A Cry For Justice

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

How the Arrogance of Professing Christians is Enabling the Wicked (Part 3)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4)

In this series of posts we have been seeing that many if not most Christian churches today are failing to distinguish between law and gospel. Specifically, they are treating EVERY sinner in the same way, giving them all the promises of the gospel. Salvation. Forgiveness of sins. Justification. Heaven. The whole package. But all sinners are not the same. The woman at the well and the Pharisees were not the same. Jesus did not treat them the same. We saw last time that Jesus spoke to the wicked in parables, only giving the light of His truth to those who were repentant and believing:

For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Matthew 13:12)

In this post, I want to press the case for law and gospel home once more before moving on to consider other ways in which the arrogance of professing Christians is enabling the wicked and dealing injustice to victims. To do this, I want to turn your attention to the Scripture quoted above, the 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

All authority is from God (Jesus reminded Pilate of this). The authority of civil government is from God. Kings, governors, legislatures, the President, the Prime Minister, police departments, courts, all are instituted and established by God. So much so that if we resist them as they function within their God-given authority, we are opposing God Himself.

Now, Paul tells us that “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Yes, rulers have often abused their role and become a terror to the good, justifying the wicked. But that issue we leave for another time. Here, we want to emphasize that GOD has instituted rulers to strike fear into the wicked and to bless and protect the righteous. The king, the law of the land, is God’s servant. In fact, the civil authorities “bear the sword” as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

And here is my point. The establishment of civil government and the role given to it by God tells us about the very character and being of God. God has established the church, the body of Christ, and commissioned her to go into the world and preach the glad tidings of the gospel (and to move on minus the dust on our shoes where that gospel is rejected, thus giving them law). But God has also established civil authorities to deal with the wicked. To those who defy Him, to those who oppress and rob and murder the innocent, God prescribes the sword. And all this brings us right back round to law and gospel. Law for the wicked abuser. Gospel for the penitent.

When I was a police officer, every workday for 12 years I put on my uniform, my badge, slid my nightstick (I still have it) into its ring on my belt, and holstered my .357 magnum loaded with 158 grain semi-jacketed hollow points. I had authority. It wasn’t mine. It came ultimately from God. People didn’t have to pull over when the blue lights came on just because Jeff lit them up. No. I represented the County of Multnomah, State of Oregon. I represented the civil authorities. Largely, my mission was to find wrongdoers and apply the law to them. I only had to use my revolver once, and that was to shoot out a bad guy’s tire to stop him from getting away (turns out he was armed, but that’s a whole other story). I didn’t get arrested for shooting his tire. Because I had, ultimately, God’s authority to shoot it. And to shoot him if necessary.

Now, here is my big, ongoing, source of outrage at what I see going on in the church today. THE BAD GUYS ARE BEING GIVEN GOSPEL, NOT LAW!! But do you see it? GOD has established both law and gospel. The thing reflects the very essence of who God is in His person. God is holy, holy, holy. And God is love. God is righteous. God’s wrath is set upon the wicked. That is why there is HELL. God is also love. God is compassionate and merciful and longsuffering. But God does not give the promise of forgiveness and salvation and mercy to the wicked, unrepentant man. He gives such a man the Law. What do you think of a judge who pronounces the wicked man, innocent? Or the innocent, guilty? We are outraged by INjustice. But the church today, pastors, church leaders, “Christian” counselors, individuals who profess to be Christians, consistently let the wicked off by telling them how much God loves them, when in fact God would have us apply the divine nightstick of Mt. Sinai’s law to such a person.  Let me give you an example of applying law:

Bob, you are a wicked man. You have paraded yourself as the finest of Christians for the last 30 years, yet all the while you have been abusing your wife and children. Bob, God’s holy wrath is set upon you. You have blasphemed God’s name by your hypocrisy, you are a murderer, you are a thief, you are a liar. God’s law pronounces you cursed, and if you were to die today, you would surely end in hell. Bob, go out from among us. And here is a Scripture for you to take with you as you go (I singularized some pronouns to make specific application to Bob):

Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourself; make yourself clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:13-20)

See it? Law for Bob. Yes, there is a reminder that true repentance learned and practiced will result in a cleansing of Bob’s soul. But the emphasis is upon the Law, because Bob is not repentant. Bob is a longtime practitioner of darkness. If Bob continues to refuse and rebel, he will be eaten by the sword, devoured by the Word of the Lord.

