A Cry For Justice

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

“Never Say Anything Critical of One of Your Own” — Wrong!

Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” (John 6:70)

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,
(Acts 10:34)

In any human society there are certain unwritten codes binding upon the members of those societies. As long as those codes are moral and right, this principle is a good thing. But sometimes, even quite often, these codes serve as a covering for evil.

And so it is in many local churches today.

I propose that a very common code, often unspoken, among professing Christians is, “a Christian must never say anything critical about another Christian.” This law if you will is based upon the idea that if an individual claims to be a Christian, he is to be regarded as a Christian. And along with his profession of Christ comes this sort of “get out of jail free” card should he ever need to pull it out in a tight spot.

And so we have this code of silence. Here is this man abusing his wife and children. But he is a Christian, right? Therefore no one, including his victims, are to speak critically of him. They are to respect him. Submit to him. Go with the flow and take one on the chin for the team. If they ever do start to speak out about his evil, pressure is brought upon them right quickly. “It just is not right for you to speak of your husband like that.”

God has no such code of silence, and He certainly has not established one in His church either. Did the Old Testament prophets speak critically of “their own” fellow covenant people? Duh! Did Jesus speak critically of His “fellow” rabbis? Let’s see….yeah, I think I remember Him saying something about woe to you, and then there was that matter of the whip in the Temple. Paul and Peter and John and James and…well, pretty much all of the biblical authors nailed their “brothers” when necessary. And they often if not usually did it right in plain sight of others.

“John has been molesting his daughter.” “Shhhh! John is a brother in the Lord. We can handle this. No need to involve the police.”

“Jack is not the saint at home that he appears to be in the church. His wife says that he has been abusing her for years.” “We need to be very careful about saying such things. Those are very serious accusations and we are dealing with a brother in the Lord here you know.”

See how it works? Pretty much anyone who claims to be a Christian is “in.” And since the Bible says Christians are to love one another and speak well of one another and never gossip about one another, why, we are just going to see the best, think the best, and speak the best about… Judas?

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. (3 John 1:9-10)

23 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    Yeah. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard it said that we are to respect our husbands (with the information about how husbands are to love their wives mysteriously truncated), and how we wives are to put a lock on the gate of our lips (somewhere in Psalms, although not specifically referring to wives). In other words, shut up.

    I find it interesting that people are quick to impute ‘brotherhood’ on someone merely for the lip service that person may give to the Lord. They think that because a person “professes Christ” then it’s the work of the Holy Spirit, citing Romans 10:9 – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    They can’t see into the man’s heart, but they’ll accept his words, empty though they be. They forget Jesus’ own words, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

  2. This is an excellent article that also goes along with the idea Jeff brought up. Here is a great pull quote from it,

    “You can be the Church and love the Church and participate in the Church and still criticize the Church.

    The idea that you can’t or shouldn’t, is a myth designed to ensure silence and wield control and stifle healthy confrontation—and it dishonors Jesus”

    http://johnpavlovitz.com/2015/09/12/please-stop-telling-me-i-cant-criticize-the-church/

  3. sara

    For years I never spoke of the abuse that I suffered because I didn’t label his control, anger, jealousy, and verbal put-downs as abuse. Once I read the book, Why Does He Do That, by Lundy Bancroft my world changed forever. The church has stood by him, because he is such “a great Christian man” and the response I got was—I thought you were okay with the control. I was okay with it for years, because I was too terrified to do anything about it. After 26 years, I finally got the courage to leave with the help of the police department. I have no church anymore or friends from that world because I have been thrown out for not being a good Christian woman and standing by my man. But I am doing well in spite of it all; I have been reborn because I no longer live with abuse. Thank you for your website.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Sara- Thank you for speaking out. Yes, once your eyes are opened to the real nature of abuse, you begin to see what is really happening to you and everything changes for the better. Not necessarily for the “easier,” but freedom nevertheless. “No more friends from that world” – we can all relate to that. Gives us a bit of a sense of loss, but the fact is it wasn’t that great of a world anyway.

      • sara

        You’re so right. All of the friends that have taken his side were the friends that he chose for me to have. I shouldn’t have been surprised that they would shun me, but there is still deep pain in the loss. It was easier for the people at our church to shun me and say I was wrong for not “forgiving him and giving him a second chance” than for them to really consider that abuse was occurring right before their eyes. I am starting over and it feels good. I appreciate your heart for the victims–thank you.

  4. Herjourney

    Here’s to the men who may be reading this blog on FB.
    [Eds: we have HerJourney’s permission to tweak this comment as we deem appropriate. What follows does does not apply to all men reading this blog, but it may apply to some man or men — and it seems to us that it quite probably applies to the man/men in leadership who scorned HerJourney’s appeal for help.]

