Because the church mishandles abuse, the name of God is blasphemed among unbelievers
[August 29, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Many people who boast in the Bible dishonour God by breaking Biblical precepts left, right and centre.
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth — you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?
While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Romans 2:17-29 ESV)
Kindly allow me to rephrase this for the church —
If persons call themselves Christians and rely on the Bible and boast in God and know His will and approve what is excellent, because they are instructed from the Bible; and if they are sure that they themselves are guides to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, instructors of the foolish (hem hem, are women more often foolish than men?), if they are teachers of children, having in the Bible the embodiment of knowledge and truth — those people who teach others, do they not teach themselves?
While they preach against stealing, do they steal?
Do they rob women, children and vulnerable individuals of their dignity? Do they unfairly besmirch the reputations of abuse victims? Do they rob them of their well-being? Do they tacitly enable abusers to shred the sense of identity of their victims — to shred their very souls? Do they allow them to steal the virginity and innocence of children?
Those who say that one must not commit adultery, do they commit adultery?
Do they watch porn? Do they sidle up to single or divorced women in the coffee time after church, to brush against their hips or breasts? Do they arrange rosters for church duty so they can conveniently be with a woman they are lusting over, on pretext of ‘doing church work’? Do they turn a blind eye to other men’s illicit or dubious behaviour? Do they give the nod and wink to men’s ‘foibles and weaknesses’ while coming down hard on women’s weaknesses? Do they accuse people of sexual immorality when they are guilty of that themselves and are keeping it close to their chests? Do they have sex with children — or wish they could, and are keeping that secret? Do they groom their prospective victims (and the moral adults around those victims) so that no one will suspect them of adultery or pedophilia? Do they evade the arm of the law? Do they help others evade it? Do they go out of their way to witness for the ‘good character’ of an abuser in court, but not help the abuse victim who is trying to persuade the court to protect her kids?
Those who abhor idols, do they rob the temples (rob the church of God)?
Do they take tithes but fail to protect widows, the women bereft of husbands? — The women whose husbands masquerade as godly men on Sundays, but who abuse and mistreat and demean and degrade and slander and attack their wives under the mask of being husbands, and then get all hoity-toity and take the moral high ground when their wives institute divorce proceedings.
Do they rob the church of evangelism opportunities? — Of the hearing it should be able to obtain from unbelievers, and would obtain if it were honouring justice and righteousness.
Do they rob the church of believers? Do they spurn the testimony of faithful believers who have suffered abuse? Do they shun them? Do they sideline them or make their lives in the pews so uncomfortable that they flee with their trauma wounds out into the wilderness?
Do they say they abhor idols, but idolize marriage and put it on a pedestal — at the expense of the individuals within it?
Do they seek those who have gone astray because the needs of victims have been ignored by the church?
Too many who boast in the Bible dishonour God by breaking Biblical precepts left, right and centre!
For, as it is written:
….The name of God is blasphemed among the unbelievers because of you. (Romans 2:24 ESV)
The following is a quote from the Septuagint of Isaiah [Esaias] 52:5b (link):
Thus saith the Lord, On account of you my name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles.
How many secular domestic abuse professionals have a cynical view of Christianity because they’ve known pastors to advise their clients to reconcile with abusers who have only demonstrated wafer-thin repentance? No one has researched this, but anecdotal evidence and my reading tells me that most DV professionals are highly suspicious of pastors and of Christianity and one of the reasons they have for their cynicism is because they see so-called Christians enabling abusers and misleading victims. The same can be said for journalists and for law enforcement professionals who have addressed sexual abuse scandals in the church.
Baptism and church membership indeed is of value if one obeys the law of Christ, but if one breaks the law of Christ, one’s church membership and one’s baptism become uncleanness.
Consider someone who is unbaptised or does not frequent church, but who keeps the precepts of the Bible: Will not his lack of the social markers of Christianity be regarded by conventional Christians as unbelief? Then he who is unbaptised and not a member of ‘c’hurch, but keeps the law, will condemn those who have the Bible but break the law of Christ.
For no one is a Christian who is merely one outwardly, nor is Christianity outward and physical. But a Christian is one inwardly, and Christianity is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. That person’s praise is not from man but from God.
[August 29, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 29, 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 August 29, 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 August 29, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 29, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]