A Cry For Justice

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

Blindness exacerbated by group choice and group-leader choice — part 4 of a series on blindness and deception

The choices a group / group leader makes can bring the group into even more blindness.

This is Part 4 of a series addressing the questions:

  • Are abusers spiritually blind? (Or psychologically blind, which is pretty much the same thing.)
  • Are abusers deceived?
  • If they are deceived, to what extent have they been deceived by others and to what extent have they deceived themselves?
  • Are some abusers brainwashed or controlled or enslaved by others? Are some of them so controlled by people higher up the pyramid of evildoers, that they could be said to be victims themselves?

Links for Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

A certain man in ancient Israel abused his female intimate partner. This man came from the tribe of Levi which meant he was a priest in ancient Israel by virtue of his genetic descent.

God had given solid instructions for how men from the tribe of Levi should behave to fulfill their duties rightly as priests for God’s people. What did this man do? He disregarded all God’s instructions and precepts.

He tracked down his female intimate partner after she had fled from him. He lied and manipulated to get her back into his clutches. Then he set her up to be gang raped by a mob of Israelite men who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. After that gang of men had ravaged her, the evil man cut her body up into pieces. Then he manipulated the other eleven tribes of Israel to make war against not only the rapists, but the whole tribe of Benjamin.

Longtime readers of this blog will be already familiar with this video I made about this story, but I’m putting it here for newer readers. Please note: I mention Stockholm Syndrome in the video because I made the video prior to finding out that the term Stockholm Syndrome was invented to silence an indignant young woman.

One clever, crafty, devious, evil man incited a civil war in the nation of Israel.

He had the status of ‘religious leader’ in ancient Israel. Single-handedly he created a civil war: tribe against tribe, brothers fighting brothers, thousands killed. No justice for the victim. No punishment for the evil man who had set up and manipulated the whole thing.

It’s a powerful story about how one evil leader can do so much damage because there are so many foolish, blind, wilfully blind, prideful, arrogant, unthinking people (sheep-people) who are easily led by an evil crafty, devious person.

Christians are called sheep for good reason

God is the good shepherd and seeks out the lost sheep. But sheep are also pretty dumb animals. They follow each other. They don’t analyse or assess danger very well. They prefer to go along with the mob, the flock.

A mob of sheep can be safely guided by a farmer and one or two good sheep dogs. But if the farmer or the dogs are malicious or foolish or lazy or sick, the mob will run into danger and be trapped, or destroyed by fierce predators.

Animal sheep can be trapped. Human sheep can be blinded and deceived…and trapped.

The demonised slave-girl whom Paul and Silas encountered in Acts 16 was owned by her masters. I imagine that not only was she blinded under influence of the demon, she was trapped by the man and woman who made money off of her. They would have done their best to hunt her down if she tried to escape.

Acts 16:16-21
And it happened as we went to prayer that a certain girl possessed with a spirit that prophesied met us, who brought her masters much income by prophesying. She followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, who show to us the way of salvation! And she did this many days. But Paul, not pleased, turned about and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out the same hour.

And when her master and mistress saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas and drew them into the marketplace to the authorities, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men are troubling our city. They are Jews, and preach customs that are not lawful for us to receive nor to observe, seeing we are Romans.

The girl was a slave: her master and mistress owned her. They had probably paid money to buy her. Or they might have been picked her up from the rubbish dump when she was a baby: many unwanted infants, especially girls, were dumped on rubbish dumps in those days. That man and woman were ‘higher up the pyramid of evildoers’ than the girl herself.

The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened to that girl. But it’s possible that after the demon was cast out of her she sought out Lydia, Timothy and other believers – or the believers sought her out and explained the gospel to her. Maybe she was thus converted. We do not know, but it’s worth opening our minds to the possibility rather than just giving her no further thought because she disappears from the narrative in Acts.

Jesus warned his disciples to beware of the teaching of hypocritical religious leaders

The Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ day were wrongly interpreting scripture to invent laws that laid heavy burdens on the people of God. They were deceiving the people of God to oppress, mislead and intimidate them.

Matthew 16:6,12
Jesus said to them, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Then they understood that he was not telling them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Luke 12:1
As there gathered together an innumerable multitude of people (insomuch that they trod on one another), he began and said to his disciples, First of all, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Paul prophesied about false leaders rising up in the church:

Acts 20:17-18; 25-31
from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the congregation. And when they had come to him, he said to them … I call you as witnesses this same day, that I am clear of the blood of all men. For I have kept nothing back, but have spoken to you all the counsel of God.

Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock whereof the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he has purchased with his blood.

For I am sure of this, that after my departing, grievous wolves will enter in among you, who will not spare the flock. Moreover, from among your own selves men will rise up speaking perverse things, to draw disciples after them. Therefore awake, and remember that for the space of three years I did not cease to warn every one of you, both night and day, with tears.

I honestly don’t know why seasoned Christian victim-advocates keep expressing shock when church leaders mistreat victims of abuse. God warned us about arrogant and wolfish leaders becoming prevalent in the visible church: their prevalence is one of the main reasons why it’s so hard to get justice for abuse in the church. Yes, they often present as ‘angels of light’ – but God’s word gives us plenty of guidance about how to discern evildoers in the church. We are to be fruit-inspectors.

We must bear in mind that blind or partially blind sheep are the other side of that coin. Every blind sheep is who is of the age of accountability has individually made his or her choice to follow the leaders.

Paul told the Ephesian elders: “Awake!” Most professing Christians today need to wake up! The evildoers have infiltrated the flock, blinded most of the sheep, fleeced the flock and ravaged the most vulnerable.

