A Cry For Justice

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

Is Leaving Room for the Vengeance of the Lord a Get out of Jail Free Card for the Wicked?

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)

This passage of Scripture has very often been twisted and used by the wicked and the naive to silence victims of evil. I (Jeff) heard it again recently from a pastor. “Just be quiet about this. You have no right to speak of it. You need to leave vengeance to the Lord.”  Yada, yada.

Here then is an example of the mishandling of Scripture and how we must always be very careful to consider the entire Bible as well as the immediate context of a verse if we are to interpret and apply it in truth. We know that this passage does not negate:

  • Talking about a person’s wicked deeds in order to expose them
  • Seeking justice now, in this present life, for the victim of that wickedness
  • Seeking just punishment in this present life for the perpetrator

How do we know? Because we have read the rest of the Bible!

The Bible very often speaks of evil deeds done — even naming names of the perps (Alexander the coppersmith, Diotrephes, Hymeneus, King David, the evil man of 1 Cor 5 who must be put out of the church, etc). God is Light. He exposes darkness and the deeds of darkness. We are to do the same. But very often these verses in Romans are quoted in order to silence any discussion of an evil done. “You are seeking vengeance. God will repay. You need to be quiet about this.”  Wrong. Totally wrong.

What is the intent of the Apostle Paul here? He is instructing us to take care that we do not let evil lead us to become evil. Don’t let evil overcome you in the sense that you turn right around in a vengeful spirit and commit evil in retaliation. Our flesh is given to this, right? This is how road rage gets underway. When we are wronged, when we are sinned against, we must not turn right around and revile the guy who has reviled us. That is God’s business, not ours.

In fact, there is a better way, and Paul shows it to us. Be kind to your enemy when you see him in some need. Feed him. Give him a drink when he is thirsty. Don’t buy cigarettes for him when he has run out—cigarettes are a slow killer. But do give him water if he is thirsty—water is essential for life and health. Don’t be naive, he is still an enemy. But this non-retaliatory kindness business actually burns the guy. “Heap burning coals on his head.”

Now, I don’t really know what ‘heap burning coals on his head’ means specifically. There has been all kinds of debate about it. The “nice guy” types try to come up with some explanation of it that makes it some pleasant act of love done for the fellow. And there have been other explanations too. I think all we need to know is that having burning coals heaped up on the top of your head is NOT a fun thing! “You want to deal with a wicked person who is an enemy and commits evil against you?” Then help him when he is in need by meeting his need. You don’t have to like him. You don’t have to work up warm fuzzies about him. You must not think that this is all for the purpose of helping the wicked find the good side of the force in themselves. Nope. It probably even refers to a future Day when the Lord judges all men. People like this will experience an even more severe level of God’s wrath when it is shown we were kind to them.

Now, personal vengeance and doing evil as payback for evil done to us is RADICALLY different from hungering and thirsting for justice. Jesus did not revile His revilers, but He sure blasted them by exposing their wickedness publicly. And Jesus reminded the high priest of his accountability before God (Matt 26:64). Furthermore, He responded firmly to the high priest’s interrogation by putting a question back on the high priest, and then telling him what to do: “Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” (John 18:21)

Like Jesus, the Apostles were not afraid to expose the wickedness of their revilers publicly. And over and over again the Bible instructs all of us to seek justice for the oppressed.

Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:15-18)

“How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:2-4)

It is a mark of a wicked person to pressure the oppressed to be silent, and to accuse them of sin when they seek justice.

This was evident very recently in my own experience as I heard words from a Christian leader that bullied and guilted and accused someone who was exposing evil and seeking justice. I have come to recognize this trait and I have concluded that any church or Christian leader or professing Christian who uses these bullying tactics is to be immediately rebuked, openly and publicly, and a leader needs to have his qualification to remain in his position seriously questioned.

So the next time you hear Romans 12 used as some kind of ‘get out of jail free’ card for the wicked, don’t just sit back and take it. Continue to seek justice. Leave vengeance to the Lord. But seek justice now. It is a good and right thing to do.

 

Thursday Thought — Judge Actions, Not Intentions

Never try to “mind-read” or second-guess why somebody is doing something, especially when they’re doing something hurtful.  There’s no way for you to really know, and in the end, it’s irrelevant.  Getting caught up in what might be going on in an aggressor’s mind is a good way to get sidetracked from the really pertinent issue.  Judge the behavior itself.  If what a person does is harmful in some way, pay attention to and deal with that issue.

