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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. It’s difficult, if not downright impossible to trust people anymore. I’ve become that person who assumes the worst instead of choosing to trust people by default until they give me reasons not to. Fear becomes the default.

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  2. Cindy, Is the root of all this “stuff” based in the sheperding movement? It seems that SM is the tie that binds it all together.

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  3. I’ve experienced most of those on your lists. Now, I’m stuck on paranoid and people-pleasing and depression.

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  4. “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.”

    Yes and also I have to point out that when you add in the “spiritual” dimension it is almost unbearable. It drove me to scream at Him: WHO ARE YOU? Best scream I ever had because I spent the next 8 years finding the answer to that question.

    Thank God for that woman who lovingly told you the truth. Frankly, we have to learn to become the shield for those who are not there yet. We have to take the arrows for them and ask the hard questions, be problem solvers and encouragers to those who are debilitated in self confidence and grief.

    You have been that for me, Cindy. I can never thank God enough for meeting you in the most obscure way in the world! You delve beneath the symptoms and illustrations and offer up explanations and solutions for healing. It is a long road.

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  5. Ok, how weird. I thought I got rid of the lydiasellerofpurple moniker and here it is again!!!

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  6. “It’s difficult, if not downright impossible to trust people anymore. I’ve become that person who assumes the worst instead of choosing to trust people by default until they give me reasons not to. Fear becomes the default.”

    Beth, I am not so sure that is unhealthy. It is often a survival default. I don’t think it is healthy to be totally trusting to just anyone. Trust is earned. As my mom used to say, In the end it is just you and Jesus. He NEVER fails you.

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  7. It is wordpress! I am too busy to fool with it tonight. Can I be her just for tonight?

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  8. “I’ve experienced most of those on your lists. Now, I’m stuck on paranoid and people-pleasing and depression.”

    Can I strongly encourage you? First of all there is not really a lot wrong with being paranoid in many situations. I read your short bio and your paranoia might just be self preservation. (you are worth preserving). The people pleasing is a big problem, though because you cannot really please most people without losing a part of yourself. And :yourself” is quite valuable to God. And most people end up not respecting a people pleaser and take advantage. I don’t want that for you or me. I have always been a just and fair person and got so depressed when others were not toward me. It took me a while to realize I was a magnet for manipulators who were targeting that “virtue” and using it against me. One day while praying the verse came into my mind: Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. I was not being wise.

    You know, I wish I had words that could permeate your whole entire self to make you know just how valuable you are. We have allowed a lot of false teachers to convince us we are worms. When truth is Jesus came as a Human which tells me humans are valuable to Him.

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  9. Lydia, I’m not valued here at home by family. They don’t appreciate me. They use me to do their dirty work, errands, free labor……without any gratitude for all they want from me. I bend over backwards for them, yet I don’t even get invited over for birthday cake. Instead, they expect free babysitting, dog care, gardening, making their personal phone calls for them as if IT was their personal assistant/secretary/childcare provider/dog sitter and verbal punching bag at times while they invite the wayward teen living in their basement to join them for outings,, dinners at restaurants, thei family celebrations, etc. instead of me….their own flesh and blood. Yet I’m the one doing all the work and getting no credit or appreciation.

    Then, while Mom was in the hospital and then skilled nursing facility for the past two weeks (she came home today), my brother and I visited almost daily. On some of tnose days, I also brought my tablet with me so I could post any updates on her condition and let her know about those praying for her. Yesterday, she told me not to bother coming back to visit, because IT’S cared more about my tablet than about her.

    I’m hurt.

    On top of all this, I’m having major problems with my neighbor in our apartment building. Out of the clear blue, she has false accused me of several felonies against her, and yelled and screamed at me everytime she sees me, calling me vile, profane names and I’m afraid she will lose control and harm me or my pets.

    I’m afraid.

    I’m tired of everything. I just wanna go Home!

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  10. Jonathan,

    Questions?

    When you say “this stuff,” are you talking about this “authority of the elders” and submission business?

    (BTW, I was pretty mad, because we talked at length with two elders and the first pastor about being “accountable” to them as believers under the idea of submitting to one another. I even had an elder and his wife tell me that they didn’t expect us to be more involved while we attended there.)

    AND

    When you wrote “SM,” did you mean Sovereign Grace Ministries but didn’t type the “G”?

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  11. waiting, I would be hurt too. Instead of being valued and grateful toward you– you are used. Can you possibly stop doing all those things? Be busy with something else and not available?

    As to your neighbor, I would seriously consider a restraining order. How can she prove what she is accusing you of? I would also let the landlord know you are being harassed and it is serious.

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  12. Beth and Waiting for the Trumpet,

    Being cautious is very healthy when you consider that you damned if you do and damned if you don’t. That’s the problem with these abusive relationships. No matter what you do, you’re always the problem, and the abuser (and the abusive system) will come up with new stuff if there aren’t any others that are readily apparent. That’s part of why you get paranoid. Who wants to take a chance on someone new if most of your recent relationship experience is traumatic or painful?

    It’s protective, and when you act to take care of yourself, honoring who you are (love yourself as much as you’re expected to love your neighbor), it doesn’t turn into paranoia. But when you’re trapped? That’s when it happens. You get habituated back into a place of bounded choice. None of your choices are good so you try not to make any. The problem isn’t you. It’s the bad situation that gives you no viable options. That, in the short term, is a healthy response. It is wisdom.

    I always loved that Mark Twain quote about how once a cat jumps up on a hot pot bellied stove and gets burned, it’s not very likely that it will try it again anytime soon. The cat seeks to avoid punishment. He’s coping with the best alternative that he has. We do much the same thing.

    I should do a post on learned helplessness which is another process that results from punishment.

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  13. Waiting for the Trumpet,

    Maybe Taylor Joy and you and I were all separated at birth. I can relate so strongly to what you describe with your mom. Mine even tells people that I didn’t help her through breast cancer. I drove three hours every week for many months, staying with her for three or four days at a time most weeks while she had radiation. I went to work with her and worked for her at her job, then came home and helped. I even sat in the radiation room alone with the door shut because she said that it was such a horrible thing to be in there, isolated. (My old nurse manager ran the cancer center and allowed me to do it.) My mom told everyone later that she went through it all alone without any help. Talk about people-pleasing!!! I know all too well.

    I pray that you get justice in the life to come and can sit around the crystal sea in heaven one day, when all of this will seem like such a light and momentary affliction. I’m coming to find you! We have a date — the SSB reunion. I will pray that your mom has a change of heart in this life while she has the opportunity and can figure out how to love you in the way that you deserve. I don’t think that your world worthy of you.

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  14. Lydia, my daughter doesn’t graduate from nursing school until the third week of August. She needs someone reliable to make sure the kids are taken care of until she gets home after her classes. She has no one else.

    As far as the neighbor goes, I called the cops, who told me that next time she harasses me, I should call 911 for a domestic disturbance. I then called the landlord the following day. He promised me he would talk to her. He called her father, who is a co-signer on her lease, and she verbally assaulted the landlord over the phone. When she continued harassing me a couple days later, I called the landlord again. He advised me to call the cops next time and have her arrested.

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  15. waiting, Ok, I can certainly understand that. Life is so hard sometimes. I am so glad you took steps to protect yourself from your nutty neighbor. Don’t be shy and make sure the police write up an incident report each time so you have a documenttrail.

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  16. Cindy, And you have been a most strident prayer warrior. When the heaven and earth are redeemed and joined we are going to enjoy it beyond measure. Until then, as believers reflecting His mercy, justice, love back into the world:

    But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!

