What Does God’s Wisdom Look Like in Handling Abuse Cases?
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:13-17)
Let me propose to you that the Apostle James is hitting the nail smack on the head here as we consider what he says and apply it to how we see abusers and abuse victims being handled or “mis-handled” in the church. What do we see very widely and even typically in the reports we receive about how local pastors and churches respond to the evil of abuse in the pews? I say that James describes it here: “disorder and every vile practice.” Right? Witness after witness has testified to all of us that this was their experience when they called on the church to help defend them against their abuser. Now, what does James tell us is at the root of this “disorder and every vile practice”? What is the evil root that is producing this bad fruit of demeaning, disregarding, minimizing victims while enabling and allying with the evil abuser? James says it: “…bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, jealousy, SELFISH AMBITION (he repeats that one).” And the source of this evil root? Earthly, unspiritual, demonic “wisdom.” Scary, huh?
Think about it. What does that say about so many local churches and “ministries” claiming to be serving Christ? If you want to know the real nature and spirit of someone or something that professes to be “Christian,” consider how they handle abusers, abuse victims, and evil that creeps in among them. In contrast, James says that where God’s Spirit truly is leading and imparting God’s true wisdom, the result will be, “purity of doctrine, peace, gentleness, rationality, mercy overflowing, good fruits, IMPARTIALITY (of judgment) and sincerity.” And if you want to know if this is the spirit of a place, once more I suggest that you find out how they respond to and deal with evil that comes along looking to creep in and deceive and make people captives.
Abuse in churches is widespread because abusers in churches are widespread. They are tolerated and even exalted (which is what they are after) while gross injustice is dealt to their victims. James is telling us plainly here that the problem is that earthly, unspiritual, and demonic “wisdom” is what energizes and directs such a place. And a church like that opened the door wide to that demon when they became arrogant, self-exalting, and selfishly ambitious. They quenched the Holy Spirit, He departed, and the evil one sent a legion of his spirits to move in.