A Cry For Justice

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

Wise as Serpents: Calling Evil Good, and Good Evil (Part 18 of sermon series)

There is something in us that can make us very reluctant to call evil for what it is – evil.
I understand this to some extent and so do you. We do not delight in concluding that someone we know, someone perhaps that we have loved and who we thought loved us, is in fact a child of the devil with malevolent intent toward us. No Christian delights in having to make such a conclusion.

Evil parades as righteousness and as a result we are hesitant to grasp the true evil nature of what we are facing.

Here is a great comment by Cindy Burrell:

The unspoken traditional church dogma too often infers that to exercise discernment (spiritual insight) is somehow cruel. The dogma says that since none of us can claim perfection, there is no inherent moral standard we should anticipate or adhere to at all when dealing with any who identify themselves as ‘believers.’ [i.e., “do not judge”] 

“So what if he treats his wive like garbage; he’s a good Bible teacher — and he tithes … Praise the Lord!”

To call out the wicked, to identify the destructive, ungodly fruit that falls from his tree, is deemed gossip or slander or a failure to extend grace. So to accommodate the dogma, the truth must be compromised and the Spirit must be quenched so that wickedness can find a safe place in the body of Christ.

Dear God, what have we done?

Another reader wrote, in response to an article on the cruelty of the wicked man:

As I look back on three decades plus of marriage, this belief (that my husband really didn’t know what he was doing) was what kept me in a horrible situation. Even now (post divorce) I ask myself if he is crazy or deceived by his sin (porn) or … whatever. One friend told me that it isn’t important for me to figure out. I’m out of the marriage. But I AM dealing with the repercussions of my many children who saw me excuse his behavior over and over again. They are very “nice” children with no boundaries.

When I first went to my new pastor (before I separated for the third time) with the same sordid story I had gone to other pastors with, I excused my husband’s behavior by saying, “He had a very detached, awful mother.” My pastor replied, “Well, when my mother got pregnant with me out of wedlock and my dad was forced to marry her, I was beaten over and over throughout my childhood and I didn’t grow up to treat my family the way [your husband] has treated his family!” Hearing truth like that is like getting a good cold cup of water thrown over my head! I’ve stopped feeling a sense of false shame for being so deceived by the schmuck. He’s a very intelligent man who knows how to deceive. Is it deliberate? Yes.

It’s been very healing to be able to say that OUT LOUD but it’s still hard to wrap my mind around!

It’s important for us to be told, again and again, that God loves us and wants us to feel protected and safe. I encourage you to not beat yourself up over feeling anxiety. Don’t call it a “lack of faith”. . . it’s actually your gut telling you that, yes, things are bad. If you’re feeling crazy it’s probably because you’re trying to remain calm and loving in an impossible situation. It is not wrong to be feeling anxious. That feeling is a God-given warning sign. Sometimes it’s hard for one’s mind to comprehend that one’s own husband is the one who has put you in “danger.”

Let me give you one more:

I have a knot in my stomach when he gets home or when I come home and he’s there. He slams doors, walks loudly, sighs and shakes his head whenever I do or say something that he doesn’t like, giggles and shakes his head at me if I get myself a diet drink. He communicates indirectly by leaving newspaper and magazine articles lying around (the last one was a Dear Abby column about a women who didn’t appreciate her husband). If he’ s obviously mad, he’ll deny it if I ask him what’s bothering him. He’s told me that he’s sick of my “princess” attitude; that as long as he doesn’t cheat or beat me, that I have it better than most women; that other women have told him that they wish they had a husband like him; that I’m oversensitive, wrong in my perceptions.

My spirit cringes and pulls away when he comes near me. My youngest son says that he’s evil and wishes he’d go away. Our dog avoids him. Yet everybody else is totally in awe of him.

For years, I thought it was me.

I’m not putting these people down at all. Evil is incredibly deceptive. And furthermore, the so-called churches they grew up in did not equip them. They weren’t prepared to realise, when they started developing that knot in their stomach, to realise what was wrong; and they thought that it was them. Because evil loves to make out that good is really evil — and look what it does! Decades! Your whole life! It can enslave you your whole life.

