An Abuse Survivor’s Response to Pastor Phil Johnson’s Insensitive Tweet on Domestic Violence

Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, Sex Abuse, Domestic Violence, Twitter


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Blog reader, Christina, left an important comment on yesterday’s post regarding an insensitive and callous tweet Pastor Phil Johnson sent out regarding domestic violence. His tweet created quite an uproar on Twitter. Because Christina’s comment is addressed to Phil Johnson, I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle. It is excellent. Thank you, Christina for sharing.  ~Julie Anne


Response to Phil Johnson

Dear Phil. I guess you are a teacher, not a pastor, maybe that accounts for your lack of compassion. Perhaps we expect too much of you since you work and speak for John MacArthur, and so many people hold you in high esteem I used to be one of those, even though I am not a Calvinist, I always respected your teaching. Lately however, I can’t bring myself to listen to you.
I guess you would simply call me a sinful woman, as one that has been wounded by sexual abuse in childhood, and who made bad life choices later in life as a result, even as a Christian. I could easily have been that woman you ridiculed for staying with her abusive boyfriend. I make no excuses for my sinful actions, but at the time, and I’m sure you’d roll your eyes, but I was still a slave to what I’d been taught as a child, and the behaviors I learned in order to survive and fill my hurting heart.

IMG_6807Just because one becomes saved, does not mean they automatically abandon bad habits and relearn good ones. And for those who don’t know Christ, all they know is they need to survive this cruel world somehow, but they don’t have the life skills to make healthy decisions. It’s a very hard mindset to grasp unless you’ve lived it, so I’ll cut you some slack there.

Looking back even now, I shake my head at some of my crazy thought patterns and behavior and I loathe myself for things I did, but I was not right in the head when I did them. I didn’t know better. I was brainwashed and needed to be re-taught how to act, how to love, how to not be selfish, how to not look for love from men who are destructive.
But know this: I’m blessed to have had a gentle shepherd, a Pastor who came into my life when I was a young mother unable to love my babies because I was so messed up on the inside. A gentle shepherd who, although he’d never been called upon to minister to someone like me before, still, had the compassion to learn about abuse in order to help me.

Eventually there was a breakthrough and I was able to understand that God was not like the older men who had used me terribly (a common misconception by those who suffer abuse), and with great patience this gentle shepherd led me out of the hell-hole of my own self-condemning, self-loathing mindset.

That my children are now healthy adults walking with the Lord and I love them like crazy, and my marriage has lasted 30 years and is healthy, is a testament to the Lord’s work through this patient Pastor.
Phil, what you appear to lack is compassion and the desire to understand, rather than be understood. I don’t know why I’ve just spilled my heart so open like this, when I can mentally imagine you at your computer rolling your eyes at me, and not caring the least bit. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I fear I’m right.

You may be a great teacher in Calvinistic circles, but you do not act like a shepherd. Had you or someone like you been my Pastor those years ago when I needed help, I’m afraid I’d still be messed up, and so would my children, and my husband wouldn’t even be in the picture.

Snark and sarcasm don’t help the hurting. And, I’ve noticed time and again, when victims try to explain that some of your comments on social media are hurtful your attitude says you simply don’t care, and that’s sad. You push away a lot of wounded sheep that way.

Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep. That means more than just being a great expositor. Maybe I’ve just wasted my time writing all of this out, I only hope it causes you to pause and think. Why not draw the wounded to Christ, rather than push them away?

I Corinthians 13:1-2 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

37 comments on “An Abuse Survivor’s Response to Pastor Phil Johnson’s Insensitive Tweet on Domestic Violence

  1. “Snark and sarcasm don’t help the hurting. And, I’ve noticed time and again, when victims try to explain that some of your comments on social media are hurtful your attitude says you simply don’t care, and that’s sad. You push away a lot of wounded sheep that way.”

    Exactly. There were many real helpful ways to make the statement he said he was trying to say. I mean, even the bible says Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

    They seem to talk about Paul or Jesus rebuking sinners, which seemed to only be directed at those who were the religious leaders. Especially in the case of Jesus. This is that rebel without a clue syndrome standing up against political correctness. Standing firm for the faith etc. What it comes off as is just being rude.