    You may be an elder or a pastor.
    Because a woman in your church liked this site. The woman you were harsh with. The woman who refuses to believe your a true believer. The woman who won’t bow down to your authority. You stalk your flock and go back and gossip to… God only knows.
    You teach the woman should submit to an abuser.
    Because you may be one your self.
    Your childhood sucked. Your mother was mean. You may have been adopted when you were young.
    So to get even with your bio mom.
    You want to control women from your self proclaimed position.
    Am I bitter???
    Nope
    Satan meant it for evil.
    But my God meant it for good.
    My eyes got opened!
    God is now my provider
    Protector
    Husband
    I have surrended to Christ.
    Not a church. Or a abusive marriage.
    I am also praying
    That God will expose your sin.
    Mine were covered
    The day I said yes
    to Jesus.

    • Still Reforming

      Herjourney,
      YEAH! *insert fist pump here* Right on! If I could whistle like a fan in a football game, I would. I can’t say enough good things about what you wrote. Hear, hear! And bravo! Well done!

      • Herjourney

        Lol
        I am not a sports fan.
        But I do like fast cars.
        It helps ease the stress.
        Thanks!

    • Excellent!

    • Dear HerJourney
      we do not have info on that particular church or pastor you enquired about ( a comment we didn’t publish). And we don’t have time to research him/it.

  5. Cecilia

    I am confused why you tie in the comments to the Pharisee from Ch.8 with the bit from Ch6?

    • Valerie

      Someone correct me if I’m mistaken but I think what Jeff was getting at was pointing out examples of Jesus not shying away from speaking the truth about someone- even those who were in close proximity to him. Though He wasn’t speaking to the same people in these verses they are examples of his willingness to speak the truth boldly.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ceclia – Yes, Valerie’s response here is correct. Thanks for asking. That is the reason I selected both passages.

  6. StrongerNow

    Yes, this is exactly what I was told. To discuss the abuse we were living with was “gossip,” even when it was the pastor I was talking to.

    Obviously these pastors don’t care one iota for the wives of the abusive men in their pews. They only care about appearances. Blind leaders. False teachers. Husbands have absolute, unfettered authority over their families and the women are nothing but chattel. A woman who speaks out against abuse is rebellious and must be silenced.

    • Remedy

      Pretty much how it really is and just shocking.

  7. Herjourney

    Barb
    Thank you for your reply.

  8. Valerie

    Amazingly validating post. It never ceases to amaze me how Pastor Jeff is such a stark contrast to the churches victims have dealt with. I can’t imagine how much healing it would do for victims if more pastors would give a more balanced view of scripture. I found myself thinking he had eavesdroppsed on conversations I’ve heard…exactly the mentality I’ve experienced to the letter.

    What I also find quite telling is when a critical comment is made concerning doctrine of a pastor, author or bible teacher (esp one who is well-known) it seems most people are quick to condemn the Paul’s of this world and not speak to the doctrinal issues. The one who acts in good faith as Paul did is accused of causing division in the church while the biblical issue isn’t actually addressed. If the person is wrong in their assessment, then give scriptural evidence as such. Don’t just get out the wide broom and brush everything under the carpet as “causing division”.

    I used to do a lot of bible studies by a well known bible teacher. I became increasingly uneasy about her personal “revelations” she claimed are from God and they way she took scripture out of context to an alarming extent. Yet I could not voice these issues within my bible study or I would have been considered a near heretic. Online concerns seem to show the same mindset to those who dare to question her teaching.

    With regard to how this plays out with abusive people in the church, how did this thinking start? Where did we go from biblical examples to where we are today which is so far removed from biblical teaching on the issue? I tend to think it stems from our self centered culture- to not hold someone accountable means we don’t have to get “messy” and it also means we get the free pass when we sin (as far as other church members holding us accountable). The whole thing just eerily reminds me of how my abusive ex blame shifted. Behind every carpet sweep is a subtle accusation that YOU are ungodly for bringing the issue to light.

  9. Still Reforming

    Pastor Jeff,

    Is your new book still scheduled to come out this Fall?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, probably around Nov 1. Rebecca is putting together the final setup so that it can be ready to be available for sale and printing.

      • Still Reforming

        Thank you.

  10. survivorthrivor2

    Even in my final days of desperation, when I showed up at the church where my h was attending and tried to exercise Matthew 18:15 -17 which is the biblical solution for sin in the church, I was vehemently denied by that Pastor and his wife and was told that it was not going to happen! Those passages above are written in RED, spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, they will not have to answer to me…..

    • I had a somewhat similar experience. I told my church elders (there was no pastor) that they had offended me by publicly condemning me for seeking a court order to protect me from my husband (they quoted 1 Cor 6:1 — you shall not take a brother to court). I asked them to engage with me in a Matthew 18 process about this offence I believed they had done to me.

      They stalled for months. Then, when they finally, after my persistent requests, told me they would meet with me, I asked them “So this meeting is about the fact that I believe you offended me?” Their curt reply: “No; this meeting is to discuss whether there is a place for you in this church anymore.”

      • survivorthrivor2

        Barbara, I am so sorry you had to experience that, it is unconscionable! The circumstances we couldn’t conceive we would ever find ourselves in with those who ‘say’ they are believer’s, pastors, elders is/was mind-boggling. God bless you for this blog!

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