Partnering with Unbelievers = Unequally Yoked?

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photo credit: nualabugeye via photopin cc

While the comments on the recent Homeschooler’s Anonymous article have pretty much subsided, e-mails have not stopped.  For those who didn’t follow the previous thread which now has over 400 comments, a commenter, “R.D.,” whom we later found out was a retired pastor,  challenged me on whether I, as a Christian, should be partnering with Homeschoolers Anonymous (H.A.) blog.  Homeschoolers Anonymous is not a Christian site, but a site where former homeschoolers can share their personal stories.  Consequently, my brain is still connected to the article as I think about these e-mails.

The day before yesterday, I received an e-mail from a pastor who reads and comments the SharperIron.org forum where “R.D.” also participates.  He knows R.D. and they discussed the exchange we had in the comments section.  This particular pastor and I connected a while back.  I have found him to be a defender of battered sheep.  Often times he is the lone voice amidst pastors who minimize or diminish abusive church situations and I have always appreciated his strong stance.  So, I have a lot of respect for him.

After reading through most of the comments, he was disappointed at what he saw, which in turn troubled me.  Some bloggers may post articles and comment casually without little emotional connection.   I am not one of those.  I take things to heart.  I  want to be above-board in how I (and we) treat people here, but readily admit that discussion on doctrinal and spiritual abuse can get heated.  If I see personal attacks, I try to address that issue, but when it comes to heated discussion, I’m not going to be quick to intervene because these are passionate topics and also for some of you, this may be the first time  you’ve been allowed to have a voice.  This is, after all, your Spiritual Sounding Board  :)

This pastor told me that R.D. is “on our side with regard to authoritarian churches and spiritual abuse,” and that it seemed he wasn’t treated well.   I am not done with this issue, but wanted to let you know about what was happening behind the scenes.  The last thing I want to do is have this blog alienate pastors who care about the same issues we care about.  I very much value the pastors who frequent this blog and share their perspective (and support) and have come along side us and me personally.

Because of this e-mail, I reached out to my support team.   They are my sounding board, have a tender heart toward the abused and help me, giving me feedback.  They took a look at the dialogue and I really appreciated some of their comments.

Overall, my support team came away with similar thoughts that many of us had here – that there were similar patterns displayed that we have seen in abusive spiritual authority situations that caused concern.

In the article, I mentioned the word “partnered” and here is the quote from the article:   “Not too long ago, I was asked if I would like to partner with others in a new blog called Homeschool Anonymous.”  Below is a sampling of comments in which the word “partner” was used so you can get some idea of the conversation:

 

R.D. said:  Your blending of the word “partnering” with “kindnesss, grace and mercy” is instructive. It shows you have left the path of wisdom. Thank you for your only partially evasive answer. It is sufficient to understand where you are coming from.

Serving in Japan said:  Our hostess might very well be an “ambassador for Christ”, as you say. But no matter much experience you have, sir, I fail to see how you can dictate to her how she should go about that. That’s between Julie Anne and her own conscience, with the Holy Spirit’s help. She’s choosing to partner with post-homeschooling folks and let them tell their own stories. I see no problem with that. If you think another route would be better, please try it yourself.

R.D:  Julie AnnE calls the relation with H. A. a partnering. I will risk asking thoughtful Christian readers to meditate on 2 Cor 6:14-15. I can read there with profit, and maybe you can, but a waivering [sic], wounded saint should not be directed there. It would be…unloving.

We need to be careful about labeling someone as a spiritual abuser.  It would be easy for us survivors to quickly fall in the trap of hastily labeling someone, but we must be judicious in how we use our words.   Yet, at the same time, we need to be aware of typical patterns that abusers use, ie, twisting scripture in an effort to control.  Maybe another topic for discussion should be where do you draw the line between abuse and the kind of inappropriate use of authority which would not be labeled as abuse?

Both spiritual abusers and ordinary pastors sometimes use scripture inappropriately to prove a point.  In my former church, my pastor used a verse mentioning “Mark and Avoid” and actually kept a literal Mark and Avoid list, naming church members or former church members who were in “church discipline”.  The verse (Romans 16:17) was really about marking and avoiding false teachers, not church members.  But why did he twist this verse?  I believe it was used to control.  This I call abusive because as a direct result of this Mark and Avoid list, people’s’ lives were torn apart, families and life-long relationships were divided in this shunning practice.

Was R.D. using the 2 Corinthian passage to control?   Not necessarily.  I think he was using it to prove his opinion that I shouldn’t be “partnering” with H.A., but one astute team member strongly disagreed with his application of scripture and I wanted to share that with you:

Do Not Be Joined to Unbelievers

14 Do not be joined to unbelievers. What do right and wrong have in common? Can light and darkness be friends? 15 How can Christ and Satan agree? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 How can the temple of the true God and the statues of other gods agree?
 

I think that this verse is being misused, because 2 Corinthians is an extension of 1 Corinthians.  The Church at Corinth was condoning sin, and due to the city of Corinth which was completely “in sin”, the city was a bad influence on the members of the Church at Corinth.

That, truly is the context of “do not be joined to unbelievers”.  The Apostle Paul was indicating that if the town of Corinth was influencing its members to sin, don’t be unequally yoked with them, because the body of Christ is supposed to be spotless, without sin.

But this has nothing to do with those who have been IN THE CHURCH who were abused BY THE CHURCH who are ABANDONING CHURCH due to THE CHURCH.

Simply “serving” these people by believers is NOT SIN, no matter what their belief system is.  We are called to good works, no matter what anyone believes, or not believes.  

When one does “good works”, do we only do “good works” to the believers?  Do we first ask what is your religious belief system is before we perform our good works?

Matthew 5:46

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

Paul was discussing those who are outside the church, BRINGING INTO THE CHURCH the condoning of sin, and participating in the sin.

Again, I have to bring it up again, that 1 John 3:4 states that sin is the transgression of the law [of Moses].

There are tons and tons of Good Works that are rooted in love, i.e. giving to the poor, feeding the homeless, etc.  Are we to check their belief system before we serve them?

Nope.

So, bottom line, R.D., and other Christians, misuse the unequally yoked verse.

Are we not to become Doctors, just because many doctors are unbelievers?  Are we not to become scientists because most scientists are unbelievers?  

Paul was discussing a broader topic, in that his 2nd epistle to the church at Corinth is tied into his first epistle to the church at Corinth.

The seventh chapter of 2 Corinthians references that.  

So, there ya go.  By the way, any ideas of what that object is in the photo and the significance of it?

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85 comments on “Partnering with Unbelievers = Unequally Yoked?

  1. Interesting..I love the reply of the larger context of that verse in Corinthians. As Im sure you know believers are beat to death with that verse over marrying a non-believer. I was one of them. I as a christian woman, knowingly and purposefully married a man I knew was not a Christian. I am most thankful to Jesus that he was saved 6 months after our marriage. But many are afraid to hear my story because they fear I’ll somehow influence their kids to do the same. I’ve also been told I was in sin to have married him, and that obviously my walk with Christ was not in the right place to have “allowed” me to commit such gross error. I however, will not now, nor will I ever apologize for marrying my husband. As soon as we married it became ordained and blessed by God and it was now for certain His will for my life. I cannot accept the idea that our union was sin. We have a fabulous marriage. It was great even the first 6 months! Am I thankful for his salvation? Absolutly! Am I aware we could have face great difficulty had he not been saved? Yes! I wasn’t stupid. But I picked a good man. An upright man, a man that God was already working on and preparing for salvation. And He prepared him for me! There is no one else out there who’d be able to understand, love or accept all the quirks that are me, than my husband and I thank God for him every single day………but what I really don’t understand is what benefit other “christians” see in second guessing the origin of my marriage or even suggesting that we weren’t blessed or brow beating me for it, or making judgements about the health of my spiritual walk at the time. It’s the height of arrogance and pride, and fear, and opposite of grace or even comprehending God’s grace in the matter.
    Who is it that needs to see God’s true Grace and Love? Those who are hurting! They are exactly the ones we need to come alongside and embrace and yes Partner with, in an attempt to show there is a different, better way.

    (oh i hope some of this made some sense…..lol!)

  2. By the way, any ideas of what that object is in the photo and the significance of it?
    Is it a piano? Kinda like the body of Christ, each person brings its own sound, and together we can make beautiful music for the glory of God?

  3. Nope, scared. It is not a piano. But thanks for reminding me that I need to practice – lol.

    To be honest, scared, I don’t think I have 100% accuracy on what this object is, but I did search for a specific item and this came photo came up in the search. I’ll reveal later on if no one guesses.

