A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Hadassah’s Legacy – Truth, Courage, Compassion, Justice & Intimate Partner Abuse

Hadassah’s Legacy seeks to follow the example of Queen Esther in speaking the truth with courage and compassion, to forward justice for the abused. It is a blog written by someone who regularly comments at A Cry For Justice. The lady who writes this blog says:

Hadassah’s Legacy is an avenue to add my voice to those voices already raised against the injustice of intimate partner abuse*, and systemic spiritual abuse through legalistic adherence to some traditions of Christendom in regards to marriage, divorce and remarriage, at the expense of a humble appreciation of the character of God, and the truths and values contained throughout the Bible as a whole, or as a friend said to me, ‘at the expense of human dignity’.

Like Hadassah, also know as Queen Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible, I want to heed her uncle, Mordecai’s caution to her in Esther chapter 4, verses 12-14.

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:12-14)

Mordecai cautions Hadassah against remaining silent when her people are about to be annihilated, and encourages her to see her circumstances as an opportunity to seek justice in her times. Likewise, I consider my circumstances an opportunity to speak up, not remain silent, along with the many others who are raising awareness of intimate partner abuse in our current times.

The woman who writes Hadassah’s Legacy uses a different name when she comments at ACFJ. If you are a regular reader of ACFJ you will probably have read some of her comments.

I have added Hadassah’s Legacy to the ACFJ blog roll.

I highly recommend her post Whether Diagnosed or Not which discusses Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Intimate Partner Abuse.

God is light and Jesus is the light of the world. A meditation, and some questions.

The people who sat in darkness saw great light, and to those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has begun to shine.  (Matt 4:16)

 

 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. (Is 9:2)

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

After he had said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more,” Jesus said to the crowds in the temple:
I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps 27:1)

For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. (Ps 36:9)

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it was made nothing that was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-4)

Jesus said:
I am come a light into the world, so that whosoever believes on me will not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

But if we walk in light, even as he is in light, then we have fellowship with him, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

For it is God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, which has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:6)

He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. (Dan 2:22)

His disciples saw him transfigured – light shone from his face and clothes:
And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine like the sun, and his clothes were as white as the light.
(Matt 17:2)

Zacharias prophesied that his son John would prepare the way for the Dayspring who would give light to those who sat in darkness:
And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest. For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, and to give knowledge of salvation to his people for the remission of sins through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high has visited us to give light to those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.  (Luke 1:76-79)

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness to bear witness of the light, so that all through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of the light that was the true light, who lights all men that come into the world. (John 1:6-9)

When Simeon saw the infant Jesus he said:
Lord, now let your servant depart in peace according to your promise. For my eyes have seen the saviour sent from you, whom you have prepared before the face of all people – a light to give sight to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)

Light featured in the conversion of Paul:
But as he journeyed and came near to Damascus, suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven. And he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? And he said, Who are you Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the prick. (Acts 9:3-5a)

Paul later recounted his conversion:
It came to pass, as I made my journey and had come near to Damascus about noon, that suddenly a great light from heaven shone round about me. … And those who were with me saw a light, and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of him that spoke with me. (Acts 22:6, 9)
I saw in the road a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round about me and those who were journeying with me. (Acts 26:13)

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar people, in order that you should show forth the virtues of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.  (1 Pet 2:9)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of light, with whom is no variableness nor turning to darkness. James 1:17)

I give you charge in the sight of God, who gives life to all things, and before Jesus Christ, who bore faithful witness under Pontius Pilate, to keep the commandment, and be without spot and unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ – which appearing (when the time is come) he will show, who is blessed and sole in dominion, King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, and dwells in light to which no man can attain, whom no man ever saw, neither can see: to whom be honour and rule everlasting. Amen. (1 Tim 6:13-16)

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to give it light, because the brightness of God did light it, and the Lamb was the light of it. And the people who are saved will walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory to it. (Rev 21:23-24)

The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, Nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the Lord will be your everlasting light, And the days of your mourning shall be ended. (Is 60:19-20)

And they will see his face, and his name will be in their foreheads. And there will be no night there, and they need no lamp, nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. (Rev 22:4-5)

Jesus is fully man and fully God. God is light. Light shone from Jesus’ face and clothes when he was transfigured on the mount. So let us consider some questions:

  • Would it be possible for someone to testify that they have had an experience or a vision of Jesus where light was shining from Him?
  • Would it be okay for someone, especially if that person was a child and didn’t have any previous exposure to Christian terminology, to think of Jesus as “the light man”?
  • Would it be heretical to refer to Jesus as “the light man”?

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Source of scriptures

All NT quotations are from the New Matthew Bible. You can read the NT of the New Matthew Bible on Bible Gateway, but the Bible Gateway platform does not show the notes. You can purchase the NT of the New Matthew Bible complete with all the notes here.

All OT quotations are from the NKJ.

 

Was Paul an abuser before he was converted?

