Christian Love, Christian Marriage, Domestic Violence and Churches, Personal Stories, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Spiritual Abuse, SURVIVOR STORIES, Wives or (ex) of Pedophiles, Women and the Church

Financial Ramifications of Abuse: What’s a Church to Do?

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Survivors of abuse have to climb many mountains.  The first mountain is acknowledging the fact that they are being abused.  Then they have to decide what to do.  They are left emotionally reeling and yet, have to survive, take care of their children, put food on the table, etc.

One of SSB’s regular readers, Brenda, found the blog via a Google search which landed her at this article:  Being Married to a Pedophile: A Wife Speaks Out and Offers Hope to Other Wives of Pedophiles.   While Brenda’s story is horrific, the story of how she found the blog and what has happened since is one of my favorite stories.  You can read the comments where she connects with another former wife of a pedophile.  It’s a beautiful story in that two women who had their lives completely disrupted by their pedophile husbands were able to connect and tell their stories.   Now they have a unique connection and can offer one another hope, share heartaches, and struggles.  I just love how God works.  Brenda has a blog, A Solitary Journey, and is so vulnerable in sharing her personal story in hopes that she can be of encouragement to others.   

Brenda shared from her heart on the new SSB Forum.  Because Brenda has been so open about her experience, I asked if she’d be willing to discuss it here. Brenda gave me permission to copy it entirely.   She has such amazing strength.

It makes me sick to think of the money churches spend on church expansions, high-tech equipment, remodeling projects, spending thousands of dollars to send people on short-term missions trips when victims of abuse are left in financial ruins, barely surviving because of the predicament in which the abuser has put them.

I can’t help but think that an abuse survivor must feel as if they are in prison with so little help from people who are supposed to be helping:  the church.  She is the one who first bore the pain of the abuser, but she is the one who also must deal with the aftermath in ways that are likely more difficult than the abuser will ever face.  Why is the survivor abandoned and re-victimized yet again?  This is not right!

It is important to read Brenda’s first-hand account to understand exactly what survivors face as they try to get back on their feet again.

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Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

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Financial Ramifications of Abuse: What’s a church to do?

by Brenda

I know that in a sense I am preaching to the choir here because I believe we are all on the same page when it comes to the righteous anger we feel on how the church handles abuse victims of any sort.  But I’m wondering what your experience has been in terms of how the church has responded to the tangible needs abuse victims have.  Let me explain:

When my ex was arrested for child pornography, his “Christian” employer immediately fired him.  I understand that was the wise and correct thing for them to do for him and for their institution.  But he was the only breadwinner in our family so my daughter and I were immediately left with no source of income and quickly without health insurance.  We had no savings to draw from and our financial needs were huge–staggering.  The legal fees for my very difficult divorce exceeded $20,000, not to mention the cost of relocating and starting life over again.  My daughter and I literally left town within two days of his arrest with a suitcase of clothing and nothing else.  The media coverage was huge and we were afraid for our safety since our home address was printed all over the media.  We landed in Southern California and lived out of that one suitcase for weeks and weeks and weeks.  There was no offer of support or help in any way from organized religion or “religious” individuals.

I was unemployed for a year and a half after my life exploded.  It is a difficult environment now for job seekers plus I know that I was discriminated against by religious institutions because of the ongoing public spectacle of my ex’s criminal case.  The only way to get a job these days is to know someone who knows someone and I desperately needed someone to take me under their wing and help me find a job by networking for me with their associates.  I longed for someone to say, “Hey, I know x and y and z who are in the position to influence hiring choices.  Give me your resume and I will personally contact them on your behalf.”  That didn’t happen.

I needed cash and lots of it.  Other than a few very small gifts, there was none forthcoming from any religious organization or individual.  My Buddhist gay brother and his partner pledged to provide for us until I could get on my feet.  And they did–tens of thousands of dollars–all a gift, nothing expected in return.

I needed household items since I was unable to gain access to my former home to get our belongings for months.  My daughter and I slept on air mattresses for a time and eventually, I maxed out my credit card to purchase beds, etc. so we would have a place to sleep.  How many people have excess in storage units, garages, etc.  It would have saved so much money if people had offered.  But they didn’t.

I needed friends who would call and invite me to a family dinner or take me out for a meal.  Instead, I had a few friends who wanted to connect but never offered to pay for my meal and often used the time to bend my ear about their struggles.  Might I add, it was incredibly difficult to sit and listen to the pain they still experienced over the death of a pet for hours?  My mind was present but my heart just was screaming–“Let me tell you about pain, my friend!!!!!@@###$$”

I needed recognition as a victim.  I was told by the prosecutor in my ex’s case that the court does not recognize me as a victim.  And unfortunately, neither does the church.  Instead I am a pariah, a leper, contagious.  The church I now attend is a safe place, I believe.  But only a few of the small congregants know my story. Not sure why the pastor has not been more forthcoming with help–still puzzled by that.

The extraneous expenses a partner of a pedophile faces can be huge and there seems to be no place where assistance is available.  At one point, my daughter’s therapy expenses exceeded $700 a month and we had no insurance so that came out of my pocket. Legal fees are often a necessity–I so often wished for a defense attorney or any attorney who could help me understand the process and any potential liability I might have.  We have Christian attorneys–do they make themselves available to individuals such as myself, who cannot afford to pay them?

So what has your experience been in terms of tangible needs?  Have you received support from any religious organizations with which you are affiliated?  I’m asking because I so want my experience to be the anomaly though I fear it isn’t.  As this forum grows, we are going to have people raw with pain from recent disclosure, etc.  If we can work through some of this stuff now, then we will be a safer place for them during the initial throes of their trauma.  Does that make sense?

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Can we please discuss this?    How does your church handle situations like this? Do you know of survivors in your church? Are their needs being met? How can we find these survivors? What can we as a church body do to make sure the Brendas in our midst do not slip through the cracks.  Oh, this pains me to know this is going on!   Take note – Brenda’s Buddhist gay brother and partner helped provide for Brenda and her daughter, but where was the church? Sometimes I feel embarrassed to be a Christian.

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175 thoughts on “Financial Ramifications of Abuse: What’s a Church to Do?”

  1. One last thing, Wesley. Making backhanded remarks to someone else here does not support your “God bless”. I’m afraid I do not share your “lol” in this regard. I have actually read what you wrote; I simply disagree.

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  2. Hi boatrocker,

    Here is a verse that has always spoken to me about wages for service.
    “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 Tim. 5:17-18 So it would appear that there is some guideline for those who labor in this way, by giving of their time to the benefit of their spiritual community, in the task of preaching and teaching. Would you have a different understanding of this admonition of Paul to Timothy?

    BTW this is also in the context of helping widows who really are in need and how to bring an accusation against an elder. If an elder was found to be sinning, they were to be publicly rebuked so that others might take warning.

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  3. Wesley, your overt cheering for Barb is telling me more about you than anything else you’ve said.

    Barb, I’ve studied the Letters in detail and, shockingly, have seen that passage before.