The importance of this principle can’t be overstated.  Remember, the tactics covert-aggressives use are effective tools of impression-management.  They keep you second-guessing yourself about the true nature of the person you’re dealing with.  So, if you base your opinions on your assumptions about intentions or are swayed by the various tactics, you’re going to be deceived about the character of the person with whom you’re dealing.  Behavior patterns alone provide the information you need to make sound judgments about character.  And past behavior is the single most reliable predictor of future behavior.

(Excerpt from Dr. George’s Simon’s book, In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People*, p146)

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

How Many Sins Are Required to Demonstrate that a “Christian” is not a Christian? – ONE!

How can you know if a person who claims to be a Christian, isn’t? Does it take years of watching and testing and waiting? Nope. Not at all. Here you go:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1John 2:9-11)

One of the greatest sins of the church today is refusing to apply what the Apostle John and many other Scriptures say on this subject. “Oh, well, none of us are perfect you know. We must be patient. The fellow professes Christ and we must think the best of him.” Bleah. Let me paint a picture:

Here is Fred. Fred is a “fine upstanding” member of his local church. Why, Fred even grew up in that church. He “went forward” at the altar call and “got saved” when he was just a boy, got baptized — hallelujah! Fred is on his certain and sure way to heaven.

But…pick one of the following. Just one —

  • Fred is cruel to his family’s animals and has no trouble at all sleeping after stomping a new puppy to death for chewing up a shoe.
  • Or, Fred humiliates his wife in front of others, putting down her abilities and even mocking her “frigidity,’
  • Or, Fred demands his wife tell him wherever she is at all times,
  • Or, Fred makes his wife pay all the bills out of her salary (if he lets her work at all) while he blows his on himself as fun money,
  • Or, Fred throws tantrums of rage when….well, whenever something isn’t to his liking.

How many of these characteristics are required to demonstrate that Fred is NOT a Christian? Any single one of them. Just one. “But hey, we aren’t any of us perfect! How can you say such a thing!! Only God knows the heart.”  How can I know? Because any single one of those wicked patterns of behavior clearly demonstrates that such a person does NOT love others, does NOT love the Lord, does NOT love his wife. It really is quite simple. Oh, and here is the clincher — FRED CAN DO ANY ONE OF THESE THINGS AND THEN GO TO SLEEP THAT NIGHT WITH NO QUALM OF CONVICTION WHATSOEVER. HE WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FROM HIS HEART. Never. That seals the diagnosis you see. Fred is a phoney baloney “Christian,” a wolf in wool.

Do you understand? Some sins are soooo evidently characteristic of an unconverted heart that it really does not take a genius to diagnose that heart. Doctors, you know, can very quickly diagnose certain diseases or ailments. It isn’t always a big confusing puzzle that has to be sorted out by a panel of specialists. “Yep, there it is. This is what you have.” Boom. So it is with many of the wicked. “Pastor, my husband does such and so to me and….” — No more info needed. Got the diagnosis right here. He is unsaved, he is an abuser, that is what you are facing.

Yet how many people just like Fred are pillars in their local church, Sunday School class teachers, youth workers, pastors, etc, etc, etc ? Answer: LOTS. LOTS. LOTS. More than most Christians even want to know.

Really. For all the talk about “winning souls for Jesus” and “evangelism to the world,” many, many visible local churches have these wicked ones right in their midst and refuse to look, refuse to see, refuse to do anything about it which is a flat refusal to obey the King of kings!!  And the King knows it. And the King’s wrath is easily and quickly kindled against it.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1Peter 4:17-18)

“Sacred Influence: What a Man Needs from His Wife to Be the Husband She Wants” — a review by Avid Reader

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We encourage readers to go here to vote on this review
at Amazon where it was originally published.

This book is hopelessly stacked against women. Reading through it feels like you’re wandering in the desert, desperate for water, but each time you finally reach what looks like an oasis, it’s nothing more than a mirage.

According to Gary Thomas, he specifically wrote this book to help women facing difficult marriages. Yet this book still sounds so totally clueless towards understanding exactly that!

