A Cry For Justice

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

The abuser’s deceptive way of asking questions; and Jesus’ shrewd use of questions to stymie the wicked

Telling the truth is central to Christianity. In the lead-up to my conversion, God pricked me multiple times about how I was a liar and I had to stop doing it. 

Buckling on the belt of truth is the first step in donning the armor of God. If we don’t put on truth, the rest of the armor will be of little use.

… take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth … (Eph. 6:13-14)

For the domestic abuser, lies and deception are core conduct. Many of the lies they tell are designed to make them appear virtuous, honourable and beyond suspicion so they can more easily carry out their villainous deeds.

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Rev. 22:15 KJV)

The guileful abuser is able to make a lie in the form of a question; rather like wrapping up skunk-smell in a box with pretty paper and topping it off with a fancy ribbon.

Let’s look at how Judas did it.

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. … (Matthew 26:14-16)

So, having made a deal to betray Jesus to the religious leaders, having just signed himself up as an avowed enemy of Christ, he sat at the Last Supper with the other disciples and asked an ‘innocent’ smooth-as-butter question:

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord? He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”  (vs 20-25)

Notice how Judas parroted the other disciples’ question. They had all asked “Is it I?”, so he asked it too. The abuser who masquerades as a Christian is a copy-cat; he notices what believers say and parrots their words. And he does it so well that for most people it goes under the radar.

Here is another example of Judas asking a softer-than-oil question:

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.  (John 12:3-6)

How godly Judas was! Such a good steward of valuable resources! So charitable to the poor! Could anyone raise an eyebrow at that?  And he was courteous: he didn’t accuse or name anybody outright — he just posed a reasonable question to gently get people to think about their ethics. He was a model gentleman!

Not.

Good questions

Like all forms of speech and writing, questions can be guileful or godly, villainous or benevolent. Questions can be posed to distract from the truth, or to probe for the truth.

Questions can also be framed to deflect the motives of fools, or to obstruct the schemes of the wicked. This is how Jesus often used questions. He asked shrewd questions to stymie those who craftily interrogated him to trap him.

Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?(Matt 21:24-25)

But Jesus answered [the Saducees], “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:  ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”  (22:23-32)

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
The Lord said to my Lord,  “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”
 (22:41-45)

When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? (Luke 5:22-23)

Many more examples of shrewd questioning could be cited from the New Testament epistles, not to mention the OT prophets. Maybe you can think of more.  Or perhaps you can give examples of nefarious questions posed by abusers (but be careful not to cite examples that might too closely identify you.)

* * *

For further reading

Converting statements into questions: a skill for bystanders who want to help victims of abuse.

Is it always sinful to tell an untruth?

When is it okay to not tell the truth?

Contriving a test to probe whether a hardened heart has repented

 

 

35 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    These are such astute observations you’ve cited here, learned in the heat of trial. I feel foolish for having taken so long to catch on to the lies, but…. evil is crafty and deceptive. Years of listening to those oil-slick, so-easy-to-say lies is confusing. When my ex- told a whopper to my mother in the past year and she believed him, when she found out the truth, she exclaimed to me, “He was so convincing and believable.”

    I’m glad you posted this because in print, the Judas statement was one I long read and shook my head at, not quite getting it. Makes me feel very naive now not to have understood what he was doing there. Your post combined with Pastor Jeff’s most recent post make me very grateful indeed for the experience and wisdom given of God in turning on the light in this present darkness and dark age in which we live. This evil masquerading as light is real evil indeed.

  2. 7stelle

    The core of an abuser’s questions: “…to trap him.”

    My interactions with a-h use to be so chaotic and exhausting until someone taught me to answer his question with a question ( something learned in psychology class). It really does uncover the heart behind a-h’s accusation filled, looking for material to twist questioning.

    An example: He has already put me in a bad light with most others. But my friend who now knows about the abuse (who use to be friendly with a-h) refuses to interact with him. This is a chink in his armor and it unnerves him.
    —Him” “What do you say to K?”
    —-Me: “About what?”
    —Him: “What lies do you tell her?”
    —Me: “Who says I lie to her?”
    —Him: “She won’t talk to me, why?”
    —Me: “Why are you asking me? She’s a grown woman, she can answer for herself.”
    Him: Mouth hanging open.
    Me: I walk away.

    • Still Reforming

      7stelle,
      I love this! I think having one’s mind settled about not playing the abuser’s own game, but being prepared for it, helps to keep one’s own sanity to some extent.
      At one point, I read a similarly helpful tactic (can’t remember if it’s called by any particular name), but it was basically making sure that I had a plan or goal if my anti-husband was non-committal. One exchange went something like this:
      Me: I have a doctor appt. and it would be better if our child weren’t present there. Can you watch her?
      Him: I don’t know. We’ll have to see. I’ll give you my answer later.
      Me: That’s okay. I’ll just make other plans for her.
      Him: Well, maybe I WANT to watch her. That’s not fair.
      Me: Not true. If you had a doctor’s appointment for yourself, you’d make sure you could schedule time off work. It’s not a problem though; I’ll just take her with me or have someone else watch her. Don’t worry about it.
      Him: Well, I can probably watch her.
      Me: No, that’s okay, I’m going to make sure I have someone else.
      Him: I’ll watch her.
      When I relayed this exchange to my pastor around that time (which was years ago), my pastor thought it was a really good thing – the exchange – because it showed I was working with him. I remember thinking how odd that my pastor would think such an exchange was a good thing. The truth is it was really wrong that I had to employ any tactic at all. Even so, I think not “playing the game” according to the premise set by the abuser is helpful to the target, if one is able to safely do so.

