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.

Continue reading “Here is the False Teaching that Holds Abuse Victims in Bondage”

The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 5)

The Pharisees were the representatives of the Divine law — not only of that given to Israel on Mount Sinai, but also of those more secret ordinances which were only verbally communicated to Moses, in explanation of, and in addition to the law. “(Edersheim)

Their numbers were incredibly small…. Yet this inconsiderable minority could cast Judaism in its mold, and for such terrible evil gave its final direction to the nation!  Edersheim)

Acts 23:12-13, When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy.

Part of the very nature of Pharisaical religion is tradition.  The Roman Catholic church is very much today’s prime example – it has a body of tradition that it openly declares to be the authoritative word of God.  It has its priesthood and its rites.  It adds works to the gospel.  I realize that in this era of extreme ecumenicity, those words sound harsh and judgmental.  But there it is. Rome is a counterfeit church preaching a counterfeit gospel led by a counterfeit bishop and priests exercising counterfeit sacraments.

However, the expression of the religion of the Pharisees that we particularly want to expose here is not that of Rome, but that which has infected the evangelical, professedly Bible-believing church.  Man-made traditions accepted as God’s Word.  A false priesthood.  The elements are to be found among us as well as in Rome.  As it was in Jesus’ day, as Edersheim notes, so it is today — the small numbers of the Pharisees have pressed us into their mold and are giving direction to our churches. And this needs to change.  It will not change easily.   Pharisees don’t go down without a fight.

Let’s return now to Matthew 3 where John the Baptist encounters this breed of religionist and see what more we can learn about them:

Matthew 3:1-10, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Alright, what characteristics of this false religion can we identify in this passage? Remember, we can expect to find the very same qualities today wherever the religion of the Pharisees is “sold” –

  • As soon as the true Gospel of Christ comes, expect the Pharisees to show up shortly.  The Gospel makes the way of the Lord straight.  It makes Christ’s way clear and visible.  It opens up the way for Christ to come to us.  It invites Him to meet us and speak to us.  Pharisaism hinders the Word of God and the work of His Spirit.
  • The true Gospel of Christ is preached by those who are foolish.  John is a kind of mountain man.  His clothing is wild.  His food is wild.  Everything about him is wild as he preaches in the wilderness.  The Gospel is not traditional.  The religion of the Pharisees is robed in fine garments, adorning the exterior of men.  Its adherents exalt themselves.  Their religion appeals to the world.
  • The true Gospel of Christ is at war with the religion of the Pharisees.  It has nothing in common with it and it loudly exposes Pharisaism for what it is – poisonous and devilish.  A viper den.
  • The true Gospel of Christ is concerned with the heart — with faith and repentance.  It calls people to repent of their sin and turn in faith to Christ.  The religion of the Pharisees has no concern with heart issues like repentance.  It is exterior in its nature.  It hates the call to repentance and it shows no fruit of repentance.
  • The true Gospel of Christ gives birth to children by faith and regeneration.  Pharisaical religion rests its confidence in externals, including heritage, nationality, and culture.

So then, what can we expect Pharisaical religion to look like today?  Why don’t you tell us?  Take these qualities of the Pharisees, contrast them with the true gospel of Christ and the true church, and describe for us how these traits are evidencing themselves in our churches today.  Give us examples of how the way to Christ is being hindered by it, and how it appeals to the world.  In what ways do you see its lack of repentance evidencing itself among us.  And how does “Cultural Christianity” appear among us today?  Let’s see how many of these things we can expose.

Sin Destroys Relationships — And Sometimes the Destruction is Total

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did…(Joshua 7:19-20)

As many of you know, a major event in my own awakening to the nature and mentality of abuse involved the sexual abuse of a child. This grievous situation was dropped in the lap of our church through the sin of the perpetrator. I could write pages about it, including about how the Lord used that one event to lead us into the ministry of Unholy Charade. At the same time, He was moving in the lives of others – also through having abuse touch their lives – and eventually led all of us together. That is the happy stuff.  I could also write about the grief and damage done to the victim and to our church.

