Earlier this week, a young man in Atlanta shot and killed eight people in massage parlors, 6 of whom were of Asian descent, and 7 were women. His reason? He struggled with sex addictions and wanted to cut off his temptation. This reminds me of Genesis 3:12,
“The woman you put here with me…”
When he should have practiced Matthew 5:29,
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.”
First, allow me to make some clarifications:
I’m a Christian who loves Jesus, loves His church, and regularly attends my church home.
I’m not saying this is a male-only problem.
I’m not here to justify the shooter’s actions based on possible problematic church teaching or absolve him from crimes.
Mental health also needs to be brought into this discussion.
The church is responsible for sound teaching. It is not responsible for how people respond.
Mentally unwell individuals are more prone to take teachings to an extreme.
I don’t believe there is any single church that correctly understands and applies all of scripture.
This topic is not an SBC only topic.
The Asian massage parlor/spa workers and innocent bystanders are victims.
Over the last three years, I’ve witnessed the Southern Baptist Convention use their public platform to give lip service, and only lip service, to the plight of abuse victims. But, bring up a woman teaching men, a woman asked by the leadership of the church to give a Mother’s Day message, a pastor admitting to voting for a democrat, or talk about racism within the church, and you will immediately hear of policy reform and see quick action. The SBC will respond if the issue matters to the men in charge. Typical par for the course in many denominational and non-denominational churches and Christian institutions.
Sadly, the young man who committed the shootings this week belonged to an SBC church that is part of the Founders Ministry, the most vocal group in the SBC against victims, advocates, and those working to heal all aspects of the body of Christ/the church due to abuse in its ranks.
The Atlanta shootings cause me to remember the teachings in many Christian circles, especially the homeschooling movement, that girls/women are the dangerous cause of men’s temptations and lust. Sexual purity, taught mainly to girls, has been taught from pulpits, classrooms, conferences, and books.
Certainly, the premise that girls cause men to lust and sin isn’t scripturally accurate. Women are not responsible for a man’s thought-life/sin.
The book “Every Man’s Battle” by Arterburn and Stoeker portrays women as nothing more than objects that likely caused their husbands to use porn. Then it tells wives to be sexually available to their husbands to help them overcome their porn addictions. Depraved illustrations throughout the book are numerous. Some of the text is disturbing and treats women as objects/property for the man’s sexual needs with no regard to love, intimacy, or reciprocation. The beautiful relationship of husband and wife depicting the relationship of Christ and the church is missing. Never mind that a large percentage of men go into the marriage relationship already addicted to porn. Wives taking responsibility for their husband’s sin is not found in the gospel. Nonetheless, many in the Christian community have read this book. A closer read will find more erroneous teachings that don’t square with scripture.
Demeaning Soul Care
Women and advocates have been raising their voices for years about sexual abuse in the church while treated with disdain as if we are poison to the system and getting in the way of real ministry. If we open the scriptures, we find Jesus in the mess with the hurting, bleeding, possessed, diseased, dying, dead, and the outcasts because that’s the ministry He came to do and teach His followers. Caring for the least and those who cannot speak for themselves is part of the ministry of under-shepherds of Christ.
My plea to pastors, teachers, and leaders, is your words and actions matter. The church must do a better job teaching about sexuality in a healthier way—the culture you create in your church matters. You have the power of Jesus and scriptures to minister to this generation.
Yet, there are many women who unstable men have murdered. Women beaten or killed by acts of domestic violence because the church told wives to stay, pray, be more attentive, give him more sex, be more encouraging. NO AMOUNT of praying and kindness can make an angry and controlling abuser be nice. It isn’t a relationship problem; it’s an abuse problem.
This massage parlor shootings leave me heartbroken that a young man from a Christian family and an SBC/Founders church committed this violent act against mostly women in minority settings. All life has worth, and it’s the church’s responsibility to teach this correctly.
Finally, I’m not saying the church is responsible for this man’s murderous actions. But, sexism, entitlement, porn, dehumanization, domestic violence, loss of discernment, and abuse of power are all problems in secular society and in the church.
Are we showing ourselves to be set apart? We call ourselves Christians, but are we Christ-like? Do our teachings reflect the heart and ministry of Christ?
The Church’s Mandate to Comfort and Protect For Such a Time as This
This is in response to the MBC Pathway’s Facebook page regarding media attention to SBC predator, Shawn Davies, being released from prison after serving about 12 of 20 years for molesting at least 13 victims in Missouri, Kentucky and Michigan. He was released in July 2019, and is currently living in Reeds Spring, Missouri. Years ago, police said that Pastor Mike Roy of FBC Greenwood, Missouri, allowed Davies to work around children at FBC Greenwood for about four months after they notified Roy that Davies was under investigation for molesting young boys at their church and other churches. Prior church employers did not give Davies good references. They said that he was addicted to porn and “didn’t work well with children.” As is common for predators in ministry, they find a friend or a church that chooses to believe them instead of the references, past churches, or victims. Mike Roy and the Greenwood church should have reasoned on the side of safety for vulnerable children.
The For Such a Time as This Rally Facebook and Twitter accounts questioned the wisdom and validity of The Missouri Baptist Convention recently appointing Mike Roy as a trustee for Southwest Baptist University. MBC leadership, in my opinion, did not react kindly to the rally’s social media postings.
Some leaders in the MBC have asserted this issue was driven by an unethical media (the Baptist Press, and others, in the below reference). It appears they have purposefully leveled allegations against the For Such a Time as This Rally founder, Cheryl Summers to deflect the seriousness of the churches’ past mistake.
Let’s read what a lead detective on the case said about Roy during the investigation:
The MBC is accusing Cheryl Summers of making false allegations against Mike Roy. The organization Cheryl founded, For Such a Time as This Rally, shared links which contained pertinent and truthful information as reported years earlier by other journalistic publications, yet somehow the links to the old articles have been spun as deceitful slander by an individual, Cheryl Summers. This is typical treatment from churches and leaders who are attempting to control the narrative. We have seen history rewritten on numerous occasions, by multiple churches and leaders, where sexual abuse cover-up is concerned.
If you go to MBC Pathway’s Facebook page, you can see that they wrote an article last Monday saying that Cheryl brought false allegations about the Shawn Davies abuse case at FBC Greenwood. They appear as bullies by targeting Cheryl rather than acknowledging that the post was on the rally FB page and that the rally simply linked to articles from 2006 and 2007 where the lead detective investigating abuse at FBC Greenwood said that pastor Mike Roy made their job more difficult and did not cooperate. The Missouri Baptist Convention recently appointed Mike as a trustee for Southwest Baptist University which is why this case is back in the news.
Cheryl Summers spoke to Communications Director, Rob Phillips, of Missouri Baptists who confirmed that he and John Yeats read the Pathway article before it was released and he couldn’t explain why The Pathway attributed statements by police in 2006 and 2007 to Cheryl.
Here is a clip of The Missouri Baptist Convention website. How are members and attendees supposed to seriously believe abusers are being weeded out by loving, serving and caring leadership when this is how past abuse was handled by current leadership when Mike Roy was outed as a hindrance to the investigation? If Roy wasn’t willing to protect the vulnerable back then, why should he be trusted to do so now? This is a huge issue which should disqualify him. This may be part of the reason SBC membership continues to decline.
Problems and cover-ups are part of the reason I joined the For Such a Time as This Rally the last two years. I’m grateful for Houston Chronicle journalist Robert Downen and his team who have been covering this denominational nightmare while giving victims their voice back. With the Chronicle’s Abuse of Faith coverage, and the tool of social media, the SBC’s problem is not going to fade into the background or be silenced. There are thousands of faces and voices to go with the abuses. They will not be bullied, sent away with hush money, or backed into a corner by non-disclosure agreements signed for church membership.
An open letter to the Missouri Baptist Convention,
Is it more important to lead or to listen, to strong arm or to serve? What is serving abuse survivors about?
It is not about saving the reputation of the abuser, predator, church, or Jesus (Jesus is secure in His reputation).
It is not about guarding every word said or not said.
It is not about preventing a lawsuit.
It is not about what we think or feel about an alleged abuser.
It is not about manipulating perception.
It is not about trying to maintain power dynamics. This is when wolves win and sheep lose.
It is not about blindly trusting the abuser. True repentance bears fruit (Matthew 3:8) and includes restitution (Luke 19:8-9, Romans 13:8-10); not necessarily reconciliation.
It is about eternity, people, safety, souls, healing, and salvation.
It is about soul care.
The main focus should be soul care.
I don’t see any such care coming from your recent allegations and articles.
