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Loss of Perspective: The Cost of Enduring Abuse

Do individuals suffer harm when they remain in verbally or emotionally abusive relationships?  Cindy Kunsman illustrates the effects through an account of spiritual abuse.

 

Photo credit:  Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo credit:  Girl at a Window by Balthus    @ Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

By Cindy Kunsman, UnderMuchGrace.com

After reading Julie Anne’s post questioning whether divorce from an abusive spouse is actually a “sin,” I found myself thinking of the loss of perspective and the gratification that the abuser experiences when an abused person “submits” to their abuser and remains in the relationship. As Patricia Evans puts it in her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, the person who suffers abuse gradually loses their sense of “confidence and self-esteem without even realizing it” (pg 47). I also recalled a quote from her book that I’d highlighted before and found it when I sought it out today – a statement made by a domestic abuse survivor who just started learning about the nature of her relationship with her husband (pg 38):

If you’ve never been in a verbally abusive relationship, you would have an extremely difficult time knowing what it’s like.  If you’re in a verbally abusive relationship, you may never have recognized it.”

 

*  *  *

An Illustration

Let me offer you a personal example as I paint a picture of where I found myself in life. As many of you know, I spent four years in a high demand, fundamentalist Christian church that was affiliated with a Charismatic Shepherding-Discipleship organization, loved Bill Gothard’s material, and followed a very similar order of worship to Sovereign Grace Ministries (pre-Calvinism). I was devastated when I left, sought exit counseling, and even found private Bible study to be quite difficult for at least two years. We relocated half way across the country just a year after we exited that church. When we started attending our new church, I would weep all the way through worship at every service, mourning over what felt like the loss of sacred music because it had become tainted. My husband chose a church that was sixty miles away from our home in the Texas Hill Country where he felt safe. Though we tithed and participated in ministry within that body by helping people in need, though we chose not to join.  We naturally discussed this with the pastor.

I refer to the next few years that followed as our “desert experience.” I spent a solid five years with an infection requiring constant antibiotics and steroids, and I finally required surgery which was horrible. That was in between injections in my pelvis and back to treat a back injury. My husband struggled with three life-altering illnesses, used medical leave twice, and during the course of seven years, we flew to both the East and West Coasts to find effective treatment for him. Unrelated to those illnesses, he suffered a car wreck which eventually claimed his eye. He had several surgeries during a terrible six months until his eye was removed for pain management.

A year later, he had another unrelated surgery. On the evening of the accident, I phoned the home of the elder who had been friendly with us, left a message, but never heard any response. I phoned the pastor the next morning and told him that my husband would be kept in the hospital that was just twenty minutes down the road from the church, and he would be there for a few days. No one visited, but three weeks later, I did get a card in the mail from an elder with whom I once shook hands.

Between mailing in my tithe checks, I made it to church only twice during that six months. I did all of the driving, worked along side my husband at work all day, then went home to manage our home in the country and his medical needs. When I phoned the pastor to let him know about the final surgery he said very glibly, “You know, you’re always welcome to come back here.” I think I was too tired and stressed to even process what he’d said, considering that I didn’t know that I’d left. When well enough to make it to church again, my husband said that he didn’t want to go to a place that didn’t care whether he lived or died. I started irregularly attending two different churches when I could, but my schedule didn’t allow for much more.

Seeking Reconciliation

After another sad life event a few years later and in need comfort, I decided to go back to the church to “make things right.” I had invested in people there and loved them, and I needed love that day. We’d never talked to anyone about feeling abandoned by the people at the church, and I showed up weeping on the church doorstep on a weekday afternoon to be greeted by a new pastor. He talked with me for awhile, but he was more interested in where I was going to church now and why I wasn’t a member. I finally just said to him in frustration and brokenness, “Here I am now, showing myself to you – like Jesus told the leper to show himself to the priest. I am willing to be healed.” But I found that all very odd and was shocked in hindsight that I’d even uttered such a thing – a statement of shame. The scene didn’t seem like one that was fitting for a sick, contrite, weeping woman? He jotted down my name and number, said that he would have to talk to the elders, for he felt at a disadvantage for having no knowledge of me or the situation.

The next Sunday, I tagged along to church with my neighbor who lived just five miles down the road. When the pastor walked by and greeted him but seemed not to recognize me, my neighbor introduced me, noting that he thought that we had met already. He acted like the cat that swallowed the canary as he shook my hand, then scooted away. It was amazing. The old pastor who had retired walked by me like he’d never met me, as did the elders we had known fairly well. I went home and waited for my call.

The Bitter Truth

Almost three months after I’d visited the pastor that day, I talked with an acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in some time, and she asked me where I was attending church. I wish that I’d had a video of myself while telling her about how I was waiting for that pastor to call me. It probably sounded like a damsel in a Disney fairy tale, and I was waiting for the cavalry to come to my aid. When proofing my posts about Lifeboats and Lourdes, SSB editor Brad Sargent noted how I created a fantasy as a child to maintain some sense of optimism to keep on living. I guess I’m nothing if not consistent!

I am so grateful to that young woman who very lovingly confronted me with compassion that afternoon. She said, “Cindy. That man is not ever going to call you. Not after three months.” I didn’t really believe her — I didn’t want to think it was true. I went home and wrote a letter of contrition to the pastor, about a page and a half long, typed. At the end of it, I said that I felt as though I’d been told to be warmed and filled like James wrote about in his epistle, but I don’t know that I’d even heard any message of peace. I was still waiting by the phone – until a friend put my waiting into perspective. I think I finally “got it” when the pastor wrote back to me and said that he was told that because I was never a member, the elders felt no duty to us. He called this a sin on my part, and recommended other churches I could attend – as his was no longer an option for me. He also noted that he took the time to contact the pastors of the churches he recommended to inform them of my sin issues. Perhaps one day when I happen over that letter, I may post it online. (Friends recommended that I burn it, but I chose to keep it.)