    It was quite simple he could have just rephrased the tweet to still make his point and be pastoral in the same 140 characters. Maybe he would have touched someone else. I too do not understand why someone would dare be involved with some people. But I don’t walk in their shoes. I don’t know all aspects of it. Besides Pastor Johnson has been publically rebuking people for many decades as has others from GTY. It’s like a cottage industry.

    If one runs an international ministry and claims to be an authority on scripture, Biology, Geology, physics, cosmology, history, counseling, government, theology, etc. one should be able to take a bit of criticism.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very touching, Christina. It resonated with me. I have not experienced the horror of sexual abuse, but your article resonated with me because I did suffer verbal abuse and neglect from my aunt/caretaker, and I later exhibited many of the same symptoms you mentioned. Thank you for baring your soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Christina, for carefully explaining why the tweet was so inappropriate and heartless. You are the voice and heart for many, many women. I am one of them.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Christina, thanks for taking the time and effort to lay out your experiences and open your heart to Phil. Like you, I see nothing pastoral in his tweet, and frankly cannot see any pastor I know personally (and I know tons) ever saying something like he did.

    I hope he soon learns what being pastoral really means. As you said, “Feed my sheep” is more than expository preaching. It’s exercising tender care as that one pastor cared for you when you were a young mother.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t know why I’ve just spilled my heart so open like this, when I can mentally imagine you at your computer rolling your eyes at me, and not caring the least bit.

    Even if it doesn’t get through to Phil, it may get through to someone else. Some woman who feels beaten down or someone who has been sharp when they could have been kind…This is a good lesson for all. Everyone can learn more from hearing anothers story.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m so glad she wrote this. When I read his tweet, I felt anger and frustration but didn’t feel like I had the words to respond. She had the words. And I think the main point isn’t whether he hears or doesn’t hear—the words need to be said. Someone is hearing, and someone is seeing the situation clearer because of these words. Thank you.

    John MacArthur affected my life for the better in the early 1990s. Just like with some others in his good old boys’ club, it has been heartbreaking to me to see the kingdom-of-man direction he appears to have gone. There’s an ever-increasing division between church members who are paid to “lead” and the rest of us, oh yes, the ones they’re supposed to be leading. Protect the ones at the top who earn their salary this way, and mock, belittle, disbelieve, and attack the ones at the bottom who after all only pay the salary. Just how a good shepherd works.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. When I read his tweet, I felt anger and frustration but didn’t feel like I had the words to respond.

    I think if he had left off ‘that poor girl’ it wouldn’t have read SO mean. That part was sarcastic and mean and this girl was PREGNANT. I can’t get over that. No concern at all for her or the child. Disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tim wrote: ” I see nothing pastoral in his tweet,”
    Frankly, I see nothing Christian in his tweet. He’s nothing more than a self-serving, cold hearted man who criticizes and mocks the abused to draw attention to himself.

    Go Christina!!! So glad you found a real follower of Jesus to help you ….. and your family.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Christina,

    Thank-You for taking the time to write that, as one who still struggles with self loathing, you have given me food for thought. Truly beautiful words.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Blessings to you, Christina. Your words are filled with grace and kindness. Those who have ears to hear will hearken to what you have said, and thoughtfully consider how they address and speak about victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this, Christine, and in telling Phil Johnson what he needs to hear.

    Dear Phil. I guess you are a teacher, not a pastor, maybe that accounts for your lack of compassion.

    I’m not sure that Johnson even qualifies that much as a teacher. “Expositor”, as you said at the end of your comment, probably fits better.

    It’s like he’s the Calvinista version of Prof. Henry Higgins from “My Fair Lady”. He spends days and days lecturing and training Eliza, perplexed that she just doesn’t “get it”. Of course, the problem isn’t with Eliza, it’s with him. Higgins is a fine lecturer, but a lousy teacher — he’s the one that doesn’t “get it”.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. As painful as I’m sure that was for Christina to write, I am also sure that just putting it out there was validating for her and so many others negatively impacted by that pastor’s toxic words, whether abuse victims or not.

