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

I Do Not Believe the Southern Baptists’ Claim that they Are Changing and Dealing With Abuse

Mat 21:28-32  “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.  (32)  For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

My journey into the Lord’s wisdom about domestic abusers hiding in the church began in 2008, eleven years ago. Since that time we have all seen “Christian” organizations (Focus on the Family, Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, etc) and denominations jumping on the wagon ready to go along for the ride, even claiming to be leading the caravan.

Most of it is a mere front. A public relations stunt and I don’t believe the large majority of these people at all. Here is what has happened – they got busted. As other voices began giving a hearing to abuse victims and the facts of what has been going on in churches for decades came to light, the pressure grew. All of a sudden the “ministries” began launching their programs. There has been almost no real repentance for all the years of oppressing victims and enabling abusers that these groups are guilty of. No. They simply knew that it was looking bad for them and they had better do something. And thus the conferences, the books, the therapy programs, yada, yada, yada.

But I am telling you that nothing has changed among these counterfeits. Nothing. How do I know? Read on –

Continue reading “I Do Not Believe the Southern Baptists’ Claim that they Are Changing and Dealing With Abuse”

The Most “Godly” Person You Know Probably Isn’t

Proverbs 6:12-14 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;

Just when my day is going along smoothly and I am actually getting some things on my list done, POW! Something happens that sends me back to the computer to write another post. I can’t just make a note of it. I have to crank it out at the moment if at all possible.

Recently I was reminded very powerfully of how abusers put on their convincing show of “godliness.” I know that we have written numbers of posts on this subject, but I want to try to describe this tactic to you even more clearly so that to whatever extent I am able, you can be there right with me seeing what I see.

Continue reading “The Most “Godly” Person You Know Probably Isn’t”

Keep Your Accusation Radar Up — It Detects Abusers

I have written on this subject before,  but it comes around in my mind once again. Here is a fact that will serve you well in helping identify and defend against an abuser:

Abusers are accusers. A normal, healthy, safe relationship is not characterized by accusations. If someone is regularly accusing you (often in subtle ways that are disguised as ‘suggestions’ or ‘questions’) then you are dealing with a person who is at minimum not safe nor healthy for you.

A Christian wants to do right. We pray that the Lord will show us even our hidden sins so that we can repent of them and be healed from ungodly ways of thinking. So if someone comes along and tells a Christian he or she has done wrong, or had a wrong motive, or evidences some pattern of misbehavior that is not pleasing to the Lord, we listen. It isn’t fun and it is even painful, but we strive toward humility. Yet….

We must beware. There are times we must NOT listen. How do you “feel” around a person? Safe? Generally encouraged? Accepted? Loved? If so, you probably want to hear what they have to say. Besides, from this kind of person the nature of their statement to us is not going to smack of accusation. It comes in a spirit of kindness. And it doesn’t come except rather rarely from these type of people. On the other hand, if you will pay attention to your feelings and senses and the spirit (or Spirit) in you, you will find that your feelings around a wicked person are quite different. You feel unsafe. Discouraged. Rejected. Unloved. You may have tried to suppress those “negative” feelings and even denied them to yourself because after all, Christians aren’t supposed to feel that way, right? And hey, there are tons of Christians, including ourselves, who just assume WE are the problem.

Well, it’s not necessarily right that Christians aren’t supposed to feel that way. Wicked people WILL make us feel unsafe. The Holy Spirit in us WILL stir us to caution — level yellow and up to level red if necessary. And you will also find that, if you begin to make note over time, that this kind of person in your life rather regularly, not rarely, accuses you.

Think it through. How many other people in your life accuse you regularly? I mean the people who love you. They just don’t do it. So what can we say? We say what we said again:

Abusers are accusers. A normal, healthy, safe relationship is not characterized by accusations. If someone is regularly accusing you (often in subtle ways that are disguised as ‘suggestions’ or ‘questions’) then you are dealing with a person who is at minimum not safe nor healthy for you.

Understand! BOY! This is hugely helpful and freeing! Accusations are not normal. A relationship characterized by accusations against you is not normal. People who are regularly questioning our motives, telling us what we have done wrong, telling us what we need to do better, are doing exactly what Jesus said the wicked do to the righteous:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)

See? That’s what the wicked do. Accuser! Begone! We see you for what you are! Your master has been thrown out of heaven. He can’t accuse the brethren anymore, and I’m not going to let you do it either!

Abusers Often Betray their Disguise in Subtle Ways we Must not Ignore

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. (Proverbs 6:12-15)

Winks with his eyes. Signals with his feet. Points with his finger. The nonverbal ways of the wicked man. Let’s think about these things a bit.

Quite a number of years ago — almost 20 I think — I attended a pastoral training class at a mega-church a few hours away from us. The pastor there was putting on the class. He was well-known because after he took a church over two decades or so before, the church rocketed to over 6,000 people. Huge campus. Millions and millions of dollars being invested in a completely new facility. He was the man. Their bookstore was filled with his books and tapes.

So we went there to learn “how to do it.” … Stupid. I know, I know.

During the morning presentation this pastor made a statement when he was talking to us about counseling. He said, and this is pretty much an exact quote, “Do you all know what is the most frequent question people ask when they come to me with their marriage troubles?” What do you think he gave as the answer? You won’t guess. Here it is – “They want me to help them sort out oral sex. Is it right? The wife is hesitant and the guy wants it. So they are in conflict.”

Continue reading “Abusers Often Betray their Disguise in Subtle Ways we Must not Ignore”

The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

  1. “He premeditates his actions. He uses people and every thing he can get as an alibi to cover or justify his actions. He is the master of excuses, a liar, a deceiver and frequently contradicts himself. He is very aware of his power of charisma and persuasive talk.”
  2. “He is not verbally or physically abusive. He sounds loving and caring.”
  3. “He admits he has failed in his role as a provider, protector and leader of the family and then asks for forgiveness and says he is not happy about it either and he needs help to understand why that happens in his life, but he never changes despite all the help is offered to him.”
  4. “I find this abuser the worst because it is not very evident. He disguises himself as a good father and loving husband thru words and showing himself very active in the family matters, but in the reality does not take responsibility for providing, protecting and leading the family.“

These descriptions of a wicked man were sent to us by a Christian wife and mother whose abuser claims to be a godly servant of the Lord. And he has been successful for many years in convincing the people in his church and in other Christian organizations that he is the real deal.

Continue reading “The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders”

“How do I Avoid Getting Tied up With Another Abuser?” – A Common Question

2Co 11:13-15  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  (14)  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  (15)  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Recently I was asked a very good question by an abuse survivor who has had more than one experience with abusive relationships, one in which she was nearly killed. The question is stated in the title of this article, “how do I avoid getting tied up with another abuser?”

Well, the answer is not an easy one. There is no fixed formula with guarantees. As the Apostle Paul said in the scripture quoted above, evil comes in very, very deceptive disguises. How many of you for instance can tell about how charming and wonderful “he” was when you first met him? And how he is still thought of as the most wonderful, godly saint in your church? No, there are no acid texts. But we can still apply some pretty good wisdom.

Continue reading ““How do I Avoid Getting Tied up With Another Abuser?” – A Common Question”