A Cry For Justice

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

A sure sign of an unsafe church is when it says abuse victims may not separate or divorce without permission from the church leaders

A Sure Sign a Church’s Claim to be a Friend of Abuse Victims is False – a reblog from Jeff Crippen’s site Light for Dark Times.   [ACFJ have given it a slightly different title; we trust Jeff doesn’t mind.]

Currently, we are seeing churches and organizations jumping on the band wagon of supposedly exposing domestic and sexual abusers in the church and coming to the aid of their victims. Occasionally these claims are genuine, but most frequently they are false efforts to “cover the bases” and preserve the institution. After all, there is an increasing outcry against evildoers hiding in and even leading churches and supposedly Christian organizations. The Southern Baptists, for example, are under the gun and rightly so.

So in such a climate you can expect that the guilty will start trembling a bit. They have plenty of skeletons in the closet in which they have enabled abusers and disregarded the pleas of abuse victims, so they do what I call a “pre-emptive strike.” They hold conferences on abuse. They make announcements about how they are the defenders of the abused. And they do so without repentance. By that, I mean they do not come humbly broken, confessing their many sins and wrongs they have dealt to the innocent, confessing that they are ignorant of these evils and have been duped by the wicked. Oh no. Suddenly THEY are experts to whom we are all to go now for help and aid. 

Recently I received just such a claim. It comes from Faith Bible Church in Spokane, Washington. This is a John MacArthur church in that the pastor was trained at The Master’s Seminary and teaches at a TMS satellite. If you have followed A Cry for Justice (blog) or read my books, you know that John MacArthur has consistently taught that divorce for abuse is forbidden by God. [click herehere and here for evidence]

Below are the outline points of two messages given by the lead pastor of Faith Bible Church, Dan Jarms, and his associate, Brian Sayers. Following these two outlines I have included the Faith Bible Church Doctrinal Elder Paper on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. I could go on and on pointing out to you how these two sermon outlines and doctrinal paper evidence clearly that Faith Bible Church’s claim to be a friend to abuse victims is false and that in fact, this church has not truly changed its positions at all. Don’t be naive. The claims here that divorce is permitted for abuse are going to be practically (in practice) denied when it comes right down to a victim divorcing her abuser.

Rather than, as I said, going on at length regarding my criticisms of these things, I have simply bold-faced one major, plain evidence of falsehood that is repeated throughout the outlines and paper. This one persistent demand made by this church is all we need to know to be able to conclude that the church is in no way truly repentant of past wrongs to victims and that in fact its supposed “change” is feigned and false.

As you will see, this single demand is that abuse victims are required to place themselves under the authority of the pastor and elders and are not to proceed with divorce, separation, or any other action without the church’s authorization. I can tell you that anyone who does this is going to find themselves further oppressed and wrongly controlled by church leaders who arrogantly claim this privilege for themselves but who are ignorant of the evils which oppress the victim.

THIS is the most certain proof that a church like this and pastors and elders like these men have not fundamentally changed at all. That is to say, they are continuing to demand that abuse victims place themselves under their authority, never acknowledging the history (as is easily found in MacArthur’s teaching and practice) of dealing out injustice to victims and enabling the wicked. They are not humbled in other words. They remain arrogant. This is plain Pharisaism.

I will also underscore several other portions of these documents that I am convinced demonstrate that these men in this church do something else absolutely unbiblical and damaging. Namely, they treat the abuser as a Christian. Thus they proceed with the idea that they are going to rescue the marriage, fix the abuser, and all that this requires is their counseling and that the victim “gut it out” in the abuse “for the glory of God.” All Christians, you know, (say these pastors) can be abusers and an abuser can be a Christian who simply needs to “make war on entitlement mentality.” Absolutely false teaching.

Of course I know they will deny these charges and say I don’t know what I am talking about. Well, so be it. I do know what I am talking about. You are never going to instruct, teach, disciple an abuser who has been faking it as a Christian all along into a godly, loving spouse. Not gonna happen!  And yet you will notice the total absence of any of that truth here in these documents, with no mention at all of God’s plain command that we put such counterfeits out of the church (see 1 Cor 5).

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane….  He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B. Ed. at Eastern Washington University , MDiv and DMin in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary.

Sermon Notes (Dan Jarms)

1. Cultivate Love

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Titus 2:4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.

1 John 4:7-11

  • Keep the love of Christ in constant view.
  • Become a Romans 12 friend/spouse.
  • Make war on an entitlement mentality.
  • Put “cherish my friend/spouse” on your daily to do list.’

