Abusive Women in the Church

Rev 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

In our ministry to victims of abuse – specifically victims of domestic abusers who parade as “Christians,” we normally find ourselves speaking of the abuser as a man. And most often he is. Fundamentally, domestic abuse is the sin of wicked men, though we have dealt with some women who are domestic abusers as well.

However, this morning I want to write about a particular kind of woman who I have met far, far too often in my pastoral ministry. It has happened with remarkable frequency. In fact, this kind has shown up in every single church I have pastored. The abusive woman. And if we are going to be wise as serpents about evil, we need to acknowledge the existence of such women hiding in the pews. Of course we know that there are wicked men in churches as well who also seek power and control over the flock. But as I said, today I want to talk to you about women who abuse all the while parading as “daughters of righteousness.”

Let me tell you some stories. The names have been changed to protect the guilty…ha!  I don’t know why they deserve any protection, but I will at least expose their deeds.

Continue reading “Abusive Women in the Church”

Beware the Typical Distortion of the Biblical Doctrine of Accountability

Heb 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

1Pe 4:4-5 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; (5) but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

The Bible plainly teaches that all of us are accountable. Ultimately of course this accountability is to God, but He has commissioned certain overseers in this world such as the civil authorities (see Romans 13). Pastors and elders in local churches are to watch over the souls of the flock, remembering that THEY must one day give an account to the Chief Shepherd as to their faithfulness or unfaithfulness in this oversight. Woe to those who abuse His sheep!

So it is not my point in this article to throw the infant out with the dirty bath water and cast away any and all sort of accountability. We are accountable. Children to parents. Citizens to the law. Employees to employers. And Christians, understood the right way, to one another. It is this latter example of accountability I want to focus on here.

Twenty or thirty years ago it seemed that the evangelical church was all abuzz with this thing called “accountability.” Every church had “accountability groups” to which every member was assigned, like it or not. You had to meet regularly and “give account” of how good or bad you were doing in you Christian life. This “accounting” process was taught as a biblical doctrine and verses like this were thrown out there as proof:

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Christians are indeed accountable to the body of Christ. There is a proper, biblical authority given to the local church for the healthy oversight of the flock. The man in Corinth who claimed to be a Christian but who was sleeping with his stepmother was it? – well, he was to be immediately booted from the church. We are accountable to the Lord for how we live, and thus we are accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ in this regard as well.

But this truth about accountability is very typically perverted and used by false shepherds and other evil people to gain power and control over others that the Lord has never given them. This malignant form of “accountability” does great harm.

For example, let’s say you are a member of a local church and Fred, a fellow in the church who is regarded by the masses as a “pillar,” comes up to you and offers to “disciple” you. “We all need accountability you know,” Fred tells you. “If we are going to grow in Christ then we need to be accountable to one another.” And so it begins. Fred gets his hooks in. It sounds so believable, but in fact the Lord has never called us to be accountable TO FRED! To the true church, yes. To the Lord, yes. But I don’t recall seeing Fred’s name in the list.

If you have read my books and blog posts over the years you have probably heard me tell of one experience I had with just such a “Fred” who used to be in a leadership position in our church. My wife and I were able to finally purchase our own home rather than live in the church parsonage as we had for years. We looked and looked and finally found the place we live in now (this was nearly 20 years ago).

Well, this “Fred” didn’t like it. He saw this as a challenge to the control he wanted to have over “the pastor.” And he also saw it as an opportunity for him to put on his typical “super-saint” act in front of others. So, at the next church board meeting, Fred said “Pastor, you are moving 16 miles away from the church building. You are distancing yourself from the congregation. And now you are going to be ‘down there’ with no accountability. Why, you will have the internet there and no one to hold you accountable.”

If I had the wisdom I have now, I would have stopped the meeting right there, put a spotlight on Fred, and challenged all the other board members to think carefully about what Fred had just said and what his motive was in saying those things and he would have been reproved in front of everyone. But I didn’t fully understand Fred at that time. I thought he was just another one of those too typical “difficult people.” He wasn’t. He was an evil man out to enslave and control others for his own self-glory, in the name of “accountability.”

