A Cry For Justice

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

Blindness as a judgment from God – part 6 of series on blindness and deception

When people make themselves blind through their own choice to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, God makes them even more blind.

2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12
They perish because they would not receive the love of the truth, so that they might have been saved. And therefore God will send them strong delusion, so that they will believe lies; so that all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The angels blinded the men of Sodom so they could not see the door of Lot’s house.

Genesis 19:1-11

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.”

And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.”

But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.

So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”

And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in [to this city] to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men [the two angels] reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.

Lot is not the hero in this story! He was willing to cast his daughters out to be raped by the mob. I only share the story because it is a good example of how God can blind evildoers. In this story, God uses His angels to blind the men of Sodom.

Now pay attention. The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the two men who were staying in Lot’s house. Those two ‘men’ were in fact angels. That’s how evil human beings can become: they can carnally lust after angels. Think about that. Don’t dismiss it. It is something that may still be happening today.

More passages that speak about God making people blind

Matthew 13:12
For whosoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance. But whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has.

The note in the New Matthew Bible on this ^ passage says:
“To him that has a good heart towards God’s word, to fulfil it, more grace will be given. And from him who does not have such a heart will be taken away even what knowledge he has, and his heart so hardened that he will not repent. [William Tyndale> Here is a covenant to those who love the word of God, to further it so that they progress in it, and another to those who do not love it, that they will lose it and grow blind.]”

Conceited arrogant people who think they have it all worked out are made blind by God:

John 3:39-41
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.

God judges and blinds conceited religious leaders who think they can see. That leads us to Romans 11 which talks about God blinding Israel:

Romans 11:7-10, 25-26a
What then? Israel has not obtained what it sought. No, but yet the chosen ones have obtained it. The rest are blinded, as it is written: God has given them the spirit of unquietness: eyes so that they cannot see, and ears so that they cannot hear, until this day. And David says, Let their table be made a snare to take them with, and an occasion to fall, and a reward to them. Let their eyes be blinded so that they do not see, and ever bow down their backs. …
I would not that this mystery be hid from you my brethren (lest you be wise in your own estimations), that with respect to a part, blindness is upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved.
[click here to read the whole chapter]

Note from Barb: all Israel will be saved  – “all Israel” denotes all who by faith believe in God’s promises, no matter what their genetic lineage. Rom 2:28-29 and Rom 9 make it clear that not all who genetically descend from Abraham are Israelites.

Paul’s physical blindness immediately after his conversion signified and drove home to him how spiritually blind he had been, and therefore how much he needed to depend on God in order to see the truth:

Acts 13:11
And now behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness, and he went about seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

The next scripture talks about how people make themselves blind, and how spiritual blindness is also a judgement from God:

Isaiah 29
It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams,
And look—he eats;
But he awakes, and his soul is still empty;
Or as when a thirsty man dreams,
And look—he drinks;
But he awakes, and indeed he is faint,
And his soul still craves:
So the multitude of all the nations shall be,
Who fight against Mount Zion.
9 Pause and wonder!
Blind yourselves and be blind!
They are drunk, but not with wine;
They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.
10 For the Lord has poured out on you
The spirit of deep sleep,
And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets;
And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.

John reiterates what Isaiah had said:

John 12:39-40
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah says again: He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they will not see with their eyes and understand with their hearts and be reformed, and I would heal them.

To round this off, let’s go back to one of the the questions we are examining in this series— Are abusers spiritually blind? (Or psychologically blind, which is pretty much the same thing.)

‘Believer’, a commenter at this blog, summed it up when she said:

Abusers know when they are doing evil. They don’t care; they even like to do it.

The Bible does talk about people becoming blind as a judgment from God but I am thinking that it’s not that they’re blind to basic wrong and right (which is common sense, rules even the youngest children know). My thought is that due to their love and practice of sin they become blind to the reality of the impending judgment of God, and the gospel.

I think their common sense also does become perverted; but I don’t think they no longer know God’s decree of what is right and wrong. I think they are fully aware of the actual, right, true rules of justice and kindness. They just hate and oppose those rules. And I think they know very well they are standing in opposition to what God says. They just ardently, perversely hold to their self-sovereign “right” to define reality because they love their sin.

***

Bible versions used in this series

New Testament: NMB (New Matthew Bible); notes from the NMB are in grey italicised text.
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: Blindness exacerbated by group choice and group-leader choice

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

Part 6: is this post

Part 7: Blindness from having a ‘story faith’ rather than true faith

26 Comments

  1. Gany T.

    Excellent post! So much to ponder.

  2. Finding Answers

    For me, as an individual with Asperger’s, I take things literally until I understand what was intended in the original communication. Sometimes my figurative understanding happens VERY quickly, sometimes my figurative understanding takes WAY longer than a “normal” individual. (No offence intended.)