    Amos 5

    Like

  17. I just fixed a broken link related to gaslighting, embedded a link in the word where it appears in the list (must have taken it out), and added a meme with a definition. Gaslight is a cool film, and you used to be able to watch it for free with Amazon Prime. There is also an older British version, too. I like Ingrid’s better. Very good film.

    Like

  18. waitingforthetrumpet2,
    if you’re having problems with people pleasing (aka codependency) I’ve read several books, and a couple that helped me are-

    The Disease To Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Harriet B. Braiker

    and

    The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused — and Start Standing Up for Yourself by B. Engel

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  19. Cindy, when I first read the post this afternoon, I was horrified that I wasn’t HORRIFIED at what happened to you and your family. Somewhere along the line the so-called christians got so tied up in their rules that they not only forgot about being Christians, they forgot how to be human. Whatever happened to just saying I’m really sorry about what’s happening. Can I buy you a Coke? I guess to these people anyone who isn’t a MEMBER is not human either.

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  20. Wow! That elder’s comment about you not being a member could be the story of our family. I sure wish someone could explain to me why American Christianity is so hung up on “being covenanted” or on the “membership”. Why don’t they just admit that it’s an excuse not to do what they’ve been commanded to do – minister.

    Seems like Micah 6:8 keeps coming to my mind this week.

    Sorry. We just left the FIC we were attending, and I can count on one hand the number of people who have checked to see how we are doing. Guess it doesn’t matter because we weren’t approved to be in covenant yet. 😦

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  21. I am imagining all of us sitting in an old fashioned reading room with comfortable couches and chairs, having this conversation in person. Then I could hug you all. You are all such kind, loving, giving people and I wish that none of you had ever had to experience abuse or even lack of appreciation. Each one of you have shared thoughts, insights, and experiences that I have found helpful. You have made the choice to go on caring for others and making a difference in this world and I admire you greatly for it.

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  22. Marsha, I’ve had dreams similar to what you just posted…all sitting around together in comfy couches and fellowshipping.

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  23. Ooh, Miss Daisy Flower,

    I have plans for posts drawing from Harriet Braiker’s older book. I have not yet read “Disease to Please.” I think she condenses the best of the best stuff on the subject and presents it in a pragmatic way. You can read it and form a game plan. Cannot recommend her enough.

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  24. nmgirl,

    I didn’t blame the old pastor (the first one who left ) too much, but this could be my flaming codependency of old talking, recalling how I felt at the time. He was near retirement, and he was caring for his own mother or mother in law who had Alzheimers at home. He was also a recovering alcoholic, and I had the sense that he had a dulled sense of being able to emotionally connect with people. He was very contrite and expressed empathy verbally, but he just wasn’t all there. I made 100s of excuses for him. I had compassion for him, but I went into a state of shock when he said that I was welcome to come back. ??? He of all people should understand illness. I hung up the phone and said, “Gee, if I left, why’s he still cashing my checks?”

    My neighbor took me out to lunch twice after church when I was too exhausted to drive myself (hitched a ride with him), and once to pick up the new car after my husband totaled the old one. Our other vehicle was a 15 year old truck with poor suspension and no air conditioning, and it was hellish on my husband who felt pain with every bump and bounce. He couldn’t drive, so I asked to ride in with my neighbor so I could drive it home. Thank God for him.

    That lunch he bought me??? It was like the most fantastic thing I’d ever eaten. I am entirely serious.

    I learned that about a month after I received that letter that a friend of ours there was put under discipline and ended up leaving. Get this: His beautiful, brilliant homeschooled daughter came home from college after her first semester. She confided to the Sunday School class that she was having some doubts about her faith and what she believed. That’s why they pulled her parents into a meeting to put them on notice. My neighbor said that they’d “drummed her out of the corps.” If that won’t make you an atheist, I don’t know what will.

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  25. You know, I wish I had words that could permeate your whole entire self to make you know just how valuable you are. We have allowed a lot of false teachers to convince us we are worms.

    Someone was discussing this on the SSB Facebook page and I find this teaching to be so destructive. It cuts to the core and can really mess with someone spiritually.

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  26. You have made the choice to go on caring for others and making a difference in this world and I admire you greatly for it.

    I love this community. It’s beautiful.

    Special thanks to Cindy for this great and very helpful article. I appreciate all you’ve done for me lately as the school load has been busy.

    Like

  27. JA, thank you for inviting me to blog here. It has been remarkably healing for me.

    My goal is to chop the posts down to about half of this length, but I just couldn’t get through my version of the Kafka novel that was my life in Texas any more concisely. It was such a watershed moment for me, it wanted to convey as much of it as I could.

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  28. waitingforthetrumpet2, you are welcome.

    Cindy K, yes, the Harriet Braiker book was quite good. So was the Engel book.

    I have read one or two books by Christian authors on the topic of people pleasing (codependency), and while their books were okay, I kinda prefer the Non Christian ones (at least I assume Braiker and Engel are Non Christian, but maybe they are Christian, I don’t know). But their books did not mention the Bible or any verses.

    I’m not saying it’s wrong for Christian authors to quote from the Bible in their books, but I found it a little distracting when reading works by Christian psychiatrists.

    It was easier to understand some of the concepts without biblical explanations for every point or principle on every page, like in the Braiker and Engel books, their books were not filled with religious explanations for everything.

    Maybe I’m also jaded because it’s a distortion of the Bible in the first place by my mother (and assorted preachers I’ve heard) who led me to believe the Bible teaches Christians are supposed to be doormats (codependents).

    It’s interesting how Non-Christian authors get down to brass tacks and just tell you that you deserve to be treated with respect, so stop putting up with people’s crud.

    If you read some books by some Christian authors on this topic (usually these guys are “biblical counselors” or “Nouthetic”), some of them tell you that you deserve crummy behavior from other people, or you should put up with it in the name of suffering for Christ, or, you are a sinner too, so you obviously must have done something in some way to deserve the mistreatment.

    (Not all Christian books are like that. I read two or three that did not get into victim blaming regarding people pleasing, but I read one book and a few blog pages that did so.)

    Also, I am sorry to hear your church was not supportive of you.

    I had similar experiences after my mother died. When I turned to other Christians for love, encouragement, and support, including some extended family who are avid church attenders, and I went to a local church, I got cliches, judgement, platitudes, etc. from Christians.

    Even when I made it plain to a few of them I was hurting badly and could really use some emotional support, I got blown off, or the platitudes, etc. I was shocked.

    My Mom was a real deal Christian. She would get off her behind and do stuff for people, she would sit and listen to their tearful phone calls for hours if they were hurting. She would bring chicken soup to sick neighbors. She would act as free maid service for women with trouble pregnancies who couldn’t clean their own homes after having a baby, etc etc etc.

    I grew up seeing a Christian Mom who actually helped and comforted people, which is what the Bible teaches you are to do if you are a follower of Christ, and that was how I lived my life out (actually helping others when and where I could).

    But since Mom has passed and I’ve gone to other Christians for support when I needed it (just emotional support, I was not even asking for money, anyone to bring me food etc), 99% of them prefer to either ignore me, or criticize, tell me to get a new hobby to take my mind off it, go volunteer at soup kitchens, or tell me to just get over her passing, etc.

    It’s stunning how most self professing Christians do not step up to the plate and deliver. They are all talk, no action.

