Is it Okay for Christians to Say “RIP” Regarding the Death of an Unbeliever?

Christians responding to unbeliever’s death

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I found a tweet by Saiko Woods on Twitter that stopped me in my tracks. I believe this tweet was in response to tweets about Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, who died earlier this week:

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What are your thoughts on Mr. Woods’ comment?  What theology is he talking about? How should Christians respond to the death of an unbeliever?

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What Can Happen to Sex Abuse Survivors When They Are Not Believed or Supported?

Sex abuse survivors need to be believed and supported

What happens when sex abuse survivors spend years trying to tell others of their abuse and it is met with deaf ears? What happens when family and friends turn their backs and ignore the abuse?

In the next personal story, we will read a response to an article I posted about Lorraine. IncestThrowaway1983 responded to Lorraine’s story sharing her personal story on Reddit and gave me permission to share it here. While reading this personal story, I’d like you to consider what happens when one spends a lifetime holding their dark secret alone. More importantly, what would have been the outcome had someone believed and supported this survivor? 

Tunnel mørk 007 til lyset

Tunnel mørk 007 til lyset

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IncestThrowaway1983’s Personal Story

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In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said,

‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

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I contemplated posting this under my regular Reddit name and I just couldn’t do it. I want so hard to embarrass the crap out of my family, but I still have this lingering shame inside of me, like I had done something wrong.

This isn’t a problem that is only for Christians. I mean while my family, which was involved deeply in politics in our home state, would profess Christianity behind closed doors, they were anything but.

It all started when I was seven. I had been orphaned at 7 years old and my brothers and I went to live with my grandparents. That was the summer everything started. My older brother began molesting me. He went to live with his father during the school year, but every summer up until I was 10, he would do deviant things to me.

I happened to have seen a special report on Nick News about molestation and realized suddenly and all at once that what had been happening to me was wrong. I felt it was wrong but couldn’t really put anything in words about how it was wrong.

So, I worked up some courage and told my school counselor. My family went thru the motions doing everything that the cops had them do. But every time they brought it up, it was, “You’ll laugh about this in the future,” and “You just have to get over this.” Come to find out from my younger brother, they believed I made all of it up.

They’ve hated me ever since. I finally got the balls to confront them about it when I was banned from coming to a family member’s funeral, but my rapist older brother was allowed to come. I mentioned how is it that I wasn’t allowed to come, but that my rapist brother was? And they said, “You really need to stop all that.” My grandfather, before he passed, told me that he didn’t believe that it had happened because I should have said something sooner.

And according to my younger brother, the ones that did believe me thought it looked bad on my family, and that i should have just kept it in the family and never told the school counselor, and because of that, I was (I’m paraphrasing her) a jerk.

All this is to say, it’s about keeping up stupid appearances, not religion. It’s about people who have this ridiculous belief that appearance is more important than truth. That it’s trivial – that what happened to me and others like me doesn’t have far-reaching consequences.

As a result of all that, I ended up with a bad drug problem, PTSD, self-harm issues, anxiety and a low self-worth. I still struggle with knowing if God loves me. I’m the only real Christian in my family and I’m probably the least sure of God’s existence. After all, I wonder where was He when those things were happening.

All this is to say, religion or none, it’s not about that, it’s about people who care more about what it looks like than what it actually is. (Source)

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Observations

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In both personal stories, we can see a common denominator of people who failed to help, listen, and believe these sex abuse survivors. These young ladies did not have advocates for them. They had to wrestle in their minds the messages that others told them.

When people don’t believe survivors, sometimes survivors ask themselves if they did something to cause the sex abuse. They might ask themselves if they were imaging it. Or they may question whether they could have done something differently to prevent it. And sometimes, they will begin to doubt their own recollection or reality of what happened to them. The inner turmoil a survivor must deal with can be paralyzing.

People I knew, loved, and trusted failed me.

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Although I was not a sex abuse survivor, I was a victim of child abuse at the hands of my father who legally adopted me (now deceased). He physically beat me from the age of 3 until 19 years old. I’ve shared parts of my story before. While some of the pain had to deal with my dad using me as a punching bag or an object to kick around, the most emotionally painful part of the abuse had to do with people that I knew, loved, and trusted who failed me, who turned the other way, who dismissed my story, and who defended my fun-loving dad instead. The real kicker for me was dealing with my mother, whom I adored. She stood by her man instead of defending me. Coming to grips with that shocking realization sent me on a very dangerous emotional downward spiral. It took several months of therapy to process that painful hurdle.

Untreated abuse can cause harm for survivors, the emotional toll sometimes lasting for years.

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Are you seeing a pattern here? All three of us had trusted family members who did not believe us or help us. Some of our trusted family or friends actually put blame on us. All three of us – abuse survivors – have had to deal with difficult mental health issues which were diagnosed years after the abuse.

Untreated abuse can cause harm for survivors, the emotional toll sometimes lasting for years. If you recall, Lorraine has dealt with PTSD, anorexia nervosa, body dysmorphic disorder, anxiety, and depression. IncestThrowaway1983 has had to deal with the challenges of drug problem, PTSD, self-harm issues, anxiety and a low self-worth. I was diagnosed with PTSD and after treatment, recovered from it.

We absolutely must get rid of the wrong message of “mental-health-equals-Satan” stereotype that many leaders in the Christian church have spewed. The idea of forgiveness and repentance is appropriate when it comes to our spirituality, but when it comes to living a life where one needs to be able to trust again, to risk, to be intimate with others relationally, it’s going to be difficult to be a whole and healthy person without some help recovering from these damaging abuse issues.

There are a lot of messages that abuse survivors tell themselves in order to survive that pain. There are many techniques abuse survivors learned to protect themselves from harm or potential harm, and those methods no longer work; in fact, they can be detrimental in current-day relationships. How to respond appropriately to perceived threats need to be relearned, and with the help of skilled mental health professionals, people can get back on the right track and be free from the extra emotional baggage.

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How You Can Help

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Will you please be an advocate for survivors? Here are some ways you can help survivors:

  • The most important gift you can give a survivor is to believe them.
  • Encourage the person to get help from licensed mental health providers skilled in abuse issues.
  • If you know a crime was committed, report it to authorities. You can report anonymously.
  • Keep checking in with the survivor regularly.
  • Give of your time and let the survivor share their story without prodding.
  • If the survivor says untruths about themselves, putting blame on themselves, tell them the truth, it wasn’t their fault.
  • You do not need to have answers, the best gift you can give is a listening ear.

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photo credit: Tube Child via photopin (license)

Marveling at How The Gospel Coalition Marvels at Women and Their Womanly Creativity

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The Gospel Coalition, Women’s Roles, and Creativity

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-by Kathi

Every once-in-a-while Julie Anne and I will chat back and forth over an article. One of these days we’ll show you one of these conversations because they can become quite humorous. Recently, we chatted over Erik Raymond’s recent post on The Gospel Coalition’s website, “How to Marvel at Your Wife’s Creativity.”

Raymond’s (non)how-to post describes how he marvels at his wife’s creativity to put together parties for people. Specifically, he marvels at the details that his wife goes into when preparing for parties:

She, like many women, gives considerable time and attention to the details. In particular she works to ensure that the colors, design, and even the most minute matters are covered. I’ve seen gum balls color-coded, paper cut outs, cup cakes and napkins match, balloons, sparkly soda, snow sprinkles on a red table cloth [sic], swirly straws, and even a big metal bucket filled with ice to [sic] so people will feel “festive” when they get their drink. This is what women do.

“This is what women do.” Of course, men are not as detail oriented. In fact, men seem to be more cave-like in their approach to such things because they reuse forks and wipe their chins on their sleeves. And, to show that men are not into details:

While struggling to pull this type of thing off my self, I have come to appreciate it. What’s more, I’ve come to baptize it into the spiritual realm so as to love my wife more, appreciate our differentness [sic], and marvel at God’s design.

Translation: “I love my wife more because she’s able to recreate a Pinterest board. That’s hot.” 

Now, for those of you here who love Pinterest and can successfully recreate elaborate Pinterest ideas, please do not be offended. I think that’s great! I can appreciate the amount of work that you put into a party. As for me, Pinterest stresses me out. I’ve never signed up because I’m afraid it will be a time sucker, and I know I will stress over making everything perfect. Plus, finding different ways to use chalk paint does not excite me. You know, “Elf on a Shelf?” I think that’s horrible! As if Christmas isn’t stressful enough, now parents have to come up with multiple creative ideas for a little doll each night before they go to bed.

Sorry, I got off track for a moment. Let’s look back at “this is what women do.” Creativity and paying attention to detail makes women different from men? How about the many men who are architects and design, with many details, beautiful buildings? What about men who are fashion designers who create clothing and need to consider fabrics, stitching and notions? And, don’t forget men who are professional chefs who need to think about small details such as seasoning, pairing and plating. I guess we should zoom past the details of men who are creative because that is not part of God’s design.

