatred on our behalf.
My wife quit work because she knew I would forgive her and would never force her to do anything.
She continued to abandon friendships, slept most of each day, left all of the housework to me, and although her anger was less frequent and mostly she was grateful and pleasant, it still came unannounced — sometimes with fists, other times with threats of self-harm.
I still occasionally wake from dreams that she has snuck into the room with a knife.
Eventually I accepted that I had no answers. That was the point where I think my faith went completely.
If even love Himself had no way to bring her freedom in His holy institute of marriage that symbolises His love for the church, then what was the point?
I could see clearly that the kindest thing to do was to leave, and eventually I did.
Losing my God was like a second divorce to me, and I still grieve for it.
“Patrick” is not his real name; we want to thank him for allowing us to repost his story here.
After ABC News recently published a series of articles on domestic violence and the Church, hundreds of Australians, including Patrick, emailed ABC News to tell them about their own experiences of abuse. The other stories can be found at Shattering the silence: Australians tell their stories of surviving domestic violence in the church.
See our male survivors tag for other stories from male survivors of domestic abuse.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. And how Highpoint Church Memphis twisted it to defend Andy Savage.
When Jesus said “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” he was speaking to a bunch of hypocritical men who were quite happy to mistreat a woman for their own agenda. Their agenda was to discredit Jesus…they saw the woman as disposable. They were using the woman just so they could induce Jesus to say something which would discredit him to either the Jews or the Romans. They hadn’t brought before Jesus the guy who supposedly had been caught in the act of sex with the woman. They only brought the woman to Jesus.
Those men would have been happy if the Jesus had said “stone the woman”. Then they could have reported Jesus to the Roman authorities for illegally instructing the crowd to stone the woman to death. Israel was under Roman rule at that time. Only the Roman Emperor or his appointed delegates could issue the death penalty in Israel, because Israel was a vassal state to Rome. If you want to read the story click here: The Gospel of John, chapter 8.
Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” to those men in order to prick their consciences (if possible).
They felt the prick, and they walked away.
I rather like to think that Jesus eyeballed each one of them and they felt his gaze driving a nail of truth deep into their corrupt, self-serving hearts.
Jules Woodson (that’s her real name) has alleged that twenty years ago when she was a 17 years old member of Youth Pastor Andy Savage’s youth group at Stonebridge Church in Texas, he sexually assaulted her. Later in this post I will give you two links where you can read Jules’s account of what Andy did to her and how Andy and the church shamed and bullied her after the sexual assault.
Andy Savage and all the men who have supported him to remain in church leadership for these twenty years are a bunch of hypocritical men, in my opinion. One of those men, Chris Conlee, is lead pastor at Highpoint Church, Memphis, the church where Andy Savage is now a teaching pastor. (link)
Yesterday, Pastor Chris Conlee twisted “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” to manipulate his multi-campus congregations to tell Jules Woodson and her supporters to shut up. And the vast majority of the Highpoint congregation appear to have been deceived by Chris Conlee’s “sermon” and the statement which Andy Savage made to the church before Conlee’s “sermon”.
The whole church service from Highpoint Memphis is on YouTube here. I suggest you skip the hyped music and graphics at the beginning. But if you want to see Andy Savage’s statement, it starts at 16:00, and Chris Conlee’s “sermon” comes after Andy Savage’s statement.
I suggest you steel yourself if you are going to watch them. Pay attention to your emotional responses and how Andy’s presentation pulls on your heart strings. Pay attention to the way Chris Conlee uses a stone and hand gestures to give drama to his message. The whole thing is a case study for those who want to sharpen their discernment.
Andy Savage said, “I never sought to cover this up.” (18:31 in the YouTube link I gave above)
Andy Savage said, “Until now I did not know that there was unfinished business with Jules. So today I say: Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions twenty years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness with you, and towards healing. And I mean that.” (18:49)
I have read Jules Woodson’s account very carefully. I believe that Andy Savage lied in those two statements he made.
Trigger Warning: I know that many of our readers are rightly wary of being triggered by hearing other survivors’ stories of sexual assault, spiritual abuse and interpersonal oppression. I honor each and every person who has suffered abuse. Please make your own judgement call about whether you want to click on the links I’m going to give in the next paragraph. The links will open in new tabs.
