Why Evil-doers are Enabled and Welcomed in Local Churches

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor 5:1-2)

A very, very common “slogan” found in the “happening” local churches of our day is this: “Imperfect people serving a Perfect God.”  Pretty catchy, right? Feel it tug at your heart and warm your inner fuzzies? Well, those inner fuzzies are more accurately called the flesh. This motto is a perfect example of a biblically imperfect heresy. What? Let me show you why.

We know, if we carefully and regularly read God’s Word, that a typical quality found in the preaching of false teachers (the creeps who creep in among us according to Jude) is sensuality. Read 2 Peter or Jude and you will see it. The way they gather a large following (“many” will fall in with them says Peter) is to do what Paul calls “tickling itching ears.” That is to say, they preach a message which is all cloaked outwardly in “Bible,” but at its core it is worldly wisdom that is totally opposed to Christ’s truth. It is darkness. A shadow casting itself over the blinded eyes of the foolish who crave to hear a message that tingles their flesh. “Ohhhh, yeah, right there, that’s the spot. Feels so goooood.” We are imperfect people serving a perfect God.

The result? Not only are ears tickled and crowds swelled, but most every sort of evil is welcomed to the pews. If you don’t believe that, just talk to Christians who have been the targets of these evil ones. Domestic abusers, sexual abusers, pedophiles, revilers. Talk to the victims about how they were treated when they went to the church leaders for help and blew the whistle on their wicked oppressor. What happened? Almost every single time, what happened? The evil one was protected, excused, “loved and forgiven.” The victim? Chastised and even expelled from the church. Why?

You see the very same thing in the church at Corinth and Paul is taking them on for it in unmistakable terms. “What? Are you kidding me!!?? You have a man sitting in your midst showing off his disgusting and vile sin, defying God, and are you grieved about it? No! You are ARROGANT.”

What did Paul mean?

Here were these Corinthians who claimed to belong to Christ. But they had bought into a message pretty much like our contemporary jingle: We are imperfect people serving a perfect God. That is to say, and here is the heart of the heresy – the grace of God is magnified by our sin. Therefore as we continue to sin, God continues to forgive us and so WE embrace the very same “grace” toward one another. We forgive. No matter what. We are a sanctuary of non-judgmental “love.”  And rooted in all of this jibberish is arrogance. Pride. Go online and check it out for yourself. You will see it on these “church’s” web pages. In their name. In their slogans and preaching. The result of it all is that evil is not only permitted in the lives of the people, it is boasted about in the lingo of twisted “grace.” The only real sin in such places is calling sin, “sin.”

Now, you may be asking yourself “but isn’t it true that Christians in this present life are imperfect? So why is it that the slogan is a heresy? Certainly God is perfect, right? Doesn’t that add up then to the phrase – imperfect people serving an imperfect God?

No.

Do you know what happens when imperfect people stand before the perfectly holy God? They don’t. Dead in their sins they are cast out of His presence forever. God is holy, holy, holy and His eyes are too pure to even look on sin. Only the perfectly holy can be in His presence. The gospel is good news for us because – now hear this – Christians are indeed perfectly holy  people!  Because of Jesus Christ we are perfectly righteous, without guilt, seated in the heavenly places with Him right now! We were sinners. Now we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. That is why the Bible calls us “saints.” Holy ones. The whole thrust of the New Testament is that we must be who we are.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

So the slogan “sinners serving a sinless God” would actually be more in step with what the false teachers really are preaching, but to put it that way is too revealing. Why? Because the Bible does not call Christ’s people “sinners.” So they disguise what they really mean in this flowery language of “imperfection.” Sin is my fault. Imperfection is not. Don’t blame me. It’s how God made me.

And then this brings us down to the real essence of the evil in this ear-tickling heresy. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 2 –

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

That is to say, “imperfect people serving a perfect God” is a heresy that denies Jesus Christ. It denies His person and His work. It tramples under foot His blood shed for us at the cross. It says, you see, that His sacrifice for sin was unnecessary. After all, if imperfect people can meet the perfect God and thrive, then what is all the fuss? “The cross must have been misinterpreted by “stiff-collared” judgmental types all these centuries,” say the mega-church wannabes.

The glory and power of the cross, of the Son of God given for our sins, is that in him we become perfectly righteous, able to stand on that Day before the blazing glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, see Christ as He is in His ascended glory, and live.

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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

So the next time you hear “imperfect people serving a perfect God,” don’t be duped by its appeal. See it for what it is – another gospel, another spirit, another Jesus, pronounced anathema by the Lord.

