There was an unhealthy dynamic in our marriage. But generosity, forbearance and patience are not sins, while unkindness, unjust accusations, lies and selfishness are.
This guest post is by our reader ‘Gaining Momentum’. Many thanks to her for writing it.
This feels like it’s been a long time coming – writing down what I want to say. Now part of me just wants to close the book on that chapter, but I know it will always be a part of me like every other struggle, or intense joy I’ve experienced. I do so value all those experiences and the lessons learned; they are part of my story, and part of what I can contribute to the present and future.
I’m writing primarily to my fellow Christian survivors of intimate partner abuse perpetrated by professing Christian spouses. We worship God and Him only, not anything in His creation or His institutions, and we remain disciples first and foremost when we marry. Marriage does not annul that, nor should it render us vulnerable to be treated less well than other human beings. Marriage does not allow that our spouses be able to treat us treacherously without culpability or expectation in the Church that we can biblically end the marriage for their abuse.
God was present in my life from before my earliest memory. His existence was accepted and unquestioned in my family. As a child I heard we each need to make a personal decision to follow Jesus, and I chose to follow. Gradually all of my fears and all my insecurity found answers in the absolute truth, love, trustworthiness, faithfulness and power of God, and His value for each one of us.
I was diligent, but stopped short of embracing singleness to live an undistracted life of obedience and worship of my God. I was also inspired by the awesomeness of God’s plan for men and women to marry and live lives of obedience to God together, raising their children to love God, and love others, and raise their children likewise.
After experiencing singleness for some time, I believed God finally answered my prayers and blessed me in marriage, and I was married to a long-time, long-distance, Christian friend. My friend had been separated for a couple of years after a brief marriage before being divorced. He told me his wife had committed adultery and I had full trust in him at that time. We started courting a matter of weeks after the divorce was final, and were married several months after that.
I adored my husband, and enjoyed loving and serving him generously in every respect. I was patient with some lack of generosity and consideration toward me, believing I should take care of my own conduct and leave his to God. I trusted my needs to God, embraced an attitude of gratitude and chose to think the best of my husband. We enjoyed each other’s company and were affectionate toward each other. I felt very blessed.
Later my husband was increasingly depressed, anxious, and discontented. I suggested we ask God for answers to his concerns, and he consistently expressed that he did not know how to hear from God despite years of good teaching. He was active in the church and had done some study with a bible college.
At times he would become so anxious that he would appear to ‘lose it’, and be very disparaging about oversights and misplaced items, though there was no evidence to suggest who might be responsible. He called me names and berated me in front of our children, also blaming them for misplaced items.
I was quick to forgive, putting it down to his anxiety, and though concerned kept praying for him, suggesting medical investigation, and assuming there would be resolution in time. When he started resorting to treating finances with a gambling mentality, and I discovered several deceptions, my trust in him was significantly impacted. I was surprised, and wondered where things would end up if he continued to make such choices.
My trust was gradually broken in various other ways, particularly by his unjust accusations during attempts to resolve differences, re-writing history to find fault with me, and using psychological terms out of context to indicate the problem was with me. His unreasonableness and his unkindness caused me to feel unloved and essentially unsafe. I could not depend on him; trust his word, depend on his being rational or reasonable, or be assured any more of his affection. He was crossing lines I would never have imagined a Christian man, devoted to God, could possibly cross.
His gambling behaviour was having an impact on my ability to feed the children adequately, causing me to decide to separate so that I could care for them properly. The sheer waste of time while he asked me over and over to explain my position and share my concerns, followed first by his expressions of remorse, and then further recriminations toward me, also impacted my ability to take good care of the children. The wasted time caused everything to be more frantic and rushed, increasing the tension in the home and undermining my sense of being able to cope. There were further bumps and turns along the way before I finally made concrete plans to move out.
I found help personally through counselling, particularly when I started seeing the counsellor as an individual. I had begun to see that the relationship counselling was not going to change anything in the relationship while the real problem was unrecognised, and the relationship counselor had a ‘shared blame’ focus, which I found unjust. I had been diligent in my relationship choices and was not responsible for my husband’s behaviour. There was an unhealthy dynamic in the marriage, but generosity, forbearance and patience are not sins, while unkindness, unjust accusations, lies and selfishness are. It didn’t alter anything when I attempted to be assertive about reasonable requests. Nothing altered until I left.