In any relationship in your life — definitely in marriage — if you get a knot in your stomach when that person is around, something is seriously wrong. 

Doctrinal heresy and ethical heresy

Conservative Christians have been very focused on learning the data of Scripture:– the books of the Bible, the story line of the God’s dealing with Israel, the faith that David had as he faced Goliath, memory verses, etc. We need to learn our doctrine and make sure that the liberals don’t come along and rob us of the true gospel. And that’s true. 

But what I’ve got to thinking about is this: there are a couple of kinds of heresy. There’s doctrinal heresy, which would (for example) deny that Christ’s deity by denying that He is the Son of God. But there’s also another kind of heresy — false teaching — and I would call that ethical heresy.

Think of Ephesians. The first part of the book of Ephesians gives us the doctrine of the Gospel and Christ’s redemptive work for us. Then in chapter four it says therefore brethen, live like this. And that’s the ethics, the application, of loving one another. 

We in the conservative Bible-believing churches have had lots of teaching about defending the word of God against doctrinal heresy;  but we’ve not done well when it comes to ethical heresy. And so these false teachings creep into the church — and people are enslaved by them.

For example, you know when you are with Christ’s true people, Christ’s people love one another, you can experience the love of Christ there. And if someone is claiming to be a christian but you have this knot in your stomach whenever they’re around, and you feel oppressed by them — we haven’t been taught something is very wrong. 

We haven’t been taught adequately about evil and its tactics. Not only have we not been taught adequately, we’ve been taught wrongly. What we’ve been taught is ‘We must be merciful, we must be long-suffering, we must be forgiving, we must be reconciling with one another; this is the Father’s will ‘ ...The same old junk, the same old teaching that enslaves, because no caveats are given, no exceptions allowed. It is ethical heresy if we teach people wrongly and un-biblically about forgiveness and reconciliation but leave out justice, the principle of fleeing from persecution, and the need to be wise as serpents.

The conservative Bible-believing churches are infected like a PLAGUE with ethical heresy. And this is the sad fruit: these decades and decades of sound Christian people who have been enslaved to this stuff.

When I first went into the ministry it was like “Your calling is to preach the gospel and people get saved.” Well, we do like to see people who don’t know Christ, come to Christ and be saved. But it’s almost like there is another kind of salvation. When you teach and preach the true ethics of scripture — when you tell Christians, “True forgiveness does not always include reconciliation of relationship; anger is not always a sin, in fact, you should be angry at times,” — when you begin to preach that, suddenly you start to hear from people who have been in bondage to ethical heresy and are being freed from bondage.

This is a HUGE mission field: helping people who have been traumatised by evil, get free of it.
And largely the mission field is in the local churches.

Evil’s two-edged assault: it maligns Good, and it parades itself as good.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 17:15)

Largely I think Proverbs 17:15 is God’s message to the churches today.

This is the diabolic dynamic that pushes the deceptions of the wicked. It is what drives its craving of secrecy (“keep it secret, keep it safe”). The devil doesn’t come right out in the open as some terrible dragon serpent, but he appears as an angel of light, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a fine Christian and humble servant of the Lord in your church. He and his emissaries effect this deception largely by disguising evil as good, and by maligning good so as to convince us that it is evil.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

See it? EVIL ACTIVELY WORKS TO DECEIVE YOU. To convince you that what is the light of God’s word is really darkness and falsehood. And what is darkness and falsehood is really lightness and truth. It messes with us; and it does so on purpose. One of the characteristics of a wicked person is what we call gaslighting. Evil wants you to doubt your ability to perceive, to make judgements. This tastes bitter to me. But the devil says “Oh no; it’s not bitter, it’s sweet!”

This is a two-edged assault on truth. This is not merely some open, unhidden declaration like “homosexuality is not a sin.” It doesn’t just say, “theft is okay, swindling is not a sin, drunkenness is no big deal” in contradiction of the Bible’s statement that neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor 6:9-10)

No, evil goes much further than that. Evil makes out that these wicked things are good AND that righteousness and good is what is evil! Listen to Paul again:

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:29-32)

Evil makes its two-edged assault on truth by actively maligning righteousness at the same time as calling itself good. This is why Christians get slandered. “No; you’re the trouble. You guys are the ones turning the world upside down! You’re the problem!”