Prior to his conversion, Paul was on a religious crusade to crush the idea that this dead guy Jesus was the Messiah. Paul thought that idea was blasphemous to God, so he was trying to stop it spreading. He was wanting to protect the people of God from being sucked into that error. He fervently persecuted Christians, thinking he was serving God in doing so. He described this fervency when he was addressing the Jews from the steps of the Roman fortress in Jerusalem after the riot had been quelled by the Roman soldiers:

Men, brethren and fathers, hear my answer, which I make to you.

When they heard that he spoke in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence.

And he said, I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and thoroughly taught in the law of the fathers. And I was fervent-minded toward God, as you all are this same day. And I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prison both men and women, as the chief priest bears me witness, and all the elders – from whom also I received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring those who were there as prisoners to Jerusalem, to be punished. (Acts 22:1-5, NMB)

But on the road to Damascus, Paul was confronted by the light and heard Jesus speaking to him, and he realised he was wrong! He realised that Jesus is God. With that conviction he immediately asked, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” (Acts 9:5, 22:6-10)

An abuser, by our definition, is a person who believes that for his own selfish gratification he is entitled to disrespect, mistreat and wield power and control over those he targets with his abuse. (I used the masculine pronoun generically in that sentence.) 

In his persecution of Christians, Paul did not evidence the base fleshly lust that characterises the abuser’s mindset and conduct. Paul did not think “It’s all about me!” Paul was trying to obey and serve God. And he was zealous in keeping the Law. Paul was not motivated by mere selfish gratification. He believed he was serving God by crushing the Christians.

Paul simply hadn’t yet believed that Jesus was God. Contrast this with an abuser: the abuser never wants to obey and serve God. He actually wants to BE God. And the abuser wants his targets to treat him like God.

Paul testified that he received mercy because he did it ignorantly and in unbelief. This is not to excuse his slaughter of the Christians.

Paul  said what convicted him was the law “you shall not covet”. Paul says he died—was slain—by the law:

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. But I would not have known what sin meant, if not by the law. For I would not have known what coveting meant unless the law had said, You shall not covet. But sin took occasion by the means of the commandment, and wrought in me all manner of inordinate desire. For without the law, sin was dead. I once lived without law.

But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I was dead.  And the very same commandment that was ordained for life, was found to be to me an occasion of death. For sin took occasion by the means of the commandment, and thus deceived me, and by the same commandment slew me.
(Rom 7:7-11, NMB)

We do not know whether the Apostle Paul ever had a wife, but the chances are he was married at some point prior to his conversion. I say this with a fair degree of confidence, because religious Jews took “go forth and multiply” as a command to marry and bear children. It was the norm for Pharisees to be married men.

Paul may have been a widow when he was converted. Early death from infection and disease was common; many women died in childbirth; any bacterial infection could lead to death in the days before antibiotics.

But what we can know for sure is that Paul didn’t do the kinds of things abusers do to their family  members. We know this because Paul testifies that before his conversion he was blameless according to the law and traditions of the fathers, at least as far as outward observance:

…as for the righteousness that is in the law, I was unrebukeable. (Phil 3:6, NMB)

The righteousness that is in the law that God gave through Moses stipulates that it is a sin to abuse another person.

Pastor Sam Powell has heard many testimonies from abused women and I’m quoting Sam’s words with his permission —

Paul didn’t burn his wife with cigarettes because he got off on it. He didn’t rape his children or other people’s children. He didn’t call his loved ones fat and stupid and lazy and not worth loving. He didn’t go to synagogue and sing hymns of praise and then go home and abuse his wife just for fun, knowing he could get away with it.

Paul never had a sense of entitlement where he enforced absolute terror on his family, cause them to fear every waking moment. He didn’t keep them awake at night in order to terrify them into submission. He didn’t beat his children until blood ran down their legs. He didn’t pimp out his daughters or get drunk and push his wife down the stairs because she wouldn’t give him sexual intercourse. He didn’t starve his children, and make them watch him eat while they starved because they looked at him wrong.

And the church respond to those wives by saying, “Paul was a sinner too, and he repented. You still don’t have cause for divorce. You need to take him back.”

Sometimes victims are killed, like a woman in Minneapolis who was killed by her husband after her pastor told her she had to take him back. Sometimes victims are excommunicated for contumacy, and left penniless and friendless.

And far too often the person who systematically raped and terrorized is still accepted by the visible church as a member in good standing. And the abuser continues scutinising the church attenders, looking for victims to rape, abuse and terrorize.

The church did not simply accept Paul’s word that he had changed. As Sam Powell noted, “The church in Antioch only received Paul because they had supernatural revelation.” (see Acts chapter 9).

The story of Saul/Paul is perhaps the only narrative in the Bible where a persecutor of the church changed instantly and miraculously. That is not the norm. God sometimes brings a person to regeneration very quickly, but the normal means of grace to bring a soul to repentance and rebirth are the preaching of the Word, the sacraments and church discipline.

UPDATE.  Thanks to a suggestion from a new commenter, I would like to amend what I said in the above paragraph. The amendment is in red.

Sacraments and church discipline are not the same as hearing the gospel preached. By themselves sacraments and church discipline do not lead to regeneration. Hearing the gospel preached can and does, by God’s sovereign grace, lead some souls to repent unto the faith that brings rebirth/regeneration.