Placing blame on Cheryl Summers for referencing links to professionally published articles from years past is beyond disingenuous. Its slander. Your issue is not with Cheryl Summers or the For Such a Time as This Rally; it is with the original reporters. But not really, because the journalists were painfully accurate. If Roy believed law enforcement was putting out false investigative facts, and journalists were fabricating unethical stories about him, he would have taken legal action against them at the time. He didn’t. Why? Because law enforcement was not lying. It seems to me it would have been easier for Mike Roy to say, “I’m sorry, I messed up, and I know it disqualifies me from a leadership position in ministry.”
If The Baptist News was unethical or sensationalizing the original story then the MBC would have stepped in to help Roy. It was a big story back when it happened and it garnered national attention. It was also written about in Christa Brown’s 2009 book This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang; an excellent book, well written, highly engaging, and a fast read for any SBC member who would dare to open their heart and mind to the magnitude of sexual abuse in the SBC.
Please stop wrongly applying scripture to this issue in an attempt to silence survivors and advocates. We do not need to ‘go to our brother’ to get his side of the story when we want to link to what has already been reported in local and national media outlets. We are not required to verify what was published.
Advocates are ministering soul care in the name of Jesus and walking alongside the survivors as they find purposeful living after the soul crushing sexual and spiritual abuse they endured inside and outside church building walls, by their abusers who declared everything being done to them was in name of Jesus, for His glory and purpose. Devious lies straight from the pit of hell!
I hope Missouri Baptist Convention members are reading the past articles linked to by the For Such a Time as This Rally, while recognizing the current spinning and mudslinging taking place by their MBC leadership. Members, it is time to stop believing what leadership is saying and investigate for yourselves.
As for Roy and MBC leadership, a truly repentant man would own what he did, give specific apologies, and make restitution for the harm to which he contributed. Abusers are professional liars and master manipulators who justify, deny, excuse, deflect, minimize, spiritualize, and cover-up abuse. Advocates are concerned and think we are recognizing abusive behaviors from Roy and the MBC about the Davies case.
The SBC’s decade’s old problem of cover-ups and denials are the main reason predators continue to flock to and find refuge in SBC churches, and the reason innocent children and vulnerable adults continue to be easy prey for pedophiles and sexual assault perpetrators. I don’t see your accusations as caring well for abuse survivors. It doesn’t look anything like the heart of Jesus or serving the least of these. It doesn’t beckon the little children to come to Jesus. It does look like, yet again, protecting the wolves while the sheep bleed out. Instead of dealing with the people who were complicit in mishandlings or cover-ups you are bullying those who are attempting to protect the body of Christ.
Following Jesus is not about leadership dynamics, big church attendance, the next book deal, tomorrow’s media interview, or popularity. It is about serving, having a servant’s heart by showing care to the powerless among us. When we do this we are putting God’s word into practice. We can have all the right theology in the world, but if we have not the loving heart of Jesus we are missing our calling. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors. Do we want to be Pharisees or Jesus followers?
The world places importance on money, power, education, and pleasure. When the church becomes caught up in this we become wolves in sheep’s clothing and instead of protecting the innocent, marginalized, and oppressed we can find ourselves siding with an affluent and/or smooth talking abuser.
Advocates and survivors love Jesus, love the word of God, and strive to put our love for others into action. We are exhausted from witnessing abusive behavior, cover-ups, and lack of training for how to handle abuse disclosures. It is taking a toll on our time and our health, yet we march on because we know Jesus placed us in this generation, to chase after Him, and to work with Him for such a time as this.
If you like, call the Missouri Baptist Convention and request they not place Dr. Mike Roy on the board of trustees at Southwest Baptist University. You may also request they offer an apology to Cheryl Summers. Missouri Baptist Convention (573) 636-0400.
Follow the below links to read current and past articles on the topic…
It has been 5 1/2 years since the disappearance of Lynn Messer. We now know that Lynn did not disappear but was in fact dead the entire time. Her husband Kerry Messer has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.
No one has been declared guilty of any wrong doing in Lynn’s death and there have been no arrests.
I write about Lynn’s case coming from a background of domestic violence, so since day one I have seen this case through a differnt lense than the general public. I’m not saying I’m right, but I am discussing possibilities of what many domestic abuse survivors and DV fatality victims have endured. I also write about this knowing that the Christian community and many churches often side with abusers and shun the victims and family members of the victims. I have spent years attempting to educate the church about wolves in sheep’s clothing. From where I stand, the Catholic, Southern Baptists, and Indepentent Fundamental Baptist churches are the worst offenders who don’t seem to be learning from past mistakes. Many knowingly keep abusers in leadership and on staff while leaving children and vulnerable adults as easy prey. They have track records of not taking abuse allegations seriously, for covering-up for abusers, and for telling survivors to stay quiet, get over it, stop doing things to make the abuser mad, and to pray harder. This advice has resulted in death for some victims.
I know Lynn’s sons and their families can attest to Lynn’s church and the Southern Baptist Convention of Missouri not believing them when they raised concerns and allegations against their father about his marriage to Lynn, about her death, and about his extra marital relationship with Spring Thomas. The church and the SBC refused to believe Lynn’s sons or do anything to hold their father accountable.
How did Lynn die? How did she arrive at the place where her remains were discovered? Were her remains hidden/moved before being discovered on the farm? Did Lynn believe her life was in danger before her death? Does Kerry Messer hold the answer to any or all of these questions? Does anyone else hold the answer to any or all of these questions? Did anyone have information about Lynn’s death? If so, did they contribute to her death, help cover-up her death, run interference regarding Lynn’s case, or agreesivly intimidate family members?
Today I am recalling words from, Pastor Pat Crisler, who spoke at Lynn Messer’s memorial service. A few phrases from the eulogy piqued my curiosity to a possibility…
“Lynn always loved education and learning new things. She later in life went on to college learning soil sciences, and agriculture which she was able to use later by serving on the local Soil and Water Board.
Lynn fell in love with foreign missions in Ecuador where she made numerous trips, made friends, and was looking forward to not only teaching and leading people to the Lord, but also was making plans to use her knowledge of soil science to help teach the indigenous people of Ecuador how to use their natural resources to better provide for their families.”
God loves to show us a reversal of fortunes/destiny. Where Lynn is concerned, I’ve thought about the possibility, prayed about it, and studied more about it since hearing the words. A couple of weeks after Lynn’s memorial service I pulled up Pat’s notes which he sent at my request and with Abram Messer’s permission. To my utter delight I found the title of Pat’s message is part of the Bible study I’ve been doing for this exact blog post.
The words from Pat’s message reminded me of something that happened in my life; a reversal of destiny.
Examples: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
To help you understand where I’m going with this; below is the title of the message and a few abbreviated points from, Pastor Pat Chrisler.
Message Title: FOR A SUDDEN, UNEXPECTED DEATH
Mark 4:35-41 (HCSB)
Wind and Wave Obey the Master
35 On that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him. 37 A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” 41 And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Seeking a break from the demand of the excited crowds, Jesus took a boat, and with some of his disciples, sailed off for some rest and relaxation. Suddenly their leisure day was disrupted by a violent storm. In that sudden storm, Jesus did an astounding thing. And in that we learn some things which can help us in the light of the devastating experience we seek to navigate through based on these last two years, and in the days to come.
First of all, we are reminded although the Sovereign of the universe is on the boat, it is no guarantee against the sudden—in this case, verse 37 tells us, a sudden storm.
Second, it may appear in these sudden experiences of life, which grieve us and threaten our sense of God’s nearness and care, that God is not doing anything.
Third, we can respond like Jesus’ disciples. Fear can replace faith. Jesus did hear their cries for help. He sprang into action. He spoke, and the winds ceased and the waves curled up around His feet like submissive tigers under the voice of their trainer. He then asked a penetrating question, “Why are you so afraid?”
When the sudden comes in our lives, the Sovereign Savior is looking for us to look at him.
Sudden storms also serve to turn us to Jesus as we see in verse 38.
The Sovereign of the Sudden does something else in our storms. He will assist others—who see us coming through our assault—so they too may find blessings in the storms they are facing.
Finally, storms remind us the Sovereign of the Sudden is in control. In verse 41 the disciples were overwhelmed by what they had seen. They had a new fear: a reverential fear. They had seen Jesus, with a word, rebuke wind and waves. They were reminded the Sovereign of the Sudden is in control when everything else seems to be totally out of control.
God’s plan and purpose for Lynn and for our lives are not subject to whims, accidents, circumstances, illnesses, and evil. God works through these to bring about his will.
We are not expecting the situation we have been put into. But what we do before any event in our lives is in preparation for how we handle the event. We have two options, we can react or we can respond. When you react it is negative when you respond it is positive. God allows us the choice to handle adversity either looking at it from a worldly lens or looking at it from His perspective.