Not for nothing did Jesus  say, “When the Son of man comes, do you suppose he will find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Peter warned about false leaders in the church and blind / blinded sheep following them:

2 Peter 2:1-3, 10-15
There were false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will slyly bring in damnable sects, even denying the Lord who has bought them, and bring upon themselves swift damnation. And many will follow their damnable ways, by which the way of truth will be ill spoken of. And through covetousness they will with feigned words make merchandise of you. Their judgment is not far off, and their damnation sleeps not.

…[they] walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise authority. Presumptuous they are, and stubborn … like brute beasts by nature born to be captured and destroyed, [they] speak evil of that which they do not understand, and shall perish through their own destruction, and receive the reward of unrighteousness.

They count it pleasure to live deliciously for a season. Spots they are, and vileness, living at pleasure, and in deceptive ways feasting with you, having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease to sin, beguiling unstable souls. Hearts they have exercised with covetousness. They are cursed children, and have forsaken the right way, and have gone astray, following the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the reward of unrighteousness …

These are wells without water, and clouds carried about by a tempest, for whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they have spoken the swelling words of vanity, they beguile with wantonness through the lusts of the flesh those who were clean escaped, but now are wrapped in errors. They promise them liberty, and are themselves the bond-servants of corruption. For by whomever a person is overcome, to him he is in bondage.

For if, after they have escaped from the corruption of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and of the Saviour Jesus Christ, they are yet tangled again in it and overcome, then is the latter end worse with them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment given to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb: The dog is turned to his vomit again, and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.

Notes from Barb:

they beguile unstable soulsthey beguile with wantonness through the lusts of the flesh those who were clean escaped, but now are wrapped in errors.  Unstable believers. Those who are laden with sins and easily led astray. People who naively believe what church leaders tell them. Believers who are not diligent to weigh what they are hearing against the whole counsel of God’s word.

2 Tim 3:1-6
This understand: in the last days, perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, cursed speakers, disobedient to father and mother, unthankful, unholy, unkind, truce breakers, stubborn, false accusers, dissolute, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, wilful, high-minded, greedy for pleasures more than lovers of God, having a similitude of godly living, but who have denied the power thereof – and from such, turn away.
[v 6] Of this sort are those who enter into houses and bring into bondage women laden with sin, which women are led by divers desires and lusts, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

At the bottom of this post you can find three articles I’ve written about verse 6  — women led by divers desires and lusts, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Jesus made a man who was born blind able to see

(read the full story in John 9)

The people who had previously known the man as a blind man were divided in their opinions: was this the man who had been blind from birth, or was it another man? They brought the man to the Pharisees to decide the question. Big mistake!  Sheep asking the hypocritical oppressive religious leaders to make a judgement call!

The Pharisees interrogated the man. Not satisfied with his answers, they interrogated the father and mother of the man. The father and mother passed the ball back to the healed man: they  feared the Pharisees, they didn’t want to be excommunicated out of the synagogue.

Fear of fighting on the front line. Fear of being a proactive warrior for Christ by taking a public stand against the hypocritical leaders in the church. Fear of being cast out of the institutional church because it is tolerably comfortable (so long as the hypocritical leaders are not directly targeting you).

How many professing Christians have given in to that temptation? 

The Pharisees interrogated the man again, the man who had been born blind but had been healed by Jesus. They berated him. Then they cast him out. They excommunicated him.

John 9:35-41
Jesus heard that they had excommunicated the man, and as soon as he found him, he said to him, Do you believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is it, Lord, so that I can believe on him? And Jesus said to him, You have seen him, and he it is who talks with you.

And he said, Lord, I believe! and worshipped him.

Jesus said, I have come for judgment into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see, may be made blind.

And some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words and said to him, Are we then blind? Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains.

The Pharisees said “We see!” — But they did not see!

They were puffed up and arrogant. They were hypocrites. They were oppressing and misleading people. They were intentionally misleading people who wanted to love and follow God. They were self-serving covetous hypocrites. Psychopaths, narcissists — call them what you will. They were evil. They were in bondage to Satan. The god of this world had blinded them AND they had chosen to be blind by continually suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. They resisted the admonishments which Jesus gave them. They followed and were obedient to the doctrines of demons.

Jesus told them: “Your sin remains.”

They were under the wrath of God because they were resisting admonishment / rebuke / correction. They would suffer eternal conscious torment for following the broad way rather than the narrow way.

Eternal torment: where “the worm does not die and the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:41-48). Those are Jesus’ words, not mine. If you have objections, take it up with Jesus!

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack to fulfill his promise, as some count slackness, but is patient toward us, and would have no one lost, but would receive all to repentance.

Jesus feels both angry and mournful about the blindness of people’s hearts

Mark 3:1-6
And he entered again into the synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. And they watched him to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath day, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, Arise, and stand in the midst. And he said to them, Is it lawful to do a good deed on the Sabbath days, or an evil deed? To save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

And he looked round about on them angrily, mourning the blindness of their hearts, and said to the man, Stretch forth your hand. And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored fully as whole as the other.

Then the Pharisees departed, and straightaway assembled a council with Herod’s men against him, so that they might destroy him.

Now, dear readers, let me turn this over to you

What are your thoughts about all this? Do these scriptures bring up any questions or reflections or insights you’d like to share with us?

***

Bible versions used in this series

New Testament: NMB (New Matthew Bible)
Psalms: Myles Coverdale’s translation as per the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Old Testament other than Psalms: NKJ (New King James).

Other parts in this series

Part 1: Are abusers blind? Are abusers deceived? What does the Bible say?