Certainly this was the very reaction of Evil and its allies to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into this world:

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48)

The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” (John 7:20)

Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” (John 10:20)

Evil is maligning the Lord who is the epitome of Righteousness.

It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matt 10:25)

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matt 11:18-19)

But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” (Matt 12:24)

for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:30)

And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” (Mark 3:21-22)

Isn’t that remarkable? Did you ever think about how often evil people called the Son of God evil? If we are going to be wise about evil, we must get a firm hold on this truth. Evil always portrays itself as the good, while it maligns the good as evil. Evil insists that it is right, while insisting that the good is wrong. Expect it. Recognize it when it comes your way.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 17:15)

This is one of the reasons that God hates the sin of slander so much. It is of the devil. It is an essential quality of evil.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Rev 12:10)

The abuser is an accuser, a slanderer. He claims he is never wrong. And he claims that the one who is right, normally his victim, is wrong. Understand?

This wicked strategy was employed right at the start:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:4-5)

The serpent maligned God’s good character.

This is behind the persecution of the righteous by the wicked. If you want to see it in action, just call out evil for what it is and the fangs will come out. YOU will be the evil one and IT will be righteous. How many times we have seen this in our work of exposing evil abusers hiding in churches! Suddenly they are righteous and we are the evil ones.

We have seen it when we have sought to expose sin in various organizations or denominational entities. Suddenly people claim that we are “judgmental” and “guilty of slander for daring to malign these fine servants of the Lord,” while the real evil ones make themselves out to be righteous and godly. Count on it. This is the nature of evil and this is how it always works its wickedness. And if you are not wise in this regard, you will find yourself falsely guilted and shamed and wearing a load of self-condemnation that is unjust.

This deception has been the experience of every prophet or apostle that the Lord has sent to preach truth. They are maligned and made out to be evil while the evil ones utter their lies, calling good evil and evil good. In Ezekiel’s day, the false prophets paraded themselves as preaching “the word of the Lord”:

They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?”
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD. (Eze 13:6-9)

And the false prophets and corrupt clergy maligned Jeremiah:

Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priests [the clergy], nor counsel from the wise [the elders], nor the word from the prophet [the Celebrity Preacher]. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”

Hear me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of my adversaries. Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to famine; give them over to the power of the sword; let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be struck down by the sword in battle. May a cry be heard from their houses, when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them! For they have dug a pit to take me and laid snares for my feet. Yet you, O LORD, know all their plotting to kill me. Forgive not their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from your sight.  Let them be overthrown before you; deal with them in the time of your anger.  (Jeremiah 18:18-23)

Isaiah spoke of it:

As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil; he plans wicked schemes to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right. (Isaiah 32:7)

Did you notice Jeremiah’s prayer regarding these wicked ones? He saw evil for what it truly is and his imprecatory prayer evidences that. “May their men meet death by pestilence …  May a cry be heard from their houses, when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them! ” Destroy them in your wrath, O Lord! This is the just prayer of a righteous servant of God.

Finally, notice how evil calls itself good and maligns the righteous as evil in probably the most evident case to be found in the Bible — at the Cross:

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  

Surely he has borne our grins and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. [Well, he was smitten by God, but for our sin. But what are the bystanders at the cross thinking here? “He’s evil, and God’s getting him because he’s evil.”] 

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12)

Evil calls itself good, and evil makes good out to be evil. Every time. Expect it. Be wise to it. Because as you follow Christ in righteousness, this attack and deception is coming your way.

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Audio and PDF of this sermon here.  Note: In the audio version Jeff gives a long preamble before he starts preaching from the written text above. Also note that the PDF does not contain the part about doctrinal heresy and ethical heresy; Jeff preached that extempore in his sermon.

Instructions for listening to live broadcasts of church services at Christ Reformation Church Tillamook here. In these Sunday posts we publish Jeff’s sermon from the previous Sunday.

Go to Part 19 of this series

A list of the entire series can be found at our Wise as Serpents tab on the top menu.