It could be sort of like if one of Lynn’s grandkids were playing on her living room floor and looked up and saw her sewing a cross-stitch. From their perspective on the floor looking up they might say, “Grandma what are you doing, you are not making any sense, it looks like a mess?” Lynn would respond by saying, “I got it, I’m making a beautiful picture.” But all the child could see from where they sit was a mess. From Lynn’s perspective she responded with “I have this; I’m making a beautiful picture.” It would not be until the grandchild would stand up and walk around the chair so they are now looking over Grandmas shoulder would they be able to see and appreciate how beautiful a creation Lynn had truly been making all this time. Often times we look up into the heavens and we say, “God what are you doing? It doesn’t make sense, I don’t understand.”
All we see from our perspective is a messed up tapestry and yet God is saying, “From My perspective I am making a beautiful picture, do you trust me?” In those moments when you can’t TRACE THE HAND OF GOD, YOU HAVE TO TRUST THE HEART OF GOD!
Pastor Crisler’s message jogged my memory
We read in the book of Esther a celebration of a reversal of destiny. Although we read nothing of God in the book of Esther, the life of Esther has the fingerprints and heart of God all over it. History shows us what Esther at the moment couldn’t see. Yet she remained obedient to what she knew to be true. This is a wise and beautiful lesson for us today. When we can’t figure out what God is doing, where He is, perhaps we can’t sense His presence and we wonder if we will ever find Him; we must remember God is there. Some day we will look back on the most important or difficult times in our life and we will see God all over it! It may look like it took months, years, or a life time for the something to happen yet we will often see it had a turning point that was sudden.
In the book of Esther, everything Haman meant for evil; for the death of Mordicai and the destruction, slaughter and annihilation of the Jews; God suddenly reversed allowing the plans to be used against Haman, and provided for His chosen people to be saved. The intervention can only be explained as a work of God.
Here are more scriptural reversals of destinies:
Joseph’s brothers decided to harm him. They sold him to get rid of him. Joseph later sells food to his brothers to save them: Joseph’s brothers hated him and refused to listen to anymore of his, “You bow down to me dreams.” His brothers sold him to merchants on their way to Egypt. While in Egypt Joseph interpreted dreams, became 2nd in command over all of Egypt, saved his brothers, his father and their families, and the brothers bowed down before Joseph. Sold as a slave; becomes a ruler. Genesis 37-45
Pharaoh’s horses and riders surround the Israelites at the Red Sea. The Red Sea surrounds and drowns Pharaoh’s horses and riders. Exodus 14
King Nebuchadnezzar, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” He is driven away from people to live as a wild animal outside his kingdom. After 7 years King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. God restores Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity and kingdom to him. Daniel 4
King Darius’ men falsely accused Daniel so Daniel would be thrown in the lion’s den to his death. God saved Daniel, and the King’s men were thrown in the lion’s den to their deaths. Daniel 6
The Book of Esther
Queen Vashti was summoned to be seen. Suddenly she was seen no more.¹
Haddasah an orphaned Jewish girl among the exiles; the least and the last to ever be chosen becomes the Queen of Persia; royalty, wife of King Xerxes.
Haman who thought he had planned his own parade of honor suddenly finds himself parading around the person in his world who he hated the most; Mordicai.
Haman builds a 75 foot high pole in which to hang Mordicai but suddenly finds himself hanged on the very pole.
The irrevocable edict that will destroy, kill and annihilate the Jewish people and nation suddenly allows for the Jewish people to do the very same to anyone who tries to kill them.
The reversal that happened to Haman is a warning to us that vicious consequences can happen to us when planning violent acts or traps for others.
“God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” II Cor. 5:21
From darkness to light: “and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”Col. 1:12-13
“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” I Peter 2:10
Robber on the cross, not a believer, who was at that moment destined to hell; confessed with his mouth and suddenly, within minutes, found himself in heaven. Luke 23
Peter and John were fishers of fish who became fishers of men.
Paul: A persecutor of Christians became the persecuted.
Rich man; poor man, the rich man and Lazarus died and went different paths. The rich man enjoyed all his good on the earth and his agony in eternity. The poor man, Lazarus, received bad things on earth and comfort for eternity. Luke 16
When life seems impossible and overwhelming, as if the time for finding an answer is past, we must remember that for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and have asked Him to intercede in this difficulty, God sees us and He is actively at work in our lives.
As I was listening to, Pastor Pat Crisler, speak at Lynn’s memorial service the idea of praying about a reversal popped into my mind.
Remember how Lynn studied soil and wanted to help others through that studying? Put it in terms of a reversal:
-In life, Lynn led and studied soil to reveal a better living for people she cared about—In death, the study of soil will reveal if someone she cared about led to her demise.
-If someone was responsible for her death: Whoever hides the death of Lynn on soil—from the soil they will be found out.
-If someone disguised murder as a suicide tale …the suicide story will be exposed as murder.
-If there were deceitful accomplices in helping with or covering for a crime…their deceit will be uncovered.
Remember: the forensics testing hresults have not been released. If I read or heard on the news correctly, the FBI took soil samples which means they will be looking at all the layers of soil, fallen leaves and natural debris to see if it matches up with what was found on and around Lynn’s remains. It could possibly reveal if Lynn’s remains were located there the entire 2 years and 4 months, or if she was placed there after the fact.
Forensic Soil Analysis is the use of soil sciences and other disciplines to aid in criminal investigation. Soils are like fingerprints because every type of soil that exists has unique properties that act as identification markers.²
God, through scripture, has set the precedence that reversals can happen; which means we have permission and authority to pray for one. In doing so, let’s speak the Holy Spirit’s language: Scripture. As we ask our mediator, Jesus Christ, to present our requests to our Heavenly Father we can be assured that our desires are in line with what God can do and has delighted to do throughout history. If a crime was committed against Lynn Messer, let us together seek a reversal of destiny for the person or persons who need to be brought to justice. Lynn’s family longs for answers and justice over this traumatic event through which they are currently living.
All the ‘sudden’ unknowns to us are known by God. When the enemy interjects events and plans into our lives he thankfully doesn’t have the last say. Christ does. And Christ can intervene any way of His choosing. God can use the horrific, the thing we hate doing the most, and/or the crime or abuse that has been committed against us for good; it’s scriptural:. “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28 (NET). This doesn’t mean it is easy, right, or best. It does mean that if we invite God and allow Him, He will partner with us to bring good into our lives again. Perhaps allowing the partnership to help others, and lead others, on the same weary path you have travelled. Perhaps helping others avoid the path all together.
Let’s agree in prayer and pray these scriptures over the Lynn Messer case:
1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? 2 You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. 3 You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. 4 You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!
5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. 6 The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, 7 “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”
8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. 9 For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
We believe, therefore we speak (pray)
If there was deceit in Lynn’s sudden death we pray for the evidence to show truth and sudden revelation.
As was the case with my reversal of destiny, God was using the lapse of time to bring not just temporary protection and deliverance but permanent protection, deliverance and justice. God knows the truth of what happened to Lynn. Let’s pray for the investigators and prosecuting attorney to find truth, gain closure, and provide justice.
Let’s pray specifically. If we ask for nothing we can’t be disappointed. I like to throw caution to the wind; after all, our Great God commands the wind! I’m well aware that God is not a genie in a bottle. He answers in His time and His way with His Father heart full of love, mercy and wisdom, and sometimes the answer is—no, or not yet. But…when we specifically pray; God often precisely answers. When He does answer, and I know it’s an answer to a question or request I prayed, there is nothing more exhilarating than watching my little, tiny mustard seed of faith through prayer move Heaven. Knowing the God of all creation loves me, hears me, and interacts with me is the most fun, the highest high, the coziest comfort, and the biggest gift—EVER! All while knowing I did nothing to deserve it. I simply pray for His heart and will to be done and for Him to override my wants with His best; basing my prayers on His words; scripture.
I’ll add to, Pastor Pat Crisler’s, message title…For a Sudden, Unexpected Death, An Unexpected, Sudden Answer.
For a Sudden, Unexpected Death, An Unexpected, Sudden Answer. #JusticeForLynn
Thank you for joining in this prayer.
*This article is a re-write of: Lynn Messer: Reversal of Destiny, 2016.
¹Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman, Beth Moore; LifeWay Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 2008
I was invited and had the privilege of speaking at the For Such a Time as This Rally in Dallas, Texas. Our team had three goals to express to attendess of the Southern Baptist Convention:
#1 Treat women as equals like Jesus did.
#2 Establish a predator database.
#3 Mandatory training of pastors and seminarians regarding the handling of domestic abuse.
Although this was specifically for encouraging the Southern Baptist Convention held in Dallas, Texas, this week; my plea is to the universal church.
Below is the video of my talk. The generator went out moments before my turn to speak so we lost our mics, speakers, and live feed. Fortunately there was an iPad recording the event so we didn’t lose footage of the event. To listen to the rally you’ll have to turn up the volume. We were in sweltering heat, sun-baked and frying to a crisp, in the middle of downtown Dallas with city noise in the background; plus, a large open space absorbing my voice. I had to talk as loudly as possible to be heard by attendees and the media. I felt like I was screaming in an attempt to be heard which had me literally gasping for breath. Thanks to the Baptist disaster relief worker walking by who knew how to fix the problem and got the generator running again.
