No Professional Counseling Advised: One Woman’s Sad Story

Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” Henry Ward Beecher

 

 

The story you about to read was a difficult story for the writer to tell. For purposes of this story, I shall call her Faith although I do know her identity.Yet, it is a story that needs to be heard. I have spoken with her at length on the phone and was impressed with her wish to be vulnerable. I am not sure if I could be as open as she is. 

The astute reader will see crucial elements in her story that add incredible complexity to what some would say is a simple account. Please note her history: she was born to a mentally ill mother. She sought solace from pain, not having ever experienced a healthy relationship with her parents. This form of comfort came in the form of pornography and associated behaviors.

Faith looked to the church and saw hope in the Christian faith but she was let down by poorly educated people within her SGM church who did not comprehend that some of her problems would warrant intensive intervention. So, they settled for "holding her accountable." And this was a bad mistake. It would delay necessary treatment for a long time. Remember, a struggling person may not have the resources for determining her need for professional  intervention. The church places itself in a vulnerable position by eschewing professional intervention..

Faith was willing to share her diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I have a close relative with this problem and it is a serious and difficult diagnosis. A Wikipedia article does a great job giving an overview of this diagnosis. LINK  Please note the high risk of suicide and self harm. A church which tells people that they do not need outside intervention may find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to defend their reasoning if a suicide attempt is successful. Trust me, it won't help the church in the court of public opinion.

A church places itself in a precarious position when it attempts to play doctor.  If they had encouraged her to seek professional intervention, Faith would have received dialectical behavioral therapy and medications. With such help,  there is a very high rate of success. Faith's church, according to her testimony,  advised that she receive no outsider intervention. In so doing, they may have contributed to a less than optimal recovery.The earlier the intervention in this situation, the better the chance of recovery.

Recently, Faith, buoyed by the apparent glasnost with Sovereign Grace Ministries, asked if her former church might help her with counseling costs because of her difficult financial circumstances. She thought they might be open to helping her, given that they encouraged her to seek counseling only within their church.

Here is their response via email.

"I told the guys i'm 50-50 on this one, and because i'm involved in it (edited to remove name), i recused myself and put the ball in their court for a decision. Their decision was that it would not be appropriate for us to help you in the way you asked. i regret your funds are low and i hope you can get the help you need somehow." 

Now for a request from us to our readers. Faith has vulnerably shared her life, diagnosis and experience. This takes alot of courage and she has opened herself up to criticism. Faith is actively involved in working through her issues. Please encourage her, not condemn her. She grew up in difficult circumstances and was primed, from an early age, for potential problems. Her church did not help her with the intensive therapy she needed. Frankly, there is no excuse for churches not to recognize serious mental illness. The average pastor or church member is not "competent to counsel" in these circumstances.

 

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Warning: Explicit Material

 

This is a short version of my story, so first, some background. I grew up in a large family (seven children) with a mentally ill mother. In spite of the chaos, God planted a seed in my life as a child that kept me from rejecting him, no matter how crazy my life seemed. Even though I knew Jesus was my savior, through my teen years, my life did not reflect him. My mother was hospitalized many times and my father was self-employed. So, my sisters (the youngest 3 kids are girls) and I pretty much fended for ourselves and developed unhealthy relating patterns with boys in a search for the love we weren’t getting at home. I love my parents, and I am learning that they themselves did not have the necessary emotional or spiritual skills to effectively train their children. During these years, I also developed a rich fantasy life to escape the pain, which was accompanied by masturbation and moved into pornography.

I managed to escape and graduate from a Christian college. After a year of bouncing around, which led to me moving back home, I found a great job. After a few months I had the resources to move out on my own. After several months of a long commute to church, I decided to find a new church closer to where I was living and working. I had a good college friend that was attending CLC, and I liked it when I visited. I had been exposed to charismatic beliefs in college, and encountered the power of the spirit, but the excesses and the health and wealth teachings turned me off. It seemed that People of Destiny/SGM was the best of both worlds, charismatic with solid teaching. I discovered that there was indeed one in the city where I was now living, so I checked it out. This was in the early 90’s. With my background and distrust of the psychiatric system, I was a prime target to fall into the trap of the love bombing and the teaching against what they termed ‘psychobabble’.

I knew I had baggage from my family of origin, but when I inquired about counseling, the leaders convinced me that I only needed them – that as I matured in Christ, my life would get better. I was counseled to not look back to deal with the past, and to only look toward the future. However, now I see and understand that the past was affecting my present life. My first moment of cognitive dissonance came a couple years later when a couple of leaders wives confronted me about “dependent relationships”. They had given me an article to read, and I remember thinking “yes, this describes me, but I see a lot of the people act this way in their relationships, and they are praised for these actions”. I felt that the gist of it was that it was ok to relate to your ‘authorities’ in a dependent way, but not okay to relate to other regular members in this way. Their only advice to me was to repent of my behavior and trust God. Anyone who’s ever struggled with emotional dependency knows that it’s not that simple.

I spent the next few years trying to figure out how to be a woman that a good man would want to marry, and how to walk in purity. Finally God brought me a good man in January 1995, however he did not attend a SGM (PDI) church. My leaders convinced me that I needed to end the relationship after a couple of months because he did not intend to become part of our church. This good man loved me so much and missed me, so he did attend for a couple of months later that year, but then just disappeared. Through some sad circumstances (that’s a whole other story), we reconnected the following January. I remember telling my care group leaders, if he asks to pursue the relationship again, I’m going to say yes (I’m so glad I had the gumption to tell them what I was doing instead of asking for their permission☺). He started attending our church and we got engaged in May.

Shortly after this I got my own PC at home, and I was living alone with little accountability, so the porn addiction reared its ugly head. The pastor’s wife knew about my past struggles in this area, so I confessed to her that the struggle had returned. She told me to just keep fighting and that once I was married that struggle should greatly diminish and maybe disappear. However, after I got married it got worse. A couple years into our marriage, in the throes of struggling with infertility, the addiction had escalated to cyber sex almost daily. Once again I went to the pastor’s wife and confessed. This time I outright asked about finding a counselor to work with and for some accountability. I was told I only needed to repent and put on purity and that my husband was the only daily accountability I needed.

For the next several years, I had long stretches of successfully not acting on my urges, but then I’d fall back into the porn for a short bit. Finally after the arrival of our second child, I found myself slipping back into the cyber sex. This time my husband and I both went to the pastor and his wife, and asked for help. Again their only help was to encourage my husband to hold me accountable. A very unhealthy dynamic developed between my husband and I. He kept hearing how a man needs sex and I kept hearing how I should never say “no”. This teaching just reinforced the way we had turned sex into a way to relieve our stress. In my efforts at turning off the urges to view porn and masturbate, I ended up turning off my sex life almost completely. This led to extreme struggles with guilt because I kept hearing how I should not say “no”, and my husband was getting extremely frustrated because I was saying “no”.

Through the years there were times we thought things were amiss at our church, but each time we questioned leaders, we allowed them to get us back in line. Fortunately a couple of years ago, I reconnected with my college friend that had introduced me to PDI/SGM. She and her husband had just recently left the Chesapeake, VA church –the story of what happened there has been widely discussed on the blogs. My husband and I naively thought we could go to our pastor and discuss the stuff on the blogs and influence leadership to change some things. We found out that asking questions and refusing to get back in line and be quiet quickly gets you pushed out of the inner circle. We were also changing our views on some of our parenting, which led to us being chastised several times by our care group leaders. After enduring several meetings of everything getting turned back on us over the next year, we finally left last February.

It is has been a difficult journey, one we weren’t sure our marriage would endure. Who likes to lose so many ‘friends’ at one time? We are fortunate that we did maintain some outside friendships and have no other family involved in SGM. God immediately led us to a great church in our neighborhood that has been a place of healing for us. I am now finally getting the intense therapy that I should have gotten years ago. I have a really neat Biblical Counselor (Larry Crabb persuasion NOT CCEF affiliated), and a licensed therapist who is a believer. It makes me sad, because the work is harder than it may have been because of the added spiritual abuse I endured on top of my childhood trauma. I am glad to be free of the abuse, and grateful for a strong husband who has led his family well through a couple of difficult years. As we heal, our marriage is only getting healthier and stronger. We are looking forward to good things with God.

 

Lydia's Corner: 2 Kings 1:1-2:25 Acts 13:42-14:7 Psalm 139:1-24 Proverbs 17:19-21

Comments

No Professional Counseling Advised: One Woman’s Sad Story — 224 Comments

  1. Yea! New post. I’m not one to beg and plead because it’s rude when you both work so hard, but I must admit I’m always waiting impatiently for more. ;)

  2. NLR
    Thank you for your kind words. We post Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We, on rare occasions,may add a day.

  3. I am curious about TWW’s opinion of CCEF. At our former PCA church, CCEF’s model was embraced by the leadership. i have no personal experience with their biblical counseling, but a friend that left the church mentioned she was rebuked for depression, and her friend was advised against secular counseling for an eating disorder. In general, this church was against outside secular psychologists, even Christian psychologists.

  4. Lac
    Tell you what, when I get back after taking my son to college, I will write about CCEFs thinking and compare it to other ones. I believe it is dangerous and can cause further distress to already hurting people. Rebuked for depression??? Good night! Do they slap you around for schizophrenia? And maybe make you sweep behind the podium for bipolar? I despise it when the church acts stupid.

  5. Lac

    My hubby just asked an interesting question. If the depression is a sin and gets better with 20 mg of Paxil a day, does Paxil cure sin?

  6. Faiths story is….FAMILIAR. To me because I have had the wonderful but difficult opportunity to minister to others like Faith, who struggled like her, and even those with DID. Nothing in her story surprised me other than her marriage surviving it all and praise God for that.

    It is very true that the church is not equipped to handle issues like this. I volunteered with a ministry through Desert Stream for about four years and had gone through their 32 week counseling program for two seasons. It’s intense. I, too, struggled with emotional dependency and relational idolatry as well. Inhad come from a very broken home and needed much healing. I got a lot of the healing I needed through that ministry and chose to give back. We read many of Larry Crabbs books and materials. Althgh Desert Stream could be classified as an ex-gay ministry, it really isn’t so. It’s much more about understanding the reasons why we respond to sin against us in particular ways, as well as how we sin in turn. Less focus is on the sin itself, and grace, forgiveness and the heart of God is center to the teachings.

    It was interesting to see Christians who cared but also didn’t make your sin as important as what’s in your life and in your heart that’s causing you to repond the way you are. There aren’t always clear answers and a lot difficult to understand. Issues we addressed were general brokeness, depression, sexual addiction, chronic masturbation, pornography addiction, homosexuality, same-sex attraction, narcissism, relational idolatry, codependency and a range of other very human responses to a broken world around us.

    I’ve seen people like Faith healed in many areas. We never encouraged people NOT to continue seeing their counselors or discontinue taking meds. And because the director of our branch of this ministry was a counselors, she understood that we were not replacing professional care but merely being support.

    In fact, I find this story on the lighter side of many that I’ve known and would rather forget–because life is hard and people are really struggling in this world.

    It’s funny. Sometimes I like to ruffle feathers, and going to a church like CHBC with a bunch of Mr. darcy’s and wannabe Jane Austen heroines, I’d love to say realistic things to throw people off. I’d say like you know there are men in this church with porn addictions right? You know that some of these men and women are chronic masturbators, right? You know that there are guys here who are either gay or struggle with same-sex attraction that are getting married because they think hetero sex will fix them and satisfy them, right? You know that some of these men expect sex way too often and unrealistically from their wives because of their porn addictions or issues in the past? You know that some of these married people have had sex before, or struggle with fantasy and aren’t present with their spouse when making love? Rather, they are picturing someone else.

    These women thought I was ridic. Many would say oh not at CHBC. Or I don’t believe that, these are godly people. Or are you serious? I’d emphatically say yes.

    The thing is, we always want to believe that everybody sitting in the pews next to us are as perfect as they look on Sunday morning. But the realist and the person who understands that broken people really sin–and I’m not talking about respectable sjns like forgetting your daily devotion–I’m talking about real problems, that person can see the church truly for what it is, a place full of broken people who need Christ, a living God who is actively helping us with some real troubles.

    To me, I saw a bunch of wannabe naive people who didn’t want to look at the reality of what life gives to some, if not many. It’s easy to go to your upper-class predominately white republican perfectly Reformed church every Sunday and believe the lie that everyone is perfect. But that really denies us the vision and confidence we need and that is to witness the absolute amazing power of God to transform the lives of broken sinners like us with some real ish for problems. Getting married wint fix them, and like Faiths experience, it sometimes exacerbates them. Going to a perfect church wnt either. But we cannot witness or see God work when we strive so much to (1) continually focus on our sin and depravity, (2) think that praying and reading Scripture and accountability solves all problems; and (3) fail to recognize how much we need the Holy Spirit and understand His power to transform a person through sanctification and healing over time.

    These churches generally fail to pray for and consider what healing is and even ask for it continually, but also seek ways to help bring about healing in others without blaming them or Gods Sovereeignty for their predicament. We, as Christians, must realize that we sin because of the affect of sin on us, but that the sin is symptomatic of deeper issues that need serious compassion, knowledge and consistency to be addressed. We must stop being afraid to acjnowlege that these things, many of us do in one way or another. It may not be as habitual, or the same exact things, but I haven’t met anyone in life who was innocent of any of these things, even narcissism–which one may think a more respectable sin than pornography. The church also shouldn’t deny that many parachurch ministries are equipped to minister to broken people and serious issues far more than local congregations. We cast our needy out by the roadside. These organizations are the Good Samaritans feeding the poor in spirit, the brokenhearted, the one overcome with his sin. They are the ones presenting Christ as living water, as healer, as provider. Not the local church. They should take note and stop writing blog posts (ahem… 9Marks) that are esentially telling us what to think and not to think about parachurch ministries. How about they just do their job and maybe the parachurch ministry will become redundant and not needed any longer. And truth be known, the parachurch isn’t there because they want there to be a need for them. They do not. And the day the local church gets the balls to educate itself, not overstep it’s bounds in therapy, and learns to understand the true humanity of it’s congregants, then I’m sure the parachurches will gladly close their doors, go sit back in the pews and enjoy the message. Rather than tending to the many casualties the local church has caused in this war to be theologically correct.

    I always thought, a real person with real problems won’t survive in a church like this. I see the way many people respond to serious stuff and they wanna pretend all is well and good in Reformed perfected theology Christendom. But I know the problems and I have discerned many of them.

