A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Abuse and Whistleblowing: What to Expect When You Whistle at Church

I am only introducing a subject here and suggesting that we all need to become more familiar with it.  That subject is the psychology and dynamics of whistleblowing.  When a member of an institution (like the church) comes forward with exposure of some “irregularity” (a person has been abused/molested), certain common dynamics inevitably ignite.  That is about all I know concerning this subject, but here is a description (taken from Amazon) of a book called Whistleblowers: Broken Lives and Organizational Power by C. Fred Alford.  It sounds to me like all of these dynamics that launch AGAINST the whistleblower are at work in a church setting as well when a victim comes forward.  THIS SHOULD NOT BE!

“In a dark departure from our standard picture of whistleblowers, C. Fred Alford offers a chilling account of the world of people who have come forward to protest organizational malfeasance in government agencies and in the private sector. The conventional story-high-minded individual fights soulless organization, is persecuted, yet triumphs in the end-is seductive and pervasive. In speaking with whistleblowers and their families, lawyers, and therapists, Alford discovers that the reality of whistleblowing is grim. Few whistleblowers succeed in effecting change; even fewer are regarded as heroes or martyrs. Alford mixes narrative analysis with political insight to offer a frank picture of whistleblowing and a controversial view of organizations. According to Alford, the organization as an institution is dedicated to the destruction of the moral individualist. Frequently, he claims, the organization succeeds, which means that the whistleblowers are broken, unable to reconcile their actions and beliefs with the responses they receive from others. In addition to being mistreated by organizations, whistleblowers often do not receive support from their families and communities.In order to make sense of their stories, Alford claims, some whistleblowers must set aside the things they have always believed: that loyalty is larger than the herd instinct, that someone in charge will do the right thing, that the family is a haven from a heartless world. Alford argues that few whistleblowers recover from their experience, and that, even then, they live in a world very different from the one they knew before their confrontation with the organization.”

Does that whole sorry mechanism sound familiar to you?  If you have reported abuse to your church, I suspect that it does.

The Lord Jesus Christ was the ultimate Whistleblower.  The “organization” hated and killed Him.  Fortunately for us, in killing Him, the kingdom of darkness struck its own death blow and hangs on its own gallows.

Our local churches, the visible representations of the body of Christ, are called to be places where these kinds of evil dynamics do NOT operate.  We are citizens of the kingdom of light.  Coverup of evil is not to be the norm among us.

 

68 Comments

  1. Lynette D

    In my opinion, its because its all about power and pride, from the corporate field the the churches. What boss/CEO/pastor wants anything bad said about him/his company/his church? Which is sad because the Bible has an awful lot to say about pride.

  2. Laurie

    “Coverup of evil is not to be the norm among us.”

    But it will be, as long as our hands are filthy with lusts, and as long as we remain without real Holy Spirit power. Its the double-minded man, eye on the sky and a foot in the “world,” loving this present life and social status more than God, but putting on a good pious front. Most I have run into hide their anti-Christlike activity behind one form of religious tradition or another, which is where the “woman, thou shalt always submit to man even if it kills you” attitude hides and thrives.

    I am a whistleblower. Maybe I could have played the safe game and kept my ministry and friendships in the church where I attended–the last 4 times. But I can’t help but blowing the whistle, not to point out the evil of man, but to lift up the Godhead of Christ. And that rocks the boat of status quo. Because in lifting up Christ Jesus, man is exposed.

    Point in case: Creation vs. Evolution. How do you get removed from church because you believe what the Bible says about Creation and can, through the word of God, disprove Evolution, Stop-Gap and Progressive Creation theories? You teach the difference and, poof, you’re gone.

  3. Persecuting whistleblowers seems closely related to the idea of controlling people by labeling what they say as “gossip”, defined as talking about something where you are “neither a part of the problem or solution”. I have heard of this definition of gossip being used to silence, though I’ve not heard it used myself. I don’t really have and issue with the concept or definition because when there is abuse going on, addressing it as a member of the church IS being a part of the solution.

    As I was going through the membership process at my new church this was brought up, not as having anything to do with whistleblowing, but as not making other people’s personal sin a public discussion. That’s an idea I can get behind, as long as the church doesn’t misuse the concept when it comes to issues like abuse. It’s a yellow flag for me though- is this definition of “Gossip” something that should make me wary about how this church might handle abuse, or if the church seeme to be genuinely concerned about mercy and justice should I not be too worried? The leadership definitely believes that emotional abuse is valid biblical grounds for divorce.

    • Lynette D

      This happened to me. I was having a discussion with a friend regarding her abusive spouse. We exchanged emails back and forth. The abuser hacked her email and went to a leader. I was later told by a leader that ‘talking about your husband to anyone was gossip.’ Really? Who the heck are we supposed to go to then?

