How Carolyn Mahaney Helped Her Daughters Work Through Their Sin

"My mom spent many a late night helping us to work through our sin, only to wake up early the next morning to start that process all over again."

Carolyn Mahaney's Daughter

Mother and Baby by Anna Cervova

As previously described in Christian Celebrity: An Oxymoron, Covenant Life Church (CLC) hosted a two-hour extravaganza honoring the life and ministry of C.J. Mahaney.  It took place in September 2004, prior to Mahaney handing over the reigns of CLC to Joshua Harris.   Both C.J. and his wife Carolyn were honored that evening.  Their three grown daughters shared these words to honor Carolyn Mahaney.

As the mother of two grown daughters, I cringed when I heard these words coming from the mouth of Carolyn's daughter:

"Her mothering was always fueled by a strong Biblical conviction and love for us that compelled her to use all of her energy and creativity. She would spend hours planning activities and special things for us. There was family olympics, mystery night, birthday meals, afternoon out, shopping trips, the list really is endless. However, the hours that my mom invested into creativity were no match for the hours invested in discipling and caring for our souls. My mom spent many a late night helping us to work through our sin, only to wake up early the next morning to start that process all over again. And this was all done with great joy and never a single moment of complaint. She was our greatest ally in our battle against sin and our biggest cheerleader for our growth and godliness. She was the first to bring correction and the first to bring encouragement and to point out change. She loved us unconditionally despite our many sins and weaknesses, and this faithful mothering won the hearts of her daughters…"

I can't imagine spending late nights helping my daughters work through their sins, only to get them up the next morning to start the process all over again!  Upon hearing the Mahaney 'girls' honor their mother in this way, I was struck by the loaded language they used.  Did you catch the key phrases?

Caring for our souls

Work through our sin

battle against sin

first to bring correction

loved us unconditionally despite our many sins and weaknesses

In a span of just one and a half minutes, these phrases were uttered by one of Carolyn's daughters.  It makes me wonder what their lives were like day in and day out as members of the Mahaney household.

I cannot imagine my daughters describing me in such a way.  If they did, it would be terribly upsetting because I spent very little time during their growing up years helping them work through their sin.  That was NOT the focus in their lives.  Instead, my husband and I emphasized God's love and our love for them.  Of course there were times of correction, but they were few and far between.  Instead of focusing on indwelling sin, we reminded our daughters that they are God's children, who were created in His image.  Both have grown into remarkable young women who pursue their faith diligently.  I cringe to think what they would be like had we raised them in the manner the Mahaney girls describe.

Furthermore, they state that their mother loved them unconditionally as they were growing up.  I'm not so sure.  It seems to me that C.J. and Carolyn had certain expectations for their daughters, just as they have had for members of SGM churches.  All this focus on sin is a direct contradiction to unconditional love.  Imagine if our Heavenly Father constantly berated us for our sin.  If you have seen Luther (which I highly recommend), you will remember the scene early in the movie where he is tormented by the thought of God's judgment.  Instead, he discovers a "God of love".  Please don't misunderstand.  I believe that when we become Christians the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.  There has to be repentance and the forgiveness of sins by Almighty God, but this preoccupation with sin is detrimental to the soul.  There is no way Christians can have healthy attitudes about their faith if they are constantly having to assess their sin nature.  

Wade Burleson, a pastor whom I have grown to respect, has written a post related to this topic entitled:  Why Do We Keep Remembering What God Forgets?

That is a very good question!  Wade begins with the following quote from C.J. Mahaney's book Humility:

“As we mature personally, as our families mature, and as our churches mature, we need the doctrine of sin more, not less; and we need to keep growing in rightly understanding and applying this doctrine. Be assured that this is no less true if you’re a pastor or teacher or ministry worker. There’s no pastoral privilege in relation to sin. There’s no ministry exemption from the opposition of the flesh. There’s only a heightened responsibility to oppose sin and to weaken the flesh, as an example to the flock.” – C.J. Mahaney, Humility (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2005), page 133.

He then shares the following "observation" (another SGM buzz word) about Sovereign Grace Ministries:

"The movement C.J. Mahaney founded, Sovereign Grace Ministries, is one that is supposedly built on an understanding and application of God's grace. I recently listened to several messages by Mahaney and read a couple of his books, including the one quoted from above. I find myself rather surprised. SGM seems to focus God's people on the subject of 'sin' much more than they do Christ. Rather than an emphasis on growing in grace within the body of Christ, there is a stated goal by SGM's founder of 'growing in the doctrine of sin.' That, to me, is quite shocking."

I especially appreciated Wade's assessment of an unhealthy focus on sin.  He writes:

"Focusing on sin may 'sound' spiritual, but it is in essence anti-Christ. Binding God's people to various religious rituals (church attendance, quiet time, devotionals, 30-minute morning prayers, promises, commitments, accountability, etc…) in order to overcome indwelling sin is completely missing Christ."

How reassuring to know from God's Holy Word that He will remember our sins no more.  Wade Burleson sums up the problem of focusing on indwelling sin with these words:

"In Hebrews 10:17-18 the Lord says, “This is the covenant I will make with them (us)… I will remember their sins no more.” For the life of me I can't understand why pastors would put emphasis on remembering what God forgets. There’s no denial Christians struggle with ‘indwelling sin.’ There's also no denial that sin is destructive. The question, though, is "How does a believer defeat indwelling sin?" I am absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent convinced that every Christian leader who places more emphasis in his ministry to Christians on indwelling sin than he does Jesus Christ, will ultimately lead his people down the path of religious bondage, emotional pain and spiritual abuse."

Why aren't more Christian leaders speaking out against religious bondage?  Their silence is deafening!


Lydia's Corner:  
Isaiah 66:1-24   Philippians 3:4-21   Psalm 74:1-23   Proverbs 24:15-16


How Carolyn Mahaney Helped Her Daughters Work Through Their Sin — 292 Comments

  1. Yikes! As someone who has raised 2 adult children, I would be appalled at such a description. Have these people no boundaries? Have they no respect for the secret work of the Holy Spirit in another’s soul? Yeah, I know, rhetorical questions …

    But further, it just doesn’t make sense. What do you do to endlessly work through your sin? I have no idea what this could consist of that would actually be useful in any sense. I CAN’T conquer sin on my own, for myself or anyone else. IT DOESN’T WORK! What it does do is make people more and more helpless, and more and more subject to external control by those who claim to have the solution to their impossible dilemma — learned helplessness to the nth degree and utter vulnerability.

    Once upon a time I knew somebody who said that the most loving thing he could do for anyone else was to show them their sin. When, further down the track, he tried to tell me that certain actions and attitudes of mine were sinful, I told him that I didn’t agree but was always open to being convicted by the Holy Spirit. All hell broke loose!!!

    There is only one way to become less sinful, and that is total immersion in the love of God. Meanwhile, faith requires that we take our eyes off our sin and fix them firmly on Jesus, who has already forgiven it all 😀

  2. Honestly… the “work through our sin” thing sounds like it was verbally and emotionally abusive.

    I was so shocked a couple of weeks ago when this first came up, because it sounds very cult-like: sleep deprivation, repetition, etc. etc.

    Who would ever want to inflict this on a child?! (No, I am not angry at C. Mahaney, but I am upset by this and baffled as to why it would ever be necessary to keep kids up late doing this kind of thing.)

    Also, does anyone know what SGM actually means by “working through [our] sin”? It’s a totally new phrase to me and I figure it’s like a lot of SGM’s jargon – outsiders need help with translation.

  3. “She was the first to bring correction and the first to bring encouragement and to point out change.”

    Notice the point out change. This is one of the defining marks of a Calvinista. It is all about visible change. What happens if from childhood you begin walking with the Lord? Your visible change won’t be so dynamic as that of a drug addict who repents and believes. I experienced this in Campus Outreach and I am sure more authoritarian groups can attest to this as well. When it becomes all about those outward, visible changes, you get some seriously freaked out, despairing people. In my experience, you rely much more on your discipleship leader than God because that leader in some weird way holds the keys to heaven. If he or she sees growth, you can breath a sigh of relief but if he or she doesn’t see growth than uh oh you might not be saved. It is SCARY. Those poor daughters.

  4. Deb, at the end of the day Mahaney is basically a revivalist akin to Charles Finney. BTW Finney was no Calvinist. But, none the less it all leads to the same place. It is pure revivalism. They have to make every service be as emotional as your weekend church retreat in high school where you rededicated your life to Christ… again. I can’t go down that road ever again. You start to look like a fool after your third or fourth baptism. It is for this reason that I really hesitate in using the word Reformed and SGM in the same sentence. Mahaney et al likes reformed theology (IMHO) for a couple of reasons. Reformed theology has the view of particular atonement (which groups within the reformed camp debate upon) However, this aspect of Reformed theology, if misapplied, can be a manipulative tool for certain authoritative leaders. Also, Reformed theology rightly states that we are DEAD in sin but, an authoritarian can use this as a way of brow beating someone instead of affirming the truth of this doctrine and then pointing sinners to Christ. I know, I know CJ talks about Jesus but when limited atonement is handled poorly, Jesus is only good if you are elect and the only way to REALLY know you are elect is if we can see fruit producing. Uh oh, what are we to do? That is where the heavy-handed discipling comes in. Good grief.

    If you want to look at discipling, take a look at Jesus with the twelve. Those twelve were all over the map on what Jesus was supposedly doing. For three years they run around with him and Jesus tells them over and over what has to happen but those guys for waiting for that big glory moment when Jesus kicked butt Mark Driscoll style. They were so excited because it was going to be a blood bath and they were going to be the victors! Jesus kept telling them “Look I have to die.” Those twelve just kept on with their dreams of victory over the enemy. It took Jesus dying for them to realize oh yeah, everything he has been saying just happened. Huh. Thank goodness CJ wasn’t with those twelve. They would have been excommunicated. Especially Peter… I mean when someone tells you to get behind me Satan those are pretty strong words. I wonder what kind of discipline SGM could cook up for Peter?

  5. What about indewlling Christ?

    Carolyn Mahaney sounds like the monster micromanaging mother from hell in my opinion.

    Her late into the night torture sessions sound like they’re straight from the interogation handbook written by someone that does not follow the Geneva Accords.

    Imagine being brought up as a child in that graceless environment. Beaten and humiliated for every little thing.

    I have four grown daughters (and two grown sons as well) and I would cringe and suffer eternal shame if any one of them would speak of their childhoods that way.

  6. WHATEVER BECAME OF SIN? Menninger 1974

    Karl, since you wrote your famous tomb, even evangelicals have abandoned the problem of sin. It is so yesterday.

    Curious actually, the death of sin as a problem in our culture. We have moved beyond sin; it’s quite passe even in conservative churches.

    Maybe we’re not slouching towards Gomorrah?

  7. Gen 4: 6-7 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, SIN IS CROUCHING AT YOUR DOOR; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

    Does this make God a micromanaging father performing late night torture sessions?

  8. note to Jimmy – Cain did NOT have the indwelling of the HOLY SPIRIT to assist him. And God actually showed him MERCY when he killed him brother, and Cain himself was not killed.

    It’s all about the power that every believer has, through the Spirit working in him…

  9. Jimmy,

    You have just described a “works” theology by citing Genesis 4:6-7. “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” We must consider the whole counsel of God, not just a select verse. That’s prooftexting.

  10. One question to be asked is: what was Carolyn Mahaney’s idea of ‘sin’? Little things? Big things? Because as much as God is aware of the sin in our lives, and it’s contrast to his image of us as perfect, he does not demand perfection. Pharisees demand perfection. Plus the patriarchal nature of SGM could mean that the daughters had to ‘work through’ something that wasn’t even sin.

    No parent should be dwelling on what they think is wrong in their child. It’s incredibly spirit-crushing, especially if the parent can’t tell the difference between a child being naughty and a child being a child.

  11. Jimmy,

    Cain was a big grown man who had just killed his brother.

    Carolyn was applying the full blown wrath of God to innocent little girls when it would have been better to introduce them to the grace, mercy, and free gift of salvation that is sufficient to cover all sorts of sin, including that of the big bad Cain and the Mahaneyettes.

    Do you have the first clue what that level of nitpicking and never being good enough to measure up to the plastic perfection of a mother does to a child?

  12. DB,

    As you know, the Mahaneys were held up as the gold standard in SGM. They were to be emulated in every aspect of life. How many children in this “family of churches” were raised in the same manner as the Mahaney girls? And how many were ruined as a result?

  13. Jimmy, every Christian knows that sin exists. It is not a matter of ignoring sin or pretending it doesn’t exist. It is a matter of deciding on the focus of our lives. Whether we focus on sin in order to sin or focus on sin in order to keep from sinning, they are both a focus on sin. But as Christians, we are forgiven. That means that Christ paid the penalty for all our sins. So now, in this new, forgiven life, Paul says that we are being renewed in the spirit of our minds. That places the emphasis for Christian living where it ought to be. As we focus more on sin, we feed our old self and find the temptation to sin grows and the resultant anguish grows. However, as we focus on pursuit of Christ (Matt 6:33; Col 3:1) the new self grows “according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth” (Eph 4:24). If we consider our options, how best can we keep from sin? Is it not through focused pursuit of Christ? If we are focused on Christ, the only way to sin is that we must stop focusing on Christ first. And that is why the NT encourages pursuit of our Lord rather than working on stifling sin. Repentance should always exist for Christians. But by definition, repentance is a turning away from sin toward Christ, not a dwelling on sin in order to figure out ways to do battle with it. The Spirit within will convict when necessary, but always guides and leads toward truth, goodness, and beauty. No matter the sincerity of wanting to please our Lord, focusing on sin is a self-centered lifestyle. The Christian life is a Christ-centered life. The peace of God keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7), “Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16).

  14. Wow, that was so disturbing! I’ve raised six daughters, and if I were putting them through that type of “self improvement” program, i don’t think they’d be as appreciative. They’d probably have told me to get out of their face, and ran off young with the first guy that came along! Are mine abnormally feisty, or are those girls unusually passive?

    Are all three daughters very involved (enmeshed?) in SGM? Would it be acceptable in their family/friends, if they wanted to try a different “flavor” of Christianity? Just wondering.

  15. DB
    What is even more scary is the daughters think this is normal so are most likely doing he same thing with their kids.

  16. Jimmy
    I actually disagree with you. On this blog I find so many people who have beaten down over their sin that they no longer see a loving and forgiving Jesus. Jimmy, how would you like a microphone placed into your brain that would then broadcast all of your thoughts and actions to the world? Here is the problem. We are positionally holy but functionally sinners. We cannot overcome all of our sin in this world. This alone would cause deep depression in the Christian. But that is why Jesus has come-to forgive that sin. We will sin, we will need forgiveness but in Jesus we are free and forgiven.

    I am well aware of Menninger’s book.Within the church today, there is no dearth of those pointing out our sins. But the ones who do, are also sinners and set themselves up as role models. Then, a Mahaney does his thing and we see the utter inability of even leaders to overcome this issue. Our lives are living on the edge. Well aware of our sin, wanting to change and understanding that we cannot fully overcome. It is a healthy push/pull.

    In fact, it is those who smile, wear pleasant masks, “amen” the preacher, nod vigorously along about sin, judge the evil world etc who are actually amongst the most hypocritical of sinners but I will leave that for another day.

    But, once again, those who have gone through these types of ministries are already quite beaten down. There is a need for good counselors who can help those harmed.

  17. justabeliever
    So true. Mercy-today’s Calvinistas seem to despise the word or redefine it. In their lingo, mercy is God dangling us over the pit of hell and, with a sigh, saving us just as the fire singes us. His mercy is based in love and His acknowledgment that we cannot do this on our own. It is a wide, generous, loving mercy.

