The Widows and Orphans of Our Time

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

There are literal widows and orphans today who need our help. Widows who are widows indeed, without even family members to care for them. But this biblical category of people who are particularly near to the Lord’s heart – widows and orphans – is much, much broader than most Christians have realized.  One lady commented:

Couldn’t all the passages that speak about caring for the fatherless apply to children who do indeed have a living father, but he doesn’t protect and teach like a father, but rather hurts them?  They have a biological father, but who would debate that they don’t really have a protector and nurturer.  Wouldn’t most everybody agree that we as a country do right to remove children from dangerous situations and place them in a safe home?   So, when the Bible speaks of caring for the fatherless and widows, I’m wondering if the woman who has a husband who doesn’t love her, but abuses her, might she fit under the category of widow?  She has a husband, but no one to love and care for her.

She is EXACTLY correct!  Here we are, looking all around us for widows and orphans, and yet we miss them.  They are right in front of us – many sitting in the pews of our own churches.  We are fooled, just because there is a man with them. But he is no husband or father.  He is their tormentor from whom they need rescue.

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Maintaining the Unity of the Spirit Requires Dealing With Abusers

Eph 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (3) eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Church unity. We hear a lot about it, but we really don’t see or experience it very often at all. Most times the “unity” in a local church is just role play. But under the surface, whoa! Constant, low-level friction. Why?

I suggest that one chief reason for this sorry situation is that most Christians and church leaders have a warped view of biblical, genuine, spiritual unity. It often is better described as “uniformity,” in which environment the pressure is on everyone to get in line. In that kind of supposed “community,” everyone is presumed to belong, and all efforts must be diligently enforced to be sure that everyone stays in the community. Everyone. Tolerance is not only the word of the day in our secular culture. It is the attitude (enforced) in our churches. To differ is to be intolerant, and to suggest that someone really does not belong….well, that is the quickest way to be censured or tossed out.

Being “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” requires, I maintain, removing wicked, unrepentant people from the community. What’s that? I shall repeat: biblical zeal to maintain Christian unity requires the expulsion of people who have demonstrated that they are not in Christ, and thus, with whom, we have no unity. THIS is walking in a manner worthy of our calling.

“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (3) eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit.” 

Think about it. How can we maintain what does not exist? We are to patiently “bear with one another.” Who is the “one another”? It is believers. Those who are in Christ. Those who have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Those who have the Spirit. That spiritual unity exists in and between all Christians.  But it does not exist with the wicked.

And therefore anyone who comes along preaching to us that we are to eagerly and patiently maintain unity with an abuser (or any other so-called brother who habitually walks in evil) is preaching some kind of “unity” that the Bible knows nothing about. Consider.  Isn’t it true? Abusers are allowed to remain in our churches in the name of “unity.” But there is no unity to maintain. Such a man is not our brother. In fact, many Scriptures tell us to separate ourselves from such people. To put them out of our churches (1 Cor 5). Not to even eat with them.

And when we wake up and do this, guess what? We are actually maintaining the unity between genuine believers that honors Christ, the Head of the body.

How Did David Treat Goliath? (Shouldn’t He Have Been More Loving?)

Goliath was an abuser. A really nasty one. Listen to him:

1 Samuel 17:8-10  He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.”  And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.”

Forty days this business went on with the giant mocking the Israelites and thus, mocking their God. Then, one day this kid shows up for the showdown and Goliath intensifies his mocking:

1 Samuel 17:40-44 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”

Goliath was an abuser. He was a giant and he knew it. Pity his wife if he had one. Goliath hated God (although at least he was forthright about that and didn’t pretend to be a worshiper of the Lord as so many abusers do today). Goliath ridiculed his victims. Power and control and self-glory were what he was all about.