 

 

What the Newheisers Would tell the Wife of the Texas Church Shooter – By Rebecca Davis

This is an excellent article by Rebecca Davis, exposing the horrible counseling that is being taught to seminary students and Christians at large by Jim and Caroline Newheiser. This is a must read post and largely explains the unbiblical, false mentality that is behind churches telling domestic abuse victims that they must not only remain with their abuser but they must look for much of the cause of the abuse as being due to their OWN sin!!! Sickening. Thank you Rebecca.

At the heart of the “biblical counseling” theology is the foundational false insistence that all of our problems are due at least in part to our own sin. All of our problems and sufferings. All! This is the reason why I have long rejected the “nouthetic” counseling school. It has done and continues to do incredible damage to people. This article gives a perfect and common example of what I mean.  Just click on the link to read it:

Should the Texas Shooter’s Wife Have Gotten Biblical ‘Counseling’

 

How to Watch for the Rise of Evil in Your Church

The following verses from Paul’s letter to the Galatians outline a flow of events that has continued to replay itself in every era of church history, and it continues to thrive today. This sequence inevitably introduces evil (through evil persons) into the visible church and most professing Christians are (inexcusably) oblivious to it. Read the following scriptures and then I will explain:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—(Galatians 1:6)

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. (Galatians 2:4-6)

Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. (Galatians 4:16-17)

I am finished with involvement in church denominational organizations. I have given it a go in three different, supposedly genuine, “Christian” fellowships of local churches and each time ended with disappointment, betrayal, and hopefully, increased wisdom. In essence, those groups were not what they appeared to be nor what they claimed to be. What was happening in the churches of Galatia had happened among them.

First, Paul confronts the Galatians with their desertion of the gospel. He had taught them well. They had received the Spirit and that not by any works on their part but by faith alone in Christ alone. Yet here they were, allured to another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel. Why? How?

False brothers had crept in among them with a false gospel and an evil motive. They were full of flattering words but their goal was to be “made much of.” All of their flattery was wicked, aimed at bringing them into power and control among those churches, creating an environment in which they would be praised and hold the reins.

Of course that all necessarily requires a false gospel because the real gospel, Jesus, is obnoxious to the masses. If you want a big following then you are going to have to create a message that fleshly, worldly “christians” want. Out goes grace alone and in comes man’s own self-doings to earn merit with God.

Now, here is my point, I have found that wicked people, like these false teachers at Galatia, thrive and multiply in “structure.” The bigger and more elaborate the structure, the faster they multiply. What do I mean? Let me explain by example.

Initially, when you examine some structured Christian organization such as, say, a denomination, everything looks good. Their doctrinal statement is sound. The leaders appear godly. Unity in Christ, it seems, is the spirit of the thing with everything supposedly being done for the glory of God.

It isn’t.

Naively (and we are without excuse for this), Christians permit “certain persons” to advance up the structure of the thing. He is pastor Jack, let’s say. What a godly guy! What a servant of the Lord! That guy is on several committees. He is willing to do most anything to help. Another leader in the group announces at an annual meeting, “If you all want to know how to ‘do’ worship, just visit Pastor Jack’s church. They ‘do’ worship with excellence there.” Yep, I am witness to that very thing being said. Commonly.

But Pastor Jack and his kind are evil. They do not really know the Lord. Their goal is to exalt themselves, to be praised, and to bring YOU into bondage -into bondage to them! And if you doubt my warning, I suggest that you just try to correct them or disagree with them and see what happens.

As it was in Galatia, so it is today. “Those who seemed to be influential.” Influential. There is an interesting word. People “of influence,” which is really to say, “people with power.” Pretty clear? Then why is it that in spite of these plain warnings in God’s Word given to us, most every church and certainly most every multi-church organization is characterized by “people of influence?” Power-brokers? The moment you see these kind rising into view, you can be certain that sin is operative and evil has already crept in.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:10-12)

Stop it! Stop permitting this. Stop allowing yourself to be mesmerized. Quit sitting back and “letting them do it.” In my case, a personal application of these truths has meant that I will never again be a member of a church denomination, nor will I crave to pastor a “large” church. I will not help establish a “structure” which evil people can use as their own personal tower of Babel to ascend into the heavens. I find that keeping wickedness out of our single, local church is enough to keep us all busy.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Fail in these things and you will, be assured of it, end up rejecting the Apostle Paul and embracing the agents of the enemy. Fail in these things and you will find yourself retracing the same old steps to Rome.

