A Cry For Justice

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

Submission to authority figures — the Milgram Experiment and Stanford Prison Experiment

Many people behave unethically when they are instructed to do so by what they perceive as a legitimate authority figure.

If you have suffered abuse, whether it be emotional, spiritual, psychological, physical or sexual abuse, you might be asking “How can someone be so cruel?” 

The Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Experiment have shown how quickly people can become abusive.

Both of those experiments were unethical. Some participants in these experiments have spoken up about the deleterious effects the experiments had on them.

Many unethical experiments have been done by scientists and psychologists.

Trigger warning: Some individuals might find certain parts of the video triggering.

This video summarises what happened in the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment. The presenter is Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist who conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment.

 

The Milgram Shock Experiment: “Obedience to Authority”

Milgram set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist.

The results showed the willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths of cruelty, on the command of an authority figure.

To explain the findings of the experiment, Milgram theorised that people have two states of behavior when they are in a social situation:

  • The autonomous state —
    • People direct their own actions and take responsibility for the results of those actions.
  • The agentic state —
    • People allow others to direct their actions and then pass off the responsibility for the consequences to the person giving the orders. People act as agents for another person’s will.

This helps us think about Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves in the church.

Sheep are told to follow the leader:  the under-shepherd, pastor, priest, ordained minister, ordained elder in the institutional church.

  • Some of the ordained leaders are good under-shepherds of Christ.
  • Some  of them are wolves.
  • Some of them are blind and naive to the depths of undercover evil in institutional churches.

When sheep follow wolves or blind-naive leaders, the sheep will be tangled in thickets and the sheep may be chewed by wolves.

Sheep-like following of human leaders is risky. Obedience to human leaders is risky. Individual personal responsibility is never entirely erased.

But… Jesus has died for our sins so that all who come to faith in Jesus receive mercy and forgiveness.

The penalty for wrong doing has been laid on Jesus, so that all who come to faith in Him do not have to personally bear the penalty for their wrongdoing. Christ has borne it for them.

62 Comments

  1. This is an important comparison — thank you, Barbara. I remember when I first watched the Stanford and Milgram experiments in 2011 or 2012. They were shocking and eye-opening.

  2. Finding Answers

    From the original post “The Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Experiment have shown how quickly people can become abusive.”

    ^That.

    Rebecca commented (11TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 9:00 AM) “……I remember when I first watched the Stanford and Milgram experiments……”

    ^That.

    From the original post “This video summarises what happened in the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment…….”

    I watched the video and read the linked document (The Milgram Shock Experiment: “Obedience to Authority”) some time ago.

    ^That provided me with a picture in my mind for what a lifetime of abuse had done to me.

    Around the same time, the Holy Spirit led me to an actual picture of an individual whose face showed agony and horror FAR worse than that expressed in the well-known painting The Scream.

    I titled the actual picture of the individual (whose face showed agony and horror) The Silent Scream.

    The Silent Scream provided me with a picture in my mind for my experience of extreme abuse.

    In the same comment, Rebecca commented “….They were shocking and eye-opening.”

    ^That describes the pictures in my mind for my life.

    From the original post “The penalty for wrong doing has been laid on Jesus, so that all who come to faith in Him do not have to personally bear the penalty for their wrongdoing. Christ has borne it for them.”

    ^That is true, but the consequences of the extreme abuse done to me (an innocent infant and child) will remain with me for the rest of my earthly life.

    My eternal life is secure, but my remaining time on earth (from now until eternity) bears the scars of other humans’ sins.

    [Link to the painting The Scream has been added in this comment by Barb]

    • James

      Finding Answers you wrote –
      “That is true, but the consequences of the extreme abuse done to me (an innocent infant and child) will remain with me for the rest of my earthly life.

      My eternal life is secure, but my remaining time on earth (from now until eternity) bears the scars of other humans’ sins.

      Amen. Well said.

    • To Finding Answers,
      I am so glad that watching and reading Phillip Zimbardo’s video and The Milgram Shock Experiment: “Obedience to Authority” brought you insights that have helped your healing.

      • Finding Answers

        In my comment (11TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 10:55 AM), Barb added this text “[Link to the painting The Scream has been added in this comment by Barb]”

        Thank you for adding the link, Barb. 🙂

        Although I know more than one location where the actual picture of the individual I titled The Silent Scream is available, I am NOT (for obvious reasons 🙂 ) including a link.

        In the same comment of mine, I wrote “……the consequences of the extreme abuse done to me (an innocent infant and child) will remain with me for the rest of my earthly life.”

        I now trigger at unexpected times, in unexpected ways, to things I cannot explain to anyone.

        The title of the post “Submission to authority figures — the Milgram Experiment and Stanford Prison Experiment”

        Unfortunately for me, I am sometimes triggered by ANY kind of authority, even God. God knows my mind, my heart, and my soul, but even HE can unintentionally trigger memories embedded within me.

        Healing, communicating the truth, learning how to communicate so others can understand me, etc. is NOT a simple task for me.

        ^That, BTW, is NOT communicated from a personal pity party. I merely include the statement so the remainder of my comment can be understood.

        I can only imagine how tiring it might be for another (human) individual to communicate with me.

        For me, I am still struggling to understand / believe / etc. the same fatigue another (human) individual might experience when communicating with me does NOT apply to God.

    • Helovesme

      Finding Answers, ditto to James’s reply. I’m glad I saw his reply; I accidentally scrolled past those lines and James highlighted them for me!

      And once again, well said.

      I haven’t suffered the extreme abuse you have endured. For my own situations, I tell myself that I will be what I fully ought to be on the other side of eternity. When I see Grace face to face.

      For now, I surely aim to be what I ought to be in Him, through that grace which, while not visible, is just as alive as He is.

      But WHEN I do visibly see Him, the fullness of Him will leave nothing lacking in me.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (23RD FEBRUARY 2020 – 10:37 AM) “For now, I surely aim to be what I ought to be in Him, through that grace which, while not visible, is just as alive as He is.”

        ^That.

      • But WHEN I do visibly see Him, the fullness of Him will leave nothing lacking in me.

        Thank you for saying that, Helovesme. Your words blessed me and brought a smile to my face. 🙂

      • HeLovesMe

        Thanks so much for the kind words. I’ve had so many thoughts running through my head about this post; just haven’t been able to sit down and flush them out. The post is wonderful by the way. There were all sorts of one liners that packed so much in them. The mark of an excellent writer IMO. Using words wisely is way harder than it looks!

  3. James

    Barb, such a valuable post. If we think we are ‘good’ and wouldn’t harm another knowingly, we had better think again because some ‘wolf’ will soon enough take advantage of our own naivety and self deception.

    These experiments were carried out in the US at a time when Christianity, in terms of church attendance and social acceptability, was at its peak. So it worth considering that many of the participants would have been church-going Christians.

    What went wrong and why?

    Jesus taught “The Way”. So what is The Way? What are its principles? As Christians, are we taught the Way or are we being taught to obey?

    • Good questions James! Maybe you would like to try your hand at answering some of them. 🙂

      One thing that struck me about Zimbardo’s video was that the person who protested vehemently to Zimbardo about the harm the experiment was doing was a woman.

      It’s a while since I watched the video, but as I recall, all the other people involved in the experiment were men. A woman protested…and her protests persuaded Zimbardo to stop the experiment. That woman was Zimbardo’s research assistant, and later he married her. It doesn’t say much for Zimbardo’s character that someone else had to sternly point out to him how unethical the experiment was, and only then did he stop it.

      • James

        Barb, you would ask me that! I was hoping (and still do) that others would answer those questions! Anyway, long comment following.
        The question, “As Christians, are we taught the Way or are we being taught to obey?” is to an extent a rhetorical question. The example of Jesus is taught and preached, of course, but it is the nature of religions and churches to organise themselves along hierarchical principles and are thus power organisations. It is fundamental to a power organisation to require obedience. So obedience is taught in a hundred different ways often under the guise of obedience to Christ when it is actually obedience to a church authority.

        ‘What is The Way and what are its principles?’ These were genuine questions on my part. I was hoping for input from others to them.

        Since you have asked me specifically, Barb, I guess my short answer is the teachings of Jesus are best summarised by him in Matthew ch 5-7. You could write a book about those chapters, no doubt, and I guess many have been written. On the other hand, distilling those chapters down to a few principles would require quite a bit of work, I would think. Perhaps it has been done. I would love to know.

        We talked [here] about “Blessed are the meek” and touched on “Blessed are the peacemakers” and the principle of ‘loving your enemies’. But there is much more to them and others commented that they had not heard these principles or ‘Beatitudes’ talked about in the way that we did here. There are many other ‘beatitudes’ which I have not heard expounded upon in any meaningful way. But that might be just my experience.

        John Ch 8 is another essential teaching from Jesus, imho. The principle of truth and telling the truth are given a lot of weight. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed on him, if you continue in my words, then you are my disciples, and shall know the truth; and the truth shall make you free” (John Ch 8: 30-32 NMB)

        Certainly, in that chapter, the telling of lies is equated with belonging to the Kingdom of Darkness. Satan is described as being the Father of Lies. Truth telling cleaves the disciples of Jesus from the children of Satan. Equally, telling lies cleaves us from being disciples of Jesus.

        It is logically obvious that we cannot take lies with us into heaven. Therefore we have to leave them at the gate, so to speak. How do we do that? I think the only way is to face all those lies we have told ourselves and others – a very painful education – but healing and freedom is the result. I guess most people know someone who will not face some truth in their lives, no matter what; perhaps something that they have done.

