A Cry For Justice

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

A Look Inside the Mind of “Christian” Patriarchy

I (Jeff) was trained in conservative evangelical churches. The seminary I went to was conservative in its theology. Ultimately I embraced reformed theology and still hold to the reformed confessions of faith (I am a reformed baptist). Over the years in our present church (we have been here nearly 24 years now) most of the families chose to home school their children and most all of them have done a fantastic job.

But in the midst of this church culture, unknown to me, “certain persons” as Scripture warns us of “crept in among us.” They were disguised as devoted, eminent, holy Christians. They were at every church gathering. They served. It all looked great because the rest of us really were in earnest about wanting to serve the Lord in truth. We wanted nothing to do with the widespread compromise of the faith seen in so many churches then and today. That zeal for the Lord is commendable, but it must be guided by truth or it easily goes wrong.

The ones who “crept in” among us brought baggage with them. Not only personal, emotional, and spiritual baggage, but theological baggage that was a distortion of God’s truth in Christ. It was legalistic. It was used to control others and to bring praise to the ones proclaiming it. Our church is free of that now, though we must always watch and be on guard. Satan really is prowling around you know.

But my point here in this post is to share with you just a few of the indicators that, specifically, are signs that an unbiblical doctrine which I would call “patriarchy” is being promoted by someone. I look at them now and think, “Jeff, how could you have not seen these errors earlier?” There are a wide variety of reasons for our blindness to such things — the deceptive nature of the “creeps” who creep in, the erroneous teaching we have received in school, from pulpits, in the “Must have” books we read — all of which lead us into a mindset that wrongly functions on the assumption that certain basic tenets we hold to really are God’s truth, when in fact they are deceptions. I suppose a fish that lives in the ocean may well not have any idea of “saltiness” if you could talk to him about it. “Saltwater? What’s that?” The things we have been immersed in are usually not questioned. And that is dangerous.

Side note by Barb. Here is an example I found recently that illustrates how books can influence us without us even realising it.  It comes from the ESV translation of Numbers 5:19-20, which is in the passage known as ‘the ordeal of bitter water’ — the law Moses gave as a way to test whether a wife had committed adultery:

Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband’s authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you …

Notice that the phrase ‘under your husband’s authority’ occurs twice in that ESV translation? Now let’s look at the KJV:

And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse: But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband…

Check it in the Blue Letter Bible. The KJV’s instead of your husband is quite a valid translation. The Hebrew text can have the sense ‘under’ but it doesn’t have a word for ‘authority’ in those verses. Possibly the ESV translators used the word ‘authority’ because of the concentration of male-authority salt in their ocean.

Here are some statements that I (Jeff) have heard these patriarchists make which I hope you will be able to identify as serious error if you every hear them. Patriarchy, by the way, is the philosophy/theology that, to state it simply, men are superior to women. Husbands are superior to wives. The husband/father of the family is not only to lead his wife and children in the worship of God, but their worship of God is essentially mediated by the husband/father. God is particularly concerned with the commission He has given to the man, and the other family members are to support the man in that mission. These kinds of things to one degree or another define this false and enslaving beast we are calling patriarchy.

Listen then to these statements:

  1. “I told my wife that she must obey me.”
  2. “As the father and husband, I am the priest of my home.”
  3. “Women do not function well in the workplace because they should never be in the workplace. They are to be workers at home.”
  4. “Well, you know what women are like.”
  5. “You say that you are worried about a guy flirting with your wife? Well, you need to fight for your marriage. Fight for your wife. She is YOUR wife.” [Note: that sounds good, and I suppose if stated by the right person it would be. But what a patrarchist means by “she is YOUR wife” is that she is YOUR property].
  6. “When a guy’s wife works at a job and makes a salary, he has to watch out because she will start getting pretty independent.”

I am sure there were more of these kinds of statements made over the years, but these are some of the more typical ones. No doubt you all can provide some more examples in the comments here.

A wife, you see, in such a warped and twisted system (all “supported” by the warping and twisting of Scripture of course) really is no different than a child when it comes to her relationship to her husband. This is one of the errors you will find in the Puritan writings on marriage and family (though there is MUCH sound doctrine and practice to be gleaned from the Puritans as well). The wife is one of the children you see.