 

When Churches Exceed Their Authority, Evil Comes into the Church

This is a guest post kindly submitted at my request by James and Linda Sander. They are the authors of Rethinking Biblical Divorce: Let Scripture be Your Guidewhich I highly recommend. Let me introduce their article with a few words:

Without thinking, most Christians assume that they must obtain permission from their pastor/church in order to divorce their spouse. And local churches certainly behave as if this were true, even to the point of ex-communicating a member who divorces for “unbiblical” reasons (as defined by that local church or pastor). James and Linda Sander maintain that Scripture nowhere gives churches that authority and they outline at least part of their argument here in this post. I fully agree with them.

Let me make a clear point lest anyone misunderstand. Neither the Sanders nor myself are denying that the church has Christ’s authority in certain arenas. The Word of God is authoritative and when the church preaches it in truth, there is authority. And of course the church has authority to put wicked counterfeits out of their midst and to admonish those who are sinning. Largely in our day churches are failing or refusing to exercise this proper authority and instead are claiming authority that is not theirs. The result is that the wicked are enabled while the innocent are cast out.

In their book the Sanders also argue (quite well I might say) that no one but the individual Christian has the right to decide if remarriage is permissible and that when a church claims authority in this matter, that church is contradicting Jesus’ words:

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”  (Matthew 19:10-12)

Here then is what the Sanders maintain about church authority and divorce:

Jesus said,

Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:4-6)

And the cross reference,

But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:6-9)

In discussing these verses, we will focus on the words, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (or “let no man separate”).

If asked, “What do the words, ‘What God has joined together, let no man separate’ mean?” many Christians will answer (perhaps somewhat uncertainly), “It means we should not divorce.” But is this what the words are really saying? There are three difficulties with this understanding.

  • One, most Christians agree the Bible does allow divorce.We might differ regarding when it is allowed, but most of us agree Scripture does indicate divorce is allowed. Therefore, it would be inconsistent to assume Jesus’ statement, “What God has joined together, let no man separate” means we should not divorce.
  • Two, the command,“What God has joined together, let no man separate,” is found only in this confrontation with the Pharisees; it is found nowhere else in Scripture.Jesus said this as a retort to the Pharisees in their attempt to trap him.

We often see in Scripture that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in a different way than he spoke to his followers or to the receptive crowd like the one listening to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. This makes sense because the Pharisees were antagonistic and were not interested in learning from Jesus’ answers nor were they interested in becoming followers of Jesus. In the passage we are considering, the Pharisees confronted Jesus and were attempting to trap him and publicly discredit him. Because of this, Jesus does not answer them in the same way he answered questions from his followers who were seeking truth. [NOTE from Jeff: This point about Jesus speaking in a different way to the Pharisees than to receptive people is incredibly important and is in my opinion one of the most important interpretive principles that the Sanders emphasize both here and in their book]

  • Three, there is another meaning of this command that better fits the context. We take a step toward understanding what Jesus meant when we keep in mind that the Pharisees thought of themselves as the arbiters of most issues of Jewish life. They considered themselves to be the ones with insight and understanding. Further, they considered that their rulings should be deemed authoritative for the masses in issues of daily life and religion, which, of course, included divorce.

Once we realize the Pharisees claimed the religious authority to say under what circumstances a husband and a wife could divorce, then we begin to understand how Jesus’ command would challenge their position.In fact, Jesus was doing this very thing with his command—he revealed to all that the Pharisees’ authority was self-appointed rather than from God.

The word “man” is anthropos, here meaning “human being” (male or female). Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let no human being separate.”Jesus is contrasting mere man with the Almighty God. God created marriage and God is the one who joins a couple together in marriage. The idea is, “If God joins a couple (and everyone in Jesus’ audience agreed that this is true), then who is a human being to say when a couple is permitted to divorce? How did the Pharisees, mere human beings,obtain such an authority that they can separate something God has joined together?”

Picture Jesus developing his argument as he responds to the Pharisees’ attack (and the crowd listens in)—

  • “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” and everyone agrees with these familiar words.
  • “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.” Again, they agree with this Old Testament statement describing marriage; a new family unit begins.
  • “And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” And again, all nod their heads understanding that in marriage and in the sexual relationship, the man and woman become one.

No one would disagree with anything Jesus said; in fact, they are all in agreement. They revere the words of the Old Testament.

Then Jesus quashes the Pharisees, “What God has joined together, let no human separate.” Jesus bluntly tells them that no human has authority to separate a marriage God created.