2. Cultivate Christlikeness

Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

  • Get the log out of your own eye first (Matthew 7:3-5)
  • Pray for specific Christlike qualities
  • Husbands convey warning and teaching with a servant’s heart
  • Wives convey warning and teaching with a respectful heart

Sermon Notes (Brian Sayers)

Brian Sayers is the Pastor of Discipleship and Counseling at Faith Bible Church.

  • How should we define abuse?
  • Individuals should put themselves under the care and counsel of godly shepherds
  • Church leadership must understand and respond properly to abuse
    • Scripture requires God’s people to protect the innocent sufferer, and to seek justice toward the oppressor (Psa. 82:3-4; Psa. 10)
    • God-given authorities exist to bring justice where it is needed (Rom. 13:1-4)
    • Discernment must be used to measure and apply principles of repentance, confession, forgiveness, and accountability
  • Victims must understand and respond properly to abuse
    • To not “cry out” ignores God’s desire for justice, and neglects God’s provision and protection for you and others
    • The abused must overcome fear, and entrust themselves to God and those called to protect and care for them

FAITH BIBLE CHURCH DOCTRINAL ELDER PAPER:

Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage

Prerequisites for Marriage
1. God’s design is for one man to be married to one woman, for life.
Gen. 1:27 …male and female He created them. Gen. 2:24 & Eph 5:31 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
2. The foundational requirement for Christian marriage is that a believer should not marry an unbeliever. 2 Cor. 6:14-18 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
3. A couple must have a pure relationship if they desire to know God’s will about marriage.
1 Thess. 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.
4. Those preparing for marriage should also be mature and responsible so that they can meet the appropriate biblical expectations of the partners in marriage.
Eph. 5:22-33 wives, be subject… Husbands, love your wives…
1 Tim. 5:8 But if any one does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse that an unbeliever.

Foundational Principles of Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage

1. Marriage was established by God to be a life-long, intimate, covenantal relationship between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18, 24; Malachi 2:14; Proverbs 2:17). Jesus issued a general guideline that what God joins together, man should not separate (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9).
2. Christians must exhaust all biblical means to preserve their marriage. Permanence in the marriage relationship has been, and always will be, God’s ideal and intention.
3. While every divorce involves sin, not every divorce is sinful (Jeremiah 3:6-10; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:15; Jeremiah 31:31-32; Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
4. This pursuit of permanence may involve enduring a marriage that is less than God’s ideal (1 Corinthians 7:12-14, 16; 1 Peter 3:1-2). The desire for God’s glory must supersede one’s desire for comfort or happiness. This principle would not require someone to indefinitely endure unrepentant acts that constitute biblical grounds for divorce (see biblical grounds below). Decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the elders.
5. Divorce may be permissible, but is never commanded. Two believers should always be willing to pursue repentance and reconciliation as part of a life seeking to honor God.
6. Biblically allowed divorce implies the right before God to pursue biblical remarriage. They must seek the counsel and care of church leadership in this process.
7. In cases where Christians come to Faith Bible Church having already participated in unbiblical divorce or remarriage situations, the church will strive to provide compassionate counsel that will lead to
personal understanding of these biblical principles, and a careful repentance for all involved.

Biblical Grounds for Divorce
Divorce is allowed for two reasons. Below are explanations of those two broad biblical categories.

1. Divorce is allowed in cases of unrepentant sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9).
• The “sexual immorality” referenced (Greek, porneia), is broader than adultery, and would include the litany of sexual sins listed in the Old Testament (specifically Leviticus 20:10-21).
• This provision may also include other violations not specifically mentioned, but which are similar in nature. To constitute biblical grounds for divorce, the sexually deviant behavior of this kind must be continual and unrepentant.
• Evaluations and decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the local church elders.

2. Divorce is allowed when an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage covenant (“unbelieving” may be determined by their profession, or through the application of church discipline).
• The unbeliever leaves. First Corinthians 7:12-15 clearly teaches that when an unbelieving spouse “consents to live with” the believer, then the believer should remain married to them. When the unbelieving spouse separates/leaves, however, the believer is not bound to the marriage covenant.
• The unbeliever says they want to, or are going to leave, but will not. An unbelieving spouse’s unwillingness to remain married (1 Corinthians 7:13-15) may be broader than physical separation or
leaving. Repeated expression of resolve and/or desire to divorce, while not pursuing the good will of a mutually beneficial and healthy marriage, may also be not “consenting to live with.”
• The unbeliever does not threaten leaving in any way, but live as though they have abandoned the
marriage. There may be other extreme cases where church leaders determine that the unbelieving
spouse has “effectively abandoned” the marriage covenant, although they do not pursue or express a
desire to separate or divorce.
 Evaluations and decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the local church elders.