I suppose we should also zoom past the details of many women who work outside the home and use their skills to make a difference in the lives of people. There are many women who are CEOs or managers of companies, or who are social workers or run domestic violence shelters that are also married and mothers. These women must pay close attention to details on their jobs if they are going to do their best work on behalf of their employees or clients. Some women actually hire men, who in turn provide financially for their families. Do these women exist in the world of The Gospel Coalition?

There may be hope, though. In the end, Raymond says:

Therefore, when I look at the frills, the colors, the designs, the Pinterest Boards, the sketches, and the actual parties, I can marvel at the way in which my wife loves the person she is honoring. This reminds me of how our Father loves to honor our glorious Savior. Far from zooming past the details we can spend a moment to marvel at these reflections of creativity that express love. We will find ourselves appreciating the way our wives honor others while seeing the Father express his love for Jesus.

This is about as close as The Gospel Coalition can come to say that God has some feminine characteristics. Perhaps one day they will acknowledge that creativity is not a gender-specific characteristic.

photo credit: #20ThingsIlove via photopin (license)

SSB Gathering – July 26, 2015

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi

dublin

Luke 15: 11-32

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered his property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

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Translated lyrics:

Halleluia, halleluia
Halleluia, my Savior
You are my God, I am your servant
Halleluia my heart forever

My love, my God, my guardian, my rock
My fair love, my Lord
My love, my christ, my love, my heart
My love in full, You, my glorious King

(Chorus)

My love, holy in your court
My love, your heart and your fair appearance
My love, your flock, long is your path
My love, my light, my strength, my king

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May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

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photo credit: Kathi – Dublin, Ireland

This is a Repent- and Rebuke-Free Zone

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This is a repent- and rebuke-free zone.

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repent free zone***

Tonight, I banned these words from the Spiritual Sounding Board Facebook page after someone rebuked another commenter and also told the same commenter to repent. The repent word was used in the middle of a debate on homosexuality. While the person saying it may have been legitimately concerned with someone’s soul, it’s hard for me not to suspect the intention when seeing how it is used in a conversation.

The way it came across to me in the FB conversation was, “I’m right about my interpretation of homosexuality and you are off spiritually, and you better get your spiritual act together.”  Either side could have told the other to “repent,” but I can usually tell who will say it. It’s someone who is demanding their interpretation is the only correct one, they are usually unkind, gets more and more angry as the conversation ensues.

So, here was the comment I posted (along with the red sign):

Tonight there was a “lively” discussion on the topic of how Christians respond to gays. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, this subject is a hot button.

The homosexual debate, just like complementarian/egalitarian, or Calvinism/Arminianism debates, can get very heated and these issues will not be resolved on this Facebook page, but I do enjoy and welcome a good healthy debate.

This site is unique. It must always remain a safe place for those who have been harmed by pastors, church leaders, church groups, etc. Many of us have had the Bible thrown at us like a weapon, or verses twisted so that church leaders could control us and interfere with our personal lives. Some of us were trampled spiritually by pastors who used their “authority” to condemn us, belittle us, and tell us that we need to constantly check our salvation. Some of our pastors did not preach the whole counsel of God because they forgot about Jesus and His saving grace.

While it may seem normal for you to tell someone to “repent” or to “rebuke” someone because you don’t agree with their understanding/interpretation of spiritual matters, that cannot happen here. Those words can be triggering words for survivors. Not only that, those words are not conducive to good debating.

Good debating should not get personal with ad hominems. When rebuking someone or telling someone to repent, you are essentially getting on your high horse and putting yourself in a position of spiritual authority over them, judging them to be sinners, not saved, etc. That’s what some of our abusing pastors did, too. There are far better ways to discuss these issues reasonably and respectfully.

Thank you for your participation here and for respecting the ground rules.

grace & peace,
Julie Anne

I did get some private and public push back (and I’m absolutely fine with that):

  • . . . My sense is that Jesus would still call people to repent, go and sin no more, etc. My further concern, to be very frank, is that Jesus would be in danger of getting his comments deleted because he was “triggering.” What do you think? Does the gospel itself kind of challenge or stretch you in this regard?
  • I’ve benefited from SSB coverage of a variety of issues. There is real spiritual abuse, especially in IFB and various reformed circles. But don’t you think that there’s a point at which Jesus would rebuke sin or tell people to stop sinning? If he did that, on this forum for instance, how would you respond as a moderator? Also, isn’t there a sense in which spiritual abuse itself is wrong and is being rebuked here?
  • Are we not to calls those in unbelief or error to repentance ?

So, help me out. Is there an appropriate place for rebuking people? Or telling them to repent? Are those words just triggering to me because of people who have acted like spiritual bullies to me? Do you feel safe here if those words are used?

Incest Survivor Shares Her Personal Thoughts about the Josh Duggar Case: “Truth and Reconciliation”

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Sex Abuse, Incest, Truth and Reconciliation, Josh Duggar, 19 Kids and Counting, Purity Culture

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What is it like for a sex abuse survivor to see the news of a sex abuser and victims on National television? What is it like for a survivor to hear the words of parents explain away abuse, when leaders fail to put responsibility where it belongs, on the offender?

Lorraine Dresch watched the Josh Duggar sex abuse story unfold, and with writing talent beyond her years, shared from her heart to tell her personal story and respond to what she saw in the media.

Lorraine describes herself as a “19-year-old Asian-American woman in recovery from anorexia nervosa, PTSD, body dysmorphic disorder, depression, and anxiety. She is about to begin her second year of college as an English major. She hopes to be a teacher or professor of English after schooling and live in a pretty little house with her cats.”

She blogs at The Feathered Elephant and wrote an article, Truth & Reconciliation, which she graciously allowed me to share with you here.  This post is longer than usual, so pull up a chair and listen carefully to the words of a survivor.  I so appreciate Lorraine’s brave voice!  Thank you, Lorraine!

Continue reading

Christian Blogger Claims that Husbands Don’t Like to Use Words to Resolve Marital Conflict, Physical Force Works Better

Christian Patriarchy: men who resort to physical force (wife spanking, restricting movement, etc), to gain control of their wives

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Ken and Lori Alexander, wife spanking

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Always Learning is a blog by Lori Alexander. Her husband, Ken, oversees it and comments as well. Lori claims to:

“love teaching women to be sober, to love their husbands and children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their husbands as the Bible instructs me to do. This is a personal teaching blog sharing what I have seen work from God’s Word in my life and the lives of many others.”

Lori sees herself as a Titus 2 woman for mentoring younger women. Twice above we read that she uses the Bible as her instruction book. This is apparently to give her more credibility as a Christian wife and because she claims her teaching comes from the Bible, who would want to question her?   Oh, oh, oh, pick me!!!

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The title of her disturbing article is, When Words Won’t Resolve Arguments.

Mrs. Alexander first quoted a paragraph from a New York Times article. One can safely predict, from Lori’s article title, that the sample quotes probably do not encourage using words in arguments. But how else could someone resolve an argument? The following New York Times quote is about a couple who got in a stupid argument about where to go for dinner. (I bolded words for emphasis):

In previous relationships, I might have stormed out and sought diversion in a bar, writing off the possibility of resolution as both futile and beneath my pride. This time, though, I swept up Deanna in my arms, damsel-in-distress-style. Caught by surprise, she succumbed to my rescue. I had literally elevated us above our stalemate. We kissed and headed out to dinner, no longer concerned about where we went.

Here’s more:

Talk can yield clarity, understanding and empathy, but sometimes it just brings exhaustion and recrimination. Sometimes action is the only pathway to good will. And when I picked her up, I proved it. (Source: Superheroes, Just for Each Other)

Ok, as a side note, t’s important to note that the image displayed at the top of Lori’s article shows a black and white photo of John Wayne with a lady in a dress swung over his knees. The woman has a look of terror on her face, while John Wayne has a smug look on his face. What is he doing? He is spanking her with a hand-sized metal shovel.

I found a clip from the John Wayne movie. Be forewarned, it is disturbing to watch. Notice the looks on the faces. The men seem to enjoy watching this woman being spanked, as if this is socially acceptable.

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But why would Lori Alexander use this image and title if she was not at least implicitly promoting wife spanking or men using physical force to control their wives?

Below, Lori discusses the differences between men and women in using words in arguments:

Men don’t like to always use words to solve everything, whereas women do. Marriage conferences teach how couples should “fight fair;” remembering to take all these given steps, asking the right questions, listening carefully, keep talking until its resolved, etc. How come women have mostly gotten their way in resolving conflict and men have to accommodate them? {“Now, honey, you forgot this step and you aren’t allowed to say that to me.”} This is NOT how it should be in a Christian marriage!

That’s odd. She says “women have mostly gotten their way in resolving conflict”  – – – by trying to communicate?  Say what?  Isn’t that how most people resolve conflicts?  Notice she pulls the Christian card saying that fighting fair is NOT how it should be in a Christian marriage.  How, pray tell, is she proposing that couples resolve conflicts?  Let’s continue:
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Ken and I watched an old John Wayne Movie a few months ago. He was married to a very difficult wife. She was always nasty to him. Near the end of the movie, he took her over his knee and spanked her! She behaved herself after this and they were kissing and enjoying each other at the end of the movie. I guess this was a common occurrence in many of the old movies! {Can you imagine a movie like this today? No, instead we get perversity of every kind but if a man acted like John Wayne, he’d be put into prison.}

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What is the common theme in both image and New York Times article?

