Things I’ve been told

They tell me that I scold men too much.

They tell me that they feel sorry for my congregation because I lead them astray by teaching women that they are image-bearers of God with dignity and honor.

They tell me that I rob men of their masculinity by teaching them that imitating Christ means to take the lowest place and become the servant of all, including their wives. Christ did, however, give himself for his bride, the church.

They tell me that I cause divorces and wreck marriages by teaching men how to love their wives instead how to rule over them.

They tell me that I am unbalanced, and am soft on the sin of women because I teach that lust comes from the heart of man, not from the outfit of the woman.

They tell me that I am a feminist because I believe that the Bible teaches that every believing woman is also a prophet, priest and king along with every believing man.

They spit the word “egalitarian” at me like a curse because I believe women have a voice, should be treated as co-heirs of eternal life, and have a right to make decisions and use their gifts for the glory of God, just like every believing man.

And they tell me to stop. They command me to be silent. I make people uncomfortable.

And I worry sometimes.

 

And then I hear of judges who tell rape victims not to report their rape because they will ruin a good man’s life.

And then I hear of husbands punching their wives in the same room that they lead “family worship”.

And then I hear of pastors beating and molesting the children under their care. And I hear of other pastors who knew about it and gave them “a good talking to” but didn’t want to ruin their ministries.

And then I hear of youth pastors raping the children under their care, and calling it “an inappropriate relationship”.

And then I hear of women crying out to their church leaders that their husbands watch porn every night and are asked if they are satisfying them in bed.

And then I hear again of women who are beaten over and over again year after year and when they finally divorce they are excommunicated for being bitter.

And then I hear of wives who cover the altar of the Lord with tears and are told to “submit more”, “suffer a little while like Jesus suffered,” “God hates divorce”.

And then these same wives are shot by the husbands they tried to get protection from.

And then I hear of husbands threatening the wives with weapons, fists, words of hatred, vile contempt and the wives are blamed for not submitting enough, making them mad, provoking them, wanting it…

And then I hear that these are not rare occurrences. These are not unusual. These are the hidden corners, the long dark corridors, the valley of the shadow of death that are walked through by so, so many men, women and children.

I know that salvation is not the same as activism. I am not an abuse advocate. I am a minister of the word, a pastor, a preacher of good tidings of great joy. I will not get sucked into the abyss of darkness and pain nor is it my desire to draw you into it.

But as a minister, I do need to shine a light, expose evil, untwist the scripture that is continually twisted to keep the weak in bondage to the strong.

When the church of Jesus Christ becomes an institution of worldly power and money, the powerful always oppress the weak, crushing them underfoot, and they will use whatever means they can to do it.

And I love the church of Jesus Christ far, far too much to keep silent. For this reason, I will not keep silent about the horrors that so many of our brothers and sisters suffer. Nor will I allow the light of Jesus Christ to grow dim or fade, but will continue to lift the banner, proclaim liberty to the captives, and bind the wounds of the broken-hearted as much as I can.

Even though I know it will infuriate a lot of people who like being in power.

There can only, ever be one head of the church, and he will never give that honor to another.

The church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord, to defend,
to guide, sustain, and cherish,
is with her to the end;
tho’ there be those that hate her
and false sons in her pale,
against the foe or traitor
she ever shall prevail. (Samuel John Stone)

Advertisements

13 Comments

Filed under Abuse, Gospel

13 responses to “Things I’ve been told

  1. Janet

    Sam, this is so powerful. Thank you for hearing the voices of the downtrodden, and for standing against evil in all its forms.

  2. Jennifer Bales

    Thank you Sam

  3. bunkababy

    These words of yours are why I follow you. Why I have given you the trust that you say who you say you are. Then move towards thinking and trusting that God is who he says he is.

    It is your words and your study that make me believe at least one pastor out there has noticed, seen, and wept with those who weep. Your lowest is our lowest and for those things I am grateful.

    Don’t stop. Don’t listen to those who speak ill of you. I don’t like them or trust them and what they say is not who I think exemplifies Christ’s qualities.

    Be encouraged pastor is see more of Christ in your defence of the lost, bruised and broken than any of your accusers.