Is that clear? Do you grasp this? This means, among other things, that if you are reading a book or listening to a counselor or a preacher or a friend, and they are telling you that Bob just needs the promise of his sin being made white as snow because no matter how great a sinner he is, God sure loves him, and that this message should be your goal and the goal of the church — to tell Bob that God has GOOD news for him — then I can confidently advise you to walk right away from such a person as far as listening to their advice about abuse.

What I am saying is that the church today is looking at Isaiah 1:13-20, cutting and deleting ALL of it except, “Come now, Bob (arm around Bob’s shoulder), come now, let us reason together Bob. The Lord says to you right now that though your sins are like scarlet and red like crimson (ie, Bob has the blood of his victim on his hands), God wants to forgive you and wash you of all your guilt so that you are white as snow, and pure as wool. Bob, doesn’t that message just grab your heart?” (Cue tears here)

I ask again, do you see it? God’s word is being gutted by these enablers of evil, and victims are being further oppressed. God, in fact, has BAD news for Bob. And WE are the ones commissioned to announce it to him.

“Lord, here am I. Send me!”

[Go to Part 2 of this series]

46 Comments

  1. HERB NORTON

    THANK YOU FOR THIS AWESOME POST!!!!

    • Vicki

      ” But the emphasis is upon the Law, because Bob is not repentant. Bob is a longtime practitioner of darkness”.~~~ Love it!

      • Hi Vicki welcome to the blog 🙂 We are very glad you have been finding it helpful.

  2. Joy

    Yes yes yes! The wicked are given chance after chance. It is hard because often church members may see and experience long patterns of abuse and wickedness…it took me a while to come out of the fog of abuse and tell it to the church. The problem is the church leaders haven’t necessarily seen the same pattern yet and probably won’t with a covert narcissist, as their pretty face is always present in the public eye. It is really hard to stay in a church where this is the case.

  3. Still Reforming

    Yeah, I see a whole lot of this in the church today too. Even the Christmas play the children are presenting this Sunday has the kids run after the bad guy in the play at the end saying, “Wait! God loves you!” And the bad guy turns to say, “But I’m the bad guy. God loves even me?” And they all say, “Yes!” (And all I can think is “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” – Romans 9:13). I know they’re trying to offer gospel to those who need to repent, but it’s an incomplete presentation that leaves me with a saccharin taste in my mouth.

    I once overheard my daughter’s Sunday School teacher talk about mercy and forgiveness, but no mention of judgment and repentance. I made sure to tell her afterward that there is no forgiveness without repentance and that mercy only comes where there is judgment. Some receive it; Others do not.

    I am praying fervently that the Lord take us to the church where His word is taught in whole, not in part. And in the meantime, I make certain to balance what I hear going in my child’s ears so there is a complete appreciation of the Word of God, not partial, which is in effect twisting and diluting the very Word of God.

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. — 2 Timothy 4:3-4

  4. MeganC

    Yes! Excellent! David and I agree 100% because this is truth. We saw a FB post, the other day, from a former church member that talked about how there is “no fire and brimstone” at her church, “only love”. We know this woman and we know what this means. They want only soft words spoken, no conviction, no truth, no mention of the word “sin” or “repentance”. In my opinion, without the balance of law and the Gospel, there is no hope for any of us!

    • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

      MeganC,

      “No fire and brimstone” at her church. All sunshine and lollipops there.

      They must love the movie “Heaven is for Real.” I only wish there were a movie called “Hell is for Real.” Nobody wants to acknowledge that one, even though I’ve read that Jesus talked more about Hell than any Old Testament prophet did.

  5. soldiergirl

    Amen to this message spoken in the truth of Gods Word! How liberating to hear this.
    Equip us oh Lord, and send us to carry the message of truth from your Holy Word.

  6. LH

    Something that struck me as I was reading the first part about GOD setting the government in place to PROTECT the innocent and punish the wicked – when I finally filed for divorce my (former) church told me I was wrong to invoke the civil authorities because our marriage problems were to be handled in the church – only – and yet I was the only one ever put under church discipline, not my abusive (ex)husband. Even tho the consistory finally came to to point of saying he was abusive, they also said he “wasn’t abusive enough” for me to have Biblical grounds for divorce, and in fact wanted me and my children to go back to him – even after they had “washed their hands of him” because he wouldn’t listen to them. I told them the only way I could feel safe was to be divorced, but they were still mad at me for “invoking the civil government” – even tho GOD has instituted it for good.

