Former Florida Megachurch Pastor Bob Coy Allegedly Sexually Abused 4-yr-old Child

Bob Coy, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, Pedophile, Sex Abuse


Miami New Times investigative reporter, Tim Elfrink, did a stellar job investigating the shocking story of fallen Calvary Chapel megachurch pastor, Bob Coy.

Some long-time readers may remember I posted about Bob Coy’s moral failure in a blog post dated April 8, 2014:

You may have heard of the recent scandal by Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale Pastor Bob Coy.  The church elders called a special church meeting on Sunday where it was announced:

“On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985.” (Source)

58-yr old Bob Coy with his wife founded Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale nearly 30 years ago. The church reportedly has over 20,000 attendees and a staff of over 1,000 at 10 different campuses.

Michael Newnham at Phoenix Preacher blog reported:

We have confirmed  that Coy has admitted to at least two affairs in the past year alone and has had a long standing “problem with pornography”.

Alex Grenier, who used to run the very popular blog, Calvary Chapel Abuse reported about Bob Coy on his blog in the following quote. It’s interesting to note that he mentions “hurt kids” in his note, never knowing the shocking allegations that would come to light a few years later:

Coy will suffer loss for his sin. He was a big boy and took risks and made the choices he made and now it’s time to pay the piper. Many don’t get caught in Calvary Chapel and they get away with their sin for many years. . . . I have more sympathy for a “moral” issue like Coy’s appears to be than I do for someone who hurts kids…but regardless, we’re all sinners and we all need Jesus. None of us get “transformed” and none of us can meet the standard…even after we’re supposedly saved.

That is the great myth of Calvary Chapel’s brand of Christianity …there is no such thing as the “transformation” gospel. We’re all still sinners after we’re saved and we’re all just as capable of sinning as we were before we were saved…which is why we NEED ACCOUNTABILITY measures in place to protect kids and to have open finances to keep things on the up-and-up with the Jesus money. (Bob Coy to resign as senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale: Update 4/6/14)

In the Miami New Times article, we read shocking allegations. I am issuing a trigger warning.

Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries


Tim Elfrink reports:

The call came from California. A woman told Coral Springs Police she had recently learned something terrible: A South Florida man had molested her daughter for years. It began when the girl was just 4 years old.

An officer noted the information and called the victim, who was then a teenager. She confirmed the story in stomach-churning detail.

The man had forced her to perform oral sex, she said. He would regularly “finger and fondle her” genitals, make her touch his penis, and “dirty talk” to her. The abuse lasted until she was a teenager, she told the cop. She’d never even told her family about the crimes.

By the end of that harrowing call on August 20, 2015, police knew the accused predator was no ordinary suspect. His name was Bob Coy, and until the previous year, he’d been the most famous Evangelical pastor in Florida.

Please read Elfrink’s excellent article for more history on Bob Coy.

My heart goes out to this survivor who bravely spoke up. I wonder how many more there are – – predators don’t usually stop at one victim.

Of course another repercussion of this is how this has affected his former congregants. When a person you respect and trust to be your spiritual shepherd falls like this, it can rock someone’s faith and make them question everything: “If Bob Coy was a fraud, is the God he represented also a fraud?”  What about all of those “good” sermons? How could he be hearing the voice of God if his life was in chronic sin – sin that would make him unqualified to be a pastor.

This stuff is so difficult to write about. There are no winners here.



Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Repeat Five Times: Yoga Pants Are Not Modest!

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Modesty


The only thing anyone should be lusting over is being able to do that fantastic yoga pose. Oh, how I would love to be that flexible!

-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10   Chapter 11  Chapter 12

Chapter 13 – How are You Dressing?

We have finally come to the chapter in which women are temptresses in their yoga pants and swimsuits. Yes, I admit to having read some of this chapter whilst wearing tight-fitting exercise pants. In order to not offend some readers, I shall wear loose-fitted pajama pants while writing this out.

Let’s start with the very first paragraph:

As believers in Jesus Christ who want to please Him in every area of our life, modest should be something we take a deep interest in since the Lord has called us to be modest. Anything that is important to him should be important to us as well.

Where does Jesus talk about modesty – specifically, the type of modesty that Lori addresses with how women should dress? Matthew 5:28 does not count because Jesus addresses men specifically and how they look at women. So, that leaves us nowhere in the Bible where Jesus addresses how women should dress. (Although, Lori uses Matthew 5:28 later in the book as an argument for why women should dress modestly so as to not tempt men.)

