Abusive Tactics: Telling Victims What to Think
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.
1 Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
This is election day. There are churches that are quite politically active, and in doing so they can exercise abusive tactics. For example, church members can be virtually ordered how God commands them to vote for particular candidates or on certain issues. God, it seems, is registered in their party. Are there issues that by their very nature pretty much require any real Christian to vote for/against? Yes, of course. But even in those arenas, no one has a right to tell us how we are to mark our ballots. To do so would be a tactic of abuse, a sinful exercise of power and authority.
Pharisees do this. Those of you who have done much reading about abuse know that abusers, be they domestic or spiritual or both, proclaim the ability to crawl inside the mind of their victim, see what the victim is thinking, discern what her motives are, and in addition tell her what she is to think and what her motives are to be. Of course no one except the Lord can do this, but the abuser can be very convincing. I remember a scene in the movie Cape Fear (not recommending it by the way) in which the evil character (Robert Di Niro) is doing this very thing to a teen-age girl. It was very well portrayed as he diabolically analyzes and dictates her thoughts and motives to her, holding her mesmerized.
But Pharisees and other abusers do this. When you run into a Pharisee, you will soon feel the pressure to conform to his/her traditions. Not just some of them. All of them. And if you don’t, well they are going to punish you and eventually be done with you. We must all be on guard against this tactic and draw firm boundaries with people who try to use it on us. “No, Fred, you must stop doing that. You cannot tell me what I am thinking or what my motive was when I did that. You don’t know my thoughts and you cannot dictate them to me.” If Fred is not willing to abide by that boundary, then Fred is not a person to have a relationship with.
And we must all be careful not to use this tactic ourselves. Yes, there can be a little Pharisee hiding in each of us. When someone disagrees with us on some issue, for example, we must be willing to permit them that freedom. Especially when the issue is of the category of a “matter of conscience” as Paul discusses in Romans 14-15. Who are we to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls.
We cannot ensure that we will never again hear someone say to us “well, if that is your opinion on this then I want nothing to do with you!” But we can make sure that we never say that to anyone ourselves out of a motive of merely making them conform to our opinion. If a person differs with us on a vital issue — such as the truth of the gospel — well, then there probably is not going to be a very close relationship and maybe none at all. Or if an abuser refuses to repent and insists upon controlling us, then we cannot have a safe relationship with him. But that is his doing, not ours.