A Cry For Justice

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

Thursday Thought — Where to Get Help When Everyone Sides with Him

Sometimes it just becomes too painful to keep trying to get the people around you to see the truth.  When people are impressed with your partner and convinced that he’s a great person, your efforts to get them to see won’t always work.  They don’t want to believe they idolized a false icon, so it’s easier to blame the victim.

So sometimes you’re better off letting go of trying to open their eyes.  Instead, look elsewhere for support, validation, and safety.  Some places you might turn to include:

  • Friends and relative who don’t live close by, so they haven’t been swayed by your community’s mythology about your partner
  • Websites for women who have faced abuse by influential abusers … or where you could seek out women whose experiences are similar to yours …
  • A hotline or support group for abused women …

A day will come when you can get yourself into circumstances where people validate and support you.  You will be able to surround yourself with friends who don’t know the man who abused you and haven’t been indoctrinated by his allies. I recognize what a painful journey it can be to get there, but you will make it.  He will not succeed in controlling you forever.

*****

[Entry from Lundy Bancroft’s Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? * p242]

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

What Does it Feel Like to Not be Believed?

One of the most important things we can do to help victims of abuse is believe them when they tell us what is going on behind the scenes. If you have been following this blog for a while, you have probably seen that we have been attacked by some pretty nasty types who accuse us of believing reports of abuse “no matter what,” and most of them are tee’d off because they are still stuck in the world of “those cursed anti-God feminists run things and no one ever believes the man.” We who are in the know about the mentality and nature of abuse understand that just the opposite is true — with some exceptions. Namely, that the typical scenario is that it is the abuser (who is most typically a man) is the one who is being believed, not the victim.

But we stand by this principle. The best thing, and the wisest thing that we can do to help abuse victims is to believe them when they tell us and ask us for help. Think about it. How many women, especially Christian women, are going to be people who “just want to dump the guy and take him for all they can” and choose to do so by going to their pastor or fellow church members and accusing their spouse of abuse? Is that a tried and proven way to get support? Is that the easy way to get out of a marriage? Hardly. Just ask the many abuse victims we know if they had a pleasant experience when they went this route!

No. Typically, genuine abuse victims are not believed by their Christian friends, pastors, or families. They are often not believed by the police (that has changed somewhat for the better). And in the end it is the victim who is portrayed and punished as the culprit. Abuse victims find that very few people believe them and are willing to stand with them.

How does that feel? Have you ever KNOWN something was true and yet no one would believe you? The wicked are often quite adept at lying and deception. Victims see them lying and manipulating others, and they see people believing these lies. They see people who perhaps were even friends turn against them and embrace the evil one. And they see this happen EVEN when the victim is able to offer substantial supporting proof! Believing the abuser, you see, is to believe the one who holds the cards of power. Believing the abuser is the easy way to keep your own hide out of trouble. Believing the victim on the other hand can prove to be quite costly.

When people who claim to be our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, or who are supposed to be shepherding our souls, or who are charged with protecting the innocent from the guilty, simply will not believe us, we experience great pain and sorrow. We feel accused and demeaned and shamed. We feel betrayed  — because in fact we have been betrayed.

So take care, all you who claim to be shepherds of Christ’s church. Take care, all of you who claim to belong to Christ and insist that you are seekers and lovers of His truth. The truth is often ugly. The truth very typically entails facts about the deeds of darkness that have been hidden from sight all the while destroying victims. Take heed that you do not reject the oppressed and refuse to believe them simply because to do so would be too unpleasant for you.

 

Is the Christian’s Conscience Still Fallen and Therefore Untrustworthy? No!

The following link was provided to us by one of our readers. Many thanks to her. It is a lady named Mary Wilson and this, if I am reading the link correctly, was put on Twitter by The Gospel Coalition. Wilson says, “God does not call a woman to subject herself to anything that violates her Christian conscience, including willingly submitting to a husband’s physical or sexual abuse.” That is true of course but most all of our readers will immediately note that the quote does not mention emotional, spiritual, or psychological abuse.

But the primary issue I would like to deal with here is in regard to a comment made to Wilson’s presentation by one David Hodge whose handle is “preacherhodge” and would indicate he is a pastor. This is what Wilson said –

Remember, even your Christian conscience is fallen – better to heed God’s Word.”

WHAT!!?? Did we read that right? The Christian’s conscience is fallen, says preacher Hodge. Can’t be trusted. Better to heed God’s Word. That is to say, what Hodge means is that even if a believer’s conscience is telling her that the abuse she is suffering is wicked and that she can leave and be free of it, Scripture tells her she cannot leave and therefore she is to stuff her conscience and stay. Oh yeah, I have no doubt that is precisely what he means.

Well, preacher Hodge, just what does Scripture say about the Christian’s conscience? Not his flesh. His conscience. Here is the answer:

I am speaking the truth in Christ  — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — (Rom 9:1)

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. (Acts 24:16)

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. (2Cor 1:12)

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. (2Cor 5:11)

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb 9:14)

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. (Heb 13:18)

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1Peter 3:21)

The Christian cannot trust his conscience because it is fallen? NO! The Spirit of God and the Word of God work in harmony with the believer’s conscience, that conscience having been cleansed and renewed in Jesus Christ.