    • MeganC

      Martin — I am thinking a lot about what you wrote. I just want to ask — what is the Church to you? I understand that we need fellowship with other believers. My question (a question that might make me look jaded) is . . . how many people who ATTEND church actually belong to the Church? Are we being careful to spend time with those who are actually part of the organic Body of Christ? Or are we sometimes fooled into thinking that we are and are really spending time with a large group of imposters? I am sure I am not articulating this well. I do not attend church . . . I couldn’t stomach it right now. But, I do fellowship with people who are believers. Many people would say I have “gone astray”, “left the church”, etc . . . when, in reality, I am finding my walk with Christ is stronger than it ever has been! Sometimes, I fear that when people say “God doesn’t want us to leave His church,” a small part of me wonders just what that means. I don’t attend church but no one can remove my being from the universal church, as a whole. Does this make sense?

      • Song

        MeganC…Yes, makes perfect sense to me, and I am right there with you! 🙂 I was just talking yesterday with someone about how the moment we stopped attending a church service, our spiritual life and intimacy grew by leaps and bounds.
        The same question for Martin crossed my mind. Thanks for asking him for clarification.

      • Song

        Ooops, we posted under Jeff S. instead of under Martin.

      • MeganC

        Thanks, Song! And, yes — I don’t know what my problem is with posting in the wrong place. I can’t get it right! Ha!

      • Martin

        Megan,

        It looks like you and Jeff C have worked most of this out, but I’ll throw my perspective in on the conversation. First of all, I have great respect for your spiritual growth since leaving the church. I am grateful when any child of God experiences healing and growth.

        We agree completely that true churches are extremely rare today. This I contend is related to the Biblical promise that Satan’s minions would become ministers of God (2 Cor. 11:14-15). While I recognize the woeful inadequacy of local churches today, I worry about many trends developing in start ups churches in America.

        When you visit most new churches today you find a common theme – an extremely rebellious attitude toward everything. I can’t stop wondering if too many fail to understand the danger of rebellion as a driving force (1 Sam. 15:23). Their congregations often blossom for a time and then fizzle out. The vast majority end up failing – I contend because activity that is driven by volatile rebellion cannot be sustained. The sad thing about this – the people they pulled from churches usually just stop going to church completely as they grow tired of failing start up churches. Can’t we see how Satan wins in this?

        Okay, so here’s the dilemma. Do we let Satan’s minions ruin God’s local churches while we drift from one new start up church to another? Or, do we just give up and stay home?

        For me, the answer is no and no. I take every avenue I can to spread the truth. For example, I have many friends who attend my home church who are also Facebook friends. I put stuff from this blog and from Barbara’s “Not Under Bondage” on my Facebook wall all the time. In the beginning, they all thought I was from Mars but more and more they understand.

        We need more truth today. True faith, true mercy, true churches. We can be instruments of truth. Let’s boldly fight the fight, blow some whistles, and call out the Pharisees.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Martin – You are right and there are no black and white answers here. The more we can blow whistles and apply God’s truth so that God’s people can hear it and get themselves free from the traditions of men that they have been enslaved by, the better. This requires opposing Pharisaism in our own churches when it crops up and not letting it go unopposed. That can be costly, but if there are real believers in such a place, they are going to hear their Shepherd’s voice and cease following a stranger. This is one arena that godly men need to step up to the plate and defend the widows and oppressed. I think that in many cases what we see in abuse victims, who are for the majority women, is people who have been so traumatized that they are in need of some R&R away from the battle front. This is where we need more and more Christians who understand what has happened to these people to minister to them.

        I think that in fact there is a real ministry along the lines of what you are describing for some of us to go into churches with the intent of exposing false faith and a lack of mercy. Like the disciples sent out by Jesus to preach in the towns and villages, some of these places are going to receive us and like the Bereans, search out the Scriptures to see if what we are saying is true or not. Other places are going to run us out of town and when they do, we shake the dust off our feet and move on to the next.

        I really like your phrase “call out the Pharisees.” Our weapon in doing so is the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit and it can’t fail. But to do this, we have to use this sword. We can’t just sit by in, say, a Sunday School class setting when a Pharisee spouts his traditions as the word of God, and let it happen. We have to take him on.

        I think that one place to start arming ourselves is to become very skilled at showing people from the Scriptures that God permits divorce for abuse — that repeated, hard-hearted violation of the marriage covenant is the evil that destroys a marriage and breaks the covenant. This terrible tradition parading around that God hates divorce (i.e., He hates the person who says “enough” and separates from the abuser) has terrorized our people long enough and it is time to put an end to it. I will be preaching on this very subject before too long in my sermon series on the Religion of the Pharisees and I hope that it strikes people powerfully.

        Thanks Martin.

      • MeganC

        I understand, Martin. Thank you for answering so completely. I worry about my children (10,8,5 and 4). The last thing I want to do for them is cause them more confusion. I do not want to send them to a place every Sunday where they (and I) have to fight Satan’s minions. I am all about fighting but they are little. We have tried several churches. My children are smart and they have seen enormous hypocrisy already. I do not want to confuse them or place them in a place where they could be hurt again by a church. They ALSO do not want to see their mama hurt by anyone else. They know that we have been persecuted by two churches BECAUSE WE LEFT THEIR ABUSER. I cannot put them through that again or they might give up on Christ altogether. For now, we stay home, look at Scriptures on Sunday (right now we’re reading about Joseph) and we sing together. We talk about Jesus all the time. I sent them to a Christian Tae Kwon Do camp last summer and they came back confused as one of the leaders described divorce as a sin and warned all the children of committing such an act. I spent the entire week undoing what this church was teaching them. I just don’t know, Martin. I’m a fighter but they have been through so much. Again, I think if it were a church like Jeff C describes . . . I don’t know.