    I am so glad to have found your blog – it continues to heal little hurts I had forgotten were still there under the surface: like this “invoking the civil government” charge that had been brought up against me.

    • LH, me too. The elders in my former church, when I left my first abuser, did similar a thing. They were not Presbyterian so they did not invoke their charge in the formal stentorian terms that Presbies tend to use, but it amounted to the same thing. They publicly condemned me to the congregation for having ‘taken a brother to court’ (contra 1 Cor. 6:1) by applying to the court for a Protection Order. At the same time, they failed to publicly condemn my husband for having been violent to me.

    • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

      I too got told I was wrong to do the actual filing for divorce. It was fine to be “separated”. But in my state I had no protection from him and no possibility of child support unless I divorced him. Legally separated he could still come into my house anytime he wanted to, steal from my computer and only pay when he chose to. They also believed the myth that if I waited long enough he would get fed up and file so I wouldn’t be in “sin”. After a year I started to come back with “divorce is not a sin, God divorced Israel and He does not sin”

      • Jeff Crippen

        Still Scared – that nonsense they subjected you too is the usual load of garbage that churches lay on abuse victims like yourself. It makes NO sense at all and is absolutely contrary to Scripture. We’ve heard it many times before. They demonize the person who actually files the paperwork, labeling them the Great Divorcer and destroyer of the marriage and all the while letting the really guilty one off the hook. Divorce for abuse is not a sin. In fact, God blesses the action of the victim filing that paperwork and getting free from evil. Good job!!

      • Still Reforming

        Cindy,

        Know what my pastor said about God divorcing Israel? He said he’s learned that God uses divorce as a tool for reconciliation.

        *insert cartoon sound here of my feet running as fast away as I can*

      • That pastor is a fool. Hasn’t he computed the doctrine of the remnant? God divorced the Kingdom of Israel (the northern ten tribes) because it was so wickedly unfaithful to the covenant. Later, He provided for reconciliation, but only for the remmant of those ten tribes who had faith. And what’s more, He gave the gift of faith to the remnant Himself through the administration of the Holy Spirit.

        Compare this to marriage with an abuser. The abuser is not a nation, not a tribe, he is one individual. One individual soul cannot be subdivided into remnant and non-remnant sub-sections; one part of an abuser cannot be remnant and saved, while the other part goes to hell. It doesn’t work that way. And no victim, no ordinary human being, can give the gift of faith to an abuser. Hence, the analogy breaks down at two fundamental points.

      • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

        My pastor was wonderful and understanding. Ex’s pastor was condemning of EVERYTHING I did and the lay counselor was the one that kept harping on separation to teach him a lesson. Then, fast forward three years and the lay counselor’s pastor was found to be involved in abusing his kids. Her attitude and perspective have changed. As hard as it was to go through what I went through without her support, glad to have laid the ground work for her heart to be ready to change and she ended up being able to help her church deal with the revelation much better than if she had not walked through some of the stuff with me.

  7. TB

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

    I struggled with this verse because my (ex)husband declared himself by the Word of God my authority/my head. And as my authority, I was not to resist him but to obey/honor/submit to him in ALL things. He still stands firmly on this idea. I submitted to it because it sounds like it aligns itself with Scripture. Eph 5:23-24 says: For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body. And so wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ.

    So if all authority is from God (as Jesus said), and a husband has authority over his wife (Eph 5:23) it is easy for a woman to feel trapped in a marriage that is abusive. My ex still sees me as having rebelled against not just him but God’s Word. He, like in LH’s comment above, is appalled that I went to a lawyer and the courts with my problem. He would not listen to me, nor the people from my church who wanted to talk to him. I felt I had no other option, except to go back and yoke myself up to more abuse (which I knew was not really an option.)

    Comments?

    • Jeff Crippen

      TB – All authority is from God. But that means, most assuredly, that no human being possesses authority except that which is granted by God. It is not the person in whom authority originates (a king, a parent, etc) but in God. Therefore, no one can exercise true authority unless they are exercising it according to God’s design and purpose. A wicked king may wield some earthly power and keep hurting people, but he has no true authority and we can disobey him without disobeying God. It is the same in every authority relationship. Church leaders cannot “do as they please,” but must always please God or they have no authority, and we need not obey them. We must obey God rather than men.

