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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 Unbelievers14 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?
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?
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?