A Cry For Justice

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

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.

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This post was primarily written by Jeff, with a little bit added by Barb.

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Further Reading

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…”

 

17 Comments

  1. Traddy

    How about all the people who won’t do a thing to help another but they will always “pray for you”…

    • Yeah, they are self-seeking. They want to remain in their comfort zone rather than actually get involved in helping victims of abuse.

  2. Sara

    What I find disturbing with comments like this is how in the church forgiveness always goes hand-n-hand with reconciliation. People don’t consider it true forgiveness unless they see the relationship reconciled–but this isn’t truth at all. Second, whose definition of unconditional love are they using. I loved my abuser unconditionally, all the while, he continued to abuse me. There was no love being reciprocated. The horrifying thing is that my ex-husband has everyone in the church believing that he has been the loving spiritual leader of our family and I wrecked the family when I filled for divorce– oh yeah, because I wouldn’t forgive him. Lastly, I prayed everyday and I did a multitude of Bible studies to no avail. It felt like God was silent to me for over 2 decades.

    Now that I am free from the constant abuse, I no longer feel like God hates me. Today, I finally I love myself, my life, and my God.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Sara – Exactly right. Excellent! I am thinking about writing a blog post with this title – There is no Such Thing as Unconditional Love. The thing is fiction. God’s love for His people, while set upon them while we were still in our sins, nevertheless has conditions. Fortunately, not in us but in Christ. God could not and would not forgive us without those conditions being met by Christ in His obedience to the Law and His death on the cross. This “unconditional love” that is pushed on us so often is not love at all. To tell someone, even one of our own children, “I will love you and maintain relationship with you no matter what you do” is not love. It is something else, and it is not good.

      • bright sunshinin' day

        Please do write the post entitled, “There is no Such Thing as Unconditional Love.”

        God’s love has conditions – it is ALL over the pages of Scripture. No one ever could measure up to His holiness, but, as you said, “God could not and would not forgive us without those conditions being met by Christ in His [perfect] obedience to the Law and His death on the cross.”

        This felt awesome to type because it is the Truth and the Truth is what sets captives free! Breathing deeply knowing what Christ has done for me and His children.

      • healinginhim

        Thank you for this post. Yes, Jeff, please write a post concerning “unconditional love” as I am being blasted with this while my adult children speak double talk and are very much a part of the cycle of abuse.
        I’m feeling very, very guilty for not wanting to even connect with them or other extended family as I am being made to look like the goat … the one who won’t visit family and take abusive words because after all “that’s just the way it is, sis.” etc etc.

        My dilemma? The little grandchildren are too young to yet know the true dynamics and are being used as bait. (sigh)… I want to see my little grandchildren but just don’t want my children and their spouses abusing me. 😦 Meanwhile, the man I married is content to live here and totally ignore me knowing that “the church” claims that all should remain as is since I the Christian must be ‘content to live with the unbeliever under such circumstances.’

        I must sound like dripping water as I’ve posted about this for soooo long. I want to move on but circumstances so far just don’t allow it. Thank you for praying and caring.

        I continue to pray for this ministry and others who ‘get it’ and for the many victims that the Lord loves.

      • Hi Healinginhim
        Here are a couple of posts you may find helpful:

        Love covers a multitude of sins, but not all.

        Love believes all things

      • Avid Reader

        We’re all hoping that you’ll have the time to write that blog post. That sounds fascinating.

      • healinginhim

        Barbara – Thank you for the links to “Love covers a multitude of sins, but not all” &
        “Love believes all things”.
        I appreciate the comments acknowledging that many victims are told that they must forgive because the abuser can’t help it due to their ‘mental state’. I can certainly relate to this.

  3. bright sunshinin' day

    THIS:
    “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?”

    Truth from the Psalm 7:

    “O Lord my God, in You I put my trust;
    Save me from all those who persecute me;
    and deliver me,
    lest they tear me like a lion,
    rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver…
    Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
    but establish the just…
    God is a just judge,
    and GOD IS ANGRY with the wicked every day.
    If he does not turn back [REPENT],
    He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready,
    He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
    He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.”