Preacher Hodge is wrong. In fact God’s Word tells the Christian to pay close heed to his or her conscience. When some supposed Bible teacher or professing Christian tells us that we must never trust our ‘gut,’ that we cannot listen to our feelings, THEY are the ones we must not listen to. They will keep us in bondage while the Lord is working by His Word, by His Spirit, and by our conscience, to set us free.

* * * *

Further reading on Conscience

Dealing with an overactive conscience

Conscience, emotions, and how they inter-relate

How do we know the difference between God’s conviction and self doubt?

Spiritual Abuse and the Church: Can a Church Bind Our Conscience?

Further reading on 1 Peter

1 Peter 3:6 — Sarah’s children do what is right and do not give way to fear

Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

 

Wise as Serpents: If the Word You are Hearing Does not Set You Free, it is not the Word of God (Part 25 of Sermon Series)

God’s truth brings believers into freedom.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Evil distorts, perverts, twists and morphs the Word of God into a wicked counterfeit which traumatizes people and brings them into bondage. Evil loves to quote God’s Word but always does so with the method and intent of using it to deceive and enslave.

We are surrounded by phoney religion today, just as was the case in Jesus’ day when the religious establishment in Israel was corrupt. The temple was not the Temple, but had become a den of robbers. The righteous were put out of the temple while the wicked not only remained members in good standing but were preeminent in it — exalted with trumpets. When the Lamb of God came to that “church” He was rejected, scorned, and ultimately executed.

And so it is today. We see it constantly. The very same dynamics being wickedly carried out in the name of “christianity.” The thing is disgusting. The Lord sees it all.

Jesus Christ taught with authority: exposing, challenging and correcting the wrong teachings of the hypocritical religionists. He confronted the scripture twisters who loved to quote God’s Word with the intent of using it to deceive and enslave. And He graciously taught the folk who were held under bondage by the scripture twisters. To these folk, His teaching was refreshing, reviving, freeing, and life-giving!

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (Mark 1:27)

These were Jews who had grown up on the teaching of the corrupt church. What they had been hearing, and what they had thought was the word of God, wasn’t. And when the true word of God came to them, they were amazed.

Today, in the face of the evil and false teaching in the ‘c’hurch, we must not spurn the true church. You may find yourself at the point of saying, “If this is what it is, it’s all bogus! I’m outa here!” It’s not all bogus. Christ is real. His church is real. And his true people are real. And we might despair sometimes as to whether we can really find Christ’s people, but that isn’t anything new. Elijah thought he was the only one left, but he wasn’t. Christ always has His true remnant, His true Bride. Always. And even in Bible times and on through the history of the church, many times you had to go into underground caves and caverns to find the true church, outside the walls, meeting in secret. Christ always retains and preserves His true bride.

We must never allow the wicked who parade as righteous eminent “saints” to cause us to distrust the Bible, God’s Word.

Oh yes, they are constantly quoting Scripture to justify themselves and to condemn Jesus’ true flock; but like the devil in the wilderness tempting Christ, their use of Scripture is perverted and twisted, turning it into a devilish tool by ripping texts out of context and through other diabolical methods.

God’s Word is truth. Truth that sets us free. Truth and light that exposes evil no matter how dark that evil is. God’s Word is food for the soul and living water for our thirst. It is life-giving. Even when it brings a person under heavy conviction for actual sin, its goal is LIFE by leading the sinner to repentance and salvation.

If what is being taught to you in your church, or even what you are understanding in your own mind, is not setting your soul free, if it is burdening you with a heavy yoke, if it is demanding that you remain in oppression, if it is insisting that you keep silent about evil, then it is not the religion of Christ. It is not the word of God no matter how many christian trappings are hanging on it.

Psalm 19 describes the nature and the effect of the Word of God: 

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)

In many churches, people’s souls are not being revived. The simple are not being made wisethey continue to be duped by evil. Their religion is not resulting in rejoicing of the heart and enlightenment of the eyes. And if you asked them, “Tell me, really, honestly, do you find the Word of God sweeter than honey to you?” would they answer Yes?  If the majority of christians today took Psalm 19 and applied it to the so-called christianity they’ve had laid onto them, they would realise, “I have  been duped! What has been laid on me is not Christ Jesus at all! It’s a counterfeit.” 

Let me say it again –

If the religion that you are being taught, the Bible that you are being instructed in, the understanding that you have of God’s Word, is not leading you to wholeness, to life, to freedom, to joy and peace, then that religion is not of Christ, it is not faithful to His Word, and you are being robbed of the freedom Christ has promised to all who follow Him in truth. Because His truth sets us free.

Counterfeit christianity can look like a party. It can even make you (for a little while) feel good. But in the end it leaves you empty or worse than empty. It leaves you starving and thirsty and joyless. How healthy would you be if you ate straw? Counterfeit christianity leaves people miserable (except for the power and control merchants who are happy with counterfeit christianity because it gives them added tools by which to control others).

Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD. Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?  (Jeremiah 23:28-29)

Sometimes the enemy  chooses to oppose and murder Christians and try to wipe out the church that way. But the enemy is cunning, he’s learned lessons over the history of the church, and it’s a lot more effective to create a counterfeit Christianity that is feeding people straw rather than the wheat of God’s word. And the people are famishing. In most supposed christian churches, what is being taught is the dreams of men.  Dreams of men, that are called the word of God.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;

the dreams of men are pathetic, they suck the life out of the soul

the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

the dreams of the wicked are opposed to wisdom, and make the fool even more foolish 

the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

the dreams of the wicked steal the joy from a person’s heart
they 
don’t enlighten the eyes, they make the darkness even darker
they are not sweeter than honeycomb, they are bitter.