  4. On second thought… Possibly things are not always black & white? Only God knows our hearts and at times we can come across as black & white when the reality is there are a lot of gray areas that we don’t grasp because we see through a glass darkly…

  5. I will shut up now… I think I read this wrong…This isn’t meant as some kind of spiritual metaphor. silly me

  6. Actually, scared, you are on the right track. The picture reminded me of what we are doing here. My idea wasn’t as spiritually deep as your idea, though :)

  7. I appreciate all the analysis of the dialogue over H.A. This post was very insightful. Personally, I had to stop reading R.D.’s comments after the first few. There was something about his choice of words and his “tone” that was reminiscent of my abusive former church. Maybe he would come across different in person?

    Fwiw, I married a man who was homeschooled, and our marriage was the result of a courtship process. Like Julie Anne, I’ve seen firsthand how damaging the Patriarchal approach can be. I made the decision to join this movement. My bad. It was my choice. But the young people raised this way had no choice. Many of them now have to live with the negative effects of their upbringing. I applaud H.A. for giving these adults an opportunity to share their experiences. (And they will be as varied and unique as each individual is.) Whether they have chosen to retain any measure of faith or not, they are the results of a huge social experiment. I believe we have a moral obligation to examine the results of this experiment. I could not turn my back on someone who was spiritually abused in the homeschool movement any more than I could on a child who was sexually abused. Would we refuse to help a sexually abused child unless they adhered to a Christian expression of faith? That’s preposterous!

  8. Marie, i appreciate what you wrote and it makes perfect sense to me. you’ve given me a little something to think about. i wish i could say more, but thank you. maybe i’ll get back to you on it. but for now, let me say: i’m so utterly happy that God matched you up with such a solid man! what a divine blessing!

  9. if i’m remembering correctly, R.D. made his appearance here dripping with arrogance and condescension.

    i didn’t have time to keep up with the comments, but if “it seemed he wasn’t treated well” i’d suggest it’s because he came across as a pontificating ASS.

    and then he plays his pastor card.

    whatever!

  10. was easy to find, sis. i just followed the photo credit link and then googled Yorkshire Sculpture Park and found the wiki photo.

    anyway, ja, what was the significance of the photo? what were your thoughts behind it?

  11. thank you monax for your kind reply. As I’ve been pondering this topic this afternoon, Ive asked myself really how does my story relate to the story of this blogger aligning themselves with H.A. And I realized it is this. Those who oppose certain alliances, though promoting their moral reasoning, are often actually reacting out of Fear. Those who worry about hearing my “positive” story are fearful their children will run into marriages that are unwise and damaging. I wonder then if those who oppose supporting H.A. are also fearful. Fearful that those stories will undo or undermine the hardwork, and battles that had been fought to make homeschooling possible for many of us. Fear that maybe, just maybe, those battles were not worth fighting after all? That it has caused more damage than good? I would not say that is true. I don’t believe that the majority of homeschooled children are irreparably damaged, however some have been and it’s actually very important, I think, for those of us who are homeschooling, to hear those stories. To learn from the things that were done wrong, in order to try to avoid doing those things with our kids. It doesn’t make me question our decision to homeschool right now, but it does give me things to look at and consider. For our family we have long determined that we will likely send our kids to high school, for a multitude of reasons, and some of the stories at H.A. have helped reinforce that for me. so I think some avoid certain topics, or line of questioning out of fear of what they may find, or have to face up too. so it’s easier to say “dont be unequally yoked”.
    One last thought – along those lines of Fear, it seems that those people also don’t really trust a sovereign Lord who is Salt and Light. If we truly have Christ in us, darkness Cannot defeat the Light. It shouldn’t be frightening for Christian to darken the doors of a bar to truly minister (not as an excuse to party it up), or to engage in a friendly relationship with the homosexual next door, or to hear the story of a young adult who was homeschooled and was damaged by parents who worked toward their own selfish aims rather than the best interests of their children. We should be spreading Salt and Light to help heal wounds, clear out the darkness and bring a True Peace to those around us.

  12. BTDT: THIS right here!!!!: I appreciate all the analysis of the dialogue over H.A. This post was very insightful. Personally, I had to stop reading R.D.’s comments after the first few. There was something about his choice of words and his “tone” that was reminiscent of my abusive former church.

    This is exactly what I was trying to articulate earlier in the other comments. As a group, many of us sensed this. Our Creepo meters were going off. Monax mentioned “arrogance and condescension.” We cannot dismiss this. Now maybe he didn’t mean to come across like this in real life, but many of us responded the same way. Were we all wrong? I don’t think so. Scared mentioned she was scared of him, but continued to read/comment because she felt safe, but now we read BTDT stopped reading R.D.’s comments entirely. How many people does BTDT represent who read, but remained silent? And further, if BTDT shut him off, how many former homeschoolers would do the same?

    And another thing – – the condescension thing – – now maybe R.D. has regrets at how he came across or the particular words that he chose. I can’t forget the comment about him doing this longer than I’ve been alive. I’m thinking in the Bible how God uses the lowly and humble to achieve His works. He worked through a donkey, for goodness sakes! He modeled humility and lowliness by washing the feet of His disciples. He gave us His Holy Spirit. He did not pour out more Holy Spirit to pastors than ordinary people. He doesn’t communicate in a special way to men more than women. No! I have the same Holy Spirit as everybody else. I have the same capacity to communicate with God as the most popular pastor, the richest man, etc. That’s how much God loves us – we all have equal access to Him, regardless of sex, position in church, income level, education level. All of that stuff means nothing. And praise God for that!

  13. Julie Anne

    You got guts girl – Love these last two posts – and your openness to be critiqued.

    You write…
    “This pastor told me that R.D. is “on our side with regard to authoritarian churches and spiritual abuse,” and that it seemed he wasn’t treated well.”

    NOPE

    This “pastor,” who you respect, did NOT read the same comments by R.D. that I did.

    I just went back and checked R.D.’s comments – He was NOT nice, or helpful. And as “scared” correctly pointed out to R.D. – “you use the bible as a sword to cut at Julie Anne’s heart.”

    Julie Anne – These comments are for those who missed the action with R.D. – Sorry you have to relive these harsh and unkind comments from a “pastor” who is “on our side.”

    “Julie Ann, at one point you seemed to claim some level of allegiance to Jesus Christ.”

    “Yes, Julie AnnE, I have noticed you get irritated easily. Your blending of the word “partnering” with “kindnesss, grace and mercy” is instructive. It shows you have left the path of wisdom.”

    “Julie Anne, That inability to listen will severely cramp your ability to help anyone.”
    “ You are new to this, and have all the passion that could help if it was centered on Christ and not your own guilt issues.”
    “I fear you have made an idol out of victimization.”

    “You are far too strident and off balance to bring about real change. That’s too bad.”

    Sounds to me like this guy might need a little re-training in the area of sensitivity. :-)

    And…
    It was soon after R.D. left town that there were some great discussions going on.
    There was a benefit – His being ugly kinda brought the rest of us together.
    Thanks R.D.

  14. Julie Anne

    And, this pastor you respect, must NOT have read all the comments giving R.D. the good spanking he deserved for his very poor counseling behavior and communication skills. And if he did read them, Did he “Ignore” them? Or, did he mention to you all the folks who commented about R.D.’s short comings.

    If this pastor is reading? Maybe he can explain why he thinks so many missed the mark when reading R.D.’s comments?” And why “he wasn’t treated well? Were the many participants here ALL wrong about R.D.? Why?

    I listed just 8 folks who thought R.D. was a little, eerrr, off… Some Admonished (That’s a biblical term – yes?) And we are to “admonish one another” – Yes? Some admonished him a few times. – IMO – He responded quite poorly – for a pastor – For any believer. Did, this pastor you respect, mention how poorly R.D. responded?

    1 – monax – MARCH 19, 2013 @ 11:45 AM
    R.D. -You’re way off the mark in your comments. Especially your condescending assumption that Julie Anne’s ministry is not “centered on Christ.”

    2 – chapmaned24 – MARCH 19, 2013 @ 12:28 PM
    “R.D., Wow, I can’t believe how out of touch with Jesus that you are.”

    3 – heatherjanes – MARCH 19, 2013 @ 2:07 PM
    “How fascinating that I am being held up by R.D. as an example of what not to be, a damaged human being, ruined by bad parents.”

    4 – Recovering Pharisee – MARCH 19, 2013 @ 8:38 PM
    “R.D., This comment of yours is exactly how SG responds to abuse situations…”

    5 – Serving in Japan – MARCH 20, 2013 @ 9:12 AM
    “Sorry, R.D., but I find it hard to blame Julie Anne for being a bit suspicious of you. When I read your initial comments, they sounded very much to me like those of the Pharisees, wondering why Jesus would eat with “tax collectors and sinners”.”