In the book, Sacred Influence, Gary’s main points are:

I want you to think about something — what if your husband’s faults are God’s tools to shape you? What if the very thing that most bugs you about your man constitutes God’s plan to teach you something new? (p. 37-38)

Let’s agree to keep this perspective in mind throughout the book…….How is God using your marriage to an irritable man to teach you how to love angry people? (p. 40)

Maybe you even married a violent man. Perhaps you saw signs of this rage or violence before you married but in your eagerness to become a bride you chose to look past it or excuse it as a onetime occurrence. Maybe you thought marriage would make everything better. But now you’re stuck in a frightening situation. (p. 133)

Wait a minute — what about willful sin? Gary doesn’t seem to understand the difference between setting boundaries to protect yourself from the willful sin of others and genuine trials of faith. Keep reading and you’ll see how he tries to turn someone else’s willful sin into God’s plan for your life when God NEVER wants anyone else to sin just to teach us something. Don’t get me started on all the Scriptures about anger being a work of the flesh.

Reading more quotes that follow you can see how Gary keeps trying to shift the burden of responsibility for behavior away from the perpetrator and onto the victim. He’s literally trying to make the victim feel responsible for not being patient enough with the perpetrator. And he wants you to learn from someone else’s behavior when the perpetrator is the one who needs to learn the lesson from their own behavior!

Gary continues —

Sometimes your husband would have to be in deep denial or less than human NOT to be angry with you. If you act as though anger is always illegitimate you’ll merely confuse him, because asking him not to feel angry is like his asking you to never feel hurt. (p. 148)

You can’t control your husband’s anger but you can provoke it by being disrespectful. (p. 149)

Women—in general—simply don’t understand how offensive and annoying it can feel to a man to be constantly challenged and corrected, especially in a disrespectful manner. (p. 150)

Maybe your side of the argument is that you don’t want to put up with an angry man! Maybe what you want but don’t get — referring to James 4:2 — is a peaceful relationship and so you are tempted to lash out with the same attitude of pride and expression of anger. (p. 152)

The time to obsess over your husband’s character is before you get married not after. Once you exchange vows, you should focus only on your obligation to love. (p. 222)

Jesus couldn’t have said it any clearer. [Gary quotes “love your enemies” verse.] If you manage to love only an easy-to-love husband why do you need God? Even non-Christian women can love a thoughtful, caring, unselfish and mature man. What credit is that to you? If you serve your husband expecting to be served in return what spiritual rewards can you hope to gain? In that case you’re merely trading personal favors. But when you give and don’t receive—when you love those who don’t know how to love or who refuse to love; when indeed you can love even the wicked and the ungrateful [husbands]……you exhibit the same love that God showed to us when he loved us in our sin and rebellion. And Jesus promises that he will richly reward you.” (p. 221)

But I don’t believe any wife should tolerate physical abuse. (p. 95)

Some women spiritualize domestic violence. They assume it’s their duty to bear up under the assault and certainly not to report it to anyone, lest their husbands get in trouble. I want to be as clear and as honest here as I can — if your husband hits you — both of you need help…..you must speak to someone — a trusted pastor, wise counselor or maybe a dear friend. (p. 152)

Gary is so focused on blaming women that even when telling women to seek help — he still criticizes them!

Then to justify blaming women Gary quotes some highly questionable “science.”

Questionable “Science”

Gary writes,

When a woman doesn’t understand the way a male brain works, she risks fostering an extremely destructive male response. (p. 107)

It’s a biological fact that emotional conversation can feel very stressful for a man and actually increase his anger, particularly if that conversation gets pushed on him. If you married a man whose anger and rage seem to build the more you talk, STOP TALKING! Let your husband’s brain process the stress as you wait for him to come back to you. Just because conversation calms you down doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on your husband. (p. 148)

Who says that conversation automatically calms down women? And if conversation is biologically stressful for men then why do men easily handle that “stress” at work?

Gary quotes much of this “biology” from the book What Could He Be Thinking? by Michael Gurian. Researching this book on Amazon I found this review:

Amazon Reviews of Gurian book:

“I have been a practicing neurologist for seventeen years, and relating behavioral disorders to neurological conditions is my field of expertise. I know enough about the topics addressed by the author to recognize that he is a quack.”