    • Anu Riley

      bunkababy you said it so well. Cannot agree with you more. Ditto on her words to you, Pastor, from myself as well.

      (I have yet to read your entire post; this is just a random comment).

      I know pastors get discouraged just like anyone else—-probably WAY more than we can imagine. The calling to emulate the Chief Shepherd and set an example that reflects that—is a lot to deal with (to put it lightly!)

      I try to keep you in prayer despite everything I’m going through, with that in mind. Pastors (and their spouses and/or families, if they have one or both).

      Often we idolize them when they do well, or demonize them when they fall short (this does NOT refer to pastors that prey on the flock. That is a whole different story!)

      I once read an article that pointed out how we tend to take the time to dole out negative comments rather easily, but positive comments are not usually as worth our time and trouble.

      It is fine to offer criticism when necessary, of course, but why does that come so naturally to us? And positive feedback is JUST as necessary you would think, but often that doesn’t come AS naturally to us.

      Christ Himself experienced this. He made it clear that whatever He did, someone would find a way to put Him down. His cousin John didn’t eat or drink, so they said he had a demon. But if He eats and drinks, He is a drunk and a glutton and a friend of sinners.

      Of course, they loved it when He performed miracles and healed people. Not so much so when He asked them for a full commitment to Him :-).

      It can often and be extremely difficult to deal with the very people He has called us to love and serve!

    • Z

      Dear bunkababy, Pastor Powell and other commenters,
      I couldn’t agree more with what bunkababy and others commenting here have said. We THANK YOU Pastor for being a “voice in a seeming wilderness” for the “widows, orphans, outcasts, sojourners…”-those Jesus commanded His followers to care for and defend. All who have been abused fall into one of those categories. They have been “abandoned”, betrayed, defrauded, cast off, and harmed to different degrees by their abusers.
      And something we victim/survivors often have in common is our soft, kind, open, trusting, forgiving hearts. Christlike qualities that were exploited and abused by evil predators. We’ve had to learn to be “wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.” A hard balance for some of us now. Most trust in humans is gone given the treatment we suffered by our abusers and that of Christians after we spoke up about our abuse (silence, abandonment, blame, bad, unbiblical “advice”..) that further harmed us vs their welcoming, protection of and embracing of the abusers who falsely profess to be “Christians”. Despite our accounts and even proof of their abuse, they are treated as fellow Christians just because they say they are. What about what we have to say about them? We aren’t believed or embraced as fellow HURTING Christians. We are ostracized. We have much to lose and we DO LOSE MUCH and nothing to gain by speaking the truth about our abusers. But our situations and needs are too often inconvenient to other Christians. They might have to do something. It might cost them to stand up for a victim and for truth and righteousness. So they show their Christian charity and open welcoming arms to the abusers instead. No questions asked. They don’t WANT to know the truth. They are often even mad that we spoke out about our abuse.
      Some of us have only Pastor Powell and some other like-minded, well-informed pastors and Christian victims’ advocates to fellowship with on their blogs. And we can find support and a community with our fellow victims who comment on them. How sad that some of us have no human contact and no human support at all as true Christians and as members of God’s family. Cyber-family and support is all we have.
      I thank you Pastor Powell for your strong enlightened voice and advocacy for abuse victims. You have been a great help to me and I thank God for calling you to this ministry. And for you answering “Yes, Lord. Here I am.”
      I’m glad you can ignore the ignorant voices out there who criticize you for doing such important work.

