A Cry For Justice

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

Biblical Law is for the Wicked, Not for the Righteous

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

Most of us have experienced it. Someone at work messes up, so the next day a company-wide policy is implemented that is binding on everyone. A law is made. You see it all the time in society as well. “Let’s pass a law.” The problem is, that new law restricts everyone else, and they weren’t the offender! In a way, the righteous are punished right along with the unrighteous. The Apostle Paul says this ought not to be. The Law is laid down not for the just, but for the lawless.

Let’s bring this to bear upon the church and abusers.

Let’s say a crime of sexual abuse occurs in a church and is discovered.  What is to be done? There are already civil laws in place to deal with the criminal, but very often leaders in a church will enact their own new “laws.” The catch is, these laws apply to the righteous, not to the wicked.

  • Girls are to be more modest
  • Wives must be more submissive in the bedroom
  • No woman is to ever be in any kind of one-on-one contact with a man who is not her husband
  • The internet and movies. A whole new bag of “do’s and don’ts” are published.

You find yourself saying “Hey, I’m not the criminal here. I didn’t do anything wrong.” And you didn’t. There IS a problem here. The law is being misused because it is being applied to the righteous, not the wicked.

Abuse victims suffer from this misuse of the law as well. How many times have we seen it? A victim reports her abuser to her church and the response is, “You need to do this. You need to stop doing that. You need to. . .”. This is nothing less than the misuse of the law. It is laying the law down on the victim instead of where it needs to be enforced — against the abuser.

Notice what Paul has to say about people who misuse the law in these ways:

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)

See it? This misuse of the law, which is so widespread in the church today, demonstrates that we have a whole pack of people craving to lead us, craving to be our teachers, claiming to be able to handle the Word of God, who are in fact without understanding when it comes to that very Word of God. They make “confident assertions” along the line of “thus saith the Lord,” but in reality they are fools. Timothy, as a pastor, is given this charge by the Apostle:

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (1 Timothy 1:3-4)

There it is. We’ve got a whole truckload of “speculations” and “different doctrine” and “myths” parading today as the Word of God. A whole body of “legislation” that God has not authorized. One mission of a true pastor today, and really of every genuine Christian is, to “charge certain persons” to close their mouths and put away their pens and blogs. Because they know nothing about God’s Word and they are enslaving the innocent.

26 Comments

  1. Sarah

    yep. Even the more subtle tones in the “advanced” churches will tell you that —
    “you need to go to counseling.”
    “You did something to attract this person, therefore you must change.”
    “You need to forgive”
    “you need to release the abuser from the Order of Protection.”
    “you need to let the person back into church.”
    “You need to change your hard-heartedness”
    “You need to get better communication going with your abuser” etc etc.

    I found out I needed to do nothing but take care of myself and protect myself from these messages and that was a full time job.

  2. Tim

    A commenter on my blog recently challenged me on my assertion that the law is not binding on Christians, and that the only law to follow is what James called the law of Royal love. The commenter insisted that Jesus came to make believers able to follow the law, not to fulfill the law for them. Thanks for laying out here just what is wrong with that line of thought.

  3. Still Reforming

    Yes and amen. I’ve also heard this expressed as “justification by Christ and sanctification by Moses…” If that were true, what did Christ free us from? People (especially church leaders) impose the law on Christians constantly, methinks by their own desires for control and power.

    An example I cite often to my child about this kind of imposing the law on everyone is (silly as it may seem) those automatic flushing toilets that are everywhere now. She has a problem with them because, well, they’re disruptive. I explain to her that this is the way some people (Big Government or Big Church) exert control over everyone because one person may not flush. Now everyone has to have the decision made for them when the flushing shall occur.

    I appreciate how you’ve made this clear that it is not to be applied to the righteous. We need to hear this over and over again.

    • automatically flushing toilets – I hate them! Simply by shifting one’s weight a bit they can flush. And the unexpectedness triggers me.
      I’ve only encountered them in the US. Come to Oz and be free of those annoyances!

  4. M&M

    Biblical Law is one thing, but some of the above mentioned “laws” aren’t even from the Bible!! Biblical principles (like justice and mercy) apply to the everyone, but are already followed by the righteous. Extra-Biblical laws punish the righteous without stopping the wicked. I’ve never heard of a criminal who changed his mind due to a woman’s dress or a church stance on music.

  5. bright sunshinin' day

    There is nothing new under the sun…it is amazing to read the gospels and learn what Jesus Himself went through by the hand of the scribes and pharisees of His day and to see the parallels with modern day “teachers of the law.” In Luke 6, it states that the scribes and pharisees “…watched Him [Jesus] closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him…”

    In Luke 20, it reads, “…so they [chief priests and scribes] watched Jesus, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.”

    Today, there are many “teachers of the law” who, instead of seeking to heal, comfort, and protect where there is injustice, are “watching” and “pretending to be righteous” so that they might seize on something a target of abuse has said, in order to deliver her to the session. As Jeff said:

    We’ve got a whole truckload of “speculations” and “different doctrine” and “myths” parading today as the Word of God. A whole body of “legislation” that God has not authorized.