    From the original post “…….And from him who does not have such a heart will be taken away even what knowledge he has, and his heart so hardened that he will not repent…….”

    From my own (personal) observation, ^That MIGHT have applied to my “dad”, so I MIGHT be able to conclude my “dad” is literally AND figuratively dead.

    From the original post “…….To him that has a good heart towards God’s word…….”

    ^That applies to me.

    From the original post “…….William Tyndale> Here is a covenant to those who love the word of God, to further it so that they progress in it…..”

    For me, progress in grasping COMPLETE understanding of figurative parts of Scripture varies greatly, sometimes happening VERY quickly, sometimes taking WAY longer than many other individuals.

    To some individuals, I MIGHT appear spiritually blind. To other individuals (including myself), I am (to use my own words) slow on the uptake.

    To God, I am one who patiently and persistently pursues His truth, no matter how long it takes me or the (physical and non-physical) pain it causes me.

    Cited in the original post “….. someone to lead him by the hand.”

    ^That applies to me.

    I am led by the Holy Spirit. Without Him, I would remain spiritually blind.

    • 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Finding Answers

      From the original post “…….And from him who does not have such a heart will be taken away even what knowledge he has, and his heart so hardened that he will not repent…….”

      I wrote (11TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 11:19 AM) “From my own (personal) observation, ^That MIGHT have applied to my “dad”, so I MIGHT be able to conclude my “dad” is literally AND figuratively dead.”

      ^That.

      From my own (personal) observation, I MIGHT be able to conclude my “dad’s” conscience was seared and that he (my “dad”) was a psychopath. (Omitting MANY details for my safety and protection.)

  3. Kind of Anonymous

    That’s a scary thought that’s for sure. Esp. since even Christians have besetting sins and patterned problems, struggle with willfulness and the like. How would we know whether our inability to see is blindness as a judgement or being given over to delusion as a result of sin on our part, and the fog we often talk about or dissociation / PTSD ? Dissociation is in a sense, a way of suppressing truth. When we get caught in sin or something that triggers shame, we often struggle with pride or denial. Is this the same thing as what the bible means about suppressing the truth in unrighteousness?

    Sorry if that’s a dumb question. I have often wondered. Often I will do something that is either sinful, or it is not necessarily sinful but because I have been so conditioned by church teaching and past abuse, I will respond to the enemy’s accusations as if it is sinful which really messes up my radar spiritually and leaves me wondering whether I am resisting the Holy Spirit or just resisting the enemy masquerading as the Holy Spirit. Oddly I have only ever heard vague references to the fact that the devil impersonates the Holy Spirit and that he knows how to quote scripture to make it sound as if God is talking to us and we wind up thinking we are disobeying God when we aren’t. To someone with a very sensitive, or worse, scrupulous conscience, it’s a nightmare and throws a real monkey wrench into one’s connection with God.

    • Finding Answers

      Kind Of Anonymous commented (14TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 5:26 PM) “……or dissociation / PTSD ? Dissociation is in a sense, a way of suppressing truth…..”

      Depending on the complexity of an individual’s personal history, dissociation and / or PTSD does not necessarily equate with suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, and the fog experienced by victims / survivors of abuse is VERY different than blindness as a judgement from God.

      Absolutely no offence intended to you, Kind of Anonymous, when I add there are so many reasons for spiritual blindness, Barb has needed to write a series to cover discussion of the topic.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        No offense taken Finding Answers 🙂 It’s part of trying to see through the fog, to ask questions and hear answers and evidence as to what is actually true and why or why not.

    • Helovesme

      Kind Of Anonymous No oh my goodness that is not a dumb question at all. I seem to remember you bringing up similar thoughts on another post—-when is our conscience functioning properly, according to the Holy Spirit, and when it is NOT functioning properly? Perhaps it is in overdrive (I think I’m sinning when in reality, I am not). OR, as it been “conditioned” by abuse or some other trauma to not see sin as it really IS sin?

      Since life is made up of MANY scenarios and situations that we can encounter, there is never going to be a straight answer for your very good, very insightful questions.

      I LOVED “Believers” quote at the end of the post. I also loved Barb’s examples of blindness as an action AND as a reaction from God Himself.

      I’ll use an example from my own life, and then work it in to respond to your thoughts:

      I was not as immersed in the “purity culture” as others were. I did not grow up in the church. But I did become a believer in college, where the dating scene tends to be a major factor.

      Every believer, or group of believers, had their own personal ideas on what was or was not considered “purity in dating.” Don’t touch each other at all. Okay, some touching is okay but you might get carried away. No, just set up boundaries and no one will get carried away.