*  *  *

Just as Evans describes, I lost my confidence and my self-esteem, and I didn’t even know it. My perspective shifted so much from so many factors in my life, and as a result, my level of “normal,” reasonable and acceptable dropped to an all time low.  I didn’t have any energy to be assertive anymore, and didn’t start out from a great place to begin with. Abuse and trauma habituate us into a very unhealthy place in soul and spirit. I am so grateful for that compassionate woman who helped me see how skewed my perspective had become. I’ve composed a summary of the kinds of things that happen to a person as they lose perspective because of abuse. Though I referenced some material on domestic abuse, I used both Evans’ book about verbal abuse and Patrick Carnes book about the bonds of trauma as primary sources.

Reading through the list below, can you identify any consequences of abuse in my personal experience after two successive spiritually abusive churches?

Which of the consequences have you experienced?

Can you look back on a traumatic experience and see a similar pattern in your own behavior? If you can, Congratulations! Welcome to the human race.

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Gastlight

 

Consequences of Chronic Verbal and Emotional Abuse

Confusion/Cognitive Dissonance

  • Negation of feelings/assumption of fault for confusion (“I must have missed something…”)
  • Doubt of ability to “test” or comprehend reality (Such as results from “gaslighting”)
  • Concerns/fears about one’s own mental health or coping

Loss of Self-Confidence

Hyperarousal (Symptoms from Failed Efforts to Avoid Punishment)

  • Fear
  • Problems with decision-making (Includes “freezing” response)
  • Lack of spontaneity
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness/Helplessness
  • Lack of appropriate trust in other relationships
  • Hypervigilance (Carefulness,“on-guard,” or “waiting for the other shoe to drop”)

Coping Mechanisms to Manage Moods (from Effective to Maladaptive)

  • Desire to escape
  • Avoidance
  • Behavior to distract from or numb confusion and pain
  • Eating, drinking, or substance use for “release”
  • Wishful thinking (“It will be better when…”)
  • Compulsiveness
    • Compliance
    • Identification (Assimilating attributes of another person)
    • Self-denial
    • Dependency or self-reliance
    • Care giving or care seeking
    • Self-destructive behavior (Includes self-injury)
    • Relationship “drama”

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Primary References:

Other works cited:

165 thoughts on “Loss of Perspective: The Cost of Enduring Abuse”

  1. Unicorn Guy,

    I simply love your gift/ability to see the landscape and the template, and your ability to match them. And then articulate it all.

    That insight is the gift, and it helps others understand these patterns of manipulation.

    Like

  2. Looking at all executions for rape in the absence of murder in the U.S. since 1900, one finds that they are associated with Southern and Western states rather than Northern and Eastern states. The overwhelming number of men executed for rape were black; executions of whites for rape were rare.

    In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of a man sentenced to death in GA for raping a married 16 year old woman, declared the death penalty for rape to be unconstitutional because of disproportionality. Since the young woman did not have the status of a child, there was a lack of clarity as to whether that decision would also apply to child rape and several Southern and Western states enacted such laws. They were also declared unconstitutional in 2008.

    Support in this country for capital punishment has varied over time but the trend has been towards restricting it to murder under particular circumstances.

    The 1948 publication of the Kinsey Report on sexual behavior in the U. S., based on surveys and interviews, has nothing to do with the death penalty and rape.

    Like

  3. @Marsha:

    Looking at all executions for rape in the absence of murder in the U.S. since 1900, one finds that they are associated with Southern and Western states rather than Northern and Eastern states. The overwhelming number of men executed for rape were black; executions of whites for rape were rare.

    Ah believe this is called “Protecting our White Wimmen.”

    Like

  4. @CindyK:

    I simply love your gift/ability to see the landscape and the template, and your ability to match them. And then articulate it all.

    I grew up as an introverted Kid Genius and natural-talent speedreader. By the time I was 12, I’d probably read more grownup-level material than most people do in their entire lifetime. As a 12-year-old kid. With NO idea how to fit all this information together.

    Result: I have this MASSIVE database in my head with NO search engine for it. Instead, any information causes this random cascade flood of related and not-so-related information until my circuit breakers trip. THAT’s where all those “see the landscape and the template and ability to match them” comes from. I have little or no control over it.

    Like

  5. I first wanted to say how beautiful and genuine this community is/has become (the SSB blog). I’ve been reading it off and on since it had the old name. Reading Waiting for the Trumpet2, Ann, and Cindy’s experiences, and remembering Julie Anne’s story, it strikes me that very negative and hurtful experiences in controlling churches have created emotional scars among so many of us that at one time seemed beyond healing. But this safe format that began organically out of a really crazy situation has brought together many who share similar scars. There is power in sharing stories, in realizing you are not alone nor crazy.

    I’m sad for the collective pain here. And angry at the “church” for failing to be the church to people like Cindy. What a disgrace to Jesus.

    A few years out now from my escape from SG, I am finally finding freedom and like Ann mentioned, to set limits with manipulative (and I would add, toxic and hurtful) people in my life and realizing that is not “unChristian” as she pointed out.