      • Martin

        Megan,

        It sounds like you’ve got your own little start up church there with four faithful members. Now that’s a start up with potential!

        My kids are all older now (17, 19, 21, and 24) and they’ve had lots of training in false teaching at our dinner table. We had to change churches twice because of persecution and false teaching. My middle son, 19, knows as much theology now as I do and can spot a deceiver from a mile away. Some days, I feel like I live with a cross between John Calvin, J.I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, and a pit bull. Theology with an attitude 🙂

        As your children grow, you’ll all probably be strong enough to search again. In the mean time, it sounds like God is blessing your little congregation. Your children are lucky to have a faithful spiritual leader like you.

        Maybe by the time you guys are ready to try church, I’ll be ready to give up fixing the one I’m in and we’ll gather a bunch of Cry For Justice bloggers somewhere to start a church?

        In the mean time, keep blessing those children with your fine leadership 🙂

      • MeganC

        Thank you, Martin & Jeff. Jeff — I especially needed to hear these words:

        “This is one arena that godly men need to step up to the plate and defend the widows and oppressed. I think that in many cases what we see in abuse victims, who are for the majority women, is people who have been so traumatized that they are in need of some R&R away from the battle front.”

        That is probably where I am right now, along with so many others. I appreciate the wisdom of both of you.

      • Megan, it seems this has been thoroughly covered, but since I am never one to withhold my opinion, I’ll go ahead and give my 2 cents.

        There was a time when I was barely holding onto faith at all (or rather, in retrospect God was holding on to me). What I did at that time was all I felt I could do to put myself in the stream of God’s grace. I couldn’t read scripture (which I know sounds bad, but I didn’t trust myself to be able to discern the truth as I was reading, and instead only find the lies people had taught me claiming it was scripture) and I couldn’t listen to Christian music, especially worship music (as a former worship leader there was just too much emotion wrapped up in these songs). I prayed a lot and I forced myself to go to a church. By God’s grace I’d manage to find a church that supported me (I found the closest PCA church and just called the pastor, unloaded on him, and he responded graciously) and so I showed up most Sundays. I didn’t go to bible study or even really fellowship with believers. When my friends at work started a bible study and invited me, I declined.

        Now this certainly wasn’t ideal. My entire life was not permeated with faith the way it had been in the past. I was in church for worship one hour a week and I prayed every night- that was all I had to give. But God was faithful with this- he did heal me over time and put just the right people and experiences in my life to bring back all of the things my life was missing. I was faithful the best way I could be, and God did the rest. And this process also let me to examine and detect a lot of “culture” things I’d adopted as faith.

        So what I’m saying is, there is an ideal- ideally we’d all have churches that are safe for us so we are fellowshipping and worshiping with other believers regularly and being taught God’s Word. Ideally we’d all be reading scripture, praying regularly, going to bible study and all that. But we don’t live in an ideal world and sometimes we can’t practice ideal faith. But when we do what we can, are honest with God about what we can give, he will honor that in the long run. He will redeem our situations, and in doing so we may find some of the external trappings of faith stripped away.

        So if you don’t have a safe church, be faithful in the light you CAN see. You interact with believers on this site and with your children. You may not have the same struggles that I did, and vice versa, but give what you can and trust God to do the rest. I think of this as outing ourselves in the stream of God’s grace.

        I do hope that eventually you will find a fellowship of people you can gather with for Worship, but I don’t think you want to do it out of guilt, shame, or obligation. And you sure don’t want to do it to the detriment of yourself or your children. When God has prepared your heart maybe he will show you a door to a new church.

        No matter what, you are a member of the “invisible” church, and that is far more important than membership in the “visible” church.

      • Megan, also (because I brought it up in passing recently) I started to r-read Peretti’s novel The Visitstion again. One of the themes of the book is how we responded when the church has let us down; the main character is an ex-pastor who has stopped attending church, but not lost his faith. This might be an encouraging book for where you are at (though I will note there is an example of child abuse in the book if that might be a trigger).

      • MeganC

        Jeff S– Thank you for sharing your story. I can completely relate to all you are saying. It took me a very long time to listen to any Christian music and I forced myself to read Scripture. But, I stayed away from anything that had been “touched” by the seminary, my ex husband or church. I still cannot read the Epistles at all. 😦 I stayed in books like Malachi, Exodus, Isaiah. Sounds strange but I met the real God there — not the God everyone seemed to be saying He was. I think I am probably halfway there. The thought of going to church turns my stomach. . . but I DO desire fellowship with real believers. I know, for sure, that I would rather stay home with my kiddos and have our own little church than go sit “under” someone who doesn’t really belong to Christ and is just living out his own agenda.