    But ask yourself this: who gets “single honor” if Paul is talking about literal wages? How much must an elder be paid? Does someone else get half that amount? No, Paul is talking about HONOR, as he goes on to say that the flip side is SHAME. An elder is not to be accused lightly, but Timothy is warned not to use that elder’s reputation as a basis for failing to hold them to account. If guilt is established, that elder must be publicly rebuked as a warning to the other elders. This is the clear, straightforward meaning of Paul’s instructions.

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  4. 1 Corinthians 9:14-16

    In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

    But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

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  5. I think the take away from this discussion is that there are healthy, spirit-filled gatherings of Christ followers in all sizes and there are abusive, non-healthy gatherings in all sizes. For some people, God is calling them to give their money and services to an established official congregation; for others, God is calling them to more of a small group-type format and giving their money and/or time to service activities not affiliated with a formal congregation, and still others are somewhere in between.

    None of these is 100% wrong. God needs all of us, but doesn’t necessarily call all of us to the exact same things. We just need to love each other wherever we’re at, and trust that God is working in all of our lives, whether or not we agree with how each of us are living the faith.

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  6. So, boatrocker, what do you do with the tie in to the OT reference to the ‘treading oxen’ having access to the grain to eat and the plain comment that: “The worker deserves his wages.” tucked into that section?

    The questions is: Did elders in the NT serve the spiritual family by preparation for teaching and preaching by rigorous study of the OT text, remembering the words of the Resurrected Lord, and by prayer in hearing from God, in order to ‘feed’ God’s people, and then get no compensation for their efforts?

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  7. boatrocker I think you missed the point by referencing Paul’s anecdotal comment as a rebuttal for a direct command. Every detail is not laid out so that the believers can walk in liberty in this area as well. This blog is also in part founded to expose the error of rules based Christianity which you decry and then request at every turn.

    boatrocker did the overt cheering for you earlier tell you the same thing?

    Oh yeah and a insult and ad hominem laced comment concluded with a God Bless you is not funny either.

    I like you though boatrocker. You appear to have all the faults and strengths that make us genuinely human.

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  8. So, Barb, what do you do with the immediate context of honor vs. shame, and the absence of any stipulated salary though Paul did stipulate the age for widows? Who gets “single honor” and how much is that?

    The questions is: Did elders in the NT all go out as missionaries who gave up land and possessions to spread the gospel where it had not gone before, as was the case for Paul? Did those elders refuse to support themselves when possible as Paul did? And if someone who is not a ‘pastor’ today does the same work (teaching, visiting the sick, preaching the gospel to the lost instead of the found in church services), should they not be paid at least “single honor”, whatever that is?

    I have an entire book about all this: http://books.fether.net/index.php?theBook=1 . I”m not saying I’m some authority, but only that I’ve done my homework, and you can see how seriously I take this by reading what I wrote there.

    If you want to pay only some members of the Body while others must support them and also execute their own spiritual gifts as well, that’s your business. But note this: Paul said it is not the children who must support their parents, that he would rather die than be robbed of the boast that he did his work without pay, and that nobody in their wildest dreams in the first century would have envisioned “pastors” expecting to be paid beyond basic necessities to having a big house, cars, and vacations… and all so the saved can hear thundering oratory every Sunday.

    You can have all that if you like. I prefer just hanging out with my spiritual siblings and not expecting anything from them, especially in these hard economic times. I’m happy to have the opportunity to spread the gospel (without pay) on the internet, in places few other Christians are willing to go. All of my material in my blog, books site, and online Bible study tool (my life’s work) is available for free. My life belongs to Jesus and I serve him out of gratitude, not entitlement. I’m sorry that isn’t good enough for some, who demand payment for the exercise of what they received for free from the Holy Spirit.

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  9. Boatrocker,
    I am so happy to read your comments here. They are helpful. Much of the “body” that meets in designated buildings sure looks like a business these days to me. I am a homeschool Mom & when I started teaching history I learned some interesting facts. One fact, each new Catholic church building (cathedrals) were constructed by direct instruction of Pope. The Pope decided where, in what European town. Then people started going to a building, not the other way around. All important life milestones from birth to death occurred at the building itself (baptism, confirmation, wedding, funerals). That’s why “buildings” were important. And how were these buildings funded? By the people. A soft conquer. Catholicism was a total top down calculated “authoritarian” approach. Wasn’t too long before persecution was coming from institutional Catholic church to cement their control.

    Protestant Reformation isn’t that different from Catholic church. In our own country, look how the Puritans persecuted, maimed, killed the Quakers. What was the Quakers’ crime? Quakers believed no intermediary was needed between us & Jesus. Were the Puritans protecting individual faith in Jesus or the organism called “church”? Those murderous “precious Puritans”.

    Let us Christians learn, understand, value history & historical facts.

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  10. Thanks, mom! 🙂

    Ever read The Reformers And Their Stepchildren? Excellent history of the “forgotten” church. I have a comment/summary of it here: http://books.fether.net/index.php?theBook=4 . Good to read also about those such as Ann Hutchinson, whose cruel death at the hands of the Indians was gloated over by the Puritans. Though she was not trying to upset the norm, she dared to teach women in her own home… with her husband’s approval. This was a threat to the control of the institutional church. We do indeed have much to learn from those like her.

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  11. boatrocker, I hear you. I/we as a couple, and so many others, have wrestled with the state and practices of the church–and that for decades. Every belief and practice in the present day model/s of the church have been scrutinized very carefully. Every question that you have stated are ones that many of us have already questioned, wrestled with, and even groaned over, so no problems there.

    Your questions highlight the fact that there is much more to be gleaned from the NT practices from what was supplied. There is equal wonder about the many things that were not stated in the NT text.

    Yes, there is much to grieve over in how Christians ‘do church’ today. Which brings up the point that many people, though disillusioned with the church, are still at various points of personal renewal and discovery regarding how they see how the church could and should improve. Some people have no hope for the apparent paradigm of church today and have sought ought other models that seem to work for them. Many others continue to ponder where they are at in what they ‘see’ in the Scriptures and what they ‘see’ happening in their contexts.

    Glad that you have found the shining path that seems to work for you. We are on common ground in finding reasonable ground to work out from. The problem is trying to force/persuade/admonish everyone to see your reasoning and how you got there–and instantaneously–without their having to work through their own issues and then come to a place of harmony with what they perceive the Scripture is saying and how that could be worked out in their lives. We just don’t all ‘see’ the same things at the same time.

    Hence, a “sounding board’ to bounce off ideas, read what we have written, and hear from others. That is where love, patience, and gentleness fit in. We can be bold and direct in stating what exactly has worked for us, but we need to be considerate in how we engage others in ‘our personal journey of discovery’. Glad that you are here and that you are direct in what you feel strongly about. Will continue to ponder what you have brought up and hope that I have not missed anything.

    One thing that we might be able to agree on is that the Church of Jesus Christ is a way bigger entity that any one of us could ever imagine.

