Fantasies and Fictions that Keep Victims in Abuse (Part 2) – Loving our Enemy

Luk 6:27  “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

We saw an example in last Friday’s post of how “christian” fiction and fantasy does great harm, especially to victims of abuse as it hides in the church. That example, published at Our Daily Bread (odb.org) referenced a fictional book that portrayed a suffering Christian man touching his persecutor and thereby healing the wicked man’s physical ailment. Wow! How incredible!  Yes, it is IN-credible. UN-believable. Because it is fiction. Yet, how often are victims of evil given these kinds of fiction to make them stay in the abuse, supposedly so that they can heal the evil heart of their abuser?

What did Jesus mean? When He tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us?

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Fantasies and Fictions that Keep Victims in Abuse

Our Daily Bread, a daily devotional publication, posted the following at odb.org for August 20, 2019. It was entitled Touched by Grace and written by Sheridan Voysey. Here it is:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)

In Leif Enger’s novel Peace Like a River, Jeremiah Land is a single father of three working as a janitor at a local school. He’s also a man of deep, sometimes miraculous, faith. Throughout the book, his faith is often tested.

Jeremiah’s school is run by Chester Holden, a mean-spirited superintendent with a skin condition. Despite Jeremiah’s excellent work ethic—mopping up a sewage spill without complaint, picking up broken bottles the superintendent smashed—Holden wants him gone. One day, in front of all the students, he accuses Jeremiah of drunkenness and fires him. It’s a humiliating scene.

How does Jeremiah respond? He could threaten legal action for unfair dismissal or make accusations of his own. He could slink away, accepting the injustice. Think for a moment what you might do.

“Love your enemies,” Jesus says, “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?

Jeremiah looks at Holden for a moment, then reaches up and touches his face. Holden steps back defensively, then feels his chin and cheeks in wonder. His scarred skin has been healed.

An enemy touched by grace.

Heart-warming. Touching. And total fiction. Let me clue you in – you cannot touch someone and heal them. You cannot touch someone and regenerate their evil heart. This is a false application of Jesus’ words about loving our enemies and doing good to those who persecute us. And yet this is just the kind of thing that professing Christians want to believe, so they choose to do so and then they lay these fictions on victims of abuse, insisting that the Lord requires them to endure and remain in it.

 

We do not interpret the Scriptures properly by writing fantasy stories about them. That stuff may sell like hotcakes and make publishers rich, but it is a rank misuse of God’s Word. And it does harm. Real, serious, harm.

Notice again this statement by Voysey:

These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?

Yes, let’s imitate God. Does God always deal with His enemies in such a way as to help them become all He wants them to be? Of course not. The implication here by Voysey is that WE can heal them. That WE can change that abuser’s evil heart by “touching them.” Well, we can’t. God can. But He doesn’t. God does not change the heart of an unrepentant, wolf in sheep’s clothing who is hiding in the pews disguised as the finest saint in the church, all the while behind the scenes wickedly abusing his wife or molesting children. In fact, the Lord tells us (see 1 Cor 5) to cast out such a person from His church.

In other cases, as we see in the imprecatory Psalms, the Lord authorizes us to pray for His wrath to come upon the wicked. Particularly upon the wicked who cruelly mistreat God’s people. What, we can ask ourselves, did God want Pharaoh to be? (See Romans 9 – “for this very purpose I raised him up”).  What of the apostate who has tasted the good gift of God (Hebrews 6:4-6) but then returned to his own vomit? The Apostle John (see 1 John 5) tells us there is a sin (and I think he means apostasy) that we are not to pray for.

So, instead of writing some damaging story line that is only fit for a comic book, how do we handle Jesus’ words? –

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)

We will turn to that answer in the next post this coming Monday.

 

 

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Watch out for Perversions of 1 Corinthians 13

1Co 13:7  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I suspect that most of you have had this verse quoted by people who are at work to keep you in an abusive relationship. We must love our abuser, you know. After all – love endures all things. And we must believe our abuser when he claims repentance because love believes all things. Yada, yada, yada.

Nonsense. Don’t fall for it.  First of all think about the Lord Jesus. He is obviously the essence of love in a man. Now did Jesus believe all things? Did He believe the Pharisees? As He, by His Spirit, inspired the Apostles to write Scripture, did He guide them into writing that we are to literally believe all things? Of course not. Much of the New Testament consists of warnings against false doctrine and false teachers.

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Many Times Teaching “Gossip” as a Sin is Designed to Hush up Abuse Victims

A friend emailed me and brought the following book to my attention. Ed Welch (who wrote the forward) is of course a bigwig in CCEF which I never recommend to anyone. I haven’t read the book. Apparently there is also a video series of it that is being used by churches.

Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue by Matthew C. Mitchell – Fwd by Ed Welch

But I just use this reminder to caution everyone regarding the typical teachings on gossip that we see in churches and in “christian” publications. Many times, if not most of the time, these teachings are actually used to hush up abuse victims. How many of you were told by your pastor, for example, that you were guilty of gossiping about your abuser when you reported his/her abuse?

I have seen this very thing exercised over and over by “the most holy saints” running churches. I remember for instance telling a wolf in wool one time (I didn’t yet understand what he really was) about the wickedness of a person in our church at that time. His response was accusatory. “Now, pastor, should you really be telling me this?”  He comes off looking all saintly and I wear the guilt.

So, I issue this caution about books and teachings like this one on “resisting gossip.” Beware. Christ publishes the sins of the wicked from the rooftops. And I don’t think He is guilty of gossip.

Here is the False Teaching that Holds Abuse Victims in Bondage

Brent Detwiler is a good man. He has fought the battle fearlessly in exposing the sexual abuse and the coverups of it in the Sovereign Grace, CJ Mahaney circles. We are very thankful for his tireless work.

But Brent blew it when he recently made the following comment on facebook. I am quoting it here to reiterate to all of you that these teachings are unbiblical and harmful. I am not going to go into a long point by point refutation – what Brent says here has been refuted in other blog posts I have done already. This is, you might say, a practical exercise for all of us in identifying unbiblical notions that enable abusers and enslave victims.  Here is what Brent said. I am sure that many if not most of you have heard this stuff before. Let me say again – this is false teaching. It is wrong. We must absolutely reject it.

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We Must Not Excuse the Wicked Person’s Wickedness and Call him a Christian

Recently I addressed in some comments this subject of who a Christian is – and who is not. As you know, we have had the tiring mantra of “we are all sinners” thrown at us as an excuse for abusers and as a club to force us to “show love and forgiveness.” We aren’t buying that line anymore. The Christian is not a sinner. We still sin, but “sinner” is no longer the title Scripture gives us. Saint, heir, child of God, beloved, holy ones – these are the terms the Bible uses.

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Abuse and the Police: Churches Are Not Above the Civil Authorities

Romans 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, (4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

When I was a police officer I often had to go testify in court.  Portland, Oregon was a large enough city that you would see new assistant District Attorneys begin their careers in traffic court, prosecuting speeding offenses then moving up to DWI cases and so on.  They had to learn some basics in presenting their case, and one of the things they had to establish at the very start was something called venue.  Venue has to do with the jurisdiction of the court.  A court in Oregon, for example, cannot try a speeding offense if it occurred in the state of Washington.  And if the court were in Portland, then the offense had to have occurred in Multnomah County, and so on.  So the prosecutor would have to establish that, for instance, SE 139th and Division Street was in “the county of Multnomah, State of Oregon.”  If he forgot to do that, the case could be dismissed.  Venue, you see.

Here in the 13th chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul is teaching us about venue. He says that God has appointed the civil authorities to carry out a particular function.  The police, the prosecutor’s office, and the courts all “bear the sword” for the purpose of dealing with wrongdoers.  The civil authorities are to be a “terror” to evil people for the benefit of us all.  Therefore, we are all to be in subjection to them.

Christians and pastors and churches forget this, and in part (perhaps in large part) this is why abuse, both domestic and sexual, is being covered up in our churches.  The thing is in the news now with well known evangelicals being sued for this very thing.  It is contended that rather than report cases of sexual abuse and spousal abuse (criminal actions) to the civil authorities for prosecution, church leaders hushed it up and handled it “in house.”  Or we should say, “mis-handled” it.  Grievous wrongs were done to victims.

Churches do not have venue in regard to criminal offenses!  We believe in the separation of church and state, just as Romans 13 teaches.  The church has its venue (spiritual and religious) and the state has its venue (earthly and legal).  Criminal offenses cannot be tried in the church!  That has been attempted in church history and the outcome has never been good.  The church does not rule over the king, nor does the king rule over the church.  They each have their assigned areas of venue.  If the king errs spiritually, it is the duty and right of the church to correct him.  And if the church errs in criminal or civil matters, it is the duty and right of the king to correct the church.

In our churches, we can easily make the state out to be the enemy.  We home-school rather than subject our children to the schools of the state.  We protest that our taxes are used to fund abortions (rightly so).  But in all of this, if we are not careful (and we have not been careful), we can go wrong in our thinking and imagine that we are above the state in all matters.  And so, when it is discovered that a child has been abused in our church, we can easily err by seeing the civil authorities as the enemy and imagining that we have a God-given venue to handle the case entirely ourselves.  We do not.  For the most part we are not competent nor equipped to handle such cases, and we violate the law (and thus oppose God as Paul says) when we refuse to report abuse to the police.  We do further damage to victims and we shame the name of Christ, as is happening in the news right now, when the whole sorry mess comes out perhaps years later.  “Church and pastors covered up sexual abuse and protected the perpetrator.”

That is a headline you never want to see as a result of something your church did, or did not do.