There are article links and the complete transcript included below.
I’m Carolyn Deevers from St. Louis, MO. I minister to women living in, or leaving, destructive marriages, and I write at Spiritual Battles.org about toxic relationships, abusive marriages and how God has used my prayers to navigate me through these life issues.
I’m here today speaking from experience as a survivor of sexual assault and domestic abuse by my former husband who was a pastor and a pedophilic offender. He’s now in prison for the rest of his life.
I’ve often heard people respond doubtfully, or roll their eyes, at the term emotional abuse. Let me clear up this misconception. I’ve endured all forms of abuse, but the one that was the most damaging, caused multiple health issues and repeatedly, most deeply wounded my heart, soul, mind and strength was emotional abuse.
I’m talking today because the church needs training on how to recognize and respond to allegations of domestic abuse, and because the evangelical church is long overdue on creating a database for tracking offenders.
Why are we so adamant about this you may ask? Allow me to ask you a question. When you hear the clopping of horse hooves what do you think of? Horses, right? But no, they aren’t horses; they’re zebras. These toxic men are the ‘zebras’ in this analogy. They are grand actors and magnificent manipulators. They may be sitting next to us in worship, Sunday school, or small group. They can be pastors, Sunday school teachers, our best friend, charming, smart, and biblically brilliant. They can be high functioning in their job, helpful in our time of need, and financially generous if hardship strikes us; all while destroying the wife and children at home.
It’s not just in the home though.
I hear from Christian women, pastor’s wives, and missionary’s wives around the globe who tell of angry, controlling men in places of leadership. These men would be fired in corporate America if they condescendingly talked down to, objectified, or told women their opinion didn’t matter since they aren’t a man. Yet, these things happen in some churches and we don’t bat an eye or grimace.
Some of these abusive personality types have gained places of high status within our churches, and their unbiblical view of women has trickled down through the ranks.
I recently read that Bible teacher and well-known author, Beth Moore, came to the same conclusion. She wrote there have been “attitudes among some key Christian leaders that smacked of misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women and it spread like wildfire.”
This is often the attitude abused women receive when they go to church leadership for help.
Dear Church, Jesus spent time on earth breaking cultural rules and traditions to love, heal, and bring women to the life God intended for them. Women were never an afterthought, or a second class citizen to Jesus. He didn’t deny, cover-up, enable, justify, or excuse anyone’s sin. Jesus would have been the one bringing this oppression to light; leaving no need for the #MeToo movement. Like Jesus, we need to come from a place of love; not a place of inconvenience or disbelief.
Unfortunately, I rarely hear of the church being a safe place for abused or assaulted women. The abuse is often minimized while they are told to continue submitting to their husband and/or forgiving their perpetrator.
My message to the church is:
Please don’t criticize women or question their timing when they come forward. We have no idea how long it took them to come to the realization that they weren’t the unstable party in the relationship after years of hearing everything was their fault.
Don’t tell them what to do. They’ve been controlled for years and they need to learn to make their own decisions and be able to live with them.
Often women are retraumatized by their pastor or someone in the church and are met with unbelief, church discipline, or expulsion. What they need is validation, a listening ear, prayer, and gifts of practical service and/or financial help.
It seems the church is the least safe place to deal with domestic abuse. I’m not asking you to learn how to counsel these women; I’m asking you to recognize domestic abuse and abusers, respond correctly to assault victims and refer these hurting souls to professionals who know how to meet their needs. And…when someone comes to us with allegations of a crime; our only choice is to call the authorities and allow them to investigate; no matter our personal opinion. Remember: Abusers are word spinners who tell half-truths and justify their behavior. When the woman is divulging the abuse and the man explains, justifies, minimizes, spiritualizes, and denies the severity of what she is describing; you are looking at the number one sign of dealing with an abuser; denial.
Let me clarify that not all professionals; in fact few, know how to help abusers which often makes them ineffective or harmful to the wife/survivor. (See today’s free resource sheet for help).
Please hear this:
God does not expect us to place the institution of marriage above the safety, sanity and health of women and children.
Couples counseling does not work for domestic abuse. They don’t need marital counseling. The abuser needs help for their abusive personality.
When teaching about marriage say something like this: Today we’re talking about a normal, marriage. If you’re in a destructive, abusive marriage where there is physical, sexual, verbal, financial, spiritual (I accidently left spiritual out at the rally), withholding, or emotional abuse by an angry and controlling spouse; please know we want to help you.
Statistics tell us that domestic abuse escalates with time and that abusers have little to no success rate for recovery (because they don’t desire to change); much like pedophilic offenders according to Don Hennessy, former director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency.
Because of this we need to put away the one size fits all, “God hates divorce” mantra. God hates the ongoing, active trauma that violates the wife.
Without intense training you can’t help the victim because of the academy award-winning performance the abuser is giving you. This is one reason you need a database.
Sex crimes investigators and prosecutors across our nation agree that some predators (and people with narcissistic personality disorder) go to Christian college and seminary to gain lifetime access to an endless supply of victims. These professionals also say that with the rise of internet pornography they are seeing women becoming predators.
Please consider this list of concerns when designing a database for the recording of patterns/behavior if they should continue for years:
Evidence that led to divorce
Sex offender registry
This is essential to safe-guarding the people entrusted to your care.
Here are examples of why a database would have been helpful based on my experience with my former husband.
Lost ministries multiple times for being angry, controlling and deceitful to leadership.
Lost a ministry for grooming and molesting of young children without charges ever being filed.
Allegations of unfaithfulness.
Again being investigated for grooming and crimes against children. In the middle of this investigation he found a new senior pastor position at another church.
He had a 30 year history. He attended summer church camps where he slept next to young boys in the dorms and he travelled internationally as an evangelist working in orphanages.
In the middle of the last investigation he obtained a senior pastor position at another church. No one ever called to ask me why I left him or why I had his parental rights revoked. I kept psychological and psychiatric test results, doctors’ notes on their official letterhead, and prescription receipts; for serious and some dark psychiatric disorders; database worthy documents. Most people live a normal life with their mental illnesses; with pedophilia thrown in the mix; he did not. He continued landing ministries because there was no ministry database.
Here is my challenge: Please, go back to your churches or institutions and schedule mandatory domestic abuse training for your staff and anyone who holds a place of leadership so you’ll be ready next time. And please, develop and begin using a database.
DALLAS, TX – June 5, 2018 – Discussing and responding to the epidemic of abuse within Protestant Christianity’s largest denomination has long been overdue. A rally to outline the prevalence of abuse and its enablement within the Southern Baptist Convention will be held at the SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday, June 12th. Called the For Such a Time as This Rally, the organizers will gather outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and invite any who are concerned about abuse in the Church to attend.
Organizers are gathering for these reasons:
1. The time has come for women to be respected and honored within the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention—as Scripture teaches. 2. The time has come for a clergy sex offender database for the Southern Baptist Convention. 3. The time has come for mandatory training of all pastors and SBC seminaries on the issues of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Many rally organizers and attendees are involved in Southern Baptist Churches or have deep roots in the SBC. “The event is not anti-Southern Baptist or anti-Christian,” said Cheryl Summers, one of the rally organizers. “We are advocating for a reform of culture, and for training of pastors and church leaders. We follow Christ’s example who treated women with dignity and honor as equal, valuable members of His Church when the culture of His day did not.”
Cheryl noted the recent scandals that made this rally necessary, saying, “In recent weeks as the Paige Patterson scandal has erupted, the faulty ideas within the SBC about women, abuse and sexual assault have proven to be tragically systemic. We are praying for reform, but also are moved to respond, insisting that respect for women is rooted in Scriptural teachings and the culture within the Church needs to change.”
Speaking at the event will be abuse survivors and victim advocates including Ashley Easter, founder of The Courage Conference, an annual gathering of survivors and advocates; author, speaker, and advocate Mary DeMuth; the pastor of Emmanuel Enid Church, Wade Burleson; author and speaker Dr. Christy Sim, Carolyn Deevers, abuse survivor, writer and advocate and Gricel Medina, a pastor, writer, and advocate.
“The same systemic failures that silenced the victims of Paige Patterson also enabled him to remain in power for years,” said Ashley Easter, noting Paige Patterson’s abusive teachings and behaviors were known for decades. “We believe the time is long overdue for Christian women—and men—to work together and insist systemic changes in the treatment of women in the SBC.”
Carolyn Deevers, an abuse victim advocate and survivor of an abusive marriage to a pastor added, “When an abused spouse comes to the church or an institution with abuse allegations they are often told to be silent, submit, and stay in the abusive relationship. This faulty advice leads to more abuse as well as death,” Deevers indicated, citing how similar advice from recently-terminated SWBTS President, Paige Patterson, was used to keep women in dangerous situations. “The Church’s track record on these cases has made it one of the least safe places for victims to find help,” Deevers concluded.
