Shut the doors of your churches! Stop the charade!
This post is an indictment. It is not an indictment of every pastor or elder or other church leader, but it may well be an indictment of most of them. Certainly it applies to many. If you are a true undershepherd of Christ, the post is not directed at you, but we beg you to share it widely so that those who need to hear, will hear. Please be bold: put your strength to the wheel and your voice to the cry for justice.
We here at ACFJ receive first hand accounts every single week and often every single day of rank injustice dealt to the weak and oppressed victims of cruel abuse who go to their church leaders for help. No true Christian should be able to remain unmoved by these facts; actually the Spirit of God within a believer is going to lead them to a holy anger. Christ’s people are being oppressed by false shepherds in so many cases and it is like a blinding fog lies over their minds.
And so, this indictment. If you are a true undershepherd of Christ, then you must hear the cry for justice resounding from more and more of His flock and you must take steps to learn about this evil of abuse so that you are no longer duped by it. If you are a false shepherd, then may the Lord’s word expose you as such and remove you from your pulpit.
The Disobedience of the Priests
God speaks to the priests through His prophet Malachi:A son honors his father, and a servant his master. But if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is your fear of Me?” says the Lord of Hosts to you priests, who despise My name.Yet you ask: ‘How have we despised Your name?’By presenting defiled food on My altar.You ask: ‘How have we defiled You?’When you say: ‘The Lord’s table is contemptible.’When you present a blind animal for sacrifice, is it not wrong? And when you present a lame or sick animal, is it not wrong? Bring it to your governor! Would he be pleased with you or show you favor? asks the Lord of Hosts.And now ask for God’s favor. Will He be gracious to us? Since this has come from your hands, will He show any of you favor? asks the Lord of Hosts.I wish one of you would shut the temple doors, so you would no longer kindle a useless fire on My altar!I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will accept no offering from your hands.For My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in My name in every place because My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts. But you are profaning it when you say: ‘The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.’You also say: ‘Look, what a nuisance!’ And you scorn it, says the Lord of Hosts. You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands? asks the Lord.The deceiver is cursed who has an acceptable male in his flock and makes a vow but sacrifices a defective animal to the Lord. For I am a great King, says the Lord of Hosts, and My name will be feared among the nations.
(Malachi 1:6-14, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
The Disobedience of the Pastors
The LORD of hosts says to pastors who despise His name:
A son honors his father, and a servant his master. You call me God the Father, but you don’t honor me. You call me master and Lord and you carry on about the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, but you neither fear me nor obey me.
You feckless irresponsible pastors say: ‘How have we despised your name?’ I’ll tell you. You are offering polluted sacrifices in my church.
Immediately you fight back against my indictment, saying, ‘How have we polluted you?’
I’ll spell it out: You are despising the Lord’s table. You are allowing phoney christians, wicked evil God-hating liars, sociopaths, and abusers to be part of the congregation and to take communion.
When the priests in the Old Testament sacrificed injured or lame or sick animals instead of unblemished animals, that was evil, and you happily sermonize about that. But you’re doing the same thing yourself! You bring what has been stolen or is lame or sick — Christians who have been robbed of their dignity, health and very personhood by wicked abusers — you sacrifice these abused ones on the altar! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD.
Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished!
When the priests in the Old Testament presented disabled animals for sacrifice, pretending to obeying the Law which said they had to present their best-looking animals for sacrifice, they were cursed by God. If you did a con-job like that to your government — if you cheated the Tax Office, if you perjured yourselves in court, or told obvious lies to the secular media —would they accept you or show you favor? No; they would see through your fakery and call you out! The secular world is less easily duped than you pastors are! The secular world gives more justice to Christian victims of abuse than you ‘c’hristians do!
Instead of being wise as serpents, you ‘c’hristian pastors are blind guides leading your flocks into the ditch. You are sacrificing the afflicted: the victims of domestic abuse, victims of pedophiles, victims of financial abuse and spiritual abuse. You are throwing the victims under the bus, while you fawn to their abusers! You mildly admonish the abusers and then accept their fake repentance. And you charge the victims with ‘contumacy against your leadership’ because they are not willing to reconcile with manipulative liars who have abused them. You pity and sympathise with the abusers. You take them casseroles. You fly them to your retreat centres in private planes. You sit beside them in secular courts when they are charged with crimes! You give them leadership positions! You give to those who cover this up, the podium at your conferences! But you excommunicate their victims!
And don’t feel smug if you haven’t actually dropped the excommunication guillotine on the abuse victims you have dealt with. Even if your church hasn’t excommunicated victims of abuse, you have almost certainly made them feel so disbelieved, stigmatized, unsupported and ignored that they have left your churches anyway … with their tails between their legs, carrying a heavy burden of shame and humiliation that you yourselves would never carry in a pink fit! Instead of vindicating them, you’ve sacrificed the lambs that are bruised, bleeding, weak, lame, exhausted.
I cannot think of a single person who took me seriously when I told them of my abuse. I had one pastor yawn while I cried my eyes out to him. A church counselor told me I had no proof of my husband’s infidelity so go home. I’ve pretty much given up after 30 plus years. Nobody seems to want to believe evil even exists in our world except those who experience it themselves.
(comment by a Christian survivor of domestic abuse)
And you entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. You’ve gotta be kidding! With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? Your fake piety doesn’t wash with me! says the LORD of hosts.
Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors of your churches, that you might not keep this charade going any more! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. I hate what you are doing — I hate it with perfect hatred. (Ps 139:22; Prov 8:13)
For from the rising of the sun to its setting, my name will be great among the nations, and the incense of truly Spirit-led prayer will be offered to my name, as a pure offering. My name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it when you let wicked abusers take the Lord’s supper as if they were Christians.
But you yawn ‘What a weariness this is!’ You snort at it and you roll your eyes. You ignore those who are blowing the whistle on your irresponsibility and your corruption. You ignore those who are crying out for justice.
Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name WILL be feared among the nations.
The ESV Study Bible notes that the book of Acts contains six major speeches by Paul. Three were defence speeches made when he was under arrest. The other three were made on Paul’s missionary journeys, each to a different type of assembly:
- to Jews on his first journey (13:16–47)
- to Gentiles on his second (17:22–31)
- to Christian Elders on his third (20:18–35).
The one to Christian Elders imparts a solemn warning:
Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. …
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
(Acts 20:17-21; 26-31 ESV)
To those who seriously want to learn more about domestic abuse and how the church often handles it badly, I recommend Unholy Charade: Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church* (Jeff Crippen & Rebecca Davis, 2015).