Answer: Husband uses physical force to control wife.

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If a man behaved like John Wayne, he should be in prison. It is called Domestic Violence – assault. But I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that the woman “behaved herself.” She was forced into submission. Did she have any other options? Do you notice how Lori paints this John Wayne movie in a positive light as if she’s sad that this option is no longer available?

Most men don’t like to just “talk it out” ad nauseam. They’re sick of arguing with their wives and would love to have some way to just STOP the arguing and have peace.

A better interpretation would be: some Patriarchal men like to have their own way and are not concerned about their wife’s feelings or concerns.

This is all most men want; peace and joy in their homes. As many of you know, I encourage wives to NOT argue with their husbands since we are commanded in the Bible to not argue and God has ordained the husband as the leader of the home. However, since most women like to control their husbands, many marriages are filled with strife and arguing.

I know how this works. When I was in the Homeschool Movement in which Patriarchy was endorsed, if a woman did not agree with her husband, she was to remain silent and pray for him to change his mind. Having peace comes at a price. The wife in this scenario is de-personalized. She doesn’t get to voice her concerns.

We do live in a feminized society. Women want men to behave like women and“talk” everything out. One of the couples Ken and I mentored were on the brink of divorce.

Ack!!! She said they mentored a couple.

Please stop mentoring, Ken and Lori!

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The wife would have major, uncontrollable tantrums. She admitted she “just couldn’t control herself.” Ken told the husband to wrap her up in a bear hug every time this happened. She liked the idea and it worked! They are happily married many years later.
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I have some questions: did the wife give her husband permission to be wrapped up in a bear hug, or did the husband force this onto his wife? If he is forcing, this is not love or respect, it is using physical force to control. This is abuse.

Godly husbands should have a way to take leadership and stop the merry-go-round that so many couples are on, as long as it is not physically abusive, of course.

It is apparent that they are clueless as to what constitutes as physical abuse.

Men get sick and tired of being politically correct according to feminist’s laws and always having to talk everything to death.

She seemed to like the John Wayne movie above, but now she’s gone PC for modern times. Rats! Those pesky laws interfere with men being men. Gotta love how she throws around that F word.

After all, they are men and we should appreciate their masculinity instead of trying to stifle it.

How is talking with a wife stifling a husband’s manhood?

Let’s take a look at some of the comments and read Ken and Lori’s responses (and what they conveniently don’t address). We’ll start with a comment from Dave who is definitely in favor of physical restraint:

johnwayne2 johnwayne3

Lori’s husband, Ken responded:

Wifely submission is a voluntary and willful act just as a husband or wife must voluntarily submit to God if they love Him. God does not push or pull, or bully a person, even a Believer into doing what is right, and submitting to Him and His Word.

That said, there is nothing that forbids a husband from reminding his wife of God’s demand that she submit and respect her husband. Even if the husband can do little about a difficult wife he can call upon her to consider if she is in the faith, if she loves her Lord Jesus and if she is going to honor Him as Lord, or not.

Ouch!  So if a husband decides his wife is not submissive enough, he gets to question her salvation?

I was at my wits end it seems at times trying not to necessarily get Lori to submit, but to get her to see the areas where she was being difficult with me.

It sounds like Ken was being a bully.

True willful submission was icing on the cake that I was not necessarily desiring, but God was, from her. It was my appeal for her to consider God’s demands upon her life that helped her realize that indeed she loved her Lord Jesus and such love demanded her obedience to Him, and in turn her willful submission to her husband.

He’s trying to tell us that he wasn’t demanding her to submit, but he really was. Additionally, he went even lower by presuming to be God and judging her salvation. Convincing her to love God meant that she had to submit to him. In other words, he’s using God to meet his entitlement needs of submission.

Also in the comments section, we read from another commenter, Joanie:

One time I was throwing a tantrum (I had a thin nightgown on) on and he picked me up and carried me outside in the frigid temps and deposited me on a snow covered dog house! I huffed and puffed a few more times to show I was not gonna take that, but he told me he would do it again, but in the end I had to wind down because as much as I told myself I was big and bad ( I wasn’t) I knew he was bigger and badder. Honestly, it is hard to believe I ever acted like this. He says today he saw a diamond in the rough back then. I am so grateful. Today I try to sense what he wants or sees as direction and work to make it happen because I trust him so much.

How does Ken respond to this? Does he tell Joanie that her husband was wrong and abusive for taking her out in the frigid air in a thin nightgown and putting her on a snow-covered dog house? Let’s see:

It is such a difficult thing to know as a godly Christian husband how much to just love and accept our wife’s antics and being difficult, knowing we are to love our wife as Christ loves the church, and when we need to stand up to our wive [sic] as Christ eventually does with His disobedient children and insists on consequences. Today’s society mores, feminist views and even state laws may prevent many men from picking up their wife and throwing her into the snow to cool off in her thin nightgown, but excellent that your husband’s consistency in dealing with you helped lead you to a much better place and marriage. That is the goal for most husbands.. not to win, oppress or punish a wife, but to help her to good changes in attitudes and behaviors that will form the basis for personal growth in the marriage.

In conclusion, Ken and Lori Alexander do not think that husbands and wives should use words when they have arguments. They think it’s better for husbands to lead, and in the above case, we can see that they seem to be okay with the idea of picking a wife in a thin nightgown and putting her in the snow for “misbehavior.” They also approve of John Wayne’s spanking, but offer the disclaimer that it’s too bad that we have modern laws that prevent that from happening now. Ken and Lori both try to say they would never condone abuse, yet when abuse is clearly described to them, they dismiss it.

You can be sure that those who read Lori’s blog could easily interpret Ken and Lori’s words as condoning wife spanking (but just be careful that you don’t get caught). With this kind of talk about wives being rebellious, physically forcing her into a bear hug, etc, women are treated as a possession, an objects to own. This is NOT loving wives as Christ loves the church. Christ does not coerce His bride or physically restrain her. To claim that this teaching is Biblical is FALSE TEACHING and is ABUSIVE.

The Duggar Family Releases Statement Regarding Their Show, 19 Kids and Counting

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The Duggar family released a statement regarding their TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting:

Today, TLC announced that they will not be filming new episodes of 19 Kids and Counting.

Years ago, when we were asked to film our first one hour documentary about the logistics of raising 14 children, we felt that it was an opportunity to share with the world that children are a blessing and a gift from God.

We are so thankful for our film crew that has shown up at our house for over a decade. They have become like family to us. They have invested their time and energy into our lives and have been so loving and patient. We love and appreciate them so much!

Over the last several years people have said to us, “We love your show!” We have always responded, “It’s not a show, it’s our lives!” Our desire in opening our home to the world is to share Bible principles that are the answers for life’s problems.

With God’s grace and help Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become.

It is our prayer that the painful situation our family went through many years ago can point people toward faith in God and help others who also have lived through similar dark situations to find help, hope and healing, as well.

We appreciate the love, support, prayers and kindness extended to us by many of you. You have deeply touched our hearts and encouraged us, during this time.

God’s faithfulness and goodness to us, along with His abundant grace have given us strength and joy even in the most difficult days.

We have committed to Him that in all things—difficulties or success, good times or bad—we will purpose to bring Him honor by staying true to our faith and our family.

We look forward to working with TLC on this upcoming special documentary and hope that it is an encouragement to many.

We know Who holds the future and are confident that He will work all things together for good.

We love each of you and look forward to unfolding the future with peace and joy.

With Gratefulness,

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar family

A Closer Look at Ethical Issues Involving First Christian Church of Florissant and the Counseling They are Offering to Sex Abuse Victims

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Pastor Steve Wingfield and First Christian Church of Florissant offer counseling to Brandon Milburn’s sex abuse victims, but are there ethical issues involved?

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There is a large group of people, some current and some former members of First Christian Church of Florissant (FCCF), who have been very disappointed in how Pastor Steve Wingfield and church leaders have mishandled a sex abuse case connected with the church. Brandon Milburn, a former church employee who also worked with the youth at FCCF was sentenced to 25 years for rape/sodomy of two boys a few months ago.

Why are the people in this large group unhappy? For many reasons. I’d like to discuss an important one today. While church leaders have claimed not knowing about the sexual abuse allegations, others in this large group have said otherwise, indicating they had brought the sexual abuse allegations to the attention of church leaders and the church leaders failed to respond appropriately or notify authorities. FCCF is doing a great job of using social media in an attempt to influence their congregation that this group is divisive, ungodly, fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-Jezebel-type word.

I’ve been watching this group. I do not believe they are being portrayed accurately by the pastor, outspoken church members and leaders. Many in this group are upset about what they believe is an ongoing cover-up and a failure to deal responsibly as a church to care for those victims who have been harmed.

