Abusive Church Leaders (Part 4) – Civil and Criminal Law

Abusive Church Leaders (Part 4) – Civil and Criminal Law

So you’ve tried to follow the procedure of 1 Tim. 5, as discussed in Part 3 of this series, by investigating and exposing church leaders who abused their positions of power and trust.

But what if you were rebuffed?

Or what if – despite public reprimand, confession and repentance – you reasonably fear that they may continue preying on others or the church is not providing restitution for the harm you’ve been bearing? Scripturally, do you have additional options?

More specifically, is it ever proper to seek help from the courts and secular authorities to deal with pastoral sexual abuse or churches which allowed it to happen? After all, doesn’t 1 Cor. 6 say we should not sue another brother?

Suing One Another?

In 1 Cor. 6:1-6, Paul writes that I should not sue another believer in a secular court over a personal grievance I have against him, where that grievance is trivial. Rather, minor personal disputes should be resolved within the church. As Paul states:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? (ESV)

By its own terms, this passage only applies to situations where the wrong is “trivial” and does not amount to more than a personal “grievance”. It also presumes that the church is functioning Biblically, with an ability to wisely and fairly handle minor personal disputes between two believers.

By its own terms, therefore, this prohibition on suing or seeking help from secular authorities does not apply where someone – who happens to be a “brother” in the faith – is significantly violating secular law or harming others.

Although Paul says I should forgo outside adjudication over a minor personal wrong I suffered at the hands of another believer, nothing in this passage even suggests that we should ignore significant evil or legal transgressions.

Walking away is not advisable or Scriptural where secular authority is needed:

  • To bring closure against a major injustice that otherwise would remain unresolved and thus encourage continued evil;
  • To find restitution for substantial harm, thus insuring that the evildoer bears the cost of his wrongs rather than the victim;
  • To punish illegal acts that rip at the fabric of society and destroy social cohesion; or
  • To protect others.

These are necessary outcomes if any society expects to survive, and are exactly why God has ordained and empowered secular government and the courts to promote justice, punish evildoers, uphold the innocent, impose restitution and protect the common good. And the reality is that a church – beyond a public reprimand – is simply not able, nor is it delegated by God with the jurisdiction or power needed, to enforce these results.

In addition, studies and my own experience confirm that most pastors who exploit women or children have multiple victims. Even if they are dismissed or otherwise disciplined by their local church, they can always slip away into obscurity and attach themselves to another church in some other town. Without a public judgment or conviction against them, their past will not show up in any background check by a hiring committee and they will be free to start the cycle of abuse all over again.

So yes, forgo lawsuits over trivial personal grievances against another Christian. But predatory pastors who exploit women and abuse their positions of authority and trust involve far more than a purely personal grievance because of the need to protect others, and the harm suffered by their victims is never, ever trivial.

So please, don’t cause additional abuse by misquoting that passage!

God Ordains Secular Authorities to Restrain Evil

Scripture makes it clear that Christians are subject to secular courts and secular authorities, who are ordained by God to punish the wicked and uphold the innocent. Christians are not exempt, and in fact are commanded to help government officials carry out their God-ordained duty to promote justice and enforce the law – both civil and criminal – for the benefit of all.

Romans 13:1-6 says this to Christians:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (ESV)

And 1 Peter 2:13-17 likewise tells Christians:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (ESV)

In addition, the central theme of justice throughout the Bible is restitution, proportionate punishment tied to the actual harm suffered by the victim, and closure. Even in the Old Testament, the wrongdoer – rather than the victim – must bear the cost of his misconduct. Through restitution, the wrongdoer makes his victim whole – both emotionally and financially.

In fact, Deuteronomy and Leviticus require that anyone who steals, violates another’s personal rights, acts negligently and or commits other transgressions must make restitution to the victim several times over. In American jurisprudence, these are called punitive damages. They are Biblical, go to the victim, and result in punishment that is proportionate to the harm caused – which helps protect others by insuring that the wrongdoer has no incentive to ever harm again.

Finally, when there is restitution and proportionate punishment, there is closure because the victim’s God-inspired need for justice – which lies in the core of every individual – is met.

