The Vapory “Ether” of Deception that Accompanies Abuse
2 Corinthians 4:2-4, “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (3) And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. (4) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Writing the story of the incredibly difficult trial she and her husband went through in their church, Jonna Petry makes this very insightful observation that we would do well to heed:
“We were in the ether, under a kind of “delusion.” I have come to believe that when idolatry is at play, it often creates and allows for an unreality to take hold of those who participate, as if under a spell, unable to see or hear the truth because it is all filtered through a projected “reality.” But it is a false reality – a delusion. I believe this dynamic is often true in cults where there is one dominant, charismatic, controlling leader. As I look back, this “delusion” aspect makes sense to me and helps to explain why the abuse is allowed and continues, while so many people are unaware and/or unwilling to confront.” (My Story By Jonna Petry)
We were in the “ether.” I suspect that most of our readers know exactly what she is talking about. The fear of man is a snare, and when a man seizes power and control because he craves to be first, be it in a local church, in a marriage, or in a government, a vaporous “unreality” does indeed take shape. It seizes our minds and deludes us. Hitler cast his spell over millions. Jim Jones’ saga ended in people so spellbound that they drank the infamous Kool-Aid. Those who begin to cast off the spell and see what is really happening are quickly singled out for special “treatment.”
We know from Scripture that Satan majors in darkness. He is the prince of darkness. He blinds the minds of those in bondage to him. And I think that the stories of the abuse of power and control that all of you and many others are telling is evidence that Satan can affect the Christian’s mind as well with his ethery darkness. It is a spell cast by lies and threats. By re-writing the facts of history. Without the Spirit of Truth sent by the Light of the world, we would remain in that darkness.
The thing is frightening, and we should be frightened. Scripture tells us to be on guard because Satan is on the prowl. One single charismatic, “gifted” emissary of the devil can rise up from among ourselves (Acts 20) and delude us all far more quickly than we would like to think. And the same deceptive vapor is spread by the domestic abuser as well. If you want to see real spiritual warfare in action, study abusers. Learn about them. Talk to their victims. Talk to people who have been swept up in the abuse of power and control in a church as Jonna Petry and her husband were. Talk to survivors of sexual abuse, especially if their abuser was a professing Christian. They will all tell you — they were in this “ether” as if they were drugged. They look back now and wonder how they didn’t see it sooner. And yet, in many ways, this should not surprise us.
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
So let’s take our Lord’s many warnings to heart. Seriously. Let’s immerse ourselves in His Word and pray without ceasing. Let’s put on the Lord Jesus Christ as our armor. Because those flaming missiles are incoming, and for the most part, they are cunning lies aimed right at our minds.