A Cry For Justice

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

Legalism Lurking and Coming in the Mail to a Pastor Near You — “Building a Godly Home”

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But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:16-17) 

We have many books in our church library that I appreciate very much and which come from the era of the Puritans and their successors. There are many, many great sermons in them and some excellent exposition of Scripture.  BUT, there is some bad stuff as well. Stuff that is just plain legalism that leads to false guilt and bondage, and even more so because those books were written so long ago in a culture that is so long ago.  You simply cannot transfer straight across the board in respect to application to us what people did 300-400 years ago in many cases. In some ways, I suppose, the legalism really originates in US today as so many Christians seem to want to fashion their marriages and homes and families and lives around that bygone era (check out the covers of many of Douglas Wilson’s books for example – but don’t read the books!).

So last week I received (and I suspect many pastors are also receiving it) a free book in the mail entitled Building a Godly Home: A Vision for Raising Children, by William Gouge (1575-1653). Gouge was a member of the Westminster Assembly that penned the Westminster Standards. This particular edition is “edited and modernized” by Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke. Brown, I am assuming, is the same Scott Brown who we regard as no friend to abuse victims and is head of The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. Brown and Beeke have broken Gouge’s original Domestical Duties tome down into three volumes: 1) A Holy Vision for Family Life, 2) A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage, and the one I am critiquing here, 3) A Holy Vision for Raising Children. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God. But not these volumes. They are bondage, bondage, bondage.

So let me tell you why I am throwing this complimentary copy of this book in the garbage can and why I would never, ever endorse it to our people here in our church or anywhere else. Remember now, these books are being mailed out to pastors free of charge and many or some of these pastors are going to grab onto them and start teaching the contents to their people. If you start hearing this from the pulpit in your church, don’t be sucked in. In fact, you should object to the proclamation of this kind of step-by-step guaranteed guide to holiness and happiness. It is the tradition of men being foisted upon us.  I have been a pastor for over 30 years and more importantly I have been the pastor of Christ Reformation Church for over 20 years.  In that time I have had opportunity to see numbers of families function, dysfunction, and their children grow up into adulthood.  I can tell you — I have seen it first hand.  Children raised in this kind of legalism end up handicapped spiritually and emotionally and some even turn away from Christ.

Here is the problem.  Listen to some of these chapter titles and headings from the book:

  • Children Showing Respect for Parents
  • Children’s Love to their Parents
  • A Child’s Fear of His Parent
  • A Child’s Respect in Quietly Listening to His Parent
  • A Child’s Respectful Controlling of His Speech to His Parents
  • The Vices in Children Contrary to Such Respect in Speech
  • Children’s Respectful Talk About Their Parents
  • A Child’s Respectful Conduct to His Parent
  • The Vices Contrary to Children’s Respectful Gestures Towards Their Parents
  • Children’s Obedience
  • Children Getting Parents’ Permission
  • Consent of Parents for Children’s Entering into a Vocation
  • The Sin of Children’s Entering into Religious Orders Without Consent of Parents
  • The Sin of Children’s Traveling and Becoming Apprentices without Consent of Parents
  • Parents Consent to the Marriage of Their Children
  • The Reasons Why Children Should Have Their Parents’ Consent for Their Marriage
  • A Child’s Conduct in Case a Parent Provides a Poor Mate or None at All
  • The Sin of Children in Marrying Without Their Parents’ Consent
  • Ministers’ Sin in Marrying Children Without Parents’ Consent
  • Children’s Not Taking or Selling Any of Their Parents’ Property Without Consent
  • Children’s Being Content to be Clothed as Their Parents Choose

And the list goes ON and ON and ON!  I have just taken you up to about page 32 in the book here, and there are over 180 pages total!!  I can tell you, this is the stuff that enables “christian” abusers who use “godliness” as a facade. External legalism, endless lists of do’s and don’ts enables the wicked to put on a facade of saintliness and to enslave their wives and children.