Lori then attempts an argument about how women need to intentionally dress differently than men because of Deuteronomy 22:5.  With the same breath she states that we are not bound to live under Mosaic law. I think it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between men and women who wear jeans, t-shirts, or shorts. However, Lori tells us that she purposely does not dress to look like Ken to follow the intent of the verse, then jumps right into 1 Timothy 2:9:

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,

Hold on a minute! Lori doesn’t even take into account the fact that all of 1 Timothy, Chapter 2 focuses on worship. There are instructions for men as well as women in this chapter. The way that Lori addresses dressing modestly is based solely on one verse that is taken out of context. She states:

Most important to this discussion is 1 Timothy 2:9, which teaches that we are to adorn ourselves in “modesty,” which I believe [emphasis added] means we’re not to dress in an alluring and seductive manner. In other words, we should avoid sheer and clingy material, plunging necklines, short shorts, skimpy dresses, and so forth. We shouldn’t wear low-cut tops or dresses that expose half our breasts or offer guys a clear view. Modesty is an act of obedience to the Lord and an act of kindness to men by helping them to reign in their natural impulse to take long looks – which can lead to inappropriate thoughts.

Lori takes out of 1 Timothy 2:9 “women dress modestly,” and turns it into what she thinks it means. Men’s lack of power over their sexual urges, and women’s inability to stop men from having sexual urges, is one of the more frustrating arguments that modesty culture perpetuates. How do men manage to walk around all day without having sex with any or every women he sees? Also, what one man views as modest, another man views as a “stumbling block.” How is a woman supposed to keep up with the rules?

Lori then targets the dreaded yoga pants and talks about how Ken asked her not to wear leggings in the 80’s; therefore, she has no problem wearing yoga pants that “shape the derrière in ways that are like a push-bra for your bottom.” She is very specific about this.

Swimsuits then become the dreaded target. Bikinis are not modest! Because Lori lives in Southern California, she has lots of thoughts about swimsuits, as this is a common topic on her blogs. I know everyone has their own views of swimsuits, and I do understand why people might feel uncomfortable seeing a woman in a bikini, but for goodness sake! You can still look a woman in the eye and treat her like a human being.  Here is my thought….get over it!

I have spent many years at the pool with my kids either in swim lessons, swim team, water polo, or water aerobic classes for myself. I have seen all types of swim suits and all shapes and sizes of people. Allow me to let you in on a little secret….I have found the pool to be one of the least judgmental places for people who wear swimsuits (unless you’re a part of the modesty police like Lori).

For example, women’s competitive swimsuits are not designed to stay put over the bottom. During competition, or even casual swimming, suits move because people move. At the last water polo tournament many of the girls were walking around with their suits riding up their butts. I talked to my 16-year-old son about this. I asked him what the boys think about girls walking around in their swimsuits or seeing their butt cheeks exposed. He stated that they don’t really notice. They see each other every day at practice and they don’t view the girls in a sexual way.  It’s simply how it is. Speaking of boys, let’s talk about boy’s competitive swimsuits. If they’re not wearing jammers, they’re wearing briefs, basically walking around in super short, very tight, underwear. It’s simply how it is.

Allow me to finish with another quote from Lori:

Whenever I teach on this touchy subject (women wearing a bikini), I’ve heard some women retort, “Some men will lust if a woman is wearing a garbage bag. It’s their problem!”

Regardless, you are responsible to do everything in your power to not cause men to lust. The majority of men will not lust after women wearing garbage bags. They lust when a woman shows a lot of flesh or tightly fitted clothes.

When God directed us to dress modestly, He did that not only for our protection but for the men around us.

Here’s the thing….men will lust over women no matter what they are wearing. The problem isn’t with how women dress, the problem is with lust. Women could be covered head to toe, and men will lust. The onus of the problem of lust is always placed on the woman, and there is rarely talk about how men should view women as human beings created by God.

“Modesty” is also a problem. Women are to honor men, but there is no specific definition on how to do that given that individual men find different things attractive. Ken prefers Lori to wear skirts to her knees, but another man might find her knees sexy and she would be leading him to lust after her. Women are always reminded how to dress, but men are not reminded how to view women. Women are shamed that men can see their boobs, but they can see the shape of their boobs in anything they wear. Women have boobs! There is no getting around that!

Lori would probably have a fit knowing that I work (yes, first issue is that she would have a problem with the fact that I work) at a very prominent athletic company. We are all encouraged to wear products by this company, which means that women (and men) often come to work in tight-fitting athletic pants. We once even had on our screen saver a woman wearing one of our new line athletic bras. Guess what? I never heard any men mention that they had a problem with this. (She looked fantastic, by the way!) I work at an athletic company that makes athletic clothing. It’s simply how it is.

