A Cry For Justice

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

How Can We be so Clueless About Evil?

The following was written by our reader Kind of Anonymous and is excellent.

I am realizing just how prevalent this is. And wondering why. How could we have gotten so far away into a far country that, speaking of the badly corrupted church, we have barely a recollection of what our Father’s country is like, and live like citizens of this world? Many years ago, there was a lay minister, and I use that term loosely, who got himself into a position of leadership in our church during a change of pastors. He quickly ingratiated himself to the new pastor and began doing ‘deliverance’ ministry and counselling.

Fast forward to half a year later and he was up on charges of gross sexual misconduct. He was using people’s desire to receive help and church teaching on trusting leadership, submitting to authority and stepping out in faith, to lead them into sin and error. If that wasn’t bad enough, he had been in this church for over twenty years and had a history of sexual misconduct which enough people knew about. No one said anything, or if anyone did, they were obviously brushed off as being judgmental and unforgiving. When the charges broke, he lied and used many devious tricks to avoid being confronted. The only restrictions put on him, when he got out of prison, and still largely unrepentant I am told, were that he could not teach or prophesy or have anything to do with the women of the church. He did not have to leave and he was not offered any real corrective help or ministry. His victims had to attend church with him or leave. The church did not offer to help his victims, and did not even admit their responsibility in the matter. I’ve seen this same refusals to follow scripture in an immorality case, in this same denomination, in another church.

What’s up with this, though? Are we all under some kind of collective mesmerization? I have found myself repeatedly led astray by a combination of my own desires and of allowing myself to listen to other people’s words but deny the meaning of their actions, or allow myself to be talked out of abiding by scripture even by a pastor — twice! How could I be so clueless as to not realize that anyone who doesn’t honor what God’s word has to say on anything, lacks humility and is not what they appear? Why do we keep on doing such foolish things, acting like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football? I know the Bible says the whole world lies in the embrace of the evil one.

CS Lewis referred to it as that anaesthetic fog: ‘What will all that chatter and hearsay count when the anaesthetic fog we call the real world fades away and the divine presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate and unavoidable?’

Yet what is truly disturbing is that the whole church seems also to lie in that same embrace; perhaps it is end time delusion, perhaps something else, but I would sure like to know how we wound up at this present low estate and how to get out of this while there is still time.

***

This was written as a comment in response to our own post Abusers Often Betray their Disguise. We are posting it here as a stand-alone post to be sure everyone sees it.

16 Comments

  1. Gothard Survivor

    OK. So I finally get it. Abuse of any kind is evil (and it sure does feel horrible), and when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees he was talking to men only–but what do we do with Matthew 5:31-32?

    • Gothard Survivor, you may find it helpful to read my book. Matthew 5:31-32 is one of the passages I discuss. Basically, I believe Jesus was telling the crowd, which included both sexes, that the ‘any-matter divorce’ which was commonly used by Jewish men to divorce their wives (based on the Hillelite teaching) was wrong. It’s a complicated argument so I can’t explain it all here.

  2. Anon

    In my opinion it is a result of sin. Deep in a lot people’s hearts they do not want to suffer any pain for standing for righteousness. They want to keep their ‘friendships’ and social clubs within their ‘church’. Calling evil out would disrupt all that and put them on the outer. Easier for them to toe the party line and turn a blind eye. At the core of it, it is selfishness.

    In terms of myself, I was only pondering this issue yesterday. How could I have ended up in several abusive relationships when I had the ‘head knowledge’ of what abuse was, but I STILL fell in its trap. Being an abuse victim can be very complex with conditioning going back many generations in some cases. Once you are in abuse it can be very hard to acknowledge and get out for many reasons. I think if you have come from a history of abuse in your childhood, that you can be missing a lot of the early warning signals that others from non abusive childhoods have; they can pick up on disrespect early in a relationship and won’t tolerate it, they move on from a relationship before it continues. Whereas someone who has been raised to believe they have little worth, will overlook those signs. I know some people have had no history of being abused and are simply deceived into it by a wicked abuser, but I’m talking more about the fog that an abused person can get that makes them susceptible to multiple abusive relationships, even when, they have some insight into abusive people. I’m trying to work this all out myself.

    • Ng

      Yes, it is common and a trap that we who did not have safe loving relationships in our youth, need to watch out for.. But there are also many who grew up in ‘goody-good’ homes and simply were so protected from evil that they were ignorant of abusive tactics – and were shocked when they found out their dream spouse in fact was a liar.
      So I am grateful for my sharp, sometimes over-sensitive antennas that quickly detect arrogance and disrespectful attitudes… Tolerating boundary violations never brings anything good, it only incites the abusive / disrespectful person further.

  3. TruthSerum

    I just stay out of churches, now. There is more room for error in them than staying home and reading/studying scripture on your own.

    • Suzanne

      I no longer attend church even though I’ve been fortunate to have been a member of a church that was devoted to teaching and practicing the Word. The reason why I left is directly related to my inability to function in social settings. Having been raised to believe that I was worthless I staggered into adulthood with no social skills and terrible social anxiety, always feeling that no one could like me and never knowing how to relate to others. After years of trying I just gave up. The fog of abuse, even when we’re aware of it and how we came to live in it, is a powerfully destructive force.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Suzanne- yes, I have seen this numbers of times. The power of shame is very destructive. I mean, having been shamed and demeaned and abused do we really want to be in any place where it is possible to have it happen to us again? Nope. But then, I am thinking of this verse –

        1Jn 3:19-21 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; (20) for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (21) Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

        I wonder. Perhaps this is the remedy. To call out to the Lord to reassure our hearts even though within ourselves we find ourselves being condemned, shamed, put down, lied to. The Christian belongs to Christ as His child. Anything that says otherwise, no matter what its source, is a lie.

  4. anonymous

    How can we be so clueless about evil? That’s a very good question. As I read this article I had to sit back and ask, yes, why?

    Jesus when he taught us to pray said, “…deliver us from evil…” In saying this is He saying “deliver us from the evil ONE?” We know Satan’s primary goal is to deceive us and yet we are called to be both innocent and wise. Does it help if we put a human face on evil to make it more understandable? Those of us who are currently in or have been in the grip of abusers can certainly put a human face on evil! And if we ever doubt real EVIL does exist in the world, we need look no farther than the horror of 9/11 or school shootings and terrorist bombings and shooting innocent police officers in the face just for doing their sworn duty to protect us; the list never ends.

    Seems God has not revealed to us a full and final answer to the problem of evil and suffering but Scripture does give us instructions. The Bible NEVER minimizes evil. And according to Ephesians 5, we are to expose the evil deeds of darkness. Jesus was all too familiar with evil during his time on Earth and knew suffering grief and sorrow. Reverend Billy Graham said, “That while some “didn’t want to change” or “repent,” others didn’t want to believe Jesus’ identity. All of these sentiments stem from evil and Satan’s influence on human hearts.”

    “but I would sure like to know how we wound up at this present low estate and how to get out of this while there is still time.” As we ponder this, I am so glad God enables us to journey and pilgrimage together as we seek to be wise and never turn a blind eye to evil.

    Scriptures final word on evil is TRIUMPH!

  5. This same blind evil that is so prevalent in the church today may one day become the very testimony against those who turned against us when we cried out for their help.

    Perhaps the response of the church to the abused is indicative of who they desire to serve, and it will ultimately be used against them at the appointed time.

    Perhaps all of this is necessary to bring Gods children out and to a safe place where they can no longer be deceived.

    (Come out from among them, and be ye seperate)
    There is more truth in places like ACFJ, where our experiences are validated and we are able to help each other understand how to overcome this evil.