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

God is a merciful God. He is just. He cares about the oppressed and those who have been harmed. This is exactly what I have seen in this group – care for those who have been harmed. For example, take a look at this note on Facebook from former member, Matt Mueller to Keith Vehlewald, Chairman of Elders at FCCF. Does this not sound like a reasonable question to ask church leaders? Mueller is asking if FCCF will pay the counseling for the victims:

First Christian Church of Florissant, Brandon Milburn, Steve Wingfield

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Did you see Vehlewald’s first response?  He calls Matt Mueller’s plea an attack and tells him to trust the church leaders.  What in the world?  Does it appear that the Chairman of the Elders is responding in a way that would lead people to believe the church leaders will be making efforts to take care of the victims? People are told to blindly trust Vehlewald’s integrity, but according to Mueller and others, nothing has been done to earn an integrity merit badge.

I’ve included only some screenshots of the conversation, but this person had a creative way to generate money to give to the victims for therapy:

First Christian Church of Florissant, Brandon Milburn, Steve Wingfield, lawsuit, sex abuse

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Sometimes after going around and around in circles, it’s important to cut to the chase and call a spade a spade. Rich Raynes does a great job here:

First Christian Church of Florissant, Brandon Milburn, Steve Wingfield, lawsuit, sex abuse

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And in case people misunderstood Rich Raynes the first time, he offers another chance for people to understand his assessment of the situation involving the complacency of the leaders at First Christian Church of Florissant:

First Christian Church of Florissant, Brandon Milburn, Steve Wingfield, lawsuit, sex abuse

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Now, while this conversation was going on, something else was going on at the FCCF website and I’ll get to that in a moment, but first it’s important to note that FCCF has been very good at sharing their side of the story via social media. They have a Twitter account, active Facebook page, a whole page dedicated to the goings on of this legal case including:

I’m sorry, but this weird way of presenting their side of the story is not making them look good, and sadly, it only gets worse.

Ok, back to the “something else was going on” I was mentioning earlier. It was discovered that on June 2, 2015, a new document was posted on the church website: Counseling for Victims of Sexual Abuse.

But wait . . . . where is it?

Go to the FCCF.org site and see if you can find it.  The link is essentially hidden (except from techies). Why would they have such an important page offering counseling to the victims and not put it in a prominent place or advertise it on their active Facebook page? If the church was genuinely interested in reaching out to victims to offer assistance in therapy, wouldn’t they make more of an effort to reach out to the victims and spread the word? This smells fishy to me. Grab the nose plugs, we’re not done yet.

Let’s discuss this document offering counseling for victims. Straight up, I will admit that I am alarmed for a number of reasons. Let’s start at the top of the page:

First Christian Church of Florissant, sex abuse, lawsuit, Brandon Milburn

If you were a sex abuse victim and the pedophile who abused you was connected with the church,  . . . .where leaders reportedly failed to notify authorities, would you feel comfortable going back to this church? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Going back to the place which represents harm would be the very last place you would want to go.

Secondly, notice that it says the first session is with Licensed Professional Counselor, Dennis Hounshell. That means that the victims would have to relay their story first to Hounshell, and then get referred to another therapist. Going to one therapist is difficult enough. Imagine adding the sensitive sexual component on top of that.  Part of the process of finding a counselor is establishing a level of trust.  It is wrong to force a victim to go through these types of hoops.  If a church is wanting to help financially, they should allow the victims to find therapists of their own choosing and then submit the therapy bills to the church. The church only needs to be involved only to establish that the victim is in fact receiving care from a licensed provider.

It’s important to note that last Friday, I left a voicemail with Mr. Hounshell, FCCF’s staff counselor, to discuss these matters. I wanted to hear his thoughts on this arrangement because a few people have told me privately that he is a good guy and well-respected within the church.

I got the impression that some are concerned that he may be in a very difficult position and may not have much say in how this arrangement was made. I don’t know if that is the case, but as a licensed therapist, there are codes of ethics that must be followed and I am concerned that by agreeing with this arrangement Mr. Hounshell could be putting his license in jeopardy and the church’s response may even be illegal, depending on the State’s guidelines. I had hoped to relay that to him.

I’m not going to mince words here. It is my opinion that forcing victims to meet with Mr. Hounshell first, and then be transferring them to another therapist is re-victimizing. I would even go as far as to label it as emotional and spiritual abuse. The leaders of First Christian Church of Florissant are trying to control this therapy and it is not their place to do so. By interfering with the recovery process and forcing victims to go by their rules, church leaders are doing more destruction to these already shattered lives.

I was so disturbed by FCCF’s “offer” for counseling, that I posted the following on a private Facebook forum and asked for feedback. This forum consists of licensed therapists, abuse advocates, and survivors. I received quite a number of responses and received permission to post a couple of them here. I am grateful for that because sometimes we can miss the obvious when we are closely connected to a situation. I am hoping that by reading some of these responses, people from First Christian Church of Florissant can see how outsiders are viewing the handling of this case.

The general consensus from the members of the forum was that the stipulations the victims must go through are unethical and possibly illegal.

Here is how I posed the question on the forum:

I’d like to hear from any therapists here about a church situation I will be reporting on.

[I gave background of the case.]

Now, they [FCCF] have agreed to provide counseling to victims. They have a limited # of sessions they will pay for. The victims first have to meet with the licensed therapist employed by the church, who in turn will then refer victim to licensed therapists of the church’s choosing.

I’m having a problem with the above paragraph. Does anyone else see any conflict of interest or even ethical violations?

This first response came form a male sex abuse survivor:

I’m neither a therapist nor a lawyer. These minors need both.

When I reported my abuse . . . the contact person offered to provide a list of therapists to choose from or, if I preferred, I could get one on my own. The answer to that was obvious. The church wound up paying for twice-a-week therapy for three years, plus psychiatry and medications — until a settlement was reached.

The church in this case needs only to know who to pay and confirmation that the minors are actually attending the sessions. The rest is privileged information — get a good personal injury lawyer double-quick.

Another very concerning part of the offer for help is the amount of therapy they are willing to cover.

Here is a screenshot from the website:

Brandon Milburn, First Christian Church of Florissant

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Do you notice any issues here?  12 sessions – count them: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and that’s it?  Done with therapy?  And the victim is fully recovered?  Let me remind you of what the male sex abuse victim mentioned above regarding his own sexual abuse therapy:

The church wound up paying for twice-a-week therapy for three years, plus psychiatry and medications.

Jean Coleman, also from the Facebook forum, gave me permission to share her name and words:

First of all, I am not a therapist, but have a masters in counseling, AND am a former child welfare worker, so I am not exactly what you are asking for. Secondly, requiring victims of ANY crime to return to the point of their victimization IS illegal, at least in Ohio, for a court case, so I can’t see it being valid just to qualify for counseling. Secondly, as a child welfare worker, we planned for a MINIMUM of one year, weekly, of individual counseling AND at least one round of group counseling (8 to 12 weeks). It is telling that Ohio Medicaid in the 90’s didn’t bat an eye at paying for this level of counseling and a church isn’t willing to pay for that level of care. I would wonder what the child welfare agency in that area is doing….they would be the best resource for appropriate therapists. 12 weeks of counseling would do nothing more that stir up issues.

I agree with Jean, especially on the last sentence. I think having only 12 weeks of counseling would simply scratch the surface, and then to stop at that point could be detrimental and cause more harm because the work is not completed.

After Jean saw the complete church document, she offered this additional comment which I had not considered:

There’s an ethical issue here, from one Christian organization to another. If the counseling agency is on a sliding fee scale, other sources (insurance, other payers) should be taken into consideration. If this is not included in the calculating of the sliding fee scale, the church is, in effect, taking advantage of the generosity of the counseling agency’s willingness to go on a sliding scale. I wonder if the counseling agency is aware of this???

I hope the leaders at FCCF will see that the path they have chosen to offer help to victims, while may appear good at first, is really harmful. They can do much better. Not only that, I believe the victims in this case may have justification to file a civil lawsuit against the church leaders. This is serious business and the church has not done well.

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Brandon Milburn, pedophile, First Christian Church of Florissant, Steve WingfieldA couple of individuals closely connected with this case have grown tired of waiting for the church to help and want to get funds immediately for the victims. They have set up a gofundme account:

In recent months, the news of sexual abuse by Brandon Milburn has become quite public. While the perpetrator is behind bars, the victims are suffering in a silent prison of their own. After years of secrecy, many have taken the brave step of confronting their past. Your donations will help fund counseling for these individuals, many of whom lack the support and resources needed to make continued healing a reality. Together we can provide healing and hope for those who were victimized.

Counseling fees will be paid directly to provider of service.  

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal Who Sued 5 Former Church Members for $500,000 for Defamation Claims His First Amendment Rights are Violated When Police Officer Asks Him to Move to Side of Road to Preach

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal claims Portland-area police officer is threatening his First Amendment Rights. This is the same pastor who sued 4 former church members  $500,000 for speaking out publicly against him.

