When the Wheels of Church Justice Move Like a Snail, it is a Sign of Injustice
Have you had the sad experience of being involved in church “courts” in the process of getting free of your abuser? Numbers of denominations have intricate court systems set up (I am thinking particularly of Presbyterians here) in which it can take months and months or even year upon year to obtain a ruling. And here is something that I have noticed happening repeatedly in these ecclesiastical machination processes:
- The process of determining the guilt of an evil person such as an abusive spouse (no, I will say “abusive husband” because that is how it almost always goes down) proceeds at the speed of the thickest molasses flow.
- The process of determining the guilt of the abuse victim who will not heed her church’s orders to reconcile with her abuser, proceeds at a speed more akin to the flow of….well…rushing water.
Why is that? “You say he abuses you, eh? Well, let’s not be hasty. No marriage is perfect you know. Be patient. Go back to him. Forgive him.” “What, you say you won’t do what we say? Oh, well then…”. And in short order the charges against her are made, tried, and she is convicted and out the door, counted as an unbeliever, handed over to the devil. What happened to her original case against her abuser? It just gets forgotten. Lost in church legal limbo. She’s gone. He’s still there. Case closed for lack of substance and prosecution.
Snail-paced process is almost always a sign of injustice. Because someone does not want it to go forward. Someone is an ally of the wicked.
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. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
The Apostle Paul’s directive is crystal clear: next time you meet, put him out. In fact you should have done it already. It’s a no-brainer, but in your arrogance you have let it drag on and on and you boast about how merciful you all are. This is sin. Repent and obey the Lord.
While abusers are deceptive liars, skilled at putting on the disguise of godliness, that deception simply does not hold up when a victim comes forth with the truth of what the guy really is. You see it all the time. Pastors and elders often don’t necessarily deny that he is doing what she says he does (though they will claim she exaggerates). They know he has done these things and very often in fact they know it because he comes to them in his fake repentance, tearful and pitiful, saying his sorries. They know. But in fact, they don’t really care. What they want to do is pretend that the Spirit of Christ working the grace of God among them (thus giving a divine stamp of approval to their ministry) has moved this fellow to a wonderful reformation of repentance. But the victim….she just keeps messing it all up and saying his sorries are phony.
Paul told the Corinthians they were arrogant and disobedient to Christ. And that is exactly what these allies of abusers are today. That charge stands until they repent and start putting abusers out of their midst, and doing it speedily.