***

Jeff Crippen is the pastor of Christ Reformation Church in Tillamook, Oregon, arriving there in 1993. He has been a pastor since 1983 and was a police officer for 12 years before that. He and his wife Verla have been married for 40 years. He co-led the A Cry For Justice blog with Barbara Roberts from 2012-2017.

Further reading

Church discipline and church permission for divorce – how my mind has changed

How does church discipline apply in cases of domestic abuse?

Christians are jumping on the bandwagon to ‘help the abused’. James has something to say about that.

Resistance and backlash to social change

Mumpsimus – a traditional notion that is obstinately held although it is unreasonable

As a pastor, what are the most important things for me to know about domestic abuse?

17 Comments

  1. Sharon

    This was the type of church experience I had. They never get past “take the plank out of your own eye”. Until I could say I was PERFECT, then I was equally responsible for the marital problems – it was my own fault I was being abused, therefore I could not leave. When I was sure the kids and I would be killed if I didn’t take them and go, I had to find a different church.

  2. Debby
  3. Helovesme

    “And they do so without repentance.”

    THEREIN lies a huge missing link that Jeff so wonderfully points out. He is truly amazing!

    Without repentance, all the conferences, workshops, public or private statements or even admitting a need for change (but without admitting sin, whether omitted or committed)—are inconsequential.

    “Suddenly THEY are experts to whom we are all to go now for help and aid. ”

    Just because you see a problem, doesn’t mean you are the one that we should go to. If you tackle this problem with man’s wisdom, man’s ways or man’s way of thinking—-you’re only making the problem WORSE.

    WORSE because now you think it’s “all good” and this problem has been addressed, resolved and everyone will be happy now. But you are so wrong!

    These are all outward shows of so-called repentance, but the repentance that God is looking for is from the inside out! From within, where He will work on you and change you, from glory to glory!

    “Namely, they treat the abuser as a Christian.”

    This is something I’ve persisted in when discussing abuse with others. That lack of recognition is dangerous. Saving, fixing, repairing such a marriage (or the abuser) should not be the goal.

    You cannot “shame or scare” an abuser into repentance (don’t you love God?), or give him or her writings on how to be a good spouse (as if giving them the tools to be a good spouse is all they lack?)

    Admonishing your congregation to be good spouses or else (even if you directly address the husbands in particular) is NOT going to stop them from abusing. The reason why is that they are NOT Christians. They have no fear of God, or fear of you (as a pastor) for that matter.

    Understand that abusers feel 100% justified and entitled to abuse. Yes, that’s hard to believe, hard to imagine—especially if the abuser is such a “good person.” They crafted that goody goody image on purpose, to fool you and to keep abusing without fear of consequences, or of being found out.

    Some of what was in that outline sounded pretty good. But the bold faced lines spoiled it all.

    • Well said, He Loves Me. 🙂

      • Helovesme

        I try not to double comment, since it makes more work, but I thought this might bless and encourage others.

        We talk a lot (and rightly so) about deceitful, bad or wicked shepherds, but perhaps it might be helpful to point out the differences between one that emulates Christ, and one that does not.

        I don’t know if anyone is still attempting to find a good church where they feel welcomed, loved and SAFE. I am not, at this point, Been burned too often by persons that I THOUGHT were good shepherds.

        Regardless, I thought this might (again) be a blessing to someone out there:

        Barb wrote an amazing piece. She really put her finger on just the right points (the bold faced lines) to dig up and dig out the fallacies. I’m so glad the Lord uses her as He does.

        Sometimes we get blinded by the so-called sincere desires to help, that we forget to carefully analyze their belief system first.

        I wonder:

        Some shepherds really, sincerely want to guide the broken and the hurting. But they simply don’t understand how to use their “shepherd’s staff” so to speak. They wield it in all the wrong ways, but really believe they are in the right.

        If you use it too roughly (see the bold faced lines in the outline as examples!) you will end up hurting the ones you are trying to help!

        No person should have to promise allegiance or loyalty to any sort of authority in order to be helped. You’re there to guide, not dictate. A true shepherd never forces a sheep into obedience.

        He or she who is needing the help, should be encouraged to make ALL the decisions needed on their own. In fact, to encourage otherwise is simply putting the victim under YOUR yoke, replacing the one the abuser put on them.

        A true shepherd wants the sheep to feel free, and is a separate being from you. You cannot live out the life of your sheep for them!

        Nor should the marriage itself be prized above a victim’s safety and protection. Glorifying God means you love the person above an institution. And marriage is just that: it is precious in His eyes, but will not exist in Heaven.