I often speak to Christians who grew up in the church and who have suffered long term domestic abuse. I ask them this question: “In the twenty or thirty or forty years that you were in oppression, how did you find the teaching of the church? Did you find it sweeter than honeycomb? Was that your experience?”  They reply, “I tried to tell myself to rejoice in it. I knew I was supposed to regard the teaching of the word as sweet, but I’ve got to admit, it was bitter to my soul.”   … It was bitter because it wasn’t the word of God!

Here are the words of a Christian lady who learned after more than 20 years of oppression and bondage that the ‘Christian doctrine’ and the ‘bible teachings’ she was taught in her local church were not the Word of God at all. This lady said this on our post about how ‘GratefulBride’ had patronisingly preached to abuse victims by telling them that their misery was due to them not having chosen a husband wisely. 

I have been out of a 2+ decade marriage for more than 10 years and remarks like GratefulBride’s still can trigger me so much. I still have problems with giving myself credit for leaving a marriage that ultimately gave me a breakdown. How can I still be so lacking in strength so many years later? (Because of how subtle and powerful the minute daily abuses were, piled up day after day, year after year.) Many of us, with no broken bones or blackened eyes, have nothing to prove the abuse to those who were our friends in church and Christian groups.

I, like many, was so controlled by what I heard from my husband (who claimed to be a Christian), the pulpit, the Sunday School classes, the women’s meetings, the books, the seminars, etc. that I STILL have problems feeling justified in making the hard decision to walk away from it finally.

I wonder if I’ll ever recover from the damage that was done.

Some Christians are very dedicated and zealous to follow God. They take the attitude, “I really want to do what God wants of me! I want to go to every church service. I’m going to take notes during the sermons. I’m going to examine my heart and my life by what is being preached. I’m going to buy the books and go to the seminars and the Sunday school classes and the bible study groups!”  — But if all those things are teaching erroneous doctrine, biased and distorted by the dreams of men, what will the result be?  The best Christians are going to be in the worst shape. Fed on straw. And the enemy knows it.

Remember this: The word of God revives your soul. It makes you wise regarding wickedness. It causes a rejoicing of your heart, it enlightens your eyes, and it’s sweeter than honey. And if that is not your experience of your Christianity something is wrong.

The lady goes on:

I long for the clearheadedness to stop questioning my past valiant attempts at submissiveness. I long for the time when I stop trying to justify my ex’s actions in my head. I long for people to finally “get it” and tell me that they are sorry for how I’ve been treated and effectively shunned. (That will never happen.)

I want to be strong, but I think that by staying so long the damage is so deep that I won’t recover. (I constantly pray that this is not the case.)

It’s bad enough to have suffered the church abuse while we were in abusive marriages and after we made hard decisions to leave, but to suffer the abuse from women is so sad.

The Word of God does not do this to people! God Himself repeatedly says so in the Scriptures. Yes, the Sword of the Spirit brings us into conviction, sometimes very painful conviction when we stray, conviction that provokes us to wake up and realise “I’m in a pigpen here! I have to go back to my Father!”  The pain of conviction is for the wonderful purpose of bringing us to repentance and life –

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Cor 7:9-10)

See it? The grief or sorrow that false religion brings does not lead to true repentance and life and joy, but to bondage and death. And that is exactly what this lady is describing that happened to her, right within the walls of her ‘church’ –

I, like many, was so controlled by what I heard from my husband, the pulpit, the Sunday School classes, the women’s meetings, the books, the seminars, etc. that I still have problems feeling justified in making the hard decision to walk away from it finally.

I can tell you without any doubt that she is not exaggerating. What is being preached and taught and written about in books and Christian education literature is very, very commonly not the Word of God. It opposes freedom. It enslaves. It really is the law. “Do this and live.” It parades as God’s Word, citing chapter and verse, but it has twisted His Word –

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal 3:1-3)

An Illustration

I took a photo last week of the kennel we keep our dogs in when we are gone.

The Crippen's dog kennel

Inside the kennel there is food, water, cushy beds, heat lamps when it is cold; it is out of the weather, with a view. As I closed the latch on the gate, the thought came to my mind that this fence (kennel) is either like God’s Word, or it is a prison.

Like the Word of God, this kennel provides firm boundaries. Why? Because we want our pets to be safe. We don’t want them taking an unauthorized excursion to the river or out on the road or through neighbor’s yards. Those are dangerous areas for them. They could get hit by a car, poisoned, shot, or they might do damage to a neighbor’s property in some way. The kennel’s locked gate is good. The motivation for it is good. Therefore, it is not a prison. Furthermore, they know that the gate is going to be opened before long. It is a place of refuge, the place where they get their food. And so when we say “kennel” to them, they go right in.

Jesus spoke about a kind of kennel (a sheep pen) here:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:7-11)

BUT, if the motivation of the “gatekeeper” is evil, the fence does indeed become a prison, and its occupants become prisoners. Same kind of fence perhaps. But now it is evil because the gatekeeper is not a true shepherd, but a thief and a robber come only to oppress and use the sheep.