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33 Comments

  1. Sarah

    I know this site focuses mainly on conservative churches, it is pretty much in every church. Every sermon series is heavy on grace for others, don’t judge others, love everyone. We hardly hear about evil or boundaries with evil. And NEVER about evil in the church

    • Anonymous

      So true in my experience, too, Sarah!

  2. kaycee

    Thank you for this sermon. It waters my spirit because it validates my experience. I’ve seen women leave faith completely because they were married to an abuser. It was their upbringing in church that they started questioning when their marriages went sour. They did not seek help from other believers because of the Evangelical global thinking/understanding that “God hates divorce”, “Extend Grace” “Forgive and Reconcile” and the like. I wonder what God is going to say to the modern day church for chasing away his daughters and their children. I’ve not lost my faith but I feel very uncomfortable with most Christians. I, too, like the comment above:

    It’s been very healing to be able to say that OUT LOUD but it’s still hard to wrap my mind around!

    I am glad that I can say aloud that, “He meant to do his evil, he understood what he was doing and it was deliberate.” But I still can’t wrap my head around it. Post divorce he still acts like nothing is wrong and he is now in a new church–faithfully and is leading Celebrate Recovery. It seems so wrong. I have to drag myself to church and hope not to be triggered. I can’t stand to hear the message of ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved. It is so much more than that. It is giving your WHOLE LIFE to him and doing things his way and not your own way. I wonder how many posers are in the church and especially among the leadership. (My ex was a pastor)

    I’ve been accused of being the evil one because I filed for divorce. I have been the one told that I am keeping God from resurrecting our marriage–as if I could even do that. I do find hope that my children will understand boundaries and know that it is okay and right to say no to evil. I hope that they will be able to discern and see evil clearly. For now, they do not know the whole truth but as they get older I’m hoping they see it. I must say that God has done a great job protecting us.

    Thank you for pursuing truth because it helps this daughter of the King realize that I Cry Out for Justice!

    • bright sunshinin' day

      Yes, Kaycee, our God invites us to “cry out for justice” to Him and He hears and heals the brokenhearted!

    • M&M

      Not only is Malachai 2:16 in the context of God condemning the abuser, but Proverbs 6 also shows us that “God hates abuse” is a much better slogan.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Kaycee
      I don’t trust “Christians” at all. I haven’t found one real believer face to face. Although I hear them here. I don’t see anyone standing up out in the world. In fact I see more and more people fighting for the “rights” of those who do evil and even claiming they love them.

      I will not ever “jump” into a Christian church again and I will not ever exalt a pastor or look to him as my authority in marriage or life. I will listen for the voice of truth. I will listen answers from questions like those at the back of Unholy Charade. I will listen to my gut feelings. I know to pay CLOSE attention to when people put on an emotional show (like they want to be your best friend, counselor, or future spouse immediately or when they talk about God and yet somehow never speak of reality). When people say things that are inappropriate I will not shrug them off and give them grace. I will build boundaries and walk the other way. What is inside people comes out when they talk and do things! I can keep watch now be because I have the truth. The truth that not everyone who says they are Christians actually follow Christ. And not every church has leaders who follow Christ either. Mainstream christianity IMO has become just like the Catholic Church. IMO instead of worshipping priests and Mary they worship themselves and a made up doctrine. I’ve seen them babble in gibberish and say it’s the Holy Spirit speaking. And another be so happy they can “interpret it.” When really the babble was even evil sounding to me.

      I also can’t stand the “ask Jesus into your heart” ” he loves you, he’s just waiting.” “He’s knocking would you open the door?” (*play corny music here/ act out phony emotions and praises here). Some give emotional testimonies. Some preach about being saved from Hell. Even still they don’t stand for the truth! How so?