      • 7stelle

        Still Reforming,
        Being shown why he asked questions has made all the difference. I agree with you; I don’t want or like these exchanges. I’m just plain sick of living like this. I will be filing for divorce this year.

        The area I don’t handle well is when he boldface lies to me and more so to the children; this week it was about money. He is financially abusing me and gives the kids a pitiful story about how he has no money when they have a need. He makes a good income yet is charging EVERYTHING! This state will make me responsible for half of those charges. This past week I did not handle his lies well at all. I lost my temper big time and cursed. I erupted like a volcano!!! I haven’t done that in a long while. I realized he had set me up by saying something very specific he knew I would react to because it involved the children and he was recording me. I hate that I spoke that way. This is the next grenade in his arsenal I need and must disarm.

        The exchange with your husband shows how self absorbed he is and wants to make sure he preserves his reputation when he feels it is threatened. He showed his true colors. You did a great! job of letting him know things will get done with or without him.

        (Comment edited to protect the commenter’s identity)

    • Hope

      Brilliant!
      (Shortest comment I’ve ever made anywhere!)

  3. a prodigal daughter returns

    Thank you for disarming one of the weapons abusers can use so skillfully and with such damage. In fact, I had a “friend” that used this method far better than my battering husband. but I didn’t understand the emotional abuse in the question or that it wasn’t a question but a steady erosion of my value. He’d pose each insult with “why” and in general terms so that there was plausible deniability which if I raised a protest he could say, “why are you taking this personally, why are you so sensitive, I just asked a question?” Questions would go like this, asked with sincerity as if he really wanted in answer. I bought the sincerity act for years.

    “Why are Christians so judgmental?” “Why are they so poorly read?” “Why are they so ignorant?” “Why are American’s so stupid and racist?” “Why are women so ____?” (fill in the negative insultant descriptor) They were countless, it became so incessant that I cringed when he opened his mouth. I couldn’t deny that sometimes Christians are judgemental, stupid and racist and I would answer these questions in detail. After years I noticed he only asked his demeaning questions to a group I was in, Christian for example, female, etc. Northern Europeans, in my age group and believers were particular targets until one day I asked myself “why do I consider this a friend:” I looked at the abuse wheel and saw that everything about me was constantly insulted and devalued by this friend but in the form of “why”. The man also constantly played the victim even if he was the perpetrator in a situation.

  4. Ann

    Please write the post about using deception as protection in domestic abuse! Very confusing when dealing with controlling spouses or emotional abuse, whether it is ethical or not? I do not want too lie, but I use half truthsl all the time to avoid my spouses wrath or to be able to make a choice contrary to my spouse.

    • Yes, Ann, it’s next on my list.

    • poohbear

      Ann, I go through this myself…I try to be such an honest person, but I find myself being “deceptive” just to avoid his wrath and in a vain attempt to prevent our child from witnessing another blow up. Then he turns it on me, calling me a liar, sneaky, and the like, which cuts like a knife. I understand where you’re coming from

  5. Anonymous

    My husband always says that you shouldn’t ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to. This is a lawyer’s tactic and one he employs constantly. It is deceitful and manipulative and gross and I can see why it wears people down. He does not “share” when he communicates with others, he’s merely acting like he doesn’t know the answers to the questions he’s asking and he’s also “testing” everyone to see if they are too dumb to know it or if they are lying to him. (So romantic!) Someone else pointed out that people without a conscience always want to be “right.” Yes. Notice that they don’t care about TRUTH, just being CONSIDERED right (whatever the current acceptance of what “right” is to the current society they live in). (Judas knew that by SAYING the “right” thing about the money, others would hesitate to accuse him of ulterior motives.)

    1 John 2: 21-22, I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.

    People without a conscience believe that they are god. They are doing just what this verse warns us to look for–denying that JESUS is the Christ and believing that THEY are. It’s how their mind operates and because of this, what’s written in Johh 8:44 (“He has never been truthful. He doesn’t know what the truth is. Whenever he tells a lie, he’s doing what comes naturally to him.”) helps us to see more clearly what we’re dealing with. Those of us with the Holy Spirit in our hearts have the truth, it’s just been mired in all the lies for so long that it’s crusty, so when the lies are torn off, it hurts a tad bit.

    2 Peter 2:3, In their greed they will use good-sounding arguments to exploit you. The verdict against them from long ago is still in force, and their destruction is not asleep.

    One expert noted that people without a conscience are completely asocial. They do not form true sharing/giving relationships because they are completely selfish/self-serving/self-interested. They are like the devil in this regard. The evil one is constantly seeking out “relationships” but to what end? Is he lonely or guilt-ridden or wanting to prevent others from being in his predicament because he’s learned what being ostracized from God really means? Or is he STILL, like the Bible says he was from the beginning, a liar and a murderer seeking to murder and lie to a new generation? ” Their destruction is not asleep,” and they never tire from doing evil. “Whose judgment from the first has not been idle” (the word for judgment here is: “κρίμα” and denotes condemnatory sentence, penal judgment) so their evil is not a passive thing but active and they are actively being condemned because of it. (They are choosing to be this way.)

    Thank you Barbara for continuing to help us. For continuing to dig into God’s word and revealing its treasures. We all need it and grow because of it.