    6 – Gary W – MARCH 20, 2013 @ 3:44 PM
    R.D.: Well, O.K. I have invited you to delineate exactly what particular statements in the particular discussion on love are unbiblical. You have a Master’s Degree and, I’m sure, have the intellectual ability to respond to my challenge. You are simply choosing not to do so, thereby confirming my suspicion that, in saying “the whole discussion on love” was unbiblical (whether as a discussion generally, or in its particulars), you were tossing a rhetorical hand grenade, trying to score easy debating points or, I will now add, attempting to shut down the expression of opposing views by demonizing those with whom you disagree.

    7 – Interested Party – MARCH 21, 2013 @ 3:28 AM
    “R.D. – Julie Anne, and others here who have brought up the same points, are correct. You are using the well-known and time-worn tools of the emotional and spiritual manipulator.”

    8 – scared – MARCH 21, 2013 @ 8:24 AM
    “R.D. You scare me. I have recently discovered this safe place with safe & merciful people but it seems you use the bible as a sword to cut at Julie Anne’s heart.”

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  15. Monax – you cheated – j/k. You were supposed to just look at it and guess ;)

    I’m not going to spill the beans yet. I know you’re on the East coast, but the day is still young here. Now erase the monument idea from your mind because that is nothing like I was thinking. Actually, now that I look at it, the thing I was thinking about is not squared at the tops, but more pointed.

  16. Ok, folks, what Amos is doing is representative of what the picture was supposed to mean to me – lol!!

    He’s doing this with the comments. In other words, the picture can be a verb or a noun. Now you have more clues :)

    Amos – – – When you put the comments out there just like that, it’s shows a pretty clear picture, doesn’t it? I am going to ask my pastor friend to read this and see what he says. I do believe him when he says R.D.’s heart is for the abused, but perhaps this is something they can discuss amongst each other. Again, I don’t want to pastor bash, but you cannot dismiss what is plain as day. There is a big disconnect between “us” and “them.” I don’t know why this is. It doesn’t have to be this way if we are willing to dialogue and try to figure out what the disconnects are. There are lessons to be learned on both sides. I think I can err on the side of being quick to label something as “abuse” and don’t want to do that.

  17. Monax,

    RD came dripping in here, under the guidance of a different belief system and embracing a Doctrine than many of the people posting their comments in this blog don’t.

    When dialogue becomes to be more argumentative between people that profess the Gospel over spiritual matters and there isn’t a meaningful remedy in the horizon, you to ask yourself “why”?

    When the conversation become toxic, you have to ask yourself “why”?

    I know I’m suspicious more than I should, maybe because the damage to the church I attend is still evident.

    If a Christian can’t exchange kind words with each other or at least avoid being toxic when there is a discussion, can we say with confidence that the Father in Heaven is being honored?

  18. Marie: Your 1:01 pm comment was excellent. I hope everyone really takes the time to read it once or twice because I think you hit on something very important. This part is so good:

    Those who oppose certain alliances, though promoting their moral reasoning, are often actually reacting out of Fear. Those who worry about hearing my “positive” story are fearful their children will run into marriages that are unwise and damaging. I wonder then if those who oppose supporting H.A. are also fearful. Fearful that those stories will undo or undermine the hardwork, and battles that had been fought to make homeschooling possible for many of us. Fear that maybe, just maybe, those battles were not worth fighting after all?

    I think it has to do with even more than the homeschool battles, but if you notice the title of unequally yoked – – – most believe unequally yoked applies to believers/unbeliever (just as your original comment referred to your marriage to an unbeliever). I suspect that the underlying fear is that former homeschoolers may lose their salvation or be spiritually confused, etc, if they participate in the H.A. blog. Now, for some, losing one’s salvation is not doctrinally possible, but for others, it is. R.D. identified himself as a Calvinist, so really, in thinking like a Calvinist, could a HK (homeshchool kid) “lose their salvation”? Isn’t God sovereign?

  19. Julie Anne, I’m shocked that you would partner with that secular organization known as wordpress. They’re so radical they even publish my blog. Of course I’m kidding.

    I followed the RD thread through about 300 comments. I believe the concern he raised, about partnering, is a valid one, but the way he raised it and the condemning judgments he made about you when he raised it weren’t very helpful in my view. Had he simply asked you what you meant and didn’t mean by ‘partnering’ he would have opened the door for a fruitful discussion without assuming that you somehow lacked spiritual discernment. I was also concerned that he was upset by one HA blogger’s take on certain sins, but didn’t seem at all concerned that that same blogger, if I remember correctly, was often dragged across the floor by her hair in the name of our Lord – to mention just one of many abuses.

    We need to take Paul’s teaching in II Cor. 6:14-16 seriously. We also need to balance that with our commitment to love our neighbor. Through discussion, even sometimes heated discussion, we can help each other think through how to live out such teachings.

  20. Julie Anne

    This is a wondeful statement – and accurate…
    “That’s how much God loves us – we all have equal access to Him, regardless of sex, position in church, income level, education level. All of that stuff means nothing. And praise God for that!”

    But – You do know, this kind of thinking got the Ana-Baptists killed.
    NOT just – By Catholics – But – Also the Reformers – Calvinists and Lutherans. :-(

    “The Anabaptists took literally the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 14:30-31: “And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” They called this the “sitter’s right” and calmly implied that they, when moved by inner conviction, had as great a right to speak and to act as any pastor, any priest, any reformer or bishop or pope. This audacity, this “Sitzrecht from the pit of hell,” Martin Luther and his friends believed, could be dealt with only by fire, water, and the sword.”

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  21. ” I suspect that the underlying fear is that former homeschoolers may lose their salvation or be spiritually confused, etc, if they participate in the H.A. blog. Now, for some, losing one’s salvation is not doctrinally possible, but for others, it is. R.D. identified himself as a Calvinist, so really, in thinking like a Calvinist, could a HK (homeshchool kid) “lose their salvation”? Isn’t God sovereign?”

    I agree another deep rooted fear – what if a homeschooler found this blog and (gasp) started questioning their parents, and their salvation?? Well the question comes down to was that kid ever really saved? So many homeschoolers tend to enwrap their kids so tightly so as to never even ask the question and then they grow up and move out and things come tumbling down. Because the truth is, you HAVE to ask the question (I believe) to truly be saved and convinced of that salvation! Until one examines themselves thoroughly and in the light of Christ (not their parents or their upbringing), they won’t be convinced in their heart of that salvation and so was it really there?

    We just asked our kids (12,10, 7, and 4) last night – why do you go to church? The purpose behind it is to get them thinking about it. To look at their lives, and their hearts and examine motives. yes mostly they go because we make them…;) however, we want it to eventually be that they keep going because they are compelled by the Word of God. That they seek and desire truth and a true relationship w/ Christ. But it’s not something we can give them or force upon them. I would much rather encourage the questioning at home in safety of honest discourse, so that they are more secure in their hearts as they leave home because they’ve already faced the question and hopefully found the answers.

  22. and again it does come down to Trusting Christ! Do you trust Him? with your kids, with their salvation? That He cannot be undone by anything even a well written blog? As you said – where is Christ’s Sovereignty?

  23. Mark,

    for me: a stranger becomes exponentially suspect (of all sorts of insanity) the moment they tell me they’re a “pastor”

    there are some notable exceptions within the pastorate (like our own craigvick whose manner is one of coming alongside those he’s been called to serve), but from where i’m sitting it seems for the most part our institutional pastors are (unwittingly, of course) assuming mediating positions that in effect come in between and even against Christ and his Saints. .

    this is no small assertion i’m making

  24. Craig – – i was so glad to see your comment and to know that you had read a lot of the comments on the other post. I was actually going to send you an e-mail to see if you would be willing to give me feedback, so thank you – you beat me to it (I would have done the same with Ken, as well, but he’s tied up right now.)

    You know I greatly respect you. I love how you have made an effort to gain understanding in an area that some of your peers are falling short. You are not a spiritual abuse survivor, yet have a heart for the abused. Frankly, sometimes I don’t know how you can stand to read the words here, as a pastor, because sometimes the words are harsh against pastors, yet I think you somehow understand that people are speaking from the pain in their hearts. That is what I appreciate about you so much – – the empathy and level-headed balance you bring in your contributions.

    I appreciate your honest observations. I’m wondering if you’d be able to articulate any concerns you would have (that perhaps R.D. had and wasn’t able to get across as clearly) about me “partnering” with H.A.?

    In full disclosure, I’d like to share how I have participated on H.A. thus far. The blog owner, R.L. Stollar has cross-posted one of my articles here and you can read the comments. Additionally, I have left comments on probably one or two other articles. That is pretty much the extent of my “partnering”. :)

    What I anticipate is that Stollar will keep an eye on my blog and cross-post articles he thinks might be relevant to use on his blog. I obviously represent a current and long-time homeschool parent who has some regrets. Most of the blog articles I suspect will be from former HKs as that is the target audience.