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Pastor Chuck O'Neal, First Amendment, Free Speech, Defamation lawsuit, suing pastor

Notice how O’Neal (red cap) thrusts his Bible in the lady’s personal space, calling her “dear lady.” The man on the right in the jeans was a deacon when we were there. You can safely assume that anyone wearing shorts covering their knees (or carrying signs, passing out tracts), is a member of Beaverton Grace Bible Church. Exposing your knees is immodest, don’t you know?

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This is rich. Pastor Chuck O’Neal of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, the very same pastor who sued me and four former church members for defamation, trying to remove our right to free speech, recently posted a video on YouTube claiming that a police officer was trying to infringe upon his First Amendment rights. Yea, right.

The YouTube description:

On the 4th of July the First Amendment was revoked at an Independence Day Parade in Hillsboro, Oregon. The street was full of people drawing with chalk, jogging, walking, and talking. The parade wasn’t even in sight. The Hillsboro Police Officer drove by several blocks of people in the street without a word, went directly to the man preaching the Gospel, and told him to get out of the street or be arrested. Beaverton Grace Bible Church has been blessed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ along parade routes in Portland and Hillsboro for many years. The police have always been wonderful. They have at times informed the public: “They are well within their constitutional rights.” It is our hope that this Independence Day Parade incident is an anomaly. Following the example of the Apostle Paul from Acts 22, we will be interacting with the Hillsboro Police Department and District Attorney in order to avoid future infringement upon Gospel ministry and the First Amendment. (Source)

Ok, from the above paragraph, this makes me laugh – “The Hillsboro Police Officer . . . went directly to the man preaching the Gospel.”  What’s with the obtuse language, “the man preaching?” It’s like he’s giving the impression someone else is telling the story. The man preaching is Chuck O’Neal, the same Bible-believing pastor who typed up an 18-page manifesto of why he had a right to sue (against Scripture) me and four others when we were exercising our speech which is protected by the First Amendment. How ridiculous can this man be? (Chuck, this is an opinion, not a fact, don’t waste my time and yours with another frivolous lawsuit. Think of how many people on the streets of Portland will be missing your gospelly message if you sue me.)

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The real action begins at about the 4:35 mark on the video. The beginning of the video includes Chuck’s typed narrative where he builds his case. Hmm, maybe it would be a good idea to skip to the 4:35 mark first, and then go back and read Chuck’s narrative and see if his words match up with what you see and hear in the video.

The police officer said nothing about having O’Neal be quiet, yet that is the spin he is trying to convince his audience. She asked him politely many times to move over to the side of the road, but he claims his freedom of speech is being threatened. Quote from the police officer, “I don’t mind you preaching, I just need you out of the road.”

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Spin, spin, and more spin!

Chuck O'Neal, First Amendment, Defamation lawsuit, street preacher, suing pastor

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal claims he is being singled out for proclaiming the gospel and asks why she (the police officer) isn’t asking the others to move.  If you look in the video, you can see people in the road. They are walking across the street, or walking with chairs in their hands. I’ve been to these parades in the Portland area. Of course people walk in the streets to find a good place to watch the parade, but they don’t stay in the middle of the road as he and his church cohorts who are passing out tracts are doing.

The police officer said that O’Neal needs to get a special permit.  He doesn’t like that answer and again turns it around to say she is infringing on his rights to free speech. She is not infringing on his right to free speech at all and clearly says that.

So, when First Amendment rights benefit him in sharing his brand of the gospel, bring it on, baby, but if it’s free speech that makes him look bad, let’s file a $500,000 lawsuit against 5 former members, add the name of the church to the lawsuit so the church can pick up the tab (likely in the tithes and offerings).  Way to represent the true Gospel, Chuck O’Neal. You are not getting persecuted. Your free speech was not hindered, you were just told to move and continue preaching on the side of the road because of an oncoming parade, for crying out loud.

photo credit: Roundabout Fun via photopin (license)

There is a Pedophile in My Family: The Tools I Gave My Children to Protect Them from Harm

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Tools to Help Protect Children from Pedophiles and Sex Abuse

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After reading, A Betrayal at Home, an article on incest and child sex abuse, I became angry – angry about trusted individuals who should have been loving and protecting precious children, but instead silenced and victimized children by abusing them sexually, sometimes destroying their lives emotionally and spiritually.

I have seen first-hand the devastating effects on victims and their residual scars. Having observed a pedophile on the prowl and also watching the lives of untreated victims in my own family has been heartbreaking. After reading the aforementioned article, I quickly typed up what I have done in my own family to protect my children from pedophiles and posted it on my blog’s Facebook page. Pam Palmer, child sex abuse advocate (and mother of a child who was sexually abused at a church gathering), suggested that I post it here.  I have slightly revised the original and have provided more statistics and resources.   ~Julie Anne


There is a Pedophile in My Family: The Tools I Gave My Children to Protect Them from Harm

by Julie Anne Smith

child sex abuse, pedophile, safeguards

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Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

93% of child sex abuse victims know their perpetrators. We need to destroy the myth that those who prey on children are strangers. Do the math, only 7% are strangers.

Who are perpetrators? They are usually friends, relatives, church leaders, coaches, people involved in the child’s life that the children know and trust.

There is a pedophile in my family. He was a missionary. Where did he prey on children? In his own home, in his backyard pool when his sons brought their friends over to play, in public parks, in church restrooms or any public restroom.

I tell my kids that we don’t know who pedophiles are, but they are usually people they know and trust. Don’t think that most sex offenders are on sex offender registries. My family member has abused over 20 kids, but the Statute of Limitations has run out and so he is on no list. He is still a dangerous man.

All of my children through junior high age buddy up with a sibling when going to the restroom (even at church!). My children are also told to distrust anyone who tells them they must keep a secret and to let me know if this happens. Every single time they go to a sleepover or camp, I remind them of our special code: if they ever feel uncomfortable around someone for any reasons, they are to tell an adult they want to call home because they are “not feeling well.” I know that code language and will come pick up the child.

Equipping our children with knowledge of what to look for, how to respond, and to trust their gut is very important. So far, so good. I’ve been giving my kids these tools from the age they were taught to identify specific body parts, around 2-3 years of age.

In full disclosure, I was initially nervous to talk to my children about this difficult topic. But because we were still having limited family gatherings in which the known pedophile was present, I knew that I needed to get over my fears. Surprisingly, my children have always listened, asked appropriate questions, and have never been squeamish. I put so much unnecessary pressure on myself!

Children like to have knowledge. Knowledge gives them power so they are not afraid of the unknowns. Talking to children is much easier than it sounds. Please, do it!  After the first time broaching the subject, to follow up, all you will need to say is, “Remember when we talked about . . .???”  The rest will flow easily. Piece of cake. You’ve got this!!


Some important statistics:

Victims of sexual assault are:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. (Source: World Health Organization)

93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.

  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement. 2000.)

Resources:

The above statistics and much more information can be found at RAINN.org:  Rape Abuse and Incest National Network

GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment)  Empowering And Training Christian Communities To
Recognize, Prevent, And Respond To Child Abuse

photo credit: Forgotten Teddy Bear via photopin (license)

NonFamily Sex Abuse Victim Expected to File Civil Lawsuit against Josh Duggar

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Josh Duggar’s (nonfamily) sex abuse victim intends to file lawsuit against him.

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Recent news reports claim that Josh Duggar, son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who was reported to have sexually abused five children as a young teen, will be facing a civil lawsuit filed by the non-related victim. It should be noted that Duggar confessed to the crimes, but the Statute of Limitations had expired, so he was not criminally charged.

There are still many questions surrounding this case. Who knew what and when? What did pastors know? What did they do? How much did his parents know? How did they respond? How was this case handled by people close to the Duggar family? What safeguards were in place? What specific counseling did Josh and the victims receive?

InTouch’s article included this important information which could certainly be helpful for us to understand how this abuse was covered up by people who should have reported:

The shocking development means that Josh and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle could be forced to give depositions and testify about Josh’s molestation scandal. The Duggars likely will have to answer every question as they will not be able to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because the criminal statute of limitations has expired.

While the Statute of Limitations expired for Duggar to be tried criminally, Arkansas has a state law which allows for a civil lawsuit to be filed by victims after the Statute of Limitations have expired, even many years later: 1

6-56-130. Civil actions based on sexual abuse.