  4. Martin

    Thanks, Jeff. I have faced regular sneers, jeers, whispers, rumors, and attacks as I seek to worship and serve the Lord after divorce and remarriage. Every time I think I’ve heard it all, another attack from the Adversary comes out of no where.

    From a selfish perspective, it would have been easier for me just to leave the church in disgust as millions have over the decades. The people I know in the business world think I’m nuts for spending so much time in church and service. It might even seem that leaving such ungodly leaders is more Godly than staying.

    But the church is just too important. The church is God’s chosen vehicle for worship and fellowship. By our unity in the church, we will one day be united with our Lord as bride. God doesn’t want us to leave His church, He wants it fixed. Almost half the New Testament is about fixing a problem in the church or among the congregation. God wants our churches fixed.

    We must blow the whistle. We must persevere.

    • MeganC

      Man — I keep putting my comments in the wrong place!! LOL! Martin — please see my comment above!

      • Song

        Megan, see my comment above. Lol!

    • Anonymous

      Martin, the difficult thing in staying in a church which doesn’t feel validating is that you feel re-injured and find it hard to heal. Sometimes, going to church is like chewing glass. I don’t find any deep fellowship – everything is superficial because nobody wants to hear about abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder. If you ask for prayer you get condescending comments or comments that you know are theologically unsound. So you stop asking for prayer. And you stop sharing. So you just show up. Then what’s the point of going? I am constantly looking for avenues to serve so I have something to do there. Otherwise, I might as well stay home as I can get the sermons online.

      • Anon I relate very much. Except that a long while ago I gave up looking for avenues to serve in churches. The ways I wanted to serve are not wanted. All I want to do is blow the whistle about abuse and the dangers of various cults and sub-biblical practices, and none of that was wanted. Even to have a conversation with one person on any of those topics during the coffee time, I felt like a leper, or like I had to do it in virtually a whisper. Like other people would be overhearing, pricking up their ears, and labelling me with all their negative labels: liberal, axe-grinder, resentful, vindictive, gossip, mean-spirited, un-submissive, haughty, uppity, too big for my boots, marriage-wrecker, unfeminine, ungenerous, always complaining about something or other, boat-rocker in extremis . . .

        Yesterday (Sunday) I went to three churches in about half an hour. Walked out of the first one (‘evangelical’) during the third hymn in which the first verse opened with “There must be more than this…” –– I thought that summed up the probable unregenerate state of most of the congregation rather aptly! Second church I tried the doors were locked. Third church (Catholic) I stood in the back for about two minutes, just long enough to hear the Lords Prayer and be grateful to have been reminded not to harbour resentment against the first church. But I left as soon as the priest started to raise the elements for the mumbo jumbo of transubstantiation. I ended up driving to our local scenic lake, and listening to one of Jeff C’s sermons on my car stereo, praying and lifting my hands in worship.

  5. Does that whole sorry mechanism sound familiar to you?

    Yes.

  6. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog and commented:
    Truth should always prevail. No Christian should ever have to be afraid of telling the truth.

  7. MeganC

    Jeff C — I am relieved to read this. Especially the part about the family not being a haven. I really really thought that my family would support me and, instead, they turned on me quickly, told me I needed counseling and didn’t believe me. It was the hardest — not just emotionally — but I had no help. Four kids, 700 square feet, trying to work as a new single mom . . . we spent the holidays alone, etc. We are FINE now — doing really well. But not having their support felt like the abuse was taken to an entire new level. I was sure it was ME. This blog helps me to see that many people feel this aloneness. But, I am determined that it will NOT mark the rest of my life — that I will, indeed, “get over it” at some point!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Megan and Martin – As I understand it, Martin Luther never intended to start new churches apart from Rome. But in the end, that is what had to happen. Rome was unreformable (and has remained so). Recently I think I saw a comment by Dale Ingram that said the same thing, i.e., that we probably are not going to see much reformation of existing churches. They are so infiltrated with the religion of the Pharisees. Rather, we most likely will have to establish new churches that begin on a right foundation. John Owen wrote a lot about this subject too. People like him were accused of being “schismatic” because they were non-conformists (not in the established state church of England). I believe he argued that the non-conformists were not the schismatics, but it was those who had divided long ago from truth in Christ that caused the real schism. In that case then, the established church of England was guilty of schism, not Owen and those with him.

      • MeganC

        Yes yes! I have wondered, for a long time, if this is where we are in this present time (this present darkness). I have wondered what God will do — what will have to happen — what the newness will be. It seems like some have broken off and are trying “home churches” but, ultimately, it doesn’t seem to be working as the home churches only develop into the pharisaical mindset we have been discussing. Maybe the home churches aren’t working enough to throw away the old and have the entirely different foundation you describe — I don’t know! And a desire for control seems so prevalent . . . wishing I could visit your church, Jeff C!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Megan – I think we all agree with Martin in the sense of never rejecting the TRUE church of Jesus Christ. Nowadays it seems that genuine Christians are having to increasingly go “outside the camp” of established churches to find the 7000 who have not bowed their knee to Baal. But I don’t think that any of us are “against any form of an established, visible church” as we often hear some radical types saying. We would love to be in the fellowship of a local body of believers who genuinely love and serve Christ. Tell me if I am wrong, Megan, but I suspect that if the leaders and members of a local church, perhaps over some time, actually began to reach out to you, to listen to you, and to understand what you have been through and say “that was wicked and we will do our best to see that such a thing never, ever happens here,” that sooner or later Megan would be attending that church!

