Resisting slanderous misrepresentations of our work, like the claim that we say ‘you can label anyone you don’t like as an abuser’.
Recently a pastor asserted on his blog* that Jeff Crippen basically teaches that we can take anyone we don’t like, label them as an abuser, and then shun them and run them out of the church without due process or possibility of forgiveness.
Let it be know to all and sundry that Jeff Crippen does not say we can label anyone we don’t like as an abuser. Let it be known that at A Cry For Justice we do not advise our readers that they can label anyone they don’t like as an abuser.
What we say is this: There are certain common marks that are found in abusers. And as part of our job as maturing Christians, we all do well to learn what those marks are.
We also say that church discipline takes more varieties and forms than just the Matthew 18:15-17 procedure. Sometimes church discipline should be much more sharp and quick than the step by step Matthew 18 process. The case study and principles of that ‘sharper quicker discipline’ are found in 1 Corinthians 5.
It is possible for Christians to learn how to discern and identify abusers and bullies.
Yes, believers still battle against their own flesh and so they must guard against becoming proud or arrogant about their powers of discernment. But as believers we do have the Holy Spirit guiding and leading us, and if we work on our sanctification we can indeed become more wise and more discerning as we live our Christian lives. It is rather harsh and unbending to denounce or discount any claim by a Christian who asserts he or she has learned to discern the common characteristics of evildoers and how one may generally detect evildoers from knowing these ‘red flags’.
Not only is it harsh and unbending; it is foolish. We are supposed to be as harmless as doves and as wise as serpents. If we aren’t as wise as the serpents, the serpents will trick and oppress us. They will trap us in their smoke and mirrors.
Furthermore, this denunciation of discernment is a tactic frequently used by abusers who fight against their evil characters being exposed.
Good Pastors: if you were to read and learn and study about the mentality and tactics of abusers as much as Jeff Crippen has, and if you were to get runs on the board for ministering to as many victims of abuse as he has ministered to, I think you would come to agree with him about the marks of abusers, bullies and coverts-aggressive individuals. Some of you are well down the track in this learning, and are doing good work with victims of abuse. Others of you think you are doing good work and don’t need to learn much more about it. It’s a spectrum, of course, not two watertight categories of pastors. And God is sifting. — Where are you on that spectrum?
What about false accusations of abuse?
Yes, there are such things as false accusations of abuse. In our observation (and the professionals who work in the domestic abuse and violence field agree with us on this) false accusations of abuse are COMMONLY made by the perpetrators of abuse.
Naysayers and those who want to pick on me, please note that I am saying ‘commonly’ not ‘always’. I try to refrain from ‘all or nothing’ assertions. One of the marks of a disordered character, by the way, is that they make ‘all or nothing’ assertions (see Dr George Simon’s book Character Disorder). (Affiliate link**)
Genuine victims of abuse commonly take years if not decades to realise that what they are suffering is properly called “Abuse”. If they do come to that realisation, they are often very tentative and self-doubting about it at first, so they may not assert it very firmly when initially seeking help from bystanders. When the victim does seek help from bystanders or officials in authority such as church leaders, the perpetrator typically turns the tables and accuses the target (their victim) of being the real abuser. In other words, perpetrators usually feign victimhood and seek pity and ‘support’ from bystanders and authority figures.
That knotty problem means that a standard Matthew 18 process could easily end up with the church leaders condeming the true victim and condoning the perpetrator. Seminaries do not teach this stuff adequately, so most pastors are ill-prepared for recognising the marks of a true victim versus a pretend victim. And likewise, they are ill-prepared to know how best to deal with abusers.
Good pastors, you might like to read this article of mine: Marks of a pretend victim versus a true victim.
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* We will not link to that pastor’s blog.
** Amazon Affliate link. If you purchase through that link, ACFJ receives a small amount of the purchase price.