“While there are grains of truth in this book, most of the supposed “science” is either badly misinterpreted or intentionally twisted to fit the author’s social outlook. Most of the claimed “biological” reasons for male behavior have no basis in reality…….Now to venture out of my field as a scientist – allow me to speak as a man to women thinking of buying this book — If a guy acts like a pig, it’s because he is a pig. Dump him. You should hold men to high standards and they should hold you to high standards.”

Back to Sacred Influence

Reading through this book — what really got under my skin was that after blaming wives repeatedly for supposedly being the problem — Gary turns around and praises mistresses.

You read that correctly. On pages 115-128 this book takes a really weird detour where Gary tells wives that they aren’t good enough because they haven’t tried to be mistresses. Using the example of how Jeanne-Antoinette (1721-1764) rose from poverty to wealth by seducing King Louis XV, Gary writes, “The narcissistic tendencies of an eighteenth-century French king appear in men today. How can a woman handle such a man — not so that she reinforces the narcissism — but so that she earns the right to offer positive influence?” (p. 116)

That’s insulting on so many levels. First of all, wives don’t have to “earn” the rights granted by marriage. Wives set boundaries. Mistresses cross boundaries. It’s impossible to be both. And Gary is teaching us to follow the example of a woman willing to do anything to obtain wealth and power. That’s the polar opposite of how we’ve chosen to follow Christ by dying to the “lust of the flesh, lust of the world and the pride of life.” (1John 2:15-16 & Galatians 5:16). Besides, we resent the assumption that the mistress is automatically better at pleasing the husband than the wife. The Bible actually warns against believing that lie in Proverbs 9:17-18.

Gary tries to deny that he’s saying that — then he turns around and blames women readers by saying they might “seriously misconstrue” his point. (p. 124)

Gary’s trying to have it both ways when this was a completely inappropriate example to begin with. Why didn’t he use the example of Queen Esther? Abigail is another great example of how a godly woman’s influence saved hundreds of lives.

Think about this for a moment — Gary is giving the benefit of the doubt to mistresses but he won’t give that to wives! That’s when you realize that this book is hopelessly stacked against women.

Read further through this book and once again you see Scripture being taken out of context. In chapter 13 Gary tries to make the point that women are more interested in relationships than careers and thus don’t understand their husband’s drive to have a career.

Gary writes,

If you were to study the brains of a man and a woman while they gazed into the eyes of a child or grandchild, you would see that the typical female gets more out of such an encounter — physically than does the male. Relationships simply reward you more than they tend to reward your husband. (p. 175)

Then on page 177 — he quotes Matthew 10:37-38 which says we must love Christ more than our families.

Gary writes,

From a biological point of view, this a very “male” statement that must seem abhorrent to many females—until they realize that Jesus himself spoke those words. (p. 177)

Then he accuses women of having

a female view of the world, though not necessarily a biblical one. (p. 177)

OUCH!

Wait a minute — in Matthew 10:37-38 — Jesus was talking directly to BOTH women AND men when He told us to follow Him. That’s not a male perspective. That’s a Christian perspective.

Why would Gary insult all the ladies by assuming we automatically care more about our families than taking up our cross and following Christ?

There’s so many other deeply troubling quotes in this book that we could discuss but by now — Gary Thomas’s attitude towards women is pretty obvious and very troubling.

Life in the Kingdom of Men — part 5 of Ecclesiastes sermon series by Ps Sam Powell

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Life in the Kingdom of Men
by Ps Sam Powell
Ecclesiastes 4 (KJV)

Chapter 4 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.

2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

3 Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.

8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13 Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

14 For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.

15 I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.

16 There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

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Listen to the sermon by clicking on the link above.

And here is a hymn about how Jesus comforts the oppressed. The first version is massed congregational singing with lyrics. The second is very sensitively played on the piano with the score and lyrics.

 

 

 

 

A Victim-Silencing Abuser-Protecting Tactic of the Wicked – “An Evil ‘Pious’ Silence”

Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. (Psalm 35:19-20)

As we have written in other posts, it is very characteristic of evil people to use non-verbal means to communicate their abuse on others. One of these dastardly dark tricks is the evil man saying “I must not say anymore. I don’t want to gossip.” His intent with this false saintliness is to cover up, to hide truth, and to pressure others into being silent about evil as well. There is absolutely nothing saintly about such a person. He is a child of the darkness.