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  12. Thanks for that, Barb. A person’s manner is easily misinterpreted in print, and there is no consensus about where the lines are drawn. One person’s directness is another person’s forcing. So I don’t accuse people of trying to force me to do or believe anything, since after all, they really can’t. I think such conversations in general would be much smoother if we all resolved not to focus on the other person’s perceived motives or heart. All we can do is discuss ideas. Persuasion is everyone’s right; force is not. Fortunately, as we’re not in a bricks-and-mortar building or local neighborhood where reputations can be ruined over disagreements, the charge of force is really a silly thing for anyone to make.

    Let me assure you that I have made great effort over the years to word my comments as carefully as I am capable. If this is not good enough for some, that’s something I cannot control; I can only ask that they don’t judge my heart or motives or efforts, as I always do my best. And looking back at this comment stream, I honestly don’t see either side being more direct, forceful, or inconsiderate than the other. We all should feel free to argue passionately without being accused of meanness or a desire to control, and again I see no such efforts here today by anyone. Debates of any value can and should be spirited. It’s a great way to learn. 🙂

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  13. Probably fully agree. Well stated. Exactly: “One person’s directness is another person’s forcing.” and “Persuasion is everyone’s right; force is not.” I like that combined thought.

    There is a need for a place to just say it like it is and/or just say how you ‘feel’ about an issue. So, some thoughts:
    1. There are many wounded people who hang out here, so that is always a concern. 2. Old habits die hard! That is referring to ‘how’ we tend to automatically ‘judge’ someone’s motives when they get going on a topic, a persuasion, or just do a rant. 3. Most people are working through baggage and as stated earlier, are working through things the best way they can. 4. It takes effort to read and comprehend through comment posts in order to get what most people are ‘trying to say’ without going into ‘jump’ mode. We are all being stretched through this method of communicating. 5. Hey, we can all learn through this great technological and community process. 🙂

    Hey, I hope that I wasn’t too simplistic, but sometimes things need to be articulated occasionally since we don’t talk on the phone or meet in person. Haha.

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  14. Wesley,

    Thanks to the time you have spent contributing to SSB, you have been made aware of many needs. Because you are leader in your own congregation, it might be that you could lead them in helping to meet some of these needs–especially financial needs that might arise. I am thinking specifically about initial financial needs of mothers and her children in the weeks and months following their escape from an abusive male. What do you think?

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  15. Wesley said,
    and the idea it is only only right to worship God where and how a small group of friends who are not happy with a church consisting of the same elements as the group of disciples Jesus hand picked worship Him.

    These are some of my own thoughts to take or leave:
    I find this comment offensive. We are not speaking of carpet color, parking or song selection here. This blog isn’t discussing minor gripes or concerns or happiness meters. Wesley knows this.

    I don’t think it’s right to wax eloquent about the institutionalized church, what Wesley calls the body, when victims HAVE NO CHOICE but to leave a church. Christians don’t hang other Christians on crosses to suffer & call it a virus or bacteria to put up with. This type of Christian-on-Christian suffering is flat out wrong, it needs to be stopped & NEVER condoned.

    For example, when someone reveals their childhood abuse, reveals their attempts to find help were rejected at all turns, what is a loving response? To say they had a virus or bacteria that just made them stronger, it’s a good thing? NO! It upsets me, I am compelled to think about what we can do. I am reminded of my own responsibilities to others. I stand firmly with those who have been wronged.

    IMO, there is a lack of loving response from “Christians” in a certain quarter that I find deeply troubling. In a maxed out total depravity meter way.

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  16. Agree, Mom. IMHO, the structure of the traditional “church” fosters and magnifies human weakness: for the “pastor”, the danger is control and ego before principle; for “laity”, the danger is perfunctory religion and a “club” mentality rather than personal spiritual growth; for the community, the danger is associating the faith with sacred buildings instead of sacred people. The “institution” tends to shield the Body from the world, which is not the function or purpose of “salt”.

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  17. I have to repeat: I don’t think it’s right to wax eloquent about the institutionalized church, the body, when victims HAVE NO CHOICE but to leave a church.

    We need to wake up to the fact that many of our brothers & sisters DON’T WANT to leave their church. They wait so long for their church to course correct & get it that gangrene has set in. They are completely devastated when they come to the realization that’s all there’s left that they can do. That they have been left out in the cold alone. They feel the “amputation” more than we do or even begin to understand. It breaks my heart. I’m sure it breaks our Lord’s heart.

    This is what bothers me so much about comments like Wesley’s. We need to put our glasses on & get it. God help us.

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  18. But ask yourself this: who gets “single honor” if Paul is talking about literal wages? How much must an elder be paid? Does someone else get half that amount? No, Paul is talking about HONOR, as he goes on to say that the flip side is SHAME.

    I think I need to add this to the verses that some pastors twist in order to abuse. Wow. I have always heard this presented as $$ geared to pastor (salary).

    This has been great conversation – a little heated at times, but informative as well.

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  19. Julie,

    It really is, isn’t it? It amazes me how we can study scripture for so many years and still find new things.

    Glad to contribute… though my “heat scale” may be a little different than for some others. I routinely get called Jezebel, feminazi, liar, false teacher, and a few I can’t repeat in the “anything goes” place I’ve been in lately. And that’s just from the Christians! 😉

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  20. boatrocker said:

    We all should feel free to argue passionately without being accused of meanness or a desire to control, and again I see no such efforts here today by anyone. Debates of any value can and should be spirited. It’s a great way to learn.

    A hearty Amen to that!

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  21. There is a need for a place to just say it like it is and/or just say how you ‘feel’ about an issue. So, some thoughts:

    1. There are many wounded people who hang out here, so that is always a concern.
    2. Old habits die hard! That is referring to ‘how’ we tend to automatically ‘judge’ someone’s motives when they get going on a topic, a persuasion, or just do a rant.
    3. Most people are working through baggage and as stated earlier, are working through things the best way they can.
    4. It takes effort to read and comprehend through comment posts in order to get what most people are ‘trying to say’ without going into ‘jump’ mode. We are all being stretched through this method of communicating.
    5. Hey, we can all learn through this great technological and community process.

    Barb – You did a great job of taking a step back and looking at the full picture (just like a researcher). I have at one point gone to a home church, but for the majority of my Christian walk over 35 yrs, have only gone to institutional churches. I must admit, even though I went through spiritual abuse and have seen the destruction, the familiarity of it is like a security blanket. This debate is challenging me (as all debates do) and I like that challenge.

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  22. “But ask yourself this: who gets “single honor” if Paul is talking about literal wages? How much must an elder be paid? Does someone else get half that amount? No, Paul is talking about HONOR, as he goes on to say that the flip side is SHAME. ”

    Bingo, the “wage” is honor. It is metaphorical just like “the wages of sin is death”. I had someone take me back to the OT on the oxen thing Paul was referencing…..cannot remember it now but it was interesting. We don’t “pay oxen” for their labor, we care for them.