    I am also finally letting go of this notion that my hope needs to be in an institution and that any church community deserves my trust.

    Given the crazymaking that exists in SGM and what I and many others experienced in leaving/trying to leave (eerily similar judgment that Cindy described); given that in churches like these, any lapse of attendance is viewed as lack of faithfulness to God and therefore sin; given that the concept of membership was used as a scary tool of control when I started questioning the pastor about things that didnt feel right to me (the lack of ANY ministries to the poor, mandatory small group attendance, etc); given that lack of attendance in cases like Cindy and pretty much anyone who is strugfling physically or emotionally gives pastors a free pass not to show compassion-
    Given all of these things, it makes sense why I and so many others have all but lost hope in church. I no longer feel obligated to “do church”.

    I have given myself freedom to step back, to take a break. To visit progressive churches that value love above judgment. Just like relationships with individuals, trust in a church is earned and happens over time.

    I am currently dabbling in a progressive church that feels safe and loving, but it will be a long time before I trust in the same way again. Church will never again replace Jesus in my devotion and trust. I will never allow guilt to be the reason I go or don’t go, nor the approval from or condemnation of others.

    A ministry I’m involved with that serves homeless folks has been my closest to authentic church experience and has helped redeem my hope. I am focusing much more of my energy on being the hands and feet of Jesus since leaving SGM and it is so freeing.

    God may be found inside of some church buildings but I am quite sure that is not where He intended for us to focus our faith.

    Like

  6. Dear Recovering Pharisee
    When I lose perspective, here is a song that helps me regain it, and experience the love of God my Father through His Son Jesus.

    Jason Gray, Remind me who I am

    Like

  7. An Attorney

    Yep, it’s pretty bad. Many Christians are not actually getting off their duffs and helping fellow believers in need.

    I have tried to help others when and where I could, because that is how my mother was. (I don’t have much money, but I try to help when and how I can.)

    I’ve read story after story online of Christians who went to the same church for 5, 10, 15, or more years, but if they stop going to church for several weeks or months, due to illness or whatever, nobody from their church ever stops to phone them or visit them at home and make sure they are okay.

    One of the saddest things is that I discovered such testimonies when I went looking for how to respond to grief after my mother passed away.

    I found when reading those blogs on grief that even when a Christian is undergoing grief of a deceased loved one, other Christians cannot be bothered to help that person, phone them to see how they are doing, etc., not even church members from some church they went to for X years!

    On those blogs, I also saw other, similar situations where people said they were ignored by their church family when they became very sick or some other tragedy happened.

    I discussed this situation in a post or two above, like this one

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  8. @HUG: Al Stewart! I love that album and still remember the first time I heard the whole thing back in 1975. In fact I still have it.

    @Christian Father. I don’t believe that eliminating the death penalty had anything to do with the sexual revolution. Abuse of women and children as weaker members of society has been going on since the species began. Kinsey’s research indicated that women and children are sexual beings. IOW they are members of the human race. At the same time he published, women had just begun to exercise their power to be equal in society, in business and in marriage. If you are going to bloame kinsey, then you also need to blame all the leaders of the women’s movement. Based on your comment, I suspect you already do. My research says Kinsey was bisexual, not a pedophile. Do you have any facts to back up this hateful allegation?

    Like

  9. Lydia said

    JUNE 1, 2014 @ 9:46 AM

    (quoting someone else),
    “People used to be put to death in America for the rape of women and children until a giant lie was published by Alfred Kinsey in the 40′s.”

    Seriously? They were put to death for rape of women or children? Can you give examples?

    That sounds familiar.

    I recall reading or learning years ago (maybe an old college course?) that rape could result in the death penalty at one time in American history, but it was taken off as a penalty, and at that, IIRC, because of concerns of racism. Some people were concerned that black men would be falsely accused of rape and hence get the death penalty.

    I don’t know if this site is for or against the death penalty, but this has some information:
    Death Penalty for Offenses Other Than Murder

    A Wiki page says,
    “No person has been executed in the United States for rape since 1964.[12]”

    The footnote on the page says,
    ” Savage, David G. (2008-01-05). “High court to rule on child-rape execution”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-05-04. “The last execution for rape was in 1964, in Missouri.”

    This is from the “Crime Museum” site:

    CRIMES PUNISHABLE BY DEATH

    Far earlier in the history of this country, capital punishment was used for a wider variety of crimes.

    Murder was still most commonly punished by death, but as the nation shakily developed, the values and beliefs were much different than they are now.

    Crimes such as arson, rape, robbery, and counterfeiting also resulted in this ultimate penalty. Many crimes which are no longer prevalent today, such as horse theft, piracy, and slave rebellions, could have also warranted death.

    Around the time of the American Revolution, authorities greatly revised capital punishment policy and officially prohibited the death penalty for lesser crimes.

    Over the years, the number of crimes punishable by death has greatly diminished.

    Like

  10. There is that Kinsey’s research involved pedophiles, mostly a man named Rex King, forcing young children as young as 2 months old to have orgasms, even if they struggled against it. Would you call that sexual abuse of children?

    Like

  11. Recovering Pharisee:

    I’m sad for the collective pain here. And angry at the “church” for failing to be the church to people like Cindy. What a disgrace to Jesus.

    I worry about the people who are not like me. I had the foundation and experience of a really loving church body. We had our problems, but the pastor and the leadership there lived out a witness of compassionate care for me. When it happened to me, I knew that it wasn’t a true witness of love and was not a fruit of a healthy church.