So, tying all of these verses together, our Scriptural mandates are clear:

  • I may not sue another Christian over a trivial dispute involving a personal grievance, but should resolve it within the church (assuming, of course, the church is properly functioning and able to handle it).
  • But every Christian also is commanded to be subject to and support secular authorities as they enforce the law of the land, punish evildoers, and protect the innocent.
  • Where someone – including a Christian – is doing evil in violation of secular law, God has given us secular authorities who are ordained by Him to punish the evildoer, preserve order, uphold justice, impose restitution and protect the innocent.
  • No Christian is exempt from, and we are all fully accountable to, secular authorities and secular law.
  • When I know that someone is harming others, perpetuating injustice or doing some other significant evil in violation of secular law, then I may not engage in any “cover-up for evil” – even if I am the primary victim and I am the one in need of restitution, protection and justice.
  • In other words, as a Christian I am required to help achieve justice and stop evildoers – even if the evildoer is a Christian and even if I must seek the intervention of the courts and secular officials.
  • God has empowered secular government and secular courts, and not the church, to achieve and enforce those goals

Again, these outcomes are necessary if any society expects to survive. The vital need to ensure these outcomes is exactly why God has empowered secular government and the courts to act as His ministers for justice.

Touching God’s Anointed?

Finally, I often get emails from people upset that I dare to challenge abusive, predatory church leaders. They generally quote King David’s admonition in 1 Chron. 16:22 and Psalms 105:15 to “touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

Here’s a typical response I got in a private Facebook message on this series about confronting abusive pastors:

In my opinion Jim, you should seek God and HIS word. Does not the bible say “touch not mine anointed and do my profits no harm.” Pastor [Name Removed] is anointed and is right where he should be.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the misspelling of “profits” for “prophets”, because protecting the income of the church is often a key motive for sweeping allegations of pastoral abuse under the rug. Maybe that was a proverbial Freudian slip! This response, however, was from a woman who is deeply concerned about showing mercy, but here her mercy is misplaced.

Rather than wanting to protect innocent women from pastoral predation, she was defending a man who created a culture of predation in his church as around six men under him exploited at least ten women (many less then half their age and just barely out of high school) over the last several years. As discussed in Part 2 of this series, that senior pastor knew that at least three of those men were serial predators, but repeatedly put them in positions where they could, and did, exploit yet more women.

These two verses about not “touching” God’s anointed are the last refuge for abusive pastors and those with misguided mercy towards them. They use it in a way that is grossly distorted to deter others from confronting evil. Even if you get past the exegetical hurdle of somehow saying this applies to an unrepentant predatory pastor, the Hebrew word for “touch” means to physically assault.

I can assure you, I have never physically assaulted any pastor – predatory or not! But I have no hesitation about confronting them, on behalf of their victims, and taking all legal means – if necessary – to stop them. And if I need to use the law like a bat to whack them along side the head – metaphorically speaking! – to get their attention and protect others, then I will.

Conclusion

Even if we follow 1 Tim. 5 (see Part 3 of this series) by investigating and publicly reprimanding church leaders who abuse their positions of authority and trust, we may not have done all we can to stop them, achieve justice, or guarantee restitution.

Even where a local church or denomination takes appropriate internal disciplinary action, it has no power to restrain them, impose binding legal sanctions or force them to make restitution. God gives those powers, for the good of all, to secular government.

For example, without the intervention of our secular courts such men can move to another town, work for another church, and keep on exploiting others. Beyond the need for restitution, obtaining a criminal conviction or civil judgment against them – and getting them listed on the national sex offender registry if possible – is needed if we want to protect others. Only then can we insure that their history of abuse shows up in any future hiring committee’s background check.

Like Nathan, who confronted King David for abusing his position of trust and power by exploiting Bathsheba and then killing her husband to cover up his sin, we need the courage to speak truth to power. We need to Biblically confront abusive church leaders as commanded in 1 Tim. 5, then if their evil is confirmed by multiple witnesses we must publicly rebuke them as again commanded in 1 Tim. 5. We then, I believe, need to turn to our God-ordained secular authorities and courts for justice, restitution and proportionate punishment so they never abuse again.