    If the man can’t see the truth – and the real-life pain – in the words Christina so powerfully shared, then I fear he is the one who is truly lost.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you so much for all your kind words. It’s hard to bare one’s soul when you fear the one you’re writing to won’t receive it in a good way. Let’s all pray for Phil, that the Lord softens his heart.
    I think many Pastors don’t really understand that to an abused person who is trying to understand who God is – and I already described the tendency is to ascribe the characteristics of men who have/had power over us, onto God – many look at him and assume since he’s a Pastor and speaks for God, therefore his attitude is also God’s attitude toward us. An attitude of scorn, impatience, condemnation – and dare I say, hatred toward us for acting in sin and not being able to “get it together”.

    If you are one of the wounded, I’m here to tell you that God is nothing like that. Don’t be discouraged when a Pastor or Preacher or some Christian media personality acts this way toward you. They are not speaking for God, or demonstrating God’s attitude toward you.

    God is a loving, gentle Shepherd. Yes, he says you’re a sinner in need of a Savior, that’s the human condition we all face. Don’t let that put you off! Open your Bibles and see how Jesus interacted with the lowly, the downtrodden, and the women and children. He spoke truth in love. Find yourself a Shepherd who has compassion and will help you even though you many be a terrible parent, a terrible spouse, perhaps you yourself, are even abusive toward your children because you were abused. The poison runs deep, and a good Shepherd knows it needs to be dealt with all the way back at the source, when and where you learned those behaviors and wrong ways of thinking which causes you to act out sinfully now. Then you can apply the medicine of healing, and only then, can you really change your behavior. I’m here to tell you it can be done, you can be free, and God really does love His wounded lambs – after all, He is the Wounded Healer. ❤ Love you all.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I would like to know whether patriarchy as promoted in The Transformed Wife (scholars like William Luck who believe in patriarchy wouldn’t consider this true patriarchy) increases dependent personality disorder in the woman. I have done some futile looking for answers on this.

    Like

  15. Irene – In my next post I’ll be talking about how Lori promotes complementarity without actually using the word. Basically, she believes that that are God ordained gender roles. Men work and lead, women submit and stay home.

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  16. Christina,

    I am a done. I hope you understand that term, done with church, pastors, not JESUS. That said, I might rethink my decision if you were preaching from a pulpit. I have shared your words with some fellow strugglers via e mail & you have blessed theirs & my wounded heart.

    Liked by 6 people

  17. There’s an ever-increasing division between church members who are paid to “lead” and the rest of us, oh yes, the ones they’re supposed to be leading. Protect the ones at the top who earn their salary this way, and mock, belittle, disbelieve, and attack the ones at the bottom who after all only pay the salary. Just how a good shepherd works.
    (Quoted from above )

    Unfortunately, this very brilliant analysis of the present day church is accurate more often than not in churches coast to coast. I used to think it was just me and my personal experience. Then I thought it was just my denomination. Once I switched denominations 4 times in 15 years I thought it was just the local DC area. Then the internet exploded that fantasy and I have heard many, many stories worse than mine.