    I’m concerned about the people who face this kind of treatment without any other basis of comparison within a Christian context. If I had been a new or a very young person in the faith, and this was my first church and first pastor, I could have well walked away from the faith. I was disappointed in the pastor and grieved the loss of the hope that I had in them. I was also able to honor my wishful thinking and inappropriate/excessive willingness to give them the benefit of the doubt as a virtue of love that believes and hopes all good things. People who walk in love should believe the best about us. I believed that they would rise to the occasion as humble people and would follow the Law of Love to reconcile with me.

    I know that there are many who are not mature enough in the faith or are so horribly wounded that they can’t do that. They end up thrown into the stress, as the chart above notes, of wondering what on earth they did or didn’t do that resulted in more punishment. They are the people who walk away from the faith in crisis.

    Like

  12. Long-time lurker, finally going to post, even though this discussion may be winding down/evolving. I’ve gone to mainstream church all my life, always wanted to be more “involved” than I was, never had a chance until recently when I joined a very small congregation. Results have been mixed – I’ve dropped all but one volunteer spot because of goofuses who made things uncomfortable for me, but I continue to find comfort in the sermons, and I’ve made a go-out-for-lunch friend as well as being on warm terms with a few others.

    The pastor is a good man, way more conservative than me, but since my only interaction with him is listening to sermons, receiving Communion and saying “hello” when we pass each other, it’s ok. Except!

    Early on, getting to know the church secretary, I heedlessly told her about my control-freak, verbally abusive husband (she assured me she wouldn’t share anything with Pastor unless I was physically in danger). My marriage is far from great but it’s not a debacle, either. I make jokes about myself and my husband to relieve the tension, and also to let people know he’s not how he appears to others, so this is nothing new.

    Short story gone long, a few weeks ago, Pastor and I were chatting, in passing, about young people marrying. He recited the old saw about “daughter’s a daughter all her life, son’s a son ’til he takes a wife.” I said that wasn’t always true, that my husband’s brother had been great with their parents — and Pastor interrupted me, his voice raised, “YOUR HUSBAND IS A FINE MAN! I WILL NOT HEAR ANYTHING BAD ABOUT HIM!”

    My immediate reaction was to try to explain that I was only praising one man, not criticizing another, but when Pastor repeated himself in ever louder tones, I quickly agreed and I physically got away from the crazy-man (always a good idea)!

    My second reaction was to seek out a friend who’s a former parishioner and ask her, “Is part of your disdain for the Pastor his chauvinism?” (It was!), and the third reaction was to absolutely cease talking to the secretary or any of her clique about anything beyond the weather or where the coffee’s stored.

    Other than that, nothing’s changed. I still hear God’s call for repentance and assurance of salvation from the pulpit. I continue to love to sing the hymns. I am glad to see my pals, try to be friendly to folks I don’t know, and avoid the few ladies who historically give me the stinkeye (secretary included).

    My world has not fallen apart, and I’ve realized over the past several weeks of reading here how much a blessing that has been! So what’s intriguing me now, is:

    What do you think the difference is between all-you-all and me? Is it that my mainstream church doesn’t demand a signed “covenant,” doesn’t try to control every facet of its members’ lives? Is it that you tended to be looking for a true family, a home where you had not felt you had one (either in your family of origin or your marriages) … and I was looking for a place that would permit me to add to my circle of friends?

    I don’t have a lot of other volunteer obligations and I haven’t worked in several years, yet I never intended to be “up at church” more than twice a week at most, with one of those times being worship service. Whereas it seems many folks here dove into their churches whole-heartedly, willing to do whatever asked, whenever. Is that also part of the difference?

    Please do not take me wrong – I’m nothing but admiring and respectful of everyone who writes here who survived abuse from their church leaders and yet have not given up on God & Christ!!!! It’s just that having been yelled at by this Pastor, and frozen out by the secretary and her buddies, I realize a minute fraction of what some of you put up with, and I am ever more grateful that my experience wasn’t that way – and most of all, I want to figure out why and what was different. Because if I know, maybe I can help others NOT be victimized, NOT hang around too long to get horribly hurt.

    If all of this makes any sense at all. Thank you for letting me post and ask.

    Like

  13. A “pastor” like that is a bully, and if you try to lean on him he will do you harm. He has made that clear. You can’t trust him with anything that matters.

    But you can profit from whatever truth he offers, as you’re doing, just as we can profit from the truth that Balaam the son of Beor spoke. I hope you can find people who will be a help in time of trouble, though. In my experience, that’s not easy to find.

    Like

  14. Peter A. I would not only call that abuse, I call it criminal. Immediate execution should be involved.

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  15. Brenda R:
    That’s the point of Reisman’s research. Kinsey used the rape of children by pedophiles to perpetrate the lie that children are sexual from birth which has been the basis of all sex ed since the ’60’s. All “sexuality” experts and schools emanate from Kinsey’s research which is the starting point of the open embrace of mainstream perversion in our country.

    Like

  16. Christian Father
    Gotcha. I guess I haven’t been following the discussion closely enough. Lord come quickly!! I have heard of countries wanting to legalize this perversion, our country is not far behind.

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  17. Uh, Brenda, I believe Peter was responding to Marian’s story about her pastor yelling at her because he mistakenly thought she was about to criticize her husband. The pastor is a jerk, but I hardly think that is a reason to summarily execute him.

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  18. Oh nonsense. Who, other than child molesters, is arguing for the legalization of child sexual abuse?

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  19. Heh, Marsha, I think the same thing. The perils of e-conversations! And I’d hate to have him executed. His sermons are the best, yes, they are!!