      You can imagine how each and every conscience may or may not have felt pricked at the slightest chance. And since the Bible does not list out a series of exact do’s and don’ts in the arena of dating—-you can again imagine the range of real or false temptation, torment and absolute terror that I MAY have violated His Word—-or have I?

      This narrative can easily be translated into the abuse arena as well: I don’t even know what is or isn’t abuse. The Bible, again, doesn’t have every exact detail of every kind of abuse listed out. He asks us to seek Him AND use Biblical common sense. (Barb has written brilliantly about this.)

      Believer’s comment struck me as amazing because it makes clear that abusers are doomed. They will not respond to Him, should He dare to try to make them aware of this fact.

      Blindness as a judgement from God (IMO) is NOT “forced” on anyone. He simply seals the deal—-this is what they have chosen (to be blind and remain blind)—-so there is no point in trying to reach them anymore. No fear of God, no INTEREST in the fear of God, and no interest should He offer to TEACH them the fear of God. Shake off the dust, and move on.

      Back to the purity narrative. It is a good assumption that we all feared Him on a certain level. Maybe we didn’t fear Him “enough,” meaning we did not need to consider seeking Him to find out what is and isn’t pure in His eyes (and not in own eyes). Maybe we feared Him TOO much, meaning we wouldn’t even consider being alone with the opposite sex—ever—even the thought of temptation caused us to run and hide.

      However, if God has not blinded us as a form of judgement from Him, and keep in mind He is never deluded about the true nature of our hearts—we are reachable AND teachable to Him. We are not lost, we are not doomed and we are not without hope. There is SOME level of a real deal fear of God in us, and that is an extremely relevant reminder.

      Project Runway had a famous line from Tim Gunn: Just make it work! Aka, work with what you have, whatever you have, and fix it to make it into something that works. That is not only wearable, but worthy to wear.

      Whatever is within you, whether it’s crazy fear of Him, a lack of fear of Him, or a misunderstood fear of Him—-He will work with it, work it out, and produce something that works AND is worthy of Him as well.

      I’ve been in all three places and still struggle with all of them. So my conscience is always being worked on, it seems. Spiritual surgery, if you will—-and it never stops because I never stop needing to be worked on.

      It drives me crazy, but imagine if God said—I can’t work on you anymore, because you won’t let me. You don’t want me to work on you. You want to work the way you want to work, no matter what I say or do. Then go right ahead—-work as you insist on working, but your works will only put you in the morgue—-for all eternity.

      It’s actually quite a blessing when God confirms that you have either sinned or not sinned. Whatever He reveals is trustworthy. The only cure to a broken or malfunctioning or over functioning conscience is not necessarily more soul-searching (we can easily deceive ourselves)—-but more of letting Him search our souls FOR us.

      “When a king judges, he carefully weighs all the evidence,
      distinguishing the bad from the good.

      Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;
      I am clean and without sin”?

      Differing weights and differing measures—
      the Lord detests them both.”

      Proverbs 20:8-10

      That chapter also speaks of motives of the heart like deep waters; it takes insight to draw them out. Proverbs 16:2 speaks of how all our ways are pure in our own eyes, but God looks at our motives.

      The last verse about differing weights is poignant because victims are often held to a different standard than their abusers. Or, most females very well know the phrase “double standard,” meaning there’s a set of rules for them, another set of rules for males—-and it usually favors the latter and burdens the former.

      So for those who are hard on themselves, perhaps because of abuse—the Lord is the only cure. Even KNOWING you were treated overly harsh isn’t enough. It is a broken system when it comes to our righteousness versus His. It’s likely to continue to either stay broken or get worse. It MAY be “tweaked” here and there. The best we can do is to focus on letting Him fix in us what the system did to us—-He is 100% faithful and trustworthy to do this.

      • Finding Answers

        Kind of Anonymous, I have hijacked some of Helovesme’s comment to come up with words MUCH more detailed than my original comment. 🙂

        Helovesme commented (15TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 11:24 AM) “Believer’s comment struck me as amazing because it makes clear that abusers are doomed. They will not respond to Him, should He dare to try to make them aware of this fact.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Blindness as a judgement from God (IMO) is NOT “forced” on anyone. He simply seals the deal—-this is what they have chosen (to be blind and remain blind)—-so there is no point in trying to reach them anymore. No fear of God, no INTEREST in the fear of God, and no interest should He offer to TEACH them the fear of God. Shake off the dust, and move on.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Whatever is within you, whether it’s crazy fear of Him, a lack of fear of Him, or a misunderstood fear of Him—-He will work with it, work it out, and produce something that works AND is worthy of Him as well.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “It’s actually quite a blessing when God confirms that you have either sinned or not sinned. Whatever He reveals is trustworthy. The only cure to a broken or malfunctioning or over functioning conscience is not necessarily more soul-searching (we can easily deceive ourselves)—-but more of letting Him search our souls FOR us.”