Lori ends this chapter with an old blog post about how she and Ken once took the grandchildren to the beach for the day. Ken decided they had to pack up and leave because “the view had changed.” Apparently, close by was a woman laying on a towel wearing a thong and her butt cheeks were showing. Instead of carrying on with their day and ignoring “the view,” they felt like this woman ruined their day, because:

Turning men on has to be an ego thing for them. They like showing off their sexy bodies because they feel pride knowing men are looking at them.

The half-nude women on the beach showed no discretion. I’m going to go strong here and say they were practically naked and unashamed when they were only supposed to show their bodies like this to their husbands.

Yes, men are commanded to flee sexual immorality, and this is why Ken informed us that we were taking off from the beach that day. It’s too bad that this young woman didn’t know she was causing great disappointment to our grandchildren when we had to pack up and leave due to her indiscretion.

Yes, I’m sure this woman wasn’t thinking of Ken and Lori when she went the beach on that fateful day. I’m sure she was simply thinking about enjoying a day on the beach. Why would she even think that she had that much power to destroy a child’s fun-filled day on the beach while she took a nap? I’m sure the children didn’t even notice until Ken and Lori decided to make such a fuss.

Women, wear what you want to wear. Wear what is appropriate for work or for play. If you’re not breaking the law, then you’re good. It’s simply how it should be.


Photo courtesy of Photopin.

Single (Divorced) Woman Asks About Her Friendship with a Married Man from Church

Single Christians, Divorced Christians, Cross-Gender Relationships, Church Response


A woman found SSB and sent me an e-mail about her situation. The e-mail is from a single/divorced woman and the friendship she has with the praise and worship leader at her church. She, too, is on the praise and worship team. This kind of situation seems to get people nervous. Evidently, single women should not have a friendship with a married man.

Here is her e-mail (which she gave me permission to post):



Dear Julie Anne,

I found your older blog article as I was doing a search for info on cross-gender friendships in church. Unfortunately I may be leaving my church home soon and I wanted to see if anyone else has been in my shoes. I’m a musician on my church praise team and our male leader’s wife wants to have a chat with me. Her husband has been a good friend and sounding board, but I realize now that is a big no-no. I am almost 12 years older than him and have no interest in him other than an encouraging friend, but I sense some boundary has been crossed that I wasn’t aware of in this situation.

I am single due to divorcing an abusive, unfaithful Christian husband. As soon as I became single, I noticed a subtle change in how I was treated by other women in the church. My pastor’s wife has been one of the few that treats me like a friend and not a threat. She made an effort to get to know me. Our worship leader’s wife has been hot and cold with me which leaves me unsure. I’m not sure I want to open myself up to this chat she’s requested, she said she’s been praying for me but the tension was pretty evident.

I have no one to talk to about this situation so I hope you don’t mind that I’ve written you. I found your new site and am amazed at how much you’ve written rings true. Thanks for sharing your experience, it’s helped me a lot.




I don’t see this restriction in Scripture, but it sure seems to be a prevalent idea. In full disclosure, I have been on praise and worship teams during much of my adult life. I currently am on a praise and worship team and do maintain friendships with both married and divorced men. (The only single guys on the team are young enough to be my kids, and we haven’t spoken at any level of depth.)

Usually any discussions we have take place at church or places where we are involved in ministry work. I’m sure I have used some of these men as sounding boards (I love that phrase!) from time to time in the past, and even currently. I don’t have a problem with it, and no man has told me that he has had a problem with it (and no wife has, either).

It bothers me that this kind of stigma exists with single or divorced women. I’m not sure if there is the same stigma with single or divorced men, but in light of Scripture in which Paul said it is better to remain single than married, I find this common response troubling. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject.

  • The most important question: how would you respond to “Karen?”
  • If you are married, do you have relationships with single people of the opposite sex at church?
  • If you are married, do you have relationships with divorced people of the opposite sex at church?
  • Do you have any ideas of how the church can improve on this kind of situation, and create a safe place for those who are single and divorced?


photo credit: Infomastern Sunset silhouette via photopin (license)

Domestic Violence: Know Your Resources

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Resources

purple ribbons

-by Kathi

I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.

This month I have asked the church to become educated about domestic violence, to re-evaluate beliefs that keep victims in abusive relationships, and to move into action to help victims of domestic abuse. Today, I want to focus on resources that the church should be aware of when helping victims of domestic violence.