      I TOLD THEM THE TRUTH and they left me with the WOLF!!! They pretend they have all of this God given authority but for what? To be better than someone crying out for help- to exclaim that their faith is SO great and that mine was not. To berate me with questions instead deal with the one hi did the crime. To yell at me for not submitting (forgive and forget!!) They exercised NO COMMON SENSE. It’s never ok to call names, abuse financially, sexually, emotionally, to threaten her, to physically hurt your wife, etc. Nothing required from x anti h. They came to restore us “gently.” Gently? Really? What a crock. They’re so happy they have him. “A real brother”. X anti h may have lied and lied and lied but the church CHOSE to believe him and shun me. And the second each of the women found out I wasn’t submitting to the abuser and just praying praying praying and expecting a miracle they TURNED on me. I could hear the change in their voice. I saw their heads shaking with contempt. Can’t have that attitude here can we church ladies? We serve a mighty God who heals and restores! Yay for us!

      I’m convinced that people who don’t know Christ HATE my boundaries and will do anything to make sure i don’t keep them. It’s like boundaries are ungodly. Not open and freely giving to others enough. Not Christ like enough.

      Don’t resist evil- let it right in! Make friends with it. Show the evil who Christ is. Yeah! Ummmm no.

      What you said about the kids is exactly what I do and hope for. I want them to know good vs evil clearly. “…It’s ok and it’s right to say no to evil.” Yes, exactly!!!

      “Post divorce he still acts like nothing’s wrong” The x-anti-husband always did this! I think that’s why it made sense that I believed what he said about me was TRUE. I think it was a crazy making tactic.

      Thank you

  3. Freed by God

    This was more helpful to me than almost anything Jeff has written.
    I am a new recruit to that mission field of helping women escape the evil ones who masquarade as godly men. I’ve ministered to women all my life but (until I experienced my own escape) was missing that vital understanding of the root problem.

    I recently heard the statistic that women return to their abusers 6 times before they leave for good and I’m wondering how much higher that statistic is for christian women? Double, perhaps? After all, she has enormous pressure and false guilt from her church leadership and christian counselors who make her feel like her marriage struggles are tied to her lack of faith.

    So, my first small steps into the mission field in my area is to meet the physical needs of the women I encounter and speak the truth as they share their doubts and fears. I would have left my husband 10 years ago if I’d had a safe place to go with my young family. Through my work at the pregnancy centers in my area, I know every state and local resource along with church ministries. What I’ve found is that “middle class” christian women who have not been physically abused or struggled with addiction do not meet the criteria for our local resources.

    However, God is always faithful to bring His people together so that we can help others and, in the past year I’ve met two women whose professing Christian husbands are in jail, a woman who knows her husband is abusive but hasn’t left yet, a pastor and his wife who opened their home to a christian woman only to see her return to her abuser (and end up in a mental ward), a pastors wife who has helped women escape abuse and a number of volunteers at the pregnancy center who have fled abuse (I am the volunteer coordinator there).

    These resourceful and wise people along with the physical resources God has given me (food in the freezer and extra rooms in my house) are already being used by Him to provide a way if escape to women.

    It’s the contemporary equivalent of the Underground Railroad :-(.

    • What a wonderful and encouraging report! Thank you, Freed by God. 🙂

    • standsfortruth

      Yes, Praise the Lord, this is good, and similar to what was done for the some of the Jewish people during the holocaust. I pray for more followers of Christ to be able to similarly “Stand in the Gap” for abuse victims and provide shelter and provisions like this.

  4. M&M

    In reading this post I’m happy to hear that one of the readers found a supportive pastor who sided with the victim. I also feel like this relates to me more than other posts and may relate to more people than most because the subtle oppression that occurs inside the mind includes people who aren’t victims of spousal abuse. For example, I can’t recall anyone telling me to submit to abuse and I even remember Christians telling me not to accept abuse, but I still FELT like mercy verses had more importance to God than justice verses. When there were multiple interpretations of a verse I internalized the one that was harshest toward me. I DEFINITELY remember thinking that my self defensive instincts were “selfish/of the flesh” until years later I looked back and thought “my instincts were right all along!” Whether that was caused by human influence or the devil-I’m thinking both.