      I am still struggling to sort out the husband/wife relationship. I used to think I had it all figured out, but this ministry in the field of abuse has caused me to rethink some things. You referenced Eph 5:23, which reads “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” I see the word “head” there, but not the word “authority.” This passage obviously teaches that the husband is the head of the wife, and the wife is to submit to her husband. But the emphasis here on the husband’s role as head is that of LOVE. Now, I don’t want to get us all into a big egalitarian vs complementarian view debate (in fact we aren’t going to do that here), but it seems to me that the head of my body loves my body, and my body submits to that love. So it is in the body of Christ. A loving head seeking the welfare of the body, leading, guarding, and LISTENING to the input of the body (“hey! there’s a blister here!”).

      My point here is that NONE of what I am describing is functional in an abuser. And therefore he has NO authority over his wife and in fact he doesn’t even have the role of head in respect to his wife. The abuser is an AB-normal brain working destruction to the body. A wife is under no obligation at all, least of all from the Lord, to obey such an unnatural organ.

      TB – you went to a lawyer and the courts and in doing so YOU WENT TO THE LORD WHO ESTABLISHED THEM. You did good. You did right. Good job!

    • TB, Jeff has answered you well, but here are my two cents also.

      Epehesians 5:23-24 does NOT use the word authority, it uses the word head. Whatever that word ‘head’ refers to, it cannot, I repeat cannot mean anything remotely resembling what your husband said it did.

      In Epehesians 5 it says the husband’s relation to his wife ought resemble Christ’s relationship to the church, and Christ’s relationship to the church was that He humbly cared so much for his church’s welfare that He sacrificed His life so that we might have life — abundant and blessed life where there will be no more tears. What abusive husbands do to their wives is the exact opposite of that. They never sacrifice themselves unless there is something in it for them; they grind their wives into the dust and drag them through the mud of ignominy and shame and dishonor. And worst of all — if they are ‘c’hristians they **justify** all this in the name of (cough, cough) Headship and Submission.

      Christ is furious at them for disregarding and defying and twisting and inverting His Word. And you, dear TB, are allowed to be furious too; and you most certainly do not have to heed your h’s ludicrous jumping up and down antics in which he claims you have disobeyed God by **rebelling** against him.

      You rebelled, yes; you rebellled against the power and intimidation of the Satan, for that is who your husband has aligned himself with. And I can say this for sure for sure, that your husband has aligned himself with Satan, because it’s obvious: anyone who twists Scripture to **justify** his own cruelty towards others is a servant of Satan, and is happy to be in Satan’s camp because his heart is wicked and evil.

    • Sunflower

      “He would not listen to me, nor the people from my church who wanted to talk to him.”
      Interesting, isn’t it, that the word ‘submit’ as in wives submit to husbands, is also used in the passage where men are admonished to submit to the leaders of the church (Heb. 13:7). I showed my x that and he turned his head away and said, “I choose not to see that.”

      From my studies, the word ‘head’ means ‘giver of life and strength’, as in protection, etc., not boss. It sounds to me like someone who has my best in mind, prays for me, makes sure all is well. All scripture has to line up with what Jesus himself said, and he said, “The gentiles lord it over each other but with you it shall not be so. You are to serve each other.” Not rocket science, that.

      Also, first it says, “Submit therefore to each other.” Then following that verse it explains how wives are to submit (meaning adjust to in an understanding way) to husbands, husbands to wives, children to parents, parents to children, servants to bosses, bosses to servants. All of us to submit to each other. “In Christ there is no……male or female…” “Call no man father.” There is no ‘chain of command’ in Christ, only among the heathen.

      The heather TAKE authority. In Christ we GIVE authority to those who have our safety and good in mind, as in when we call the police or a lawyer, etc. It’s just not wise to give authority to someone who has abused us.

    • Still Reforming

      TB –

      As a Christian wife, I have long struggled with those verses – not because I have a problem with the way they are written if I were in a healthy marriage, but having lived two+ decades with an abuser, it grieved me deeply because the more I tried to obey God’s Word (or how I thought it read), nothing got better and things only got worse over time. I hadn’t realized that by respecting the evil anti-husband, I was actually allowing the behavior to continue. Not that I didn’t try; I think most if not all of us here have tried to talk these things out reasonably, but the abuser is not reasonable. I have read and sought prayer partners and eventually now it has come before the church (which pretty much swept it under the rug) and now the legal system.

