A Cry For Justice

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

The Apostle John Provides us a Model of How to Address an Abuser in Church

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1:9-10)

You all know how it goes. We see wickedness in our church. Somehow it is brought to our attention. Here is this church member who puts himself off as a fine, holy saint, but is guilty of living a double life. He is a fraud. A hypocrite. Domestic abusers often come under these headings. So, perhaps we are one of the few who see the evil. What do we do about it?

Diotrephes is a prime example. Here was a professing Christian who, because of his lust for self-worship and acclaim, put himself first and even rejected Apostolic authority. Anyone he viewed as competition he jealously rejected or put out of the church.

diotrephes-its-all-about-me

 

Today we are told to be quiet. To not bring it up. To never speak against a brother and that if we do so, we are guilty of gossip or slander. We are told not to judge. You know the same old schtick.

What did the Apostle John do?

Did he write this ? —

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. I’m not going to bring this up when I come because we mustn’t judge anyone and we must forgive our brother if he sins against us. I intend to preach in general terms about the need for Christians to be humble and put others before themselves. Please join in prayer with me so this message will be heard, in Jesus name. Amen. 

No. John wrote and said what he was intending to do. “I will bring up what Diotrephes is doing.”  And John means right in front of the whole church!

So what happens typically today? It comes to the attention of the church leaders that one of their own is a two-faced hypocrite who is seen as the most holy man on Sunday in the church setting, but in fact is a domestic tyrant abuser at home. What happens? For some reason completely unknown to me, the first efforts are not to seek justice and protection for the victim, but to protect the reputation (a false one mind you) of the wicked one! All is hushed. “We must keep this thing quiet. We must protect reputations you know.”

When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1Cor 5:4-5)

Right out there! In the open. For all to see. He’s a fake Christian and his evildoing is so heinous — and so harmful to the church — that you get must get rid of him without delay.

diotrephes-means-nourished-by-jupiter

And isn’t that how it has always been from Genesis to Revelation when it comes to dealing with the wicked — especially those who pretend to belong to Christ and creep in among us?

If someone is caught kidnapping a fellow Israelite and treating or selling them as a slave, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deut 24:7 NIV)

It is long past time for the church to become concerned with the reputation of the Lord instead of the reputation of the wicked one.

***

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Related posts:

“Never Say Anything Critical of One of Your Own” — Wrong!

Attitudes that Promote Abuse in the Church: Major System Flush Needed

Blessings and Woes from the Politically and Spiritually Incorrect Lord Jesus Christ, and Naming Names

16 Comments

  1. healinginhim

    Once again a very encouraging post of exhortation straight from the Word. The battle I am up against and is why I finally had to leave the local church scene is because I feel I am not being heard because I am ‘a woman.’ Even if I were to share this post I would probably be reminded that this is John, ‘a man’ speaking.
    I totally acknowledge and believe that a woman is not to preach and teach from the pulpit, however, the silencing of ‘certain female voices’ within the church is very disheartening. Some women are allowed to be very opinionated while others are berated to stand by our man even if he no longer wants to be ‘our man/husband’.
    These churched people love to have women like us in the congregation but then turn on us and do us great harm. 😦

  2. Tess

    Its a massive shock to learn that someone you loved and trusted within your church is in fact two faced…..showing a v spiritual face to the leadership and a different controlling and abusive face to you…..one grieves for the loss of the person you thought was your friend. …when this happens for the first time, it is shocking and traumatic.

  3. I have to conclude that a lot of church leaders and members are fake Christians too. They actually like abusers because they are just the same as themselves. That’s why, in my experience, they didn’t exclude the abuser, they excluded me. And then, in spite of all the noise they like to make about the “sanctity” of marriage, those same people encouraged my ex into a new relationship and gathered from far and wide to celebrate his marriage to a new victim, before the divorce was even settled.

    • I have to conclude that a lot of church leaders and members are fake Christians too. They actually like abusers because they are just the same as themselves. That’s why, in my experience, they didn’t exclude the abuser,

      I agree KayE. These people instinctively know their own kind.. They connect with them and become a reinforcement against the innocent to further the abuser’s cause.
      This is one reason I won’t return to the church at its present state.
      If they choose to be blind to something as horrific as abuse, how much more are they willfully blind to?

      • Yes,I’m pretty sure they’re blind to a lot of things.It’s frightening.

  4. The pattern of the “root of bitterness”–it’s all through Scripture, and here it is again. The person who exalts himself and exerts control, causing trouble, with the potential of “defiling many” if he isn’t dealt with wisely. Great example and observations.

  5. Anonymous

    Yep, “it’s all about me.” That is the mindset of the abuser. I watch my ex abuser use the Cross of Christ to exalt himself. Such a momentous task requires a daily routine for keeping his evil deeds from being exposed to the light. I see clearly now after a lifetime of duping, deceiving and conning people, he is now self-deceived and will stop at nothing to hide behind his mask. Where is there help and hope for such a man…

    Matthew 18. Tell it to the whole church if he refuses to listen when confronted by one or two men. Expose him! That is the help he needs.