Reference guides by victim advocates and professionals on how to respond to abuse disclosures will be distributed at the rally. Included will be a recommended reading list for pastors to build knowledge and understanding on how abuse works and ways to minister to the wounded and vulnerable. Rally organizers aim to share these best practices with the hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors and Southern Baptist Convention leadership who attend the annual conference. Rally organizers chose the name “For Such a Time as This” in reference to Queen Esther, a woman who was a victim of sex trafficking and refused to be silent to her authoritarian husband, the king of Persia. Esther’s story shows the courage that is required to speak necessary, hard-to-hear truths (cf. Esther 4:14).
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror. Psalm 10:17-18 (NIV)
Paul’s words to husbands, “love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” Col. 3:19 (NIV)
Here is the final installment of this series. Let’s tie it all together to consider the lens through which God sees this in the Bible; not just a select few verses. We’ve read numerous texts throughout scripture to see what a woman’s role is in marriage, the church, and our culture. Now let’s consider our responsibility to abuse victims and survivors.
Take a fresh look at the Proverbs 31:10-31. It shows absolutely no glimpse of a woman under the thumb of an angry and controlling husband, or living in a subordinate role of an authoritarian man.
Her husband trusts her completely and knows he will lack nothing in his relationship with her, and lack nothing as she runs their household. He knows she will always do him good. She is wise, creative, a business woman, energetic, and provides for her household and her servants. She is free to make purchases and decides how to farm the land. She is strong physically and in character. She makes good, informed decisions and keeps her house fully prepared for its needs. She keeps her family clothed and is a social advocate for the poor. She is confident! She lends to her husband being well-known at the gates. She is a positive, grateful, wise thinker. Her husband loves that she’s a strong, independent, capable woman and he praises her for it.
Back to the New Testament…
Jesus didn’t sit quietly or close His eyes when He saw sexism or prejudice. He didn’t stay silent to keep from offending someone. He didn’t turn away as women were being abused or belittled. He didn’t tell anyone it was their lot in life to go pray and wait on God to change the other person’s angry, abusive heart toward them. He didn’t cover His ears as women called out to Him. Jesus wasn’t sensitive to cultural or political leanings when He saw injustice and sin. He didn’t try to run a smoke screen to blind society from the ugliness of what was happening. He didn’t tell condescending, distasteful jokes about women or girls. He didn’t defend men who perpetrated sin or made accusations against women so as to not bring ruin upon the man’s job or place of leadership. He kept one thing on His ever-loving mind; His Father’s business.
Paul, whose writings are most used against women in the church, was a man who worked alongside many women while travelling, ministering and preaching. He mentioned at least 10 such women by name.
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God has used women to speak, lead, prophecy, and change the world. God has always empowered women to think for themselves, held women accountable for their own sins, and used women in miraculous, history changing ways.
Does the Bible say we should confront the injustice of sexual assault, misogyny, and abusive marriages; call it out and do something? Yes, it does, when we apply these scriptures:
Prov. 31:8-9 “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Is. 1:17 “seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause”.
Jer. 22: 3 “Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. Do no wrong to the resident alien, the fatherless and widow.”
1 John 3:17-18 “But if anyone has the world’s good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in you?
Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”.
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When we have a heart for injustice that means we’re reflecting the compassion, mercy, and empathy of God. We are being a voice for those who have no voice, and are advocating for those who are oppressed or abused.
God does not care for men more than women. Women are equally as important, valued, and worthy in the eyes of God. Jesus spent time on earth breaking cultural rules and regulations to love, heal, and bring women to the life God intended for them. Women were never an afterthought, or a second class citizen to Jesus. And that is why I stand for women and speak out for women. It doesn’t mean I think men don’t face injustice or abuse (because they do) it just means that for me, personally, I am called to share my story and lessons learned, and be one who advocates for women – just like Jesus did.
Thankfully, Jesus didn’t have an unbending view of marriage any more than He had a narrow view of the Sabbath. Jesus is about relationship and putting people first. Jesus wouldn’t leave a woman living in an abusive situation; He would lead her to freedom.
Men have repeatedly been taught that they are to be the authority in the home. Angry and controlling men take this to an extreme, even when told they are to love like Christ. In their minds they believe the decisions they make are the wisest and best; and therefore that makes them loving…like Christ.
Male headship doesn’t cause abuse. No, that’s not what I’m saying, but it certainly intensifies it when practiced by an abusive spouse. Using words like leader, authority, patriarchy, and headship in church fans the flames of abuse in an angry and controlling man.
Patriarchy was a symptom of the curse in the garden; it was never part of God’s plan.
Jesus’ death and resurrection broke the curse of patriarchy. Jesus’ finished work on the cross confirms the dignity of all human life.
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Here are unifying scriptures no matter our background, church affiliation, doctrinal beliefs, social agenda, or political leanings:
·All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ. Matthew 28:18.
·A command that carries through the old and new testaments is this: Love one another as Jesus has loved us. John 13:34
·Those of us living under the new covenant have all been gifted by the Holy Spirit and our sons and daughters shall prophesy. Acts 2:17.
· We have clothed ourselves with Christ…there is neither male nor female. Galatians 3:27-28
·It’s about serving; not leading. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21.
·“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:10.
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Biblical womanhood in marriage is this: be who God has created us to be. The Bible is filled with women who defied cultural and traditional norms, held positions of authority, took huge risks, and changed history. So, serve Jesus in whatever way He has created you to, calls you to, and gifts you to through loving service. There is freedom in Christ! You are not under bondage and do not have to submit to any form of abuse.
I encourage women to trust their judgment and speak up; if safety allows. If you are in an unsafe situation; leave immediately and seek help. In the margin of this website you will find help and safety precautions.
Men, I encourage you to value the women around you like the Proverbs 31 husband esteemed his wife.
Thank you for considering a woman’s role…biblically.
Let’s consider Abigail from I Samuel 25. We’ll study her a bit more because we are talking about angry, controlling, abusive men and Abagail was married to one. Nabal was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy. His refusal to feed David’s men; as was the custom; especially since David’s men protected him, prompted David to set out to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to him. On his way, David met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day. If Abigail would have done what any good, culturally correct woman should have and asked her husband’s permission, think of what could have unfolded. Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse? Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous. David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions. Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.
The 5 Daughters of Zelophead: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah stood fearless and firm and as a result reformed the culture of their day. Because they spoke up they reversed precedent and claimed possession of their father’s inheritance. Numbers 27 & 36, Josh 17.
Rahab made a business deal with spies and saved her family. She is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Joshua 2 & 6.
Ruth the Moabite boldly presented herself to Boas for protection and marriage. She was used mightily of the Lord as the great grandmother of King David and is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Ruth 3.
Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram, whose motherly instinct took over fled danger to protect her son from death. She helped preserve the future of Israel. 2 Kings 11.
Esther was a world changer. She could have stayed quiet and lived a cushy life as queen but instead risked her life. She went before her husband, the King, uninvited and unannounced which in her culture meant it was probable she would be put to death. She was strong, courageous, humble, wise, and respectful. She was a leader and she was a history maker who helped save all Jews from being destroyed, killed and annihilated.
Mary was a young woman of tremendous strength. She placed her joy in the Lord over submission to her betrothed husband. Jesus could’ve come a thousand different ways but God chose to send Him through a young woman. Mary surrendered her life and her reputation to the purposes of God. At a wedding feast Jesus submitted to His mother, Mary; although not immediately, and his obedience to her led to His first public miracle and ministry on earth.
Jesus sought out the Samaritan woman at the well whom men shouldn’t have been speaking to because of cultural racism and sexism. Jesus had no political or cultural leanings; He simply came to do the will of His Father. Jesus cared about the woman’s deep hurt and told her of her past sins; not to shame her but to heal her. Her testimony of Jesus led many to become believers. John 4.
Priscilla, Lydia, and Nympha were all women who had churches in their homes.
Priscilla helped explain the way of God more adequately to Apollos. Acts 18:26. She was an effective mentor. Paul highly esteemed women he co-labored with for Christ. Paul sometimes wrote Priscilla’s name first; a rarity for his culture. Some theologians believe she may have been the better, or more frequent, teacher rather than Aquilla.
Mary and Martha: in a culture where women were expected to be busy running the house and serving meals; Jesus told Martha, in a round-about way, that He didn’t hold them to the same expectation. Luke 10:40-41
When the woman “caught in the act of adultery” was thrown at Jesus’ feet by men calling for justice (stoning for her but not the man she was caught with), Jesus doodled in the sand, calling the men out on their double standard. They all promptly left. Jesus advocated for an injustice against a woman. Jesus dealt with sexism- double standards for men and women, as well as violence towards women. John 8. Nope, Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to any of it!
A sinful woman rushes in at a private dinner and falls at Jesus’ feet weeping. She wets his dirty feet with her tears and pours expensive perfume (her life’s savings) on His feet and dries His feet with her hair. Talk about some angry and controlling religious leaders! How dare she! That money could have been better used; likely in their pockets. Jesus defended her in front of all the leaders while rebuking them…in front of the woman. Luke 7:36-50
The four single, young daughters of Philip the Evangelist had the gift of prophecy and their ministry is mentioned in the Book of Acts. They represent boldness, courage and a willingness to step out for the Lord no matter age, gender, or cultural traditions.
This is the third part in a series on what scripture has to say about a woman’s worth and role. Read Part 1 here…Part 2 here…
We have the potential to defeat one of Satan’s longest standing lies. Nothing has brought more harm to women across the earth than men who think women have less value and abilities; other than Christian men who think the same about their sisters-in-Christ and wrongly apply a few scriptures toward us instead of looking at the entirety of God’s Holy Word. Satan has meant to destroy, kill, and annihilate a woman’s worth. Let’s turn it around on him and destroy, kill, and annihilate his hold on us; in Jesus’ name!
At this time in history the secular world is working on this more than the church.
Women who are married to angry, controlling, abusive men need people who will believe them, advocate for them, and hold their abuser accountable; not tell them to stop complaining, submit, stay, pray, and wait on God to change their husband’s heart. This advice leads to more abuse; or death. This advice stems from misapplied scripture; often from I Peter 3.
Let’s pull several scriptures together and look at the big picture.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28.)
Jesus’ time on earth included Him being purposeful toward women. He came to set the captives free; including women! He protected, honored, listened to, empowered, confided in, was funded by, respected, celebrated, saved, gave them their voice back, made them the first witnesses to His resurrection in a society where women’s testimonies were not respected, told them to go and tell about His resurrection, allowed women to be taught alongside men, and spoke of women as examples to follow. Hmm, no patriarchal or authoritarian suppression from Jesus!
Scripture supports this over and over, so to the woman living in the middle of a destructive, abusive marriage, allow me to show you more scripture that teaches of a woman’s worth in the eyes of God:
“The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng: “Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder. Psalm 68:11-12
God leaves us a written record of woman after woman who spoke out and up, taught, interacted, made decisions and negotiated on their own accord.
Let’s look at some examples:
Moses’ sister Miriam displayed remarkable intelligence and confidence. She not only helped to save her brother’s life but also helped set Israel’s deliverance in motion. Exodus 2.
The fifth of the ten commandments says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12. Notice it doesn’t say, “wife and children honor the man of the house” but rather the parents are listed as a team. This shows no reference to a patriarchal led family.
Here is an interesting tidbit out of Exodus 21:7-11: “If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do.If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her.If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter.If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights.If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.” God provided female servants a way out of abusive marriages…in the Old Testament…because He doesn’t want a woman to be trapped in a relationship with an angry, controlling, and withholding man…even if she was bought as a servant. Read that again, sweet friend, who has been told over and over that God’s hates and forbids divorce.
Achsah, daughter of Caleb, acted in faith by boldly asking her father for, and claiming, additional blessing for her family. Joshua 15, Judges 1.
Deborah was a judge and leader of the Israelite army – see Judges 4-5. The account in Judges 4 says that, “the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided”. She did this while also being a wife.
Miriam is referred to as one of the leaders of Israel in Micah 6:4. She was considered an equal with Moses and Aaron as you read their interactions in Exodus and Numbers.
God used the prophetess Huldah during the time of the prophet Jeremiah, proving that God did not lack willing men to preach His messages. When the book of the Law was rediscovered in the reign of King Josiah, five officials, including the High Priest (considered the highest spiritual leader at the time), went to seek out the counsel of Prophetess Huldah. She authenticated the scrolls and then proceeded to preach a message from them bringing Israel into a great revival. She was educated, articulate, and well-known for her ability. Isaiah’s wife was also a prophetess.
In part 4 we will continue with more examples of God esteeming and using women for His purpose in marriage, in the culture, and in the body of Christ.
Here is the continuation of Part one where we looked at several scriptures written by Paul to see if they were literal or cultural, and saw that marital love is not controlling; it’s mutually submitting and looking out for the best interest of the other; it’s about serving.
Here is what the Bible teaches a healthy wife/marriage/woman looks like:
First let’s look at headship. This excerpt was printed in the Well Planned Gal (Fellow homeschool mom, author, and speaker.)
“The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church…”
If we want to understand “husband headship,” then we must understand Christ’s headship of the Church. So, how is Christ the head of the Church?
Christ’s “headship” in relation to the Church is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament:
Colossians 1:18 – Christ is metaphorical head of the Church, source of life after death
Colossians 2:18-19 – Christ as metaphorical head of the Church, to help her flourish
Ephesians 5:23 & 25 – Christ as metaphorical head of the Church, saving her, loving her, giving himself up for her
Ephesians 1:20-23 – Church is metaphorical body of Christ, Christ provides for Church’s growth
Ephesians 4:15-16 – Church is metaphorical body of Christ, Christ equips the Church for growth through love
These are beautiful and sacrificial examples.
I don’t see anger, a need to control, condescension, withholding, gas lighting/crazy making, authoritarian, usurped leadership, final decision maker, or supreme ruler anywhere in this verses.
Is Christ a leader? Yes. Is Christ a ruler who sits on a throne? Yes. Does Christ know the answer to everything? Yes. Is there anywhere in scripture that calls husbands to be this type of head/leader over their wives? No.
I came to this point in my thinking after often seeing that the results/fruits of male headship were abuse, control, codependence, inequality, pride, and the suppression of the Holy Spirit. I decided it was time for me to study the word and seek to find if scripture had been misapplied.
The analogy about Christ and the Church and marriage in Ephesians 5 is a metaphor that speaks of unity in marriage. It speaks to the oneness of a husband and wife.
In Ephesians 5:23, the verse says, “…the husband is the head of the wife.” It makes sense to interpret this as he is in authority over her; however, there are better ways that more accurately line up with the whole of scripture when understanding what Paul as saying. In its entirety it’s about unity. You may read a more detailed study of this here…Don’t lose your head over doctrine by Tim Fall.
The rest of the passage describes Jesus as a husband, but not in terms of authority, but rather as one who sacrificially loves her. This is a better way to interpret this passage and matches the heart of God.
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”
“For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11
As for creation… “So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31. If men believe and teach otherwise they are contradicting God.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:8
Of course God knew all this before He created man and woman. Perhaps God wanted Adam to understand how alone and unsatisfied he was until Eve was made. Adam needed her and wanted her.
We will not find anywhere in scripture where the Lord mandates or suggests that that the husband holds the right to make decisions for his wife. I Corinthians 7:1-6 sets the precedence that decisions are to be made together. There’s no better way to make those decisions together than through prayer.
The more I study this topic the more I realize I’ve believed some lies about not only me and marriage, but about God, for many years. I’ve been guilty of believing what people have taught me instead of studying for myself. I don’t understand why male headship/authority/dominance has been taught in the New Testament church. This doesn’t fit the example, mind, or heart of Christ.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8
Scripture teaches love, service, humility, sacrifice. It doesn’t teach patriarchy but rather equality, mutual decision making, mutual submission; beautiful, purposeful relationship.
The wrong thoughts I’ve believed, or lived under, women have lived under for centuries to silence, intimidate, invalidate, objectify,and hold them down. The ideas are straight from the enemy; Satan – the father of lies, and I believe it’s one of the most crippling and damaging lies the church has believed.
He gives women their true freedom and equality.
Next time we will look at an abundance of scriptures that verifies these truths.
This series focuses on a woman’s worth, and a woman’s role in marriage. The Bible is proof positive that God has an active role for women in society, the church, and in marriage.
Abusers join many Christians in the belief that a woman is scripturally mandated to obey and submit to her husband, and church leadership, in all things. They teach he is the head; as in the leader and final decision maker. Abusers take this belief and magnify it.
I advocate for abused women because they are people made in the image of God. I am a voice speaking against abuse and suffering because God asks us to stand for the weak and defenseless.
Speaking of weak; women who are living in, or are survivors of, domestic abuse are not weak as some would call weakness. They are the strongest people I know. They are tired. They are lonely…yes, married women can be lonely. There isn’t much worse than being an unloved woman living with the man who promised to love, cherish, and honor her. It’s painful to remember what the future was meant to be. And, many women are ‘weak’ because disease brought on by marital stress and trauma racks their body.
Many of the women I minister to, whose husbands are angry and controlling men; of which many have character/personality disorders; all have one thing in common ̶ their husbands like to wield scripture over them as a means to control them. For most women, this began at a young age when they married around college age. For others it happened after carefully and prayerfully screening the relationship; only to find out after saying ‘I do’ that they were conned by a master deceiver. These women have heard the same statements for years and many believe what they’ve repetitively been told; the marital problems are entirely their fault and if they would stop complaining everything would be fine. Many have been told they have little to no rights: the house is his, the money is his, the vehicles are his, the kids are his, and possessions are his. They often have to ask permission for what they want and need; as well as, where they want to go, who they want to see, or with whom they want to talk. These men typically elevate men over women in the family, in marriage, in the work environment and in the church. But…you’ll never know it because he’s so charming with others.
I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:23 and I Peter 3:1-6 are frequently used as ammunition to keep a wife quiet and restrained. So is the fall in Genesis.
The curse and the resulting power struggle between Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 doesn’t describe the way it should be, but the way it will be. Adam would now desire to control his wife and Eve would find it easy to enable him out of guilt for what had happened, or possibly wanting him to make the decisions out of fear she would mess up…again. Why? Because sin damaged the relationship that God created.
In this series I want to weave our way through God’s words where women can find hope and healing, and the church perhaps can read scripture anew. I know theologians disagree on this topic, but I’m trying to take into account individual verses, stories found in scripture, and pair them with Jesus’ ministry on earth and His heart for healthy relationships. I think it paints a different picture than what the church often teaches regarding a woman’s role in marriage. We may disagree but hopefully we can agree that when we all get to heaven and stand before God, there likely will be no one person, church, or organization to which God says, “Well done, you understood and applied every verse of scripture perfectly.”
To me, if verses are going to be cherry picked (singled out and applied according to how one wants to view them) then the same standard/precedence should be applied to all verses:
Let’s compare what Paul said with what these same husbands would ascribe scripture as meaning according to their opinion: (I use a bit of hyperbole in some of the explanations). I’m using Paul’s writings since he highly esteemed women who worked alongside him in ministry.
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Romans 16:16 is usually interpreted as cultural…but a handshake works better and is used instead of a kiss.
“…the head of the woman is man…” I Corinthians 11:3 is quite clear…period! This means the man does the thinking and speaking in the marriage.
“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” I Timothy 2:8 is also taught as…yes, you guessed it; cultural and that it means: worship God. Don’t fist fight in church.
“I also want the women to dress modestly… not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” I Timothy 2:9 is most obviously cultural and means women shouldn’t flaunt their wealth and shouldn’t attempt to be beautiful only on the outside since God looks at the heart.
I Timothy 6:1 – “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect.” Once more; cultural. God was not and is not sanctioning slavery or human trafficking. This verse was specific to that time period.
I Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” The Bible says it plainly. Stop using ‘culture’ to push a feminist agenda.
Ephesian 5:23 says, “The husband is the head of the wife.” God means what He says and says what He means.
2 Timothy 2:15, “But women will be saved through child-bearing – if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety.” Well…that can’t be accurate or literal. It sets conditions on receiving free grace. Women do not receive salvation when they give birth to their first child. We need to take a look at the situation/setting and not take one verse out of context.
And a popular verse on the subject written by Peter:
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands.” I Peter 3:1. The Bible says it. That settles it. (Don’t blame us. It wasn’t our idea!) Of course, angry and controlling men completely ignore verse 7 of the same chapter. Submission is a two-way street.
Angry and controlling husbands usually believe the thoughts and opinions of women are not important, are unqualified, silly, or wrong and that the man’s responsibilities are to be leaders and decision makers. Some even believe and practice disciplining their wives (verbally and/or physically).
God’s word is not for controlling His children, suppressing us, or making us miserable. It’s for achieving freedom, abounding blessings, correction, wisdom and protection.
We will not find anywhere in scripture where marital love is controlling; it’s mutually submitting and looking out for the best interest of the other; it’s about serving. Man is never to take the place of the Holy Spirit in anyone’s life; and by requiring a woman to obey and submit to a man/husband in all things removes room for the relational work of the Holy Spirit in her life.
Next time we will look at part 2: What the Bible teaches a healthy wife/marriage/woman looks like.
Take a look at the website to read what it’s all about and pray about what you can do:
Educate yourself on the issue so you’re ready to respond if the need arises
Follow on social media
Spread the word on social media
Pray for the event and for the SBC to usher in a new season of respect for women and for the training of SBC leadership and pastors. For the SBC to bring a renewed commitment to standing with abused women.
In case you’re not active on Twitter, I’ll tell you that tweets have been flying for a few months regarding a woman’s place and value in the gospel, and in our current society. Some of the most abashing comments come from mature, well-known leaders in the Christian community.
I’ve addressed this on Twitter and in past blog posts. Beth Moore has addressed this on Twitter several times, but today she took the time to post an open letter on the Living Proof Ministries blog.
Beth continues on, telling about an encounter with a giant in the faith. This is a scenario sisters-in-Christ face day in and day out from some Christian brothers; married ones none-the-less. I’ve lost track of the times brothers didn’t keep eye contact with me because their eyes were busy looking my every curve up and down. Enough! We aren’t blind or naive; we know what you’re doing.
Back to Twitter: It isn’t full of anti-woman rhetoric only. There are many men interjecting support, hope, words of affirmation and healing, and statements and questions of accountability to those who do not show the heart of Jesus to God’s daughters. Thank you!
I’ve wanted to address teachings sometimes heard in the church regarding marital abuse because it is this type of teaching that kept me and countless other Christian sisters in abusive marriages. I didn’t know if I would make it out alive, but did. Some women and children haven’t made it out alive.
Cases that have recently been in the headlines include, but unfortunately are not limited to:
Bill Cosby sexual assault and rape law suits include 58 alleged victims, 19 of which will be testifying against him in court. Jury selection for the Cosby trial is set to begin March 29 at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. The trial is scheduled for April 2.
Harvey Weinstein is an American film producer and executive who is currently under investigation for multiple sexual assaults of at least 80 women which spanned 30 years. This scandal triggered similar allegations against powerful men around the world. It spurred the #MeToo movement.
Andy Savage who is the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN sexually assaulted a girl in his youth group when he was a youth pastor 20 years ago. The staff at Highpoint supports and is attempting to save Savage’s ministry.
Cases against Bill Gothard (and his board), founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles. This was a ministry where teens left their homes to live at headquarters to help with ministry opportunities. With my background, I still find it disturbing that an unmarried single man ran a ministry where he had constant unsupervised time alone with individual students. This is child safety and ministry safety 101 at any Christian based institution and has been for decades: For the students’ protection they are to NEVER be left alone with one person. There is safety in numbers. (Unfortunately many pastors, staff, and teachers don’t adhere to this safety measure).
Josh Duggar: Ashley Madison scandal and reports of child sexual molestation.
The wife of Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee left him and is living in a shelter for safety and provisions. Although Greg Locke denies any wrong doing on his part I’ve read the hateful, scathing text messages he sent his wife about her weight, her looks, his disdain for her, and in which he used profane language against her. He was having a reported, emotional if not physical, relationship with his wife’s best friend who is also his secretary.
Ravi Zacharias sexual grooming relationship with a woman not his wife. This case was settled out of court and neither side can legally speak about it. This is convenient for Ravi because I was sent some of the text messages/emails and there is no way he can conveniently talk his way out of his wrong doing. I won’t ever be able to listen to him teach again knowing what he wrote. Some of it was sinful and some of it was weird, but all of it was an abuse of his ministry position.
I receive correspondence from pastor’s wives and missionary’s wives around the world who tell of abuse they suffer from their husbands.
I minister to around 25 women in my area, the Christian homeschool community, who are living through or leaving severe abuse from their husbands.
Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar (associated with Michigan State University) of sexually abusing her as a teenager, a case that led to more than 250 other victims coming forward for their day in court.
Rachael is a Christian who received her law degree from the Christian Oak Brook College of Law. This makes her the best credentialed child sexual abuse survivor to lead the charge in ridding our churches and institutions of predators, and teaching the public to always: believe the children first, contact the authorities second, and allow the law to sort it out.
Let me begin by stating my disagreement with Piper’s recent teaching in his article: Sex abuse allegations and the egalitarian myth. Piper’s argument is that the egalitarian doctrine, which teaches all people are equal in fundamental worth and social status and deserve equal rights and opportunities, has led to men becoming abusers since he doesn’t believe this is the way God intended men and women to function.
I highly disagree with his reasoning. Abuse is not a theological/doctrinal or marriage problem. It is an abuse problem. I find absolutely no scripture to back Piper’s claim. Jesus calls sin; sin.
Dear beloved church,
We must do better.
To be continued…
Afer all if we buy into, “Boys will be boys” we are reinforceing “Girls have no humanity; they’re just objects.”
This is a series of writings from women living in difficult, disappointing, or destructive marriages…or leaving destructive marriages/relationships. When women are physically abused the harm is often visible, but what about verbal and emotional abuse? The injury is internal…on the heart, soul, mind and strength. You may never guess her husband rages in a different way but the family knows. Her body knows and it often manifests in depression, anxiety, and/or auto-immune diseases. Allow me to show you the inner cries of these women’s hearts.
