Fred Butler, #MeToo and the Worldly Culture

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Who is Fred Butler?

I saw this tweet the other day. Long-time blog readers will recognize the name, Fred Butler, an employee of Grace to You, the radio ministry of Pastor John MacArthur. Butler’s tweet references another tweet from the @9Marks Twitter account which quotes from an article recently posted on their site. The article is about the church’s response to the #MeToo movement.

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The Problems

I have a number of problems with Fred’s tweet. Firstly, in general, I believe the “worldly culture” has done a better job of addressing the issue of sexual abuse than the Church. Having attended many churches over the years, I don’t recall any that dealt specifically with the topic of sexual abuse in an ongoing fashion. I don’t recall hearing about churches that have a ministry focused on this topic since blogging, either.

In full confession, I have difficulty with 9Marks because of hyper-authoritarian teachings which can lead to spiritual abuse, but I wanted to see what Fred Butler was reading when he tweeted his criticism of the article, What the Church Can and Should Bring to the #MeToo Movement. What problem did Fred find?

The article was written by a woman, so there’s that. Did Butler have difficulty because the author is “teaching” a man as he reads it? I’m not sure, but whatever it is, at the time of this screenshot, 28 people “liked” and 4 people retweeted Fred’s tweet.

Here is the author’s bio:

Whitney Woollard is a writer, speaker, and women’s Bible teacher in Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband Neal attend Hinson Baptist Church. She holds her M.A. in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and loves sharing her passion for the Bible and good theology with others.

Back to the Butler’s tweet – the world may hate God, but there are a lot of people in the world who hate abuse as well. God also hates abuse (Ezekiel 34). So, because many in the world hate abuse, we must dismiss #MeToo because it’s now a cultural thing? I can’t buy that logic.

So, what did Ms. Woollard say in her article that Fred Butler would find difficult to stomach? I’ll share some quotes which give the overall gist of the article, which by the way, I found quite good.

Like any movement, #MeToo is imperfect, but that shouldn’t prevent us from appreciating it as an expression of God’s common grace. He restrains evil and pours out graciousness on all people, enabling even those outside of Christ to do good, carry out justice, and promote human flourishing. It’s not salvific, but it is good.  

I agree with this overall thought. Evil is evil, and it is not only Christians who can identify it. I believe that Christians should be leading the way on shining the light on evil, but sadly, this has not happened; and thus, we have the #MeToo movement. This should be a wake-up call for the Church.

Ms. Woollard discusses the following topics:

  1. #MeToo is dragging wickedness into the light.
  2. #MeToo is forcing a conversation everyone would rather not have.
  3. #MeToo is teaching women that abuse and harassment is real and wrong.

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Once again, I found myself agreeing with Ms. Woollard. I appreciate how Ms. Woollard shared a recent personal experience she had. Women are regularly gawked at sexually, and I do not think men understand how pervasive this is for women. Many women cannot walk anywhere in public without fear of receiving some sort of sexual comment or catcall.

Don’t believe me? Yesterday I left my house for one hour and encountered a man in a semi-isolated spot who told me “if women don’t watch out, white men are going to start fighting back against #MeToo” and we should “fear the force with which their wave would hit us.” Then I was cornered at a crosswalk by a man who yelled sexual obscenities at me, saying, “I’m sorry but I have to because, God, you’re so (bleeping) hot.” (I was wearing a baggy sweatshirt and loose jeans.) I felt uncomfortable and unsafe, yet unsure of how to respond without calling more attention to myself. I grew up thinking you just smiled and laughed that stuff off. But now I rejoice in a new era where that speech and behavior are unacceptable and where women are taught to stop inappropriate comments or “playful” touches and say, “Stop right now. This is making me uncomfortable.” This is common grace at work.

See?  One hour. She got all of that in one hour! Ugh!!

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Healthy Churches

Further, in the article, Ms. Woollard describes what happens in healthy churches. Again, I have yet to see this for myself, but it is my heart’s desire to see this take place:

THE CHURCH HAS ANSWERS THE CULTURE NEEDS

They need hope, healing, and restoration. In other words, they need the church.

