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Wicked shepherds have been around for a long, long time. This passage is from the Old Testament:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?
You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.
The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts.
My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
Ezekiel 34: 1-6
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There are also plenty of passages in the New Testament on false teachers. Here’s one:
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Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing
but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matt 7:15
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If we have been a Christian for any length of time, we likely know that there are false teachers or wolves in sheep’s clothing whose purpose is to devour innocent sheep. We are supposed to be on the lookout for them. The following comment which was posted on the SSB Facebook page seems to say that we are not innocent when we sit in the pews of a spiritually abusive church. I’ve highlighted a key sentence from the commenter.
It’s very sad but becoming more and more evident of the apathy and cynicism some church attenders feel towards their denomination and especially to those in leadership that allow: Mysticism; New Calvinism; NAR; Federal Vision, etc. to infiltrate their church. However, the fault does not lay so much with the leadership as with the people who blindly follow and allow for abuse to continue without question. We have laws in place in this country to protect and defend the abused, but instead people put their Pastor’s teachings above and beyond anything else, including God’s Word, and the people STILL follow.
This commenter’s words are lining up with scripture, but I still get an uneasy feeling inside. I’m sure we’ve touched on this topic before. I know we are supposed to be on guard, however, I get upset at the idea that I was blindly allowing a pastor control over me. Does anyone else get their dander up on ideas like this? I know it’s partially true, but is the bulk of the responsibility on me?
Is it always so plain and simple? I followed my husband to BGBC and told him from the first week that I didn’t like it. But I was also stuck in a system of patriarchy where a wife does not have a say. My opinion did not matter. The leaving-the-church situation eventually resolved when our friend was fired and we along with several other families left the church.
But what do you say about someone like me who was stuck? I wasn’t sitting there completely blind.
What is interesting is most of us who came to BGBC from the same church can recall when people from our former church were concerned about BGBC. We distanced ourselves from the former church, but some families had been friends for nearly a decade and kept up with each other. They challenged us.
Probably a handful of people came to me very concerned about our new church, BGBC. What’s interesting is that I actually defended BGBC. Now, why would I do that when internally I knew they were right? Again, it was that battle in my mind of trying to please my husband, yet feeling uneasy about the church. I knew the importance of husbands and wives being on the same page. It was important for our family, right? So, I waffled back and forth. Part of me was trying to obey and submit to my husband because he’s the spiritual head of our home, the other part of me was screaming, “NO, GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE!”
Being alone with my inner turmoil was tough – especially after Hannah was gone and seeing what she had gone through. I think I was like a ticking time bomb. People would drop hints to me about their frustrations and I’d drop a hint back.
It’s interesting – there is one woman who remains at BGBC to this day was the most vocal person in complaining to me about the problems she saw. I know she was dealing with the same internal battles as me. Her family never left. But now, after the lawsuit, BGBC had to pay close to $60,000 in legal fees to our attorneys alone for her pastor’s shenanigans, yet she and her family remain. We don’t know how much that very small church had to cough up for the pastor’s attorneys. Did any of the money come from the pastor? That money most likely came from tithes and offerings. How can she justify that kind of expense from such a small church? She’s in a very tough place. I don’t know what has made her stay despite the truth that she has previously acknowledged and is now probably dismissing. It’s hard to admit you’ve been had.
But isn’t this the same kind of situation with other abuse systems? Think of a wife who is living with domestic violence. Many times she is trapped because her husband is controlling her time, money, car, resources. She may acknowledge the abuse to herself, but then rationalize it’s better to stay because she wouldn’t be able to provide for her children financially if she left. She’s trapped.
Or what about those people who grew up in abuse and so they are naturally drawn to controlling people. Are they to blame?
So, my question to you is: how do you settle this in your mind? Do you blame yourself for the spiritual abuse you incurred? Whose fault is it? We could have walked out the door sooner, why didn’t we?
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