    Thankfully, there are a few good men and women who are bravely speaking and doing as Jesus did, who came to fulfill the law and to “…preach the gospel to the poor…heal the brokenhearted…proclaim liberty to the captives…set at liberty those who are oppressed”! (Luke 4:18).

  6. Well said Pastor Crippen. It takes depth of insight to write a post like this. This is a hallmark of our times to manipulate the whole society based on a one off mistake, event or tragedy!

  7. Anonymous

    How true. I have been called vindictive, unforgiving, bitter, and unsubmitted to the Kingdom because I reported a child molester to the police and asked that he be registered as a sex offender. All of this, by my “brothers” and “sisters” in Christ. It was embarrassing to me that the secular authorities exhibited more grace to my family than many (not all thankfully) of the Christians I fellowshipped with. Grace was applied to the molester and the law to me. A whole lot of the church is really screwed up when it comes to dealing with abuse.

    • I have been called vindictive, unforgiving, bitter, and unsubmitted to the Kingdom because I reported a child molester to the police and asked that he be registered as a sex offender.

      I was reading Revelation 6 this morning. I don’t think any of those souls under the altar would have been called [by God] vindictive, unforgiving, bitter, and unsubmitted to the Kingdom for reporting a child molester to the secular justice system!

      Those who are derogatorily labelling you have a totally inverted system of doctrine. This passage of scripture describes them:

      you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:21-24)

      They may preach against pedophilia, but they enable pedophiles! You do right to call them out.

      They are filling up the cup of God’s wrath against them by condemning you. God will pour out His cup of wrath against them on the Day, if they do not repent.

  8. survivorthrivor2

    Hi everyone, this is not topic related although again, another spot on post on ACFJ, it just gets better and is so helpful to have this safe place.

    I am meeting with the pastor of the church I have been attending tomorrow at 2:00 pm Pacific time. I have told them my story and about my abusive marriage to my (covert narcissist) h and have given them info on John Piper (my pastor quoted him from the pulpit one Sunday) . If anyone has anything that might be helpful for me going into this meeting, it would be greatly appreciated. I have no idea what he is going to say or conclude about this. Please keep me in prayer if you are so inclined, thanks in advance for your help and prayers.
    Oh, I will also be taking an article by Leslie Vernick Five Indicators Of A Evil Heart. Thank you

    • If the pastor is serious about learning what concerns we have about Piper, direct him to our John Piper tag under which we currently have 29 posts. (You may already be planning on including this info.)
      And also let him know about Jeff’s book Unholy Charade. It is excellent, and easy to read.

    • Still Reforming

      survivorthrivor2,
      How did it go with the pastor? Was he receptive to understanding abuse?

      • survivorthrivor2

        Thanks for asking Still Reforming, the meeting went well. He wanted to know how I was doing, genuinely. And he said he never wants me to feel as though I have not been heard and believed. The door is always open if I need anything or if I encounter any situations with my h. He reiterated several times that he and the church leaders are definitely there for me and will do everything in their power to protect me. Hallelujah! He had given their security team (it’s a fairly large church) specific instructions regarding my situation along with his photo that I sent him.

        I can see that understanding abuse is difficult for him, but I will continue to meet with him and believe that an honest dialogue about abuse existing in the church as much as it does has truly been breached. I asked him if he or the rest of the staff had had any training on any type of abuse and he said no. I wasn’t surprised, but I told him that it was totally unacceptable, in my opinion. To his credit, he made no excuses about it and agreed with me. I did suggest Jeff’s new book Unholy Charade, as Barbara suggested.

        As far as the John Piper evidence I had given him to look over, he said he read it and he and some staff did some research on him and he gave me a paper that was written on December 19, 2012 from desiringGod.org which I guess is John Piper’s website and it’s called “Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse.” It is a clarification from an online Q & A on “What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser? He received criticisms of his answer because he did not mention the recourse that a wife has to law enforcement for protection. In this paper he goes on to clarify with seven biblical observations. I have read it, but I’m not a translator and it is very, very wordy, law-filled and somewhat confusing. I have more thoughts on it, but too many to list. If anyone checks it out, feel free to contact me or write me on here, I will be meeting with the pastor again in two weeks, he wants to know what I think about it. They seem very diligent about wanting to get to the truth about John Piper, this church is fairly connected to his ministry in several areas and has had him speak at a large meeting a few years ago. I pray God continues to lead me…..

      • Jeff Crippen

        survivorthrivor2 – You have done well in working so hard to explain this evil to this pastor and church. But only time is going to tell what this pastor is really thinking. I wanted to give you a heads up on this. Virtually EVERY time an abuse victim we know has done what you have done here, and seemingly been genuinely received by their pastor, and some claims are made that the pastor and church leaders are willing to learn and want to know the truth, the victim’s high hopes end up shattered. Because in the end, when it gets right down to decision time – time to pay the price for rejecting people like Piper and standing with victims – these people back peddle. “Whoa! Hold on! We can’t go so far as that.” And the victim who tried so hard is left off at the bus stop. That is by no means to say that you should not have tried – you should have. And maybe this will be one of those miracle cases of change – maybe. But a heads up. It is rare. Very, very rare. Words are easy to say. Action and real repentance aren’t so easy. Make no mistake, there would be a huge cost to this church and pastor to acknowledge the errors of Piper. Huge. Piper’s “seven “”biblical”” observations” are just dressing over what remains unchanged in his thinking and teaching on this subject.