Part 2: Blindness from original sin

Part 3: Blindness exacerbated by individual choice

Part 4: is this post

Part 5: Blindness as a result of being deceived by others

Part 6: Blindness as a judgment from God

For further study on 2 Timothy 3:6

Why did Paul call abused women “little-women”?

“Little women” have been called “silly women” – which now contributes to misogyny in the church

God’s view of women who get targeted by abusive men

 

13 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the original post “What are your thoughts about all this?……”

    ^That.

    From the original post “The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened to that girl……”

    ^That.

    My first thought about the response of the demonized slave girl’s master and mistress when her (the demonized slave girl’s) demon was cast out is that they (the demonized slave girl’s master and mistress) made her (the demonized slave girl’s) life SIGNIFICANTLY more slave-like.

    From the original post “……she disappears from the narrative in Acts.”

    ^That might render the no-longer demonized slave girl invisible to us, but NOT invisible to God.

    From the original post “……Do these scriptures bring up any questions or reflections or insights you’d like to share with us?”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……God warned us about arrogant and wolfish leaders becoming prevalent in the visible church: …..”

    ^That.

    And the wolfish leaders do not know either Jesus OR untwisted Scripture.

    From the original post “Jesus feels both angry and mournful…..”

    ^That His words aren’t being truthfully taught by the wolfish leaders.

  2. Finding Answers

    From the original post “What are your thoughts about all this?…..”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……beware of the teaching of hypocritical religious leaders”

    Beware the “teaching” of the hypocritical religious leaders who expect to be treated with respect, “blind” obedience, and fear, yet treat or threaten their (the hypocritical religious leaders’) flock with condemnation and disrespect.

  3. Helovesme

    Due to recurring nightmares, I have a hard time bringing to mind (never mind daring to imagine what she went through) what that nameless woman endured. The full narrative is in the book of Judges.

    While we can safely suggest that if a victim of abuse or assault will likely not be treated with full dignity and honor if she is of a so-called lower socioeconomic status:

    It’s fair to bring to mind that David’s daughter Tamar, a princess and the daughter of a rich man—–was also denied the justice she deserved. The Bible is clear that what happened to her was nothing short of pure evil, and the consequences she suffered were just as cruel.

    You would think that a palace with high walls, heavily guarded and especially focused on protecting the royal family—-would be the safest place for a woman. Not so. We so often forget that a woman is least safe in her own home—-even a palace

    I did have to smile at Barb’s apt description about sheep—-they are pretty “dumb!” They are sweet and delightful to observe—-and not surprisingly—-they do tend to know the shepherd’s voice. There is a simple trust factor there that is quite moving.

    Now imagine those same simple minded sheep being exploited or trapped or worse yet, preyed upon by an evil shepherd. As far as I recall, sheep are not fighters. They depend on the shepherd or the herd dogs to protect them. This is why David’s narrative of fighting the lion and the bear is so precious. You do not abandon the ones you have charge over, even risking your life for these “dumb” animals!

    Since sheep do tend to follow each other, it is interesting that Jesus brings up a single lost sheep, claiming that He will leave 99 sheep behind. When He finds it, He will carry it on his shoulders with great joy.

    Since sheep are so group oriented, I wonder if the implication is that that one sheep did not mean to get separated from the rest. Perhaps it got distracted for a mere moment and suddenly found itself all alone. I can imagine how scared and lost and lonely it must feel—-again, having a herd mentality means you aren’t used to fending for yourself! It likely can only wait and hope that the shepherd finds it, before a predator does. And hopefully before night falls, when predators will likely be creeping about. Time is of the essence.

    Bring that perspective into the church. When ONE person has been victimized, what is the reaction? Do you “sacrifice” that one person, supposedly for the sake of the many?

    It might be seen as anything BUT deception to consider the needs of the many versus the needs of one. But the Bible would tell you otherwise. If one part suffers, the entire body suffers. If one person has been preyed upon, the entire body is affected as well.

    2 Timothy 2:17 talks of two specific men who are false teachers. Paul calls them out by name and says “they destroy the faith of some.” Some? How many is “some,” and is that enough to get worked up over? And how much damage can two men really do, anyway?

    Paul went so far as to tell us to cast out the wicked brother. In that specific case, I believe it was a single man that needed to be put out of the church. As Barb pointed out in the very beginning, one evil leader can do a lot of damage. So every single sheep matters, and every single evildoer matters.

    (I’m splitting up my comments for easier reading!)

  4. Helovesme

    I read 2 Peter 2:1-3, 10-15 slowly because the text is so thick and rich with wisdom and warnings:

    “slyly bring in damnable sects, even denying the Lord who has bought them,”
    “And through covetousness they will with feigned words make merchandise of you.”
    “cannot cease to sin, beguiling unstable souls.”
    “who loved the reward of unrighteousness”
    “They promise them liberty, and are themselves the bond-servants of corruption.”

    One would think that denying the Lord who bought them would be an obvious, easily debunked false teaching. Not necessarily—-not if it is brought in “slyly.” It is fair to assume they won’t SAY: Jesus is not Lord and He is not our Savior. But that is what their “fruit” will say. Barb said we need to be “fruit inspectors.”

    The “make merchandise” phrase means that they will dehumanize you. They don’t want you, only something from you. When you’ve ceased to be useful to them, your value has ceased.

    Let me share an example. As a newer believer, the idea of being “used’ by God was a big deal to me. I had never been seen as having much use and I wanted to prove myself. If you’re not careful, being “used” by God can easily be confused with “letting Christians use you.” If the aim and goal is service oriented, and therefore God-pleasing and indicative of being “used” by Him—-you might find yourself reduced to nothing but a piece of merchandise. And you will get thrown away once they are done with you, or you have simply worn out and are not longer useful.