  18. Anna
    Ify ou go over to the SGM survivors and Refuge sites, you will see testimony after testimony of kids being punished for being shy and not properly greeting the pastor. That is just the beginning.

  19. Bridget,

    The Mahamey daughters have been part of this ‘cult’ure their entire lives. However, recently there has been a strange turn of events as they and their husbands abandoned ship. Their dad stepped down for a short season and was recently reinstated as President of SGM.

    Where do they go from here (after wreaking havoc in so many people’s lives)? Only God knows.

  20. More frightening yet is there is a son no one has discussed and, apparently, he has a checkered past.

    Why the double standard?

  21. Carolyn was applying the full blown wrath of God to innocent little girls…

    “Where you see a cute little baby, GOD SEES AN UTTERLY DEPRAVED SINNER!!!!!”
    — Radio preacher from a LONG time ago

  22. The agent of change is the Holy Spirit. The evidences of change is not the cessation of visible sin (admit it .. most of our sin isn’t seen by anyone else) .. it’s the fruit of the Spirit. And those things are, indeed, visible.

    As Oswald Chambers said, the beatitudes, and for that matter the fruit of the Spirit, are not behaviors to be emulated. They are evidences that the Holy Spirit is having His way with us. It seems to me that discipleship is a matter of helping us to the fullness of the Holy Spirit, not to train us not to do certain things.

    You can teach a dog to behave the way you want him to…

  23. One: Since Menninger’s book pointing out how the culture had abandoned the concept of sin; the Evangelical Church has pretty much followed suit. It’s actually quite difficult to find messages where the pastor is preaching against sin. “Sin” truly appears to be now passe. I suspect the pendulum will swing back.

    On a human note: sin is always crouching at our door. That hasn’t changed in 6000 years of human history. It is our curse and we are held accountable by God. Lest us not be deceived about our own sinfulness but neither let us grovel in it.

    (My granddaddy use to say when asked what the preacher’s sermon was about: “SIN, he was agin’ it.” – True story)

  24. TWO: I choose to believe that Carolyn Mahaney is a great and Godly lady who loves her kids/grandkid with all her heart.

    Wartburg took the praise of one of her daughters EIGHT YEARS AGO and turned it into a criticism.

    I don’t see the positives in that. However, if one of the Mahaney girls wants to rail against her Mom on Wartburg Watch, I’ll be glad to read it.

    As for Daddy Mahaney, I’d hazard a guess he was a push-over for the girls. But that’s just a guess.

  25. DB: Because in patriarchal churches like SGM men are seen as naturally more holy than women? God forbid the Mahaneys reveal that they have a son who wouldn’t make a good ‘leader’ – that would be going against his gender role and their doctrine. So better to cover it up entirely.

    The above is an honest guess. Am I right or wrong in any way? (I really should do more research on SGM and C.J.)

  26. I just listened to the clip. Many things came up for me. Will discuss more later, but my goodness, they spoke in the past tense as though it were a funeral – eeks!

  27. Bob

    Great comment! It bears repeating. “The agent of change is the Holy Spirit. The evidences of change is not the cessation of visible sin (admit it .. most of our sin isn’t seen by anyone else) .. it’s the fruit of the Spirit. And those things are, indeed, visible.” Applause

  28. HUG
    So true and so sad! It raises the question why Jesus would want to spend so much time with us.

  29. DB
    The double standard when it comes to one’s family is well known. And CJ is no different than and THAT is a real problem.

  30. Jimmy
    In another week we will be posting a sermon on Divine Amnesia. It might address some things that you have raised.

  31. Jimmy
    If you don’t think that there is a problem in the basic theology of the Mahaneys and SGM, then you will never agree with us. And, unlike their blogs (Girl Talk, etc) we welcome dissent. Try it with them and see how hard you get slapped around. But you wouldn’t. would you?

  32. Anonymous 10:43
    CJ plays a game. He claims to be the worst sinner in the world so he effectively shuts up his opposition but then, he treats everyone else like they are far worse sinners than he is. he has his cake and eats it too.

  33. This style of discipleship, while not good for anyone, may be especially destructive if you happen to have a child who is a little more anxious or introspective than other children. I shudder to think how those types of kids would fare under the Mahaney tutelage. The Mahaneys are just lucky that their girls didn’t happen to be of that type.

    I know because I was that kind of kid. I can’t even explain the depth of despair and fear I would have felt if my parents had come at me every day with the message that I was overcome with sin and needed to do XY and Z to become acceptable to God. It almost makes me sick just thinking about it.

  34. hmmm… so what does one do for hours on end to “work through sin”?

    Apologize to God and ask for forgiveness 10 times? 12 times? 30 times? What’s the correct number?

    Or is it a matter of correct emotion to match the words uttered? Does one continue to “work through sin” until tears flow? Is the goal to arrive at some emotional point that matches the pathos of the words in some of the Psalms?

    Or is it more procedural, confessing & apologizing to so & so, and then to so & so, and then this group, that group (relevance diminishing by degrees). And finally pulling out some kind of discipline contract, a new-and-improved “plan of redemption”.

    It all kind of makes me think of that scene in “The DaVinci Code” where a monk endures self-flagellation with this whip-thing, flogging his own back (& this other mutilating device he wore on his leg), as he “worked through sin”. I think we all would agree going to such an extreme in focussing on sin / depravity / worthlessness is so not necessary, and so very counter-productive.

    Me? I breath in God’s forgiveness. Then I exhale and move on.

    I also understand I can learn to breath in (so to speak) Holy Spirit help (that very present help in time of need?) in making better choices.

    I further understand that seeing myself tree-like & making a sincere effort at spiritual health, God will join me and there will be fruit (it’s not rocket science, nor is it unpredictable). Good fruit. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc..

    There will always be bad fruit, too, but I think it’s very possible we overlook the good fruit by focussing on the bad fruit. And then to spend so much time & attention on the bad fruit??

  35. For me, it is self-flatulation; my reaction to being fullofit.

    But seriously, Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross to deal with our sin nature, we don’t need to beat little girls over the head and keep them up into the night to get them to absorb our poisonous indwelling sin pseudotheology.

    Really slow this time…. JESUS died on the CROSS so we are FORGIVEN and there is no value in TORTURING little CHILDREN for their misdeeds particularly when your egocentric husband is committing real actual sins like blackmailing Larry T.

    Perhaps CM should go pull one of those all nighters on her husband but, nooooopeno-no he is a male and, by virtue of his teeeeneeee weeeeneeeey little small almost not there Y chromosome (thought I was thinking of something else, huh?) he gets to be an actual bag of bovine feces and get away with it.

    And I, too, have a tenderhearted little daughter that would be absolutely crushed by the heavy hand of these legalists. Thank God I’m out of the place because it is my children who would have suffered the most.

    But Miss Julianna has never been spanked, never been punished, rarely even spoken to and the few times she has, it has been me short-tempered and I had to offer an apology to her.

    She is sweet and kind and has no enemies. She is tactful and encouraging and does kindnesses without prompting. She is a blessing to everyone near her. She is just one of those precious special people and God made her this way and has great things for her but she would have been crushed by the SGM system. They wouldn’nt know what to do with her because she is living proof that their man-made harsh system is fundamentally flawed.

  36. Hey all!

    I’ve been reading the blog for a while now and upon reading this post decided it’s time to jump into the conversation. I warn you up front that my comments will come from an opposing viewpoint of most that are offered here so my prayer up front, if I’m allowed to join in the online community, is that I can speak to you in love and without condescension.

    Reading the post and then the comments I can’t help but take a completely different stand. I don’t see Carolyn unleashing the “full wrath of God” on her children as someone stated. I don’t see them being beaten down. In her comments about her mom I hear someone who greatly admires and respects the way she was raised. Is it too much to take the words of the daughters at face value? Could we not extend some grace to her? Growing up in a home that I imagine to be similar to the Mahaneys, with parents who helped me work through and battle my sins, I didn’t feel beaten down and my parents never allowed me to forget the grace of Christ that covers my sin. But that doesn’t mean they gave me license to make decisions as I please simply because God loved me.

    P.S. I’ve been tracking the comments on the blog for a while and it’s somewhat difficult to follow with who is replying to who. May I recommend a new comment system that may help you filter through the comments and help commenters keep up with the conversation with out having to scroll up and down repeatedly?

  37. Bill
    Standing offer: Link whenever your want. I am a believer in more information is better than less information.

  38. Danny,

    We heartily welcome your comment here at TWW. We are definitely not afraid of dissenting opinions. I only wish that some of the blogs of those whom we discuss in this forum were as willing to hear differing viewpoints.

    There is an unhealthy focus on sin within Sovereign Grace Ministries, and we believe the “first family” of SGM reflects that through the loaded language used by one of the Mahaney daughters. Of course, seven years ago no one was scrutinizing their words that were delivered to a close cadre of friends.

    With regard to your suggestion about comments, we tried that at the inception of this blog, and it became far too cumbersome. We do appreciate the suggestion though.

    Please know that I am keeping all those hurt by the hyper-authoritarian leadership of SGM in my prayers.

  39. Bill,

    Where have you been? We’re glad to have you back! Please link away. We love your writing. That’s why we feature your blog on our list of recommended links.

    Perhaps we could re-publish your post?

  40. Deb,
    You are more than welcome to republish anything of mine. I’ve been up to my ears in work and haven’t been a round more than to read your posts (and most of the comments).

    Thanks for missing me. 🙂


  41. Danny
    First, welcome. Secondly, we did go that route awhile back with comment threads. When you have an exceptionally busy blog, the threads get cumbersome so we have decided to stay with this format.

    I am afraid that the history of SGM, including Mahaney and his views, do not lend credence to your interpretation of the mrs and her kids. Grace, when used with the message that I heard, does not compute.

    And yes, God does give you license to make some of your decisions without the regular interference from a group of pastors who seem to enjoy a nanny state. The Spirit in your life can lead you to making some great decisions, even decisions to leave a church without the “permission” of your pastors.

  42. DB
    I, too, have a daughter who would have been devastated with the regular whoppings employed by those who believe a child cannot hide behind her mother’s skirts due to shyness. In fact, in our situation, it would have been devastating. You see, that is the daughter who had a malignant brain tumor which was in the area that determines outgoing versus shy nature. Can you imagine me whacking her around when she didn’t say a polite greeting to Mr. CJ when she was 3? Can you imagine finding out a few months later that her shyness was dictated, in part, by her tumor?

  43. Danny
    I do have a question for you. Since your parents worked so hard in trying to get you to overcome your sin, hoe do you deal with the infinite amount of sin in your life that you must deal with today?

  44. Deb – Can you add some quick tags so we can quote people? I think simply the ability to quote would be incredibly helpful. It is usually pretty easy to add them on. If you need help, I’m sure my husband would be glad to give you a hand.

  45. Danny,
    Tell me this. What does the Bible tell us to think about? “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things” (Phil 4:8). Our sin is not in that list. So why are the self-styled Christian counselors (professional or not) intent on the analyzing, evaluating, handling, and focus on the sin? Review the NT passages on helping others. It is all about encouragement toward Christ-focus and away from sin. Repent! Yes! But that means turn away from sin, not settle in for examination. It is focus on Christ and dependence on the Spirit that are the means to Christlikeness and relational blessing. Of all contemporary issues, this one is the one that sends my mind straight to Galatians 3:1-3 (HCSB): “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?”

  46. I cannot imagine that any child would benefit from relentless pursuit of faults and sin – though I think it would be less damaging to some.

    But still – very damaging.


    Danny… I have friends with kids in two of the D.C.-area SGM churches. I pray for their well-being, and for them to find a better place, because SGM is so cult-like and has propagated some incredibly damaging “theology” and practice. (Not to mention criminal activity – because I count the refusal to contact the police and child welfare re. abused children as criminal negligence.)

  47. I attended a sovereign grace church for five years as a young adult. I remember being shocked into a realization of the “sin-sniffing” doctrine one night during a ladies group. All of us were going around confessing what sin we were working on. After five or six girls confessing struggles with sin, a real pressure arose to find a sin you could share too. Then, one girl rose her hand and said something like, “Can I share something with you guys? My relationship with the Lord is going GREAT! He is constantly showing me his unconditional love and has revealed his care for me through x, y, and z in my life.” What a shift! I think all of our eyes popped out our of our eyes! And what do you say to that? I want it too.

  48. Hey Danny,

    I read your comments with some interest. I totally get what you’re saying. I was a hyper sensitive kid, but, as you say, that didn’t necessarily stop my parents from confronting me about sin when it was necessary.

    I think what I hear you saying is that the Bible and Christian tradition does instruct us to deal with sin when needed, so should we criticize parents for doing that? Should we assume that they’re going overboard just by recognizing sin? (am I reading you right? I hope so).

    But here’s what some of the folks on this blog are concerned about. SGM already has a history of having an unhealthy view of sin–lending sin a focus that is beyond what the Bible teaches us to have, and thus damaging to people.

    So, keep in mind that this is the lens through which we are looking at the Mahaney story. However, I do thank you for pointing out that we must always be aware of our lenses. This story by itself looks shady, but by itself, it could never prove anything about the spiritual health of the Mahaney family. It just takes on a darker tone when seen in context of what the Mahaneys usually stand for.

    (Although I would argue that I don’t know many healthy Christian parents who *reguarly* spend hours upon hours talking about their kids’ sins. Maybe if a particular issue comes up, but that’s not going to be the overall tone of your life—I hope).

  49. sad observer,

    I really appreciate your thoughtful response to Danny.

    Here’s my bottom line. I hope the Mahaney daughters aren’t spending hours and hours talking to their own kids about their sin. They need to be emphasizing the love of Jesus Christ. Notice I did not refer to Jesus as “Savior”, although he’s that and so much more!

  50. Once I watched the video, and heard the “spirit” of the girls’ voices, it came across differently than it did in print. It was clear to me that when she said her mother got up early to start the whole process over again, she wasn’t talking about rooting out sin, but the whole thing of being a mother, planning activities, etc.

    I don’t know Carolyn M, I’ve never met her or heard or speak. I have no idea what went on in her home…and to be honest, neither do you. It comes across as a whole “gossipy mean girls episode” if you ask me to write a blog critiquing her parenting based on a short video from eight years ago. Mothers are indeed often the first to correct their children. How do you NOT know that this wasn’t handled with lots of hugs, kisses and love? Jimmy…or whoever said that it would be a different story if one of the daughters was on a blog complaining about their upbringing…he’s got a point. Just because you don’t like CJ Mahaney and SGM doesn’t mean you should be attacking’s someone’s mothering skills.

    I think this whole post is unkind, unfair, and ungodly.

    But again, that’s just me.

    I watched the Phil Johnson clip awhile back of him complaining about female bloggers. I did not like the clip even though I like Phil. But no wonder he feels that way after seeing a post like this! I haven’t read Wade’s post about CJ yet, but I imagine he takes exception with CJ based on scripture and listening to CJ’s sermons and reading his writings. That’s the way constructive criticism should be handled.

  51. sotnam,

    I appreciate your candid comment about your experience in an SGM ladies’ group. It lends credence to this post for those who are not sure to what degree sin-sniffing occurs within Sovereign Grace Ministries.

  52. Sotnam, I had similar experiences in SGM care groups. One time when I was sharing some thoughts on living by grace, a man in the group tried to put me in my place with very hostile and aggressive words, shooting me down point by point. I was shocked that no one in the group, not even my husband nor the group leader, would stand up to his horribly rude behavior and IMHO bad doctrine. So I calmly but firmly stood up to him and did not back down. I also sent him an email to clarify what I had been saying from the Bible, and asked him to be more of a gentleman in the future. (This was not the first offense.) He apologized several days later, but my own husband was absolutely livid that I would dare to correct a man.

