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.

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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.

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Call Evil Good: The Error of Couple Counseling for Abuse

Job 30:26 ESV  But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came.

Psalms 52:3-4 ESV You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

Couple’s counseling (and I would add marriage “intensives” – a kind of focused retreat for a couple) is anathema when it comes to abuse. It goes wrong and works as a tool to further enable and empower the abuser. I won’t go into all of the reasons why this is the case, but it is true.

What I do want to discuss here is a very similar experience that I have had personally and which I have seen played out in the experience of others many times. It is the fallacy of calling evil, good, and good, evil. Here is how it works:

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The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 1)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

This subject has been on my mind now for some months.  I keep seeing it crop up in the stories that many of you tell us. In particular, the stories about your experiences with your church when you asked for help with an abusive marriage. Issues of divorce, marriage, separation, remarriage, submission and headship – all of these and more arise in these kinds of scenarios, and what is so often being applied to them as God’s Word just doesn’t seem to ring true with what Jesus says is His easy yoke.

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“Christian” Enabling of the Abuser Increases His Attacks on the Victim

Recently an abuse survivor made a very insightful comment. She said that she could always tell when her abuser (a professing Christian) was receiving support from a Christian. How? He stepped up the intensity of his abuse. She said that while non-Christian support for him would certainly encourage him in his wickedness, her suffering at his hands increased the most when professing Christians sided with him. This is very sobering.

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The Lord Desires Mercy, not Sacrifice – Faith Without Works is Dead Faith

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I believe in the inerrancy, authority, and infallibility of Scripture.  That is to say, I believe that the original manuscripts (often called “autographs”) of Scripture were so directed in their composition by the Holy Spirit working through the human authors that what was written was the perfect Word of God without error in word and in entirety.  Of course we do not have those manuscripts now, which is no doubt just as well or human nature being what it is, we would have 66 or more shrines set up for worshiping them!  Scripture, being the Word of God, is necessarily infallible.  You can trust it and it will never fail you. And it is authoritative because it is God’s Word.  And if you are at all familiar with the science of textual criticism, the discipline that deals with taking all of the existing ancient copies of Scripture and re-constructing the original, then you know that we can have full confidence that our Bibles are the Word of God.

But what else does Biblical inerrancy, infallibility, and authority mean?  Recently we were having a discussion in our main Sunday School class about the early creation-account chapters of Genesis.  For myself, I believe that they teach a literal 24-hour day, 7-day creation week.  I do not believe that the universe is a bajillion years old.  But we were discussing whether or not the literal 24-hour day creation should be put in the fundamental doctrinal statement of local churches and new members then required to adhere to it in order to be members.  Quite a number of conservative, perhaps we might say fundamental, churches have done this and encourage others to do it.  In my opinion, this should not be done.  But that is another story.

My point here is that these are the kinds of issues that we think of when we think about the inerrancy and infallibility and authority of the Bible.  Was Adam a real individual?  Is Paul’s take on a certain issue just his own opinion or is it God’s Word?  Those kinds of things.  And they are important issues.  But let me suggest that while we can be all caught up in energetic debates over these things, we can easily slide into the trap that the Pharisees did:

Matthew 23:23-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (24) You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (25) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (26) You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

I know of churches and Christians and pastors and denominations that have done intense battle over attacks upon the Word of God, particularly in these areas of inerrancy and authority and so on.  And we need to stand firm for these things.  But I also know of churches and Christians and pastors and denominations who, all the while they are fighting the fight for Scripture, deny Scripture themselves by neglecting the weightier matters:  justice and mercy and faithfulness.  And in probably no greater frequency, we see this failure in respect to how the powerful wield that power and how they deal with the weak.  How they treat the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the land.  Many, many people who have fought all out warfare for the integrity of Scripture end up disregarding Scripture!!

Because, in the end, when I say that I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God, I am saying that I bow my knee to the One who speaks in it and ask Him, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”  And then I go out and DO that Word.  If not, then I am no more than the son who is all talk but no action:

Matthew 21:28-31 “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.

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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