  6. Song of Joy

    I just love this blog. It is very comforting. The wise and compassionate posts from Pastor Jeff and Barbara, and also the heartfelt and insightful comments from everyone. This post is an example of that. I learn a lot from many of the amazing comments posted here. Even if the comment just shares an example of suffering and/or questioning…it is helpful to read. This blog is a oasis and blessing.

    • Anonymous

      Song of Joy, I echo your sentiments. And BTW: your screen name makes me smile.

      • Welcome to the blog, Anonymous 🙂 We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  7. The short path to heresy isn’t denying Scripture, it’s affirming only part of what the Bible teaches.

    Dr Scott R Swain said this at RTS Houston’s recent conference on the Trinity: Confessing the Triune God: Retrieving Nicene Faith for Today’s Church (reported by Rachel Miller here).

    Scott Swain is to be commended for saying this truth so concisely. 🙂

    Affirming only part of what Scripture teaches, e.g. the parts about goodness and mercy, and not affirming the parts where Scripture teaches about how to recognise and respond to evildoers, is a short path to huge doctrinal errors and pastoral malpractice.

    I attended a service last Sunday where the sermon was on the parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18). The pastor gave a lot of good teaching about prayer in this sermon, but he didn’t touch on the mention of the adversary.

    And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ (v.3)

    To me, his sermon was an example of the kind of non-affirmation Scott Swain talked about. He was not paying attention to the part about evil. Now, I’m sure the pastor didn’t do this with any wrongful intent, but these ‘little’ elisions repeated many many times from pulpits by the vast majority of pastors, leave the sheep in a state of naivety, a Pollyanna-ish world where ‘evil’ is thought of as only an abstract devil, not as personified in real people we know in our daily lives, homes, churches, families, workplaces, etc.

    Another post relating to this:
    The perspicuity of Scripture, and how some put a grille on the view

    • NotAlone

      Barbara I so appreciate that you spoke on this angle, because all too often this whole facet is dismissed with “…we do not fight against flesh and blood…” This then quarantines the notion of holding someone fully accountable for abusing. This, of course, is a grievous way of sweeping evil under the carpet; condoning abusive or reviling behavior. Leaves the situation ripe for a diagnosis of sin-leveling, and there were are: once again the matter is stifled as usual, and this evil has been protected by being nestled into the layers of fog, misrepresentation, ignorance, and misunderstanding, and significant dose of selfishness and self protection by those who are not interested in dealing with it. Nothing is resolved, and the evil continues to fester and putrify those involved, directly and indirectly.

      So thankful God promises to right all wrongs in the end and bring everyone to justice. In the meantime, do I ever appreciate this site with all its wisdom and insight and rightly dividing of what God teaches us in Scripture, rather than what you pointed out as naiveté, and ill-equipping of the saints by the average evangelical Christian leaders to judge and deal with such crucial matters as “removing bitter roots from among us”. (insert link to that page here?)

      Sorry for the run-on sentences! Lol

  8. God Fearing Mom

    I think it’s just comfortable to conform to the group. It’s comfortable to brush sin off in an imbalanced effort to forgive. It’s fearing man rather than God. It’s a counterfeit spirituality that let’s people be comfortable. It may be what you said end time delusion. I think it involves a seared conscience when one ignores the Spirit’s prompting and accepts whitewashed bribes for keeping your spiritual social circle in tact. Maybe deep down they are afraid if they rock the boat and question authority they will be a nuisance and might suffer retaliation of some form. I left a church like this where I confronted an assistant pastor who was behaving improperly towards me (he behaved the way a pedophile would) and then he used triangulation with the church counselor to spin it like I was half at fault. And it was a situation very much like your second paragraph.

    • ACON

      In sermons I have usually heard the broad road in Matthew 7:13 interpreted as the secular way of life. Since Israel was a theocracy at that time (albeit occupied by the Romans), I would very much assume that the people taking that road were religious folks though. Yet Jesus was not happy with them and stated that the narrow road that leads to life is found only by a few (Matthew 7:14). When you compare these verses to the situation of the Church today, it is easy to see who is taking the broad road.

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