        ^That.

    • Hi, Kind of Anonymous. I’ll do my best to answer this question of yours:

      “How would we know whether our inability to see is blindness as a judgement or being given over to delusion as a result of sin on our part, and the fog we often talk about or dissociation / PTSD ?”

      Dissociation does suppress the truth. But dissociation is not the same as suppressing truth in unrighteousness.

      Suppressing truth in unrighteousness is done by conscious willful free choice. When a person habitually suppresses truth in unrighteousness, they may habituate that response so it becomes not entirely conscious (like we are not entirely conscious when we manually change gears while driving a car). But it is still wilful. And it is a FREE choice.

      In contrast, when a person is being abused/ traumatised/ tortured, that person is not free. Their mind may dissociate to protect them from some of the pain. But they are not making an unrighteous response to dissociate under trauma. Dissociation is a way of trying to survive the evil that is being done to you by others.

      There is plenty of clinical and anecdotal evidence that dissociation is a natural response of a human being who is subjected to extreme abuse. When people are subjected to the same degree of abuse/torture, some people dissociate more readily than other people. Who knows why that is so, but it does appear to be so.

      When a person dissociates it is like walls of amnesia are built in the neural network of the brain. Sometimes those walls are semi-permeable, sometimes they are impermeable so the memories inside the wall are not shared at all with the other parts of the person.

      I may have said this to you before, but a good book to start to understand varieties of dissociation is Martha Stout’s The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness

      You can also look at this link: https://www.studymode.com/essays/Martha-Stout-Dissociation-792778.html

      • Helovesme

        That was such a great response, Barb. I got a lot out of it myself.

        You said: “When a person habitually suppresses truth in unrighteousness, they may habituate that response so it becomes not entirely conscious (like we are not entirely conscious when we manually change gears while driving a car). But it is still wilful.”

        When you are shifting gears, you are doing what you were taught to do (how to drive a car), trained to do (you practice what you’ve learned), and then it becomes natural and habitual—-you are conscious of shifting gears but it becomes second nature over time.

        In being abused, Barb’s words rang true for me: “that person is not free. Their mind may dissociate to protect them from some of the pain. But they are not making an unrighteous response to dissociate under trauma. Dissociation is a way of trying to survive the evil that is being done to you by others.”

        That was MY “second nature.” As Barb compared it to naturally but consciously shifting gears—I naturally but consciously shifted my mind and emotions to become as numb as possible when being abused.

        I always appreciate it when it is compassionately pointed out that this is how you survive. So thank you, Barb! But I hated myself for being and becoming the person I chose to become, even though the reasons WHY I chose to be that way was out of my control—-namely, the abuse itself.

        I wondered at the time, and years later—if I could have chosen other ways to live that were not so short AND long term consequential.

        When you attempt to “turn off” certain parts of your mind in order to survive, it’s not so easy to turn them back on, even IF you feel safe to do so. You tell yourself it’s like a light switch, and you have the power to turn it on and off. Or do you?

        And you can never be sure when and if it is safe to turn them back on, or remain off.

        What is worse is if you can only numb yourself for so long, and only so far. Sooner or later, those tears will not stay buried. That anger will not stay repressed. That pain will not be ignored.

        And then the shame hits: you’re a failure even when trying to follow your own rules! Your own sense of right and wrong is being violated and betrayed by the same person who made them—you! And they were put in place for good reason: to protect you, to keep you alive, to keep you sane.

        There was a wonderful comment from James that spoke of “resistance” to abuse. [Barb added the link after this comment was published. Barb hopes she has found the right link to the comment James made about resistance]

        My choice of resistance was to disassociate myself from the actual abuse, or being bullied at school. I tried to pretend that I wasn’t bothered, wasn’t interested, wasn’t even aware of what was going on. I figured they wanted to see me react in order to escalate the abuse. Sadly, I wasn’t very good at my own chosen form of resistance! So the abuse would usually escalate.

        My perception of right and wrong was VERY different as a non-Christian. In my former life, it was acceptable to choose to behave in ways that I now find abhorrent.

        Those behaviors I speak of were 100% sinful, apart from my numbing attempts to survive the horrors of abuse. Hence, Barb’s wise words: “But dissociation is not the same as suppressing truth in unrighteousness….Suppressing truth in unrighteousness is done by conscious willful free choice.”

        Regardless of being abused, I was an out and out sinner who hated God, mocked any idea of His righteousness and couldn’t care a less about anyone, especially myself. Now, some or a lot of that was intensified from being abused, because I blamed Him for the abuse and for planting me with an abusive father.

        But I consciously chose to be prideful and rebellious and the only truths I cared about were the ones I deemed beneficial to me and me alone. I was wholly indifferent to love, kindness and generosity unless there was personal gain involved. I was lonely, but I did not deserve to have or be in relationships—-I had no sense of loyalty towards anyone.

