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”

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

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”

America Celebrates Divorce from an Abuser on the 4th of July – Independence Day!

Here is the beginning of the Declaration of Independence. It is a divorce decree. It is the recognition of a breach of covenant. We celebrate this divorce in the United States every July 4th. The purpose of this post is to simply put forth this question: If it was right and good for the American Colonies to divorce the King of England for his many and repeated abuses, if most all Americans including pastors and church members celebrate this Independence Day as a glorious win for freedom, how is it that these same pastors and church members insist that an abuse victim in a marriage has no right to divorce their abuser?

There is the question as all Americans wave flags and watch the fireworks and celebrate freedom from tyranny. How is it that so many professing Christians will deny the same freedom to a fellow believer who is suffering a present and evil tyranny right in their midst? It is quite common for churches to wave the flag and celebrate on this day, yet at the very same time they oppress the oppressed by demanding they remain in bondage to a wicked abuser.  The common double standard.

*****

The Unanimous Declaration of the
Thirteen United States of America
In Congress, July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

“Reconciliation” With an Abuser is the Twilight Zone

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:12)

There are two brief times every 24 hours when darkness and light attempt to co-exist. Dawn and twilight. (Hey, pretty good book title: The Dawn of Twilight. No idea what that means, but it’s good, right?). Anyway, at dawn and at twilight, light and darkness mix it up. Just for a bit. The sun rises, the night recedes. The sun sets and night comes. One shows up, the other must go.

Day and night. We even use that phrase to describe two things that are radically different: “Man, those two are as different as day and night.” The Bible uses these images, light and darkness, to underscore the complete incompatibility of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world (headed up by Satan). Kingdom of Light. Kingdom of Darkness. Righteousness. Unrighteousness. You can’t mix the two. In their very essence, light and darkness are as different as. . .well. . .night and day.

Twilight and dawn are nature’s announcement to us that light and darkness cannot be reconciled. When the one comes, the other must go. Light is light — it is some- thing. Darkness is. . .is. . .darkness is no-thing. It is the absence of light, not a thing in itself. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. And so it is with the kingdom of our Lord and the kingdom of darkness.

Which brings us round to our main point.

Continue reading ““Reconciliation” With an Abuser is the Twilight Zone”

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.