        So, unfortunately, it wouldn’t surprise me if the task is beyond some people when they pass over, especially those who have perpetrated great evil. So, it might be best to start telling the truth here and now. Plus, we are set free of the chains that lies weigh us down with and keep us as slaves to passions and perpetrators to lesser and greater extents – “and the truth shall set you free”.

        And telling the truth is healing. One has to be discriminating as whom you tell personal histories to, of course. Being scrupulous with the truth in your daily speech can be quite a challenge but the reward is mental health. I have been severely abused and I know others who have had the same treatment. Those that have been meticulous and even brutal with themselves in being truthful have had real healing from the evil that has been perpetrated on them (complete healing as if the evil never happened is not going to come about in this life, of course). But . . . “the truth shall set you free”.

        Those that I know that have not been able to meet that challenge have struggled for many years to achieve any real progress towards healing.

        There is yet another benefit to being scrupulous with the truth in what you say (and this includes doing what you say) and that is that you more easily hear when others are lying to you or embellishing the truth or leaving out crucial information. You ‘hear’ it because you have been listening very closely to what you have been saying and observing all the little tricks you pull on yourself and others. So you recognise it in others.

        This becomes very useful in discerning whether an authority is a ‘shepherd’ or a ‘wolf’. The wolf will tell lies – like his father the devil.

        So I would say being scrupulous with the truth is one principle of The Way. Others I would add are the principle of Self Defence, the principle of Peacemaking and the principle of Loving your Enemies.

        But there is much more such as humility and what humility really is. I would really appreciate it if others would weigh in with their knowledge on this crucial subject.

        [link added to this comment by Barb]

      • “Jesus taught ‘The Way’. So what is The Way? What are its principles?”James asked these questions.

        Question 1. What is The Way?

        The Way is Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. And no one comes to the Father except by me.” (John 14:6)

        Mercy, forgiveness, cleansing, righteousness, eternal life, knowing and enjoying the love of God — these gifts are offered freely to all who repent of (turn from) their self-reliance/ self-fixing/ self-righteousness and put their trust and faith in Jesus for their salvation.

        “For if you acknowledge with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and believe with your heart that God raised him up from death, you will be safe.” (Romans 10:9)

        Question 2. What are the principles of The Way?

        our list so far:

        — Being scrupulous with the truth. The truth will set you free. Being scrupulous with the truth in your daily speech and actions can be quite a challenge, but the reward is mental health.
        — Self Defence
        — Peacemaking
        — Loving your Enemies

        I have the feeling I will be adding more principles to this list when I have given more thought to it.

        Thank you James for starting the ball rolling. 🙂

      • Finding Answers

        James commented (12TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 5:35 PM) “And telling the truth is healing……”

        Amen to ^That.

        In the same comment, James commented, “We talked about “Blessed are the meek” and touched on “Blessed are the peacemakers” and the principle of ‘loving your enemies’…..”

        ^That. (For new ACFJ readers, James is referring to some previously published ACFJ posts on these specific topics.)

        I would add to James’ list Barb’s series of posts on Blindness which have generated some excellent discussions on truth-telling, blindness (of many kinds), etc.

      • Finding Answers

        Adding on to my own comment (12TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 6:17 PM).

        From the original post “…..Jesus has died for our sins so that all who come to faith in Jesus receive mercy and forgiveness.”

        ^That.

        I commented: “(For new ACFJ readers, James is referring to ACFJ has some previously published ACFJ posts on these specific topics.)”

        (Strikethrough and the words “ACFJ has” added by me.)

  4. Verisimilitude commented on this at Twitter:

    • Finding Answers

      Barb commented (11TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 11:48 PM) “Verisimilitude commented on this at Twitter:”

      “I met Prof. Zimbardo a few years ago. He regrets the experiment.”

      Prof. Zimbardo regretted his experiment, and (for the most part), I TOTALLY agree with him.

      My ONLY disagreement with Prof. Zimbardo and his experiment is that the video of the experiment provided a picture in my mind for what a lifetime of abuse had done to me.

      From the original post “This helps us think about Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves in the church.”

      ^That.

      James commented (11TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 8:29 PM) “……..As Christians, are we taught the Way or are we being taught to obey?”

      For me, I obey the Holy Spirit from love.

      For me, the Holy Spirit does not “drive” me “with a whip”.

      ^That does NOT mean I follow the Holy Spirit blindly. I ask Him a LOT of questions. 🙂

      Fortunately for me, the Holy Spirit is gracious and kind, answering MOST of my questions. Some of my questions cannot or will not be answered because I am human and He is God.

      ^That (to a small degree) helps me understand the struggles of various individuals in the Bible.

      From the original post “Many people behave unethically when they are instructed to do so by what they perceive as a legitimate authority figure.”

      ^That.

      From the original post “…..Jesus has died for our sins so that all who come to faith in Jesus receive mercy and forgiveness.”

      ^That.

      • Finding Answers

        An add-on to my above comment (12TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 11:00 AM)

        I wrote: For me, I obey the Holy Spirit from love.

        ^That indicates I am following Authority.

        I wrote: For me, the Holy Spirit does not “drive” me “with a whip”.

        If I am driven by a literal whip or figurative “whip”, I would be following “authority”.

  5. Not Too Late

    I am afraid that my pastors/ministers/leaders created a culture that reinforced and rewarded obedience to authority. They may have preached that we shouldn’t blindly follow leaders, but they certainly strongly emphasized the importance of obeying leaders. I didn’t ever hear many ministers emphasizing the importance of questioning and thinking critically.

    I read that the Milgram experiment has been repeated in many different settings over the years, with similar results. I wonder how different the results would be if all the participants were evangelical Christians, and the leader in the experiment a pastor? Would even fewer people object and refuse to obey, and only at higher levels of shock?

    • Thank you Not Too Late for this comment!

      If the Milgram experiment had been repeated with a pastor as the authority figure, and evangelical christians as the participants, would even fewer participants object and refuse to obey, and only at higher levels of shock?

      Good question!

      If the authority figure was a famous & respected pastor in evangelical circles, my guess is that fewer participants would have refused to obey.

      If the authority figure spun some story about how the electric shocks were being given to discipline people who had “brought the church into disrepute” because they’d questioned corrupt pastors and exposed corruption in the institutional church, my guess is that the participants would have obeyed even more readily.

  6. Finding Answers

    I wrote (13TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 11:40 AM): “Healing, communicating the truth, learning how to communicate so others can understand me, etc. is NOT a simple task for me.”

    ^That.

    Plus a lifetime of abuse, including extreme abuse starting the day I was born. (Omitting details for my protection.)

    Plus a lifetime of (potential) dreams.

    Barb commented (11TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 9:36 PM) “One thing that struck me about Zimbardo’s video was that the person who protested vehemently to Zimbardo about the harm the experiment was doing……”

    ^That.

    As an Asperger Christian who follows the leading of the Holy Spirit (Authority), I felt (in the emotional sense) like an experiment, constantly changing how I communicate with other (human) individuals, and struggling to find the words I needed to communicate with them.

    Barb commented (13TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 1:49 AM) “….Being scrupulous with the truth. The truth will set you free….”

    For me, ^That meant confronting myself and telling myself a painful truth. Another (potential) dream for me would never come true.

    The death of dreams is excruciatingly painful, but when Authority (the Holy Spirit) tells me the dreams were only potential dreams for me, I grieve even as I place the newest (potential) dream in the bin.

    Now the Holy Spirit has a blank page on which to communicate. I need to wait until He (the Holy Spirit, Authority) provides me with the words I need to understand my next step.

    Patience is NOT one of my virtues. 🙂

    • I’ve been letting go of some dreams myself. It is a painful and delicate process.

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment (15TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 1:02 PM).

      I wrote: “As an Asperger Christian who follows the leading of the Holy Spirit (Authority), I felt (in the emotional sense) like an experiment, constantly changing how I communicate with other (human) individuals, and struggling to find the words I needed to communicate with them.”

      ^That.

      I also wrote: “The death of dreams is excruciatingly painful, but when Authority (the Holy Spirit) tells me the dreams were only potential dreams for me, I grieve even as I place the newest (potential) dream in the bin.”

      ^That.

      I also wrote: “Now the Holy Spirit has a blank page on which to communicate……”

      ^That.

      With each potential dream, I have learned a new “language”, acting as an interface / translator / bridge / interpreter / advocate between different individuals / groups / etc. (Omitting details for my protection.)

      I repeat what I have communicated MANY times, elsewhere and in comments on the ACFJ blog. I am a jack-of-all-trades.

      As a jack-of-all-trades, I communicate in the language(s) needed at any given time.

      For me, however, I must maintain my own language or I become someone other than me.

      My “languages” may change, but my identity as a child of God remains the same.

      • Finding Answers said:

        “I must maintain my own language or I become someone other than me. My ‘languages’ may change, but my identity as a child of God remains the same.”

        I think these words by Finding Answers will find an echo in the heart of every genuine Christian.

        In the last few months I have been reviewing my relationship with a member of my family whom I have known since childhood. As a result of this review, I have decided to respond and interact with that person in a more guarded way, a way that will better protect me .

        Finding Answers words perfectly express my new stance:
        I must maintain my own language or I become someone other than me.

        I am often conveying my new stance in body language without using words. I’m sometimes using words; but more often I am using body language, gaze, facial expressions. And I’m more often standing back…being silent and present…observant. Not showing my cards. Not laying my heart open so it can be stabbed or mocked. This tips the dynamics.

        The person is aware of my new stance. The person senses that I am no longer a pushover —— no longer someone to be crushed, disparaged, disrespected, ordered around.