  53. I should also say I bear no ill will toward the man I just mentioned. He is a pretty decent guy and we are still friends, but he’s been drinking the Koolaid too long. I chalk it up to the church culture. We left several months later.

  54. Shato
    The fault lies directly in the hands of the Mahaneys who allowed an atmosphere of sin sniffing to permeate an entire ministry whilst they set themselves up as the role models-yes, their entire family was to be the role model. These people jump up and down saying look at me, look at me. They knew they were being recorded and this was supposed to be an event to honor (a lot of that went on over there) Mahaney. Therefore, what was said in this venue is open for critique. We looked, as instructed, and we didn’t like it.

    Now, if they had said this in their home or small group meeting with an expectation of privacy then I might buy your assessment. We are pointing out that the emphasis on sin in this ministry extends to their family. In fact, I guess this could be a compliment. At least they ain’t hypocritical when it comes to pointing out sin in their own family. Mercy!

    Thank you for your instruction on constructive criticism. We shall take it under advisement.

  55. So Over SGM
    Smart move to get the heck out of there. You did the right thing and I am so glad you took on the man. That must have floored him given the extreme instance on stringent complementarianism/patriarchy.

  56. I think what initially attracted me to the sin doctrine was the grace that (supposedly) accompanied it. It was taught that where sin is made great, grace is made greater. Grace was made greater. Through shame. Then it never became enough. Where can I make sin great. Well, we’re not seeing sin visibily so let’s question each other about our motives. Because there, surely, lies some form of sin. How exhausting. It took me years to learn to take what my husband said at face value without assigning some sort of sinful motive to him.

  57. I saw this post originally last night and let it simmer for the day because it made me super uncomfortable. I thought time might help me sort through the issue, but I’m only more certain why this post bothers me.

    I am the child of a pastor. I loved him very much – He passed away 12 years ago and I can’t wait for that day when I see him again in Heaven. He was a lovely and flawed man. If someone posted something negative about him and used me and my relationship with him as a tool for criticism I would be devastated. I just think we need to leave the kids out of it unless they are in danger of continued abuse. Even in that case, it should be handled in a way that protects their privacy.

    While I read the post, I did not watch the video. It felt too invasive to me.

    Just a couple of cents from a fellow PK.

  58. Dee,

    The Mahaney girls read very well, don’t they? The entire speech was prepared beforehand. They knew EXACTLY what they were saying.

    I firmly stand by the post.

  59. Dee,
    You said, “And yes, God does give you license to make some of your decisions without the regular interference from a group of pastors who seem to enjoy a nanny state. The Spirit in your life can lead you to making some great decisions, even decisions to leave a church without the “permission” of your pastors.”

    Completely agree with you there! Many pastors are indeed guilty of micromanaging. But, what does that have to do with a parent trying to help their kids overcome sin?

    To address you later question as to how I deal with the sin in my life now. Well for starters, that’s the benefit of my parents showing me how to overcome it. They instilled in me truths that help me to fight my sin. Of course, apart from the power of Christ, my fighting is pointless, so I daily rest in who I am in Him first and foremost.

  60. Dan,
    We would have to carry this conversation into something other than blog comments to be able to do it justice. You’re not talking to a fan of works here. I live daily under the grace of Christ and Him doing for me what I can’t do for myself. That being said, quoting Paul’s letter to the Philippians and simultaneous ignoring all the commands Paul gave on turning away from sin and helping a brother to turn away from sin is a dangerous path. There’s ample instruction in the New Testament for examining life, confessing sin to others, rebuking others, reproving them, etc.

    Don’t misread me here, I believe that all of Christ’s righteousness was imputed to me the moment I believed in Him. I don’t believe that means I walk around unaware of my sins or the ability of others to hold me accountable in not committing those sins.

  61. Numo,
    You stated that you don’t see how any child can benefit from relentless pursuit of faults and I agree with that. I don’t see Carolyn’s daughter saying that it was a constant pursuit, so much as addressing her mother’s readiness to help them in overcoming sin. I type to you telling you as someone who benefitted from parents who helped me see my sin and then overcome it.

  62. Sad Observer,
    I read your comment with relief! I was afraid that my first post here was going to be responded to with less than friendly response. Thanks for the tone of your post.

    I’m aware of the suffering that many people on this blogs and others have walked through at the hands of SGM. I’m sympathetic to that and aware that spiritual abuse by leaders is something that needs to be addressed. My point in this particular post is that maybe the lenses are so jaded that some can’t here what the Mahaney daughters are actually saying. I’m sure that if you had a one on one with them they wouldn’t tell you their parents spent hour after hour after hour every day pointing out the faults.

  63. Suzanne T

    I don’t know how much you know about SGM, but emulating the head honcho has been extremely important for a long time. Do you know how many people have mimicked CJ down to his bald head and mannerisms? I would imagine that Carolyn and other family members are put on a pedestal and emulated as well.

    Here’s the problem. The most important leaders in SGM were in attendance that evening. If the Mahaneys are exhibiting certain behaviors, then in all likelihood the leaders and their families are expected to follow the Mahaney family. That’s why what the Mahaney girls testified to — that their mom helped them work through their sin — can be dangerous.

    SGM leaders are expected to keep their children under control PERIOD! By failing to convict their children of their sin, another Tomczak situation could occur. From what others have revealed, there are MANY SGM pastors who were degifted because they couldn’t keep their kids in line. Failure to do so has DIRE CONSEQUENCES. That happened right here in my area at the Apex church. The previous pastor was degifted because of his son’s sin issues.

  64. I know very little about SGM, but if this particular group is as legalistic and restrictive as I read here, these girls were scrutinized for their entire growing up. Even in the best of circumstances, PKs clothing, attitudes, behavior, etc. is fodder for church discussion. It’s tough to grow up in a fishbowl, especially when you didn’t choose to be there, your parents did.

    This whole situation is ugly and wrong.

    That said, I guess I see these girls as victims, too.

    I simply wish this could be discussed without bring the kids into it. I wouldn’t have commented at all, but I wanted to offer this perspective to the discussion.

  65. Suzanne T,

    I’m glad that you commented because I have no doubt that some of our readers here would agree with you.

    Yes, the Mahaney girls may have been victims of a hyper-authoritarian system created primarily by their dad and his cohorts, but they are wives and mothers now. If they continue this pattern of sin-sniffing with their own children, they are no longer the victims. They are the perpetrators!

  66. Danny,
    I think you’re absolutely right that blog comments can’t do this conversation justice. It usually is difficult to understand points and communicate effectively in any blog disagreement. This issue, however, is so nuanced that it makes it doubly difficult. I think I could defend my comments and Scripture use to you, but it would take a couple hundred back and forths, which in face to face would take an hour, but on blog, we’d be busy for the next 6 months. I’m very willing to let the Holy Spirit work with both of us. I’m pretty sure that’s something we can both agree on and pray for each other about. Thanks for your comments.

  67. Eagle,

    Only the men shave their heads. They women have to look attractive to keep the home fires burning…

  68. “Yes, the Mahaney girls may have been victims of a hyper-authoritarian system created primarily by their dad and his cohorts, but they are wives and mothers now. If they continue this pattern of sin-sniffing with their own children, they are no longer the victims. They are the perpetrators!”

    The key word in this sentence is IF. I really enjoy you guys, but condemning them based on their parent’s behavior is patently unfair.

    IF there is proof that they are continuing their parent’s tradition of hyper-authoritarianism, I’ll be first in line to shout it from the rooftops. In the meantime, they remain victims from my perspective. As such, they should be prayed for and left alone, in my opinion.

    I respect the work you are doing here, but I would encourage you to rethink your approach to the children of abusive people in the future.

  69. Suzanne T.

    Patterns have a tendency to repeat themselves in families. I did use the word “IF” intentionally.

    Time will tell…

  70. Patterns can be broken. I come from along line of both substance and people abusers. If people made assumptions about how I raised my children based on the generations who came before me…well, I don’t even like to think about it. We can’t change our past, but we can change our future. I’d like to give these women the benefit of the doubt until it is proven otherwise.

  71. Suzanne T,

    I hope the Mahaney daughters have learned from the families in Sovereign Grace Ministries that have been devastated by these sin-sniffing tactics. Unless you have read the multitude of testimonies from SGM families, you really can’t comprehend what I’m trying to explain.

    The testimonies over at SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge are a good place to start.

    I do find it extremely interesting that the Mahaney daughters and their husbands have bailed out of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

  72. Eagle,
    You said, “Let’s be kind to Danny guys (and gals!!) I’m waiting for another funagelcial pastor, ministry leader or accountability partner to lecture someone on sin…give them a beat down; while they secretly live a double life!! Or practce a sin that is acceptable..

    Got to love Christianity!!”

    I’m new to interacting on TWW. However, I promise not to speak with sweeping generalities if you will too. : )

  73. I completely understand that you are trying to shine a light on something extremely terrible and damaging. I commend you for doing it!

    However, I stand by what I originally stated. These women, especially at the time they were filmed for this video, were still under their parent’s authority. They were VICTIMS. As victims, I’m super uncomfortable waving them around and discussing them as part of the bigger, very valuable, SGM abuse discussion. That’s where we part company.

    I find it extremely interesting that the Mahaney daughters and their husbands have bailed out of SGM and they are still being accused of possibly using SGM tactics on their children.

    That pesky IF that can really hurt innocent people.

  74. Suzanne T,

    In an earlier comment, you stated: “While I read the post, I did not watch the video.”

    With all due respect, if you had watched this short clip, there is absolutely no way you could have accurately made the following statement:

    “However, I stand by what I originally stated. These women, especially at the time they were filmed for this video, were still under their parent’s authority. They were VICTIMS. As victims, I’m super uncomfortable waving them around and discussing them as part of the bigger, very valuable, SGM abuse discussion. That’s where we part company.”

    Had you taken the time to watch the video instead of challenging me in this thread, you would have realized that ALL THREE daughters were married when they honored their mother at this event, and two of them were already mothers. Please take the time to watch it so that we can be on the same page in this discussion.

  75. Suzanne
    Adding to Deb’s comment, their husbands were all hired by CJ and they were collecting money as pastors in SGM. Therefore, these women considered themselves role models for the church.

  76. OK. I watched it. What I saw were three women who had lies mixed in with truth throughout their growing up. I see three women who are chronologically grown, but still have some mixed-up thinking to work through. I completely identify with that.

    Until I was 25 years old, I thought everyone’s mom had a nightstand completely covered with prescription bottles, got “headaches” and slept for days at a time. No one ever told me differently. For me, it was normal. The realization that there was a serious problem didn’t suddenly come over me at 25, either, it happened over a period of time. I was in my 30’s before I understood that she had bipolar disorder and was self-medicating. When it’s all you know, it is hard to find that “not ok” portion when it’s mixed in with some “more than OK” stuff.

    Yes, these girls were married with children, but they believed how they were raised was the best way possible. That part about helping them “root out sin” or whatever was a relatively small portion of what they talked about. More of what I heard were three girls who respected and appreciated the sacrifice of time and effort their mother made for them. To pull out the ugly parts of their upbringing when they were so intricately woven into some really lovely parts is a tough thing to do. It all seems normal when that’s all you know. It takes time, perspective, and sometimes someone else to point it out to see the problem clearly.

    Parts of their upbringing sound seriously messed up. But that wasn’t the fault of the girls. That was the fault of their parents. I have every reason to believe that, as they raised their own children, they considered their own motivation for how they approached teaching values to them. I know I did. We all have to find our own way.

    The fact that they have left SGM since this video was taken is further reason to believe they likely questioned the parenting style under which they were raised.

    I get that the overemphasis on sin is a serious problem. Where’s the Grace? Where’s the Joy? All of that is worth questioning.

    I understand that there is a serious problem with SGM. It’s one that needs a HUGE spotlight and some serious ninja-type action taken to correct. I vote yes on all that!

    I still don’t see why these girls have to be paraded about as cautionary tales. They are not the source of the problem, but this post makes them the focus of the problem.

    They didn’t choose this part of their life, it really was chosen for them. The fact that they left eventually makes that clear to me. Leaving your dad’s church is a BIG DEAL. It’s not something any of them could have done lightly.

    I’m asking for a bit of kindness and understanding to be applied to these girls. They did nothing to deserve being placed in the middle of this firestorm.

  77. This just makes me so, so sad. Deb, I believe you were right in calling this religious bondage, and this kind of bondage appears to be prevalent in every corner of Christianity, from what I can see.

    As I see it, the bondage, simplified, is this: we trust Christ’s finished work on the cross for our salvation, our ticket to heaven–but we believe that the work of sanctification, the working out of our faith in our lives, is up to us. We must try harder, do more, read more, pray more, curse less, be angry less, etc. We live as if our sanctification is accomplished by a moralistic list of rules we have to follow to ascend each rung on a spiritual ladder.

    We would call someone a heretic if they suggested that salvation was accomplished by Christ’s death and resurrection AND some amount of good deeds or effort on our part. But we are convinced, perhaps subconsciously, that our sanctification is exactly that: Jesus plus our effort, and we are terrified that we aren’t doing a good enough job. Or we are full of ourselves because we think we are doing a pretty good job.

    The big problem that I have seen is that this attitude about sanctification is NOT directly taught. No one actually says “your works will save you from your flesh.” Everyone preaches grace from the pulpit, but a million subtle messages communicate the opposite:

    – messages that talk grace, but list steps to follow to victory over sin.
    – “accountability groups” that ask you to list out your sins and report every week on your progress. God help you if you aren’t progressing!
    – subtle intimations that the really spiritual people attend church every time the doors are open
    – pressure to serve in some (or multiple) ministries, or you are being disobedient

    I think these kinds of things can be so subtle that they can create a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, where these messages are internalized to a point that you don’t know where your church’s pressure ends and your convictions begin. I KNOW this was true for me. It took a radical, painful, devastating experience to open my eyes. That was 4 or so years ago, and I am still sorting out what happened and trying to figure out exactly what I believe and what I was taught that was legalistic clap trap.

    All that to say that I think that sometimes, even as adults, we can pass along to others the same bad teaching we got, because, as yet, we just don’t know any better. I know that I hurt others by behaving as I was taught. Does that excuse my sin? Absolutely not, but it does give it context.

    In the case of the Mahaney girls, I have even more sympathy for them because they were children when they were taught this performance based Christianity. I was an adult and I was still so messed up. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be raised this way. How much harder must it be to sort out the correct things from the false things you were taught your whole life, by your parents, who love you and are Christians (not to mention Christians in such prominence with so many devotees)?

    They have my sympathy, I must say.

  78. So what are the so-called “sins” being referred to on this thread? Thus far the piece only points to a broad generality some Christians refer to as “sin”. Almost as if sin is some elusive quantity which purportedly resides within believer and non-believer alike. It would appear also that Genesis 4:6-7 argues against this idea (indwelling sin).

  79. Suzanne,

    The Mahaney girls didn’t leave SGM because they were rejecting their upbringing. They and their husbands, who were also SGM pastors, left because CJ did out of protest that he was being criticized. The video is an indication of how SGM leaders, as exemplified by the “First Family”, chose to portray themselves to the public. Unfortunately the sin emphasis goes through the organization from top to bottom, hence the thousands of wounded and/or disgruntled members. Been there done that, lived to tell the story. It is a systemic infection. The Mahaneys are just the poster children.

  80. Suzanne,

    As Dee so aptly pointed out, all three of C.J. Mahaney’s sons-in-law were SGM pastors until very recently. Two were at Covenant Life Church, and the other was at SGM Fairfax.

    TWW reported the news back in the summer – Breaking News: Mahaney’s Sons-in-Law Resign from CLC

    Steve Whitacre, the one at SGM Fairfax, stepped down a few months later and is now earning his M.Div. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    Mahaney’s adult daughters and their husbands were very much a part of the SGM debacle.