In the case of dogs, you might compare the evil gatekeeper to the owner of a puppy mill that only exists to make money with no regard to the health and welfare of the animals. Their kennel is not a life-giving refuge of safety. It is a prison.

And so it is with the Word of God. When the Lord speaks, His Word comes to give life, to effect justice, to speak truth that sets people free. Like the kennel we maintain, His Word sets very firm boundaries, but all motivated by His love for us. God’s Word always speaks life and justice. It sets His people free.  And it rightly condemns and exposes the wicked.

Not so when the wicked pervert and twist the Word.

They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out [from Christ; and from Paul the Apostle] that you may make much of them. (Gal 4:17)

They want you to admire them. They want your admiration because it elevates them.

It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. (Gal 6:12-13)

They desire…. they are motivated by that desire…and their motivation is evil.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—”Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Col 2:20-23)

No value! Straw. Straw with clutches of snake’s eggs in it. False religion always distorts and perverts God’s Word. And you can KNOW this perversion is happening by carefully considering the end to which it is leading. Joy and freedom? Or oppression and bondage? Judgement and condemnation? Or justification and full acceptance?

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:1-2)

Who then is the gatekeeper of your religion? Christ the Good Shepherd? Or the prince of darkness parading as a servant of righteousness?  Many foolish Galatians today are in bondage to wicked ones who come in, claim to be servants of Christ, but who want to bring the people back under the law for their own glory and self-conceit. 

Examples of twisting scripture to imprison the flock

Let me give you some true examples of Scripture being perverted in order to keep people in bondage. These kinds of things happen very commonly in churches. In fact we can say they are typical, widespread traditions that have usurped God’s truth –

I had Matthew 5:25-26 misquoted at me by a teacher I once deeply respected, in order to convince me not to cooperate with the police against a young man, the son of a popular church leader, who sexually assaulted my daughter on multiple occasions while she was sleeping. When I challenged him that, “The scripture didn’t apply to cases like ours,” he responded, “Jesus didn’t qualify it.” He did admit though, that in the hypothetical case of his own granddaughter being raped and murdered, he would not be expected to settle with his adversary before going to court. I told him his arrogance and ignorance were dangerous. I haven’t spoken to him since.

Here is the Scripture that was twisted:

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (Mat 5:25-26)

Consider what kind of bondage that twisting of Scripture will do. It prohibits justice. It enables evil and hides it. It tells the oppressed that God does not want them to be free of such evil but requires them to be “friends” with the oppressor. It is not the Word of God.

Here’s another example:

I complained in sabbath school that the speaker was wrongly equating anger with idolatry. I said that as image-bearers of God we have a right to respect, and that anger is an appropriate response to being disrespected. I said that anger in response to disrespect is different from anger when people don’t treat us like royalty, which is a form of idolatry.  

The speaker then quoted “the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God” (James 1:20) as a prooftext that anger was wrong. 

The very widespread lie that ‘all anger is sin’ is produced by the wicked who warp the Word of God to their own evil ends. The Spirit of God moves true Christians to righteous anger, moves them to seek justice like the persistent widow knocking at the door of the judge who neither feared God nor respected man (Luke 18:2). The lie that ‘all anger is sin’ pressures believers to admit a false guilt in themselves for allegedly sinning by being angry. It shames those who persistently knock at the judge’s door; it lays guilt on them for disturbing the judge’s comfort zone. Several evil people parading as Christians whom I have known over the years loved to misuse James 1:20 to lay guilt on true Christians who were responding with righteous anger to injustice and false teaching.  It is a terrible bondage to be prohibited from expressing the very emotions God Himself expresses.

Here is another true account of how the evil misuse of Scripture (which evil constantly practices) causes great bondage and harm to the afflicted:

During my childhood and adolescence, my father misquoted scriptures when teaching me how to be a “good” wife. He said it means being completely submissive and compliant to whatever requests he asked of me, and that if I did not obey I would suffer the consequences by getting punished.

These verses included the ones that say a woman is to submit to her husband and a daughter is to honor her father. My father would say this any time I attempted to defend myself, even when I pointed out that abuse was a sin in the bible. And when I asked for help from others, my father said that a woman was not to gossip or to slander her own family.

This was along with being lectured about lying or exaggerating just how badly my dad treated me, even though I was telling the truth the whole time.

When I described what I went through to other well-meaning but misguided Christians, I was asked how bad the abuse was and was told that being physically abused every once in a great while and being emotionally abused for months on weekdays during the school year didn’t qualify as severe enough abuse for anyone to assist me. After all, it wasn’t like I was physically or sexually abused, there were people who went through much worse trauma than I did.

I was furthermore scolded by being quoted scriptures about waiting on the Lord for Him to come and save me and to rejoice at the persecution I suffered through, because my reward would be great in heaven. I was commanded to not complain about my trivial problems. I was told the same scriptures my dad told me, along with “Oh but you love your father and your father loves you, he’s just doing what’s best for you, you won’t understand until you are older. A wife is supposed to submit to her husband, your father is just teaching you how to be a good future wife. So stop being so stubbornly rebellious toward him, instead, honor your father like the bible says, by doing what he commands.”