        The ways that I chose to deal with the abuse still haunt me. A wonderful woman once asked something I too have wondered for years: what I would have been like, had I not been abused. I would still be in need of Savior, no matter what, of course. But I would not have been traumatized not only BY the abuse itself, but also in the ways I dealt with it, not to mention the scathing aftermath of recovery abuse—which is often just as painful as the actual abuse.

        Throw in there that DUE to being abused, I had no idea how to function with real emotions, nor did I know HOW to handle them once they made themselves known.

        In meeting Christ, I had the sense of feeling blessed AND burdened (bear with me). On one hand, I was blessed in knowing that I could STOP disassociating myself from the abuse. It didn’t happen in an alternate reality with a living zombie. It happened in actual reality with an actual person. A sense of humanization came over me—-reversing the dehumanization I had been living with for years.

        It was burdensome because I felt like I had woken up from a coma of sorts. So my eyes were opened when I was convinced they’d remain shut forever. But now my limbs and my organs and mind and again, emotions—-were very startled to be awake as well! Now what? How do you get out of that bed, start putting one foot in front of the other, and start facing the real world? There were many, many times I wanted to be put BACK into that coma! Put me back to sleep, let my eyes close again, and remain closed.

        I wanted to make sure to bring it back to the “blindness” narrative, since that is the focal point of this series.

        Deception is a very real but very, very complicated subject. I struggle to understand how my mom and my siblings own personal choices, or own dissociation, or their own suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. It is too dang complicated to make sense out of it all. No easy ways to explain away the whys and whats and hows.

        I told that wonderful woman that I try to focus more on letting Christ make beauty out of those ashes, rather than wonder what life would have been like without those ashes. It is not a good idea, ever, to choose to be blind to what is directly in front of you and demands to be dealt with. In Christ, you need not disassociate yourself from those ashes. You have nothing to be ashamed of in admitting those ashes exist. You are no longer numb to them. You learn how to live with them for now, and look forward to not letting them rule or ruin your life for good.

        After all, He is God of reality as it really is, not of reality as we imagine it to be.

      • Helovesme pointed to what James said about resistance.

        I think this comment by James is what Helovesme was pointing to:

        https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/2019/05/09/logic-and-authority-in-the-church/#comment-127041

      • Artina

        I really appreciate, as helpful reminders, these comments and referencing back to the post “logic and authority in the church”. I appreciate these comments because they seem, to me, to directly communicate about important topics of freedom of conscience before God and being connected to the Body of Christ to help with sorting out life and healing from trauma in order to “take every thought captive in obedience to Christ” and joyfully live that, which, I trust, as much as I can, will be a help for others.

        It seems weird to me that careful direct respectful communication is labeled, in some church environments, as aggressive or intimidating or divisive or gossip, or…..”too confusing” or is just ignored. Indirect communication, quite often, seems like manipulation to me, because it seems to carry the weight of the culture of partiality, the “status quo” and that is “too confusing” for me. How is indirect communication and seemingly indifference to learning to handle and speak of abuse issues Love that “rejoices with the truth” or Love that “bears all things?” How is the focus at these types of church places consistent with Phil 4:8 “Furthermore, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honourable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things belong to love, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtuous thing, if there be any praiseworthy thing: these same have in your minds,” especially whatever things are just? Can the “just” part be left out and still have “peace?” Can there be “unity” without acknowledging and pursuing and looking to God for the “just” part?

        Why should I go to institutional church settings of a certain type, when voices of the abused don’t meaningfully, demonstrably matter? Why should I attend when seemingly, the cultural pressure, the “carrot” of seeming social acceptance/interest/affection/supposed experiences of mutuality, is marriage? Does fellowship in these types of places actually represent, or is it even moving toward, “one another”, “brother – sister”, “friendship” experiences?

        It seems refreshing for me to be around other people in safer settings. But as for Bible studies with books picked out, whose author I research is connected to ….the branch of intentionally patriarchal idea pushers that avoid or mishandle abuse issues and keep women from full potential of their humanity in Christ, I’m done with those.

      • Hi Artina, it sounds to me like you are seeing clearly the mentality in most churches which is characterised by head in the sand / fear of the truth / shallow theology and a christianese ‘think-speak’ rather like 1984 or Brave New World. In this bubble everyone is expected to read between the lines…and know what is and what is not acceptable to say.

        It’s a cult of ‘niceness’ that is NOT really nice at all.

  4. many years

    Barbara, Thank you so very much for this series on spiritual blindness.

    It came to my attention, about two years ago, that my husband might not be a believer. Two people, whom I value very much asked me to ask my husband what John 3:16 meant to him. I assumed that he would say something like, “I know that I accepted Jesus as my Savior in my young teen years.” Or something to that effect.