While the self-compassion recommended by the counsellor would have been supportive for a self-aware individual prepared to make changes in their life, it just gave an abusive individual further licence to make it all about him.
Hearing each other’s “perspective”, without any consideration given to objective fact, felt like an exercise in futility – one cannot gain a better understanding of another’s perspective on something that didn’t happen. After counselling commenced, my husband consistently complained I wasn’t ‘hearing him’ whenever I had an issue that needed resolving, essentially resulting in my not being heard. I patiently listened to his perspective and responded with active listening skills. Then when it was my turn to share my perspective, he would complain that he was allowed to have his opinion. This essentially resulted in my opinion being shut down and the course of the discussion becoming about my errors.
Eventually there came a point where I felt God was saying, ‘it’s time now…you need to let go and leave him in my hands’. The gravity of the situation caused me to think how it would be if I didn’t leave, but my conscience was not easy. I was so certain of God’s response to my cries for help, and His wishes for my husband, that to fail to make active plans to leave now would be an act of disobedience. I knew it would be hard, but I also knew it was the right thing to do. I did not want our children growing up thinking our marriage was normal: thinking that was an acceptable way to treat a wife, or that being treated that way as a wife is acceptable.
I was aware that my husband would not have the opportunity to push past his maladaptive coping strategies if I stayed with him. My remaining meant he had no reason to do the hard work required to work through his issues and learn to respect the reasonable boundaries of others. Rather than recognise the wake-up call provided by the counselling, my husband continued his counter-productive power and control tactics to try and regain control. (His strategies were counter-productive for him at this point, as I was clearly waking up to his game-playing). I had made it abundantly clear that I needed to see different, respectful behaviour, but he continued to confirm by his actions that he is abusive, and confirm my choice to separate was the right decision.
I decided to apply for a divorce when he started to insist I reconcile within a time he specified, on account of the fact we were married. I didn’t want there to be anything left to control me with. He insisted on a maximum time for separation, whereas I needed to see consistent behavioural change over a prolonged period of time before trust could be rebuilt, and before I could consider reconciling or remarrying.
The simple fact that while he insisted on ‘his way’ on this issue, I was never going to come back, appeared to escaped him. He needed to accept my terms, when I was the one with the grievance. I was asking for my welfare to be considered, that I be heard and respected. However, I was only hearing loud and clear that he was not capable of considering me, hearing me, having empathy towards me, or able to respect my reasonable boundaries, while he dictated terms to me, ignored my reasonable requests, invented my many sins, and minimised his own.
When he finally accepted I was serious about divorce, he consistently treated me as an enemy and became nastier in his abuse of me through texts and emails and in front of the children. Suffice to say, it has been difficult and sad – and it confirmed that my decision to leave was the right one. We have since agreed (after a gradual process of trial and error) on care arrangements where the children are not present with both parents at the same time, unless for school awards for example, in a public place.
The man I had adored, and served willingly and generously, whose “I love you” endearments I had taken at face value, long after recognising his actions were not loving (leaving me in confusion for some time) was now treating me worse than any other human being had ever done before. I had long sensed that if given the choice between his life or mine, he would save himself before risking his life for me. We had two very different concepts of love.
Even before I left he had threatened that if his needs weren’t being met he would move on to another woman. I now had the evidence that he was indeed prepared to cut his losses and move on, rather than ‘go to the ends of the earth’ to find help in learning how to treat me with respect and with equity. He has made it patently clear that he thought it was too much effort to make healthy choices, and no real value for me as an individual. I had served a purpose and was now not performing as expected or required. Out with the old, in with the new!
I planned to remain single, as my sense of faithfulness led to my leaving room for that ‘hope’ that my former husband would have a revelation from God, do the hard work of restoration, and come back a changed man. I would be found faithful with my unconditional agape love intact, ready to be courted again and be remarried to him if it made sense to me at the time, and I believed God wanted it.