  81. As for their husbands’ positions and believing they were examples for the church, welcome to the club. When I lived at home, we were constantly reminded of that very same thing. Standard PK stuff. I did not marry a “man in leadership,” but was still reminded that my attendance at church and other events was expected even after I married and left home. Dysfunctional? Yup. Codependent? You betcha. Worthy of making a video of me saying something naive at a church function during that time and years later using it as an example of how horrible my parents are? I certainly hope not!

    If it’s all they knew, then it’s all they knew. If they aren’t the source of the problem, why make a spectacle of them? And, if I remember correctly, the husbands left SGM along with their wives.

    I respect what you are doing on your blog more than I can say! People have been hurt deeply by churches and I’m so glad they have a place to go that’s safe.

    If I was one of these daughters – who left her father’s church, wanted to straighten out the mess of thinking she was raised in, and landed here – I wouldn’t feel safe here.

    And I would be deeply hurt that someone used me to accuse my parents.

  82. OK, fine. They are all horrible people. They may be horrible parents. Show me THAT video. I’ll applaud and post the link to all of my friends.

    I still believe using something they said years ago to accuse THEIR PARENTS of something is not appropriate.

  83. Danny – there is a *huge* difference between your parents’ helping you with weaknesses and the kind of digging-everything-up attitude taken by the Mahaneys – all of them.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever spent time on SGM Survivors or SGM Refuge, but if you do go to either site and read peoples’ stories, the whole “sin-sniffing” thing will become abundantly clear.

    Suzanne – If you spend some time on the blogs I just recommended to Danny, you’ll understand more of what Deb is trying to get at in this post.

    And the Mahaney girls are very public about their views – see the blog they co-write with their mother, called Girl Talk. It’s not like Deb is making things up out of thin air.

  84. I appreciate what Deb is trying to get at in this post. I really do! I don’t appreciate that someone’s offspring is being used to criticize their parents.

    My issue is not about the bigger and very important issue of super-bad stuff being taught (and followed) at super-bad churches. I get it. I don’t need to read more to understand it. It’s a brave, bold thing Dee and Deb are doing. I respect what they’re doing.

    I simply believe there should be boundaries to what is acceptable when criticizing and children (or adult offspring who are not accused of anything) should be clearly out-of-bounds. They are not accused of anything and should not be subject to this kind of exposure. That’s all. I never meant for this to go on and on and on.

    I understand Dee and Deb’s point. I don’t think my point is being understood.

  85. I am confused. Mahaney’s “kids” spoken of here are adult women married who have their own children. Not only that but they have written publicly on a blog teaching other women. They, too, have made a living from ministry. They are fair game.

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  88. Suzanne – Let me put it this way. Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters make money from their sin-focused, authoritarian, patriarchal approach to womanhood.

    And in so doing, they are part of the family business – and it is a business. See Together for the Gospel if you don’t believe me (or any of us).

    There is a lot of money to be made at the T4G conferences and subsidiary events, and the good ol’ boys club – of which C.J. Mahaney and family are definitely a part – are right in the thick of it.

    Knowing how the SGM approach to child-rearing (see the Ezzos, for example) has wreaked havoc in many peoples’ lives, I don’t feel like I can endorse Carolyn and daughters’ icing on the cake.

    If it were all private, it would be one thing, but this is quite public. Have you checked the recent post on the adulation-fest for C.J. Mahaney that was put on by SGM back in 2004?

    That might help put some things in perspective.

    and always keep your counters clean and clear of anything that might spoil their smooth white expanse, because that’s how Carolyn does it. (Yes, I’m being somewhat sarcastic about this, but only because SGM women have heard about Carolyn’s pristine counters – and emulated her – for over 2 decades. I used to wonder about some SGM members’ kitchens, because they looked like nobody ever used them… it took me about 20 years to find out why they looked that way.)

  89. A link to the Girl Talk blog, which will, in turn, lead you to the book and the other resources and the clubs (yes, clubs) that can turn you, too into a Stepford Wife.

    Again, I realize that I’m being sarcastic, but there are reasons for that, and for my extreme skepticism where the whole Mahaney clan is concerned. Some of them have been discussed in depth on this blog.

  90. Also… the SGM (and C.J. Mahaney) focus on what they refer to as “indwelling sin” is – I’m suggesting – one of the things being discussed in that video, albeit referred to as “working through [our] sin.”

    Sadly, this tallies with the Ezzo approach toward infants, which sees them as tiny – and very sinful – so much so that they need to be put on rigid feeding (etc.) schedules in order to train them not to sin.

    Yep, infants. Babies that need love and touch and being held and sung to and fed – when they are hungry and need to eat.

    And smacked when they “disobey.”

    (I think I’m too upset by all of this – and genuinely angry at the wrongs perpetrated by the SGM Powers That Be – to write any more on this, for now, at least.)

  91. Oh – Ezzo “parenting” kind of naturally leads right into heavy-handed authoritarian-style child rearing, unless parents realize that there’s something innately messed up about characterizing a 2 month-old’s hunger as sin and walk away from it.

    Because if normal hunger and thirst is viewed as “sinful” during infancy, then how will other totally normal developmental stages and behaviors be viewed as time goes on and the infants become toddlers, then grade-schoolers?

    I am afraid that many of the real-life answers to that question are extremely painful, and I believe that Carolyn Mahaney and her methods are part of a highly abusive system.

    May God have mercy on us all… the Mahaneys, you, me, everyone who reads this blog, and all the folks who are still locked into SGM and their notions of “biblical womanhood” and “correct” child-rearing.

  92. Wow, I’ve seen a couple posts here, and I had no idea Sovereign Grace Ministries was having such “toxic” stuff coming out of their church. I’m saddened by it, and hope this blog isn’t spewing information out to people who are trampling on it, or reading it while foaming at the mouth…

    I don’t mean to be so blunt, but some things and problems of the church could/should be dealt with by other pastors, leaders, even maybe having 9 Marks come in and evaluate what is going on, but to air it in front of the world as they mock it above my comment – How is this helping or growing the church? Or healing the church? Perhaps a bit of healing to “air your opinion” but a sadder thing to see non-believers laugh at it. This is a toxic thing too…

    Speaking of “toxic” there was a great book I started reading when I left my own church in 2006, its’ title was ” The Toxic church” or ” Toxic faith” – good one , I wish I had the title with me now… Google it. God bless the people affected by the things going on at SGM… 🙁 and may they find a safer place to worship and grow in the Lord, and yes, in His grace and remembering what HE has done, not dwelling on their sin [great points above!] Thank you, LC

  93. PS- Another fantastic book, meant to put this in to counter-balance the “sin focus” mentioned earlier… it’s a Banner of Truth book, by Octavius Winslow, based on Romans 8, called “No Condemnation in Christ Jesus”.

  94. Suzanne,

    I am a first time poster but a long time reader of this wonderful blog. I would echo numo’s advice to check out the Mahaney girls’ girltalk blog to help you understand what everyone is saying. Many SGM women and girls read that blog and take their advice/admonishments very seriously.

    An example of what the girls over at girltalk discuss is Janelle Bradshaw’s (youngest daughter) post on eating disorders. According to Janelle, eating disorders – and she puts quotation marks around the word disorders – are not diseases but sin. So anyone suffering should pray and trust in God, and these “sins” will go away.

    This has been discussed here pretty extensively, and CJ Mahaney’s view certainly seems to be that any kind of therapy is wrong and that mental illness is sin. His daughters seem to have followed his teaching very closely. As someone who has been battling eating disorders for many years, I am overly sensitive but I worry about women and girls who are reading these blogs and being told that their extremely painful mental illness is a result of their own sin, especially since a hallmark of these disorders is self blame and self flagellation. Mrs. Bradshaw should not be posting such potentially damaging advice without taking the time to learn more about what she is talking about instead of just following her parents’ edicts. These girls are adults and therefore capable of critically thinking through an issue before advising others on it. Eating disorders can be fatal.

    I used this example because you said your mom has bipolar disorder and you sound as though you have a good understanding of her illness as a brain disorder requiring medical treatment. My mom has it as well. The Mahaneys would tell you it is her sin.

    Maybe the girls aren’t the source of the problem but they are definitely willing contributors to the problem. And though you say you didn’t grasp that your life wasn’t normal until later in life, you weren’t using your parents’ position and your famous last name to influence others without learning anything other than what your parents teach you. They are adults and are responsible for what they teach others. More to the point, since they choose not to, it is entirely conceivable they are following their parents in other areas like sin sniffing their kids.

    I don’t have any connection to SGM, but I’ve been reading the blogs for a while since I found out a childhood acquaintance was married to an SGM pastor. It’s definitely a unique world and hard to understand, so I encourage you to read the SGM blogs posted above to get an idea of what it’s like.

    Thank you Dee and Deb for letting me post here.

  95. Kathyrn,

    When eating disorders were being discussed on the girltalk blog (2006), I had never heard of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

    How frightening that the Mahaney ‘girls’ characterized eating disorders as “sin”. And they are qualified to make this assessment because…?

    “Does Thin Equal Beautiful?”

    “Eating, thinness, and beauty are pressing issues for women. Bombarded by our culture’s image of the beautiful women, we can be obsessed with our appearance and preoccupied with food. Countless women struggle with eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia.

    As a Christian counselor, and the author of When People Are Big and God Is Small, Dr. Ed Welch has counseled many women in bondage to these sins.”

    This makes me angry!

  96. Suzanne

    These women and their husbands have perpetuated the problems in SGM. They are part of the problem. Have you been following the horrendous debacle over there? Go to the SGM Survivors blog. These are not some innocent victims of their parents. They are part of the system that appears to have wounded family after family. They are the problem. They spouted the sin emphasis at SGM. Their husbands enforced it. They write about it and publish books. And still they are of limits? I don’t think so.

    Believe you me, we know lots of things about kids of some of these leaders. We have not written about those things because they are kids and are stuck with ridiculous parents. This is not the case with the Mahaney ladies.

    In order to understand history, one must understand how it came about. I took a course called The Psychology of History. This course studied the upbringing of people like Hitler. You see the seeds in their past. We can prevent some of this stuff if we understand. We stand by what we posted.

  97. Anon1 made a very good point that bears repeating. She said:

    “Mahaney’s “kids” spoken of here are adult women married who have their own children. Not only that but they have written publicly on a blog teaching other women. They, too, have made a living from ministry. They are fair game.”

    Yes, Anon1, they are fair game, and until this post, I have refrained from focusing on the part the Mahaney ‘girls’ have played in the abusive system that patriarch C.J. Mahaney (and his cohorts) created.

    I am holding in my hand a book I have had for quite a while – “Girl Talk by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre” – which was published in 2005, just one year after the CJ Love Fest. The manuscript was probably nearing completion when the Mahaney daughters honored their mother since that event took place in September 2004.

    Nicole is the daughter who wrote the UNBIBLICAL and EXTREMELY UNLOVING statement on eating disorders highlighted in my previous comment.

    Yes, these women are just as much a part of this financial enterprise as their male family members (CJ Mahaney, Steve Whitacre, Brian Chesmore, and Mike Bradshaw). They are NOT victims!

    I will be reviewing Girl Talk here soon so stay tuned!

  98. LC
    9 Marks is part of the problem and so are many of the “leaders.” Why do you think “leaders” are part of the solution? Look at the “leaders” during the days of Jesus. Pharisees existed then and do now as well.

    Mark Dever hid CJ (SGM) from his churches when he was had to step down. CJ would never let any of his “flock” go to other churches when they were in trouble with their church but CJ gets a pass. Dever is bound up in business arrangements with Mahaney in the T4G stuff and had to get Mahaney reinstated prior to the T4G conference so that there would be business as usual. Dever glad hands Mahaney and ignores the pain of the people who have been tremendously hurt by his churches.

    Do you really think that keeping things hush hush will prevent the world from “laughing” at us?

    Major bulletin: The world sees our hypocrisy and has been laughing at us for a long time. Instead, I say we air our problems, call them wrong, let the world see we don’t like it and that we actually deal with things. Guess how many people land over here at this blog exhausted, having been given the left boot of fellowship from some of your “leaders” who are prone to sin just like the rest of us? Guess why we started EChurch? You might be surprised to find some former 9 Markers attending.

    If you take a moment to scan our blog, not only will you see that we have dealt with the book you mention but many others. We are a part of a wider Spiritual Abuse Network that is now international. We are doing our bit to help heal the church. I am a nurse and I have learned that sometime painful procedures must be undertaken to cure a problem.

  99. Kathryn

    The eating disorders commentary over at Girl Talk is something worthy of a post here at TWW.

    Eating disorders are notoriously difficult, and people have lost their lives in that battle. The Mahaney ‘girls” should be ashamed for playing doctor.

    I am sorry for my disjointed comments. I am absolutely shocked and need another cup of coffee to deal with this.

    I think Suzanne will have my head. I am about to go after these “girls” (as they call themselves) once again.

  100. Deb
    OK, I have had it. I am going after this post. Just who do these “girls” think they are? They have “quickie” education for pastors and now they have “quickie” education for eating disorders.

  101. Deb
    A recent commenter wondered if we are doing this whilst “foaming at the mouth.” I think she did not mean that in a kindly way. Well, guess what? Sometime I do get mad and this is one time. Good night!

  102. Dee,

    Speaking of being “qualified” to render such an opinion on eating disorders, what is the educational background of Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters? Oh, that’s right. Carolyn was so committed to “family” that she didn’t attend college. Neither did her daughters.

  103. Dee,
    You said, “So, how much of your sin have you overcome?”

    Don’t get me wrong here. My sin was taken care of at the cross. Jesus imputed His righteousness to me and now I stand before Him spotless because of what HE has done. There is a beautiful way in which the Bible talks about accomplishing what has already been accomplished. In a sense, I’m sanctified. In another sense I still have many sins to work through.

    So you answer your questions, Jesus overcame my sins in His hours on the cross. I daily overcome them with the Spirit’s help and close friends and family so that I might became what Jesus has made me…

  104. Eagle,
    I hear you there. A lot of people are burned (and burned-out) by the church. I didn’t mean my comment as snarky as it sounded!

  105. Numo,
    You said, ‘”there is a *huge* difference between your parents’ helping you with weaknesses and the kind of digging-everything-up attitude taken by the Mahaneys –all of them.”

    Again, I agree with you here. But that is a huge difference than this post. The context of this post, as I see it, is the parenting of the Mahaneys. We don’t know that their home life was anything other than what the Mahaney girls are saying it is.

    As humans, we tend to pre-suppose a lot. I know when someone has upset me or wronged me, every breath they take feels like an affront to everything I stand for. We must be sure that we don’t continually view things through stained lenses.

  106. This is a very necessary article. When I read the words of this daughter, I could almost feel my stomach twist with the dark and emotionally unhealthy undertones.

    What on earth was going on that the mother would go through the night and begin the next morning addressing sin in her daughter’s life?

    I had two thoughts. One is maybe she is just trying to sound deep and super-spiritual. I have seen this in fundie Christian articles…like “as I brought the wet clothes out to hang up and dry, I thought of Jesus walking to the cross, and as I went back into the house to fix lunch for the kids, I reminded them of how God sent manna from heaven to feed His people.As we cleaned up from lunch, I had the children copy every scripture that referred to cleanliness…and I told the baby, as I put Him down for a nap, that on the seventh day, God rested…”On and on, ad infinitum…I used to believe that these people thought this way! Now I tend to think that it’s how they THINK they should think. Maybe a little of this is going on here. I tend to think that is not the case though…

    Now if the Mahaney daughter REALLY went through this kind of thing with her mom, it sounds like a family that wanted to breed dysfunction.