  7. Disclaimer: I do not agree 100% with Desert Stream or their teaching, but for the most part, they are doing a great job tending to the brokenhearted. I cannot say whether I believe someone can leave a homosexual lifestyle and become healed and go hetero. I know people that have. I can only trust what they say. I know people that have been healed of many of their issues that cause them to struggle with same-sex attraction, who have married and have great marriages…but they still struggle, less frequently for some, but alas, they do. It’s apparent to me that not all healing will take place this side of heaven, yet I’ve seen God work miracles in people’s lives and have brought them to greener life-giving pastures. And sometimes when your life is shrouded in darkness and your sin overwhelming, a much greener pasture with a few brown spots is better than the scorched land you used to live on that gave no life at all, only false hope, empty promises and more darkness…

  8. I once started investigating CCEF after being alarmed by the stories told by my friend, as well as getting confirmation by a psychologist about this church’s resistance to psychology. I bookmarked these two videos as subtly bothersome:

    can-i-pursue-psychiatry-vocation-while-maintaining-biblical-worldview

    will-studying-psychology-hurt-my-ministry

  9. A vivid picture of the borderline:
    Women who ‘entrap’ are typically bright, attractive/alluring, highly seductive and charismatic–but their moods are mercurial, and behavior patterns are extremely unstable. Relationships are characterized by an ongoing series of breakups or periods of distancing, and reunions. Wildly alternating relational dynamics (come here/go away) can feel confusing and emotionally injurious, leaving you with the sense that they either love you or hate you! Within the same day or hour their perceptions of you can shift dramatically–and you’ll be feeling adored/idealized or devalued/criticized/rejected. These behaviors and traits are consistent with Borderline Personality Disorder, and here’s more:

    Borderlines are narcissistic–but you’ll also observe other problems, such as; desperate attempts to gain attention, intense/irrational abandonment fears, lack of empathy, extreme jealousy, lying, poor impulse control, extramarital affairs, drug/alcohol abuse, hypersexuality, ‘crazy-making’ interactions, low self-esteem, rebound relationships, passive-aggression, cognitive distortion, self-harming behaviors, eating disorders, panic/anxiety issues, OCD, suicidal ideation, pervasive neediness/clinginess, emotional volatility, stalking, etc.

    [That’s why one of my mental health friends says he would “run before I’d counsel a borderline.” It is a very sad thing; I feel for them but I fear them as co-workers.]

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  11. Excellent article; the pastor and the borderline
    You know you are dealing with a borderline when you begin expending more emotional energy than you’re used to expending for one person. You become caught up in email exchanges that seem to have no end. You get roped in to meetings that produce little resolution. And you feel like you are always the problem. You see, borderlines are men and women who have experienced extraordinary pain and rejection, but project that on to you. You become the father who rejected them. You become the mother who wouldn’t listen. And, if you are not aware of this psychological interplay, you are quickly sucked in to a vortex of frustration and futility.

    http://www.drchuckdegroat.com/2011/01/ealing-with-difficult-people-the-borderline/

  12. NLR,

    I am “Faith”. Thanks for the very thoughtful and compassionate response. You are a gift to the Christian community, I pray that God raises up more like you. I am very grateful that my husband has committed to stick with me, although it is very difficult at times. I am also glad to be in a church community now that has some folks like you.

    Seneca,

    You show your own ignorance and lack of compassion. Its folks like you that make churches unsafe for broken and hurting people. Read the studies, as new treatment methodologies have been developed for BPD, the prognosis for full recovery have improved, especially if the BPD patient wants to be well. I am taking advantage of one of the newer treatments — dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and working with a therapist and counselor who are standing with me in believing that with God’s help, I will be healed. Luckily I have voices around me agreeing with that and holding me up in prayer. Yours is a voice I will choose to ignore. Please take your comments elsewhere. Thanks.

  13. First of all, let me say that I really feel for Faith. If she was actually encouraged not to get professional help by pastors, I feel that is very wrong.

    I was married to a person with Borderline Personality Disorder. You cannot even begin to imagine how manipulative they can be. The lies never end, the deceit never ends…..it’s VERY possible she so drove the pastors nuts they didn’t even know which end was up and what was the best way to help her. She may have denied to them over and over that she had any mental health issues. Believe me, I couldn’t understand why my ex couldn’t stop doing the stuff he did. I knew him far better than any pastor could. Seneca is absolutely right in what he says above about being sucked into a vortex of frustration and futility.

    It is VERY likely the pastors did see this as a sin problem vs. a mental health issue because even professionals don’t know what to do. My ex husband’s psychiatrist said to me “I have never, ever seen anyone like your husband.” Very comforting coming from a guy who has been doing this for years.

    Actually, not sure about what professional treatment is for Borderline Personality Disorder these days, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that accountability is part of the treatment. Knowing that there was someone actually watching him would help hold some of my ex’s behavior in check for at least a little while.

  14. Now, about yesterday’s story written by the man suffering with schizophrenia. I thought it was a beautiful article. I can’t begin to imagine his pain.

    Now, what if a schizophrenic person were in your church. Should he receive love and care from your pastors? Should it be unconditionally? What if he sexually abused his son? Should he still be cared for considering the depth of his mental illness and confusion? What if his son abused some kids he was babysitting? Should the man still be helped? What if the man committed suicide leaving a trail of devastation behind with his wife and many children? Should those people be cared for? Should they receive financial aid? Or should they just be abandoned in favor of the victim’s (abused child) family?

    I am not saying things were handled well. But I do feel the pastors were right in trying to be compassionate to the perpetrator’s family as well because in reality, ALL were victims in this case!

  15. Shato–

    While I also understand from your post that your situation was difficult and I empathize with you on that, I think it’s highly inappropriate and pretentious of you to infer what MIGHT have occurred between Faith and her pastors.

    Having dealt with people in ministry that had Dissociative Identity Disorder (schizo, basically), and being that there were hallmark behaviors and issues that were identifiable in those who suffered this way, they were still individuals and they still exhibited unique characteristics of the disorder. I do believe from what you have inferred about Faith, that your husband was manipulative and drove people crazy–including your pastors (if I am getting you right). but for you to take Faith’s story and imply that she VERY likely drove her pastors crazy is arrogant and unkind. You do NOT know that, and therefore, you shouldn’t even begin to infer that.

    It would be like saying you, for example, suffered from pornography addiction and that you VERY likely watch child pornography. Although many men are addicted to porn, and many men who are addicted to porn may watch underage people, it doesn’t mean that all do. I think you should reconsider what you wrote about Faith, since you don’t know Faith personally, neither do you know if her behavior was manipulative or stressful for her pastors. Stick to what you know and who you know, and what those experiences were. I believe what you are saying about your ex. But please don’t speak for others or stress how VERY possible it was that someone did this. It’s almost accusatory.

    I think, too, that naturally you would harbor justifiable anger, hurt, and possibly even regret (maybe) about this situation. I believe that it must have been life-altering for you. But hopefully, you won’t let that cause you to judge harshly others who suffer in this way as well. They may not all exhibit the same behaviors to the same degree as your ex has.

  16. “This is precisely why a professional is needed in these circumstances” Dee

    Oh believe me Dee, I absolutely agree.

    “Mrs. Stretch” I really hope things go well for you; truly. Tough place you are in.

  17. Faith

    There are people who seem to enjoy heaping scorn on others in order to divert attention away from their own very real issues. Its really ridiculous when someone pontificates about a b=problem that they do not have. It’s easy for them. But, I want to assure you, that these folks have very real problems of their own but somehow they are “better problems” that someone else. It’s called ginning the system. I am so glad that you are pursuing the therapy that has been so successful. My relative is seeing steady improvemnt as she goes through DBT.

  18. Faith–

    I am so glad to hear that you are in such a community of believers. God bless you. Thank you for the encouragement. I can’t say this was something I wanted to do. I did not. It was hard. Who wants to do anything that hard…ever? It’s gutwrenching hard work to care for one’s soul and pursue healing. It’s kinda like giving God permission to cut you wide open and it seems like he takes forever stitching you back up. All the while, your guts lay open and you ache in pain at times. But there are those moments where he applies such a soothing healing balm that you forget how painful it all was. And then boom, he opens something else up and takes a look at it. Personally, it was hard to do this myself and sometimes even harder to walk people through those things that I had never personally experienced but I could see how damaged they were because of it. I am glad that the Lord strengthened your husband to walk with you through this life. You both have grown tremendously from this experience, I am sure.

    About Seneca, you will learn to ignore him. When I see Seneca’s name, I just scroll right over it and move on to the next post. I don’t even bother to read what he says because it’s generally irrelevant, cold hearted and ridiculous. I only welcome crazy people in my life who want help, not the ones who continue to torture people because they get a kick out of it. And Seneca is not welcome in mine, so I just KIM (keep it moving).

  19. Shato
    There is a form of therapy called dialectical behavioral therapy that is 95% successful! It is an outgrowth of cognitive behavioral therapy in which practical, everyday lessons are combined with positive encouragement. Again, the person has to commit to the program and most folks are on medications as well. Professionals do know what to do and they are doing it well so your statement does not make sense.

    The pastors are dolts, pure and simple. They did not offer her any help outside of the church and they felt that simple “accountabilty” would make the difference. In this circumstance, it does not. They put themselves into a position of being able to “discern” the problem but they have absolutely no training to even begin to make such a judgment.

    Oh, poor, poor pastors being driven nuts by someone. That is the reason to ignore them or to play doctor. A pastor signs up for this. Look at who came to Jesus with serious problems. Did He spend time moaning and groaning that these people were not being a “joy” to the Him? He spent more time dealing with the lost and letdown than He did with all the nice people who were a “joy” to their pastors.

    The asinine 9 month Pastors College can’t even begin to address how to assess when someone has a serious mental illness. Also, it is my perception that very few pastors within certain churches even believe that mental illness is more than a serious sin issue. People who are sick come to our churches and the church must know when they are over their heads.

    I can guarantee you that this woman was written off as a sinner and nothing else. And the pastors were like children in attempting to deal with this and I can assure, they act the same way when many other serious problems that come their way. They know nothing in this area and yet the pretend they have the “authority” to discern these situations. Mark my words, there will be a disaster one day and these boys will need to grow up quick.

  20. Shato

    The pastors who are poorly educated men did not get competent counsel (by this I mean a real expert-not some book on the Cross Centered Life) in this situation. Once again, they felt they were all sufficient to deal with this. They told the victims to shut up and forgive. If how you present your pastors is actually the case, you have demonstrated their utter inability to correctly deal with the serious issues that come their way.

    Your argument makes little sense. The Schizophrenic in the Christianity Today article was not a molester and there is a distinct difference between someone who is dealing with an illness that affects him self and another whose problems lead to the molestation of others. I am surprised you would place these in the same category. For example, you would not place a schizophrenic in a position to operate heavy machinery if they were untreated but you would have no trouble placing a molester in a church when kids are present? Good night!

    The first adage of the medical profession is to do no harm. To allow a molester to continue in a church with the victim still present is to place the abuser’s needs over that of the victim. Sure, continue to minister but do so away from the children. Form a group, have them meet at separate times when kids are not present. But, that takes work and the pastors are so busy…Oh, these sorts of abusers will not be a joy to them so it will be a bit of a drag.

    Finally to place the abuser in the same category as the raped child and call them “victims” shows little compassion for who was hurt and who did the hurting. Frankly it shows an worrisome lack of an emotional quotient.

    Shato, you are a great defender of all the SGM pastors. They must be really pleased with you.

  21. NLR

    Seneca has his own set of problems and it probably helps him to rag on others so he doesn’t have to deal with his issues. He reminds me of the guy in the Bible who prayed “Thank God I am not one of those sinners”.

  22. Anonymous

    Shato has a persistent need to stick up for SGM pastors. This is just routine.

    To place the victim of a rape in the same category as the rapist a profound lack of emotional quotient. She demonstrates why she fits well within the SGM culture. She has been assimilated and anyone who even raises a question about the actions of the anointed ones must be the problem.

    She does not realize that her words are causing harm to another who put herself on the line to share her story. Shato took the opportunity to slam her and then she will deny it because she starts off by saying she feel bad for her.The rest of her comments was SGM -good, person who had a bad experience and is in pain-bad.

    Shato is the reason that SGM will always hang on. They have done a number on her and she no longer can see it.

  23. Dee–

    I think Shato’s experience was an awful one. But I think she errs suffers from tranference. She’s transferring the issues she had on her ex onto others who have the same problem, lumping them into the same category as offender. While I can understand her hurt, pain, anger and anything else, it’s simply not fair of her to do that to everyone. Her siding with her pastors was obviously because she felt they were deceived by her husband and manipulated by him, and that he drove her crazy. That’s understood. No lack of compassion for that there. That’s hard. SHe just can’t always take defense of the pastors and believe they have done the best in EVERY situatiotn regarding congregants who struggle in this way. Because of her own issues, she merely projects them on all others with similar situations.

    Yeah, Seneca is quite easy to figure out, as you have figured him out. I just refuse to read anything he writes anymore. He has lost total credibilty to me and is not worth my time or effort. I have completely dismissed him.

  24. Dee–

    I’m “Anonymous”. LOL! That was a mistake. I forgot to fill out the form.

    I saw that too and forgot to mention it. What is common amongst SGMers who are still drinkin’ Kool-Aid from their SGM sippy cup with a picture of CJ on the side, is that they continue to speak that old stankin’ SGMese. A la let me compliment you first or lpretend to empathize with you before I SMASH YOUR EFFIN’ HEART IN! lol

    Hmmm… Funny that Christ never did that. He never said “I understand your pain, but here’s why it’s your fault, SINFUL DUMMY!” Don’t these clones realize that’s what they are doing?

  25. HowDee YaAll,

    the Lord can:

    fix stuff,

    …where we can not.

    i will wait on the porch till then…

    one day…

    they will return…

    faith hope love 

    &grace…

    Sopy

  26. Very interesting story. Another example of how SGM leaders have been trained to deal with people generically, in the most basic of ways. The pathways people are guided to take are narrow (because that’s more biblical), and problems are addressed using the amazing four-prong approach, which really forks people up:

    1. A person 2. Sin 3. Assumption of person’s sin 4. Telling that person their problem stems from sin.

    There you have it! SGM has boiled it all down to a formula. Need a pattern? Look at those in leadership. They have all passed through the eye of the needle. See how well they conform to their roles? It’s that simple!

    And if you are a wife, your husband becomes your go-to guy for everything. That ring on his finger means he has all the answers. No need for a pastor (who is supported by your tithe) to care for your tortured soul. Let the volunteer scaregroup leader deal with all the problems, or some approved member who will feel privileged to keep the pastor informed, or the husband who is responsible for everything because he’s the prophet, priest and king.

    Why should these cleansed pastors like get dirty dealing with messy people? Where’s the joy in that!?

  27. SGM’s leaders always liked sin sniffing. Now they are the ones getting their sins sniffed. How ironic, eh?

  28. Evie

    The word “sin” is being used just like today these guys are using the word “gospel. If they don’t like your question, you are “sinfully” craving answer. If they don’t like your view of gender, you must have a “gospel” view of gender which mean that you view is wrong because real Christians want to be loyal to the “gospel” but methinks they have some very new definition. Gospel now can mean “My view is Biblical and yours is not.”

  29. It’s funny… a couple at my old church decided to go to a real marriage counselor for premarital counseling rather than getting counseling from one of the elder’s at church. At the time, I did think it was rather odd. Like why wouldn’t they want world class counseling from an elder since we were all so great and everything–our church. And now…I’d simply follow suit. I think they made the best decision ever.