I was also told that I wasn’t faithful enough because God hasn’t answered my prayers. I was told to pray harder, even though I was praying as hard and as fervently as I could for God to get me out of there. When I was told this, I felt guilty for bringing up the subject to ask for help and support in the first place, angry and hurt at being disbelieved, guilty for not being a “good enough Christian”, and humiliated at being quoted the same scriptures that my Dad used on me. I ended up feeling cynical that anyone but myself would get me out of the vicious cycle of abuse I found myself in.

Any time I talk about what I suffered from growing up to anyone now, I’m asked why I hold onto the past of my childhood so tightly and am told to let it go… as if I’m still not suffering from the cycle of abuse I’m in from working under my dad. It’s either that, or I’m completely ignored…

Wow! How MANY Scriptures were twisted and distorted to this young woman as she grew up. And people are still putting them on her today. You see that sometimes people don’t even cite a verse, but speak the same old lies that have become common currency so widely in the churches that they are accepted without any thought that they might be false.

One more example:

Honor your father and mother was a good one quoted often. As a teen, I knew my mother was being immoral with a man whom she’d met in the bar the night before. I told my mom how upset I was and how I felt disrespected. She responded by becoming threatening and snarky, telling me she was the adult and she paid the bills and it was her house and she could do anything she liked and didn’t answer to me.

So I took off to the home of some christians I was associating with at the time and told them what had happened and how I had been treated. They listened with completely straight, almost disapproving faces and then told me that my mom was not saved and that I had to go home and submit to my mother…

On another occasion, we had some weirdo she was dating ringing our doorbell for over an hour at two am because she dumped him and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. My christian friends quoted the scriptures about honoring our parents and about submission to authorities and shamed me as a gossip for telling them her personal business. This was pretty typical church fare if you told. I felt like a schmuck for telling on my mom and putting her in a bad light, but it seemed unfair that I had to live with this.

She was a very broken woman who had been molested since early childhood and then married my dad, who also was abused and became an abuser. She herself could be abusive. Teachers like Jay Adams say that no matter how horrible your family is, you aren’t allowed to disassociate from them because you are supposed to have kingdom priorities and be evangelizing them.  They seem to think that if you are saved, then there should be no problem with having the strength to endure their evil and stay in contact. Arrrggh!  Sometimes I hate christians and church and don’t want much more to do with it. I’m not going to go with that, but it’s a tempting feeling.  There’s just so much heavy guilt tripping that makes it seem selfish if you want to be happy and not have to live with misery all the time. How do you tell the difference between actually being guilty of this and not being guilty?

Do you see the bondage these people have suffered from? This is not what the Word of God effects. Hear it again:

Psalm 19
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. 

There! That is the Word of the Lord. That is the Word of God made flesh and come among us, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is His truth that sets us free. Reject anything that does the opposite and rebuke the one who is twisting God’s truth into something that enslaves. 

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Audio and PDF versions of sermon here.

A True Account of How a Christian College is an Abuser Factory

The following account is a real story from one of our readers. We considered publishing it in two parts but decided it is best to keep it together for full impact. As you read, consider that a college like this is actually turning out young men who will in some cases pastor a church, and women who have been brainwashed, all “in the name of Christ” of course, into serving them. Many, many thanks to this young lady for sharing her story. And by the way, this college is not Bob Jones University, but still another place where abuse is covered up as you will see, even enabled and promoted in many ways.

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I am 24 years old and I recently graduated from a small conservative Christian college. I came from a very strict Christian background and my parents were abusive. My dad more than my mom. My mom and I were both victims but my mom decided at some point to enable my dad’s bad behavior. I was homeschooled from pre-k to my senior year of high school except for a year I spent in private school.

My dad made it clear he didn’t want me to go to college. He believed that debt was a sin and that college was just a scam in order for schools to make money. He said he knew a lot of kids who couldn’t get a job with their expensive degrees after college and was trying to “protect” me from the system. I was told I was going to live with them forever. Obviously, I couldn’t imagine a life living with my parents until they died and I was then forced to find a way to care for myself as a middle aged women who never had her own job or a degree.

Because my dad put so many limitations on what college I would be allowed to apply to, I was starting to believe it was hopeless. He wouldn’t allow me to go to a college that had a meal plan because he believed that college food was overpriced and would make me gain weight. He also wanted me to find a school with an unreasonably low tuition. I believe he did this knowing that no such school existed — until we found that one. It was a very small college, only 150 students or so, and it didn’t have a meal plan. You had your own apartment where you would live with three other people and cook your own meals. It was a very conservative Christian college that boasted about being theologically correct. I went there in fall and I started to get a bad feeling right away.

The boys treated girls like they were fresh meat

The first thing I noticed is that when I got on campus the boys there literally treated me like I was fresh meat. When I would leave my apartment boys would whistle at me from across the courtyard and then wave at me. When I made it clear I didn’t like it (usually by looking down and walking in the opposite direction) they would act disappointed and then annoyed. Whenever I would tell my roommates that it bothered me they would get mad at me and explain that if I was going to be so skinny I had to get use to being treated that way.

Most conversations in my room became about my body very quickly. Men would make “random” comments about how “women shouldn’t bother to wear makeup because it made them shallow” when they saw me wearing eyeshadow. One day a girl invited a guy she liked into our room. She took him to her bedroom and, for whatever reason, showed him her underwear drawer. He told me that he wanted to see mine. When I refused he told me that I was just a boring introvert. (He recently married one of my friends and he still calls me the boring introvert to this day.)