~ Jim

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29 responses

  1. Excellent!

    “touch not mine anointed and do my profits no harm.” hehe … isn’t that the truth.

    Thank you for calling these women “innocent”. They truly are, even though I know some do not see themselves in this way. I believe God views them as such as well. They are truly the ‘lost sheep’, the ‘one’ that Jesus would leave the ninety-nine for and he would want us to do the same.

    It does take courage to speak truth to power. Even for me to post here with my full name, however, I need this courage as I am passionate about being a voice for the voiceless.

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    • Nathan never condemned Bathsheba. It was David who sinned. And his sin was that he abused his position of power and trust to exploit Bathsheba and then seek to cover it up. But the focus of God’s anger was solely directed against David, even though God had anointed him King.

      In Nathan’s analogy about the rich man who took the lamb of the poor man to serve his own selfish ends, Bathsheba is the innocent lamb. The lamb was not guilty and there is no judgment spoken against Bathsheba.

      The number of private emails I’ve received in response to this series, from people telling me their stories of abuse, illustrate the carnage that results when pastors use their positions of trust to prey on others. To call the victims guilty is to abuse them yet again.

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      • Wow, Alex. As someone who has helped many survivors of clergy sexual abuse, I find your comment ignorant and offensive. The pastor has the power, influence and authority. He is ultimately responsible for setting proper boundaries. No exceptions.

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        • Jim, you are seeing exclusively one side of the equation. If you solemnly declare the seduction of a pastor cannot happen, you are not dealing with humans. It does happen daily.

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        • Again, Marvin, the issue is who has the primary responsibility for setting proper boundaries. The often troubled parishioner, or the pastor with the power, influence and authority to set proper boundaries? The law is consistent on this, as is the psychological literature and – I believe – principles of moral accountability.

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      • “Male bovine excrement,” Alex. By definition, the person who is in the less powerful position (always the parishioner) cannot “groom” the one in the most powerful position (always the pastor). Please explain how you believe the parishioner instigates and executes the grooming process.

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  2. That is a super-peachy-keen post. Thanks for really blathering on like that! Seriously, I don’t think I could have spent more effort wishing for something heavy to fall on me to erase that nonsense from my mind!

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  3. Again, well spoken Jim. A vessel for the Lord, willing to be used for His purposes, whenever, and in, whatever way. It is never easy doing the right thing, but it is even harder to disobey Him. I see wisdom resonating through the knowledge of His word, alive and giving guidance, counsel to wage war. I will pray for you.

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  4. Thank you so much for your thoughtful posts. I am a victim of clergy sexual abuse within the UMC, and it nearly derailed my life. I lost my community, my ministry and my church. To make a horrible situation even worse, the church where the abuse occurred re-victimized me. The predator pastor continues on, receiving not so much as a slap on the wrist.

    I received help and support from a wonderful organization called The Hope of Survivors. They pulled me out of a deep, dark pit and helped me get my life back: http://www.thehopeofsurvivors.com.

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  5. Jim,

    Your perception of what 1 Cor. 6 says is not reality, just your perception, which doesn’t make it right. 1 Cor. 6, says (and I paraphrase) that the world and angels “shall be or will be” judged by us, which implies the future (shall or will), after Christ returns to take us. Comparing what we “shall be” doing as glorified saints with this current life is what the author meant–that is, the things of this life are trivial in comparison to the future life when we will stand by Christ to judge the world and the angels. (How can you even compare the two?) You took the word trivial and distorted it for your purposes. You are crafty, lets remember the snake in the Garden of Eden. But may I remind you, it is not a good idea to distort the Word of God, for you will give an account for every idle word spoken.