    Keep in mind—God is not a “user or an abuser.” No human being is “merchandise” to Him. There is no love there, and God is love. No deceiver is interested in the two greatest commandments: loving Him and loving others. Deceivers are only interested in gains for themselves (the rewards of unrighteousness).

    Do not hold out any false hope for deceivers. They cannot cease their sin. These “unstable” souls are “not diligent to weigh what they are hearing against the whole counsel of God’s word.” They are also burdened with many sins. This paints the picture of frailty. While we cannot make wise choices for them, we can try to set an example for them to potentially reduce the risk of these souls of being preyed upon.

    The false promise of liberty, but truthfully being enslaved and loving the reward of unrighteousness reminded me of 1 Peter 4:3-4:

    “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do–living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.”

    This is a description of a pagan lifestyle! But it rings startlingly similar to the lifestyle of false teacher, grievous wolf Bible verses that Barb provided—-these are people that will profess Christ. I can only imagine that they will be dang good at “acting” like believers—-enough so to lure and entrap others. But their fruits will tell otherwise.

    In the 2 Timothy verse Barb provided, the description is just as horrific, but it says “having a similitude of godly living, but who have denied the power thereof.” So they too will likely claim to follow Christ! How can they be so convincing as believers, these “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,” persons? But again, their fruits will tell their real story.

    I am unsure if we can tie the “heap abuse on you” pagan narrative to the ones who profess Christ but are in reality living a pagan lifestyle. But it would not surprise me if false teachers, wolves disguised as sheep or false shepherds—-used peer pressure or the threat of abuse to lure and entrap.

    In the “routine” of going to church and connecting with those that profess Christ, we might get our eyes off of the very reason why we go to church and attempt to fellowship with people—Christ Himself. If you get your eyes off of Him, you might lose sight of the fruit He is looking for. You might not also know how to spot the fruits of the flesh, which is also vital.

    Look for qualities that we prize so highly in Him, but so often put aside. We get so caught up in “religion” that we forget what it means to maintain a real, one on one relationship with Him.

    Look for foot washers. Look for those that give and serve and bless, but do not seek the spotlight or the praises of man. Look for those that look AT people, not down on them. Look for those that may not be rich, but are rich in love. Look for real people who have known hurt, and know how to love on the hurting.

    • 2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness they will with feigned words make merchandise of you.

      I agree with Helovesme that the “make merchandise” phrase means that they will dehumanize you. And I want to add more to that idea: — it would include things like sex-trafficking and other forms of modern-day slavery.

      Some evildoers have become highly skilled at inflicting trauma on children to make the children dissociate, and then programming the dissociated parts to turn them into mind-controlled slaves. Using Trauma Based Mind Control (TBMC) evildoers can train children to be compliant sex slaves. They traffic these children for use by perverted adults, and/or they use them as honey pots to entrap adults who they want to blackmail. If you take photos of an adult having sex with a minor you can then blackmail that adult. These kinds of evildoers also use TBMC to train children for other purposes as well. And always, one way or another, their purposes are about making money for themselves.

      I think Christian need to open their minds to take quite literally what Peter said about these false teachers: through covetousness they will with feigned words make merchandise of you.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you for adding context, Barb. This line from your comment rang with me:

        “And always, one way or another, their purposes are about making money for themselves.”

        Jude talks about the prophet Balaam (as does 2 Peter 2)—he betrayed the Israelites even though he was rebuked by a donkey—for the sheer love of money. I think that is what the text means when speaking of how he “loved the reward of unrighteousness.”

        Human trafficking would not be such a big business, if there was not so much “customer demand.” There are enormous profits to be made in exploiting humanity. And there are large numbers of people who are willing to pay dearly to feed their never ending evil desires.

        A bit more context in my desire to be “used” by God and “used” by people:

        When I was young I would watch TV shows in which there would be a female character who was considered “easy.” She never said “no” to the opposite sex. So a guy could approach her and pretty much be guaranteed that he could get what he wanted from her. She was a piece of merchandise that you had easy access to—-to be used.

        Back to my own life. I had NO idea that I was being seen like that, but NOT in the sexual sense. If I was asked to fulfill a need or even a want, I tended to say “yes.” It wasn’t that complicated: if I was able and willing, I would step in. You had easy access to me; all you had to was ask. Sometimes you didn’t need to ask; I would offer to help when I saw an opportunity to be of service.

        I was starting to be seen as “easy,” but more like “easy to manipulate, easy to control, easy to get compliance from.”

        You can pick up on the signs if you are being treated like a piece of merchandise. You have to look for them; they’re not always obvious, As heinous and rampant as trafficking is, you don’t have to be exploited in such a horrendous way to be treated cheaply.

        People can ask for things in a way that very much “makes their case” and really puts you on the spot. Paints you into a corner. I’ve read that abusers can use this form of manipulation as well—-they will present themselves as pitifully needy, preying on your sympathies, wearing down your resistance—-can you REALLY say “no?”

        When you don’t feel like you have the freedom to say “no,” something is not right. It is wonderful to be easy to talk to, easy to be around—-because you put people at ease.

        But you are not a piece of merchandise. Do they want you, or something FROM you? The difference makes all the difference.

        If you are not loved simply because loving others is the 2nd commandment, regardless of any “profit” they do or do NOT get out of you—-you are not loved.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (16TH OCTOBER 2019 – 11:36 AM) “If you are not loved simply because loving others is the 2nd commandment, regardless of any “profit” they do or do NOT get out of you—-you are not loved.”

        ^That.

        Barb commented (15TH OCTOBER 2019 – 8:48 PM) “I think Christian need to open their minds to take quite literally what Peter said about these false teachers:…..”