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  23. Yes, LSP… it’s all about meeting needs, not a guarantee of a modern western lifestyle. I still think it would be interesting to see how many men felt ‘called to the pastorate’ if they received no wages, held no executive positions, and were paid with food, clothing, and medicine. A lot of charlatans would be routed out.

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  24. Well, you know, BR, as a woman, you are definitely out of line trying to teach the men here. You obviously haven’t read Tony Miano’s new book, “Should Women Preach.”

    I fully expect you would have a long list of names – at least as long as mine. I much prefer Jezzy to Jezebel, though. It’s cuter.

    However, the reality is, I can’t keep up with all of them. I just spent 10 minutes going through my Twitter feed looking for more to add – lol. Oh, and mine are from those special elect Christians – most whom must have a direct line with God because they all seem to tell me my time is short and worry about the condition of my soul.

    http://wp.me/P31uOG-27y

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  25. Julie Anne, it would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. How can people miss by such a huge distance the central tenets of the faith: it’s a gift, it’s grace, and it’s all about love and reconciliation? How did freedom for the prisoners and light burdens get so twisted and distorted? And I think nobody’s buying the “product of their time” excuse anymore… at least I hope not.

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  26. I’m thankful for my institutionalized church. I also believe scripture presents much instructional statements that support it. However, I bemoan the corporate establishment that is permeating it more and more, especially noted in large denominations (but not always). We have paid pastors and unpaid pastors. I believe scripture provides for both. We will have deacons soon as well. Why? to take care of the various helps ministries so that folks do not get left out, similar to the issue brought to the apostles in Acts. Is this a perfect model? I don’t know, what is perfect? I believe it is “a” model. Unfortunately, many have taken advantage of people while building and protecting their institutions. This is more than unfortunate, but a grievous sin. But this doesn’t make a church where believers meet wrong. It makes those leaders wrong. It makes all the leaders wrong, who didn’t speak up when something was done, that should have been. I also believe scripture presents much instructional statements where we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and God is leading us. We can meet together, in one accord, in an assembly, in our living rooms or at a park, or, for coffee (not at Starbucks though, they are too small).

    When the discussions, like the one above, come off so prescriptive, it’s hard for me to connect to either side. Especially when one person says the scripture is “instructional” and the other person states the former said “prescriptive.” Was this done on purpose? Dunno. But it’s not helpful. What is helpful is remembering that these matters can be “disputable”, even as Paul mentioned. We don’t have a road-map that lays out how to “meet together in one accord,” or the perfect polity, or not. So there is room for both. To believe otherwise, I think, is to fill gaps that aren’t provided in the Word, no matter which side you take.

    As well, I’ve noticed a tendency to explain away a lot of scripture with concerns on how they could be (have been) abused. Or, because someone decided everything has to be defined a certain way, or no longer is for today (this may sound unclear, so please bear with me, I’m trying to choose good words, but if I’m not, please be gracious). I’m reminded that this has been going on for thousands of years now, and that helps settle me. I don’t think we can explain away scripture when it says hard things, or its something that an abuser used. I think we should strive to understand it correctly in its context, and then remember we are not under the law and there is grace for things we’ve not grown in – OR – have been hurt by and need time to heal before considering that changing in our lives, over time…

    I’m reminded of 1 Cor 13. We can be right on everything, and if we don’t love, we’re nothing (paraphrased). I think there are many good, even great, churches. Sadly, there are many that have become corporate entities more concerned about the organization than the people who fill it. The later do not negate the former. If we did not have a church in our local area that we felt the Holy Spirit’s leading to join (either formally or informally), we would attempt to begin a house church. Why? To assemble together, for body ministry, for witness, for serving one another. I think this is why most of us attend(ed) church to begin with.

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  27. I’m thinking of the last church we were at before moving. It was elder-led, not by any one pastor. That definitely made me feel more at home knowing that there was not one ruling over all. None of the elders take a salary, but have outside jobs. They were the most humble, godly men I have ever seen. I really like this model and I’m surprised that more churches don’t follow this model.

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  28. Thank you, Ric, for sharing that your church seems to work in healthy ways.

    This is often my point: that there are many Christians who see that things in the church, which should be a model of healthy spiritual community, have been done poorly to absurdly in the past. Many people have made an effort to check out the biblical text to see what they, with a healthy church leadership and an intentional community, could team together to make things work better. It works better when, as 1 Cor. 13 describes, that the emphasis is placed on love, not to the exclusion of studying and valuing the Scriptures, but in concert together. Therefore, we can be motivated by Christ’s love and then make a personal and corporate effort to be led by the Spirit of Christ to work things out in daily life, in the church community, and in the world.

    For those who have exited the institutional church, I support you in your decision because you probably have a long list of reasons why the churches in your experience did not work for you, were harmful to you and many others, and you have no interest in seeing that model perpetuated. I have my own list as well. There is hope for the church, as a spiritual community. It is a time of judgment and change. This is to be expected. This is the tension of the age that we are in.

    There are a variety of healthy Christian fellowship scenarios for just about anyone. Find out what works best for you. It may take some time to find those of like passion but we are meant for spiritual community. It is our destiny.

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  29. Wesley Roy said,
    Most churches in America consist 50 to 100 people united as one body to carry out the great commission and the great commandments. The problem is that they do not provide the consumer services that the mega “churches” do.

    One of the churches where I was mistreated was a smaller one, with about 150 people.

    I don’t think size of group who meets at the brick building with a cross on a steeple always is at the heart of the matter.

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  30. Barb O said,
    For those who have exited the institutional church, I support you in your decision because you probably have a long list of reasons why the churches in your experience did not work for you, were harmful to you and many others, and you have no interest in seeing that model perpetuated. I have my own list as well. There is hope for the church, as a spiritual community. It is a time of judgment and change. This is to be expected. This is the tension of the age that we are in.
    There are a variety of healthy Christian fellowship scenarios for just about anyone. Find out what works best for you. It may take some time to find those of like passion but we are meant for spiritual community. It is our destiny.

    This I applaud & agree with. I do not want to see those harmed by institutional church, who have or are looking for an informal group of believers, think they aren’t part of the body of Christ. Jesus didn’t minister, do much teaching, or spend much time in the synagogue, the institutional church. Jesus was with everyday people most days. Jesus didn’t hang with the church leadership of His day. Jesus went after the hurting, the ones who needed help. Jesus promises if we seek Him, we will find Him. And if we seek those of like passion, as Barb O says, we will find them! 🙂

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  31. Mandy, I am so sorry you are in physical pain and that most churches are not willing to accomodate your needs.

    I particularly agreed and related to your post of SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 @ 9:06 AM.

    There have been Christians who have also been harmed emotionally / psychologically by Christians / churches (in addition to situations pertaining to physical or sexual abuse) who don’t feel comfortable being around Christians in general, or in a brick building once a week on a Sunday morning.