      I think the problem lies not in the verses or the Word of God, of course, as much as it does the fact that we who are Christians are unequally yoked – and so we are trying to apply Godly standards and living to an unGodly situation and person. It’s interesting (and appalling) that the church holds the wife to the high standard of Scripture but the husband is not held accountable to the same standard. The abuser is allowed to skate.

      I appreciate this series of posts because it helps me to better gain the mind of Christ in these matters. The abuser should receive Law. The Christian – grace.

      I told my child this today after practicing a Christmas play in which an evil prince asks at the end, “God loves even me? I’m the bad guy.” And the children all follow him off stage exclaiming, “Yes! God loves you too! We’ll tell you all about it….” And off they go….

      I told my daughter that I know what they’re trying to say – that all sinners need Christ, BUT, they’re missing a big part of the picture and it’s highly misleading. I told her that God doesn’t love the bad guy’s sin, and without justice, there is no love. It’s imbalanced. Yes, God loves mercy, but He is a God of truth and righteousness. It simply cannot be that there’s only love and grace and no Law and justice. She understood completely, having lived through the horror of abuse with me. I said that it rankles me to only hear half of the story because it’s setting up a dangerous situation for people hearing only half of the Gospel. Without justice, there is no good news.

      So it’s an unbalanced picture when the wife is just to respect and honor her husband but the husband is not to cherish and love his wife. If he is not so doing, then there is no marriage in Christ. It’s impossible for the Christian to honor and respect one who serves the enemy of God. It’s taken me a long, long time to realize this because I tried for so many years to “work with it,” all while living under a cloud of deceit. It takes awhile to sort through all the wickedness.

      We are told in Scripture:

      Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Romans 12:9-11)

      If our spouse’s love is hypocritical and evil, we abhor it. It is not “love.” It is evil. Our spouses have not been our brothers in Christ, and serving them is not serving the Lord. What your spouse (and mine) have done is to twist Holy Writ to make it an offering unto themselves – a strange fire as it were

      now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered unholy fire before the LORD, such as he had not commanded them. And fire came forth from the presence of the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. (Leviticus 10:1-2)

      We have tried so hard as wives to submit to our husbands, as unto the Lord (another verse used against wives), but we only worship the Lord – not our husbands. When the Word of God is twisted to serve only one person’s desires, it is not of the Lord. Woe to them who dare to trifle with the Word of our God.

  8. a prodigal daughter returns

    In calling evil and sin what it is while delivering consequences Divine love may have one its most profound expressions. When I was in my own la la land about not “telling” on an abuser to avoid possibly costing his career, a wise friend exhorted me that the temple of God is to be treated with honor. I thought the loving thing to do was hide the abuse. Since my body was being battered it was not being treated as the house of the Holy Spirit.

    1 Corinthians 6: 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

    By not confronting my abuser he was allowed to damage this dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and desecrate it. My friend also told me God brings destruction on those who destroy the temple and if I didn’t take a stand when the destruction was unleashed it would fall on me too.

    And it did. My then husband in the medical field was also abusive to his patients and when he finally got exposed, we lost everything including housing. I went homeless because I didn’t confront the abuse and when judgment fell on the abuser some of the consequences fell on me too.

    An abuser is like an abscessed tooth over which someone avoids going to the dentist because the extraction is going to hurt. But its going to hurt worse by ignoring the abscess. That abscess releases the poison of infection into the entire body — it can cross into the brain or heart causing death. The loving merciful thing to do even if it seems painful and harsh is extract it.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Prodigal Daughter -Thank you very much for these wise words. Most all of us have been down the same path you traveled, so don’t be overly hard on yourself. We learn in the trenches of experience, and those experiences make God’s Word come to life as His Spirit opens our eyes to them. May the Lord bless you and provide for you and work His peace in your life.

  9. Tell it, Jeff! Great post!

  10. Michaela

    Thanks for the website, Jeff.

    I was recently banned from church property, forbidden to attend church services, stripped of my church membership, told I could have no fellowship with other members or attend any events, excommunicated, and ordered to be shunned at my independent Bible church in Silicon Valley (California) because I had discovered a new church member was a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List while I was doing a research project for a former prosecutor.