  7. Karen

    “I am often conveying my new stance in body language without using words. I’m sometimes using words; but more often I am using body language, gaze, facial expressions. And I’m more often standing back…being silent and present…observant. Not showing my cards. Not laying my heart open so it can be stabbed or mocked. This tips the dynamics.”
    [ quote from comment by Barbara]

    Well stated and articulated Barbara, and actually Biblically inspiring for those who have been abused by a spouse, family member, religious leader, co-worker, boss, etc. The scripture verse that came to mind in reading your personal testimony bear witness to your experience, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

    As Bereans in our modern day, each one of us who are children of Christ Jesus, must test everything against the teachings of our Great Teacher, Jesus, for His Way is the final Way to eternal life with Him. Our personal “springs of life” do not originate with any human being, man or woman, here on this earth, but with Christ only, thus we must always be on guard with those who secretly seek to maim, kill, and destroy the Power of the Holy Spirit that lives gloriously inside of us. Wicked and evil people will seek diligently to “dry up those springs of life,” leaving their targets parched and barren, without the glorious life that our LORD breathed into us from the very beginning. These individuals are abundant…..on religious blogs and forums, in the churches, in the workplace, in educational systems, in the political/governmental arena, in philanthropic organizations, and even in the most important and basic social institution that our LORD created, the family; every social sector has its share of wolves in sheep’s clothing whose motives are carefully and cunningly disguised “as good” to the rest of the world.

    But those who test the spirits through prayer, study, and relying upon His Spirit, will see the obvious truth and will diligently seek to guard their own hearts and springs of life. And at times, when the appropriate opportunity presents itself, the discerning will warn others of the impending danger with that dysfunctional person, family, organization, church, or any other social institution —— giving the warning takes courage, fortitude, and skill, because there is a genuine concern for that person’s soul. Those individuals are rare, very rare, as there are consequences for doing good in this world as well, giving the glory to our LORD, instead of the human self.

    The concept of “authority” in and of itself, has been wielded like a sword into blatant idolatry, worldwide. Thus the words of Jesus, “all authority belongs to Me,” have been replaced with a humanistic system that desperately tries to mimic a christ-life figure, and yet, fails desperately due to the fact that it secretly seeks to dry up individuals’ springs of life and critical thinking skills in seeking truth in every area of this earthly life.

    What happened to Jesus when He did not bow down to human authority, especially pertaining to visible, earthly religion, where the religious leaders love to lord it over others? Have the “times” really changed that much?

    • Thank you for your thoughtful and well articulated comment, Karen 🙂

      I hadn’t thought of Proverbs 4:23 applying to my change of stance with my family member, so especially I want to thank you for that insight.

      “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.”

  8. Finding Answers

    I have been pondering some thoughts generated by the original post, the embedded Phillip Zimbardo video, and the linked Obedience to Authority document.

    Consider Ernest Hemingway. Almost everyone thought Ernest Hemingway was paranoid because he (Ernest Hemingway) kept communicating that he (Ernest Hemingway) believed he (Ernest Hemingway) was being followed (etc.). Many years later, documents were released to the public proving Ernest Hemingway HAD been followed (etc.).

    Consider individuals with PTSD, C-PTSD, and other “labels” who are constantly on alert, their (the individual’s) nervous system hyper-vigilant (at any given time, for any number of reasons). In a multi-story building made of concrete or cement (I can never remember the proper distinction between the two materials 🙂 ), sound is transmitted over long distances through the building material itself. The sound can be difficult to identify in terms of a) where the sound MIGHT have originated, and b) what MIGHT have caused the original sound.

    Consider individuals who are physically ill. Some symptoms are readily identifiable (fever, bleeding, blisters, etc.), although the actual cause of the symptom MAY be difficult or impossible to accurately pinpoint.

    Consider individuals who respond adversely (for any number of reasons, in any number of ways) to medications, nutritional supplements, standard and / or specialized medical tests, etc.. And consider that oftentimes the adverse responses are not understood as adverse responses due to a lack of accurate information (for any number of reasons) by any or all of the individuals involved.

    These are just a few of my thoughts, condensed from decades of experience / research / advocating / etc. pertaining to how each individual is uniquely individual.

    I think about ALL the individuals involved in the experiments discussed in the original post, as well as the individuals involved in other experiments / “experiments” done for the greater good / “the greater good”.

    I think about the difference between Authority (God) / authority / “authority”.

    I think about the difference between submission (obedience) to Authority (God) / authority / “authority”.

    I think of individuals who THINK they know or have the truth.

    Even with the only-partial list of variables noted above, one can understand the complexity in determining the consequences from “the consequences”.

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment (18TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 11:42 AM).

      I wrote: “Even with the only-partial list of variables noted above, one can understand the complexity in determining the consequences from “the consequences”.”

      ^That.

      To condense my comment in terms of how my mind works (and many other individuals’ minds work, though for (potentially) different reasons then mine).

      Not everyone learns the Bible solely by reading it (the Bible) themselves, hearing / reading / etc. exegetical sermons / documents / etc., (etc.).

      Not everyone can memorize / prooftext / “prooftext” Scripture.

      I learn through the leading of the Holy Spirit. He (the Holy Spirit) leads me to the specific information I need in His time (not mine, very big sigh 🙂 ).

      The Holy Spirit helps me connect the dots, convicting me when He (the Holy Spirit) tells me I have something I need to face (and repent, etc.).

      The Holy Spirit helps me connect the dots, telling me when I am being falsely condemned by other individuals / institutions / etc..

      When the Holy Spirit convicts me, I MAY face some temporal consequences. If, however, I repent (etc.), I do NOT face hell (in the eternal sense).

      When man (men or women) condemn me, I MAY face some temporal consequences / “consequences”, and some of those consequences / “consequences” can be likened to living in hell in the temporal (earthly) sense.

      The consequences / “consequences” of sin / “sin” depend on whether or not one chooses Life / life / “life” or death / “death”.

      Barb asked (13TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 1:49 AM) “Question 1. What is The Way?” and provided more details to answer her (Barb’s) own question.

      Providing my own (personal) details to my own (personal) understanding about Jesus Christ as The Way, The Truth, and The Life would NOT fit in a blog post. 🙂

  9. Helovesme

    On another post, I spoke of Bill Gates giving away a lot of money via charity and how that can be, even should be admirable. Barb very graciously pointed out some errors in my thinking and wording. I looked back at my comment and realized I could have phrased it a lot better to express my ideas.

    Then I gave it more thought. Perhaps without meaning to, I was looking for a “hero” in someone LIKE Bill Gates. A lot of pain and suffering in the world, and here comes a person with the means to “do” something about it.

    I don’t know if this is true for ALL children, but I think a lot of us can relate to looking for a “hero” to either emulate or idolize. And it starts when we are young.

    For me, most of who or what I admired were fictional characters in books or movies or TV shows. They weren’t necessarily real people. Superheros or well-written characters that contained everything I wanted to be, or wished I could be. Since real people often played these characters, it was easy to confuse the two. So the fictional characters had a real face to them, but again, I saw them as one and the same.

    Lead me to the life that I want, or lead me to the world that I want to live in: NOT the life that I am currently living, and NOT the world that I DO live in. The persons I looked up to were everything that I was NOT: popular, pretty and most of all—confident, independent, and seemingly invincible. They always overcame whatever came against them, somehow. They had the power to fight crime or evil in whatever ways it was displayed, and dang if I didn’t want some of that for myself.

    When you are abused, you don’t have any power. It is all taken away from you. Especially as a child, when you are particularly helpless. Adults controlled the world. Do children EVER really get their “day in court” in an adult controlled environment like the justice system? My only hope was someone that could work OUTSIDE of that system—-hence a fantastical hero that doesn’t really exist, but in my mind—that was all I had to keep me sane, and comforted.

    Imagine an image of Prince Charming in our heads, and I simply looked for a person that I could “slap” that image onto. I need a hero and this person MUST fit the bill (cue in Bonnie Tyler’s famous song lyrics. “Holding out for a hero” is more than just an idea).

    My father was my abuser. He was no hero, realistic or otherwise. But I could not bear with not having the father I was so desperate for. My father never sexually abused me, but his treatment of me caused me to confuse parental love with romantic love. So I often wanted a father figure in a romantic one. Picture Prince Charming and the all-American father rolled into one.

    Husbands AND fathers seemed to have potential to demand total submission. My mom seemed to fall into this category with both her own father and husband. That played into my warped fantasies as well.

    The submission factor worked both ways: this person HAD to fit my unrealistic image, and I would therefore submit to him. I HAD to fit THEIR unrealistic image of a unquestioning submissive person, and then they would be the person I had an unrealistic image of.

    Someway, somehow—this all got defined as love in my very twisted mind. Rebellion seemed to be the absolute no-no in being loved. It supposedly led to my being abused, which led to me never being loved.

    From the original post: “The results showed the willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths of cruelty, on the command of an authority figure.”

    A lot of my childhood, child-like fantasies got carried into my adulthood. Obviously, when one is born again in Him, you rightly must give up any and all idolatry. I aimed for that, but after many years, I realized that I was still clinging to way more of those fantasies than I realized.

    I can’t stress the fear factor enough, when it comes to looking BACK at how far I was willing to go, how scared I was to speak up—-to maintain a false hope that being obedient to either authority figures, or being obedient to people who seemed godly, would lead to being loved. I was willing to let THEM treat me in horrible ways, and I noticed that I too was being expected to treat others horribly, either actively or passively, as they would have it.

    James’s comment was so awesome: “As Christians, are we taught the Way or are we being taught to obey?” And the digging that followed left me with SO much to ponder. I wanted to reply to that part first, but I thought it might be better to explain my LACK of following Him as the Way, and describing MY ways instead (all leading to death), and how they played into a wrong and wretched view of my personal experiences falsely labeled as “Biblical submission.” Or, a description of a so-called healthy relational system that only made me sicker as a result.