But what I wanted to write about today is a hard, true, fact that each of us needs to learn. I had to learn it, many of you have learned it, and others of you are still in process of learning it. That lesson is this: Sin damages and destroys relationships, and sometimes that destruction is beyond repair. When it is, we need to stop trying to rebuild it. Abuse damages and destroys a marriage, and usually that destruction is total. Let me show you how I learned this lesson in the case in our church I mentioned above.

When myself and our elders were trying to sort out what justice and love and mercy and wisdom would look like in this scenario, we came to a conclusion.  It took some time because none of us had experienced something like this before. Our church was small and close – what looked like a family. And then this test came. When we concluded that there was no way we could provide a safe, healing church environment for the victim and at the same time permit the perpetrator to continue to attend our church, I remember telling the congregation that sin destroys relationships. Even when there is real repentance and real forgiveness, some sins are so grievous that the destroyed relationship simply cannot be put back together again – nor should it be.

Now, the response from a couple of people went something like this – “but we are all sinners. And we have all been forgiven by Christ. How can you say that sin destroys relationships when grace and mercy and love are able to overcome any sin? We don’t believe what you are saying. We think everyone should forgive one another and love one another and the relationship will be restored and everything can be like it was.”

That kind of talk is unbiblical, false, exceedingly selfish, and very damaging to the victim and everyone else. The fact is that some sins are so grievous, so destructive, and so harmful that any relationship between the perpetrator and the victim is fully and finally over. That destruction is the perpetrator’s doing. Abuse not only harms a marriage, unrepented of (which is the normal case) it destroys the marriage irrevocably.

Abuse, as we define it on this blog, especially the kind perpetrated by a pseudo-Christian, fully and finally reduces the husband-wife relationship to ashes, never to be rebuilt. (In many cases the relationship was a mere facade from the very beginning!)

I am afraid that many professing Christians are radically ignorant of this hard fact. Namely, that certain sins are so evil that to begin to beat the drums of “forgiveness and reconciliation” is sheer madness. I am afraid that there are Christians, for example, who would actually propose that the Lord would have a madman who had walked into a church service and slaughtered a host of people, welcomed into that church with a great big hugfest carried out to the tune of “Only a Sinner, Saved by Grace.”

But the Lord Jesus Christ calls this foolishness, not love. He calls us – no, He commands us – to put the wicked one out from our midst. He shows us in case after case in His Word that there are indeed limits to His mercy. Did you hear that? God’s mercy and grace are not infinite. That is why there is a hell. He tells us that there are lines which, if crossed, there is no returning to Him. Esau (see Hebrews 6) is a prime example. And the infamous Achan of Jericho fame is another example.

Did you read the verses above? Listen to them again-

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did…(Joshua 7:19-20)

How does that sound to you? It sounds like a script worked up to introduce a happy ending, right? “Truly I have sinned against the Lord…this is what I did….”.  Yay! Achan repented! Everything is ok, right? Nope –

And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor. (Joshua 7:24-26)

Achan, you recall, had by his sin caused the death of over 30 of his fellows. Achan had crossed the line.

Sin damages and destroys relationships, and sometimes that destruction is total so that rebuilding of the relationship is impossible and even wrong. Remember that the next time you sense the tempter at your door. And let us all remember this when working with the victims of grievous evil, and when we must deal out real justice to their oppressors.

Because with some sins, the sinner gets no second chance at the relationship. Molest a child and your relationship with that child and the child’s family is over, no matter how close you were. Abuse your wife and, well, do not tell us that you deserve another shot at the marriage. Betray the trust of an entire church congregation over whom the Lord placed you as shepherd – understand that such betrayal may well totally and fully and irrevocably destroy your relationship with those people.

We close with one more account of two people who crossed that line, and there was no going back –

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (Acts 5:1-11)

The Devil is in the Details: To Reveal Abusers and Their Allies You Must ask the Right Questions

Quite a long time ago I wrote a review of Voddie Baucham’s “sermon” on the permanence doctrine (i.e., divorce is never ever permitted by God. Period. No discussion.) Baucham thinks that remarriage is only permitted when a former spouse has died. If any member of his church comes to him or his elders and says they want to divorce or that they have serious marriage problems of ANY kind, Baucham tells everyone his reply will be “YOU are the problem. Go back to your marriage.”