    Abusers pretend to love, serve and follow Jesus but clearly they are serving their own appetites. And these do-nothing churches who allow these predator wolves in their pews and pulpits should also be exposed. Pastors and elders placed in positions of authority shoulder the sobering responsibility for protecting the sheep and keeping pure the church.

    Experience has taught me, and literally shown me, church leaders who turn their heads to evil thereby CHOOSING to do nothing, and giving a warm hug and a handshake to the abuser, dismissing and ignoring the cries of the victim, they themselves are perhaps abusers but at the very least, they are cowards and will answer to God Almighty.

    Apostle John nailed it!!

  6. StandsWithAFist

    …become concerned with the reputation of the Lord instead of the reputation of the wicked one.

    My abuser is my elderly mother-in-law. For years she has publicly played the “Christian Betty White” role, while behind the scenes she is abusive, smearing me & my children, assassinating my character, & buying allies (the Bible calls them whores) with promises of monetary inheritance while charming all with her life of lies.

    She loves to guilt-trip by asking; “How long do you think you will have your mother around?”

    My response to her is, “How long do you think God will give you to repent?”

    Thus I am unconcerned about her reputation as a wicked liar. I doubt I will attend her funeral b/c I will not give honor to a fool.

    • I like your response to her guilt-tripping question, SWAF! 🙂

    • StandsWithAFist – Oh, how I can relate to your testimony. Thank you for sharing as so often the church makes someone like me feel guilty for hinting that my in-laws could possibly be not as pure as they would have them believe. I was and continue to be guilted by adult children for finally defending myself against the in-laws since the man I married refused to do so after making such promises.
      So much crazy-making and I guess I’ve learned a lesson. I should have revealed ‘the sins’ much sooner instead of protecting ‘the reputation’ of those whom I had wanted to love and serve but in the end only meant me harm.
      This same guilt-trip has also been played out by my siblings. Thankfully, we live miles apart so I have a reprieve of sorts.
      The goodness that has come out of my testimony is that it drove me deeper into His Word and a greater desire to search out true Biblical counsel and teaching. The Lord allowed years of anguish to show me the wickedness of professing Christians. Only the Lord knows why He allowed years to pass before allowing me to discover, finally, ACFJ blog and through them other like-minded ministries that reach out to the oppressed. I prayerfully share with those who have ears to hear what I have learned.
      As for “repentance” – wow, whenever I have used that term with ‘family’ the silent treatment or chastising of me being judgmental comes out quite forcefully.

      • StandsWithAFist

        HealinginHim: I am always so grieved to hear stories like yours, yet I am also oddly encouraged as the fog lifts and we begin to see—-and to think—clearly, and am so grateful for ACFJ in the process.
        I read somewhere that is is not uncommon to hear that it often takes 40 years for someone like us to recognize the abuse and begin to push back on it and expose it and to seek truth, not platitudes. It took me nearly that long to find my voice and the truth.
        As for the “silent treatment” and the guilt-tripping judgement, I began to savor the silence—at least I don’t have to listen to more nonsense!! The silence hurts but it’s also freeing: no more having to listen to guilt-tripping drivel.

        Just this very week a judgemental relative hung up on me when she had mistakenly dialed my cell phone—she could’ve said, “oh silly me! I meant to call xxxxxx, but since you answered, It’s nice to hear your voice!” Noooooo!!
        She abruptly hung up, without apology, and all I could picture was her running to tell all the other Diotrephes about it.
        Good riddance to those wolves!
        I’ll take sanity & silence over lies & abuse any day of the week & twice on Sunday!!

      • Thank you for your encouragement, StandsWithAFist.
        Interesting to hear that it takes 40 years for some of us to recognize the life of abuse. The years slip by so quickly before we realize we are “in the fog” and especially when Scriptures are twisted to bind you.
        I’ve had experiences like the phone call incident you described. A close relative’s child “accidentally” pressed a Facetime icon. Instead of allowing me the pleasure of seeing this child … a quick text message was sent concerning the error … they made light of this “accident”. This has happened twice with the same message of apologizing for the error. (sigh)
        Meanwhile, I hate assume but am fairly certain that this particular family does Facetime with the man I married when I am not in the house. After all, he is always welcome to visit with them for as long as he desires.

  7. Finding Answers

    Pastor Jeff wrote “……Anyone he viewed as competition he jealously rejected or put out of the church family.”

    Siblings viewing siblings as competition act in the same fashion. (“Church” changed to “family” by me.)

    The competition is isolated from the circle. (Church or family.)

    “Church”, “family”, or “church family”……..the dynamics are often interchangeable.

    • Jamie

      In my own situation I have struggled so much with isolation issues.

      There is a post from Jeff Crippen about isolation that contains lots of helpful information. That one is here at ACFJ; I will put the link below.