    It wasn’t about what I falsely trusted IN (aka my own ideas of people to look up to). It was also tied into a desperate need to trust someone, ANYONE, with my real deal needs.

    I had an “idol” in my mind that I trusted in, but I WAS looking for an actual human being to trust. Problem is, I didn’t just not know WHO to trust, I didn’t know HOW to trust. How far is too far, and how far isn’t far enough? I also did not know how to discern when someone wanted to earn my loyalty in order to love me, or in order to exploit me.

    Yes, I was vulnerable, but bear in mind—the exploitation factor was slow and steady, and I was conditioned to be afraid. People could pick up on that easily, and if fear already exists in you, fanning those flames isn’t as hard as one might think. A fear of never being loved was the foundation of my ugly fantasy world. People can SEE that, when you wear you heart on your sleeve as I did. They used my sincere desires to entrap me into THEIR fear-driven fantasy worlds (if people fear me, they will obey me. That is my version of “love.”)

    How we as Christians treat each other is the mark of who we truly trust in—Christ Himself. The hammer that finally shattered that fear-based fantasy world was none other than Christ Himself. I looked at Him and He looked at me—-and I saw a glimpse of what He was seeing in me all along:

    Do ANY of these persons surrounding you remind you of Me?
    If not, then why are you submitting to them as if they DO remind you of Me?
    If SO, Is this really who you think I am? Do you really think I am like that?

    We can say we follow Him and Him alone, but the Bible is clear that those we keep company with says a lot about us. They influence us in powerful ways. I did my best and am still doing my best to say some of the hardest words:

    These are not the Christ-like persons that I will either take orders from, or take on their characteristics. I now see their lies, their deceptions and their absolute abandonment of Christ’s righteousness in favor of their own.

    I finally labeled what I saw as what I could not bear to see for so long: their ways are cold, cruel and callous. I see no repentance and no fear of the Living God. Instead, they look to be feared as if they ARE Him.

    If you’re like me, God WAS like this in my mind for a LONG time. Fearing Him kept you in line, so I transferred that to fearing those that claimed to follow Him as well. It put me in a bind, of course, but isn’t that what fearing Him is all about?

    But once He reveals Himself to you, however, you will experience the FREEDOM of fearing Him.

    Yes, I mean freedom. Fearing Him drew me closer to Him, because I saw that is not only worthy to fear, but safe to fear. He calibrated my conscience to line up to Him, when previously—-my conscience was a hot mess.

    There was an episode of Star Trek TNG that has always stayed with me. The entire crew had their memories erased, and an evil alien programmed their computer to give them a false mission that would lead to killing innocent lives.

    But the Captain refused to carry it out, due to his conscience being untouched and therefore unchanged. There was something in him that refused to submit to orders that as far as he knew, were rock solid and therefore non negotiable. As a result, that evil alien was exposed for who he really was. If the Captain hadn’t listened to his conscience, that alien likely would have remained unexposed, and a lot of people would have died as well.

    Don’t forget that Starfleet is all about duty, honor and fierce loyalty and submission to the principles of the Federation. But as this post made clear: “Sheep-like following of human leaders is risky. Obedience to human leaders is risky. Individual personal responsibility is never entirely erased.”

    Watching Star Trek “Insurrection” years ago reinforced this. It’s never wrong to fight for what is right, even when you must disobey those you are sworn to obey.

    You pay a price when you stand up for, stand in and stand WITH His righteousness. I have paid dearly, but the alternative was unacceptable. Not worth any price.

    And yes, I realize the irony of using fictional examples to illustrate the wrongness of my OWN my fictional world. 🙂

    • Gany T.

      Helovesme – So many points to ponder in your comment (27TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 12:39 PM), but all I have time to say now is thank you for taking the time to share them.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you so much.

        I’d love to share more when I can. Submission, through NO fault of the Word itself, often feels like a “trigger” word to those that have experienced and therefore equate it as form of slavery.

        I believe God had no intention of that ever happening. It would be nice to aim to restore it to its beautiful, original intent. Posts like these are a good start. 🙂

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (27TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 12:39 PM) “You pay a price when you stand up for, stand in and stand WITH His righteousness. I have paid dearly, but the alternative was unacceptable. Not worth any price.”

      Amen to ^That.

      • Finding Answers

        Adding on to my own comment….

        Excerpt from the title of the post “Submission to authority figures…….”

        I have been thinking about the original post and the comments it (the original post) generated for ways to simplify and condense many of the concepts discussed.

        People are told (paraphrasing): Watch for the fruits of the (Holy) Spirit.

        ^That sentence is usually actually communicated (paraphrasing, and intentionally using the uppercase “S” to start the word “Spirit”): Watch for the fruits of the Spirit.

        Some individuals would communicate (paraphrasing, and intentionally using the lowercase “s” to start the word “spirit”): Watch for the fruits of the spirit.

        Another way of communicating all ^That could be as follows:

        Sometimes (the Triune) God is in the details.

        Sometimes Satan is in the details.

        Sometimes it can be difficult to discern the difference between WHO is in the details: Is it (the Triune) God? Or Is it Satan?

        And sometimes, to quote (the source of which appears to be under question): “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” 🙂

  10. Finding Answers

    Gany T. commented (28TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 10:06 AM) “Helovesme – So many points to ponder in your comment (27TH FEBRUARY 2020 – 12:39 PM),…… “

    ^That.

    In the comment by Helovesme (referenced by Gany T.), Helovesme commented “Do ANY of these persons surrounding you remind you of Me?”

    ^That.

  11. Helovesme

    When I was in school, we were taught about the “topic sentence” of a paragraph. It was meant to state the topic in a clear, direct way.

    Barb is an excellent writer partially for those reasons. Here is how she kicked this post off:

    “Many people behave unethically when they are instructed to do so by what they perceive as a legitimate authority figure.”

    It is installed within children nearly right away that the adults are in charge, and they have the authority to tell you what to do. It is not only their right, but their responsibility. So while a child may not like being told what to do, or WHAT they are told to do—they are told to trust that the adults are simply doing what THEY are told to do: taking care of those they are in charge of.

    So from parents, teachers, coaches, older siblings or other family members, religious figures, it seems like children are expected to not only be obedient, but possibly obedient to a fair amount of persons—all in the name of: they’re trying to do what is right and best for you.

    If those in charge of you were pleased with you, it will likely go well with you. So it not just about obedience, it is being obedient in ways that are visible, and therefore noticed. Example: your teacher raves to your parents as to what a joy it is to teach you. You stand out, you went above and beyond—-and it showed. Your parents come home with big smiles on their faces as they tell you, the child, that they are so proud of you.

    If your parents are religious, they might install in you that children that please human authority are therefore pleasing to God Himself.

    For adults, ironically—this may not be much different. The pressure can still be plenty thick. An abused spouse might testify that the expectation to please her abusive husband was on par with pleasing God—-and she felt trapped as a result.

    My personal experience DID tie to pleasing authority so that they’d approve of me, so that I could somehow make my way through the world. It was a matter of survival as well. Displeased authority figures had the power to make your life plenty miserable—and as a child, it’s not like you had other options in order to escape, or tell your side of things.

    It’s not hard to make the leap to how abused children AND spouses are led to keep quiet as a result.

    There is NO doubt that Christ understood this struggle as evidenced from Matthew 23:1-3:

    Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

    Looking at this passage might lead some to think that Christ is contradicting Himself, or is sending mixed messages! But those are deceptive practices, and He is nothing of the sort.

    ‘Do what they tell you to do, but don’t do what they do?’ —— I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t figured this out in its totality. All I know is that there is NO commandment given that mandates absolute obedience to any human authority.

    Not only that, it challenges us to scrutinize our authority figures. Jesus’ following description of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 is clear, direct and detailed. And it’s all ugly. It is not a sin to see our authority figures as they really are.

    Jesus said that when the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. The Pharisees, blinded by their own self-righteousness, are still in charge. But by no means do we have to be blind ourselves. We are commanded to respect their authority, but NOT commanded to never refuse their authority.

    From the original post: “The results showed the willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths of cruelty, on the command of an authority figure.”

    We want the approval of authority figures. We may even idolize them and the drive for their approval compromises our moral compass.

    So we follow their commands even to the point of cruelty, going to certain lengths that we never thought we were capable of.

    From the original post:
    “The agentic state ——
    People allow others to direct their actions and then pass off the responsibility for the consequences to the person giving the orders. People act as agents for another person’s will.”

    So yes, our cruel actions were dictated AND directed by someone who had the power to do so. But we take it a step further. They’re not only responsible for the actions of abusing their authority, they’re responsible for the actions of those who followed their abusive commands.

    I’ve had adults distance themselves from me based on a misled, misguided form of loyalty to those they looked up to as authority figures. The cruelty of this cannot be minimized. Worst yet, I understood their positions. Adults are no longer children, but the drive installed in them as children may never have completely gone away.

    In fact, it might manifest itself even more. As an adult, you’re not as helpless as you were as a child. We can easily say you’re accountable in a way that didn’t apply as a child, when you were not completely physically and mentally developed.

    I remember wanting to respect that drive to NOT displease those they looked up to and claimed to love as well. But I didn’t appreciate their blind obedience and refusal to think for themselves. I also had the feeling they were “hiding” behind their authority figures in order to escape personal responsibility. Also, I was mortified that their ideas of love and loyalty were so fear-based and conditional. Was I really deserving of such levels of cruelty, or did no one even bother to even consider otherwise?