    My husband just sat there, with a blank stare for a moment, when I asked him that question, and he said to me, “What do you mean?”

    I was like, what? In my mind, as I wasn’t expecting that at all. Yet, this is what a narcissistic person does, IS, if they are asked a question which throws them off guard they will answer back with a rhetorical question. Or in this case, throwing the question back upon ME. Which is what they do too, to get the attention off themselves. The “What do YOU mean?” thrown in my face.

    I was not prepared for his response. I felt he was hedging because he really did not KNOW the answer, and it [the answer] was definitely was not in his heart. His answer made no sense to me — [me] being the blood-bought, sanctified believer, signed, sealed, delivered, by the Holy Ghost of Promise.

    If he was truly a believer why would he need to ASK me what I meant? And yes, both he, and myself were brought up in a cult-type so-called Christian fellowship, where a person could ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ and maintain all kinds of ‘head knowledge’ of the scriptures but be totally dead to God. I can relate so very much to all of this series so far. And thank you for using the Matthew Bible which uses such clarity.

    And the fact that lately, my husband has gotten to the point where his answers and questions to me show that he cannot even remember his own truth, or what he feels is his own truth; as his truth is turning into rhetoric lies, as he did not have a valid answer to the question of John 3:16, and the answer which should have been on his lips, ‘That whosoever believes on the Son of God shall be saved.’ It was not a difficult question for a true believer, who would have answered it with joy! And of course, that is not the only stipulation for salvation but repentance, forsaking sins, confession, and forgiveness.

    So, my husband ended up talking to a religious Baptist at work who basically told him to tell me, what John 3:16 meant, so the next day, my husband’s lame answer was, ‘I just know It.’ And I thought about that, and thought to myself that my JESUS is not an ‘IT’ and my husband’s answer had better be from the heart and not just from scriptural dogma that he learned by ‘rote’ over the years.

    My husband is still the same man I married years ago, the ‘learned’ dinner prayer at the table every evening is about the only spirituality that comes out of his mouth. Otherwise, there is no spiritual depth to the man, as he can’t go ‘there’ because the Holy Spirit does not move in his heart. This is blindness of heart. It is a very sad predicament for the unbeliever, because, try as I might, it is up to my husband to ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found.’ as I cannot believe for nor save my husband. The choice has to be his, and he has to open his own heart to God’s Word, and to the voice of the Holy Spirit then he needs to repent, and acknowledge he is a sinner, and forsake his sins, and confess. Romans 8 verses 9 and 10 is the answer to the John 3:16 question.

    For clarification and readability, Barb has edited this comment by inserting a few more paragraph breaks and [clarirfying words].

    • Reaching Out

      For ease of reference, here are links to the NMB verses cited in many years comment:

      John 3:16 (NMB)

      Romans 8:9-10 (NMB)

    • Helovesme

      Thank you Many Years for your testimony. That was incredibly sad to read. I learned a lot from it as well.

      There are persons I know who profess Christ, but I am not certain if they are truly saved. The best I can come up with is that I know I do not want to follow their examples. They do not represent the Living God as I understand Him to be in the Word.

      That’s a mouthful right there. We can go back and forth about what God is or isn’t really like, and we can even provide duelling Scriptures to try to prove our points—-but make no mistake, He is who He is, not as we paint Him out to be.

      Thank you again fro your comment and wisdom. It must have been a painful experience and I’m sure there are still a fair amount of strong emotions you are dealing with.

      I really liked your comment: “And yes, both he, and myself were brought up in a cult-type so-called Christian fellowship, where a person could ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ and maintain all kinds of ‘head knowledge’ of the scriptures but be totally dead to God”

      Gave me a bit of a shiver as I pictured that, but it was very well said!

      This too resonated with me: “Otherwise, there is no spiritual depth to the man, as he can’t go ‘there’ because the Holy Spirit does not move in his heart. This is blindness of heart.”

      Wow. Earlier today I was thinking along those lines. Surface perceptions being equated with actual reality is incredibly dangerous. Example: you see someone lying in the street and assume they are passed out drunk. So you roll your eyes and walk away.

      But you decide to take a second look. Upon closer examination, you realize there is no alcohol on his breath. Upon even closer examination, you find his medical bracelet. He is epileptic—-there is a good chance he may have just had a seizure.

      Had you committed to your surface perception, drawn a definite conclusion from that very shallow observation—-a precious life could have been lost.

      We delight in 1 Samuel 16:7 all the time, right? “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.””

      We delight in John 7:24 just as much, if not more: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

      How easily these precious verses go out the window when it comes to “surface” qualities such as age, gender or an outward appearance of godliness (but denies its real power).

      Suddenly all that matters are the qualities that God says make no difference to Him: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.”

