Your Church Needs to Stink
One of the most common scenarios that Christian domestic abuse victims relate to me is that after they have asked their church for help with the abuser, they have not been believed. Then, after a characteristic progression of events, the victim determines that she must separate from and/or divorce her abuser. At this point a great injustice is done. The victim is labeled as the culprit because she is perceived as the one who ended the marriage. The abuser, successful in his work of gaining allies, is actually perceived by many people as being the victim. The abuser, in the end, remains in the church while the victim has to depart. We are not exaggerating this claim, as many victims will testify to.
We should see people leaving our churches. But we must take care that it is the guilty and not the innocent who are departing! If you know much at all about the mentality and tactics of abuse (see our post on Abuse 101) then you know that abusers very typically exhibit Jekyll/Hyde behavior. They wear a mask. They put on a façade. And when they choose the façade of Christianity, they are particularly deceiving and dangerous. Therefore, a healthy, true church will be a place where this masquerade is exposed, where darkness has Christ’s Light shined upon it, and in which ultimately the abuser will no longer be able to hide. He must repent, or he must flee.
1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (2) Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Do you ever see people leaving your church? We have experienced this many times over the years, and often when it happens, other people can be thrown into confusion. “Why did so and so leave?” The assumption is that someone has done something wrong, offended them, or something of that nature. And I suppose that charge is true. We have done something to offend them – we have proclaimed and lived out the gospel of Christ. The cross is an offense. Darkness hates the light because the deeds of darkness are evil. Christ’s people are a stench of death to those who are perishing –
2 Corinthians 2:15-17 “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, (16) to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (17) For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
The town I live in stinks! It is a cow town. I grew up around cows, but even for me the smell around here gets really rank when the farmers spread manure on their fields that has “cooked” in storage for a long time. The old-timers say “ahhh, that’s the smell of money!” (thinking of the grass this rotten stuff will grow!). That’s how it must be when an abuser in disguise comes to our churches. A healthy, genuine church, in other words, will stink to the abuser. Try as he might, he has to plug his spiritual nose and eventually depart. He can only fake it for so long.
So, we ask you – does your church stink to evil men? Is it a life-giving aroma to victims? Or is it the other way around?