        What we all want to be part of is the real body of Christ with people who truly are our brothers and sisters in Christ and who see the leaven of the Pharisees for what it is and reject it. And again, I think that is fundamentally what Martin means. As Christians we love the real bride of Christ and will never, ever reject her. The trick today is — where is she?

      • MeganC

        Yes . . . Thank you for this. You are right, Jeff. Please understand that it is not that I am against any sort of establishment at all. I am not (and don’t want to be!) ever labeled as radical (in THAT sense! Ha!) I am not disagreeing with you. I just have never experienced what you are describing above. I WANT that — and want it for my children, especially. I want them to have a healthy view of church. They have been hurt, as well. And I am absolutely and completely gun-shy. 😦 I have worked within church all my life (until recently) as a pianist and have seen many of the ins and outs. I am utterly disappointed every time. And then all the seminary stuff. I wonder if God will even heal this part in me . . . tears. And what I mean about the invisible Church comes out of my “membership” of the last church I attended in America being revoked. As though I am no longer a member of the Church! That simply cannot be!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Understood completely! Hey Megan, I would really like to hear about the things you experienced as a person who worked within your church for so long and served as a pianist — the ins and outs as you say. Were there warning signs of what I call the leaven of the Pharisees in those years before you were married and abused and went through all of that terrible treatment? As a pastor of a small church, I have certainly seen and had to deal with and been attacked by these “inner workings” of people who, in many cases, do not truly know Christ yet hold various offices in a church. But all of my experience has been in churches of say about 75 in average attendance (our present church is smaller than that). What kinds of things go on behind the scenes in larger churches – daily things – that might indicate all is not right?

        I had one experience in a larger setting. Our church affiliated with a larger Baptist denomination years ago. Our fellowship with them was short-lived however. Their doctrine sounded great on paper, but we pretty quickly began to see the politics and dishonestly and personal promotion in action. They amended the constitution and it was obvious to anyone who read the new version that they had intentionally inserted wording that promoted their own private agendas — agendas we did not agree with. When we pointed this out, they equivocated and denied any intentionality in it. I told them “so, what you are saying is that you threw this gold into your campfire and out jumped this calf?” We were very soon labeled as judgmental and unkind and were invited to resign from the organization, which we ultimately did. The two times that I got together with other pastors in that denomination, all they talked about was whose church was getting the biggest, what career paths they were on, and nothing about Christ. And mind you, this was a professing conservative denomination! It was Laodicea for sure.

        And incidentally one more time, while we were still in that denomination, the pastor of one of their churches near us took off with the church secretary. They had been conducting their affair for quite some time as it turned out. As I watched how that church and the denominational head office handled that situation, I was sickened. The WHOLE thing was about damage control, about image, about “how can we get things here back on track quickly so everyone can forget about it all”? They never held any kind of solemn assembly to confess the sin in their church to the Lord. They never even disciplined the ex-pastor and prayed that Christ, for His glory, would deal with this man and perhaps even bring him and the ex-secretary to repentance. There was no indication of a vital, living reliance of faith upon Jesus Christ. It was all corporation tactics, public relations spins, and denial.

        I have no doubt at all that if a victim of abuse came forward in such a church, she/he would be dealt with in the standard merciless, hush-it-up manner we are all too familiar with.

      • MeganC

        That all sounds VASTLY familiar to me, Jeff. I worked in churches from the time I was 12 on — some were Methodist, some were non-denominational and the bulk were Southern Baptist. I will sit down and write you an email in the next few weeks after mulling on what the warning signs were. Right off the bat, I think of preaching topics such as “authority of the church” and “biblical roles” being preached to set the foundation for achieving those personal agendas you speak of. I think about how various facets of the services were used to manipulate people emotionally . . . even the music (timing is everything!). I think about my particular job — being “under” the other pastors . . . and how I was treated that way. I worked with large churches. In the past 10 years, I worked for 3 churches with 500 regular attendees or more.I have stories . . . Let me think on it so as to be succinct and not write a novel!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Maybe a novel needs to be written! I will look for it anxiously. No pressure. Well, maybe just a smidgin:):)

      • MeganC

        LOL! 🙂 OK. I will do my best!

      • Martin

        Jeff;

        Can you point me to Owen’s writing on this? I enjoy his book “Mortification of Sin” and would enjoy seeing his perspective on starting new churches.

        Thanks!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Martin –

        It looks like it is in the volume of his works entitled- Ministry and Fellowship. Here is a description of the contents of that volume. Notice it has 3 sections entitled “Of Schism.”

        Author: John Owen
        Publisher: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
        Publication Date: 2008
        592 pages
        Owen mediates the charge of schism brought against those who sought to reform the Church according to Scripture.