The Pharisees had usurped an authority that belongs to God alone, and with these words, Jesus exposed their lack of God-given authority.

The correct way to think is, “What God has joined, God alone separates.” No Pharisee, or any other human being or any human authority, has the right to separate what God has joined together.

“What Godhas joined together, let no humanseparate,” means “It’s not up to you—mere human beings—to decide who is allowed to divorce.” Jesus used the “let no man separate” command to challenge the Pharisees’ self-appointed authority that they are the ones who determine if a couple can divorce. Pharisees should not decide when a divorce is allowed, and they should not decide for a couple if they are permitted to divorce.

Jesus’ command includes the word “therefore.” “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no human being separate.” The “therefore” lets us know that this is the summation and answer to the Pharisees’ original question. The Pharisees’ original question was, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus’ “therefore” statement renders irrelevant the Pharisees’ question whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason—Jesus commands that no human, which includes these Pharisees, decides this.

There are two interesting points of grammar about Jesus’ words “Let no man separate.” First, it is clear in the Greek that this is a command; we might not fully realize it is a command because of the use of the word “Let.” But make no mistake, this is an imperative—Jesus gave a command.

Second, notice Jesus’ use of third person here. He included other people besides these Pharisees. He uses third person because he is stating a command that goes beyond the Pharisees.

Although Jesus’ command was initially directed to the Pharisees and was designed to strip the power from the Pharisees (who were the ones ruling on divorce issues at that time), the use of third person strips the authority from any who would claim such power today. It removes the right from anyone who would decide for a couple if they are allowed to divorce—or from anyone who might be tempted to take on such authority.

There is no place in the Bible that gives one person the authority to decide or pronounce when or if another person is permitted todivorce. In fact, we see in Jesus’ words to the Pharisees it is just the opposite. Only God has this authority. This is the purpose of the “Let no human separate” command. It is not a statement explaining if or when divorce is allowed.

So in this passage, it is critical for us to note that this command does not prohibit divorce. What it states is that no human has the authority to say if or when a couple can divorce.

Since Scripture does allow divorce, we are then left with the questions, “Who is allowed to divorce?” and “How is it decided?” Simply, Christian men and women decide this in the same way they decide any other issue that might come up in their lives—by prayer, by spending time in the Word, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We explain more about this topic, and others, in our book Rethinking Biblical Divorce, Let Scripture Be Your Guide (available at Amazon).

 

A Typical Distortion of Scripture Used by False Shepherds to Protect the Wicked

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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

This is a wonderful passage of Scripture that shines Christ’s light brightly on the darkness that is so widespread in local churches today. But alas, there is no end to the attempts to distort even the clearest statements of God’s truth and here is one I heard of again recently (not for the first time).

As you can see from Paul’s words, people who walk in sin, who are characterized by the same wickedness that has always characterized them, can claim to belong to Christ all they want. The fact is they do not. They have no inheritance in His kingdom.

Now, it is plain that the people Paul is speaking of are not rank pagans who make no claim to Christ. No. These are people who come in among us in the church wearing a saintly disguise. Else why would Paul even have to state the obvious if he were only speaking of people who make no profession of faith at all? No, these are counterfeits and he wants us all to be very clear in our thinking about them. You cannot walk in sin, you cannot live the life of a worldling, and have your cake (heaven) too.

Now notice that one of these kinds of people is of a class that we should be getting quite familiar with – the reviler. Revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Revilers are dead in their sin. And what is a reviler? A reviler is a person who uses his tongue to assault others. He villifies, he makes them the villain, he accuses and blames and shames. And he does it all falsely. Here are some other references to this kind of evil person:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)

For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (Matthew 15:4)

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (Luke 6:22)

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:16)

Pretty plain, right? Revilers make false accusations against others, specifically against believers, and they do so specifically BECAUSE their target is a believer. Ultimately, revilers are reviling God Himself.

Anyway, here is the preposterous “end run” excuse a church leader recently used when he was called on to deal biblically with a reviler. He said,

But Paul is talking about people who reviled God. He doesn’t mean those who revile other people.

Can you believe that anyone would even make such a claim? Need I say anymore to disprove this claim? All we need do is read the Scriptures quoted above. Revilers are people who habitually revile other people, and on some occasions directly revile God Himself. And as I said above, a reviler who is reviling a Christian for being a Christian (even if the reviler does not say so in overt language) is also reviling Christ.