    I didn’t like many aspects of the premarital counseling at our church anyways. I specifically didn’t like that they talked about the mechanics of sex and body parts and how to arouse one your spouse in the counseling. I dind’t feel it’s the business of an elder to talk about that with couples. If they dont know where they who-who and ya-ya are at this point, then they’re already in trouble. And for centuries, people have figured out how to get each other to the finish line. It comes as a natural part of learning intimacy. I dont want my pastor or anyone involved in that aspect of my relationship, unless you are my best friend and I ask you. And we’re not talking about 16 year olds, we’re talking about bonafide grown-ass people. The women are also encouraged to talk to another wife at church about birth control and fears they might have about sex. I also felt that was intrusive. If you didn’t do it, you were encouraged to go back and be sure to do that and talk with that person. I dont want some woman who I really dont know that well talk to me about those things, especially who only befriended me most recently because I was engaged or in a relatinoship, but generally ignored me before that time. (hence the sarcasm in my voice if you don’t hear it) ha!

  30. I think Christian marriage counseling ends up putting more strain on some marriages. Required date nights for instance, put people in legalistic bondage. No one needs more rules to follow.

  31. HowDee YaAll,

    ” To allow a molester to continue in a church with the victim still present is to place the abuser’s needs over that of the victim. ”

    -dee on Tue, Aug 23 2011 at 10:12 am, http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/08/22/no-professional-counseling-advised-one-womans-sad-story/#comment-25571

    Question?

    Has Sovereign Grace Ministries’ churches become a predatory  environment where none of the children are safe? An environment where everyone is put “at risk”, for that matter?

    or 

    Is this type of behavior an aberation, seen only in a few of these type churches?

    (a few bad apple(s), n’est-ce pas?)

    or

    Is this a defect of focus, such as blurring of the SGM, “we O’ so do things right…” psychological image?

    or

    Is SGM, as a network of churches, a result of an imperfect image to begin with, caused by such things as a defective social environment mixed with the pathology of a bad theological emphasis?

    Huh?

    How does one explain this apparent deviation from proper or socially expected church behavior anyway?

    Sopy

     “Brick after Brick”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY2s6zT1zRE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  32. I don’t think this is a problem that is unique to SGM or that SGM lends itself specifically to this kind of abuse. I never saw or heard of anything even close in the church I was in for 10 yrs. We had lots of problems and issues, but that is one that I never heard of. My daughter was shunned very badly, but never physically or sexually abused in any way. Although that did take place at a church we went to later by the senior pastor!

  33. Just to clarify, the church we went to later was NOT an SGM church, nor was it affiliated or related in any way at all.

  34. One more clarification – the senior pastor was verbally sexually assaulting my daughter – not physically. He was constantly making sexual comments to her, and even said he would leave his wife for her. My daughter was in her late teens at that time. She did not tell us about this till much later.

  35. Dee, your comment (12:58p) was the gospel truth!

    Oh dear. I just realized that might have been a horribly confusing statement! Allow me to clarify my words so there’s no confusion, especially to any SGM readers!

    GOS’PEL, n. [L. evangelium, a good or joyful message.]

    The history of the birth, life, actions, death, resurrection, ascension and doctrines of Jesus Christ; or a revelation of the grace of God to fallen man through a mediator, including the character, actions, and doctrines of Christ, with the whole scheme of salvation, as revealed by Christ and his apostles. This gospel is said to have been preached to Abraham, by the promise, “in thee shall all nations be blessed.” Ga.3.8

    TRUTH, n.

    1. Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies.
    My mouth shall speak truth. Prov.8.
    Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. John. 17.

    http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,gospel
    http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,truth

    :-P ;-)

  36. NLR is home early for the day. We just had a 5.8 earthquake in the National Capitol Region. Its the first earthquake I’ve ever been in and IT WAS TERRIFYING! Our building is a new billion dollar complex and I was on the top floor which was rocking like a little fishing boat on the ocean. I seriously thought I was going to be buried in rubble today and that I’m glad didn’t happen. Im a born and bred eastcoastie. We can’t cope with that ish. All the west coast people thought it was “fun”. My mom just called after trying to get through for an hour and I just started bawling like a baby. I was so freaking scared. It took an hour for my heart to stop racing and for me to catch my breath and be able to calm myself down. At first I thought our building had been bombed until I saw the ground moving. And evacuating a building while wait for the big aftershock to kick off was even more terrifying. I’m so mad I behaved like a girl and was wiping away tears in front of my boss and coworkers. He showed no leadership at all which just made me more fearful and frustrated.

    (sighs). Quelle jour!!!

  37. RE dee on Tue, Aug 23 2011 at 09:52 am:
    you wrote:
    “…The pastors are dolts, pure and simple. They did not offer her any help outside of the church and they felt that simple “accountabilty” would make the difference. In this circumstance, it does not. They put themselves into a position of being able to “discern” the problem but they have absolutely no training to even begin to make such a judgment…”

    While I’ll heartily agree that some of them are about as sharp as marbles, it certainly cannot include those who are genuinely some of brightest in Protestant evangelicalism (and I’m sure you didn’t mean to include them in the former bunch). But here’s the thing.

    Many of them are well meaning to be sure, and I cannot believe that they with malice and deliberation cause the hurting to hurt more. I believe that they are bound up in and labor under such doctrines as the perspicuity of Scripture, inerrancy, and a whole panoply of stuff that originally was only a response to the German school of “higher criticism” which began to deny the essentials of the faith in the late 19th cent.

    Over the last 100 yrs. it has morphed into a belief system which holds that the Bible is a ready made answer book for everything in life and that if you seek and apply solutions outside of it, you’re not “Bible believing”.

  38. Muff–

    You’ve been here longer than I have. Would you say that it would be fair to say that whenever we comment or our blog queens post regarding the state of the church that they hardly are ever speaking in absolutes–meaning all and everyone. I think it’s safe for us to assume that by consistency and by the focus of this blog, our attention is always focused on those whom the criticisms would apply.

    Certainy, Dee and Deb could write posts praising some great pastors somewhere, ad at times they have. But we know this blog isn’t about that. Because what’s being done here is rare but needed.

    I say this because I think when a person is addressing specifics that should naturally be understood. One shouldn’t have to write apologetically regarding good pastors all tge time before they can criticize the bad ones. So can’t we move forward knowing and understanding that Dee/Deb never mean all, every and always but some and sometimes?

    I also think this blog has established well that the general belief is that we know these pastors mean well, that they aren’t in some secret society conspiring to hurt the flock yet, even still, in their best non-efforts to wreak havoc in the local church that they have managed to do that and do it well.

    At the end of the day, motives only matter slightly to the offended, especially when either motive or non-motive produces the same harmful result. Or maybe that just me?

  39. Hi NLR, I am so glad you are ok, and that there were no reported injuries from the quake.

  40. NBTT, you said

    I think Christian marriage counseling ends up putting more strain on some marriages.

    This has definitely been my experience. And I’ve been thinking a lot about this and how SGM, for example, defines marriage and the manner in which they approach marriage counseling.

    I’ve been reading about how in America the late 40s, 50s and early 60s was a unique time for the family, out of which came “traditional family values.” There wasn’t anything like it before and there hasn’t been anything like it since. It came after the Depression and the WW2, and before the sexual revolution of the 60s. (The birth control pill hit the market in June of 1960, giving women more confidence and the ability to control the timing of childbirth).

    During this time the economy allowed for men to find stable jobs and make enough money to support a family. Women happily dropped out of college to get married young and become full-time homemakers. In the suburbs. And raise 2.5 children and a dog.

    The market was flooded with books, magazines & TV shows which defined and depicted these traditional family values.

    (Tellingly, I read that an overwhelming majority of married women surveyed during this time said that although they described themselves as happy, they desired their daughters to delay marriage and get an education.)

    The “Traditional Family” ended up becoming the family of the 1950s, and “traditional family values” were based on strict gender roles. Although the family has always undergone flux and change throughout history, the 1950s became the benchmark for many people, and especially for many Christians it became the “biblical model.”

    This is certainly true in SGM and their “Family of Churches.” Their belief in complementarianism is, in my opinion, not based on the bible going all the way back to Genesis before the fall like they claim, but rather from the 1950s!

    They approach marriage counseling from the position of fulfilling your roles, which they assume is true to scripture, and it can have devastating effects:

    “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female'” (Mark 10:6). And we see already in Genesis before the fall that there were distinct, yet complimentary, roles for men and women.

    http://www.cbmw.org/Blog/Posts/Men-and-Women-on-Purpose

    Take this challenge! http://www.godswordtowomen.org/bilezikian.htm

    The purpose of this challenge is to prompt Christians to grapple with biblical facts rather than to accept traditional assumptions about female roles. What is at stake is not the role of women as much as the definition of the church as authentic biblical community. Is it possible for a local church to aspire to define itself as biblical community when more than half its constituency is excluded from participating in the most significant aspects of its life?

  41. And remember all the teachings about about married women being a proverbs 31 wife?

    “She selects wool and flax.”
    (Wool makes me itch.)

    “She considers a field and buys it.”
    (I do not want my wife buying a field!)

    “Her arms are strong for her tasks.”
    (No macho woman for me, thanks.)

    “Her lamp does not go out at night.”
    (My wife turns out the lights at night so we can both get some sleep.)

    My point is not to put down proverbs 31, but I do not want my wife trying to live up to some sort of legalistic standard. All this talk about wives being submissive, quiet, gentle spirited, blah blah blah. I do not have any rules whatsoever for my wife. NONE! I trust her and love her just as she is. I am not looking for her to change anything nor to meet some “higher standard”. Who wants to be under that pressure and constantly measured and judged.

    I think couples would be a lot better off if they quit pressuring each other to be something that they are not. Let the Holy Spirit mature us. I do not need to “help” God do His job. And neither am I praying for my wife to change. We just celebrated our 30th, and we would have been voted the most likely couple NOT to succeed (because of me, not her.)

    This wives “submitting to husbands” has been blown way out of proportion and has no semblance at all to the original intent of Scripture (IMHO).

  42. “I was married to a person with Borderline Personality Disorder. You cannot even begin to imagine how manipulative they can be. The lies never end, the deceit never ends…..it’s VERY possible she so drove the pastors nuts they didn’t even know which end was up and what was the best way to help her.”

    Shato, This sounds like the leader of SGM. :o)

  43. RE No Longer Reformed on Tue, Aug 23 2011 at 04:51 pm:

    I am not even remotely suggesting that our gracious blog queens are painting with a broad and piss-soaked brush. I only added a small caveat to ensure a distinction twixt the general & the specific. I think the remainder of my previous comment is indeed pertinent to the discussion and does move forward ===> (smiley face goes here).

  44. NBTT

    The passage about wive submitting starts with mutual submission, and submission in the Bible is always mutual. Second, it is immediately followed by the command for the husband to love the wife as Christ loved the church — in a vernacular, to be willing to climb on a cross for her and hand out the nails!!! One with that kind of love is not likely to be abusive. Mutual submission does not mean “you do as I say”, but let us work together, cooperatively, equally (not “unequally yoked”) to accomplish our goals and mission in this world.

    Rev Meg and I are past 32 years together and in October will celebrate the day we met in a single adults Sunday School class.

  45. NLR,

    So glad you are O.K. The earthquake shook our area as well. Now we’re trying to dodge a hurricane…

    Your description of our focus here at TWW is correct.

  46. Arce, you wrote “Rev Meg”. Is that your wife? Does “Rev” stand for Reverend? I do not see that title ever given in the Bible to anyone except God in Psalm 111:9. Please let me know if I am misunderstanding what you wrote.

  47. That title is what she it entitled by tradition to use as an ordained “minister of the gospel”. We already had this discussion a few days ago. She was ordained the last Sunday in June and has preached three Sundays since then as infill in three different pulpits. She is a teaching preacher — teaches when she preaches. Our culture recognizes the term and grants those who are ordained certain privileges as a result. Not that that is a significant change in our lifestyle, where we have lived for most of our married lives in ministry, just without the title.

  48. Arce, I remember talking about ordination, but not the title reverend. Why does you culture recognize and use a title that is restricted to God only in the Bible?

  49. The entire culture in the United States, Canada and most of Europe, Africa and Asia do it. One does not start a fight with the culture when it would be, at best, a Pyrrhic victory, that would change nothing except reduce the benefits one has earned which are a pittance in any case. Meg’s employment prospects as a minister will pay her less than she was making 20 years ago as a teacher, but she will be following the call that God placed upon her.

  50. Perhaps you should do some articles on the area on the issue of counseling and ask Paige Patterson why he stonewalls and lies to deans of liscensed programs in seminaries in order to get rid of them at a later date. He says he is all for biblical based counseling programs but his method are so unbiblical. Anatomy of a takeover I guess.

  51. Seneca:

    Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

    Ephesians 5:11-12

  52. Hi Arce, are you Presbyterian? Are you following the tradition of men? God does not call anyone to a tradition. I believe Martin Luther started a fight with his “culture”. Is not the pure word of God worth more than any tradition or culture?

    And you did not answer my question: Why does your culture recognize and use a title that is restricted to God only in the Bible? And why would you want to be a part of a man made and unBiblical culture (tradition, denomination)?

  53. NBTT you have just joined my list of commenters that I ignore for being impossible to have a discussion without rancor. Bye.

  54. Arce, what? What did I say that offended you so much? The only rancor I have is towards false teachings. Are you unwilling to answer honest and straight forward questions about your culture? And why? Is God’s word not of higher value and importance to you?

  55. Arce, who exactly is on your “list of commenters” that you ignore? And specifically why are they on your list? And how do honest questions based on the Bible produce rancor? You are perceiving what is not there. You are making false judgements. My sole intent was to bring your culture and compare it to God’s word. If it does not agree with the Bible, then what good is your tradition. If I have a tradition or culture that does not line up with God’s word, then I want to know about it, and I want to receive correction. Are you teachable?

  56. Ok, I went off topic again. Let’s get back to the main issue here. I have been to professional counselors that gave me even worse advice that I got at SGM. The professional field has a large number of quacks also. I am very leery of the entire counseling profession, secular or not.

  57. Look, can we *please* stop this?! (Directed to Nothing But the Truth.)

    Life is too short. (And I am not joking or being sarcastic – it just is too short for this kind of thing.)

    Re. the 1950s: the economy started booming post-WWII. Thousands and thousands of people (men, mostly) who would never have had any chance of being able to go to college *were* there, due to the passage of the G.I. bill.

    And lots of women stepped *out* of outside-the-home work once the guys came home from Europe, the Pacific theatre, etc.

  58. Casey

    If you have any info for us on this issue, please contact us via our email. We would be happy to look into it.If the Sheri Klouda incident is any example, this does seem to be a modus operandi.

  59. imo, the only “1950s Golden Age” reality is… TV. You know, Ward and June Cleaver; Wally and the Beav; Ozzie and Harriet and their boys.

    Of course, there also was My Threes Sons… mom no longer with us and all that.

    Trying to recreate media stereotypes (remember those early 60s Kool Aid commercials?) is bound to fail because nobody ever really lived that way.

  60. numo, please stop what? Life is too short for what kind of thing? Asking people to compare their culture and traditions to the word of God? I remember you taking sides with Arce on the last go round. Are you related to him or a personal friend or something? Why are you even addressing me about this? I had already moved on before you posted to me. So what is your beef?