Local & State

When a victim of domestic abuse comes the church asking for help, the church should have local resources readily available that can provide professional assistance. Here are some ideas to help you put your resource list together:

  • Police Chaplain – Talk to the Chaplain of your local police department to find out how the police are trained to respond to domestic violence calls. The Chaplain may know your local resource centers and shelters for victims.
  • State, County, and City resources – A simple Google search will help you identify resource centers, shelters, and victim compensation laws. Domestic violence resource centers are extremely helpful to victims who are pursuing restraining orders, are looking for counseling, or need other legal assistance.
  • State laws – For a better understanding of how officers cite offenders of domestic violence, read the laws. Petition your representatives when laws that affect victims of domestic violence are in process.
  • City roundtables – Check with your city office to see if they offer a roundtable that focuses on domestic violence. This is a great way to connect and network with local providers and advocates.
  • Shelters – Know the domestic violence shelters in your area. Unfortunately there are not enough shelters available for victims who need to leave their homes. Ask your shelters if your church can help support victims in any way.
  • Talk to Professionals: Identify people within your own congregation who might work with victims of domestic violence and talk to them about what is available in the community.


Knowing local resources is key to helping a victim of domestic violence obtain help. There are national resources that are helpful as well.

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – This is a 24/7 staffed hotline that helps provide counseling to victims of domestic abuse, referrals to local resources, and information to people who are wanting to understand abuse. They also offer printable flyers and palm cards that you can stock in women’s restrooms or at front desks.
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – VAWA was drafted and signed by Congress in 1994. This act helps fund state victim’s compensation funds, domestic violence training, and local and tribal domestic violence resources. Immigrants may also apply for special visas if they have experienced domestic violence.


Here are more ideas about how you can educate yourself and your church members about domestic violence:

  • Domestic violence resource centers may have resource booklets that you can stock at your church. Many offer training to community members. Be open to hosting a training at your church.
  • The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence offers trainings and webinars across the country.
  • Do you have a YWCA in your city? Check to see if they offer training on domestic violence or shelters to victims.
  • Do you have a church library? Stock it with books about domestic violence and encourage members to read about the issue.

If you need help finding domestic violence resources in your area, please let us know by either leaving a comment or sending us an email at We are more than happy to help you start a list of resources that you can keep at your church when victims seek help.

The church can play a powerful role by offering healing and hope to victims of domestic violence. Make sure abusers are aware that the church will not tolerate abuse of any kind. Affirm victims that they are believed, cared for, and loved. Teach teens that abuse of any kind in relationships is not okay. Let the community know that you will defend and support victims of abuse. It is time for the church to stand up against abuse!


Domestic Violence: A Call to the Church for Action

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Action

purple ribbons

-by Kathi

I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2: 14 – 17)

Once the church becomes educated about domestic abuse, it should be compelled to step into action to help victims. Telling a victim that you will pray for her, and not offer any help, does her no good. Below are some ways that the church can actively help a victim of domestic violence.


Pastors, don’t think that domestic violence only happens outside of the church. Domestic violence knows no boundaries and it is best to assume that there may be a victim within your church walls. Start having the conversation now – staying silent about domestic violence does more harm than good. Not only should pastors preach against domestic violence, but educational opportunities should be sought through pre-marital counseling, youth groups, and men’s and women’s groups.

Call out the injustice of oppression of the weak. Call out the sin of violence within the home. Speak of the sin found in power and control. Offer healing to the broken-hearted and offer a voice to the wounded. Pastors, the more you preach about sin of domestic violence, the more you encourage victims to seek help and to heal.

Listen & Support

One of the best ways anyone can help a victim of domestic abuse is to listen. A victim may be hesitant to share about abuse happening in the home for fear of not being believed. Telling a victim that you believe her, and offering her a chance to tell her story, is essential in her ability to make decisions for her safety and for healing.

There are many reasons why victims choose not to leave their abuser. Don’t place judgement on the victim – continue listening. Not all abuse situations are the same. There are many dynamics to abuse and the more you listen, the better you will understand.

Remember that children are also victims of domestic violence, even if they were not the direct recipient of the abuse. Train children’s workers to listen and respond to children’s concerns or fears.


Safety should be the primary concern for a victim and any children involved in domestic violence. A victim’s concerns for safety should be taken seriously. Have someone available in the church who can help with safety planning or provide safe houses. Set aside funds to help victims obtain temporary shelter at a hotel if local resources are not available.

Pastors must be willing to address the abuser’s sin boldly. If abuse is not going to be tolerated in the church, then pastors must be willing to refuse being deceived by manipulative abusers. Churches that support the abuser increase the risk of harm to the victim. Abusers must be held accountable for their actions and victims’ lives must be held in high regard.


Churches must be willing to admit when they are unable to help a victim of abuse, and refer the victim to community outsources. Pastors, please know that community resources understand the value of faith that a victim may hold. In the same way, churches must learn to lean on community resources to help with counseling, advocacy, housing assistance, and financial assistance. Churches that are willing to partner with community resources are extending the love of Christ in a broken world.

Church, you can put your faith into action by actively speaking out against domestic violence, listening and supporting victims, seeking to keep victims safe, and working with community partners. Your stance against domestic violence will help victims to become stronger and save lives.