Hearing the gospel preached can and does prompt born-again Christians to conviction and repentance in their ongoing walk while they live out their lives in their mortal bodies in this temporal world.

But so far in my searching of scripture, I can find no scriptural warrant to say that the sacraments, or the right use of church discipline can, in and of themselves, without the preaching or reading of the Word, bring a person to rebirth.

Paul was not an abuser by my definition. Here is how the ACFJ ministry defines abuse:

Definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or in-actions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his* target subordinated and under his control. This pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

Definition of a domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he* chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

  • Sometimes the genders are reversed—see our posts about male survivors.

Churches must address adult abuse as well as child abuse – a guest post by Now Free

I thank God for the fantastic teachers I had at Bible college, past ministers long gone into glory, ministers who put real problems before us to think about and digest. I’ll never forget one of those old teachers telling us the ministry we were going to enter was a very precious ministry, but also a very painful ministry. “You will face things that, whatever you say or do, you will have people against you. Whatever you face, follow God and what He is telling you to do. Follow His word. Ensure your own conscience is clear with God, not with men. You will still receive great heartache and strong opposition, often feel no matter what way you turn, you can’t win, but ultimately you answer to God. You may be put out of churches or lose your ministry, but do the right thing, follow God and not man.”

I’ve never forgotten his words. We knew he had been there. This was not just talk, it was deep rooted from his own pastoral experiences.

My wise old boss once said, “The best way to learn is not from your own mistakes. It is by observing others and learning from their mistakes. You then, hopefully, ensure you don’t make the same and undergo the pain.”

In the pastoral ministries class, many of us, if not all, were in tears as he revealed “real” stories as scenarios, stories we knew were from his own experiences. Often, we cried together with him in class. It was such an eye opener and meant more, as we knew this was not textbook stuff, this actually happened. This was the real world!! After our time, we had “faced up to life”, at least in theory, and how we as God’s people should deal with things. Believe me, it did not make things easier in ministry, but it was often relied upon when I faced different dilemmas. I can only hope and pray I did what I feel Jesus would have done in everything. Only eternity will reveal all. At times, really thinking through the application of scriptures into real situations was a horrendous and difficult task. I believe, though, the class was very much all about training men and women to stand for truth and justice, rather than for a denomination or ministry for church growth. It is, after all, supposed to be God’s work, not our own.

I fear a lot of pastors have lost sight of that. The ministry has become more valuable than the ministering to. I saw in ministry how easy it was to cross the line of creating worship to “the worship or ministry”, rather than worshipping the creator and truly ministering. I have heard it often said, “But if we expose this sin (abuse), it may do damage to the work (ministry).”

I can only remember once seeing true discipline administered properly in a church. I had a lot of respect for that church, who challenged sin and harmful conduct. They had godly, strong leadership, and the members knew they could not just do as they liked regarding sin and conduct and get away with it. They were brought quickly to account, dealt with in love, and the church functioned well. Those who wanted to do their own thing or have control did not like that and left. The church remained solid in its teaching and practice, with good biblical teaching and standards.

In contrast, I knew another church who refused to discipline, and it gave rise to more problems between the members and the person who should have been disciplined. It caused more hurt in the end, and more damaged relations than if the church had acted correctly in the first place.

Good church discipline must involve genuine love and a time frame to see genuine repentance. Many abusers often show their true colours, if disciplined. Discipline does not bode well with their sense of entitlement, and often at some point their facade of genuine repentance will unravel.

There is such a desperation in some churches for leaders or people to be involved (especially smaller churches), sin is overlooked or covered up, including the sin of abuse. I’ve witnessed people come through the door a few times, share they did some preaching or were involved in their last church. Without any checks or scrutiny, they were suddenly delivering God’s word before the congregation. Over time, I’ve seen that work for a few churches, but on the whole, I’ve seen it destroy churches, as eventually the person was found to be controlling and abusive. The church acted unwisely and too quickly in desperation.

In a few cases, people were “planted” from other churches to take over a smaller congregation and bring their own extreme doctrines. In others, such people were power hungry and manipulative, seeking to eventually take over and press their own ideologies and agendas. If they didn’t get their way, a split occurred as they left with many of the congregation.

Strong leadership is necessary for good godly discipline. However, I’ve found sound teaching must accompany good leadership for a church to function well and administer that discipline correctly.

There should always be a period of proving yourself. Abuse, if not dealt with correctly, will eventually bring destruction. If the leadership allows manipulating abusers to continue unchecked, or congregations allow leaders who are abusive and controlling unchecked, those fellowships may have some mode of function, but it will eventually bring further destruction.

Secular work situations have time periods to prove a good workman, why should the church be of lesser respect? Secular work situations have warnings and rules to be adhered to, discipline given even to the point of dismissal if wrong conduct has happened. The church and its leaders should be operating to an even higher respect than the world. Where are our standards?? Cover ups of unrepentant sin do not and will not work. The truth sets you free!