WARNING, WARNING, WARNING!  Parents, pastors, churches, Christians — if you embrace this model for life, and if you create a culture in your church and in your home that is controlled and dominated by these lists of do’s and don’ts that govern every area of life and short circuit self-development and  healthy self-consciousness, you are going to do serious damage to your children and to yourselves.  You are going to create an atmosphere that is dominated by a huge weight of legalism and the inevitable guilt that accompanies it. You are going to raise up children who even as adults WILL NOT BE ABLE TO THINK OR LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT OR INTERPRET SCRIPTURE FOR THEMSELVES. On the outside they may look like clean-cut, respectable, upstanding Christian young people, but I can tell you from personal experience that young people who have been raised up in these kinds of families and churches where patriarchy and legalism reign, will be stunted and warped in their personal, emotional, and spiritual development. They will not be “persons.”  They will only be a kind of ghostly reflection of what daddy says or what pastor says. They won’t even be able to make a personal selection from the menu at MacDonald’s.

So these rule books are not a “holy vision” at all.  The Holy Spirit does not establish these kinds of rule-bound systems to bind us. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is sweet liberty. Don’t let anyone put the yoke of slavery back on you.  Read God’s Word. Be guided by the Spirit of Christ in you in the application of that Word, and teach your children to do the same.

 

49 Comments

  1. This particular edition is “edited and modernized” by Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke.

    Well there’s potentially your first problem. They’ve gone mucking around in a historical document and God only knows what they’ve “updated” (read: changed) to fit their own preconceptions. How would you know unless you had Gouge’s original Domesticall Duties and did a side-by-side comparison of every chapter?

    And yes, they have completely lost sight of the fact that Gouge is writing from a 17th-century social context, which is, needless to say, vastly different from the 21st century. But they are holding it up as automatically better and more godly, without actually bothering to demonstrate that it is. It’s old and Gouge is a Puritan so it must all be good, right?

    I bet the section for wives is just as bad if not worse.

    • “I bet the section for wives is just as bad if not worse.”

      *shudder*

      Jeff- thanks for calling this out and seeing through it. This stuff runs deep in our evangelical culture 😦

    • LorenHaas

      Regarding Heter’s last point, I ran across this today. It is from a historian at
      Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:
      “It is good to remember that our present day context is different than that of the past. As a Christian, I remember that many things in the human experience do not change, namely, human nature itself. But I also remember that trying to draw a straight line from the Pilgrims [Puritans] to the present in an effort to make some point about “restoring America” can be dangerous, and in some ways, contrary to my own Christian tradition.”
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/11/23/john-wilsey-on-what-the-public-should-know-about-thanksgiving/

  2. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you for bringing this book and its content to light. Hopefully, we can work together to prevent the legalism, bondage, etc. from harming and damaging a new generation within the church.

  3. joepote01

    I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:

    14“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 [Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

    15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

    16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17 You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 19 You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

    23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

    25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

    27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

    29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

    • Joe, aren’t you being a little harsh?

      oops, not you! That was Jesus’ words. Silly me. I’d better put on my double-think hat and make it stick to my head better next time. Jesus can be harsh because he’s dead and we only read his words with a sing-song voice. We cannot be harsh becuase that makes us ******bad***** Christians.

      NOT!

      • livingliminal

        The comments section needs a ‘like’ button! 🙂

      • joepote01

        Hah! So true!

        And the crazy thing is the picking and choosing. As someone commented on my blog this week, it is the use of distance of time and language to turn things on their head to make evil appear good and good appear evil.

        Jesus makes a strong statement comparing divorce for the purpose of remarrying to adultery…and our modern-day pharisees pounce on it, pluck it out of context, and use it to legalistically denounce any and all divorce as being both sinful and invalid.

        Jesus gives a lengthy, scathing, specific denouncement against legalistic teaching that beats people over the head with rules rather than leading them to God’s grace…and our modern-day pharisees shake their heads at the errors of past legalists…before turning to passages they find relevant to modern day experiences.