    The thing that compounds this even more, this hesitancy to open up to Christians again or go back to church, is precisely this shaming or blaming some Christians do when they wag their index fingers in our faces and tell us it’s our duty to attend a weekly local gathering in a brick building, or when they suggest it’s a sin not to go to church.

    I can’t speak to everyone who is struggling with the faith and who is reluctant to return to a weekly church service, but in my case, it would go a long, long way if Christians would validate our feelings (as in, “I know you’ve been hurt by churches/ Christians in the past and are reluctant or afraid to go back again or to trust another Christian and am so very sorry”) and then nicely, lovingly ask us to please reconsider in the future.

    That approach would make more head way with me than quoting a couple of verses about not forsaking assembly, or chiding me for the fact I do not attend one.

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  32. Wesley R said,
    Ministry does not just happen with people that are at the same point on the journey to Christ-likeness. Some are immature like Peter, some lack compassion like James and John,

    It’s not so neat and tidy like that. I’ve experienced issues with self professing Christians of various ages in person at a large church, at a small one, online at various blogs/ forums, and on an individual basis, one on one.

    Some of these Christian people were in their 40s, 50s, or 60s and have been Christians since they were kids or teens.

    Some are just plain hypocritical – a couple I met who did me wrong are involved with ministry all right, and they are “walking the walk,” in a manner of speaking -but- they are very choosy about when/how they “walk the walk.”

    For example: One lady who brushed me off when I needed assistance is a life long Christian, in her 60s I believe, and volunteers at a weekly or monthly at a charity type thing that helps senior citizens.

    Good on her for helping seniors, but she wasn’t there for me specifically, even after I phoned her and asked directly for help.

    I knew another lady who volunteers monthly at a shelter for homeless and domestic abuse victims, who also went to the same small church as me.

    She was in her sixties. She had been a Christian for years and years. She was critical and judgmental of me after I had confided in her about my painful personal problems.

    We’re talking about people who are adults and who are mature in the faith, who attend brick buildings weekly.

    We’re not talking about spiritually immature Christians who only became Christians two weeks ago and are “new in Christ”.

    Also – and I’m sorry, I don’t mean to turn every thread into a ‘singles’ thread – but this is a contributing factor to some of the problems I’ve had:

    The fact remains most churches are so focused on helping married people who have children, they do not minister to, or even recognize, adults page the age of 30 who have never married or never had kids, such as myself. Or the widows or divorced – they don’t notice them, either. Churches do not care to help any adult who is way past college age who lacks a spouse or a child.

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  33. Wesley Roy
    SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 @ 11:11 AM

    It’s odd that you’re on a blog about people who admit to have been hurt by Christians or churches, and you condemn them in a round about way in your posts about how Christians must meet at a brick building weekly, and one where at least 50 – 100 people are in attendance.

    You claim you’re only trying to support your belief that the Bible teaches Christians must meet in a brick bldg once a week; well, okay, go to it – go attend a brick bldg once a week if that’s your thing.

    I’m not aware of anyone here who said it’s a sin to go to a church service at a brick building weekly, or of anyone who told you to stop.

    By all means, keep going to a brick bldg once a week, if that is your preference, or if that is your interpretation of Scripture on the matter.

    In my view, it comes across as insensitive, deceptive, or obtuse to keep harping about the Bible supposedly supporting a ‘once a week meeting in a brick bldg of at least 50 people’ to a group of people who have pointedly said that they are hesitant to go back to such a situation or environment, as they have been hurt at them before.

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  34. Yes, Daisy, the finger wagging gets tedious for sure. So many folks are simply one dimensional when it comes to ‘church’. Many Christians do not catch on about the waves of people who have left the institutional church.

    When I share about my research and my experience with people who have been severely wounded by church leadership and church people, I usually get two main responses: 1. Wow, is that ever interesting. Yup, I hear ya!! You are on to something for sure! OR 2. Who is this lady and whatever is she talking about?? That is just way too negative to even suggest anything like that. It is just too hard to comprehend what you are implying.

    Thankfully, there is greater awareness, either by people who have experienced the distressing side of church life or those who have made themselves aware by reading, discerning, and talking with others. It is a full time job to inform anyone who wants to hear. Things are way better now that they were a year ago or five years ago. People can find help on the internet in so many ways and especially find community to help them survive when the visible church lets them down.

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  35. For me, what I believe about the ekklesia is not based upon how the traditional church paradigm is run, but whether it should exist at all. I’m not one who was hurt by “bricks and mortar”, though I attended for 47 years, very regularly and with much involvement, as had my family for generations.

    My objection is to the very existence of pastor, assistant pastors, board of directors, running a Christian organization that sits in pews every week to watch the backs of the heads of people who sit and stand on cue. It is the thing itself, not how they run the thing, that I do not find in scripture. And as noted, people are leaving the thing in droves, many of whom fall into atheism or paganism. This is serious and not a matter of mere semantics or personal preferences.

    I look at the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, I look at their actions, and I see no organizations, no committees beyond temporary bodies to address specific problems (e.g. the 7 chosen to see to it that Greek widows were not neglected). I see no liturgy, no oratory by one person on a regular basis, no “offices”, no chains, no prison doors for those Jesus freed. I see instead real people living real lives in homes, marketplaces, and public gathering places. I see families, singles, and even vigorous debate.

    Above all, I see the traditional, religious structure as the root of many evils, regardless of how benevolently it may be run. It’s an institutional, paradigm problem, a matter of kind rather than degree. It’s very much like the debate over taxes in the US: flat tax vs. Fair Tax. The former simplifies the tax code, while the latter eliminates it. The former still allows the eventual return of corruption and oppression, while the latter keeps them in a very tiny box. Kind vs. degree.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

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  36. Re: boatrocker’s recent. I also see no requirement that believers fork over 10% of their income. I see no requirement that we become members of an organization, thereby joining ourselves to something other than Jesus. We surely have great freedom in how, exactly, we fellowship, but it should never ever be analogous to building a tower and a city and a name for ourselves. God will divide us every time we make the attempt.

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  37. A site all about tithing: http://www.tithing.christian-things.com/

    Gary, good point brought up about memberships and “building a tower and a city and a name”. The Reformers never fully left the old religious paradigm, keeping the “priest” (because Jesus apparently is not our only intermediary), the altar (because Jesus apparently didn’t complete the sacrifice of his blood on the altar in heaven), the showing off of our finest clothing under the excuse of “giving our best to God” (because the “clean, white linen” of Jesus’ righteousness apparently isn’t good enough), and the rites (because Jesus apparently didn’t really mean it when he said he came to open the prison doors).

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  38. Ok–gonna stick my toe into deeper water here. Miss Daisy Flower expresses some concern about the direction this conversation has taken and I must admit to feeling the same concern. I check this blog each morning and evening and I have followed with great interest the comments made on this particular post because they are about my story. So, I am interested!

    I understand that this is a great place to debate theological issues and I am glad that it is here. But I think the thing that is bothering me about the turn this discussion has taken is that we are no longer discussing what the organized church should be doing for wounded individuals. We are now arguing fine points of theology. In the headiness of that debate, individuals are being lost and their pain is being ignored.