Baucham, incidentally, was actually “preaching” straight out of a book by Jim Elliff called Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View (terrible, terrible book). But Baucham gave the plain impression he was preaching Scripture and thus speaking by the Lord’s authority. I think the prophet Jeremiah has some words for such people who would presume to speak for the Lord when in fact the Lord has not sent them.

Many of Baucham’s followers have vehemently protested that we would be so critical of him. Recently a reader submitted the following comment in response to my critique of Baucham’s teaching. Here is what she said (and I have not edited her comment even though it appears a little confusing, probably just an auto-correct typo thingy):

I had the privilege of speaking to Voddie Baucham in February when he was just outside of Atlanta. I asked him about a specific issue since of my family members are going through. A divorce occurred in order to keep the wife safe because her life was in danger and because of marital unfaithfullness on the unbelieving husbands part. Mr Voddie gave me great advice to pass along to her. He also said that unfortunately, sometimes there are severe situations where divorce is unavoidable.

Our commenter sounds satisfied with Baucham’s response, does she not? Perhaps implying that we have been too hard on the man or at least have misunderstood him. Nope. We haven’t. But what HAS happened is that she made a common mistake we have all made when dealing with such people — she failed to ask him the right questions.

What should she have asked him?

  • In these “severe situations” should a divorce take place?  Are both parties guilty of sin before God? That is to say, is any divorce a sin? I am not asking if the Lord will forgive a person who files for divorce, but specifically I want to know if you are saying that it is always a sin to file for divorce?
  • In these “severe situations,” does God allow for remarriage?
  • And incidentally, just what are some examples of these “severe situations” you speak of?

It takes these kind of pointed questions, asked very pointedly so that there is no room for shifting, to get down to the heart of the matter. In this case, Baucham would have to answer (if he were being straightforward and honest) that he believes every divorce is a sin, that filing divorce papers is always a sin, that God never allows any divorced person to remarry if their ex is still alive, and that these “severe situations” are limited to severe physical abuse.

Mr Baucham’s advice on this subject is never “great advice.” This lady may think it was, but we say once more, she failed to ask the right questions — and Baucham, like so many of these kinds of people who lord their private opinions over Christ’s people, conveniently avoided the details.

As is often said and is always true, the devil is in the details

Is a Written Procedure and Training the Solution to Domestic Abuse Hiding in the Church?

Mat 23:24-25  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.

With some frequency I have sincere people contact me with the same question. Their motive in asking is good and they truly want to get justice for abuse victims and expose their abusers – especially the ones hiding behind a Christian disguise. Here is the question they bring:

Is there a written procedure or protocol somewhere that I can take to my church leaders so it can be implemented and domestic abuse will be handled properly in our church?

Another form of this question goes something like this:

Is there some type of conference that can be put on in our church to educate the pastors and members about domestic abuse?

These questions come often enough that I thought it would be good to write in this post what I tell those who ask them. So, here we go.

Continue reading “Is a Written Procedure and Training the Solution to Domestic Abuse Hiding in the Church?”

The Mercy of God and the Right Handling of His Word

Jon 1:1-2  Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  (2)  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

Jon 3:4-5  Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  (5)  And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

Many of the churches that we have dealt with in regard to their cruel treatment of domestic abuse victims proudly include in their doctrinal statements an unbending confession of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I fully concur with that doctrine. The Bible is the very Word of God and is the rule for our faith and practice.

However, it is not enough for us to confess the Bible to be the Word of God. We must also interpret and apply it as the Lord intends for His Word to be understood and applied. The Pharisees, as you know, were very conservative in doctrine and held to the letter of Scripture. And yet they were so, so very wrong in how they used it. Grievously and mercilessly wrong.

Continue reading “The Mercy of God and the Right Handling of His Word”

“She Just Wants to Take Him for all She Can” — Really?

As we know, abuse victims are regularly and roundly criticized (that’s putting it mildly) for leaving and/or filing for divorce from their abuser. One of the charges made against them is that “she just wants to take him for all she can in divorce court.” And, of course, abusers love to repeat this mantra, claiming that the courts are dominated by the feminists and men received gross injustice there.

That is a fantasy that originates with and is promoted by abusers. Let’s do a reality check.

Continue reading ““She Just Wants to Take Him for all She Can” — Really?”