A Cry For Justice

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

Take the Wicked Away from Your Presence

Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. (Proverbs 25:4-5)

We speak and write about basically the same themes here at ACFJ. Why? Because the Bible does, and also because it requires this repetition to get the message across to people. This post is nothing new. It concerns the necessity of putting the wicked abuser our from among our midst, out of our churches, so that the body of Christ will be what the church is supposed to be.

Do you remember Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings and how he put his deceiving words into the ear of the king of Rohan? He held him in the spell of the wicked wizard. Well, that is just what evil in our churches does. Evil doers lie and deceive. They cast a dark spell so that the light of Christ’s truth cannot be seen.

Solomon uses here in this Proverb the imagery of silver. I am no silversmith, but apparently the first thing that must be done in making a silver vessel is the silver must be purified from the dross.  I have heated up and melted lead wheel balancing weights before to make bullets, and as those weights melt this layer of grunge floats to the top leaving a very bright, shining liquid. That is what Solomon is speaking about here in respect to silver.

Well, before anything can be made useful in the Christian church, before anything can be made beautiful, the dross has to be taken away. And that dross, says Holy Scripture, is the wicked. Because as long as the wicked are allowed to remain, they are going to work to deceive. We won’t be able to be made to stand firm in Christ’s righteous ways because we will be too confused by evil. We will call evil good, and good evil. We will enable and accept the abuser, and reject the abuser’s victim.

So you have to get rid of the abuser. That’s right. Get rid of him. Put him out. Don’t try to “fix” him or try to “reach his heart.” As long as he is there, righteousness will suffer. Is that not what God’s Word is telling us here? Indeed it is.

19 Comments

  1. Kandyce Brothers

    Some may feel their friend or spouse changed over the years into someone who is abusive. I think it is more apt to say that the mask the abuser was wearing began to fall and their real traits began to show that they had previously covered. An abuser doesn’t just suddenly become abusive after living their life in a rather benign way. What causes them to abuse is their mindset, which has been a part of them long before they met you.
    I find it troubling that many bystanders will hold on to the false belief that a person has suddenly changed into this hurtful person. This false belief leads them to focus on how to get the abusive person back to their old self and encourages the victim to do the same. This is wasted energy and only puts unnecessary guilt and burden on the victim who feels powerless to change her circumstances yet is told that change is, in fact, possible.
    There are people who do hurtful things but do not have an abusive mindset. These people may respond well to guidance while being given a degree of understanding. But the one who has an abusive mindset will thwart any efforts to change and continues to display a black hole of empathy

    • Valerie

      Thanks, Kandyce, for sharing that post from the I Will Stand FB page. Abusers don’t change and yet the church seems to want to keep the abusers close as though they will just suddenly snap out of it. 😕

      • Kandyce Brothers

        Your welcome Valerie and I WILL STAND is a great page of information, education, support and encourage
        ment….blessings

  2. Better Equipped

    Everything in this article rings so true at the practical level – I find myself unable to serve the lord because the verbal and emotional abuse have literally rendered me too paralyzed. Yet my longing to serve God or do anything worthy in life is so strong. I’ve been to several counsellors and psychologists but I can’t seem to be helped. My health is been declining these past few years, but this year severe anxiety attacks have put me in the emergency room on s several occasions. I know all this is because of the stress of my relationship with my husband. I even feel writing this comment is “tattling” and somehow displeasing to the lord due to it being “gossip”. Though I feel that way I also believe that feeling is a lie. I do not know what to do. Galatians 5:1 bothers me a great deal. I fear financial destitution, and the devastation that leaving would bring. I don’t know how to leave.

    • Hi Better Equipped, just in case you weren’t aware, we have a tag for Gossip on this blog. You might find some of the posts there helpful.

      Would you like to tell us why Galatians 5:1 bothers you so much? What does it mean to you?