  6. Hope

    Thank you so much Barbara, lies are anathema to any relationship! This helps me so much!
    Still Reforming – I still feel like such a dope for believing for sooo long! You are not the only one, dear friend; we want to trust our own husbands, we want to believe that they love us as we love(d) them, and we should be able to – but you can’t trust or believe a liar and they are usually very difficult to discover.

    The lies roll so glibly off my PH’s (Phony Husband’s) tongue, that initially I believed them all – and from very early on lived in massive confusion and sadness, among a few other choice emotions, none good. I learned that what he said did not match his behavior, and then had to somehow discern what was truth and what wasn’t – very difficult! Until very recently I believed some of his lies, but now I realize that they are ALL lies, every single one, designed to keep me confused and stuck – like a fly caught in a spider’s web. The newer ones are designed to keep me, period. I cannot say even now if he has any idea of what he is doing, but the smirk I often see flash across his face when I am in pain from his words or behavior makes me think he knows exactly what he is doing and why. EG: he is making good and sure that he gets exactly what he wants at no cost to himself. I paid all costs, and a few were paid by my beautiful children.

    What affects the mind and emotions affects the body as well, and I am now on a long road to recovering my health which broke utterly 9 years ago. The recovery is progressing, I am improving, but the point I really want to make is that this state I am currently in is all because of LIES. Lies I naively believed and based my life upon, believing he was the Christian he claimed to be and that this was just a very difficult marriage. He fooled my parents, my siblings, my friends, my church, you name it he fooled them all – including me.

    I think we Christians are often too trusting, believing what a person says when they tell us that they are Christians like we are. We need to be wiser, more discerning, and stand back and note the actions at a distance before we become involved – even with friends; I’ve had massive trouble from a couple of phony friends, too. How do you like that – even friends can be abusive, though the word I applied then was “toxic.” We need to be taught about insidious lies in churches and Sunday schools, instead of being given trite and shallow 15 minute lessons! It is, as Barbara so rightly and eloquently pointed out, totally Scriptural to be able to discern lies and liars!

    I know this next that I say flies in the face of many Christian marriage sites and maybe I am way off base here and in need of correction, but I do not believe that marriage is supposed to be harder than being single, I do not believe a good marriage should make me a sadder person, a lesser person than I was when single, and I was single for a long time as I got married later than most. I do not believe a good marriage should tear me down from stress and emotional and psychological pain and unmet needs far more than being single ever did. I really do believe that a good marriage requires work and growth – but doesn’t everything worthwhile? It should make me a better person, but also a happier person, and a more fulfilled person than being single did; otherwise what’s the point? Who on earth would ever want to be married if they knew it would be heartbreakingly difficult with no up side, and if they were told that they would have to fight tooth and nail every day just for the right to breathe and exist? That is not a Christian, covenant marriage. Christ never behaved in such a fashion towards the Church. The world brutalizes the Church, satan brutalizes the Church, but Jesus does not.

    Here’s my question (yes, please chime in!): Are these people, these abusers who claim to be Christians, really Christians? We cannot know their heart of course, but we do need to be at least discerning enough to keep from tying ourselves to them, even in friendship but certainly in marriage. We need to be able to see the lies for what they really are, because the lies of this world run deep. To refine my question: is it possible for an abusive person to still be a Christian yet be so self-absorbed and so self-centered and infantile that they never grew in Christ and never actually put Christ at their heart’s center? Or does the fact of abuse really negate that likelihood?
    A Christian child understands salvation, but is not adept at thinking of others before herself/himself. Could an adult be like this – a baby Christian that never grew? I am unsure, because the tree analogy leaves very little room for this sort of thinking; you know, the good tree bears good fruit, and the bad tree bears bad fruit. Perhaps there is little room for doubt in this analogy because we are being warned not to get too close to these sorts, and their salvation is God’s business, after all, not ours. For my part, I believe we should run screaming away from them all.

    I do hope that some are genuinely saved, but I do not even know if it is possible for a person to be saved and be abusive at the same time.

    • Still Reforming

      Hope,
      Bingo to all you wrote. Bingo especially to this –> “now I realize that they are ALL lies, every single one, designed to keep me confused and stuck – like a fly caught in a spider’s web. ”

      Even recently my ex-h responded to emails saying he’d do everything the doctors say we should do for our child. Even when he’s agreeable it’s a lie, because I know that he can in a heartbeat not do as he says he will (20 years experience taught me this) OR he’ll be nice to entice the fly back in the web so he can bite (same thing learned over time).

      Your question about can an abuser be a Christian is something I’ve learned the answer to here on this site. For a person to continually lie and manipulate and yet be regenerated by the Holy Spirit? I don’t believe it’s possible. “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” – 1 John 3:9

      I know there are better Scriptural expository posts here on this site that will lay out the reasoning better for you, but the short answer is no. Such a one cannot be a Christian. Such a one is of the world and serves the enemy of God. It is impossible to serve Christ and have HIm be your Lord AND continue to lie knowingly (That’s kinda redundant, as one can’t lie unknowingly. Howzabout lie with self-serving intention over and over and over and over and over and over and over………………? Maybe that helps. It’s impossible for such a one to belong to Jesus.)