This church leader, you see, does not want to put the reviler out of the church. He wants to keep regarding the fellow as a Christian who just needs to be “fixed.” And so, under this leader’s watch, there is no watch. Wolves are permitted to put on their wool coats, come right on it, and devour the flock.

What Would John Piper, Jim Elliff, and Other “No Divorce for Any Reason” Dictators Say Now?

By now most everyone has heard the details of the shooting murders of at least 26 men, women and children in a church in Texas yesterday. The murderer (too nice of a word for him) was a convicted domestic violence perpetrator. Do you all understand what these “permanence view” dictators in the church who deny that God permits divorce for ANY reason would tell a wife of such a person?

Let’s say that this murderer had been taken into custody alive. He has just slaughtered 26 people and wounded others, some of whom may still die. And let’s say that he were still married to the wife he assaulted in the past when he was convicted and sent to jail for one year. Do you realize that Piper and Elliff (self-made bigwigs in Christian circles) would FORBID her from divorcing him? Furthermore, that if she were a member of their church and she went ahead and divorced, they would ex-communicate her for doing so.

And these men claim to be representing Jesus Christ? They are saying “thus saith the Lord” to everyone? They are of the same kind as the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day and we all need to be rejecting them and holding them accountable for teaching such evil things.

 

Jim Newheiser is Still no Defender of Abuse Victims – Don’t be Deceived by His Claims

The following is a link to an article by Jim Newheiser who is now head of the counseling program at Reformed Theological Seminary. It is entitled Helping Churches to do a Better Job Handling Cases of Abuse. Read it for yourself at the link.

https://jnewheiser.ibcd.org/helping-churches-to-do-a-better-job-handling-cases-of-abuse/

I have criticized Newheiser before for his abuser-enabling teachings on this subject. In this article, written just last September, he makes statements that might lead people to think he is a real ally to abuse victims. Be assured that he is not. “Biblical Counselors” work from a foundation theology that is unbiblical and erroneous. These people always attribute sin and blame and guilt to most anyone they counsel, including abuse victims. In addition, Newheiser continues to deny that divorce is the right approach to marriage to an abuser. He even accuses the victim of “hardening her heart” if she decides to do so and in connection with that accusation it is quite plain that he is accusing ministries such as A Cry for Justice of enabling victims to “harden their hearts” rather than remaining married to the abuser.

Just check out some of these quotes from Newheiser’s article and you can see for yourself what I mean. The first quote is how the article opens and the reader will think, “alright, he’s finally getting it.” But it’s not to be.

Sadly, I have been witness to a discouraging pattern in local churches as they handle cases involving abuse. It begins as church leaders are made aware of a situation in which a husband is acting abusively towards his wife, and it has been going on for quite some time. The abuse may include any or all of the following: coercion, threats, outbursts of anger, or some degree of physical force. Typically, church leaders get involved late in the situation because the victim is in fear of reporting her abuser, or perhaps thinks she is somehow to blame for his actions.

Church leaders often initially treat these cases as typical marital conflict, treating the sins of each party in a more or less equal way. They fail to make a sufficient distinction between the wife’s “misdemeanor” sins of provocation or disrespect, and the husband’s “felonious” sins of murderous anger. Abusive husbands intensify this problem as they manipulate the situation and focus their counselor’s attention on the wife’s faults.

But, alas, read on:

As the church intervention progresses, the relationship between the husband and wife continues to deteriorate. In spite of the husband’s promises to change, hateful outbursts of anger, intimidation, manipulative control and even violence persist. Church leaders realize the seriousness of the husband’s sin, and take steps to put pressure on him and to protect his wife and children. They counsel the husband separately with the hope that he will truly repent and the marriage can be reconciled. Sometimes at this stage the church leaders agree that a physical separation may be necessary for the safety of the wife and children.[1]

When the pressure is ramped up, the husband willingly participates in counseling and is outwardly compliant towards church leadership. The wife, on the other hand, begins to be influenced by certain friends, family, and various victims’ advocates (online and in print) who tell her that her church leadership has failed and that she should divorce her husband. Her heart becomes hardened and eventually she announces that she is done and plans to leave.

Note two particular points (I bold-faced them). 1) The “let’s never talk about divorce as an option” language starts here. “Sometimes as this stage the church leaders agree that a physical separation may be necessary…”. Newheiser has always equivocated in this manner on this point. The fact is, he teaches that divorce is always a sin, never God’s will, even for the victim in abuse cases.  2) Secondly, note that Newheiser, incredibly, accuses the abuse victim who resolves to leave her abuser of having hardened her heart!! And of course it is obvious that Newheiser (who is no friend of mine or of A Cry for Justice) slams people like us for convincing abuse victims that they should not only leave, but divorce their abuser. So you see how deceptive he is being here as he claims to be an authority on how to help abuse victims!!