I remember attending a seminar series. One weekend of the series dealt with listening, with the idea saying nothing, just listening, should be the first thing in any counselling session. Nothing else; definitely no admonishment or instruction. Pastors are all too quick to express their opinions or agendas than truly listen, including letting a victim vent if he/she needs to. Venting is release of much pent-up emotion and pain that has been bottled up and kept under wraps for their own safety and out of fear. All that must come out before you can even begin to pour in healing from God’s word to help in those areas.

The second weekend of teaching was to listen, but only after listening properly can you give encouragement. After listening intently, getting hold of the truth of the real problem, it is only then time to “put an arm round” (not literally) someone’s deep problem, and be there for them and start building them up. Nothing more. No criticism, no questioning, or cross examination.

The third weekend of the series was exhortation. Only after the first two criteria were met should we exhort, a time to challenge and exhort into action. Helping them see the scriptures in their situation and how to take action and make moves for better change. The order should never be confused, but all too many so-called Christian pastors who are ill equipped jump in right away to challenge and say what they think, rather than properly listening first.

In all the failings I’ve heard reported here on ACFJ regarding pastors / leaders and families, I do not think once I’ve read that anyone truly took time to listen, let alone encourage. However, there was plenty of exhortation, and it brought more damage many of us are still trying to recover from.

To me, the church on the whole does not counsel in any way near in the way it should, perhaps due to lack of education and training. This lack is something I think all denominations need to ensure is addressed. More and more we need top quality counsellors in our churches. Ones who listen and understand the problems faced by people today. I was once told more and more pastors today are not getting time to concentrate on the ministry of the word, as so much time through the week is given to counselling and dealing with pastoral problems. In this person’s opinion, from some time ago, churches needed to re-address and have appointed full time Christian counsellors, as church leaders were often not well equipped, and only trained in biblical scholarship. As a result, many were going crazy under the stress of the sheer volume of problems the church was facing.

A two-pronged approach is needed for ministry education. 1) Upcoming pastors trained by the various colleges most closely linked to churches need up-to-date training (meaning lecturers keeping brushed up and curriculums changed or adapted), and 2) a retraining approach of pastors already in existence who will not be going through seminary or college training. It’s approaching it from both sides. If the law says you need child abuse policies, etc. then churches need to update their own training. In some areas, it’s left to individual churches what their policy is, but it must include certain things, and must have people give training that are registered with the authorities. Some churches will adapt accordingly and some be far better than others. Some training is updated each year, but is mainly aimed at prevention and reporting. I’ve yet to see anything regarding how the church would help survivors, there’s virtually nothing in most church policies to help those still in church and families who are surviving. We cannot just leave that to authorities, there must be help in the church. Pastors need to be not just providers of the flock (food), they must realise they are also to be protectors of the flock.

The church cannot truly operate as the body of Christ on earth, if it’s not acting in keeping with the word of Christ and with the heart of Christ and in the spirit of Christ! There’s so much more to shepherding a flock than just speaking words to a sheep, or caring for them with a few nice words and I’ll pray for you.

I had absolutely no one except God, so with a prayer of desperation I sought the net, found ACFJ and Barbara and started for the first time in years getting specific answers to my situation.

The results from a pastor interfering – damaged emotions, spirit broken, confusion, deep hurt and pain, little to no self esteem, loss of ministries, friends, church, but hallelujah NOT LOST GOD!!!, ever true to His word. It took well into my marriage to be totally convinced I needed out. With the added confusion, another period of lengthy time to a stage of moving away in my head, another time period of sheer hell every day after my pastor and his wife put me away quietly, and yet ANOTHER lengthy time of not knowing who I would come home to, not knowing minute by minute who I lived with, with ever increasing threats and living in fear. I took the step to contact Barb, and it took more time to eventually break free. Pastors, you have no idea of the struggle we face and the pain we have endured!! I say to you do not add to it!! Be very sure before you act on God’s behalf!

No set of circumstances is the same. Each person is an individual with unique situations they face. There are no black and white situations, but loads of grey ones, with plenty of complications. However, in abuse situations, there are many non-negotiables and it would do a church well to make them one of the traits and practices of the church. Just as we have child abuse policies, we need to go one further and have policies for adult and domestic abuse.

God’s character and attributes are not to be dismissed when reading His word. I am ever reminded the trinity is in operation upon the God breathed inspirational word as Timothy puts it in 1 Timothy 3:16 – “All scripture is God breathed and useful for ……”

God the Father revealing His spoken word out of His heart via mouth involving His breath and vocals – Christ the Son of God is the word (logos) become flesh and God the Holy Spirit as the breath of God, (the pneuma) all in operation. When God speaks, the trinity is always in operation. When Christ or the Holy Spirit speaks, the same trinity is operating. God cannot be separated from Himself or His word. Just as we live and breath and our words involve our hearts and our breath and we cannot be separated from ourselves, God is the same. We must interpret His word with the same spirit, knowing God’s heart and character and thinking, what would Jesus do and listening to God the Holy Spirit as He reveals God in His word.