    Now secondly, I’ll go one step further and remind you that Romans 12:19 says Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

    King James: 1 Cor 6: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints SHALL judge the world? and if the world SHALL BE judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we SHALL judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

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    • Jim, thank you again for this post. But to this particular disgruntled poster, I have to ask, What??? Are you saying that pastors guilty of criminal offenses (i.e, rape) and/or moral offenses (i.e, adultery, lying, manipulation) are to be let off the proverbial hook by man all because, in the end, God will judge? Of course God will judge! But those guilty of such offenses need to be brought to justice by man so that they don’t repeat the offenses. I can tell you – from PERSONAL experience – that very often the church will try and conceal the pastor’s wrongdoing. How is that loving the pastor? How is that loving the victim? How is that loving the congregation? Ezekiel 34: 7-10 makes very clear that the shepherds that God has placed over HIS flock are accountable for their evil deeds. Are the sheep to sit quietly by and let the shepherds abuse them? That’s not justice, and God is pro-justice (not pro-revenge). Maybe you’d come away with a different opinion if your wife/daughter/granddaughter/sister were the one sexually abused by her pastor. Can you imagine her pain in your telling her that she should refrain from seeking justice?

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  6. To the previous poster, I was clarifying Jim’s error on his inaccurate explanation of the bible verse and am not here to debate the situation. I do not like to see the Word of God being distorted in order to serve man’s purposes. Jim should not use the Word of God to make his case if he is using it inaccurately. Period!

    Romans 12:19 says Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

    King James: 1 Cor 6: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints SHALL judge the world? and if the world SHALL BE judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we SHALL judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

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  7. I think the problem is that the answer to, “Is there not a wise man among you?” in some churches is YES, there are NONE! If the leaders had dealt responsibly, the problem would not have continued.
    I see the 1 Cor 6 passage as a starting place about disputes between brothers (equals) but I see “protecting the fatherless ans widows” as the verse to apply to victims of sexual abuse from leaders–who will speak for the victims?

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    • Well stated. Let me add that when a victim of clergy abuse comes forward to church leadership – with evidence – and that leadership either dismisses the matter or covers it up altogether, no one in that leadership role is a brother at all but an agent of the enemy.

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  8. My point is that Jim should not use the Word of God to make his case if he is using it inaccurately. Period! No situation should warrant misinterpreting God’s word and those who do will stand before God one day and be held accountable.

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  9. To Anonymous: If clergy sexual abuse were deemed a crime everywhere, as it is in some U.S. states, this would be a moot point. I wonder if you might explain your understanding of the term “trivial”/”small” as it occurs in the 1 Corinthians passage – does this include criminal activity? Should believers allow abusive pastors to skirt the church process for confession, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation only to go on and abuse others while awaiting God’s judgment? I’m not here to be contentious but to understand where you are coming from.

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  10. Jim, I truly appreciate finding this blog or information at this time as I was not expecting to find anything on confronting a pastor abuser. I do however; have a little different circumstance in that I would be confronting my abuser 30 years later. I really want the closure and healing not just for me but mostly for my friend who has suffered far greater at the hands of this person than me. It was probably my sharing with her what happened to me as high school friends that saved me from a far greater abuse that she had already been subjected to and at the time did not know until I shared my feelings of being inappropriately kissed and held. This person is still 30 years later working in a church. Although I don’t fault him in that respect because it was and is the church that swept the incident under the rug and blamed the victim for the rape. Anyway, I would like for me and my friend to go 30 years later and finally confront this person for the pain, suffering, feelings of anger toward God/church, failed relationships and a whole list of things that have happened to us as a result of this man’s abuse as a pastor. You are right on with describing the abuser as being a charmer and great manipulator that fits him to a tee. Anyway, I would like your thoughts on if you would handle this any differently with regards to the steps since this is some 30 years later? I truly plan on us both going unified to once and or all confront this person. In this case he is not the pastor now but Sunday School director of the church. The plan is to schedule an appointment with the pastor after we have confronted the abuser. We will make this known to the pastor whether he ask for forgiveness or denies it ever happening. We will then ask that the pastor handle this as scripture dictates and do what should have been handled 30 years ago. I am not sure if he will bring it before the church and if not this is where I am not sure what else to do since we are bringing accusations that happened 30 years ago although the pastor that was there when it happened it still around so we will offer him as a follow-up to back up what we are saying. I would appreciate any feedback on how you think we might proceed. Again thanks to you and God for this information that was placed here at just the right time.

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  11. I don’t know who subscribed me or how a comment to this post ended up in my inbox today, but it did– so be it. And this is Nov. 2012, approximately a month after these comments.

