Foolish Naivete About Evil Disqualifies a “Counselor”

John 8:42-44  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Romans 3:10-17  as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”

The doctrine of the total depravity of man does not mean that every human being is as evil (depraved) as they could possibly be. Nor does it mean that all people are equally evil or that all sins are as sinful as others. What it does mean is that the being of man is totally fallen. That the effects of sin have infected every part of the human: mind, body, soul, emotions, so that there is no “island of goodness” in man which has been left unaffected. In other words, Luke Skywalker’s opinion that Darth Vader had some good in him somewhere is mere fiction.

Many people, including pastors and counselors, profess to adhere to the doctrine of total depravity, and yet in practice they are more like Jedi knights, looking to the good side of the force in everyone. This totally disqualifies them from dealing properly with abusers. I want to say that again. Anyone who approaches an abuse situation with the notion that somehow through kindness and love, through behavior changes by victims, etc., the “good part” of the abuser can be reached and appealed to, needs to step down off of their high horse and just stop it!  Stop giving advice to victims of abuse. Stop counseling abusers or even listening to them. This kind of thinking is foolishness at best and rank arrogance at worst. And it is dangerous.

In dealing with an abuser you must believe nothing he or she says. You must seek corroboration to his claims. You must assume that he is trying to deceive you, that he is falsely blaming his victim, that he is lying. If anyone is unwilling to use this approach, they are simply unqualified to be involved with abuse cases. Naivete is dangerous. There is no place here for “always keep thinking on the brighter side of life” because the evil of abuse is darkness.  It is very dark, and there is no light in it at all.  Yes, it is that bad.

Foolish naivete about evil leads to all kinds of crazy and damaging advice to victims: 1) You must be doing something to set him off, 2) We are all sinners, 3) The Bible says that if you just love him enough he will change, 4) He is just suffering from the torments of his childhood . . . blah, blah, blah. The reality of the abuser mentality is set out very plainly in Scripture however. There IS such a thing as evil. There ARE evil people. They won’t change. They don’t intend to change. They are indeed capable of appearing as angels of light. Remember, these “servants” Paul talks about are people:

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

God’s Word is very plain on the reality and nature of evil. We have no excuse for not being wise in this regard. And therefore I conclude that foolish naivete about some supposed “island of goodness” in every human being that can somehow be reached in some way is a willful disregard of God’s own Word. When I was a police officer, two of the laws I enforced were “careless driving” and “reckless driving,” the latter being the more severe offense. What was the difference? The level of culpability. Careless driving was an action that, through careless inattention, endangered others. Reckless driving was defined as a willful, knowing disregard for the rights and safety of others. So what I am maintaining here is that much of the counsel given to abusers and their victims is reckless. It is a willful and knowing and intentional disregard for what God’s Word says about evil.

And thus, such reckless counsel is evil in itself.

More on Revilers I Have Known

Mat 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Reviler is the biblical word for an abuser. Other words are used in Scripture to describe the evil that abusers do, but this title “reviler” gets to the heart of it. You see that little root in the word – “vil” – which reminds us of related terms like “villain,” or “villify” or, hmmm…. “vile.” A reviler is vile. Anyway, what a reviler does is to make the innocent be the villain. And they do this by accusing. Revilers are accusers and that evil is part of the very nature of the devil himself:

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

I have known revilers and so have most all of you. The ones I have known are those who parade as Christians. They were church members and most often they put themselves off as the most pious and holy saints to be found anywhere.

Reviling is in the reviler’s nature. It proceeds from the devilish heart that defines who they are. They don’t have to really even plan the reviling attack – it just spews out of their mouth from their heart. The attack comes as we say “out of the blue.” Things can be going along quite pleasantly – some dinner or other church event, some gathering of friends – and then here comes the arrow. Sometimes in secret, sometimes in front of everyone.

  • I remember when you said I was to blame
  • You had no right to spend that money
  • I think you sinned when you told Jack to stop being mean to his wife
  • I know why you are taking that college class
  • I know why you bought that car
  • You are a very hard person to talk to
  • You didn’t come and visit me when I was sick

And on and on and on the list could go. Every single one of these statements is used by the reviler to accuse. To blame. To guilt and to attack.