There was an general apathy on that campus when it came to how women were being treated. The general indifference didn’t stop in our dorm rooms. It was also shown in class.

They took a hard line on divorce, and shamed those who asked questions

One day our professor was talking about the biblical reasons for divorce. He mentioned two reasons: sexual immorality, which was chalked up to physical cheating; and abandonment by a non-Christian spouse, making it clear that the non-Christian spouse had to be the one who decided to leave. He spoke about how those were the only two ways out of the marriage other than death.

After class was over and all the other students left but one, I asked him about abuse. My mom was in an abusive relationship with my father and I always secretly wanted her to leave. It was something I felt considerable guilt about because of my Christian upbringing. The other student who had remained was at the front of the classroom with my professor, doodling on the whiteboard. I figured he wasn’t going to leave and made the mistake of asking in front of him. As soon as the question about abuse left my mouth the professor turned to the other student and said, “See? This is why I asked you to stay after class. I always get one of these people in every class at the beginning of the semester. There is always one person who asks this every year and this time its this girl.” I was mortified. He then turned back to me and explained that he didn’t know about abuse. That some people made up stories about how they were being abused and that if confronted with a situation of abuse it would be something the elders would have to look into to make sure it was first real, and then to determine how serious the abuse really was. He said then they would have to decide on the best course of action only after the household was inspected by the elders. I was dismissed after that. I was completely humiliated and didn’t share that experience with even my own husband until a few days ago. I never wanted to be “that girl” ever again.

Some time later, that professor again talked about divorce and relationships in his class. Apparently he didn’t think we got it the first time. I don’t remember the context of this personal story but I remember the story because I found it frightening. There was a women who wanted to leave her husband. And her husband called our professor and asked him to come over and “minister” to his wife so she would change her mind. When our professor got there he found out that she was going to leave anyway and that the husband was going to allow it. He became angry that this man would be so “apathetic” and allow his wife to leave him. He complained that he was just letting her walk out on him without even fighting for her. “Real men fight for their wives”. Now, I never asked what he meant by “fighting for her”… I still don’t know what he meant because he didn’t elaborate. But I got scared and wondered if he would object to holding someone against their will. I don’t want to believe anything bad of him but I was too scared to ask since I got chewed up the first time I asked him a question. No one else asked and the class moved on to another topic. I know that he didn’t actually say that violence was okay but he didn’t not say it either, and that’s always bothered me.

The modesty police

The first night on campus we had to have a meeting with our Room Attendants. (Room Attendants made sure the room was clean and that we were respecting the nightly curfew.) The first conversation was on modesty and how we weren’t allowed to wear bikinis or other revealing clothes because it would make our brothers-in-Christ stumble. I had already heard this speech before since I grew up in the church and so I’ll admit I just rolled my eyes and tuned them out.

Later on a girl was enrolling for the next semester. One of the women who worked in admissions noticed that her shorts were “unusually short” and made a whole Facebook rant about how women shouldn’t dress like that because it sends the wrong message to men and how “There is nothing attractive about a desperate buttcheek girl.” Everyone on campus “liked” it and shared it. The message was clear: step out of line, even if you don’t officially attend school yet, and you’re an automatic target for ridicule.

Keeping up appearances went past just modest clothing.The handbook said that even if you had an “offensive haircut” the dean could demand you change it. Women were encourage to have longer hair (although one girl who attends there now has a short pixie cut and no one bothers her). I’ve always wondered if that rule was just there so they could have the power to make you change your hair if they wanted.

We were made to feel bad about the way we dressed and for making men “stumble”. In truth those men saw us only as sex objects. They had been addicted to pornography from a young age and the church environment did nothing to address it other than to install programs that blocked pornographic websites, which is a good first step. But they didn’t seem to address what the porn already taught men. I believe that any guy in IT could have gotten through the barriers if he tried hard enough. We could have dressed in long johns and parkas every single day and those men would still have impure thoughts about us. That’s what porn had taught them. Modest clothing wasn’t going to fix it.

The gossip mill… and pressure to get married

When you did get into a relationship it wasn’t your own. Everyone knew about it because they all gossiped. If you told your roommates they would tell their friends and then it would get to the admissions office, the biggest gossips of all, and everyone would know. When I first started dating my now-husband one woman on campus wanted me to do weekly devotionals with her and to keep her updated on my relationship. It seemed weird from the start so I found a way out of it.

I felt the pressure of marriage from the beginning. Once I made the mistake of telling a professor I didn’t think I wanted to get married right away. He told me that a lot of people decide not to get married and that God uses them in different ways. Perhaps I was destined to be a martyr and just didn’t know it? He even offered to give me a video about a girl who decided not to get married, ran away to Israel to fight against Palestine where she heroically but tragically died as an example..I politely declined watching the video and left. I was 19. And all I said was that I wasn’t sure about getting married at that point in my life! Not that I NEVER wanted to get married. I then believed that the message was “get married ASAP or NOT EVER”.

I was lucky enough to be in a healthy relationship with my now-husband. He was getting bullied for not being “man enough” — i.e., he didn’t have a truck and wear cowboy boots. (The men gossiped worse than the girls but of course, no one noticed.) Even though I was lucky to be with a man who respected me not all of my friends were.

