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.
[December 3, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Oh man, as Jeff Crippen would say. I can’t read the Bible without getting another post in my head. Forgive me for flooding your inboxes!
….whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (Matthew 18:6-7 ESV)
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 18:10 ESV)
So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:14)
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15 ESV)
Surely it is no accident that these verses about protecting children enclose three passages about heinous sin:
1) The passage about biblical discipline (Matthew 18:15-17) instructing us that a brother who refuse to repent is to be treated as a Gentile and a tax collector — terms denoting people who rejected God and practiced idolatry. Gentiles practiced the idolatry of false religion; tax collectors practiced the idolatry of greed, covetousness and selfishness. Such people think they are entitled to do what they want; they have no qualms about living for themselves and their fleshly lusts.
2) The parable of the vindictive servant (Matthew 18:21-25) who had been forgiven a great debt but demanded repayment of a small debt. That servant’s sin reminds me of abusers. Victims forgive their abusers repeatedly, but when eventually the victim gives an ultimatum and sets some boundaries, the abuser fakes a little reformation….and then demands to be paid chips for good behaviour.
3) The passage about the Pharisees’ tricky question to Jesus about divorce (Matthew 19:1-12), in which Jesus soundly rebukes their twisted interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1 and how they were using that to license treacherous divorce by men who wanted to dump their wives without good reason. That passage is all about men (including Jesus’ own disciples – Matthew 19:10) having an attitude of entitlement: the very essence of the abusive mentality. And hasn’t that passage been much misused and misunderstood by Christians who use it to prohibit victims of abuse from divorcing their abusers, and to frown at remarriage after divorce!
As evangelical Christians we believe the Bible is fully inspired by God. Even the order of the narratives as penned by the inspired author (in this case, Matthew) was guided by the Lord. Now, I think we can read too much into the order of the narratives — we don’t want to become like Kabbalah [Internet Archive link] Jews who search for esoteric significance and miss the clear meaning of the text — but it’s legitimate to notice things about the literary structure of a text.
So, it occurs to me that we may be being told that the principle of protecting children is related to understanding and dealing with the mentality of entitlement that under-girds abuse.
Those of you who are dealing with family court decisions that have allowed your abuser to have unsupervised access (or even custody) of your children, are at the pointy end of where our society is failing here. My heart goes out to you.
[December 3, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to December 3, 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 December 3, 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 December 3, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (December 3, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]