Let me illustrate more clearly how this works. Let’s say you are discussing some evil that has come to light. Perhaps the case of a church leader or member for instance whose hidden sin has become known, at least to some. Now, wicked people share this in common — they all lead secret lives, they dwell in hidden sin, they wear a falsely pious mask. So when some other cohort in darkness is threatened with exposure, they become very uncomfortable. And often they launch attempts to shut down any discussion, any light-shining exposure of such a fellow’s wickedness. (I have known some cases when we would have to insert “she” for “he” in our discussion here).

I have seen a couple of common means by which evil ones turn off the light of exposure —

  • “I just don’t think I should say anymore about this. I probably have already said too much.” This kind of serpent-like craftiness most typically comes right after the evil man has said something like, “I think you are guilty of unforgiveness.” Then, when asked to explain and expound on that accusation, the shutdown comes — “I just don’t think I can say anymore about this. I probably should not have said anything at all.” Having effectively sown seed of accusation, he now uses a sickening “holy saintliness” to let everyone know that further discussion of the subject would be sin.
  • Another way I have seen this same tactic used over and over again is in what I will call “Agenda Control.” This happens at church meetings or at denominational general assemblies. Some evil has occurred. Perhaps some notable pastor has been arrested and charged with molesting children. And right at the start of the meeting, the power-broker(s) stands up and says something like this: “Now, we do not want our meeting to become gossiping. We want to keep things positive and edifying. Here specifically is what we are here to discuss and we must stick to the stated agenda. If anyone wanders from it they will forfeit the floor.” So darkness reigns you see. Any opportunity for open, up-front exposure of truth is shut down.
  • Those in power in churches and other “Christian” organizations will use the same type of tactic to promote their own desires, to get the vote outcome they want, all the while making it appear like they have allowed everyone to have input. “No, we are not here tonight to discuss that issue. We are here to have this motion put before us and to vote.” Anyone who would attempt to point out how sinful use of power and control has been at work in the proceedings is immediately deemed ‘out of order’ and their right to be heard forfeited. “We must not say too much lest we slander a brother. You need to be silent.” That’s how the thing goes, you see.

Domestic abusers and their allies do these very things. They plant a seed of accusation against their victim, but when the victim or anyone else seeking justice begins to expose the evil, the wicked man works to shut down discussion. “Now, you are saying too much. You are gossiping. You don’t have enough facts to even bring these issues up. You need to follow my example and keep silent.”

The real problem among us is not so much GOSSIP, as it is NOT TALKING about evil working in our midst at all!

There have been many “Christian” books published on the evils of the tongue. Yes, the tongue can be set on fire by hell. But generally we have been taught wrongly about just what kind of person has such a tongue. We have been told that it is the victim who is bringing the crimes and evils of the abuser to light. Wrong! It is the abuser and power-lusting Diotrephes (see 3 John) who is speaking to shut down that victim.

In contrast to all of this hiding and darkness that is so typical of evil, we have the command of King Jesus given to us through His Apostle. Notice His rebuke of those who were keeping quiet about (tolerating the evil of) the wicked man:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Cor 5:1-7)

One final but very important point regarding all this. THERE COMES A TIME WHEN ANYONE HAVING KNOWLEDGE OF WICKEDNESS MUST SPEAK OUT. Even if that speaking out means standing up and speaking ‘out of order’ at a church meeting or other such setting. If denominational or church association leaders for instance will not provide an open platform at a general assembly or other such church meeting, then it is time to violate ‘rules of order’. Like the prophets and apostles of old, and like our Lord Himself, it is time to stand up in the temple and cry out “there is wickedness here!” And then spill the beans openly even while the ‘pillars’ are gnashing their teeth and trying to shout you down.

Oh, and one other final thing — take care that, if you should ever see such a person standing up to expose hidden evil — take care that you do not immediately regard them as some ‘troublemaker’. Many of the Lord’s chosen people have done some pretty strange things to call wickedness to account      .

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Related posts: 

Abuse Without a Word — Nonverbal Abusive Communications

It Only Takes a Wink or a Glance to Abuse

Abusers Often Betray their Disguise in Subtle Ways we Must not Ignore