    Rapes covered up, suicides, theft from church members, extortion and blackmail, incest, child molestation, christian wives spanked / abused under false teaching by supposedly “born again” husbands, and mean spirited greed driven leaders. Often you hear very sanctimonious preachers declaring how we are very definitely in the last days with the Lord’s return imminent because of the gay lifestyle going mainstream or political corruption being so rampant. Well I have come to see that the church needs to only look in the mirror, it’s the sign.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. gm370 thank you so much for telling me that. My prayer for you is that God would lead you to a Shepherd – if not a Pastor, then a counsellor, or even an older mentor who has been through it – to help you do the hard work of healing. My pastor eventually put me on to a Christian woman counsellor who went through the book “The Wounded Heart” by Dan Allender. I don’t know if it’s still available, but it was a springboard to my ongoing recovery. And it is hard work. It’s surgery. I liken it to allowing yourself to take a good hard whack to the head so that you suffer enough brain damage that you are able to re-learn the stuff that healthy people learn at childhood – how to love freely, how to receive love, how to know the difference between the good kind and the bad kind. We literally need re-parenting. And, it’s not a short process or a painless one. It also involves repentance and turning from our toxic behavior (sin), but first the toxins need to be pulled out and we need to be healed. it’s so worth it in the end, and you’d come through it walking so close to the Lord it’s like you’re in his shirt pocket right above His heart. I wish that for you, and I pray you get it. In the meantime, I’m always available through Julie-Anne’s blog to encourage you, if I can. Hugs, sweetie. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m reposting my Wartburg Watch comment in case Phil is reading.
    One more response to Phil Johnson, from William Law in his Humble, Earnest, and Affectinate Address to the Clergy:
    ‘For no Blessedness, either of Truth or Life, can be found either in Men or Angels, but where the Spirit and Life of God is essentially born within them. And all Men or Churches, not placing all in the Life, Light, and Guidance of the Holy Spirit of Christ, but pretending to act in the Name, and for the Glory of God, from Opinions which their Logic and Learning have collected from Scripture Words, or from what a Calvin, an Arminius, a Socinus, or some smaller Name, has told them to be right or wrong, all such, are but where the Apostles were, when “by the Way there was a Strife among them who should be the greatest.” And how much soever they may say, and boast of their great Zeal for Truth, and only the Glory of God, yet their own open notorious Behavior towards one another, is proof enough, that the great Strife amongst them is, which shall be the greatest Sect, or have the largest number of Followers. A Strife, from the same Root, and just as useful to Christianity, as that of the Carnal Apostles, who should be the greatest.’

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I too found remarkable insight and healing using “The Wounded Heart”. It is sad to tell that because of the adult abuse I suffered from my ex N , I journeyed back through the section on shame two more times over the next 10 yrs. Definitely, his material is right on.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. The book, “Hurt People Hurt People” by Sandra D. Wilson was also very helpful and healing to me at that time. Check it out too.

    Like

  22. My ex-pastors/elders were an incompetent, dangerous bunch who had degrees from pastor John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary and The Master’s College in California.

    I was so alarmed at their failure to properly counsel people and their failure to grasp serious problems, and refer to proper help outside of church, that I looked up the required classes at Masters. Zero classes on all of the ‘big topics’ that Christians face: substance abuse, mental illness, child abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence…to name just a few.

    I have even contacted Master’s and asked them to comment on why they are giving mandatory training in these tough subjects, by expert professionals, and just expecting their graduates to ‘wing it’. No response from Master’s….ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Though her audience is fairly small, Christina, by her comment, has doubtless ministered more healing than Phil Johnson will manage in his lifetime.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Christina,

    Thank-you.You are lovely. I love The Wounded Heart. In truth, I threw it at the wall several times because it disrupted me, which was good I needed to be disrupted when I read it years ago, also spent time in groups working through the workbook. I appreciate your kind words & prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Oh yes, it disrupts, all right! Can you do it with a group? That’s how I did it, with the Christian counseller leading it, with myself and two other young moms like me. We supported each other through the hard stuff. That can really make all the difference.

    Thank you all for your kind words. It makes coming through all of that, worth it if I can bless someone else by my experience and the Lord’s amazing goodness through it all.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I think if he had left off ‘that poor girl’ it wouldn’t have read SO mean. That part was sarcastic and mean and this girl was PREGNANT. I can’t get over that. No concern at all for her or the child.

    I’ve not had chance to read much more than the notorious tweet and some of the responses, including one from Johnson himself. Did Johnson know she was pregnant? Is making no comment on what she may have suffered the same thing as not caring about it, let alone condoning it?

    If Johnson made no comment on the suffering in this particular case, though he obviously abhors abuse when it occurs, how can someone reply to his tweet ” … you feel justified in condemning an abuse victim based on one article”. How can no comment equal condemnation?

    Does it really matter what Phil Johnson thinks? Who cares? !!

    I really can’t blame him for not listening to the so-called survivor blog community going by his response to the criticism made of him from that quarter. Perhaps he shouldn’t have commented in the first place, not being directly involved, but then that applies to his critics too.