Later however, pondering his revelation that pornography and masturbation had been an issue through our entire marriage, I came to a decision that I would not risk a second marriage to him. Because I could not trust his word and I had no idea where his lust may have taken him while we were separated, I had no reassurance there would be no more nasty surprises again, maybe years into the future, appearance of a changed man or not. I wished for him to find peace with God and be happy, as I always had, but it wouldn’t be with me. I had no wish to risk going through everything all over again, either for me, or for our children.
Back to the beginning – I’m a disciple of Christ. I shall have no other gods than the One True God. I am responsible for my stewardship of my time, energy, talents, resources and health. Living with an intimate partner who was abusive did not allow me to use my time, energy, or resources according to my own conscience, preventing my stewardship of my talents and health also. I was essentially enslaved to a human being who worshipped himself, prioritising his own comfort and gratification, not the God he professed to worship.
My emotional well-being was most noticeably deteriorating, as well as some physical impacts that have resolved since I left. Staying with an abusive husband impacted some of our children noticeably also, requiring counselling. My leaving (though sharing care of the children with their father) reduced the pressure they were previously under.
If I stayed, I was concerned I would lose my sanity and end up a mental health inpatient, unable to care for my children. In that case, I would have failed to take care of the life God had given me, and my responsibility to parent my children well. I could not stay with my husband without failing to ensure my children’s general and emotional well-being. I have accepted a shared-care arrangement with respect to finding balance with their desire to, and prevailing opinion that they need to, have a significant and meaningful relationship with both their parents. They have adjusted to the separation fairly well, though some have been affected by the reality of their family life more than others.
Now God has rescued me again, I’m His alone. No more ‘distractions’ as Paul mentions in the New Testament regarding a married person’s divided attention! I’m thankful He heard my prayers to be married and have children, and I’m thankful for the lessons learned through the heartbreak. God in fact blessed me with a large family, and I was blessed to birth them naturally and breastfeed them. That period of my life will always stand out as a most beautiful time indeed. My body working as God made it to, and my experiences in trusting God with all our needs, was a very encouraging and confidence-building period in my life – ‘empowering’ for the task of parenting and the times ahead. God was always first, and always will be – it could not be any other way after all He has done for me.
I understand my freedom to remarry after divorcing my husband for constructive desertion and abuse (many thanks to Barbara Roberts for her book, Not Under Bondage). I wish anyone brave enough to remarry after an abusive relationship every blessing of a truly healthy and happy relationship with their new spouse. At this point in my life however, I strongly identify with Paul’s recommendations for singleness.
My eyes are more heavenward than ever before, because of the distress I have experienced, and because of my gratefulness to God for his snatching me back from harm. My primary goal for my mortal life is to parent my children prayerfully and diligently, that they might all wholeheartedly follow Christ, walking in Truth; and to cherish the freedom I have to use the life left to me with good stewardship, to love God and love others, sharing the good news of freedom through Christ, to His glory – “For the Kingdom!”
I can see Mel Gibson shouting “Freedom!” (in thankfully the only image I can remember from the movie “Braveheart”) as I exhort myself and other survivors of intimate partner abuse, including spiritual abuse, to remember their standing in Christ, and the discipleship He called us to. He is the one to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners (Isaiah 61: 1), to give recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed (Luke 4: 18). What your journey should look like right now, if a disciple of Christ, or a year from now, is between you and God, not me or anyone else. He is hearing you, and He is unfailingly loving and faithful. To God be the Glory.
Don Hennessy’s new book Steps To Freedom is now available for Kindle pre-order in the USA and will download to Kindles next week.
Steps to Freedom (paperback) can also be pre-ordered at Book Depository which is a UK site that gives free delivery worldwide.
On March 16 I shared on this blog more info about Steps to Freedom.
Jesus harshly condemned the religion of the Pharisees. In this series, Ps Jeff Crippen goes through the book of Matthew highlighting what Jesus said about the mentality, nature, tactics and teachings of oppressive religion that the enemy of our souls has so often introduced among the people of God.
Ps Crippen also gives many examples of how that false religion is cropping up among us in our churches, and maybe in our own thinking as well.
Men who abuse women tend to target women who are:
- weighed down with sins
- led astray by their desires/passions/feelings
- always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth
- ‘little women’ (the Greek is a single word which is the diminutive of women)
That’s what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:6-7. This post focuses on the first three points above. I will address the fourth point (‘little women’) in a subsequent post because I can’t do it justice unless I devote a whole post to it.