Now, all of this created an inner conflict in me and in others in the church, though it was sometime before we realized it was there. A conflict I say because I did not relate to my own wife in this manner. I would never have told her “you must obey me,” or claim some kind of exalted priesthood for myself. My wife has worked outside the home most of our marriage and I am very glad that she now has some great job skills that are benefiting us, all the while ministering in the music ministry of our church faithfully all these years on top of that. I have never viewed her as “my property.” And yet — here is the catch — I suppose for some years until the lights really came on for me about all this, I felt guilty to an extent for not being “the kind of man God calls me to be.” Or rather, the kind of tyrant the patriarchist creeps insist that God calls me to be. I hated going to men’s conferences (still do) because I could not relate to what was being taught in most all of them.

Turns out I hated them because they so often promote some aspect at least of “men are superior to women.”

Well, here is my point. Watch out for those kinds of statements such as I have listed here and recognize them for what they are. They are clues that a perversion of the good Word of God has come in among you. And be sure of it, if it is not opposed and rejected, it WILL spread among you. It will create an oppressive, legalistic, bondage-making culture in your church.

Ultimately we did see it. We did confront it. And as a result our church is much smaller now numerically. But if I could do it all over again, I would have openly and firmly exposed and confronted it right on the spot. “Hold it! Stop right there! Hey everyone, let’s sit down and talk about what this fellow just said. He commanded his wife that she must obey him. He claims to have a Scripture verse for that. Let’s search Scripture and see why he is wrong and why he is distorting God’s Word.”

 

Thursday Thought — Philippians 4:8 through the lens of Abuse

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

*****

Finally, brothers, whatever is:

True: revealing truth, exposing lies, false doctrine, and hypocrisy

Honorable: staying the course, not backing down, not being swayed through intimidation.  Not by abusers, not by their enablers. Protecting the innocent and vulnerable.  Standing up to bullies. Choosing not to remain naive.  Choosing instead to bear the reproach of the oppressed, and all of its discomfort.

Just:  recognizing what is just and what is unjust, and crying out for justice.

Pure:  seeing those who have been abused and manipulated as God sees them.  Through the pure lens of empathy and compassion, not the muddled lens of tradition and bias.

Lovely:  creating a safe place for victims, and sharing the burdens of hurting souls.

Commendable:  giving the downtrodden a voice, shouting it from the rooftops.

Excellent:  Biblical studies (in context).

Worthy of Praise:  things which are done with the heart of Christ are worthy of praise.  I believe all of the above fits that.

…thing about these things.

[by Randy Stephenson, a commenter on ACFJ]

*****

from our GEMS — Great Quotes page

The Patriarchal Father as Idol god

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
(1 John 5:21)

I have known the family members — wives and children — of patriarchal men. Men who parade as eminent Christians. Men who have been taught and who believe that they are the “priests” of their home. And I have experienced the frustration and grief of being rejected by these wives and children “because daddy said….”. These kinds of men have set themselves up as idols. They are much like Nebuchadnezzar:

And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:4-6)

Bow down, or else.

The little verse quoted above from 1 John is profound truth. It is the very last line in John’s first epistle, put where it is intentionally for emphasis. Keep yourselves from idols. Watch out. Be on guard. Don’t end up worshiping a false god. I find it interesting that John once more addresses us in this warning as “little children.”

Patrarichalism sets up the husband/father of the home as an idol. A false god. He is the one who distributes “God’s Word” to the family. It is his prayers that really count. He is the one to be served and praised. His word is the word that is infallible. A little papacy is established. And whoever does not fall down and worship him. . . 

As children grow up in such deception, and particularly as long as the wife/mother still embraces that deception herself, all of the Bible, all input regarding just about any subject including the very nature of God himself, is going to be perceived through the idolatrous grid entrenched in their minds. That is to say, through the idol called husband/father. Daddy says. . . 

When such a man perceives that anyone — whether it be the pastor, an author, a church member, a friend of his wife — that anyone is starting to see through his idolatrous false kingdom, he goes on the offensive to squelch any and all opposition. He will slander that person speaking truth. He will accuse them. And if all else fails, he will isolate his family from them.