      I’m no exception to this trap, by the way. I have gotten carried away and still struggle with making sure my eyes look for what matters to Him, and frankly—-ask Him to show me what He sees, because only He sees the heart. If I tried to do that apart from Him, I would likely come to all the wrong conclusions, even if I tried to dig underneath the surface.

      We simply cannot see what He sees apart from Him.

  5. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi Barb, I have a copy of the Myth of Sanity courtesy of a certain someone. 🙂 I began to read it but had to stop for a bit because I found the subject a bit unsettling. I will take it up again. Thanks for the link I will have a look.

    I find the whole dissociating thing freaky and frustrating to deal with. I think that because I had such a long run of traumatic and at times violent stuff going on in my family/life and things were always so unstable, I must have learned to do it almost automatically. I learned also to have an automatic choke so to speak to deal with how painful it felt to feel so unwanted and unloved.

    I experienced a dissociative episode and then amnesia a number of times in my life although I didn’t realize what was going on. When I had tried to break up with my ex husband while dating him, and he freaked out I suffered terror and dissociation. It was the most freak thing I have ever experienced and I had no idea what was happening. I was afraid that if I told anyone I would be carted off to a psych ward. Three days after the event I could not mentally think back to what had occurred. It was as if there were an impenetrable fog bank. It took years for me to feel safe and strong enough to allow what had happened to surface and tell myself the truth about it. That I had not married this man because I loved him and believed he was the one but because he had frightened me and it had triggered a PTSD reaction based in past abuse.

    One thought that occurs is that for many of us who have dissociation as a result of trauma, our life and family system was full of reactivity, anger and punishment. The rules were often rigid and unreasonable with only random bits of grace that were impulsive rather than reasoned. Our family system is then legalistic and full of fear and punishment. This can really affect our relationship with God and ability to trust Him with or without actual sin in our lives.

    • Helovesme

      Kind Of Anonymous I really related to the last paragraph of your comment:

      “One thought that occurs is that for many of us who have dissociation as a result of trauma, our life and family system was full of reactivity, anger and punishment. The rules were often rigid and unreasonable with only random bits of grace that were impulsive rather than reasoned. Our family system is then legalistic and full of fear and punishment. This can really affect our relationship with God and ability to trust Him with or without actual sin in our lives.”

      Trying to survive abuse often means you put on a show of strength. You do whatever you can to not show any weakness, because that may cause the abuse to escalate, if the abuser uses harsher and harsher methods to bring you down. BUT, it also may cause the abuse to deescalate, if the abuser is satisfied that he has reduced you to a puddle of shame. So you just give in, and give him what he wants—it’s quite a “make it up as you go along” strategy.

      Victims aim at staying alive and remaining alive. For the abused, instinctive reactions and survival techniques are aimed at staying afloat. For the abusers, instinctive reactions and predatory techniques are aimed at the goal of pulling the victims down under.

      In my situation, you did everything you could to either gain an advantage and avoid abuse, find ways to lessen its intensity, or keep your guard up until you were alone and could fall apart in semi-safety (try not to cry too loud).

      In His kingdom, it’s the exact opposite. Don’t hide your heart. Don’t run away. Don’t stifle the pain. Don’t shrink in terror. Don’t cover up your wounds.

      Jesus claims He IS the Truth, and if the Son sets us free, we are free indeed. I would think of freedom as a really great experience, feeling elated at being released. Why is it so often NOT quite so a euphoric reality?

      I can only speak from personal experience: reality as it really exists is often brutal—-if you have to face it alone. I could only face the truth as it really is, without going insane in the process, if the Truth as personified in Jesus—-were not holding me together to face broken reality that was my life.

      Oh, I had already fallen apart all right, but those pieces of me fell into His arms at the same time.

      I don’t think there are separate kingdoms within His kingdom, if that makes sense. One area for the wounded, semi-wounded and seriously wounded. It’s one kingdom, one body of Christ, one Savior over every single soul. But I think we’ve fractured into various factions that separate what should not be divided.

      That is NOT 100% all bad—-this site, for example, helps a specific group of persons whose pain has likely been neglected for far too long. But it’s not meant to educate the church at large, abused or not.

      Every abused soul longs to be made whole in Him. Their wholeness hopefully brings a sense of wholeness to the body of Christ as well—- we weep when they weep, rejoice when they rejoice.

  6. Kind of Anonymous

    Oops sorry about the incomplete sentence, must have accidentally deleted something. I was going to say that it took me years to feel strong enough to allow what had happened to surface and tell myself the truth about it. That I had not married this man because I loved him and believed he was the one but because he had frightened me and it had triggered a PTSD reaction based in past abuse.