      It’s a very good question you ask, by the way. I think it took me years of pondering if my anti-husband was really a Christian or not, because he did all the outward motions and occasionally would say something about God or buy me something God-related (a rock with Scripture on it or something like that). I slowly came to realize he couldn’t be a Christian after spending some time on this site reading (and listening to Pastor Jeff’s sermons about abuse at sermononline -). Oh WOOT! While searching my files for a linky to provide you for those audio sermons, I found the following, a DIGEST of articles on why an abuser cannot be a Christian. Kick your heels up, get a piping hot cuppa your favorite caff or non-caff drink, and sit down to read:

      https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/2014/10/04/why-an-abuser-cannot-be-a-christian-a-digest-of-articles-at-a-cry-for-justice/

      If I can locate the link with Pastor Jeff’s abuse sermons, I’ll add it too. If you’re able to listen at all, I highly recommend them.

    • Still Reforming

      Hope,
      Here’s a link to Pastor Jeff’s audio sermon series on-line re: the abuser and God’s Word related to abuse. All of these sermons are downloadable to computer laptops and mp3 players (ie, for headphone listening, so no one else can hear what you’re listening to)

  7. Some deceitful questions I’ve heard:
    “How am I _____?”
    “Don’t I always ______?”
    “Doesn’t the Bible say ______?”

  8. lindsey

    I had to travel for work recently. The plan was to leave my children with their dad. They had been doing well with their visits every other weekend, of course it’s always a roller coaster.
    My son had a meltdown, begging me to not leave them with him for so long (a week) because it always “goes bad if it’s more than two days” (direct quote from my son, 8 years old). And it’s true. Something always happens when they stay with him for more than two days. I guess I just had hope that he was doing better with his treatment of the kids, but that was a mistake. (Well… hope isn’t a mistake. The mistake is when I risk the kids’ well being because I think he has changed, and then learn I’m wrong.)

    So I made arrangements for someone to help with the care of my children during my trip. Their dad would have them for two days, I asked family to fill in for the rest. My ex called my pastor, told him that I was “arbitrarily” taking the kids from him. He asked my Pastor “What does the BIBLE say about breaking your word? Because that’s what SHE is doing?” My pastor was trapped into agreeing with him that I should be keeping my word because my yes should be yes.

    I wasn’t going to tell my ex that the reason I was changing my mind was because my son begged and pleaded not to go. I wasn’t going to throw him under the bus. When my pastor called me to tell me my ex’s complaints, I told him WHY I was making new arrangements, he said, “Well THAT is the missing piece of the story, thank you.” Fortunately my pastor is discerning enough to see through the sheep’s clothing that the wolf wears.

    This is just one example of MANY of how my ex uses the Bible as a weapon. He used it while we were married, he used it in our church when I was separating from him, he uses it now with his current church.

  9. Anonymous

    I love how your ex framed it up with that question, “What does the BIBLE say about breaking your word?” This is often what people without a conscience do, pin people down by posing certain questions and totally ignoring other ones. Your pastor had no obligation to ask you that question by the way. He could’ve asked your husband some other questions such as, “Why do you want to accuse the mother of your children when she is clearly making thoughtful arrangements for the children?” or “Are the children being cared for and are their needs being met?’ The list of questions is endless as most of us know, yet nobody seems to think of these things when it comes to us.

    By the way, my child and I use the analogy of a cat. For those of us who love cats we know that you can pet them X amount of times (say 7) before they must bite. The number is not consistent but we know that they can only maintain for so long before they attack. It’s their nature. The same with an evil one. They MUST attack at some point as they hate peace, and are actually soothed by evil. Clearly two days is his max but if he knew it was only two days that he had access to the kids, he’d have to get an attack in before that. It is their nature, and they love what they are.

    • Moving Forward

      Anonymous, you are so right. We have cats, and they have a limit to being nice about attention, then they let you know it is time to leave them alone. I love the analogy, and I see it with my stbx all the time. He can only send a polite email one or twice in a row, then it is snap and bite. He just cannot hold that nature in. Nice followed by mean. over and over again. And yes, they are soothed by evil. Before he walked out on us, I would see that when he would be owly, and finally send a nasty, accusing email. Then, while I am reeling from the words, he comes up all happy and ready for a hug. He’s taken his anger out on me, now he’s doing just fine; what’s my problem? No conscience; what a help know that is.

      • Still Reforming

        Moving Forward,

        You just identified something I’d long forgotten – and that is the ability of my ex- to just be as if we never had had a disagreement. Before I ever started reading about passive (aka covert) aggression or sociopathy, I was long confounded by how he and I could differ over something or have some big chasm between us about an issue and, like a light switch, he could be just like it never happened. All sweetness and light. That always confounded me.

        Now I see that it is part of sociopathy – an absolute lack of conscience.
        In my ex-‘s case, I don’t think he needed the release of anger or some disagreement. I think in his case it’s just utility, ie if it worked for whatever his purposes were at any given moment, that was the “emotion” he went with. It’s just all functional and practical for him. If it fit his needs, that’s what he went with.

        I think that’s how he was able to have several really huge explosions of anger in front of me and his child and then go on as if he had just said, “Pass the salt.” I don’t even know if there was real anger there, because in all cases, there was never anything he could point to that had upset him. It was all just blather and qualifications and descriptions about me in a negative way.

        Thank God for shining true light on these matters for all of us.