    It strikes me that this is often what happens in those “brick and mortar” buildings we call “church.” We spend so much time debating the policy on how we are to help those in need, that the needy quietly leave because no one sees them. The wounded are forced to exit the organized church because while there is a debate and maybe even a healthy one, the issue has moved from a heart one to a head one. There is no room for them in the debate. And they do not have the luxury or emotional resources to wait for the debate to conclude.

    As I have read over the comments–and don’t get me wrong, I love a healthy debate–I have found myself wondering what they have to do with the original question and I wonder how many other women (and men) like me have also wondered the same thing. Some have been tenacious enough to engage SSB followers in the debate, others, like me watch and wonder if the discussion will ever get practical again. Because we live at practical–the day-to-day needs. We rarely have time for these deeper debates. And I hope that no one who has been wounded by the organized church has been wounded yet again by the debate.

    Enough said.

    Brenda

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  39. Plus, they redefine the tithe, which was a tenth of crops and livestock given in kind. For me, over the last 4 decades this would have amounted to about $25 worth of vegetables, 1 kitten, 4 parakeets , 25 guppies, 40 bouquets of cut flowers and a semi trailer load of grass clipping. Works for me.

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  40. Brenda, I understand your concern. But at the same time, there is need to address the underlying causes of abuse, to treat the disease and not just the symptoms. In my opinion, the system itself makes abuse easier.

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  41. Brenda is exactly right. Other quite legitimate issues have been addressed by myself and others in this thread, but the topic is the financial ramifications of abuse.

    Personally, I can find ways of providing financial and material support. As an attorney there may be occasions where I can give direction and guidance although, as a trusts and estates attorney, I am not presently qualified to provide direct service, free or otherwise.

    So, I invite Brenda to suggeste what more I could do. Feel free to criticize.

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  42. “But I think the thing that is bothering me about the turn this discussion has taken is that we are no longer discussing what the organized church should be doing for wounded individuals. ”

    Brenda, Some of us know that the majority of churches are not going to change. And that is what concerns some of us that many wounded people keep going to them looking for help and community. I have seen the revictimization over and over in soft subtle ways.

    what I have found is that victims find that even sharing their story can lead eventually to being somewhat avoided by other church members. yes, they are nice at first about it, empathetic but there is an undercurrent that is hard to explain. I call it the Darwinian Christianity. Survival of the fittist seems to be real theology of most churches. And part of this is because the church needs your money, too. Don’t discount that. It is a big part of the problem.

    I remember being in the mega world and learning how their benevolence ministry worked. It was like this at quite a few mega’s. Because they were so concerned that unworthy people would take advantage there was a pretty stringent application process. This does not help the single mom who left an abuser pay her electric bill before it is cut off. And it could get uncomfortable if she left her husband. That becomes an issue–and too often the church wants to get involved in that. (We all know couples counseling for abuse is a bad thing)

    There is more to this but I do agree with boatrocker that going back to the same sort of institution looking for them to change is probably going to be a life long disappointment. Am I saying there are NONE out there? No. But when you find one, and you see it consistently for many years, please, let us know. I would like to commend them publicly.

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  43. “As I have read over the comments–and don’t get me wrong, I love a healthy debate–I have found myself wondering what they have to do with the original question and I wonder how many other women (and men) like me have also wondered the same thing. Some have been tenacious enough to engage SSB followers in the debate, others, like me watch and wonder if the discussion will ever get practical again. Because we live at practical–the day-to-day needs. We rarely have time for these deeper debates. And I hope that no one who has been wounded by the organized church has been wounded yet again by the debate.”

    I am not sure what you are asking here. Can you give an example of what you mean by practical help? If I have wounded someone more I would be appalled.

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  44. Brenda, I want to share something that happened to a friend of mine recently. She was spiritually abused by her church of many years when she went to work there and ended up a single mom who lost everything. They basically threw her out to the curb. (She had no idea how evil it was there behind stage)

    Her life has a daily drudge and is losing her home. Recently, through a network of abuse survivors she was contacted to meet with another abused woman for resources.

    Guess what? The woman she met with attends the church that threw her to the curb, ruined her financially and thinks it is a great place. Because this woman has some PSTD from the cruel treatment from this church this threw her into a bit of a survival mode attack for several days. The base evil she not only witnessed as an employee there but how she was treated because she would not play along was to her ruin. But this other former abused woman thinks the place is fine and has no intention of leaving even though she now knows.

    See how this works?

    What would be a practical way to deal with that?

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  45. Gary W., your question is a good one and as a response, I go back to my original posting. But another partner of a pedophile posted a heartbreaking story at:

    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/15/being-married-to-a-pedophile-a-wife-speaks-out-and-offers-hope-to-other-wives-of-pedophiles/

    An attorney offered a response that perfectly answers your question, I believe. Offer what you have to those in need, and it may not necessarily be a financial resource, it may be your skills or professional knowledge. An attorney offered sound legal advice to Kristy. This attorney probably has a network of other attorneys in other parts of the country that could also help.

    Several months ago, I had a crown break and without dental insurance was wondering how I could take care of it. I contacted a former dentist, who I know is a Christian and explained the situation. I was not asking for him to repair my crown free of charge, but just if he had a discounted price he could offer me as a cash-only patient. He did not even respond to my inquiry. We all have talents and abilities as well as resources that we can make available to those in need. But doing so is an inconvenience and will certainly stretch us out of our comfort zones but may very well be life-saving for those we help.

    Lydiasellerofpurple, I was simply pointing out that the discussion had taken a turn from ways to offer practical help to what constitutes a church, is it Biblical, etc. These are good discussions to have but are doing nothing for a woman such as your friend, who is losing her home. We can sit and debate forever and it won’t help one needy person, in fact, it may cause them to leave the discussion/church/group altogether. I am so sorry your friend was abused by a religious organization–that is some of the absolute worst abuse that can be meted out. And to have it negated by the person who was supposed to help her just compounds it. I can understand why her trauma was triggered.

    I know that abuse in religious organizations is rampant and that there are many, many who have exited the church altogether because of it. I think the solution needs to focus on two needs simultaneously: meet the needs of those within the church and its neighboring community–especially those who are marginalized by abuse, poverty, violence, etc. But at the same time, work to reform the church and to educate members and leaders on the needs–both spiritual and practical–of those who sit in the pew and are deeply wounded and in great need.

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  46. Lydiasellerofpurple, I was simply pointing out that the discussion had taken a turn from ways to offer practical help to what constitutes a church, is it Biblical, etc. These are good discussions to have but are doing nothing for a woman such as your friend, who is losing her home. We can sit and debate forever and it won’t help one needy person, in fact, it may cause them to leave the discussion/church/group altogether. I am so sorry your friend was abused by a religious organization–that is some of the absolute worst abuse that can be meted out. And to have it negated by the person who was supposed to help her just compounds it. I can understand why her trauma was triggered.

