A Cry For Justice

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

Church apologies are getting old. It’s wise to be cynical about church abuse-awareness programs.

Don’t get too excited if a church apologises to abuse victims and runs an ‘awareness program’ about abuse.

This post is a head’s up to those who might be getting hopeful about the churches that are running ‘abuse awareness programs’ these days.

It is a re-working of an old post of mine. First I’m going to show how the rhetoric of church apologies to abuse victims has not changed. Then I’m giving a case study of a church ‘abuse awareness program’ that happened more than a decade ago… and how little good fruit it has brought.

A church apology to victims of domestic abuse, delivered from an Australian pulpit in 2008

As you read this church apology, you may notice how the words are virtually identical to the apologies delivered by today’s Churches / “churches”.

We have listened to and heard those who have been abused in family violence by members of their own households and we believe that it is the responsibility of the Church to respond to all victims of abuse with compassion and unconditional support.

We acknowledge that the experience of many women in the past is that they have not always been responded to with such compassion and support. Instead they have felt invalidated, disbelieved, pressured and unsupported.

We confess that this is not the spirit of Christ, and we express our deep sorrow that many women and children and some men and teenagers, who have desperately needed the understanding, love and protection of the Church, have instead felt rejected, neglected, disenfranchised and devalued.

We cannot promise that we will always get it right in the future, but today we commit ourselves to seeking to be well informed about and pro-active towards family violence; equipping ourselves so we can provide support, care and counseling; willing to access appropriate resources in the community, and to be continually engaged in building sensitive, safe, just and loving communities of faith.

We humbly look forward together to the time when all those who are wounded by family violence and who come to the Church for healing will find Christ as their healer and the Church as their safe, accepting and loving family.

Doesn’t that sound great?

It may have brought tears to some victims’ eyes when they heard it read out from the pulpit.

How many current “churches” spout off a similar (almost identical, word-for-word) apology, then throw everyone under the bus except the abuser and the upper echelons of the “church”? The recent media is LOADED with similar kinds of shenanigans.

How many current “churches” actually DO (back up) what they say in their apology?

How little the times / apology words / etc. have actually changed…

Background on the domestic abuse program run more than a decade ago by four churches in Australia.

It began with a pastors’ network in the municipality of Casey, an outer suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Together with their local council and community health centre they obtained a federal grant for a multi-congregation family violence education and prevention project. The pilot project then expanded to 16 congregations.

The project involved —

  • training of leaders in the churches
  • a 28 day focus on awareness and capacity building for the congregation

The churches obtained secular DV training for key leaders, developed policies, then ran a four week program on domestic abuse across each church. This involved weekly sermons and small group studies tailored to suit the age and sex of participants. Everyone was involved – small groups, Sunday school classes for kids, youth groups, women’s groups, etc. They also adapted the program to the ethnic backgrounds found in each church’s particular demographic.

Their ‘Apology to Victims of Family Violence’ which I quoted above was delivered at a combined service held by four churches in the City of Casey.

The final report of the project (which is no longer online) said that:

  • The project reached about 4,500 people, 16 faith communities and 300 leaders.
  • The project resulted in 84 disclosures by victims and 30 perpetrators came forward.
  • The level of disclosures appeared to be a result of the leaders taking measures to ensure they provided a safe place for help to be provided.
  • The project led to the formation of a recovery group for Christian victim/survivors which adapted a program from the secular health service by giving it a Christian component.

Here is a short excerpt which I copied from the project’s Model Package before it was scrubbed from the internet:

During the implementation of the four week campaign on family violence a woman reached out to a neighbour who was experiencing family violence and invited her to church. The neighbour attended the Sunday morning service, and while it was in progress her husband stormed into church yelling abuse, demanding his wife return home.

A few of the men of the church quietly rose, surrounded the man and ushered him outside while some of the congregational women gathered around the woman who was being abused. The men spoke to the husband about his inappropriate behaviour and inquired whether they could help by escorting him home and talking further.

A few of the men spoke with the husband for several hours offering referral information and follow up if required. Another woman from the community had a house, that was not rented, and offered this to the neighbour as a refuge in the interim if she wanted to leave the abusive situation. The neighbour took her up on the offer and was able to escape the abusive relationship.

Now for the Big Question —
Did the project make much difference in those churches in the long term?

I have been told by an insider who was part of the project that the vast majority of church leaders who were trained during the project are no longer championing the prevention of family violence in those churches. Their attitude is “We did that; now we can move on and focus on other things.”

The apology which I quoted above was delivered to the four churches in the pilot program. I’m now highlighting the words from the apology which referenced women, children, men and teenagers:

We acknowledge that the experience of many women in the past is that they have not always been responded to with such compassion and support. Instead they have felt invalidated, disbelieved, pressured and unsupported.

We confess that this is not the spirit of Christ, and we express our deep sorrow that many women and children and some men and teenagers, who have desperately needed the understanding, love and protection of the Church, have instead felt rejected, neglected, disenfranchised and devalued.