    So I relate to your experience. You were hurting not just physically but maybe also emotionally and just wanting a friend to sit and listen as you talked or cried about your issues, but they weren’t willing to give up an hour or two of their time to do that. And it sure hurts and feels like betrayal when Christians act that way.

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  29. nomoretears said,
    Sorry. We just left the FIC we were attending, and I can count on one hand the number of people who have checked to see how we are doing. Guess it doesn’t matter because we weren’t approved to be in covenant yet.

    This is something else I wanted to comment on that Cindy also mentioned in the OP (original post). I find it pretty troubling.

    If it cheers anyone up – it’s not just you. This seems to be a common problem.

    If you read books such as Julia Duin’s “Quitting Church,” a heck of a lot of churches over the last 20 or more years are filled with self-absorbed members who do not greet and include new church visitors, and even if you’ve been to a church for X years and suddenly stop going, you will find that your church members will NOT phone you or check up on you to make sure you are okay.

    While this situation can happen to married couples, it seems to hit single adults hardest.

    I did read one anecdote (maybe in the Duin book, forget where) about a married couple who said they went to the same church for ten years but had to stop going. I can’t remember why they stopped, I think maybe the husband became ill or something.

    Anyway, the married couple said they were a little dismayed that not a single person from their church ever came to their house to visit them, and nobody ever phoned to see why they had stopped going.

    I know at the TWW blog, they featured stories about churches that will actually track you down to interrogate you if you have so much as walked out of a church service five minutes early let alone miss an entire service.

    I don’t think it’s right for churches to send a T-1000 terminator after you if you quit their church, but, as I pointed out at TWW, it’s not always a bad thing if a former churches checks in on you.

    According to the Duin book (“Quitting Church”), one reason of many more people are quitting church is the depersonalization of it, the lack of community, the fact that the preacher will not phone you if you skip several Sundays in a row.

    Church people don’t seem to care if you show up or not. I think that’s sad as well as troubling.

    Duin had a story in the book about a divorced lady with two kids. The lady had to go into surgery. She told her Sunday School or church people about the surgery, gave them her surgery dates, the hospital address, IIRC.

    She said her preacher never did show up to visit her while she was recovering in the hospital, nobody from the church did. No flowers, calls, or cards from any of them.

    I think she said she had been going to that church for many years, served on many ministries and such.

    And that mystifies me. Like the lady said in the book, others had told her if she wanted friends to join every ministry and shin dig at the church… well she did, but she still could not make any friends there.

    What else are you supposed to do, if showing up each Sun and joining all their little activities doesn’t work?

    I found a blog about three years ago. The lady who wrote it is in her 40s and single (never married).

    She described the same thing. Although she went to the same Baptist church every Sunday for – was it seven? or 13? years – nobody took an interest in her. She even taught Sun school classes for teens and I think college level too.

    Then one day, she was out sick (I think she said she had back surgery?), and I think she had to miss the next Sun or two after as well. She noticed not a single person from her church came to her home to check up on her, nobody phoned to see if she was okay. And she was an active member at the church for a long time.

    And she had told them previously she was living 1,000 or more miles from family. She was a never-married woman living alone with no family in the area.

    She said she was so upset and angry by this, that nobody from her long time church checked up on her or called, she marched into the preacher’s office and pointed it all out, and he didn’t seem to care or understand what the issue was.

    I’m not doing justice to explaining her story, though… from what I remember, they treated her real shabby. She had served at that church for so many years but did not care if she was there or not.

    I am very surprised at how so many churches drop the ball on this. If you attend a local church, you really ought to make it a point to get to know the other people, if they appear alone, include them – if they skip a Sun or two, try to contact them and ask if they are OK and need anything.

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  30. Somewhere along the line the so-called christians got so tied up in their rules that they not only forgot about being Christians, they forgot how to be human. Whatever happened to just saying I’m really sorry about what’s happening. Can I buy you a Coke? I guess to these people anyone who isn’t a MEMBER is not human either.

    nmgirl,

    This is a good way of explaining it. I noticed the same thing but couldn’t figure out how to put it into words. They forgot how to be human. 😦

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  31. MissDaisyFlower,

    Here’s the talk I’m giving in July:

    Alternative Christian Evangelical Counseling Programs: Thought-Reform Tool and Hindrance to Recovery?
    Kunsman, Cynthia; Weaver, John

    Christian belief systems have long been at odds with empirically based functional psychology concerning the nature of human consciousness and the concepts of body, soul, and spirit. During the late twentieth century, fear over the popularity of atheism resulted in the emergence of exclusively Christian alternative systems to mental-health care because many Christians deemed psychology as an evil threat to an individual’s religious faith and spiritual well-being. In addition to this inherent conflict between secularism and theism, the ongoing challenges posed by contemporary post-Christian culture continue to fuel the growing appeal of these alternatives to standard mental-health approaches among the largest groups of fundamentalist, evangelical Christians. This presentation reviews the principles of biblical counseling or “nouthetics” (meaning “to admonish” in biblical Greek) and focuses on how aberrant Bible-based groups exploit those principles to enhance the thought-reform process. Because these alternatives rely upon sin as a primary cause and spiritual cure as the treatment for mental-health disorders, they also pose much difficulty for unsuspecting former members of high-demand groups who seek out individual counseling within a Christian context.

    Anyone near DC on July 4th and 5th is welcome to attend as my personal guest.

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  32. John Weaver is also coming out with a book on the subject this Fall, but he doesn’t discuss its misuse as a thought reform technique therein. BTW, I don’t have a problem with nouthetics if people have a sin issue, but when there’s a neuropathologic issue, the people who suffer end up vilified. Everything problem comes from a sin of some sort or a demon.

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  33. Jonathan,

    I hope you’re coming back to clarify what your question means. I could talk for at least thirty minutes on why these guys lord it over the flock, for that long about Sovereign Grace, and then probably 2 hours on the “stuff.” Before I get started, I wanted to make sure I understood.

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  34. Jonathan,

    ROFL. My husband and I looked at that last night, and neither of us could figure out what it could possibly be. I have SGM on the brain, then following a trend, I thought, “self-mutilation.” He said, “All I can think of is Santa Monica, (something he said was a term in physical chemistry), or sadomasochism.” I can’t wait to harass him and laugh like a silly person with him when he gets home from work.

    Here is my SWAG (Scientific Wild A_ _ Guess):

    PART I:

    The most basic answer: People are involved. This same thing happens in any kind of system that must interpret standards of behavior, be they formal or informal (the “hidden curriculum”). We saw some of this with the Gospel Coalition last week.

    I think it’s just a pitfall that groups manifest sometimes. Most people mistake unity which allows diversity for it’s static cousin: uniformity. Unity is hard work, and it looks messy. Uniformity is static, is so it’s much easier to follow, and easier to manage using force. Uniformity requires only a little bit of thought, and unity demands constant critical thinking and cooperation.

    When you go the route of uniformity, because of human nature, there are a very predictable set of things that work when you’re a leader trying to control a group with some ideological goal in mind. (Think of Cialdini’s “Weapons of Influence” and sales techniques.) Savvy leaders who have control issues figure out pretty quickly what works to get them what the want and what doesn’t.

    Next step in the process of enforcing uniformity? The leaders start letting the “end justify the means” for the “common good.” They start letting little bits of unethical things slide through. If the group stays pretty grounded and says true to the motive for their specific goal, they don’t end up being too destructive. We are all human, and if we keep holding ourselves to the standard of Christian morals, we usually don’t go too far off course. We should be “auto-correcting” constantly.

