Dear sister I read about on the CBCMoscow blog post

I don’t know you, but I’d like to reply to the letter you wrote asking for counsel, which was published on this blog post, with a troubling reply. Here is your letter:

Dear Pastor,    

You’ll never believe the terrible state of my marriage. I was raised in a Christian family. My father and mother never fought. I wasn’t rebellious as a teen and my husband and I went through all the “proper” courtship process before getting married. Now, five years later, everything has fallen apart.    

Roy, my husband, who was so loving and kind in the beginning has become rude, surly, and angry all the time. The good thing is that he doesn’t hit me or the children (one boy and two girls), but he gets really quiet and spends a lot of time in the basement. Every once in a while, he does blow up and wowser, what a blow-up. He curses, yells, calls us all kinds of names, and throws things.   


We never know when he’s going to blow and what is going to cause it. We’re all walking on egg shells all the time.   

Can you fix him? Can you help us?   

Hurt & Confused    

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***

Here is my reply:

First, I want to tell you that I get being hurt and confused. I’ve never been in your situation, but because of many friends of mine that I’ve listened to at length, I’ve tried to imagine what it must be like to think you were getting a loving and kind husband, but then realize he’s a completely different person, a scary person, and you don’t even know who he is. Hurt and confusion are appropriate responses.

You may have counselors giving you unhelpful advice along the lines of “What were you expecting, a bed of roses?” But Continue reading

The defiled conscience: should we lovingly help or sharply rebuke?

“And what we don’t want to do is say everybody binds everyone by their conscience with things that the Scripture doesn’t bind us by, right? Usually everybody’s bound by the preacher’s conscience. I don’t want to bind you by my conscience; I want the Holy Spirit to bind your conscience, and I want you to obey your conscience.” ~Mark Driscoll, in his sermon “The Weaker Christian”

Hi friends~ I’m eager to explore with you what the Lord has been showing me about the defiled conscience. It has much bearing on where we are in the church of Jesus Christ in this day.

The weak conscience: recap

In Part One of the conscience series I explored what is meant by the “weak conscience” in a Christian.

A weak conscience is one that lacks the full strength of understanding of what Christ has accomplished for them and who they are in ChristThe result is believing that certain morally neutral activities would affect that standing.

I also discussed how the weak conscience can be manipulated by spiritual abusers, resulting in

— confusion over right and wrong, as well as

— guilt and shame when one has done nothing wrong.

That fact—the guilt and shame when one has done nothing wrong—is immensely important in the life of the body of Christ.

The weak conscience can become defiled

First Corinthians 8:7 says that if the believer with the weak conscience partakes of something he thinks will spiritually defile him, there’s a danger that his conscience will be defiled, or “soiled” or “contaminated.”

This means the one who has believed in Christ will bear the guilt and shame of having sinned, even if he has done nothing wrong. From what I can see, there are two types of situations that can cause a weak conscience to become defiled: Continue reading

“Conscience” in the Bible: insight into abusers and their targets

Scout’s honor, I didn’t start out to make this a blog post about Mark Driscoll. I was thinking about how those with hardened/polluted/jettisoned/seared consciences take advantage of those with sensitive/weak consciences, and I wanted to study conscience in the Bible to understand it all better, and then post about what I had learned.

So I did the Bible study, learned a lot, and then wanted to see what other people were saying about the conscience. In the middle of all that, another former member of Mars Hill Church (which had imploded after the many scandals of the Driscoll debacle) decided to speak publicly about the spiritual abuse she and others endured, and in that interview she mentioned something significant about the conscience (which I’ll get to later).

Mark Driscoll Uncle Sam wants you

Mark Driscoll admonishing his listeners.

That led me down a very intriguing trail, which I have to say, made a study of the conscience a whole lot more compelling. Continue reading

On calling people out via social media—a response to Jarrid Wilson

On my personal Facebook page I have the “On This Day” app so I can see everything posted on each day through the years. So during the month of February I’ve been following what happened in February of 2014, which in my little world was significant. Early that month, Bob Jones University had fired the team that was investigating their handling of sexual abuse allegations, Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment (GRACE), headed by Boz Tchividjian. Because I spoke out about the firing in various places on social media, including my own personal Facebook page, I gained quite a following Continue reading

Rethinking the idol factory: challenging the “idol” construct as the explanation for all sin in the lives of Christians

Clay-Ganesh-Idols-1024x562Why does it matter whether or not all sin is described as idolatry? 

It has surprised me, as I’ve researched it, how many Christians simply assume that all Christians churn out idols. To think that everyone who worships Jesus Christ is all the time actually worshiping something else is disturbing at its core.

As I studied the topic, I saw this quotation again and again from John Calvin: “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” (Even though the writers who quoted him Continue reading

Tullian Tchividjian, Tom Chantry, BJUGrace, and gossip

In the beginning, I had a little blog called Here’s the Joy on which I just wanted to blog about the Christian life and the wonderful truths of the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, the Hope of glory. I was happy with my eight readers, and life was (relatively) uncomplicated.

Then I began to interact more and more with abuse survivors and those who blog about abuse. That does have a way of upending your world, doesn’t it? I may still have only eight readers, but my blog has taken a turn.

So yesterday I was supposed to be working on the publishing policy for Justice Keepers Publishing and other fun things, but I got waylaid for a bit by someone’s blog post with links and more links. Eventually it led me to a blog where I had a spirited discussion with the blog admin, who had said we should keep silent regarding scandals such as that about Tullian Tchividjian and Tom Chantry, because otherwise we are breaking the ninth commandment, “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

Tom Chantry, former pastor charged with child molestation

Tom Chantry, former pastor charged with child molestation

Continue reading

What hypocrisy is and what it isn’t and why that’s important: a lesson from Tullian Tchividjian

Hypocrisy. Presenting oneself one way (perceived as good) in public while actively living a different way (definitely bad) in private. Sort of like this:

hypocrisy-evil-with-mask-from-unholy-charade

hypocrisy: evil with a Superman mask, from the cover photo for “Unholy Charade,” photo credit Stephanie Council

And of course the problem of hypocrisy is made far worse if the hypocrite isn’t just presenting himself as good but is also admonishing others to walk in a certain way— the way he walks.

Isn’t that why Jesus reserved His harshest words for the Continue reading

Power over Porn

Not long ago I had the privilege of having a deep conversation with a young man who was attending an excellent local Bible school.

What made this conversation unusual was that this young man began telling me about an addiction to pornography that had gripped him since he was nine. He was one of the oldest children in a large family, so hiding his addiction had been no small feat, but he managed it. Continue reading

What does it mean to “serve the church”?

serveIn a small group my husband and I were visiting, the topic of “serving the church” came up. Tim and I both began thinking about the people the Lord had brought into our lives, listening to their stories, talking to them about the goodness of God, helping them with day-to-day needs, and reaching out to them in the down and dirty places of life.

But discussion in the group took a different direction.  They began talking about Continue reading