    BTW- I am breaking my rule here about not critiquing what or whom I am not very familiar with. I started to read a book by Mrs. Mahaney a few years back and could not. Certain Christian books make me think of the old film Invasion of the Body Snatchers…and I’m not getting back into any seed pods if I can help it. But, I’ve had enough exposure to this branch of Christianity to feel pretty comfortable in my instincts.

  107. Danny

    You said “We don’t know that their home life was anything other than what the Mahaney girls are saying it is.””As humans, we tend to pre-suppose a lot.”

    Presuppose a lot… Yeah, I guess that might be true in a vacuum. However, in this instance we have testimony after testimony of the abuse and ill-treatment by many who attended SGM (see SGM Survivors/Refuge – see those who posted their child abuse stories here). Where did this come from? Well, one must look to the vaunted leadership of the “President of SGM formerly known as The Head Apostle.”

    This man has held himself, along with his family, as the role model to the congregations. They were feted, honored, given stuff, etc. If anyone should be a testimony to the inner workings of the Mahaneyesque theology, these “girls” (they call themselves such) should be. I guess you might say that we are looking for clues for the reasons for the mess and pain at SGM. The Mahaney girls ad their husbands were part of this debacle-hook, lie and sinker. I don’t presuppose anything. They were part of the problem. So “we” will view this through those lenses because those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it.

  108. Laura said:

    “I started to read a book by Mrs. Mahaney a few years back and could not.”

    It was probably Feminine Appeal.

    I have that book as well, and it’s interesting you should write that comment. I just got off the phone with Dee and told her that I have made numerous attempts to start reading Feminine Appeal so that I could do a book review on it, and I just can’t seem to get into it.

    However, for the benefit of our readers here, I will force myself to read it soon. I guess they’ll be selling it at the 2012 TGC Women’s Conference. I feel an obligation to let women know what is in that book before they consider buying it.

  109. Danny

    I get it. I understand about being positionally holy and functionally sinful. But, perhaps this is just your style. You sound very sure that you are getting your sin under control. I know (and so do you) that you are not. My pastor says it this way: “Even on my best days, my motives are mixed.” We fight constantly to live for Him but fail continually. It is the grace of Jesus that is the key.

    One problem I have with the Calvinistas is that they focus on sin and after that, on sin (I did mean to repeat it). We need the grace of Jesus because we will fail until the day we die. We can spend our lives sin-focused or spend our lives grace-focused. Unfortunately, far too many Calvinista churches – SGM and the like – spend their time sin-focused and this leads to a depressing, burden-filled life.

    Many people who come here do not need to be reminded about their wretched sin. They have had it pounded into them and are extremely tired. They need to hear about grace and freedom. In fact, we have a prime directive. Before a commenter comes onto the blog to preach a theological perspective, s(he) should acknowledge the pain of those who have been through the abuse mill and are hurting. Only then can we understand the person visiting us is not some theological wonk alone but an understanding, gracious individual.

  110. Thanks Dee and Deb. I’ve been angry about this for a while.

    I had forgotten they had done several posts on eating and food issues and Nicole Whitacre’s post. Janelle Bradshaw also wrote a post – Q&A: Eating Issues

    You can also go to the girltalk blog and enter “eating disorders” under Search. At the bottom of the list is the above post, which quotes a book titled “Love to eat hate to eat”. The other posts that address this issue say more or less the same thing about problems with food.

  111. Kathryn

    This group also had lots of trouble with mental health counseling. They, unfortunately, are ignorant. They were not encouraged to get an education beyond high school (same with CJ-high school only) and it is situations like this which show their lack of exposure to a broader perspective. However ignorance is bliss in this situation. It sure cuts down on counseling needs. “Help I’m anorexic.” “Well, you better repent or we will discipline you.”

  112. It is interesting that you bring up the girltalk blog. A year or so ago I stumbled on this blog while looking for some worthwhile women’s blogs to read (which are few and far between except for this one and a few others). I was reading and quickly knew this was not a blog I wanted to read for any period of time. It made me angry as it has Deb, Dee and a few other women.

    Not only do they put their focus on sins, they add to a long list of so called sins, sins that are not sins, such as eating disorders.

  113. Kathryn: As someone who once struggled with an eating disorder I can say that you’re right about their ignorance. The root is not deliberate sin, it’s usually low self-esteem coupled with lies about the self. These two things are caused by past wounds. This is what trained therapists say and the information is out there for the public to see.

    It’s also not as simple as ‘repenting of sin and turning away from it’. Because it’s rooted in a web of lies, shame, fear and mental illness (NOT choice) it takes a long time to work through. Inner healing is required. Eating disorders are complex and to narrow it down to ‘unrepented sin, and all you have to do is repent’ is foolish. Yes, God can and does heal eating disorders, and sometimes in a miraculous way, but things like anorexia are always symptoms of deeper problems that need healing. It’s never a case of telling yourself one night ‘I’m going to stop avoiding food and hating my body from now on’ and the next morning you wake up craving a bagel. Never.

  114. Hmmm… Debbie, have you read Nancy Leigh DeMoss? She gets on my everloving nerves… These women are laughable. But ’tis so insane the scores of women gobbling up their advice every single day. Someone I knew used to send me links to Nancy’s and Carolyn McCulley’s blog posts and I’d just delete them. They are neurotic. All the conversations I’ve ever had to endure about that darn girltalk blog has left me hating blogs such as those. I”m glad our BQ’s here aren’t instructing us how to “serve” our husbands every darn day all day in every freaking way possible. Makes me wanna yack!

  115. I am personally so grateful to Dee and Deb. I was unaware of all of this concerning Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney until I began really reading this blog and checking out the resources they gave. I regret that I did not know. I no longer recommend many of the speakers, books, sites etc. that I formerly recommended to others.

  116. …oh and I’m not married either, neither do I have kids. So that makes it even worse. Apparently, nobody ever had anything good to tell single folk other than not to have sex… or get married really soon to some stranger just so you can… and just so you can now join our married small group. (yack…)

  117. Trina: No, I haven’t read Nancy Lee DeMoss. I read the Gender blog to keep up on what is being taught today, and that’s enough to make my blood pressure rise up. 🙂

  118. “However, the hours that my mom invested into creativity were no match for the hours invested in discipling and caring for our souls. My mom spent many a late night helping us to work through our sin, only to wake up early the next morning to start that process all over again. And this was all done with great joy…. She loved us unconditionally despite our many sins and weaknesses….”

    Several things:

    1. As a mom of 4 myself, it would CRUSH me to hear that the thing most remembered about me are the hours I invested “working through” my children’s sin. How tragic. To be remembered this way, as a MOTHER, would torment me.

    2. Their mother helped battle their sin with “great joy” late into the night and then again the next morning. It brought her JOY to berate her children about their sin and guilt?

    3. Interesting that the Mahaney girls are still referring to themselves as children who had “many sins and weaknesses”.

    Loving, healthy Christian parents with sound biblical understanding know their children aren’t perfect, but we don’t think of our children as having “many sins and weaknesses”. As a mother, my focus is FAR from their weakness. There are times when correction is needed but never late into the night and again the next morning. My focus is on my children’s strengths, their gifts, their innocence, their needs, security, happiness, and health.

    4. Even without the negative things the Mahaney girls shared about their mother… even if everything they said was glowing and positive… I would have cringed sitting there if I was their mother. I appreciate a thank you now and then from my kids in private, but I would never want them to stand and read from a script about all of my “accomplishments” as a mother. Creepy and uncomfortable. It wasn’t an honoring thing to do. It was further manipulation of their followers and an embarrassing PR maneuver.

  119. I absolutely am understanding what you all are saying. I get it! These are BAAAAAAD people! I need no more links or urgings to visit other blogs.

    I. GET. IT.

    When I read this entry, I saw three women who’s loving words were used to accuse their parents of wrongdoing.

    I don’t like that.

    I have been informed that these women are horrible. Again, I GET IT!

    I hear all the justification in these comments. I HEAR that everyone here but me thinks that, in this case, it’s fine to do that. Because they are horrible, too, they deserve it. I GET IT!

    I STILL don’t think it is appropriate to use the words of someone’s children against their parents.

    If y’all want to tear these girls up because of things they say about their beliefs, have at it. That’s not what they said here. They aren’t telling everyone how to raise their children this way. They are commenting on how they feel their mother sacrificed for them. And their words are being used to accuse THEIR OWN MOTHER!

    I get it. I’m alone in this. Maybe I’m not communicating my concern effectively. This is NOT about these girls in particular. I’m looking at the larger picture. If one wants to accuse people of something, I don’t think it’s appropriate to use comments their children said in love against them. It’s destructive to families.

    I get that this is a HORRIBLE FAMILY! It’s been made abundantly clear to me! But, if it’s OK to use these girl’s comments in this way, then it’s OK to do it to some other family, who may or may not be as horrible.

    I don’t think family members should be pitted against each other.

    Then again, it’s not my blog. I was just offering another perspective. Mine has been rejected and it’s not the first time. I’m a big girl. I can handle it.

    But, please, think about the bigger picture.

  120. Trina,

    I have been wanting to discuss Nancy Leigh DeMoss for several years. The True Woman movement and their manifesto are absolutely ridiculous! It appears that the 2012 TGC Women’s Conference has grown out of that True Woman movement.

    I promise that I will be highlighting the speakers at the 2012 TGC Women’s Conference very soon, which include: Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Carolyn Mahaney, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Mary Kassian, Kathy Keller, Mary Mohler, and Noel Piper and others.

    John Piper, Don Carson, and Tim Keller will also be speaking at this conference.

    I can hardly wait to do a series of blog posts!

  121. Debbie/Kathryn
    I plan to do a post on this. This is an issue of vital importance to women since they make up the bulk of those affected by eating disorders.

  122. Suzanne: The bigger picture has been acknowledged, and it still contains the problem that the girls think it’s a good thing for a mother to grind over her children’s sins for hours on end. The bigger picture contains the problem that SGM and the Mahaneys are obsessed with sin-sniffing, and CJ especially sin-sniffs other people more than he does for himself. If he did so enough sniffing on himself, he wouldn’t have the track record that he does. The bigger picture still contains the problem that SGM and the Mahaneys are very picky over what constitutes sin, laying shame on harmless things like shyness in children.

  123. Anne
    You are correct. Also, just like drug addiction, body chemistry changes and there is a host of related physical issues that must be dealt with.

  124. regarding nancy leigh demoss: i am SO happy to hear that i am not the only one with major issues with her. the legalism that pours from most of her work is just tragic.

    my “connection group” reading “lies women believe” was one of the first times that it occurred to me that perhaps my church wasn’t as grace-filled as i had thought.

  125. Trina
    So many of these people forget that Paul, the great Apostle, was single and recommended it as a viable alternative to marriage.

  126. Wendy

    I agree with you. She took JOY in pointing out their sins, if their account is to be believed. This mirrors the apparent joy the leaders at SGM seemed to take in letting others know of their myriad of sins.

  127. Rachel–
    She brings up so much cognitive dissonance that it’s unreal.


    I really look forward to what you will write regarding these women. I think that they, too, are responsible for their part in how they push women in these evangelical circles with all their books, blogs, talks and conferences to be just like them. It’s quite unnerving.

  128. Suzanne
    I did not say these folks are baaaaad people nor did I say they are a HORRIBLE FAMILY (your inflections). Deceived might be a good word, albeit limited. My guess is that you have some pain in this area and, if that is so, I am sorry.

    Believe me, if you look at our blog over the years, we do look at the big picture and that is why we are concerned. The big picture is reflected in the pain and suffering that we have read on the part of those who have attended SGM. These women help to understand more deeply some root causes of pain.

  129. Suzanne T,

    I’m sure the self-described Mahaney girls will appreciate your coming to their defense.

    The issues I have raised in this post are symptoms of a much larger problem in Sovereign Grace Ministries. Your lack of familiarity with SGM has been a tremendous handicap in this discussion, as I have previously pointed out.

    By choosing not to investigate further, you are marginalizing the MANY Christians who have been hurt by this ministry. Unless you are willing to educate yourself about SGM, there is really no point in continuing this discussion, sad to say.

  130. Wendy,

    You could have done a better job than I did in writing this post! Thanks for your spot-on “observations”. 🙂

  131. Suzanne–

    What if I happened upon a phone conversation between you and a good friend with whom you have had a series of prior conversations on a particular subject matter, and I seriously disagreed with what you were saying without having any knowledge of the information that had been discussed up to that point? That would be rude.

    Not only would it be rude, it would be unwise to join the discussion and insert extremely strong arguments trying to get others to see my point without having even bothered to do any investigating that would qualify me to make such demands of participants.

    You have joined here mid-discussion. These discussions have been happening over a long period of time, and as you stated and admitted earlier, you don’t know much, if anything, about SGM. How can you confess that and then proceed as you have? What you need to realize is that the people here – those who have been here for quite some time – know a crap load more than you do about what’s going on.

    You need to calm down. Seriously! Truth is, you don’t get it. And you don’t get it because you haven’t done your homework.

    It appears that because you were a PK, and I am sure you’ve had some horrible experiences being such, you have made this personal about your own experiences and have no idea what we are really discussing.

    Your insistence to continue to call these grown adult women “kids” and “children” helps me to see where you are coming from. You can no longer continue this discussion without first acknowledging many of the facts here that you simply do not have. It would help you to stop posting your rants for awhile and simply go and read the information given to you. It’s what I did. And it took me months.

    These people aren’t toddlers or little children. They are adults who have participated willingly and with much effort in the culture and machine that is SGM and so forth. They have as much responsibility as anyone else. You really ARE missing the point of this post because you do not have the knowledge or history regarding these matters to understand what is being said and why it’s being said.

    These women have long inserted their legalistic ideals into every woman’s life who has given them opportunity to say such things. Their ideals are harmful and a detriment to the spiritual and relational lives of Christian women. Period.

    The message in this post isn’t about bashing a PK. It’s an unveiling, if you will, of the message behind the message. That’s what we are discerning here, and what we are discerning is what we have known for quite some time. This family has forced their model upon many others, and it is not our job to protect them so much as it is our responsibility to help those who have been hurt by their legalism and false doctrine.

    I don’t care who your dad or mom is. If you participate in such tomfoolery, then your are fair game. These adult women willingly participate. You have no idea the many marriages, relationships, and lives that their teaching, modeling, words, blogs, and ideologies have damaged. Therefore, you have no real basis to make your comments regarding the matter at hand. The Mahaney “girls” cannot be allowed behind the protective covering of their parents and shirk the necessary responsibility that is theirs. They are responsible for what they teach, model and say. No one is exempt from that.

    If you don’t want them to have that responsibility, Suzanne, then please write to them and tell them to shut up. They don’t allow comments on their girltalk blog, so you will have to find some other way to contact them.

    Now, if you want us bloggers to know about the difficulties of being a preachers kid, then we can grasp that by your sharing and your own personal experiences. I’m sure that you could thoroughly school us on that. But don’t assume that every PK has had your experience and that all their situations are like your own. There is something completely different here. Granted there may be many similarities and struggles that you share with these women who happen to be the daughters of a pastor, but there are distinct and important parts of their story that have their own unique history, which many of us know all too well…

    What these women have said of their mother is a glaring example and unearthing of the root issues and abuses that have taken place in their “ministry”. If what they said is true, then it deserves the critique it is being given. If they don’t want others to critique what they say, again, they need to shut up and get off the mic. People can’t choose to be in the public eye and want us to hang on their every word and model their lives, but simultaneously say don’t bother to examine closely what I say and do. You can’t have it both ways.

  132. Debbie Kaufman,

    Oh my! If you don’t know anything about Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I’ve got to get busy! I’ll try to get you up to speed.


    No, you are not the only one who has major issues with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I have listened to her radio broadcast in the past, and she is a HUGE proponent of complementarianism, which we have renamed “The Gender Gospel”.

    Maybe we could come up with some kind of acronym to describe this crowd.

