Note to Fred Butler: My husband and I discussed this post at length, gave me his approval, and also said that if you want to call him, he knows you have our number.
Here is the big reveal. What is the big elephant in the middle of the room that so many pastors and religious leaders seem to avoid?
As I was completing this post, I became aware that Fred Butler has posted a new blog post on his own blog in which he again discusses his disdain for spiritual abuse blogs like mine. Instead of responding to questions in a timely matter here, where my readers posed very good and engaging questions, he has elected to take the questions to his own blog and answers some of them there, without even mentioning a thing here. I think he should have responded here, where the questions are, and where people have been coming back to look for his responses. Very strange, indeed.
But we do need to carry on. There is a big elephant in the middle of the room when discussing this topic with some people, religious leaders, pastors. Fred wanted to talk about everything under the sun: my husband, my family, where I live, how long since I’ve been in the church, my current pastor’s thoughts, but avoided the elephant in the room, and let's face it, it's a lot easier to revert the topic back onto the grumbler or complainer than to investigate and see if there are any truths to the "complaints". Who wants to get their hands dirty in a messy pastor/congregant church situation? I understand that.
I also understand the knee-jerk reaction that causes many pastors/church leaders to think the first thought that I am of the whiner, complainer-housewife-who-has-nothing-better-to-do-but-sit-in-her-lougewear-behind-her-computer-all-day-long-and-blog camp. However, it’s interesting that the secular media and a huge number of atheists seem to get a clear picture. The overwhelming response by secular media was: “hmm, she says it’s cult-like and he sure is acting cult-like” . . . . . or . . . “what kind of pastor sues a former church member?”
Spiritual abuse - why does that issue get put on the back burner with so many? Why are all of these other matters (where's my husband, where I live) more important than the spiritual abuse which is affecting scores and scores of people, perhaps some for eternity. I have found this response truly baffling.
For those still caught in the trap of ignoring the big elephant, I will attempt to explain it another way:
Imagine escorting your 16-yr old daughter to the police station to report her horrific rape.
The rape was perpetrated by a stranger and happened 2 years ago while at a friend’s party.
Imagine sitting in the police office with your emotionally scarred and shaken daughter as she recounts the horrific nightmare story and then the police officer interrogates her.
How would you feel if she was asked questions like this:
- what were you wearing?
- was your skirt too short?
- where were your parents when this was taking place?
- what does your family think of this?
- do you go to church?
- why did you go to your friend’s party?
- why were you out so late?
- why are you just reporting it now?
How would most parents respond to this kind of questioning? There would be outrage! Questioning a traumatized victim in that fashion only re-victimizes her, makes her cower, afraid to talk, afraid to trust. This happens time and again to those who try to report spiritual abuse. The topic of spiritual abuse is ignored and diverted to other irrelevant topics. This not only happened to me on Fred Butler’s blog, but with other pastors as well.
But now, I will be addressing one last part of Fred Butler’s comment to me here since it’s very difficult to maneuver through the large amount of comments on that post (thanks, btw, great discussions).
Fred, it is interesting that the world looked upon our case and thought his behavior inexcusable, yet seasoned, godly men, including you, chose to interrogate me as if I was the criminal on trial. Am I the criminal? I have felt that way sometimes.
Fred, you are not alone in this way of treating me and others like me, but that does not excuse the behavior.
The Bible speaks clearly about false teachers and abusive shepherds. Why do you minimize this situation to issues of mere “grumbling” and “complaining” without looking at the more obvious sign of a pastor filing a civil lawsuit of $500,000 against mothers and their adult children? Why does the focus stay primarily on me?
Here was your comment to me:
Look, Scripture does warn us about bad pastors, but it also warns us about many of the folks I have encountered over the last month out in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Land. Jude also writes,
These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. (Jude 16-19)
Are you using this verse in reference to me and my blog? Am I the grumbler and complainer, walking according to my own lusts? Is this verse being used to reference the “many folks I have encountered over the last month out in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Land”? Are you using this verse to justify why you believe I should shut down this blog? (Side note: "Survivor Land"???? as if blogging about this subject is some sort of amusement-park experience? Ouch!!!, Fred - that's a hurtful comment.)
