1Pe 5:2-3 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; (3) not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
It has been my experience with evildoers who parade as Christians to be betrayed by many who I was sure were my genuine brothers or sisters in Christ. Hard lessons learned. Many of you have “been there done that” as well. As a result, I have had occassion to give serious thought to what such people really were all the time. They wore a mask, yes. But why?
Just like Judas, and like all false pastors and elders who “domineer” over those in their charge, people like this are self-serving as they pretend to be a fellow saint, your right hand man, etc. That is to say, they are getting something out of the deal. They are getting something from you. You are being used. What looks like genuine love, isn’t, and that becomes apparent on the inevitable day of the betrayal. “Love” turns to hate and contempt. They are done with you, as if no real friendship ever existed at all.
Let me give you a very common example of this kind of dynamic of evil. It is from this brand that I draw the title of this article: The Harems of the Evangelical Church. You all know what a harem is. It is an owned company of women who exist for the sole pleasure of the king/rich man, owner. Harems are always made up of women. I have never heard of a male harem though I suppose some female tyrant of old somewhere may have had some male slaves for a very similar purpose.
Now, recently I was talking to a lady who survived horrid years of domestic abuse, who ultimately went to her pastor for help. The pastor, she was certain, was her good friend who she could count on. There was no doubt about the abuse. The evidence was overwhelming. That wasn’t even an issue. What soon became the issue however is that this “friend,” and “pastor” was neither. He allied with her abuser and very nearly got her killed. Her suffering was immensely increased due to this false shepherd’s evil betrayal.
So what in the world was he doing all those years before, acting as her pastor and friend? What were his motives? I can tell you. He was fulfilling his own pleasures and lust for self-glory by being in a dominant position over her. She, no doubt, was quite submissive to him. After all, that is what we are all taught in our churches, right? Obey your leaders. Submit to them. And though she didn’t realize it (and how could she, after all?) his flesh was feeding off of this domination.
It is my proposal to you that this very kind of evil tactic is operational in many, many evangelical churches. Harems. The women are viewed as the harems of the leader. Not as fellow heirs in Christ, but as subordinate servants owned.
So what happened when this “friend” and “pastor” turned on her? She drew a line in the sand. She said “no” to him when he ordered her to submit to him, to go back to her abuser, to get into line. Suddenly he was no longer getting what his facade was designed to get for him – submission and service from his harem member. The fangs came out and she saw for the first time what he really was…what he had been all along.
This harem construct is largely the reason why domestic abuse victims are treated so oppressively by their pastors and churches. They are there, after all, like all harem members, for the pleasure and service of those in power. And generally that means the men, the male leaders of the church.
If you are a member of a local evangelical church there is a pretty good chance that there is a harem right in front of you. And if you are a woman, that you are in it!
Est 1:10-12 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, (11) to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. (12) But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.