Ps Liam Goligher says¹ that the Greek word translated ‘desires’ mean feelings – whether positive and negative. It doesn’t necessarily have an immoral connotation. For example, Jesus used it positively when he said “I have inwardly desired to eat this Passover lamb with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). So in 2 Timothy 3:6, that word just indicates that these women are led by their emotions.
A woman can be led by her emotions in desiring to put other people’s needs before her own. And skilled male offenders prefer to target women who put other people’s needs before their own. It seems that what Don Hennessy teaches about domestic abusers is in line with the Bible yet again!
The Bible says these men take women captive (aichmalotizontes). The Greek word means to subdue, ensnare, subjugate, gain control over, get power over, make prisoners of. What a perfect word for how skilled male offenders operate! Don Hennessy has explained in great detail how the skilled offenders do this.
Hennessy says that when selecting a woman to target, these skilled male offenders prefer a woman who is kind, loyal, dedicated and truthful.
A woman can be kind, loyal, dedicated and truthful, while at the same time being weighed down with sins, led by her feelings, ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
So does the Bible disparage these women? Does God blame these women for being taken captive by evil men? Are these women unstable before the evil men target them? Can these women ever learn? Or are they doomed to be perpetually vulnerable to evil men?
These are tough questions because they have the potential to be dismissive and shaming of women who are victimized by abusive men. But we need to grapple with these questions. What does the Bible mean when it describes women this way?
Many professing Christians assume that Paul was disparaging the kinds of women who are taken captive by covertly evil men. It’s easy to disparage abused women. It requires less courage than standing up to the evil men who abuse them. (see Ps Crippen’s excellent post When We Believe the Wicked and Dismiss the Oppressed, We are Guilty of Cowardice)
Paul cannot be telling Timothy that these women are unworthy of pastoral attention and care. Writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul – who described himself as the chief of sinners – would not have shown such contempt for victims of abuse! He must be alluding to other things: things that (generally speaking) result in complex trauma to females more than males. Things such as
- adverse childhood experiences
- the trans-generational transmission of trauma
- sexual harassment and abuse
- male-privilege assumptions in society
- the readiness to blame victims rather than have compassion for them.
Liam Goligher says:
It’s not all women by any means. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul talks about mature and godly women who are able to instruct other women. And in this letter (2 Timothy), Paul reminds Timothy of what he learned from his mother and grandmother who were his chief instructors in the things of God.
But ever since the Fall blighted this world, the majority of girls and women have been trained to accept that their gender is second-class so they must become accustomed to being treated as sex objects, not to mention being distrusted, suspected and blamed for what is not their fault. (See my thoughts on Genesis 3:16 here) Often every choice or option available to a woman has been fraught with danger. Woman has historically been trapped and stigmatized no matter which way she turns. If she belongs to a ‘higher caste’ (e.g. white, rich, born in a wealthy country, born into a privileged family) it might mean her choices are somewhat less bound, less restricted. But sexual abuse and domestic abuse occur in all societies and all demographics.
False guilt and real guilt
Women are often burdened with a lot of false guilt. They are blamed for the sins of others, especially the abuse which evil men have done to them.
And many women – especially women who are kind, truthful, loyal and conscientious – have real guilt for their sometimes sinful responses to the oppression they have endured. I’m talking about the sins women may have themselves committed in responding to the constrictions which abuse and male privilege have confined them to.
Let me relate my own experience as an example; many of our readers have heard my story before, but we never know when new readers look at to our website. In my teens and early adulthood, I was carrying a heavy burden of sins I had committed against myself and others: bulimia, drug abuse, promiscuity, working as a prostitute when I was 19/20, then going into the occult and the New Age because I thought it was giving me answers. I now know I did all those things in attempting to avoid the pain of having been sexually abused in childhood…and I thank God for rescuing me from that morass by revealing Jesus to me and showing me that He loves me and has paid the price for all my sin!
Real guilt needs to be confessed. We must cease that sin, casting our burden on Christ who cleanses us from all sin.
But a negative feedback loop happens when a person has a sense of their own real guilt yet the real guilt isn’t disentangled from the false guilt which that person is also carrying.