        ^That.

        Helovesme also commented (16TH OCTOBER 2019 – 11:36 AM) “Jude talks about the prophet Balaam (as does 2 Peter 2)—he betrayed the Israelites even though he was rebuked by a donkey—for the sheer love of money…….”

        ^That describes the false teachers.

        Helovesme commented (15TH OCTOBER 2019 – 7:56 PM) “Look for foot washers. Look for those that give and serve and bless, but do not seek the spotlight or the praises of man. Look for those that look AT people, not down on them. Look for those that may not be rich, but are rich in love. Look for real people who have known hurt, and know how to love on the hurting.”

        ^That describes Jesus.

        Helovesme commented (15TH OCTOBER 2019 – 6:50 PM) “Since sheep do tend to follow each other, it is interesting that Jesus brings up a single lost sheep, claiming that He will leave 99 sheep behind. When He finds it, He will carry it on his shoulders with great joy.”

        ^That describes Jesus.

        Helovesme also commented (16TH OCTOBER 2019 – 11:36 AM) “You can pick up on the signs if you are being treated like a piece of merchandise. You have to look for them; they’re not always obvious, As heinous and rampant as trafficking is, you don’t have to be exploited in such a horrendous way to be treated cheaply.”

        ^That describes the false teachers.

        Helovesme also commented (16TH OCTOBER 2019 – 11:36 AM) “…….There are enormous profits to be made in exploiting humanity. And there are large numbers of people who are willing to pay dearly to feed their never ending evil desires.”

        ^That describes the false teachers.

        Helovesme also commented (15TH OCTOBER 2019 – 7:56 PM) “……Christ Himself. If you get your eyes off of Him, you might lose sight of the fruit He is looking for. You might not also know how to spot the fruits of the flesh, which is also vital.”

        ^That.

        Helovesme also commented (15TH OCTOBER 2019 – 6:50 PM) “Paul went so far as to tell us to cast out the wicked brother. In that specific case, I believe it was a single man that needed to be put out of the church. As Barb pointed out in the very beginning, one evil leader can do a lot of damage……….”

        ^That.

        Helovesme also commented (15TH OCTOBER 2019 – 6:50 PM) “…….every single sheep matters……”

        ^That.

        Helovesme also commented (15TH OCTOBER 2019 – 6:50 PM) “(I’m splitting up my comments for easier reading!)”

        No offence intended to you, Helovesme. 🙂 I hijacked words from most of your comments to describe the picture in my mind. And thank you for (unknowingly) providing the words I needed for the picture in my mind.

      • Helovesme

        Oh goodness Finding Answers where in the world would there by any offense to take? None taken at all; nothing to even remotely take offense at.

        You’re almost always the first to comment on Barb’s posts, or offer a generous reply to others. My busyness ebbs and flows so I was glad to have extra time to read and comment more than usual. There is nothing better than not only attempting to “reach out and touch someone,” but seeing that through you, He actually did!

        I had the honor of reading a post that debunked the false notion that female believers should not rebuke (as if that is Biblical, which is is not!)

        No professing believer, male or female, will likely dare to say that compassion is NOT Biblical, and gender irrelevant. Okay, if we agree there—-then you MUST allow women to be bold in Him, through Him, and for Him.

        You cannot be compassionate in Him without boldness from Him.

        Another post spoke of the audacity of God expressing gladness that women were silenced from speaking the Gospel. No matter who is speaking, when the Word is proclaimed in truth, sheer joy is the only reasonable reaction.

        I thought about in another direction:

        It is still too sadly and sickeningly “normal” within the church, to speak to victims of domestic abuse that paint God in a way that is NOT who He really is.

        So this is what He might say to victims, right?

        If only you’d prayed more. If only you’d been more submissive. If only you had loved more. If only had served him more. If only you’d been more sexually available to him. He would not have abused you.

        And THIS is what He might say to those abusers, right?

        If only she had prayed more. If only she had been more submissive. If only she had loved you more. If only she had served you more. If only she had been more sexually available to you. You would not have abused her.

        If only…and God will shake His head sadly and bemoan how abuse would simply not exist at all, if only women would be what they are supposedly supposed to be.

        Speaking for ONLY myself as a victim of abuse, sometimes it takes a long time to figure out the obvious. But abuse tends to cloud the obvious. I think it was there the whole time, but as I read this series—-I’m starting to see (pun intended) how deception, in all its coercive craftiness, can so convincingly distort reality.

        The Bible speaks beautifully about how we are changed from glory to glory as we behold His face in the mirror.

        What if you are not seeing God as He truly is, but a cleverly distorted version of Him that SEEMS so real, but is in fact false?

        Who are you changing into, if you are not beholding Him as He truly is? A person with a distorted sense of reality.

        When I sometimes look into the mirror (a real one!), my outside reflection doesn’t always reflect what I feel and look like on the inside. My face and hair are shiny and clean—-so what’s the problem?

        Switch out that mirror with one that reflects what I feel and look like on the inside. The tables are turned. I feel anything but shiny and clean—-and THAT is a problem indeed.

        I sure like how you see pictures in your mind and how you express things. It’s actually quite brilliant, not to mention generous of you to share them!

  5. Helovesme

    “Fear of fighting on the front line….Fear of being cast out of the institutional church because it is tolerably comfortable (so long as the hypocritical leaders are not directly targeting you)”

    These fears are real, and the temptations to give into these fears are real. IMO I don’t think anyone can completely “dodge” these sorts of dilemmas, unless you live in a bubble. Sooner or later, your faith will be tested.