    Peter, thank you for your response. Something for me to consider – yes, there could be bullying tendency there, and I’ve already known that should I, God forbid, find myself in hospital, I will ask for their chaplain. This pastor appears to be very uncomfortable in a hospital setting, so why not accept the ministry someone has made his/her life’s work? 😎

    I think what this has taught me is an object lesson of what’s been taught me from a child: that NOBODY is perfectly good, except Christ alone. If other Christians feel the call to comfort me and support me in times of trouble, I’ll be most blessed! But I can’t expect that of them, simply by virtue of our common membership in a certain group. And I can’t expect anybody, clergy or laity, to have everything down pat.

    Julie Ann, thank you for the welcome. I feel as if I’m amongst legends!

    Like

  20. Cindy, I think you nailed it with that list. I can’t think of anything to add. You did a great job with that article.

    Peter, judging by the number of black men whose rape convictions have been overturned by DNA testing, I have no doubt that a good percentage of those executed were innocent.

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  21. Marian, I agree. We are none of us perfect and I know there are times when I should have reached out to others and didn’t because I was too focused on my own stuff. I think that churches can do a better job in this area. There was one family in my old church that was so good at keeping up with the needs of others and letting people know. (They were also good at helping directly). It made a huge difference! I know they called my husband to tell him that one of the men in the church was in the hospital and wasn’t getting visitors. He hasn’t heard about the hospitalization and was glad to go visit. I was told about an elderly woman member living alone who was taking a taxi to church and feeling lonely and isolated. When they heard about this, several members arranged to pick her up and take her home after church and to make sure she had rides to and church activity she wanted to attend. I told my mother about the woman and she invited her to her senior center, introduced her to everyone, and arranged for regular bus pick up when she said she would like to come regularly. Everyone isn’t available to help with every need, but someone will be if they are just made aware. Crises are often announced from the pulpit – and they get responses – but chronic needs are not and they are just as important.

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  22. I am so angry after reading this account. Cindy, I wish I had been there when you went through that painful period of your life. I found myself in a similar (but not as despairing) situation as yours, and in the months and years following, I came to some obvious conclusions:
    1. AT LEAST half of the folks in the pews are not believers. That’s why they don’t act like believers.
    2. If “church” consists of one to two hours of meeting during the week, why would you expect any more of an investment from those people Monday through Saturday? They have committed what they are comfortable with, and that is what they intend to continue.
    3. It is likely (and I greatly suspect) that as elders/pastor are made aware of legitimate needs in the body (like yours), the information is withheld from the community. I do not know motives, but I can speak from experience and say that the bumper crop of gifts and offerings, (and how about those “appreciation days”) is held in reserve for the great ones….the pastor and his elders (and their wives and families). Take note of how, when any of these men has a “need,” the trumpet is sounded and the minions gather to lavish their offerings…thus proving their devotion to God. It is a sick, perverse and cultish system, and one in which I was a willing participant.

    I wish you a great community of believers who will dare to love large. Consider me among them.

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  23. “Oh nonsense. Who, other than child molesters, is arguing for the legalization of child sexual abuse?”

    Hi Marsha:
    The 1 billion followers of Islam condone and practice child marriage which is legalized child abuse. Their leader, Mohammed, married Aisha when she was 6 and consumated the marriage at 9. Child marriage is very common throughout Islamic countries as is polygamy because it is written in their “holy” book, the Koran, as a virtue. In Islamic countries like Afghanistan, little boys are routinely raped and called Bacchi Boys because they are made to dress as women and have sex with grown men because that somehonw allows those men to still be considered observant Muslims.
    In our country there is NAMBLA which openly advocates for pedarasty and a new group called “Think B 4 U Act” that is trying to change the narrative of pedophlia by calling it “minor attracted persons” so that it can be labelled a “sexual orientation” that can’t be discriminated against like transgenderism is now.
    Why you call it “nonsense” that pedophilia is embraced and legalized throughout the Islamic world by a religion that states it wants to take over the whole world I don’t understand, but don’t need to.

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  24. A Christian father, up until now, you have been talking about this country and Kinsey. Islam was not influenced by Kinsey and has no effect on laws in this country. NAMBLA is a group of pedophiles.

    I support the goals of B4U Act which have been misrepresented. They are a group of therapists who want young people who find themselves attracted to children to be able to say so and have access to early treatment. They want research-based treatments. This is very important because when a group therapy program was developed for pedophiles on prison was evaluated, it was found that recidivism actually increased. We need to find better ways of helping people who are attracted to children.

    There are people who find themselves sexually attracted to children, are horrified, never act on these feelings, and are afraid to go to a therapist for help. B4U Act wants to help these people. They want to prevent child sexual abuse which they believe to be damaging and which they believe is properly treated as a crime.

    I don’t understand your disputing that acting pedophiles are sexually attracted to minors. Of course they are! That is why they molest them. Why else would they do it?

    Now you can act like a commentator over at Fox News and claim that B4U Act is lying about their goals and has a secret nefarious plan to legalize pedophilia but I take them at their word since there is no evidence to the contrary.

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  25. Brenda R, please think nothing of it. We have all gotten confused about who is talking about which subtopic and who is responding to whom.

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  26. jkpvarin,

    The blessing of it with me was that what occurred in this vignette was a walk in the park compared to the Gothardite church that I’d attended before. And in their defense, that Presby church did call for special benevolence offerings when someone in the church had a great need (without discussing for whom or for what it was needed).

