What About Bob?: An Abuser’s Tactics Named and Exposed
We do not often feature abusive comments that we receive because 1) we don’t want to give attention to them, and 2) they are not really worth the time and energy to respond to. However, once in a while, and this is one of those once-in-a-while times, we put one out there for all of our readers to see.
I decided to deal with this particular comment in part for my own personal benefit and in so doing I hope that all of you who have been victims of abuse will be helped. As a pastor, I have been the target of these very kinds of manipulations and tactics which in the past have placed me under a pile of false guilt and self-doubt. But I have learned a few things about abuse in the past few years. I can recognize it, name it, and give it right back to the person shooting at me. So that is what I am going to do now. These kinds of comments are not honest discussion or constructive criticism. They are arrows and missiles of abuse — the same kind of abuse most of the readers of this blog have been victims of far too often.
This comment was received in connection with the review / critique I posted on this blog of Pastor Voddie Baucham’s sermon in which he teaches the permanence view of marriage to his congregation. This view says no divorce for any reason ever. Period. Baucham tells his people that if any of them come to him or his two elders saying they need to divorce their spouse, he and the elders are going to tell them “You are the problem,” and send them back to their marriage. Baucham utilized, as some of his main points in this sermon, not Scripture but points copied verbatim from Jim Elliff’s book, Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View. He stated them authoritatively, giving the listener the clear impression that they were the Word of God. Any pastor being unbiased in reviewing that sermon would tell you that if it had been preached in seminary homiletics class, it would have received a failing grade.
So, here we go. I will refer to this commenter as Bob and I will insert my comments as we go along. I have omitted nothing from Bob’s message (except one link to a lexicon he listed) , and not altered any of his spelling. Bob’s words are in dark red (as is suitable for ‘red flags’ of abuserese) and his quotes from my previous post are in green —
When you start reviewing another preachers sermons the way you have, I would question your heart.
“Baucham is grossly narrow and wooden…” (is that really necessary…?)
Bob, yes it really is quite necessary. It identifies Baucham’s hermeneutic as one root of his problem. When he does deal with a Scripture in this sermon, he handles the naked, bare letter on the page divorced from its context, both biblical and cultural. And Bob, how is it that you would actually question the heart of a person who is comparing a man’s teaching with the Word of God (1 John 4:1), and when that teaching comes up contrary to Scripture and oppressive to Christ’s people, saying so?
Abusive Tactics Identified: 1) Inappropriate familiarity. 2) Defining reality: claiming special or superior insight into the victim’s thoughts and motives – “I would question your heart. 3) Shifting blame from the guilty party to the victim, working to instill self-doubt – “Is that really necessary?”
Bob, we have heard these tactics before many times. We reject them.
“HOMICIDE, MAYBE, DIVORCE, NEVER!” (Exact quote from Baucham, followed by laughter in the congregation) I wonder how funny that joke would be in Ohio right now after the terrible and tragic shooting of Katherina Allen and her two daughters by her evil, wicked “husband”?
Your quote here clearly illustrates that you’ve forgotten what God said:
– None are righteous, no, not one
– There is none who understands
– There is none who seeks after God
– There is none who does good, no, not one
Her evil, wicked husband? We are all evil, we all have deceitful hearts. We are all deserving of the righteous judgement of God. If you have ever so much as broken one of God’s commandments your judgement is the same as Katherina Allen’s husband.
Abusive Tactics Identified: 1) False guilting the victim with accusations. 2) Justifying even the most wicked person and condemning the innocent. 3) Using distortions of Scripture to destroy the self-esteem and confidence of the victim (shaming). 4) Defending men because they are men and accusing the victim because she is a woman, no matter how evil the man’s deeds.
Bob, we say again, we have heard this all before. These tactics are not new to us. We recognize them and we reject them. Your use of Romans 3 to justify wickedness is obvious. The first 2 1/2 chapters of Romans are God’s condemnation of idolatrous humanity, including the false religion form of idolatry. These verses in no way can be applied to Christians. I am not an evil, wicked person. I am a son of God, a child of the king, a saint, a beloved one. I love God’s Word and I love Christ and He loves me. My heart has been regenerated and it is not a deceitful heart. It would not take me very long to make a huge list of Scriptures that call evil, wicked men just that. Hypocrites. Dogs. Hidden reefs. Those aren’t my words, they are the Lord’s.
Malachi 2:16 “I had divorce”.
Abusive Tactics Identified: I assume you mean “I hate divorce.” Well, you won’t even find that statement in many Bible translations. Tactic here? 1. Selective, non-contextual use of Scripture to condemn the innocent.
We see it and we reject it. What God hates is the treacherous breaking of covenant by the wicked. In the case of the marriage covenant, God hates the one who, through evil and treachery, breaks covenant with a spouse. That is what God hates. He cannot hate the mere act of filing the paperwork for divorce because He Himself is a divorcee – the wronged party by His OT covenant people. Jer 3.
If you live in the flesh you will think in the flesh. With eternity on your mind, the permanence view of marriage makes the most sense. Knowing God’s perspective on divorce and taking into account Paul’s teachings (think Romans 14) I would suggest a person who requests divorce to be weaker in the faith. Divorce satisfies OUR needs, not God’s. We are the most self-centred, egotistical, ego-maniacal society to ever walk the earth. We actually think something is true just because we believe it to be true. I’d like to introduce you to a new teaching called: God doesn’t care what you think (not meant to sound cynical).
Romans 3:4 “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”
Truth is truth whether we *believe* it or not.
Voddie’s perspective on diverse [I assume Bob means “divorce”] most aligns with God’s desire (whether it aligns with God’s law is questionable). But then, Romans 13:9-10 (quoting Jesus) tells us the righteous need to exceed the law and live in love.
Abusive Tactics Identified:
- Once again, using perversions of Scripture to justify continued abuse of a victim
- Exercising an attitude of superiority over the victim, “I’d like to introduce you to a new teaching…”
- Spewing accusations against the victim with hurtful, accusatory language. Bob is pointedly accusing me, his present target, of “thinking in the flesh.” He’s also slurring victims of domestic abuse by saying they weaker in the faith. And by generalizing that “we” (all of society) is “self-centered, egotistical, ego-maniacal” he is covertly casting aspersions on any who don’t agree with his views, and most particularly, but in a veiled way, so he can deny it and wriggle out of it, he is calling victims of domestic abuse self-centered, egotistical, ego-maniacal. This is classic abuserese: the abuser claims that the victim has exactly the evil characteristics that he possesses in spades, but will never admit to.
So there it is Bob. We see what you are doing, we have named it, and we reject it. We won’t wear your false guilting, we won’t be shamed by you, and we won’t let you bring God’s condemnation upon us. We’re all done with that in Christ and we will continue to be in the business of setting captives free.