More emphasis is made on church building than church character building. I’d rather have a smaller church filled with godly encouragement and love than a multi-functioning church like a shopping mall, but full of critical silence and hypocrisy. Is this why there’s so much damage to God’s people? Pastors and leaders ministering in denial, walking in pride and fear and defensive, opting for the “easy way out”. Getting rid of marriage problems, trouble makers or someone that’s too risky for church to have about by brushing under carpets, covering up or simple prayer.

Pastors take note – we need more than the prayer of faith and a bit of bible study. Your “sheep” deserve your very best you can give them. If you need reinforcements, go get them.

Woe unto them I say – God is very much against them if they do not take a stand for the oppressed.

There’s a serious lack of education and training in most churches. Too many pastors are ill equipped, and instead of passing it on to experts, try with disaster to undertake in their own strength. Lethal operations take place every day in churches, as leaders make decisions that kill the mind, body and spirit. In the Latina ladies article here at ACFJ, Evaliz made it clear it was the law of the land to report regarding abuse, and the church needs to operate within the law and report matters to the law. Let law matters be dealt with by the law and people who are trained and qualified to deal with it.

Stop couples counselling as the be all and end all of marriage problems. After each session, abuse may be intensified. Pastors need to be aware of this: Some victims and survivors may have been through counselling over many years, only to be more confused as the pastor does not “get it or get me!”

I do not believe Christ on judgment day will be in the least bit interested in how big your church is or how fantastic your programs. He never was interested in that on earth; what possesses us to think things will be different then? He was a people person! I think He will more likely ask about what you did about Mrs. so-and-so when she was at the end of her tether with life over her constant beating and brow beating by Mr. so-and-so. How did you protect her and her children? I think these are more what the Christ I know and love will be interested in. I still see Him rush to Mary’s aid, and defence of children, widows, blind, the lepers and oppressed! Defending Mary, who’s sister was trying to build a better home, a better surrounding for Christ. Work, work, work, but Christ wanted devotion. He is interested in people, not empires. Interested in the church as people, not the church as a mere ministry or work. He is the Lord God; He is not going to change! The sooner we get hold of this in the church the better. Pastors what is your priority? Or should I say, who is your priority??

I’m glad the voice here at ACFJ calls “a spade a spade”. Many people don’t like those who are like that, but though I sometimes do not like the abrupt, sometimes wrong nature, I’ve always said at least I know where I stand with that person. There may be no airs or graces with them, but there is no hidden agenda behind the scenes. They are what they are with no facade. I’m sure Barb and others here would only hope for the day such a site was not needed, as churches take up each case so well. In the meantime, we will speak up and share for the sake of each other and in the hope that the true church changes to serve Christ on earth, rather than their own agendas.

God IS LOVE! God IS TRUTH!! We must act in love; we must act in keeping with truth.

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An example of church training can be found in Child Safety Training – by Ps Jimmy Hinton, the son of a pedophile pastor.

An example of updating education about trauma and recovery can be found in Wound Healing. Make sure you read the comments on that post too as they add more detail about how to facilitate the healing of wounds.

For those who don’t know, Now Free is a Christian man who has suffered abuse from his (now ex) wife. If you are following this blog you will have probably seen his comments on various posts.

“Reaching Out” is my new assistant at A Cry For Justice

I’m happy to announce that I have a new assistant. She is using the name “Reaching Out”.

Reaching Out is a survivor of multiple forms of abuse, from multiple abusers, and in multiple environments. She is passionate about assisting in advocacy for the abused, working behind the scenes for her safety and protection. Reaching Out is a Christian, trusting God to use her experience to assist others on their journey. Her favourite scripture is Revelation 2:9.

She is doing the kinds of things that TWBTC used to do: she helps moderate comments, fixes broken links, and assists me with updating the FAQs and Resources. In addition she has some skill with html so she can trouble-shoot technical things that are beyond me.

Her email address is reachingout.acfj@gmail.com.  I have added her bio and email address to the About page.

I also have several regular followers of ACFJ who I’m consulting with privately, to bounce ideas off and ask for prayer support.

I know that some of you have emailed me offering help and I’ve not yet had time to get back to you. Please forgive me. I’ll do my best to reply to you now the dust is settling. And I want to especially thank all who have been praying for the ACFJ ministry.

As they say when there’s been an interruption on free to air TV: “Regular transmission will resume shortly”. I’ve got several posts lined up to be published. I”m not sure what order they will be coming out, but here are the working titles:

  • A Response To Pastors — a guest post by Now Free
  • Was Paul an abuser before he was converted?
  • Hadassah’s Legacy – Truth, Courage, Compassion, Justice & Intimate Partner Abuse
  • What is the purpose of Marriage? Is it to illustrate or display Christ’s love for the church?
  • Cranmer on divorce for abuse
  • God is light and Jesus is the light of the world

One more thing: I’ve also decided to use British spelling from now on at this blog.

Response to my detractors and apology to ACFJ followers I’ve hurt

I have realized that I took on too much. I was trying to maintain a safety protocol at A Cry For Justice, particularly in regards to comment moderation, that isn’t possible for one person to maintain. Something had to go. In my case, what went was comforting words to people who were feeling bruised. I know that I didn’t always provide comforting words to victims.

