Pride as Fuel for Abuse in the Church
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. (1 Cor 5:1-3)
I was blown away the other day. Seems like this happens pretty regularly to me as I receive reports of gross, open, rank evil being not only tolerated but virtually invited into local churches. The latest report was that of a church appointing a man to the office of elder, having made NO effort to look into his background. This man had been put out of the last church he was in for divisiveness, abusive behavior, and a consistent pattern of working to gain glory for himself. He is, in other words, a Diotrephes (see 3 John). Did this newest church bother to look into his background? Did they contact the prior church that had known him for decades, warned him repeatedly, and finally put him out of the church? No. What they did do is violate Paul’s plain instruction to us all:
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (1 Tim 5:22)
How is this even possible, we ask? Can pastors and church members really be this foolish? I suppose they can be, but it seems that there must be another reason why it is soooo easy for the wicked to creep into a local church, put on their long-practiced facade of super holiness, and pretty quickly gain the power they so crave. And I think that one of our readers here at ACFJ, in keeping with 1 Corinthians 5 as quoted above, nailed the reason precisely the other day.
Sheisovercoming commented on March 13, 2016 (link) —
I believe it is more than being naive. I believe that underneath is pride… a pride that cannot acknowledge it is wrong… a pride that will look at any suffering the victim goes through as God’s judgement on her. “See, we were right. See how hard a time she is having? See the suffering and pain of her children? It is because she left. If only she would have listened to us but she insisted that she was right. She just wouldn’t submit to our counsel and return.”
But the real reason she and her children are now suffering [having a hard time] is because they were thrown out and left abandoned by those called to practice true religion toward her and her children.
This has caused far more damage in my children’s lives than the evil of their abusive father. They knew he was evil. What they didn’t expect was for him to be lifted up by their “Christian community” and their “family”, and for themselves to be considered evil for seeking refuge from a very wicked husband and father. They didn’t expect those same people would only accept and care about them if they rejected their mother and follow in the ways of the wicked.
Thank you SO much for this comment. Tremendous insight here. Evil is enabled in our churches through the PRIDE and haughtiness of the leaders and members of those churches. As a pastor I have on a number of occasions called other pastors when I found out that a wicked person who we had to do battle with in our church, was now attending their church. I called them. I tried to warn them. What was the response? Arrogance. “Well now, Jeff, we think we can do just fine ministering to these folks.” And then these prideful pastors turn right around and go tell the wicked one that I called about them, thus increasing their wrath toward me. So guess what? I don’t even try anymore.
This is the same arrogance that Paul rebuked in the Corinthian church. Here they were, looking at open, gross evil in their midst and instead of being grieved about it and putting it away from them, they BRAGGED about it. You can just about hear the form of their boasting — “In our church we are very gracious. We are all sinners too, you know, but God is so wonderful and forgives us. We are just about the most forgiving bunch on the planet.” Paul nailed them on this hogwash and exposed their hearts. Arrogance. Boasting. Disobedience.
Arrogance welcomes and enables evil in our churches. It invites the abuser to stay, and sends the “unforgiving” victim, who is longing for justice, out of the church after hammering her for her “unforgiveness.” Therefore, I claim that this is the Lord’s word to such boasters:
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Rev 3:15-17)