    When I reported it to the pastors/elders, they defended the guy and screamed and yelled at me during the meeting! I had come to discuss child safety/abuse prevention and they closed the meeting with reading me a Scripture about being factious, deceived, an unbeliever, and destined for hell who should be shunned! They were fine with this sex offender touching children, whose parents didn’t know he was a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List.
    The senior pastor said the sex offender was permitted to become a member because “he was coming off Megan’s List”. The California Attorney General’s Office, which runs my state’s Megan’s List, and the sheriff’s sex offender’s task force called that “a total lie” and said he’s NOT coming off Megan’s List.

    Since when do you “take the word” of a convicted felon on Megan’s List instead of “take the word” of his supervising law enforcement agency? (In law this is called “negligence” for not exercising a duty of care that a reasonable person would practice. It also raises the stakes on punitive damages being awarded by a jury if a child is harmed.) California clergy are also legally mandated child abuse reporters, and these clergy refuse to report.

    The senior pastor said that if a church member father decided that the sex offender could touch the father’s children than the father had “the final say over his family” and his wife “was to obey him” and “to submit to him”. (Note: Here in California if a mother doesn’t protect her children, and if her husband doesn’t have the brains to protect them, she can be arrested and prosecuted for misdemeanor or felony child abuse/endangerment/neglect and face up to 1 year in jail or up to 6 years in state prison if found guilty, have Child Protective Services take away her children and put them in foster care. It’s a criminal act for a mother not to protect her children!)

    The chairman of the elder board contacted me several days after the in-person meeting and told me that I was to never have any contact with law enforcement again (either the Sheriff or the Attorney General about this sex offender), that I was to never reveal the name of the church I was a member of, that I was to never reveal the names of the pastors/elders to law enforcement, and that the pastors/elders refused to meet with the sex offender’s task force, as the Sheriff’s office had asked. The Sheriff demanded to know what kind of church I went to that would threaten me in to silence and refuse to meet with this sex offender’s task force.

    The pastors/elders demanded that I apologize to them for “bringing an accusation against an elder without cause” because the California Attorney General’s Office accused them of lying about this sex offender’s status.

    The pastors/elders have quickly moved this sex offender in to positions of trust at church and even invited him to volunteer at our week-long summer basketball camp for children! (My former church also exposed another denomination to legal liability, since we rent both the church facility and the school gym from that denomination and their school.)

    P.S. Before I was excommunicated and shunned from this church (which just happened), a godly doctor (married to his wife for 40+ years, faithful, loving husband and father) was also excommunicated and ordered shunned by the senior pastor and elders. It was some trumped up charge because the godly doctor had stood up to them and corrected them on Biblical error.

    • Jeff Crippen

      If you can, go do everything the elders and pastor ordered you not to do!!

    • Still Reforming

      That last PS makes me wonder if there are others in on this little charade. Perhaps they’re protecting themselves in addition to protecting the sex offender – at least the only one with a known record at that church. (Shades of Penn State. ) It sounds better that you’re out of that den of wolves in sheeps’ clothing. Anyone in the church who’s not willing to consider his/her own error in Biblical understanding makes me nervous indeed.

    • Wow, that is unbelievable. It does sound like you’re better off out of that church, but how horrible to be treated like that.

      They will give account to God for it, unless they repent. But he knows you wanted to do the right thing.

      I agree with Jeff – I’d want to do everything they told you not to do. However, I’m sure you know what is best.

    • Michaela good on you for standing up to these men! I agree with Jeff’s response to you.
      You might also find it helpful to liase with or at least consult with G.R.A.C.E. as they specialise in the area you are dealing with (protecting children in the church from sexual offenders).

  11. Michaela

    Hi Jeff, Still Reforming, Grace, and Barbara,

    Thanks for your show of support to me. I feel like I have just exited a serious car crash with this church!

    Yes, I am doing all of the things the pastors/elders ordered me NOT to do:

    contacting law enforcement (California Attorney General’s Office, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s sex offenders task crime force, District Attorney, Child Protective Services, police chiefs, and other groups).

    *My sister (an executive with a company) and her husband (an attorney for the government) also wanted to know if there is greater sexual sin going on with those pastors/elders at my former church and if that’s why they reacted so badly to me and to the issue of child protection. I have no idea what makes those pastors/elders tick. I found their reactions to be so incredibly bizarre in this day and age.