      In the post he mentions several reasons why isolation is so prevalent in abusive relationships, including the kinds you mentioned today. He says:

      1) Abusers, as we know, work to isolate their victim so that they can control them more easily. An abuser frequently moves his victim and family far away from her family and friends, distancing her from her most natural allies.
      2) Abusers often work to sabotage his victim’s work environment or career path. Success in the workplace is a threat to his control.
      3) Abusers alienate the victim’s friends and associates and relatives by telling them lies about her.
      4) The church, yes, even her church…the place where she should find the warmest fellowship and support ostracizes and abandons her when she leaves the abuser or even reports the abuse.

      You may have read this post before, but I didn’t see where you’d commented on it. You can find it here: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/07/20/the-loneliness-of-the-abuse-victim/

      I also very much understand some of the distorting of the sibling relationships you mention in many of your posts. I am so sorry you have experienced this. 😦

      In my experience, there is no peace when siblings are pitted against each other in this way…as competition. For people who want peace, it is so hard. I think in many ways this dynamic functions like abusers do…keeping us in constant chaos, unable to get our bearings so we cannot process what is really happening. I stopped short of saying that the siblings function as abusers because I think the dynamic itself can be setup by the parents or inflicted by the siblings or even from other outside sources.

      I’ve found this passage of scripture particularly applicable to this. It is incredibly encouraging to me. ❤

      Psalm 120: 6-7 & Psalm 121

      My soul has dwelt too long
      With one who hates peace.
      I am for peace;
      But when I speak, they are for war.

      Psalm 121

      I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
      From whence comes my help?
      My help comes from the Lord,
      Who made heaven and earth.

      He will not allow your foot to be moved;
      He who keeps you will not slumber.
      Behold, He who keeps Israel
      Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

      The Lord is your keeper;
      The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
      The sun shall not strike you by day,
      Nor the moon by night.

      The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
      He shall preserve your soul.
      The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
      From this time forth, and even forevermore.

      • Jamie

        By the way, I also feel I need to say that my comments (above) about peace are not meant to ignore another huge aspect and that is war.

        I have realized more and more how essential it is that we each prepare in this way. As much as I desired peace within my family of origin, that part is over…or it is suspended until the Lord intervenes. As Christians, we really do need to be preparing for war. There is a time for both of those and I am so grateful we are instructed that way from scripture.

        With that in mind, I want to recommend a few other posts here as well:

        All who are intent on doing evil will be cut off (Isaiah 29)
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2017/07/31/all-who-are-intent-on-doing-evil-will-be-cut-off-isaiah-29/
        The Art of War
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/02/12/the-art-of-war-by-a-new-free-life/
        Warrior
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/11/30/warrior/
        Standing Against Abuse Requires the Making of Enemies
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2017/04/03/standing-against-abuse-requires-the-making-of-enemies/

        A lot of us are so familiar with the passage from Ecclesiastes 3, that I think it sometimes gets overlooked as to its depth. How wonderful that the passage ends with peace! …since that is how all of this struggle will end, perfect peace.

        Ecclesiastes 3

        To everything there is a season,
        A time for every purpose under heaven:

        A time to be born,
        And a time to die;
        A time to plant,
        And a time to pluck what is planted;

        A time to kill,
        And a time to heal;
        A time to break down,
        And a time to build up;

        A time to weep,
        And a time to laugh;
        A time to mourn,
        And a time to dance;

        A time to cast away stones,
        And a time to gather stones;
        A time to embrace,
        And a time to refrain from embracing;

        A time to gain,
        And a time to lose;
        A time to keep,
        And a time to throw away;

        A time to tear,
        And a time to sew;
        A time to keep silence,
        And a time to speak;

        A time to love,
        And a time to hate;
        A time of war,
        And a time of peace.

  8. Finding Answers

    Jamie commented There is a post from Jeff Crippen about isolation that contains lots of helpful information.

    I did, indeed, read the post and add a comment. I have spent some time with the ideas generated assembling themselves in the back of my mind.

    I am two people, but not in the dissociated sense.

    I am predominantly a loner by nature, preferring my interactions with people to be one-on-one, face-to-face. One-on-one, I can dedicate my attention, not be distracted by interruptions. I can follow the conversation, participate, and engage.

    In smaller doses, I can be a “public” person, like being on stage, though not acting a role. The classes I taught were small, with many chances for individual instruction. I cannot live the life of the “public” person, though I have tried to do so in the past, both personally and professionally.

    I have realized part of the reason for frequent dissociation / fragmenting of specific emotions was not due solely to spending a lifetime living in abusive relationships, nor due solely to having a nearly fatal illness as an infant.

    I am far more sensitive than I realized / accepted. Too much multi-sensory information becomes overwhelming. I watch people playing on their cell phones while riding city transit. I cannot do that without dissociating / fragmenting the specific emotions.

    I am a behind-the-scenes jack-of-all-trades. Sometimes the learning curve is steep, but the freedom is one I relish. I can follow thoughts, research, and learning uninterrupted. I learn step-by-step, building on basics. The thoughts and research intermingle, depending on what is needed.

    So thank you, Jamie, for suggesting Pastor Jeff’s post. I discovered more than I expected – far more on the positive side of the balance sheet.

    The Psalms quoted were bang on for what I needed. (I have read some of the other posts listed, though not all….)

    I am becoming who God created me to be….

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