In the September issue of Sword & Trumpet, Hans Mast wrote an article on Haiti Abuse & Christian Aid Ministries. Recently he posted it on his own blog. I previously posted this link on a poorly read blog after the article was shared by ASAA, and I shared a link to their blog. It is my hope that more people will read it here. It is worthy of being read. There are men rising up and taking a stand, and that ought to offer encouragement to many. Read Hans Mast’s article, HERE.
It gives me hope that change is coming… and will continue to come, when I see men like Hans Mast and others speaking out. We have a long way to go, but we are making progress.
Marriage is important. It is sacred. (It just struck me… the same letters that spell sacred, also can spell scared. How ironic). Marriage deserves the full investment of both parties. Both will fail, at times. That is normal. Both will struggle and have down times or low days. We are human beings. Ideally one is up when the other is down, but that’s not always reality. However it plays out, no marriage is perfect. But when both parties are in tune enough to know when they have failed, and humble enough to apologize and choose intentionally to treat the other with respect, value and love. That’s what marriage should be and can be.
Sadly, it is not always so. Sometimes one spouse or the other is abusive. Sometimes the husband. Sometimes the wife. Sometimes both. What I say here is to wives who are also mothers, whose husbands are abusive. This is not because wives are never abusive. It’s because I’ve never heard of a husband married to an abusive wife being given the advice I’m about to address. (If you are such a husband, I’d like to hear from you).
I’m all for fighting for marriages. I don’t endorse manipulating, forcing or guilt-tripping a spouse to stay with someone who is abusive to him/her or the children. There comes a point where the wellbeing of the spouse and children must be considered. Because, you know what? Children are sacred too. Frankly, they are beings created by God. They are little humans. They are eternal souls and, as such, they are more sacred than any ordinance ever could be. And that which has the potential to deeply wound their souls and turn their hearts away from God (because their religious parents value themselves more than their wellbeing) should be taken most seriously. There is a certain perversion connected to prioritizing adults over the wellbeing of helpless children.
Alas, what ‘godly’ men are advising (and I’m sure women too, but for this writing I refer to men because of specific cases that influenced this writing), is not only disregarding the wellbeing of helpless children. It is putting those children in harm’s way at a much bigger level. These men are advising women to:
• stay with their abusers
• not report these abusers to the law
Some of these men are would-be counselors and religious leaders of other sorts. When they are so inclined, they wash their hands of the women they’ve advised poorly, and leave them to pick up the fragments without support.
The real kicker though, and the incredible harm it brings to the children, is that some of these mothers are being punished for staying with abusers and not reporting them; CPS is taking their children away… for not protecting them… for not reporting their abusive husbands… for not doing the right thing.
And those ‘godly men’ who, in their ignorant self-righteousness, advised it… Where are they? Certainly not supporting the women they offered such advice.
I would fear needing to explain to God if I advised partners to stay with a spouse who slowly destroys the soul of the whole family. Don’t tell me that’s God’s plan. It isn’t. It never was. It never will be.
Hold those abusive parents (whether male or female) to account. Support the abused partner and their children when they need to walk away. The only hope of change is often when the full consequences of brutal actions are confronted…. when the abusers no longer have access or control… when leaders no longer enable the abusers and blame the spouse for their “50% of the problem”. That is not the case. It’s false teaching.
Tell me, which part of Hosea’s wife running off and playing the harlot was Hosea’s fault? None? I didn’t think so. So stop with throwing that garbage at the partners who are being abused and mistreated. It isn’t biblical. It isn’t truth.
When confronted with their abuse, and left to contend with it with no access to control their victims there is potential for true and lasting change in the abusers. Confronting abusers and leaving them to contend with their abusive ways is a gift. A gift of grace. A gift of mercy. A gift of love. Facing and accepting responsibility for their abusive ways is the only hope of true repentance. If they do not do it in the relationship, giving them opportunity to do it outside of the relationship is the kindest thing we can offer.
If ever relationships can be rebuilt… or built for the first time… that confrontation, ownership and repentance must take place. There is no other way. Trust is not instant. Sometimes it is never rebuilt. Sometimes true change never comes. But it certainly won’t if we enable them and prevent that encounter.
When and if that change comes, and it is genuine beyond the shadow of a doubt, then, and only then should the restorative process begin… when both parties are ready.
I am not advocating for divorce. I am advocating for taking responsibility for the wellbeing of the children and vulnerable. I am advocating for their physical, sexual, psychological and spiritual safety. These are inextricably linked to each other. And when we see this, and change how we approach domestic violence, I am confident less marriages will end in divorce, and more children will grow up to be healthy adults without the baggage of seeing parent abuse each other.