Men stalking women

My best friend was stalked, twice, by different men she rejected. One man had the nerve to tell her that he was told by God that she would marry him. She was a Calvinist and believed heavily in God choosing your spouse so she seemed to believe him. Just a little after when he made it clear how obsessed with her he was she decided to break it off. They were never officially dating but he would come to our room and demand to see her. Once we didn’t know where she was, so he got his dad to drive him around campus as he asked around for her and demanded that people tell him where she was. He was completely angry when she got back and told him she was at a party with other students..He told her that she wasn’t allowed to go to a party without him knowing. That’s when she broke it off. He kept on sending her nasty Facebook messages about how she was “prideful” to reject not only him but “God’s clear plan for her life.” His mom was even mad at her for not dating her son. My friend had to switch churches and block him on Facebook. Mercifully, he didn’t live on campus but he always seemed to find a way back to our room or one of us would just find him in odd spots waiting for her.

A year later in our Sophomore year she had attracted one of the older men. She was 21 and he was in his late 30’s. He went to the school on their second-chance program for older students. He said that she was more godly than most women her age and decided he wanted to court her. She went out on ONE date with him. When she got back from her date she told me that he said that she was the one God has made him wait for and that his mission was to run away to Israel to minister to God’s people and that he was excited for her to join him. (The people in this place had a bit of an obsession with Israel.) Apparently, he came to the school to find the women that God promised him. And it was her lucky day because she was it! We were so freaked out.

One day I got stuck pulling weeds out of the school’s front lawn with him (I didn’t do all of my Christian service hours and if I wanted to advance into my Junior year of college I had to make them up, which meant the school got free-labor) and he told me that he was upset that my friend was ignoring her call from God to join him in Israel! He would follow her around and she would find him in weird places like he was waiting for her. Her friends had to escort her to class. He was almost in his 40’s and no one ever stopped to think it strange that an almost 40-year-old-man wanted to court and bring a 21 year old women to Israel with him. We never told the school what was going on and eventually he lost interest in her.

The college didn’t warn us about bad people

I think I roomed with a sociopath of some sort. In addition to rooming with my best friend I roomed with three girls. One girl, who I will call Kate, liked to manipulate people. She liked causing chaos in the room and only wanted to get her way. Kate would tell me that my best friend was no longer my best friend anymore. That she was way better than me as a best friend and that I needed to find new friends. Kate would tell me that no one loved my now-husband and that he was a loser. And she explained that everyone only saw me as the pathetic toothpick-sized woman who needed her boyfriend for everything. She did this in such a passive, covert way no one noticed. And she was one of the most popular girls in school. She hated me.

They didn’t want to recognize people like Kate, who say one thing and do another. Or that people may have not-so-Christian motives for wanting to attend the school. We weren’t suppose to doubt our brothers and sisters in Christ. The school also never talked about singleness. It just wasn’t an option.

One day Kate was honest with me. We were alone in our room and she told me that she knew she was one of the smartest and most confident girls on campus. She said that she was so good at getting into people’s heads that if she wanted to she could convince someone to commit suicide. That was the last time she was ever honest with me again. She enjoyed that honesty because I knew her secret and couldn’t tell anyone because no one would believe me. Then she got lice and convinced everyone that I was the one who gave it to her. People wanted to avoid all of us and our room was almost banned from going to class. She got angry that her trick backfired on her. She was in the ‘counseling’ program..Lord have mercy on her patients. I don’t believe she actually finished the program. The last I heard she said the Lord had told her to become a mother and wife. She got married the next year, dropped out of school and has her first child. I saw her a few months ago. Now when she acts nice I don’t get the same warning in my gut like I use to. But I still decided it was best to cut off contact with her. I hope she changes..I believe that her husband has helped her because she started acting differently after her marriage. But again, I don’t know.

The school wasn’t all bad, which made it more confusing

There was a guy who asked a 15 year old girl for naked pictures of herself. The girl’s parents told the school and the school kicked him out. People on campus thought the school was being legalistic about it but they explained that they would not allow someone who was attracted to minors to be in their youth ministry program. Later he was arrested for rape but the parents refused to press charges. I don’t know all the details but it seemed like he was “dating” a girl from a very poor family and he was giving them food and giving the girl rides to school when the family couldn’t. It was creepy. We don’t have any contact with him either.

There was another boy who got kicked out because he was crazy. After our volleyball team won a big game he found one of the players and kissed her on the mouth in front of everyone. He was gone by the end of the week. The school said they wouldn’t tolerate such disrespect of women and that we were allowed to defend ourselves if we felt we needed to.

My point is that the school had no right to treat me and the other girls this way. Yes they did kick out two boys who acted up. And they tried to “teach men how to have respect” but honestly there was more bad than good.

I don’t ever want another girl to go through what I went through

I don’t hate the school but I don’t ever want another girl to go through what I went through. Please, trust yourself. If you asked me two years ago what was wrong with my school I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I just felt like something was “off” but it was such a “christian” environment with other Christians I didn’t want to think about it.

I ended up taking some classes at a community college and they discussed title nine with the students before we were even allowed to go to class. (Title nine is about rape on college campuses.) They explained that it doesn’t matter if you are drunk or wearing something revealing no one ever has the right to rape or molest you. I had never heard that before.

