A Cry For Justice

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

Why Abusers Love Our Bad Theology

1 John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

I have often heard Christian counselors bad-mouth theology/Bible doctrine.  They will talk about “Oh, those theologian types!  They are so out of touch!”   Yes, many theologians are out of touch.  Some do get all caught up in minutia that really doesn’t matter in the end.  But what I want to remind everyone of in this article is that theology is the most important anchor for any human being, and in some ways especially for the abuse victim.  Theology.  Words or rational statements about Theos – about God. And when we speak of theology, we mean the theology of the Bible.  True truth about God, about man, about how God has set out in Christ to redeem us from the mess we made through our sin.

The theology of the typical evangelical church of our day is botched.  I mean, we are out to lunch!  We are so set upon making people happy that we have ditched what makes God “happy” (ie, what glorifies Him).  We create our own traditions, stamp them with our “Certified Biblical” marks, then spread them all around like a virus.  These traditions distort Scripture, they distort the real character of God, and inevitably they make us look better than we really are.  We are teaching our own traditions about forgiveness, reconciliation, sin, mercy, love, divorce and presenting them as the Word of God; just about any Bible doctrine has at least one widely-held tradition latched onto it like a parasite.

In this environment of bad theology (ie, “lies” -also known as – “damnable heresies” by our less delicate ancestors like the Puritans), sin thrives among us.  Sinners thrive.  And that means, abusers thrive – right in the church, sitting there next to us in the pew.  There he is.  That lying, wicked, power-control hungry, entitled abuser who oppresses his victim cruelly.  He’s got the stamp on himself – “Certified Christian.”  How did he get it?

He got that stamp because we aren’t reading and believing God’s Word.  This emissary of darkness parades as a child of light because we can’t or won’t listen to God, believe Him, and obey Him.  Turns out that the thing is a no-brainer,

1 John 2:3-4, And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (4) Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:9-11, Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. (10) Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. (11) 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.

What is it about “if…then” that is hard to understand?  But our muddled theology has abuse victims and all of us, really, bumbling around in a fog.  We’ve got the blind leading the blind.  “Well, yeah, Jack there, turns out he beats the snot out of his wife when he drinks too much.”  “And Fred, yes, Fred shouldn’t talk to his wife as he does.  Telling her she’s a tramp and all that.” –  “But Jack and Fred are Christian men and we need to understand them.  They have some pretty rough backgrounds.  Jesus wants us to love them and if we love them enough, I mean, if we work up a big ‘ol giant ball of love, maybe, just maybe, these boys will come ’round in their thinking.”   I think that the Lord would have another name for that big ‘ol ball of …..

Bad theology grows a forest for wicked men to hide in.  We’ve been growing such a forest for decades now.  It’s time for a really big forest fire to remove all this dead wood.  Maybe then truth will sprout.  It happened before.   Guys like Luther and Calvin were the arsonists.  The fire was called the Reformation.  We need another one.  Really, really, badly.

3 Comments

  1. So true. Botched. Out to lunch. A virus of bad theology.
    Here’s an analogy from the world of viruses:
    I used to have Hep C. The Hep C virus rarely kills you, most sufferers die with it, but not of it. (It only causes death in a few cases where the person gets cirrhosis or liver cancer, and usually they only get those things if they are heavy drinkers too.)

    So for most folk, and I was one, they have the Hep C virus without even being aware they have it. It may cause almost no symptoms. Or it may cause fatigue, a bit of depression, minor gasto-intestinal problems, a little brain fog from time to time. Nothing that shouts “liver disease”. That’s just how the church is with its bad theology. Nothing to really pinpoint that there’s a virus, (unless you are a victim of abuse and at the pointy end of that bad theology, that is). Most Christians don’t wonder much about why the Church is a little fatigued, a little depressed, a little unable to digest stuff from time to time… In fact, they’re so used to this state of affairs they think it’s normal.

    But it’s not normal. Not by the Bible’s standards. Not by God. Not by Jesus Christ.

    After I’d been through a gruelling, horrific year of drug therapy, I got ‘cured’ of Hep C. They don’t call it cured, they say I ‘cleared the virus’. Same difference. As the side effects of the treatment drugs wore off, I began to feel truly alive and amazingly well for the first time in my adult life (I’d contracted Hep C when I was 19). It was like bubbles of spritz were sparkling through my veins. I could not believe it. “This is what it is like to be healthy! I’d never known! Never imagined it!”
    No wonder I used to feel awful for most of my life, no wonder I found life much harder than most other people seemed to find it. They were well. I’d been sick. I’d had a virus eating away every day, destroying my liver cells, and my liver had been attempting to grow back every single day. It had been an ongoing battle between my body’s capacity to self-restore, and the virus’s ability to kill liver cells. On the days I’d felt particularly fatigued, that was when the virus had the upper hand for a while.

    There’s more to this analogy. Treatment was horrific, the side effects of the drugs were far worse than they symptoms of Hep C had been. But cure was an astounding quantum leap upward, into realms of energy, optimism and effectiveness I’d never known before. Treatment for bad theology is pretty horrific too: you have to humble yourself and be willing to examine and if necessary jettison your pet crutches in Christian-ese. It hurts. It shames. It debilitates. It makes you feel woefully inadequate. But if the church undergoes treatment, the cure can be incredible.

    Another point: treatment for Hep C is not (at this stage of medical science) guaranteed to work. Depending on your genotype of the Hep C virus, you have to have treatment for either 6 or 12 months, and the success rate is between 50 and about 80 percent. But is it worth trying? YES.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Right on! Excellent illustration. Many Christians in their churches have never known what spiritual health truly is. To some degree in this day and age perhaps that is true of all of us. I say bring on the cure, no matter how much it hurts.

  2. Bitter But Getting Better

    You said: “We are so set upon making people happy that we have ditched what makes God “happy”

    Matthew 5:13 When the salt has lost it’s saltiness it is good for nothing but to be trampled under the feet of men. Our whole society is trampling us under foot and it’s because we are not salt and light!!! I don’t know if I ever knew the whole truth of God’s plan for this world until I started dealing with abusers in my life.
    Barb excellent analogy!

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