    *The odd thing for me is having people who used to be friends with me call me up and tell me (or email me) that I’m such a horrible person that they can no longer have any contact with me. My former pastors/elders are liars through and through. (Note: I also changed California law for crime victims, so I’m not going to lay down and be a doormat to them.)

    *I have reached out to other people who were abused and shunned at my former church, and I’ve asked for forgiveness. I’ve told them that I had never seen anything like that happen…and I didn’t know what to do. It did instill fear in us. We did understand that if we said anything to the pastors/elders to contradict or question them, we’d be next. Those other victims (men and women, including the godly doctor) thanked me and told me that I am the ONLY person from that church who has ever contacted them to apologize and ask for forgiveness in being complicit in what was done to them. I knew it was wrong, I knew the pastors/elders were lying. My stepping forward to those victims has started them on the road to healing too.

    *I have also met a family – godly family — who no longer goes to church. I couldn’t understand it. Now, I do. And the husband told me their story: Their son was sexually abused by a youth pastor and the husband walked in on it. The senior pastor ordered that their entire church family shun them/not talk to them during one of the darkest times in their lives some 12-years ago. It broke their family and shattered them, they got ZERO support, and they have never been back to a church and refuse to join one ever again. Can you blame them? So I told them that I was shunned too…for standing up for the protection of children. (Rev Billy Graham’s grandson Boz over at G.R.A.C.E., as an attorney/Christian/former sex crimes prosecutor, said this is very common for families of sexual abuse at church.)

    • Michaele, even before you wrote this:

      My sister (an executive with a company) and her husband (an attorney for the government) also wanted to know if there is greater sexual sin going on with those pastors/elders at my former church and if that’s why they reacted so badly to me and to the issue of child protection.

      I was thinking the same as your sister and her husband. The reaction is so extreme, there HAS to be something a lot more dark and widespread going on in that leadership.

      I believe that child sexual abuse has been endemic in some of the smaller more eccentric denominations where there is little or no accountability structure beyond the local church. And if it has been endemic, then whenever a whistleblower starts to speak up, or whenever someone starts to learn GOOD counseling skills and begins to really help the emotionally suffering folk in the congregation, the skeletons start coming out of the cupboard so the abusers and their allies (and the survivors who want to keep it all hidden because they can’t bear to face their own pain) clamp down and start freezing out the truth tellers.

      • Michaela

        Hi Barbara,

        Well as Boz (Rev. Billy Graham’s grandson/Christian/former sex crimes prosecutor) over at G.R.A.C.E. has pointed out that there is an epidemic of sexual abuse in Protestant evangelical churches that is as wide-spread as the child sexual abuse problems that the Catholic Church faced. Boz has pointed out that the CC has been forced to clean up their act because of 30-years of arrests and litigation.

        Church Mutual, the largest insurer of churches in the United States, also confirms the large number of child sexual abuse claims on their website. They have lots of information about child sexual abuse prevention on their website. They are so concerned about liability/financial loss from these cases that they are forcing churches to announce the sex offenders in their midst (I read about one case of an Oregon church), have comprehensive child safe policies, or cancelling the insurance coverage of churches that refuse to comply. Good!

    • And Michaela, well done for your activism in getting the law for crime victims changed in California. You sound like a strong lady!

      • Michaela

        Thanks Barbara. I got a program passed in to California law that models one that Washington state started for domestic violence victims. It gives high-risk crime victims (stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, etc.) a confidential mailing address to use through the government for business, banking schools, etc (no packages); suppressed voter records (these are public here and show a person’s home address), suppressed driving records (like judges and prosecutors get through a special government department). It’s one component in a victim’s safety plan. It’s not a witness protection program. But it affords a victim some additional tools to use in moving on and staying (I hope) safe.

      • That sounds like a good law.

    • Thanks, Michaela. I also thought the same as your sister and brother-in-law. If there is not sexual abuse going on there, there must be a really serious pride problem and a desire to control. (Which are hallmarks of abusers. But perhaps some people have them who do not commit ongoing abuse? Just bully as they can and it suits them??)

      It sounds like what happened at Mark Driscoll’s church – with the addition of deliberately exposing children to the risk of sexual abuse! I would be so horrified if my children were put in that situation … and by a pastor … it’s hard to get your head round.

      It’s good to hear you reached out to the other victims. (Surprised no other victims did.) I can’t blame the family you write of at all.