And his family believes him. Try to reason with them. Try to warn them. It will be to no avail. Daddy says…. Translated? God says….

And THAT, little children, is idolatry.

I saw a news documentary once on North Korea and the cruel dictatorship that reigns there. The reporters found that certain questions would be met with blank stares on the faces of the people. “Have you ever thought that perhaps your leader could be wrong sometimes?” It wasn’t that the people got angry at this question. No. Worse than that, they lacked the ability to even process the possibility, so thoroughly had they been brainwashed. “Our glorious and beloved Leader, wrong? What does that mean?” They had no mental paradigm or apparatus to take in such words. You may as well have said something like “How do you like the taste of yellow?”

And so it is with the children of the kind of idol father I am speaking of here. “Daddy, wrong?” Show them hard, concrete evidence to the contrary of what their father said, it will not get through. He has become their surrogate Christ. Really, an anti-christ.  And such a god can do whatever he wants.

Little children, little children, please…keep yourselves from idols.

Let’s Think Some More about What it Means to Have no Conscience

Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalms 32:2-5)

The human conscience is a powerful thing. It is a powerful thing in the life of the Christian. As David found out when he sinned, the Lord uses our conscience to put a heavy hand upon us when we sin. So intense is the Lord’s working through our conscience that under His conviction we are without strength, dried up, like a man lost in the heat of the desert. The only remedy is genuine repentance and confession of sin, and then God’s forgiveness. Notice then that the truly repentant person can feel that forgiveness, in contrast to the heavy misery of a convicted conscience.

This is a powerful truth to hold onto when you come under temptation. Sin tells us that we can indulge ourselves and enjoy it. But the fact is, as David and myriads of Christians have found, when a Christian yields and sins, if there is any enjoyment at all it is over in seconds. Then comes that terrible heat of conscience. The heavy hand of the Lord driving us to confession and repentance. It is a miserable thing. Day and night. Day and night. You wake up at 3AM with a knot in your gut and your sin right before you. You cannot concentrate. You have done wrong and you know and feel that wrongness. So don’t be duped by temptation. If you are a real Christian, you cannot enjoy sin. It just won’t work.

Now, as most all of you know, the person we call an abuser has little or no conscience. He can play the holy saint outwardly, then all the while inwardly and out of sight he lives in wickedness. Think about this. He has no conscience, or a seared conscience (they are pretty much the same thing). If you have ever felt the intensity of misery that a violated conscience can bring, then just mull over the fact that the abuser can do what he does — abuse — and experience no pangs of conscience. He can sleep at night. In fact he even delights in his evil. He feeds on it. It is sweet to him.

Think about this. Dwell on it. The thing is incredible. It shows us the degree of the evil we are dealing with in this abuse thing. Here is a person who can do incredible wickedness against his own wife (who has hated his own flesh? as Paul says), and not only does it not bother him, but when he sees her suffering, he rejoices in it. He is energized by it.

Do you understand? Most professing Christians and pastors do not. This is evil. These are the evil people who most certainly are in this world. If we fail to understand the depth of their wickedness, the conscienceless nature of their minds, and if we instead assume they are like us, then we are going to go miserably wrong and we will be duped by them. We will think we can fix them. We will feel sorry for them. But Scripture tells us their true nature:

But these people, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed—speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed, suffering harm as the payment for unrighteousness. They consider it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, delighting in their deceptions as they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed.  (2 Peter 2:12-14a HCSB)

So we must know what we are dealing with. We must believe what God’s Word tells us about the reality of evil around us and particularly as it creeps in amongst us in the local church.

And largely, “we” (the visible, professing Christian church), do not.

***

Related posts:

Wise as Serpents: Evil is Among Us, Why are We Surprised? (Part 9 of a sermon series by Jeff Crippen)

Still More Thoughts on Wolves Hiding Among the Flock

 

Twisted Theology Produces a Den of Abusers Parading as “the church”

With remarkable frequency we meet abuse victims, mostly Christians, who originally met their abuser in a local church. Or in a Christian college or similar setting. In the church! Why? How can this be?