    TUGG would be good.

    How ’bout this? Together Under (the) Gender Gospel This crowd really knows how to pull women down!!!

    There will be “so much more” (to quote a book title) to come…

  133. Folks,

    This has been enjoyable, but I’ve got to get busy and write today’s blog post!

    I’ll keep checking back. Discuss amongst yourselves for a bit…

  134. Sometimes it’s best to approach a subject/discussion in the same way we’d have a literary discussion…

    What’s the story about?

    Who are the main characters?

    What does the author tell us about them? Why? What’s his purpose?

    What do I need to read further to understand the information given me regarding these characters?

    How is this relevant to the present/past/future? In what ways does it speak to its audience? What voice? What is it trying to convey?

    What are other relevant stories that would help me better understand?

    I could go on… But then and only then can I really come to the table of the discussion ready to participate. If I have done none of the above, the only thing I really can do is ask questions. Not so that I agree with what the author is saying, but at least so that my approach comes from an educated point of view.

  135. Dee,

    “Major bulletin: The world sees our hypocrisy and has been laughing at us for a long time. Instead, I say we air our problems, call them wrong, let the world see we don’t like it and that we actually deal with things.”

    So true. The problem the world has – and the problem that Christians in these abusive churches and ministries have – is that there has been so much pretense. The Bible warns explicitly of false prophets and false teachings and tells us to be on guard.

    Deb and Dee, thank you for helping us to stay on guard and for warning us of these false teachers. I appreciate your boldness in calling them out and your unwavering concern for “the least of these” – children and adults — who have been exploited and abused in these false movements and teachings.

  136. Wendy,

    You are so welcome!


    Just getting underway with my typing. I’m SO GLAD I took that typing class in high school. I had no idea that I would spend so much time using this important skill.

  137. Wendy –

    I’m also curious as to when they will stop calling their blog “Girl Talk.” Maybe they will move on to “Lady Talk” (ugh!). I have always disliked the term “Ladies.” Maybe for good reason?

    When will they call themselves “Women?” God didn’t seem to have a problem with the term. I much prefer being called a woman rather than a lady, and it has nothing to do with my femininity. I don’t read their blog so it really doesn’t matter to me, but it matters for me to think that women who do go there to read it are seeing that title . . . as if they should think of themselves as “girls” which is the term I use for a women who is under around 14 years of age! It reeks of being considered young and immature and not able to comprehend things. To me it is a “dumbing down” of women.

    No apologies for this rant!

  138. I regrettably bought into the whole keep my children from sin even if you have to bully them into it mentality as a parent. Much more so than my husband. I loved my children but also as a young Christian and mother wanted to do what I thought God wanted me to. With the only teaching I knew and not knowing all the Bible except for certain proof texts(spare the rod, spoil the child, and other such proof texts), I was many times more of a bully to my children than I was a loving, caring mom, although I was that too.

    It made my children angry into adulthood, especially my son and youngest daughter who I was hardest on.

    It took a lot of apologies and sitting with them not making excuses but sincerely repenting to them. I have experienced the damage of this type of teaching growing up, and I also experienced doing this type of teaching as a parent. It’s harm is beyond words.

  139. I might add that I never, ever felt right about instilling this bullying technique on my children, but since you are taught to not go by feeling but by “what the Bible says”, I ignored that feeling and regret doing that, knowing what I know now and have known for a few years now.

  140. Someone said that maybe the process starting all over again was regarding the mothering, the doing things for them, and not the sin-sniffing workshop she’d continue into the next day.

    Let’s break this down:

    1. Her mothering was always fueled by a strong Biblical conviction and love for us that compelled her to use all of her energy and creativity.

    This is good. The Bible has given her conviction to love her children well by putting much of her energy and creativity into them.

    2. She would spend hours planning activities and special things for us. There was family olympics, mystery night, birthday meals, afternoon out, shopping trips, the list really is endless.

    This sentence tells us descriptively in what ways her energy and creativity was used. These are great things to do with your kids. Go Carolyn! Great job! Now hopefully all the other hundreds of women at SGM didn’t think they needed to do these exact activities as you did to be Biblical wives. HOPEFULLY, they learned about the unique diversities of their own children and loved and cared for them based on their own needs and personalities.

    3. However, (now the use of this transition word is telling us that this is a separate idea from the one before. It helps to change the tone and/or shows the reader a contrast to what was stated before) the hours that my mom invested into creativity were no match for the hours invested in discipling and caring for our souls.

    This sentence tells us that she spent a disparate amount of time discipling and soul-caring for her children, THAN investing creatively in her kids. Although it conveys she did a great deal of both.

    4. (Next, and again, she gives a description of how that was done.) My mom spent many a late night helping us to work through our sin, only to wake up early the next morning to start that process all over again.

    Let’s take a look at the word “only” here for a minute. In this sentence, it’s being used as an adverb to indicate an event that happened immediately after. It can be used also to indicate a surprising or unpleasant event that happens immediately after the one mentioned. The event that is mentioned is that mom spent many late nights helping them deal with their sin. Then the unpleasant event and probably surprising event ensues: she would continue this sin-sniffing workshop immediately the morning of the next day. In my opinion, if she had to do that, then she wasn’t very effective. I won’t begin to even address the absurdity and cruelty to her children in this post, as this is just to walk through what was said and separate the ideas here.

    5. And (…and here we have our grammatical conjunction connecting the two thoughts: the one immediately preceding the conjunction and the one after) this was all done with great joy and never a single moment of complaint.

    This was all done… What was done? The sin-sniffing workshop and “helping” them “work” through their sin. Who was it done by? Their mother. Interesting that it wasn’t the Holy Spirit but I digress. Therefore, it follows that the joy and lack of complaint was on the part of the doer and not those receiving the supposed “benefits” of such actions. I’d like to insert the common theme in Calvanista-land here that I am such a lowly sinner and deserve worse. I should only be so blessed to be disciplined in this sick way. God bless the person/discipliner for taking on such a joyous and complaintless task because it never feels good to squeeze blood from a turnip.

    6. She was our greatest ally in our battle against sin and our biggest cheerleader for our growth and godliness.

    Really? I thought Christ was? Hmmm…. Shotty job he did on the Cross there. What a senseless and wasteful sacrifice. Seriously. Because if our mother’s would just do this, then Jesus really coulda just chilled out for a few more years and taught his homeboys how to make more water into wine. This sentence would be okay if the words weren’t loaded. Growth and godliness in SGMese means something completely different than Scripture would imply. It would make more sense if she were their greatest ally in showing them how much Christ loves them and what unconditional love looks like. She could rather be their biggest cheerleader to help them learn to grow in love and godly character, and help them to forgive themselves as Christ has forgiven her.

    7. She was the first to bring correction and the first to bring encouragement and to point out change.

    This all is a descriptive continuation of how their mother disciplined them. Interesting that this comment was much longer and far more descriptive than how she may have doted on them, encouraged them in an affectionate love, or any other thing a mom could do to convey to her kids an affectionate and unconditional love. But as we can see here, the focus is far more on sin. Why? Because sin is the focus. Simply put. Not Christ. Not a love that bears all things. But sin. I simply would have stopped sinning after hour one so she could leave me the hell alone and let me go to bed. But apparently, since she has the ability to see through hearts, souls and minds–like Christ–only (see, there’s that word again…this time, it’s conditional, making the preceding statement true) she knows when change has taken place. Really, Carolyn? Really? It would be nice if she were the first to bring love and the first to bring forgiveness and understanding. But ummm…yeah. So much for firsts.

    8. She loved us unconditionally (are you sure you know what that word means, Little Lady?) despite our many sins and weaknesses, and this faithful mothering won the hearts of her daughters…”

    This sentence would be true if the aforementioned sin-sniffing workshop wasn’t described to the reader. The reader questions whether or not the subject understands what “unconditional” means? Furthermore, what has been described as faithful mothering has an uncanny resemblance to a lawyer or a judge, rather than an intercessor, ally, or help in time of need and certainly not one who has the freedom to forgive or encourage forgiveness. After all, did Christ come to remind us daily of our sins, or did he come to forgive and remember our sins no more. I wonder if their hearts were truly “won” into submission, rather than forced? I’ll let you be the judge.

    Disclaimer: It is every duty of a parent to teach their children right from wrong, and bring up issues of behavior that are not good or acceptable. BUT in so doing, never without the awareness that such offspring is a human, with a heart of flesh, a mind not entirely shaped and formed, who is to be dealt with sternly if needed and truthfully, but always with overwhelming compassion, grace, understanding and love. Discipline is good. But what the ladies have described above is discipline alone, and without the accompanying necessities that discipline requires.

    Now, I’m no English teacher. I don’t know much about technical sentence structure and the rest. But if someone as straightforward and plain as me could pick all of that out from those statements, then I wonder what a real literary technical genius could do?

  141. I, like CJ, am the father of 3 daughters and a SON. Sometimes I get hung up just on the first few words of blogpost headlines. To refocus away from an individual and her particular sin-focus, how about “How biblical women helped their children”? The biblical woman I’d like you to consider is … Wait for it…

    BATHSHEBA! Read I Kings 1 about this godly wife and mother. Just a few points: she heard God’s word and obeyed it, rather than submitting to her husband’s leadership. Had she done the latter, she AND HER SON would surely have been killed by his half-brother. She remained submissive to the husband himself, bowing and paying homage, while rebuking his covenant-breaking, ignorant leadership.

    “My Lord, you swore to your servant by the LORD your God, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me,
    and he shall sit upon my throne.’ And now, behold, Adonijah is king, although you, my lord, the king, do not know it.”

    By the end of the chapter, this godly biblical mother had helped her child not only stay alive, but achieve more fully his God-given potential (King!). Not a word to this point in the story about the child’s sin.

    May God grant more mothers today a Bathsheba Spirit and rebuke the Sapphira Spirit!

  142. Bridget2,

    Believing and teaching that mental illness and eating disorders are SIN reeks of uneducated, immature women who are unable to comprehend things (or choose not to). Their teachings are definitely “dumbed down”.

  143. Dave–

    Thank you for that lesson. As many times as I have read that, I never gleaned that from the text. I think it was uplifting. I would never have really looked at Bathsheba as one to admire.

  144. @Dee-Thanks!

    @Trina-Great posts, I like your analogies

    @Suzanne-I apologize if it seemed like I was dismissing your point or ganging up on you. But I still have to agree with numo’s suggestions. If you change your mind it might be good to hear more about your views on PKs and how that might be at play here.

    Thanks for your posts Blog Queens!

  145. Wendy–

    I used to read all of those Christian counseling books, particularly often dealing with recalling memories. I have survived my share of abuse, and while I have grown stronger as the Lord has strengthened me, I wasn’t always this way. As a youngster, I was often melancholy, sad, hard to please. I was generally disappointed with God and life. Afterall, did He love me as much as He did? Because I wasn’t sure, and up to that point, I coudln’t really see that. My parents were the greatest example I could have of Him, and yet they simply weren’t.

    So other Chritians, particularly older ones, always wanted to fix me. I’ve been called selfish, ungrateful, unhappy, unwilling. I wanted to be happy, I really did. What teenager or young adult wants to be sad all the time. But I was sad. Very sad. My heart was broken and continually broken. When I was told that my depression was because of my own sin, or that it was sinful for me to be depressed…well, that just made me depressed. It depressed me that I couldn’t choose to be blissfully happy like the other Christians around me; and certainly not as happy as the Christian who was telling me that my depression was sin. It also depressed me as I was told that I had more responsibility than I thought I had in how I responded to the abuse against me. Yeah, for some reason, God expected me not to rebel or respond angrily. He wanted me to muster up the strength and courage to be blithe and bonny in the face of abuse. This type of “counsel” usually sent me into a tail spin that I almost wouldn’t make it out of. So much for “Christian” counseling.

  146. Trina – love your analysis above!

    Although the very 1st thing that flashed through my mind re. those carefully-planned events was that there is a huge degree of perfectionism implied.

    I have no idea if this is the case, but I do know that it set off alarm bells for me personally. (Because I have been there and done that.)

  147. Numo–

    I think your premonition might be right. I saw that type of perfectionist mothering a ton when I was at CHBC. Since bad habits die hard, it’s still alive and well there. Thanks for the compliment. I know that I am amongst some serious smarties here, but figure I’d take a stab at it since we could have been mistaken and all, you know?

  148. …and Numo… Whatever happened to His mercies being new every morning. His Lovingkindness that will never fade away. For Great is his faithfulness???? Hmmm… Faithfulness consisting of renewed mercy each and every day… of Lovingkindness… What a concept. What. A. Concept.

  149. Does Carolyn’s faithful mothering above reflect any of that? What verse is that BTW? (lemme go Google that)

  150. Poor girls. What else were they brought into this world for but to do their mother’s will? Surely they were continuously “discipled” into submitting their desires to their mother’s predetermined purpose for each of them, which apparently meant following exactly in her footsteps. Just listen to them! They were never allowed to make any other choice! And they stand there making their mother sound better than other women and themselves by comparison because what other choice did they honestly have?

    Could they have gone to college and pursued a career?
    Could they have decided to stay single and experienced life, learned about their own potential before having to submit themselves to doing a man’s will?

    None of them ever were given those options, but Carolyn did a good job working them over. Each of her daughters became nothing more than the SGM brand, advertised and promoted on stages like what we saw in the videos.

    You can’t help but feel sorry for them. What will become of them when they lose their audience?

  151. Trina, I am horrible at grammar and the kind of analysis you did was helpful to me! It clarified a number of things… so please keep up the great work. 🙂

    Your comments are always insightful, but the two on analysis (of characters and then of sentence structure) are very relevant here, as they defuse tension by looking at what was said in a nonjudgmental manner.

    The perfectionism thing seems endemic to SGM – and to other authoritarian churches as well – am sure you saw it in action at CHBC, as I did at That Church.

  152. Evie – I looked at the girltalk blog last week and was saddened by the photos they post, if only because they seem to be living in such confined circumstances.

    Why continually post pics of things like what their kid did to the roll of toilet paper? I mean… [wow. am out of words.]

    I do feel bad for them, but it is so painful to see them perpetuating the SGM “plan.” I hope their daughters are able to go to college (and grad school, if they want to) and lead independent lives before deciding to marry and have kids.

    That old saw “Marry in haste; repent at leisure” comes to mind. (I in no way intend to be critical of anyone for marrying and having kids, but as a longtime – unintentionally – single woman, I find it painful that marriage and early motherhood are being pushed as the only acceptable role for young women…)

  153. There were a few times I was going to respond, but Trina’s analysis of their speech is the last straw.

    To pick up on the word ‘only’ and present it like the girls had to go through a terrible ordeal, and then shockingly go through another surprising, unpleasant ordeal in the morning, is reading what you want to read to read into it (we all know that’s not what THEY were saying, even we disagree with their view of their mother’s techniques). If I give a speech honoring my mother, and say: “Dad had a stroke, and for 10 years before he died mom faithfully, lovingly, and joyfully took care of all his needs, sometimes staying up late at night, only to wake up again and do it all over again the next morning” I’m not in anyway saying anything like Trina’s analysis.

    To then say “mom was my greatest ally” and sarcastically spin that as not needing Christ’s atonement, or saying mom was better than the Holy Spirit is patently absurd. In context, if I’m at my fiftieth wedding anniversary and say: “My wife has been my greatest ally for spiritual growth, support, and encouragement, and helping me overcome my sin” nobody whose being fair is going to conclude I’m ruling out Christ or the Spirit.

    And then, for at least the second time in these comments, the arrogant assumption that we have the right to cast doubts on Carolyn’s unconditional love? Grace and not judging – unforgivable for Calvinistas, but is it really absent here?

    Doubtless you’re not an English teacher, but it seems, frankly, like your tone is a little self-congratulatory for your grammatical analysis.