    • Reaching Out

      Thanks for the correction to your comment, Kind of Anonymous. I have made the correction to your prior comment, but I am including this other comment from you so readers who may have already read your comment receive an email that will give them a heads up about the important addition to your comment.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Thank you Reaching Out for adding that in for me and including it. 🙂

  7. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (16TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 9:50 PM) “…..rather than wonder what life would have been like without those ashes……”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..you need not disassociate yourself from those ashes.,,,,”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..not letting them rule or ruin your life for good.”

    ^That.

    God can make beauty from ashes, but His way of making beauty from ashes is different than the world’s way of making beauty from ashes.

    We cannot be blind to ^That.

  8. Helovesme

    Response to Artina 17TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 12:10 PM (and Barb’s reply)

    I really related to both comments.

    Artina wrote: “Indirect communication, quite often, seems like manipulation to me” and “careful direct respectful communication is labeled, in some church environments, as aggressive or intimidating or divisive or gossip.”

    It is weird that in being born again, you cross over from death to life, light to dark—-and immediately that new life in Him is confined within cultural constraints and religious limitations. Or, a blanket is thrown over you, simulating darkness even though you are technically OUT of spiritual darkness.

    This topic has come up for me personally. One of the greatest joys in being born again in Him is that you now know where you stood with Him (as a sinner) and NOW you know where you stand with Him (as His child).

    You’re on the solid ground in Him. That will not change. When you sin, you do not undo your salvation—-you confess, repent and are restored in Him, all without undoing your status as born again in Him. It’s not like living from paycheck to paycheck—always on the brink of bankruptcy, always on the brink of destitution.

    There is a confidence and calmness that comes with this. A steadfast peace as you revel and marvel in this ever growing assurance as you grow in Him.

    A lot of fear exists when we don’t know where we stand with other human beings, or we don’t know where they stand with us. The messages are vague, confusing or mixed. No wonder there is so much brokenness in so-called Biblical marriages or relationships in general. There is a lot of blindness to reality—but the only reason that blindness exists is because no one is 100% open and honest with themselves, or with one another.

    You can’t feel safe if you don’t know where you stand. Ever find out the hard way how someone really feels about you, and you thought otherwise? The sense of shock, accompanied with the humiliation of being wrong, not to mention how flimsy the bond turned out to be—-is it any wonder why people give up on trying to get close to another? Your eyes are opened, but not only did not you not know you were blind to reality, but you had no idea that this reality would be so brutal. And your eyes cannot deny what you are seeing.

    “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10. No human being can compare to this, of course, but it would be nice if there were “pockets” of His safety that the abused and afflicted felt secure to run to.

    Barb’s words were brilliant: “It’s a cult of ‘niceness’ that is NOT really nice at all.”

    I know we as believers waver between being sincere, yet gracious. We hold back but we also don’t hold everything in. We don’t aim to be “fake nice,” but we also aim to choose our words carefully. The book of James directly commands us to be be aware that our words are so powerful, a single spark can burn down a whole forest.

    We don’t say exactly what we are thinking and feeling all the time, every time, with every person. But we aim to be on and stay on solid ground with others. As Artina pointed out: “the cultural pressure, the “carrot” of seeming social acceptance/interest/affection/supposed experiences of mutuality, is marriage?”

    When I met the Lord, the “carrot” was being done and done with lies, with any shred of dishonesty, with any trace of spiritual darkness. Religious veneers are worthless. Being clean cut on the outside does nothing to cleanse the filth that is on the inside—-that can be cleverly hidden from everyone BUT the Lord Himself.

    I understand why victims of abuse would rather keep it hidden. Or, why a great deal of unhappiness and misery is tucked into the deepest, darkest corners of our mind. As Artina again pointed out, churches don’t necessarily provide an open door for an open mouth that would dare to say things that are likely to either to be dismissed, disbelieved, or treated with disdain.

    If I could end on Barb’s marvelous words: ” head in the sand / fear of the truth / shallow theology….everyone is expected to read between the lines…and know what is and what is not acceptable to say.”

    I’ve been there and back. Due to not having the most brilliant mind to read between the lines, I’ve had to rely on getting weird “looks” or other forms of body language where I realize I have “foot in mouth” disorder.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (17TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 6:25 PM) “A lot of fear exists when we don’t know where we stand with other human beings, or we don’t know where they stand with us. The messages are vague, confusing or mixed……”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented, “You can’t feel safe if you don’t know where you stand…..”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented, “You’re on the solid ground in Him. That will not change. When you sin, you do not undo your salvation—-you confess, repent and are restored in Him, all without undoing your status as born again in Him……”

      ^That.

      • HeLovesMe

        Thank you Finding Answers!

        This sounds lame and possibly insincere; you’ve made several replies that touched me deeply but I didn’t take the time to put it in writing. Hope you know how much you’re appreciated and encouraging.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: