The Abusive Marriage Wrongly Seen as Pious Asceticism

Colossians 2:16-23 ESV Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (17)  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (18)  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, (19)  and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (20)  If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– (21)  “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22)  (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? (23)  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

One of the reasons Christians so often pile a huge and even dangerous burden onto the victimized spouse of an abuser is the crazy notion that her suffering is somehow pleasing to God.  Asceticism is the “severe treatment of the body” that supposedly helps a person defeat their temptations and sins — whipping one’s back, crawling up stairs on one’s knees — that sort of thing.  Scripture counters any such notion — “they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”  When the Lord Himself brings trials into our lives, trials from which at the moment there is no escape, that is one thing.  He means this for our good and for His glory.  Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever that was, is an example.  Paul however would have escaped this thorn if the Lord had made it possible.

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Who do we Really Want in our Churches? – Is “Everyone” Welcome?

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.

How many times have you seen those church signs as you drive along?

“Everyone Welcome”

And so it seems in most local churches, everyone is welcome. “Come on in. Feel the love.” How foolish (or just plain rebellious) can we be!

Just a few moments of serious thought about what the Lord has written in the Scriptures will show us that in fact, not everyone is welcome in the Lord Jesus Christ’s church. Certainly not by Him. Why aren’t we following His lead?

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False Teaching About “Gossip” Frequently Silences Victims

A few years back I received a copy of a small book written by Pastor Marc J. Grimaldi entitled Gossip: The Church Killer. It included a letter from Pastor Grimaldi which indicated he had sent out a copy of his book to pastors such as myself. He said in the letter:

For the ten years that I have served in the gospel ministry, I have found gossip to be one of the deadliest sins, which eats away at the life of Christ’s church. It is amazing to see how a single conversation even, can bring a wave of disruption, with many hearts being infected by the spread of gossip, leading to major problems in the local church. Sadly, gossip is so underrated and precautions must be taken to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, by inoculating our church members with a thorough understanding of the nature and danger of gossip….It is my hope that this short work will be a valuable tool for bringing the awareness of the danger of gossip to the local church, so that we might consciously seek to put this venomous asp to death, counteracting it with words that actually build up the body, rather than tear it down.

Now, I have no reason to believe that Pastor Grimaldi’s goal here is anything but what he has stated — to protect the church. However, most all of our readers  will agree that abusers absolutely love to accuse their victims of gossip if the victims tell anyone about the evils being done to them. And pastors and church members often do the same when an abuse victim comes forward to expose the evil and ask for help. “You are gossiping. Go home and respect your spouse.”

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Ephesians 5:11 and Exposing Evil – A Real Case

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible . (Eph 5:11-13)

Jesus exposed evil. The Light of the World does that. His people are the light of the world and we are to do the same evil-exposing that He did. His Word shows us the pattern:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23:25)

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. (2 Timothy 4:14-15)

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1:9-10)

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. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor 5:1-2)

Need I go on? This is the pattern of Light exposing evil as God commands. Is it the typical pattern we see in churches now? Hardly.

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Willful Blindness to Evil Enables the Wicked and Oppresses Victims

Isaiah 56:10 His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.

If you have experienced attacks from the wicked such as domestic abusers or sociopaths say, in the church, who demand to have power and control, then you know the reality of evil. You probably know something else too. Namely, the willful blindness to that evil that so many people choose to cling to. Don’t talk to them about it. Keep your mind on the “sunny side of life,” they say.

These are the kind of people who are “nice.” I don’t like this brand of “nice.” No matter what you say to these type about some evildoer, they will always respond with “the positive.” “Yes, that is terrible, but….” –

  • We just need to love him/her
  • Maybe he just misunderstood you or you misunderstood him
  • He is getting better than he used to be though, right?
  • You need to get past this
  • He/she is family though

And on and on, right? You’ve heard all this stuff before I am sure.

This brand of person is willfully blind to the presence of evil, the tactics of evil, and the mentality of evil. Willfully. Ignorance is not the problem when a person chooses to be ignorant of something. Civil law even acknowledges this. A person can be convicted of a crime or held liable for damages if they should have known something but chose to turn a blind eye to it. No, blindness isn’t the problem in these cases.

That is to say, always looking for the good in someone or something is not a noble attribute. It throws victims of abuse under the bus all because someone else desires to not have to think of really unpleasant things. And if a person who claims to be a Christian consistently practices this “looking for the good,” then guess what? They aren’t a Christian at all.

Mat 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Jas 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.

Isa 1:16-17 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, (17) learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

Tell me – how in the world is anyone going to truly obey these Scriptures if they choose to remain blind to evil? You sure won’t hunger and thirst for righteousness because you keep insisting that pretty much there already IS righteousness. You may call on an orphan and widow and be Mr. oh-so-nice to them, but there is no way you will visit them in their affliction because really, you don’t think their situation is all that bad – and you will tell them so!! Will you bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widow’s cause? Of course not! You will just tell them that they should just suck it up and look for the good in their situation.

Understand? Do you see more clearly now why I don’t like “Mr. Nice” at all? Because Mr. Nice is an incredibly, horribly, selfish person. He or she simply wants to enjoy an enjoyable life without the bumps and disturbances the acknowledgement of evil brings.

And THIS is largely why victims of domestic abuse and sexual abuse are being rejected by churches today. The thing is just too troubling. Surely such evil does not exist, especially among “the people of God”? And if it does, well, Mr. Nice just doesn’t want to know about it.

Isaiah 56:10 His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.

 

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Will Your Church Leaders Stand With You Against Your Abuser? 3 Ways to Know

With some regularity I hear from people who tell me that they are on board with this issue of domestic abusers hiding in the church. They are excited that their pastor has “really had his eyes opened” and is “promising to stand with abuse victims.” And I have heard the same from various well-known Christian counseling ministries.

I don’t believe most of them. And when I say so, let me tell you, I lose friends and I do not gain any popularity with the “happening” crowds in Christendom. They accuse me of being narrow and arrogant, as if “only I know anything.”

But the truth is, I do know that they still cannot be trusted to stand with victims of abuse. How do I know, you ask? I will tell you. Three things. There are just three things that you need to find out – and then you will know too. Ready? [If they fail at any ONE of these, they fail all]

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The True Church – Christ’s Remnant – Has Been Scattered

Rom 16:17-19 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (19) For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

In the soon to be four decades in which I have been a pastor, I have seen the visible church become more like a den of robbers than the body of Christ. What would you experience if you checked into a robbers’ den? A thieves’ hideout? Oh it looked good on the outside – a nice place to stay you thought. But inside? Well, you were preyed upon. Not prayed upon. Preyed upon. Beaten. Robbed. Turns out the place was filled with the wicked.

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