        A true shepherd would never prize the pasture over the sheep, for example. The pasture is there to serve and bless the sheep’s growth and well being.

        If it’s nothing but dying grass and weeds (symbolizing a broken, dead marriage due to abuse), what kind of true shepherd tries to guide or order or force that sheep to eat that grass?? It will just make them sicker and sicker!

        An abuser is not a Christian. Stop believing that the abuser wants what is best for their spouse. This outline spoke of TWO believers seeking repentance and reconciliation. The victim has nothing to be sorry about in being abused.

        An abuser is NOT one of your sheep. Stop treating them as if they are. He or she is a wolf, a lion, a bear—preying on your sheep. The abuser may be dressed like a sheep, but it’s a lie.

        The marriage is between the two persons, and the Lord. No church or authority figures in the church have the right to dictate when it is and isn’t okay to divorce. It’s not your marriage.

        A true shepherd would never use the staff to force a sheep to stay with a wolf.

        Also, if the victim DOES choose to stay with the abuser, it needs to be their choice, not yours. It may be a good or bad choice in your eyes, but it needs to be done by the person who has to live with that person. Which is not you.

        A true shepherd doesn’t force a sheep to stay under their care. That is a form of slavery. Jesus spoke of sheep who wandered away, and He said He’d go and find them. There’s simply no way to shackle and chain your sheep to you, because that is not what a true shepherd does.

        If your sheep DO wander away and are truly making bad choices, trust in the Chief Shepherd to go and find them.

        But PLEASE, anyone aiming to be a shepherd after His own heart—don’t adopt the mindset of the hired hand, who only cares about the wages, and runs away when the sheep are endangered.

        Or like the thief, who sneaks in to hurt and scatter the sheep.

        Please, dear shepherds, learn and lean on the best Shepherd, ever, if you care anything about His sheep!

      • Hi, He Loves Me, this post was actually by Jeff Crippen — I simply reblogged it. So thanks for appreciating it, but the thanks are due to Jeff this time. 🙂

      • And I’ve just corrected the byline on the post!
        I should have given it Jeff’s byline from the get go…

      • anonymous

        Great ‘double-comment’ HeLovesMe. I have lost faith in churches and pastors at this point, with the exception of Pastors Crippen and Powell. Sermonaudio.com and this blog, along with the hymnal book of my faith and that’s my church these days.

        When going through exceedingly painful, traumatic, extreme abuse, victimization, etc. and dealing with the ongoing aftermath and continued harassment, stalking, intimidation, bullying abusiveness, the last thing a person needs is to feel any additional stings at church.

        It’s like being a burn victim where the grafted skin is extremely delicate and sensitive and great care must be taken with it. That’s why it sure is a blessing that I somehow stumbled upon this blog, found out about sermonaudio, Pastors Powell and Crippen, and am richly blessed with Barb’s and TWBTC’s ongoing ministry. It has saved my life a good number of times.

      • Helovesme

        Wow, that is so right on! And so true for me as well! I stumbled upon this blog and I too have been blessed by it, and by Pastor Sam and Jeff.

        “the last thing a person needs is to feel any additional stings at church.” So right on. It truly is like pouring salt on the wounds.

        The burn victim analogy is priceless! Never thought of it that way but goodness, that is spot on. The sensitivity and fragility of a burn victim very much mirrors what it’s like to come out of abuse, or to still be in it.

        This sort of analogy supports the need for real education and training to know how to deal with victims in general. It takes a specialized doctor to know how to treat burn victims. Someone who knows what they are doing.

        You wouldn’t or shouldn’t trust them to a gynecologist, for example!

        I know for sure, for dang sure—that I still have a lot to learn in how to deal with those that are suffering. Hopefully, in admitting it, that puts me on the right track. Hopefully, if the Lord gives me His heart while I aim to be teachable and reachable—I can still show compassion and empathy, even if I don’t know how to treat or react to their exact “wounds” if that makes sense.

      • The burn victim analogy is excellent! Thanks anonymous. 🙂 🙂

      • anonymous

        Yes, HeLovesMe, needing greater education so as to know what to say, because when abuse is really severe and it is to the point of severe disability and/or death, every word matters and that’s why I have to hand it to the rare, really talented, exceptionally knowledgeable counselors who can deal with a victim in such dire circumstances. The victim has become so sensitized due to the severity of the traumatization and victimization that every word needs to be carefully said.

        This is why it’s crucial that pastors, etc. know of such a counselor to refer the victim to see. Because by the time the evildoer is nearly lethal, if he is really intelligent, the sheer amount of violence done to the victim’s psyche and the shredded emotional well-being is really something.

