A Cry For Justice

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

My Church Right or Wrong is a Dangerous Philosophy that Enables Abusers

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (Jos 5:13-14)

I have always found the response of this angelic messenger (who may well have been the pre-incarnate Son of God) very interesting.  Joshua asked him whose side he was on. His answer? “I am on the Lord’s side” (my paraphrase). We must always strive to be sure that we are on the Lord’s side as well. The question properly asked of us is “whose side are you on?” not “Lord, are you on my side?”  And yet many Christians really act as though the Lord must always be on their side, or on their church’s side, no matter what.

This attitude enables evil to thrive.

When Winston Churchill was a young member of Parliament he and a few other young MP’s formed a small group called the “hooligans.” They were members of the conservative Tory party but they were more concerned with what was right or wrong than they were about blind loyalty to their party. Once they were rebuked for this by an older member of the government who said:

What is the use of supporting your own party only when it is right? It is just when it is in this sort of pickle [ie, when it was wrong] that you ought to come to its aid.

When Christians support their own church or denomination no matter what, right or wrong, evil is aided. Is this not largely what we see in so many cases when a pedophile, for instance, has been discovered in a church? People rally round him, minimize his sin and crime, try to hush up the victim, all for the protection of and loyalty to their “church.” But whose side is the Lord on in such cases? He is on the side of righteousness. He is against the wicked. He is for the oppressed and downtrodden.

I am convinced that much of the injustice dealt to abuse victims in their churches stems from this “my church right or wrong” philosophy. It is the source of the ill treatment victims receive, the accusations leveled against them, and the efforts to hush them up. I have seen it in action, and so have most of you.

The Lord Jesus Christ is no respecter of persons. He judges in perfect righteousness. As His people, we must do the same to the very best of our ability. When our church is wrong, when we are wrong, we must repent and embrace what is right. Only then will we be on the Lord’s side and do holy battle against the wicked.

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. (1Timothy 5:20-21)

 

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11 Comments

  1. Rebecca

    Important point. That’s the same idea we addressed in our first blog post at BJUGrace, because people were accusing us of being disloyal to Bob Jones University. It’s here: http://bjugrace.com/2014/12/05/are-you-loyal/

    • Jeff Crippen

      Perfect example Rebecca. Thank you. BJU or whatever the object of such blind loyalty then replaces Christ and is sheer idolatry.

  2. kind of anonymous

    This kind of idolatry can be easy to get into and hard to get out of. I am thinking of a comparable situation that occurs for women quite often but probably for men too although not discussed as much. Women who are loyal to abusive fathers out of intense confusing attachment, false guilt and blame, and need of them, no matter what, tend to get hooked up with men who resemble them in some way, which carries on the painful, confusing bondage of loving someone who is destructive and themselves bound to idolatry ( abusive people, addicts, the unforgiving, etc, are all idolaters until that gets resolved). It is already idolatry, it becomes idolatry and one can wind up caught in a web of loyalties, emotional need and pain, that is sticky and binding, a thick giant spider web with razor blades interspersed on its strands. It is hell to get of of and while you are in it, hell and its denizens are seeking to sink further hooks into to you, to make the bondage permanent and complete and drag you off to the wrong kingdom as a captive.

    The only way out is to seek Jesus and switch your loyalty to Him, or back to Him if it has been compromised. Fatherlessness and motherlessness have been the stumbling block into more kinds of sin and bondage than can be mentioned, yet only God can really fix this problem. No man can.

  3. I believe God is capable of protecting the abused, whether in a liberal church or an abusive marriage.
    When the heart is fully surrendered to Christ. He has the supernatural Power to move on our behalf.
    I have seen this power in my own life. If God can sweep Enoch off the earth..
    He can move His people to a safe place. God has called us to be separated from the world. Not living in it.
    Rebuke is only useful when the other party is willing to humble him /her self.
    Casting pearl before swine only muddies your effectiveness.
    They – the blind – need scales torn from their eyes.
    Only God can do this!
    I cannot. In God’s perfect timing He will move. If the situation is in His will to do so.
    Being a prayer warrior in the battle is more effective than using the tongue to
    rebuke a prideful man.
    Hope this make sense.
    We serve an awesome God.
    His power is over all the nations.
    Over all He has and will create.

    • Seeing the Light

      “Rebuke is only useful when the other party is willing to humble him /her self.” This is so true. Not long after my anti-husband ramped up his abusive behaviors a few months ago, God brought a verse to my mind that I had not taken seriously enough before. I completely get it now. Proverbs 9:8 “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” Every time I tried to reason with him, especially on the basis of Scripture (since he professes faith and is constantly doing Bible study and church), I could tell that he only held me in greater contempt for it. I no longer hold myself to any responsibility to exhort him to righteousness. I just wish I had learned this sooner.