    And the 2nd commandment is focused on how we treat others. No matter who is professing Christ, and how long they claim to profess Christ—-if they are not aiming to treat others with love, their profession of Christ can be legitimately challenged.

    I’ve had my own failings in these areas, and others have also failed me. Both sides of the coin are incredibly painful. You cannot undo the damage you did, and no one can make up for the damage done to you.

    But do not despair. Use what was done to you, or what you did to others—-to grow in Him. Use the former to warn yourself to NOT do to others what was done to you. You know how bad it felt. Use the latter to repent and aim to love like Him when you are tested again. And you will likely be tested again. You do not have to continue to damage others, and the damage done to you does not have define your life.

    His words of “that those who do not see may see, and those who see, may be made blind” are interesting. Then He says: “If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains.”

    So, He came to open eyes so they can see (the man blind from birth had the unique experience of having his inner and outer eyes opened). But for those who see, they may continue to use their outer eyes, but their inner eyes would stay closed because they refused to have them opened.

    A blind person can have their inner and outer eyes opened. But to “blind” yourself? You would have to do something drastic like throw acid on your perfectly healthy eyes! Perhaps this is what the Pharisees did to their inner eyes, which sealed their eternal doom. You cannot open either inner OR outer eyes that are willfully sealed shut.

    Back to my testimonies of being fearful myself, or others fleeing in fear from me. This is where you find out, or those around you find out—-where your or their treasure truly lies.

    It very much comes to light where the loyalties lie. Are they with family? Are they with the church family? Are they with this beloved pastor, or that respected elder? Are they with your spouse, your children, your friends, coworkers—-the list goes on.

    I was once told by a supposed friend that she would not support me because she did not want to be targeted herself.

    I was once told by a person I wholeheartedly trusted that he never thought to question questionable statements made about me, or commands they gave him involving me.

    On the flip side, I did not fully rush to defend a woman who was so obviously NOT in the wrong, yet a small but powerful group of persons claimed she was. I looked up to these people, so the shock at these behaviors paralyzed me with fear and confusion. I was on the side of this woman and she knew it, but I should not have even dared to defend the other side. I prayed for 5 1/2 years that they would apologize to her, but they never did.

    But as Barb said, a believer who is at the age of accountability MUST own up to their choices. It took me a few years to truly see things as they really were. And when I did, I was both shocked and repulsed by the entire situation, including my own failings.

    I paid a dear price for standing with her and refusing to kick her to the curb. Even as I fooled myself into thinking it had to be a big misunderstanding, the damage with this group of people was done. It got harder and harder and finally impossible to keep things up on my end. Long story short, over the next 4-6 years, things went from bad to worse to worst—-the bad revelations didn’t stop there. The corner of darkness that had been exposed was just the start.

    I try to be honest with my testimonies. Don’t underestimate the harshness and brutality you might face, as you fight the good fight. Don’t dumb it down and don’t brush them off. Those wounds are real. It can truly feel like a bloody mess as you realize that you are not just fighting darkness as a general concept, that darkness is within your very midst

    The blind man referenced in this post had his outer and inner eyes opened, but look at the cost. His own parents weren’t so keen to defend him. The synagogue he likely took shelter in and maybe begged for alms threw him out. Perhaps it would have been better to have remained blind? At least he was used to that—-blind from birth means his world had always been dark.

    But then the Lord found Him after being rejected by what are usually defined as the two strongest pillars of life: family and religion.

    Yes, being able to see is great. All the colors with all the various hues and shades—-from total darkness to total light.

    But what good is seeing, when because of being able to see, you now see the very people you leaned on so quickly turned on you?

    Seeing Jesus seek and find you, and invite you to worship Him—it doesn’t bring those people back into your life, but it brings something way better instead.

    John 9 is worth reading to get the full picture. The Pharisees were up in arms and all over the place after this man was healed. They argued among themselves, interrogated people, asked the same questions over and over again.

    The now seeing man was a class act. His responses to them got more and more priceless. I sense he was getting understandably frustrated—-by verse 30 I think he had had enough and became bold and daring—-too daring for these self-righteous hypocrites who could not bear hearing anything that they did not want to hear. This is where I think they decided to throw him out. If he had kept his mouth shut in fear, or said what they wanted to hear—-they may not have excommunicated him.

    But once he was cut off from everything he’d ever known, he met the One who had always known him.

    The only way to handle being cut off from everything you held dear, is to hold onto the One who holds you through the pain of being cut off from everything you held dear—-and is worth knowing more than all of those people you held so dear put together.

  6. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (16TH OCTOBER 2019 – 2:12 PM) “It is still too sadly and sickeningly “normal” within the church, to speak to victims of domestic abuse that paint God in a way that is NOT who He really is.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “What if you are not seeing God as He truly is, but a cleverly distorted version of Him that SEEMS so real, but is in fact false?”

    The most evil abuser in my life was my secular-patriarchal-authoritarian-paedophile-abusive “dad”, who acted as though he (my evil abusive “dad”) should be treated as “god”.

    Having read the Bible at five years old, and having no human person in my life to clarify my understanding of God, the picture in my mind for God got tangled with the picture in my mind for my evil abusive “dad” (who acted as “god”).

    The tangling of ^Those two pictures in my mind was akin to combining The House of Horrors / The House of Mirrors at the carnival, and untangling those two pictures in my mind was NOT a simple “fix”.

    I suspect those who think in words encounter a similar set of entanglements between their understanding of God and what they (those who think in words) have been “taught” about “god” by “christians” and / or “the church”.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..But abuse tends to cloud the obvious…..”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..how deception, in all its coercive craftiness, can so convincingly distort reality.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “……sometimes it takes a long time to figure out the obvious……”

    ^That.