  61. Muff

    This is what I mean by dolts. If you were to stop the average man on the street and ask him if a certain situation requited the ministrations of a professional, would the average man say yes? I think that, if the average man on the street were confronted with Faith’s story, happymom’s story, and all the other sad stories we have heard from SGM, he would have responded with far more compassion along with getting the pros involved. I am stymied as to the type of people they get to be pastors.They appear to have a critically low emotional quotient.

  62. NBTT needs to learn some manners-that’s my beef, you’re rude and then act surprised when people are offended by your rudeness. Pretty adolescent if you ask me, which you didn’t, but so what…I’m practicing free speech, as you said earlier.

    cheeers!

  63. Dee, early in our marriage, my wife and I went to professional Christian counseling, professional secular counseling, and no cost church counselors. For us, the professional secular counseling was by far the worst of the three. But that is just our experience. And this person came highly recommended. It was a total disaster.

  64. Hey there, “doubtful” is back for another drive by shooting! Got bored over at SGM Refuge and Survivors, did you? I did not say anything that was rude! Comparing traditions with the Bible is rude???? Get real!

  65. Earthquake: we definitely felt it up here, though my 2nd-floor experience clearly was not as shaky/swaying as NLR’s! (Glad you’re OK, NLR, and I think a lot of people probably felt like crying!)

    We had a low but audible rumble here; the house shook and everything that wasn’t nailed down shook and the only reason I knew it was an earthquake is because:

    1. it went on for more than 5 seconds (unlike blasting for road-building, which we’ve had here too)

    2. I was in a 3-point-something tremor in the Philly area, back in the early 70s. That actually made things fall on the floor.

    3. I could feel the movement of the house.

  66. just want to say THANK YOU to ‘faith’ for sharing her story. this took a lot of courage.

    i have stayed quiet. for a long time. but all of this ‘stuff’ that has hit the fan has stirred up some emotion in me from my experience with the church and i believe that God is allowing me to continue on in my journey for freedom through this.

    faith, sooooo much of what you have shared is stuff that i can relate to. it is so sad that the very place we SHOULD be able to go to for help, for guidance, is the very place that shames us and makes us feel that we are damaged, rejected, unworthy.
    aren’t we ALL??????

    i grew up in an abusive home. i was exposed to things no little girl should be exposed to. eventually i ended up within PDI/SGM. i struggled greatly with depression and fought suicidal thoughts. i was ‘cutting’ before people talked about it…i didn’t even KNOW that it was something that other people did until years later…and i sat and cried when i realized that i was not alone in this (even though at the time i was VERY MUCH ALONE in it).

    i was suffering from some unexplainable medical maladies…after lots of tests and no conclusions, my medical doctor had me take some sort of test. the results were very telling about my emotional state…a very outlined explanation of things that i was dealing with and HOW i was wired to respond. not that THAT excuses my choices…but looking back, it helps me understand a bit more why i struggled so much at the time).

    my doctor suggested that i begin counseling. i discussed this with my pastor who set up a time for ‘inner healing.’ he was given a copy of the doctor’s results. we walked through the issues and after a couple hours of prayer, i was proclaimed ‘healed.’

    for awhile my ‘healing’ stuck. smile. but as i continued to move forward in my life, various circumstances began to stir up a lot of the issues and i began to struggle again.

    i had a profound need for acceptance…a desire to be loved…these were things that i had missed out on in my childhood. and again, this DOES NOT EXCUSE MY SIN. and sin i DID. i was naive. i wanted nothing more than to be swept off my feet by a Godly man who would ‘save’ me from my loneliness and pain. i went above and beyond in pursuing acceptance from EVERYONE. this led to some major indiscretions. not within the church, mind you. but not that THAT really matters.

    as i have read back through my journals i am HORRIFIED by how desperate i was to be loved :(

    i’ll spare you the details. but let’s just say i sinned. i fell. i went to my ‘covering’ and confessed. time and time again. i was stuck in a pattern. and i knew it. and i WANTED to change. but no matter how much i prayed, no matter how much i TRIED, i continued to struggle. throughout the struggle i was transparent. i never got ‘caught.’ it was ALWAYS me going to THEM telling them i needed HELP…

    i did everything they asked of me. i tried changing my wardrobe, i made my life an open book to the people around me. but that didn’t change the stuff that i was facing every day as i left the ‘bubble’ of PDI/SGM and took myself out into the outside world for my job…where i continued to get battered…used…and the self-hatred continued to grow…

    eventually it got to the point where i think i was just a huge disappointment to them. obviously i was in love with the world. obviously i loved sin. (truth be told i HATED it. i HATED myself. i SELF-INFLICTED PAIN on myself because i loathed everything about myself).

    one of the pastors had a private meeting with me (just the two of us) where he wanted me to share every sexual experience that i had ever had. i would have to go back to my journals to see if that was before or after the meeting that i had with the group of pastors & their wives where we discussed my ‘situation.’ (re-reading this in my journals recently, this made my SKIN CRAWL).

    i was spared being taken in front of the whole church…but was clearly told that if ANYTHING EVER happened again that I WOULD BE.
    through ALL of this, i loved the Lord. i didn’t always obey him. but i loved him. and i hated everything i was struggling with. even in my sinful state, i KNEW that God spoke to me. i KNEW that i was wrong. but i knew that i WANTED SO DESPERATELY to be different. i left the church. who can possibly live up to the expectation that they aren’t going to sin again????? i knew that my mistakes were hurting the people who i really DO believe loved me and cared about me. but i felt backed into a corner.

    i believe with all my heart that if i had received counseling…ONGOING counseling…at a time when i really, REALLY needed it, that maybe things would have been different.
    i know i could have avoided a lot of pain…a lot of self-destructive stuff…

    MY PASTOR HAD A DETAILED, OUTLINED SUMMARY of the issues that were on my plate from years of abuse…IF ONLY…IF ONLY more attention had been given to the fact that PERHAPS i needed more than just a little bit of prayer…not that God CAN’T heal someone in an instant…but sometimes it’s more complicated than that…sometimes it takes working through the issues and allowing the healing to come through the process…

    but in the end, God has redeemed ALL of it. turns out God had a plan even for this messed up sinner. i still have some emotional and mental issues that i deal with…but for all the things i have lived through, i think i’ve turned out better than i (or they) could have imagined.

    and while i beg and plead daily that the Lord would heal me completely of the emotional/mental stuff, sometimes i think that he HASN’T simply because it keeps me SO dependent on him…and allows me to feel great compassion for others who have experienced or ARE experiencing similar things.

    wow. i did NOT plan on typing all of that out. but there it is.

    God has created us all as unique individuals. this is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL type of thing. what works for one will not work for another. what ONE person in the body needs is NOT what another needs.

    the treatment for a broken leg is not the same as the treatment of a migraine. the treatment for a splinter is not the same as the treatment for appendicitis.

    WHY, THEN, DO THEY SEEM TO THINK THAT ASSIGNING ONE TYPE OF ACROSS THE BOARD STANCE ON THIS IS PROPER?

    there are times to say, ‘you know what? we don’t know what more to do to help you. we see you are stuck in a pattern and maybe there is something that God wants to expose and heal that is beyond our expertise…we think you should explore every option to get to the ROOT of this.’

    this member of the body of Christ will be the first to admit that she is less than perfect. but i’m thankful that God never gave up on me and that he has allowed me to come to a place where i have some understanding about what was REALLY going on in that time of my life instead of what it LOOKED like to those around me.

    forever grateful for his mercy. and while i HATE that this has happened to other people, it’s also good to know that it wasn’t just ‘me.’

    may God continue to bring freedom to the captives.

  67. Don’t get me wrong on this I not endorsing secular wolrdview counseling either. Liscensed based Christian programs can be very sound as they acknowledge things like Major Depression and PTSD while keeping sound theology in view. The problem I have with biblical based counseling is some are not good at prooftexting passages. Ever hear Paige Patterson’s view on tithing. He indicted poor seminarian student as being poor because THEY WERE NOT TITHING. I would like to see if he would be so bold to ask Dr. Russell Kelly to come to newly funded chapel of his and debate this issue and also quit indicting seminarians with stealing. The fruit came to fruition when he gave that sermon.

  68. RE dee on Tue, Aug 23 2011 at 10:08 pm:

    Point well taken Dee and I applaud you for it. I only responded to someone who started to get their knickers in a dither over what might have been percieved as a defence of shit-for-brains pastors who have no clue what mental illness entails. If anything, my comment in that regard was illuminating in how some sects of American Protestantism got to this point over the last century.

  69. Liberty

    What courage it took for you to share this with us. Your story is one that eduacted all of us as to the devastation of psychological difficulties when combined with poorly educated pastors. And to think they would even consider “disciplining” you. It makes me ill to think of it.

    God rarely heals us in the way we want in this life.Miracles are rare. But He has given you the most amazing of healing in His grace. And He is always with you, even when you walk through this valley of the shadow.

    I am so, so sorry for your pain. I am angry at pastors who do not know when they are out of their league. Some of them really seem to think that God has given them a special anointing that supernaturally imbues them with professional training. Next thing you know, they will think the Bible gives them the ability to do neurosurgery.

    May you sense the peace of Christ and find yourself a fellowship of loving Christians. Find a place that has people that know how to love instinctively. I will pray for you.

    Thank you for sharing with us in such a heartfelt way.

  70. Muff

    Boy do I agree with you. Mark Noll wrote a book called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. These pastors are the poster kids. Good night!

  71. Casey

    Patterson would laugh of the indulgence system of the Roman Catholic Church that were used to coerce the poor to give money to build the Vatican. He is doing exactly the same thing. It is a shake down and he should be ashamed of himself.

  72. Oh for pete’s sake!

    Another article about “Reverend” without one single Scriptural reference!

    “So, Who Can Wear the Name of Reverend?

    We know that God is only satisfied with us if we follow His word, and His word only. It’s God’s way or the highway, folks. What are God’s instructions on the name “Reverend”?

    He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat unto them that fear him: He will ever be mindful of His covenant. He hath showed His people the power of His works, that He may give them the heritage of the heathen. The works of His hands are verity and judgment; all His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. He sent redemption unto His people: He hath commanded His covenant for ever: Holy and Reverend is His name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.——Psalm 111:4-10

    The Hebrew word used here is only translated as “Reverend” in this one passage. This one verse is where men get their self-appointed name and take it from God. According to the Bible, only the Bible can be used for our spiritual instruction. Therefore, this passage explains all that there is to explain about the word “Reverend.” While this is the only place in the Bible where the Hebrew word is translated as “Reverend,” in 640 other places it is translated as “fear,” “terrible,” “terrible thing,” etc. My main point in this essay is to bring to your attention that the word “Reverend” came from the translation of “fear” toward God. We should NOT fear earthly “reverends” such as Jesse Jackson and others.

    Reverend is God’s name. Who are we to assume such a perfect name? Anyone who claims this Holy name will answer to God on the great Judgment Day. For example, we could just as absurdly call Al Sharpton, Almighty God Sharpton. How blasphemous would that be?

    Friend, why not just follow the Bible’s instructions? God, who is superior to any “reverend man,” wrote the Bible; He wants us to simply follow His Words.”

    http://www.ryanscarpage.50megs.com/reverend.html

  73. Yes, the word appears exactly once in the KJV and not at all in the NIV and NASB.

    In the latter two the word is “awesome.” Now, THAT’S an overused word these days! If you want to make the argument against referring to a person as “awesome” I could see your point. However, the title “Reverend” is an accepted form in English. No one is forcing you to address anyone by that title.

    Is there a full moon this week? I just finished catching up on my reading, and this place has been nuts the last few days.

  74. So then you admit that calling someone “Reverend” has no Biblical basis whatsoever. Thank you very much. It does not matter what some denomination accepts, nor what some tradition accepts. We should be concerned about what GOD accepts. The term or title “Reverend” is never used of any human in the Bible. So why are people adding to God’s Holy Word?

  75. NBTT
    Can I make an observation? You are a universalist. There are many here who might think you are subtracting from God’s word. The finger can point both ways. However, I think people have been rather patient with you accusations regarding “adding to God’s Holy word.”

  76. Dee, I base ALL of my beliefs 100% on the word of God. I do not add and I do not subtract. The word “Hell” is never found in the Greek or Hebrew text. A good literal Bible says Gehenna, Hades, and Sheol. None of those mean Hell. I have not subtracted one iota from God’s word, and I have not added one iota to God’s word. I am not making any accusations – I am telling you the facts. Reverend is never applied to any human in the Bible. If we are not basing our Christian titles on God’s word, then we have added to God’s word.

  77. Dee, I am ready to give every man (and woman) an answer for the hope that is within me, as the Bible instructs me to. If someone wants to point a finger and accuse me of subtracting to or adding to God’s word, then bring it on. I will answer anyone who wants to confront or challenge me, 100% from the Scriptures. I will explain each and every verse presented, in context and according to the rules of proper hermeneutics and exegesis based on the original languages.

    If that is better done on another thread, please let me know.

  78. NBTT
    In your opinion. I could get some fine theologians who would disagree with you and argue that they are NOT adding to the Scriptures. So, if I have a bunch of wonderful theologians, along with a bunch of people who also study the Bible for all its worth and do not come out on your side, and find out that you think you are right and everyone else is wrong,what should I think? Hmmm….a little hubris perhaps? Are we just overlooking a prophet?

    So, go ahead, be right in your eyes. You are not convincing people with your arguments and you are irritating a few. And don’t go to bed thinking you have irritated them with your “proof” and they are just flummoxed by your obvious prowess. Maybe a different tactic is in order?

  79. I don’t recall seeing Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. in the Bible either, but those are commonly accepted titles. Sheesh.

    I might see your point if you were calling someone “reverend” (lower case — an adjective), but the title “Reverend” is not the same thing. What would you suggest as an alternative title, if any?

    Does it not bother you to hear someone refer to another person as “awesome”? It does me because to me “awesome” has always described God and God alone. Today it’s become such an ingrained part of our culture, particularly the younger generations, that it’s lost much of its “awesomeness.”

  80. NBTT

    If someone wants to debate you, that is fine with me. This is an open blog. But, I fear, people are getting irritated and are not enjoying the process.

  81. Dee, as my name states, I want nothing but the truth, so help me God. Why are we discussing issues on this blog? Is it not to challenge and encourage one another to the truth? I found out from very intensive study, that the word Hell is not found in the Bible one single time. No one had ever told me that before. I was shocked! Gehenna was a valley near Jerusalem used as a garbage dump where they threw the bodies of executed criminals that had been executed. The Gehenna warnings are about the death penalty – not eternal torment in Hell. There is not one Gehenna warning for rejecting Christ. No mention of Satan going to Gehenna. I would love for one of your top theologians to come on here and challenge me about Hell. No opinions – just the facts ma’am.

    I am not using any “tactics”. I just want to talk about the word of God EXACTLY as it is written in the original languages. Nothing else.

  82. notastepsfordsheep, I only want people to be addressed as they were in the Bible (as far as Christian roles and titles are concerned). Mr Mrs Miss are not Christian titles, callings, giftings, roles, etc. The title “Reverend” means they are special in some way above others? Are they holier? Are they superior? Are they special? What is the reason for such a title given to a Christian? Do they deserve more respect that anyone else in the church? Does Paul call anyone “Reverend”? Why not?