        The Duty of Pastors and People Distinguished
        Eshcol: a Cluster of the Fruit of Canaan
        Of Schism, in Three Books
        Nonconformity Vindicated
        Tracts on the Power of the Magistrate, Indulgence, Toleration, etc.

      • Martin

        Thanks!

  8. Song

    “According to Alford, the organization as an institution is dedicated to the destruction of the moral individualist.” This, to me, is what I have observed to be part of the problem in churches…the idea that the local church body/building/organization is more important than the individuals who make up that group of people who gather in a church building. Preservation of the church organization and it’s ideas/beliefs/traditions take precedence over and above the individuals. Promoting the idea that a church building, church organization, or denomination as where God abides perpetuates the destruction of the individual as now being the temple or place where God abides. Individual people encountering God on their own, and then coming together to build each other up to help each other along the journey of life towards our own individual goals, potential, callings, etc. is my take on what the body of Christ is about. If I neglect, don’t listen to or pay attention to a certain part of my physical body when it is in pain or distress, or worse yet, blame that part of my body for causing the pain, eventually the rest of my body will be affected by my ignoring it. Believing that my foot cut itself and then blaming it for the injury, well, that’s just silliness.

    • Anonymous

      The one time that the church could apply the principle that the Body is more important than the individual is in handling perpetrators. Instead of protecting them or trying to prioritize their reform, they should apply 1 Cor 5 and hand the offender over to Satan, for the sake of the health of the Body. I read some good stuff on this by a Biblical scholar – I think it was on Barbara’s Not Under Bondage site, but can’t be sure.

      • Song

        I think I understand what you are saying, Anon, that protecting the Body is also protecting the individual members of that Body. Is that correct?

    • Song said: the idea that the local church body/building/organization is more important than the individuals who make up that group of people who gather in a church building.

      This is so true. Look at the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit. For years they ignored the cries from the victims/families of sexual abuse and now they are being sued. It didn’t have to come to this, but the church’s image took precedence over real hurting people. That’s pretty sad.

  9. Laurie’s words are worth noting: ‘to lift up the Godhead of Christ. And that rocks the boat of status quo. Because in lifting up Christ Jesus, man is exposed.’

    Yes, so many people wounded in the church. Many people have learned through the school of hard knocks what happens when they blow the whistle and try to point out blatant problems which affect the health of their church.

    Jeff, thanks for posting this. It is important to raise the awareness about spiritual abuse and other abuses that the church fails to identify.

    Barb at: http://www.ChurchExiters.com

    My Book: Spiritual Abuse Recovery

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Barb – yep, Christ is the ultimate boat-rocker. He is a threat to Pharisees in power. How a church treats the oppressed is a sure indicator of whether Christ is truly present in it or not.

  10. This blog post and comment thread have meant so much to me– read my story which we are still living up to this moment– we will be homeless in a few days due to employer retaliation by my church denomination– we have gone hungry and are now cold in the fall with no utilities– this is a real dynamic! I wish I had understood this before making the choices I made– I naively trusted that God’s people wanted to be godly in their choices and actions.
    My husband and I are autistic (asperger’s/high functioning) so we are particularly vulnerable to trusting people only to be stunned and injured by their lack of integrity or loyalty.
    Thanks for sharing on this important subject– the truth is so IMPORTANT because it brings the light of God’s will and ways into our midst.

    Read about my story — http://www.awetismfamily.blogspot.com/p/church-employee-in-alabama-faces.html

    • Correction sorry- my personal blog site is livewithautism.us

  11. Jeff, you’re right that whistleblowers are often jeered instead of applauded. People would rather do what’s easy that what’s right– doing what’s right takes courgage and commitment and means standing up for what’s unpopular. I do not say this for sympathy, but I’ve paid dearly for standing up against corruption in law enforcement more than once. I’ve seen horrible acts protected while the people trying to shine light into the darkness are basically excommunicated.

  12. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

  13. I’ve been listening to Jeff C’s sermon series on the Biblical theology of the temple (from ~2011). Jeff talks a lot about fig leaves, and the image keeps coming back to me.

    For some reason I’ve always thought of Adam and Eve using one large fig leave to cover their private parts. But Jeff’s sermons have made me notice something: Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loincloths (Gen 3:7).

    Those who close ranks against whistleblowers are skilled at sewing fig leaves together.
    One stitch: define gossip as “any negative talk about the leadership or your spouse”.
    Two stitch: preach unity and Peacemaking as compulsory.
    Red stitch: preach traditional bumper-sticker theology about divorce, rather than balanced scriptural exegesis.
    Blue stitch: hush and cover up all genuinely wicked sin, and define whistle-blowing as sin.

    I’m sure we could all add to this list, but I can’t think of how the rhyme goes after ‘blue stitch’.