    Brenda: I appreciate you bringing this aspect up. We have some strong voices here saying that institutional church is wrong, period. Okay. That’s their opinion. We have some strong opinions that say institutional church has problems, but can be a positive experience. That’s another opinion. We can have strong opinions here. The person at the keyboard right now is certainly not exempt and this is, after all, the SSB.

    Some people say if we don’t remove Calvinism entirely out of this church and that organization, it is destined for failure. Guess what, Calvinists say the same thing about alternate doctrinal beliefs. Sometimes the polarization along the process does more damage than good.

    When I see someone say: my way or the high way with regard to their way of thinking, I get my dander up. I do not see grace and love. I think there are better ways of communicating.

    Ok, and here’s one more thought while I’m at it. There are a lot of bad churches out there that may not support an abuse victim well. There are others churches that probably do a fairly decent job of it. But what is the likelihood of an abuse victim in the middle of a crisis to want to change her whole church paradigm? IMHO, it’s the wrong to do put that on someone during a crisis. Provide for her in real ways – you know, just love on her. After she is settled and secure and the dust has settled, then share with her concerns you have about institutional church vs non-institutional church. I think this is what Brenda is addressing.

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  47. Brenda,

    Your previous post reminds me that opportunities to serve have a way of presenting themselves to us, whether or not we go looking. Certainly this has been true for me, and it was often, maybe usually, been connected to the particular area of law in which I practice. I would like to think that I have never been like the dentist you describe who didn’t even respond to your inquiry, but maybe also I’d rather not give it too much thought. It would be good if I can remember to always at least respond.

    And who knows? Maybe I am experiencing something of what I call divine coincidences. Just yesterday I had an opportunity to speak directly, though briefly, to the Director of Public Policy for the (Name of State) Coalition Against Domestic Violence. One thing I gleaned from this conversation is that there are people and agencies out there to whom I could direct somebody who is in a DV situation. I was assured that, in my state, help would be available in a situation where a spouse was left without resources due to the unexpected arrest of their husband. It turns out that there is a single almost local phone number to call to get help, information on how to safely separate from an abusive spouse, other advice, counseling, and further referrals. Interestingly, and distressingly, it is the secular world that is stepping up to the plate.

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  48. Excuse me, but it seems to me that the primary victims were the children of Brenda’s husband. Brenda might feel a lot less slighted by the Christian community if she would think less about what she is entitled to and more about the children who were abused by her husband. The church didn’t wound her–her husband did. And she is wounding herself further with her sense of entitlement.

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  49. “These are good discussions to have but are doing nothing for a woman such as your friend, who is losing her home. We can sit and debate forever and it won’t help one needy person, in fact, it may cause them to leave the discussion/church/group altogether.”

    Or, it might help them to become as ‘wise as serpents and gentle as doves”.

    “I think the solution needs to focus on two needs simultaneously: meet the needs of those within the church and its neighboring community–especially those who are marginalized by abuse, poverty, violence, etc. But at the same time, work to reform the church and to educate members and leaders on the needs–both spiritual and practical–of those who sit in the pew and are deeply wounded and in great need.”

    Why wouldn’t that be “just talking about it here”, too? I am afraid I am even more confused.

    Most “help” comes from individuals and quite frankly from those who get it and have little to give. And as to education, perhaps that might help…not sure… but how is it we need to educate churches when they are around single moms out of abuse every week at church? Don’t they know? Don’t they inquire past, how are you today? Perhaps we need more Holy Spirit education?

    My points here are not to hurt anyone in fact, just the opposite.

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  50. “But what is the likelihood of an abuse victim in the middle of a crisis to want to change her whole church paradigm? IMHO, it’s the wrong to do put that on someone during a crisis.”

    I agree. I think I may have misunderstood this thread and I apologize for any part I had in making it uncomfortable for anyone. I did not realize that pointing out the problems or experiences would make people feel they had to change their paradigm.

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  51. April,

    You also appear to be assuming that the facts are other than what they are. Read Brenda’s blog. Brenda’s children were adults when her ex husband was arrested. They were not victims in the sense that you seem to be assuming.

    There are two reasons your insensitive, hard hearted attack has not prompted me to respond with my own counter-attack. The first is that I fear that to do so would serve to further traumatize some who are reading here. The other is that you seem to give evidence of living out of your own unresolved trauma. I may be wrong. I will explain further only if you ask me to do so.

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  52. I agree. I think I may have misunderstood this thread and I apologize for any part I had in making it uncomfortable for anyone. I did not realize that pointing out the problems or experiences would make people feel they had to change their paradigm.

    Well then I’m glad we’re discussing this because I don’t think people understand what this kind of crisis can produce. I mean depression alone can cause someone to not be able to function properly. Imagine this kind of devastating news that puts someone in such a shock. Imagine immediate loss of income. Imagine your husband being taken away in handcuffs with no warning. Imagine having to tell someone, “my husband is a pedophile.” Imagine having to ask for help and having to admit with your mouth that your husband is a pedophile when you can’t even believe the reality yourself, but regardless if you believe it or not, you need to survive. That alone could send someone over the deep end. We’re talking very basic here: give the woman and her family food, shelter, and support. She has no room in her head to even think of anything else but survival.

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  53. Excuse me, but it seems to me that the primary victims were the children of Brenda’s husband. Brenda might feel a lot less slighted by the Christian community if she would think less about what she is entitled to and more about the children who were abused by her husband. The church didn’t wound her–her husband did. And she is wounding herself further with her sense of entitlement.

    Hi April:

    Perhaps you have a story that causes you to say hurtful comments to Brenda. I hope for your sake that is not so. Perhaps you know of a situation in which a perpetrator’s family was treated better than a victim’s family. I know of cases like that, too. When there is horrific sex abuse committed against someone, it’s only natural to be angry, but please, let’s not let that anger get misdirected to innocent parties. Anger must be appropriately directed towards the perpetrator and anyone who knew about the crime and failed to report.

    A perpetrator leaves a trail of victims. Of course the primary victims must be cared for, but there are many secondary victims. The purpose of this post is to encourage others to look beyond to see all victims involved in a crisis to see if they are helping in the best ways possible. In Brenda’s case, her husband was the family’s primary breadwinner. Without warning, she was left without any income to provide for herself and her daughter. Do you think Jesus would abandon Brenda and her daughter? Jesus commanded Christians to love. He modeled that love by showing compassion and also meeting physical needs. There were two incidences recorded in which he multiplied bread/fish to give to the multitude so they had something to eat before their travels home. Yea, I think He would care for Brenda and her daughter and would someone to tend to their needs of food/shelter. Were the multitudes who listened to Jesus preach labeled as entitled? Neither then should Brenda be labeled as such.

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  54. April,

    Whoa, really: You said: “she is wounding herself further with her sense of entitlement.”

    PLEASE, I hope you will consider what Gary W & Julie Anne said to you.

