Why do Christians insist that Abuse Victims Return to Egypt?

Right on through Scripture, any desire to return to bondage and slavery is treated as foolish and even sinful.

And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:1-6)

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:1-3)

The Israelites grumbled. The Lord had done wonderful things for them by His might and power, delivering them from the harsh life in Egypt. But when the going got even a little difficult, the grumbling began. They longed for Egypt. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Abuse victims want freedom. They are enslaved and oppressed by their own personal “pharaoh” and once they begin to see just what is happening to them, they yearn for liberty.

Freedom and liberty in Scripture are good things. It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Don’t let anyone trick you into returning to bondage. That is what the Bible says.

So why do so many pastors, churches, counselors, and individual Christians teach the opposite when it comes to abuse? What do I mean? The standard line — you all know it far too well — given to an abuse victim in a church is “Go back to Egypt. Go back. Return. Be enslaved. Submit to it. You’ve got a contract with pharaoh and it can’t be broken.” So the abused ones go back. And the abuse intensifies —

So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. (Exodus 5:10-12)

Why? Why is it that there are myriads of “freedom” programs (aka “ministries”) allegedly under the banner of Christ, offering liberty to captives — but not to abuse victims? “Come on, you can be free from slavery to overeating. You can be free of addictions. Here is how you can get free of co-dependency.” And on and on and on. But abuse victims? Forget it.

Think it through. How many ministries are in professing Christian churches specifically designed to set abuse victims free? You are going to have to search high and low to find one. Oh, but go looking for “ministries” (quotation marks here indicate my sarcasm) that put victims back into bondage in Egypt and you will find them all over the place. “Come on down and we will fix your marriage. Don’t even think about divorce. We will show you how to live happily ever after….with Pharaoh.”  Am I right? Of course I’m right. Because all of this is true.

Christ redeems His people. That means He sets us free. That is why He came and went to the cross. Anyone telling you to stay in Egypt is not of Christ no matter how “Christian” they might appear.

The Lord Desires Mercy, not Sacrifice – Faith Without Works is Dead Faith

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I believe in the inerrancy, authority, and infallibility of Scripture.  That is to say, I believe that the original manuscripts (often called “autographs”) of Scripture were so directed in their composition by the Holy Spirit working through the human authors that what was written was the perfect Word of God without error in word and in entirety.  Of course we do not have those manuscripts now, which is no doubt just as well or human nature being what it is, we would have 66 or more shrines set up for worshiping them!  Scripture, being the Word of God, is necessarily infallible.  You can trust it and it will never fail you. And it is authoritative because it is God’s Word.  And if you are at all familiar with the science of textual criticism, the discipline that deals with taking all of the existing ancient copies of Scripture and re-constructing the original, then you know that we can have full confidence that our Bibles are the Word of God.

But what else does Biblical inerrancy, infallibility, and authority mean?  Recently we were having a discussion in our main Sunday School class about the early creation-account chapters of Genesis.  For myself, I believe that they teach a literal 24-hour day, 7-day creation week.  I do not believe that the universe is a bajillion years old.  But we were discussing whether or not the literal 24-hour day creation should be put in the fundamental doctrinal statement of local churches and new members then required to adhere to it in order to be members.  Quite a number of conservative, perhaps we might say fundamental, churches have done this and encourage others to do it.  In my opinion, this should not be done.  But that is another story.

My point here is that these are the kinds of issues that we think of when we think about the inerrancy and infallibility and authority of the Bible.  Was Adam a real individual?  Is Paul’s take on a certain issue just his own opinion or is it God’s Word?  Those kinds of things.  And they are important issues.  But let me suggest that while we can be all caught up in energetic debates over these things, we can easily slide into the trap that the Pharisees did:

Matthew 23:23-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (24) You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (25) “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. (26) You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

I know of churches and Christians and pastors and denominations that have done intense battle over attacks upon the Word of God, particularly in these areas of inerrancy and authority and so on.  And we need to stand firm for these things.  But I also know of churches and Christians and pastors and denominations who, all the while they are fighting the fight for Scripture, deny Scripture themselves by neglecting the weightier matters:  justice and mercy and faithfulness.  And in probably no greater frequency, we see this failure in respect to how the powerful wield that power and how they deal with the weak.  How they treat the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the land.  Many, many people who have fought all out warfare for the integrity of Scripture end up disregarding Scripture!!

Because, in the end, when I say that I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God, I am saying that I bow my knee to the One who speaks in it and ask Him, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”  And then I go out and DO that Word.  If not, then I am no more than the son who is all talk but no action:

Matthew 21:28-31 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ (29) And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. (30) And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. (31) Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.