    Go God! Go get them IF he does not turn back, i.e. repent.

  4. Karen

    Thank-you for this post Jeff and Barbara. Your timing is perfect.

    Recently had a conversation with our local Baptist church board president. His wife is a charismatic and self proclaimed prophetess, receiving so called words of knowledge from the lord. During our brief conversation, he stated “It is satan who destroys relationships.” And well, I would have to agree with that statement. But here is where I choose to differ. While I was active in that church for over ten years, I heard that statement constantly, from the charismatic/Pentecostal leadership to those who were brainwashed in the pews. This is where I choose to differ, married to an abusive husband for over 30 years, I shared my heart with this elected church official stating, “Yes, I have heard that for years and years, and yes, I believe satan uses people quite well to do his evil work. However, I am sick and tired of charismatics/Pentecostals, or whoever, constantly blaming satan for the evil work they do, never taking any personal responsibility for their actions/behavior. These people never acknowledge the sins they are doing against others, nor do they repent with a godly sorrow. Then they turn around and blame others for their sins because they believe they are above God’s Righteousness.” The president’s response at the end of the phone line – resounding silence.

    What I find so amazing within these types of churches, is how these charismatic/Pentecostal types claim to be so in tune with a holy spirit in pointing out our sins to correct and discipline, and yet the sin in their own lives is often far greater than those they are chastising. A type of god’s police force at work.

  5. Sarah

    THIS

  6. KayE

    This thinking is common in charismatic/pentecostal churches. Everything bad that a professing Christian does is believed to be caused by evil spiritual forces, not by their own conscious choice. The belief is that a victim can overcome these evil spiritual forces if only they have enough faith and spend enough time praying.
    But to defeat an enemy it’s necessary to see where the attack is really coming from, and in the case of an abuser it is coming from the abuser themselves.
    A lot of people don’t get that.

  7. Lilly

    It is this teaching from Michael that made me stay in my marriage for 23 extra years. A lifetime… the emotional pain unbearable. The physical illnesses in my body due to the emotional pain astronomical. The guilt for not measuring up as a woman of God. My prayers, my words, my godly living was just never enough…my then husband always found a way out…an excuse why he could not stop and turn to God for help…he himself professed to be a God fearing man… but the 1 Cor 13 “teaching” on love that covers all and endures all together with the above “teaching” killed me on the inside and crippled my relationship with my heavenly Father. I became solely responsible for my marriage. His behaviour became my responsibility. The truth had to be covered because what he did was actually the result of principalities…he became the victim…I was effectively silenced for 23 years through half truths and false teachings – christian cliches.

    your website opened my eyes for what was really happening in my life. I thank God for His faithfulness in my life. He continue to reveal religion vs His truth…and it is there in His Word when we choose to deal with the idols in our hearts…so Michael your words sound wonderful to a desperate woman of God who’s husband chooses to continue and arrogantly live a sinful life because she knows and understand the power of the cross of Jesus…BUT the husband must CHOOSE!!!! You see I had to accept the painful TRUTH that God will not ignore my husband’s free will and right to choose.

    God answered all my prayers. He sent people, allowed circumstances and performed miracles when I cried out to Him to save my husband, but my husband chose not to submit and accept the life that God offers. It is an amazing Godly experience to live in truth, no more lies, no cover-ups, to freely worship in TRUTH.

  8. stayingalive

    The Christianese has to be the worst thing about going through an abusive marriage. I can’t stomach phrases like, “Just focus on the positive”, “Declare words of life into your marriage”, and the worst one of all, “You are believing a lie about your marriage”. And then there are people who tell you that your just need to learn to trust your abuser again. Ugh.

  9. IamMyBeloved's

    This post is excellent and one we need to hear over and over again, especially in light of the fact that Michael’s exist all over the place.

    Truths of God run deep and it seems that you, Ps Jeff find the details that put warring against evil in the light God desires it to be put in and taught.

    Thanks for this-

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