    Then, as BarnabusInTraining summarized it so concisely, “They forget how to be human.” Ethical compromise seems to be serving the common good (and therefore people), so people settle into this and get lazy. Uniformity works so well and is so much easier for them, they just quit trying to allow unity. Throw in there any personal factors like the fact that some people are jerks or might have a truly limiting mental health problem, and then things really get bad.

    Eventually, the procedure and the reputation of the group overrides everything else. It’s like Robespierre who ended up weilding the guillotine to execute his critics in his attempt to outlaw capital punishment. And with the sicko leader, I tend to think of something along the lines of Kafka’s short story, “In the Penal Colony” (which you can find online).

    I’m reminded of accreditation processes for healthcare and in laboratories. There are ideal standards, but no one organization ever falls into 100% compliance. These standards have some items which require full compliance, but then there are other categories of items that range from very critical and less critical to “suggested.” Within those categories, there is some room for less than full compliance. Jerk inspectors or the review panel that grants accreditation can decide that they want to hold an individual organization to 100% compliance on everything in every single category. You move from compliance with the minimum standard into hard legalism, and there are infinite possibilities on a continuum between acceptable and perfect. (For personally immature individuals, some laws and some organizations are “more equal than others.”) This describes well how I saw the church I described and how we were treated.

    continued…

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  35. Then, as BarnabusInTraining summarized it so concisely, “They forget how to be human.”

    That was nmgirl. I was quoting her. And I originally quoted her because I couldn’t find the words to say it! 🙂

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  36. Jonathan,

    Here’s the Shepherding specific SWAG Part II:

    Let me retrace some of the history for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar.

    I think that more traces back to the Presbyterian influences on Shepherding than the Shepherding influences on the “Reformed Movement.”

    Bob Mumford was all mixed up in Chalcedon, and you know how extreme they can be. Those leaders all came together under the guise of setting standards for the Church in the Charismatic Renewal. They were worried that Christians were all going to turn into quivering blogs of protoplasm and experientialism with no concern for doctrine or order. So they had a good general purpose.

    Just like Gothard, they devised a formulaic system of control which depended not only on uniformity to a great degree but specifically on submission to one’s immediate authority in a tight chain of command. But Mumford (who strongly influenced the whole movement which included Sovereign Grace and Geoff Botkin’s Great Commission group) borrowed all kinds of stuff from Theonomy on top of the Gothardesque general plan. Group maintenance was maintained by conformity to the uniform standard, so any problems automatically became the problem of the individual.

    My saga took place at an Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and as we tend to see in folks like Kevin Swanson, many are theonomists. They tend towards legalism to start with. We had that aging pastor who had a lot of limitations, but he was an excellent teacher. (We figured that there were tradeoffs, and this one seemed like a good one.) We lived quite a distance away from the church. We didn’t have kids. When I went back, I confronted the pastor and the elders with an unpleasant message, and they didn’t want to own their part in it. (Another problem: I am an articulate, assertive woman at that point which goes against the prototypical good Presby woman.) It was easier to scapegoat me (not my husband) as an “antinomian” under the principle of the hierarchy of Presbyterian elder rule than it was to reconcile with and minister to me (and my husband). With all of those factors put together, it was like a perfect storm that manifested the pitfall of a Presbyterian form of government. They chose to take their own shame, bundled it up, and then tried to hang it around my neck.

    When you don’t have all of those factors at work and you have a mature, available, capable pastor, things play out differently. When you follow the Two Greatest Commandments which make the Big Ten follow along, you don’t get too far off course. When your leaders are accountable and keep mindful that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, I think Presbyterian systems work well. And honestly, my cult was far more functionally healthy than that Presby church. I suspect that if I called my old Gothard cult pastor up in a moment of dire need that he would not hesitate to help me.

    Continued….

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  37. Jonathan,

    Here’s the Generational specific SWAG Part III:

    I think that some of what we see today with the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” has to do with the zeitgeist of the generation and the age, too. That is another element of the perfect storm which fosters angry leaders that rule via authoritarianism. (Some are mean, and some are like Polonius. “With devotion’s visage and pious action, they do sugar o’er the devil himself.”)

    We are postmodern, and we tend to be focused on appearances and packaging.

    We are angry and mouthy, and it is acceptable to speak your mind in a way that was not the case for the generation that my parents grew up in. (They are about two years too old to be Baby Boomers and would be thrilled if it were 1959 all over again.) I’m the about the oldest in the group of their Gen-X kids. They sold out to careers. My generation sold out to family life. (Note that Martha Stewart isn’t a homeschooling Evangelical Christian, but she reminds me quite a bit of Gentle Spirit without the Mother Earth News interests.) And we have our own version of Christian yuppy businessmen or the alternate hippy grunge style of person.

    The high degree of control “stuff” serves the needs of the generation. So the solutions that Shepherding put together for an entirely different reason seem to be a convenient tool that is now used to control secular influences within the church – and that big push came through the Southern Baptists. That move back to “conservatism” started in the eighties, and Shepherding fits right in with that.

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  38. Dear Cindy K
    I agree with you, QUOTE:
    “When you follow the Two Greatest Commandments which make the Big Ten follow along, you don’t get too far off course. ”

    You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find other people who agree that
    .1) It’s two commandments, not one
    .2) The two commandments are connected, and interrelated, but not equal
    .3) The first and greatest most important commandment is first, greatest, and most important,
    .4) The Second commandment is important and essential of course, but Second.

    Blessings

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  39. Thanks Cindy,

    I appreciate the explanation even if I still don’t get it. I guess I’m searching for a “why would a Christian do this to another Christian” answer. Banality of evil comes to mind.

    I had somewhat similar experience with the OPC, somewhat being not even close, but theonomy sounded a lot of alarms in my head and I made sure to stay away from it at all costs. We, my family, Finally found a home in the ELS. To be honest with you it was because of the strong writings of John Robbins.

    I can see a lot of your observations on Presbyterianism lacking the fundamental doctrine of the two tablets of the laws as their orthopraxy. I do think scripture gives us clear instructions on how to “rule” our church, once again two tablets of the law.

    Have you noticed whether or not this phenomena is more prevalent in reformed churches versus Catholic, Lutheran, or Oriental Churches?

    To the mods, I have to post under two different handles because my home PC wouldn’t let me post as my work PC. If it’s a problem let me know and I’ll confine it to one or the other. Thanks

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  40. Jonathan – that’s no problem. I was wondering why you were getting kicked into moderation. Once you are approved from each site, you should be able to post freely. ~ja

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  41. Waiting, and all those who have experienced “scapegoating” from family, I know exactly what you are experiencing. I left home at 18, feeling like I must be the weirdest, most unstable person in the world. Away from home, I discovered that I was ok and that people did like my company. Four years ago, after living away from my home town my husband and I moved back. I had been away almost 36 years. Guess what? My family treated me the same and I felt like a 14 year old again. I had dreamed for decades that maybe I could have the approval I had longed for as a teenager. I have been available for my elderly parents and have tried to engage my brothers in positive ways. However, nothing is good enough and I will never be the “daughter” they expected. A thirty year marriage, giving them a grandson, earning two MA’s from top universities-nothing about me seems acceptable, except serving them and keeping my weight down (serious projection, but that is another topic)! I am in therapy to learn boundaries and to grieve the relationships I will never have. It is very hard to let go of the fantasy relationship I have wanted with my parents my whole life. The only way I could achieve this would be to totally erase myself. And that is not an option. I strongly urge those of you who have manipulative people in your life, start to set limits. That is not unchristian. Try to maintain relationships with non-toxic people. Get counseling if needed to start this process. I have experienced a lot of healing by redefining my relationship with family. There is no “right” way, each experience is different. Start to analyze your core beliefs with a trusted person to discover if these ideas belong to you as opposed to ideas pounded into you since birth! I also believe this also pertains to individuals who attend authoritative churches. I know I sound very preachy (sorry), but as you can tell I am passionate about the needless suffering some experience at the hands of manipulative, even if well meaning people. I will end with this ” Generally parents want what is best for their (adult) children, but they don’t always know what is best for them”! Thank you as always to JA for this forum!

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  42. Ann, we have a lot in common. All I ever wanted from my family and others is to be loved and accepted as a person of worth. Instead, I was the scapegoat to be abused and the servant to be used. Nothing was ever good enough. I was the only one of us four kids to graduate high school, let alone college with two Bachelors and half of a Masters. Straight As were never good enough. Each score was to be 100% or Mom was disgusted. She was often disgusted, no matter if I averaged 99%. My sister called me the “goody-two-shoes” of the family because I stayed in school and church, and tried to be the white sheep of the family. I craved love, acceptance and affection. I still do. I never got it, so I started dying inside from the lack of it. I know Jesus loves me more than any human ever could, yet I still hurt from the lack of human love. Why is it so hard?

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  43. Jonathan,

    I think that people are just afraid of losing power and control. (I think that hints at if not epitomizes original sin.) And as research shows, there are people who really feel like power is a finite resource. If someone else has power, they feel like they have less. And some people are really, really afraid of losing power and control!

    I don’t mean to single out and vilify Presbyterians. It’s just that we’ve seen these pitfalls play out in this homeschooling and Southern Baptist community, and that’s what’s happening now.

    Crazy, wishy-washy, faith only Evangelicalism had different pitfalls, and they seemed to serve the interests and the zeitgeist of a different age. Some of what we see today in Calvinism, IMO, is a backlash or against them and compensation for that age. From that, we seem to be swinging over into emergent stuff. The next movement will likely be rough and tough on people again.

    About how prevalent? The more exclusive the message of your religion, the more potential you have for turning people into objects so that you can save the world. Actually Judaism isn’t evangelical, but they have the tikkum olam — “heal the world.” They are at risk for trying to save the world sometimes. They don’t do it through Judaism, but the importance of that virtue can make a cult look enticing. Lots of Hare Krishnas and Moonies who are Jewish.

    Other than that, I don’t know. There was the big Shepherding movement in Catholicism, but that didn’t last. And China had Watchman Nee who was influential in both China and in Shepherding here in the US. But in Pentecostalism, there is the New Apostolic Reformation… I think we all have our share of wingnuts.

    I’m glad that you found a church home without the drama — or at least no more than in the average church.

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  44. The Taylor Joy piece brought to mind the Old Bolsheviks in Stalin’s show trials who abjured everything, confessed to everything including stuff they never did or said, and professed their undying love and adoration of Stalin.

    I’m glad that the gospels and the prophets tell us what to expect from Christian “leaders” and their organizations – the word of God, at any rate, has not failed in that it is thereby confirmed.

    I’m against cynicism, a cheap knock-off of wisdom and prudence. But trust is earned, and religious organizations and their leaders are entitled to no deference. Those that demand it – as Jesus never did – thereby confirm that they are not entitled to it.

    Tullian Tchividjian’s rollover stands as a warning that these people, like the Communist leaders of 80 years ago, will sacrifice everything up to their own dignity to prove their loyalty to their group, so they’ll certainly throw you and the truth overboard. You may find an exception – there were 7000 in ELijah’s day that had not bowed the knee to Baal and whose mouth had not kissed him. But such a one will be aware of the problem and not be demanding trust, just earning it.

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  45. ‘Tullian Tchividjian’s rollover stands as a warning that these people, like the Communist leaders of 80 years ago, will sacrifice everything up to their own dignity to prove their loyalty to their group, so they’ll certainly throw you and the truth overboard. You may find an exception – there were 7000 in ELijah’s day that had not bowed the knee to Baal and whose mouth had not kissed him. But such a one will be aware of the problem and not be demanding trust, just earning it.”

    I could not agree more. I would add that there is an advantage to their loyalty. It is harder to market books, getting speaking gigs, etc, when you are on the outside. Also in this instance he specifically promoted Keller.

    I came to the sad conclusion a while back that I trust no celebrity pastors/leaders. I have been around too many of them. I do wonder how all this has affected his relationship with his brother. Because I believe his brothers constant tweets and articles keeping “church” child molesters in the social media had something to do with TGC wanting him off their website so quickly.

    If there is one thing I learned working with celebrity pastors is never believe for one minute they are wise. They are often very arbitrary. That comes from a sense of entitlement. They just have enough layers to usually protect them from the results.

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  46. Well people (mostly ladies I see)…
    I was hesitant to look at this thread, thinking that it would be “nothing but a bunch of emotional angry women venting about their feelings and experience.”

    Yet I am amazed how much I can relate to the article and many of the posts. Being used as the family “work horse” to support my mother and brothers working full-time as a dishwasher because there is “no money to go away to college” even though I was accepted at all the (Public) universities I applied to, with a little scholarship and financial aid available – but then the next year my younger brother goes away to private school – with his own car to boot.

    My mother hiding the fact that my father was giving $100 monthly child support for ME. (which I also could have used for college.) Instead, she just kept it, and she would give it to me some years as “my allowance” as if it was from her, and she was being generous.

    Writing to the Senior Pastor of a large PCUSA Presbyterian church dozens of times, and he never would meet me or have a conversation with me even once. Experiences with a number of large impersonal churches in Texas and California – PCA, Bible Church, Calvary Chapels…

    Wow can I relate to a lot of this experience, in spite of being a guy.
    Feelings and experience are important. Personally, I also feel the need to bring God’s commandments and the testimony of Jesus into the picture. I think we all have a deep need for the love of our Heavenly Father, and Jesus came to make that possible. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

    I take comfort from the words of David.
    “Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the LORD will receive me.”
    [Psalm 27:10]

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  47. Waiting, I know it is hard!!!! And I believe we are far from the only ones who are experiencing this. We do have similar experiences, only my dad was the more critical parent. Even if I made 100%, he’d say it must have been an easy test. This kind of parenting can seriously undermine a child’s confidence, which can be internalized and become the locus of a person’s identity! I have slowly worked on rebuilding my own identity with a gifted therapist who mirrors back more closely who I really am in a positive manner. I try to remember that no one but God has a vote in my self-worth-not my parents,children or spouse. I also try to get involved with helping those who are victims (not through church-too many strings) to get a realistic perspective on my pain. I realize every human suffers in life, no one is exempt. However, we do have hope in a future where we will totally rest in the love of God. This life on earth is not the end of the line! Take care and have a good weekend!

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  48. Hi Matthew. We are far from being a gaggle of angry, embittered women venting about how the world has done us wrong. Yet, since this a forum about abuse and survivors of abuse, some of us fit into these categories. Others offer wise counsel for survivors, or at least lend an ear as they show support.

    I can only speak for myself, of course, but there are many times that my PTSD and depression resurface and I come back here to talk it out. You can’t heal if you keep it bottled up inside.

    Most of the time, along with telling our own personal stories, we discuss abuses that are happening in various denominations, and dissect the reasons for the abuses, as we support the victims.

    I like your quote about Jesus never leaving nor forsaking us. That is dear to my heart, because everyone else had.

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  49. waitingforthetrumptet2 said,

    All I ever wanted from my family and others is to be loved and accepted as a person of worth. Instead, I was the scapegoat to be abused and the servant to be used. Nothing was ever good enough. I was the only one of us four kids to graduate high school, let alone college with two Bachelors and half of a Masters.
    Straight As were never good enough.
    Each score was to be 100% or Mom was disgusted. She was often disgusted, no matter if I averaged 99%.
    My sister called me the “goody-two-shoes” of the family because I stayed in school and church, and tried to be the white sheep of the family.
    I craved love, acceptance and affection. I still do. I never got it, so I started dying inside from the lack of it. I know Jesus loves me more than any human ever could, yet I still hurt from the lack of human love. Why is it so hard?

    That sounds similar to my upbringing, but with me, it was an issue with my father. I felt loved by mom. Mom was pretty sweet and accepting.

    My dad shames people for making mistakes or mocks people for making mistakes (he would make fun of them at the dinner table to us, behind that person’s back and sometimes he would shame us for normal teenager mistakes when we were teens), so I became a perfectionist as a kid and grew up not taking risks as a result of that.

    Dad was also very negative and very critical. He never paid us compliments when we were growing up.

    I would not usually try anything new, because I might fail at it, and failing as taught by my father = shameful, you’re in for a mocking.

    I have two older siblings, both of whom put Mom and Dad through grief when they were teens. The siblings made Mom cry a lot.

    One kept up good grades at school, but he acted out, he would get drunk, etc. They both (both my sibs) would come home drunk from parties, they both slept around, did a bunch of other bad things. My sister failed her classes, skipped classes at school as a teen.

    So, as a kid, I thought if I was the “good one,” I could earn my father’s approval, which I never got, not even in adulthood, because you can never please him. When I brought home straight A report cards (unlike my sister who flunked everything), he’d just say “Meh, so what.”

    I thought if I was the “good kid” in the family, I would not make Mom cry like the other two siblings.

    I was also just a nice, shy kid growing up, who took Christianity real serious. The Bible said to be good, so I was good. I did not drink or party or what not growing up… which my two siblings noticed.

    Though I never lectured them or judged them for their lifestyles, they would insult me over the phone, calling me “goody goody” and “Sunday school girl” and “goody two shoes.”

    Sometimes it still bothers me father withholds his approval, but a part of me gave up trying to earn it. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, it’s never good enough for him. One book I got on codependency said that’s the way to go – learn to accept your parents will never change, and live your life for you, stop trying to jump through hoops to earn their praise, pride, or approval because you’re never gonna get it.

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  50. And that’s what hurts the most….knowing you’re never gonna get it.

    It does hurt for awhile, but if you grieve it, go through the process of learning to accept it, it’s not so bad after awhile.

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  51. Dear Waitingforthetrumpet2
    I’m glad I could be an encouragement.
    Also, I’m glad to see that you “dissect the reasons for the abuses”

    I have been making the case on the other “Calvary Chapel Pastor Bob Coy” thread
    about a big underlying theological reason that Calvary Chapels are abusive.- because of their approach to teaching the Bible verse by verse book by book as if it’s all “equal.” I have the perspective, which happens to be literally “Orthodox”, that the Testimony of Jesus is above all other parts of the New Testament, not equal.

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  52. And a P.S. to that.

    It will probably always bother me a little I will never get dad’s approval, but it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as much now as it did even two, three years ago since I grieved it and accepted it -and- I’ve come to see it’s his loss.

    I’d add my brother and sister to that, too.

    I am not an arrogant person, but for the first time in my life, I now have a smidge of self esteem. I’ve come to realize I’m an okay person. I have a lot of great qualities…

    But if my father, sister, and brother don’t want to see that, don’t want to get to know me, encourage me, acknowledge me, etc., my attitude is more now that it’s their loss. They are missing out.

    I love my family, but I’ve come to see that they are the ones with a problem and mal-adjusted ways of thinking and dealing with others, not me.

    I got a lot of help from reading those books I talked about above, and reading free content by psychiatrists on the internet.

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  53. Matthew, everything in the Old and New Testaments lead up to Jesus. He is what the Bible is all about. Naturally, His words and what He did for us are the most important. 🙂

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  54. Matthew Perri said,

    I have the perspective, which happens to be literally “Orthodox”, that the Testimony of Jesus is above all other parts of the New Testament, not equal.

    Not that I care to get into a long, drawn out theological debate, but my two cents. I’m not sure.

    I guess it may be fair to point that Jesus is the key to understand the OT and NT, but as the OT foreshadows and points to Christ, one could say it’s equal in value to the NT.

    You kinda need the OT, since it foretells Christ, explains why humanity needs Christ, etc.

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  55. Tullian Tchividjian’s rollover stands as a warning that these people, like the Communist leaders of 80 years ago, will sacrifice everything up to their own dignity to prove their loyalty to their group, so they’ll certainly throw you and the truth overboard.

    That is because they sacrifice their own identity and individuality to the group. I think your comparison with the Soviet system is a good one, Peter.

    I wonder if any of these guys could be able to stand against the system at this point? Because it not only means standing alone, but standing against the system alone. In other words, your group from which you derive your identity has now become your opponent, and there is no sense saying it hasn’t just because you happen to love the people in the group. Does Tullian love them enough to oppose them? Tullian said:

    I’m an idolater and that came out last week.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/tullian-tchividjian-apologizes-for-remarks-about-gospel-coalition-break-up-120667/

    Perhaps he is right when he speaks about being an idolator, but I wonder if he has misidentified the idol? He says he built his identity on being right. But what if his real idol is his identity as part of this “team”?:

    The world desperately needs to see Christians standing side by side and back to back, loving one another. And last week I found myself standing face to face with some Christians in a posture of non-love,” he acknowledged. “I’m really sorry about that. As both Liberate and The Gospel Coalition move forward I want people to know that, while there may be differences, we’re on the same team.

    What the world desperately needs to see is Godly men and women standing up for what is right irrespective of whether their “team mates” do the same. Tullian’s identity should come not from “being right” nor from “the team” but from the Lord.

    And he needs to remember that Christ was despised and rejected — and crucified outside the camp.

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  56. Dear waitingforthetrumpet2, missdaisyflower and Cindy K,

    I am basically in agreement with what the short summary overviews you all just made.
    In order to better explain where I’m coming from, here is some food for thought, if you have time to consider.

    The common Evangelical perspective is that The Bible is “One Book” which all “harmonizes” and is all equally authoritative and important and one unified “voice of God.” This perspective is simply assumed, by John MacArthur, etc.

    What Biblical basis is there for this “traditional” view? Only one, really. Paul wrote once, buried in the middle of a personal letter, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” But no one else ever said that, and even Paul didn’t say that all Scripture was equal. (The Apostle Peter wrote of PROPHECY of Scripture, not “All Scripture.”)

    Jesus clearly saw the Scriptures of his day, what we call the Old Testament, in 3 distinct categories, in order of priority.

    Here is a relevant quote from John Paul Jackson, from the following video.
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….” [John 1:1]
    that just doesn’t mean the New Testament. Because guess what, when He came and John wrote it the New Testament didn’t exist. He was talking about the word of God, EXPRESSLY THE TORAH. In the beginning was the Torah. And you go whoa; now you’re getting heavy. That should not be heavy to us. That should not be heavy to us. That should be one of those: “of course.” But we take one step at a time.”

    John Paul Jackson – 2/28/2009 Rend The Heavens Conference
    Charlotte NC Mahesh Chavda Ministries
    1. http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=John+Paul+Jackson+YouTube&Form=VQFRVP#view=detail&mid=E4E465431ECB131A2CFAE4E465431ECB131A2CFA

    How would Jesus prioritize “The Books” – the 66 books of what we call “The Bible?”
    Even if you believe that “all Scripture is God-breathed”, Jesus clearly told us that all Scripture is NOT equally authoritative or important. When asked, Jesus summed things up in not 1 but rather 2 commandments, based on only 2 out of the 3 accepted sections of the Hebrew Scriptures- the Law and the Prophets. He didn’t mention the Writings at that time. Then in Luke 24:44 Jesus spoke of “The Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

    I’m not Moses writing tablets of stone. But below is my rough idea of how I think Jesus would prioritize “The Books.” I’m not questioning the content of the texts. But one way or another, the choice of which order to arrange the content of the 66 books in is a matter of human tradition, and there are multiple traditions.

    If you think what we call the “New Testament” has to be in the order of (1) Gospels, (2) Acts, then (3) Paul front and center, you should talk with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    And if you think the order of the books in the King James Version of what we call the “Old Testament” is the only authorized order, you should talk with the Jews. (You also might want to change the name of your Bible to “King Jacob.”)
    But you probably would also need to remind modern Jews that Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles were all originally stand-alone scrolls, not part 1 & part 2.

    I’m not saying, “Thus says the Lord” here. But based on what I know right now of the Jesus of the Bible, and the Bible text itself, here is my best guess at how Jesus would order the priority of “The Books.”

    .1) The Word made flesh- 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
    .2) Torah – The Law of Moses – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
    .3) The Prophecy – Acts, Revelation
    .4) The Prophets – Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets
    .5) Psalms
    .6) General letters: of the Apostles I & 2 Peter, 1 John
    .7) General letters: to the Hebrews, and from James (aka Jacob)
    .8) Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Ruth, Esther and the other Writings
    .9) Personal letters: of The Apostle John, Jude, and Paul

    Blessings,
    Matthew

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  57. Here is a comment I posted to Tullian’s blog, to encourage him to stand strong. I hope he’s read it.

    Dear Pastor T.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re sensitive to the feelings of your colleagues, and to how our public behaviour can be perceived. Still, I don’t think you have very much to apologize for. Members of TCG have seriously mishandled many of their public dealings, and you were right to point that out. If Keller and others have been unfair to you, or have misrepresented you or your words to the press, you’re right to call them out. The command to “love one another” does not obviate our right to stand up for ourselves, or our duty to stand up for what’s right and true.

    Conflict is seldom pleasant or pretty, but it isn’t always wrong. Jesus knew that, and so did St. Paul. I hope that God will continue to bless you with His love and truth, and with a love for truth.

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  58. “Just like Gothard, they devised a formulaic system of control which depended not only on uniformity to a great degree but specifically on submission to one’s immediate authority in a tight chain of command.”

    Add to that the advent of systematic theology becoming all the rage in seminaries and then out to churches. Just 9 years ago you could not walk across SBTs without seeing Grudems ST under the arm of a young man. Mix all that together with the influence of Gothard, shepherding and you have a recipe for spiritual disaster. And we are seeing the fruits of it now. It is why I want to be a Quaker but I am not a pacifist. :o)

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  59. “I appreciate the explanation even if I still don’t get it. I guess I’m searching for a “why would a Christian do this to another Christian” answer. Banality of evil comes to mind.”

    I had the same question. It really bothered me, How could such injustice by long time professing believers work in the long run?. After tons of study, prayer, etc, I read something that really changed the way I look at all this. Simply Christian by NT Wright.

    He brought back to me what I once believed and was raised on. And it is this: Everything we do, say, are about here and now matters. When heaven/earth are joined as the redeemed earth only certain things will go with us. So we had better be about those things here and now. Justice, mercy, compassion, love, etc. We will stand alone and give an account on what we were about here in the Kingdom of God on earth. (on EARTH as it is in heaven)

    The bottom-line is as believers when we do hurtful things to others, we seek to fix it here and now. If one is focused on their power and authority which can only result in using people, I would not want to be them someday. It is that serious. And that is why I don’t buy into cheap grace for long time professing believers. Hebrews 10:26-31 says it better than I can. So does the entire book of 1 John. Jesus Christ is not impressed with the nicolaitans as we see in Revelation. (conqueror of the people)

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  60. Thanks Cindy,

    My mind wants an explanation. Something that I can point on a MRI and say, “that’s the cause of it.” I know the answer is original sin but the original sin in me says it has to be more than that which I know it is. How can someone profess to love their neighbor than rape his neighbor’s three year old daughter? And at the same time expect their church to cover for them, which the church does.

    I’ve been watching this ever since Jen Epstein was the raison d’etre for the anti-patriarchal crowd. I just want something more, I really want to see the perpetrators of these crimes, these same people that claim the cross of Christ, to see justice. I mean there has to be a reason why the power of the sword was given to the state and not the church. I’m starting to get mad so I’ll stop now.

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  61. Jonathan,

    I had what I used to call a “lust for justice.” The parenting I had went from feast to famine in terms of good and bad with no stops in between, and it frustrated me terribly. The rules were constantly changing, so I couldn’t really learn to navigate very well. So I was always bent on justice and really overreacted about things that were inconsistent. It doesn’t make me compulsive anymore, now that I’ve had a lot of healing. (The more intense my pain, the less tolerance and patience I had.)

    I found that after I left the Shepherding church, I was really angry at God for letting the pharisee leaders remain in power. I was mad about Phillips, too, particularly because of the reports of the great damage that he did to so many people. He used people miserably. I was just angry about it.

    And I hit a point in my healing where it became okay. Some of that came through self-acceptance. And a big part of came when I concluded that these guys (Phillips) weren’t preaching the gospel. It’s a different one. And that took a lot of the sting out of things for me. It was in that place that I was able to learn to rest in God. It grew from a tiny seed of hope, and I feel like I’m working on a garden now. It just takes a lot of time. I don’t think that it comes quickly or easily.

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  62. Original sin, while correct, is not an answer. It’s like if you ask why a program isn’t working right, and the answer is, “It’s a bug.” Thanks, dog, could you tell me more?

    I suppose it’s going to depend on the facts in case, but since we read in James a warning not to deceive ourselves in connection with our religious professions, and much the same in 1 John and elsewhere, say Jeremiah and all the other prophets, deceiving ourselves is clearly possible and happens all the time. That’s always least evident to the one being deceived.

    It’s why we have to hear from others – and without examining their theology first. And if we’re in the mood to do to others what we want done for ourselves, we need to give warning to others just as we want to be warned ourselves. If you see green liquid running out from under my car, do me a favor and say so.

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  63. Jonathan, anyone who actually loves his neighbor does not rape a three year old. It may be that a certain number of people have some brain dysfunction causing such desires or it may be a result of early experiences. I don’t think we know enough yet to say. But if such a person wants to be a good person, whether they are a believer or not, they will not act on those desires. They will not have children, they will avoid bring around children. When they feel that temptation is getting too strong, they will check themselves into a mental hospital, go to an adults only religious retreat, or ask for medication to reduce libido, but they will not hurt a three year old.

    The people who do are predators. They do not attend church as believers; they attend because church members tend to be too trusting. They attend because they know that, in certain churches, they can cry repentence and avoid arrest because church leaders want to avoid bad publicity for the church, because they do not understand pedophilia, because they treat all sins the same, because they believe that since we are all sinners there is no difference between the molester and the victim, and/or they disrespect children. Predators know this and exploit it.

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  64. I mean there has to be a reason why the power of the sword was given to the state and not the church. I’m starting to get mad so I’ll stop now.

    You really didn’t have to stop, Jonathan. A little righteous anger is good! And I tell you, after seeing so many celebrity pastors faking all of this Biblical manhood and acting like wusses when it comes to abuse, it makes me glad to see a true Biblical response to abuse. Thank YOU!

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  65. I think ignoring people being in need or being absent is endemic in the 21st century church. In one, I was in the choir for a year, every Sunday but two, Christmas music, etc. Then I became ill and missed a month. Due to other life events, we began attending another church that was closer to home. About a year later, I ran into the choir director at lunch one day, and he said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you at choir the last few weeks.” That was our last conversation!!!

    Then there was the smaller church where spouse and I were deacons, taught adult SS classes, spouse worked on occasion in nursery, hosted a neighborhood VBS, sang in the choir and occasionally on the worship team, served on key committees, one of us went through ordination as a minister, started a ministry through the church, etc. We were told by class members that they really enjoyed our teaching, which was very open and discussion oriented, and not bossy. But the pastor said that we should no longer teach, not because of anything we did while teaching, but because when we were not teaching, we were active in the class. Six weeks later, we decided to be elsewhere. No one from the church ever contacted us for months. Finally long time friend couple inquired and were surprised the pastor had not contacted us at all. Still hasn’t. And we had been tithing, including a large settlement check and an inheritance, plus making a large contribution to the building fund (another 5% of total income, settlement and inheritance). Also served as the churches attorney on some matters, and receive and deliver mail to them. No contact!!!

    Proves we were right. The church just does not care, nor does the pastor. And as far as I am concerned, they have revoked their right to be called Christian. I have dusted off my shoes.

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  66. “My mind wants an explanation. Something that I can point on a MRI and say, “that’s the cause of it.”

    Hi Jonathan:
    Eccl 8:11 “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”
    Today, people will committ heinous crimes like child rape because the chances of them being put to death for it are incredibly low and punishment is not painful/fearful (today’s prisons) nor speedy (10 year average for a death penalty to be carried out). Jesus made it clear that someone who hurts a little child would be better off being executed by drowning than what awaits them on the day of judgment.
    “Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.” Rom 12:19. The Lord doesn’t say he “might” repay.
    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. If you go to Dr. Judith Reisman’s website you will see how Kinsey’s lies about human sexuality led to the downfall of our society’s views on morality, sexuality, crime, punishment and the financial rights of ex-wives and children. Unfortunately, women and children pay the price today because of pedophile Kinsey’s lies propagated by those claiming to care about women.
    Jesus was kind enough to us to teach us to judge a tree by the fruit it bares and to remind us that there would be deceivers among us calling themselves Christians. A person claiming to love their neighbor, but raping a child, is not acting like a Christian at a minimum and most likely is not a Christian and, regardless, should be put to death for their crime.
    Rom 13:4 “…But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain .. a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Last time I checked, a sword was not used to lock a cell door …

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  67. An Attorney,

    Oh how I can identify with your having been marginalized when your manner of teaching was open and discussion oriented! People are hungry for the kind of participatory, mutually edifying fellowship Paul advocates at 1 Cor. 14 26-23. Part of the problem, I perceive, is that the professional ministers feel threatened when they observe somebody succeeding in a manner that draws, as it were, the honor and glory from themselves. If your pastor was sincere in his concern that one ought not to teach a class in which s/he is a participant, he was exhibiting the mindset inherent in the ever present clergy-laity divide. Though the phenomenon is not universal, when it comes to the professional clergy, they really do tend to be caught up in the pursuit of prestige, profit and power. The clergy/Brahmans take money from the laity/untouchables, not to feed His sheep, but to to feed both their own bodies and their egos. They are not to be identified with the priest and Levite who passed by the robbed, beaten, naked, and half dead man on the road to Jericho. They are to be identified with the robbers themselves.

    Unfortunately, it is easier to identify the defects in the institutional “church” than to overcome her depredations. (I say “her depredations” rather than “its depredations” because I have come to identify the institutional “church” with the great whore who sits on many waters.) In the small community where I live–population about 750, number of churches: 4–I suppose I would need to take the lead in gathering a group of believers who are interested active, participatory, fellowship. Trouble is, I would be competing with the existing “churches,” and most self-identifying believers who might be interested in such fellowship are already overwhelmed with “church” activities. I dare say my best bet would be to start in the bars. I’m fairly confident there is more actual fellowship (maybe even Christian fellowship) going on in our 2 bars than in our 4 churches–though this recovering Baptist hasn’t overcome the inhibitions that prevent him from testing the hypothesis.

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  68. @BarnabasInTraining:

    Tullian Tchividjian’s rollover stands as a warning that these people, like the Communist leaders of 80 years ago, will sacrifice everything up to their own dignity to prove their loyalty to their group, so they’ll certainly throw you and the truth overboard.

    That is because they sacrifice their own identity and individuality to the group. I think your comparison with the Soviet system is a good one, Peter.

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  69. @CindyK:

    I think that some of what we see today with the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” has to do with the zeitgeist of the generation and the age, too. That is another element of the perfect storm which fosters angry leaders that rule via authoritarianism.

    Like the Perfect Storm situation in Central Europe after WW1 and the Great Depression? Or the Perfect Storm situation in the Middle East during and after the Cold War?

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  70. It is. Al Stewart does a LOT of songs based on history, clear back to his “Past, Present, and Future” album in the early Seventies.

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  71. “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?

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  72. “O.K., HUG, I’ll bite. Is Joe the Georgian one and the same as Uncle Joe, as in Stalin?”

    Yes, Stalin was from Georgia. And it was always a burr in his side to prove he was as good as a white Russian. (Much like Hitler the good German was Austrian). Stalin studied to be a priest before Revolutionary fervor won over..

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  73. They were put to death for it unless it was altogether blown off, as it usually was – especially, but not exclusively, in the case of white men raping black women. Factory owners were pretty free about doing young women working in their factories, too. The way it is today in the US military is not new. It has been ever thus.

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  74. Christian Father,

    Women/children have been marginalized since before Lamech took all those wives. Patriarchy is a result of what people call the Fall. Eve made the most horrible choice possible. She turned to Adam INSTEAD of God (Genesis 3-teshuqa. Desire is horrible translation. The word denotes a “turning”) and because she did that, Adam ruled over her. We see the oppression of women/children all through the OT. Even those God worked through misused them. We can go back as far as Abraham and his mistreatment of Hagar and Ishmael.

    It literally became cultural, societal. And only within the last hundred years or so, seriously addressed. In other words, things were very bad LONG before Kinsey came on the scene with his bizarre experiments. Women have more resources and potential avenues of protection than ever before. It is just that too many Christians still see them as lesser beings. Children, too.

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  75. “They were put to death for it unless it was altogether blown off, as it usually was – especially, but not exclusively, in the case of white men raping black women.”

    This is confusing. Not sure what you mean. White men were put to death for raping black women?

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  76. Lydia, I think he means it was blown off in the case of a white man raping a black woman.

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