      Btw, I think it’s a good sign you are articulating your fears. Articulating them is often an early step in facing them. When we can face what our fears actually and specifically are, we may then (or gradually) be able to decide how we might choose to deal with each of those fears. With some things, we can figure out ways to deal with or minimise the risks. With other fears, we may not be able to do anything to minimise or prevent the risks. Bit by bit, and with God’s guidance, we usually find a way through the thicket in the end. ((hugs))

      • Better Equipped

        Barbara Roberts – Galatians 5:1 “if is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” What I mean by this verse bothering me is that in light of a destructive relationship it feels so contrary to the freedom expressed in this verse. I understand the context of the verse is about adding to salvation (circumcision particularly). But Christians still find themselves living in varying forms of bondage one way or another …

        Not everyone who lives in a non-life threatening destructive relationship can necessarily just pick up her mat and go. I know of one friend, just past midlife, who has learned to live transcendent to her circumstance through the grace of God. She learned to find her voice, speak against the abuse, etc, and although it never changed her husband, it gave her back her dignity and integrity and personal control.; of course this being at the cost of the possibility of finding genuine reciprocal love and life with another. However, the costs of living and health insurance and all the rest seemed a better option than destitution. But she found happiness.

        My own situation has, as I said, made me emotionally paralyzed over the years, however, I never understood till recently why – it took a long time to know I was a victim to abuse. But accepting that harsh reality in the concept of abuse alone was like an open door enabling me to respond. I have learned how I have enabled the verbal/emotional abuse; I’ve learned how to speak toward exposing it in my abuser – and these new behaviors of mine have caused him to adjust to the new me, though his heart is not enlightened or remorseful at this point. I feel hope out of the paralysis. I feel that regaining integrity by choosing faith in God over fear of my abuser and learning how to use my voice has made a big difference: it gives me control over my life again. Furthermore, stepping out and deciding to share with trustworthy people in the church so that I don’t live alone in my troubles anymore is exposing darkness to light. These are actions of biblical obedience and righteousness I have read many times on this sight that abusers do not change; I can’t argue against that, but neither do I want to dismiss that God can do great things. I have seen him change the hardest of hearts so I am willing to still believe, not naively or in false hope, but in accordance to my faith in a Big God, not a little God. If my circumstances were life-threatening, my first response would be to leave immediately. I am grateful to this website, and to Leslie Vernik, for being such great advocates for those suffering in difficult relationships. I am also grateful for the tremendous maturity, courage, and wisdom by all on this site. I have learned, have grown, and continue to grow. You are a great Light!!

      • Yikes, take care with your screen name Better Equipped! Please re-read our New Users page. And be aware that sometimes a phone or computer might default to filling in the ‘name’ field with a name that is unsafe to have published on this blog. Please double-check what is in the ‘name’ field of your comment before you hit the submit button.

    • Kandyce Brothers

      you deserve and are worth more than abuse…..i pray that God opens the door for u to safely escape….amen

    • I have been exactly where you are and would like to encourage you.
      I escaped an abusive relationship in May! I began by praying for God to show me the truth and help me to walk in truth and speak truth to myself to counter the lies my husband spoke to me and the kids. Leslie Vernick, through her blog encouraged me to speak truth to myself and kids and even to my spouse -she said he may not be able to hear it or accept it but it will be beneficial for you to hear and it will strengthen you. Slowly God strengthened me as I delved into his word and He gave me the boldness to break up and go to police. They did intervene and I was able to get away.

      It is just now, 6 months later that I am really feeling better and much less stuck – I have gone through many rough things legally and my ex is pleading not guilty to the charges against him so there will be a trial soon but God is faithful. I was so badly stuck for so very long, it is so worth it to get away and to get back to freedom in my life!!! I still have a lot of uncertainty about how I am going to provide for myself financially but the harder I lean into and seek the God who loves me the more apparent the healing and sanity of getting away from my abuser is!

      God led me out of the abuse when I couldn’t bear it any longer and had no peace to stay with him any longer. I stayed past the point of bearable and my ex kept treating me worse & worse. Be encouraged – you are not tattling or gossiping, you are reaching out for help. You are not alone, the God who worked miraculous signs and wonders to get his people out of Egypt and become a nation is the same God that walks with you and me every day and his strength is made perfect in our weakness.

  3. Anonymous

    Jeff, I have a question for you. Are any others churches doing what you do? Have any other organizations contacted you in order to start cleaning out their closets of abusers and helping the victims and preventing people from becoming victims? It would be wonderful to be able to attend a church that was aware of your teachings and that even did a bible study using your book. Do you know of any? I’m very far away from you geographically but it would be nice to have the chance to fellowship with others who so love the Lord and his Word. Thank you for your help.