    • Z

      Dear bunkababy, Pastor Powell and other commenters,
      I couldn’t agree more with what bunkababy and others commenting here have said. We THANK YOU Pastor for being a voice (in a seeming wilderness) for the “widows, orphans, outcasts, sojourners…”-> those Jesus commanded His followers to care for and defend. All who have been abused fall into one of those categories. They have been abused in so many detestable ways to varying degrees-all harmful-as well as abandoned, betrayed, defrauded, cast off, by their abusers. “Widows, orphans, soujourners” because the abuser has “abandoned” the marriage and/or family while abusing them.
      And something we victim/survivors often have in common is our soft, kind, open, trusting, forgiving hearts. Christlike qualities in us that were exploited and abused by evil predators. Post-abuse, we’ve had to learn to be “wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.” A hard balance for some of us now. Most of our trust in the goodness of humans is gone given the treatment we suffered by our abusers as well as that of so-called Christians after we spoke up about our abuse (silence, abandonment, blame, bad unbiblical “advice”..) that further harmed us. Contrasted with their welcoming, protective embrace of our abusers who falsely profess to be “Christians”. Despite our accounts and even proof of their abuse, they are treated as fellow Christians just because they say they are. What about what we have to say about them? We aren’t believed or embraced as fellow HURTING Christians. We are ostracized. We have much to lose and we DO LOSE MUCH and nothing to gain by speaking the truth about our abusers. But our needs as abuse victims are too often inconvenient to other Christians. They might have to DO or SAY something. It might cost them to stand up for a victim and for truth and righteousness. So they show their Christian charity and open their Christian welcoming arms to the abusers instead. It’s easier for them. No questions asked. They really don’t WANT to know the truth. They are often even mad that we spoke out about our abuse.
      Some of us have only Pastor Powell and some other like-minded, well-informed pastors and true Christian victims’ advocates to fellowship with on their blogs. And we can find support and a community with our fellow victims who comment on them. How sad that some of us have no human contact and no human support at all as true Christians and as members of God’s family. Cyber-family and support is all we have. Isolation is one of the costs we often pay for speaking the truth.
      I thank you Pastor Powell for your commitment to be that strong enlightened voice and unyielding advocate for abuse victims. You have been a great help to me and I thank God for calling you to this ministry. And for your answering “Yes, Lord. Here I am.”
      I’m glad you can ignore the ignorant voices out there who criticize you for doing such important work. You nailed it-their power, egos, positions, comforts…are threatened by your uncovering of the darkness you know about.
      A true Christian could never “unknow” or be silent or apathetic about the horrors of abuse happening in Christ’s (supposed) churches that you have been told about by victims. That is complicity.

  4. Anu Riley

    “And then I hear that these are not rare occurrences. These are not unusual. These are the hidden corners, the long dark corridors, the valley of the shadow of death that are walked through by so, so many men, women and children.”

    Thank you so much for all you do, through the Lord, for the Lord—-and for us. I honestly cannot imagine a world without the Lord moving on the hearts of people like you—-to look out for people like us.

    The lonely, the forgotten, the lost and the wounded are often and easily neglected, not to mention malnourished. We’re tired, too weak to move and too scared to trust anyone—not to mention that that is usually what got us into trouble in the first place! Our trust was cruelly exploited, and then we were blamed for it.

    Barely hanging on and barely a blip on the radar! We are so used to being silenced that they no longer even bother to try to speak. We know what the likely outcome will be, should be try to make ourselves noticed.

    ” I am a minister of the word, a pastor, a preacher of good tidings of great joy. I will not get sucked into the abyss of darkness and pain nor is it my desire to draw you into it.”

    I love Nehemiah 5:19: “Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.”

    At first I didn’t know what to think of that. Then I loved it, and still do, It is a prayer I absolutely pray for those such as yourself. Nehemiah prayed hard, worked hard, and faced hard times—all to honor the Lord and His people.

    May His favor shine on you, because you shine His light for the ones who so badly need it.

  5. Anu Riley

    Oh, by the way—I’m sorry for the “things” you’ve been told over your ministry.

    You spread His love so well to so many—-I hope that “covers” the offensive ignorance I saw displayed in how you are spoken to.

    For myself, I tend to lean into being “too” sensitive to words, whether spoken to me or about me—it’s hurtful in a way that is quite strong, and sadly—quite familiar.

    Praying for strength for your body and soul to carry on and carry forward. As long as He breathes His life into you to keep going—I look forward to reading and taking in whatever He lays on your heart to share with us.

  6. Thank you for not taking the wide road to destruction on the issue of domestic abuse. This means so much to so many who have been discouraged so many times.

  7. sue

    Dear Sam, “not uncommon?” i believe the victims of domestic terrorism – and that churchian bullying has been going on for a long time. It continually wears me out that so few preachers expose these devils – meanwhile, the Scriptures are packed with examples of wickeds and how they deceive, but these passages continually go ignored.
    Thank you for being among the few voices in the wilderness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s