    Thankfully we don’t have to know where the flesh ends and the devil begins to fight it with truth. Even the human element of mental oppression isn’t always deliberate — people think that anxiety is sinful because it looks that way in some verses. It looked that way to me!! When Christians talk about persecution in the church I hear stuff like, “God didn’t call us to be safe, He called us to be faithful.” I don’t think the person saying that intends to be unbiblical because there’s plenty of verses that seem to support that statement. However, it needs context. We are supposed to be safe AMONG those who claim to be Christians and the persecution of the church is still an injustice that God will avenge some day. From the time I got free from my (non family) abuser to the time that I got free from the abuse that my mind afflicted upon itself (and/or the devil upon my mind) was many years. It’s hard to measure because it’s a gradual process that isn’t finished yet.

    I was mostly free before finding ACFJ, but I think this blog has added another layer of healing by validating what I already learned. Looking back, I am amazed at how much fear and guilt used to be “normal” and I also remember times when God offered freedom and I didn’t really believe it was Him because I was afraid it was too good to be true. It’s both comforting and depressing to know that this happens to lots of people. I’m not alone, but I can’t give anyone instant freedom. I can only offer encouragement as they struggle for years……

  5. Freed by God

    M&M, I found that supportive pastor after 25 years of seeking out pastors and counselors who gave me really bad counsel and “oversaw” two separations.

    My husband (like a lot of abusive men) changed jobs and moved a lot and God used a move to bring us to our current pastor. He still has a long way to go in understanding the emotional trauma of a woman coming OUT of abuse and still trying to nurture her family, but he saw right through my ex. He is from the South (now in the Northwest) and said, “Southern pastors would have been able to see right through your abuser…what is the matter with these pastors anyway?”

    • M&M

      Wow, that’s a long time to wait 😦 😦 :(.

    • Anonymous

      Yes- The x anti husband also made us move a lot and changed his jobs a lot. Chaos for us. Never consideration for where I would like to have lived/schools/work/safety/etc. It was all about him. Seems he could never stay anywhere for too long at all. I think it’s because his wicked colors would show as his big charming entrance would fade. Can’t keep up the charade that long! Gotta pick somewhere new. Some new folk to deceive. Power power power. Fill him up.

  6. FinallyFree

    I’m so depressed. I had went to my pastor before summer about my ex’s abuse asking for help. He told my ex which subjected me to more abuse. I left the church because I felt betrayed but stayed with this man. I finally got the courage and support to leave and wrote an email to my old pastor about how he hurt me and that maybe next time he should handle things differently when it comes to victims. I have a restraining order against my ex now. Now, they pastor has given the emails between him and I discussing the abuse I endured and my ex is trying to say I’m harassing him. How can a pastor do this? This church has a lot of $ and I’m told, “I need to watch who I’m messing with”. Is there anything I can do?

    • M&M

      FinallyFree, it’s deeply upsetting and potentially dangerous that a pastor knowingly supported the abuser by showing him your emails. Whether your area has any laws against it, I don’t know……whether your denomination has a chain of command that would care, I don’t know……but if you web search “free legal aid” and the name of your city you might find a place where you can ask legal questions. Depression is a normal reaction to such injustice and I can’t stand that a pastor would do such a thing. You were so brave to ask for help!!

    • standsfortruth

      Finally free, I just want you to know that a similar “E-mail breech of Trust” was done to me with my ex-abuser and my ex-pastor.
      The difference being that my ex-abuser was stalking my emails for some time without my knowledge. ( he figured out a way to receive copies of all my emails .)
      And because at the time I was rebelling against any of his further abuse, (as my eyes had been opened) I was actively setting boundaries to protect myself, my abuser decided to punish me by secretly sending my pastor a few of my private E-mails that I had written to a church friend, where I was talking about a certain church practice that was NOT supported by God’s word, and very questionable.

      So as you can guess once he received those emails from my abuser, I was not well received at church after that, as the pastor put out a shun memo to the women telling them to avoid me.
      Then the pastor called me later the next day to basically tell me he received my emails through a private source, and ask me not to come back.
      When I confronted him about the way he got my emails, and told him that “HE was being played as a pawn in my husband’s game,” he refused to acknowledge that.
      So I realized that abusers and pastors often time” work together” against the target spouse to further their agenda.
      Whatever that is.
      Im sure the pastor was happy to see this as an opportunity to get rid of me, since I refused to do couples counseling, or reconcile with my abuser as he had been telling me to do. But I refused to comply.