Assuming we’re talking about a healthy church with good structures and policies in place, what does the church have to bring to #MeToo

  1. The church has the gospel.
  2. The church has a biblical bias.
  3. The church has member care.
  4. The church has corrective and formative discipline.
  5. The church has a theology of imago Dei.

 

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Sadly, here’s a tweet I sent out nearly 3 weeks ago before the article was posted. If Twitter had an edit feature, I probably would have added the words “in general.”

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Rachael Denhollander and Unhealthy Churches

Back to Fred Butler – he is wrong. The world is exposing sexual abuse and harassment. It’s here and it is now in all places/business/industries. The world is ahead of the Church in drawing attention to the problem and forcing a response. The Church now has a responsibility to deal with it, not play theological word games about collecting “action points” from the world. This is not about action points, this is about the hearts of women who need healing, and most likely, their souls do as well if they were harmed by someone in the Church.

The mishandling of sex abuse cases in the Church is not only causing survivors emotional harm, but I strongly suspect it has led to many abandoning their faith. That’s why I would rather survivors seek secular mental health help from trained and licensed professionals who understand the dynamics of sexual abuse. I’m not alone in this thought. Read the words from Rachael Denhollander, the brave woman who took down Dr. Larry Nasser, the pedophile who sexually assaulted hundreds of young girls while “treating” their injuries:


When asked, “How can people trust the church and Christianity?” in the wake of sexual abuse, Denhollander simply said, “Don’t.” ~Rachael Denhollander


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In case you hadn’t heard, Rachael Denhollander was selected as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the year 2018. She is a conservative Christian. Big names in Christendom talked about Rachael, even wrote blog posts about her and her victim’s impact statement. Because along with sharing how the abuse affected her, she offered her evil perpetrator forgiveness and presented the Gospel to him. But even Rachael cannot recommend that sexual abuse survivors get help from the Church.

Denhollander said that while she is a “very conservative evangelical,” she believes the Church has a long way to go when it comes to dealing with victims of sexual abuse.

“That’s a hard thing to say, because I am a very conservative evangelical, but that is the truth,” she said. “There are very, very few who have ever found true help in the Church.”

Fred Butler and his “liking” buddies need to read this article from Dr. Diane Langberg before spouting off on Twitter about the #MeToo subject. #MeToo is not just a “worldly cultural” issue, it’s an issue prevalent in evangelical churches.

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I will close with part of Dr. Langberg’s letter to the Church:

God calls us to the truth and light of transparency. Transparency protects both alleged victims and alleged predators from the horrific burden of lies. A transparent process protects truth for all. When those in power attempt to dissemble in order to protect an institution they are no longer accomplishing damage control. They are causing damage – damage to God’s precious sheep and damage to the name of our God –this, in the name of protecting the house of the Lord. That is what the Israelites said in Jeremiah – “the Temple of the Lord” – all the while throwing their children, the vulnerable ones, into the fire of Moloch.

 

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Fred Butler, #MeToo, Rachael Denhollander, Sex Abuse, Worldly Culture

Sovereign Grace Church Leaders Remove Wife from Women’s Small Group Leader Position after Couple Asks Questions

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Both Jeff Owens and his wife Sarah recently sent out a thread of tweets regarding a recent experience they had at their former (unidentified)  Sovereign Grace church. I think these tweets deserve a wider audience.

What you will read is not healthy at all, and people need to understand the dismissive and bullying behavior employed by Sovereign Grace church leaders when they are encouraged or questioned about having an independent investigation of the decades-old sexual abuse allegations involving many children, many churches, and the mishandling of these cases by church leaders.

Sovereign Grace leaders are still using the same tactics that we’ve heard from personal accounts for years: no one gets to question authority or criticize authority without repercussion. Folks, this is spiritual abuse. Let’s call it what it is.

I have copied the tweets below for easier reading, but if you would like to see the original tweet threads, click on the hyperlink in Jeff Owens’ tweet below, or Sarah’s link within his tweet.

In the tweet thread, there is a reference to Rachael Denhollander. If you are unfamiliar with Rachael Denhollander and her experience in exposing Sovereign Grace ministries mishandling of sex abuse cases, here’s a good article to start:  My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness.

Before we get to the tweets by Jeff and Sarah Owens, I wanted to share a section of the Sovereign Grace Local Church Polity with you. I have bolded parts pertinent to the communication by congregants to elders and leaders:

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Section 11 – The Role of the Congregation (Page 53)

Although authority in the local church is given to elders, they are not to be
insulated from the congregation’s appropriate observations and concerns and even responsibility to ensure the fidelity of their leaders. Because Scripture affirms the right of church members to bring legitimate allegations concerning an elder (1 Tim. 5:19-21), a church’s local polity in conjunction with the Sovereign Grace Rules of Discipline (which follow) outline the relevant policies and procedures by which such allegations can be evaluated. Clear communication about such avenues of recourse will foster both a healthy accountability and an atmosphere of trust. Additionally, the roles and responsibilities of the congregation may be worked out in Sovereign Grace churches by the following pursuits:

• Seeking input from the congregation for any pastoral candidate for ordination.
• Seeking input from the congregation for any deacon candidate for installation.
Creating a church environment where there are vital relationships, active
discussion, and cooperation between the elders and the whole church with a
clear, comprehensive, and welcoming feedback system

It is important to note that the Owens were shut down before any formal process could take place.

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Tweet Thread by Jeff and Sarah Owens

2 months ago we approached our Sovereign Grace Church pastors about the SGC response to ’s statements about SGC. We asked them to encourage the family of churches to consider the independent investigation that Rachael called for. We did not do this flippantly.

We spent a great deal of time in prayer and searching before approaching them. We also made clear we had no concerns about our local church and affirmed how they as leaders handled children’s ministry and ensured safety of children at church functions.

Their response was to claim there were factual errors in our concern. (We stated no facts, other than that we were concerned.) They wanted to meet in person to discuss, which we agreed to.

However before that meeting took place they told us had been “sharing her opinion” & causing mistrust of the pastors by doing so.

Sarah’s tweet:

However before that meeting took place they told us we had been “sharing our opinion” and causing mistrust of the pastors by doing so. Because of this they shut down the women’s group I was leading. This was without coming to me to see if there was any validity to those concerns

Because of this they shut down the women’s group Sarah was leading. This was without coming to us to see if there was any validity to those concerns.

We had shared our opinion (the need for an independent investigation) with no one outside of our family. The claim that Sarah had been “sharing her opinion” was false.

After attempting to discuss the issue further and only being told that we needed to not share our opinion, that we had factual errors, and that they needed to know that we could “submit and commit” to their leadership, we requested to meet with a 3rd party for peacemaking.

We asked a trusted member of the congregation to be a 3rd party, and he agreed. But the pastors refused to meet with a 3rd party present. We expressed our confusion and hurt over their response and continued to request a meeting with a 3rd party but were repeatedly rejected.

***JA note:  Why would they not welcome a respected 3rd party to be present? 

We ended up leaving the church. We were told by the pastors that we were unable to fulfill the commands of Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them.”

***JA note:  This I believe is the most widely used verse by leaders to instill fear and guilt in congregants. It is meant to elevate their position and use it to control. Using the verse in this fashion is spiritually abusive. 

We sent an email to our small group, close friends, and youth workers letting them know we were leaving and why. Several hours after we sent the message the pastors called an all-church members meeting.

***JA note: I’m glad Jeff and Sarah sent an email to those from the church who were closest to them; otherwise, they would have received the narrative from the leaders.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how we ‘had made false accusations against the pastoral team that cast seeds of doubt and suspicion on the elder team that could be used to destroy the unity of the church.’

At that meeting they told direct and indirect lies about us and another family that had also addressed concerns about how SGC had responded to Rachael Denhollander. We are still dumbfounded this even took place. How can men who claim to love Jesus as shepherds respond this way?

We do not share this lightly. We truly love these men and their families. But can you see the problem here? The truth was twisted or completely set aside in favor of a lie in order to protect “unity”. Our desire to meet with a 3rd party present became, “The Owens refuse to meet.”

“Sharing our opinion” was treated as a sinful and rebellious act against the church, worthy of removal from a leadership position. If it had been true, sharing an opinion about a public issue is certainly not sinful. But on top of that, it wasn’t even true.

We are telling our story because we have learned it is one that is far too common in SG churches across the country. We had no idea before it happened to us. This kind of leadership must be called to account. This is not Jesus. This is not the Holy Spirit. This is not unity.

MLK Jr. said, “In your struggle for justice, let your oppressor know that you are not attempting to defeat or humiliate him, or even to pay him back for injustices that he has heaped upon you. Let him know that you are merely seeking justice for him as well as yourself.”

We do not tell our story in order to slander anyone or to try to cause division. We are telling the facts about what happened to us because it would be wrong to keep quiet and allow this pattern of leadership to continue.

It has harmed not only us, but would continue to be harmful for remaining church members and even our former pastors to allow a pattern of oppressive authority to continue. “It is sad to be a slave of Pharaoh. It is horrible to be Pharaoh.” – Rabbi Belgrad

Our goal is and was ever only to make peace. Our original concern for SGC’s over these allegations was born out of a love for the gospel and wanting our witness to not be tainted by the refusal to be examined. We recognized that striving for peace might mean temporary conflict.

Peacekeeping and Peacemaking are two very different things. Peacekeeping is suppressing conflict. Peacemaking is addressing conflict in order to bring reconciliation. The gospel is the good news of peacemaking. God has come to reconcile man to God and also mankind to one another.

Choosing to not address or investigate serious allegations of sexual abuse in order to protect the reputations of leaders is peacekeeping. Worse, ignoring allegations like these says to those who have been abused & oppressed “your pain doesn’t matter as much as keeping the peace”

As we said in our original message to our pastors, we do not claim to know if there is any truth to the allegations against SGC. We pray that there isn’t. But we do know that the gospel calls for us to stand up for the oppressed, the marginalized, and the abused.

We need to take claims of abuse seriously because God takes justice seriously. We as the church, when accused of serious sin should not circle the wagons, deflect, and ignore, but instead say “Is it I, Lord?”

If accused when we are innocent, God will vindicate us. If we are not, let us turn in true repentance that the world may see that Christ’s church, while not sinless, walks in the righteousness bought for us with the blood of Jesus.

This righteousness is given by costly grace, not by whitewashing our images. May we honor Christ’s sacrifice by openly confronting and turning from the sins that he died to save us from. “The Lords works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” – Psalm 103:6

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Responses to Tweets

sg1sg2sg3sg4sg5

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Conclusion

Tom is right. Those who are in SGC churches need to question what is going on in their family of churches. If you are part of an SGC church are not satisfied with your responses, if your ministry position is pulled from you without communication, if your attempts at communication get shut down, if you are told you “just don’t understand,” these are not acceptable responses. Leaders are going against their own polity which claims they welcome communication from congregants.

If church leaders are disregarding their own polity, and you have exhausted all reasonable methods of communication, then it’s important to let others know as Sarah and Jeff have done. Congregants and future congregants need to know what they are up against if they have an issue they would like to bring up to church leadership.

I asked Jeff Owens if I could use his public comments and respond to them, not as an attempt to attack, but to shine a light on the methods by which some SGC churches maintain control and prohibit congregants from asking legitimate questions and criticisms. This is not a healthy church environment. Elders are using their assumed position of authority in ungodly ways.

This is yet another family who has had to leave their church family and friends. I’m not sure how long they were members of this SGC church, but there is much sadness and heartache when one leaves a church under these circumstances. This is wrong.

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Sovereign Grace Churches, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Spiritual Abuse, Church Polity

Sexual Perpetrators and Magicians – How Both Trick People with Illusions

Sex Abuse, Jimmy Hinton, Pedophiles, Illusionists, Magicians, Dr. Larry Nassar


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Jimmy Hinton, Sex Abuse, Illusion, Magician, Dr. Larry Nassar, Pedophiles
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April is sexual abuse awareness month. It is very important for parents to know that nearly 90% of perpetrators are known by their victims. It is also important to understand that a pedophile can abuse a child while you are in the same room!

An article about sex abuse and the way magicians create illusions is spreading around the internet, and it’s an important one. Jimmy Hinton became a victim’s advocate after his father was convicted of sexual abuse.

Here is a brief summary of Jimmy’s painful journey:

In July of 2011, just two years into my new role as minister, a victim disclosed to me that she had been sexually abused by my father, the former preacher at my congregation. Within seconds, my life began to unravel. My childhood hero was now a villain who had dozens of victims–all of whom were humiliated and violated in the worst possible way. My mother and I reported my father to the police and he is currently serving a 30-60 year prison sentence for sex crimes against children.

Jimmy’s interest in connecting the illusions of magicians with sexual perpetrators is fascinating. Let’s take a closer look:

When Jimmy Hinton, of Somerset, heard about research into how magicians use the brain’s limitations to create illusions, he saw a connection to his own research on how child abusers use deception. 

Hinton contacted neuroscience researchers Susana Martinez-Conde and her husband, Stephen Macknik, about collaborating on research into child abusers’ techniques.

The scientists are laboratory directors at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, and authors of “Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions.”

Macknik and Martinez-Conde came to Somerset County to begin working with Hinton and presented a program Tuesday for law enforcement and those working with child abuse victims.

“Much of the abuse is practiced directly in front of us,” Hinton said during the program at Somerset Borough Public Safety Building. “I mean literally in front of us.”

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Abuse can happen while adults are in the same room!

That last sentence grabbed my attention. My father-in-law is a former missionary and Bible translator. He’s also a pedophile with many, many victims, but the Statute of Limitations has expired on the cases, so he walks as a free man. I found out that one of the ways he abused children was by exhibitionism. He exposed his erect penis to his son’s friends, neighbors, and relatives while adults were in the same room by hiding behind a newspaper. Exhibitionism is abuse, and it is illegal. It is shocking to an unsuspecting minor and causes emotional and sexual harm/confusion.

Isn’t that shocking? Somehow, he was able to manipulate these children somehow to remain quiet while he got away with doing such evil deeds right in front of parents!


The article mentions convicted sexual predator, Dr. Larry Nassar. One of the most shocking discoveries about this case with hundreds, if not thousands of victims, was that he did most of his abuse while an adult/mother was in the room! He was able to position himself between the mother and the patient on the table and digitally penetrate girls with his ungloved hand, while the other hand was visible and doing appropriate physical therapy. He even carried on conversations with parents as he was sexually violating.

Can you see why some parents would minimize or even dismiss the abuse claims saying, “I was there, I didn’t see anything?”  Imagine how crazy-making this was to young girls who were unable to convince trusted adults that sexual abuse was going on right under their noses!

The following, also from the article, explains how our brains work and how we can miss what’s happening in front of us:

Calling some of the techniques “mental jiu-jitsu,” Macknik said the illusionists use the brain’s limited perception to get the audience to see what the performer wants them to see and suppress what the performer doesn’t want the them to notice.

And:

“Brains are naturally limiting,” Martinez-Conde said. “Our brains end up picking and choosing a very small portion of reality.”

The limited perception and abusers’ use of misdirection through visual and cognitive illusion may explain why parents often find it hard to believe the abuse occurred, Macknik said. 


As a parent, how do you talk to your children about sex abuse and how to respond?


Here’s what I do:

  • I tell my kids if they ever feel uncomfortable around someone for any reason, it’s important that they trust that uncomfortable gut feeling, and try to remove themselves from that situation.
  • We use code language: “I don’t feel well.”

“I don’t feel well” doesn’t necessarily mean that my child feels physically sick – – to my child, it means that he/she can tell me in code language that something is wrong. They know that I will not ask any detailed questions, but will come immediately and help remove them from the environment. This gives them a way to let me know there is a problem without having to risk of them letting the abuser know that they are telling me. It is also not lying. Sexual abuse makes a child not feel well, so there will not be any conflict in a child’s mind as they say this phrase.

These are difficult topics to discuss, but I firmly believe that prevention is the best way to protect our children. When we address these issues head-on, we are giving our children tools they can use, so they are not helpless in a situation. They can identify what is happening, label it as abuse in their mind, and then make the choice to do what is necessary to leave the environment and get help.

A child who is able to do this will be empowered with their strength of having knowledge and choices, and will not be as harmed as a child who doesn’t understand what is happening and keeps it to themselves. I haven’t read any studies on this, but I highly suspect a child who is able to do this will be able to recover emotionally much faster than a child who is victimized and remains silent, not knowing what to do with what just happened to them.

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photo credit: Bazar del Bizzarro illusionist#nevio martini#56642# via photopin (license)

Personal Story: What Did the Church Teach You about Yourself?

Spiritual abuse, sex abuse, patriarchy, domestic violence, Sovereign Grace, Desiring God, CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Mental Health


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Part of recovery from abusive churches is coming to grips with what you were taught and how it affected you. Sometimes, and very appropriately, the ability to see this clearly results in anger. Jennifer Michelle posted about her experience on Facebook and gave me permission to share it. I think many of you will be able to relate to her experience. ~ja

What church doctrine taught me about myself:

Sin nature- all are born sinners. Children must be “trained,” and disciplined, and made to repent. Chastisement is sanctification. Suffering is holy. Anger is unholy- unless you’re a man in your home, a man behind a podium, or a white man in general. Sadness is selfish, a symptom of pride. Pride is to be avoided, as it is the ultimate sin, bad enough to bring down Lucifer. Free will is meaningless, because each and every instinct we have is sinful anyway, and should NOT be validated. Besides, what difference does free will make when God chose the “elect” before the foundations of the earth?

The law is our SCHOOLMASTER, but we will never “graduate” this side of heaven. We will NEVER be “sanctified” until we are “glorified” in death, in heaven.

Total depravity- nothing in us is innately good. We are putrid, vile, worthless, helpless sinners, and can ONLY be loved perfectly by a perfect GOD, and ONLY by His “mercy,” since we are all undeserving. Mercy is NOT something man can ever possess in the “flesh,” because the flesh is sinful. And we shouldn’t expect ANYONE to ever truly love us since we aren’t worthy of it, so we shouldn’t complain or be at all surprised when we are treated like shit, especially by our loved ones, and especially by authority figures, since God appoints them over us for our sanctification.

Nevertheless, God will send the Holy Spirit to live inside of you, should you “choose” to repent of your sins and invite Him in. But you can never be sure if He is guiding you, since you can never trust your instincts, and the Holy Spirit is a “still, small voice” that can easily be drowned out and “grieved.” Only by “renewing our minds” by telling ourselves bible “truths” over and over can we ever be “sure” we are doing, thinking, or living the right way. Even still, our minds are fallible, so we should seek “wise counsel” from more “spiritually mature” individuals who can interpret bible truths for us. But we can’t blame them if they are wrong, intentionally or otherwise, since they are also fallible. Also, remember that “the flesh” is constantly at war with “the spirit,” so just ignore the inner conflict you feel since we are called to be joyful in all circumstances. So be thankful for your pain, and don’t blame anyone. That would definitely be gossip.

Special thanks to Sovereign Grace Ministries, The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God Ministries, Living Waters, The Way Of The Master, Focus On The Family, and Grace To You. I want to send each of you my therapy bills.

Furthermore, why should my theology be informed by organizations who cover up child sexual abuse and lie about it? Organizations who oppress women and discriminate against minorities? Organizations who are fixated on “honoring God,” while excusing domestic violence? WHERE IS YOUR HONOR? These organizations do not wish to honor God, they wish to take the ROLE of God in their parishioners’ lives. Well, I’ve taken mine back.

Rachael Denhollander Challenges Sovereign Grace Churches to Respond Appropriately to Sex Abuse Cases

Rachael Denhollander, Sovereign Grace, Sex Abuse, Pedophiles


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rachael1.PNG

Rachael Denhollendar (the Christian attorney and sex abuse survivor who brought down Dr. Larry Nassar) has been very busy since the recent case of convicted pedophile Dr. Larry Nassar.

She is now taking on the task of drawing attention to how the church, specifically the leaders at Sovereign Grace Churches, have failed to handle sex abuse cases properly.

Here is a recent interview she gave on Fox news. And further down is a Facebook note with more links. Go, Rachael!!!

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Here is the direct link to Rachael’s note on Facebook if you do not see the note embedded here. Some people have let me know they are not able to see Facebook notes on SSB.

Rachael has stressed that “an independent investigation of the organization’s handling of sexual and domestic violence should be required before supporting SGC.”

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Posted by Rachael Denhollander on Friday, March 16, 2018

Survivor Emily Jaeger Responds to Bill Gothard’s Reactions to Her Revealing She is “Jane Doe III”

Bill Gothard, sex abuse, cults, lawsuit, Emily Jaeger, freedom, IBLP


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A note of introduction from Julie Anne:

Emily Jaeger is one of the sexual abuse survivors and plaintiffs in the Bill Gothard/IBLP sex abuse lawsuit. Her official statement about the lawsuit was posted on Spiritual Sounding Board a few days ago.

Then someone close to Bill Gothard contacted me. He runs the Discovering Grace website, which is devoted to supporting and defending Bill Gothard and his teachings. We communicated at length, during which he asked me if I wanted to post Bill Gothard’s response to Emily Jaeger’s statement (per Bill’s suggestion). After I declined, it was then published at Discovering Grace website.

I initially said no, because I do not want my blog to be used as a platform for an abuser. However, then I saw Emily Jaeger’s new reply to Bill Gothard’s response statement, and it made sense to me to post both.

I may have more to say later — in fact, I am thinking of doing an SSB “learn to discern” post to analyze these statements in depth. But for now, I’ll say I think his statement is a perfect opportunity to see a spiritual abuser in action, violating boundaries, and hers shows what it looks like when someone leaves the influence of a high-control environment, thinks independently, and makes their own decisions. See what you think … Continue reading

BREAKING: Lawsuit against Bill Gothard and The Institute in Basic Life Principles Dismissed

Bill Gothard, IBLP, Sex Abuse, Lawsuit


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I have received the following statement from the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Bill Gothard and The Institute in Basic Life Principles.

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gothard2


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The statement reads:

Our Statement

Due to the unique complexities of this case, including the statutes
of limitation, we have made the difficult decision to voluntarily
dismiss our lawsuit against Bill Gothard and The Institute in Basic
Life Principles. We want to make it abundantly clear that by
dismissing our lawsuit at this time, we are not recanting our
experiences or dismissing the incalculable damage that we believe
Gothard has done by his actions and certain teachings. Nor are we
disregarding that his organization chose to protect themselves
instead of those under their care.

Signed by Former Plaintiffs:
Rachel Glader Frost
Rachel Lees
Charis Wood Barker
Megan Lind
Joy Simmons
Jane Doe VI
Melody Ruth
Emily Jaeger (Jane Doe III)
Jane Doe IV
Jane Doe V
Helen Lucius (Jane Doe)
Carmen Okhmatovski
Daniel S. Dorsett Sr.
Jamie Becker Deering
Gretchen Wilkinson
Ruth Copley Burger
Jennifer

 

 

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Pastor Kevin Swanson’s Blame Game When it Comes to the Dr. Larry Nassar Child Sex Abuse Cases

Kevin Swanson; Larry Nassar; Child Sex Abuse; Rachael Denhollander

Screenshot 2018-02-09 at 10.08.13 PM

Kevin Swanson from Generations.org

-by Kathi with editorial comments by Julie Anne

Kevin Swanson’s February 9, 2018 broadcast on Generations covered the recent gymnastics and sexual abuse case by now-convicted sexual predator, Dr. Larry Nassar. Right Wing Watch picked up his broadcast and noted that he blames immodesty in the sport of gymnastics for Dr. Larry Nassar’s behavior.

Julie Anne texted me at work and asked if I would be willing to write a snarky post about Swanson [JA here = is it possible to do a Kevin Swanson post sans snark? Serious question.] As much I can’t stand to listen to him speak, I decided to listen to the whole broadcast. Kathi is a glutton for punishment. I only asked if she would be willing to write about the modesty part that Right Wing Watch reported on. In fact, here is where she tells me on Messenger:

My (unfortunate) experience with listening to Swanson over the years has brought me to the understanding that he is never sympathetic to victims of sexual abuse, so I wanted to see if this broadcast would be any different. My snarky side turned to my angry side as I realized that he hasn’t changed one bit. Continue reading

Will Those in the Real Gospel-Centered Churches Please Stand?

Gospel-Centered Movement, TGC, YRR, Calvinists, Jared Wilson

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First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

#MeToo, #ChurchToo, Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Church

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The hashtag #MeToo has been trending for quite some time on Twitter. Women who have been sexually harassed or abused have been identifying themselves as survivors of sexual harm, indicating it with the hashtag, #MeToo. But now, there is a new trending hashtag, #ChurchToo. The stories that you can read in one little tweet are heartbreaking.

I wanted to share some here, and also invite those who have been on Twitter to feel free to share more here if they like.

If you are new to Spiritual Sounding Board, this is a blog that deals with abuse in church or church groups. We have dealt with all kinds of sexual abuse: sex abuse of children, sexual abuse in marriage, sexual abuse by clergy, wives of pedophiles, church leaders who have failed to report sexual crimes, church leaders who have blamed victims for sexual crimes, and also spiritual abuse which often occurs when a church leaders are involved in any capacity (perpetrator, counselor, spiritual advisor).

If you have been harmed sexually, this is a safe place. If you would like to share your story in more detail, you can in the comments, or to me privately: spiritualsb@gmail.com. Please feel free to comment using a pseudonym. This is your place to use your voice where it will be heard.

~Julie Anne Continue reading

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

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Credit: TMU Facebook page

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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

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.

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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

Kari Benton Shares: Spiritual Recovery after a Lawsuit and Spiritual Abuse

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Lori Alexander Dishes Out Heartless Advice to Wife Who Was Sexually Abused

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Let’s Discuss: The Keepers, Netflix Documentary Series about the Murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and Systemic Sexual Abuse

The Keepers, Netflix, Cathy Cesnik, Systemic Sexual Abuse, Catholic Church, Spiritual Abuse, Clergy Sexual Abuse



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The Keepers is a new documentary series airing on Netflix. I have watched 5 of the episodes and it is excellent. If you have seen Spotlight, it is similar, however, the investigative reporters in this case are two grandmas who have spent the last three years compiling details of the case and trying to get answers as to who killed their beloved former high school teacher, Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969.

Like the movie, Spotlight, the series uncovers systemic sexual abuse of female students at Archbishop Keough High School in Maryland by Father Maskell who was a counselor on campus. When I refer to the word “systemic,” I mean it is a whole system of cover-up and abuse. Father Joseph Maskell was not the only one who committed the crimes. His friends in high places also committed sexual crimes and helped to conceal the crimes: police officers, businessmen in the community, etc.

The first episode lays the groundwork for the story and introduces the main characters. Then, the second episode goes into repulsive, unimaginable sexual abuse descriptions. This episode is definitely difficult to watch and I would caution those who get triggered by topics of abuse to be very careful watching it. The second episode was the most difficult for me to watch, but this is important information to know how insidious these crimes were, not only sexually, but spiritually.

Because this documentary series is being discussed so much, I wanted to have a post specifically to address it, and especially to be a place where people can discuss how it may have affected them.

So, let’s use this post to discuss how the show may have affected us and try not to include spoilers for those who have not yet watched it.

Below, I have gathered a variety of links that may be of interest. I encourage you to check out the first link, especially. It is excellent.

Note:  While this sexual abuse scandal – also connected with the systemic abuse cover up with cases around the world uncovered by the Boston Globe Spotlight team occurred in the Catholic Church, Protestant churches are not exempt from these types of scandals. We know of the  Sovereign Grace Ministries sexual abuse scandal which is still ongoing. I am personally aware of several others that are “under the radar.” No one church group is exempt from systemic abuse.

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Related Links

A website was set up for the movie here:  The Keepers. I am very impressed with the information presented at the site, from information about the series, to helpful resources for survivors, therapies, systemic abuse, how to help, etc.

The following links are related and may be of interest:

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. Continue reading

How Safe is Your Church?

 

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Have you met Boz Tchividjian of GRACE – Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment? This would be a good video to post on Facebook or send to church leaders. Until churches have safe policies in place and survivors feel safe to share their trauma to others in the church, the church is not whole. We need to be proactive in minimizing the opportunity for sex abuse to occur and also to help those who have been harmed by sexual abuse.

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