So, how should David have dealt with Goliath? I suggest to you that many Christians today think they know better than David. They tell abuse victims that when the abuser roars, victims should be meek and submissive. Win the giant over with love, they say. After all, you were a sinner too and God showed you mercy. You show Goliath mercy. Take him some sandwiches. David should have dropped to his knees and prayed and let God handle things. There’s the thing, you see.

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How Academia in Religion Can Enable and Protect Abusers

Today I received the following announcement from the Greystone Theological Institute, announcing another presentation in their Postgraduate Seminar Series. Let me say plainly up front that my purpose here is not to slam Greystone or to try to say that a seminar like this has no value at all. That is not my purpose. You can read the following quote from the email they sent me, and then I will tell you what my point here is.  As you can guess, it has to do with abusers in the church:

On 23 October, at 10 AM (EST), Greystone is pleased to host an online-only presentation by Dr Jake Griesel (Cambridge) as part of the Greystone Online Postgraduate Seminar Series. Dr Griesel will present on “Reformed Orthodoxy in the Church of England, 1660-c. 1730.” Here is a summary of his forthcoming presentation:

“The conventional historiography has long depicted the post-Restoration Church of England as having shed itself of its earlier Reformed heritage. Historians have supposed that, after the Great Ejection of 1662, Reformed orthodoxy in England was almost entirely restricted to dissenters, whereas Arminianism became overwhelmingly dominant in the established Church before being challenged by the Calvinistic wing of the evangelical revivals of the 1730s and 40s. This presentation will challenge the foregoing narrative by considering the abiding strength of Reformed orthodoxy within the established Church between the Restoration (1660) and the dawn of the evangelical revivals (c. 1730). Particular attention will be given to how the Church’s Thirty-nine Articles and Homilies functioned as confessional authorities as post-Restoration Reformed conformists strove to preserve Reformed orthodoxy against Arminianism as the official orthodoxy of the established Church.”

The subject of Dr. Griesel’s presentation will no doubt be interesting to many. The study of church history is important and can have great value. I would probably enjoy hearing it myself.

But….

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Local Churches are Arrogantly Co-Dependent on the Wicked

1Co 5:1-2  It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.  (2)  And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

I have written before on the subject of selfish, sinful, co-dependency. It is so often evidenced in a parent’s supposed “love” for a wicked son or daughter. It is not love at all, but rather a “symthanotropic” (I coined that word – it means “mutual destruction of one another as opposed to symbiotic – giving life to one another) ugly dynamic.

Symthanotropes set out to “fix and heal” one another, although usually one puts most of the money and resources into it while the other just sucks it up like a relational black hole. In reality, these couplets actually destroy each other. One by bleeding the other dry, and that other by enabling the wicked one in his or her evil when the best thing for them would be letting them go it alone in the pig pen.

But here is my main subject in this article – local churches and pastors and church members are doing the very same thing with the wicked, including and perhaps especially in regard to domestic abusers parading as saints.  How?

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Grizzly Bears, Wolves, and the Denial of Evil

Act 20:28-30  Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  (29)  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;  (30)  and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

The Bible is filled with repeated warnings just like this one. Evil, wicked, creeps will always be at work creeping in among us in the church, disguised in wool. And yet, it would seem that the majority of people who claim to be Christians willfully blow off these warnings. Which is, of course, unbelief and disobedience to the King.

Let me give an illustration.

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The Lord Holds All Responsible When Evil is Tolerated

Rev 2:14-16  But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.  (15)  So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  (16)  Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

I am sure that most all of you know of the longstanding evils being exposed within the Southern Baptist Conference. Case after case of domestic and sexual abuse being covered up by corrupt self-seeking leaders. It has been in the news. Google it if you need to get informed.

Recently I saw a thread on this subject on Facebook and I commented there that the SBC just needs to go away. In response, an SBC loyalist replied that it is wrong to judge 15 million Southern Baptists on the basis of the sins of a few leaders. She went on to list many “good things” these SB’s are doing and said that her church and pastor are known for not being active in the SBC, though they are members. So don’t judge them, she said.

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