A Cry For Justice

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

True vision and true blindness. Do you know Jesus?

Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth. Some of the man’s neighbours—people who had known him as a blind person for all his life—were doubting and suspicious. In their unbelief they brought the man to the religious leaders (Pharisees) for assessment and verification of the ‘right way’ to interpret this strange event.

The Pharisees scornfully interrogated the man who had been blind but could now see.
Let us pick up the narrative in John 9:24-34, New Matthew Bible:

Then again they called the man who had been blind and said to him, Give God the praise. We know that this man is a sinner.

He answered and said, Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know. One thing I am sure of: I was blind, and now I see.

Then they said to him again, What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?

He answered them, I told you already, and you did not hear. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to be his disciples?

Then they berated him and said, You are his disciple. We are Moses’ disciples. We are sure that God spoke with Moses. This fellow, we do not know where he is from.

The man answered and said to them, This is a marvellous thing, that you do not where he is from, seeing he has opened my eyes. For we are sure that God does not hear sinners. But if anyone is a worshipper of God and does his will, him he hears. Since the world began it has never been heard that any man opened the eyes of someone that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could have done nothing.

They answered and said to him, You are altogether born in sin, and do you teach us? And they cast him out.

When abuse victims see through the fog and report the abuse, the church leaders don’t believe the situation really qualifies as ABUSE and they interrogate and berate the victim… and if eventually the victim divorces the abuser, the church casts the victim out. 

Yes, this does not always happen; but we know of many cases where abuse victims get excommunicated for refusing to accept the blame for the breakdown of the marriage.

In countless situations, victims have been bravely and truly stating that abusers and their enablers are profoundly guilty of hardness of heart and unbelief. But most church leaders refuse to be taught by the victims, just like the Pharisees refused to be taught by the man who had been afflicted and marginalized since birth.

(35-39) Jesus heard that they had excommunicated the man, and as soon as he found him, he said to him, Do you believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is it, Lord, so that I can believe on him? And Jesus said to him, You have seen him, and he it is who talks with you.

And he said, Lord, I believe! and worshipped him.

Jesus said, I have come for judgment into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see, may be made blind.

Judgement: blindness. (That is the marginal note on v 39 in the New Matthew Bible.)

True vision and true blindness.

It all comes down to this. Do you know Jesus Christ? Have you been born again? Do you know Jesus as a brother, friend, Savior and Lord?

If you have been taught a legalistic image of Jesus, let me encourage you to cast off and reject those false ideas.

I urge you to read the Bible for yourself, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:5 NKJ)overthrow imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (NMB).

I encourage you to ask God to reveal to you the real Jesus – the resurrected, living God-man who is fully man and fully God, the perfect and compassionate Saviour of sinful human beings.

(40-41) And some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words and said to him, Are we then blind?  Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains.

The sin of the Pharisees was multifaceted but perhaps it can be boiled down to this:
They said “we see” while they were actively resistant to the truth.

And as leaders, they were especially culpable. In their privilege as religious leaders, they were enjoying their ability to haughtily mistreat the true followers of God who were afflicted and abused.

Jesus said of these leaders: “Their sin remains.”

So be it. Amen. May the religious leaders who are blind and resistant to the truth be pricked unto repentance by the Almighty God.

If they humble themselves and repent, if they sincerely listen to and learn from all the survivors of abuse, we will rejoice. But metanoia is needed, a complete change of mind. Giving a man like Paige Patterson the chop is good start, but it’s not enough.

If they harden their hearts and continue disdaining the cries of the victims, we will grieve, but we won’t die on the hill of trying to convert them when they have given so much evidence of their highhanded defiance of God.

If you and I are believers, we will lean trustingly on God who does not crush the bruised reed.

God does not quench a flaxen wick in any lamp which He ignited by His power.

The flaxen wick may emit a whiff of smoke. ….Will it ignite? Will it burst into flame? Will it give off a bit of smoke and then flicker, fail, die, grow cold? Will it flicker on and off, hovering on the cusp between life and death? Will it burst into flame showing a saving and trusting faith in Jesus Christ?