    And is there anything that you see that I could do better in facilitating conversations (either by my words, tone, facilitating) that would help us to have better understanding on both sides of the issue? I’d love to have more tips. I’m a work in progress. Thanks much, Craig!

  25. Craig, the real purpose of II Cor. 6:14-16 a warning to church members to not be tempted to participate in sinning based on the influence of the non-church members, and certainly for the church members not to condone other church members participating in the sin. If we are to take 2 Cor 6:14-16 seriously, it needs to be taken in the context it was written in conjunction with 1 Corinthians chapter 5 verses 9-11, as 2 Cor chapter 7 suggests. 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 is not discussing the partnering of Julie Anne to HA. It’s not going to cause Julie Anne to sin, or anyone in the church to sin.

  26. Marie, I want to get back to you and the rest later with some thoughts along the lines of 2 Cor. 6:14-16 and how it relates (in my eyes) to marriage and to our other christian endeavors and life engagements. . However, I may not be free to come back to this until tomorrow.

    I’d also like to share with y’all a slice of my own personal experience with Stollar last month as we teamed-up together on our WhoWouldJesusSue campaign. I’d like to relate some of the reasoning behind why I consider myself sincerely honored to partner with my brother (as I regard him) in this H*A project to bring awareness to abuse in conservative Christian homeschooling.

    But for now I must give myself to some life commitments and obligations.

    {{{{ BBS to SSB }}}}

  27. Readers: I just went over to SharperIron.org and check out this article on their front page: People Skills and the Pastor.

    Perhaps if this had been adhered to, we wouldn’t have had such division in that other thread.

    What do you think? Was it the content of the message or the way the message was presented?

  28. Um for clarity – im very new to WordPress not sure how it works, but I am (JA removed other user name) and Marie….LOL I don’t know why it posted as the other?? (JA removed other name) is a handle I use in most other venues and was trying to avoid it for a bit more anonymity for awhile….maybe that’s sad, but there are still some areas I am just not completely ready to open myself up to yet…

  29. Marie – thanks for letting me know – I’ll change it to Marie so there’s consistency. Just so ya know – – – I do not understand how WP works for comments. In fact, another blogger friend, Steve, and I have commented to each other about that very thing. WP seems to have a mind of its own as far as which ID to use – lol.

  30. btw, the anonymity was not in you finding me elsewhere. but in “them” finding me in a few new venues….again forgive my fear but there are some I still distrust full disclosure to.

  31. Were you thinking of a comb? Because that is what I am thinking. Combing through all the comments to make sense of everything that happened. I am someone who stopped reading about halfway through the comments because of how my emotions were starting to play. I had two thoughts before I gave up.

    1. It seemed to me that RD was insistent that unless a person accepts doctrine first any undertaking that goes ahead to treat wounds is worthless. Which I staunchly disagree.

    2. My biggest issue with RD (and any pastor really) is jumping to credentials in a debate. If the weight of your argument lies in who you are and what you have accomplished, the goal is simply to intimidate the other person into giving in. It is not participating in a conversation that will help others see your point of view.

    Also, full disclosure, I did not read all of the comments on this post yet either because I am really curious about the picture.

  32. Marie – Trust me, if anyone understands your fear, I do (and I imagine most people here do as well).

    I had a former pastor/church sue me, there are currently two blogs against me, and Chuckboro followers have stalked me on Twitter. There is no shame in going anonymous here. I actually expect it because I know how stalking pastors/members work.

  33. And we have a winner! It was supposed to be a comb! But evidently it really isn’t – haha :)

    Comb: represents going through the posts/scriptures with a fine-tooth comb. That’s all it was.

    And Shakes, I agree with both of your points 100%.

  34. Woot! It was the first thing I thought of when Scared pointed it out. Then your hint solidified it so I raced down here to guess. This is why I keep coming back. I just feel like a kindred spirit. For me that is a rare feeling among believers.

  35. :) thanks! And a comb is a great analogy… personally I quit reading the comments because there were just too many to keep up with!

  36. Thank you for joining in on the conversation, Shakes, and congrats on nailing that photo, too!

    Ok, evidently WordPress is having issues today. I’ll take care of the name change switcheroos.

  37. Shakes,

    Whenever discussions between 2 or more different Christians who profess the Gospel become too argumentitive or toxic it is time to find out what doctrine one or the other is leaning.

    Reading some of RD’s posts motivated me to ask him what Doctrine he was leaning, which I think was relevant, based on how the discussion was going on between him and others.

    (He describe himself to me as mild a 4 Point Calvinist or later as a “sort of Calvinist”. A 4 Point Calvinist is still a High Point Calvinist which contradicts the “sort of Calvinist” label he put on himself)

    I’m still waiting for him to respond to my question of “what part of Calvinism does he refute”?

    Julie Anne, sorry to hear it is still going on.

  38. Mark,
    Unfortunately I am not familiar with the details of differing theologies and doctrines. I was raised in the Evangelical church with a Catholic father and I taught at a Lutheran preschool. I read a ton of C.S. Lewis when I was younger, but that is the extent of my knowledge outside of the Bible. The only thing I really got out of the theological debates of my youth is that Baptists are never overly fond of me and I seem to have a knack of irritating them. So, if you think you could break it down for me a little, I would appreciate it. If not, no worries, I learn as I go.

  39. Shakes: ” I just feel like a kindred spirit. For me that is a rare feeling among believers.”
    I’m 100% with you on that Shakes! I am not use to the kindness and the bold love that transpires here, it must be a foreshadow of what Heaven will be like, when love rules the day or eternity. O, and Congratulations on getting it right.

    Julie, is there a prize for guessing correctly? Perhaps a snazzy comb. ( ;

  40. Julie Anne, Thank you for your gracious words. I’ve learned a lot from your blog, and I still have much to learn.

    In answering your questions, I’m going to sound a bit like a fan. I greatly admire you and your conversational skills. You know how to be firm and still listen. I don’t think RD would have stayed with the conversation as long as he did were it not for your gifts. When I wrote that RD had a valid concern I meant only that whenever we partner with anyone or group, we should think about how our partnership affects our ability to love and speak the truth to others, especially those who are weak. So it’s good, I think, for a brother or a sister to ask us what the partnership will entail. From your answers, but even more from all I know of your heart, I’m confident you thought those issues through. I believe your partnership with HA is good and sound. You’ve much to contribute to that conversation. I’m glad you have a presence there. I don’t share much of RD’s concern about the possibility of spiritual damage because I think HKs are much more aware than he gives them credit. Jesus makes it clear that corruption comes from the inside not the outside. We are, in my view, too quick to ignore this.

    Your words and tone are powerfully healing. Keep up the good work.

  41. Ed, I read II Cor. 6:14-16 a bit differently, but I’d be the first to admit I have as many questions as I do answers concerning my reading. I agree with you that context is key. Unfortunately, for me that’s where the difficulty starts. 6:14-7:1 almost seem out of context. In verse 6:13 Paul, at the end of a long argument, pleads with the Corinthians to open their hearts to him. In 7:2 he again asks the Corinthians to make room in their hearts for him. So it’s difficult for me to know what specific problem Paul is addressing in 6:14-7:1. I don’t find a connection with I Corinthians 5:9-11, but I’ll have to give that more thought.

    At any rate, no matter how we interpret II Cor. 6:14-16, there’s a tension, it seems to me, in almost everything we do in this life, between being in the world and not being of the world. Raising questions along these lines can be very fruitful.

  42. Hi Craig,
    I appreciate very very much your comment in this. Here is something else to think about when considering 1 Cor 5 and 2 Cor 6. When a believer is married to an unbeliever, they are to stay married, if the UNBELIEVER wishes to stay (Forgive the caps). But wait. Isn’t that being unequally yoked? Partnering? What does light have to do with dark, and all that kind of rhetoric that we sometimes get with the 2 Cor 6:14-16 crowd? We must be out in the world so that our good works are seen of men, all men. Believers and unbelievers. Thanks again for your kind words.

  43. Thanks scared, I totally agree. I often lurk here without commenting, but always am encouraged by the love and acceptance I see here.

  44. Craig – You are too kind. If you’ve learned anything from the blog, so much of it has come from the readers. They feed me stories and teach me so much through their personal stories and experiences. It wouldn’t be a blog without them. Thank you for being a part of this community.

    Ed – I’ve never looked at those verses in that way, but the way you explain it makes so much sense. I’m going to have to go back and reread those passages. Really enjoying this exchange between both of you!

  45. Thanks JA,
    Matthew 5:16
    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    Light shines in darkness. Where is the darkness? In the world.