  10. parishioner

    hope,

    sometimes we ask the wrong questions. I wonder sometimes if asking if an abuser can be a Christian is the wrong question. probably not in your case, but sometimes people ask this as subconscious justification for remaining in a situation they need to remove themselves from, or because they question their discernment in entering the relationship, or they’re suffering from guilt over leaving.

    since only God knows for sure where we’re going to end up for eternity, it seems best to ask other questions, like:

    • does s/he claim Jesus is their Lord, but their actions never line up with their confession?
    • do I feel safe pointing out their hypocrisy in a godly manner?
    • if I am able to point to their hypocrisy, do they respond by acknowledging they need to repent, and make it their goal to take responsibility for their behavior, and acknowledge they are answerable to god for how they treat people?
    • if the problem is chronic, are they seeking help and doing the hard work needed for deliverance from this sin?

    if you don’t receive the correct answers to these questions, then whether or not you will see them in heaven isn’t actually relevant to your status quo. you need to ask God what He wants you to do to remove or protect yourself from the effects of their disobedience.

    my abusive stepfather “prayed the prayer” and is an avid church-goer. it is possible his difficulty (I am being kind) in submitting to Jesus’ lordship over his actions stems from horrific child abuse inflicted by his mother, who was abused in an orphanage. he is free to work all this out with God the thousands of miles away from me where he is now, and I am free to pray for him from a safe distance, without contact. the same goes for my ex.

    they are free to work out their salvation, if such salvation awaits them, but not to beat it out in Morse code on the side of my head. if repentance is in their future, then they will surely need to bear consistent fruit in keeping with it for all to see.

    • they are free to work out their salvation, if such salvation awaits them, but not to beat it out in Morse code on the side of my head.

      What a great turn of phrase!

      Welcome to the blog, Parishioner! 🙂
      If you haven’t already done so, please check out our New Users Info page in the top menu.

  11. 7stelle

    Please write the article on protective deception. Yikes! that sounds awful.

    • I’ll get onto it this week! It’s First on my list of things to write.

  12. Kind of Anonymous

    My ex used to do the “I am just asking a question” thing. It often seemed a ruse by which he would imply things about me or accuse me under the guise of just wanting to understand. My relative’s ex does disingenuous stuff like this also. My relative broke up with him because he has a drinking problem, says things that are hurtful, cruel, demeaning and treats her as if no matter how he is behaving, she is supposed to desire him and want to be with him. They were together for a long time. She explained numerous times, including in long emails and texts exactly what the problem was and why she left.

    He had promised to get help and stop drinking if only she would come back because he said he loved her more than the booze. However within a week of her return she found him under the influence. When she protested he retorted “You are controlling me, that’s why I stopped. You have no right to control me. I have every right to enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer”. My first husband also pulled this. I would ask him to set boundaries with his incredibly controlling and manipulative parents. We didn’t see them for a few years which created an uneasy peace for a while. When we went back into relationship with them, I wanted specific terms under which we would, and would not continue the relationship. Not a lot of terms, just basically that it must be a respectful, kind, abuse free zone. I asked him specifically if he was in genuine agreement that this was the right approach and he assured me that he was indeed, in total agreement and that no, he wasn’t just agreeing with me because he “Had to”.

    When three incidents of abusive behaviour occurred and the discussion about needing to follow through with our plan to pull out of the relationship occurred, the ex responded by saying “You made me say that. I didn’t agree with you”. When the subject of his parent’s way of walking in constant control and manipulation came up and where that stood them in the light of salvation and eternity, he informed me that he just wasn’t willing to consider that his parents might go to hell and from that point he seemed to disconnect from his faith if indeed he had had any genuine belief.

    He had given his life to God to get off drugs and booze. However I am not sure that is the same thing as a genuine conversion/salvation. He would often point out former friends to me and say things like “Do you see that guy? I used to be just like that. I am glad I am not like him”. And I would think to myself that he sounded somewhat like the Pharisee who stood before God saying that he was grateful that he was not like other sinners. It seems that knowing you can’t get off drugs yourself and giving your life to God for that reason is not the same thing as knowing that you need to be saved from your sin/depravity and have no righteousness of your own and stand condemned before God and that Jesus is your only hope. I never ONCE heard him mention the cross, Jesus, his sinfulness, never saw for the most part, any evidence that the Holy Spirit was dealing with him. He continued to lie and pull dishonest manipulative stuff as long as I knew him.

    • Everything you described about your ex points to him being a pseudo-Christian, Kind of Anonymous. Using ‘God’ as a means to an end, as if God is a genie in a bottle. God is nothing like that!

      Your ex was living a lie…many lies.

      You mentioned how your “ex responded by saying ‘You made me say that. I didn’t agree with you.'” My second husband said something very similar. While we were married he had decided of his own accord (no suggestion or pressure from me) to save some of his fortnightly disability pension in a special bank account that was not connected with his Visa card. When the relationship ended and I had applied for a protection order against him, he told his relatives that I had made him do that with his money – I was controlling what he did with his money. It was a complete lie but I think most of his relatives would have believed it.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Hi Barb, it’s great to hear from you. Are you still on break? It seems like their MO is that they need a scapegoat to blame it all on. It seems to be whatever is convenient for them at the time. It really exasperates me that these guys get away with their lies and image management so easily because people just don’t want to know stuff they will then have to make a decision on. They’d rather believe what they want to believe.

        I wondered if I was misjudging him as far as the issue of salvation went, because I know that God reaches people through all kinds of circumstances and walks of life. I also wondered if my own behaviour turned him away from Christ and the truth. I had serious rejection issues and had an abusive dad as you know; issues like that unresolved in one’s heart can wreak serious havoc in a relationship. I am sure my reactions to my controlling and boundary busting in-laws were quite affected by all the rejection, abuse and abandonment I already had problems with.