    In hindsight, the people in my life who were good to me at that time were all that more precious. It was funny though. I don’t know that what I needed was all that big. I would have loved for someone to just invite me over to help them fold laundry! But it was all run like a business. When the show was over, if you weren’t a homeschooler (my same age peer group there), that was it. It was a military town, too, so that added to the problem — at least in my case.

    I don’t know if people in the pews are not Believers, but I think it’s more of a society thing as An Attorney brought up. People tend to be more isolated these days. And I was a Yankee in the Republic of Texas which didn’t help me there personally.

    I am grateful for your blessing of a loving body and embrace it with both arms! I am especially grateful for the one that I find here. 🙂

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  27. Marian,

    You wrote, What do you think the difference is between all-you-all and me?

    […]

    Whereas it seems many folks here dove into their churches whole-heartedly, willing to do whatever asked, whenever. Is that also part of the difference?

    You’re hitting on some key points. With my first spiritually abusive church where I spent four years, they were culitc/high demand groups with weird rules that they conceal from new members until they have them hooked. Had I known about all of their submission doctrine and their position on women, I never would have returned. They were most definitely not mentioned in our membership class (three informal discussions in the evening during the week), and I learned of them in year three — only after violating one. There is deception on the part of these groups, something some refer to as the informal rules of the group or the “hidden curriculum.” All social groups have unwritten, informal rules, but those in a manipulative group never give full disclosure.

    On my end, I had just moved from across the country and didn’t know anyone in the area. That makes a person vulnerable. Things like the death of a loved one or the loss of a job also make a person very vulnerable. I’d also wanted to be a missionary, and groups like this are very good at spotting things like this and then hooking people in by giving them plenty to do. So that helped me get hooked. And though it is not necessary to get a person hooked, any unfinished business like unresolved shame or a poor self image give these groups a bigger foothold.

    For homeschoolers, these types of churches amp up their fears about the culture and about evil in the world, then present the recruit with the seemingly perfect answer to all of their problems via their paradigm. People get hooked by the benefits that they believe that they get. Many sell their paradigm as the only effective one or the only Biblical one.

    That said, I had none of those factors working for me in the second church where the pastors and elders couldn’t be bothered with us. I think that was just a symptom of a very unhealthy church, and we were seen as “irregular” people who didn’t fit their ideal profile.

    So you astutely picked up on some of these dynamics. And none of these things exemplify a healthy church.

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  28. Thank you, Marsha! I usually send things like this out for peer review, but none of my regular folks who do that for me were available. It seemed straightforward though, particularly from those two primary texts.

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  29. “The 1 billion followers of Islam condone and practice child marriage which is legalized child abuse. Their leader, Mohammed, married Aisha when she was 6 and consumated the marriage at 9. Child marriage is very common throughout Islamic countries as is polygamy because it is written in their “holy” book, the Koran, as a virtue. In Islamic countries like Afghanistan, little boys are routinely raped and called Bacchi Boys because they are made to dress as women and have sex with grown men because that somehonw allows those men to still be considered observant Muslims.”

    You find much of the same in 1st Century Rome and Greece before that. Pagan societies are notorious for it. Guess what they all have in common?

    Patriarchy.

    Even when you put a plastic Jesus on Patriarchy in America you end up with Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson and Voddie Baucham (God gave men daughters so they could get the attention they need from a younger woman).

    Male entitlement.

    Mutuality is of Christ.

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  30. Here is what I think: Paul used many kinds of communication tactics. He even suggested that some “emasculate themselves” in Galatians.

    Paul had no real power and he knew it. He persuaded, cajoled, begged, threatened, etc …IN A 1st Century Context. I am not at all bowled over by Paul as you seem to think so many are. I believe we must KNOW Jesus Christ before we can ever understand Paul in context.

    The irony is that if Paul had all that power why would he go to the Gentiles who would not be impressed with his monotheistic Jewish Tribal credentials? It was wasted on them. :o)

    Now please, don’t try to lure me into a bash Paul extravaganza. Paul is not my Savior. Jesus Christ, is

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  31. There are many who believe that the NT verses usually interpreted as having to do with consenting adult homosexuality were really about pederasty, the abuse of boys and teenage males by older men.

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  32. Yes, it has now become the fashion to think that homosexuality is fine, and so the understanding of the church for the past 2000 years is now understood to be all wrong.

    Whenever something becomes fashionable in the world, the American church, especially, first fights furiously against it and then promptly caves – both of these impulses being rooted in the need not to be out of step with the world. That’s how it has been since our forefathers stepped out of the ocean 400 years ago.

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  33. I personally think it is obvious that homosexuality was never God’s intention considering the penis/vagina creation. :o) I think Romans 1 is making the implication that it is not God’s choice for us.

    I just think the typical method in dealing with it as sin is not working. In fact, I would say the typical methods employed are doing the opposite. Many of my neighbors are homosexuals. Why would a Christian be against civil marriage in a democratic society? It is not like you can force your children to never be around a homosexual unless you live in a compound forever. The more we protest the more strident we must expect them to become as a movement. (in fact, many homosexuals who actively involved in political aspect are part of the 1% income earners. This is not a “poor people” movement such as the civil rights movement was) I am totally opposed to the methods the homosexual lobby uses against businesses and cities. I think they are as bad as the Klan was only classier and wealthier.

    I would add that I was outraged that Driscoll was advocating heterosexual sodomy. There are health implications. Although I am aware that sodomy is not practiced in some relationships. (ahem)

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  34. Peter Attwood @3:41 pm. It is highly “fashionable” in American society to treat ALL citizens equally. It’s called the Constitution.