God will not snuff out the flickering wick of the lamp of any timid believer

God is gentle with timid believers. God is hard and harsh to those who actively resist the pricks He makes on their consciences.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a flax that begins to burn he will not quench, till he sends forth judgment unto victory. (Matt 12:20)

 

13 Comments

  1. I love this so much. Thank you for pointing us to Jesus.

  2. Amen Barbara, this is wisdom! Repent, turn away from evil ways and evil people, trust in the Lord God who saves to the uttermost and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord! This man speaks truth and corrects the Pharisees with the truth/the obvious!! God knows who are his own and keeps them!
    A very powerful and very clear lesson! Thank you!!!

  3. Helovesme

    Oh, how I l love this story about the blind man healed by Jesus. Thank you for posting about it! And Barbara, you did an amazing job dissecting and delving into such a precious story.

    This man, born blind, didn’t even ask Jesus to heal him! His disciples asked HIM, hey who sinned, him or his parents, that he was born this way?

    And Jesus answered them by healing Him (and of course, claiming that no one sinned)

    And also including one of my personal favorites: if you claim you can see, but are actually blind—you have no one to blame but yourself.

    And of course, I never get tired of how God gently handles a bruised reed and a flickering flame. It is a constant reminder and blessing.

    My church got caught up in a scandal concerning my former pastor. They handled it as best they could (IMO). I tried to keep going to that church for over a year, but I buckled under the strain. Anxiety kept clutching me and I finally gave up, with great sadness. Right now I am in limbo.

    I don’t tell anyone about this, because the understandable reaction is: are you still reading the Word and praying?

    Of course I am. Church is not my main source of Bible teaching, and never should be. It is between myself and the Lord that I gain the majority of truth from His Word. And as for prayer, I would never give up my alone time with Him.

    Truly, however, since I am in such a difficult place in my life, I am beyond, supremely grateful that HE is praying for me in Heaven.

    NOTE: I HAVE been reading Biblical posts and blogs from people I trust online, to stay connected and be encouraged. We ALL need that. But again, it’s NOT my main source of knowledge.

    I am too stressed and anxious right now to try another church (in case anyone is wondering). I have endured four separate traumas in a single year, and between having nightmares, dealing with triggers and trying to move forward with my life—right now all I need and want are the long and strong arms of My Father. My Savior. My Friend.

  4. Finding Answers

    (Trying to airbrush as I go…)

    I read the original post and comments earlier today, savouring every word. I spent much of the afternoon processing.

    As I re-read it now, the fog descends…I can only remember a fragment.

    Barb wrote: “God will not snuff out the flickering wick of the lamp of any timid believer.”

    I am fighting with the concept of miracles. I understand them, but have spent a lifetime having to do everything for myself. A substantial part of the abuse I experienced was from covert neglect.

    When I was a child, I learned the untruth “if I made it my fault, I could fix it.” Only now do I understand the lie started with abusers’ blame-shifting, a setup for making me the scapegoat. How can a child just starting school be to blame for sibling sexual abuse? How can the youngest be expected to compete at the same level as everyone else?

    Today, I made the connection. I pray for miracles, but believe I have to fix it myself. I have made progress, but need to wait for the fog to lift. This one is like a London “pea-souper”.

    I have managed to stumble down the path towards letting go of believing I need to / can heal myself on my own.

    Today, I have made a first step. With God’s help, I have been able to let go of something that has been an issue in my life for over 30 years.

    • I’m praying with you.

    • Helovesme

      Am praying with you too! I was so encouraged by your last sentences, but I grieved for what you went through for sure.

      I too was very young when I was being abused physically and verbally by my father. Although I can’t quite recall all my thoughts from that time, somewhere down the line I too remember thinking about how young I was (compared to him) and in general! We weren’t equals in any sense of the word, yet I was being scapegoated and reviled as if I was the adult, and he was the child!