I’ve realized that I’ve sometimes come across as blunt, sharp, abrupt, curt, terse, brusque, discourteous, impolite and unmannerly. If I have hurt you by my manner, I am very sorry. I ask you to forgive me.

I have also learned that there are times I have to unsay or remove what I’ve said, just to make the person comfortable, even if the reason they are upset is because of a misunderstanding.

I was always the team member who was most dedicated to carefully editing the tricky comments to protect the commenter’s safety.

I have a slew of unanswered emails from victims in my inbox. If you have asked me a question by email and I haven’t answered you, I ask your forgiveness. You might find answers to your questions if you scour the A Cry For Justice website, cryingoutforjustice.com

Each of us has our own way of speaking and learning. I know my way of speaking has offended some people and I am sorry. My character defects are some of it for sure, and I’m working on that with the help of others.

I also think some of the offense has arisen because of cultural differences. Up until now, all the other team members at A Cry For Justice have been Americans, and a large proportion of the readers are Americans. Aussies have a different manner from Americans, and the meanings of words and phrases can be different too. Many times I’ve been astounded when I’ve been told how a word or a particular turn of speech is understood by Americans. Cultural differences like that can easily give rise to misunderstandings. And if none of the parties realize there has been a misunderstanding, offense can easily be taken. This works both ways. People from other English-speaking countries have probably been offended by things I’ve said that would not be offensive to an Aussie; and I’ve probably felt offense at things people from other countries have said, not realizing that their way of speaking is the norm within their culture.

I am learning how to mitigate such misunderstandings. I’m open to your tips about the cultural differences, but please don’t write them on the A Cry For Justice facebook page or use the Messenger platform. Please give me your tips by submitting a comment at the A Cry For Justice website.

I’d like to review the history, goals and policies of the A Cry For Justice website.

The website began in 2012. Jeff Crippen had no previous experience with blogging but Anna Wood, a domestic abuse victim he had been interacting with, had a bit of experience in blogging and she urged him to start a blog, so together they set up the A Cry For Justice website.

Some months prior to that, Jeff had emailed me requesting permission to quote some of my book in his forthcoming book A Cry For Justice. I asked Jeff to send me a sample chapter of his book…I read it and gave him some feedback. He then took up my offer to read his whole manuscript and give him feedback. He told me later that he’d incorporated most of my suggestions into the final manuscript. I was very happy to have helped him. I didn’t want recognition; I was just glad to be able to help victims of abuse.

I think I followed the A Cry For Justice website from almost when it began. I commented there, and I sent emails to Jeff and Anna praising their work and offering suggestions for how the blog could be made even better. I was reluctant to muscle in – it was their blog not mine – but eventually I emailed them to say that I was feeling that I could help with running the blog. They each said they had been feeling like inviting me onto the team. So they mutually agreed to take me on as a co-administrator.

Shortly after that, Anna, of her own free will, resigned. Her only explanation was that the blog was not going in the direction she had thought it would. From then on Jeff and I were co-leaders of the blog until Jeff resigned in Sept 2017.

Some months after Anna resigned, I flew to the USA to visit with Jeff.  We jointly decided on the wording for the mission statement of A Cry For Justice:– Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst. 

While Jeff and I worked together at the A Cry For Justice website, we unapologetically talked about the dark entangled things to do with abuse. Many followers of A Cry For Justice shared detailed stories of having being abused. And we published many testimonies of abuse. But we never glorified the evil things that abusers do.

In moderating comments on the A Cry For Justice blog to prioritize the safety and well-being of victims, I have to think about many factors.

  1. the risk of hurting a victim’s feelings
  2. the risk being a victim being triggered by something that someone else has said 
  3. the risk of a victim being re-abused
  4. the risk of victims being told what they should do, think or feel
  5. the risk of a victim hearing something someone else has said as a harsh instruction (an Order)
  6. the risk of an abuser identifying their target victim, if the abuser read what the victim had written
  7. the risk of spreading false doctrine or misinformation that would lead people astray or confuse them
  8. and last but not least, the importance of teaching good doctrine which exposes and disentangles all the false doctrines that are contributing to keeping victims in bondage.

In doing this complex moderation, I have often faced a moral dilemma. I have to weigh the safety and well-being of my overall audience against the feelings of an individual person who has been abused. 

When I know that someone is a victim of abuse, I don’t want to hurt their feelings or trigger them by saying something that reminds them of how their abuser talked to them.

But if that person has espoused ideas that are not biblically sound; or if they’ve “sermonized” at other victims by telling them how to feel, think or behave; or if they’ve written a really long comment that would be hard for other deeply traumatized victims to read in its raw form; I have sometimes advised them how to phrase and format their comments to make the A Cry For Justice site function well as a communal support group. That’s how I’ve tried to make ACFJ a safe place for all our readers.

But the irony is, because I had taken on too much, I sometimes came across as curt in my replies to commenters. I’ve done my best to teach and model how to write and respond to comments. But my efforts have been far from perfect.