      Till I came on this blog, I had no idea what terrible things could happen in churches.

      My pastor did ban me from all ministry in the church for ‘refusing his leadership’ (refusing to come to a meeting with him and my abusive husband, because I know such meeting are warned against by experts, and I have very bad memories of previous such meetings, and I was anxious and depressed and thought the meeting would make me worse). That felt bad enough: being told to leave and shunned by all members must be so much worse. (He has now accepted I wasn’t refusing his leadership and unbanned me.)

      You do sound like a strong woman. Well done for acting to protect children!

      • Michaela

        Hi Grace,

        Yes, the senior pastor is full of pride and he is very controlling. (Note: He was also raised in a violent home with a violent father. His father isn’t a Christian.) The senior pastor is horrible at Biblical counseling, non-empathetic, screams, ridicules, demeans, etc. Then when confronted says, “You are bringing an accusation against an elder without cause.” It’s so bad at that church here in Silicon Valley (California) that the former church secretary (a quiet, very conservative, married for 35+ years) refuses to go to the church any more. She brought her new pastor, a Presbyterian minister, with her to her exit meeting with the pastors/elders so they couldn’t pull any stunts on her (as they are known to do). I wish I had known that…and brought a witness from the outside.

  12. Sunflower

    I read an interview with an elderly pedophile. He was asked, “Now that the schools are more cautious about pedophiles, does that stop them?” He said, “Oh, no, they’re getting into the churches now. Churches are always eager for youth and children’s ministry workers.”

    • !!

    • Michaela

      I am not surprised at all. That’s what all of the research shows: an epidemic of child sexual abuse in churches including evangelical, Protestant churches.

  13. Hi Michaela,

    I wish you had known that too.

  14. Still Reforming

    For Pastor Jeff (in your spare time – haha) – I thought you might appreciate this video made by a young pastor in response to someone else’s popular YouTube video excoriating “religion.” The reason I thought you might appreciate it is because this young Lutheran pastor touches upon the delineation Law and Gospel during his clever response. Happy (nearly) New Year! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbsadOQK_6A

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks SR – I will check it out:)

    • SR, i got to the part of the video where the rapper said ‘divorce ain’t right’ and I stopped watching there. Maybe the rest of it is okay, though. So readers, just take this as a wee caveat. 🙂

      • Still Reforming

        That caught my attention too, Barbara, but I didn’t take that to mean that all divorce isn’t okay in God’s sight – perhaps if only because I like the rest of what he had to say. I accepted his rhymin’ to mean that “it ain’t right” due to the cause of divorce being a grievance in God’s sight. (Perhaps “the cause of divorce ain’t right” carried too many syllables for the freestylin’ prose?)

        That said, I think many in the church still are of the mindset that divorce itself “ain’t right,” but I gave that young pastor the benefit of the doubt because I appreciated the rest of his message. Given the opportunity, he might be open-minded enough to examine the Scriptures to better understand what is meant. I think most Christians who don’t have direct experience with abuse and abusers do not fully think through the issue of the causes behind divorce or fully examine the Malachi (and other) passage(s). I know that until I had direct experience, it certainly wasn’t an issue that I examined as closely as I am now doing. Speaking of which, I received your book in the mail and am very grateful for the work you put into it.

      • Still Reforming

        Hi Barbara! I hope you don’t mind my popping back in with another thought. Last night lying in bed the thought occurred to me (as thoughts often do when the world slows down and sleep falls upon me) that the statement of what the young pastor said, “Don’t make divorce right…” wasn’t wholly inaccurate. The notion that “divorce ain’t right” is Biblical, I think. God didn’t decree marriage for divorce. The statement isn’t blaming anyone for filing; It’s just a simple statement affirming that God didn’t institute marriage to lead to divorce. It doesn’t expound on the issue of divorce (or abuse), but perhaps is a bit of a trigger here given the history of broken Christianity, which the young pastor cites as the impetus behind the first young man’s video. I do sincerely apologize if I presented a trigger here for anyone. That’s the last thing I’d want to do…

      • I don’t mind at all, SR, and bless you for adding this.

        The notion that “divorce ain’t right” is Biblical, I think. God didn’t decree marriage for divorce. The statement isn’t blaming anyone for filing; It’s just a simple statement affirming that God didn’t institute marriage to lead to divorce

        I agree. 🙂

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