    In a nutshell, who is IN authority, and those they are in authority over, are one in the same. They are one combined entity. If the authority figure is cruel, they choose to be cruel as well. If the authority figure shuns someone, they choose to do the same. Separate individuals joined in such a way that I couldn’t distinguish their individual responsibilities.

    It led me to such depths of frustration — when people are like pieces of cloth, cut from the same kind of fabric and joined together to make one big quilt. A clever seamstress can make it so that you can’t see the stitching, where all the patches are joined together. And that big blanket is capable of giving a shivering person a great deal of warmth. OR, it can be capable of wrapping itself around that shivering person like a mummy —- smothering them.

    I concluded that while authority figures who are blind themselves, have the ability to strongly affect the vision of those they are in charge over —- we don’t HAVE to be or become blind like them. It’s not inevitable. Abuse creates a strong fog, yes, that feels blinding. But it’s not as if we are actually blind. We just can’t see properly. That is where Christ comes in.

    I trusted so many people that weren’t trustworthy, but I submitted to them, thinking that they were, not knowing that they weren’t and not seeing them as they really were. I was deceived for a long time, which meant I wasn’t seeing properly. Darkness has a way of doing that.

    In Christ, you escape the kingdom of darkness. You do not convert it into the kingdom of light. That is not going to happen; that is not your job.

    You are also not going to “change the world” so that it stops being what the Bible say it is and always will be. You escape the spirit of the world by refusing to submit to its control and corruption. And you pray for the ones still under its power. I have never forgotten the horrors of being trapped in its terrible clutches.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (2ND MARCH 2020 – 12:18 PM) “…..concluded that while authority figures who are blind themselves, have the ability to strongly affect the vision of those they are in charge over—-we don’t HAVE to be or become blind like them. It’s not inevitable. Abuse creates a strong fog, yes, that feels blinding. But it’s not as if we are actually blind. We just can’t see properly. That is where Christ comes in.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented, “You are also not going to “change the world” so that it stops being what the Bible say it is and always will be. You escape the spirit of the world by refusing to submit to its control and corruption. And you pray for the ones still under its power. I have never forgotten the horrors of being trapped in its terrible clutches.”

      ^That.

    • James

      So many good points, Helovesme!

      Yes, way too often we are praised for being “Good” the way a dog is praised for being “Good”; when we do what we are told. “Bad ” is when we do not do as we are told.

      But this is not the definition of “Good and Bad”.

      “Good” is all the things that promote life, love and creativity.
      “Bad” is all the things that destroy life, love and creativity.

      Jesus never used nor advocated coercion. Coercion kills life, life and creativity. He gave warnings sometimes but his advice was freely given for you to take up or not as you pleased. It is still so.

      • James

        Helovesme, I decided to split this reply up in case I lost it in taking too long to write it!.
        You wrote –

        “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matthew 23:1)

        Looking at this verse might lead some to think that Christ is contradicting Himself, or is sending mixed messages! But those are deceptive practices, and He is nothing of the sort: Do what they tell you to do, but don’t do what they do?

        I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t figured this verse out in its totality. All I know is that there is NO commandment given that mandates absolute obedience to any human authority.

        Not only that, it challenges us to scrutinize our authority figures. Jesus’s following description of the Pharisees is clear, direct and detailed. And it’s all ugly. It is not a sin to see our authority figures as they really are.”

        The way I read this is that Jesus is saying that the scriptures have the authority, not the Pharisees. He would have been talking to a largely illiterate audience so they were dependent on the priests to tell them what was in the scriptures.

        Today, we can read them for ourselves and the authority is still in the scriptures and not in the priests and pastors. This was the very thing that the Catholic Church got so wrong and what the Protestant reformers were adamant about.

        Unfortunately, even though the Bible is available to read these days, too many of the reformers’ successors fall back into the trap that the Pharisees and the Catholic hierarchy fell into. That is, usurping the authority of the scriptures for themselves, using emotional and social coercion and proclaiming “Good and Bad” are determined by your willingness to do what they say.

      • Finding Answers

        James commented (3RD MARCH 2020 – 6:59 PM) ““Good” is all the things that promote life, love and creativity. “Bad” is all the things that destroy life, love and creativity.”

        ^That.

    • Thanks Helovesme for your great comment! 🙂 You quoted Matthew 23:1-3 in your comment:

      Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

      Here is another translation of that passage:—–

      Then Jesus spoke to the people and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. All therefore that they bid you to observe, that observe and do. But do not follow their works. For they say, but do not do.
      (Matt 23, NMB — New Matthew Bible)

      I think Jesus was telling his listeners:
      “Do what Moses told you to do. Do it because the laws and precepts that God (through His prophet Moses) gave are good. Those laws and precepts guide fallen human beings how to guard and direct their thoughts, their feelings and their behaviours, so that they can socially live together in this world without egregiously harming or hurting each other. Those laws and precepts which God gave through Moses are designed for the common good of fallen-human-society. The welfare of all human beings who seek good, all who try to obey their conscience, all who resist doing wrong, would be protected and enhanced if those laws and precepts were obeyed.

      By endorsing the teachings of Moses –– the Mosaic teachings which the scribes and Pharisees spoke/read/relayed to the people in the synagogues when the scriptures were read aloud on sabbath days –– Jesus was not only reminding the people of the laws and precepts of Moses, he was reminding them about the warnings and prophecies which Moses gave.

      Moses warned and prophesied that the people of God would not follow God’s laws and precepts —— and they would reap serious consequences when they chose not to follow those laws and precepts.

      Moses prophesied that another prophet greater than Moses would come, and the people of God must listen to Him.

      “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.”
      Deuteronomy 18:15 (HCSB)

      Moses also reminded the people that they had begged not to hear the voice of God thundering from Mount Sinai:

      “This is what you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not continue to hear the voice of the Lord our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!’ Then the Lord said to me [i.e. the Lord said to Moses], ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to My words that he speaks in My name.”
      (Deuteronomy 18:16-19, HCSB bold emphasis mine)

      What I put in bold is a warning for all time: Whoever does not listen to Jesus’ words, whoever casts off Jesus’ words, will be held accountable. We see this clearly confirmed in the last chapter of the final book of the New Testament:

      Blessed are those who do his commandments, so that their power may be in the tree of life, and they may enter in through the gates into the city. For outside [eternally separated from God] shall be dogs, and enchanters, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves or makes lies.
      (Revelation 22:14-15, NMB)

      • Helovesme

        That was beautiful, Barb, especially this part:

        “Jesus was not only reminding the people of the laws and precepts of Moses, he was reminding them about the warnings and prophecies which Moses gave.”

        Early in my walk with Him, I was blown away by how often His coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. All the way to Moses’s time! That verse you brought up in particular was one of the strongest ones I recall.

        And James’s replies included:

        “He would have been talking to a largely illiterate audience so they were dependent on the priests to tell them what was in the scriptures.”

        I needed that reminder! We take the ability to read for granted in this day and age. But education was not a surefire statute in His day. AND even in this day, education is not the typical rite of passage that we are used to expecting.

        However, we can read the Word and still completely miss the mark, if it is not read properly and with Biblical discernment that only the Holy Spirit can give. I am personally wary of anyone who solely relies on Biblical instruction from a so-called, uniquely “anointed” pastor or preacher or teacher. I am very thankful for Pastor Sam’s insights but no way do I automatically think of them as Biblical just because he says so.

        Again, I didn’t watch the video so I apologize for mere speculation. I CAN offer a short movie that paralleled the video that I watched in high school called “The Wave.” It was also an experiment type thing. It was a true story but not sure how embellished it was in the fictional version. So I’ll just articulate what I recall:

        Students in a history class were genuinely puzzled as to how Germany could have fallen for and followed a heinous dictator like Hitler. The teacher found a way to demonstrate this in well, not the healthiest way by putting them in the position of the German people.

        I don’t recall exactly HOW he set it up, but he propelled and projected a group dynamic with his students that seemed to promote a positive form of unity. It was very inclusive at first. One male student in particular really went for it, because he was an outsider and finally felt like he belonged. He went above and beyond to help his teacher in order to solidify his place AND thank his teacher for finally giving him a sense of real worth among his peers.

        Two of the students seemed to see that something was wrong, or not quite right and tried to protest. It got to the point where their classmates, who were thought of as friends, did nothing as they were eventually dragged out of the room. I recall one of those so called friends standing up afterwards and suggesting they all wear the color “blue” to project their pride. And not kidding, they had even come up with a sort of “salute” to signify their unity.

        In a dramatic flourish, the teacher ends up saying: do you want to know who your leader is? A big image of Hitler making a speech came on behind him and he said: there is your leader.

        The young male student was in a fit of tears afterwards. I wasn’t sure if he was ashamed of what he had become in order to fit in, OR because he knew it was all over for him. He would go back to being sidelined as before. Maybe both.

        Those that were inflicted with cruelty likely suffered real trauma after the experiment. But I also wonder how those adults who inflicted that cruelty on them, due to perceived “legitimate” orders given, processed the aftermath. Did they see themselves as they really were, or did they blame a very unethical, albeit authority figure, who started the whole thing in the first place?

        It’s fair to wonder. There is always an aftermath to deal with, unless you have left this earth as a result of whatever you were put through.

  12. Helovesme

    From the original post: “If you have suffered abuse, whether it be emotional, spiritual, psychological, physical or sexual abuse, you might be asking “How can someone be so cruel?”

    In a courtroom setting, when the accused is found guilty of heinous crimes—-it’s probably not unusual to hear that person labeled as a monster. There is no other way to describe someone so guilty of such atrocities, right?