    Right now, my stomach is in my mouth reading this; first of all, for many years in the marital home, we are not talking clergy sexual abuse, we are talking clergy coverup of severe assault and battering, physical abuse; as a wife of a certain (Christian) man, I was a virtual prisoner of war, and our daughters grew up witnessing this. The communities of Christians we were in at the time (some home fellowship, some churches) KNEW what was going on, and some were close witnesses to the aftermath of the violence, including being strangled around the neck, being attacked in personal body parts right after nursing a child; absolutely insane, manic (etc.) behavior. I lived in survival mode, and do remember this marriage as a continuous nightmare, with the only bright spots (which were quickly snuffed out) as good times with our daughters, and providing things for them through networking (despite alternately being told to go get a job, then forced out of the same job).

    Then at a point in time this man started to collect weapons on the home (guns and knives), and at this time we were attending a large, multicultural church in Northern California (East Bay/Oakland area — opposite SF). They were also pretty good preachers, and an expanding church. This pastor mentioned in public his wife had been an abuse survivor, yet when I came to him and said, can you refer me to a Christian psychologist (not yet knowing any legal rights; nor apparently did the pastor), I was told to come in for counseling.

    We then went through counseling with him, a second, and eventually a third pastor. While in counseling with the second pastor, which was (unadvised!) joint counseling, there was a very close call with a loaded gun, a suicidal husband, and my inner voice (aka “The Lord”) shouting at me “get out! get out of there!” — he was talking about harming himself and/or “us” meaning including our two daughters asleep upstairs. This incident was in a very small, enclosed room, a hallway and I did not have a way to get out of there. If I did not personally know the name of Jesus Christ which I called on in that situation, we’d be dead now. But I had no other option, and called aloud with what courage I had on that name and yelled at not my husband, but whatever was bothering him (I believe you may know what I’m referring to here), and said, “I may not be much, but you have to face Jesus Christ, now in the name of Jesus Christ ….”

    It has continued to this day that “help” comes from that Lord and in that name. It doesn’t come from pastors, or churches (not real help of the kind we most need).

    However, in this context, I am going to say that the next day, this same pastor#2 of 3, when I tried to speak of this in a positive way (imagine that….) and in effect let him know that we’d had a close call, but it was passed — both the pastor AND my husband, in their room, refused to talk about it, and basically shut me down. Pretty soon, we were farmed off to a third pastor. You have to understand that about this time, I was a resisting and hence getting battered on all fronts wife, had two small children, and when I wasn’t actually working and supporting this family (by command), was literally begging for necessities (transportation, food, etc.) within marriage. I was not allowed to have a bank account for many years (we never shared one) or access to credit, and he was exceptionally jealous when i worked, and didn’t want me driving a car. I was in my 40s and had previously driven cross-country safely before, and this was extreme abuse and very wasteful of family finances as well. When I did have a car, it was not allowed to have enough gas, leading to my begging from strangers in outings I was allowed to get to, for gas to get home from them (including a college course to develop a marketing skill). In short, this was life with a serious sociopath (human terms). . . . . . . . . . Regarding that pastor #2 incident, however, I was then invited to a couples’ “Valentines” dinner where we were supposed to make like a functional couple. (the same week). I collapsed in the women’s room and managed to tell the wife of a leader in this church, a man who is used to dealing with gangs and rough people…..

    NOTHING came of that. However it was “off to pastor#3″ and this one for the first time supported me morally, and suggested we develop a budget where I have some goals as well (unheard of in our marriage). This pastor was also a musician, as I had been except the husband was continually shutting down my participation in music (anything supportive outside the home) ….. During the time with pastor#3 there were also more incidents, some where I had to flee the home with our girls (for example, if I talked to him without the husband there). .. .. We showed up at a sister in Christ’s home, a married couple. They asked no questions to see barefoot girl and I stayed overnight — but had nowhere to go. The husband in this family didn’t speak to my husband, either (certainly not in front of me).

    Basically, had this continued, I would simply have been killed, while my spouse remained an upstanding member of this particular church.

    What I am saying is — what pastors ought to know (but don’t seem to care about) — is that there are actually civil laws to prevent these matters. When it comes to mandated reporting for child abuse — are they not? But they don’t. Same deal with wife abuse.