(a) Notwithstanding any other statute of limitations or any other provision of law that can be construed to reduce the statutory period set forth in this section, any civil action based on sexual abuse which occurred when the injured person was a minor but is not discovered until after the injured person reaches the age of majority shall be brought within three (3) years from the time of discovery of the sexual abuse by the injured party. (Read more info about the law here: Source)

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This case is especially noteworthy because of the pattern of mishandling of sex abuse we’ve been seeing in the Homeschool Movement, a subculture in which families adhere to such ideologies as Patriarchy, Quiverfull (Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar family has 19 children), emphasis on purity teachings, courtship, etc.  Here are some other notable cases of sexual abuse mishandling, all closely connected to the Homeschool Movement:

  • Bill Gothard, a popular Christian leader was forced to step down from his position at Institute for Basic Life Principles after allegations of sexual grooming by dozens of women. The Duggar family highly respect Mr. Gothard and also used his ATI homeschool curricula for their family. The Duggars are currently scheduled to speak at ATI/IBLP events.
  • The Jackson Family case – Six brothers from a large homeschool family were arrested for allegedly sexually violating their younger sister for 10 years.  Parents, John and Nita Jackson, were also charged for failing to report. Two of the brothers were members of Scott Brown’s  (NCFIC) Hope Bible Church (Scott Brown is a leader in the Homeschool Movement). 
  • A homeschooled girl is sexually abused by a Peninsula Household of Faith Community Church elder’s son, Patrick Rojas (WA state).  This church is primarily homeschool families. Dee of Wartburg Watch covered this story and I later spoke with the mother, Danielle.  Pedophilia and Deception at a Household of Faith Community Church

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Having been involved in the Homeschool Movement for many years (and a homeschool mom for 23 years), I have had a growing concern about abuse victims who have slipped through the cracks because parents and church leaders have failed to report crimes. The pattern I have observed is some parents/church leaders think it is their Christian responsibility to deal with the sins involved, but fail to follow through with their civil responsibilities in reporting crimes.

The Homeschool Movement includes families who are anti-government, and because of this, children who are abused may not get appropriate protection they need. Additionally, these groups tend to be strongly against mental health and so their counseling might consist of only approved Biblical or Nouthetic counseling, if that. Many times victims do not get appropriate counsel by licensed therapists/counselors who are trained to handle sex abuse cases.

I am very sad about this Duggar case and am grieved that some of the victims have been named publicly and did not choose to have their story made public. However, because of Duggar’s celebrity-like status, the handling of Josh Duggar’s case will continue to be in the public spotlight. This is important because the Homeschool Movement must learn from their mistakes and take appropriate measures to protect and defend abused children.

Updated to add this important and recent video of Boz Tchividjian, discussing this case and sex abuse, how to respond appropriately, etc.

Former Youth Pastor Responds to Open Letter from Church Leaders Who Mishandled and Failed to Report Child Sex Abuse

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Open Letter from Pastor Steve Wingfield and Elders of First Christian Church of Florissant and Response from Former Youth Pastor

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Earlier this month, I shared a portion of a disturbing story about First Christian Church of Florissant (FCCF) and their pastor, Steve Wingfield. I found this case  especially intriguing because of the similarities with my own former pastor’s failure to report child sex abuse and his lawsuit against me:

  • Pastor Steve Wingfield and church leadership allegedly failed to respond to child known sex abuse allegations
  • Convicted sex offender, Brandon Milburn, eventually plead guilty to seven counts of sodomy with two minors under the age of 12 and was subsequently sentenced to 25 years in prison.
  • Pastor Steve Wingfield used the civil court system to file a defamation lawsuit in an attempt to control negative public communication by former church members.
  • Pastor Wingfield published a lengthy explanation of why filing a lawsuit against former members was Biblically appropriate, despite the Bible’s clear teaching against it (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).

There’s much more to report, but you now have a quick glimpse of the upheaval occurring in this once largely attended church in Florissant, Missouri.

On June 21, 2015, an Open Letter was widely published and shared via the church website, read from the pulpit, published on the church’s Facebook page, Twitter, and sent by e-mail and snail mail. Apparently, they wanted to reach a very wide audience.

The Open Letter shares the narrative of the pastor (and elders) and their side of the storyHowever, it only shares one side – the side that church leaders want you to hear. It paints those who disagree with them in a negative light and labels them as slanderers, bitter, and accusers.

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Titus and Kari Benton

Pastor Titus Benton has spent the last 4 years as a youth pastor at a church in Texas. Prior to this ministry position, he was on staff at FCCF, first as a part-time intern, later taking a full-time position offered by Pastor Steve Wingfield. He was at FCCF for approximately 10 years, occasionally preaching before the congregation. Benton told me he worked fairly closely with Wingfield until Benton purportedly “took authority [he] had not been given.”

Pastor Benton’s wife, Kari, grew up in the church, and so it was not just a job at any church, FCCF was home to the Benton family. They both care deeply for this church family.

When Titus read the Open Letter, he was moved to respond. He shared his response with me and I asked him if I could share it here. Titus’ voice represents the voice of many current and former members. Titus wrote the entire response to the Open Letter and he also “ran it by the victims’ families to make sure it was accurate.”

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Admin note:The words from FCCF’s Open Letter are in black font and Titus Benton’s words are in green font. I have retained the bolded subheadings as was originally published in the Open Letter. The following is considerably long, so I’ve tried to break it up a bit with screenshots of comments from church supporters.   ~ja

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Open Letter from First Christian Church of Florissant Elders

  • Keith Vehlewald, Chairman of Elders
  • Stanley DuBose, Vice Chairman
  • Bob Dees, Secretary
  • Eugene Storjohann, Treasurer
  • Steve Wingfield, Senior Pastor
  • Bob Farmer, Jr., Executive Pastor

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We’re blessed. First Christian Church of Florissant is an amazing multi-generational, multiethnic family. We joyfully celebrate a 57 year legacy of ministry built on honoring Jesus Christ through compassionately living in the world.

This is true. For fifty years, there were few better examples of Great Commission churches in the United States. So moving was this history that I wrote my Master’s thesis on the rich history. It is one worthy of great honor. I still have one of Charles Wingfield’s ties in my office, a reminder of this legacy.

We have served thousands of families and been recognized nationally for the strength of our diversity. Like every family, our church family has moments when our strength is tested.

This is one of those moments. In January 2014 two former First Christian Church families were told for the first time by their now grown sons that they had been sexually abused in 2007 by Brandon Milburn . . .

Two questions:

1. How do the elders know those families were told in January? They have talked to one of the families sparingly and the other not at all. I know this because I have spoken with both the families.

2. The victims were not abused in 2007 alone, but from 2007-2009. To continue to cite this date inaccurately seemingly minimizes the victims in order to save face, and interfere’s with the victims’ healing process.

. . . then a full time student at St. Louis Christian College and a part-time church employee. These families did the right thing, the difficult thing. They stood strong in their test . . .

They are strong, but I would not say they stood strong. They were crumpled to the floor in agony. They wept. They were broken. They hurt. And again, I’m not sure how the elders would know that they stood strong “in their test,” because there was little-to-no communication between the families and the church.

Also, why should it matter where Brandon Milburn went to school? This is a carefully worded attempt to distract from the fact that abuses happened because of Brandon’s role at the church from at least 2007-2012.

. . . reported this horrible crime to the authorities and sought counseling. A year-long open investigation invited any other victims to come forward and led to a guilty plea and a sentence to 25 years in prison.

The investigation by law enforcement did not last a year. There was no investigation by church leaders (unless a handful of announcements counts as an investigation). At first, there was a not-guilty plea and the defendant minimized his actions. At the last second, when facing trial, Brandon changed his plea to avoid a trial.

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While this abuse did not occur in church facilities or at our programs, we hurt when others do.

There is no doubt in my mind church leaders hurt to learn of Brandon’s betrayal of trust and predatory behavior. I believe that is true. However, this is not the abuse that Steve was confronted about or what the recent controversy is surrounding. For the better part of the last four months, private conversations with Steve and elders attempted to make this clear.

To clarify once again, the recent confrontation was regarding abuses IN ADDITION TO the abuse charges levied against Brandon, and warnings of that abuse that were shared with Steve in 2011 and 2012.

The actions of one had a ripple effect of hurt to many through his violation of trust. Because we are a place of healing, First Christian provides two professional counseling resources available for victims of Milburn’s abuse.

There’s a lot to be said here. First, many were indeed hurt by Brandon’s violation of trust. But, again, that’s not what the recent confrontation has been about. It has been about hurt caused by the elders (including Steve) and the violation of the trust placed in them, beginning with (but not limited to) their inactivity when approached about additional abuse concerns shared with Steve in 2011, and again in 2012. This abuse was not related to the charges against Brandon, but was inflicted upon additional victims.

There is no mention of this in this open letter, and that is deceitful. No one was ever claiming that Steve (or anyone, for that matter) knew about abuse in 2007-2009. However, most readers of this Open Letter surely read recent news stories of first-hand accounts from additional victims saying that they were abused by Brandon in 2011/2012. These are the abuses that Steve was alerted to and failed to report.

Additionally, while First Christian did finally offer counseling, they have never provided any outreach to former members or victims no longer attending to make this known. Elders started this document by granting that the known victims and their families were no longer involved at First Christian. So the counseling they reportedly “offered” was not known by those families, because those families were not in services to hear the announcement – the only place those services were spoken of.

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Disturbing methods. Since the February 2015 sentencing . . .

Brandon Milburn’s sentencing was in late March, not February.

First Christian Church has been harassed and slandered by false claims that church leaders knew of the sexual abuse and criminally failed to report it. This is simply not true.