    Now, I know there’s a prime directive (which I support), and I know everyone at SGM (and of course Piper and Mohler) are both immoral and stupid to boot, but forgive me for thinking there’s a difference between supporting and helping the hurting, and delighting to tear about the bad guys. May I just say, knowing if comments are true to form dissenters are not deleted they’re just shouted down, that the tone here is, in my opinion, reeking of joy in ripping these people apart. If I am wrong, I ask for forgiveness: but might I suggest that commenters do not know what’s in everyone’s heart, motives, and mind?

    What’s going on is no longer analysis: it’s nit-picking, isogetical, people bashing. Like Suzanne, I want to say: “I get it!” Kindly let’s move on to something more constructive.

    With respect and acknowledging the incredible balance of good over bad in this blog, please consider.

  154. steve – I can’t speak for Trina, but she was a member of Mark Dever’s church for a couple of years and saw a LOT of bad things. (Mark Dever’s church is where the Mahaneys went when C.J. was asked to step down last year.)

    I do not think she was off in her analysis of what was said.

  155. and I know everyone at SGM (and of course Piper and Mohler) are both immoral and stupid to boot…

    Who said that? It is their words and actions that are criticized here.

    And it’s hard not to get angry at “leaders” who say and do abusive and unkind things. (cf. John Piper’s very disturbing response to questions about women and domestic violence – video is linked to in posts on this blog.)

    I do not think TWW’s prime directive is about trashing the people themselves, though I realize you might disagree.

  156. Steve, my apologies if I sounded grumpy and unwelcoming. I’m tired today and it’s coming through in the tone of my comments.

    Still… I have to wonder about the aim of the sentence that I quoted above, from your post. Since you mentioned the blog’s “prime directive” immediately prior, it seems as if (maybe) you believe the blog’s prime directive is not about helping those who have been abused?

    Honestly, I am confused and would really appreciate any clarification you can offer.

  157. Steve–

    If your mom did that, and you said “only to wake up and do it all over again”, it would be sensical for me to gain from that that your mother did this often, usually, always, generally, consistently…

    Self-congratulatory, you say? Hmmm… For one to say that oneself is not great at technical grammar is self-congratulatory? Maybe you, Steve, are used to doublespeak by others, but I am not one. I meant what I said, and said what I meant.

    Even if generally speaking, Little Mahaney Girl is implying that her mother did this repetitively and consistently. Now, to you that might not be cruel, but–and I use this SGMese term so often used–in light of all things Scripture teaches us about Christ, none of what she has said MOST of her mother resembles that. It simply is your opinion as it is mine that they were or were not saying what they said. I’d rather just take them for their word. How about you?

    My sarcastic spin, Steve, if you want to call it that, is reflective of the consistent, deliberate, usual, generally explicit beliefs and teaching that group gives about pastors,leaders, and parents. The point, and I’m sure most people here understand it, is that they far too often make themselves the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life by their errors of judging, controlling and ruling others, never mentioning it to be the sole responsibility and work of Christ and him alone. I did mean this as humor, but to use the humor to make a valid and generally visible point.

    If your kid, if you have/have not one, came to me and said you know, my dad always does these great things for me, blah, blah, blah, but what he does EVEN MORESO, is wake me up every night to deal with my sin and again in the morning, I, being one who is not only familiar with your father’s beliefs, his faith, and his actions and words, but also how your father has counseled and treated other people and has put forth his own agenda, would definitely question if your father knew what unconditional love was.

    I didn’t say that I didn’t believe Carolyn loved her children. But her idea of love and how to discipline them leaves much to be desired, and lacks the faithfulness that apparently she’s supposed to be immitating as a Biblical example. What she believes is “biblical”, I simply do not as others here as well.

    Again, Steve, the Mahaney’s and others in their camp, are harsh critics of the rest of the world who are not doing as they do. I find it disconcerting that so many others don’t acknowledge their harsh criticisms, idolatry, false and insufficient ideologies, and their straight out lies about God and always shoot to defend them, even when it’s straight from the horses mouth.

    I bet, though, that it would be okay if I did this to a politician–took him for his word, rather than be his apologist. Regardless of what we do, say, think or mean to say, often it is what we truly feel that can be found lurking in our hearts and makes it way towards our mouths. I’m not afraid to stand corrected, neither be wrong. It just seems that they generally are. It would be nice if everyone played by the same rules, or that we all got the pass that these people get.

    Also, I have found this VERY constructive. If you want to move onto something else, maybe you can try some other subject or blog post of your own. But since this is the topic at hand, I believe we shall continue to discuss in whatever manner strikes us as most fit.

    I would also find it very encouraging if you held their blogs to the same standard, and write them and ask them to strike an incredible balance of good over bad, but I’m not sure that’s possible, considering the overwhelming bad that’s generally there, but please consider.

  158. Trina,

    Thanks for sharing your struggle with depression and Christians who accused you of being the problem. I got my masters in counseling from a well-known conservative Christian university. I must say, at that time, it was a solid program. I don’t remember getting a lot of messages that people created their own problems and were choosing to sin if they were depressed, had mental illness, eating disorders, and so on. I came out of the program with what I believed was a sound education and understanding of mental illness, addiction, and personality disorders and how to treat them.

    My beliefs took a strange turn several years after graduation while working in a mental health agency. At the time, I was immersed in an authoritarian, legalistic church culture and was being bombarded with messages that the root of our problems were sin and we were overcomers. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I started to believe that all of these therapies, programs, and medications not only didn’t work for my clients and families, but were flat-out wrong. The problems were either Satanic and/or a result of disobedience.

    I prayed and prayed for God to open a door for me to practice Christian counseling in a church or Christian setting. I thought I would really see results if allowed to work with troubled folks just using my bible. That’s a truly scary thought. Thankfully, God brought me out of that phase and brought me full-circle.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me at all that those were/are the messages you received from other Christians. The rise and influence of these hyper-authoritarian leaders and ministries has perpetuated erroneous, harmful beliefs and teachings about the various struggles in our lives.

  159. Also to add: My knowledge of how Carolyn “serves” her husband and family, as well as her church, comes from her books, blog posts, and speeches, many of which I have surprisingly stomached and listened to. So my points are not only made with information from what her daughter has said about her in that mere blurb, but from their insistent nagging posts, books and talks which imply how right they are doing everything. I wouldn’t guess you had been a frequent visitor of GirlTalk or have been forwarded almost all of their stuipid little posts each day by your guy friends…but what do I know guys do with each other. Oh yeah, that’s probably because GirlTalk said it was bad to hang out with guys in the first place. Sarcasm very much intended.

  160. Wendy–

    Did you go to Regent? That’s interesting you say that, about using the bible alone to provide counsel. Right before I left CHBC, there was a group I was attending called soemthing like Helping others Heal or something to that effect. Basically, it was a small group where we met and discussed how to counsel others in the church who had issues and how we could use Scripture to help them deal with issues. But what bothered me most was that no one was required to be a real counselor, but that we were encouraged to do this with others. I didn’t stay long because well… I quit. And then I quit the church. Nuff said.

  161. Dee,
    You said, “I get it. I understand about being positionally holy and functionally sinful. But, perhaps this is just your style. You sound very sure that you are getting your sin under control. I know (and so do you) that you are not. My pastor says it this way: “Even on my best days, my motives are mixed.” We fight constantly to live for Him but fail continually. It is the grace of Jesus that is the key.”

    I think you may be reading into what I’m saying. Or I’m poorly communicating my thoughts. If that’s the case, I apologize. I believe fully that the Spirit is enabling me to overcome certain sins. When it comes to sin as a whole, yes, I have a long way to go. But individually, there are sins that I use to commit that I commit no longer. Daily my prayer is that the Spirit reveals more sin so that I can be the imitator of Christ that scripture calls me to be. Yet, I understand that my “righteous acts are filthy rags.” I’m not arguing that at all. Furthermore, as a parent, I want to help my children work through their sins as well. It’s not my intention to raise up kids who are OK with their sin. “Do we continue to sin that grace may abound? By no means!” I don’t see why their has to be an either/or here. To only focus on sin is to ignore the commands of Christ, but so is ignoring sin.

    You said, “They have had it pounded into them and are extremely tired. They need to hear about grace and freedom. In fact, we have a prime directive. Before a commenter comes onto the blog to preach a theological perspective, s(he) should acknowledge the pain of those who have been through the abuse mill and are hurting. Only then can we understand the person visiting us is not some theological wonk alone but an understanding, gracious individual.”

    I’m taken aback by this response. I have only recently started interacting with this community, but that’s after months of reading TWW, Wade Burelson, Jax Watchdog, Brent Detwiler, SGM refuge and SGM survivors. I have spent time praying and weeping over the hurt that others have experienced. Recently, the church that I pastor has become a sanctuary for those that have been hurt by the church. Demographically speaks our congregation is filled with people who turn their back on the church because of some leaders actions and are now trying to find grace again. I’m not against anyone, and I feel as though you take my comments as such.

  162. Steve said ” Kindly let’s move on to something more constructive.”

    I suppose more constructive (and bigger picture) is what I had in mind with my Bathsheba example.

    Some leading female Christian writers say, “Wives, submit to your husband’s leadership.” In my example, she challenged his leadership and thus saved her (grown adult male) child. Later, she was not so helpful to her son when she passed on a “request” from the man who wanted him dead. So what other biblical examples do we see of parents helping or hindering their children?

    Just 1 more: Sarah, commended for wifely submission by Peter, made a demand upon her husband to “help” and protect HER child, as well. Paul quoted her words as scripture with a much broader application, in Gal 4:30-31. Paul substituted “the son of the free woman” for Sarah’s words “my son Isaac”.

    But what does the Scripture say?

    So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.

  163. trina:

    thank you for sharing your story. i am so sorry for the way you were treated in regards to your depression. i have bipolar disorder (type II) and have spent many years in deep depression. the church has so missed the boat on mental illness, and i’m so sorry you were injured in it’s missteps.

    i’m still trying to work out the internalized, legalistic, “blame the victim” messages i got from churches and live in the grace of God and his gospel.

  164. Trina & numo,

    Glad to hear the voice of human reason from you ladies! Don’t ever let ANYONE tell you that you have no spark of divine and that you only have a “sin nature” which must be flogged into submission. It’s a crock-o’-you know what.
    ===> (smiley face goes here)

  165. I say this very seriously;

    How will Wartburg host E-church on Sunday and Mahaney bashing on Monday?

    It does seem incongruous frankly.

  166. Well, Jimmy… I’ll work on the answer to that question, if you will simultaneosly work on this one:

    And like you, I ask this very seriously…

    How will SGM receive Mahaney back after he left so abruptly to escape any “discipline” they would require of him, and go to Dever’s church who at one point allowed him to preach, while also ignoring all the insane but very real stories of abuse, child sexual predators/rape, black mail and control done under his leadership, and some of it fostered by him?

    It does seem incongruous frankly.

  167. Muff–

    Thanks! It’s good to know that some of us can reason together without playing Christian semantics.

  168. I was in SGM churches for many years and sat through countless seminars and meetings for women, moms, and married couples, and I read many of the books you all have mentioned (though recently I purged my bookshelves of those). At the time, I fully embraced what they taught – I didn’t know any other “brand” of Christianity – but know that I’m on the outside looking in, I realize how twisted and damaging much of it is. Thank God He has brought me out!

    One thing I wanted to add to the discussion – not sure if anyone mentioned it – is the heavy emphasis SGM made on identifying “idols of the heart”, a la David Powlison and his buddies at CCEF. We were taught that basically all of our problems in relationships come from sinful cravings (James 4:1-2) and whatever we are craving is actually an idol. So our mission is to identify and root out those idols in order to stop sinning. If we are sinning, then that means that we are worshiping an idol, not God. Our hearts are idol factories and we are idolaters. So, anyway, along with trying to identify the idols in our own hearts, the kindest thing we moms can do for our children is to help them identify their idols by asking the right kinds of questions and helping them to own up to their own sins. I think that’s what the Mahaney ladies are talking about when they talk about “working through their sin.” I don’t think it would be correct to equate this with berating or scolding, and I’m confident that their idol-identification sessions also included expressions of love and encouragement.

    That said, I do believe that the emphasis in Carolyn’s (and other SGM leaders, both male and female) is wrongly placed on our sinfulness rather than the grace and affectionate love of our heavenly Father. It grieves me to see how much damage has been done, and I pray that the Lord will restore the years that the locust has eaten for so many of us.

  169. Jimmy–

    Also, if you consider a group of people who will not stand to be controlled, manipulated, abused any longer by so-called church leaders, who are willing to do their homework and dismantle their false doctrines and ideologies–although with some imperfections here and there–as bashing, then I wonder what pristine example, you yourself would set to do the same? But I think first, it would even require you to acknowledge that such abuses were done? Not only that, you, yourself would have to be just as disgusted as the rest of us who refuse to not play your silly little games of Christianese semantics before we can get our hands dirty in the mud and clean out this sesspool. See, while you’re standing by the gardeners criticizing their actual technique and wonderingn why they’re digging in the first place, many of us have just chosen to address the issues head on, get our hands, feet and clothes dirty and figure it out as we go along. It seems that we are getting far more accomplished in helping others heal than your questions that really prove no point day after day.

    If you’re not going to be a planter, a waterer or a weeder, then why stand over the laborers telling them how to do it? Maybe this isn’t your garden. And just maybe you have no fruit to plant here.

  170. The point of my biblical examples, as it relates to “working through their sin” while avoiding bashing:

    Supporters: Name ONE biblical woman in the Bible who helped ANY of her children work through their sin in ANY way, and let’s discuss HER!

  171. Steve
    “I know everyone at SGM (and of course Piper and Mohler) are both immoral and stupid to boot.” Huh???? When did we say that? Sometimes i think people put words in our mouth when they seek to discredit us. We are specific about our concerns and provide links to the things that give us pause. Now, it is up to you to prove your point. When did we say specifically that these guys are “immoral” and “stupid?” Of is this just a little game?

    You said “Kindly let’s move on to something more constructive.” We believe that this post is constructive. One of the reasons that we started a blog is so we two “gullible and easily deceived women” can decided when to “move along.” Why don’t you start a blog and then you can decided what is, or is not, constructive?

    You said ” that the tone here is, in my opinion, reeking of joy in ripping these people apart. If I am wrong, I ask for forgiveness.” Mu husband calls this “It is better to beg forgiveness and do what you want.” And as for the joy part, might I recommend that you educate yourself in the area of spiritual abuse by reading the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse?” Your supposed agreement of our prime directive comes across in the same manner as CJ Mahaney declaration that he is the worst sinner in the world while at the same time making everyone feel that they are worse than him. Let’s see, throw in your accusations of “arrogant”,” sarcasm” and your oh so obvious “not an English teacher” and you inadvertently expose your true agenda. But, I’ll let you figure out what I mean. Please, please read about spiritual abuse-it might help you.

  172. Wendy
    Wow! You are a counselor. I am so glad that you are! You will help so many people. If you ever want to post your counseling services, we would be happy to feature it here on the blog.

  173. For Freedom,

    Welcome to TWW! I really appreciate your heartfelt comment. It’s amazing how things look from the outside. Funny you should mention sinful cravings. Dee and I heard C.J. Mahaney in person on January 25, 2009 (approximately two months before starting TWW), and his message was “Cravings and Conflicts”.

    Let’s be mindful to pray earnestly for those who have been hurt in Sovereign Grace Ministries. I have a very heavy heart for them, even though I have only been in a Sovereign Grace church once and that was to hear Mahaney.

  174. Danny
    We have been writing this blog for 3 years and are pretty good at reading people. Perhaps that is because you started off on this blog by announcing your intentions of being “different” then the rest of the commentators.I found this comment a bit amusing. I have heard everything on this blog so your claim of being different both amused and intrigues me.” Perhaps I need you to define what you mean by “being different.”