Domestic Violence: A Call to the Church – Reevaluate Your Beliefs

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Beliefs

purple ribbons

-by Kathi

I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.


The church can be incredibly helpful to victims of domestic violence, or, it can be incredibly damaging to victims. The way in which a church responds to a victim depends upon the beliefs that the church has about domestic violence. This is an open challenge to the church to re-evaluate a few beliefs which may keep victims within abusive relationships.


The Bible never promises that life will be easy. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Suffering can make a person stronger, or cause physical and emotional reactions that may take years for a victim to recover. The church can offer a victim of domestic abuse empathy and compassion. Faith can play an important part of healing for a victim when those within the spiritual community offer support and encouragement.

However, some churches teach that suffering is ordained by God, is a part of God’s will, and insist that Christians need to respond to suffering with joy. One only needs to go to The Gospel Coalition or Desiring God to see titles such as: 4 Reasons God Ordains Suffering for His People,  Don’t Waste Your Suffering, Seven Reasons You Owe Everything to Suffering, or Suffering Exposes Our Sin.

It is important to remember that abuse is about power and control. A victim of abuse experiences suffering involuntarily. Victims do not ask to be beaten, stalked, verbally assaulted, or sexually assaulted. The belief that a victim experiences suffering because it is God’s will makes God out to be cruel. Furthermore, a victim may choose to stay in an abusive relationship because they think that there is no other option or way out.


The church places high value on the marriage relationship – almost to the point of making an idol out of marriage. For some, marriage idolatry is dangerous because divorce will never be never an option for a victim of domestic abuse. The marriage must be saved at all costs. (Lori Alexander is a fine example of this belief.)

When scripture from Ephesians, Corinthians, and Colossians is taught from the pulpit, a pastor may focus more on a wife’s role in the marriage than the husband’s. If a pastor misinterprets scripture and teaches that a wife must submit in all things, he is sending a message that abuse must be endured. This teaching also validates the abuser, and arms him with verses that support his authority in the marriage.

Scripture never provides husbands with power and control over the marriage relationship. God does not condone abuse.

Confession and Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

When an abuser confesses his sin of abuse to a pastor, the pastor may think that he is humble and contrite, and will offer forgiveness. The pastor may then ask the victim to forgive her abuser, and then the matter is taken care of. The pastor with a mindset of forgive and forget does a disservice to the victim. Abuse will never be forgotten. It stays with a person forever.

The problem with “simple forgiveness” is that abusers are highly manipulative. An abuser will say what a pastor wants to hear, but the confession may not be true repentance. After the confession, there may be a pause in the abuse, but it will start up again at some point. However, repentance involves a change in behavior. An abuser must show that he is willing to seek assistance to change his thoughts, actions, and attitudes about power and control. Pastors can play an important role in making sure that abusers stay true to their word that they are willing to seek change.

A pastor must also be open to a victim expressing forgiveness at her own timing. Forgiveness must neither be assumed to aid in healing, nor be forced. A victim’s ability to forgive should not be based upon a pastor’s expectation, but upon her own timing which must be respected.

Role of Secular Resources

The church must recognize when it is not capable of helping a victim and should use community resources when available.

A church that thinks that leadership must investigate all cases of domestic abuse may place additional trauma or harm by the perpetrator on the victim. Pastors must understand that domestic abuse is a crime which must be investigated by proper authorities. If cases of domestic abuse are solely handled within the church, the abuse may never cease.

Unfortunately, there are many churches that refuse to refer victims of abuse to trauma-informed counseling. Churches which focus on a Biblical approach to counseling may add trauma by focusing on the sin of the victim. There is no sin that a victim can commit that justifies abuse. The sin is on the abuser, not the victim. Churches may also refer victims to marriage counseling. It is widely known that marriage counseling is not an appropriate form of counseling for abusive relationships because of the focus on mutual  contribution to the problem.

Churches must be aware of professionally trained resources within the community in which to refer a victim. These may include abuse advocacy, treatment, and intervention resources. Churches need not be afraid of community resources which aid victims, but should find value in partnering with resources for a victim’s best interest.

Church leaders, please take time to reevaluate your beliefs about marriage, gender roles within marriage, suffering, confession and forgiveness, and the use of outside resources. The way you respond to a victim of domestic abuse may mean life or death.



Spiritual Abuse, PTSD, and the Aftermath

Spiritual Abuse, PTSD, Recovery, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Chuck O’Neal


12799416_211264669235735_6070303658308327161_nWhen someone deals with spiritual abuse, it can have lasting consequences. One popular response is making the decision to no longer go an institutional church. I get that.