    Calling someone Mr or Mrs or Miss does not infer any special quality or covey any spiritual connotation. That is the difference.

  83. I was much moved by “Liberty’s” story. Very powerful. It did appear people in her church gave great effort to helping her.

    I agree with Dee, it’s good if pastors know their gifts; counseling may not be one of them. There are certainly times they should refer.

    But it can be a big problem finding a therapist on the outside who’s own agenda/philosophy isn’t destructive to a counselee’s faith in the living God.

  84. Your Dutifulness? Since one is responding to a call from God?
    The mistranslation in the KJV is the source of the problem for NBTT and we all know that many mistranslations occurred in the KJV, which was not translated from the earlier Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts that were available. NBTT assumes that the words translated “Holy” and “Reverend” in the KJV were nouns, but they also work as adjectives, and have great meaning as adjectives. So God is holy and he is to be revered, he is awesome, and he is one who can inspire fear and trembling.

    If we did not do anything in terms of our gatherings as Christians that is not in the Bible, we would use no pianos, no electricity, no A/C, meet in homes or underground caves, no hymnals other than the Psalms, no reading of scripture in English as all (English is not in the Bible, nor Latin for that matter, just Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). All sermons would be in one of those languages. No nice wooden pews or metal chairs. No synthetic fabrics or mixed fabrics allowed.

    No parking lots and no cars either.

  85. As many of you here will know, Borderline Personality Disorder has been reclassified (and will be in the new psych diagnostic manual) as a complex type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Trauma experienced at an early age while the brain is still developing alters the growth of the brain physically, limiting optimal function of memory processing. It’s terribly sad, and the BP person needs understanding and compassion, and those in the life of the borderline need to set boundaries and to protect themselves, because their Borderline Person cannot do it.

    God bless all those afflicted, their families, and those who care for both, and for all those who show love and compassion to all who are touched by this type of trauma. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

  86. Cindy,
    Thanks for the update on the classification of BPD, and getting the discussion back on topic. It makes sense, since my main work so far besides the DBT has been Boundaries and processing trauma.

  87. Cindy K,

    Thanks for your compassionate comment. We all need to educate ourselves in this area. Shame on those who classify such disorders as “sin”.

  88. Liberty,

    I have been touched by your testimony. You have been through quite an ordeal. May God bless you as you move forward with your life. I will be keeping you in my prayers.

  89. Another fan, I am speaking of spiritual matters. Pianos, A/C, electricity, etc are modern day inventions that have nothing to do whatsoever with spiritual matters. For instance: there are no new gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not change. The Holy Spirit is not giving out new callings today that were not in the Bible. The word “Reverend” is a spiritual title. I do not know any secular people who go by the title “Reverend”.

    Speaking in English is not spiritual. Neither are pews, metal chairs, synthetic fabrics, cars, or parking lots. I am speaking only about the spiritual matters of God’s Word. Speaking in tongues by the gift of the Holy Spirit is spiritual. Speaking French, English, Spanish, etc or any other learned human language is not a gift of the Spirit.

    1 Corinthians 2:13 “Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

  90. cindy k, i did NOT know that about ptsd. thank you for taking the time to explain that.

    seneca, you are right to say that there were people in the church who cared about me. you are ALSO right to say that it can be a ‘big problem finding a therapist on the outside…’ ESPECIALLY IF YOU NEVER EVEN ATTEMPT TO CONSIDER IT. :)

    i think you might be missing the whole point: yes, they cared. BUT the focus was all on the exterior. in the same way that they overdisciplined their children…spanking for EVERY offense, etc. there was a huge focus on appearance.

    it was the same with me: my hair was too sensual (how is that even possible?), maybe if i tried to hide my body more (Curse God for giving me curves LOL), if i prayed more, if i served more, if i was more accountable…

    these things were NOT the issue…they were outward signs that something was SERIOUSLY wrong…what my DOCTOR had shared from the very beginning.

    if ONLY there had been some consideration to that, maybe i would have been able to deal with these issues earlier in life and avoid some heartache.

    i share NOW (after being inspired by faith’s story) in the hope that:

    1. pastors WILL INDEED consider that some people really DO need outside counseling…and there ARE ministries and churches that provide sound counseling…much as you can’t treat a diabetic with scripture, some people need more in this area as well.

    2. that those who are carrying burdens and hurts that they just can’t seem to get past would realize that there is NO SHAME in getting PROFESSIONAL help.

    and just a side note: for those of you who are caught in this debate on titles and such…really? faith has poured out her heart and soul. let’s show a little respect for her please?

    again, faith, thank you for sharing your story. you have encouraged me in your openness and i’m so very glad you find yourself in a better place.

  91. I am not trying to be disrespectful to Faith whatsoever. This is just a side conversation that happens to be taking place on this thread. Faith, please forgive me if I was a distraction or if I was being insensitive to your plight.

    My personal advice to Faith would be to seek those who have wisdom and knowledge and are able to heal. I was healed spiritually by a word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit after being bed ridden for 4 years. The word was based on Psalm 17:22 “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

    My spirit had been broken when I was kicked out of SGM. Drying up the bones affects the immune system according to a Christian doctor who was given this word of knowledge. I needed to forgive SGM for breaking my heart and spirit. That started the healing process. I am now totally set free and physically well.

    So my prayer and hope for Faith would be that she gets a word from the Lord that brings total healing and total deliverance.

  92. NBTT

    Here is when I doubt that you have researched this is a deeply as you have claimed. Do you really think that you are one of the only ones, in a couple of millennia, who have “discovered” the “truth” of Gehenna? I would venture to guess that most people who visit this blog are well aware of the meaning on Gehenna.

    Do you think that all of the theologians were out to conceal the truth from the average person about the Scriptures? Do you think that all those theologians were dumb or a combination of the both?

    I believe that Scripture gives enough warning about a place of punishment after death. One needs to take all the verses and not pick and choose. That is why, when Rob Bell came out with his book, there was controversy because there are many who believe he missed the point.

    You give no nuance to your position, often claiming that you have read it and so that there is nothing more to say than that you are right.

    In my discussions with atheists, I find many there who have the same line of reasoning as you do. They have found the ‘contradictions” and they know they are right. The Christians who have studied this Bible from its inception and do not have a problem with these supposed irrefutable contradictions are to be ignored. Christians are just dumb and the atheists know the truth.

    I believe that there is a hell, I believe that people like Hitler will be there. I do not believe in universal salvation and I have read the Bible for over 30 years. Do you not think that I wish universal salvation were true so that I could have an easier time explaining this stuff to nonbelievers? The Mormons have a far easier job. All good people live life after death while being ruled by the good Mormons in their system.

    However, there is far too much in Scripture that makes me believe in a God of both justice and mercy and don’t go throwing Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. I get your point. But there are many, many others that point directly to punishment for some.

    So, be careful. I have seen fat too many people who are absolutely sure they have a special understanding about the Bible. And they start lots of little groups-like the Phelps family. And I am not accusing you of being like the Phelps.

  93. Seneca

    I do not believe that a pastor gifted with counseling, as you put it, would be in a position to counsel a Schizophrenic, BPD, Psychosis, etc. I don’t care how compassionate he is. This sort of counseling needs years of training and pastors do not get this.

    There are jerks in the pulpit and jerks in counseling. But, in my experience, there are many, many great counselors both here in my home state, in Texas where I lived for years, and so on. Perhpas we don’t know about them because the churches are too convinced they can handle it so they do not develop good resources.

  94. Cindy
    Thank you for your comment. It brings depth to the discussion. The Nouthetic types will say the the BPD person is in sin for responding this way to the trauma of their youth. Once again, placing the victim in the role of sinful perpetrator. Talk about sin. Some of these Nouthetic types will one day need to repent of their sin in participating in this sort of abuse.

  95. NBTT

    Now, what if she doesn’t? Let me tell you to be very careful about making such pronouncements.

    My daughter survived a malignant brain tumor. Another family whose son had a better form of cancer than my daughter lost their little boy. Why us and not them? Both families loved the Lord and prayed diligently for healing. It did not occur for them.

    But there is a subtlety in your comment that perhaps you do not intend. You obviously believe you knowledge of the Bible trumps many here. You constantly let us know that. Could it be that you are linking your healing to your superior understanding of the faith.

    Jesus could have spoken one word and healed all the suffering people in Jerusalem. I bet there were many who prayed for such a thing. He did not. Why? That is a question for eternity.

  96. Liberty
    Thank you for sharing your story. I bet it encourages Faith and many, many others who read but do not comment.

  97. Hi Dee,

    I understand what you are saying and where you are coming from.

    Did Jesus not die for Hitler? Were Hitlers sins not paid for by the cross? Do you know for a fact that Hitler did not receive Christ on his deathbed (if that is what you believe it takes)?

    Take a look at Jesus’s very first warning about “Hell”. Matthew 5:22 22 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (NIV)

    Of all the sins that send people to Hell, why is Jesus here talking about calling someone a fool? Why that specific sin out of the great myriad of sins that can be committed? How about blaspheming the Holy Spirit or rejecting Christ? How about adultry, murder, or some other sin? Why is Jesus here warning about going to hell for saying “you fool”?

    I have been called a fool many times by my fellow Christians. Why are they not afraid of going to hell for saying “you fool”? Does Matthew 5:22 not apply to them? Or does their OSAS (once saved always saved) doctrine keep the fear of God away to allow them to sin against their brother or sister in Christ?

  98. Another fan

    No coffee being served either. Such a service has kept me awake for more than one sermon! Did Jesus drink coffee?

  99. NBTT
    I did not call you a fool for your beliefs. I said your arguments are not nuanced with an understanding of the other side’s arguments. As Covey has said “Seek first to understand rather than to be understood.” Yeah, I know he is a Mormon but that is a spot on quote.

  100. Dee, I meant no such thing to Faith. Not whatsoever. I was just speaking my hope and prayed for a divine healing. Nothing more was intended nor implied.

  101. NBTT

    You may have not meant such a thing, but in light of your comments, it could be implied. That is what I am trying to say to you. Be careful and be more nuanced.

  102. “Thanks for your compassionate comment. We all need to educate ourselves in this area. Shame on those who classify such disorders as “sin”.”

    This is why I kept asking the question on another thread about Nouthetic type counseling and these types of situations. It simply does not match the need. It also makes it worse. All problems are sin. Cancer is a result of sin. All death, disease, etc. When little children are abused their whole concept of what is normal is skewed. That is why many girls who were abused become promiscuous. They do the opposite of what some expect them to do. So, we send them to a counselor who says, you are sinning and must change. Why not say, YOU were sinned against horribly and this is why you are doing what you are doing and this is how we are going to deal with it. It is much better to help someone deal with something when they understand they were sinned against and eventually have to take responsibility for how they continue to respond to that abuse. This takes time and loads of compassion.

    The people who do not think they have a problem are the ones to worry about. Like CJ Mahaney.

    ” think you might be missing the whole point: yes, they cared. BUT the focus was all on the exterior. in the same way that they overdisciplined their children…spanking for EVERY offense, etc. there was a huge focus on appearance.”

    Mrs. Stretch, This is a huge problem in most of Christian circles these days. It is all about outward image. It is one reason they want to sweep the internal institutional evil under the rug. They claim it hurts the cause of Christ. How can truth hurt Christ? A great book that really addresses this “outward appearance” problem in our churches is Jeff Van Vonderan’s “Families Where Grace Takes Place”.

    We CAN get short term conformity that looks great to others from our kids or other church members but the cost is high in the long run. It is like putting a bandaid on cancer. In fact, many get real good at “acting pious”.

    If it does not “change our minds and direction” but is only a personal deception it is nothing but a religion of works. And that is what many are teaching…a religion of works. It is death.

    And I think this is because so many leaders in our churches are taking the place of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.

  103. Dee, I never said that you called me a fool. You have not and you have been very respectful. My point was concerning Matthew 5:22 and some Christians – not you.

    So my question remains, why did Jesus point out this one specific sin in His first warning of “Hell”?

  104. I actually looked at biblical and nouthetic approaches for awhile but the approaches were not resolving issues when development problems occurred. If someone has problem in cognitively understanding semantics, there lies a problem that a counselor must address primarily.

  105. Also, I would never tell anyone not to seek professional help. I am not opposed to it. My preference is getting healed directly by God (as I think many would also prefer). I do not have the finances right now for professional help for one thing, and God has never charged me for his services.

  106. Also things like stress and trauma can cause a person to shut down as well. Just reminding others of the advocate nature of God, ensuring security, and knowing how to provide comfort is so important. Patterson just leaves me cold. I heard enough of him to make a judgment. Not really that great of of preacher. He gave a sermon on the Sermon on the Mount that was just off. He was trying to say judge not lest you be judge had to do with judging motive. It actually is dealing with the manner and method of judgment.

  107. NBTT, Come on buddy, since you know for a fact that many of us are well read in scripture and are not going to agree about univeralism, why keep it up? Dee is right…in fact, there have been a ton of blog debates on Gehenna, etc, all over the place since Bell’s book came out.

    You have great insight into so much of what is man made tradition that is practiced as church. But why keep on with the universalism when you know folks don’t want to go there but just agree to disagree?

    Faith, I would highly recommend you visit Cindy’s blog undermuchgrace and read up on different therapies, etc. She is an expert in this area of PTSD, etc.

    And Faith, one thing that always bothers me about these stories is that I feel so inadequate in responding. Everythign sounds so cliche and trivial when your life has been altered in a way I cannot imagine from a young age. How can we help carry these burdens besides prayer for you? As I think about this over and over with all stories all over blogdom, it makes me realize THIS is part of what the Body was meant for. To encourage and exhort each other. But the “church” (I refuse to call it the Body) is the one HURTING people in most cases or making hurts worse.

    This brings me to a question. Are we being blind by encouraging pastors to do the right thing? Seriously? Are most not so mired in the system that hurts people that they actually hurt people more i the long run? Why do we continue to put our faith in people with titles? Or keep hoping they see the light and do the right thing?

  108. NBTT

    I would like to request something from you. Please present the theological argument of the dissenters, then present yours. This will show others that you have actually thought about the great theological arguments to the contrary.

  109. NBTT

    Reverend is an occupational title in the church organizations in most of the world. It is recognized by the secular world as someone set aside in ministry. It implies recognition of ability and knowledge for that ministry by people who are of like faith with the one so designated. It is a title of respect, like Dr. It gets generally applied. (BTW the use of the word doctor to refer to a medical professional is an aberrant use of the word, since the M.D., like the J.D., is a baccalaureate degree, which the Ph.D. is a true doctorate. However the practice dates back a long way and relates to some medical practitioners who possessed the Ph.D. By usage, came to be applied to all medical practitioners.)

  110. Dee, ok, I will do that. But first let me say that God told Adam and Eve they would surely die, not go to Hell. The wages of sin is death, not Hell. Jesus died for our sins, He did not go to Hell for our sins. The Lake of Fire is the second death – not the fist nor second Hell. 1 Cor 15:22 says “As in Adam all die” – not as in Adam, all go to Hell.