  46. How interesting that you have an acquaintance who knows R.D.’s identity. Not sure what to make of it. Perhaps this opens some doors, though I can’t suggest in what way exactly. I suppose we should always be open to reconciliation. My thinking is that this would require that R.D. take ownership of, and sincerely apologize for, the many ways he managed to offend. Reconciliation, though not forgiveness, might require that he render some form of restitution, such as submitting to some sort of counseling or sensitivity training. Nothing writes on our hearts the hurt we have caused others as having to suffer consequences for our actions. Likely R.D. has another point of view. Overall, I do not hold out much hope.

    As to your friend who is in contact with R.D., I would encourage him to be careful. I do not at all have enough facts to know if this applies to R.D., but there are people who can be very abrasive with one person or group, while being quite charming and winsome in their relations with another person or group. They are very skilled at winning allies to take up their cause as against the person or group to which they are directing their abrasiveness. According to at least one book I read on the matter, they are amongst the most difficult people for professional counselors to deal with. I am sure I was once the target of one of these people. Again, I am not asserting that R.D. is one of these particularly difficult people. However, because your mutual acquaintance seems not to see how R.D. drew the response he did, and because your friend maybe is generally seeing the situation from only R.D.’s point of view, my left eyebrow is questioningly raised.

  47. Ed says: Matthew 5:16
    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    Light shines in darkness. Where is the darkness? In the world.

    Which brings us full circle back to homeschooling. One primary reason parents homeschool it to shelter kids and keep them out of the world. So many of the stories I’ve read on H.A. have to do with HKs who are part of homeschool groups (ATIA or homeschool co-ops) that create their own communities, so there is very little interaction in the world whatsoever. So these kids, when leaving their parents’ homes had culture shock. Go figure.

  48. I haven’t posted in awhile but I finally feel safe enough to do so now that RD has stopped commenting. I could not read his comments after the first ten or so. They were extremely painful and triggering both in the tone and message. I feel like they need a flashing warning sign above them to alert those of us who are not quite as strong.

    The new HA website is a wonderful tool to be partnered with. I’ve shared the following analogy with my family when explaining why HA is so important even though we don’t homeschool. I went to public schools and while I did well in academics, my high school left a lot to be desired. The teen pregnancy rate was so high that there was an on-staff OB-GYN for the students. I witnessed drug deals on a regular basis and had to call the cops myself to get a drug house shut down. The culture of the school can best be described as one of pain. My experience matters because not all public schools are wonderful. When you know what the potential problems are, even if you are not an active participant, you can work with the community to seek solutions and healing. I feel like the same thing applies to homeschooling. When the pain (and the source of the pain) is brought to light, the entire community can work towards healing. Newcomers to homeschooling can learn from the previous generation on how to handle various problems and how to best help the next generation. They then participate in the healing process.

  49. The word yoke in the New Testament seems to be used in reference to bondage or being in slavery. Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:1; 1 Timothy 6:1. We are servants (literally, douloi, slaves), to Jesus, and we are to take on his (easy) yoke. Matthew 11:29-30. By Paul we are admonished, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16 ESV). In the 2 Corinthians 6 passage Paul specifically associates the yoke with Belial and idols. My suggestion is that Paul is warning us against joining unbelievers in entering into the bondage of idolatrous pursuits. Idolatry is sin. The pursuit of idols will bring us under the yoke of bondage to the idol or idols pursued. Whatever the point of the 1 Corinthians 6 passage may be, if Paul is telling us not to associate with unbelievers, then it would seem Jesus has some explaining to do.

  50. Mandy said:

    I haven’t posted in awhile but I finally feel safe enough to do so now that RD has stopped commenting. I could not read his comments after the first ten or so. They were extremely painful and triggering both in the tone and message. I feel like they need a flashing warning sign above them to alert those of us who are not quite as strong.

    Thank you for being vulnerable enough to say this, Mandy. Now you are the 2nd person to say that you intentionally stayed away. There are likely others, too. I need to remember next time to issue a warning. One of the things I liked about the conversation is we had many heads together seeing things from different perspectives. Even though at times it was heated, it was educational to me. Others told me the same. I completely understand why some found it uncomfortable and so if that was you – good call to not read anymore. Maybe down the road you might read without commenting. And then further down you might actually comment. Everybody is at a different place in this. I keep thinking of Scared who decided to actually address R.D. despite feeling scared ::::woohoo:::: :) That was a bold step for her. So many people get trapped in that “victim” place. Who does Christ say we are? That’s our goal! I know it’s my goal and trust me, I have needed people to remind me of that when I get down.

  51. Julie Anne reports that R.D. comments at sharperiron.org. The Sharper Iron posting rules include the following:

    Do not engage in rude or other un-Christlike conduct, including—but not limited to the following:
    derogatory name-calling or attacks on the motives of other participants
    malicious ridiculing of other participants
    focusing negatively on the people involved in the discussion rather than the topic

    I suggest that if the same rules were enforced here, R.D. would have been in violation.

  52. you know my dad has said to me more than once especially in conversation when considering marrying my husband, was that that passage in Corinthians relates more directly and specifically to business transactions. Just another direction to consider when looking at the passage and context.

    Also I’d like to add that this idea that if you marry a fellow believer it will somehow guarantee a good marriage. And then I hear from so many disallusioned spouses about the expectations they had that weren’t fulfilled. or that life and circumstances become such that one spouse turns away from the faith! What then? We somehow give our children these cut and dried promises that aren’t true saying it was God who said this, and then their view of God is skewed as well.
    And yes, Paul did give some very specific direction for those married to unbelievers, there must be a reason for that. How about I Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
    I know some would say well that’s if someone became a Christian after being married but I’m not so sure.

    I do agree though we have to be very careful in how closely we align ourselves and in what manner with unbelievers. It must be with eyes open and with lots and lots of prayer and consideration. I will caution my children about whom they decide to spend the rest of their life with. but Im also not going to assume their marriage is going to be miserable and doomed to difficulty if they marry an unbeliever.
    In the same way, I’ll caution them about aligning themselves in business with an unbeliever. there are often two very different outlooks about money, how to handle it and what to do with it once you get it between believers and unbelievers. and money absolutely can become idolotry when in a business sense.

  53. I’m confused as well as to how this pastor friend thought RD wasn’t treated very well.

    If RD is “on our side with regards to authoritarian churches and spiritual abuse” as this pastor friend says, then RD needs to learn how his condescending and dismissive remarks acted like triggers for many of us. I didn’t “feel the love.”

    I felt safe enough early on to comment and share my regrets. After RD began to comment I went into defensive mode. Some of his remarks left me feeling like I was socked in the stomach!

    Going back to his first remark re: the Reb Bradley article. It is 2 years old, and it’s really too little too late for some of these homeschoolers.

    Are there any other prominent homeschooling leaders taking an honest look at some of these teachings and speaking out about the dangers re: courtship, quiverful for instance? I’d like to know if you have heard of any.

  54. Julie Anne

    You write – MARCH 27, 2013 @ 1:23 PM…
    “There is a big disconnect between “us” and “them.” I don’t know why this is. It doesn’t have to be this way if we are willing to dialogue and try to figure out what the disconnects are. There are lessons to be learned on both sides.”

    Can you be a little more specific?

    Who is “us?”

    Who is “them?”

    What is the “big disconnect?”

  55. Monique asked:

    Are there any other prominent homeschooling leaders taking an honest look at some of these teachings and speaking out about the dangers re: courtship, quiverful for instance? I’d like to know if you have heard of any.

    That’s a very good and thoughtful question, Monique. I am not aware of any and that is why I didn’t have a lot of positive things to say to R.D. about that old article. I think Josh Harris has come out in his own church and clarified things for his congregation. I’ve heard that if you didn’t homeschool at CLC, you would be looked down on – that’s not the case anymore because he has spoken against that kind of judgmental attitude. That’s a start, but Josh Harris is pastoring his own church. He is not really a homeschool leader. He is a respected author in the homeschool community, especially because of his I Kissed Dating Good-bye book on courtship. He would be an ideal one to write a book on this topic, but I don’t know that he would because it goes against everything that his dad, Gregg Harris, has spent his lifetime to build: the Homeschool Movement.

    You have to keep in mind that the leaders at state-run Christian homeschool conventions hand-select the speakers and vendors. They absolutely would not bring in a speaker who is against the Homeschool Movement (quiver-full, courtship, etc). I am not aware of any Christian homeschool convention that is not connected with the Homeschool Movement. And what is the other alternative? Non-Christian conventions which would appeal to everyone else, including unschoolers, evolution, and other ideas/philosophies that Christians oppose.

    The only place I see people speaking out against this is in the blogging world, but they are not leaders. Karen Campbell and Cindy Kunsman are a couple bloggers who come to mind. Wartburg Watch has articles on different aspects of the movement. They are all Christian. Other moms who used to be in the Homeschool Movement are speaking out loudly and some have left their faith entirely. Vyckie Garrison is one and she is also a partner on H.A.

  56. Amos asked me:

    Can you be a little more specific?

    Who is “us?”