        I have noticed that some folks seem to want a kind of positive Christianity where all is good, all is wonderful, everyone is nice and nothing negative is to be spoken or pointed out. As a well known book on spiritual abuse pointed out, if you expose the problem, you become the problem. My ex was also like this; he saw himself as a really nice guy and wanted all his exchanges with others to be based on this kind of mutual “you polish my image/idol and I will polish yours”. He did not desire anyone to tell him anything about himself he did not want to hear. When someone’s orientation is rooted in self like that without a commitment to Someone with higher authority, it’s really hard to have a truth based relationship.

      • Yes, I’m still on holiday (vacation). But the most busy part of the holiday is over. This week I will be able to do a little more on the blog. It is very hot where I am in Europe. But at least I’m missing a bit of the Melbourne winter in Australia!

        “He did not desire anyone to tell him anything about himself he did not want to hear. When someone’s orientation is rooted in self like that without a commitment to Someone with higher authority, it’s really hard to have a truth based relationship.”

        Truth ^

      • Helovesme

        Kind Of Anonymous wow what wonderfully packed comments!

        “I never ONCE heard him mention the cross, Jesus, his sinfulness, never saw for the most part, any evidence that the Holy Spirit was dealing with him.”

        “They’d rather believe what they want to believe.”

        “I am sure my reactions to my controlling and boundary busting in-laws were quite affected by all the rejection, abuse and abandonment I already had problems with.”

        “As a well known book on spiritual abuse pointed out, if you expose the problem, you become the problem.”

        “When someone’s orientation is rooted in self like that without a commitment to Someone with higher authority, it’s really hard to have a truth based relationship.”

        Barb’s description of what God is NOT is parallel to what I once discovered as well.

        God is NOT a “pill” that you take and you are healed. He is not about self-help. He is not focused on self-improvement, behavior modification or even “turning over a new leaf.” He is not trying to make you into a better person, so you can make better choices.

        Being born again means you are DONE with all that. You do not want to “improve” on who you currently are, you are DONE with who you currently are. You want to reckon your old life as dead, so you can embrace a whole new life that only He can give you.

        You are not born again out of primal fear of going to Hell. You are not born again out of fear of losing your marriage. You are not born again in order to become sober You are not born again in order to become a good person. You are not born again in order to become a law-abiding citizen who is now accepted and considered acceptable.

        You are born again because nothing else matters except for your absolute and imperative need for forgiveness of your sins. You need a Savior. You need His blood. You need everything He has and is, that you do not and can never be.

        Yes, this is radical, revolutionary, and frankly repulsive to those who cannot IMAGINE going to such lengths, not to mention this sort of humility.

        I know what you mean about your past very much having an impact on personal interactions in the present. This aptly describes me as well. In my case, I became a people pleaser in order to avoid rejection and abandonment. My “strategy” is that if I could just prove myself worthy and acceptable, it was more unlikely that I would be tossed aside or thrown away like trash. I would prove my value to them (and to myself) and I would be treated as a treasure to be loved.

        Speaking of lies and dishonesty in others—-that one took the cake for my own life! I believed in this lie for many years, and make no mistake—-others took full advantage of my self-deception, and they went right along with it—-deceiving me and digging a bigger and bigger pit for me to lose myself in.

        When I DID attempt to start swimming against the stream, it did not go well. I was “considered” a problem for pointing out problems. I was easily scapegoated by persons who had more invested in lies, rather than loving the truth. It is all about personal goals and aims. If your goal is to execute an agenda that is favorable to you and to your own, those that get run over in the process are no more than obstacles that blocked your objectives.

        You can see through to Kind of Anonymous’s last observation I listed. You truly can.

        When a crisis or challenge erupts (often unexpectedly) within your life or in the lives of those around you—-look at the reactions. Are they seeking the Living God, or are they shooting off their mouths and trying to “control” the situation, or the narrative? Are they submitting to that highest Authority that they CLAIM to be submitted to, or do they have the “mind of men, not of God?” (Matthew 16:23)

        Do they look to their Maker, or do they look to how THEY want to make the situation work for their interests? When they speak to you, do they bring in Scripture and back up their statements or decisions with the Word of God? OR, do they seem to believe that their words ARE the words of God?

        Are they working for Him, or working as IF they are him? Or, as if HE works for them? OR, they acknowledge that He is the Highest power, but their power is certainly higher than YOURS, given how much more they know Him compared to you.

        Look not only for their spoken or unspoken lies, but how they conduct their own lives. And what kind of conduct they condemn or condone. Do they shrug at their own lies, or the lies of others? Do they stick like Velcro to each other, bound and determined to protect themselves and each other at any costs? Or are they stuck to the cause of Christ above all others, and that is worth the cost?

        “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.” Colossians 3:9.

        Before I even read this post, that verse was on my mind. Some versions say “above all else, do not lie to each other.” It was a stark reminder of how serious it is to lie, and lie to each other. If love is the highest and most honorable of aims, LIES should be nowhere to be found, and they should be expunged and expelled from your life as you are changed from glory to glory.

        I’ve read wonderful discussions about the evils of patriarchy, especially in the Biblical world. I love how it is being exposed as being a dark and destructive, full of lies and by no means based on the foundation that is Christ.

        What is often not brought up is how it should have never been allowed to exist, not to mention flourish in the first place—-AND how it not only dishonors human beings, it absolutely dishonors the Living God, first and foremost.

        He is being painted and portrayed not as He really is, but as false image that only exists in the minds of professing Christians who do not fear Him as they should. They do not inspire fear of Him, they demand being feared instead.