    1 Cor 15:26 then states that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. You do the math.

  111. NLR, I am just catching up on all comments. I am so glad it was not more serious. Thanks for having humor even after such a scare.

  112. Liberty,
    I am glad my story inspired you and gave you courage to share yours. You have encouraged me.

    NBTT,
    I have been prayed for healing in very powerful ways, and I believe that God will heal me — but in a way that will take time. For BPD because of the roots in early childhood development, I believe that there is more value in a longer process of healing than in a “miraculous” healing.

    Lin,
    Your comment above was good:

    This is why I kept asking the question on another thread about Nouthetic type counseling and these types of situations. It simply does not match the need. It also makes it worse. All problems are sin. Cancer is a result of sin. All death, disease, etc. When little children are abused their whole concept of what is normal is skewed. That is why many girls who were abused become promiscuous. They do the opposite of what some expect them to do. So, we send them to a counselor who says, you are sinning and must change. Why not say, YOU were sinned against horribly and this is why you are doing what you are doing and this is how we are going to deal with it. It is much better to help someone deal with something when they understand they were sinned against and eventually have to take responsibility for how they continue to respond to that abuse. This takes time and loads of compassion.

    It resonated with me because this was my experience — I knew I kept sinning, but knowing it was sin didn’t help me to change. The compassion and understanding I am receiving now ALONG with being shown and taught what it means to be intimate with God are helping me to change through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  113. Hi Faith,

    I believe in long term miracles as well and instant. My miracle developed over about a two yr period. I got gradually stronger each day. But please follow your convictions – not mine or anyone else’s.

  114. Dee, one argument against universalism is the Matt 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats. Vs 46 says in many translations “eternal punishment”. The Greek word here for punishment is “kolasis”. One of the definitions is correction. Dr Zodhiates defines it as “corrective punishment for the betterment of the offender.”

    Why call it eternal? Because that is the source of the discipline and correction. Please compare the expression “eternal redemption” in Hebrews. That does not mean that Jesus has to stay on the cross for all eternity.

    Also, this parable is not about salvation. There is not one word about accepting Christ, the cross, the blood, His death and resurrection, etc. This parable is about good works – not about salvation. The goats are still alive at this point. This is a judgement of the nations at the return of Christ, not the final judgement.

  115. There is not one single warning about “Hell”, that talks about rejecting Christ or unblelief. But yet most Christians teach that will be the only reason anyone goes there – rejecting Christ. Paul never even mentions any place called Hell. He mentions “eternal destruction” in 2 Thess, but that would bolster the annihilation theory – not the hell theory. No mention from Paul about Gehenna, Hell, the Lake of Fire, or any such place. Don’t the Gentiles need to know about this terrible place so then can warn their unsaved family and friends?

    Paul says the wages of sin is death. So why no mention of Hell? That is totally baffling.

  116. God is LOVE and LOVE does not take into account a wrong suffered.

    Also, the Bible tells us not to repay evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good. Is sending people to Hell, overcoming evil with good? Is Hell a good place? I doubt many Christians would ever make such a claim. So then is God a hypocrite? Does God not practice what He preaches?

  117. “It resonated with me because this was my experience — I knew I kept sinning, but knowing it was sin didn’t help me to change. The compassion and understanding I am receiving now ALONG with being shown and taught what it means to be intimate with God are helping me to change through the power of the Holy Spirit”

    Mrs. Stretch, I think a lack of teaching on the function of the Holy Spirit in a believers life is a huge problem in most churches.

    I wrote a blog post about it. I could write tons more:

    http://coffeetradernews.blogspot.com/2011/04/missing-in-action-holy-spirit.html

  118. NBTT–

    A few questions I’d like you to answer:

    1. If what you say is right, then do we even need salavation? Is that in the Bibile? What are we being saved from?

    2. If ultimately, all will go to heaven and God will save us all, whether we accept him or not, then what benefit is there to be a Christian? Why should it matter who Jesus is and who God is? If I’m already going to go to heaven adn there is no hell, then can’t I just become a Satanist or a Buddhist? Does it matter? If it matter, then why?

    3. If there is no hell and only a heaven and we’re all going to go there anyways, then why didn’t God choose to just give us heaven here on earth right now? What’s the point of waiting for it if we’re all going to end up there? If there is no hell, no eternal damnation, and we are all safe from eternal sepearation from God, then isn’t it true that wehther I am Hitler or Mother Theresa, it simply doesn’t matter. I have no choice in the matter, do I? I’m going to heaven whether I want to or not.

    4. In their rebellion towards God, Satan and his angels were cast out of Heaven. Why weren’t they allowed to stay? According to your theology, they should have been allowed to stay? Will Satan and his angels also to back to heaven one day, no matter what they have done?

    5. If we don’t need to be saved from hell, because there isn’t one, and we are all going to heaven, then why would you share the Gospel of Christ with unbelievers? What’s the purpose and point of them believing the story, especially if there is nothing they need to be saved from and must do it willingly?

    6. What if you are wrong? What if what you are telling people is SERIOUS error and a lie about God and his plan for redemption and eternity, and people are led astray, so much more that they don’t receive salvation in the traditional sense and they do go to hell? You see, from my standpoint, if I believe in hell but there isn’t one, then I have nothing to loose. Yet, if you don’t believe in hell, but there is one and you havent’ received Christ and lived a life fittingly and according to that calling, then there is much more at stake and much more to loose. I’m not willing to take that chance. I tell atheists that all the time. I understand many of their arguments, but at the end of the day if I believe there is a God who should be worshipped and accepted in teh way traiditonal Chrsitains beleive, who ends up not existing at all and I disappear into nothingness, then I haven’t lost much. But if I don’t believe he exists at all and I live like there is no God, but at the end of my life there is one, and I’ve rejected him and salvation, then I have EVERYTHING to loose for ETERNITY.

    I’m sorry, but as much as I respect your opinions and the fact that you have a right to beleive wwhat you wish, I can’t stand to hear much more of the arguments towards universalism because honestly, friend, you will NEVER convince me to believe what you believe. I will never be willing to take that risk. And I honestly feel it’s a risky choice that if wrong, has far much more at stake than what your traditionalists are believing.

    I hope that you are right and none of it matters, but at the same time, I want God to be just and I believe his justice demands that there would be punishment for unrepentant sinners and tdruly vile and evil people in this world.

  119. Hi NLR,

    Thank you very much for those very thoughtful questions. I will take one at a time.

    The Bible never speaks about being saved from Hell. Not once. We are saved from sin and evil while on this earth. There is no sin in the next life. Romans 6:7 says “He who has died has been freed from sin.”
    Jesus came to set the captives free. Paul says we are slaves to sin. Gal 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then and do not yield yourselves again unto a yoke of bondage.” Sin brings bondage and Christ came to set us free from the bondage of sin – not from Hell. Salvation is from sin.

  120. NLR – the benefit of being a Christian is the same – to be free from sin and also to enjoy God and His Holy Presence. That is also why we minister the gospel?

    I imaging asking a Doctor “Why try to cure cancer when we are all going to die someday anyway?” Just because we all end up in Heaven does not mean we need to be in bondage to sin during this life. This life is of great importance to God.

    As far as Satan is concerned, are you saying that we could be cast out of Heaven one day if we rebel?

  121. 1. But that can’t be true. Because while we are on this earth, we still experience the effects of sin and evil. In fact, someone could rape or mame me today, or kill me. This happens to Christians all the time. So if I’m saved from sin and evil while on this earth, what does that mean then, especially if I still experience those things and actually do sin and do evil. Is this just some figurative language to mean something else?

    What then, according to this explanation, does it mean to be “saved” from it?

    I’m sure you can see that we are not totally free. Of course, I’m sure youw ould say that heaven would make us totally free. And if that be the case, am I being saved from “less” of it while here? And is there a difference between what I experience and say, a non-believer experiences?

    Are non-believers in Christ saved from this bondage of sin and evil while they are here on earth as well?

    Is there less sin and evil floating around because Christ died for it?

    And in the Scripture that you gave, Paul was speaking to a specific group of people. He was not speaking to the whole world. He was speaking to those who had accepted Christ. Why would Paul endeavor to labor to get conversions to Christianity, even from the Jews, if he were naturally speaking to the whole world?

    Going forward, you do not need to tell me anymore that hell is not in the Bible, and that the Bible doesn’t speak of us being saved from Hell. That is understood now going from this point forward. It will save you a lot of time and it will save me the irritation. Thanks.

  122. Faith & Liberty,

    thank you both for sharing your stories!

    NLR,
    I’m glad you’re doing ok!! We had a bit of a shaking in my area also, it was scary, but not as scary as it would’ve been to be in a high building like you were!!

  123. Also, if why did Christ tell the one thief on the Cross that he would see him that day in paradise. Why didn’t he tell them both that? Why did he specifically address the one who believed in Him and believed he was the Messiah? Are we to assume that he was speaking to them both, and that the other (with no recorded staement of his belief) also went to heaven and was in paradise with Christ that day?

    Matthew Henry’s commentary says much better what I would believe:

    23:32-43 As soon as Christ was fastened to the cross, he prayed for those who crucified him. The great thing he died to purchase and procure for us, is the forgiveness of sin. This he prays for. Jesus was crucified between two thieves; in them were shown the different effects the cross of Christ would have upon the children of men in the preaching the gospel. One malefactor was hardened to the last. No troubles of themselves will change a wicked heart. The other was softened at the last: he was snatched as a brand out of the burning, and made a monument of Divine mercy. This gives no encouragement to any to put off repentance to their death-beds, or to hope that they shall then find mercy. It is certain that true repentance is never too late; but it is as certain that late repentance is seldom true. None can be sure they shall have time to repent at death, but every man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this penitent thief had. We shall see the case to be singular, if we observe the uncommon effects of God’s grace upon this man. He reproved the other for railing on Christ. He owned that he deserved what was done to him. He believed Jesus to have suffered wrongfully. Observe his faith in this prayer. Christ was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by his Father. He made this profession before the wonders were displayed which put honour on Christ’s sufferings, and startled the centurion. He believed in a life to come, and desired to be happy in that life; not like the other thief, to be only saved from the cross. Observe his humility in this prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in true repentance, and he brought forth all the fruits for repentance his circumstances would admit. Christ upon the cross, is gracious like Christ upon the throne. Though he was in the greatest struggle and agony, yet he had pity for a poor penitent. By this act of grace we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all penitent, obedient believers. It is a single instance in Scripture; it should teach us to despair of none, and that none should despair of themselves; but lest it should be abused, it is contrasted with the awful state of the other thief, who died hardened in unbelief, though a crucified Saviour was so near him. Be sure that in general men die as they live.”

  124. NLR, rather that talk about what is logical, I would prefer to discuss what is Biblical. I would like to discuss the Scriptures and specifically what the Scriptures teach about this matter. Are you open to that?

    I will still answer your other questions because they are very good questions.

  125. But we are NOT free from sin in this life nor the effects of it. So this language must point to something else. The now and the not yet. Most Christians aren’t going around “enjoying God and his holy presence” with freedom from sin in tow. Most Christians are struggling, and many sacrifice much to live for God. Many might not enjoy doing this, but know that for that sacrifice there is a higher reward.

    Without the reality of hell and with the reality of freedom from sin and enjoying God here, would you not say that your theology leads to the belief that we can have heaven here on earth? Even if you dont personally believe that?

    As far as Satan is concerned, I’m not saying that we could be cast out of heaven one day. I’m saying what was the point of kicking him out. I’m saying will he return to heaven. Since salvation is applied to all and all go to heaven; and especially those who dont ask for it.

    Sin has bondage, yes. But not all sin has bondage in this world. There might be spiritual darkness or some type of consequence, but many have seen evil people live great care-free lives, who pleasure in doing evil, who pleasure in robbing others and living amongst their riches.

    Does the rich man and poor man in the parable both go to heaven in the end even though it was hard for the rich man, who like a camel, to go through the eye of a needle?

    And what about the road to heaven being narrow and the road to destruction being wide and broad?

    Why is Jesus telling us it’s hard to get into Heaven, and that it’s darn near impossible for a rich man to go there, if there were no alternative of NOT going to heaven?

  126. NLR, Jesus did not speak to the other man, He was only speaking to the one when He made His comment. He did not say the other man was going to Hell. He made no reference at all to the other man.

    Also, Jesus said from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He did not tell the Father to send them to Hell for their unbelief and for rejecting Him as the Christ.

  127. NBTT–

    That is your opinion about what is logical or Biblical. I AM TALKING ABOUT SCRIPTURE HERE AND LIFE AS IT APPLIES TO THE BELIEVER AND THE UNBELIEVER. That discussion doesn’t have to be limited only to discussing exact Scriptures. And if you want to witness to people about your universalist beilefs, shouldn’t you be willing to answer very logical questions they have about your beliefs? Needless to say, it should be clear that my questions regarding what Christ said and what Scripture says, and then how you interpret them are indeed, discussing Scripture?

    My format is this: If Jesus said this, did that, if Paul said this, did that… then why don’t we need to believe in Hell and eternal damanation. Thats’ where I’m coming from. Adn no, actually, I DONT want to change the format of our discussion. Sorry, hun, you can’t have everything your way. I still respect you though. But boundaries man. Seriously.

  128. I feel like you’ve been looking to have the floor all this time to tell us what you believe, over and over again. I am giving you that. I am engaging you. Please don’t try and control how I ask you questinos. Just answer them. If you cannot, then say so and we can keep it moving. Thanks.

  129. NLR – It does not say the road to Heaven. It says the road to life. And the verses about entering the Kingdom of God/Heaven are not about Heaven itself. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God FROM Heaven on this Earth – the millenial Kingdom. Any good commentary will confirm what the Kingdom of God/Heaven refers to.

    This is why so many are so confused, because they are not looking closely at these terms and what they actually mean.

  130. NLR, no I do not want to be in control. I just wanted to discuss actual Scriptures. I already told you that I will answer each and every question you have – no rules.

  131. NLR – do you have any Scriptures that say that Satan was once in Heaven and was cast out because of his rebellion?

  132. NBTT–

    Honestly, I feel the same way. I feel that there is much about Scripture that in your interpretation, is senseless and makes no sense to even consider because if at the end of the day, the result is what you have said, the rest in the middle is meaningless crap. There is no real purpose in it all. It’s a nice story. It helps us to see how we were saved. I mean, that’s a great thing and all. But other than that, I have no real use for it.

    But if I understand God in the traditional sense and that there is eternal punishment and eternal paradise depending on what we choose, and how we live, then that book means a whole heck of a lot to me and Id better pay attention closely to it.

    Also, I dont feel confused at all. I’m pretty sure that there is eternal damanation, as much as you are sure there isn’t. And if I mix a word or two up about Scripture, doesn’t change the majority of Scripture that seems clear to me that these things will be.

  133. HLR, Jesus paid the full price for our sins. Jesus died for our sins. The wages of sin is death. If the full payment for our sins was eternity in Hell, then Jesus would be in Hell for eternity paying the full price for our sins.

    Yes, we are also saved from death at the resurrection. Saved from death – not from Hell.