Real guilt for one’s own real sin is difficult to disentangle from the false guilt that one has been conditioned to accept.
When legalistic religion and society has given you the impression that all resistance to oppression and abuse is ‘wrong’, it is a long and arduous process to do this disentangling.
And here’s the trap: If we are carrying false guilt mixed with real guilt, our burdened consciences make us only too ready to grasp at any offer of easement – including the offers from evil men who are skilled at covertly manipulating our emotions to take us captive, while persuading us they are giving us the easement and peace and love we desire.
To expunge false guilt from our minds, it helps to have lots of rest, time with God and with compassionate human companions, and decent teaching from wise Christians who can expose and explain in plain language all the false teachings that brought us into bondage.
False guilt needs to be identified, shed and and thrown off like a plague-infected garment. And when one has carried false guilt for years, one usually needs to fight and cast it off repeatedly (Romans 12:2). It is a spiritual battle to get rid of false guilt. The journey is often two steps forward, one step back (see my post on the backstitch analogy).
But God helps us!
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal things, but things mighty in God to cast down strongholds, with which we overthrow imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity all understanding to the obedience of Christ, and are ready to take vengeance on all disobedience, when your obedience might come to an end.
(2 Cor 10:4-6, New Matthew Bible ²)
They were always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth
They wanted an answer, they were looking everywhere for an answer, a way out, something else, something else. They were reading all the books and downloading all the programs and going to all the conferences. Always learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth – probably because:
- they were looking in all the wrong places
- these teachers were telling them stuff and playing on their guilt.
The devil always plays on your guilt. God never does. God never plays on your guilt; He never uses your guilt as a motive or incentive or a driver to anything better or brighter or greater. But the devil will play on your guilt. And many bible teachers will play on your guilt. It sells their books and their videos. And gets you to their conferences. And makes you dependent on them, on what they will say next. They’ll play on your guilt, your fears. Play on your sense of neediness. Manipulate your feelings by offering you a better feeling for a while perhaps.
A diet of memes will not make you into a mature Christian
Here’s something I (Barb) have observed with female victims of abuse. Some (note I say some, not most or all) of them seem to live on a diet of memes. Facebook is pretty much the only place they engage on the web. They read headlines on FB posts and those few words which facebook gives under the headline, but they may not read the whole item which has been posted. When they comment, they do so on FB rather than commenting at the blog post or article which was linked to that FB post. And they are drawn to graphics which show things like butterflies, wings, princess crowns, and flowery “feminine” fonts. They are enticed by soothing, encouraging promises and fairy-dust statements like **God treasures you!** and **Your are valuable to God!**
But they don’t often read the more deep Christian teaching which might challenge them mentally or spiritually.
And sadly these women tend to un-discerningly imbibe lots of counsel from people who teach about marriage and relationship problems who give bad advice how to respond to domestic abuse. I hold Christian leaders accountable for that plethora of bad advice.
And when abused women do read Christian blogs about domestic abuse, many of the bloggers they follow use a very ‘friendly’ tone when writing for their readers. Personally, I find that kind of overly-friendly tone presumptuous and cloying. How does Blogger X know that I, her reader, consider myself to be her ‘friend’? Of course, some people might think we do the same kind of thing at ACFJ. But while we can be friendly to each other here at ACFJ, we do try to discourage presumptive expressions of friendship that are based more on sentiment than on sound understanding of each other.
Back to Liam Goligher:
Paul’s emphasis is not on the victims. It’s on the victimizers.
Paul likens these false teachers – and they’re masculine by the way – to the Egyptian sorcerers Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses and tried to replicate what Moses did. And these magicians have come to stand for this historic movement – from the beginning of history right up to these last days – of people who set themselves up in the church and oppose God deliberately.
We don’t know exactly what these wily men were doing who were sneaking into the church to undermine these women. But it’s quite possible they taking secondary things and making them first things. Taking unimportant things and making them important. Taking unnecessary things and making them a priority. Focusing on behaviors and practices and little rules that are not in the Bible. Pontificating about all these issues that are not in the bible.
These false teachers [these evil men] want to undermine people’s confidence in God, their joy in God, their love for God.
You’re in danger of these kinds of people if you mind has not been formed and is not guarded by the truth.