    For me, WRONG. That person is not a monster. He or she is a human being who is guilty of monstrous behaviors. There is a difference. It makes all the difference. I’ll explain why.

    Barb has been wonderful at reminding us of the Bible’s warnings about wolves in sheep’s clothing, false shepherds, predators whose only aim is to prey on the innocent. There are those whose conscience is seared, or is evil, or is permanently broken. They have no interest in repentance, as evidenced by their evil fruits.

    Such persons may have lived their lives as IF they have no soul, no hint of humanity—but make no mistake. They are human beings who have inflicted heinous crimes on other human beings with no sense of guilt or remorse. Barb has written about the very small percentage of abusers that repent and change. She’s offered wisdom that a predator should be treated like one. Once they have conformed to a wolf lifestyle, they are usually 100% committed to it. All that is waiting for them is eternal damnation.

    For a victim, whether or not they received justice in an earthly courtroom, it’s imperative for them to believe that God will absolutely execute justice on their behalf.

    God doesn’t hold actual wolves accountable for stalking, preying on and consuming their prey. He WILL hold human beings that He made in His image accountable, but chose the devil as their father, not Him—-and therefore lived to steal, kill and destroy.

    Wolves don’t have a soul, and they don’t have a conscience. God designed them as such, so that is understandable. But He designed humans to have both of those things. When He looks at abusers, He sees that they are lacking something that He DID design them to have. Their souls are black and evil, and their conscience is either seared or evil.

    I had a hard time (and still do) trying to understand how my abuser could be so cruel. It was easy to see him as a monster, because I saw no real hint of a soul or conscience. He seemed nearly unmoved by his cruelty towards me. Now I try to undo what I perceived then, with what the Bible tells me to perceive.

    My abuser did not lack emotions; he just lacked the kind of emotions that I looked for and assumed a human being (especially a parent) should have: love, kindness, compassion, gentleness. Things that build others up. Things that I thought came naturally, especially for a parent. Worst yet, I expected these emotions from him.

    My abuser, I now realize, WAS very emotional, but in all the ways that tear others down. Things that come more naturally than I realized, parent or not: angry, prideful, hateful, impatient, fearful and vindictive. Worst yet, I did not expect those emotions from him.

    So I think we mistakenly label abusers as “monsters” as a way to explain away what we cannot understand. How can someone be so cruel? Well, their humanity must have been compromised or cauterized to the point where they have “converted” into soulless monsters.

    I’ve not only asked: how can abusers be so cruel, but also: how can people ADD to that cruelty by blaming their victims? It is either Barb or a commenter who labeled this as “secondary abuse,” which is almost as bad, if not worse, than the actual abuse.

    Therein might lay just one clue as to why victims are so easily blamed: someway, somehow, your lack of submission to your abuser (a father or a husband), created or contributed to him becoming a monster. In my case, I was certainly blamed for pushing his buttons or provoking his wrath: I caused him to suppress his love for me (or desire to love me) because I was not submissive enough, or at all. I made it so that he could not show that love to me.

    So I’m the cruel one who created this cruel one—-if that makes sense.

    Wrapping this up AND changing the subject just a bit. We are fond of saying that we are recognized by our fruits. It is one of the main and major ways we can spot a well disguised impostor posing as a shepherd, but in reality is a wolf.

    My former pastor was exposed to be a liar and a cheater after he retired. He was in ministry for a good amount of years. We know he “helped” a lot of people, both at home and abroad. Easy to assume he bore a lot of fruit of the Spirit, right?

    Galatians 5:22 lists these fruits out: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

    From what I see, these are things that DRIVE good works in Him. Fruits of the Spirit are not necessarily the same thing as good works, even if they are done in the name of Christ.

    1 Corinthians 13 seems to “shrug off” things that we would assume He would hold in high regard, if they are not done via the first listed fruit of the Spirit: love: giving all your money to the poor, giving your body to be burned, having faith that moves mountains.

    I remember coming to this conclusion about my former pastor. His behaviors may have been enabled, even submitted to, out of fear of him OR fear that the ministries that were helping others would be compromised or ruined, should he be exposed. Ironically, the more people he helped, the more powerful and harder to expose he may have become. It’s hard to depose someone who is becoming more and more known for helping others AND inspiring others to join in his work as well.

    There is no such thing as fear based submission leading to fruits of of the Spirit, leading to helping others in the love of the Spirit. Allowing my former pastor to abound in the cruelty of inspiring fear in others in order to continue to “help” others, is more on par with the fruits of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19:

    “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”

    I remember having a father figure in the form of another pastor, who I realized was more like a politician than a pastor. It was one of the hardest things, because I submitted to him first out of trust for him, then out of fear of him. I was confused by my behaviors towards him for a long time.

    When I read Luke 11:12, things came into focus: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”

    Both of these pastors were not my actual father, but I looked to them to represent one to me. But even apart from that, I was just like anyone else: I was a sheep that wanted to be fed: give me a fish, give me an egg. Give me something that will FEED me.

    You’ll know when you are being truly fed. You’re no longer hungry. 🙂 If you end up being bitten and/or stung, you’ll know when you are not being truly fed. You’re still hungry. Worst yet, you are harmed and hurting.

    It is verse 13 that gives me hope: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

    The previous verses illustrated decent minded earthly fathers that would never aim to hurt their own children. However, all the best earthly fathers put together are still “evil” compared to Him as a Father. All you have to do is ask Him, and He will give. You never have to worry that He’ll give you a snake or a scorpion!

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (2ND MARCH 2020 – 4:35 PM) “You’ll know when you are being truly fed. You’re no longer hungry. 🙂 If you end up being bitten and/or stung, you’ll know when you are not being truly fed. You’re still hungry. Worst yet, you are harmed and hurting.”

      ^That.

      I am ALWAYS truly fed after reading your comments. 🙂

      • Helovesme

        Thanks so much for the kind words.

        Sometimes it takes me longer than anticipated to get these thoughts out in the hopes that they encourage even one person (and thank you Finding Answers for answering that hope!). Or, if even one person might identify with Barb’s words, and then the ones who reply to her.

        I got more behind than I planned because of it, but again—if it blessed even one person it was very much worth it. And thanks to Barb and Reaching Out for allowing them to be posted.

    • James

      Helovesme, You wrote –
      “You’ll know when you are being truly fed. You’re no longer hungry.”

      BOOM! These words of yours leapt off the page at me, too.

      And these words so aptly describe what too often happens instead –
      “If you end up being bitten and/or stung, you’ll know when you are not being truly fed. You’re still hungry. Worst yet, you are harmed and hurting.”

      This is the “secondary abuse” that you mentioned. And very often it is indeed worse than the original abuse. It may not be physical but the emotional abuse involved is often more profound.

      If you are abused by one man in the dark, you are aware that this is one person, unseen by all, in a sea of good people.

      But once you are abused by a leader of the institution (the wider world) that you went to get help from, it is you now that is adrift in the open, in plain view, in a sea of good people and it must be that it is you that is the bad person. You’re the one that doesn’t fit now and not the abuser. Welcome to hell.

  13. Gany T.

    Finding Answers commented on Helovesme’s line, as did James:

    “You’ll know when you are being truly fed. You’re no longer hungry.”

    BOOM! These words of yours leapt off the page at me, too.

    I agree with ^That. Those words by Helovesme are powerful. Perhaps good ones to add to Gems, Barb & Reaching Out?

    • Reaching Out

      Helovesme’s quote “You’ll know when you are being truly fed. You’re no longer hungry.” has been added to the GEMS page.

      • HeLovesMe

        Thank you so much; that’s quite an honor.

  14. Dear readers and commenters, I’ve been pretty quiet on this blog for some time. I’ve been doing my tax return (ugh!) and I’ve been feeling very tired and sad. But I’m still here. As a person with a hypersensitive conscience, doing my tax return is a nightmare every year…I put it off as long as I can. I think I’ve now done the tax stuff, so I’ll be attending to more comments and writing a new post as my energy picks up again.

    • Finding Answers

      Barb commented (4TH MARCH 2020 – 3:15 PM) “…..feeling very tired and sad……” AND “…..writing a new post as my energy picks up again.”

      Praying for you – and NOT meant as a pious platitude.

      My apologies for delaying my response to your comment.

      For me, sometimes words are hard to find.

      • Thanks Finding Answers. I think I’m getting a little less tired each day. Still a way to go yet before I feel normal again though.

      • HeLovesMe

        Finding Answers in a good way jolted me into action as well; praying for you Barbara and please take care of yourself and take your time. I too am sorry for a late reply. It was sheer neglectfulness on my part and also honest distraction, but still no excuse when it comes to the importance of letting someone know they matter ♥️.

        In conclusion, thanks for letting us know how you’re doing, and to Finding Answers for prodding me into putting those feelings into words!

      • 🙂

  15. Helovesme

    James brought up such a wonderful point that I am unfortunately suffering from:

    “You’re the one that doesn’t fit now and not the abuser. Welcome to hell.”

    His whole paragraph is worth reading, by the way. I’m not sure if we could call this a third layer of abuse, but it’s certainly painful. You react to cruelty with very difficult but easily perceived as cruel choices. They might be perceived as spiteful, petty, revenge based or propelled by bitterness or resentment on your part.

    It is likely going to cause you to be torn down in even MORE harsh and hard ways—-either behind your back or in more direct ways. Someone might come to you and tell you what others are saying. Someone might come to you and tell you what they think about you. And some might find ways to send a message without saying a word. But you got the message. They made sure you would get it.