  4. StandsWithAFist

    Scott Brown has “edited and modernized” several books from the Puritan era, redesigns the cover and slaps his name somewhere to He speaks and writes as tho his mission is to return to that era….as tho it was all sweetness and light. Joel Beeke is a professor at Puritan Reformed Seminary in Grand Rapids, and has long been a partner/speaker with Scott Brown and Doug Phillips at several NCFIC conferences. They both promote the idea that “every household may become a little temple”, with of course, the father & patriarch being the “priest” of the family and worthy of praise and total obedience. Together they have “re-written” Wm. Gouge’s “Domestical Duties” and re-packaged it as a “Husbands Love Your Wives” video, complete with sessions on “authority” & “correcting”. The last session is on “love”, probably so they can set the stage for their puritan definition of “love” which will then condone abuse & oppression. It is anathema. Burn it.

    • Jeff Crippen

      StandsWith – Thank you for that info. Isn’t it interesting that anyone would actually name their seminary “Puritan”? As I have mentioned before, there are many Puritan books that have helped me very much and we have many of them in our church library. But to so exalt the Puritans as to name your seminary after them tells me that they indeed are trying to foist that bygone era upon us and it simply is going to be lists, lists, lists of do this and don’t do that – plain old legalism.

    • Barnabasintraining

      I was thinking that too, that these guys actually do want to bring that era back on a societal level.

      If they are saying “every household may be a temple” then they are quite unbiblical because each Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit as Paul tells us in 1 Cor 6:19, and in Matthew 10:36 Christ says a man’s* enemies will be those of his own household because of Him.

      *It’s unfortunate that I have to note that “man’s” is a generic term for the believer of either gender or any age, but given the Patriarchal theology in question here, it is necessary.

  5. thepersistentwidow

    This is total legalism, a waste of time, and a danger. Rather teach a child about the love of Jesus. Explain how Jesus died for his sin and purchased his redemption in his own blood. Believing that, how can that child do anything but want to live a life pleasing to the Lord?

    If only one parent reflects Christian joy in their own lives, children will be interested in the things of God themselves. Bringing out a book of indoctrination rules for family devotions will have the opposite effect of leading little ones joyfully to Christ. It will prove to them that Christianity is a religion of senseless rules.

    Unfortunately, for the people most likely to want this book, Christianity is a religion of senseless rules.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Right on, Persistent!

  6. LorenHaas

    The Puritans could be a nasty bunch. It takes considerable spinning of history to turn them into a group to emulate. While popular historians would lead you to see the Puritans as leaders in religious freedom, they were nothing of the kind. It was not possible to challenge their form of theocracy. Baptists and Quakers suffered severe persecution from them. They were known for slaughtering Native Americans, killing witches, and hanging Quakers. Most notable of the Quakers was Mary Dyer, mother of five. After watching two of her co-religionists hung from a tree, she was pardoned after mounting the gallows. She later returned and faced martyrdom at their hands.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Dyer
    The Patriarchy movement is deep into rewriting history to suit their repressive agenda. Be very wary of groups that want to return to a golden age. There never has been one, certainly not in US history.

    • StandsWithAFist

      Wow, LorenHaas~thanks for that link. Given the repression and superstition of that era (i.e.: monstrous births) it makes me wonder what the attraction is for the Patriarchy movement. No, wait…silly me! Power, control, entitlement, justification. Men are gods, women are annoying, children are slaves. Yup, that about sums it up. Nothing new under the sun.

      • PEARL

        Stands with a Fist (monstrous births) If there ever was a phallacy, pun intended, it is the requirement to have large families to take over the world and spread their American Jihad. It is simply a sex cult, you and Solomon are correct “There is nothing new under the sun”

    • PEARL

      I once read a Tabletalk article about Jonathan Edward’s resolutions. He was always talking about eating & drinking to the the Lord but it didn’t seem to bother him that he condoned slavery and owned them himself. Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel!

  7. Anon too

    “They won’t even be able to make a personal selection from the menu at MacDonald’s.”

    Sadly, I saw that in my own child. That child is now much more autonomous and healthy, thank the Lord.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anon – My theory on this is that the children have been raised in such a way that all they can think about is “what would daddy tell me to do?” or “what rules cover this?” From your experience, what would you cite as the cause of this inability to think for themselves and make even simple decisions?

      • Lisa

        From my experience the bully so intimidates that the child just goes in to an emotional paralysis. There is no right answer when the bully is raging…for no reason either.

      • Anon too

        I think it was due to the fear of making mistakes, because you got punished when things went wrong.

  8. Ann

    I purchased a book about homemaking put out by Vision Forum, but every time I read it I felt like a failure. In light of today’s post I picked it up to see if it follows suite with Gouge’s book — a resounding YES!

    One chapter says that the very shape, appearance, decorations of a home & outdoor scenery affect the character of a child. And they could never grow up morally if they and the rest of the family had only one room to live in!

    Wives must be careful to care for the home and family above helping anyone else. Then goes on to say regardless of her many responsibilities at home and being weary she should be a cheerful help to those outside her household. And sharing any grievance a wife has with husband will result in unhealed sores (of the heart). She should only tell God and strive in patient love to remove the cause of discord or trouble.

    I’d tell you more, but I’m about throw this book out the window!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ann – And there is the big danger of that stuff, isn’t it? I mean sincere Christians who really want to serve Christ read things like this and have the weighed down burden and sense of failure, but they think THEY are the problem. But in fact what is going on is they are being subjected to works-righteousness, a false gospel, the very thing Paul tells us to firmly and resolutely reject – Galatians 5:1-2 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (2) Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.

    • Barnabasintraining

      And sharing any grievance a wife has with husband will result in unhealed sores (of the heart).

      This is truly astonishing! How on earth can they possibly think that sharing a grievance with one who grieved you is necessarily going to result in unhealed sores? Don’t these people love Proverbs? What happened to “Faithful are the wounds of a friend?” For crying out loud, going to win your husband from something he’s doing that’s destructive to your fellowship is BAD???

      I can tell you from personal experience that if someone has a grievance with me and does not say so, it will NOT result in healing. On the contrary, it will make me think they do not care about me or about my relationship with them. This may be entirely false (and in my case I think in fact it was: there were other reasons the grievance was not shared), but it is the impression I had and it did NOT result in an improved situation. 😦

      • Ann

        I need to correct that. It was referring to going to outsiders. The word *about* should have been before *husband*. I noted it because so many times we victims are expected to “keep a lid on” the abuse in any of it’s forms. That the husband/wife relationship is exclusive to the point that you disrespect it by allowing anyone else to know wrongs (abuse) against you.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Oh. I see. 🙂

        Yeah, I would certainly not put a “never do” on that.

      • PEARL

        My husband and I both have shared grievances we had with each others actions and if anything it helped to clear the air. If someone tells you that something you said or did hurt them, whether it was intended or not, that should be validated.

    • Karen

      Amen to your response here Jeff. I came out of a church/cult whose guilt ridden lack of theology almost destroyed who I was as an individual. The confusion bred by these pastors and leadership system is evil and wicked. In these works based churches, individuals are never good enough or doing enough for the sake of the “reputation” of these particular church/denominational system.

      Then it becomes a question, “Who are we really worshipping here?”

      • Jeff Crippen

        Karen – Thanks for the input. Yes, and these are the kinds of churches that children are raised in and then at some point they decide to never go back. Unfortunately, they often don’t know specifically why, they just know that they have had enough. I think that in these groups where legalism reigns, at some point the pack starts to bite and devour one another, as Paul warned the Galatians about. And I mean, who wants to be in a perpetual dog fight?

  9. Ann

    Thank you Pastor.
    I’m now going through all my bookshelves and disposing of the materials in this vain. Most of it was acquired through Vision Forum; here’s just a few:
    “Courtship and Marriage”
    “Training Young Sons”
    “The Birkenhead Drill”
    “Personal Help for Boys – Pearables”

    I was introduced to these resources mostly through homeschooling.

    A very popular book distributor, “Christian Book Distributors” is still selling Vision Forum (Doug Phillips) materials.

    • A very popular book distributor, “Christian Book Distributors” is still selling Vision Forum (Doug Phillips) materials.

      Yeeecchh!

  10. HappyToBursting

    I can remember being married for such a short period of time when I read one of Nancy Wilson’s books. Here I was a newlywed, shocked to find that marriage was not at all what I was always taught it should be. I couldn’t understand my disappointment and despair over my situation, but was afraid to think it was actually the man I married. Desperate for relief, I thought this book might hold the answers. In it she said to write a letter to your husband telling him all the things you respect about him. That was the hardest letter I have ever written because I realized I was having to make up most of its contents – or rather, state those things that I *wanted* to believe about my husband. I cried the entire time, not wanting to admit that there was nothing respectful about this man, that I was now faced with a lifetime of wall-to-wall eggshell carpeting, and there was no one I could tell.

    Some people should just leave the book-writing to God.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Happyto- Indeed they should put down their pens. I think that that photo of Mr. T and he is saying “shut up, fool!” Those are not too harsh of words for people who write a false gospel, call it God’s Word, and enslave people.

    • . . . I was now faced with a lifetime of wall-to-wall eggshell carpeting . . .

      HTB, what a great turn of phrase!

    • Ann

      HappyToBursting,
      “Here I was a newlywed, shocked to find that marriage was not at all what I was always taught it should be. I couldn’t understand my disappointment and despair over my situation, but was afraid to think it was actually the man I married.”

      Your words echo my own experience. A close friend who knew I was struggling with anxiety said, “Ann it’s not where you are, it’s *who* you are with.” She said it with total compassion and for the first time since the abuse started (right after the ceremony) the floodgate of sorrow was opened. It was the first time I acknowledged to *myself* that he was the cause of my despair.

      When you shared the difficulty of finding respectful things to be able to write about your husband, it brought back the feeling of dread I had each time I had at finding an anniversary or birthday card for my husband. It made me anxious.

  11. Ivan L

    Something very discouraging happened today. Today, my church had an event, and I just happened to talk to an elder. You see, we’ve had a guy come to my church twice to talk about marriage and family, and he’s one of those people who advocates homeschooling and FIC. We even read one of Voddie Baucham’s books in Sunday School class by his recommendation. Knowing the people in my church, I didn’t think they would be patriarchalists and were just unaware of the ideas presented by the FIC movement (pretty much all of the girls go to college and pursue full time careers even after marriage and nobody homeschools).

    I was trying to tell him that we should be careful of these people since they promote heretical ideas such as the father being a priest for his family. I was completely shocked when he affirmed the idea that the father was a priest for his family. Unfortunately, when he asked me to quote scripture to refute his idea, the only thing I could come up with was that we were all priests before God and only Jesus serves as a mediator between us and God the Father. He then proceeded to point out that Jesus was a high priest before God. I couldn’t respond any further so I just left it there. Nevertheless, I felt crushed and couldn’t keep myself happy for the rest of the evening because this was a guy who I always trusted as someone strong in the faith. I just hope that the infestation of heresies from the FIC and family discipleship movement doesn’t go to deep as it seems many of the young adults are already starting to back some of the things from the movement. Perhaps I may want to take the issue to another elder or a pastor? I just hope that I won’t feel betrayed.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ivan L – your concerns here are totally valid. If your church lets these teachings spread, it will be an infection of rank legalism and will sever people from the grace of Christ. This is the very stuff Paul warns us so strongly against in Galatians. Scripture has always, always, always showed that God’s intent is to establish a royal nation of priests in which every member of His covenant community is a priest. We have that priesthood of believers in Jesus Christ. There are really ONLY two priesthoods established by God – the earthly and temporal levitical priesthood, and the New Covenant priesthood of all believers in which Christ is the High Priest. The FIC movement is bad news to women and children, and really to the men as well who truly want to follow Christ in truth. If anyone in your church would like firsthand input from me and our elders here at Christ Reformation Church about our experience over past years with patriarchalists, just let me know and we would be glad to share. It is NOT a place any church should go.

