A Formula for Abuse Taught in Many Churches (in this case, it was an SGM church)
The following is from one of the ACFJ readers. She has given us permission to use her excellent insights here. Many thanks to her. Read and grow wiser. Many of you will fully identify with what she says.
Note: This woman’s experience took place in a church that was part of SGM (Sovereign Grace Ministries). SGM and their erstwhile leader CJ Mahaney have become infamous for their coverup of child sexual abuse and blaming of victims and whistleblowers.
We need to state an important point: Although the SGM denomination professes to be following the historic, classic reformed theology (a theology which Jeff C and Barb hold to) SGM must have seriously distorted classical reformed theology in order to teach what they are laying on people today. Now, over to our reader —
My husband and I have been married for nearly a decade, and I think both of us would say each year has been burdensome. We met and got married in a reformed church, where we built our entire foundation for marriage, including what we were taught were the biblical roles of husband and wife. We attended small groups, bible studies, and pastoral counseling and learned that goal of marriage was holiness, not happiness. The husband’s role is the leader of the household, spiritually and physically. The wife’s role is a support role for the husband’s success. A noble and godly function for the wife is to trust God with her womb and bear as many children as He sees fit, and to teach them at home, training them academically, and in the Christian worldview. Spank them to drive the foolishness out of their sinful hearts since they are unregenerate sinners from birth. Your aim is not mere behavior modification, it is for their hearts (which are somehow connected to their butts). Children must submit to authority of parents, just as wives submit to authority of husbands. Being a wife and mother is a high and noble calling for a woman that should be embraced.
We were taught never to indulge anger because it is a sin of the flesh; feelings are never to be trusted or validated as true; always forgive no matter the offense because we are all sinners, and our Father in heaven won’t forgive us unless we forgive others; all negative talk about others is gossip, and the worst, most shameful kind of gossip is against your husband. The enemy Satan wants to destroy the fellowship of believers by causing division in the church, and especially in marriages. They drilled into us to follow Matthew 18’s instructions for addressing a sinning brother; however, always evaluate your motive and “remove your own plank” before daring to confront anyone else’s sin. Confronting sin was also a high and noble task, and was only to be accomplished by those who were spiritually mature enough not to have any sins of their own impeding their judgement.
Our church was part of Sovereign Grace Ministries, where CJ Mahaney was founder and beloved by all as a type of holy “rockstar.” It was announced that his integrity as a pastor was being investigated, and that there had been a cover up of a sex scandal at his church. There were people writing blogs and websites, one of which was CJ’s close friend, who rebuked CJ’s sin. Our pastors defended CJ and warned us against our own investigations. Don’t read the blogs and websites they said. It is gossip they told us. We who are in authority will keep you up to speed with anything that affects our church. This has nothing to do with us they said.
And there you have it, crystal clear. Perfect description. A sure formula for terror. This is not biblical religion. It is the religion of the Pharisees or worse. It is bondage. It turns marriage into bondage. It destroys. It oppresses the weak (though the abuse victims I know are the most incredibly strong people within themselves). It puts a huge stumbling block in front of children, hindering them from coming to Christ. It makes a mockery of Christ and His Church in the eyes of the world. It is a design for an abuse factory.
Are there snippets of truth in all this? Yes. Children are to respect and obey their parents. Being a wife and mother is a noble calling. But as is true with all of Satan’s lies, this thread of truth is woven into an entire tapestry of deception and falsehood. I have no doubt that this kind of teaching, this system that parades as biblical Christianity, is very capable of taking an otherwise good man and making him be abusive to his wife and children. I do not believe anything can make a person a true abuser, so let’s not give abusers an excuse here, i.e., “my church made me what I am.” But I have no doubt that a good man who is a genuine Christian and zealously desires to serve God can certainly be pressured and deceived (for a time) into being abusive toward his wife. In fact, all he needs to do is follow the formula our reader describes here and he will necessarily act abusively to his wife. AND his wife will necessarily subject herself to that abuse and think that she is being godly in doing so.
What to do? If you are in a church that fits the description she has given us here, run! This is not Christ nor the freedom He calls us to.