A Cry For Justice

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

Pride as Fuel for Abuse in the Church

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. (1Cor 5:1-3)

I was blown away the other day. Seems like this happens pretty regularly to me as I receive reports of gross, open, rank evil being not only tolerated but virtually invited into local churches. The latest report was that of a church appointing a man to the office of elder, having made NO effort to look into his background. This man had been put out of the last church he was in for divisiveness, abusive behavior, and a consistent pattern of working to gain glory for himself. He is, in other words, a Diotrephes (see 3 John). Did this newest church bother to look into his background? Did they contact the prior church that had known him for decades, warned him repeatedly, and finally put him out of the church? No. What they did do is violate Paul’s plain instruction to us all:

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (1Tim 5:22)

How is this even possible, we ask? Can pastors and church members really be this foolish? I suppose they can be, but it seems that there must be another reason why it is soooo easy for the wicked to creep into a local church, put on their long-practiced facade of super holiness, and pretty quickly gain the power they so crave. And I think that one of our readers here at ACFJ, in keeping with 1 Corinthians 5 as quoted above, nailed the reason precisely the other day.

Sheisovercoming commented on March 13, 2016 –

I believe it is more than being naive. I believe that underneath is pride… a pride that cannot acknowledge it is wrong… a pride that will look at any suffering the victim goes through as God’s judgement on her. “See, we were right. See how hard a time she is having? See the suffering and pain of her children? It is because she left. If only she would have listened to us but she insisted that she was right. She just wouldn’t submit to our counsel and return.”

But the real reason she and her children are now suffering [having a hard time] is because they were thrown out and left abandoned by those called to practice true religion toward her and her children.

This has caused far more damage in my children’s lives than the evil of their abusive father. They knew he was evil. What they didn’t expect was for him to be lifted up by their “Christian community” and their “family”, and for themselves to be considered evil for seeking refuge from a very wicked husband and father. They didn’t expect those same people would only accept and care about them if they rejected their mother and follow in the ways of the wicked.

Thank you SO much for this comment. Tremendous insight here. Evil is enabled in our churches through the PRIDE and haughtiness of the leaders and members of those churches. As a pastor I have on a number of occasions called other pastors when I found out that a wicked person who we had to do battle with in our church, was now attending their church. I called them. I tried to warn them. What was the response? Arrogance. “Well now, Jeff, we think we can do just fine ministering to these folks.” And then these prideful pastors turn right around and go tell the wicked one that I called about them, thus increasing their wrath toward me. So guess what? I don’t even try anymore.

This is the same arrogance that Paul rebuked in the Corinthian church. Here they were, looking at open, gross evil in their midst and instead of being grieved about it and putting it away from them, they BRAGGED about it. You can just about hear the form of their boasting — “In our church we are very gracious. We are all sinners too, you know, but God is so wonderful and forgives us. We are just about the most forgiving bunch on the planet.” Paul nailed them on this hogwash and exposed their hearts. Arrogance. Boasting. Disobedience.

Arrogance welcomes and enables evil in our churches. It invites the abuser to stay, and sends the “unforgiving” victim, who is longing for justice, out of the church after hammering her for her “unforgiveness.”  Therefore, I claim that this is the Lord’s word to such boasters:

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Rev 3:15-17)

 

17 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Other forums dealing with the aftermath of psychopathic relationships makes the same point that you do Jeff. Should we forewarn the latest victim about the psychopath? The consensus answer is “No.” Why? Because the evil one has already ingratiated himself or herself to the new target and has already maligned us; so anything we do or say will only backup what they’ve been saying. That we are crazy, hold a grudge, try to ruin all their relationships….the list is endless! You did a post about a young Christian woman who was getting ready to marry a sociopath and you said that she wouldn’t be warned. Some might think this is harsh BUT we remember how it was before God opened OUR eyes. We could NOT SEE the truth and until God allowed us to wake up, it couldn’t be forced on us. Thank you for another great post.

  2. Ng

    It is a difficult issue. How to warn others about a potentially dangerous person/situation? I have done it in the past, only to become target for further abuse. It needs to be done, but how, is the question..
    I’d welcome someone to warn me if I’m entering into a dangerous alliance with someone. I would pray about it, keep my mouth shut, not reveal what was told to me to the subject of those warnings, but make my own observations. Confronting them might only escalate the situation, so the wise thing might be to exit the relationship quietly and guard the privacy of all involved.
    Then again, not everyone has that strength to keep their calm… A person madly in love, or impressed about the new pastor, whatever, might not see objectively, but seek reassurance from the very preson they are warned about….

  3. Tee3

    Many members of my pastor N husband’s church supported him when I left him. He and they told a lot of lies about me to other members. I try not to let it bother me, even though it’s painful. And I keep praying that their lies will be exposed and they will all be publicly shamed.