I’m pretty sure I relayed the story either in a post, or in comments, that one Sunday, my current pastor read from Romans 12, the chapter that my abusive pastor went over and over for nearly two years. Yes, one chapter for 2 years! “Pastor” Chuck O’Neal’s favorite Bible translation was New King James Version (of course, specifically, the John MacArthur Study Bible in NKJV). As soon as my current pastor announced the passage, I could feel myself get tense. I later told him that if he had used the NKJV, I might have high-tailed it out of there, jumping over pews if I had to (I have long legs). Okay, slight exaggeration there, but the reality is, I felt very uncomfortable hearing those words, and I might have left if those feelings continued.

Yes, just simply hearing those words “Romans 12,” created a fight or flight response in me. I knew that my current pastor was not my abusive pastor. It’s been nearly 9 years since we left that “church,” but hearing or seeing something that reminds me of that experience sometimes takes me back to that place. I remember sitting in the pew thinking to myself: this is not Beaverton Grace Bible Church. This is not Chuck O’Neal reading Romans 12; this is my current pastor who has not harmed me, and thankfully, he wasn’t using the NKJV translation.


Bessel van der Kolk M.D. wrote a fantastic book called, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. He is considered an expert on trauma and how it affects the brain and body. I haven’t read the whole book, but have taken notes of excerpts that I’ve found very helpful in understanding the power of trauma and its effects on our bodies.

Here is one quote from the book. The bottom paragraph identifies a bit of what I experienced sitting in the pew (at a reduced level):

The left and right sides of the brain also process the imprints of the past in dramatically different ways.

2 The left brain remembers facts, statistics, and the vocabulary of events. We call on it to explain our experiences and put them in order. The right brain stores memories of sound, touch, smell, and the emotions they evoke. It reacts automatically to voices, facial features, and gestures and places experienced in the past. What it recalls feels like intuitive truth—the way things are. Even as we enumerate a loved one’s virtues to a friend, our feelings may be more deeply stirred by how her face recalls the aunt we loved at age four.

3 Under ordinary circumstances the two sides of the brain work together more or less smoothly, even in people who might be said to favor one side over the other. However, having one side or the other shut down, even temporarily, or having one side cut off entirely (as sometimes happened in early brain surgery) is disabling. Deactivation of the left hemisphere has a direct impact on the capacity to organize experience into logical sequences and to translate our shifting feelings and perceptions into words. (Broca’s area, which blacks out during flashbacks, is on the left side.) Without sequencing we can’t identify cause and effect, grasp the long-term effects of our actions, or create coherent plans for the future. People who are very upset sometimes say they are “losing their minds.” In technical terms they are experiencing the loss of executive functioning.

When something reminds traumatized people of the past, their right brain reacts as if the traumatic event were happening in the present. But because their left brain is not working very well, they may not be aware that they are reexperiencing and reenacting the past—they are just furious, terrified, enraged, ashamed, or frozen.


I did end up staying, and listened to the sermon. After a few moments, I was able to shake off the negativity associated with that particular passage and refocus. But it did take an intentional effort.

What’s interesting, I recovered from PTSD related to a major earthquake I experienced after 2 years of therapy. I can hear or read of earthquakes in the news, see the destruction, but I don’t go back “there” in my mind. It simply does not affect me anymore. But the spiritual abuse still does. Sometimes I do have to talk myself through it, even after 9 years.


Domestic Violence: Education is the Key to Better Church Response

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Education

purple ribbons

-by Kathi

I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.

The first time I was educated about domestic violence was in college as a ministry student 30 years ago. Sadly, I did not learn about the problem in any of my ministry classes. Church growth was the main focus at the time, not pastoral care. I pieced together my own ministry program that wasn’t offered, and included a class titled Violent Encounters in the Family. My eyes and heart were opened from that point on to advocate against abuse in any way possible.

I wrote my master’s thesis on Minister’s Knowledge, Views, and Attitudes Regarding Child Abuse. In 1996, my advisor thought this was unusual as she had never seen anything written about abuse from that perspective. Having been a ministry student, I knew that many pastors were not educated about abuse. My research, though very limited, confirmed that.

Education, I believe, is the first key for churches to effectively respond to domestic violence. The numbers from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence are staggering:

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States is raped during her/his lifetime.

66.2% of female stalking victims reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner.

On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls.

1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.

With numbers like this, it should be easy for church leaders to recognize that they have victims of domestic violence within their congregation. LifeWay Research recently conducted a survey of 1,000 Protestant churches asking how they handle domestic violence situations. Some of the findings include:

37% of Protestant pastors are aware of an adult in their church who experienced domestic or sexual violence in the last 3 years.

