What Not to Do or Say When Helping a Domestic Abuse Victim in Economic Need

1Ti 5:5  She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,

Lev 23:22  “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”

1Ti 6:17-18  As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  (18)  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

Most all of us know that domestic abusers use economics as a weapon. They like to keep their victim in poverty so that they are easier to control, enslaved to the abuser. This is why very often abusers will sabotage their victim’s efforts to obtain employment or to keep a good job once they have it. It is quite alright, according the abuser’s double-standard handbook, for him to buy most anything he wants, but there is hell to pay if his victim spends a dollar.  Economic abuse, you see.

Now, this means that most victims of domestic abuse are poor. Legally they own half of what their spouse has, but getting hold of it is another thing. Abusers withhold payment for healthcare, for decent groceries to feed the children, for clothing and most any other necessity. So when we set out to help domestic abuse victims, we are going to be faced with the need to provide money and the necessities for her and the children.

Continue reading “What Not to Do or Say When Helping a Domestic Abuse Victim in Economic Need”

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!

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.

Abuse and Relationships: We All Have the Right to Choose our Friends

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (15)  What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (16)  What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17)  Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18)  and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

I believe that by far and large, churches and Christians and pastors and teachers are denying the truth of this Scripture.  What are we told?  We are told that because Jesus loves everyone (by the way, He doesn’t!) then we are bound to love everyone and that love means that we are required to maintain relationship with everyone who asks us. I think this is why you are seeing books come out like Boundaries and Unsafe People.  We are trying to get back the freedom that has been stolen from us.

Christian, YOU have the right to choose your relationships.  Did you know that?  Have you been taught just the opposite in your church or by other Christians?  You do not have to be in a relationship with the “unclean.”  Of course we know that this does not mean that a Christian who is already married to a non-Christian is commanded to leave that marriage (see 1 Cor 7).  But it does mean that in our lives we do not have to be bound together with darkness and those who represent it.

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Unashamed Recommendation of Our Online Church Service

As most of you know, each Sunday morning we post the order of service for Christ Reformation Church here in Tillamook at lightfordarktimes.com (our second blog, Light for Dark Times). It includes links to the hymns, lists the Scripture reading, and has links to the video recording of the sermon on both Sermon Audio and Youtube.

We started this outreach because over the years, over and over again, we hear from abuse survivors asking if we know of a safe, solid church in their area that we can recommend to them. Almost always the answer is no. We don’t know many churches personally – we withdrew from the fellowship of churches called ARBCA that we used to belong to when we recognized wickedness in the leadership (which has been strongly confirmed in the case of ARBCA covering up for the convicted child abuser “pastor,” Tom Chantry).  And then we live in a day when there just are not many true local churches to be found. And certainly even fewer who will deal rightly with wicked abusers and protect the victims.

Now we can say, and I say it without reservation – “yes, we can indeed recommend a church for you. No matter where you live. It is Christ Reformation Church in Tillamook, Oregon and we would love to have you make it your church home. It is a safe place that teaches sound biblical truth and where the wicked are not going to be permitted to remain.”

I know people, most of whom have been abuse victims, who continue to search and search and search for a true church. Often they will think they have found one, only to end up being burned once again. What we see repeatedly is pastors who claim they are the friends of abuse victims (word is getting around about the subject of abusers hiding in churches and pastors are feeling the heat to ‘get on board’) but in the end the very common outcome is that the church leaders will not really stand with the victim. It is after all the finish line where the race is decided and most churches abandon the victim just before the finish line.

No, I am not claiming that CRC is the only true church. That isn’t true and it would be sinfully arrogant to make such a claim. But I am not ashamed to energetically recommend it to you. Many of you have genuine Christian friends who share your frustrations about the sad and often even corrupt state of local churches today. If you live in proximity with them, you can gather together in a small church band and utilize the online worship service of CRC for your Sunday worship. (Because we don’t get the sermon video uploaded until Sunday evenings, most people are following us one week behind).

You can submit prayer requests to us via email. You can ask questions or make comments about the sermons. You can pray with and for us and we can pray for you (I try to pray for our online congregation just before the sermon each week). And I can promise you – you will be safe.

Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer

One of the recurring themes we hear from Christians who are abuse victims/survivors is that when they went to their pastor or church for help, reporting the abuse, they were told that they must remain with their abuser or at most separate from him for a time, always working toward reconciliation.

In all cases like this, we have seen pastors and churches “shepherding” or “caring for” the victim and abuser — as they put it. And behind all of this there has been an attitude or conviction or doctrine of the church and of the pastorate and even of the nature of the individual Christian that essentially says “we will mediate Christ to you.” It is quite Roman Catholic actually. The thing is much like a formal priesthood which behaves as if the individual Christian is led and directed by the church, unable on their own to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd. And yet:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me  (John 10:14)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

Every real Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is led by the Spirit (See Romans 8; Galatians 5:16ff). Every real Christian is thereby enabled to understand Scripture.

Continue reading “Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer”

“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”