A Typical Horror Story from an Old Box of Church Records

Prepare to be freaked out:

When a separation has taken place by the desertion of one spouse, the other is not automatically free to marry someone else. Paul’s counsel is to remain unmarried or be reconciled. The primary point is that reconciliation of a divided couple is always God’s will, not the seeking for someone who is a more compatible match. [From a study of divorce and remarriage by the board members and pastor of Idaville Bible Church, Tillamook, Oregon, 1986].

I have been the pastor of Christ Reformation Church (once known as Idaville Bible Church) for 26 years now. Not long after I came here, I was nosing through some old church records that were stuffed away in boxes in an attic. I couldn’t read them for very long. I saw turnover after turnover of pastors and I myself was in the midst of efforts to drive me away at that time. Recently, in cleaning out the old records, our church secretary found a file labeled “Divorce and Remarriage – Special Study by the Deacon Board.” Yikes! I checked it out. The above quote is taken from it.

Here are some more things I found. This is the typical stuff that turns into a horror story for victims of abuse who are Christians and who go to their pastor and church body for help.

Continue reading “A Typical Horror Story from an Old Box of Church Records”

The Love of Money: Why Churches, Denominations, and other “Christian” Entities Abuse the Abused

As criminal investigators often say, “follow the money” if you want to get to the crooks. In this post I want to expose a chief and leading motive which explains why “christian” entities (denominations, seminaries, churches, missions organizations, Bible colleges, pastors, etc) so typically abuse the abused. Why do they cover up the evils of the wicked? Why do they try to silence the victims? Why is the wicked man so often allowed to remain in a church while his victim is ostracized? I think the answer is largely right in front of us and it is far more base and disgusting than we might realize when all the fog of excuses is blown away.

Continue reading “The Love of Money: Why Churches, Denominations, and other “Christian” Entities Abuse the Abused”

Abuse and Hope: The Bride of Christ as Remnant and Ants

1 Kings 19:9-10 ESV There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (10)  He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away…. 19:18 ESV (18)  Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

In these days it is easy for Christians to become Elijahs, thinking that we are the only ones left who are faithful to the Lord, that soon there will be none left as the enemies of Christ seem to be so successful at eradicating faith from the earth.  We have had many discussions on this blog about this very subject.  The leaven of the Pharisees appears to have spread like a plague through the churches.  Many of our readers who have been treated so miserably by their pastors and churches find themselves “outside the camp” and so traumatized that they are unable to return to a local church.  They don’t want this to be so.  At least, that is my take on it.  They would love to be in a real church where Christ’s people have heeded the Lord Jesus’ words to go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.  But, alas, where is such a church to be found?

Well, in all of this we must not despair.  Christ loves His Bride.  The Body of Christ survives today and always will.  God has always preserved His remnant and indeed it is the remnant, as it turns out, that is the true church anyway!

Romans 9:25-27 ESV As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” (26)  “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” (27)  And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,

The true church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a church that we can all love.  It is here and it is there.  It exists, very often, within a visible and local church.  At other times it has been cast out of the visible temple by the Pharisees, but it is always there.  And, like “birds of a feather,” its members inevitably and through all kinds of means find one another.

Continue reading “Abuse and Hope: The Bride of Christ as Remnant and Ants”

Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer

One of the recurring themes we hear from Christians who are abuse victims/survivors is that when they went to their pastor or church for help, reporting the abuse, they were told that they must remain with their abuser or at most separate from him for a time, always working toward reconciliation.

In all cases like this, we have seen pastors and churches “shepherding” or “caring for” the victim and abuser — as they put it. And behind all of this there has been an attitude or conviction or doctrine of the church and of the pastorate and even of the nature of the individual Christian that essentially says “we will mediate Christ to you.” It is quite Roman Catholic actually. The thing is much like a formal priesthood which behaves as if the individual Christian is led and directed by the church, unable on their own to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd. And yet:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me  (John 10:14)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

Every real Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is led by the Spirit (See Romans 8; Galatians 5:16ff). Every real Christian is thereby enabled to understand Scripture.

Continue reading “Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer”

This is Why Most Pastors and Churches Ally with the Abuser

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….1Co 5:6  Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

Recently I was corresponding with an abuse victim whose church was commanding her to remain married to her abuser “because Jesus calls us to stay in suffering.” In the course of our conversation I told her that this church was going to welcome her abuser into the church and end up rejecting her. I am no prophet. Nor am I brilliant. It’s just that after seeing this very scenario unfold countless times it becomes a pretty safe bet to tell someone what to expect. Not too long later she wrote back and said “you called it. Yep. They invited him to be in church.”

Why is it then that churches and pastors and people who we thought were our friends end up allying with the wicked man (or wicked woman if the wife is the abuser)?

Continue reading “This is Why Most Pastors and Churches Ally with the Abuser”