Pronoun Trouble in Romans 2 that can keep the oppressed in a place of bondage

Not long ago I received a request from a reader to help her understand the first verse of Romans 2 as it might apply to praying for God’s judgment against one’s wicked abuser.

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 

She told me that because of this Scripture in particular, someone she knew had refrained from naming her abuser’s actions as wicked, and had thus continued for a long time to be in a dangerous relationship.

So here is a modified version of my reply. Continue reading “Pronoun Trouble in Romans 2 that can keep the oppressed in a place of bondage”

Righteous anger or sinful? A response to the Women’s Study Bible

Last Friday morning I wrote and posted a response (link) to Michael Pearl’s blog post in which he answered the questions of a woman who, with her children, was living with an abusive husband (link).

The title of my post, “Dear Michael Pearl, this is what righteous anger looks like seemed self-evident. This is because, as it so happened, the previous morning someone else had written to ask me a question that in God’s providence prepared me for Friday morning.

She asked for my thoughts on a short lesson about anger from the Thomas Nelson Women’s Study Bible (WSB), edited by Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Kelley. (There appear to be dozens of editions of this Bible available, but I’m linking to one of the most recent ones.)

Here is the lesson, found at Ecclesiastes 7:9. (in this edition it’s on page 982.)  Continue reading “Righteous anger or sinful? A response to the Women’s Study Bible”

Maybe your bitterness isn’t really sinful: a video interview

It sounds radical, doesn’t it? And as a solid Christian, why would I want to convince anyone that something we’ve always thought of as “sinful” isn’t really sinful?

To be clear, I’m extremely opposed to sin! But I believe many in the church of Jesus Christ can end up putting “heavy burdens and grievous to be borne” on the shoulders of those who are already being oppressed, and I want to do my part to lift those burdens through the love and power of our Lord Jesus. Sometimes one of the first steps can be lifting that burden of false guilt.

As one commenter said in regard to the video below, “At first I was like, nah, but then I thought to persist and listen to what you had to say, and I’m so thankful that I did. Thank you for sharing this. It was really helpful. I truly appreciate it.”

Another commenter said, “This is amazing. I’m weeping.”

There’s a kind of bitterness that is sinful. And for sure, for sure, it’s really bad! But if you study every time the word “bitter”—or any of its associated words—is used in the Bible (the way I did), you’ll find there’s a whole lot more to discover about bitterness than just those few passages—eight, to be specific—that are sometimes used to tie people up, gag them, and tangle their minds.

 .

This interview with Natalie Klewja of Visionary Survivor explains more, with topics based on much more information available in the book Untwisting Scriptures. (If you want to read the RealTime comments and questions that others have left on the video—and leave your own—you can right-click on the video to get the link to go to the original site.)

When is bitterness sinful and in need of rebuke? When is it not sinful and in need of care? I hope these truths helps you on your quest toward full freedom and joy in Jesus Christ!

A video interview on the topic of “yielding rights”

This morning at 11:00 EDT I was interviewed by Natalie Herbranson Klejwa of Visionary Womanhood, (now called Flying Free), in the topic of “rights” in the life of a Christian and whether or not a Christian should “yield rights,” with totally Christian totally freeing teachings supported by Scripture. (The actual real interview starts 5 minutes in.)

 

You can read about the totally Christian perspective on your rights in a more organized fashion Continue reading “A video interview on the topic of “yielding rights””

The other kind of hypocrisy (a guest post for Leslie Vernick)

This post is being simultaneously published at the website of Leslie Vernick.

***

I’ve been urged to watch 13 Reasons Why to see the 13 reasons (why) a young friend hates it so much. (Though I’ve read and heard enough about it to understand it, so far I’ve been able to get through only the first episode). The bullying she personally experienced at her Christian school, she said, was pretty much everything that happened in this Netflix series, and more.

One of the most important things she described to me about her school was the dynamic of bullying. Some students there were genuinely nice people, but they lived in such an environment of fear that whenever the main bullies were around, they remained silent or even participated in the bullying if necessary, so they wouldn’t become a target. (You may wonder why no one tried to alert teachers or administrators about this massive problem, but someone did and it wasn’t believed, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog post.)

So while I was pondering the dynamics of a bullying school environment that went stratospherically beyond anything I had experienced in my own high school days of mild bullying, we heard a sermon on Galatians 2.

“Well, what do you know,” says I to myself, “there it is again!”

The story goes that the apostle Peter and the other Jewish Christians were actually welcoming the Gentile Christians and even eating with them (a truly big deal in those days) . . . until the bullies came.

The bullies weren’t swaggering studs or prima donna divas; they were Continue reading “The other kind of hypocrisy (a guest post for Leslie Vernick)”

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   

girl-517555_1920

***

A man who says he’s a counselor offered a reply here. But I’d like to offer an alternative 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 “Dear sister I read about on the CBCMoscow blog post”

“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 talked about his conscience.

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

4 ways teaching Christians to embrace “I’m the worst sinner I know” is harming the church

SermonTitleSome background of the teaching

When CJ Mahaney began proclaiming “I’m the worst sinner I know” somewhere around the late 1990s, it certainly wasn’t the first time this teaching had been promoted. But from what I could find, this was when it began to go mainstream.

Mahaney himself claimed it regularly, often even as a way of introducing himself when he would stand up to speak. “I’m CJ Mahaney, and I’m the worst sinner I know.”

But it isn’t only Mahaney who is supposed to be the worst sinner he knows. Each one of us Continue reading “4 ways teaching Christians to embrace “I’m the worst sinner I know” is harming the church”

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

Hindu idol factory

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.”

The writers who quote him  Continue reading “Rethinking the idol factory: challenging the “idol” construct as the explanation for all sin in the lives of Christians”