Actually, it is true. In 2011 and again in 2012, two different individuals told Steve Wingfield of concerns regarding behaviors indicative of abuse. They did this privately. Later, both Doug Lay and I confronted the church – also privately. I am the only one to allege this was a crime, which I shared with Steve and the elders privately on one occasion. This was after hearing about the concerns first hand (in Fall 2014) and doing my own investigation to ensure that they were true before confronting them. I came to the elders and Steve through a private letter in February 2015 that alerted them to that which I had been made aware. Even though I was the only one to allege that it was a crime, it is worth noting that failure to report suspected child abuse (not proven child abuse, but suspected) is a crime.

It is also only fair to admit that it was later included in the case study and received a much wider audience.

“Harassment” and “slander” are two legal terms used to describe a criminal offense that the cited behavior does not rise to the level of. The court of law ruled against the restraining order that asserted that these behaviors were present, so to still describe the behavior “against” the church as harassment and slander is legally untrue.  To use these terms in a piece of communication like this is a poor choice as it does not represent the truth.

These unsubstantiated claims . . .

The claims were not unsubstantiated. They were verified by several people before I ever contacted church leadership.

. . . were repeatedly promoted in the unfiltered platform of social media . . .

This is similar to the elders’ Open Letter of which I’m now commenting.

. . . on fake Facebook accounts, in phone calls and emails sourced through the unauthorized use of church databases, in issuing demands for the resignation of leaders and seeking supporters who might disrupt worship services.

To this day, the elders have offered no evidence of harassing phone calls or e-mails, nor that there were those who had the goal of disrupting worship services.

Critics do share a valuable role suggesting need for improvements. However, some opportunistically choose destructive methods…testing great cities, testing law enforcement, testing best of class organizations, schools, and even effective churches.

To assert that someone was being opportunistic infers that they are seeking selfish gain. Though church leaders have hinted at hidden agendas on the part of whistle-blowers, they have never indicated what these agendas might be. As for the various institutions that have been tested, only First Christian has faced critique and ridicule.

Outside of the crimes of Brandon Milburn (and the mishandling of concerns on the part of church leadership in the wake of his arrest), it is easy to argue that FCCF has not been “effective” in various ministry pursuits in recent years. In other words, the people watching all this and yelling “fire” are not the ones that lit the match. There are bigger problems at FCCF than Brandon Milburn.

A line must be drawn. These methods do not belong in our church family.

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Patient leadership. As elders, we have worked in unity over the last months to protect and clear First Christians name legally and through law enforcement.

Understand this phrase “a line must be drawn.” Who is drawing it? If you do not agree with church leaders, you do not belong in “our church family.”

It has long been assumed by many that protecting First Christian’s name was the leadership’s goal based on how these issues have been handled. While some churches would have preferred to seek the truth, minister to victims, and take substantive steps to correct mistakes and not just save face, their goal  – now stated clearly for all to see and understand – was to clear their name and protect their reputation.

Based on the clear evidence, we’ve sought retractions, not financial penalties.

It’s not “clear evidence” when none has been provided that slander and harassment occurred. Several lawyers have read the lawsuit filed against five defendants in Saint Louis County court: four lawyers representing the defense and at least one additional lawyer giving advice. Each of them have been clear — financial penalties of at least $25,000 were being sought in the lawsuit against the defendants. To assert that the purpose was only to seek retractions and not financial penalties is simply not true.

One does not have to be a lawyer to conclude that financial penalties were being sought. In Count 5 of the lawsuit, “Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress” against all five defendants, the Plaintiff (that’s Steve & First Christian) “demands judgement against Defendant as follows:

  • for compensatory damages in excess of $25,000
  • for punitive damages
  • for their cost of suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees

Then, on page 12 of the same lawsuit, Steve Wingfield signed his name in front of a notary public on the 16th day of April, “swearing that he read the foregoing petition” and understood was contained therein.

After pursuing options that enabled us to name accusers and present affidavits and evidence that could be substantiated in court . . . 

The elders do not note here that it could NOT be substantiated in court…the restraining order that named the accusers and attached the affidavits and provided the evidence was denied by a court in Saint Louis County.

. . . the eldership decided to voluntarily drop civil actions and enlist assistance from two respected Christian mediators.

This is not true. My wife and I were in the meeting where the elders were asked to drop the lawsuit. They did not do so voluntarily. The “mediators” were arranged by a concerned third-party – they did not come at the invitation of the elders. How is that the elders can now claim to have voluntarily dropped the lawsuit in order to instead enlist assistance from outside mediators when the mediators were brought in first (the meeting set up by a third-party, not at the elder’s invitation) and ended up being the ones who asked them to drop the suit?

Our intent – to give our critics yet additional opportunities to reconcile. Regretfully, those seeking to blame us and incite outrage prefer to continue spreading wholly false accusations.

Following the dropping of the lawsuit, only my wife and I were contacted for further dialogue. This dialogue happened on one occasion and did not include any talk of reconciliation, only a rehashing of past events and arguments as to why they had to be that way. In fact, after forty minutes of this banter, the “mediator” decided he’d heard enough and excused himself to go home. The phone call ended abruptly.

Additionally, as it has already been pointed out, the accusations were not “wholly false.” In fact, in the same meeting where it was requested that the lawsuit be dropped, Steve Wingfield admitted that Dawn Varvil had shared with him in the 2012 meeting that Brandon had bought an iPhone for a young man, been seen spooning with him, and had a key to his apartment.

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Standing strong. Upon the counsel of our mediator, we are persuaded that the best course of action for the First Christian family NOW is to refocus our energies exclusively on moving forward with our ministry and mission.

This is true. The “mediators” did not actually mediate — trying to bring two sides together. Rather, they advised church leaders to make a statement and move on. This statement is the statement following that counsel, and they sincerely have no intention of talking about this any more.

With your support and encouragement, First Christian Church will only intensify our commitment to stand strong, becoming an even more compassionate community resource. We’re thankful that this amazing family continues to grow in faith, welcoming first-time guests and each week celebrating new committed followers of Christ. We began June with more than 500 kids and volunteers in Vacation Bible School. Our Celebrate Recovery is an ongoing ministry of support. While we will always have a tear in our eye for those wronged by heinous actions . . . 

Since Brandon’s arrest, no elder has reportedly been seen with a tear in their eye for any victim. Only after a huge public outcry, several newspaper articles, and a drastic reduction in weekly attendance and financial giving did the church even arrange for counseling for victims — and those details are yet to have been shared with a wider audience they are supposedly meant to serve.

. . . our focus is and will be resolutely on the greater things that bring us together… one faith, in one Lord, and one message of God’s love and grace that can bring healing in any life.

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Better not bitter. First Christian Church of Florissant is listening, learning and loving, determined to be better, not bitter.

In the often-scoffed-at case study entitled “Is it Enough?” the authors provide more than a dozen suggestions at how First Christian could do better at recognizing, reporting, and handling sexual abuse within its family. As of the writing of this response, zero suggestions have been implemented.

Our core values determine that we will go forward, empowered by God’s grace to be a place where Christ comes first, where the lost are found, where the Word is heard, where care is shared, and where our world is changed. In this time of testing, First Christian is standing strong.

Given the turnover in staff, decline in attendance, public outrage, divided congregation, and reported spiritual and physical unhealth of the senior pastor in the face of conflict, it is difficult to believe this assertion.

We invite you to stand with us.

Every piece of evidence I’ve suggested in this response is verifiable by someone other than me. I don’t ask you to stand with me; however, I ask you to look into it, find the truth, and stand with it. The truth is powerful enough to stand on its own, but we would do well to align ourselves with it.  ~Pastor Titus Benton

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Emerson Eggerichs Says Wives Respect Husbands Unconditionally

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Should women respect their husbands unconditionally?      Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect, says so.

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Emerson Eggerichs, love and respect

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I follow the Love and Respect guy, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in my Facebook news feed.  (I’m issuing a trigger warning for one of our own who went to his church.)  He now has an entire ministry/business based on the Love and Respect theme, including conferences, books, store, podcast, blog, etc.

Here is part of Eggerichs’ bio:

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is an internationally known public speaker on the topic of male-female relationships.  Based on over three decades of counseling as well as scientific and biblical research, Dr. Eggerichs and his wife Sarah developed the Love and Respect Conference which they present to live audiences around the country.

This dynamic and life-changing conference is impacting the world, resulting in the healing and restoration of countless relationships.  Dr. Eggerichs has authored several books, including the national bestseller Love & Respect, which is a Platinum and Book of the Year award winner, selling over 1.6 million copies.

My husband and I saw the Love & Respect video a former church offered. I liked some of it, but it seemed very black and white to me. If husbands really loved their wives and wives really respected their husbands, everything would be hunky dory.

I watched this before understanding the dynamics of abuse in a marriage. This was in the days I was taught that women should submit to husbands in all things and that if  husbands did something wrong, we were to quietly pray for them and ask God to change their hearts. Women were to put up with any bad behavior so we could “win” them over by our behavior. If we didn’t win them over, we were told we were suffering for righteousness sake.