Now, here comes some more victim blaming by Newheiser:

  • Even if the wife is responding imperfectly to her husband’s sinful anger (Prov 22:24-25), her more common marital sins of selfishness and careless speech should not be treated as equivalent to the sins of violence, harsh verbal outbursts (Prov 11:9; 12:18), physical intimidation, and manipulative threats made by her husband. Abusers need to come under the discipline of the church and victims must be protected. Error on the side of safety.

  • Both the abuser and the victim need godly counsel. It is usually best to counsel them separately at first so that the wife’s abuser will not intimidate her during the session. She needs protection and healing. The abuser needs strong admonition and accountability. I highly recommend Chris Moles’ The Heart of Domestic Abuse, which takes a tough love approach with an abuser while also offering hope that he can be changed through God’s Word and Spirit.

See it? While there is a superficial facade of being an ally of the victim, the fact is that Newheiser and his school of counselors always, always, always tell people they counsel that they are guilty of sin. THEIR sin is the problem or at least a good part of the problem. Here, Newheiser so “generously” grants that the abuse victim’s SIN is not as great as her abuser’s! But she is still guilty of sin that has contributed the the abuse. That is what he teaches. He refuses to acknowledge that abuse is NOT the product of the abuser’s “buttons being pushed.” It is not an anger issue. It is the evil of lust for control and power which the abuser exercises and seeks and he would do so even if his wife were as perfect as Jesus Himself!!

Notice once again that in these paragraphs Newheiser, as he ALWAYS does, dances around the fundamental issue of the abuse victim’s biblical right to divorce her abuser. Why? Because Newheiser believes that God never desires divorce for abuse and that at best divorce for abuse is a sin that God will need to forgive.

Lest anyone doubt that what I am saying about Newheiser’s views on divorce for abuse, he convicts himself in the following paragraphs from his article:

  • Churches should handle situations in which the victim of abuse chooses to pursue divorce very gently and carefully. Abused wives often become hardened towards their husbands. They sometimes are critical and disrespectful towards those in the church who tried to counsel them. Church leaders may be tempted to react against this bad attitude by disciplining the wife for her hard-heartedness in pursuing a divorce without clear biblical grounds.[3] Wisdom and compassion are necessary for a biblical response on the part of the church as well as the woman.

  • When a victim has given up hope of her marriage being reconciled it is prudent to ask for patience on all sides. Time should be allowed to see if the Lord might work to genuinely transform the abuser and to soften the heart of the victim. The abuser can demonstrate the sincerity of his repentance by patiently respecting his spouse’s need for time and space rather then pressing to be allowed to return home and have his full marital rights restored. The victim should be assured that she would not be pressured to go back to an unsafe situation.[4]

In spite of the counsel of church leaders (who hope that the marriage can be restored), some victims are absolutely determined to press ahead with divorce. My understanding is that Scripture does not teach that church leaders are obligated to exercise church discipline in every case of divorce. In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Paul tells a wife not to leave her husband, but then he says, “But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.” Paul cannot affirm her decision to leave, but rather than put her out of the church or treat her as an unbeliever; he speaks to her as a Christian sister and tells her that she must either be reconciled to her husband or remain unmarried.

Can you believe that? My, how gracious. Newheiser cuts her some slack and says, well, ok, let’s not hand her over to Satan via church discipline. Oh, and don’t miss that last statement: Newheisiier says we are to tell her she cannot remarry.

Jim Newheiser is no friend of those who are crying out for justice in Christ’s church. He is now the director of counseling at Reformed Theological Seminary and that should frighten us all. Jim, you have no right to exercise the kind of authority you are claiming for yourself over victims of abuse. They do not need to seek your permission nor their church’s permission to divorce. They have every right to remarry. And if you really wanted to help churches do a good job of helping abuse victims and dealing rightly with their abusers, you would see abusers for what they really are. Revilers. People we are not to try to fix, but wicked ones we are to put out of the church. We are not to even eat with such people. You will find that in Paul’s direction to the Corinthians as well.

**Neither myself nor our comrades at A Cry for Justice endorse the teachings of Chris Moles, who Newheiser recommends here. You will find the reasons why in an upcoming post at A Cry for Justice written by Barbara Roberts.