No matter what, it is never right to force, manipulate or coerce the spouse and children to stay with an abusive partner. Whenever we place anything above the spiritual safety and wellbeing of children (or adults, for that matter) we have failed in our Christian duty. We have failed God.
And I can’t help but wonder… What role does this perverse theology play in scenarios like the following, where a pastor is a blatant abuser and sexual pervert, while spiritually mentoring his victim?
How can a professed man of God justify claims to be instilling God’s wisdom into someone, while simultaneously sexually assaulting, coercing, or seducing a vulnerable teenager, as in the following case?
Nothing in the world is more dangerous
than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~
This morning I came across a case on Facebook, shared by A Better Way, that was both mind-boggling and brought clarity to the perverse process some leaders employ in victimizing the vulnerable. I’ve been involved in cases similar to this, with the same methods of grooming, but never have I come across anything that put it into words so succinctly. Especially not by the offender in letters to the victim. That, alone, makes this case worth reading for anyone who cares to understand this corruption in our churches, and studying for those seeking to address the problem.
TRIGGER WARNING: You can read the original blog on Thou Art The Man.
The story is heartbreaking. An arrogant megachurch preacher (not pastor… there is nothing pastoral about him) begins to ‘counsel’ a young vulnerable teen. He is told she is particularly tender of heart, and going through trauma. Instead of protecting her, he blatantly seduces her by being both her ‘spiritual mentor’ and her ‘lover’.
The story tells the process much better. But, while worth reading, that’s not what was so enlightening. That was the GOVERNMENT SENTENCING MEMORANDUM. It is posted on Scribd. I accessed it by signing in using Facebook. There are other options.
FBI did an outstanding job of investigating the pastor, Jack Shaap! And whoever wrote the memorandum did a fantastic job! Reading that memorandum ought to bring the religious community to their knees in repentance. That law enforcement has to be who tells us how incredibly perverse this situation is, is shameful. It should be the people of God judging wickedness in the house of God long before it gets this out of hand.
The following is an except
“Having said that, the letters submitted on Defendant’s behalf go beyond describing Defendant’s commendable conduct – they also urge the Court to show leniency to Defendant when sentencing him for the instant offense. For that reason, the government wishes to make two brief points for the Court’s consideration about the letters and the individuals who wrote them. First, it is clear from the content of the letters that the writers do not know the full extent of Defendant’s criminal conduct in this case and therefore cannot appreciate the magnitude of the harm that conduct has and will continue to cause the victim and her family. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” The sentencing recommendations made to the Court by the letter-writers should be considered with that in mind. […]”
The memorandum also addresses the many ‘reasons’ (excluding the man’s blatant depravity) that he and his supporters gave for his wickedness and crimes:
Defendant and his supporters have also taken pains to tell Probation and the Court that at the time of his criminal conduct in this case, Defendant was suffering from “complications with his prostrate [sic], including chronic and acute prostatitis, as well as near zero lithium levels in his blood.” Id. Although the above quotes were derived from Defendant’s sentencing memo, many of his supporters echo these same “facts” in their letters in seeking leniency from the Court at sentencing. (I must insert here, the man certainly was NOT suffering from “prostrate“… that would require surrender and bowing. He strikes me as a man not given to such humility).
The officers saw right through what, sadly, the religious community is too often blind to. The blatant obvious attempt at avoiding taking ownership without excuse. How did we get here? How does a group of followers become so mindless that they are blind to blatant corruption, in the name of God?
I was thinking earlier today… I’m not embarrassed to be a Christian. I’m terribly embarrassed by people who call themselves Christians and then live lives in direct conflict with the Jesus Way. Particularly those who call themselves leaders.
It is one thing to fail… or be downright criminal, reprobate and sac-religious, as in this case… and then AT LEAST own up. It is another thing — even more perverse — to then justify that behaviour. And even worse to then let a bandwagon of personal worshippers blame and abuse the victim.
What I shared of the memorandum is but a wee taste of an incredibly insightful read. Again, I strongly encourage reading the whole MEMORANDUM. So worth it!
Then, having read it, if you haven’t previously seen through the corruption of religious ‘pretend prophets and leaders’, I pray your eyes are opened.
Jesus cries to be represented well… here… now… in the lives of the oppressed. The little ones. The brokenhearted. The repentant. (Not to be mistaken with heartless abusers who selfishly continue their abusive ways).
He longs to be lifted up… And He is when we value what He values; children… souls… spiritual safety. And when we protect those He protects: the vulnerable (children) (Matthew 18), and the oppressed.
When we, the professed people of God, begin to do that and live as children of Light, people just might see Jesus, see God, for who He really is. A God of justice, truth and mercy.
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger 2020
Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you. I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.