Eggerich has a series on wives’ unconditional respect of their husbands. The following two points jumped out at me and I thought we could use it for discussion:

3. Unconditional respect has nothing to do with a husband earning and deserving respect.

A wife’s respectful behavior is displayed independent of her husband. This is about who God calls the wife to be regardless of her husband. Her respect is not conditioned on her husband’s behavior. She will behave respectfully no matter how her husband behaves. She is a woman of dignity.

God calls a wife to conduct herself respectfully by focusing on the spirit of her husband, not his flesh–looking more deeply into that part of her husband where he longs to do what God calls him to do.

Yes, God is grieved by his sinful behavior. However God does not show contempt toward the spirit of her husband because that is not who God is, any more than He shows disdain toward her when she sins.

4. Unconditional respect can prompt a sense of conviction and win the heart of a disobedient husband.

Notice what happened in the story I shared yesterday. This wife’s husband surfaced his sin on the heels of her showing him respect.

Is this a Biblical teaching? Do you think this advice is wise to follow? Why is the onus on the wife to help change her husband’s behavior?

Pastor David McGee Publicly Names and Excommunicates Four Church Members via His Facebook Page

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Pastor David McGee of The Bridge Church publicly excommunicated or disfellowshipped four members via his Facebook page.

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On Thursday, Pastor David McGee of The Bridge Fellowship in Kernersville, North Carolina, posted a comment on his Facebook account publicly naming and “disfollowshipping” four church members. I repeat – this was done PUBLICLY on Facebook, not in the context of a church meeting among church members.
Check this out:
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David continued with his comment by quoting about 30 – thirty, not 3, verses justifying his actions. Some of the verses were quoted in different translations and guess which verse was included? Of course Hebrews 13:17 (“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.”), but take a look at the last verse quoted. Why do you supposed he ended with this verse?
Heb 13:7
Remember your leaders who first taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do.  NLT
You can read more about this story, including video here:  Couple says they were banned from Kernersville church by pastor on social media
I like to dig a little bit when I read words. Do you see the contradiction in the following two comments by Pastor McGee?  Take special note of the tithing references. The 2nd comment was posted 16 hours after the first comment.
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David McGee, The Bridge Church, excommunication, disfellowship

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There were other comments claiming this was not really about tithing, but if it wasn’t about tithing, then why is it mentioned at all?
Here you can see some pushback and then a member defends her pastor. I noticed the word “covenant” in this comment, but did not see a membership covenant at the church website.
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David Mcgee, The Bridge Church, Excommunication, Disfellowship

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When people publicly speak out against a pastor, they are frequently labeled as the enemy.The pastor is on the right side and anyone who questions him, is labeled as divisive, disobedient to God and His Word:
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I found another contradiction.  Here McGee says he won’t defend himself publicly:
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But wait . . .now he is going to the media to share:
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This little note is revealing. And 31 people liked it!  Yea, it’s really important that your pastor has lots and lots of friends . . because that makes him right and reputable and all Christiany.
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Of course we do not know all of the details of this case and can only make conclusions based on what we see publicly. But what I see publicly is troubling.
I have heard of stories where church members have been abusive to pastors. We often talk only about abusive leaders, but that is not always the case. Even if members are abusive, we need to ask how does a shepherd appropriately handle members who are divisive? If Pastor McGee is correct in saying that these folks have been divisive, how should a pastor respond?  Do you see godly fruit in the behavior?

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Do you feel guilty because of pressure and high expectations from church leaders? You are not alone!

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High-pressure church leaders, mandatory church attendance and guilt

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Church Leaders Who Revictimize Abuse Victims and Theology That Harms Both Victims and Perpetrators

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Church leaders revictimize abuse victims when they fail to respond appropriately to abuse. Theology can be used to minimize the sin of perpetrators and sometimes blames abuse victims.

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I’ve been following the story of Pastor Steve Wingfield at First Christian Church of Florissant and was notified that the largest paper in St. Louis published a follow-up article, The battle for First Christian Church of Florissant. It is important for people to see the likely fallout when church leaders fail to be true shepherds. As a result, First Christian Church of Florissant is dwindling in numbers as the remaining members try to make sense of the mess created by their church leaders.

The story involves a former youth minister, Brandon Milburn, who is now serving 25 years in prison for sexual crimes against minor boys and how Pastor Wingfield failed to report and respond appropriately when members brought the sexual abuse allegations to his attention.

In April, Pastor Wingfield filed a defamation lawsuit against several members who spoke out against him publicly on social media. Wingfield later dropped the lawsuit claiming he wanted to handle it via mediation. I reached out to one of the former members who said that there has been very little mediation, but “more consulting on how to move past this.” Here’s my interpretation: the negative publicity regarding the lawsuit, Plan A, did not yield the desired results and so Wingfield has gone on to Plan B to redefine their new and improved image (because we know it’s all about the image of the church over helping the abused and defenseless, right?).

Dawn Varvil, one of the defendants in the rescinded lawsuit, discussed the hardships sexual abuse victims have faced while the church leaders turned their backs on them in order to save face. Now, let’s look more closely at the motives behind those mean horrible trouble-making members who had the audacity to call out their pastor publicly:

Members also say the church has neglected to provide victims with any substantial relief, either in the form of paying for counseling, or in the case of at least one family, simply reaching out to inquire how it might be able to help. Varvil also says she knows of others victimized by Milburn who have yet to come forward. (Source)

It’s apparent to see that these members who publicly called out Pastor Steve Wingfield are concerned about the emotional and spiritual well-being of those who have been harmed by leaders within the church, a place that is supposed to be a refuge and a place that shares the love of Christ, defending the oppressed and abused.

Varvil continued:

“This is a stumbling block for them,” Varvil said, referring to the victims. “They have left the church. Some of them are using drugs. Some of them are using alcohol. The faith community owes them some action.” (Source)

I agree 100% with Varvil. To be sexually abused by a leader in the church who is in a position of trust and then abandoned by other church leaders sends very powerful messages to victims:

  • who can victims trust in the church?
  • are the church leaders not concerned about the pain they are feeling?
  • where has God been in all of this?

When church leaders fail to respond appropriately, the victim is emotionally, physically, and spiritually abandoned. Some might have a crisis of faith and leave the church, some will even reject God because if God’s church leaders blame or disregard victims, the logical conclusion is that God also does the same. Varvil discusses the secondary abuse here:

“To see them no longer having any relationship with Christ is I think, well, it’s the most abusive part of what happened,” Varvil continued. “Because they came to him (Milburn) to begin with because they were broken and vulnerable from situations. It was the perfect time for them to embrace their faith.” (Source)

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What About Those Who Have Abandoned Their Faith as a Result of Secondary Abuse by Church Leaders?

Varvil has clearly articulated the problem of secondary abuse by church leaders, but now we’re going to focus on specific foundational beliefs which seem to minimize abuse and place full responsibility of those leaving the faith onto onto victim. Are these beliefs wide-spread?

Boz Tchividjian was recently interviewed by Relevant Magazine in this excellent article, How Should Christians Respond to Abuse Situations Like the Duggars’?, and he echoed a similar heartfelt message as Varvil about victims who have abandoned their faith:

Well, I’ve encountered those victims 10, 15, 20 years later. And it’s a tragedy, because they don’t want anything to do with Jesus. And I understand it. Because the very ones who professed and represented Jesus turned their backs on them to care for and spend all of their time and resources on the very ones that eviscerated their lives through abuse.

A couple of days ago, I took a screenshot of the Boz’s quote above, and tweeted it, adding the following to preface it: “When Christians fail to respond appropriately to sex abuse, this often happens:”

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My tweet was retweeted by someone who did not agree with Boz (or me) and challenged it based on her understanding of theology:

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“This is an example of a distortion and misunderstanding of the doctrine of soteriology. We are all born “not wanting anything to do with Jesus”. It is due to our sin nature, not events in our lives.” ~Jules’ Diner

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Do you see what’s going on here? What conclusion do you come to when reading @Jules’ Diner’s tweets? Who is responsible when a victim falls from the faith – – the victim, because of their own sin, or the abuser?

Do you see how this belief could minimize the abuser’s responsibility?

If church leaders believe this, what are the far-reaching implications for an abuse victim? For an offender?

Do you see how this belief could create a climate in which church leaders do not take abuse seriously because they believe the victim is ultimately held responsible for how they respond to their abuse and also “their sin” of falling away from Christ?

Yes, I understand that we are all sinners, but when we discuss a victim’s sin rather than wrap our arms around and support a victim, how can a victim ever feel safe in such an environment?

These two verses from Jesus come to mind when it comes to the faith of a child that deserve consideration. Look how Jesus responded to those who have caused children to sin or have sabotaged their faith:

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:5-6

And one more:

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Mark 10:13-14

If Jesus said that faith can be harmed by people, then is He not suggesting the onus is on the perpetrator, NOT the victim? That is the response we must have over any theology that teaches otherwise.

In other words, if you are following a theology that doesn’t align with Jesus’ words, you might want to recheck your theology.

Related articles/blog:

photo credit: Broken Yellow Arrow via photopin (license)

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are Still Scheduled to Speak at ATI & IBLP Conferences which Promote Bill Gothard’s Teaching Materials

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Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Homeschool Curricula

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