    The Holy Spirit had to lead me every painful step of the way.

  7. Helovesme

    Finding Answers I noticed so much in your last comment but wasn’t able to reply until now:

    “The most evil abuser in my life was my secular-patriarchal-authoritarian-paedophile-abusive “dad”, who acted as though he (my evil abusive “dad”) should be treated as “god”.

    Having read the Bible at five years old, and having no human person in my life to clarify my understanding of God, the picture in my mind for God got tangled with the picture in my mind for my evil abusive “dad” (who acted as “god”).”

    The following comment about House of Mirrors, House of Horrors was amazing as well. The “entangling” metaphor could not have been said better. I often “picture” my own mind as a series of wires all twisted and knotted up.

    I cry out to the Lord to “untangle” and “separate” those wires so that I can function properly.

    The “god” complex fits right in with my abuser, my own father. Your abuse is far, far more horrific than mine (it’s not a competition of course)—-just a side note.

    And I too got my abuser and the Living God mixed up as well. If the two were not the same, the Living God at least sanctioned what my dad was doing. He never stopped my dad from hurting me, which communicated SOME level of passive approval to me. I certainly saw no active disapproval from Him—-or else He would have stopped him from hurting me, right?

    My parents do not profess Christ, but they were religious. You can imagine how an abuser portrays religion, right? Very angry, controlling and even violent at times. Intimidating, threatening and by no means—-representing an approachable “god.”

    I hated my father. Even as a child I at least suspected that “god” and my father weren’t exactly the same person, but with a father with that level of power and control over you—-the line becomes blurred in your mind. I saw my my dad as having the power of life and death over me. He could do whatever he wanted and would not face any consequences.

    So I hated even the idea of “god.” (I’m having a bit of trouble making sure I keep the Living God and “god” separate. Bear in mind I had no concept of the real and true Living God, only a “god” that my mind shaped from that abuse—-but such a “god” did not and does not exist. But my mind was certain that he did indeed exist.)

    I hated religion (stop telling me what to do), I hated the idea of god (I’m never good enough for my dad. How can I good enough for any god, and my dad is as close to “god” as far as I knew). I hated love (no one loves a worthless failure). I hated life and trying to live it (if this is what my life is and always will be, I want out!)

    You might think that is as bad as it can get. Oh, no. Skip over the joy of being born again (just for a moment!). I started to experience strong, familiar glimpses of professing Christians and/or leaders (male and female) engaging in similar beliefs and behaviors as my dad.

    As Barb has pointed out, there is VERY little education about abuse within the church. My dad was not and is not a professing believer, so while he was not pretending to be a Christian and fooling everyone—-he still seemed to have people fooled because he was not saved. He is a slave to sin and we need to pray for him and so did I. The focus was on what he had done, not what he done to me.

    I now suspect that the thought process might have been: if you pray for him, and he comes to Christ, that will bring a great deal of healing to your abuse.

    Also, the forgiveness aspect brought a lot of guilt to me. I knew I needed to forgive my dad, but the need for processing and healing was either completely skipped over or minimized.

    In all of this—that SAME sort of message got communicated to me: your dad has the power. He is “commanding” you (through these professing Christians) to pray for him, forgive him and somewhat “skip over” or fully ignore what the abuse did to you.

    My family in general never wanted to acknowledge the abuse. Their way of coping was to pretend nothing had happened, or conveniently blame me. So he was never held accountable, which I think feeds that sense of power, control and entitlement that abusers demand.

    So you can see how these well meaning, professing Christians somewhat “picked up” where my dad left off, and since they were now claiming to represent the true and actual Living God that I had now committed to—-you can see how my perception of the real deal God was (once again) being distorted or played around with.

    (Breaking up my comment once again for easier reading.)

    • Finding Answers

      Hijacking parts of the comments made by Helovesme (19TH OCTOBER 2019 – 11:20 AM) and (19TH OCTOBER 2019 – 12:21 PM).

      Helovesme commented “……but with a father with that level of power and control over you—-the line becomes blurred in your mind. I saw my my dad as having the power of life and death over me. He could do whatever he wanted and would not face any consequences.”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented “…..I started to experience strong, familiar glimpses of professing Christians and/or leaders (male and female) engaging in similar beliefs and behaviors as my dad.”:

      “…..the longer you practice or engage in something, the more skilled and knowledgeable you become….”

      “…..there is a possessiveness over Him and how His Word is interpreted…..”

      “……if you pray for him, and he comes to Christ, that will bring a great deal of healing to your abuse.”

      ^Those statements belong to “christians”.

      Helovesme also commented “…the forgiveness aspect brought a lot of guilt to me. I knew I needed to forgive my dad, but the need for processing and healing was either completely skipped over or minimized.”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented “My conclusion about those that profess Christ for a long period of time (or just longer than you) is this:”

      ^They may be “christians” who belong to “god”.

  8. Helovesme

    From the original post:

    “People who naively believe what church leaders tell them. Believers who are not diligent to weigh what they are hearing against the whole counsel of God’s word.”

    I believe this line helped me see something more clearly, but it was not a happy picture! This happened just yesterday.

    I married into a family of professing Christians. And it is a fairly large family. Not all of them were raised in the church, but most were. My mind worked in what I believed at the time was a fairly logical way—-the longer you practice or engage in something, the more skilled and knowledgeable you become. So I did believe that these persons had more experience with the Lord than myself.

    There is something to this. The longer I walked with Him, the more personal experiences I had that made all the difference. The more I prayed, the better I got at communicating with Him. It started to come more easily—-sort of like slipping into a comfortable robe.