I am no Biblical scholar, but when I looked at your words and the verse you used to back up your words, I trusted you to be using them accurately. You also mentioned teaching at church, so obviously you are a respected teacher with a reasonable amount of Biblical knowledge to have that position at your church. Here’s my point. You used that passage in a way to prove your point that I (and spiritual abuse bloggers) am out of line, in a rebuking fashion. There were quite a few people who read your words here on my blog (I think people liked the debate - around 800-1,000 hits per day). That's quite a lot of people to read your words, coming from someone who speaks with authority.
A reader (who happens to be a woman) contacted me privately and mentioned something that I had missed and perhaps many of my readers had missed (however, I think “The Other Tom” got it). This particular passage that you quoted is from Jude - a book about apostasy and false teachers. The verse you quoted is talking about false teachers who are grumblers and complainers, walking after their own lusts, not people like me.
It took me little time to search biblegateway.com and look up Jude and read commentaries. It took less than a minute to find the key theme from Mac's Study Bible notes that the book of Jude is about apostasy from false teachers. I’m sure you have numerous references to this book on your bookshelf and you certainly have access to an envious amount of biblical reference books at your place of employment. It is very clear, the whole book of Jude is about apostasy and false teachers in the church. Here's a bit from John Mac:
From Introduction to Jude, MacArthur Commentary pg. 139
"Satan's most effective agents, like spiritual terrorists, secretly infiltrate the church where they pass themselves off as genuine shepherds and leaders. In reality, however, they are I posters and defectors, apostates who claim to know Christ, but in fact reject Him. They verbally affirm their knowledge of His word, but their actions indicate that they are actually enemies of the truth. ...The New Testament repeatedly warns of the danger that apostate false teachers pose to the church..."
and Pg. 148
The rest of the New Testament records similar warnings, instructing believers to guard themselves against the deceptive nature of false teaching masquerading as Christian truth. (Matt. 24:10-14; 2 Thes. 2:3-12; 1Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18-19; 4:1-3; 2 John 7-10; Rev. 2:6, 14-16, 20-23; 3:1-3, 14-18; cf. James 5:1-6)
Right now this is what I am doing:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 3
Now of course I suspect this was an oversight on your part, but what you have posted publicly on my blog is exactly what some pastors and spiritual leaders are doing intentionally all over the world: some are twisting verses out of context in a lording and rebuking fashion to further their own agenda, rather than using it appropriately in shepherding and protecting their flock. Fred, that is one kind of spiritual abuse and you just demonstrated it on my blog. Please reread that verse again and ask yourself if in fact you are the intended subject, not me. By twisting scripture to suit your own agenda, you are not doing God’s work, but are interfering with it.
Imagine how easy it is for a power-happy pastor to twist a verse out of context to control and manipulate his congregation to further his agenda. And the sheep follow, unknowingly, because they trust their pastor to be the man of God. They are led down paths of false teaching, distorted half-truths, never being able to understand the true meaning of the gospel, of grace, of redemption, of forgiveness.
In addition to misuse of scripture, I also see a disconnect between what your own pastor teaches (have you read Truth Wars?) about how to deal with false teachers and what you are doing. God does not like false teachers and wolves, yet you appear to be allowing them a “get-out-of-jail free card" by focusing instead on the methods survivors use when crying out for help while dealing with this situation Biblically.
I feel like I need to issue some sort of disclaimer to my readers, many of whom have gone through such horrific abuses I couldn't make them up in my mind if I tried. I need to warn them about your blog, Fred, because I have not seen validation or a spirit of genuine love or concern there for survivors. I am concerned about the ramifications if some of my readers go there, that it could trigger them emotionally. Readers, please be aware of this should you chose to read there. Fred's blog is known to be a debate blog. Debate blogs are very factual and strong opinion and there is little regard to feelings. Please be aware of that.
One more note to my readers: Someone who cares about the abused is going to clearly demonstrate love to you. If you don't sense the love, simply leave. These verses can help you determine if you are dealing someone who is loving:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Cor 13: 4-7
PS Kudos to Fred for getting my name spelled exactly right on his blog post. And I look nothing like churchlady.