  134. NBTT–

    I’m sure I could find them. But I am at work now and I’m not trying to belabor my points. Honestly, I’m not trying to work that hard at this, because I’m not the one trying to convince you of anything. Yet, you are and so the burden is on you to either disprove or answer my questions. I’m just giving you what’s off the top of my head and I’m expecting that you will give an answer. Your answers, I’m not requesting in order that you may convince me, as we have already established that I’m quite firm with where I am and what I believe, but I do want to give you an opportunity to answer some very valid questions and to see further where you are coming from. I dont enjoy theological debates, and neither do I play the games of Scripture wars.

    Generally speaking, it is my understanding that that’s what happened in the case of Satan. You can go from there.

  135. What is death? Is it just physical death? And before Christ came, did anyone ever experience death, since he was not there to pay for their sins? Why was death so bad that we needed to be saved from it, especially if it wasn’t hell. I mean, going to sleep forever doesn’t sound so bad.

  136. NLR, I just want for us to closely examine the Scriptures to see if this Hell teaching is indeed true. If you think it is, then fine. I just wanted to take a very close look at exactly what the Scriptures do or do not say about Hell. If I am deceived, then my hearts desire is to know the truth and Nothing But The Truth, so help me God. I do not want to lead anyone astray from the truth of the Bible – GOD FORBID!

  137. Regarding your comment about Matthew 7: The Narrow and Wide Gates

    13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    Then you would consider that the gates, roads, life and destruction mentioned here are actual gates, roads, human life and destruction of human life–rather than figurative language?

    What life is he talking about here and why is the road to that particular life narrow? Would you say that narrow here would mean it’s difficult to navigate this road, leading to some particular “life”?

  138. God warned Adam and Eve if they at of the forbidden tree, they would surely die, both spiritually and eventually physically. Jesus defeated death and rose again as the last Adam and removed the curse of death. That victory will be fully realized at the resurrection when the last enemy to be destroyed is death.

    1 Cor 15:22 says “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ – all will be made alive.” Jesus reverses the sin and death curse of the first Adam for all mankind. The Last Adam trumps the first Adam. It is that simple. Sin and death have been defeated forever – yet to be fully actualized. Romans 8:21 says the creation itself will be set free from it’s bondage to corruption. That is yet future. There will be a new Heaven and a new Earth where righteousness dwells.

  139. The wide gate is the gate of sin that leads to the destruction of marriages, families, relationships, governments, etc. Following the Holy Spirit leads to life, and life more abundant. Sin destroys this life here in the flesh. There is no sin in the next life.

  140. But the condition is “in Christ”, so that if one is not “in Christ” one is not made alive, only all who are “in Christ”.

  141. NLR, are people destroyed in Hell, never to exist again, or are they tormented for eternity? What is your understanding?

  142. Liberty and Faith — so appreciate you telling your stories. Not the easiest things to get out in words for others to read. I hope for continued healing & strengthening, & that peace deep inside would bloom & keep blooming ever fuller. It’s all a process, that’s for sure.

  143. NBTT–

    I realize that is your goal, it is a good one. The thing is though, in all the places in Scripture that talk about destruction, life, roads, gates, separation or whatever it may mention, we would define them differently. Our hermeneutics may even be different. I get that the Bible, in the original langauges, may not literally say the word “hell”. Just liike the bible doesn’t say words like Canon, theologian, etc…

    But to say that the bible gives no descriptive of a place of eternal torment and separation from God is a far stretch, when if I had the time, I could find many Scripture that point to that. And in the context of Scripture as a whole, and why Christ came, and what is sin, and who is God and why we should believe in Christ and not Buddah, and why we should live the way Chrsitians should, etc… makes sense in the context of the whole. Your belief simply doesn’t, and to me, makes many things just non-sensical.

    Again, I say, if at the end of the day, I’m going to be saved anyways, who cares if I experience more or less of God here, who cares if I choose to be hitler or not, and who cares if I worry about my sin or not. As far as I am concerned, I could have a better life doing whatever the heck I wanted and not choosing to have any morality, or care if I hurt others, God or mysefl and most especially if at the end of the day, I will be with the Lord anyways.

    If I were a non-believer, and you told me what you’re telling me, then I’d say to hell with it. I’m going to go do what I want, because in the end, I WILL BE rewarded, not because of my own doing, but because yes, Christ died for me while I did not accept him, and down right refused him–and I still will be in paradise with him on that day. So party on for me. I dont want to join your Christian camp of do-gooders because it pleases God. Who cares about pleasing God if there are no eternal consequences for my behavior and my choices. God is wasting my time with all this mumbo-jumbo about living well, serving Him and doing all this stuff. Why can’t he just wait until I get there and then I can do it all perfectly without all his complaining and standards that I need to live up to. God’s gonna need to let me be me and get outta my face about all this let me set you free from sin stuff, when I just wanna be set free from God and his rules and do wahtever the hell I want.

    But Hell isnt’ the only reason why I dont’ feel any of the ways above–and thank God I dont feel like that. I just dont want to be a Christian because I dont want to go to Hell. But I want to know Christ because He first loved me. He wooed me and showed me his heart for me. And the love I have for Him, and understanding what his presence means in a world so dark–the idea of eternal separation from Him and the Spirit of God that makes this world even tolerable… well, it’s just unimaginable.

    I strive to move towards God because him pulling away slightly is a nightmare. A world without God is intolerable. If he is Love, then absence of Love is torment. And THAT is hell to me. And so, being that I believe there is absence and separation from God in teh afterlife, then the catalyst that moves me towards God is love. Adn that love, I do not want to do without.

  144. NLR, if we are going to die anyway, why spend so much time, energy, resources, etc, trying to find a cure for cancer? Why quit smoking? Why exercise? You are just going to die one day regardless, so what is the point? You make it sound life is not important and that the only reason for this life is to see who makes it to Heaven! Is that it?

  145. I believe there is eternal torment. Whether that torment is separation from God forever or burning in fire and brimstome, I dont know exactly. It is still eternal and it is still tormenting. So yes, my understanding of hell is that it means eternal separation from God, and I believe that to be a tormenting bad thing that if people knew what separation from God completely was like, they’d avoid it at all costs–even for the cost of following Christ and sacrificing to live a life holy and separated unto God. I dont know if at some point we cease to exist altogether. Frankly, it doesn’t matter, as far as I am concerned. Because why would I choose to be eternally separated from God and be tormented like that. Would I choose to be eternall separated if it didn’t mean burning forever, and meant that I would just cease to exist. I dont think so.

  146. If God is Omnipresent, how can anyone be eternally separated from Him? David asks, “Is there anywhere I can go from your presence?”

    Where do you ever see in the Scriptures “eternal separation”?

  147. NBTT

    I am getting a little worried that the person who so kindly shared her story with us is getting lost in a fight over universalism. I don’t mind rabbit trails so long as they don’t become like a show I once saw on The Twilight Zone in which a man got stuck driving on a highway that never ended.

  148. Life is important… But why restrict one’s life to living a Christian standard of particular hallmarks that show an indwelling of the Holy Spirit if you dont have to.

    Finding cures for cancer, quitting smoking and desiring to extend the quality and length of one’s natural life is completely different than what we do in our spiritual lives, believe, and strive to do to be pleasing to God and bear witness to the testimony of Christ.

    If there are hallmarks of a Christian, and a complete difference in attitude, thought and lifestyle of a non-Christian (which isn’t exactly always bad or with immediate consequences), then there is something we must DO or AGREE to understanding that it is desired of us.

    I dont agree that being a Chrsitian naturally makes one’s life better here on earth. Many people would argue that point. In fact, I know many non-Chrsitians who tend to have much better lives than some of us. Who are enjoying it. Who are in GREAT HEALTH!!! Not like my Christian co-member at church who is dying of cancer and looking at the fact that she will leave her children here without a mom.

    Taking care of my health to live longer doesnt’ bear the same weight and issues that belieivng or not believing in God, accepting salvation, and also receiving eternal life does.

  149. NBTT–

    I will respect Dee’s statement and back off this subject. Faith is getting lost. I believe that God can withhold his presence just as he can withhold his own Sovereignty. God can choose where he wants to be and where he isn’t. And being eternally separated from God, i.e. God lifting his spirit from a particular place, really has to mean that the benefits of the presence of God simply will not be there. If God is love, life, beautiful, all things good, then he can certainly wish to withdraw those aspects of himself in any place he desires. I believe he can and will do that in eternity.

  150. NLR, one last comment – if you do not believe that being a Christian is a far superior life, then I really wonder about you. Would you prefer to return to your own vomit? Would you prefer a life of sin over being filled with and led by the Holy Spirit? How is the wide path to destruction better than the road to life? I am SO glad to be set free from the numerous sins that had me in serious bondage and corruption. I would not wish my former life on anyone!

  151. NBTT-

    No need to wonder about me; unless you have that much time on your hands. You’re just not omniscient enough to figure me out. Leave that to God, okay. But you misunderstand and you miss my argument. You should understand that I DO believe being a Christian is a far superior life, but because of what Christianity offers, who Christ is, and what he’s saving me from–according to my beliefs and the theology I understand.

    But according to your theology, yes, I wouldn’t come to that same conclusion and I wouldn’t consider the Christian life far superior. And I wouldn’t also believe that the life I was living was vomit.

    And don’t assume that everyone, myself included, have lived some “vomit” filled lives. That’s why it’s fair that I believe that all have an opportunity for Salvation, not based on any works of their own. I have known non-Christians to live almost spotless lives (although we know in reality that none are without sin), and Christians who are quite the yucksters. Some people don’t have uber dramatic conversion stories. And sometimes lives go from fair, decent and good (which I know is as filthy rags) to holy and set apart–which is totally dependent on grace and forgiveness.

  152. Proverbs 26:11 “Like a dog that returns to his vomit
    is a fool who repeats his folly.”

  153. Dee wrote:

    The Nouthetic types will say the the BPD person is in sin for responding this way to the trauma of their youth. Once again, placing the victim in the role of sinful perpetrator.

    Putting this into more perspective, we only used to be able to see the brains of people with certain diseases via surgery on upon autopsy. Over the last 15 years or so, our abilities to see brain structure, metabolism, and pre-metabolic bloodflow which is a more sensitive way of observing metabolism has dramatically improved. During that time, too, researchers have accumulated real-time data (pre, during and post-data) on people with disorders that we only knew previously by symptomatology, and in some instances, only by trial and error treatments. That ability to objectively see into the brain has helped determine better understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of many disorders, especially BPD.

    The studies the emerging “developmental traumatology” are underway and accumulating, too. (In the chapter I wrote for Hillary’s “Quivering Daughters,” the editor kept some info about new, very statistically solid studies demonstrating the adult onset of physical disease incidence that is dramatically higher in whose who were emotionally abused as children, too. It’s not just mental health here, so those kids have also brought on their own diseases later in life?)

    In BPD, it’s a little more troubling. I’ve read that many of these researchers believe that the BPD changes in the hippocampus of the brain occur before age 5 and are believed to possibly start developing in infancy. (That accounts for the familial tendency in BPD — parents are unable to model and create self-soothing and safety for their kids because they don’t have it themselves.) There is a ton of stuff on the internet, and Christine Lawson’s 2002 book, “Understanding the Borderline Mother,” contains an early description of these findings. Google borderline, hippocampus and childhood. You can read scientific studies and abstracts for days on end.

    I guess that for the neo-Calvinists and for the Michael Pearl types, the idea that the inherent sin nature might be responsible and that covenant community membership of the parents absolves the child of such problems? But I know that not all nouthetic counselors are Calvinists and would have a different understanding of ethical development/age of accountability. Can a child that young or a child who does not receive any religious training in very early childhood be blamed for sin and moral problems that result in physical defect with complicated physiologic implications? That is “blame the victim” and sounds like that mindset that was common in the Victorian period. Instead of the “deserving poor,” we have the “deserving ill”?

    The problems with BPD are pragmatic ones, not moral ones, but the problems seem like the person has moral deficits. And imagine the head trip on the kids of a high functioning BPD affected person, and the parent becomes adept at convincing others that the source of their problem is their kids! The kids of the BPD parent already struggle to overcome their own unique set of problems, and they get the additional blame that the parent is likely all but willing to deflect onto them.

    BPD provides an excellent example of the true harm of nouthetics on top of not being remotely helpful for the clients and their families. It’s the kind of thing that can also drive a child away from religion, too, as soon as they’re free to break loose to get away from all of the shame, on top of what they deal with in their relationships.

    Maybe the Jay Adams camp will catch on and catch up to this info in about 10 or 15 years from now, but if you have BPD or a loved one affected by the disorder, do you want to try it and wait?

  154. NBTT–

    Glad you heard the warning of that verse and did not return to your own vomit. Good thing!

  155. @ Cindy K: thanks so much for your detailed and thoughtful comments on BPD, new developments in brain imaging, neuroanatomy, etc.

    Am *not* well-read in medical literature (with the exception of some veterinary studies on pet bunnies, since I have one and have to be her advocate), so I’m probably not going to be able to make much headway with journal articles *unless* there is some non-jargony text involved.

    That said, I wonder if you might have some reading suggestions/recs? (I *do* want to try and understand the biological aspects of this as best I can, and have never been a big fan of over-simplified “popular” books unless they are well-researched and well-written – and have good bibiliographies.)

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    *

    Faith: sometimes there are no words… even though I have not been on the same road as you, much that you’ve said (re. how the “pastors” et. al.) treated you sounds all too familiar.

    Am thinking of you and praying for you.

  156. NBTT

    Please go create your own blog and do your proselytizing for your universalist beliefs there, and allow the rest of us to stay on topic. Also your beliefs that nothing can be in the modern faith community that is not in the Bible as YOU read it.

  157. another fan, do you have some sort of authority here that I am unaware of? Who are you to tell me what to do or what not to do? Dod God die and leave you in charge?

    What YOU just said to me is not on topic. Go remove the log from your own eye.

  158. Getting back to Faith and her story, this is for you Faith:

    Many of us out here have similar stories and scars that never seem to heal. The Bible and religion never quite worked for me (and yes NBTT, I have hit the highway). I will agree that the Bible is a magnificent document and written by inspiration (the book of Ecclesiastes is my favorite). Erasmus once wrote that even though the Bible is a good starting point, it does not necessarily have to be a rigid ending point. I agree with him.
    What worked for me is the love (not the “churchianity” kind) of those closest to me: Wife, grandson, cats, dogs, hummingbirds, and everything else given to me by the Almighty as my portion in this life. Recognizing this and seeing Schiller’s (and Beethoven’s) “Ode to Joy” come alive in my own life, got me on the road to healing. This may not work for you and others, all I’m saying is that it worked for me. Listen to your heart, go where it leads, and NEVER let anyone try and tell you that God has not placed a spark of divine within you.

  159. @ Cindy K: Many thanks!

    I don’t suppose you have some recs on more “science-y”-type articles and books (professional literature, etc.)?

  160. @ Cindy K again: This is a bit off-topic, but I am very interested in literature re. newer tech and studies (including imagine) re. dementia. (Of all kinds.)

    Long story; am sure many of you will understand this, having experienced it with much-loved family members.