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  35. Treating all citizens equally is a matter for the civil state, and for how we treat our neighbors outside, whatever they do, so long as it isn’t criminal. Thus when a lesbian couple recently needed some help negotiating with a school district lawyer on their three kids, I served them like anyone else.

    That’s not to say that sexual perversion, as recognized by most societies in history, and universally by the Christian church until recent decades, is other than what it is. All people being treated equally did not mean that the church in Corinth was supposed to accept such conduct – and other conduct such as extortion pretty universally accepted in today’s churches.

    But “those outside God judges” – another truth often overlooked by modern Christoids. From us, those outside ought to recedive “every considertation,” as Paul also wrote.

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  36. Lydia,
    Over and over on this blog, I’ve been reading criticisms of “what’s coming from the pulpit” but I haven’t been aware of many specifics about what exactly is wrong.
    If they are preaching from the Bible, it would make sense to consider more specifically what the pastor is “feeding on” that causes him to preach as he does.

    There are 29 chapters written by Paul to the Church in Corinth. This is more than to any other church. We have more specific details about this church than any other church in the Bible. And we all agree, it was a fiasco.

    Yet, how often do we acknowledge that Paul was the founder and still the absolute leader of this church even when he wrote to them years after he moved away to Ephesus? If you read 1 & 2 Corinthians, you see that according to Paul, he himself still controlled all aspects of the church, from a distance of hundreds of miles away.

    Paul taught others that an overseer must be “hospitable”. Was that possible? Did Paul practice what he preached? Can you think of an example where Paul was “hospitable” in a church? I can’t. Maybe you can enlighten me.

    Have you ever heard a pastor consider that Paul’s leadership style was a big part of the problem? Or is it always Noble Pastor Paul feeling justified anger against those stupid carnal Corinthians?

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  37. It is of course entirely improper for Paul to have been angry with such behavior as putting up with someone having his father’s wife and even being conceited about their own “open-mindedness,” while similar anger against such transgressors today is entirely appropriate, and failure to be outraged about such things is just covering up evil.

    I don’t see Paul bossing people around. He tells them the truth, and unlike those that we see making such assertions today, God backs him up, as he calls them to witness. Moreover, the other apostles, including very explicitly Peter, likewise back him up.

    You’re bossing people around when you do like those “super apostles” that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians. He called the Corinthians themselves to witness his manner of life among them. And in Acts 20 we see the elders of Ephesus very sorry to see him go, and his warnings in Acts 20:29-30 are certainly well-taken. That’s exactly what has happened.

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  38. Lydia, Paul indeed had no power in the flesh. The only power he had was the truth he walked in, in which God backed him up. In churches, that’s the only power anyone should have.

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  39. The previous article that appeared here on SSB dealt with questionable opinions about whether divorce causes harm to families, particularly in the presence of abuse. Is divorce a sin that passes sin on to children? As an adjunct to that discussion, I hoped to highlight that chronically verbally abusive relationships do cause harm that crushes the spirit of those who are targeted within them.

    Paul talked about speaking that which was good to the use of edification to minster grace. In the example I gave, I think that the pastors that I wrote about lacked appropriate grace — some in word and some in deed. The focus of this post has everything to do with deeds and fruit, but little or to nothing to do with doctrine. The pastors mentioned here lacked a demonstration of faith by their works.

    Out of respect for those who are in abusive relationships, if this blog does repeat so many criticisms “over and over” about that which is “coming from the pulpits,” could those engaged in that exchange possibly move over to one of those other discussions? It almost sounds to me like an argument that pastors have no duty to be hospitable or that people in churches (like those at Corinth) give cause to pastors today to be justifiably angry with their parishioners. That’s not a discussion for a thread that is this sensitive.

    Please show loving kindness and move any further discussion about Paul and his authority structure in First Century AD to another more appropriate thread. Thank you.

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  40. In my opinion, what I am seeing here are 3 common responses to the extensive Bible text about Paul’s feelings and experience in ministry (recorded in his autobiographical letters that comprise about 1/3 of the New Testament, and Luke’s biography of Paul in about half of Acts.)

    Peter Attwood strongly defends Paul, insisting that Paul was right about essentially everything.

    Lydia glosses over Paul’s behavior, positing it was just unique “communication tactics” and something like boys will be boys, nobody’s perfect.

    Cindy K seems a bit uncomfortable about Paul’s behavior, but doesn’t want to talk about it.

    I am proposing a fourth option. Namely, that we look at Paul’s letters to the Corinthians objectively, and realize that Paul was functioning as an abusive inhospitable absentee pastor / leader, and Paul himself was one of the primary root causes of the problems in Corinth.

    Most Evangelical pastors are trying very hard to “be like Paul.” And succeeding. That is the theological root cause of much of the abuse. Not the only cause of course, but its major, and almost entirely hidden.

    People have a loss of perspective about what a church is supposed to be, and what a pastor or shepherd is, because their minds are filled with Paul the abusive inhospitable absentee pastor, not Jesus the Good Shepherd.

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  41. Matthew, just stop. Enough with the Paul bashing. Either take the whole Bible as Scripture, or take none of it. Don’t look now, but your hatred, venom and animosity against Paul is showing. All that negativity on a blog that advocates for survivors of abuse will only harm those already suffering, and does not help in our healing process.

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  42. “Lydia glosses over Paul’s behavior, positing it was just unique “communication tactics” and something like boys will be boys, nobody’s perfect.”