If you’re not being shaped by the truth you’re an easy target. You’re in danger if you’re being led by your feelings or curiosity or affections.
You’re in danger if you can’t get over your past and haven’t really grasped that the Gospel is full and free. No matter what your past is; no matter what you have on your record; no matter what you have done or what has been done to you – God loves you! He loves you. Embrace it. Believe it. The Bible says God is the only ultimate Father who you can trust. He won’t abuse you. He won’t mistreat you.
You’re in danger if you accept everything you hear without bringing it to the court of Scripture which is God’s Word written. There are areas of conscience where individuals have the right to exercise their conscience within the principles of the Bible.
But notice verses 8-9. Though the days are dark, though false teachers proliferate, though they disturb the peace of God’s church, God’s church will not fail. At the end of the day all such deceivers will be exposed for what they are. They will not bring down God’s people. The church will remain.
Summary… and encouragement for bruised reeds
God condemns the practice of sin. God holds the conduct of abusers in contempt and He tells us to avoid abusers. But God isn’t contemptuous towards bruised reeds – birds with broken wings. He is compassionate and protective, whilst calling us to discernment, greater maturity and righteousness in the future. God calls us to govern and temper our emotions with the soundness of mind, prudence and self-discipline that grows from a right and balanced understanding of scripture.
With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks. (Psalm 18:25-27 NKJ)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. To preach the gospel to the poor he has sent me, and to heal the broken-hearted; to preach deliverance to the captive, and sight to the blind, and freely to set at liberty those who are bruised (Luke 4:18)
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30 )
Therefore let us also (seeing that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses) lay away all that presses down, and the sin that hangs on, and let us run with patience to the battle that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him suffered the cross, disregarding the shame, and is seated on the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2)
¹All references to Liam Goligher’s teaching have been taken from his sermon Discerning the spirits.
² Unless otherwise stated all scripture references in this post are taken from the New Matthew Bible (NMB).
Here is a potted history of the NMB. By 1535 William Tyndale had courageously translated the New Testament from Greek into English when it was deemed a capital offence to have a Bible in any language other than Latin. Tyndale’s translation was printed in Europe and smuggled into England. Tyndale wanted every literate ploughboy in England to be able to comprehend the Bible by reading it in his mother tongue. But English has changed a lot since the early 1500’s, so Tyndale’s translation is pretty hard for most of us to comprehend. Thankfully, Ruth Magnusson Davis has gently updated the early modern English of Tyndale’s New Testament so we can now read it easily — she has called it The October Testament. She is working on the New Matthew Bible which will be the entire bible gently updated from Tyndale’s translations and the portions of the OT that Tyndale didn’t translate before he was executed which were translated by his friend Miles Coverdale.
Co-dependency as bondage to and participation in evil – blog post by Ps Jeff Crippen
Wake up, Christian. Listen to the victims. Believe them. Admit your ignorance about the devil and his methods and start taking serious steps to correct that ignorance.
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill is a three volume biography of Winston Churchill, written by William Manchester. The opening quotes in this post are all taken from the second volume covering the decade before World War 2 when Churchill, as a lone voice, was trying to warn of the growing Nazi menace.
~ ~ ~
As a contributor to the Yale Review has pointed out, [Winston Churchill’s appeal for a recovery of moral health] was his way of saying that the English after Munich had to learn all over again to recognize evil. They had lost the sense of villainy; they had no solid principles, unshakable convictions.
But [Neville] Chamberlain still did not believe in standing up to Hitler. All evidence to the contrary, Chamberlain remained convinced that if the Fuhrer were treated with generosity, he could become Britain’s best friend.
In politics the squeaky wheel gets little grease. This is particularly true when a public figure challenging the leader carries a controversial reputation in train. The mass distrusts controversy. Reluctant to reconsider its convictions, superstitions, and prejudices, it rarely withdraws support from those who are guiding its destinies. Thus inertia becomes an incumbents’ accomplice. So does human reluctance to admit error. Those who backed the top man insist, against all evidence, that they made the right choice.
As is evident in just these three quotes from Manchester’s wonderful work on the life of Winston Churchill, naivete and ignorance regarding evil can be catastrophic. In this case, it led to some 60 million people dying. SIXTY MILLION! In some ways I regard Chamberlain as guilty as Hitler.