        Yes, may the Lord continue to lead you and give you wisdom. I suspect you are about to be facing some equivocating double-speak.

      • SurvivorThrivor, we have published two posts about John Piper’s “Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse”

        A Translation of Piper’s Clarifying Words — read the comments thread of this post in particular.

        John Piper’s “Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse” – are they helpful?

        And just a tip for you and other readers, you can find these to articles any time you need them, but typing ‘clarifying’ into our search bar. 🙂

      • Also, SurvivorThrivor, if the pastor or other leaders do anything from now on that makes you feel unsafe or makes you feel like they don’t really ‘get it’, I suggest you ask the pastor point blank, “Have you read Unholy Charade yet?” If he hedges or prevaricates, tell him that you won’t really be able to trust him until he has read that book.

        And I also suggest that you get the book and read it yourself, so that if the pastor or leadership do anthing (or fail to do anything) with the result that you feel a bit unsafe, you can tell them “That issue is covered on page #x of Unholy Charade. Please read that section of the book! And re-read it again, if you’ve read it already.”

        That way, you will be able to hold them accountable for their good intentions. 🙂

      • survivorthrivor2

        Pastor Jeff, I appreciate your truthfulness and warning, I am still figuring some of my own things out about this narcissistic abuse I have suffered and I suppose I’m still a bit naive. But, what I (we) have lived cannot be silenced – ever. I am so grateful to have the support of ACFJ and those who speak freely on this blog.

        I know that I was lead to this church at this time, I must have hope, but I do understand the reality of what you said and I will hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The pastor that I have been talking to is not the senior pastor, I was about to ask on Tuesday if I could speak directly to him also, but I did not, however I think that time is coming, perhaps that will be telling. He asked me what would be something that could be done church wide in order to introduce this subject as as a way to have a dialogue about it. I asked him if he had ever heard a sermon on this subject ever – anywhere. He took a long pause and said no. I said well, it’s hiding pretty well then, isn’t it?

        I had told him before that my h knew their worship leader, and when I was in there this time he told me that he went to this worship leader and said he wanted him to do a “character check” on someone, my h, I guess he knew they were meeting up. I said so what did you find out? He said he had nothing bad to say about him, and I asked him what he thought the meaning of “covert” was? He said no other names or reasons were mentioned, and I doubt this worship leader even knows who I am, so no issues there. It is all so frustrating, I suppose we all had to get educated on these types, it’s just difficult to see those blank stares across the desk.

        Thanks so much, the good fight goes on…..

  9. IamMyBeloved's

    Wow! Makes a whole lot of sense! This is great insight. Thanks for this.

  10. Greater Glory

    Pastor Crippen, I just love how you “pick us up, turn us around, and put our feet on solid ground!” Such clarity on this point. Thank you.

  11. standingfirm

    Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Colossians 2:16,17
    If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) – in accordance with commandments and teachings of MEN? Colossians 2:20-22

  12. standsfortruth

    The godless want to enslave and abuse those who heart is right before God.
    The more I understand this, the more I realize we are targeted because we Love the Lord.

  13. survivorthrivor2

    Thank you Barbara for the links to the explanation of the John Piper paper the pastor gave me. I hadn’t even had time to look for it, silly me to think it hadn’t already been translated and posted! You are on your game and I am so glad! I will not wait the two weeks to present it to him, I am dropping it off tomorrow. I will definitely keep that in mind about feeling safe, I do not want this to drag on and on without results. I will get the book and read it, I had planned on it, and put them on notice about it when the time is right. I want positive results, but I need to be diligent and not get played or patronized. Pressing on…..

    • Still Reforming

      Survivorthrivor2,
      I’m glad to read that you too are on your game and have your guard up. I confess that in my hopefulness, I asked about your pastor’s receptivity to understanding abuse, and then… I read Jeff’s and Barb’s wise counsel. Indeed, what they told you has been my experience. More often than not, I was disappointed with my pastor’s response in his heart, though his mouth spoke words of support to my face. Nothing ever changed. And sometimes the pastor would even seem to be abusive himself, though with a very warm and shiny veneer on the outside. He *seemed* understanding, but then would have odd turns against me. Suffice to say… I’m glad that you’re trying with your pastor and/or church leaders (as I did), but my own personal experience mirrors what Jeff stated. Good for you for not wanting it to drag on, because it easily could. Putting them on notice is good. Setting deadlines and boundaries are healthy, even (perhaps especially) with pastors (sadly).

  14. Pal

    Pastor Crippen’s descriptive comments on the imposed law restrictions reminds me of the sharia law that is in place in the muslim country I lived in for a couple of years.

  15. Pal

    Thanks Twbtc! A lot of good, thought provoking points in the comments section as well.

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