      It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I was expected to deal with very stressful situations when I was still so young. The burdens were so large and consuming that I constantly wanted to die. It was obvious that no one loved me, or considered me lovable. Not even my own father, who acted as though he despised me and could never measure up.

      I don’t know why, but it’s often minimized how much we need to know and feel we are loved. Especially when we are young, and especially from our parents. It’s not an “optional” thing.

      And (news flash!) it still matters when we become adults! I have spoken to adults to still want the love and approval of their parents that they never got as children, and still desire to have as grown ups.

      Granted, they work harder as adults to separate themselves and move on, but it is a painful, stressful burden that never really goes away (for some). For others, they are in a much better place, but it took hard work to get there still!

      Abuse carries with it one thing that never totally goes away: BAGGAGE.

      My prayers is that my “luggage” of pain and suffering becomes a legacy for God’s glory in my life, not a constant reminder of events that debilitated me for years. I do believe the load will get lighter, but I do believe some of it will always be with me.

      30 plus years is a long time to be carrying around so much baggage. Praying for your precious soul to start the process of letting it all go, into His strong and capable Hands!

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme wrote: “Abuse carries with it one thing that never totally goes away: BAGGAGE.

        My prayers is that my “luggage” of pain and suffering becomes a legacy for God’s glory in my life, not a constant reminder of events that debilitated me for years. I do believe the load will get lighter, but I do believe some of it will always be with me.”

        (Praying the first sentence of my reply doesn’t trigger anyone…)

        And all God’s people said…..AMEN!

        (Oh my…heavy, heavy fog as I try to continue writing my reply. Almost incapacitated.)

        If there was no longer any reminder, how could we help people? Where would we see evidence of God’s glory? Where would others find the faintest light of hope? Who best to be their boots-on-the-ground, hands-and-feet of Christ?

        Love – not the controlling, manipulative, hate-spewing version offered by abusers – is a need. Babies not held, but left alone in a crib / isolette, fail to thrive. Think of those hospitals in which a program has been instituted for babies in the neonatal unit to be held…

        (Potential trigger to someone?) Oh…my…God. Horrible, horrible flashback feeling as I wondered if the volunteers in the neonatal program were screened.

        (Airbrushing details…as I struggle to write) I have written elsewhere on ACFJ about having a usually fatal illness as a baby. I knew I had been hospitalized. I had vague memories of an isolette. Now re-integrating the memory of being completely, totally alone / isolated / abandoned!. There was no neonatal program back then…very few visitors…I was contagious…I was not expected to live.

        Helovesme also wrote: “I don’t know why, but it’s often minimized how much we need to know and feel we are loved. Especially when we are young, and especially from our parents. It’s not an “optional” thing.”

        It’s certainly not what God says or demonstrates in the Bible…whether for children or adults.

        Thank you for your prayers, your reply. May we both be placed where we can bring glory to God. May God grant you peace.

      • He Love Me said:

        My prayers is that my “luggage” of pain and suffering becomes a legacy for God’s glory in my life, not a constant reminder of events that debilitated me for years. I do believe the load will get lighter, but I do believe some of it will always be with me.

        Finding Answers said:

        If there was no longer any reminder, how could we help people? Where would we see evidence of God’s glory? Where would others find the faintest light of hope? Who best to be their boots-on-the-ground, hands-and-feet of Christ?

        Yes; in my observation the abused who remember what it was like to be abused tend to be the people who are most motivated to help other victims of abuse. I have written in the past about the caveats to that principle (e.g. how an abuse survivors might think they know it all, but all they know is the dynamics of their own abuse experience.

        For example, some professional counselors seem to think that their experience of being abused by a parent equips them to understand all types of abuse – e.g., what it’s like to be abused by a spouse, what it’s like to be abused by a socially skilled child molester, what it’s like to be scapegoated by one’s entire family. Assumptions like that can make such counselors somewhat ham fisted when they try to counsel others.

    • Helovesme

      Finding Answers, hope I did not offend you, and I feel like may have VERY unintentionally triggered you! Goodness, I felt a mixture of things when I read your words!

      Perhaps I should clarify a bi when you wrote: “If there was no longer any reminder, how could we help people?”