  4. IamMyBeloved's

    Yes, and evil truly is confusing, because it comes from its father, the devil. Living in abuse and oppression constantly creates confusion. Get rid of the abuse and confusion will eventually go –

  5. When I say something like this to pastors, they typically react. Even *good* pastors usually think it would be wrong to put the abuser out of the church upfront and straight away, because if they do that, they have no way of ever reaching him. They say they would want to sit down with the abuser and tell him he must get into counseling, or into a treatment program such as a Domestic Abuse Intervention Program / Mens Behaviour Change Program. One pastor told me that he would tell the abuser that he HAD to do that: had to accept the pastor’s referral to specialist treatment or counseling. And the pastor would then see what happened from there.

    I guess that is a better approach than the pastor who naively thinks he can counsel the abuser himself even though he hasn’t been trained in how to counsel and treat abusers.

    But if the abuser is doing the mandated treatment or counseling and while doing that continues to be part of the congregation, what is to stop him subtly and covertly shredding his victim’s reputation to the rest of the congregation? How will the victim ever feel vindicated if the congregation are not informed about the fact that he abused and probably is still abusing her? How will she feel safe?

    In what I say above, I am of course discussing a situation where the victim is clearly happy with the idea that the church leaders expose the abuser and put him out of the church. Some victims are reluctant or fearful of that happening, because they are still partly in the fog and/or because they fear intense retaliation from the abuser. So I believe that, generally speaking, exposing the abuser and putting him out of the church ought to only be done by the church leadership IF the victim is informed and in agreement with that plan.

    • Sarah

      and shred they do!!

  6. a prodigal daughter returns

    Abusers don’t get put out of the congregation because often church leadership fears man more than they respect God. In addition, I wonder how many in leadership are also abusers. I wonder how many secretly disrespect women and go along with the old boys thinking that she must have “asked for it”. I wonder how many have no love for their congregation particularly not any sort of sacrificial love that would endure the fallout of responding to a cry for justice from victims? The way we treat the most vulnerable among us is a reflection of our moral and spiritual health.

    People will quote the example of Jesus saying “he who has no sin can cast the first stone” as a reason to not respond by putting abusers out. I think the example Jesus actually set in that story was his protection of a woman that was guilty of moral sin from some men that wanted to abuse her in the name of religion. He wouldn’t t stand for it and it was one of the instances that eventually incited such rage from the abusive that it cost him his life.

    • Innoscent

      Prodigal Daughter, another Bible text that is advocated is the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13). Everybody’s got to grow together until the harvest when the tares will then be gathered and burnt. In other words we have to put up with the ‘tares’, among them abusers, and this may even be good for our growing in Christ… isn’t it?!

      Church leaders fail in their assessment in that as they bend their effort toward saving the abuser (counterfeit discipline), the direct victim (+ children) remains wounded and the church is enfeebled and damaged further with the mess caused by the abuser in the first place!

  7. Jean

    I agree. We are left without the whole story of the adulterous woman, which leaves us wondering about the man involved in her situation. We do know Jesus did not accuse her. He accused the men who accused her. He gave her grace. Not knowing the rest of her story leaves us wondering, but it also gives us several ways to look at her situation. She may have been completely a victim, whether because she was overpowered by the man’s strength or by his verbal control. Maybe we will find out the truth when we get to heaven.

  8. Sarah

    I’ve heard this scripture only used with the manipulation tactic of “leveling” which means that we’ve all got evil in us so we can’t judge. We just need to get the evil out of ourselves and leave the judging to God. I love that it is used in the larger sense of the entire congregation. Well done

    • Innoscent

      Sarah, oh yes … the beam that the victim has to remove from her own eye, instead of trying to remove the mote from the abuser’s eye (Mt 7), I’ve heard this one from my abuser many times and in various forms!

      The sad fact is that many church leaders have got beams in their eyes when it comes to abuse among their very congregation, and the nature of evil, therefore are like blind leading the blind. 😦

      When an innocent person is injured by a bullet shot into their body in a terrorist attack, the surgeon doesn’t ponder about the reasons why the victim got the bullet.The only aim of the surgeon is to take the bullet out and monitor the patient as long as needed. The church not only leaves the bullet inside but also the shooter in their midst… 😦

  9. Seeing Clearly

    Please continue teaching and reteaching this message. We, who choose to believe, are slow to get it. So how much slower are those who choose not to believe the damage done by abusers in churches. I can name 2 pedophiles right now who have their established places in local churches. One was never charged due to statutes of limitations. The other is a registered sex offender who was not stripped of his “reverend” status.

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