    Oh dear. I know answering this is an exercise in futility so why bother? I have never in my life taken the tact that boys will be boys. I despise that sort of thinking. I guess I did not communicate well before. I don’t read Paul through Western eyes anymore. I read him in his 1st Century context as a PhariseticalJew who grew up in the Diaspora went on to study under the great Gamiliel and subsequently jailed mostly Jewish convert Christians but after conversion went to convert Gentiles. I find that amusing and proof God has a sense of humor. Paul was a cream of the crop Jew on track to become a mover and shaker in the Pharisetical world. Peter, on the other hand, was fishing with his dad which means he did not make the Rabbinical track.

    I do not think Paul was Jesus. In fact, I would say that unless we know Christ well, Paul is very hard to understand. (Peter said so, too)

    I do think that too many pastors elevate Paul to Jesus status and that is a mistake. I would prefer they focus on Jesus Christ and encourage that Paul be understood through the Jesus Christ filter. Not the post enlightenment filter often used today to interpret Paul forgetting the historical context.

    So Mattthew, you have descended into the typical insults toward those who disagree with you or even those who do not jump on your bash Paul bandwagon.

    How are you any different than what you claim Paul was doing?

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  43. “Yet, how often do we acknowledge that Paul was the founder and still the absolute leader of this church even when he wrote to them years after he moved away to Ephesus? If you read 1 & 2 Corinthians, you see that according to Paul, he himself still controlled all aspects of the church, from a distance of hundreds of miles away”

    Matthew, get a reality check. Do you know how long it took a letter to reach a place in the 1st Century? They were usually carried by hand when someone happens to be going that way. Or were sent. Have you done a timeline on Paul’s journey and how much time, approximately, he spent with certain churches? You might be surprised. And it might be a wake up call to why his letters sound the way they do. Ironically the only hint we have about “leaders” in the Corinthian church is “Chloe” had “people”. A woman!!! (wink)

    And it would make sense that Corinth Gentiles had a ton of questions. And that is what 1 Corin is mostly about. Answering questions sent to him. It is just that Greek had no punctuation so the translators decided which ones were questions or not to add quotations around them.

    Ok, I am done before I get in more trouble. You don’t want dialogue, Matthew. You want down the line agreement. How are you different than what you are claiming about Paul?

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  44. Cindy K,

    Unfortunately, Matthew has completely disregarded your request that he take his pet issue to another thread. It seems that Matthew has limited capacity to empathetically identify with other people. He does not seem to understand how his off-topic contributions affect other people. In attempting to change the subject, Matthew essentially and effectively discounts the magnitude of the trauma that has been inflicted on those who are reading and commenting here. It appears to me that Matthew is a false teacher–not just in the sense that he is promoting false doctrine, but also in the sense that, in promoting his own anti-Paul agenda, he is missing–that is, he is being false to–the needs of those who have suffered horrendous abuse and neglect at the hands of clergy and others. Your readers need compassion and healing words. They do not need to see their life experiences reduced to a springboard or pretext for somebody like Matthew to pursue their pet obsession.

    We don’t need Paul to inform us that we should mark and avoid such people. I know that Julie Anne has always been very reluctant to censor anybody. However, I do seem to recall her having moved comments to different threads.

    While I believe the best strategy for dealing with difficult people (including wolves/false shepherds claiming the title of “pastor”) is to avoid them, two other possibilities have been suggested to me. You can accommodate them in exchange for their rendering up whatever it is one seeks or needs from them. This is a dangerous game that too easily crosses over into co-dependency, and it should only be played when there is no choice but to deal with the difficult person. The other strategy is to set boundaries from which one simply refuses to budge. While I see this as a better strategy than accommodation, I once again recommend it only when there is no choice but to deal with the difficult person. From personal experience I can testify that when the difficult person is highly narcissistic, for example, the setting of immovable boundaries can prompt extraordinarily hostile retaliatory attacks. (To his credit, Matthew has not attacked those of us who have contested his views.)

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  45. We have properly been asked to take the Paul discussion elsewhere, so if we want to continue it, let’s do that.

    But this post brings up another problem. Nothing here actually addresses the points any of us have made. Rather, it talks about what we’re doing, essentially an ad hominem attack. For instance, instead of actually interacting with the facts and reason I set forth, specifically refuting me where in error if you can, you go to what I’m trying to do.

    Now it is true, and pertinent here, that plenty of evangelical pastors and others are abusive because they are taking Paul as an example, and yet without ensuring first that they are qualified to exercise his kind of authority. An instance of this in the Bible is Abimelech the bastard son of Gideon cutting down a branch and telling his followers do as I do, in this way superficially imitating Gideon. It’s like people growing their hair and wearing sandals and feeling that they’re like Jesus.

    People do that, and, Matthew, you do well to bring it up. But without saying another thing about Paul, having been asked to take that elsewhere, that phenomenon doesn’t say anything about the example such people think they’re following, whether Paul or anyone else. The Egyptians tried to imitate Israel in crossing the Red Sea, and it didn’t work out so well. In the same way, “Christian leaders” trying to do like Paul, while saying something about themselves, aren’t necessarily shedding any light on the ways of the real Paul.

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  46. Matthew,

    You can discuss Paul in the other thread, but not here. The conversation pertaining to this article is too important Thanks ~Julie Anne

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  47. I just read this. I hope it’s ok that I copied it to share with my sister. We are survivors of spiritual abuse, both in church and in the family. My heart breaks over this kind of abuse.

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