    Who is “them?”

    What is the “big disconnect?”

    Amos, I'm referring to the disconnect between "us" as regular church people who have been hurt by authoritarian pastors and "them" meaning the pastors.

    The disconnect refers to what we experienced with R.D. in the other thread. We went round and round and were unable to get to some common understanding. At the end of the conversation I still felt like I could never measure up to what R.D. felt was the "right" way to deal with HKs. That if I did it "my" way (ie, partnering on H.A.), it would be "wrong," and in fact I think he might have felt it would be sinful based on the fact that he used Biblical reference to justify how wrong I was (unequally yoked verse).

  57. Julie Anne

    You write…
    “At the end of the conversation I still felt like I could never measure up to what R.D. felt was the “right” way to deal with HKs.”

    “I think he might have felt it would be sinful”

    “he used Biblical reference to justify how wrong I was”

    I’m so sorry that these confrontations are so hurtful to you and the others here.

    Can you share how you’re feeling now? – A few days later?

  58. Amos asked: “Can you share how you’re feeling now? – A few days later?”

    If you are asking me, personally – – I’m absolutely fine. Looking through the words I wrote, I can see how it might have come across that I internalized those feelings. Some of his comments did temporarily tweak me emotionally, and if you look back, you can identify very clearly when that started (the comment when I reminded him how to spell Anne with an “E” LOLOL). After that, I took a step back looking at behavior, separate from the responses. That told me volumes.

    I’ve noticed an interesting thing happens when you separate the behavior from the content of a response. It is very, very revealing. I think if survivors are shown these tools, it can really help. Hmm, that might be a good topic for a post.

  59. Monique,

    I have to agree with you, it does matter how people communicate with each other. Watching Christians handle disagreements or simple misunderstandings effects our testimonies.

    Speaking from personal experience I have been guilty of being combative, even jumping to conclusions.

    I believe that RD may have had some sincere motives, but when the discussion became more aggressive and then you add some admitted misunderstandings, some toxic retaliating remarks, combined with different Spiritual Ideologies in the mix, it can become a distraction to even to people with sincere hearts.

    The trap I need to avoid is not getting caught in heated discussions, because it becomes too personal. When things become heated causing people to be mean and say insulting things to each other, we are essentially force feeding our beliefs in a form of retaliation. If others recognize more Wrath than Love in the way we interpret the Bible or even our differing Ideologies, how is that Honoring Jesus?

  60. Marie

    the reason your story struck such a cord in my heart was for a conversation involving a marriage consideration my best friend and I entertained earlier this week. She brought it up. Neither of us have ever been married. I’m in my mid-forties; she’s in her mid-thirties. She’s feeling the crush of time and all that—and we did many years ago make a loose pact that if neither of us were married by age 40 we’d consider each other for marriage.

    I met her many years ago when she was in her early twenties—she was my girlfriend and also a confessing Christian back then. However, something of particular significance happened to her affecting the way she relates to God and to Christianity. So she does not presently profess to being a Christian—in fact, the topic of her spirituality is off limits, a private affair between her and God.

    At the beginning of our relationship—even though I was already thirty years old at the time—I was still too jacked up to truly love a woman like I should. I broke up with her many times, primarily because I, myself, was too utterly broken to maintain a proper relationship.

    During the early foundational years of my childhood my fundamentalist pastor/father really did a number on me. And to this day I still struggle against a warped sense of love. Something perverse still templates my flesh. All because a sadistic monster (—my pastor/father) had power over a little boy (—me) to abuse as he did. . .

    I’ve since experienced enormous healing in my life—even in the last few months I’ve experienced a quantum leap forward in freedom and relational wholeness. But I share this much to emphasize two important things. First, (and I’ll come back to this): the need for healing and for places like H*A (and SSB) that serve as safe havens for the bewildered and abused… communities of love and understanding to help each other process the insanity that has affected, even infected, so many of us.

    Secondly, and to wrap up the situation with my friend—Even though I love her more than any other human being on this planet; Even though she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world; Even though a thousand other glories sing her praises—I can not even consider marrying her for the very reason that we do not share the same foundation of life.

    Without going into detail of how we’d be “differentially yoked” let me say it would be spiritually devastating for me to enter into a marriage with her when we do not agree on the very foundation of who we are… With her I would not have a wife who could agree with me in life and in prayer for the things of Christ for our future. There is no way I could enter into a marriage with someone who was not wholeheartedly submitted to the rule of Christ in our lives. I would personally be in for a world of pain and disappointment. I know this, because I know us.

    I spent some exegetical time this afternoon in 2 Cor 6:14–7:1 to see if the pastoral advice I’ve been giving myself and others throughout the years has been biblically sound. I believe it is. I would still counsel all my Christian friends not to marry someone who is not also a Spirit-filled believer. This, however, does not mean, Marie, that I would ever judge someone as sinful for being moved by God to marry an unbeliever. Very unique situation, but didn’t the LORD instruct the prophet Hosea to marry an unfaithful prostitute? Again, I would never judge anyone for who they choose to marry. I’m also comforted by the words of 1 Corinthians 7:14 expressing how “the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife.”

    So, Marie, perhaps now you can see why your story struck a cord with me. Fwiw, these are very personal thoughts I’ve shared with you. And yet I feel safe to be vulnerable like this here because our Shepherdess has cultivated such a safe environment. And there is this enormous need for other safe environments for helping and healing and understanding and so forth… There is a need for places of refuge from all sorts of abusive environments, so I gladly support Ryan Stollar in his service of providing such a needed community as H*A.

    I believe Gary W knocked the ball out of the ballpark with this comment from yesterday: In the 2 Corinthians 6 passage Paul specifically associates the yoke with Belial and idols. My suggestion is that Paul is warning us against joining unbelievers in entering into the bondage of idolatrous pursuits. Idolatry is sin. The pursuit of idols will bring us under the yoke of bondage to the idol or idols pursued. Whatever the point of the 1 Corinthians 6 passage may be, if Paul is telling us not to associate with unbelievers, then it would seem Jesus has some explaining to do.

    As I was teamed-up with Ryan last month in our #WhoWouldJesusSue campaign I remember at some point in our conversations Ryan expressing to us how he has difficulties with Christianity as a result of the abuses he experienced growing up in a conservative Christian homeschooling culture. What he shared with us bonded him to me as a brother-in-arms. I also (with a love that hopes for and believes all things) consider Ryan my eternal brother-in-Christ. Why? Because this is the level of faith I’m operating with. I’ve also been given a measure of evidence of the Spirit with which Ryan operates and engages—it’s a spirit of love, grace, truth and wisdom.

    I’m honored to partner with my brother of light in exposing the darkness and abuses where only light and love should reside—in the so-called “christian” structures that harbor all sorts of hidden evils.

    I was going to say more. And maybe because I can’t possible say enough—I’ve already said to much. So let me end with this. I love you, my friends. And I trust you with my heart. I also trust the Spirit to lead Ryan and JA and the rest of us in our engagement against the dark powers of this world. The words of Jesus: “For the one who is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).

  61. Gary,

    your “we are servants” under Jesus’ easy yoke vs the yoke of bondage comment reminds me of Bob Dylan’s words:

    You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Laud
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

  62. monax – your comment moved me to tears. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I can see why Marie’s comment and the verses really touched you.

    You have been a great supporter and friend to me these past months and it was such a pleasure to work with you and Ryan and the others on the #WWJS campaign. I can’t forget that e-mail you sent after reading Paul’s court declaration detailing his sex abuse. That testimony compelled you to action and you were unstoppable. Thanks for being part of the team. I feel the same way as you – – every single one of us on the team has experienced spiritual abuse (some of us, other abuses) and I’ve never seen a team work so efficiently with driven purpose to bring to light to evil that has destroyed so many lives. {{{hugs, David}}}

  63. Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan? Yes, I remember. He seemed old when I was young. And now I’m 60. Well, just downloaded the album. Probably listen to it this weekend. Hoots, and thanks again monax.

  64. monax

    Thank you for your story.
    Seems NOT many of us escape a broken heart.
    Disapointments, Rejection, Abandonment, Abuse…. **But God**

    Psalm 147:3
    He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

    Luke 4:18
    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;
    **he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted,**
    to preach deliverance to the captives,
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty them that are bruised,

    Also appreciate your declarations and praise Jesus – The foundation of your life..
    “I’ve since experienced enormous healing in my life—even in the last few months”

    It’s nice to hear a good report – Thanks again.

    Be Blessed – And continue to be a blessing…

  65. Julie Anne

    Glad to hear it
    “If you are asking me, personally – – I’m absolutely fine.”