    What I just related is over ten years ago. Prior to this (and prior to marriage) I also was targeted (groomed) as a young woman — but an adult — by a pastor I respected and was in ministry with. At the time I was celibate (i.e., a virgin). This man also knew, later, about the battering; I was not the only woman in the congregation. ….. I did finally get out, filed a restraining order, and my husband was evicted and finally forced to start supporting himself — and our children — and quit financially living off me, while also abusing.

    This did not end the nightmare; it continued (as it has for so many women I know), he simply went to another church, picked up another lonely (and immoral) middle-aged divorcee, moved in with her (a.k.a demonstrating to my children how to commit adultery — both of them), racked up thousands of $$ of child support arrears while the girls were living here, then on an overnight exchange, with her, refused to return our children, and in short punished both me and them for evicting him — with no known consequences from any religious group, who were glad to get more warm bodies and wonderful children to groom to know their place in the world – housekeepers and babysitters for church folk.

    Later, this “bright” manipulative women my age, who had cursed me in front of my own children and helped make life a nightmare on a weekly basis BEFORE stealing my kids, evidently threw out their father (who was using her too — I still don’t know if this was premeditated, or she was just dumb and finally figured out he never had any intention of marrying her). So, the father covered this up (I’d been completely eliminated from my kids’ lives as their mother anyhow), with help from my (atheist) side of the family, and for what now ends up (it turned out) long-term financial profit to them. My elderly mother, a widow, spent the last years of her life witnessing all this — and we are talking as though there is possibility of somehow retaining public credibility for churches, in general???

    I am now approaching 60 years old, and have been witnessing and dealing with religious coverup of all kinds of abuse (domestic violence, child molestation and sexual harassment of women IN the church) and while I still call on the name of Jesus Christ, believe in it, and sometimes (as it turns out) minister in it, I am through attending any 501(c)3 corporation that labels itself Christian. Women like me have been literally driven out of the church, after being shut up IN it; and women are taught to compete and dominate with each other; people innately follow their leaders. Their leaders are not — protesting, but engaging in — criminal activities towards women and children. What’s worse, many have also ingratiated themselves into government and are receiving federal grants (I DNK from reading whether Jim Wright is functioning with one, it sounds like probably not), to help men who have committed crimes and are NOT repentant of them, reconnect with children, including children they have abused, or neglected, or otherwise simply not shown a real interest in.

    Anonymous, above, I don’t know what she’s protesting, but the last I heard, my God was the author of life, not death, and does not go for voluntary human sacrifice to pride of man. If anyone cares to look at how our Lord Jesus Christ handled the religious elements of his day, the same elements are at play today. And he had an ear for people that needed deliverance; he did not “use” them to promote his own name.

    That’s all I can say for now except, from what I have seen (and it’s a very diverse background) churches are not safe places for women. Women who are married and doing well within their walls, are often clueless and unable to offer any real help to people who most need it. I found some refuge temporarily within a Catholic inner city church (I am not Catholic but was working as a musician in one, for several years, until finally driven out of it by the aftermath of some of the events above. My husband still considers himself above the law and has basically issued a threat to me (in so many words) if I follow through with my intent to complete this divorce (we have lived separately now over 10 years and I have never indicated any permission to re-instate any “relationship” since it became clear he was unrepentant and not about to week any help for his “problem” of entitlement to assault. Our daughters no longer respect him — he had a work ethic, but lost it through the courts, and through literally, no one holding him accountable.

    I want to thank mr. Wright for what he said (possibly on a different post) about how inappropriate MEDIATION is for these matters. he is right. However, in the family law venue, it is required — there is federal funding for it – so that’s how it is. What message this sends to women: crimes against them aren’t really crimes. You just have to try and “work it out” with the perpetrator, and if that doesn’t work out (and headlines show it doesn’t always), we can always foster out any surviving children to others.

    At no point do I believe God is unaware of this, and I am sure He will demand an account. There are some people’s shoes I would NOT want to be standing in during those times, and many of them in this life went by “Rev.” “Pastor” “Brother” or “Father” in their callings.