Wicked people (some are women as well) love to use this accountability business as a tool for enslaving others. And as you think it through biblically, you begin to see that the Christian, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, taught by the Lord Jesus, his way illumined by the Word, does not need some other human being in a weekly meeting running him through a checklist of questions, in order to walk in holiness. Yes, we meet together as a church to encourage one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10), but the spirit of fear has been cast out when we came to know Christ and instead we experience the Spirit of adoption as sons.

At best, these accountability gurus are rank legalists who do not know the grace of God in Christ. At worst they are out and out wolves prowling around looking for sheep to devour, agents of the evil one.

So beware. Beware this accountability business. As far as I can see, the large majority of it is false, unbiblical, and harmful teaching parading as Scripture but in fact is the mere creation of man.

 

Just STOP Saying “We Are All Sinners” – STOP IT!!

1Co 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I cannot fully convey to you how absolutely sick and tired I am of hearing this line from people who claim they are Christians. “Well, you know, we are all sinners.” Let me explain why this not only nauseates me, it makes me boiling mad.

I detest false piety. It’s what the hypocrite does. A showy disguise of “godliness” – or so they would have us think. And that is exactly what this motto is. It is a lie, disguised as humble, saintly, biblical, godliness and worse – it is a lie that is used to:

  • Minimize the sin of the wicked (like an abuser)
  • Guilt and shame the righteous who are the target of the wicked
  • Justify doing absolutely nothing in the face of evil

Let me illustrate. I will try to disguise the culprits, though I don’t really know why I should. Here is Janet. You probably already know her story. Janet has been married for 30 years. She is a true Christian, but she has been soooo confused not only by the deceiving tactics of her abuser husband (who claims to be a Christian and loves to quote Scriptures to her) but also by the false teachings of her church. As Janet begins to sort through the confusing fog of all this, she finally approaches her “friend” Margaret (you know, the kind of “friend” who it turns out you need to steer clear of).

“Margaret,” my husband is not who you and everyone thinks he is. He is not the saintly, serving, godly man he appears to be. Let me tell you what he is really like and what it is like to live with him.” And so Janet shares part of her story.

Now, Margaret, for numbers of reasons (none of which are good) begins to churn inside as she works to process what she is hearing. Her world is threatened and she doesn’t want her world rocked. Too costly to her. So, when Janet is finished, Margaret gives her some “Christian words of wisdom” – “Well, Janet, none of us are perfect. We are all sinners. You need to be patient and loving all the more.” Margaret feels so warm and fuzzy inside. She has been a fine Christian in all this you know.

What is the reality however? The truth is that what Margaret has just done is right out of the pit. It is a conniving, evil tidbit of distorted doctrine invented by man, never taught by God’s Word. Margaret has just blamed and shamed Janet, the victim, and enabled and protected the wicked. Margaret is an ally of evil.

The Bible NEVER teaches us that Christians are sinners. Never. We were. We used to be. We were born into this world fallen in Adam. By nature:

Eph 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– (3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

BUT…. BUT GOD!!!

Eph 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– (6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

The Christian is a child of God, a saint, a holy one, beloved of God, a new creation, and on and on the titles for us go. We are still battling our fallen flesh, but that is not who we are anymore.

Gal 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Notice the “you” very carefully (boldfaced). Who are YOU, Christian?  YOU are the one who wants to walk in the Spirit. Those are the things YOU want to do. YOU are not defined as a person any longer by the flesh. The Bible says this over and over again:

Rom 8:4-9 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (6) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (7) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (8) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Therefore, when some supposed Christian like Margaret says “Well, we are all sinners you know. You need to forgive him. You are just as bad as him in God’s sight…” they are denying Christ. They are denying and rejecting the gospel. They are saying that a true Christian walks in the flesh but is still on his way to heaven. They are saying that the Christian is just as evil as the wicked abuser, deceiver, liar, child of Satan.

So if you are using this line, repent of it! Go to the person you shamed and guilted with it and ask their forgiveness. Get your head screwed on straight and start thinking biblically.

And perhaps be reminded of this:

Isa 5:20-21 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (21) Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!