    Perhaps some will come to you and seem sympathetic to you. This may or may not be authentic. You’re asked, how are you, as if they really want to know. But they are looking for certain answers, not sincere ones. It might be fishing or information seeking. So what you tell them might simply be passed on to others, and if it’s sensitive or private, you have just handed them more ammunition. This is probably one of the hardest things to deal with.

    It’s hard to put into words how hard it is to come to certain choices. Limited contact, no contact or contact in very carefully chosen ways.

    One of the many reasons why abuse is so heinous is that it’s so secretive. Since abuse is a sin, I sometimes see the abuser “sneaking around” (like an adulterer) to find and create ways to commit the actual abuse. Even if the abuse is done in plain sight (Pastor Jimmy Hinton has written about this) it is not seen because no one is looking for it (or expects to see it), plus our minds have a way of convincing us that we not seeing what we are actually seeing.

    I’ve had this happen to me when it comes to things I have heard. Comments or statements made in which I immediately think: it is not possible that I heard such cruelty and callousness because it is coming from THIS particular person. But I heard it all right.

    On the flip side of that coin, that was often my response when I first heard the Gospel. I heard truths being told, but my sinful pride refused to hear it. But I heard it all right.

    In both cases, God worked on my pride so I COULD truly see AND hear as He did. When Nathan the prophet came to David, the analogy used to describe his sin was one the most cruel I have ever heard. David heard Nathan’s audible voice speaking, but in reality, he was hearing God’s voice. Or else (IMO) he would not have repented. The immediate reaction would have been more like: how dare you—to Nathan if David only heard a mere man speaking.

    There are still persons that try to weave even a small portion of guilt onto Bathsheba. But Nathan’s analogy portrayed her as that lamb, not as the cruel rich man. But when that portion of Scripture is taught or read, we hear their voices and/or our own instead of His: no, she can’t be 100% blameless. She was nude! She was beautiful! Available and accessible, no less (husband away at war).

    God told David that the child he conceived with her would die. Perhaps this adds to the “she’s got to be at SOME fault” narrative because that must have hurt both of them. Why would He choose to do that if He didn’t hold her at least thinly responsible?

    God doesn’t contradict Himself. The analogy Nathan used must stand in its entirety. No gray areas allowed. She was not responsible for David’s sins. It was painful to read David fasting and praying and pleading for the child’s life, even though when God says something will happen, He means it. That child was no more to blame for David’s sins than Bathsheba was, yet they both suffered (mother and child). For all of David’s labor in prayer, for all of Bathsheba’s labor in body—all three of them suffered. I wish we knew exactly how Bathsheba had felt and reacted. Did she blame herself for the child’s death? Hopefully not. Did she blame herself for David targeting her as he did? Hopefully not.

    Back to my story, which is not to be on par with the one I just described. Choosing to be “cruel” (I don’t and didn’t enjoy my choices to distance myself) does have consequences. I do not like anyone to feel unloved, unwanted, forgotten or forsaken. But in the wider scope, I was reacting to their choices to be cruel—I do not know their exact motives, but I do not believe they were made via seeking the Lord.

    I took the risk that I would be perceived as cruel in my reactive choices, even though I did NOT make them with cruel intentions. I hated myself for making them, frankly. I made them via long labor in prayer. I did the best to seek Him and did what I believed He told to me do. I am still dealing with a lot of anger and resentment, and sometimes I lash out at them in prayer, something I am not proud of.

    My choices are very publicly seen. I am visibly seen, I am notably absent or silent. The choices THEY made were not so publicly seen, but very much privately felt. Even if they were discussed, it was likely behind closed doors among “friendly” faces and allies. There are many ways to cover for your choices when you are among those that are partial to or favor you.

    Back to David, Bathsheba and the child that died. David’s sins were all done away from public view. But a child died in plain sight as a result of his cruel choices. Children died in childbirth (as well as the moms) more frequently back then versus present day; in this case God made a point in connecting David’s sins with losing this child. Also, they did eventually bear another child together who lived: Solomon.

    God is NOT a cruel God. There is not one hair of cruelty in Him. That child dying honestly seems excessive to me at times, because the child did nothing wrong, as with Bathsheba. Did they both have to suffer at all? But I do not honesty believe He is cruel. It is just hard to read about.

    I leave it as His sovereignty having the first and final say. AND, He allowed His only begotten Son to die on behalf of OUR cruel choices to sin. Jesus died willingly even though He was sinless; bore our punishment perfectly—-and literally rose above it all by rising from the dead.

    That is what I try to keep in mind when I read David’s story. Remember that his other children did not fare very well, even though they lived. Pastor Sam brought this up recently: among all of David’s children, it was our eventual Savior that mattered the most from David’s lineage. An excellent point to consider when it’s all said and done.

    My father was my abuser. Children pay a huge price for the sins of their parental abusers, even though they are not responsible for their sins. This applies to marital abuse as well.

    Barb ended the post in the most excellent and hopeful way: “The penalty for wrong doing has been laid on Jesus, so that all who come to faith in Him do not have to personally bear the penalty for their wrongdoing. Christ has borne it for them.”

    To just add a bit to that: He is also our Healer when we bear the consequences (unjust pain and suffering) from the sins of others inflicted on us. By His stripes we truly are healed, in every way we need it.

    • Finding Answers

      On (7TH MARCH 2020 – 2:42 PM), Helovesme wrote about the Biblical story of David and Bathsheba.

      I remember reading a recent article bluntly stating in the title David raped Bathsheba.

      How many Churches / “churches” / pastors / “pastors” / etc. / “etc.” are willing to use such blunt language?

      How many adult women have become pregnant as a consequence of rape?

      How many young girls have become pregnant as a consequence of rape?

      Nathan used imagery that was relevant and understandable at the time he (Nathan) confronted David.

      Perhaps the Biblical story of David and Bathsheba would be more relevant and understandable today if folks heard the story told in blunt language.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..David, Bathsheba and the child that died. David’s sins were all done away from public view. But a child died in plain sight as a result of his cruel choices. Children died in childbirth (as well as the moms) more frequently back then versus present day; in this case God made a point in connecting David’s sins with losing this child. Also, they did eventually bear another child together who lived: Solomon.” AND “…..among all of David’s children, it was our eventual Savior that mattered the most from David’s lineage. An excellent point to consider when it’s all said and done.”

      ^That.

      How do we know the all-knowing God actually was responsible for the death of the child of David and Bathsheba?

      Perhaps the all-knowing God was WARNING David ahead of time that his (David’s) child with Bathsheba was going to die as a result of some health-related issue(s) relevant to the time in which they (David and Bathsheba) lived.

      If ^That is the case, perhaps our assumption that God actually CAUSED the death of David and Bathsheba’s child is a false assumption.

      Perhaps, Helovesme, you might find a modicum of comfort in some aspect of my response to your comment?

      • Helovesme

        Thank you, Finding Answers, this was an excellent point:

        “Perhaps the Biblical story of David and Bathsheba would be more relevant and understandable today if folks heard the story told in blunt language.”

        I went back to 2 Samuel 12 where Nathan confronts David:

        “And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?” (verse 8-9)

        And: “You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” (verse 12)

        “But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.” (verse 14)

        “After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child.” (verse 15)

        Previously, after Nathan told him that analogy, here was David’s response (verse 5):

        “David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

        After the child died, David said this: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (verse 22)

        As a young woman and believer, this chapter touched me deeply. But as you said, I absolutely did not see things as they truly were. I’ll be honest—I don’t know why I didn’t see David as a rapist, only as an adulterer.

        But Nathan clearly says: “You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own” (verse 9) In the previous narrative, that little lamb was clearly “taken” away from its rightful owner.

        It does seem that God made it clear the child would die. I apologize because I believed he had died in childbirth; in looking back I believe he had already been born. We don’t know what illness he was struck with, but it was clearly spoken as from the Lord. The child lived for seven more days (verse 18), so it was not a long term illness.

        After David had Bathsheba’s husband killed, the end of chapter 11 says she mourned him and after that time of mourning was over, he married her. That would seem kind and generous, but I wonder if it was frankly the height of self-righteousness on his part. Um, you gave her time to mourn a husband that you killed, to marry a woman that you already had non consensual intimacy with. And bore a child with out of wedlock.

        The Lord’s way of speaking to him—why did you do such evil? I gave you everything, and if it had been too little, I would have given more—hits a chord in my heart.

        Such a passionate and powerful way to express His reaction to such evil. This is such a wonderful demonstration of His kindness leading to repentance. No, He wasn’t wishy washy or indirect or unclear. He found a way to express His obvious and righteous anger, in a way that cried out to ask for and expect David to repent.

        The fact that David’s anger “burned” against that fictional man (who ended up being himself!) put David on par with God’s righteous anger. Sin hardens the heart, and the Bible says we go from bad to worse when sin goes unchecked (2 Timothy 3:13). David, however, did not shrug and say something like: what’s wrong with that? Rich persons should be allowed to do whatever they want! No, David went above and beyond—this man owes four times what he stole. And even then, the man should still die for what he has done.

        It is verse 22 that brings out a lot of strong emotion in me. David could have shrugged off the impending death of his son: I’ve got other children so losing one isn’t so bad. I can always have more children. At least I won’t die AND apparently I’m still king of Israel (Nathan said God would let him live).

        No, he suffered and fasted, and even though his servants kept trying to get him to eat, he refused. He explained to Nathan afterwards that he tried to save the child, but now that it was all over, he had to let him go.

        Okay there are SO many parallels in there to abusive relationships. One of the worst things with my abuse was the absolute lack of empathy towards me. No one’s anger burned on my behalf, it simply burned in ways to hurt me! No one fasted or prayed or pleaded to save my life (abuse is murder from the inside out), OR approached my abuser in order to confront him with his sin.