    Meanwhile, I am as content as anyone could be in this situation. If I do marry again, which I would like to (it’s tough going through life alone in these circumstances, and I have not committed a crime in separating, nor am I promiscuous),

    Dedicated, and intelligent women who know and speak scriptures are being systematically driven out of the churches under a regime that (too often) is more obsessed with silencing half their own populations (the female half) than doing what they were called to (IF they have a calling like Timothy’s): preach the word in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke exhort with all longsuffering, for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (etc.). That’s not an exact quote (it’s by memory).

    Part of this comes with lack of a working definition of what “church” is. I believe it’s adequately described in the Bible (see Greek– the called; “ekklesia,” etc.) and it says nothing about incorporation, tax-exempt, faith-based, or physical buildings. Also, as of about 200/300BC (this should be very common knowledge), doctrine was changed to accommodate regime change. However, I’m going with “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” And, FYI, not “triune nature” (a phrase which does not exist in the bible). More at http://jesuslordchrist.blogspot.com

    I would like, perhaps, to talk with Mr. Wright. I am not going to be back on the site, contributing long posts or testimonies, or going through them. But I am interested in his take on being an attorney and a Christian in these matters. I also want to thank him for speaking up against the abuse.

    FYI, the powers that be aren’t always prosecuting properly anyhow. There are very few real options for people who need — and that’s NEED — someone to stand up for them. In the bottom line, if no one else will stand up, I know the Lord Jesus Christ will, as He has before in my life. But it would be better if others also did, and if we all had a lot less of our own words (me included) and a whole lot more on His…

    ” I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
    I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
    In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, [and] strengthenedst me [with] strength in my soul.
    All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, *****when they hear the words of thy mouth.*****”
    Though the LORD [be] high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off” (Psalm 138).

    “Man shall not live by read alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

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  12. Pingback: Confronting Abusive Pastors, Part 3: A Mandatory Public Reprimand « Crossroad Junction

  13. Pingback: Confronting Abusive Pastors, Part 2: How Should We React? « Crossroad Junction

  14. Pingback: Confronting Abusive Pastors, Part 1: My Personal Angst « Crossroad Junction

  15. Jim…I applaud your stand and your righteous view of how to deal with offending Pastors. It sickens me to see the lame excuses that some folks come up with to condemn your stand. While it is possible (but not at all certain) that you may be misinterpreting some verses somewhere, you…unlike many so-called Christians these days, are maintaining a clear conscience before God by putting into practice what you understand verses to say. That is pleasing to God and an example to be imitated.

    None of us necessarily have a perfect understanding in all things but we must all apply whatever light the Lord has given us with all our heart while maintaining a humble heart willing to hear correction and additional insight from other members of the Body.

    Based on what you have said in these posts brother I think my understanding of 1 Corinthians 6:1-6 about not suing believers has been a bit naive and I greatly appreciate your God given insight. What you say makes a lot of sense.

    May the Lord continue to give you grace to bear up under the veritable onslaught of frothing sinful nature that will continue to rise up and throw every good you try to do under foot and decry it as evil.

    May the Lord surround you with His protection and may He feed you from the treasures of His magnificence as you take shelter under His wings.

    Carlos

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  16. If we deal with our sin early Matt 18:15- there is a better chance for the Lord to deal with the hearts. Problem is stalling, interuption of the restoration cycle, lying, favoritism, money and greed, all are stumbling blocks and used by satan to stop God’s way of dealing with problems.. Matt. 18:15 rarely gets accomplished because people just like to sin and cover-up sin and doing right is hard for sinners.

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  17. Speaking of suing your brothers and sisters in Christ, here are case studies in the Assemblies of God, Christian and Missionary Alliance and other denominations in which the leadership of districts sue and seize local church properties and bank accounts in like manner as Hophni and Phinehas took the offerings to the Lord by force, whom the Lord judged. See Making Merchandise of Men’s Souls, Part II film documentary, available at http://www.perfectpeaceplan.com. Also see articles.