I have read Jules Woodson’s account of what Andy Savage did to her when she was 17 years old and he was her youth pastor, including her account of how Andy and the church bullied and shamed her into keeping silent. She kept silent for 20 years. Now she has come out, using her real name, and told her #MeToo #ChurchToo story. Her account was published by two websites. The Wartburg Watch published it here. And Watchkeep published it here.
Both of the websites which pubished Jules’s story are victim-advocate websites. Their websites are examples of ‘watchblogs’. (The term alludes to how the prophet Ezekiel was a watchman for Israel.)
In my considered opinion, there are MULTIPLE discrepancies between Jules Woodson’s account and Andy Savage’s account. Those discrepancies are typical of cases where women accuse powerful men of sexual abuse. I totally believe Jules Woodson. The way Andy Savage has responded to her allegations is very typical of how skilled abusers respond when they are exposed. His responses and the responses of his allies and defenders are a case-book study of what happens in these situations.
I honor Jules Woodson. She is an immensely brave lady. She has told her story using her real name because she wants other survivors of sexual and spiritual abuse to know they are not alone. She said that in a video interview here. She wants to help empower other survivors – help them shed the false shame and false guilt and the fear of stigma … and all the other fears that the abusers induced them to feel. She wants to give survivors of abuse and oppression the confidence to believe that “It wasn’t my fault! I was not to blame!”.
Now … over to you, dear readers. If you have chosen to watch Andy Savage’s statement at Highpoint Memphis ‘C’hurch yesterday, or if you have watched Chris Conlee’s message, or if you have read Jules Woodson’s account of what Andy and the church did to her, please offer your observations and thoughts here.
- Did you notice any things that seemed ‘”off”?
- Did you discern any marks of wolves in sheep’s clothing?
- Did you discern any falsehoods, or evasions, of half-truths, or minimisation, or victim-blaming, or manipulation?
- Did you discern anything that might help other readers come out of the fog?
Is it possible for a Christian to continue to wilfully and unrepentantly live a life of rebellion excusing it by claiming the grace of God?
The answer is an emphatic “No”.
We have summarized some portions from the sermon in case you don’t have time to listen to it. The sermon Living According to Reality: Romans 6:1-11 goes for 36 minutes.
What is being addressed in this question is not whether or not a Christian should or should not live like that. The answer is that it isn’t possible. It’s a contradiction in terms. A Christian living in rebellion to God is like saying that that object over there is a square circle. They are contradictory and can not exist side by side.
In Romans 6:1-11, Paul gives three strong reasons why this is so.
The first reason: In verses 1 and 2 it is the very design of Christianity to deliver men from sin. The only one who can come to Christ is the one seeking to be delivered from sin. Therefore if a man still desires to live in sin he has not come to Christ. It is not possible to truly come to Jesus Christ and desire to continue to live in sin.
A man who comes to Christ comes to be delivered from his sin. Therefore it is not possible to desire to live continuously in a rebellious life and come to Christ. They are contradictory.
The second reason: To be freed from sin means to be united with Jesus Christ in his death and his resurrection. If we claim to be Christians we claim to be dead with Christ. If we claim to be dead with Christ we claim that all our sins are nailed to His cross and we are risen with Him and have new life.
The third reason: It is not possible for a Christian to live a life of sin because Christ has risen from the dead. Sin and death have no more dominion over the head therefore they have no more dominion over the body. To say that we can continue in a life of unrepentant sin is to say that Jesus is really dead. This is why it is a contradiction in terms to say a Christian can live a life of unrepentant, deliberate sin – to continue in sin. Yes, we fall. Yes, we commit presumptuous sin. But the life that is in Jesus Christ poured out by the Holy Spirit always brings us to repentance and brings us back to the fold.
In verse 11 He says live according to reality. “Reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Continuing to live unrepentantly and comfortably in sin and excusing it by claiming God’s grace, is merely continuing in the bondage of sin.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Some of you may be familiar with the hymn In My Hour of Grief or Need by Timothy Dudley-Smith. It is a hymn of lament. We won’t reproduce the lyrics here because they are copyright, but you can read them if you click here.