Well, the answer is not only that abusers are exceptionally deceptive, but churches far and wide have embraced such unsound, twisted theology and warped handling of the Scriptures that evil, unregenerate people are readily embraced and pronounced “saved.” This is why, as we have said before, how we answer the apparently simple, but not so simple question—”Just who is a Christian?”—sets the course for what follows.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:5-9)

I know of a professedly “Christian” organization that repeatedly announces its “Christian” mission. It hammers that mission statement home to all of its employees and insists they get on board showing “the love of Jesus” to the world. And yet all kinds of vile language is habitually practiced and tolerated in this “ministry”. People who are in no way Christian, who don’t even profess to be Christian, are told to get on with the mission.

What does this tell us? It tells us that this “ministry” is in fact essentially universalistic in doctrine. That is to say, everyone is capable of being a Christian. Everyone is a Christian — as long as they mouth the “mission.” And this is precisely what is going on in so many local churches today. People who have not repented, who still walk in sin, but who mouth the right “Jesus” words on Sunday (or on Facebook) are pronounced saved and born again and the rest of us are told that the only real sin we could commit is to call such counterfeits on the carpet. That, you see, would be judgmental. And we must not be judgmental you know.

So what happens? The local church becomes the field of play for the wicked looking for an easy target. The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes (Prov 21:10). Here comes young Sally who has been taught all the typical distortions about love, forgiveness, patience, and submission and BAM! He sees her, gets his hooks into her, and you all know the rest of the story from there.

Jesus came to a den of thieves like this and cleaned house. It’s long past time that we do the same. To refuse to repent and throw out the soul-thieves, is to participate in their evil and to be condemned right along with them.

These three passages are warnings to churches that are giving house room to abusers and exposing vulnerable folk to the predations of abusers.

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.” …  And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. (Revelation 18:1-3, 11-13 ESV)

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11 ESV)

If slaves should escape from their masters and take refuge with you, you must not hand them over to their masters. (Deut 23:15 NET)

The Exodus of Survivors

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”

One reason people remain enslaved to domestic abuse is fear. With every reason to fear, we remain at the mercy of an abuser. Or so we think. For those in Christ, this is a tremendous deception. We are no longer at anyone’s mercy, but God’s. When I began listening to the song, “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, from which the opening phrase of this post is taken, I began to see more of what it means to be free in Christ in my life. I am on the road now of finding out more about what that means and putting it into practice.

In the journey of their exodus from Egypt, the people of God were beset with fear. We all know the story, but victims of abuse know it very well. The fear that affected the Israelites fleeing Egypt is similar the fear we have when it comes to exiting abusive relationships. Just as Pharaoh and his forces came after God’s people, so all too often we are sought after by the abuser when we attempt to exit. The abuser and the abuser’s allies make innumerable attempts to retrieve us and put us back under bondage. The flags are flying sky high as we come out of the fog and begin to see how sick our lives have been. Some abusers will stop at nothing in an attempt to completely destroy their victims and this comes in a myriad of ways. Courts are inundated with attempting to unravel the truth. Judges are trying to uphold the law while their confusion abounds. And the law often is weak, providing many loopholes for abusers to manipulate it to their wicked agenda.

Abusers are believable people, just as Satan is. If the lie were not mixed with an element of truth, no one would ever believe an abuser. It is sufficient to say that gaining our exodus from the abuser is a long tortuous journey. I know of no one who left an abuser who was able to leave quietly or with their lives and finances still intact. The job of our enemy is to incite others to do us harm in an attempt to destroy our faith, or at least give it a good shaking. Can any of us truly say, “Boy, I am sure glad that I rested and trusted God through all of that without any fear”? No, because abuse erodes our faith and trust, even in God and brings us to a life filled with fear. Unless one has survived this type of fear from abuse, they cannot know it. Comparing fear of going to the dentist to the fear we have had of our abuser, just does not cut it.

One point that stood out to me in particular about the story of the Exodus, was the crossing of the Red Sea. The song states it this way:

“You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears are drowned in perfect love.
You rescued me and I will stand and sing, ‘I am a child of God’.”