        I recall climbing that ladder of fear, step by step, rung by rung as the years went by. I GREW in that fear that slowly started to replace sound Biblical doctrine and judgment.

        I used dysfunction in order to escape AND deal with dysfunction. It was the only way I knew how to cope and survive. The more lies I believed, the more fearful I became. The more lies I trusted in, the more the Lord became a figurehead, not the center of my life. And lies not only invite more and more dysfunction into your life, they disfigure the very heart, mind and soul that the Lord considers and treats as treasures. I was sadly treating myself as the loser I always believed I was and always would be. And others picked up on that and merely continued that process. It served their purposes very well.

        The higher I climbed, the more fearful I got—-because I would look down and panic at how high off the ground I was. I should have STAYED on that solid ground, which Is the rock solid, rock safe and rock steady foundation that is Him.

        He can rescue you from that diabolical system. He truly can. Mark my words: a sincere born again believer who aims to be a humble servant of His is often seen as an open target to be taken advantage of. If you are like me, sometimes you shrink back at truly pursuing and fixing your eyes on Him. It has gotten you into so much trouble. Maybe it got you nothing BUT trouble.

        It is NOT a lie that others might assume you have no boundaries, no dignity and that your open heart means it’s open season on a person as “weak” as you are.

        Kind of Anonymous was and is INCREDIBLY brave to have insisted on common sense boundaries. Take her example and take it to heart and take it to the Lord. You are His servant, but you are first and foremost His child. He does not see you as a sponge to be squeezed out of all your water, and then left withered and dried up—-put away on a shelf or discarded when it’s lost its usefulness.

        Anyone who does not aim to treat you with His love is lying to you. Anyone who protests when you ask to be treated with that love is lying not only to you, but to themselves AND to the Living God—-who DOES love you and DOES treat you with that love and DOES want others to treat you with that same love, just as much as He wants you to treat others with His love.

        We get so caught up being mandated to love others, that we forget that others are mandated to love us as well. It is a out and out lie if others insist that they be loved like He odes, but show no interest and show no sense of obligation to do the same for others.

  13. Finding Answers

    I have changed a LOT in the many months since I first read the original post and the comments it generated.

    Today, after re-reading the post and the comments it generated, a short time spent re-writing my new conclusion (in my mind), an EXTENSIVE amount of time re-writing the ACTUAL words for my comment, I FINALLY can write my new conclusion.

    The assumptions made about “Why?” questions are asked are based (sometimes unknowingly) on what is known / unknown about the individual asking the questions.

    Being a high-functioning Asperger’s person who thinks more in pictures than in words does NOT make for easy transmission / translation of ideas.

    • I admire your for working so hard at writing your commments, Finding Answers. The translation from pictures to words is something that comes relatively easily to me, but I know it’s not nearly so easy for you. And my picture-thoughts are probably not at all like your picture-thoughts. 🙂 🙂 So I can only partly apprehend how hard it would be for you.

      You said “The assumptions made about “Why?” questions are asked are based (sometimes unknowingly) on what is known / unknown about the individual asking the questions.”

      Is this what you meant? — When person A asks person B a “Why?” question, person B might make assumptions about why person A is asking that question. Person B’s assumptions about why person A is asking that question will be based on what B knows or does not know about A.

      Then imagine person C listening to the conversation between A and B. Person C might make different assumptions the ones person B made, because C has a different knowledge of A than B has.

      Am I off track in my understanding of what you wrote?

      • Finding Answers

        You wrote, Barb (30TH JULY 2019 – 7:01 AM) “……And my picture-thoughts are probably not at all like your picture-thoughts…..”

        ^That. 🙂 🙂 ROTFL (no offence intended).

        The complex pictures in my mind represent EVERYTHING I have EVER encountered in ANY fashion throughout in my entire life, PLUS possible associations / interconnections between one or more of those pictures in my mind.

        I understand people who think primarily in words do a similar building process as me, only they use words. And I understand the translation / transmission process for those who think primarily in words can also be a struggle when trying to communicate.

        I can understand the need to clarify my conclusion. In the process of finding the words, I created intermediate pictures in my mind using a combination of computer programming (if-then-else statements, CASE statements, finite loops on a matrix, etc.) / math equations (using a combination of variables and constants) / the ACFJ blog use of quotes around a word or phrase to indicate NOT (the opposite) of the word of phrase.

        You wrote: “…….a “Why?” question……”

        ^That represents my ongoing use of “Why?” to represent (include) MANY questions, such as “”Why?” am I alive?”, not the simple question why.

        To use your example of person A, person B, person C.

        Person A has a particular bias / worldview / perspective / etc. through which they (person A) experiences life, of which any person (A / B / C) may / may not be aware.

        Person B has a particular bias / worldview / perspective / etc. through which they (person B) experiences life, of which any person (B / A / C) may / may not be aware.

        Person C has a particular bias / worldview / perspective / etc. through which they (person C) experiences life, of which any person (C / A / B) may / may not be aware.

        Person A asks a question of person B, and is likely (knowingly / unknowingly) making assumptions about themself (person A) / the other person (person B).

        Person B answers the question asked by person A, based on assumptions they (person B) are knowingly / unknowingly making about person A.

        Person A and / or person B may / may not be an abuser / “abuser”, (etc.).

        And so on….hence the combination of computer programming / math / ” ” / etc.

        Does this comment make sense, Barb? And if so, does it clarify my conclusion?