I attended the event where they presented the Final Evaluation Of The Project. The project had been run with government funding, so the government (bean counters that they are) required a formal evaluation of the project.

By the time the project had been run out to the whole 16 congregations and formally evaluated, this emphasis on women and children was very much watered down.

The training that the secular experts had provided to the church leaders would have focused on the most common type of family violence which is men abusing their female partners and children. (I can say this with confidence because I myself have attended training programs run by secular family violence experts in Melbourne, Australia.)

But the formal evaluation of the Casey Churches Project talked a whole lot about less common types of family violence — adolescent violence against parents, wife abuse of husbands, same-sex relationship abuse.

I got the impression that the issue of husbands abusing their wives and kids was faded out into the background in the cause of political correctness. I wondered how much abusive men in those 16 congregations had influenced this.

Anyone who has not been living under a rock will know that abuse by leaders in churches is not uncommon. And most pastors are male. So it stands to reason that some of the male leaders in those 16 congregations would have been abusers.

The guy who presented the Evaluation – with a fancy slide show and a long boring talk – was wishy washy.  He seemed to have no Christian worldview, no Christian morality, and no indignation about the evil of abuse. It was clear that he ran or worked for a business which did private consultancy. He was a hired man. He had no skin in the game. He was just making money out of doing this evaluation. And I got the distinct impression this man was a homosexual.

I also got the impression that all the church leaders and civic leaders and social workers and counselors who attended the event only came because the organisation they worked for had told them to attend. That is necessary image management for organisations. It’s virtue signalling. They send their rep to an event to show that the organisation ‘cares’. No one seemed concerned about the lack of heart and substance, except me. I left that event feeling my loneliness acutely. Where are the real Christians?

The moral of this story. If your church runs an awareness program about domestic abuse (or sexual abuse) don’t get too excited.

The chances are, the church is running an awareness program about abuse because it is virtue signalling, or is doing preemptive damage control.

The abusers and their witting/unwitting allies will somehow manage to make it all wash away.

When rain falls on sandy soil, there is so little organic matter in the soil that the rain just runs straight through. Sandy soil cannot hold moisture. It must be built up gradually with regular additions of organic matter if it is to hold moisture so plants can thrive. Gardeners tell me it takes about five years to rejuvenate sandy, infertile soil. One has to give it regular applications of organic matter (e.g. aged manure) and mulch, and keep doing that at least once a year for five years, to get the soil healthy and productive. After that it still needs an annual thick application of mulch to keep it fertile and healthy.

 

 

I’ve started a second blog – The Mystery Of Iniquity

I have created a second blog, The Mystery Of Iniquity.
Don’t worry, I will still keep writing at A Cry For Justice.

The Mystery of Iniquity

Both of my blogs bring a biblical perspective to abuse, but the types of abuse they cover are different.

A Cry For Justice is about domestic abuse.

The Mystery Of Iniquity is about extreme abuse.

At The Mystery of Iniquity I am doing my bit to expose the strong delusion which is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2.

I talk about systemic abuse by the deep state – the global crime cartel which is masterminded by Satan and which is causing much of the suffering and injustice in this world.

I felt it necessary to start a new blog to talk about that stuff because, in 2018, when I started to share info about extreme abuse and the deep state on my personal social media accounts, I was mocked and publicly stoned by many people who had been following the A Cry For Justice blog.

I recognise that many readers of the A Cry For Justice blog are not wanting to hear about extreme and systemic abuse that is being done in this world…and that’s okay. I don’t want to force people. But if people are interested to learn my perspective on the deep state and extreme abuse, they can go to The Mystery Of Iniquity.

Will this new blog be triggering? I am very aware that folks who have suffered abuse can be easily triggered. At The Mystery Of Iniquity I will do my best to limit my use of visual images that could trigger readers. So far I have not shared any images of extreme abuse at the blog, and I have only linked to one testimony by a survivor of satanic ritual abuse. That testimony has no emotive background music. It is simply the victim speaking her testimony and we don’t even see her face, we only see the face of the Christian man who is interviewing her.

Safety tip  – at The Mystery of Iniquity I will not be modifying commenters’ screen names unless they email me specifically asking me to do so. Therefore, if you comment at The Mystery Of Iniquity it will be up to you to guard your own safety. If you are at risk from your abusers it is wise to use a pseudonym that won’t identify you to your abusers.

Go HERE to check out The Mystery Of Iniquity. When you get there, a pop-up window will invite you to sign up to be emailed new posts. You can sign up via that pop-up window. Or you can sign up via your WordPress account if you have one — that’s my preference as it may help me save money at MailChimp.

New posts at The Mystery of Iniquity will be automatically publicised at my personal Twitter account @NotUnderBondage and my Facebook account.

My personal facebook account is public so anyone can view it. But I’d much prefer people to comment at the blog itself than at my facebook account. As you know, I find Facebook an unsuitable platform for deep and meaningful discussion.