These are all true accounts from women I personally know.
Allow me to introduce you to Ellie...college educated, works in the non-profit sector, volunteers in her community, attends church and a women’s Bible study, has a small home-based business and all this while she homeschools her children. She has been emotionally traumatized by her husband, shunned by her family and his family when she finally told what was going on in her home, and chastised by her church for telling the leadership about her marital problems.
Several Christian counselors listen, understand and agree there are major problems but their patriarchal background leads them to encourage her to pray, wait on the Lord, and never say a disagreeing word to her husband.
Ellie has recently found excellent Christ-centered counselors who are giving her hope, validation, and practical application for setting boundaries to protect the safety and peace of her home. They have gently led her away from the hold of the false patriarchal teaching that keeps women and daughters living as objects instead of humans with worth and needs, and who should be regarded as precious treasure.
“She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 3:15 (NIV)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I never want less of you.
I’ve found that the mountain top experiences,
The power, the deep relationship,
Hearing Your voice
Come when I’m walking, sometimes crawling through the valleys.
For me, an ordinary life does not equate to extraordinary Relationship
But I’m tired, weary, under attack on all sides and I obtain no relief from my tormentors.
Those who I need love from most are not capable of reciprocating.
It’s painful to love but not be loved.
Thank you for Your sustaining love.
You are love.
May I show the Invisible visible to a watching world.
You are the only answer to why I am still whole.
Give me more of You; Your power, Your ways, Your purpose.
In case you haven’t seen the headline I’ll fill you in on yet another spiritual battle taking place in the church.
I‘m referring to the applause of a crowd that was unfortunately heard around the globe, and no one was listening more intently than abuse survivors and non-Christians. It was sad, it was wrong, and as an abuse survivor I can tell you; in a way it revictimized many souls.
It involves Andy Savage, the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. According to the church website “Andy’s personal mission statement is, ‘Making God make sense, starting at home then everywhere else.’ Whether Andy is teaching, writing, or relationship coaching, Andy strives to live out his life’s passion of creatively communicating God’s truth in a way that connects with people where they are. Andy teaches every Sunday at one of three Highpoint campuses and is the lead visionary for marriage, parenting, and family life ministry. He is also a national speaker, the author of multiple books, and host of the Andy Savage Radio Show and podcast.”
I understand mistakes and the folly of youth. Seriously, I regretfully took many field trips dedicated to the foolishness of youth. This sexual assault case goes beyond a youthful mistake. Even if it were consensual, which it wasn’t according to the victim and the church in Texas. Texas law considered the age difference and the act a felony, and the Bible considers it sin.
What concerns me about the Andy Savage situation is that over the years he has so easily disassociated from his deception. These types of people are the ones who can be the most spiritually, physically, and sexually dangerous.
I can’t imagine how difficult this is for Mr. Savage’s wife. From past experience I can make an educated guess and deduct that if she had heard anything about it; it didn’t begin to resemble the truth.
Here are 14 points the church needs to understand:
1) Most churches error on this: The church body tends to value the institution (church) above the safety and health of the one who is/was being abused. Most of all, the church is valuing the institution over Jesus.
2) “She said that a pastor of the church, The Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, urged her to stay quiet when she told him what had happened. Instead of telling her to inform the authorities, he told her that the church would address the episode internally.” This is typical. The church believes they need to protect the reputation of the church and of Jesus. They often use the scripture from 1 Corinthians 6 about not taking a believer to court. This amounts to incorrectly applying scripture. The church’s responsibility was to call law enforcement and allow them to investigate. It was also the church’s job to remove Andy Savage from ministry and follow-up on any new ministry Andy Savage attempted to gain.
3) There is a huge difference between forgiveness and restoration of relationship; personally or professionally.
4) Any church leader or staff, regardless of age, who sexually victimizes another person, should never again be in a position of leadership (I Timothy 3 & Ephesians 5:3).
5) If you are informed about a past sexual ‘incident’ or abuse by a church leader it is NOT appropriate to give the said church leader a standing ovation. For any reason…ever!
6) If you are informed about a past sexual ‘incident’ or abuse by a church leader it is ALSO NOT appropriate to justify or make minimizing statements about the victim.
7) Andy Savage went against scripture and went against church policy yet the church partially blamed her. No! He was her youth leader. He committed a crime.
8) “When a person tells factually true things to cast an impression that they know to be false, they’re lying even though everything they’ve said is true. And they KNOW they are lying.” Dr. George Simon Jr., PhD. clinical psychologist with decades of experience working w/ abusers.
9) After Andy finished addressing the congregation, church members stood and applauded him for about 20 seconds. The lead pastor at Highpoint, Chris Conlee, told the congregation that he supported Mr. Savage, who he said was one of the people “hurt by the ripple effect of the consequences of that sin.” I wonder if Pastor Conlee understands the depth of the problem? He should be supporting Andy Savage in resigning from the ministry and directing him and his wife to excellent counseling. For Mrs. Savage, I highly recommend Christ centered counselor Leslie Vernick who is accessible on the internet, and/or Patrick Doyle who can be found on YouTube.
10) Church, I understand that you may have been replying, “We love you too” when you gave the standing ovation. Andy closed with, “I love you all very much,” at which point, you, the congregation rose to applaud. I imagine you didn’t mean to applaud a sexual crime. But it still gave painful implications. When is the church going to stop with harsh judgments and quick grace at the wrong time and places? This deeply wounds victims of sexual abuse, marital unfaithfulness, and domestic violence.
11) If Andy Savage were truly repentant he would stop defending himself. His goal would be to cause no further harm to the victim.
12) I often see defendants in abuse cases use spiritual language as a powerful weapon of deception.
13) After watching the church service and comparing it to his radio interview, I don’t think he fully acknowledges his actions, plus he admitted to lying. It sounds like he is grasping to hold on to his position at this mega church and the prestige that comes with the position.
14) Church, we need to avoid cliché sayings like, ‘it was a long time ago.’ We need to support the victim and hold the defendant responsible. We must be better at handling abuse allegations and admissions.
The below video shows the conversation I’m referring to in minutes 12:00 – 22:45
12:00 – 22:45
The pastor tearfully informs his congregation that what they “witness today will give you incredible confidence in what love is all about. I pray that what you witness today will give you hope that healing is available for every single person.” The pastor then goes on to implore people to listen to everything before they evaluate what they hear because it will touch emotions, feelings, and the heart strongly.
This isn’t about processing emotions or working through phases of the issue. It was wrong. It was unlawful. Andy Savage should not be in the ministry. I highly question the leadership of anyone who handles sexual misconduct by saying we can find ways to agree and work this out. There is room to disagree? Why does anyone need to respect Andy Savage and welcome him on the church staff? I know I’ve walked this road longer than most people, but I’m exhausted from the church not recognizing the sin while making excuses for it. Church, we must do better! I don’t believe in a pastor using their power to encourage the congregation to ignore scripture and gloss over felony law breaking, sin, and abuse of leadership power. Yes, the church wants to facilitate the healing of brokenness in people’s lives. But…healing and restoration do not equal restored relationship with a person or with their place of employment/ministry. Yes, Pastor Conlee, love does cover a multitude of sins but it is wrongly applied to illegal sexual conduct by church staff against a student. Love does not equal acceptance of the abuser in a continued ministry position, or the acceptance of the abuse.
I could go on for pages about the gross misapplication of scriptures in this case. I could commentate for hours on the discrepancies found by comparing the recorded church service to the interview of Andy Savage conducted by Ben Ferguson. Why? For starters Mr. Savage originally lied to his church staff and lied to the girl’s parents. His story changed as the progression of facts were revealed. His interviews from Sunday and The Ben Ferguson Radio Show don’t add up to truth. We go back to a foundational fact: When we tell the truth we can remember what we said. When we lie…well…we can’t remember what we said and therefore get caught up in deceit, explanations, word spinning, justifying, spiritualizing, and denial.
I love the church. God can truly use the church to encourage us, grow us, and shape us—but I hate it when God’s children are abused by church people. I will never defend a man who has abused his leadership position of power to harm a girl or woman’s heart, soul, mind, or strength.
Our loyalty to church leadership can be good, noble and true. But when loyalty to an institution’s structure allows evil to continue, or hide, it is loyalty wrongly placed—a false loyalty.
“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”
Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Herman Photo credit to Sarah Faith Hodges
Lastly, if you want to be better trained in how to handle situations like these I highly recommend Christ centered counselor Leslie Vernick who trains church leaders and counselors to recognize and respond to abusive behaviors. She also helps you minister to those who have been traumatized by abusers. An organization that will come in to churches and train staff and lay leaders is G.R.A.C.E. Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.