        My abuser went back and forth from trying to kill me and trying to get me to kill myself. Flip-flopping, back and forth. So evil.

        But still, I don’t want to discourage anyone from connecting with a victim, but rather I think just telling the abused woman that she isn’t worthless, garbage, trash, or any number of vile, profanity-laced, obscene insults and derogatory names. Telling her that she is a human being, she deserves to be alive, to take up space, to eat food, to have housing, to breathe oxygen….. basic things.

        The wickedness of abusers. Such evildoers!

        “For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”
        Proverbs 4:16-17 (NIV)

  4. Krikit

    Without the initial choosing by God, and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit that comes with His election, one is NOT a Christian. The Truth is that simple. And with the Spirit’s ongoing regeneration, a Christian’s desire for sin is consistently removed and replaced by the ongoing desire, born out by consistent actions, for Christ and His character. Anything else is false.

    When a true Believer sins, because of the work of the indwelling Spirit, they are given Godly sorrow, which produces real repentance. And real repentance is filled with humility, accountability, responsibility, and lasting CHANGE. The living Spirit can, nor will He, do no less.

    The words from these ‘church authoritarians’ produce bile in the throats of abuse targets. There is no humility in their statements, nor in their expressions. There is only a scramble to relieve themselves of the growing scrutiny as quickly as possible, that they may return to, at least, a semblance of their previous rule. They are the Chief Wolves, and it takes the Spirit’s Discernment to ferret them out. Light exposes darkness, and when it does, God’s people then have a responsibility to put these wolves outside the gates. It is a rare phenomenon indeed for a Wolf to be transformed to a sheep.

  5. Finding Answers

    Two things I would belatedly add….

    1. Pastor Jeff’s original post and the comments generated was incredibly educational to read.

    2. The leadership have tried to put themselves God’s place. Satan already tried that tactic.

  6. Grafted In

    Jeff said,

    As you will see, this single demand is that abuse victims are required to place themselves under the authority of the pastor and elders and are not to proceed with divorce, separation, or any other action without the church’s authorization. I can tell you that anyone who does this is going to find themselves further oppressed and wrongly controlled by church leaders who arrogantly claim this privilege for themselves but who are ignorant of the evils which oppress the victim.

    The only ‘c’hurch I briefly attended since the Lord called me and saved me several years ago, this is their doctrine on divorce.

    They gave no hope of heaven to a divorced person or remarried person, unless you repented and forsook your current marriage. And that meant leaving your current marriage completely and never to divorce them or marry again but remain single the rest of your life or face damnation.

    This is their doctrine: that the one betrayed by adultery cannot divorce…

    Quote from that church:

    Sometime the exception clause in Matthew 5:32 is used to support divorce In cases of unfaithfulness. But such reasoning cannot be reconciled with the other New Testament passages on divorce and remarriage,…

    The question is often raised, what about the innocent one? the Bible does not teach of an innocent one. Anyone (a third person) who marries one that is put away (even a so-called innocent one) is guilty of adultery also.

    Abuse is not even in their vocabulary, but it exists in their ‘c’hurch, under the heavy spirit of condemnation, in only half of the leadership and in their doctrine. The other half of leadership is kind and approachable but indoctrinated.

    Needless to say, I did not return after the one elder only, (as the kind approachable elder was absent), so slyly implied that you were blaspheming the Holy Ghost if you did not hearken to what he was saying. To this day the elder of that ‘c’hurch refuses to look my way when he sees me in town.

    • To that elder who is callous to you… I say “FIE! You are an evil man!”

      To that church, I say “Wake up! The Lord will vomit you out when He returns if you have not repented.”

  7. Grafted In

    Thank you Barbara,

    Details left out for now, (no words formed yet), that led me to reading your blog for over a year and reading Jeff Crippen’s book, this is when the fog really started to roll away bit by bit and I came to the conclusion divorce is not the unpardonable sin for adultery, abuse, neglect.

    After I left, their deaconess called me, explaining there was “more I had to do”, repeated invitations to come to their home to explain things to me.
    Alert warnings went on in me. I did not fully understand the workings of the Holy Spirit in me then.

    My testimony to them, which I sensed they did not believe, that I was born from above, by reading my Bible, that everything was of the Lord, “The wind blowest where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one the is born of the Spirit.”

    This period, I consider my great flight of afflictions, and knew I had a great enemy, spiritual warfare, at the start of reading my Bible.

    My new beginning, is in being lead, through the Red Sea, away from Pharaoh.

    “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.” Isaiah 52:12

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: