Spiritual Abuse: Trouble Letting Go

One disturbing aspect of spiritual abuse is how it can leave us questioning our salvation and in a state of confusion. I received an e-mail this morning and asked if I could post it here for discussion.  ~ja

 


Trouble Letting Go

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Compared to some of the stories on your blog, my spiritual abuse is very mild. It happened at a Calvary Chapel.  I knew something was wrong about a year in. The pastor and his wife are very prideful and unloving and don’t believe what they teach or in the power of God. It’s more of an academic thing which appealed to my flesh, I’m sure.

 

It has been about two years and I am just beginning to understand and to dig myself out. It affected me much more than my husband, and I even have questioned things that I was sure of before, namely my salvation. I am in a much better place now and have even gained some ground on sin in my life(anger). I just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that your blog and many of the conversations in the comments section were especially helpful and healing to me when I thought I was going crazy. I am having trouble letting it go, though. I feel like I need to DO something. My husband says just let it go and move on. It’s hard.
I did not grow up in church and only went there a few times with friends through the years. Calvary Chapel was the first church I attended regularly, and it was a bit of a shock to see that it did not match what I thought a church should look like from reading the Bible. I have been to a few churches since leaving and I feel them all to be the same with the prideful pastors. I am prideful too, so I do have some sympathy for them. I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I have tried to find some believers who agree with the opinions about church and gifted teachers, but they think I’m being critical. Could you offer some advice, please?

 

 

 

102 comments on “Spiritual Abuse: Trouble Letting Go

  1. It just takes time. Your way of handling being spiritually abused is different than your husband’s. Many men have a “move on” attitude. It’s how they’re wired. Not all. Some women do too.

    But spiritual abuse is about so many losses. Loss of relationship(s). Trust. Connection. Community. The loss of a dream.

    I understand why Jesus reserved his harshest criticisms for religious leaders/hypocrites.

    It’s made me question. What is church? Who is the church? Why does the church look like its present form? Who says? Who says it’s “right”? It’s made me delve deeper in to things I was taught…like patriarchy/comp, that women can’t teach, and on and on. I’ve been to pastor Wade Burleson’s blog and it’s helped undo all of the lies that I was taught, where it just didn’t make sense and add up.

    I have my good days and my bad days. Anger at all of the damage that was done to all of the believers lives. Godly men and women so badly hurt. I found comfort, and sanity, first at Joyful Exiles, the Petrys blog about their spiritual abuse at Mars Hill in Seattle.

    Take your time. Do new things, slowly. Listen to music. Have fun. Be quiet. Read. Contemplate. Take a walk in nature. Do some artwork.

    There’s so many of us who have been through spiritual abuse. (If you go to the Off-Topic Discussion tab at the top of the page I’ve put resources/books/videos on these various topics, including links to free books on spiritual abuse, such as Dr. Ronald Enroth’s classics.)

    Liked by 6 people

  2. So sad to hear that you have experienced this, and I know that there are no magic words that will make it all better. When my former ‘church friends’ didn’t want to know about the abuse I’d suffered, I found help, support and encouragement online. I discovered that I was not alone and that I was not the problem!

    Recently, 3 years after leaving the church, two of the people from that church took legal action against me. Ultimately they failed, but this time, I’ve needed professional help (which has been new and scary for me, but is what I need).

    Don’t let anyone, even those who love you, tell you how you ‘should’ feel or set time limits on your healing. The experience of spiritual abuse does start you questioning, but that’s ok. God is not afraid of our doubts or anger or questions. Anger itself is not sin and is a really healthy and appropriate response to abuse.

    I would encourage you to keep being honest about how you feel and seek out the help YOU need to keep moving through this (notice I did not say “move on” or “get over it”!). Bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re not alone, and it’s not your fault. And, you can’t “just move on,” although family and friends who love the survivors of spiritual abuse desperately wish that they could do so. Your anger is actually probably not a bad thing: People who are angry know something wrong happened to them. It’s better than guilt and shame–the twin curses that victims are burdened with. There are a couple of things that have proven to be very powerful in helping a survivor recover from spiritual abuse, and really helped me, too!

    1. Find those people, if you don’t already know them, who have also left the same abusive group as you, and talk. Talk a lot, and often, telling the stories, mostly the same stories, over and over again to each other. In time, healing happens, and the re-telling begins a process where you can accept the fact of the abuse, and envision living with it, and even growing strong through it. The reason we re-tell the events of an motor-vehicle accident we were in–over and over and over–is so that in the retelling of the accident our brains can start to accept it, and to deal with the feelings we have about it, etc. As long as the re-telling is not the result of a concussion 🙂 , it’s a normal, too thing. Counselors have found that those who leave abusive churches in groups, or who make good contact with others who left, do just as well as those who enter into professional therapy.

    2. (Maybe) Get professional help, from a therapist who really understands the processes of an abusive group/church, and who has experience with abuse survivors. This is important, because a therapist who does not “get it” (and many simply do not) will be very susceptible to diagnosing your experience as merely the results of a childhood trauma, or another, pre-abusive church, experience. Then, they won’t be able to help you get back to a pre-abusive church “normal,” but will waste your time and money by skipping over the very thing that brought you to them! Counselors who are experienced with this issue are rare, but not non-existent! Most people do leave abusive churches in time, and most move on just fine, in time.

    3. Beware of trying to use good religion to correct the damages of bad religion. In other words, don’t try to “get on track” with a “good church,” and think that doing so will magically fix you. It won’t. I tried that. Most people who leave abusive churches end up trying out new churches that bear a remarkable similarity, apart from being abusive, to the bad churches they left! Coming out of an abusive bible church, I assumed that what I needed for healing was….more bible study! Duh! Now, the last thing I tell someone who comes out of an abusive church is that they need to go to church, and need to do a bible study with me about abusive churches. That may come later, but first, there needs to be healing, and exploration of the abuse suffered.
      There is my two cents!
      Ken

    Liked by 7 people

  4. To my mind right now, there’s no such thing as moving on. It’s a phrase people slap on you to pressure you to shut up about topics they find uncomfortable. Forgiveness is used in a similar fashion. If you’re still talking about wrongs, it means you haven’t forgiven/moved on.

    Healing from my past church situations has meant revisiting and evaluating what I’ve been taught and what I’ve taken for granted as true in an effort to ground my faith and experiences for myself. In some cases that means I’ve gotten angry recently about things that happened years ago that I didn’t really process as abusive or wrong at the time or even in subsequent years after I broke free from it all – that’s just part of growth. So in that light, I’m not real fond of anyone telling anyone to “move on” from their abuse – it’s dangerous. To move on without processing and understanding what happened to you and why is to keep the door open for you to walk right into another toxic situation unawares. It betrays that they do not take experiences and growth seriously.

    It sounds like you’re on the right path at least, and I’d say stay the course – it sounds like your instincts about church are good. I’m with you in that struggle, at least – trying to figure out what truth is when it comes to the church.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I’m two years out from a false accusation from a Care Group Leader in a former Sovereign Grace church. I am working on an Open Letter to Jordan Kauflin which I will get up in a few days. You don’t just get over stuff like this. The sad part is that the Christian community can be hard in this regard of let go and move on. I had an Air Force officer who taught me why rape is a serious issue in the United States military. Stop and think about it.

    Totally like what Ken said above. Here’s the problem…there is a huge void in getting mental health help for this area. Here’s why….many Christians are taught to be skeptical of psychology or mental health services. So there’s that obstacle to overcome. Then in the secular side many people don’t get the evangelical world and you run the risk of being misdiagnosed or labeled with some other problem. Its a difficult place to be in and that is why many people go it alone.

    If it helps on Monday at my blog we are celebrating Festivus (from Seinfeld). I am going to commence the annual airing of grievences and people can gripe or say what they want to say. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ahhh.

    “I am having trouble letting it go, though. I feel like I need to DO something. My husband says just let it go and move on. It’s hard”.

    It totally is hard. Sending a warm Porpoise hug your way. 🙂

    I recently started to ‘DO something’, to channel my thoughts (which cause my frequent headaches) into something beneficial.

    I started writing a blog (private for now), where I have about 20 topics like:

    The Church
    Authority
    Pastors/Shepherds
    Elders
    Worship
    Spirit
    Traditions

    The past couple weeks I’ve picked a topic to write about. I just write my thoughts, questions etc. then go to http://www.blueletterbible.com and do a Bible word search. I pasted the links to the verses for later reference and I just see what the words mean in the NT and note the differences between the NT ‘traditions’ vs modern-day ‘church’.

    It’s eye opening. The word pastor is translated elsewhere as Shepherd some 15 times. Nowhere do you get the vibe it’s talking about some religious guy called THE Pastor. It’s mainly referring us to THE GREAT SHEPHERD. The ONE Shepherd… Jesus.

    I need to be able to justify walking away from ‘church’ (the institution not the Body of Christ) for my own mental health. Surprisingly, the Bible supports not going to a “church meeting” more than it supports having FT salaried Pastors or Religious ‘elders’ (which only means aged people).

    As a believer in Jesus (can hardly say the word Christian these days – too hard) I too question, “What is the Church?”

    What I believe now scares me. I don’t believe the institutional church is the same as Jesus’ church. Jesus builds His church, adds His members, gives members gifts.

    The man-made churches (evangelical included) seem like Temple worship with priests (pastors/elders) and traditions I just don’t see in the Early church.

    So I reject them.

    I have more questions than I do answers… but I’m OK knowing that I know nothing (haha), because I’m confident that God DOES know and as long as He’s got it sorted then I’ll just look to Him… love people and Him.

    You are not alone, mate.

    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I signed up for an adult class at the local body I belong to at this point. It is going to be looking at “9 signs of a healthy church”. There is a man written book that will be referenced. I can’t remember the name of the author right off hand. I will attend skeptically. I can hardly wait to hear this evaluation. I think the “leaders” in the church believe it is a healthy one and there are those who hang on every word of the sermon. I find it all too often, opinion, quotes from abusive pastors who write books and attend leadership conferences. When the senior pastor came back from a recent conference and was talking about how he got to sit right there at a table with so and so pastor who in my opinion is infamous rather than famous, I felt sick to my stomach.

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  8. One of the things that helped me was to come to the realization that anger, in and of itself, is not sin. Jesus was angry. The Bible speaks of the very wrath of God. We are admonished, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26 ESV). I used to believe that not letting the sun set on our anger meant that we are supposed to stuff it. Well, as others have so aptly phrased it, there is no such thing as an unexpressed emotion. We repress to express. What we do not resolve now will come out later, sideways as it were.

    It seems to me that the best way to avoid letting the sun set on anger is to resolve the anger through corrective action. Corrective action might take many forms, depending on the person and the situation. For myself, I have attempted rational dialogue (to very little avail), I have confronted–sometimes angrily, I have l separated myself, I have pushed back when expelled, I have warned, and I have talked and written just to get it all off my chest.

    It helps tremendously to have come to the realization that there is no resemblance whatsoever between the 501(c)(3) organizations we call church and that true church which is simply the fellowship/friendship of those who own Jesus as Lord, Savior and Friend. We are not required to be in submission to an organization falsely calling itself a church.

    Now if there were only some way of suing for a refund of all the money I gave under false pretenses.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Gary W,
    I honestly don’t remember what he said. I know he said it was 9 signs of a healthy church. If it is the one you are thinking of perhaps I should run, not walk to the nearest exit?? The other classes offered I decided against right away. One was written by the guy from the Village Church and the other is a Beth Moore study. I started boycotting her when her response to the question, “What is your stand on divorce for abuse?”. Her response was they do not take a stand on abuse. She is suppose to be all about Women’s ministry. I could not accept that answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Brenda,
    Yeah, I would run. If it’s a healthy environment now, it’s headed down a bad path. Get ready to sign your membership contract–err, covenant.

    Look up The Village Church/Karen Hinkley mess at thewartburgwatch blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. To tack on to my first comment, I speak from experience. When we left our first awful church, we didn’t take any real time away to really process things. We (my family) left one Sunday after almost being there 30 years (I was there for about 18 of those), and we were in another church on a Wednesday night, and another on Sunday. We unanimously chose another authoritarian IFB church to join about a week later. Half of my family is still in that place. Didn’t learn a darned thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There are already so many good comments here.

    I wish I lived closer to Ken Garrett and his family. I’d probably go to his church. It’s not only many counselors who don’t “get” spiritual abuse. I don’t think many pastors get it either.

    I can confirm that recovery takes time, and yours may look different than somebody else’s. Don’t listen to “get over it.” Just don’t.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. @Brenda R

    For now it is only conjecture that your study will be based on Dever’s book. Probably I need to be getting out of the business of telling other people what to do–how condescending–but, yes, a quick exit might be the least painful in the long run.

    Whether or not the study is based on the Doctrines of Dever, one possibility would be to attend by way of testing the waters. You could do your own Bible study and test your conclusions against what is being taught. My approach wouldn’t be for everybody, but if I perceive error, attempted manipulation, and such like, I would intentionally–though politely, hopefully– challenge the pastor or other teacher. This tends to quickly expose the true character of the one teaching. If they are comfortable having a conversation, in which all views are respected and the teacher is willing to be taught, well and good. If the teacher prefers to debate, with the immutable purpose of winning you over to their views, beware. You are being disrespected. If the teaching takes the form of lecture where only the teacher gets to express their views, and questions are allowed only for the purpose of pointing out where the questioner is in error, you are being subjected to a low-level form of confrontation; you are being abused. (In my opinion, the sermon format is an abusive device for imposing views on a passive, defenseless, audience.)

    The challenge for me personally is to engage in the dialogue, debate or confrontation without allowing myself to be provoked into an angry response. As I stated above, anger itself is not sin. However, church goers have been falsely indoctrinated into believing that it is. Within a typical evangelical church setting, anybody who expresses anger, however righteous and justified, loses their credibility. They are automatically branded in people’s minds as being disqualified.

    And really, it’s a good deal less stressful to simply leave at the earliest sign the so-called pastor(s) and elders are set on church building, as opposed to building up Jesus. And yes, I agree with Gov. Pappy about the dangers of church covenants. They are a means by which narcissistic, sociopathic/psychopathic “pastors” attempt to impose a master-servant relationship on those they view as the mere laity. Only those who are called to battle, maybe, should stick around.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Like livingliminal, my church family is all on-line. It’s not that I haven’t sought to know church family in person (for a looooong time) in my area, but no one is interested in learning about domestic abuse, and people are more comfortable not knowing. So, I have learned that God doesn’t mandate attending a brick-and-mortar where I must attend to worship and learn. There is plenty on-line, God be praised. He has provided a way for His people – and He receives the glory for doing what people cannot – bringing us together to share, be safe, and be understood in these trials where we have encountered (and some of us lived with) very real evil.

    I was raised in a home with spiritual strife, and later in my life went to church by the grace of God when He sovereignly saved me. And yet, there it was. Evil in the church. Evil in my home, supported by the church (still). So, I am content with my God in my home for the rest of my life. I’m grateful for this on-line community. Very, very grateful. God is good to His people and teaches us how to worship Him and and learn about Him – in ways that have nothing to do with the traditions of men.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Gary W,
    Well stated! All of it! I always thought that “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” meant resolving it before sundown also, but that doesn’t makes sense, now that I actually think about it. I always took it to mean that somehow my anger must be inappropriate. However, there would have been NO way to resolve issues with my now ex-husband, so…. although I didn’t really have anger at him, I went to bed a LOT with confusion, frustration, disappointment, and all that. Now that we are newly divorced, I am angry at his evil deception and use of a “Christian” facade in front of our child, but I do not express it in ways that people would think are anger. (Or rarely so. He just tricked her in a cruel way, so I expressed my anger about that in front of her, but…. usually I still feel bad about doing that)
    Still, you’ve got me thinking about this particular verse and what it means in a righteous way, so thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Plus, since I have reason to believe Amos is watching, this may be a good time to point out that anybody who accepts the title and office of Pastor is automatically disqualified. If a descriptive term is needed, I propose the term “minister.” With apologies to all who serve as true ministers while accepting the use of the term pastor out of historical and cultural convention.

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  17. Trouble Letting Go

    So sorry for the doubts, disappointment, and pain.
    been there… 😦

    So glad you are FREE…
    Been There… 🙂

    Today’s Abusive Religious System Sucketh

    So glad you are on the “Way.” His “Way.”
    On the “Way” to getting close to, depending on…
    Knowing, trusting, having faith in, and being in love with…

    The only “ONE” who really knows and LOVES ❤️ YOU…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  18. lifewithporpoise,
    I love your ideas! Those are all just grand. I may try to do a few of those too – the private blog (I have an MS Word ongoing journal now, started when my then husband was really becoming threatening in the home – so I wrote for my own protection) and also the word searches. The blog would provide a better way to organize thoughts in categories.
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Been reading the comments here. It took me a good 7 years to begin to feel free because I would see many of those people I knew from church in the neighborhood and it would always trigger me. God has also allowed many other trials in the same time period.
    I have come to realize it is what He needs to do in us to mold us and have us see the reality of what is spoken in Revelation against the churches. But it still took me a long time. I cried a lot, I had a lot of anxiety and depression, I doubted my instincts, I felt guilty for not leaving sooner, I felt bad about the effect on my kids. 9 years later I am getting a better understanding of the ministry of suffering. The consolation was that my megapastor fell and all those who abused us are now out. All in His timing…

    Still reforming…can you post a link to that online church?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. PS JA I hope all s well with you and yours. I am working full time so little time to read your blog but I do see that the Lord has greatly used you here!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. BrendaR

    If the book is “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church.” By Dever.
    I would also recommend being concerned. Do your own research.

    Here is one post from the 9 marks blog…
    What they expect “After” you “sign” their “church membership contract.”

    “*the church, NOT the individual member,**
    has authority to accept and dismiss members.”

    They say they are now able to “Reject” your resignation. Huh???

    Read it and weep…

    “Pastors, Don’t Let your People Resign into Thin Air”

    “http://www.9marks.org/blog/pastors-don%E2%80%99t-let-your-people-resign-thin-air

    Churches’ membership procedures should reflect the fact that the church, NOT the individual member, has authority to accept and dismiss members. A member cannot unilaterally resign.* A member can submit their intention to resign to the church, and **the church will either accept or reject that intention.

    3.Churches’ governing documents (constitution, by-laws) should reflect the fact that individual members do NOT have the unilateral right to terminate their membership. Instead, that prerogative belongs to the church. Therefore, the church has the right to refuse someone’s resignation and **pursue discipline instead.*

    Wow…

    Another great example of, “Today’s Abusive Religious System.”

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I concur with everyone here who has said that all of this takes time. Take time to sit with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings of not being able to “move on.” We are all different and sometimes it may take a long time to feel comfortable living in a new “normal.” I would also echo the thought that it may be good to sit with a counselor to talk about how you are processing your leaving. If you’re not comfortable talking to a counselor, then journaling or talking to a trusted friend or family member is helpful too.

    Having been raised in the midwest, first Roman Catholic then evangelical, when we left church I was guilty for a long time. Add the mix of raising children while not attending church and a family who for years thought that we were on the wrong path did not help either. When we came to the moment of waking up on a Sunday morning and feeling peaceful we knew we had made the right decision.

    If there’s something you feel you need to do, then find something that fuels your passion. Some churches do have great community outreach programs – perhaps you could volunteer even if you’re not attending Sunday mornings. Or, find other community service opportunities. Maybe it’s time to take an art or language class that you’ve always wanted to. Or volunteer at a local school or elderly home. The opportunities are endless when you’ve got the time and the energy!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I thought this might benefit some folks here, especially a lady who left posts on this blog a few months ago saying she almost lost faith in God when Calvinist preachers and Calvinist people told her that her abuse as a kid was foreordained by God, for his glory or her good, or what have you.

    I wrote a two- part review, or reflection, of this book here on Spiritual Sounding Board blog.

    This link is to part 1 of my review
    (part 2 is right below it, in the same thread, “It’s Calvinism Free-For-All: Off the Top of Your Head, Part 2”):
    _Commentary on Book _ (Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen)

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thank you, Daisy, for posting this. I was unaware that these posts and comments existed. I look forward to reading through them all – over time – since I am Reformed (Calvinist) and also coming out of an abusive marriage and church – so all of it greatly interests me. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. @ Still Reforming.
    You’re welcome. I have to credit a poster at the other blog with tipping me off to that book. I think his (her?) screen name is “Victorious.”

    The Calvinist thread I linked you to, with my book review, got rather heated at times, if I remember correctly, or maybe Part 1 did.

    I disagree with Calvinism, and I apologize if I acted like a jerk in that thread (or Part 1). I generally try to get a long with people, even on subjects I disagree with them on, but I do get frustrated at times if I feel the other person is being obnoxious or obtuse or whatever, so I may get somewhat rude with them. That’s not my usual nature, but if I behaved like a butthead in that thread, I apologize.

    About the book I discussed on that thread (_Link_), Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen; it’s not that it goes deep into Calvinism, or what have you. It only brushes a few topics lightly.

    I don’t recall the book specifically calling out Calvinism or discussing or debating Calvinist doctrines per se. It sort of beats around the bush about some theological topics.

    The book spends the most time analyzing Bible verses, doctrines, and teachings about being a new creation in Christ, and what that means (how it can help erase your shame feelings, etc), and how that can help you overcome spiritual, marital, or whatever other sort of abuse.

    But I still found most of the book helpful in regards to particular problems I’ve faced since my childhood.

    The book, I think, is meant for Christian lay persons who are hurting emotionally.

    It’s not like a deep thinking, theological scholarly work or anything like that. I just found it helpful to me in a lot of ways, even though I am not totally sure I agree 100% with everything the guy said on every topic.

    But it was pretty good at many of the topics it covered, IMO.

    It was just so, so very nice to see a Christian author put down on the written page, where you can see it in black and white, issues most of us have dealt with over our lives, but which most Christians or churches we know pressure us or shame us to remain quiet about and to live in denial about.

    Just seeing a Christian say in a book, “Yes, this stuff really happens, and if it’s happened to you, that is really crummy and terrible, and I am so sorry, and by the way, God loves you and cares about you and your pain and doesn’t want you to deny it and cram it down, and your feelings DO MATTER,” is liberating for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Gov. Pappy,
    John Piper was already being quoted on a ridiculously recurring basis. I don’t really want to go down with the ship. I read the introduction on Amazon for the 9Marks book and was not impressed in anyway. I am going to pray about it. I have gotten pretty good at questioning what is being said. I will do my homework so I will know what to say about the writer and 9marks.

    Like

  27. Daisy,

    I haven’t read the thread yet, but thank you for the apology all the same. I don’t mind heated debates. I’ve learned a lot from reading Calvinist-Arminian discussions over the years. I quite enjoy them – not the heat so much as the points made in them, but the heat doesn’t bother me, as long as it’s not ad hominem or fallacious.

    I think these kinds of discussions are made all the more difficult by the constraints of the medium (Internet communication, from afar, limited to writing), but I still enjoy this kind of Christian debate so iron can sharpen iron. It was on a Christian blog where I first read in the comments section a debate back and forth between an Arminian reader who was doggedly persistent and very convicted in her beliefs as she countered the Calvinist blog host who was equally passionate and very compassionate besides. I think we can all gain so much from these kinds of discussions.(The original post and comments are here: http://doulogos.blogspot.com/2005/12/do-you-love-your-spouse.html – It’s the comments section back-and-forth that is most impressive re: how Christians with different hermeneutical approaches can respectfully disagree and examine God’s Word. I love it!)

    Oh, and if you were a butthead or whatever on that thread, please don’t feel bad about it – but I appreciate your saying so in advance all the same. I know that I’ve written things on-line that I wish I hadn’t. That’s part of the difficulty of this medium as well, I think – the immediacy of it all and the relative anonymity.

    Blessings to you and yours this season. I hope you enjoy the peace and comfort as only our Lord can provide. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Gary W,
    I will not personally sign anything requiring me to be under a man’s authority. Signing one divorcing myself from membership quite possibly. Like I told Gov Pappy, I will pray about it. I found out this morning that it is the book you were referring to. The young man that is facilitating is a good teacher and can’t imagine him not saying that he doesn’t agree with everything in the book. I have not personally read it or know anything about the writer, but will be praying about it and doing my homework. I have no problem disagreeing or voting with my feet. I do appreciate your input and have appreciated many responses from you over time. I’ll be in touch with the Lord on this one, but for now I am leaning on getting a toe wet. Maybe it would help some unsuspecting soul from being lead the wrong way.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Amos,
    Glad to hear from you. Gary W was right, you were out there and ready with truth.

    If I make the decision to get my toe wet in the book discussion, I know where all of the exits are and so far no one has tried to lock anyone in. There have been people who have left the local body for various reasons and to my knowledge no one tried to stop them. My thought is why would the church want people who don’t want to be there. I can’t actually run, but I can walk fairly fast. I was just away since the beginning of November until last week. Not one person called or noticed that I was gone. I don’t call that very healthy either. I don’t give them checks anymore. Maybe I was thrown out and no one told me!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Whatever you feel strong enough to handle! I know at this point in my life, I don’t have what it takes to deal with a Piper-loving group that wants to dive into 9marks material. That tells me something about their mindset.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Although you did not give a lot of details about what happened at your church, and maybe the details vary somewhat from my experiences, the bottom line is that any abusive experience with “church” entails all of the stages that grieving any loss does, but on top of that there is a sense of betrayal and loss of trust in the people and the system we thought we should be able to trust. This is a lot to process! I, personally, could not turn my back on it and move on as though it didn’t happen, although I have known some people who seemed to do that. My own experience is, whether or not you acknowledge it openly, your brain and heart will continue to process it and it can take a long time. Forums like this are invaluable, to be able to talk with other people who have been through it and ‘get it.’ I just think it’s so much harder for the brain to process information that you aren’t allowed to verbalize.

    There is so much good advice on this thread and I don’t really have much I can add, except to be patient with yourself. It is okay to question, it is okay to have doubts and to need time to process and figure out what it means to you. Sometimes I think God even allows us to lose faith for awhile so that we can clearly see what it all looks like from the outside. It can be a very eye-opening experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Thank you Amos,
    That was an eye opening article which I will be printing off. I, as a sheep, may be prone to wander, but I intend to wander following Jesus, my Shepherd. There is no brick and mortar that will be able to tell me otherwise. What a bunch of who-ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Shy1 said,

    This is a lot to process! I, personally, could not turn my back on it and move on as though it didn’t happen, although I have known some people who seemed to do that.

    Oh hey, I was just writing about that in my Part 2 post (_Part 2 post_) about a good book I read.

    The author gets into how most of the time, healing is a process that can take months or years.

    Unfortunately, a lot of Christians want you to instantly snap out of pain and grief.

    I saw an author on a Christian show a few weeks ago (her name and the name of her book escapes me), who was going through a very rough time in life. I think she lost her job, and maybe her husband died(?), but she said she was in a heck of a lot of emotional pain for months or years.

    During that time, she said Christian families and friends kept trying to rush her through her grieving and hurting phase. She said she refused to be rushed.

    I think Christians (and some Non Christians) are very uncomfortable being around someone who is obviously in pain and who won’t act like everything is OK.

    If there’s one thing that helps with stuff like this, IMO, it’s finding out you’re not alone. You’re not the only wounded person being scolded by other Christians into denying you are in pain, that something painful happened, or else, you’re being rushed to get over your pain by some Christians.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Brenda R – Anyone interested about 9 marx

    Seems there was so much push back on the first post…
    ““Pastors, Don’t Let Your People Resign Into Thin Air.”

    They had to do a Part 2… 😉

    “Pastors, Don’t Let Your People Resign Into Thin Air, Part 2”
    Jonathan Leeman tries to explain Bobby Jamison’s article.

    http://9marks.org/article/pastors-dont-let-your-people-resign-into-thin-air-part-2/

    Seems the the first post was moved and ALL the… errr…
    Negative Robust Comments disappeared…
    Or they deleted them ALL… 😉

    NOT many folks were happy being told they could NOT leave
    “The Hotel California” with-out permission from a 501 c3, IRS Corporation.

    Talk about control and manipulation… Scheeesssch!!!

    No wonder folks are leaving “Today’s Abusive Religious System.”

    Like

  35. BrendaR

    Now this was funny…
    “Maybe I was thrown out and no one told me!!!”

    And also sad.😂

    I’m sorry when you say…
    “Not one person called or noticed that I was gone.”

    Yeah – I have experienced that also…

    Like

  36. “Pastors, Don’t Let your People Resign into Thin Air”

    “http://www.9marks.org/blog/pastors-don%E2%80%99t-let-your-people-resign-thin-air

    Churches’ membership procedures should reflect the fact that the church, NOT the individual member, has authority to accept and dismiss members. A member cannot unilaterally resign.* A member can submit their intention to resign to the church, and **the church will either accept or reject that intention.

    3.Churches’ governing documents (constitution, by-laws) should reflect the fact that individual members do NOT have the unilateral right to terminate their membership. Instead, that prerogative belongs to the church. Therefore, the church has the right to refuse someone’s resignation and **pursue discipline instead.*

    Translation into Oldspeak:
    “I OWN YOU!!!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  37. “Pastors, Don’t Let Your People Resign Into Thin Air.”

    I translate this as, “Rulers of the Gentiles, don’t let Jesus’ sheep return to His fold, The Ekklesia which IS effectively IN thin air as it’s spiritual by design.

    This quote completely contradicts everything Jesus says from Matthew – John about Himself, abusive Leaders, His Church and Authority.

    still reforming… I’m glad to see you have a healthy approach to dialogue with the ‘other side of the fence’. My better half grew up in an Arminian club so trying to understand his families’ faith (in their faith) has been a challenge. I couldn’t live like that… Constantly afraid of losing salvation. Anyways… This place is a refuge.

    God is good.

    Coffee time 😊

    Like

  38. HUG:

    that is crazy.

    -> http://9marks.org/article/pastors-dont-let-your-people-resign-into-thin-air/

    “Churches’ membership procedures should reflect the fact that the church, NOT the individual member, has authority to accept and dismiss members. A member cannot unilaterally resign.* A member can submit their intention to resign to the church, and **the church will either accept or reject that intention.

    3.Churches’ governing documents (constitution, by-laws) should reflect the fact that individual members do NOT have the unilateral right to terminate their membership. Instead, that prerogative belongs to the church. Therefore, the church has the right to refuse someone’s resignation and **pursue discipline instead.*”

    I suspect that the REAL reason why ‘Pastors’ can’t allow ‘their people’ to resign into thin air:

    The ‘Pastors’ rely on the giving from ‘their people’ to support them sitting in an office on their bum all week long… preparing eloquent speeches to dazzle ‘their people’ during the ‘religious meeting’.

    oh… and paying the rent or mortgages for their meeting places.

    sigh

    (come Lord please now)

    Like

  39. @Still Reforming

    Is it too late for me to join Daisy in apologizing for, or at least forewarning with regard to, some of the comments I posted on the other thread? It is in large part due to the examples of ACFJ’s Barbara Roberts and Jeff Crippen, who I understand identify with the reformed stream of the faith, that I have been convicted to (try to remember to) tone it down when discussing the doctrine to which I was not too long ago a hyper-adherent. I’m still quite capable of a certain amount of vitriol as to particular expressions of the determinist position, but who knows? Maybe I’ll come to the point where I can find a more irenic approach, even when it comes to commenting on the likes of, say, John Piper.

    Oh, and I see from what you have written at the ACFC blog that you have learned the hard way that one of the ways abusers abuse, whether they be preachers or lawyers, is that they don’t tell you what you are getting in to until it is too late to turn back. Where I practice law, lawyers have a duty to keep their clients informed. I believe this extends to billing practices. I am sorry your lawyer became just one more agent of the evil you suffered.

    I’ve been away from the blogs for awhile, and maybe you have addressed it and I didn’t see it, or else have forgotten, but please tell me your church and pastor did not contribute to your trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Lifewithporpoise suspects that “the REAL reason why ‘Pastors’ can’t allow ‘their people’ to resign into thin air” is because they (the “pastors”) are dependent on “their people” for financial support. Well, though the blog article is suspiciously devoid of comments, they are careful to regale us with this information and “opportunity”:

    “Our work is possible by the generosity of our readers. Give Today,” with “Give Today” constituting a link to–well, I didn’t test the link, but I don’t suppose there is any real need to have done so.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I’m not sure if I’ve experienced spiritual abuse, but definitely harmful spiritual teachings. From the idea that we’re as worthy as bloody tampons to God in Campus Crusade for Christ to the culture wars and “You’re not really a Christian if…” debates in seminary, I have a great deal of salvation anxiety. Anyone have any advice on how to deal with that? My “strategy” is simply to claim I could be wrong about everything, and not exert my interpretations of Scripture as the End All, Be All interpretations.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Hey Beth 🙂

    My friendly advice includes:

    Get the following passage tattooed up your arm:

    “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
    Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; –
    That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life”. – Titus 3:7

    (Henna, naturally) 😉

    Avoid the religious debates, and persons.
    Encourage others in CRU to do #2.
    Come here for fellowship when you get backlash from persons #2 about actions #1 through 4.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. @BethC,

    I’ve learned to go away from the crowds, be quiet by myself, and toss out all of the books telling me how to do it. If Jesus saved the thief on the cross without all of this nonsense, He can save you and me & the other folks here too.

    Liked by 3 people

  44. I will NEVER attend a 9Marks (also called 9Marxist, aka Hotel California – because you can never leave) church again!

    Here’s what I learned from my Tour of Duty at a NeoCal/9Marks church.

    *Authoritarian. The priesthood of all believers is NOT respected at all. Rigid hierarchy.

    *Biblical. As someone else posted once before it’s a term used to mean “don’t think, do it our way”. “Obey.”

    *Elder rule. This is a bunch of yes-men chosen by the senior pastor. No congregational vote. Dysfunctional. Oppressive. Again, not respecting the priesthood of all believers.

    *Membership Covenants. Don’t let the verses on the page fool you. This is a legally binding document you’re signing. It is meant to strip you of your right to Christian conscience and autonomy. It is meant to support the authoritarian control of the church’s leaders. It is meant to be used as a crowbar for the pastors/elders to insinuate themselves in to your life.

    *Attendance/Tracking of Your Activities. This nonsense is done & your entire life is discussed by pastors/elders. I was chewed out for not attending a Bible study and where was I. My response to senior pastor: “I was at my job. I have a commute. I can never attend week-night Bible study for that reason.”

    *Obey Your Elders. Submit. Bringing an accusation against an elder without cause.
    I heard this all at my former NeoCal church. 9Marks is big on this/Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist the inventor of 9Marks.

    *Rules, Rules, Rules. According to 9Marks if you impose a bunch of man-made rules that everything will be fine. No, it won’t. You are killing the work of the Holy Spirit for your own dumb rules. Knock it off.

    *Patriarchy. Just another man-made authoritarian power structure in these 9Marks churches. Women obey & submit. Semi-Arian (not Aryan) heresy.

    *Common Decency. Mark Dever/9Marks says you shouldn’t let members leave through the back exits of the churches. I wonder what kind of heartless person that he is, so lacking in love, that he never picked up the phone, called folks, treated them like the adults that they are, and asked them: “We are going over the membership roster. Do you consider yourself to be a church member or not? Would you like to be on the list or not? We will respect your choice.”

    *Church Discipline. This just means that dissent is punished, Christian conscience is punished, and that the pastors/elders personal friends get a pass on all of the bad stuff (including child sexual abuse).

    *Roman Catholic Church. For all that the NeoCals say they can’t stand it they’ve set up a church structure exactly like the RCC. Senior pastor=pope. Assoc pastors/elders=cardinals. “Keys”/excommunication & shunning for dissent. Salem Witch Trials II.

    I like Pastor Wade Burleson’s blog and his covering these topics: authoritarianism, membership covenants, patriarchy, elders.

    Like

  45. Membership Covenants. One more thought. How many pages did Jesus make people sign to follow Him? How many pages did the Apostle Paul make people sign?

    All of these people who lack love, aka 9Marks, want to impose rules to digress from what they’re not doing: loving folks!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. @GaryW,

    No need to apologize, although I am grateful for it. (Golly, now my curiosity is really peaked and I may have to hunker down and read tonight.) I realize that with respect to our faith and interpretations, many of us have sincere convictions about what we believe, and I am not offended by people standing up for them – only by people standing on or trampling others to do so. In advance of reading what’s there, I’ll just say that it’s okay – and I do appreciate your forewarning me.

    That said, well, you can imagine what the answer is to your wondering about whether or not my church contributed to the abuse. My now ex-husband still attends my former church. (I refuse to say ‘worship’ there because he cannot be my brother in the Lord knowing what he’s done). He is welcomed with wide open arms by the flock, none of whom called or kept in contact with me after I fled there. In Walmart recently, I saw the wife of a man with whom I spent years in a Bible study. When she saw my child and me, my child exclaimed, “Look who’s here!” pointing to the wife. The wife saw me, then looked away and muttered to her husband, “I guess everyone has to eat sometime” (intimating they’d have to run into me at some point, I suppose, since groceries are generally purchased at that store). They wouldn’t acknowledge me or look at me.

    I fled that church because my ex-h had abandoned us (wife and child) and the church too, showing up last Thanksgiving for the church meal by surprise and was welcomed by all after an unexplained two-month absence. Child and I were terrorized, because he had shown up at night at windows and doors of our home, though he would only come inside when we weren’t there, secreting items out of the home. (After 45 days of that, my attorney allowed me to install a home alarm system.) We were so afraid of seeing him there for that meal that we left.

    Before my husband had deserted us (interesting that the US legal system doesn’t use the words ‘abandoned’ or ‘deserted’ anymore), I had put together a prayer request because of some secretive behaviors on my husband’s part with our child in the home. When a church leader refused to read it, saying he prefers to deal with the husband, well, that was the beginning of the end for me there. The pastor ended up calling a meeting with that leader and me to “reconcile,” during which time that leader asked if I would forgive him. I asked “For what?” and the leader said, “Whatever it is you think I’ve done.” I was told by the pastor to forgive the leader because he (the leader) must be “dealing with a flesh issue.” When I said I don’t know if I forgive him because the leader doesn’t know what he’s asking forgiveness for – I was told I need to seek Christ to learn more about forgiveness. When I told the pastor that indeed I had, telling him I pondered if I am to forgive my husband any offense against myself or my child now or in the future – akin to handing my then husband a blank check, the pastor looked me in the eye and said, “You know what? Sometimes you just think too much.” There are other things that happened then at the church, but I’ll leave it there.

    I was thankful that pastors like Pastor Jeff Crippen and Pastor Dave at Grace For My Heart didn’t refuse to read my prayer request like the leader at my former church did. Jeff and Dave instead gave me wise counsel.

    I don’t care if I never set foot in another brick-and-mortar church ever again. One year ago, that would have seemed unfathomable to me. But… I find myself more content around Christians – Arminian and Calvinist alike – on-line who understand what it’s like to be burned from the inside out from people who claim to be Christian and also people who aren’t. I feel burned by my marriage, burned by the legal system, but the most severe burns are from those I thought were my family in Christ. That, above all, I find to be most reprehensible. I can live without money and I can live on simple means. I can live without my husband, but my family in Christ are those with whom I hope to share eternity – so to just be cast aside like a pair of old boots by those who I thought were my true family – well, that was harder than losing my spouse, who I never really had to begin with. The marriage was a lie. The legal system was unjust. And the church family just couldn’t be bothered.

    But the Lord sustains, and He is my hope and stay.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. @Beth Caplin

    You ask how to deal with salvation anxiety. I don’t know about you, but for me such questions have relatively little to do with theology and the interpretation of Scripture. Rather, I have had to enter into a process of recognizing all the ways my attitudes toward, and confidence in, my earthly father were being transferred onto Father God. The greatest challenge has been to recognize the many habitual ways of seeing and feeling that that had their etiology in my perceptions, and judgments, of my father–both true and false–that had become so automatic as to be buried below the level of conscious thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. @Gary W,

    Btw, and FWIW, I don’t think it was even the men of the church and their responses that I found so jarring as I did the response of the women of the congregation.

    In Bible studies and discipleship groups, often segregated by gender, on the few occasions I brought forward prayer requests due to covert aggression I experienced in the home and outright lies that I could describe, I was told to “put a gate over my mouth” (from a Psalm that a lady wrote out for me on a piece of paper), “your husband doesn’t want to hear about it,” and “we need to respect our husbands like Sarah did Abraham.” And on and on it went. When I would leave a prayer meeting in tears, no one followed or ever asked why.

    Once I brought a stack of books on passive-aggressive behavior and sociopathy articles to the women’s discipleship group and cried saying how tired I was of what was happening in the home, so they all laid hands on me and prayed that I would know I could turn to any one of them any time if I ever needed to talk.

    I remember once a lady even asked why I was carrying so many bags with me (because I had a laptop with my documentation of all that was happening in the home on it and I didn’t want my husband to find it). When I told her why, she laughed and said, “Well you can always count on us to help you shoulder your burdens,” before patting me on the back and walking away!

    After his abandoning us, I had my car packed full because my attorney said, based on my testimony of what my husband was doing and had done, I should be ready to flee at a moment’s notice lest he return home suddenly, a church woman (an attorney no less) saw my packed car and just laughed at me from her own car, stating, “Don’tcha think you should learn to travel a little lighter?” She didn’t ask why my car was packed with as many worldly belongings as I could cram in there. My daughter’s as well. She lived in fear that her dad would come back and hold a gun to her head. Nobody cared.

    It was the attitude of the women that still astonishes me – knowing what they know, and choosing to push the wife (me) away and down.

    Btw (again), and FWIW (again) – I understand the concern re: the hard edge that many Reformed Christians, especially on-line, can have. I’ve bumped into it and read it a lot, but it doesn’t dissuade me from my understanding of Scripture as it is. I just find that arrogance to be very regrettable in the Reformed camp. I have seen it quite a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  49. @Still Reforming

    How abominable! Unfortunately, your experience is just one more example of what I am calling Jericho Road Christianity. Your “church” joined the priest and Levite in rushing past the place where you, as it were, lay destitute, pummeled, bloodied and at death’s door. Except that in your instance the “church” wasn’t content to simply pass you by. They rushed pell mell after the robbers, in the person of your ex–not to discipline him but to embrace and draw him to themselves. Well, except that it seems they paused long enough to first throw a few stones at you for themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  50. @Hannah,

    There’s not really one on-line church that I attend per se, although there are pastors who put teachings on the web that I listen to. One in particular that I agree with leads Grace Christian Assembly in Smyrna, Tennessee. Those teaching archives are on-line, listed by both books of the Bible and topic. I download the mp3s and listen as I drive or work outside and inside the home.

    Other than that, I listen to Jeff Crippen’s sermons. He’s going through a series now on being wise as serpents, but I particularly found his 21-sermon series on the psychology and mentality of sin to be very encouraging to the people of God tormented by domestic (and other) abuse. That is here:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?sourceOnly=true&currSection=sermonssource&keyword=crc&keyworddesc=&subsetcat=series&subsetitem=Domestic+Violence+and+Abuse

    A word of caution re: the first group cited, however (GCA). It can be perceived as having that edge that people have rubbed up against and found off-putting. There’s so much that I agree with in what’s taught there that I disregard the occasional rub. I have spoken with that pastor on the phone as I was concerned about my divorce in light of Scripture and found him to be sympathetic. In fact, he touched upon the topic of divorce and the Christian recently. That sermon can be found here:

    [audio src="http://www.salvationbygrace.org/Audio/Matthew/64_Nov_22_Talking_About_Divorce_Matthew_19-Vs_1-12.mp3" /]

    Like

  51. @Hannah,

    That last link wasn’t cut and pasted well. Here’s a better link (I hope):

    [audio src="http://www.salvationbygrace.org/Audio/Matthew/64_Nov_22_Talking_About_Divorce_Matthew_19-Vs_1-12.mp3" /]

    Like

  52. @Hannah,

    Grrrr… That didn’t work either, though I deleted the extemporaneous gobblety-gook before posting that link again. smacks self on head

    Ah well, I suspect you can figure it out. 🙂

    Like

  53. Gary W said,

    Lifewithporpoise suspects that “the REAL reason why ‘Pastors’ can’t allow ‘their people’ to resign into thin air” is because they (the “pastors”) are dependent on “their people” for financial support. Well, though the blog article is suspiciously devoid of comments, they are careful to regale us with this information and “opportunity”:

    “Our work is possible by the generosity of our readers. Give Today,” with “Give Today” constituting a link to–well, I didn’t test the link, but I don’t suppose there is any real need to have done so.

    In that book I was telling everyone about – the “Tired of Trying to Measure Up” book – the author says many churches don’t like wounded people attending church, or admitting to being wounded.

    Because if a lot of people in a church have needs or ask to get them met, nobody can tithe or run the church programs.

    The way the author explains it, this is a very bad thing – churches shame people into shutting up about their pain and problems and want everything to appear positive and great, because (for one reason among a few), if they start addressing people’s ACTUAL needs (and pain), it might detract from raking in more money, or maintenance on a church building.

    Like

  54. Velour said,

    I’ve learned to go away from the crowds, be quiet by myself, and toss out all of the books telling me how to do it. If Jesus saved the thief on the cross without all of this nonsense, He can save you and me & the other folks here too.

    I sometimes intentionally tune out Christian teaching on stuff, depending on what the subject is – but some of these theological debates, I find them depressing at times. They seem to create more turmoil and confusion than they do in clearing up confusion or bringing comfort.

    When I was a kid, my mother emphasized the children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” to me. (My Mom was also big at quoting John 3:16 to me when I was a kid.)

    I find that kid’s song more adequate and comforting even now as an adult than most of the intellectual theological debates and papers I read by Christians in books or on blogs.

    I really think that children’s song boils Christianity down to its true minimum. Which in turn makes me think a lot of Christians make the faith much more complicated than it has to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. @ Still Reforming.

    I am so sorry not only that your husband treated you so horribly but that the people who should have supported you at that time (and after) either ignored you, fed you platitudes, or shamed you.

    I’ve never been married myself, but I have read so many books, blogs, about domestic violence, and testimonies by Christian ladies who had to leave their abusive husbands (who claimed to be Christians), I’ve seen common threads in it all.

    I’ve learned it is sadly typical for churches to side with the Christian husband (who is the abuser) and allow him to stay in the church, but treat the wife (who is victim) like dirt, and either force her to leave, or make the church environment so unfriendly, she quits of her own accord.

    I think it’s an absolute miscarriage of justice that so many church side with the abuser (they also do this with pedophilia cases) and scorn the victim. Churches should be supportive of victims, but they are oddly, and IMO, wrongly obsessed with with extending grace to abusers – to a bizarre degree.

    I get that God is willing to forgive any sinner of any sin, but some churches go so far with this concept, in wanting to play it out in real life, they stomp all over victims to cozy up to abusers, and it makes me so angry.
    (end part 1, I’ll do a part 2)

    Liked by 2 people

  56. (part 2)
    @ Still Reforming said

    I find myself more content around Christians – Arminian and Calvinist alike – on-line who understand what it’s like to be burned from the inside out from people who claim to be Christian and also people who aren’t. I feel burned by my marriage, burned by the legal system, but the most severe burns are from those I thought were my family in Christ. That, above all, I find to be most reprehensible

    And, from your other post:

    It was the attitude of the women that still astonishes me – knowing what they know, and choosing to push the wife (me) away and down.

    I could relate to all of this.

    I’ve not been through anything that severe, in that I’ve never been in an abusive relationship. I was engaged to a guy for a few years who financially exploited me and who was a bit emotionally abusive, but he never hit me or got violent. So I don’t mean to in any way diminish what you’ve been through -I think you’ve been through way worse than I have.

    But I really relate to the feeling of being so utterly let down by other people who you know in real life who are Christians, who you should have been able to count on for comfort or practical assistance, but instead, they ignored you, lectured you, blamed you, or shamed you.

    I don’t want to spend too long on it, because I’ve already posted about it on this blog before, but I really experienced all that sort of thing in the years after my mother passed away.

    Every time I tried reaching out to people, Christian family or people at a church or two I went to, I didn’t get the empathy or encouragement I was in bad need of.
    I was brushed off, or lectured, or shamed for admitting to having pain and grief. I was given lists of things to do, such as go work at a soup kitchen (which I did a few times try but found it dreary).

    And during all that, I have one family in particular who is very verbally abusive, my sister. I’ve had to really limit contact with her.

    So, in addition to all the grief and being let down and hurt by Christian family and church people, I’ve been having to deal with mountains of anger now, too, because of how so many Christians I know in real life have been insensitive clowns.

    I’m trying not to stay angry or get bitter because of all this, but it’s very difficult at times not to give in.

    I’ve not been through anything as severe as what you have, but I sure do relate to feelings of being let down by other Christians, and in a time of great pain and need. And I relate to the hurt, feelings of betrayal, the shock, the astonishment of it all.

    My mother was a Christian, but she was the sort of person who actually helped people. She didn’t brush them off or lecture them.

    That was the example set for me and I tried to live that out when confronted with hurting people who have come to me in years past, so it’s been totally shocking in a very hurtful way to me after she died to realize most other Christians are not like my mom in that regard, not even Christian extended family of mine.

    Then I come on these blogs, and I see these horror stories of abused women, or victims of pedophiles, who tell stories of how their churches treated them like dirt and/or sided with their abuser. It’s sad, sickening, and shocking.

    On the bright side, you do tend to find others online who have been where you are (or in a somewhat similar position) who empathize, who really understand.

    I am so very sorry that the people at your church, who should have been there for you, treated you like an outcast instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. @Daisy,

    Thank you. I only said all that to answer Gary W’s kind pondering re: how I was treated by the church. I get the sense from hanging out at A Cry for Justice and Grace for my Heart blogs that mine is not an uncommon testimony, and therefore I feel quite comfortable being a person of faith in Christ without having to attend a brick-and-mortar anymore.

    I’m learning that evil flourishes in the church, especially when lead by evil people in sheep’s clothing. The church is a safe place for evil. I think that is not a new thing, as evidenced throughout Scripture. The real people of God have fled to the on-line wilderness where the Lord Himself is feeding them. There remain a remnant in church buildings too, I suspect, but more and more of those buildings are only that – sepulchres filled with dead mens’ bones.

    Liked by 4 people

  58. @ Gary W,
    Yeah – it’s abominable, but not necessarily uncommon, I have dusted off my feet from that church and am grateful to be meeting so many of God’s people on-line who have a real heart for the Lord, such as those who host this blog and focus on the protection and care of His people.

    Like

  59. Can I ask a favor from your regulars?. My mom is a non believer who has cancer. She recently fell and fractured her pelvis where she has the bone cancer. She also has stage 4 lung cancer. She is laying and can’t move and none of the experts can do anything for her since she is not a candidate for surgery. I have been witnessing to her 18 yrs and completely closed..wondering if you have any prayer warriors that would want to pray or this Jewish woman. I would really appreciate it. For her heart to be opened . This may not be the place for prayer requests but I know you have some kind folks here. Thanks so much. I am exhausted working full time and dealing with this. I am not in any church or group. I know God is in control and may have allowed this because she is so hardened. She was a very active person and always in control. Now she can’t move, on very high pain meds..breaks my heart..thanks again. I appreciate it.

    Liked by 7 people

  60. Hi Hannah, I’d be happy to pray for your Jewish Mama! So sorry to hear about her cancer. Please give her a hug and a kiss from me in CA.

    Would it be ok to Tweet out a message to my followers?

    Like

  61. Hi Hannah,

    I just tweeted out a brief tweet to my 175 followers to please pray for Hannah’s Jewish mom who is dying from cancer. Got 1 tweet back from Gwen saying “yes”. Other folks may be asleep.

    Love, hugs, prayers, and tenderness….

    Please give your Mama a kiss and a hug from me in CA and from the rest of us. Give yourself a kiss and a hug too, sweetheart. Love you. Praying for you!

    Like

  62. Velour,
    Have you read 9Marks of a Healthy Church? My purpose in attending this discussion group (or not to attend) has become to debunk what is said and to express my disdain over using books that are written by those that would create a prison camp out of the local church.

    When I expressed my opinion over a book used in another discussion group that I did not attend, the moderator brought in a stack of books by various authors. He took each one showed the title and the author and repeatedly asked the group, “do you know anything about this author”. They were all written by people who I did not know. I knew that was done for my benefit or perhaps to keep me quiet. It didn’t work. Another book was being used in the women’s group written by a woman that I have no respect for and did not buy or read the book. That particular book could have been completely Biblical for all I know, but hearing the author’s name and knowing the damage she has done in her books on marriage read by abused women shoved a knife in my heart. They want everyone to think alike and I don’t. One mind and one accord…..No, I will discern for myself.

    I value the opinions that are given here far more than I do those that are drinking the koolaid and especially those who are making the koolaid.

    Liked by 2 people

  63. Hannah

    Praying for your mom…
    That her heart be softened and moldable…
    And that she would have eyes to see and ears to hear…
    Her redeemer and savior…

    And for you…
    That the Lord bestow upon you His Peace…

    Liked by 1 person

  64. @Daisy:

    extending grace to abusers – to a bizarre degree.

    I get that God is willing to forgive any sinner of any sin, but some churches go so far with this concept, in wanting to play it out in real life, they stomp all over victims to cozy up to abusers…

    Maybe it’s because the abusers have the Spectacular JUICY Testimonies?

    Liked by 1 person

  65. @LifeWithPorpoise:

    I suspect that the REAL reason why ‘Pastors’ can’t allow ‘their people’ to resign into thin air:

    The ‘Pastors’ rely on the giving from ‘their people’ to support them sitting in an office on their bum all week long… preparing eloquent speeches to dazzle ‘their people’ during the ‘religious meeting’.

    oh… and paying the rent or mortgages for their meeting places.

    And the Furtick Mansions.

    Liked by 3 people

  66. Have been out of a church which had become increasingly cult-like for two years now.

    Although I don’t question my salvation, I have to admit that I’m not sure what salvation is. All my previous theology caved in when I left.

    I have not been able to rebuild much since.

    Today I read that a bus was stopped by terrorists. The passengers were asked to separate into groups, muslim and christian. The muslims refused. They protected the christians by telling the terrorists to kill them all as a group or let them all go.

    Given that ‘greater love has no man than he lays down his life for his friends’ and that these muslims were clearly operating in that ‘greater love’ – a love which I believed was only possible coming from the ‘born again new heart’ of a believer in Christ, I am having to re-think my ‘christian’ worldview at the most fundamental level. If these muslims were operating in love, they must be of God, because God is Love and he who loves is born of God.

    Do they need the gospel preaching to them?

    Or have they just preached it to me?

    Liked by 3 people

  67. Chrisnr… Every word of your post has been on my mind lately although I have not openly discussed it for fear of being branded apostate, liberal or unsaved.

    I spent the past 18 months asking myself, “what is the gospel?” And “what does the word saved and salvation mean?”.

    When I read Acts 17 I clearly see what Paul taught as his message. There is a lot missing from Paul’s message which features in modern day gospel presentations which are more coercive in my view.

    I do know this though…

    Christendom is a mess.
    God is love and very good.
    I cannot save myself (whatever save means).
    I know it is a good thing to do right.
    God is just.
    I am not the Judge.

    When my religious past gets me feeling confused and sad I have a little chat with the Lord and ask him to help me ‘keep things simple’. I remember the above and generally live a very joyful life.

    I share Jesus as the risen Lord and Saviour for sins. I don’t preach church. I don’t threaten hell fire. Paul didn’t so why should I?

    Be encouraged. You are definitely not walking this path alone. Many are feeling as you describe. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  68. @still reforming.

    Not meaning to sound super creepy but I read your posts and just felt like giving you a hug.

    😊

    Like

  69. @lifewithporpoise,
    Awww. Not super creepy. Not even moderately or remotely creepy. I’ll take that (hug) and give one right back along with a doughnut and warm beverage of your choice. 🙂
    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  70. I do know this though…

    Christendom is a mess.
    God is love and very good.
    I cannot save myself (whatever save means).
    I know it is a good thing to do right.
    God is just.
    I am not the Judge.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  71. Feeling compelled to clarify…

    I BELIEVE those things to be true.

    I don’t think saying ‘I know’ is correct.

    If I say ‘I know’ then my view is the only correct one. I believe that everything I currently think is correct is likely not the case so I should be careful is stating what I know to be true.

    I believe Jesus is the sinless Son of God.

    Can I prove it? No.

    Is it right for me to say, ‘I know Jesus is the sinless Son of God!’.

    what about the Muslim who appeals to their book to say ‘Allah is the true God!’.

    Maybe I am going soft in my old age.

    (I’m not really old)

    An Elder?

    Anyway. I feel odd saying thing like I KNOW xyz is true!!!

    When I don’t feel I actually do ‘know’, I actually just believe it.

    Guess that’s the nature of faith eh?

    Sorry for blabbing on.

    I’m a woman (and so forth)

    Like

  72. earlier GaryW said:

    “You ask how to deal with salvation anxiety. I don’t know about you, but for me such questions have relatively little to do with theology and the interpretation of Scripture. Rather, I have had to enter into a process of recognizing all the ways my attitudes toward, and confidence in, my earthly father were being transferred onto Father God. The greatest challenge has been to recognize the many habitual ways of seeing and feeling that that had their etiology in my perceptions, and judgments, of my father–both true and false–that had become so automatic as to be buried below the level of conscious thought.”

    Gary, I can relate to this, as I’ve lived it my whole life. It’s not that I don’t have questions about theology and hermeneutics, but for me God has always been more transcendent, far away, absolute in holiness and majesty, the ultimate authority in the universe, and Someone not to be bothered. Well, except for trying to be reconciled to Him via the Son. Christ is the manifestation of God I can relate to. Even as I write this, I can recognize both truth and error in what I write biblically speaking, yet I have never been able to completely shake my perceptions that are so rooted in the still-complicated relationship I have with my father. I know we have Jesus’ words about His Father to go on, and so I have hope that my own perspective is simply skewed.

    Like

  73. Velour
    I want to thank you that you are thinking of me and my mom.
    Mom is in terrible pain even with very high dose opiates.
    I pray she cries out to Jesus.
    I don’t know how she can continue to have hope apart from our blessed hope.
    It is very sad to see someone suffer but sadder to think she will spend eternity apart from our savior.

    Thank you again and I pray Gods blessings on you and your family for your heart of compassion.

    Liked by 2 people

  74. Hi sweet Hannah,

    Just a note to let you know that as I fell asleep last night, I talked to the Lord about your Mama and prayed for her. I also prayed for her first thing when I awoke. I am sorry the dear lady is in so much pain.

    Hugs to you.

    P.S. I will thank my twitter followers for their prayers.

    Like

  75. My thought is why would the church want people who don’t want to be there.

    I can think of a few reasons:

    1). Pride. Many self-proclaimed leaders want attention and status. There’s a certain peacock pride in announcing at a pastor’s conference “My church? Ah, we have 3,000 on Sundays.” You hit mega, that strokes your ego.

    2). Control. Pastors want to Control. If you lock people people in–or make them think they’re locked in–they’re less likely to leave, you can maintain control of our kingdom. This is very much like the tactic of dictatorial regimes.

    2). Sadism. You keep people against their will so you can administer “loving discipline”, which amounts in effect to slander and abuse, why that appeals to the sadist’s sense of pleasure in a big way. If the malignant narcissist loses a source of supply, what’s he to do? Sad day for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  76. Hannah, I’m sorry I missed the prayer request earlier, I will be praying for you and your mom. I have been where you are.

    Looking back, I wish I had spent more time listening to my mom and less time trying to convince her. I wish I would have accepted her right where she was spiritually and trusted God more to communicate with her heart. I wish I would have asked her if there was anything she wanted to say to me or have me know or understand.

    Sending my prayers up for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  77. Gary wrote earlier:
    “You ask how to deal with salvation anxiety. I don’t know about you, but for me such questions have relatively little to do with theology and the interpretation of Scripture. Rather, I have had to enter into a process of recognizing all the ways my attitudes toward, and confidence in, my earthly father were being transferred onto Father God. The greatest challenge has been to recognize the many habitual ways of seeing and feeling that that had their etiology in my perceptions, and judgments, of my father–both true and false–that had become so automatic as to be buried below the level of conscious thought.”

    I relate to what you wrote so much, Gary. I wonder if those of us who did not have a trustworthy father always struggle with our perception of God to some extent?

    I did a Bible study years ago by Myrna Alexander called “Behold Your God” which really helped me to see how I was reading my father’s character and motives into God, and as she guided through many passages revealing the character of God, I came to see how different He is than my father. It was so liberating!

    Liked by 1 person

  78. I regret that I don’t have time to read all these responses. Even so, allow me to share what helped me eliminate almost all my pain. June Hunt, host of Hope in the Night, told me to hand over my pain to Jesus. She told me to be honest with him about how I felt. Then she said I should hand over my pain and the wish to take revenge on those who hurt me to him. June said I needed to be patient and keep handing over the pain every time I felt it to the Lord. I’ve done this and it really helped heal my wounded soul.

    I also wrote a book called How I Was Razed and that helped me as well. In it, I went into great detail about how the Saviour led me out of a toxic house church and into a wonderful understanding about who God really is. I feel so much better now that I got all of that history out of my system.

    I hope nobody is offended by my post. Though I need to show Canada Pension Plan that I’m promoting my books to earn a living, I know my memoir will benefit wounded believers. If you’d like to hear my testimony, here’s a short video I made.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. Are any of you folks on Linked In? I set up a group called Ex Christian-cult Support Group. You’re all welcome to join. My hope is that I can help others deal with the monstrous injustices perpetrated by false shepherds. It’s a safe space to deal with past hurts. All I ask of members is to be civil and not to flame or blame others.

    I know from experience that we all need a secure place to be able to let our feelings out without fear of condemnation. How sad that many believers don’t understand about cults and abusive churches. That “get over it” reply is just as callous and painful as the abuse people suffer. We’re blamed for suffering the abuse and our accusers can’t relate to our experiences. I know what it’s like to be sincere and having my trust abused. May our Lord use my humble attempt at comforting others to great effect.

    Liked by 1 person

  80. Truth Detector/Shy
    Thank you for your prayers.

    Shy
    I am sure what you did, you did from your heart, but I will take your suggestions and ask her questions instead of preaching to her. I think you may be on to something…when I was first saved, I met with lady from Jews for Jesus. She told me to always ask questions when sharing my faith. Maybe I don’t do that enough. Your comment reminded me of that. My dad was saved in ER two weeks before he died. He suffered for over 10 years being very ill. The night he was saved, I talked to him about the new body he would have. I think that was the one time I spoke with him where he could actually have some hope…aside from everything else I shared over the years. Mom cared for him, and she had little time before she herself got ill. She never wanted to hear about what happened in the ER.

    Like

  81. Hannah,
    Asking questions is good. I would also suggest sharing Hebrew prophetic Scriptures, particularly Isaiah 53 – about Israel’s messiah, the suffering servant. As someone who suffered for His people, she might relate given her own personal suffering now. Just a thought.
    Blessings to you and yours….

    Like

  82. Still reforming
    I read Isaiah 53 to her 18 years ago. She acknowledges it was Jesus. The Jewish people are blinded though. The connection… Today I asked my brother if he even thinks about Christmas and why all these people are worshipping Jesus ..he says ” there are a lot of religions”. They just don’t want to about it, or they bare blinded. I am extremely evangelistic in my profession and speak to many of The Lord.but there is a real struggle with Jewish people.

    Like

  83. Hannah,
    Yes indeed. They are blinded according to the Word (in John 12:40, quoting Isaiah – also Romans 11:25 affirms the hardening of Israel until the full number of Gentile believers comes in).
    I converted to Judaism in my 20s. I have a son who is now 28 and is Jewish. He went through a Messianic Jewish bar-mitzvah, but since that time his dad (an Israeli) has convinced our son that he is “Jewish” and therefore (acc to his dad) cannot follow Jesus or His teachings or read the NT. I know what you’re going through because I’m also living it (although my son is not near death, not that any of us know anyway – anyone could die at any time, of course).
    The only reason I suggested Isaiah 53 is that these things may mean more to her now that she’s closer to meeting her Creator. It won’t hurt to read Scripture to her. When my dad was on his deathbed, I did that for days. (He was a believer already though.)

    Like

  84. What a great thread! I am sorry I did not see it earlier. Probably one of the most healthy ways to discuss this topic.

    Gary wrote:

    “You ask how to deal with salvation anxiety. I don’t know about you, but for me such questions have relatively little to do with theology and the interpretation of Scripture. ”

    Very interesting because for me it was the opposite. It seemed like over the course of a few decades what “church” taught changed from what I learned as a kid. I could not figure it out. I was taught that Jesus did the hard work and it was our “response” to it that counted. It was more about accountability and responsibility than waiting around for God to change us. Being a Christian did not mean staying a “sinner” all the rest of your life and blaming God for it. It was not about “measuring up” but about being accountable to God alone for our “Born Again” behavior. Plenty of room for forgiveness when we screw up but none of this “Christians molest children” hooey we are fed today. Christians do not consistently harm others. They don’t get a free pass card.

    I literally had to reprogram myself and I was not even raised in this rot!~ I decided to read only the Gospels for 3 years over and over until I knew every inch of not only what Jesus said but what He did or did NOT do. Then I remember after that reading Hebrews and how it stressed that Jesus Christ was /is the full representation of God. Oops. Perhaps I need to rethink how I approached the OT, too! Only after that whole focus could I even begin to really understand Paul. Paul will trip us up without the Jesus filter.

    The whole “blaming God” focus is so subtle most of us don’t see it and it can take a long time to change our thinking. It just seems so ingrained we accept it without thinking. It can be seen in every day comments like: God allowed it, There but for the grace of God, go I and other such statements. Perhaps some think it makes God sound powerful .

    But it ends up making Him into a random tyrant who seems to pick and choose who he likes the most and doesn’t. It takes away OUR responsibility to make things better. Then we can easily say to folks, I will pray for you. So if God does not change the bad thing then God is at fault and we are off the hook.

    But God did not design things to work that way. We are reflect Him out into the world by what we do. Which can mean we stand up to evil.

    There IS a condition to salvation. It is called repentance. And it is a “from—to” metamorphosis. And because of that, we simply do not have to put up with toxic “Christians” as if being a Christian also means being a doormat. Jesus died for that “Christian” molester, too, so how come they did not choose to follow Him?

    One of the best talks I have heard on this I will post with a disclaimer because I am hard pressed to recommend books or teachers. I do prefer scholars or linguists when it comes to such things because they “seem” to have less a theological agenda. And if I recommend something it does not mean I agree with them on every single theological position they carry. But this one is one of the best I have heard on this topic of salvation because it focuses on “what next”? Jesus did the work. We can believe it or not. It is done. We choose to believe it. Now what?

    Liked by 1 person

  85. I wonder if we want to harness things instead of letting it go completely. I had a nasty experience with KJVO and another one with “mandate to be big” type theology, and I’ve found that, along with reviewing critical things in theology like the Gospels and the Solas (sorry Catholic friends,’tis where I am), it’s very important to characterize what I find wrong with the things that have hurt me for future reference. Sadly the applications are broader than i’d have guessed. For example, KJVO’s errors are basically to use personal attacks and hasty generalizations in lieu of evidence–and I see that kind of thing all over.

    Like

  86. Hi Lydia00,

    You wrote, “There IS a condition to salvation. It is called repentance”.

    In my experience, there is much confusion over the meaning of the word Repentance, which comes from the word Metanoia in Greek.

    Some people teach that Repentance means a Change of Mind. The context will indicate what that change of mind is about. I believe this is the correct meaning of Metanoia.

    There is no direct connection between Metanoia and Sin, unless the context is clear that sin is the object.

    The modern evangelical use of the word Repent is this:

    “Repent! (Turn from your sins!)”

    Unfortunately that is not the meaning of Metanoia.

    A friend of mine came over last week. She is in the IFB movement and her dad is a ‘Pastor’ of his own little empire.

    She gave me a gospel tract which TBH presented a coercive ‘turn or burn’ wanna go to heaven? ‘Gospel’ presentation than simply stating what God accomplished for sinners at Calvary through Christ.

    The tract said one must ‘repent of sins’ to be saved.

    This phrase does not appear in the Bible.

    It is in many new versions but is not in the Greek.

    My concern is that many believers are telling people that the good news is that unbelievers are sinners who have an opportunity to try and be less sinful by turning from their sins.

    That somehow God is pleased by this ‘turn from your sins’ works righteousness as thought our efforts will help us get to heaven without the sole work of Christ.

    If I must turn from my sins to be saved, how many sins must I turn from? All?

    I have walked with the Lord for over 15 years and I struggle with sins daily.

    It is only Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection that gives me hope.

    I want to stop sinning and I try, yet often fail.

    I don’t know if Josh Duggar is a genuine believer or not. It’s not within my capacity to know.

    If our behaviour determines the sincerity of our trust in Christ then I would imagine many a White washed tomb might make the cut.

    But Christ says no.

    I struggle to understand how believers can commit sexual sin as grievous as JD’s.

    Then I remember my own failings in that respect and know that I’m not that clean myself.

    Thank God for his unspeakable gift.

    Like

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