If you really want to gain wisdom regarding evil, read at least this second volume of the series (The Last Lion, William Manchester). If you are at all aware of the nature and tactics of domestic, spiritual, and sexual abusers who hide in sheep’s clothing in churches, I assure you that as you read you will find yourself very often exclaiming, “that is exactly what we are up against in the church when we try to point out evil!”
You have three perfect examples of this in the quote above:
- When Christians live in an isolated Christian “bubble,” when children grow up all their lives in such a place, they lose all sense of, as Churchill would put it, “villainy.” “Goodness gracious!” is about as strong of language as they hear. Bad guys are always dressed in black and in the end the good guys in white always win. And all this leads such people to this….
- If we just treat even the most nasty people with generosity, if we appease them and give them their way whenever we can, then surely eventually they will be truly thankful to us and become our bestest friends.
- When evil is uncovered in, for example, a local church, institutional inertia demands that it be discounted and ignored. Everyone is quite reluctant to admit that they have been duped by saintly old deacon Smith who, it turns out, has been sexually molesting eschildren or abusing his wife all these years.
As for those who report these evils, such as the victims of it all, well, as Manchester put it, “the squeaky wheel gets little grease.” In other words, victims are ignored or told to stop squeaking! Why? Because they are upsetting the momentum of the institution that has been running oh so smoothly for a long, long time. To receive and believe the victim’s report of evil in the pews would demand a total reboot of, well, of just about everything that is held dear.
Willful ignorance of evil on the part of pastors and church members, counselors and popular Christian writers, has been enabling evil and oppressing its victims for far too long. Just as Neville Chamberlain and his “peace in our time” crowd had been provided with mountains of evidence that Hitler was arming Germany at an astounding rate, so Christians have been given God’s own Word that clearly exposes wickedness. How it hides among us. What its schemes are. What our weapons are. Paul reminds us –
2Co 2:11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
Eph 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
But we are children. We are ignorant of his designs. There is a multitude of reasons for this. Sometimes we are taught by leaders who do not belong to Christ at all. Sometimes professing Christians plug their ears to the truth when it is preached and cry “no more!” like the Israelites at Mount Sinai. And often we have carelessly embraced the traditions of men as the Word of God because we have not searched the Scriptures carefully ourselves. But whatever the cause, the widespread willful ignorance to the nature and tactics of the evil that has crept in among us in the church is permitting and even empowering wicked, ungodly men to parade as eminent holy men while all the while they feed on the flock.
Wake up, Christian. Listen to the victims. Believe them. Admit your ignorance about the devil and his methods and start taking serious steps to correct that ignorance. World War II never needed to have happened! There were scores of opportunities and years of time to stop the enemy without a shot being fired or a life being lost. So it is in your church and your family when it comes to protecting Christ’s people from the wicked.
1Th 5:4-8 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Originally posted on April 4, 2018, at Pastor Crippen’s blog, Light for Dark Times.
When a person’s life is marinated in trauma, that has profound effects on the individual. When a connected group of people is systemically traumatized (such as the Jews in the holocaust) studies show this has negative effects down several generations. And what if a whole society is systemically traumatizing some of its members?
The three links I’m about to give you are all from the same YouTube video.
Introduction to Trauma Healing— a TV series made for Iranians in which actors depict various Bible stories that relate to trauma. Pretty short; very moving.
Dr Diane Langberg describes what it is like to be ‘marinated in trauma‘ by recounting examples from real people’s lives. She explores the impact of complex trauma on stages of individual and social identity development and how this has an impact on trauma being passed on to the next generation.
Dr Phil Monroe discusses the transmission of trauma across generations using examples of direct and indirect intergenerational transmission of trauma, and the systems that maintain trauma transmission. He explored these questions:
- What are the social conditions and structures that maintain systems that transmit trauma to the next generation? In other words, what are the factors outside of individual behavior (e.g., one traumatized person’s behavior towards another) that maintain conditions encouraging generational trauma?
- For those of the higher caste in a society – the people with greater privilege and more social power – what are the mechanisms that enable them to
- avoid many generational traumas
- remain blind to the structures and systems at work.
Other items about Langberg and Monroe