Spiritual Sounding Talk that Has no Content Enables the Wicked and Oppresses the Innocent
I was reading the comments today on a Facebook page of one of our long time readers at ACFJ. She posted some excellent material challenging the church to wake up to domestic abuse in its midst. Then this fellow Michael came along and here is what he said:
There is an all out assault by Satan and his angels upon husbands, wives, and their children in America today. We must rise up in prayer to wage war against it. Realizing we are in a spiritual war against principalities and powers of darkness, and, we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Read the book of Ephesians chapter 6 verses 10-18. Get the full armor on!
Sometimes our greatest weapons against the Devil’s attacks are unconditional love, forgiveness from the heart, & honest intercessory prayers for our perceived enemies. Blessing those who curse us with painful abusive treatment. God is mighty to save all those who practice His principles of war.
How holy these words sound. How pious. How biblical. How wise. Wrong! And I am going to show you why. I suppose we should do what Michael recommends and read the Scripture –
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…. (Eph 6:10-18)
When people like Michael make comments like he did (quoted above) the real harm that is done is in what is NOT said. Michael’s advice would inevitably communicate to the victim of an abuser that her response to the abuse is to be passive. Armor up, then keep letting the darts come. Notice also that he starts off with the not-so-vague premise that what the victim and all of us must do is preserve the marriage and family as the primary goal. That’s the real problem, says Michael. And therefore, he continues, we must all “rise up in prayer.” What does that mean? I can tell you what the abuse victim who earnestly desires to seek the Lord’s will in her life will take it to mean – she is to do nothing but pray.
And then Michael unleashes his big guns that do even more devastating damage. Unconditional love. Forgiveness from the heart (no mention of repentance by the abuser here). Honest intercessory prayer for our perceived enemies — and what are we meant to infer from that word ‘perceived’? It’s pretty clear that Michael would think it’s wrong to perceive an abuser as an enemy. Is there any doubt that Michael is saying: “Hey everyone, you need to get that log out of your eye and stop perceiving that individual as an enemy. A covenant-breaking spouse needs to to be cut some slack by his victim and the rest of us because, after all, “the devil made him do it. … Bless your abuser, victim, and stand back and watch God save his soul.”
This stuff is just plain spew. Oh how wonderful and biblical it sounds. But it is wicked. It is enslaving.
Michael’s advice is christianese with sharp edges under the wrapping. It disallows us seeing an abuser as an enemy. But the reality is, an abuser is a person who is at enmity with the Lord and thus with all Christians. An abuser is covertly or overtly fighting against having to repent, fighting against having to wear the consequences of his or her evildoing, and doggedly refusing to put brakes on himself and do the hard work required to live honourably under the constraints and responsibilities of civil society.
Take another look at the Ephesians passage and as you do, watch carefully for the ACTIVE words. Specifically, notice how often TRUTH is involved in the armor. You see, people like Michael, if pinned down, cannot really even tell you precisely WHAT the armor of the Lord is. “Read Ephesians 6. Put on the armor. Armor up. Stand.” But what does that mean, Michael? Tell us. What is each article of the armor and specifically how is it to be USED? The passivity that Michael foists upon the abuse victim guts this Scripture of the active weaponry to be launched against evil. Yes, pray. But pray for what? Just the salvation of the abuser? What about prayer as in the Psalms? Prayers that ask the Lord to kill the wicked and obliterate their memory from the face of the earth? And Ephesians tells us to extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. These are not merely psychic harpoons from disembodied demons, they are the lies and distortions which abusers (the devil’s agents) love to spread. Yes we must stand. But for what? What about TRUTH — the truth of the Word of God that exposes for all to see the evil tactics being done in darkness by the abuser? That seems to have slipped Michael’s mind.
You blew it Michael. Will you admit it? I doubt it. I wish you would, but I’m not holding my breath. For all the rest of you, breathe easy and realize that Michael’s advice is bogus.
This post was primarily written by Jeff, with a little bit added by Barb.
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Ellie has brilliantly shone the spotlight on how manipulative people intentionally mix up the speck and the log. Read her post here.
Dealing with a spiritual stronghold deals with 2 Cor. 10:4-6, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds…”