    • Song

      Good thoughts, Barbara, on the stitches holding the multiple fig leafs together. I look forward to hearing Jeff C’s sermon’s on them. I’m not familiar with the “One stitch, two stitch, etc.” saying. I’m more familiar with Dr. Seuss’ book entitled “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, so I can’t help you out with what comes next after “Blue Stitch”. 😉

      • Hey, that’s where it came from – Dr Suess! No wonder I couldn’t find it on the nursery rhyme websites! Good old Dr Seuss. He’s been filed into the into classic nursery rhyme folder in my brain!

      • Anonymous

        What’s wrong with “Green fish”?

      • Just Me

        Great analogy Barbara, and very clever too! I am learning so much from this blog. I’m so thankful! So many things are becoming clear.

  14. This has been a very interesting read. For those unfamiliar with my story – I was sued by my former pastor for $500K in a defamation lawsuit for speaking publicly about spiritual abuse. We won the court case. I don’t think my whistle blowing changed anything as far as the church/pastor is concerned. It is business as usual there, sadly. I had amazing support from friends and relatives, in general. There have been a few who have remained quiet and probably wished I would have handled the situation differently (ie, not posted publicly). But to them I say: walk in my shoes. I did not post my comments on a whim – it was with much thought and prayer and also after conferring with my husband.

    A very positive result was the media attention given my case and the end result is now I am blogging about spiritual abuse in general and have a lot more readers, so the word of spiritual abuse is getting out. That is a very positive outcome.

    • Song

      Julie Anne,
      It’s so good to hear when some one experiences a positive outcome for speaking out. I’m so sorry you had to go through the lawsuit, but very happy for you that you won. Congratulations.

    • Julie Anne, your efforts may not have made much impact at the church you were exposing, apart from an impact on their bank balance. But the fact that you WON your case in the secular court and the abusive church was ordered to pay your costs, is mightily significant.

      In days and years to come, I think your case will be looked back on as a trend-setter. A whistle-blowing Christian’s complaint was upheld by the secular courts! I’m sure your example will encourage many other Christian whistle-blowers to take similar suits against their abusive church leaders. And so it should be. I think only when abusive church leaders are running scared, will some of them start to pull their heads in (Aussie slang = stop being so obnoxiously proud).

  15. Jade

    Yes I was a whistle-blower and the results were exactly described in this quote above. The church kicked me out and the justice system was simply a joke at my expense. However, from this point, my views branch out from Alfords in a different direction. Yes, the results of whistle-blowing were shocking and grim. It would SEEM as though the herd mentality had won. But that is just exactly it, it hadn’t worked on me! The institution of the church and the institution of the law had not TOTALLY succeeded, because I was blowing my little heart out! I’m like a fly in the ointment of their conscious. I’m the pea under the mattress! Oh how pesky it must have been that I would not let up. I kept banging on about the TRUTH. I asked simple questions that ended 15 year friendships in the blink of an eye. Questions like, “Do you believe I’m telling the truth?”. Oh dear they got their knickers in a knot! When it all ended and there was nothing left I could do about exposing the truth, I fell into a deep dark hole of utter despair. It was horrific. I thought I would never recover, I believe that some people don’t. Slowly but surely, I started to re-frame what I had ‘lost’. It took two years, seemingly short, but it felt so long to be in excruciating pain. This quote by Judith Herman perfectly sums up the premises of my re-frame, which is in stark contrast to Alfords (understandable) viewpoint:

    “The survivor who elects to engage in public battle cannot afford to delude herself about the inevitability of victory. She must be secure in the knowledge that simply in her willingness to confront the perpetrator she has overcome one of the most terrible consequences of trauma. She has let him know that he cannot rule her by fear, and she has exposed his crime to others. Her recovery is not based on the illusion that evil has been overcome, but rather on the knowledge that it has not entirely prevailed and on the hope that restorative love may still be found in the world”.

    Here is also a poem I wrote recently:

    It was the best
    and the worst of times.
    I lost my whole world
    and gained a new one.
    I grew small, completely disappeared
    then I became me.
    Goodness grew wings and fluttered away,
    as wisdom’s shoots came through the earth.
    Death rattled my bones,
    as my eyes saw new life.
    Trust became limp and useless,
    as I put on the thick armor of wariness.

    I mourned the loss of what I thought what was
    and I half wished I could put all the labels back on.
    Yet truth had raised her powerful proud head
    and made me a refugee
    in a new land.

    I encourage all those to rage against injustices committed to, and by, institutions. The cost is great and difficult to bear, but the victory is sure!

    • Jeff S

      Thank you for the poem- song lyrics and poems really reach me the most- they can be such an intimate reflection of feelings and thoughts. This poem definitely reflects my own journey.

      Your quote from Herman makes me think of my favorite quote from Lord of the Rings- which is a story about an impossible journey:

      Frodo: “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened!”

      Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo besides evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring, in which case you also were meant to have it, and that is an encouraging thought!”

    • Song

      Thank you, Jade, for sharing your experience and the outcome. Your bravery, strength, and statement of reframing is encouraging and hope giving.

      “She must be secure in the knowledge that simply in her willingness to confront the perpetrator she has overcome one of the most terrible consequences of trauma. She has let him know that he cannot rule her by fear, and she has exposed his crime to others.”
      That’s so good!