  161. Cindy

    You are awesome! That comment is such an encouragement to those who suffer with things that are beyond their control. They must then learn, with expert guidance and medication how to proceed in a world that looks very different to them. And pastors would blame them?? Call them sinners?? That is like telling my daughter who had cancer that her cancer was her fault from her sin and that she just needs to hop to it and sanctify. Chop, chop!!! It is the epitome of cruelty and there are some pastors who need to repent.

  162. Muff
    That was such a word of encouragement for Faith. May she see the Imago Dei in herself and others.

  163. @ Muff P: What you’re saying could (mostly) have been written by yours truly as well. (Although I know that we differ on certain things, they are not the important ones.)

    Looking at nature – mountains, trees, grass, small wild animals and birds (etc.) has been incredibly therapeutic for me – so has the “pet” bunny that I adopted 5 years ago. She has opened up a whole new world to me in terms of getting to know someone who is – in many respects – a little alien in a furry suit. (See Temple Grandin’s books on animal behavior and intelligence for more; not enough space to get into that here!)

    Of course, the “getting to know” involves lots of love and patience (especially with a prey species, since they are more or less hard-wired to not trust us predators) + I am sure my bun was abused before she was dumped at a shelter – it’s no small miracle that she even ended up in a good rescue!

  164. … all of the bun-talk to say that: I truly believe that God works through all of creation to make us whole, to show us his love (for ourselves as well as for other creatures), and that there is a far bigger thing going on in this world than we could ever possibly dream.

    And that gives me great hope. (Also makes me tear up, just writing about it…)

  165. Dee–

    How is your daughter? Does she have a clean bill of health right now? I pray she is well and on her way continually to healing.

  166. Also–

    Thank you to everyone who wished me goodness from yesterday’s quake. I had to have a stiff drink last night and a long afternoon nap. It was quite a day.

  167. Numo,

    A good place to start, with great graphics, is http://www.amenclinics.com.

    You can read general info about certain things on the main page, and they have a SPECT gallery that shows before and after treatment things and a brain atlas, too. http://www.amenclinics.com/brain-science/spect-image-gallery/

    Amen’s book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” is very good, and you can look at the better images online. Christian friendly stuff, too, I think.

    Antonio Damasio’s books are all very good but probably more complicated, looking at the brain and the mind and how we started to learn about brain function to start with and have more general information.

    I would look into Amen’s stuff — I have not read any of his recent books for public consumption, but you can select that kind of stuff from the website. And he’s got a clinic in Reston now and could look into an eval. I would never hesitate to take a loved one there for a scan, and the whole eval is very affordable. Check it out on the site.

    Other than that, you’d have to look at the specifics, and I’m focused on trauma and the mental health issues of children and adolescents along those lines. That is an interest of Daniel Amen, however.

  168. Amen’s clinic is fairly unique. He’s got a 3 camera SPECT (tomography that looks at bloodflow), and there are only five of his clinics in the US — he’s been an early pioneer.

    There was a guy in Colorado that had a four camera SPECT, but his website either changed or isn’t there anymore. And there’s a 3 camera SPECT in Chicago that’s new, and people in Ann Arbor are sending patients for eval there using Amen’s data but are not affiliated directly with him.

    Van der Kolk in Boston who is doing brain imaging with SPECT and is ahead of the pack in terms of research doesn’t use a 3 camera SPECT, and it doesn’t yield the same kind of detailed info.

    People also do functional MRIs to look at brain metabolism or at PET scans, but the SPECT data is far more definitive. The fMRI and PET are antiquated for studies of the brain, these days.

  169. @ Cindy K: Many thanks! Will do some Googling (and other hunting) on my own as well, but this is a great start.

    From my standpoint, am not so concerned about books or other literature that brings aspects of religious faith into the mix – more science/neurochemistry and neuroanatomy and their possible effects on behavior, etc. etc. (The “hard science” part of psychology and psychiatry, in other words.)

  170. RE numo on Wed, Aug 24 2011 at 05:05 pm:

    True enough numo. Not even strict Biblicists agree on everything and have fully compatible belief systems, NLR and NBTT almost re-fought Antietam over them (metaphorically of course).

    You’re not alone. My wife and I rescued a sweet little girl several years ago who is Chihuahua & Italian greyhound mix. Her coat is brindled and glows like caramel when the sun glints it just right. I too start to tear up when I look in her eyes and see the love she has for me.

  171. Eagle

    You said “Yet…at the same time many other sins the Bible talk about are routinely and regularly ignored becuase Christianity in the United States is a white, upper middle class movement, grounded in many suburbs. Its okay to be gluttonous, materialistic, etc.. because that is part of the “American Dream” yet pornograghy is a sin of its own, like homosexuality.”

    Applause. You sound just like my pastor.

    Now, in Dallas where i Used to live, it is a sin to be fat and ugly but it is an example of God’s grace to have loads of money and flaunt it. As you can well imagine, the plastic surgery business is brisk.

  172. Well said Eagle. Any system that crushes and brutalizes the human spirit even under the guise of “Biblical Christianity” is doomed.

  173. Eagle

    Have you ever been to Dallas? I saw very old ladies with skin pulled so tight around their mouths that they have a permanent sneer .

  174. Daffynition: Dallasite — a person with a classical TEXAS ATTITUDE, too much money to spend, and displaying the physical evidence of having spent too much of it on themselves.

  175. Another fan

    One further caveat-A person who “Pretends” they have too much money to spend and is in hock up to their eyeballs AKA: Big hat; no cattle.

  176. Dee,

    If you’ve not read it (and you can get a used copy on Amazon for a buck), get a copy of Kinky Friedman’s Guide to Texas Etiquette.

    It was worth the price that I paid for it off the press!

  177. Faith, thank you for sharing that link! Bookmarking it. And again, thanks for being courageous enough to share your story. I am in the midst of processing a lot of this and feel like the Lord is peeling away another layer…it is good to continue to learn and gain fresh insight!

  178. Faith,

    I love the Ryans’ resources through NACR. Beautiful stuff. You can buy the book, but it’s nice to get the daily email for free, too.

  179. I hit “Post Comment” too quickly —

    About that NACR meditations book…

    When I first got out of my spiritually abusive church, I had the most difficult time reading the Bible. I would pick it up and panic. I thought that I’d understood what it said and had memorized so much and studied, yet somehow, all of that seemed like it had failed to protect me. I guess I thought of my Bible study as part of my barrier against deception, and it failed to do that. If I’d been sucked into believing weird interpretations about many verses, how could I not wonder about misunderstanding them all? And the best advice people could give me was to “get into the Word.” Okay… How?

    Most people did not understand that I felt like my life and a good portion of who I was had been crushed and had blown away. The authors understood that deeply while most other Christians just sort of stared right through me. Some very well-meaning people had some good ideas and suggestions, but all their ideas were threatening. “Getting back into the Word” was really a process that took years, because I had to rebuild my whole sense of confidence, trust, and discernment. I don’t know that I could have done it without “Rooted in God’s Love,” the name of the NACR meditations book.

    Faith, be encouraged that “little is much when God is in it.” I so often felt that nothing would ever come together and that I would never be whole again. I would take one step in the right direction and would experience some healing, and it seemed like life would see to it that I’d take many steps back. Each step, each single verse that I could read “safely,” and each good moment was a part of the rebuilding, and it was something that lasted. I had to rebuild, and after some time, I was glad about it. I didn’t want a spiritual house made of falsehood, and I started to see each verse as a new beginning in a part of that process. But eventually, I had a foundation again that looked much like the old one, but without the bad materials that couldn’t support the weight of what God really wanted to build in me. But every single step back toward wholeness lasted. Each page and each verse was a part of that. Each one of those daily devotionals became a part of that for me.

    Be strong again and whole again and rest in the promise that God will continue the good work that He started in you and be confident that He will finish it. A better way to think of emotional healing when you are in recovery is like peeling an onion instead of getting from point A to point B. You do what feels like a lot of backtracking, because you revisit parts of the experience again. What’s really happening when you peel back a new layer is that God is taking the healing down into a deeper place in your heart. I still find that this devotional does that, and I’ve been revisiting those same healing pages along with memories of my disappointments.

    I’m excited for what I believe you’re going to see happen in your life. Keep walking and peeling as you rebuild with the precious wisdom you’ve learned.

  180. I am disappointed further. I sent a link to my story to a few folks that I had considered close friends at my former SGM church. Not one of them has responded yet. I think since we left and now the CJ stuff, the pastor has “educated” them well about gossip and slander. I know for a fact when we left the pastor told them to avoid any “arguments” with us. Their way to deal with it is just to ignore — this from folks who claimed to be my friend. I pray that folks from Living Hope Church are reading and saddened. While I am concerned about hurting the pastor and his wife, I am more concerned that no one experience more harm because their counsel prevents them from getting the professional help they need. I can think of a few folks who would probably benefit from outside help. This is why I was willing to share my story. I don’t want my pain to be in vain — I want God to use it to help others.

  181. Mrs Stretch,

    Many of us have people (professing believers) in our lives who have responded this way. They have chosen to follow man. It is very sad and one day they might regret it deeply or perhaps their hearts will harden even more.

    After a while, one learns to pity them for their ignorance and their lack of understanding the Word

    In fact, they are violating God’s Word by not explaining to you why they cannot talk to you. But the problem is, if they do talk to you to explain, it is going to sound pretty shallow. Better to believe it is gossip so they can feel pious when they violate the Word. They are lost people following man.

    Shake the dust from your feet.

  182. Very sad. I had a facebook conversation with an old friend from SGM. She read my story and this is her response:

    I am not sure exactly how you’d expect or want me to respond, Faith. I am sorry for your pain, as you know, I’ve had some too in my childhood, so I do understand a little bit at least. But, I wouldn’t agree with your assessments of Bob; Sally or SGM. I’ve been helped so much by them and love our church and SGM still.
    So I guess I don’t understand why you can’t just let it go now…esp. since you’re happy with your new church and getting the professional help you need? It seems like you’re trying to turn others against them and SGM. Which sounds like unforgiveness and bitterness to me and believe me, I understand that too! I was bitter for years and it just ate away at me so glad to be free of that now.

    She went on to say since she’s not part of the problem or solution she was going to stop dialoging and that my husband should call her husband…

    This is one person I actually think would benefit from professional help. She is not as healthy as she thinks…she just is one of the chosen ones in the inner circle…I am sure this conversation was immediately reported to the pastor…

  183. Faith–

    Your name is in that post. Did you want that there and visible?

    Also, I read your response above. You have a good heart. You know, you care for others you have left behind and yet, they didn’t understand why you might still be concerned. Then you get labeled bitter and unforgiving. That’s unfair. Thing is this… Sometimes, we want others to see what we see and they just don’t. Your “friend” cannot validate your experience and neither can you help her see differently. I struggle with this sometimes as well. I try and show others but their eyes and ears are closed. Some others ears and eyes are opening and it’s a slow process. It takes time. But you should know a few things. 1. Your story is incredible and God has and will bring forth good from it, she will bring healing to you and to others. I’m sure that maybe you could think of one two instances where He has done this so far with your story? 2. Your pain and experience won’t be wasted. In fact, you have a captivated audience here who is being terribly blessed by your sharing and your presence here. 3. Maybe you can trust God enough to share but then open your hands and allow your story to bless whomever God so chooses? For me, it helps to realize that while I share my experience to bless others and give voice to real issues im the church, I cannot control who will use and be blessed by my story, or be saved from harm. It is very disappointing when those who we desire to warn and save are the very ones who reject the warning or may consider us angry or bitter.

    God does work through prayer. Pray for them, those who cannot see, that their eyes will be opened. It will tame time for the Lord to ducats you amongst some crowds and it may never happen. There is peace you can have in choosing to allow tge Lord to bless countless others who will cross paths with you; there are so many opportunities in your future. Pray for all the others. I pray that the power of your story rests in the God who has redeemed you and called you to Himsekf, and that you rely less on the story and experience itself to transform hearts. Wait in anticipation to see who the Lord moves but you will be surprised who those people will be.

    So continue to share and open your heart (wisely), and keep your hands open to let go and allow the Lord to freely bless those whom he chooses to change and help with the story you have to tell.

    You are a wonderful blessing. Remember your deliverances, and that the same God who has delivered you will continue to do so for you and for those who need to be set free.

    Bless you!

  184. I doubt if anyone in the “inner circle” of these places is mentally healthy. Look at all the lies you have to believe. Including whoppers about Christ and how He operates.

  185. Mrs. Stretch

    It is people like her who give the church a bad name. She is complicit in hiding within the system and abusing those who question HER system. The key words here are “bitterness”, “unforgiveness” and the most frightening of all “turn others against SGM.” She needs the system in order to fell worthwhile. More than likely she needs to feel part of the inner circles (it is almost amusing how important these small things make some weak people feel). She fits so well into the things talked about in the book, “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.” In fact, she is becoming one of the abusers.

    As for having “your husband call my husband,” this is power play in which the woman acts like the weak, submissive godly woman. However, she has put up her husband to tell your husband to “stop” you. Classic, silly women games.-RUN!!!!! This is not a friend.

  186. Dee–

    I couldn’t have said it better. This woman who had “dissed” me because I would no longer be attending the church told me that she coudln’t have me over for dinner anymore because they were focusing on relationships with those in the church. I said okay, but that’s shady, etc…etc… She said “Well, that’s the hospitality schedule my husband has set for our family.” I was floored. She did exactly what you said above about Mrs. Stretch’s “friend”, and that was to put up her husband as the reason and excuse as to why she was treating me the way she was. She was definitely acting like the weak, submissive, godly woman. And in that case, I realized I didn’t want to be friends with someone so weak anyways. She did me a favor. I got rid of folks like her one-by-one, and I”m so glad for it. My life is better and they are a mere afterthought.

  187. The hardest thing is leaving people behind. But it is necessary in order to move on to the truth of the Person of Christ . We do not take the command to’not throw our pearls before swine’ seriously enough. We take the intimate things of Christ, His pearls for us, and share them with people we want to convince… who trample them. It is even harder to understand this when those people are professing believers!

    This has happened to so many people even within their family! We forget what Jesus warned us in Matthew 10

    34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

    “‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]

    37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

    40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

  188. Dee and NLR,
    Thanks. Yeah, I have no plans to interact any further with this woman. She is NOT my friend.

  189. I have to disagree with Cindy’s assertion that BPD is being reclassified as complex PTSD. I have a close friend who has BPD. The mother of my stepdaughter has it as well. I have done a lot of personal research on this subject that encompasses support groups, articles by both professionals and nons, as well as reading many medical research papers in their original forms.

    BPD is staying in the DSM-5:

    http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevision/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=17

    This is the link to PTSD:

    http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevision/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=165

    It is entirely possible for both conditions to be confused by medical professionals and people with BPD can have PTSD. However, many people have BPD who have NEVER endured trauma. These conditions are not the same and treatment for PTSD and BPD are not the same. The core issue with BPD is a very heightened emotional reactivity that once set off takes a very long time to return to baseline. Think of a burn patient who has lost all their skin. People with BPD have no emotional skin and any and all rejection (both perceived AND real) will be dealt with in the most severe fashion either though rage at the offender or self-harming behaviors.

    There are many aspects of PTSD that are present in BPD, but the two are not one and the same condition.