        I’ve been told various things like: Stop living in the past, put it behind you, forgive your abuser, you can’t change the past, what’s done is done. Stop letting your past define you, stop letting the abuse rule your heart and mine. Pray for your abuser and you need to be a witness to him.

        After this horrible experiment that Barb posted about was exposed, I wonder if anger burned against those who planned and executed it. Did they try to cover their tracks or make excuses or refuse to admit their wrongs?

        I wonder if the persons who inflicted the cruelty AND the ones inflicted with that cruelty were exposed and treated accordingly. Did they see justice? Did those that obeyed those cruel commands plead and pray for those they unjustly hurt?

        Or did they say the things I felt I was hearing: take your own sins more seriously than the sins done to you. What is done is done, but you can deal with and undo your own sinfulness and not anyone else’s.

        This may sound a bit extreme, but often I felt as though I was carrying around a “dead child” within me after my abuse. It was like something in me had died, that was once alive, and I couldn’t get rid of it (birth it out of me, to try to illustrate it better). A sense of childhood innocence, a sense of ease in trusting others, a sense of ease in realizing my intrinsic worth in Him, a sense of joy and freedom, AND a sense of ease in feeling loved and loving others.

        Worst of all, I had a bunch of memories that reflected death, not life. Very few non fear based, pleasurable episodes. So I often felt like that child, who suffered a lot through no fault of his own. I also felt like David, pleading for myself (as that child) because I had done nothing wrong, yet I was paying a huge price.

        I want to say that this might be why David’s story resonates with me so strongly. When I first read what he told Nathan: it is of no use to go to him now, he has left this world—-I immediately wanted that for myself. No use trying to bring back what is gone. What can’t be changed, or undone. You’ve endured a lot of “death” because of abuse, but it is useless to carry it around inside of you.

        However, your last comment asked me to look for some comfort in your comment? Yes, I did! Your admonishment to use “blunt” language to describe things as they really are, as painful as that is—IS freeing. Describing the severity of what abuse has done to me, in all its bluntness, ALSO allows the Lord’s love and grace and healing to truly shine in His blunt (but life-giving) way.

        Already I feel a bit of finger pointing from within. 🙂 I’m still mired in a lot of darkness, so I’m still working on living that out, not just declaring it. David took seven days to pray and plead—I might need more time. 🙂 But I am VERY comforted that you too see the need for the church to stop waffling about what horrors we are capable of inflicting on each other—and how that is screaming for a Savior that knows this all too well.

      • The Lord’s way of speaking to David: — Why did you do such evil? I gave you everything, and if it had been too little, I would have given more.

        Such a passionate and powerful way to express His reaction to such evil. This is such a wonderful demonstration of God’s kindness leading to repentance. He wasn’t wishy washy or indirect or unclear. He found a way to express His obvious and righteous anger, in a way that cried out to ask for and expect David to repent.

        That^ is my condensation of a part of Helovesme‘s comment which really stood out to me. God does not waffle. God does not downplay the seriousness of sin by using euphemisms.

        God’s kindness leading to repentance — God’s powerful, blunt, passionate kindness in rebuking the sinner.

        I want to mull over this. I have tried to rebuke leaders in churches when I know they are making an error or missing key points in a passage of Scripture. Never once has a leader liked (let alone appreciated) my attempt to rebuke them. Yet these same leaders preach that as believers we ought to rebuke sin when we see it.

        David’s response to God’s rebuke is a stand-out. Seldom have I observed a man or men in leadership respond to rebuke like David did.

      • Helovesme

        I’ll be praying for you, Barb. It’s got to be so frustrating for you. I don’t think my experiences can measure up to yours, but perhaps they can parallel to them a bit.

        I prayed for about 5 1/2 years for a some professing Christians to repent of how they had so badly treated someone—-and as far as I know it never happened. I don’t regret praying (especially since I believed the Lord had laid it on my heart to do so), but it was still extremely discouraging.

        These are the same professing Christians that don’t “hold back” on rebuking others, however. And I don’t believe they are doing it in the Biblical way, from the heart of His righteousness. You must back it up with actual Scripture, or the heart of Scripture (sometimes there is not an “exact” verse to train upon, but you can speak from His heart as He leads).

        You can’t rebuke based on gender, chronological age or spiritual age (aka I’ve been a Christian for longer so I know better). If you are in a position of authority, you have to be especially careful to not abuse that authority and use it for your own purposes.

        It is strange how normalizing it is to be so one sided. I’d be willing to ask how many female Christians have been encouraged to speak from the mind of Christ, be bold in Him and be confident in His calling over your lives. Even if you were blessed to be instructed in such ways, I’d be willing to ask if it was done in all sincerity. Barb mentioned that the leaders she tries to speak to openly advocate rebuking one another, but do not practice what they preach.

        I think Barb once wrote about what a miracle it is that anyone is led to repentance? It is truly an amazing, supernatural work of the Lord. She wasn’t trying to be discouraging, just honest about what it takes for our pride to understand how badly we need Him, and be born again in Him. David truly was exceptional in his repentance, and perhaps quite the exception.

        I backslid from the Lord about 20 years ago. When I started to read the Word again, it’s amazing how you read it with fresh eyes and ears after going through such a trial as I had.

        I read Exodus, and when Pharaoh arrogantly told Moses in 5:2: “Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.”

        Without condoning his words, I realized he was telling the truth—he didn’t know the Lord. Why would he fear Him? But his condemnation came when it was clear he had no INTEREST in knowing the Lord. And his own people suffered because of his stubborn pride. Bad leadership never ends up helping those you are in leadership over. I cringed like never before when I read about the plagues of Egypt.

        I recalled that the Israelites were in cruel bondage for a very, very long time before this. Since God never goes “overboard” in His wrath and righteous judgment, this is exactly what He meted out in response to their cruel treatment of His people. THAT made me sit up and pay attention. Those plagues were like nothing else ever seen or heard since that time.

        In my own situation, observing professing Christians who didn’t acknowledge or seek or aim to fear Him in times of crisis—and therefore bad things inevitably happened—I became very afraid as a result. This is a tiny glimpse of what happens when those who claim to be, or are in authority, do not listen to or seek His wisdom. People get hurt.

        It’s such a famous quote from the Word, but how often do we understand its power: “Let My people go.”

        So much is packed in just a few words: My people are in bondage; release them. They are My people, not yours. They are people, not slaves. You have the power, so let them go. But I have ultimate power over you AND them, and I’m telling you to let them go.

        It’s a commandment, not a suggestion. No room for bargaining or bantering. No room for discussion or debating. He doesn’t fool around when it comes to bondage.

        Abuse truly is a form of slavery. Testimonies will speak of being trapped, helpless, powerless, exhausted and worst of all—dehumanized. The pain and suffering they experience is not taken seriously, because they are not taken seriously as human beings.

        I don’t know if pleading on behalf of the pain of abuse victims will make a dent. In my situation in which I prayed for those persons to repent, what I believe held them back is that they truly, sincerely believed the person or persons they hurt deserved it. Their sense of entitlement, self-justification and (likely) silent or openly spoken justification from those around them—kept thickening the hardness in their hearts.

        I can imagine Pharaoh thinking: Let His people go? They aren’t people, they are slaves. Who is He to tell me what to do? And how can non-people belong to Him? Wait, let them GO? They are the backs on which we have built our wealth, which equals power, which equals power over other nations. I don’t need to know anything else. The answer is NO, I will not listen or obey.

        Nathan is actually the most heroic one in 2 Samuel 12, IMO. Although David is the one who repented (which is quite heroic), it takes a measure of unspeakable courage to approach the man with supreme power in the land. As far as I can tell, Nathan didn’t hold back. He stayed faithful to whatever the Lord told him to say—and likely didn’t know how David would respond.

        Jeremiah is also one of my heroes. He prophesied faithfully for (I believe) over 40 years, and his beloved country laid in ruins by the end of his ministry. So I think you’re doing an excellent job, Barb. Remaining faithful is hard, because results aside, being faithful is what He is going to commend us for.

        I often feel like I have failed (results tell the final story, right?), but then I ask if I’ve been faithful, regardless of results. I’m still working on that!

      • Thank you Helovesme. I am deeply touched by your words of encouragement.

        Yes: our faithfulness regardless of perceived results is what we will count in the end. That kind of faithfulness requires patience, and wisdom.

      • Tyndale's comments on Blessed be the pure in heart

        —- your comment, Helovesme, reminded me of this 🙂

  16. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (8TH MARCH 2020 – 1:03 PM) “….still mired in a lot of darkness, so I’m still working on living that out, not just declaring it……”

    ^That applies to me as well. 🙂

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented, “……screaming for a Savior that knows this all too well……”

    I keep doing ^That, and like you, Helovesme, I, too, might need more time. 🙂

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment (8TH MARCH 2020 – 1:31 PM).

      Helovesme commented (11TH MARCH 2020 – 11:56 AM) “Abuse truly is a form of slavery. Testimonies will speak of being trapped, helpless, powerless, exhausted and worst of all—dehumanized. The pain and suffering they experience is not taken seriously, because they are not taken seriously as human beings.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Nathan is actually the most heroic one in 2 Samuel 12…..” AND “…..Nathan didn’t hold back. He stayed faithful to whatever the Lord told him to say—and likely didn’t know how David would respond.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Jeremiah is also one of my heroes. He prophesied faithfully for (I believe) over 40 years, and his beloved country laid in ruins by the end of his ministry…..”

      ^That.

      Some scholars refer to Jeremiah as the weeping prophet.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “It’s such a famous quote from the Word, but how often do we understand its power: “Let My people go.””

      ^That.

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