    Thank you Jesus. ;-)

  66. Julie Anne

    When I first asked about “us” and “them” I was leading up to another question…

    But – your words, “I still felt like I could never measure up to what R.D. felt” – And the others who had to leave the conversation because of R.D.’s words – Caused me to slow down, think a little, agonize a little, pray a little, over all the pain. How long oh Lord? – How long must I cover my pillow with tears, oh Lord?

    You wrote – In answer to my question about – Who is “us?” Who is “them?”
    “I’m referring to the disconnect between “us” as regular church people who have been hurt by authoritarian pastors and “them” meaning the pastors.”

    The question I had in mind – was…

    Who told you there is an “us” and “them?”

    How did you learn that? Why do you believe that?

  67. Amos asked: Who told you there is an “us” and “them?”

    I have no idea – it’s a common thought that so many have in churches.
    I don’t know that I have that belief any more.

  68. If I recall correctly the way I was indoctrinated about “us and them” went something along the lines: We or us are Right on how we interpret the Bible, we/us are right as politically conservative voters, we (us) have God. Now as for them, they were the on the left, unbelievers, liberals, the evil ones, the pro-choice… Lord have mercy, that kind of smug attitude doesn’t invite the lost to Jesus. Drop the labels and love people where they are at. Most of my friends up north at the cabin are lefties or atheists they affectionately call me Rev. they know I love Jesus, at times we have the most inspiring discussions under the stars. Now that I am out of the Christian ghetto and not afraid to hang out with unbelievers it is a blast, one of the nones, told me last year that she joined a bible study…

  69. Julie Anne

    NO – I NO longer believe there is an “us” and “them” either. ;-)
    And – I NO longer see that in the Bible.

    …and ALL ye are brethren. Mat 23:8
    …for ye are ALL “ONE” in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28

    But – IMO – the way “The Abusive Religious System” is set up today, they promote it…
    “us” and “them” becomes – “a common thought that so many have in churches.”

    That’s where I first heard that, where I first learned that. From pastor/leaders in the…
    501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax Deductible, Religious Corporation, the IRS calls church.

    And – in my experience – Special – “Titles/Positions” pastor/leader
    Automatically causes, and promotes, this “us” and “them.”

    Don’t special “Titles/Positions” say – I am, you’re not? – “us” and “them?”

    Clergy – Laity;— I am, you’re not? – “us” and “them?”

    Leaders – Followers;— I am, you’re not? – “us” and “them?”

    Pastors – Sheep; — I am, you’re not? – “us” and “them?”

    I now believe it is very significant that Jesus taught His Disciples…
    NOT to be called “Leaders” for you have “ONE” leader – Jesus – Mat 23:10 NASB
    And – NOT one of His Disciples called them self “Leader.”
    ALL His Disciples called themselves “Servants.”

    And – NOT one of His Disciples had the “Title/Position” pastor/leader/reverend.

    Rom 12:5
    So we, being many, are “ONE Body” in Christ, and every one members one of another.

    1Co 3:8
    Now he that planteth and he that watereth are “ONE”…

    1 Cor 10:17
    For we being many are “ONE” bread, and “ONE” body…

    1 Cor 12:12
    For as the body is ONE”, and hath many members,
    and ALL the members of that ONE” body, being many, are ONE” body:
    so also is Christ.

    IMO – “Titles” divide, and create – “us” and “them”

    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give flattering titles unto man.
    For I know not to give flattering titles;
    in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
    Job 32:21 KJV

  70. scared

    Good call – another “us” and “them.” I forgot this “us” and “them” – left and right – believer, non-believer – was also me at one time – big time. Forgive me Lord.

    “We or us are Right on how we interpret the Bible, we/us are right as politically conservative voters, we (us) have God. Now as for them, they were the on the left, unbelievers, liberals, the evil ones, the pro-choice… Lord have mercy,”

    I probably still have some of that egg on my face…
    And in my heart – Mercy Lord

    I’ve actually been listening to NPR – National Public Radio – for the last year.
    Never did that before – Oy Vey!!!

    And I hang out, a lot, at a Barnes & Nobles book store. I get to talk to all kinds of folks, Pastors, Believers, Non-beleivers, Atheists, New Age, and for the most part we all get along. We debate, we argue, and we drink coffee together. It has been a most delightful experience. ;-)

  71. monax – thank you so much for your words and sharing your decision and conclusion. I honor you for being so thoughtful and careful in your approach. And I do think your decision is a wise one. Marriage is never something to be taken lightly and the spiritual foundation its begun with is important. and I did understand on some level the concerns raised. however, they were unaware of the things God was doing in him, and in me. My parents who are devout Christians prayed about it with me as well and also had a peace about the whole thing. It wasn’t something I’d taken lightly and many conversations were had between myself and my soon to be husband, about my beliefs, the strength of them and how I intended to continue in them, and how I intended to bring our children into the faith. See the Lord was working in both of our hearts and He did have a good and right plan for us. My main problem has been people who speak so judgmentally of our situation when they had no idea of the details and conversations that went into the decision. And that there was this automatic assumption of doom, that quite frankly hasn’t panned out…:) I also often think of Hosea and the prostitute. can you imagine if your son came home and said “Hey dad/mom – you know that girl that sells herself on the corner downtown? God told me to marry her!” It’s preposterous, and would challenge even the best of us I think. And yet it was so. And therefore not out of the realm of possibility that God had in fact given His blessing to my marrying my husband.

    And finally – what if we look at things differently than God does because of our limited view of time and eternity? Could it be that God already saw my husband through the lense of time and already as a believer because in a sense it already “was” in the the future? Maybe I’m reaching, but it’s a thought that does intrique me…:)

    Again Monax – I so appreciate you being willing to share your personal experience and relationship considerations. I know God will indeed bless your faithfulness. And let me tell you it is worth waiting for the right person if there is one. And it’s never too late until your dead!!! :)

  72. Amos, thank you, as always, for your encouraging words. . and for all your reminders of the Truths we are called to observe. .

    . .

    Julie Anne, all seven us crew (you, fwiw, being the only woman) were blessed beyond measure as we were led in our efforts by the Spirit. There was no human one of us in charge, yet we operated like a well-oiled machine, according to our gifts, inspirations, insights, experiences and leadings. It restored confidence for us all in a “properly working body of Christ.” {{{ for our time in our “war room” we truly were blessed with being a most holy and perfect expression of Christ’s church }}}

    “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph 4:15-16).

    As long as Monster Bob Grenier is still in power at Calvary Chapel Visalia our war against him will not end. As far as I’m concerned, we may have a momentary lull in the action, but team #WWJS still has much work to do.

    . .

    Marie, thank you for your words of grace and assurance. I’m grateful for your presence here. You know, you bring up a good point—the issue of timing in regards to our eternal salvation. At what point are we truly saved?

    You (or someone) might ask me—‘So, David, when were you saved?’

    I’d answer something like—‘Well, Marie, salvation is a process. There’s an already/not yet tension to my being saved. Already before the creation of the universe I was chosen in Christ Jesus for salvation. Then in the fullness of time—two millennia ago—the Lamb of God entered the world to give His life as an atoning sacrifice to secure our eternal relationship. Then in 1975 when I was six years-old I experienced a regeneration—a being “born of the Spirit.”

    ‘But my salvation was/is still not yet complete, for my sanctification is ongoing, and as “His workmanship” I’m progressively being delivered and made whole—but my spirit, I know, won’t be made perfect until I die and am with Christ, and even then I won’t be perfectly whole (as I was created to be) until the Day of the LORD, when we come into full possession of our most perfect resurrection bodies. Then, on that Day, our salvation may be considered complete.’

    Again, my salvation was determined (or predestined) before time. It was secured in time by Christ on the Cross. It was personally applied to me by the spirit at a specific moment of life. And then, again, when I die the promise is that my spirit will be made perfect—and only then on the Day of the LORD will I be given my glorified body. On that day (and not until then) will I be made perfectly whole as my Savior determined for me to be—for this is what it means “to be saved”—from the Greek soter it means “to be made whole.”

  73. I hope you all don’t mind one more posting on this . My family also just happened to begin a discussion on this very topic on FB and I’d like to share my Dad’s dissertation. It is of some length, but very worth reading in my opinion. I’ve always known my dad to prayerfully and carefully study scripture at legnth before basing his opionions. Julie Anne I hope you don’t mind my posting this ———

    I have always had a problem with those who use II Corinthians 6 to say that Christians should never marry unbelievers. About two years ago I decided to really look at it prayerfully, and see what the Lord was really saying in these verses. First off; remember that to understand the full meaning of any one verse, you must read it in context with the surrounding verses; both in the chapter, and in the whole book. Throughout this 2nd letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of suffering and affliction. It is obvious that the Corinthians had a problem with suffering for Christ. In the first chapter he reminds them that one purpose in suffering is so that we might be able to help others who suffer as we did. In chapter 4 he speaks of the hardships of following Christ, reminding them that we have this treasure in earthly bodies, so that the glory of God might be made manifest in our suffering. In chapter 5 he speaks of our earthly bodies as tents which can be torn down, and afflicted with sorrows. But he reminds us that we were given the Spirit as a pledge of better things to come in eternity. In chapter 5 he concludes by beseeching the Corinthians to be reconciled to God, and become the righteousness of God in Christ. Then, at the start of chapter 6 he again speaks of enduring afflictions; and entreats them not to receive the grace of God in vain.