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  18. As a father, if someone where to harm my child, I would not hesitate to bring them to the law and expose them publicly regardless of his title. We don’t need permission to stand for justice and truth.
    I was part of a church that ascribed to the “don’t touch Gods anointed” fallacy. I witnessed first hand what that kind of thinking produces. I regret to this day the things I did not say because of the fear of man. Now that I am a bit older and hopefully a little more mature, I pray I would never again stand silent in the face of evil. I heard things that if spoken by a younger believer I would have corrected but because it came from the Pastor, I was silent. God forgive my youthful ignorance.
    I say these things as a warning to others, particularly christian men. Brothers, your role is to to guard and nurture the flock of God. If you see bad behavior, even if he wears a collar, man-up, stand-up and speak-up.

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  19. Jim.
    It seems incredible to me that there isn’t a clearing house of information, or a 1-800 # to collect the horror stories of sexual abuse going on in the churches. I’ve known of several in my years outside the mainline churches, but within alternative orthodox fellowships of several varieties.
    The dozens of scandalous revelations of abuse in the churches are the canary in the coal mine, the latest being about Frank Viola, the organic church leader and author. Sadly, it comes as no surprise, though these charges should be dragged into the open asap, and either proven or dismissed publicly. I hope he has the integrity to offer to meet his accusers publicly, before even more damage is done to the name of the Lord. If that doesn’t happen, he should be called out into the street by a Godly man who is able to chair such a trial.
    To be clear, I neither believe nor disbelieve the accusations about him, until a proper public hearing happens.
    And that should happen asap, though I suspect the canary will die at the hands of a human seeking to do God a favor and protect Him.
    My point in writing this though is to draw attention to another victim of this massive cover up of abuse of power in the church, and that victim is our children.
    Our children, whom we work so hard to educate and disciple, to take the mantle when we pass on, are learning what they live, and not the spiel about Gods love and kingdom, published everywhere.
    1. They’re learning that there are very few real men in the church. Men who will defend the honor of our women from being sullied by other men. I have never, in 40 yrs as a believer, heard of one woman abusing a man, though I’m sure some fellow reading this has a thimble full of cases to counter my claim with.
    2. They’re learning that power is profitable. Church structure is actually a corporate ladder, similar to the business world, and often just as profitable.
    3. They are learning that there is no law in the world, or in the church, by which behavior, language, thinking or ambition is governed. There is no moral code, and the bible; the one code book that we all purport to subscribe to without question, is (wink, wink) a divinely inspired encyclopedia, from which professors, pastors and bible study leaders extract sermons, creeds and best selling book fodder.
    4. They’re learning that God is asleep and we are running the show. He hasn’t sent the Chaldeans to carry us away, and the ground isn’t opening up to swallow anyone, and we are blessed with every desire imaginable, so He cant be too upset.
    So, to wrap up, I have a question and a warning for the men among us.
    Where, of the tens of thousands of male upright church leaders, are the Abraham’s, Phineas’s and John the Baptists, Paul’s, Peter’s and Polycarp’s?
    Men, we will give an account to God, as our women and children stand to bear witness against us, because knowing to do good, we did nothing, in the face of evil. We are sowing the field in which our own sons and daughters will eventually be taken advantage of, and learn to do the same to others.
    The evidence is everywhere, if you will admit it, that hordes of lusting demons are running rampant among the churches, and they have a stranglehold on tens of thousands of men.
    A few years ago, a report circulated among men’s groups, of a survey done by a conference leader, asking for a show of hands of men who were addicted to pornography. Apparently, more than half of the men raised their hands. I couldn’t find the published record, which is both not surprising and raises further doubt about our ability to pull ourselves out of denial.
    The buck must stop with us, right now!
    God will not wink forever, and lookout when He does.
    blessings
    Greg

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  20. Thank you for making some scriptures more clear to me.

    But thank you even more for your heart and ministry. I have never myself been abused. But I know know of so many who have and I am so glad there are men (and women) like you out there who are not just lawyers, but ministers of God’s justice.

    I am an evangelical, so this isn’t a slam, but it seems to me that the pastor-oriented culture we have, where the pastor is the “authority” on scripture and the spiritual life and where s/he gets up every week and expounds with authority, makes us especially vulnerable to abusive leadership. This is opposed to say an Anglican church where priests wear the trappings of authority but where they really are not the center of the service).

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  21. Pingback: Making Sexual Abuse by Church Leaders Illegal « Crossroad Junction

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