    When I got married I had been walking with Him for about, six years? Compare that to their double digit number of years, or if they were young kids—they went to church their whole lives, unlike myself.

    BUT, I knew Scripture at a good, strong basic level. I do not believe I thought deception would never happen to me (it already had in previous times) But WHEN it did happen with this family, and I read Barb’s comment, I did find myself asking yesterday: how did that happen? How could that happen?

    I’ll describe the early on incident that challenged my faith and tested my knowledge of Scripture, and how I failed.

    Side note: Others might disagree with me as I tell what happened. I DO believe Scripture was on my side, and I didn’t stand up for the faith (I thought this family and I had a mutual, shared faith). But again, Scripture should always have the first AND final say no matter what. But I respect that others might not see it as I do now.

    Sometimes family members of my in laws would be at gatherings as well. These are people I had no connection to by blood or marriage. But I got to know them. One of them was a college aged student. I have a soft spot for college students because that is where I met the Lord, plus I know how challenging those years can be.

    I sent her a care package, and because I was in a hurry, I posted a response comment to one of her posts to ask if she’d received the box from us. So it was there for all to see.

    My sister in law messaged me and said that someone saw that I had sent her niece a box, and how sweet that was. But then asked me if I thought I shouldn’t say stuff like that in public because it might make people jealous.

    I DID respond to her (it was a question!) but I honestly don’t recall what I said. She had totally caught me off guard. I feel certain I tried to be respectful, because, well—–that is her niece and I certainly hadn’t meant to hurt anyone. She never answered.

    I suspect one of her kids saw that random, very short comment and told her and either indicated jealousy, or she picked up on it and took action.

    Now for the Scriptures. I love Luke 6:32 where Jesus says it is of no Biblical credit to you if you love those that love you. Even sinners do that. Luke 14:13 speaks of blessing people who can’t pay you back.

    So that is why I did what I did. She was of no blood relation to me. She certainly couldn’t repay me in any way. But I did not indicate those Scriptures to her, to make my case. And she certainly never used any Scripture to make her case to me.

    You don’t HAVE to use Scripture to justify your feelings. If there were hurt feelings, that mattered to me no matter what.

    But I allowed her idea of Biblical righteousness to override what I believed was true Biblical righteousness, in the span of a few sentences. When I KNEW these Scriptures but was too afraid to use them because it would come across that I didn’t care about their feelings. I was also afraid of driving a wedge between these family members that I so badly wanted to be part of, and I hadn’t been a part of this family for terribly long yet. I felt I had to prove myself, and keep proving myself.

    Not only that, but ONLY yesterday did I see, 100% clearly, that I was not responsible for anyone who felt jealous, whether they felt justified or not. Those were my resources to use as I felt Him direct me to use them. Now, I don’t know how strenuously I prayed about blessing this young woman. I doubt I did. It just happened somewhat naturally.

    There is wonderful parable in Matthew 20 that speak of how WE think of what is “fair” and what HE thinks of as “fair.” And the difference can be huge. Verse 13 is what I should have spoken to her and others (that incident was only the start), but—–I realize now how conditioned I was to fear, control and power inequality from my childhood of abuse. So when people like her came at me like that, I caved rather easily.

    I should have stood up for myself, but I should have stood up for the Lord first and foremost. When His light shines through us, and He enables us to do right in His eyes—-and someone casts a shadow of darkness over that Light and claim they have a right to—-that should always be resisted.

    My conclusion about those that profess Christ for a long period of time (or just longer than you) is this:

    Religion is not a family business. You don’t get to put your own “spin” on Scripture, or ignore it completely. Just because you’ve held that Bible in your hands for so long, you have no right to edit, revise or rewrite any portion of it.

    Think of a worker who has put in many years with their employer. You started at the bottom and worked your way up, and how you have the ear of the CEO him or herself. You paid your dues and now your loyalty and hard work have paid off. You are trusted. You have been faithful. Now you have a strong, powerful influence over the company that others do not.

    This is NOT how it works with the Lord! The parable in Matthew 20 indicates this. Those that labored longer and harder did NOT get a bigger wage than those who did not. The former got what they were promised, but they thought they should get more.

    Bear in mind I was NOT a believer when I thought this: I thought Christianity belonged to white people, and Jesus was white like them. It was rare (to me) to see non white persons profess Christ, and certainly no one actively became a Christian on their own. So you can see how even I thought religion was based on family, culture and tradition.

    I am the only brown person on that side of the family (I am married to a Caucasian man). My mind, yesterday, wondered (for the first time, EVER)—-if (only possibly!) Caucasian people feel they have a sort of “ownership” over Christianity that is unique to them, because they are the majority that profess Him. So there is a possessiveness over Him and how His Word is interpreted—-that favors them over others.

    Ethnic and racial demographics are changing since I was young, but it’s still rare to see a lot of diversity within the church (at least where I have lived).

    My immediate fear of challenging my sister in law, even in the most gentle ways—-made me wonder if as the only brown person in my in law family, the only Christian in my own family, and the youngest (in Biblical age) all factored into WHY I so quickly and so easily abandoned the very God that I had committed my life and soul to, LONG before I met my spouse and married into this family.

    One more side note: I really don’t like talking about my personal giving. The fact that I am anonymous on this page means I can “hide” behind my username!

    All I can say is to read the original post again. Read the quote I pulled from it. Take it seriously. Take it to heart. Take it, most of all, to the Lord. Ask Him for boldness. Stick to Scripture like the strongest Velcro you can imagine. And WHEN you are challenged regarding Scripture and He assures you that He backs you up, stick to Him even harder.

    You’re His child before you are a someone else’s child, sibling or spouse.

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