Upcoming posts at The Mystery Of Iniquity —

  • Why is the church so slow at responding rightly to the epidemic of abuse?
  • Evildoers catch/ seize/ snatch/ ravish

Check out The Mystery of Iniquity

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

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

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

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

Genesis 19:1-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More passages that speak about God making people blind

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

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

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

John 3:39-41
Jesus said, I have come for judgment into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see, may be made blind.
And some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words and said to him, Are we then blind? Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John reiterates what Isaiah had said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Bible versions used in this series

New Testament: NMB (New Matthew Bible); notes from the NMB are in grey italicised text.
Psalms: Myles Coverdale’s translation as per the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Old Testament other than Psalms: NKJ (New King James).

Other parts in this series

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

Part 2: Blindness from original sin

Part 3: Blindness exacerbated by individual choice

Part 4: Blindness exacerbated by group choice and group-leader choice

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

Part 6: is this post

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

New website for my book Not Under Bondage

The new site for my book is notunderbondage.com

It gives several purchase options for the book—you can pay in USD, GBP or AUD.

The website also has reviews of the book by theologians, pastors, counselors, survivors of abuse and their supporters.  Most of the reviews are not on Amazon: they were published in theological journals and Christian magazines.

The website replaces one I had before for my book. This site is much easier to navigate. The old site was too cumbersome to maintain.

Check out the new website HERE.

As always, if you are an impoverished survivor of domestic abuse who can’t afford to buy my book, you can ask for a gift copy.

Did Abraham order Sarah to be dishonest? (Is it always sinful to tell an untruth? – Part 4)

Abraham did not ask Sarah to tell an outright lie. He only asked her not to tell the whole truth… the whole truth being that she was his wife as well as his sister / half-sister.

Genesis 20
11 Abraham replied [to Abimelech], “I thought, ‘There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 So when God had me wander from my father’s house, I said to her: Show your loyalty to me wherever we go and say about me: ‘He’s my brother.’”
–  HCSB,  to study it in context click here.

How do we know for sure that Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister?

Terah’s family tree. Source of diagram: Wikidepdia article on Terah

Terah's family tree

 

The Bible does not tell us the name of Terah’s wife or wives. Apart from Abraham’s statement to Abimelech in Genesis 20:12, there is no other verse which corroborates that Terah had more than one wife and that Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister since they shared the same father but not the same mother.

Abraham had asked Sarah to tell the Philistines (the people of Gerar) that she was his sister. If that was an out and out falsehood, if Sarah was not Abraham’s biological kin, if she was not his half-sister or his sister, then Abraham would have been asking Sarah to tell an outright lie.

It would seem that Abraham had not asked Sarah to tell an out and out lie. He had only asked her not to tell the whole truth… the whole truth being that she was his wife as well as his sister / half-sister.

The fact that Sarah complied with Abraham’s request suggests to me that she was indeed Abraham’s half-sister.

Maybe this relates in some way to what Paul was alluding to when he says Sarah obeyed Abraham.

(1 Peter 3:6 NMB) even as Sara obeyed Abraham, and called him Lord – whose daughters you are as long as you do well, not being afraid of every shadow.

Read that ^ verse in context — 1 Peter 3 NMB.

My post about 1 Peter 3:6 —
1 Peter 3:6 — Sarah’s children do what is right and do not give way to fear

***

Other parts in this series

Part 1:  Is it always sinful to tell an untruth?

Part 2: When is it okay to not tell the truth?

Part 3: Contriving a test to probe whether a hardened heart has repented

Further reading

Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

1 Peter 3 Does Not Command Victims to Remain in Abuse — Help from David deSilva

Is it a sin to feel afraid?

Honouring Resistance — a wonderful resource for understanding abuse

The women weep because their husbands despise them – Update on Malachi 2

Ruth M Davis has updated her article Altars Covered in Tears – Malachi. So I have updated my blog post about it.

Ruth’s now says:

The women weep because their husbands despise them. Malachi holds up Abraham as an example of a man with an excellent spirit toward his wife, and exhorts the men to guard their own spirits. However, if a man hates his wife, he may put her away, to spare further injury and grief – but he must “give her a clothing for the scorn.”

‘Clothing’ means a covering. The men must take steps to ‘clothe’ ‘cover’ the hurt and dishonour their wives have suffered.

Read Ruth’s article in full:  Altars Covered in Tears – Malachi.

Read my updated blog post:  Whose tears are covering the altar in Malachi 2? The Matthew Bible vs. the Geneva Bible, Puritans and Calvin

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Related article by Ruth

Sarah’s Covering: The Matthew Bible vs. the Geneva Bible

Related posts at this blog

The Matthew Bible is the first complete English Bible, and Ruth M Davis is gently it updating for modern readers

“If thou hatest her, put her away, and give her a clothing for the scorn” – Malachi 2:16 in the Matthew Bible

Protecting women from abuse. Has Exodus 21:10 been mistranslated in most English versions of the Bible?

The notes in the October Testament are spiritually uplifting and illuminating