    • Anonymous

      You were seeking help from a pastor not harassing your husband.
      IMO the only effective thing I know to do is cut contact with the church and the ex. That pastor is his ally. The ex is playing the victim and the pastor is giving him information you shared confidentially about the EX’s abuse which made things more dangerous for you.

      That last comment is either a threat or a warning. I believe you could report this and the situation details at the police station. At the least it will be documented with them.

      This sounds identical to what I went through and am going through. It’s disgusting and wicked and painful and wrong!

      • M&M

        I agree about getting it documented because even if this one instance doesn’t result in a case, a collection of multiple documented instances may add up to strong evidence. So sad that you have to deal with this at all!!

    • Hi FinallyFree
      do the terms of the Restraining Order against your ex require that he NOT use other people to harrass you? If they do, I encourage you to report this to the police as there may be a case that your ex has breached the order and they can charge him accordingly.

      Another thing you might want to find out from the police or a women’s centre (one that specialises in supporting victims of domestic abuse) is this: Does that pastor’s conduct give you grounds for applying for a Restraining Order against the pastor?

      • FinallyFree

        Barbara,
        How would I be able to get a restraining order against the pastor? What would be grounds? Because he has put my life in danger by turning over my emails?

      • I don’t know what grounds are listed in the Restraining Order legislation in your state. That’s why I suggested you ask your local services. Each state has its own legislation. And at ACFJ we are not experts in all that.

      • FinallyFree

        This is what I found

        [source and title of legislation removed by Eds, to protect commenter's location from being identified ]

        No clergyman, priest, rabbi or minister of the gospel of any regularly established church or religious organization, except clergymen or ministers, who are self-ordained or who are members of religious organizations in which members other than the leader thereof are deemed clergymen or ministers, who while in the course of his duties has acquired information from any person secretly and in confidence shall be compelled, or allowed without consent of such person, to disclose that information in any legal proceeding, trial or investigation before any government unit.

      • I”m not sure that is quite the info you are looking for. It allows ministers to refuse to disclose confidential material to a court, a or a government investigation.

        What you need to look for is the grounds or reasons why someone in your state can apply for/ obtain a Restraining Order. Your police and or your Womens Centre and or your Community Legal Centre would be the places I would ask for that info.

      • FinallyFree

        Placing another in reasonable fear of immediate serious bodily injury;

      • FinallyFree

        What I was addressing in my last post is that the pastor is helping my ex in a legal proceeding to try to have the Restraining Order dropped.

      • Hi Finally Free,

        I get what you’ve said.

        I had to edit your comments a bit to protect you ID. Please look at your recent comments on this thread to see how I edited them.

        And like I said before, we are not legal experts on this blog. So I think you need to talk with people who are more au fait with the law in your area.

      • FinallyFree

        It states that he is not to harass me or try to contact me by third party. But I don’t understand what you’re saying. How would the pastor be harassing me? Could you explain?

      • Your pastor passed on to your H information that you had given the pastor in confidence.

        Your H then used that information to harass you.

        So, the law might deem that your pastor has harassed you indirectly by passing on info to your husband when (a) the pastor knew that you had a restraining order against your husband, and (b) your pastor should have known it was LIKELY that your husband would use that info as a means to further abuse you.

        Does that make sense now?

    • standsfortruth

      I agree, it seems to me that the pastor is now aware that he might have crossed a legal boundry with you by sharing your emails that were shared with him in confidence .
      His behavior looks like he is being preemptive by trying to threaten you, because he may know that you could have grounds to file a police report.
      It may be worth your while to talk to a police officer about the incident to see about that too.

    • Anonymous

      Hi finally free,

      [Ed’s caveat added: We need to remind readers that none of us at this blog are qualified to give legal advice… Anonymous is reporting what she knows from her experience, but is not giving legal advice]

      You may report this to the police and ask that 3rd parties are included in a no contact order. You may contact the District Attorney or Assistant District Attorney in your area and quickly tell them what’s going on since the restraining order against the ex. (For example: That you are unsafe because of a, b and c and that you would need a “no contact” added to the restraining order including no contact from 3rd parties for your health, safety and protection)

      There is no telling how these people will respond to your requests but you have the right to report such things and ask for help.