    Another thing which is helpful in understanding scripture is to research the culture at the time the letter was written. You have to be careful here; because the Spirit wrote these for all who would come to know Christ; not just the 1st century believers. But you can glean some things from knowing the situation which caused Paul to write the letter. The Corinthians lived in Corinth; which was a hotbed of Greek philosophy and pagan religion. The temple of Aphrodite was considered one of the great wonders of the world at that time. The priestesses in the temple would offer themselves for sex as an apeasement to their goddess. We can see in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that they were involved in sexual immorality, and an unhealthy focus on the gifts of the Spirit. They liked the flashier gifts, like tongues. They seemed to be torn between the things of God, and the things of the flesh. In this second letter, Paul implies that they were fearful of affliction, and suffering for the cause of Christ. Over and over he reminds them that they are not their own; but Christ’s. They are new creations; they have the Spirit within them; they are ambassadors for Christ; they are a fragrance of Christ to those who are perishing.

    I think verse 12 of chapter 6 gets to the crux of the matter. “You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.” The Corinthians wanted the best of both worlds. They wanted to enjoy the things of the flesh – their own “affections”, as Paul wrote. But they also wanted the benefits of being in Christ – eternal life. They wanted to follow Christ; but they did not like the idea of suffering for Christ. Remember that the chapters and verses are not inspired. I think the first verse in chapter 7 gives us more information about the end of chapter 6. “7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The Corinthians were defiling themselves in both the flesh and the spirit. In verses 14-16 of chapter 6 he talks about Belial, and idols, and being bound together with unbelievers. These are obviously some of the defilements he is speaking of in chapter 7:1. Verse one of chapter 7 points back to chapter 6; and the other preceeding chapters; by using the word “therefore”. The Corinthians wanted to have their feet on both sides of the fence. They wanted to consort with the Aphrodite priestesses; they wanted to eat the meat consecrated to idols; they wanted to have business dealings with the unbelievers and make lots of money. But they also wanted to have eternal life, and be given gifts from the Spirit. Paul is saying, in 6:14-16, that they cannot do both. They cannot bind themselves to both the Lord and the world. It doesn’t work that way. Paul (and the Spirit through him) is addressing the desire to want it all. It is the same thing Jesus said when He told the people that they cannot serve both God and Mammon. We tend to focus on the specific examples Paul mentions; but I like Wuest’s translation of verse 14:

    2Co 7:1 6:14-7:1 Stop being joined as with a yoke to unbelievers in a common state or endeavor which latter are of a character different from and diametrically opposed to the state of a child of God and any endeavor in which he may properly engage, for what partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness?

    Most other translations say “do not be unequally yoked….”. The idea is that we are not to join together with unbelievers in something that is not of God. The unbeliever has no idea what God wants, and no desire to try and please God. To categorically apply that to marriage is not found in the text. The key is “something that is not of God”; or “a common state or endeavor” of Wuest; or “unequally yoked”, of the other translations. We should not desire to have a common endeavor with unbelievers, since they do not seek the things of God. While a marriage is a common endeavor; the question is who initiated it, God or self? Can; and does; God ask one of His people to marry an unbeliever? There are many examples in the Old Testament where God had an Israelite marry a Gentile. Ruth, Rahab, Gomer, Joseph’s Egyptian wife. Rahab is even found as an example in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith”; and both Ruth and Rahab are in the geneology of Christ. In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul discusses what a believing spouse is to do with an unbelieving spouse; should they leave the marriage. In that letter he did not chastise them for being married to an unbeliever. Many people, trying to reconcile those verses with these in II Corinthians, say that Paul was talking about those who were already married before they became believers; but that is not found in the text.

    One final thing to mention; which Diane brought up in the other thread; is the idea that none of us can really know who is a believer, and who is an unbeliever. Just because someone calls themself a Christian does not make it so. It is God who knows the heart: “Psa 44:21 shall not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Also, does God look at our current state; or our eternal state? Pauls says:

    Eph 1:4 Just-as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unblemished before him in love*.
    Eph 1:5 Having predetermined us to the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the delight of his will,

    2Ti 1:9 The God who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal,

    Gal 1:15 But when God was delighted– he separated me from my mother’s womb, having called me through his grace,
    Gal 1:16 to reveal his Son in me, that* I may proclaim him among the Gentiles.

    2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure all things because of the chosen, that* they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

    These verses imply that God chose us from before the foundations of the earth to be part of the Elect. He already knows who are His Elect. If He directs us to marry someone who has not “yet” received Christ; but who will at some future date; are we actually marrying an unbeliever?

    My take on II Corinthians 6 is that we are not to be seeking to have both the things of God and the things of the world. We should not join together with unbelievers in a common purpose which is not God directed. The New Testament makes it clear that we are not to compile lists of things to do; or not do; but we are to seek the Lord’s direction in all we do. We are to live lives of righteousness; but it is only through the power of the Spirit within us, that allows us to do that. These verses cannot be used to categorically state that a Believer should not marry an unbeliever. God has directed His people to do so in the past, and I see no reason to suppose He wouldn’t in the future. However; I would encourage any Believer thinking God is telling them to marry what appears to be an unbeliever, to seek the wisdom of a multitude of councilors. Satan is quite capable of deceiving us into believing our feelings are the Spirit speaking to us.

  74. I’m so glad you posted this, Marie!

    What your Dad wrote was well written and reasoned.

    I agree with his assertion: “They cannot bind themselves to both the Lord and the world.”

    He goes on: “The idea is that we are not to join together with unbelievers in something that is not of God. The unbeliever has no idea what God wants, and no desire to try and please God. To categorically apply that to marriage is not found in the text.”

    Again, I agree, and as stated above: I would never judge someone for whom they chose (or were led by the Spirit) to marry.

    “However;” your Dad entreats us, “I would encourage any Believer thinking God is telling them to marry what appears to be an unbeliever, to seek the wisdom of a multitude of councilors.”

    I trust your Dad and I see eye to eye on this. He goes to the necessary length to demonstrate that we must not use this text to categorically denounce marriages between a believer and unbeliever. I Agree.

    I would be curious, though, to know what the custom was in first century Corinth regarding the choosing of one’s spouse. Weren’t most or at least many marriages arranged prior to the modern era? In the last two millennia weren’t the spouses of many selected by their families, the groom and bride subject to each other as a result of predetermined circumstances? We know, at least in the aristocracy, that there were believers compelled to marry unbelievers, even to marry spouses they did not love.

    Our situation for today is different. We in the West (for the most part) are entirely free to choose for ourselves who we will enter into marriage with. And so with every big decision we are called to make we should do so according to the principles of God. I believe, as we consider the whole counsel of Scripture, that God advises us against committing our foundational life energies to persons and projects that don’t have God as their central focus of being.

    Again, Marie, I trust your Dad and I see eye to eye on this.

  75. Monax – so glad you enjoyed it. You bring up an excellent point on the arranged marriages, and not one I had considered. Especially as reasoning for believers to be joined with unbelievers. It certainly gives me something to think about and bring to my dad. I’d be curious if he’d considered that as well.

    And I would agree with you, that we should absolutely conduct our lives with the view of making sure our life focus is on Him and His Glory and purposes in our lives. I am absolutely not trying to convince anyone they SHOULD actually marry an unbeliever. I just though some might appreciate the additional viewpoint, on if someone were to go that route. :) He absolutely understands and underscores absolute caution and care when taking that under consideration and only with much prayer and consultation w/ trusted friends/family/advisors.

    I do have to say I do appreciate my father in that after leaving a very abusive Covenant church many years ago, he’s been very deliberate about searching scripture on his own and through the eyes of the Holy Spirit rather than man. He has always encouraged honest questioning and discourse in spiritual matters, and has had a tremendous influence on how my life is conducted today………..I just pray I can do the same for my kids. (this wasn’t to defend him, just to publicly here proclaim my love and appreciation for the man…;) )

  76. Actually, your Father comes across as a man I would be most honored to personally get behind and defend. He’s passionate about this misreading, misapplication, this twisting and perversion of Scripture used to beat the living hell out his daughter and others like her.

    And now the very Sword of his authority is the Word of God, not the word of man on the Word of God.

    I kiss your father… and I see that you, Marie, are most blessed of daughters!

    But God ultimately is the defense of the righteous. And as they are bold as lions they usually can defend themselves… quite well!

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