Half of Protestant churches (52%) have a specific plan or procedures in place for how to respond if someone shares that they are experiencing domestic violence.

The most common specific resource churches have in place to offer someone
experiencing domestic violence is a referral list with professional counselors trained in domestic violence.

60% would investigate whether domestic violence is really present.

Some of these numbers are encouraging; however, I find the fact that such a high percentage of pastors feel the need to “investigate” concerning. Investigation should be done by the police.

I recognize that there are church leaders who have taken the time to educate themselves and the church community about abuse. I have heard very encouraging stories from victims about how their church community is supporting them. However, we still have leaders, such as John Piper, saying that a woman needs to “endure verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.” The church can do better.

Paige Patterson, once the Southern Baptist Conference leader,  discussed the “proper way for women to receive beatings.” The arrogance and attitude toward women in this 4 minute clip is disgusting. The church can do better.

Women, such as Lori Alexander, say “seek help for physical abuse,” then turn around and say, “the word abuse is overused,” and finally, encourage women to win over their angry husband. Divorce is never an option for an abused wife. The church can do better.

“Pastors” such as Doug Wilson are promoted and quoted by organizations like The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and Desiring God. TGC removed a post that quoted Wilson’s book, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One Woman Man. “A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.” The fact that TGC initially thought this sexually aggressive wording was fine to promote is appalling. The church can do better.

Then, we have Mark Driscoll rising from the ashes. While at Mars Hill, Driscoll wasted no words in disparaging anyone who was alive and breathing. His words about women, if taken seriously, were enough to make men think they must have power and control in relationships. Women were called “penis homes” and were told to provide oral sex to their husbands because it is “biblical.” Men were encouraged to have their wives watch them masturbate so that the act is not seen as a form of homosexuality. The church MUST do better!

This is what the church needs to know:

  • Domestic violence can occur in any relationship.
  • Domestic violence happens in “Godly, Christian” families.
  • Abuse is always about power and control. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, and spiritual abuse, as well as stalking.
  • Abuse crosses age, socio-economic, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and national boundaries.
  • Please take abuse seriously. Always listen to the victim.
  • Abuse can cause physical disabilities, emotional trauma, or death.
  • Abuse can cross generations and last a lifetime.

There are many excellent resources available to learn about domestic violence. Please, church, become educated and be willing to open yourself up to helping victims. Every abuse situation is different, so the more you know means you’ll be better prepared to help someone in need. The following is a sample of excellent resources available:

National Domestic Violence Hotline – This resource offers a 24/7 hotline for victims of domestic violence. There is also a lot of information about domestic violence on their website.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence – “A comprehensive source of information for those wanting to educate themselves and help others on the many issues related to domestic violence.”

A Cry for Justice – Blog dedicated to addressing domestic violence and abuse within the Evangelical church.

No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence, by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark.

CBE International – Offers articles and book reviews about domestic violence.

Tullian Tchividjian and Mark Driscoll are Baaaack

Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, Spiritual abuse, clergy sexual misconduct

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Guest Post: If “Jane” from TMU were to seek “Biblical counseling” #DoYouSeeUs

Biblical Counseling, Nouthetic Counseling, “Jane” #DoYouSeeUs, John MacArthur, The Master’s University

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Response to Pastor Eric Davis’ Article on “Do You See Me?” #DoYouSeeUs

Jane’s story, The Master’s University, rape, Eric Davis, John MacArthur, #DoYouSeeUs





Eric Davis, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY, posted an article at, “Do You See Me?”: A Partial Response, in response to the account of “Jane,” an alleged rape victim whose sexual assault, kidnapping, and drugging was reportedly mishandled by The Master’s University leaders. You can read the horrific story Do You See Me?.

Before we break apart Pastor Davis’ article, I received this text from Jane, and she gave me permission to post it. I thought it was a good clarifying statement about why she posted her story.



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Jane’s Account of Rape, Response of Master’s University to Her Claims, and a Breaking Development Confirming Details #DoYouSeeUs

The Master’s University, The Master’s Seminary, Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, Sexual Assault, Sexual Abuse, Jane’s Story, #DoYouSeeUs


Credit: TMU Facebook page


Introducing the Account of Master’s University Student “Jane” Being Raped

Earlier this week (September 18), blogger Marci Preheim shared the story of Jane (pseudonym), a Master’s University student who was drugged, then raped. The horrific story of what happened and how she was treated afterward is entitled, Do You See Me?  This incident occurred in 2006, 11 years ago.

Of course, this has created quite an uproar in social media, so much so, that statements from Pastor John MacArthur’s church and schools were posted on the Facebook pages of Grace Community Church (GCC), The Master’s University (TMU), and The Master’s Seminary (TMS). John MacArthur is the pastor of Grace Community Church, and founder and president of both The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary.