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  27. One way some of us interpret what is going on in modern Churchianity, is to view the various players in metaphorical groups of multitudes, remnant and the serpents(and scorpions). In other words, the current situation is a continuation, ie a repeat, of what was happening in the gospels, with the various “players” in the drama.

    The remnant has a ministry of compassion, care and love for the multitudes: those masses in “the system” (in Christianity) who are hurt, confused and abused by the serpents. The remnant also call out and rebuke the serpents to their face. The serpents are enraged at the audacity and insubordination of the remnant, and they simply do not care about the suffering of the multitudes that they wish to abuse and lord over (all while pretending to be so holy).

    The remnant does great work ministering care and help to the suffering multitudes, showing them the true love of Christ. Yet any “witnessing” the remnant or the multitudes do that is directed to the snakes/scorpions falls on deaf ears. Snakes do not care, they generally (with a few exceptions, for example Nicodemus) are not moved to repentance.

    It is not wasted energy though, ALL loving, caring ministry to the abused & suffering multitudes, and ALL righteous truthful rebuking of and witnessing to (appeals to) the snakes, are the works of God.

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  28. It matters what Phil thinks because of his position in the Christian (well, Calvinist, anyway) community. He’s idolized by so many, and held up as a great teacher, second only to John MacArthur in the opinions of many. He has a Twitter following of 22.4 THOUSAND. So you had better believe, what he says matters, because of the multitudes that hang on his every word and attitude. He has tremendous influence. What he’s taught by his original tweet and all the ones after that, is that 1) It’s okay to use snark and sarcasm when discussing things you deem beneath you. 2) Ridiculing a victim of domestic violence is fine. 3) You don’t have to listen when the “survivor community” objects. 4) You don’t have to attempt to understand why they are objecting 5) You don’t have to answer to thoughtful blog posts such as that by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has treated victims of domestic violence, who attempted to inject some context for Phil to understand. http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/03/31/a-response-to-phil-johnson-by-dr-rich-poupard-an-oral-and-maxillofacial-surgeon/ 6) You don’t have to say you’re sorry. 7) You can happily push the Lord’s wounded away and not feel guilty, rather than compassionately try to draw them to the God they feel has abandoned them over and over and over again.
    Need any more reasons why Phil’s public opinion matters, because I could go on.
    Oh and ps. Who cares? I care. As one of the wounded, I find his lack of Christian empathy hurtful. And I hurt for all those who have read his tweet, and, as one lady said in the comments above, have decided they are “DONE” with church because no one in Christian leadership appears to care.

    Liked by 6 people

  29. KAS,

    If Johnson made no comment on the suffering in this particular case, though he obviously abhors abuse when it occurs…

    He “obviously abhors abuse”? Then why does he continue to prop up the likes of C.J. Mahaney, and support giving him a podium under the spotlights? Mahaney stands accused of egregious negligence and callous indifference to sexual violence towards children. If Johnson finds abuse so abhorrent, then why is he in favour of a man like that crying to a packed stadium about how much he’s suffered as a pastor?

    Does it really matter what Phil Johnson thinks? Who cares?

    It matters because Johnson is close to John MacArthur, and because both of these men have gone out of their way to become famous, big names in the evangelical world. MacArthur has even been on Larry King’s show, and founded his own college to propagate whatever he believes.

    And we care because, if Johnson’s attitude towards the abused and oppressed is representative of what MacArthur teaches, then that same cancer could very easily spread to a lot of churches.

    Velour has often written about her experiences at a church run by a man who’s devotee of MacArthur’s, and a graduate of The Masters University. According to her, that man and his elders either don’t care at all about abuse, or are utterly ignorant regarding what it is or how to deal with it. Phil Johnson seems very much cut from the same cloth.

    Liked by 5 people

  30. It matters because Johnson is close to John MacArthur, and because both of these men have gone out of their way to become famous, big names in the evangelical world. MacArthur has even been on Larry King’s show, and founded his own college to propagate whatever he believes.

    MacArthur’s colleges are growing, in fact, he’s got a new Master’s Seminary opening up near me in Spokane. Lord, have mercy.

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