When I got married my husband and I moved off campus and I started to delete my “friends” on Facebook when the Josh Dugger controversy exploded. The school didn’t take an official stance on it but most of my friends were defending him. “Liberals are the real problem not Christians. Liberals are the ones who are the real hypocrites. Of course we have problems — nobody’s perfect but one bad act cannot erase all the good things he did” Honestly, I think it was because he was a christian celebrity with his own TV show. They adored him and couldn’t allow someone they looked up to so much to have any flaws. I found it ridiculous.

Please trust your gut, even if they don’t want you to

Most of them think I’m antisocial. I went back for graduation and they didn’t even try to hide how much they hate me and find my husband to be a loser. I ignored them. You have to, even if they complain about you not acting christian enough. You have the Holy Spirit too and they don’t get to make the final judgement on your soul because you won’t go along with their abuse quietly like everyone else.

I believed at the time that leaving the school for a secular state university would be abandoning my brothers and sisters in Christ. I felt incredible guilt for not getting along with everyone. For not being trusting enough. I second guessed myself. I started to think things like: Maybe Kate is really nice and I was the mean one. Maybe I did give her lice (even though I knew I didn’t). Maybe I was the problem. Or “If I had more faith in God I wouldn’t feel this way.”

These are lies. Please trust your gut even if they don’t want you to. You are all much more valuable than you know. And the labels the christian school wants to give you are not true. If anything like this has happened to you or if you notice a campus environment of general indifference or outright apathy towards women (or anyone really) please seriously consider transferring. Most non-Christian campuses have Christian Crusade for Christ (CREW) and other groups for Christians. Leaving a “christian” college doesn’t mean you are leaving God.

Thursday Thought — John Calvin: GEM of a quote

Recently Pastor Sam Powell posted a gem of a quote by John Calvin on his Facebook page.  In addition to adding the quote to our GEMS page, we wanted to highlight the quote in a stand-alone post along with the excellent conversation that ensued between Pastor Powell and Pastor Crippen.

John Calvin quote

…it would be better for robbers to remain in the wood and there to kill strangers, than to entice guests to their houses and to kill them there and to plunder them under the pretext of hospitality. This is the way in which you act; for ye destroy the bond of marriage, and ye afterwards deceive your miserable wives, and yet ye force them by your tyranny to continue at your houses, and thus ye torment your miserable wives, who might have enjoyed their freedom, if divorce had been granted them. (John Calvin on Mal. 2:16.)

Conversation between Pastors Powell and Crippen

Jeff Crippen:  Calvin sure gets a lot of undeserved accusations from people who have been taught to hate him and his theology. How many people would have guessed that it was Calvin who said this?

Sam Powell: Perfectly said! I always find it strange that those who claim total depravity have such a hard time applying it to their own circles. We are SHOCKED when men act exactly the way the bible says that they act. Weird.

Jeff Crippen: It may seem like the Calvinists are hiding this little treasure, but the real Calvinists are not hiding it. Yet many who claim to be reformed in their theology are, that’s for sure. Accurate, confessional, historic Calvinism recognizes the total depravity of the unregenerate man and acknowledges that there are people who are reprobate and destined for destruction — people who freely choose to hate and reject Christ rather than repent and believe. This is what we teach regarding the abuser who has faked his Christianity for decades, cruelly abusing his wife and children yet putting himself off as a pillar and holy saint in his church. In my opinion, accurate reformed theology gets it right when it comes to handling these kind and that therefore much of what is parading today as reformed theology simply is not.

Sam Powell: Yup. I don’t know when the verse got mangled out of recognition, but it’s taken on the opposite meaning lately. When did that happen?

I hold to the creeds of the reformation, but I don’t use the term “Calvinist” to describe myself anymore. Not because my theology concerning salvation has changed, but because the word has taken on many strange bedfellows. Usually when people say Calvinist, they mean that they hold to a pop-culture view of predestination that looks a bit more like fatalism than the Biblical doctrine.

The weird complementarianism that modern pop-Calvinists subscribe to wouldn’t have been even recognizable in the 16th century.

Jeff Crippen: That’s good advice. It does seem that “Calvinism” hits a hot button with so many people and in fact has almost become meaningless because it is usually used for a caricature of what historic reformed theology is.

Sam Powell: I sent a young woman a copy of the Heidelberg Catechism. She’d been hurt greatly by wicked men. She read #105: “What does God require in the sixth commandment? — That I do not revile, hate, insult or kill my neighbor in thought, word, gesture, much less in deed, whether by myself or by another…”  That’s when it occurred to her that domestic abuse is a violation of the sixth commandment.

This is a sixteenth century creed, used by reformed churches for centuries. I memorized it as a lad. Beautiful. And it has abuse pegged — just uses another term. Reviling, hating. It’s murder.

Jeff Crippen: And yet over and over again I hear of churches commonly allowing these murderers to remain in their pews, still maintaining that they are Christians. Recently a survivor of years of abuse told me that her abuser held a gun to her head and that her pastor knows full well that he did it. Yet the abuser is still in that church, even allowed to “serve” in a “ministry” there while the victim has had to leave that church. And this is no wild, liberal, church that denies the deity of Christ or anything. It professes to be a Bible-believing church. Guess what? It isn’t.

Sam Powell: Wow.

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Link to Sam Powell’s Facebook page where he posted this quote.

Link to John Calvin’s entire commentary on Malachi 2

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