      • Yes, it makes sense. 🙂

  14. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (30TH JULY 2019 – 1:30 PM) “You are not born again out of primal fear of going to Hell. You are not born again out of fear of losing your marriage. You are not born again in order to become sober You are not born again in order to become a good person. You are not born again in order to become a law-abiding citizen who is now accepted and considered acceptable.”

    ^That (Helovesme’s paragraph), yet for some people, the process of desiring to be born again might consciously or unconsciously begin with ^That (Helovesme’s paragraph).

    But for some people, Kind Of Anonymous commented (30TH JULY 2019 – 8:35 AM) “….It seems like their MO is that they need a scapegoat to blame it all on. It seems to be whatever is convenient for them at the time. It really exasperates me that these guys get away with their lies and image management so easily because people just don’t want to know stuff they will then have to make a decision on. They’d rather believe what they want to believe.”

    ^That.

    So the people who scapegoat others Barb commented (30TH JULY 2019 – 6:31 AM) “…..Using ‘God’ as a means to an end, as if God is a genie in a bottle……” to manage their “image”, as though Helovesme also commented (30TH JULY 2019 – 1:30 PM) “……they seem to believe that their words ARE the words of God?”, but as Barb also commented (30TH JULY 2019 – 6:31 AM) “……It was a complete lie……..”

    From the original post “Telling the truth is central to Christianity…..”

    ^That.

    Helovesme also commented (30TH JULY 2019 – 1:30 PM) “I’ve read wonderful discussions about the evils of patriarchy, especially in the Biblical world. I love how it is being exposed as being a dark and destructive, full of lies……”

    (Strikethrough added by me.)

    For me, ^That.

    Helovesme also commented (30TH JULY 2019 – 1:30 PM) “What is often not brought up is how it should have never been allowed to exist, not to mention flourish in the first place—-AND how it not only dishonors human beings, it absolutely dishonors the Living God, first and foremost.”

    ^That.

    • Helovesme

      “yet for some people, the process of desiring to be born again might consciously or unconsciously begin with”

      Yes! Absolutely and thank you for that insertion. A crisis can absolutely open the door (in my case, kick open the door) for the Lord to start beckoning to the unsaved.

      I had attempted suicide and it brought me down to a very low place. That pain, on top of all the abuse I had suffered—-finally allowed the Lord to “prick” a tiny hole in the huge balloon of my pride.

      I look back and realize that I could have simply hardened my heart even more, even though I was in a very hard spot.

      No matter what crisis I was in, only the Lord could have done what He did, and to this day I truly do not know how He did what He did.

      I was not a passive person through this all, of course—but He somehow turned me to Him so that when He spoke, I actually chose to listen.

      I can’t recall if it was Barb or Pastor Sam or someone else who put it so well: Christians need to learn how to listen to people when they speak up. Listen and let them speak. And hear their words. Take them in and take them seriously!

      This is how the Lord works! And so should we.

  15. Helovesme

    “Questions can be posed to distract from the truth, or to probe for the truth.”

    “The abuser who masquerades as a Christian is a copy-cat; he notices what believers say and parrots their words.”

    I loved those lines from this post. I too have picked up on how the Lord often asks questions throughout the Word. It is not because He doesn’t already know the answer. He wants to hear what we have to say.

    The way that Barb put it is genius. Questions do NOT always indicate real interest and real concern. They can also be used to back a person into a corner, boxing them in and leaving them feeling powerless.

    I’ve been asked “how are you,” which is an absolute and normal question. Too many times I’ve taken them seriously, and tried to answer seriously. Then I hear nothing back, and my response has been: then why did you ask? I thought you opened the door to converse!

    I have also gotten in trouble when I am asked a question and I dared to answer it honestly. The rash response indicates that I wasn’t supposed to answer the way I did. Then why did you ask at all, if you were not truly interested in hearing an independent answer?

    The second statement is where Barb nailed it. A sincere Christian MUST learn to walk in total dependence on the Lord, but also independently in that you do not ‘piggyback” on the so-called spirituality of others.

    This isn’t as easy as it looks. Even on this site, and in a good way, I absolutely value any thoughts Barb has to share. But my thoughts are my own, separate from hers but also similar to hers, because they are Christ-centered, not Barb-centered.

    The best thing other believers can and should do for each other is to provide a healthy environment to grow in Him. We are not exact carbon copies of one another. We don’t fellowship with each other in order to parrot each other. We fellowship with one another to grow into the man or woman of God He intends us to be.

    Perhaps a good way to spot a copy cat is to look for a lack of sincerity. To ask the Lord, of course, for discernment to be able to spot that insincerity.

    I could spend WAY more time digging into Judas’s character. Why did the Lord choose him to be in his inner circle? Why was he entrusted with the money bag when he was not worthy of that trust? Why did he betray the Lord for such a small amount of money, when it’s a good indicator that he was a greedy man (stealing from the money bag)? And why did he not choose to repent, as Peter did, when they both betrayed Him?

    (I have thoughts on all of that but it strays from the major point of this post!)

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (31ST JULY 2019 – 10:57 AM) “I have also gotten in trouble when I am asked a question and I dared to answer it honestly. The rash response indicates that I wasn’t supposed to answer the way I did……”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented (31ST JULY 2019 – 10:57 AM) “….We are not exact carbon copies of one another. We don’t fellowship with each other in order to parrot each other…….”

      ^That.

      From the original post “……Or perhaps you can give examples of nefarious questions posed by abusers (but be careful not to cite examples that might too closely identify you.)”

      ^That. (Omitting details for my protection.)

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