      Song

    • Jade –– thank you –– from the bottom of my heart.

      And so great to hear from you again on this blog, dear friend.

      Any chance of someone putting music to that poem?
      I think we are going to have a suite of survivor songs one day. I’m looking forward to the album. I know Jeff S is a musician, and there are others here too, I think.

      I’m copying your poem into a post of its own, Jade, so it can be easily found under the ‘poetry’ category.

      • Still scared

        Would you want my daughter’s poem?? Cindy Burnell put it on her site?

      • Thanks, SS. Send it to us by email, and we can have a look. I don’t remember seeing it on Cindy’s site, but my memory might have let me down.

    • MeganC

      Jade . . .. That was so beautiful. Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      What a beautiful poem. I have given it to a friend who I think really needs to hear those words.

  16. Jade

    Thank you Jeff for your insightful comments. The quote from Lord of the Rings encourages me to read it! I am in a place now where I can say that the evil I encountered has done a wonderful job of shaping me into something that it really wasn’t suppose to! I believe the evil didn’t come from God, but he used it to shape my character, so that the very thing that was suppose to destroy me, ended up being the steps that I walked up on to higher places.

    I was on the train when I read that quote by Herman and I wept with absolute joy, instead of going to work I went to the beach and just felt like my heart was going to burst with joy. Yes the fate of evil was sure from that day on, it was not going to disable me any longer!

    Glad you like the poem. Goodness knows if I’ll ever write another!

  17. Marisa Messer

    There is another aspect that didn’t seem to be touched on, This is my experience: sharing with the leadership some of the abuse and them saying there is nothing they can do. 1. because the help the abuser really needs is outside of their understanding of how to deal with it. 2. the mentality that you can’t hold the abuser accountable for their actions if they don’t want to be accountable to the leadership.

    My husband’s abuse in the sexual realm was diminished as a “lust” problem. Trying to control every day aspects of our lives was seen as the woman being unsubmissive. I.e.: one woman wanted to home school her children, the husband did not. She was told you just have to do what he says and gave a couple of examples of times unbelieving husbands wanted something different for the children than the believing wife. They did what the wife wanted and when it failed it was because she had not submitted to her husband. When discussing my husband’s anger and angry responses with a couple of elders I was told the kind of help they really needed was outside of what they understood and from what they could see that type of counseling was just too expensive. Another person said, “Well, I can say something to him about his behavior but if he won’t put himself under my authority it doesn’t do any good.

    So I am left with his verbal lashings even though we are apart and there is still no one that can/will help. I guess that would be apathy.?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Marisa – In other words, those leaders knew nothing about a vital and living faith in Christ! They operated as if the church were a mere human society, devoid of the presence and power of the Lord. They also had a distorted and unbiblical concept of leadership and authority.

    • Jeff S

      “She was told you just have to do what he says and gave a couple of examples of times unbelieving husbands wanted something different for the children than the believing wife. They did what the wife wanted and when it failed it was because she had not submitted to her husband.”

      I don’t see how we get from scripture to this kind of thinking. Something didn’t work out because a wife didn’t submit? Are we one day going to learn that relationships are not a simple formula where you input x and get y?

      • Marisa Messer

        Exactly, it’s not a formula. And we also have the issue of how believers are suppose to submit to each other. Even in a marriage relationship. The picture I get is the hierarchy God created in churches and marriage is actually very subtle. I have also seen many times where a husband did something his wife was against and it turned out poorly. Sometimes we make bad decisions. Sometimes things just don’t go well even in good decisions. The Holy Spirit and above all to love. And if we look at what Scripture says love is it is anything but a wife submitting to her husband to the extreme of everything, the same with submission to church authorities. It’s a warped world we live in. Thank God he has overcome!

    • ” the mentality that you can’t hold the abuser accountable for their actions if they don’t want to be accountable to the leadership.”
      I encountered this attitude/excuse from elders when I left my first husband. I thought it was lame, to say the least. When I put to them the fact that they had let this baby Christian languish in the nursery without discipling him, they answered “He didn’t want us to speak into his life.”
      Surely that should have been a red flag! Surely it should have prompted them to look more closely and to be on the alert for serious sin lurking in my husband below the surface. If they had, they would perhaps been more prepared to discipline him when he later assaulted me.

      Some months before that final assault, I did ring one of the female elders and sobbed to her over the phone about my husband’s emotional abuse (though I didn’t use that label for it at the time, not knowing that was the right label) and I’ll give her credit: she did offer to speak to him. But I said “No, don’t! That would make things worse!” I was in scurrying mode. But even that – surely – should have alerted the elders to the fact that they had a brewing case of domestic abuse going on. This elder knew I’d separated from him years before that because of him being an abuser, and had stayed away from him for four years, and only reconciled with him because he appeared to have been converted to Christ. But none of that made any difference to the way these elders fell like dominoes when the stuff hit the fan: they gave him refuge and hospitality in their own homes.
      I wonder whether this was a combination of cowardliness and the prideful belief that “We understand domestic violence” which rendered them unwilling to see their mistakes and unwilling to learn more about DV.

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