Here is the statement posted on these Facebook pages: Continue reading

Heath Lambert, Albert Mohler, and SBTS Draw Line in Sand on Christian Counseling and Dr. Eric Johnson

Biblical Counseling, Christian Counseling, Nouthetic Counseling, Heath Lambert, Albert Mohler, Dr. Eric Johnson, SBTS

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Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – The Chapter that Doesn’t Belong

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Dating, Sexual Purity

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A “Systems Approach” and Some Historical Background on Dealing with Abuse and Violence

To deal with “systemic abuse,” we must understand systems, victimization, and what makes individuals and institutions vulnerable.

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Book Review: The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide, by Boz Tchividjian and Shira Berkovits

Key component in a system of resources on child sexual abuse for policy makers, survivors, educators, and advocates.

Guest post by Brad Sargent, with input from Julie Anne Smith.

Cross-posted at futuristguy.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Spiritual Sounding Board was invited to participate in the Litfuse “blog tour” for the recently released Child Safeguarding Policy Guide. They asked us to post a one-paragraph summary of our overall response to this resource book, so that could be used as an excerpt on other sites. Here is what I wrote:

How will our church serve those who’ve suffered the harm of childhood sexual abuse, and seek to prevent it from happening to others? On this difficult but foundational issue of human dignity and care, will we choose conscience and compassion – or corrosion and complacency? The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide and the range of other resources from GRACE equip us with clear definitions, well-organized knowledge, and practical skills to follow a right and righteous path on these global problems of violence and abuse.

Available reviews of the Policy Guide share about its concepts and content from a variety of angles. Already posted on Amazon are great summaries, detailed insights from church leaders, poignant personal accounts from survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Litfuse Publicity Group has review excerpts and links to full posts, and New Growth Press, which published this book, has additional endorsements.

In this post, I will give a brief preview of key features from a systems perspective, and list other resources from GRACE and New Growth Press. In a follow-up post, I will add my thoughts on the big picture of systemic abuse, why we’ve needed a set of resources to deal with it, and share some personal perspectives on how the Policy Guide and other books produced by GRACE represent answers to some longstanding prayers. Continue reading

Hurricane Harvey and Two Humble Pastoral Responses

Isaiah 40:11: He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries the close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

credit: CNN Twitter


Sometimes, after natural disasters, popular Evangelists communicate a message on social media acknowledging the disaster and offer a some words of wisdom (or not). We’ve seen some doozies over the years from John Piper, Pat Robertson, Tony Miano, etc. Many use the tragedy and try to fit it into the framework of their doctrinal beliefs —and it can come out very bad — making it look like God loves inflicting people with trauma. Yuck!  Talk about anti-evangelizing!

Here is one such example: Continue reading

Dr. Dan Allender: Trauma, Our Personal Stories, and Recovery through Music

Dr. Dan Allender, Trauma, Music, Spiritual Abuse Recovery, Personal Stories



Those who have been reading here for a while know how important I believe it is for survivors to tell their abuse stories. It took a while for us to believe the lies our church leader(s) told us about who we are and who God is. Eventually, through manipulation and deceit, we then told ourselves those lies. These “recordings” played over and over in our minds until they were perceived as normal. This is all part of thought reform, patterns of coercion, manipulation, and control, that cult leaders use to keep us emotionally and spiritually bound to them and their teachings.

When we are finally in a place where we can identify truth from lies, we still have to wrestle with the recordings that play in our minds that attempt to shift us back to the dangerous teachings we heard. I strongly believe that hearing ourselves speak the truth when we tell our stories will eventually override the old and damaging recordings in our mind.

I believe this is why many survivors have a need to tell our stories over and over again. It doesn’t mean we are living in the past. No. I believe it means we are validating our experience and further pushing that false and destructive narrative out of our minds.

Telling stories is empowering. It gives us strength to stand on our own two feet and use our critical thinking skills. We own our stories, even though they are negative. But now, as we tell our stories safe from our abuser, we are in control, not our abusive spiritual leaders. We speak not as one who remains stuck as a victim, but as a survivor who can incorporate the negative experience into the fabric of our bigger life story in a positive way. It shapes us, it softens and humbles us. It still hurts at times, but we can become more resilient and intentional with this trauma behind us.

May we never tire of listening to the stories of survivors. When we do listen, we validate them and help them to become whole. Also, if we are survivors, may we never tire of telling our stories without apologies. It may be just what a listener needs to hear.

Lately, I’ve been reading about our body’s response to trauma, and this 2-minute video is fascinating. In it, Dr. Dan Allender helps us to understand the power of music used as a healing agent in relation to trauma. Continue reading