      As far as stopping this pastor from giving the ex your emails etc I think you would need to contact an attorney or a legal aid agency who have attorneys. What that pastor is doing is absolutey wrong and unsafe. However I’m not sure anyone can stop people from doing this. It’s disgusting. Many pastors act like counselors and leaders and then they turn and also act like walking tabloid papers too. IMO there would be no reason to talk about other people if they were talking about the truth.

      As I see it now I wouldn’t have to tell even a spouse a specific detail about anyone else as long as I was fighting for the truth. Does that makes sense?

      Side note and example about boundaries that I’ve been thinking about:

      it’s pretty clear to me that those who don’t respect boundaries, even if they are the nicest and most generous do-gooders out there, are not as innocent as they seem. I recently had an experience where I was at an appointment and my children were all doing an activity in a common area (safe and in view of 2 workers there). Unbeknownst to me a patient came in and was playing very closely with all of my children. Hello! I thought at first perhaps this person was a worker also. Nope. And as I was leaving this person got praised for being so kind and good.

      WHAT on earth? THIS is what’s going on in the fake Christian world as I see it. Everyone is the mommy, the best friend, the counselor, the dr, the expert, the Holy Spirit, everyone is everything. Really I think everyone thinks they are god. Seriously- You are a stranger. Quit trying to be god yourself. Would you want your children talking to and climbing up on a complete stranger? Uh no. Yeah so don’t do it to someone else’s just because you’re such a good Christian. Give me a break. Do to others what you would want them to do to you and IMO that means LIVE IN REALITY first. Not some fantasy Christian world where beyond is so good and evil just doesn’t exist except for that persistent enemy who controls people like puppets to no fault of their own and where evil doers are victims and real victims are just faithless troublemakers.

      Now if I were to have to go back again I would bring another adult. If I couldn’t then I would inform the workers to instruct other patients during the appointment time and at the parent’s request not to interact with the children waiting. There is a way to respect and be kind to children without acting like you’re santa and while not overly engaging with them. Common sense people. A simple smile once or twice is kind enough. You’re not there to babysit so DON’T PRETEND like you are.

      We are NOT Jesus but Christians are acting like they are. We are NOT little Christs. Likewise the same for church “leaders” and members etc etc. This is really crazy to me. We ARE NOT GOD! Be REAL.

      And lastly I don’t remember Paul or Peter or John or Mary or Elizabeth as it was recorded talking or living that way either. But it’s offensive for people to say that. Hmmm wonder why?!

      • FinallyFree

        My order does include no third party contact

      • Anonymous

        Hi finally free

        I’m sorry it seems I may have misunderstood you. I’m confused. I thought you were concerned about the emails being exchanged and your safety and about the 3rd parties contacting you like the threat you mentioned. I see now that your concern is about the restraining order being dropped and the pastor assisting him in that by having given him your emails. Is that right?

        I don’t think x can drop it without you saying so. That’s my opinion. I don’t know for sure. The judge found reason to issue one in the first place.

        However I do know they expire in some states in the U.S. That is awful in my opinion. Maybe yours is expiring or maybe a court appearance for the x is coming up?

        I believe and have seen where a victim talking with the police, district attorney and even judge where it was issued asap may possibly get their voice heard to keep or renew the order. I know a case where the appointed officials were helpful after hearing from the victim because they knew where the victim stood. However again in states I know of in the U.S. they do expire. This is a big issue I think!

        A lawyer in your area would know best. Some people have said some lawyers do work for free. And some people even get an appt for a consultation and ask all their pressing questions then. (Regardless of whether or not they hire them.).

        I’m hope I’m not giving legal advice because I’m not a lawyer but I do want to help you with some suggestions of possibilities and experience.

        Hi Barbara, was that advice free or no? I want to respect the rules here. Thank you.

      • HI Anonymous, that was fine, because you gave the caveat that you were not giving legal advice. You made it clear you were only speaking from your personal knowledge and observation. 🙂

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