When Jeff and I were co-leading the A Cry For Justice site and TWBTC was assisting, we mutually agreed on a protocol for moderating comments. Jeff was very okay with us banning and blocking commenters where necessary.

It’s also important to note that the facebook platform is even more difficult to manage than the blog. Facebook does not give us many options to guard our readers’ safety and well-being. When people comment at our facebook page, we have only three options:

  • we can let a comment stand, which means everyone can read it
  • or we can hide the comment, which means only the commenter & their friends can read it
  • or we can ban the commenter from our facebook page.

What is more, facebook is set up and configured to give people the impression they have the right to ‘free speech’ and they can easily disregard the responses other people make to their speech. That’s the way facebook is constructed. Facebook is reaping all our data and making money from advertisers, while giving each of us the feeling that we have a giant megaphone to blast out our thoughts and feelings, and we can easily stop our ears when we don’t want to hear what people are saying back to us.

The time differences around the world also affect communal discussion. Americans can light a bushfire and I will only see it when I wake up hours later. By that time the bushfire has spread and it’s hard to bring reasonableness to the discussion because it’s got so heated…and when I try, some people perceive me as dictatorial for trying to calm things down.

Facebook has catered to our self-centerdness. Our biases. Our prejudices. And now, almost everybody is seeing facebook as THE way to communicate. Very few people are willing to engage in deep conversation or thinking which might challenge them or make them feel uncomfortable.

While Jeff and I were co-leaders, a lady messaged us saying she was setting up a closed group on facebook to discuss domestic abuse, and she asked our advice about how to do this. Jeff replied to her saying:

I have not had any experience with closed groups on facebook. One thing for sure though, you need to moderate comments if you allow readers to comment and don’t publish the nasty ones. We find it best to keep dagger throwers from even being allowed to comment and if necessary we block and ban them.

While he co-led A Cry For Justice with me, Jeff Crippen told me more than once that he wanted us to drop the facebook page, but I was reluctant to drop facebook because it helps abuse victims find the blog.

Is it “power hungry & controlling” to hide or block comments?

Let us picture someone called Jesse. I’ve chosen that name because it can be male or female. Jesse is a Christian who has a presence on the web: Jesse writes a blog, has a facebook identity and a twitter identity.

Now; what if Jesse tells you who to listen to and who not to listen to. Or Jesse does not publish your comment at his website. Or Jesse hides the comment you made at her facebook page. Or Jesse bans you from his facebook page. If Jesse does any of those things, can we conclude that Jesse is a power-hungry person who wants to control you? 

Not necessarily.

What could be the REASON why Jesse is not letting some people spread their views at his social media platforms? Could Jesse have some good reasons for not letting everyone express their views on her website or facebook page?

If there are no conceivable good reasons for Jesse behaving that way, then Jesse is just a selfish controller and power-monger.

But if Jesse has good reasons for curating what readers see at his or her social media and website, then Jesse isn’t trying to hold power in an ungodly way. Rather, Jesse is trying to take care of the overall well-being and safety of all the people who are benefiting from Jesse’s work. 

This is where you and I need to exercise discernment. We can assess Jesse’s track record. Has Jesse stood up for victims of abuse? Has Jesse toed some party line in the Christian world, and avoided telling the whole truth in order to stay in favor with important people? Has Jesse done a lot of hard work, often without much kudos or reward, to help victims of abuse and oppression? Perhaps Jesse mouths good rhetoric; but how much has Jesse self-sacrificially done to protect the safety and well-being of real life abuse victims who are being crushed at the coal face?

At the facebook page of A Cry For Justice, many critical comments were made about me. I only censored a few of those comments.

I actually hid one comment which supported what I was saying – I hid it because the commenter had also recommended a book which I know would lead our readers into wrong theology (contemplative Christianity). I banned one commenter who kept on arguing against the inspiration of Scripture: he accused me of being legalistic, but I don’t think it is legalistic to uphold the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I hid another comment that was extremely snarky to me, and when that commenter wrote another comment which made untruthful claims about my actual conduct, I banned her from the page.

However, I did not hide or block the vast majority of the comments that were angry at what I had said about Billy Graham, or were claiming that I was being ‘legalistic’ to uphold the truths of the gospel. I let most of my critics have their ‘free speech’ on our facebook page. And I replied to their comments reasonably –  my aim was always to encourage my critics to reconsider and be more open minded to the possibility that I had not gone off the rails.

But the vast majority of the people who deprecated me at facebook did not respond reasonably and courteously to my comments. They just ignored me, or criticized me even more. They had formed a fixed opinion of me and were determined to maintain it.

Are you starting to see how facebook has conditioned and colored the way we all interact? Do you grasp how hard it is to have reasoned and respectful interaction, when almost everyone just defaults to facebook as THE place to interact and comment and discuss things?

At the A Cry For Justice blog post about Billy Graham and other ‘untouchables’ in the Christian world, Rachel Miller submitted a highly critical comment about me. Rachel has a blog of her own, but she didn’t use her own blog to state her concerns about me. When she saw that I hadn’t published her comment at the blog, she posted it at the ACFJ facebook page…and two days later she allowed Jeff Crippen to publish her critical opinion of me at his new blog.

