**A Sure Sign of a Bully or Abuser: the Gnashing of Teeth

Now when they heard these things they were enraged,
and they ground their teeth at him. (Acts 7:54)

Recently I was reminded still once more of how the wicked react when their evil is exposed and they are called to account. The fangs come out. The bullying begins. They are like vicious, wild animals snapping at their prey. In this account here in Acts 7, Stephen has just confronted the Jews with their sins:

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered. (Acts 7:51-52)

It sets them off like a pack of wolves and of course as we know, they murdered Stephen right there.

My recent experience with this sort was in regard to pastors who were rightly confronted with wickedness and spiritual abuse. They added to the oppression of victims and now it has come out. The response? Fangs. Gnashing of teeth. Direct assault against those exposing them. Vilification and reviling, demeaning and accusing. Of course they do all this in the name of “righteousness,” but they are anything but righteous. “Who are YOU to tell ME?” “How DARE you speak to me this way.” “You don’t know anything and I do.” “YOU are the guilty one here for slandering and gossiping.” See it? Fangs. Gnashing. It is characteristic of the wicked who are enraged when they are exposed. No hint of anything resembling repentance.

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**My experience with abuser-enabling misogyny in the church

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, (Proverbs 2:16)

And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. (1Kings 16:31)

God’s Word in Holy Scripture is pure, right, life-giving, and true. Whenever and wherever scripture is cited to support evil, we can be sure that its real teaching has been distorted. Verses such as the ones quoted above have been very frequently twisted to misrepresent the fundamental nature of women and I want to tell you how I (and most all of you) have personally seen these distortions played out among Christians.

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Suppressing the Truth in Unrighteousness

The Apostle Paul identifies very clearly the fundamental reason for idolatry:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)

God has revealed Himself to His creation so clearly that all human beings are without excuse when it comes to their failure to honor Him as God/Creator and give Him thanks. Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, such people set themselves on a foolhardy course of foolishness characterized by the lie that the creature is God. Fallen man would sooner worship a snake than bow before God. Thus we see God justly handing these idolaters over to the depths of their evil and sin.

Now, what has all of this got to do with abuse? Certainly abuse is one result of life in a society that largely rejects God. But it is this matter of “by their unrighteousness suppressing the truth” that has jumped out at me this evening.

Continue reading “Suppressing the Truth in Unrighteousness”