      Oh, and Ivan – I suggest you read my 6-part blog post series in which I critiqued a book written by Sam Waldron, a prominent reformed baptist, which teaches that the husband/father is the priest of his home. Here is Part One.

      • PEARL

        Our church supports Covenant Theology and the federal headship of Adam. If they call themselves Complementarians are they really Patriarchalists or just wannabees? They believe that the husband is in control of all financial decisions, good or bad.

      • Sounds pretty patriarchal to me. Insisting that the husband control all the finances is giving too much power to the husband. ‘Soft complementarians’ would not insist that the husband must control all the finances.

  12. Ivan L

    Pastor Jeff, I read through your series. However, I do need to work out your counterarguments since I don’t think I quite understood everything (especially in regards to the hermeneutics). When Waldron brings up examples of fathers being priests for their families, can we argue that the New Covenant also abolishes any need for a priestly representative in our families. Even if those OT families were not under the Mosaic Covenant, they were still under the Old Covenant (please correct me if I get my Covenant Theology wrong). Also, the verse in Ephesians only gives an example of how Christ loves his body. It does not in any way indicate that father’s are priests for their family, just that they are to love their wives in a self-sacrificial manner (no explicit mention of father’s being priests anywhere in the NT, sanctification being the work of Christ alone). BTW, since God never demands anything from the Christian, should it naturally follow that Fathers never demand anything from their wives?

    About you and the elders of your church giving input – I live in the other side of the country, so I’m not sure how you or the elders of your church would be able to provide first-hand input. I do hope to bring up the issue though once I can muster up courage that is (I’m really scared of the reaction I might face, plus I’m rather shy when it comes to speaking out). We haven’t brought up FIC and family discipleship lately, but it does seem to be the direction which our young adults group wants to take (not sure about the older adults). I will also try to communicate this issue with some of the young adult leaders, many of whom are married and now have infants.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ivan- Notice that Waldron’s arguments are basically ALL from the OT, and those arguments were very weak and in my opinion stretched the passages he pointed to way too far. But as we noted, in the New Covenant in Christ, Christ is our Great Priest and every single Christian is a priest. Of course we do not offer bloody sacrifices. Christ has done that once and for all. But we are priests in the sense that we are the Temple of God (Eph 2; 1 Cor 3) and we all display the Lord to the world. We have all entered into the Holy of Holies. Blessings on you as you address this vital issue in your church.

    • Amazon has just published my review of Waldron’s pernicious book. Here is the permalink to my review. Readers might like to go there and vote it as helpful. Opps forgot to add the link, here it is
      Waldron is wrong: all believers in Christ share in the priesthood of all believers

    • Hi Ivan, welcome to ACFJ. You asked

      can we argue that the New Covenant also abolishes any need for a priestly representative in our families.

      Yes indeed we can. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in Waldron’s complicated spin-doctoring for the Patriarchy cause. It’s simple. The New Covenent abolished any need for a priestly representative in our families [or our churches] other than our High Priest and Lord of All, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

    • BTW, since God never demands anything from the Christian, should it naturally follow that Fathers never demand anything from their wives?

      Well . . . God never demands anything of from the Christian in the sense that we are not saved by works or good deeds; but God definitely calls all men everywhere to repent and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. That call is a very stern warning which could in a sense be viewed as having some of the qualities of a ‘demand’ in that it has consequences if we do not heed it. But it is at the same time a very loving exhortation and a promise of forgiveness and eternal life for those who believe.

      Does the analogy (Ephesians 5) that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church imply that husbands may not demand anything from their wives? It certainly implies that a husband ought not demand anything from his wife that would involve her sinning, or would require her to comply with someone else’s sins. We talk a lot on this blog about how an abusive spouse requires his partner to comply with his sins, and how that is very very wrong and the victim of abuse does not have to comply with that demand, and may rightfully resist such pressure from the abuser.

      But we also talk about how if one spouse is behaving heinously whilst professing to be a Christian and has passed themself off as a Christian, that person should be put out of the church promptly, no messing about, and should be treated as an unbeliever — handed over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Cor. 5:11-13). So, that is an instance where the virtuous spouse and the church may, and in the church’s case I would say must demand that the heinously sinning spouse get out. The church must be the voice for justice, the advocate for the victim and for the protection of the flock in general, and must say to the heinous sinner: Leave us! God does not allow us to let you remain in our midst! That is a pretty strong demand, is it not?

      That would apply to a spouse of either gender. This biblical discipline is not to be confined to one gender only. In the case of domestic abuse, the henious sinner is very often the husband. But we know that sometimes the victim is the husband.

  13. Anonymous

    As one who grew up with this thinking being taught to me I have/do struggle with not being able to think for myself or make decisions. I’ve often said I don’t feel like a person. I don’t feel like I have a soul. I’m so accustomed to being governed by a list of rules, functioning outside of that framework is paralyzing.
    I have made frequent unhealthy choices based on the need to have a chapter and verse for every decision vs being able to use discernment, sense God’s leading, and see the heart of scripture.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anonymous – Thank you for sharing these very important realizations about yourself. The fact that you are able to see these effects of the legalism on you is a good sign that you are recovering and that you know the cause of these problems. “I don’t feel like I have a soul.” There it is. People who are raised up in legalism, especially the specific kind we are addressing in this post, end up constantly functioning from a kind of “what would daddy do/say?” paradigm. They end up mirroring behavior and reflecting words that don’t really originate within themselves – thus the “soulless” feeling you mention. They have been prohibited from “being” and have been forced into “doing” all their childhood. But there is hope! Jesus Christ the Lord Himself sets prisoners free. He gives us new life. His Spirit moves in and makes us anew creation. He leads us. If you know Christ, then be assured that He is there. Let Him loose! Those thoughts and feelings that are so often condemned in us by the legalists and for which we felt huge guilt – well, it turns out that they are the Spirit of the Lord urging us on into freedom. Yes, we must guard against the sins that our fallen flesh lusts after, but those are named for us in passages like Galatians 5:16ff. So, love Christ, absorb His Word regularly, pray for His leading, and then go out and do what YOU want! It will turn out that those desires are what HE wants for you as well.

    • I’ve often said I don’t feel like a person.

      that reminds me of something I’ve noticed with many (not all) kids who were homeschooled in Christian homes. I felt they were like a post in a room — it holds up the ceiling but has no personality. It is just a block of wood.

      No offense meant to any surivors of such schooling here! I affirm along with Jeff that a person can make up the lost ground from this kind of upbringing, and become fully themselves with the help of the Holy Spirit and our blessed Lord, the giver of life, whose yoke ie easy and whose burden is light.

  14. To give over one’s mind to another human being to the point that one cannot think or interpret Scripture for themselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as Teacher can be dangerous and cult-like!

    In the NT, the Bereans provided a better way. They didn’t give their minds over to Paul and allow him to fill or lead them them blindly, rather they used their own minds to check out the Scriptures for themselves to see if what he was saying was true. When children are challenged in this manner to search Scriptures to seek what is true, there may be more “creative tension” within the home as differences are shared or discussed, but if respect and love for one another is in place, good may come of it.

    • soldiergirl

      To give ones mind over to another human being, to the point where they cannot think for themselves (rather than allowing the freedom to search the scriptures to see if these things be so,) is dangerous and indeed cultish.
      It is the abusers agenda to stop others from thinking for themselves,
      and searching the scriptures to see if these things be so, or if they have been twisted.
      The abusers ( in the church, or in your home) want to re-interpret the truth, redefine your reality, and stop you from realizing your potential and freedom in Christ to think for yourself.
      They dont want free thinkers led by the holy spirit.
      Remember Jesus said ” Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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