  4. Sunflower

    Warning others can be an interesting thing, however. When I was engaged to #2, I received several phone calls warning me not to marry him. None of the people had ever met him or knew anything about him. The first one said, “I think you should not marry him because I saw a picture of him and he looks just like #1.” (he doesn’t) The second person said, “I think you should not marry him because I believe that #1 will change just before your wedding and then you will have to break the heart of #2.” (he didn’t) Then came, “You must not marry him because marriage is for life and if you fall back in love with #1, God will kill his new girlfriend and then you can remarry him.” Kind of amusing, but I wonder if God was telling them to warn me, but they felt they needed a reason so they made one up? I don’t know.

    3

    • Lea

      “God will kill his new girlfriend”

      What??? That’s crazy.

      I actually really get why people don’t believe warnings from strangers. They seem intrusive, you don’t know them, so you have no reason to trust them…At least warnings from people you know can be evaluated based on what you know about them.

  5. It is huge arrogance and pride that causes church pastors and members to endorse evil. But they have made a mistake in thinking that victims like myself are inherently weak. We were made weak by years of violence and oppression. We will find our strength again. Then they will find that God is on the side of the oppressed not the oppressors.

  6. Jeff Crippen

    And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
    (1Co 2:3-5)

  7. IamMyBeloved's

    You would think that people would appreciate the warning. In the area of counseling, I was warned that as I counsel people with truth and experience, they will most likely have to find it out for themselves. Sad, but it has proven to be true.

    Sort of puts a damper on the theory that we who have endured so much abuse, have done so to pound down the path for those coming behind us so they don’t have to go through the same horrors and torment we did, and to help educate the people victims come to for help, especially in the Church. We seem to be helping the victims, but educating those who say they desire to help victims remains very disappointing.

  8. Still Reforming

    I’m struggling now with hearing from Christians that I need to love my enemies (abusers, with whom I’m still dealing even in court), but I think that’s a broad generalization. I’m also being told to pray for those who persecute me, and when I am at my lowest and crying saying “I can’t,” I’m told that God just hasn’t bestowed grace upon me to do so. Nothing like being kicked when you’re down.

    • Jeff Crippen

      SR – You are fulfilling these Scriptures. Tell these self-appointed preachers that you are loving your enemies by not taking personal vengeance upon them and that you are praying for your persecutors by asking the Lord to bring His judgment down upon them and wipe them out. Really. That is what God Himself does.

      • Still Reforming

        Thank you, Pastor Jeff.

      • Still Reforming

        Btw, Pastor Jeff, when I replied that I was praying imprecatory psalms against my enemies, I was told that those were only prayed by David against the covenant community and not Israel’s enemies (e.g., the Philistines). I was told that David or other psalmists never prayed against unbelievers the way I had been praying. I don’t quite know how to pray now or if I’m against God in so doing. It made me feel rather empty and hopeless to hear those things

      • Jeff Crippen

        Yep. So typical of knuckleheads like that to lay such nonsense on us. David prays using personal singular pronouns (my, I, etc) not plural “covenant people” ones. We pray the same. Elijah says James, was a man like us and he prayed mightily. Including for judgment on his enemies. Tell these false teachers to go far away, stop twisting Gods Word, and repent.

        You are doing well!

      • SR, maybe you could research the imprecatory psalms and compile two lists:
        a) places where the psalmist prays against covenant people
        b) places where the psalmist prays against non-covenant people

        See what you come up with. I bet it would arm you with a strong rebuttal to the people who told you that *David or other psalmists never prayed against unbelievers the way you had been praying.*

        Your research might even lead to a guest post on this blog. 🙂

    • Hi SR, you might like to check out the twelve posts under our tag “praying for the abuser“. I think you will find them quite clarifying and encouraging. 🙂
      Particularly this one:

      To pray for our abusers… or not? (we don’t need to pray for the sin that leads to death)

  9. Still Reforming

    Thank you, Barbara. I think I’ll do that exercise re: the imprecatories. They have been a great source of encouragement to me as of late. There are so very many of them; I had no idea before I got into it just how very many there are – and it helps me to take comfort in the righteous justice and indignation against evil that our Lord has.

    But then someone began telling me it wasn’t right for the Christian to pray those against our enemies, and that person is now holding up Luke 6:27-34 to me saying that I’m to turn the other cheek when hit, bless those who curse me, etc. It’s taking me right back to those numb days of being a smouldering wick. Perhaps engaging in that exercise will help to shake off this returning sense of despair. Just this morning I read one imprecatory against Doeg the Edomite (an enemy of Israel) – which is Psalm 52. So there’s one.

    Thank you for the encouragement, Barbara. It means so much to me at this particular time.

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