  4. I guess that’s the reason the church people have continued to support, respect and indeed honor my abuser. He kept faithfully attending their church and I did not. So he’s one of them. Before he divorced me he even took his new partner along to classes about being a new Christian.They thought that was a fine thing to do, apparently.
    The reason I stopped going to church was that my abuser used physical violence and intimidation to prevent me from leaving the house on Sunday mornings. After that the pastor’s wife came round and told me that I wasn’t to attend church at the same time as my “husband”.
    These people are all completely convinced of their righteousness, that they are doing God’s work and that he will bless them for it.

    • Jeff Crippen

      They are as blind and willfully hard-hearted as the Pharisees.

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you for this post.

    When I was growing up there were many sports fans in my family. They were constantly arguing about the other teams, calling them foul names and debasing them with insults and name-calling. One time I asked my dad if you had to be from the state that the team represented in order to be on the team. When his reply was “no,” this was it for me. I realized that it was all a lie. Why? Because you could be from anywhere so why the hatred? When a player is traded from a rival team now all of a sudden that player is loved by those who support the team? Yes. And this is how it is when you are not dealing with truth or right or wrong. All you have to be is on the “right” team in order to be accepted.

    I see this also in where people are from. I’ve heard the phrase I’m from_______ which is “God’s country.” It’s wherever THEY are from because they think that they are god so naturally their place of origin is “God’s country.” I’ve seen the absolute hatred for America in my lifetime. When I first encountered it I had no real thought about the U.S. I wasn’t raised to hate other countries and was always fascinated by all the different accents and ways people lived. But after I encountered such severe hatred for my country over and over I stopped and took a look at things. As God opened my eyes to what people who don’t have a functioning conscience are like and how in the end times there will be so many of them, this started to make sense. People without a functioning conscience MUST be against someone because it is their nature. They belong to their father the devil and must oppose and exalt themselves. As we have more and more of them we must keep their hatred pointed in a direction that is a “safe” place so that it isn’t placed on those in their own family or homeland. If we can keep the hatred pointed at other countries, families, races, religions sports teams etc. we have a chance to keep these people from hurting and hating their own. (Remember that it says in 2 Tim 3 that they are without natural affection–even for their family or children.) This hatred for other nations seems to be universal but the U.S. is often the target because it has been seen as strong and a maverick of sorts. Our monetary currency still acknowledges that we as a nation have included God in our system with the “In God we trust” stamp. In spite of all our imperfections, God has blessed us as a nation and as Jeff’s article points out, this has made us a target of evil.

    Jesus didn’t care what “team” you were on, what family you came from, what rank or position you had attained on this earth. He judged each person by their heart. Then and now. Now and in Eden. All the same from the beginning of time until the end of the time on this earth each human ever created is judged by their heart. Colossians 3:11 says, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” And Galatians 3:26-29, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

    Many of us here have not found help or love in the church, but in the world. Because, as this website is constantly pointing out, the church today is much like the church of Jesus’s time–full of those who can recite all the laws, know scripture by heart, but hate everyone and want to be acknowledged and worshiped. Many of us here are no longer beating people over the head trying to recruit them into the cults we were raised in. Instead, we have become grateful for the (very) few genuine people in our life. For the gentleness we encounter from those who have never even considered abusing people the way we have been abused by those who supposedly love the Lord. We seek true love, true peace and God’s truth. It took me nearly fifty years to allow myself to rest and to feel God’s love. Prior to this I believed I was a pile of garbage put here as an outhouse for evil. To hold the waste and evil of all people. This is not God’s plan for his children as we are His–children of the King. Thank you again for this website.

  6. a prodigal daughter returns

    Yes, that allegiance that thinks being “loyal” means turning a blind eye to sin is the source of much deep offense and why the body of Christ does not heal. The story of Ananias and Sapphira being immediately struck dead for covering up their sin, put a Godly reverence in the church right at its inception. People didn’t dare try to hide evil by saying “we don’t want to air our dirty laundry”. Today’s church thinks somehow that the cover-up or silence about the sin there protects the church’s reputation. God never sanitized any of the debauchery of humans and His response to it.

    It is always the coverup that makes the church offense gangrenous. A clean wound in which the infected part is cut off, heals much better and is a testimony to the world that the church does not aid and abet evil, and that is a safe place because evil is not hidden. God is glorified when evil is called out and renounced and dealt with. It can’t be if folks are so busy exalting “their” church that they can’t admit it’s sin and deal with it.

    • Herjourney

      Be prepared to count the cost.
      The enemy hates pure light.
      The amour of God is essential!!
      I can not emphasize this enough!

      Knowing the tactics of your enemy is imperative.
      God speed!
      Keep speaking light.

  7. Lost

    “When Christians support their own church or denomination no matter what, right or wrong, evil is aided. ”

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Exactly that!

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