Think about what this business of reviling requires. Most of us would be very hesitant to say such a thing, even if it were true. We season our speech. Of course the abuser counts on this and uses our hesitancy against us, knowing that we most often won’t expose his evil by speaking of it. But the reviler enjoys reviling. It gives him a rush of power and he loves it. He loves to see the hurt that his words inflict. He assaults with his speech and he loves to launch those arrows.

This is why the Lord says that a reviler will never see the kingdom of God. Revilers are going to hell along with their father the devil. Perhaps in the lake of fire for all eternity they will be reviling one another and trying to put the blame anywhere but upon themselves.

Don’t try to fix a reviler. You will only find grief for yourself and your efforts to “help” will be regarded by him as a weak spot for him to reviler you further.

Additional Reading:

Another Look at the Abuser as Reviler

Thank You to Carma for this Term: Toxic Positivity

Jer 37:19 Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you and against this land’?

In our current sermon series on the book of Jeremiah, we meet large numbers of false prophets who claimed to speak for the Lord. Their message was the exact opposite of Jeremiah’s. According to them, there was no way that God would ever hand Jerusalem over to the Babylonians. “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,” was their motto. “We are His covenant people. His temple is right here in this city. He will bless us and bless us no matter what.”

These were lies of course, and when the Babylonian armies laid seige to Jerusalem, Jeremiah asked King Zedekiah…”where are your prophets now?” They were nowhere to be found. Their message was a lie and as such, it was poison. Toxic. Deadly. Jerusalem and the temple were in fact destroyed, the people slaughtered, and others carried off to captivity. All because they refused to love the truth spoken by the Lord through His true prophet.

Recently, a lady named Carma wrote a comment on a short post I put on Facebook. I was writing about how the “glass-is-always-half-full” philosophy is so destructive. It refuses to see evil. It twists everything into positivism – and excuses evil. It always sees the “good” that surely must be lurking somewhere in the most wicked person. Carma said that she gave this kind of thinking a name – “toxic positivism.” This nails it and I thank her for it. Toxic positivism.

This is the kind of garbage that is laid on abuse victims in their churches so typically. “Your husband just needs understanding. He is really a good person. He isn’t perfect, but we must see the good in him and be patient.” Here is Carma’s description:

It’s a term I made up out of observations, and realize it is a form of denial, saying positive affirmations for example, with the belief it will make everything better. I used to say, “I’ll be a better wife tomorrow.” “I’ll make him happy tomorrow.” “I’m going to be the best wife ever because I’m a hard worker,” etc., every night before bed. It kept me holding onto the hope that God would move in the ex husband’s heart, and soften it. All the positive words I said didn’t change the situation or him. Toxic positivity is a thing, even with PTSD,…think positive thoughts and it will go away. This is similar to toxic faith, if you prayed more you wouldn’t have cancer. I’ve seen people in palitive care dying, and their loved ones still in denial saying “think positive thoughts and you will rally. We know it. You can beat cancer.”

Toxic positivism is poison. It is deadly. It enables the wicked. It energizes evil. It denies the truth of God’s Word as it denies reality. It shuts down victims when they seek help – “well, let’s see the sunny side in all of this. Let’s turn to a brighter note.” And then it just blows off the grief and pain of the victim. Toxic Positive people are toxic. To themselves and others. They actually embrace a false gospel. They deny the wickedness of the human heart. It was Toxic Positivism that largely led to World War 2 in Europe. The allies refused to see the evil in Hitler, even though the evidence was right in front of their eyes and it nearly destroyed them and it did destroy millions of others.

I have found that Toxic Positive people do not like the plain and truthful teaching of God’s Word. Why? Because the Bible shocks and threatens their toxic philosophy. The Bible talks about evil all the time. Jesus told the wicked they are children of the devil. God announces His judgment upon the wicked He exposes. Wisdom books like Proverbs would be gutted if a Toxic Positive person edited them. Which is exactly what is happening week after week in the churches. Scripture is gutted by their red pens of unbelief.

Jerusalem came down. And this present world is coming down. The wicked are headed for judgment and hell. Each one will give account to Christ and He isn’t going to buy their Toxic positivism-

Mat 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (23) And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’