    However, I don’t know how you came to the conclusion that she has a sense of entitlement. Where is your compassion? If you were sexually abused and found help from church that is remarkable, but to cast scorn on a woman who has suffered from what her husband did, and how the church she was in mistreated her is so off the mark.
    I ache that you could be so callous & cruel. Lord have Mercy, Christ have Mercy.

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  55. April most likely does not understand true sociopaths (or whatever they are calling them these days). People like that are easily deceived by sociopath types and often blame the victims. If they have no experienced living with a person for years and having NO idea about their evil, then they do not understand how very deceptive it all is. They work at being deceptive. It is part of who they are and their evil.

    In my experience Christians have been the most gullible about this because they also buy into the “sinners just keep on sinning even after saved” bit so they tend to ignore even the most subtle red flags because that would be “judgmental” and “nobody is perfect”.

    As a policewoman detective told me, Pedophiles love church because it is a great place to hide out in. People automatically lend you their trust because you are a fellow Christian and they are even more reluctant to believe bad things about you and then if you are caught, they want “grace” for them because they are “Christians”. It is a horrible cycle.

    Christians get a lot of things backward.

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  56. Arce posted (6:38 AM) just as I was needing to get ready for work, so this followup response will be less well thought out than I would prefer. That said, I consider it noteworthy that Brenda writes elsewhere of how one man’s sin redounded to the great detriment his descendants. I think I should let Brenda decide whether she wishes to supply the specific link.

    In the NET Bible we read: 10: 5 . . . for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, 20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. NET Bible.

    In the very place where we are warned about the generational consequences of sin, we are given great hope and encouragement that we need not be bound by the sins of our ancestors. Even more encouragingly, neither our children nor theirs need be caught up in either the sins or the consequences of the sins of their parents and remoter ancestors.

    The solution is found in Love, which is the summary and substance of the Law, as well as Jesus’ new commandment. Love covers a multitude of sins.

    Charismatics, and no doubt others, speak of praying for the breaking of generational curses. Well, why not? But also we can love. Would that it were not to late to bathe my own children in only love from before birth, apart from any attempt to compel good behavior by fear. Yet, surely, it is never too late to love as we have been loved. We can love our families and our neighbors and, yes, we can even strive to love our enemies.

    I am reluctant to speak of loving enemies for fear of unintentionally communicating a burdensome expectation. We simply cannot do it on our own. Surely the timing must be His alone. Surely we need not beat up on ourselves because our Lord has not yet brought us to the place of loving our enemies. (Yet, I can also testify to this, if only in small degree: Love of enemies may benefit them, but it appears that the greatest reward is visited upon the one who loves.)

    All of this is to make my main point, which is that we need not be overly anxious about how our own failings, or those of others, may negatively impact our children. The concern is real, but we are given the ability to apply the healing balm of prayer-bathed love, of love-bathed prayer. Plus, our Lord continuously loves in all the ways we must fail. God is Love.

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  57. We are to love our enemies, but that does not mean we are to wish them success in their enmity toward us. It really means that as a Christian, we are not to have hatred toward enemies, because of the damage it can do to us and our relationships with others. We should be praying for the salvation of our enemies, and seeking ways to share the message of grace and forgiveness.

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  58. Thank you, Arce. Perhaps I should not have allowed myself to get distracted beyond simply observing to the effect that, though abuse and neglect has long-term effects, victims are not without hope. Because your post triggered anxious thoughts regarding how my own conduct might have affected my children, I perceived that others might be having similar thoughts. So part of what I was and am trying to do is communicate that there is healing, and we are even given the means by which we can participate in the healing–though without having to take responsibility for the final result. Only our God is big enough for that. The question of loving enemies very likely was one I ought not to have made a part of this particular thread.

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  59. Hey Gary,

    I was always struck with the cognitive dissonance of people telling me to “love my enemies” when the “enemies” who did the wrong, were professing Christians….many in ministry! I always thought, shouldn’t they rebuke them, instead, for the evil they perpetuate while claiming the Name of Christ? Everything is so backwards in so much of what passes for Christendom.

    Loving your enemies is one of those proof texts that is often abused and misused. I think Arce gave a good explanation of it.

    Of course my favorite verse on this issue is:

    Be wise as serpents but gentle as doves. If it was good enough for the Apostles in navigating this world as followers of Christ, then it is good enough for me.

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  60. Lydia,

    Well, since I don’t seem to be able to re-close the loving-enemies can of worms anyway, I might as well observe that neither love nor forgiveness means having to pretend that the bad thing done doesn’t matter. They don’t mean walking way from justice, just vengeance. They don’t mean you don’t hold the offender accountable. They certainly don’t mean remaining in a place of vulnerability, in a place where the offender can inflict further harm.

    Plus, the offender doesn’t get to manipulatively demand forgiveness and love. The offender’s responsibility is repentance and restitution. If the offender is seeking restoration of relationship, the victim gets to set the terms of restitution. The terms need to be severe enough to establish that the offender is serious, and to write the sinfulness of the sin committed on the offender’s heart. The victim gets to decide whether or not the reestablishment of relationship is even an option. Basically, the victim gets to claim control. If children are involved, their interests come first.

    And maybe I need to follow my own advice and just listen intently.

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  61. Gary, I totally agree. That verse was used against me horribly. In fact, one of the worse things Christendom does is accept an “I’m sorry” from the perp and move on expecting the victim to instantly forgive and reconcile. Not enough. That is NOT repentance. But it is being taught that way. (This was all over the SGM mess)

    I had this conversation with a Christian school principal last year. he said he was very concerned about some of the kids doing really mean things to other kids and then saying “sorry” when caught but then repeating the same mean things over and over thinking “sorry” got them off the hook each time.

    I told him they were being taught this at most churches and he had to reluctantly agree. So we can see where it starts and then the person who did the wrong thing can accuse their victim of not being forgiving if they don’t move on from the “Im sorry”. DV abusers do this all the time.

    And if you watch the news, you will see it everywhere especially in politics! “Apologizing” erases just about anything with no real consequences to those who were hurt or lied to.

    This is narcissism/sociopathy. And it is becoming ingrained in our society. Church should be the last place we see it but it is rampant there.

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  62. Gary, Lydia: I agree with your most recent posts. It was what I was trying to convey. The issue of loving one’s enemies does not mean an easy forgiveness and clearly does not mean restoration of a relationship under any circumstances other than a complete change by the offender and a free choice by the victim, just as Gary said in his last comment. Kudos to both of you.

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  63. Just sick. But you know what? Brenda started out four paragraphs in a row with the “selfish” phrase, “I needed.” I can just hear it now that some church leader would say we need to stop needing and do what we can to help others. We’re not here to get something out of church, we’re here to give. Been there, heard that. Sick.

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  64. The author doesn’t mention if she asked for help. There are often many people who want to help but don’t know what to do and don’t want to offend. They may be afraid that the person would be offended at the offer of money or a bed. Often times we need to speak out and say, “I need help”. It’s hard to do actually, but when we do usually people are very willing to help.

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