Jeff and other people have dismissed me because they think I’ve been sucked in by what Jeff calls “the crazy conspiracy/ Satanic ritual abuse business”. (Jeff said that here.) But they have not given a lot of reasoned arguments for why they think I’ve lost the plot. In my view, they have not done enough research and they are making assumptions about the testimonies of victims.

My detractors have not had the life experience that I’ve had. That doesn’t make me ‘better’. It just makes me different from them.

I invite you to compare how much I’ve allowed free speech at ACFJ, with how much Jeff Crippen has allowed free speech at his blogs and his personal social media accounts.

I’m not the only one who is censoring comments. Jeff is censoring some comments that are submitted to his blogs. Several people including myself have submitted comments to his blog Unholy Charade that he hasn’t published. Jeff is curating what people see at his blogs. Many bloggers do this: it is a mistake to think that I’m the only blogger who curates what people see at their blog. 

Furthermore, Jeff is not running a public facebook page in conjunction with his blogs. So he’s not opening himself up to the “free for all” on a public facebook page where people can make knee-jerk, drive-by digs at anyone they want to criticize.

Jeff Crippen asked me not to cite his blog posts as support in articles that I write or statements that I make

I have decided that it is not appropriate for me comply with Jeff’s request. Any author is free to quote or cite another author, so long as they attribute the quote correctly. I agree with what Jeff wrote at the A Cry For Justice blog, and those things continue to be helpful to victims. If I think something Jeff has written is relevant or pertinent to what I am wanting to say, I will cite it if I think it will help my readers.

Three other people (Megan Cox, Valerie Hobbs and Rachel Miller) asked me to remove their posts from the A Cry For Justice blog. I initially told them I would, but I have now informed them that I will be leaving up all their posts at the ACFJ blog.

One of the ACFJ readers has said she hopes that all the material by Jeff Crippen and Megan is left intact at A Cry For Justice. She wrote that publicly without any prompting from me, and several other readers have agreed with her. She pointed out that to delete that information at ACFJ would dry up a wealth of helpful resources: it’s like Jeff is trying to erase history and is assuming that our readers blindly believe what anyone tells them and don’t have discernment.

If I removed a post, that would remove all the comments at the post too. I will not undermine any of the content of A Cry For Justice when I deem it to be in accordance with the truth of scripture and helpful for understanding and wisely responding to abuse.

I still concur with the material by Jeff, Megan, Valerie and Rachel that is published A Cry For Justice. So I will not be removing it. But of course, if any of those people longer agree with something they wrote in the past, they are free to say so at their own blogs.

I don’t know how long I will continue to run the A Cry For Justice website, but at the moment I’m wanting to continue this voluntary ministry. I may find at some point that I don’t feel capable of managing the workload even though I have new assistants. If I ever contemplate giving up the online ministry of ACFJ, I’ll try to provide plenty of advance notice.

To sum up

I believe that evildoers have infiltrated, corrupted and gained widespread control of churches, organizations and major social institutions.

In my observation, there are very few professing Christians who are aware of the extent of the corruption and are standing up and speaking out against it. And evildoers are constantly throwing distractions, disinformation, stumbling blocks and obstacles in the path so that Christ’s people will be thrown off track…and will attack each other…become disabled…or die.

One our readers has noted that

Sex trafficking of women and children would not occur if there weren’t money in it. Who’s paying for it? Is it not evil people who pretend to be good? Do you think there’s no Satan worship? Is it really so inconceivable wicked people would participate in ritual abuse?

The evildoers don’t want Christians around, hindering their agenda. Psalm 2 talks about how the kings of the earth enjoin to conspire against God and his Anointed. As I read the following passage from Psalm 2, think about the “kings of the earth” as political leaders, religious leaders, and powerful people in the health system, the legal system, mass-media and entertainment.

Why do the heathen so furiously rage together
and why do the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth stand up,
and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed.
Let us break their bonds asunder: and cast away their cords from us.
(Psalm 2:1-3)

And the Gospel of John talks about this as well—

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:19-21)

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you can take comfort in the Bible’s assurance that God wins in the end.

God will take vengeance against the ungodly. His Word is true and trustworthy. He has promised that every soul whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be saved (Rev 13:8; 21:27).

The Lamb is Jesus. Jesus is fully God and fully man, fully divine and fully human, the only human without sin. He is the light of the world, the door, the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is the good shepherd. He knows every one of his sheep and calls them by name. And He goes to great lengths to rescue every one of his sheep from the briers. Jesus said:

my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give to them eternal life. And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to take them out of my Father’s hand.  And I and my Father are one. (John 10:27-30, NMB)

Oct 22, 2018, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologized to victims of institutional child sexual abuse. He said the words “ritual sexual abuse” at 5:55 in his speech. To listen to his speech go to https://www.sbs.com.au/news/full-speech-scott-morrison-s-national-apology-to-child-sex-abuse-victims

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Footnotes