While our abusers chase after us in an attempt to bring us back into bondage, God opens the sea to freedom and allows us to walk right through it, on dry ground. This is a symbolic picture of our deliverance in Christ, from all bondage! Our strength lies only in our God and His ability to do what we simply cannot, which is to gain our freedom. We fight this battle on a spiritual level, just as God’s people did then. We do not fight in the flesh. Our war is in the spirit. We stand and say, I am a child of God and all that entails! We focus on what we know and the truths of God. We put on our fighting gloves (Eph. 6) and make our way through, with Christ before us. The fight looks like this. Always choosing to obey God and allow Him to fight on our behalf. It is recognizing that our enemy, with the abuser’s cooperation, is at work through someone we believed we could trust and who would love us. We become confused and foggy in this, because it is hard to wrap our brains around the fact that we are dealing with someone we married in good faith, not knowing what lay ahead for us.

While it is all too often true that the courts, churches and others, including family, do not deliver justice to victims or their children, we can know and trust that deliverance and freedom that God gives us from living with the abuser is the end goal for us. We can only look to Him for that and ignore sources that would ever advise us to live in bondage to abuse. We may lose everything material on the way and even emotional and physical things in this agonizing process, but our end is deliverance. Our end is knowing we are His and He will perfect that which concerns us.

Exodus 14 speaks of the terror facing God’s people and His direction for how to go through and get away from Pharaoh and his armies.

Fear not. Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord,
which He will work for you today.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  (Exodus 14:13-14)

As we know, this does not mean that we just sit and wait. We must take action and the necessary steps to freedom from abuse. Remember, God’s people here in this story moved. Their deliverance and freedom from Pharaoh and his armies came that day. But they had lived through a long, long battle in attempting to gain their freedom, prior to this day. They did not sit in their homes and wait, saying “God has put me here, so I must just sit, suffer and stay”. They moved at God’s direction, and there is more than enough biblical evidence for us to know that God wants us to move when living in abuse.  They had to move forward and walk through the sea. That was their only hope of being delivered and free. But God set it up. He did the work behind the scenes and as we know, annihilated His and His people’s enemies.

In Exodus 14:14b — you need only to be still — the word rendered ‘still’ can be rendered ‘silent’ or ‘holding your peace’. It can also mean to be deaf or mute. In the context of exiting life with an abuser, it can mean to make yourself deaf to all the noise and turmoil the abuser is hurling at you, or to be silent and not retaliatory. It can also mean to “plow under”. It appears to me the best interpretation for this passage would be to hold your peace in God and to deafen yourself from all the abuser’s attempts to make you think he holds all the power. In reality as a Christian, God holds all power over us as His people. We do not believe in dualism. God and Satan are not equally powerful deities in battle against each other. God has already won. We learn what He has for us in deepening our relationship with Him, when we have to go through the battle (working out our salvation in fear and trembling). God is able to use this evil for our good, to build our faith and trust in Him and to know Him more intimately. Wait for Him to come in like a rushing wind with deliverance on His wings, while you act in faith and remain pursuing your freedom from abuse.

God led me to these passages at the beginning of my departure, now many years ago. At first, I was so afraid that I could only fret. But as time went on, nearing the end when my final exit would come, I knew I could trust Him. Did everything go smoothly? Of course not. When we are dealing with the devil, there will always be turbulence.

the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20)

Satan comes in like a flood, inciting abusers — with their permission —  to never give up tormenting us. But, we are God’s people. We are His chosen. He will deliver us.

In closing, let me just share that I am still in the thick of many things and suffering repercussions from the fallout of decades of abuse. But I know who my God is and I know who I am in Him. I have taken my place in Him and I know that I am no longer a slave to fear. He is true and faithful to His promises and performs all that which He has declared to me to be His nature. I have chosen to trust and remain calm, knowing that He is always good, even when things look incredibly bad. If you can, let that be an encouragement to you, coming from one who has pounded down the path before you.

So, why or how did I come to make this choice? What equipped me?

Because I came to believe and understand – I am a child of God.

*****

This post is written by “IamMyBeloved’s”.  Many thanks to her for these words!

Related posts:

Exodus and Freedom from Abuse

Do You Want to be Healed? (Part 4 of Jeff’s Wise as Serpents sermon series)

Don’t be discouraged. Victory is ours. — by Ps Sam Powell