When the “Church” Becomes the Enemy
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
[July 20, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
A very common theme in the stories that you all tell us is that your church did not help you. Your church added to your suffering, gave you foolish counsel, and in the end sided with your abuser rather than with you. You have all heard that same old story over and over again if you have been visiting this blog very long. Thankfully there are some exceptions in which an abuse victim’s pastor and church stood with her. But those are the exceptions, and they are rare. In telling her story of her “awakening moment,” Kay made this statement (See her whole story in the post Please Tell Our Readers What Single Realization Helped You Get Free – by YOU.) —
I hadn’t been strong enough or had enough courage to say ENOUGH to my husband, Christian friends, pastors, counselor, who insisted our marriage could be healed until that moment. I still hoped at times he would change, but one day, driving in the car, I begged God, “please don’t make me live with him again”. I heard a peaceful, quiet voice – “you don’t have to.”
This process went on for decades – and that is not unusual either. Actually, I suspect that Kay was indeed far more courageous and strong in all of those years than she might give herself credit for, but we understand what she means. The fog, the confusion, the deceit. Now, what jumps out at me in her statement here is that in order to finally leave her abuser, she not only had to be strong enough to stand against him, but to stand against her Christian friends, her pastors, and her counselor, all of whom were telling her to stay with the abuser and fix the marriage. And that just grieves me to no end – that Kay and so many others have to have their suffering intensified and prolonged. The church becomes her enemy in that case.
When the “church” becomes the enemy of righteousness and justice and mercy for the oppressed, what has the church become? That is a thought and a question that, frankly, makes my gut get all tied up in a knot. How is it that we have come to the point of exalting marriage and family over mercy to the oppressed? So that we call a monstrosity that is no marriage or family at all, a marriage and family that MUST be preserved?
Do you know — many of you probably do — that probably the single most controversial hot-topic that we have addressed on this blog and which has resulted in us receiving more nasty responses than any other is: teaching that an abuse victim can divorce her abuser. When we quoted John MacArthur and John Piper and the ESV Study Bible (Wayne Grudem) and R.C. Sproul — men that we take no delight in criticizing — and showed without a doubt that they teach that God does not permit an abuse victim to divorce her abuser, we actually had to take our link to Facebook off because we didn’t want to deal with all of the nastiness being shot at us from supposed Bible-believing Christians. The “church” became our enemy.
This just boggles common reason and common sense. How is it possible that our study of the Bible could lead us to insist that a woman who is being abused — even beaten, having a gun pointed at her, raged against — cannot divorce her tormentor just because he hasn’t physically committed adultery or physically thrown her out of the house? How is that? I cannot fathom it. And yet the “church” is our enemy on this. We have to block the nasty responses to our teaching on this so that you don’t have to be subjected to them in this blog environment. And these people that do this say they are Christians.
Many abuse victims tell us that they have been so wounded by their churches after they pleaded for justice and help in dealing with their professing-Christian abusers, that they just cannot bring themselves to return to a church – at least not right now. I can hear more “helpful” Christians start quoting Hebrews 10:25, spouting off about how we are not to forsake the gathering together of the saints so we can encourage one another to love and good deeds. Well, what happens when that gathering together doesn’t encourage, but discourages and oppresses and enslaves? Is that the environment the Scripture calls us to not forsake? I don’t think so.
Well, I feel my blood pressure rising and when that happens my tact and kindness level starts to fall, so I had better end here by just restating the question — what does a Christian do when the church becomes our enemy? Thankfully, as Kay testifies, the Lord Jesus is ALWAYS our Friend. And so are those who truly known Him. He always has His remnant.
[July 20, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to July 20, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to July 20, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to July 20, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 20, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]