A Cry For Justice

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

Misuse of Power and Injustice to the Innocent: One follows the Other

3 John 1:9-10   I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.  So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

As I was studying for this week’s sermon taken from Malachi, reading the Lord’s rebuke of a corrupt priesthood, I spent some time thinking about how this issue is with us today.  The Levitical priests despised the Lord.  They saw their ministry as wearisome toil, and they were quite satisfied to accept second-rate offerings from the people.  What would the Lord have to say to the shepherds of Christ’s church today?  As I mulled these things over, I summarized what I am seeing in our churches in these words:

There is a wisespread abuse of power in our churches.  A lording it over the people by the men who are charged with shepherding Christ’s flock as He would shepherd them.  And one of the most telling indicators that such abuse of power exists is that the weak and the innocent are being rendered injustice, while the wicked are protected.  Where there is a practiced, ongoing exercise of injustice, there will necessarily be an abuse of power.

Yes, sometimes injustice is dealt to the innocent out of ignorance and human limitation.  Mistakes are made.  But what we are seeing so often as we read the accounts of Christians who are victims of obvious, ongoing abuse and how they were unjustly treated by their churches, we cannot explain it all away by attributing it to ignorance. What I am seeing, with frightening regularity, is that abuse victims (normally women) are being mistreated by men who seem to enjoy power.  It is the spirit of Diotrephes alive and well (3 John).

And yet, the thing is curious at first glance.  One of the common complaints is that churches are not enacting biblical church discipline upon their members who are abusers.  I say this is curious because one would think that power-broker church leaders would relish any opportunity to put someone out of the church.  But they often don’t.  What they do is tell the victim that she is being rebellious, instruct her to submit to them, and to go back to her abuser/husband.  How can this be?

Well, here is my theory, and it is not pretty.  I suggest that when our “priesthood” goes bad as it had in Malachi’s day, when pastors and elders become enamored with the supposed power they possess, they become abusive themselves.  And abusive men do not render justice to the oppressed, but quite the opposite.  In addition, they tend to protect the guilty.  Why?  Because they share a common spirit and philosophy with the guilty.  Power and control appeal to them all and thus they are in a common fraternal brotherhood labeled “Sons of Diotrephes.”

I wish I did not have to propose this theory.  But the data coming into me says that abuse of power, protection of the wicked, and oppression of the innocent, are 3-bedfellows.  What this means is that where one exists, you will find the other two.  Injustice rendered to abuse victims very often indicates that her church leaders think far too highly of themselves and enjoy being “first.”  Any pastor who is a genuine shepherd of Christ will shudder as he thinks of these things because he knows just how easily he might become caught up in such sins himself.  Pastors, let us diligently search our own hearts and beg the Chief Shepherd to keep us from such evil.

5 Comments

  1. Ezekiel 34
    …Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.
    The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
    “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

    “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. … I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
    “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.

    “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. … And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.”

  2. Its a tough conclusion but I must concur. Over the years I’ve seen it time and time again– proud arrogant leaders who refuse to see their own sin and therefore seek to snuff out anyone or any situation that might shine the light of truth on their own actions.

  3. Anonymous

    This is so right on the money!

    If someone comes to me and tells me her husband is beating her, among other things, I’m going to be outraged about it, as well as concerned for her well-being. I won’t be inquiring as to what she did that caused him to beat her, or any other nonsensical questions that are usually asked.

    So many wife-beaters are protected, while the abused wives are victimized all the more, shunned, ‘judged’, criticized, and more. He gets away with murder and she is flogged for existing.

    Abusive men do not render justice to the oppressed, but quite the opposite. In addition, they protect the guilty. Why? Because they share a common spirit and philosophy with the guilty. Power and control appeal to them all and thus they are in a common fraternal brotherhood labeled ‘Sons of Diotrephes’.

    This is the truth as I have come to know it. Examples are found everywhere. For example, the judges who look at the victimized women and girls who have been raped and tell them how they caused such…… like the 14 year old whose 47 year old teacher groomed her and raped her (they had a ‘relationship’ but she’s 14, she cannot ‘consent’) and the judge tells her how she looks older and how she was in control of the relationship….. and by the time she reached 16 she went and committed suicide because of all the bullying, etc. from those at school, the community, her peers, etc. And the 47 year old just spent something like 30 days or so in jail and surrendered his teaching license. She’s dead. Not only dead, but she lived a MISERABLE, HORRIFIC, HAUNTED, TAUNTED, BULLIED TO DEATH existence for at least 2 solid years, was painted as being this seductress and victimizer by the judge, groomed and preyed upon by a child molester who also was her teacher……..but the judge had pity for the rapist and criticism for the child victim.

    Or how about the cops whose demeanor and words and pointed, unnecessary, prying, questions betray their stance on DV calls and what they think of the abused woman? I realize that Ps Crippen, you are a former cop, but there are police who respond by telling the wife-beater tips as to how to get away with more stuff, skirt the law in this or that way, and further harm the wife, all the while telling her she is lucky she is not being arrested, and should be thankful……arrested for what?!……but she doesn’t know any better, having tried to walk the straight and narrow all her life. There are plenty of police officers who beat their wives and hold very sexist and misogynistic worldviews. And these are the guys who show up when someone calls in a DV complaint, who harass the very clearly abused women, all because they can. A good ol’ boys club. Same goes for male doctors, male bosses, male whatever. I’m not a man-hater, but I really lack many positive examples to counter the endless array of very, very NEGATIVE, HORRIBLE, VICTIMIZING, HARMFUL, DAMAGING, DEGRADING experiences.

    • I know that some cops are abusers themselves, and/or enable other abusers. However, I also know that there are cops who do a really great job helping victims of abuse and bringing the abusers to face justice.

      Where i live in Australia, we have had some outstanding examples of men in leadership in both the police force and the army who have taken a bold stand speaking out and denouncing male violence against women and the misogyny which breeds male violence against women.

      Here are one example of such a man. David Morrison, who was at that time Chief of the Australian Army.

    • And here is another example: Ken Lay, Victorian Police Force.

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