      I hope I never completely forget the abuse I went through. Never! I would never want it totally removed from my memory, although there have been times that I would have preferred that. The trauma was very real, and no doubt it held me back and held me down in serious ways.

      It’s a bit like being on a teeter totter. The weight of the abuse cannot be too heavy or too light or else I am a very unbalanced person!

      When I tried to tell others about my abuse,they minimized it—and that just shocked me. That was my own personal experience. That is why I spoke about how and why people tend to minimize parental love and it the vital need for it. Love is as strong a need as eating and drinking is in order to survive and thrive!

      Praise God He has more than enough love to give and satisfy and cover all the hurts. But it is a hard thing to accept and understand that your own parents brought you into this world, but chose not to love you as you so wanted them to.

      In fact, when you are told (directly or indirectly) that my abuse really wasn’t that bad, or not that pivotal in my life—I started to believe it, too! If you lie to yourself over and over again, or believe lies for so long—that becomes “truth” to you. Goodness, the burdens just pile up.

      I’m careful about talking about my experiences with abuse, because of what Barbara spoke about. I only know what I went through personally, and while I use my experiences as best I can to empathize or bless others—abuse isn’t a straight up and down line. There’s a plethora of ways to be abused (sadly) but there are common threads running through much of them.

      Please be blessed! Praying for you!

      • Finding Answers

        Replying to Helovesme:

        I’m not even close to offended!! 🙂

        Consider me grateful for the trigger. While it was unexpected, I chose to continue writing through the experience. Not only does it help me with re-integration, it might leave breadcrumbs for someone else to follow.

        I note when I am airbrushing / identifying potential triggers in an attempt to ease the moderator’s burden on Barb and TWBTC. In the airbrushing process, I hope to clarify to anyone who reads the comment why potentially helpful information is missing…the gaps are intentional.

        In noting the descending fog – or it’s thickness 🙂 – I am providing information on why the writing may be awkward / disjointed / stilted. My writing is usually more coherent, more fluent. I get frustrated with the inability to access words.

        I’m certain we’re singing off the same song sheet.

        I was struggling to convey my support to you, empathizing with you in the awfulness of having traumatic experiences minimized by the clueless. Many of those same clueless folk, in speaking of parental love, parrot the “Sure…sure…blame it on your parents.”

        My words to you were intended to express heartbreak over such overtly unloving treatment by your father. I am so sorry if I compounded the pain.

        The series of questions I wrote regarding retaining some memory of the pain were more rhetorical in nature, aimed at the “sweep-it-under-the-rug”, “let-it-go”, “get-over-it” etc. crowd. Those who briefly encounter the ACFJ website, utter “Tut, Tut” in their mind, and head off entrenched in thinking they have all the solutions.

        Actually, I was tempted to cut-and-paste your entire reply and follow it with a resounding AMEN. 🙂

      • Helovesme

        You are perfectly fine and you did not hurt me or compound my pain at all. Thank you for your generous reply and kind words!

        Keeping you in prayer. We don’t use real names in this forum but I love how God knows exactly who I am praying for and knows exactly what that person needs. Am certain He will pour out great blessings onto you as we all keep praying for you and for each other!

  5. E

    “Quenching the flax” is an old term that was used in pre-industrial processing of flax into linen fabric, as seen at the ten minute mark of a YouTube video titled “LINEN – Making Linen Fabric from Flax Seed – Demonstration Of How Linen Is Made.” The viewer can see the rough beating and shredding of the flax fibers into what will be made into linen fabric.

    Isaiah 42:3 reads, “A bruised [wounded] reed shall he not break, and the smoking [damaged] flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” What a tender comfort from our Lord.

    • Hi E, I watched that video, and maybe I didn’t understand his Irish accent but I didn’t hear him say ‘quenching the flax’ anywhere in the video.

      And I have checked some Bible commentaries on Matthew 12:20. They seem to all agree that quenching a smoking flax refers to putting out a wick of flax in an oil lamp that is only dimly burning.

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