  175. Bashing? Really? That is what you call this? Funny how that word was also used to control those in most churches who dared speak out against wrong treatment or teaching.

    It’s not bashing people. It’s getting the hurt out. It’s getting the truth out about these ministries and it goes well with the e-church. I think we owe them to listen.

    This blog is here for people to be honest and talk about their pain, their hurts. To bring out what is wrong in ministries. It’s also a healing point to do this.

    These people who are hurting and have been burnt by the church have the ability to speak of this here and gain a listening ear. If some of you do not want to listen, do not want to hear, then don’t read it. Keep being blind to the pain of others and the truth of what these ministries are doing. After all that’s the Americ….I mean Christian way right? I’m sorry but I am angry at those who come in here and dare lecture to anyone about so called bashing. It’s a ridiculous charge and it’s another control tactic. Some of you come here and don’t know a thing about what these people are going through and know nothing about SGM. Educate yourself on the topic and then stop your lectures!

    Trina & numo,

    Glad to hear the voice of human reason from you ladies! Don’t ever let ANYONE tell you that you have no spark of divine and that you only have a “sin nature” which must be flogged into submission. It’s a crock-o’-you know what.

    I agree with muff here. Well said.

    I’m sorry Dee and Deb, I just couldn’t read anymore from Suzanne, Danny or Jimmy without saying something.

  176. Jimmy

    You know perfectly well what we are doing. You are just playing the curmudgeon.

    You’s just a squawkin’

  177. Trina: There are two GirlTalk posts (that I found) on relationships with guys.

    1) If you’re single and have no husband to lead you, don’t make decisions for yourself but let other men in your life (e.g. fathers, brothers, friends) lead you instead. [I’m not being hyperbolic with my description of the article. Read it].

    2) Have guy friends, but don’t get emotionally close or else they’ll fall in love with you. Relate to all men as ‘another woman’s husband.’ Present yourself as pure in front of all men. Make sure your reasons for wanting guy friends are ‘God-honouring’ (whatever that means). And have frequent talks with your mother about your friendships with guys to make sure you’re doing it right. [Also not being hyperbolic].

  178. For Freedom
    I am glad that you have escaped and we all change through trials. My own trial helped launch the direction of this blog. Thanks for the insight.

  179. Trina
    I have found my calling!!!! “And have frequent talks with your mother about your friendships with guys to make sure you’re doing it right.” You know, there was a pastor in my past who told a dear friend who is a 60 year old man that the pastor was his dad and the man was the pastor’s child! Trina, I would be happy to be your “mom.” Meet me online at 11 PM and i will begin you sin identification lessons!

  180. Anonymous
    Thank you for these links. I learned more than I knew before. I didn’t know that all guys “fall in love with you” when you are their friend. Poor men-so emotionally fragile…

  181. Debbie K,

    Thanks for keeping up with the dialogue and encouraging those who have been hurt by the church. As long as we keep our focus on them, our hearts will ALWAYS be right!


  182. Dee said:

    “You know, there was a pastor in my past who told a dear friend who is a 60 year old man that the pastor was his dad and the man was the pastor’s child!”

    I know who both of those men are, and I am laughing hysterically trying to imagine that conversation in my mind. Wish I could have heard it!

    Thanks for the laugh Dee. Didn’t that pastor resemble and mimick CJ?

  183. Dee,
    You said, “We have been writing this blog for 3 years and are pretty good at reading people. Perhaps that is because you started off on this blog by announcing your intentions of being “different” then the rest of the commentators.I found this comment a bit amusing. I have heard everything on this blog so your claim of being different both amused and intrigues me.” Perhaps I need you to define what you mean by “being different.”

    I looked back over my comments to be sure, but I don’t recall saying I’m different. ☺ I hope to be able to take part of this community and learn from and offer other insights as well. However, if that’s not needed or desired, then I certainly don’t want to distract from the mission!

  184. Debbie K.
    You said, “I’m sorry Dee and Deb, I just couldn’t read anymore from Suzanne, Danny or Jimmy without saying something.”

    I apologize if my comments were anything less than heartfelt. I hoped to be able to speak my disagreements without offending anyone. I apologize for the offense I may have caused you. I didn’t think I was lecturing or bashing. And I certainly am not unaware of the hurt people are going through. As I expressed in earlier comments, I’m currently pastoring a great deal of people who have been hurt by the church. It is my mistake for not speaking in a way that would have been received genuinely.

  185. Danny
    You said this. “I warn you up front that my comments will come from an opposing viewpoint of most that are offered here.” Whenever someone warns me up front, I prepare for battle. Perhaps you didn’t mean for it to come off this way. What usually works better is for you to start commenting and let us judge whether you are different or opposing or whatever. This bog has entertained so many differing and oppositional viewpoints that I am fascinated to see how you are offering something that is different from the usual. We think we have heard it all but then someone comes in from left field and tells us, for example, that they believe that the Levitical diet is a godly diet and we are definitely impressed with “different” at that point.

    Unlike many of the Calvinsta blogs, we allow all points of view unless they become obscene (we get to define it), libelous (and we mean it strictly in a legal sense unlike many blogs who define it as anyone who thinks something negative about one’s idol), severe name calling (read the basics part of our blog) or intensely personal and then we take it offline. We have thrown but a handful of people off this blog and that is in three years. We also let people know if we delete their comments via a comment on the blog. We also will entertain that decision via email.

  186. Deb
    Yep, he does look like him. I think he has gotten into the courtship thing as well. Trouble, the guy is so gosh darn serious about this. I would have snorted out loud if he had said it to me. Thankfully my friend is a man of dignity, unlike me who finds humor in way too many things. To quote him further “Look at me, now.”

  187. All guys “fall in love with you” when you are their friend –

    Do these people not know that they are making men out to be “emotionally fragile” (as Dee says it), and incapable of controlling themselves, when they make such statements. This is what happens with the “total depravity” doctrine. NO ONE is made in the image of God any longer. We, especially Christians(huh!?!?), can do nothing under the common grace afforded to all of mankind by being made in the image of God? How can an unbeliever then do what is good? They certainly can and do! I have seen much kindness and goodness from unbelievers. They may not be redeemed, but they are capable of much good and kindness. How much more should a redeemed soul be capable of that which is pleasing to God? Are they trying to dumb down everyone with this insipid doctrine? Yes, we live in a fallen world, but even in a fallen state men and women are made in the image of God (I don’t recall God withdrawing that one), and there is a common grace upon all mankind. If it weren’t so, I shutter to think what this place we call earth would be like.

    And, even more so, I can’t wait to see everything in its restored and glorious state!

  188. Danny,

    I am glad you want to be part of this online community here at TWW.

    Let’s just move forward.

  189. Deb
    You are right! Then there was the slam hand on pulpit and berate the people for not taking notes because he is speaking the very words of God. I think I slept through it.

  190. Bridget
    Now, if they were referring to your humble and ever glamorous blog queens, I can see how they would all be falling madly in love with us. It is a cross that we must bear…

  191. Debbie
    This blog is for you to say something. And you have much to add. If you don’t, no more Chinese next time we see you!

  192. “How will Wartburg host E-church on Sunday and Mahaney bashing on Monday”

    Jimmy, anytime wolves are warned about, their defenders call it “bashing”. It is in the playbook.

  193. All I was trying to say was that it makes me uncomfortable for children’s words to be used against their parents. That’s it. I’ve never been called a wolf before now. Believe it or not, I’m on your side. I didn’t mean to bash anyone. That really hurts.

    Please feel free to delete my comments.

  194. “Why aren’t more Christian leaders speaking out against religious bondage? Their silence is deafening!” Great question.

    Men preach law because they are afraid of license. If they really understood the Grace of God, they wouldn’t hesitate to proclaim it. But as Wade said in the post you cited, most spend their lives lashed to the mast, instead of listening to a sweeter song.

  195. Attacking Carolyn Mahaney for CJ’s sins and misdeed is surely wrong.

    Wartburg wishes to speak for the wounded. Reading the comments, “the wounded” appear to quickly become the WOUNDERS.

    Attacking Carolyn Mahaney based on a praise of her daughter given 8 years ago and then turning around and trumpeting Wade’s fine sermon really seems strange.
    I actually don’t think you can have it both ways. I think Wartburg will try however.

  196. And how quickly the wounded become the wounders.

    It does speak to our basic nature badly in need of redemption.

  197. Jimmy-

    Carolyn and her daughters have their own blog, write their own books, and speak at conferences. No one is holding Carolyn accountable for her husband’s sins. She believes and supports beliefs that have harmed people. She thinks and believes separately (I hope) from her husband. She will not stand before God and plead the blood of her husband. I hope she has, like Bathsheba, stood against her husband at times. I hope her husband has done likewise with her. It is the doctine that promotes the sin-focused life that is the issue, and Carolyn promotes this. And if they have stopped this focus then WHY DON’T THEY MAKE A PUBLIC RETRACTION!

  198. Anonymous is not exaggerating about that link to girl talk.

    Kind of sort of reminds me of advice girls were given in the 1950’s.

    I wonder if they’re going to advise women to look stupid so we don’t intimidate men or make them think we’re bossy.

    This stuff is vile.

  199. Deb said–>Speaking of being “qualified” to render such an opinion on eating disorders, what is the educational background of Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters? Oh, that’s right. Carolyn was so committed to “family” that she didn’t attend college. Neither did her daughters>>

    Probably about as qualified as you to know exactly how the Mahaneys raised their kids even though you have never met them or spent one millisecond in their household.

    I am not against discussing SGM or spiritual abuse in churches. This blog CAN have a good purpose. But just as you feel CJ is accountable for the things he has said and written, so are you.

    It’s very evident you have it out for the Mahaneys and you are going to dig and read till you can find anything you disagree with. Sometimes you guys have some really good points and I agree with you–but the snarkiness in the above post is just unbelievable for someone claiming to be a grace filled Christian.

    Wasn’t one of you just whining last week about being called a trouble maker by a local pastor and felt betrayed? Yet you are willing to blast someone’s personal family all over the internet? Have you ever read the Bible story about the guy who was forgiven much debt but turned right around and demanded a small debt from someone else?

    Ridiculing the leadership and women of SGM is not going to accomplish anything.

  200. Jimmy said it absolutely perfectly:

    “Wartburg wishes to speak for the wounded. Reading the comments, “the wounded” appear to quickly become the WOUNDERS”

    I actually think an apology is due to the Mahaneys…and at the very least this whole post and thread should be deleted.

  201. Oh, here is my critique of yet another one of these SGM pastorwives that are elevated to pedistolhood.

    There seems to be some dissent about our right to opine about these women and their voice. They are given an audience not based upon any innate skills but with whom they end up marrying.

    This link is to my critique of Sheree Phillips

    Those with tender hearts toward these women, be forwarned; I am full of snark.

  202. randall slack said: “…most spend their lives lashed to the mast, instead of listening to a sweeter song.”

    well said, dad. something about the mast appeals to us. to our flesh i assume. we want to be virtuous on our own, to have strength of our own to point to for victory. we torture ourselves trying to muster up moralism.

    but Jesus just asks us to listen to the song He sings over us, and take him at his word. he does it all.

    Jesus paid it all.
    All to Him I owe.
    Sin had left a crimson stain.
    He washed it white as snow.

  203. Shato
    You said “I actually think an apology is due to the Mahaneys…and at the very least this whole post and thread should be deleted.”
    Thank you for a good laugh this evening. Might I suggest you start a blog and you can apologize for us.

  204. Shato

    You said “Wasn’t one of you just whining last week about being called a trouble maker by a local pastor and felt betrayed? Yet you are willing to blast someone’s personal family all over the internet?”

    So sweet- calling my post a “whine.” Listen, sugar, I told a pastor something in confidence. The “girls” spoke at a public event when they knew they were being recorded.

    Now, I know that in SGM land, telling things in confidence is a joke – one can break pastoral confidence to run around and report to all the pastor types. If you think these two incidents are equivalent, then I am astonished.

  205. “All I was trying to say was that it makes me uncomfortable for children’s words to be used against their parents”

    They are not “children”. They are adults. We would hope they would be speaking as “adults”. Perhaps you don’t think they were? I do know that one married daughter with children lived with the Mahaney’s. It is a world I do not understand. My parents wanted me to become an adult and independent from them.

    I think that is perhaps where there is a breakdown in communication here. You see these adult women as children.

  206. Eagle
    That is the 10 million dollar question. But I will stop there before a couple of our readers accuse me of attacking kids.

  207. Debbie K,

    I think I confused you. Sorry. It was the sermon he delivered at Emmanuel three days ago. It was when he was talking about the beast feast. You should listen to it! We will feature it here this coming weekend.

  208. DB,

    Have you ever met Sheree P that you talk about on your blog? Did you go to Metro Life?

    I’m just not getting why there is so much hatred for people that are brothers and sisters in Christ, even if you disagree with their theology and methodology? (not you specifically but people on this blog)

    If people here truly care for the people of SGM, there certainly wouldn’t be these hateful posts.

    If people TRULY believe that the people of SGM are caught in cultic legalism, where’s the compassion? I just ain’t feelin’ it.

  209. Shato said:

    “If people TRULY believe that the people of SGM are caught in cultic legalism, where’s the compassion? I just ain’t feelin’ it.”

    What? You are questioning our compassion for those who have been hurt by SGM leaders?

    Now let me ask you a question. Where is their compassion?!


    We’re on our way to 300!

  210. One more thought because I don’t want to get caught up in arguing back and forth. Which is easy to do.

    All of us in our Christian life walk in legalism –either for long periods of time or just maybe here and there through out the day. It’s a balance that’s hard to achieve. I totally agree that SGM lost that balance along the way. I totally agree there’s been bad leadership and lack of polity. However, these people are Christians just like we are. They aren’t evil people to be attacked for the sake of being attacked.

    I can understand the anger at legalism, but attacking people over legalism is legalism itself. If grace was truly understood here, people wouldn’t be attacking the PEOPLE of SGM. I’m not the girly type and probably don’t have a thing in common with the Mahaney Girls, but this I do know…they are precious daughters of God too.

  211. Shato

    You said: “I’m just not getting why there is so much hatred for people.”

    I am tired of you defining people with such broad strokes. Since you have been commenting here, you consistently insult people with generalizations when we express our concerns with specifics. In fact, I am starting to get annoyed, something that rarely happens since I love a good fight. You are crossing the line slowly but surely. I believe that you have come here attempting to live up to your name but I am wondering whose boundaries you are protecting. I have an idea.

    The people here, whom you refer to as haters, are a variety of people with differing opinions. You are trashing and burning in general and do not do what we do which is to carefully explain, with links and videos what we are critiquing. Frankly, I am rapidly tiring of your less than insightful comments and combative spirit. So, take this as a warning.

  212. Deb

    Shato is on a roll and I am tiring of her input. She is really, really upset about the Mahaney girls. She is always upset when we critique SGM. Wonder why?

  213. Shato,

    I NEVER said the Mahaney girls were not “precious daughters of God”.

    Why are the sycophants trying to put words in our mouths?

  214. Shato–

    Instead of keeping company with so-called haters with whom you most definitely won’t change our opinions about SGM, why keep coming here saying all the ridiculous rubbish that really doesn’t amount to much? It should be clear to you by now that what you consider hating, we consider fair critique.

    I promise you that this blog will never meet yours, Jimmy’s or even Suzanne’s standards. You are, to me, weak or blind. You can’t see beyond your own stupid legalistic ways far enough to take a break from random insults to people who would fight tooth and nail for some ridiculous person like you if you were in the same boat as others. It is clear you don’t see the Mahaneys or others as we do, so what’s your point? You really are wasting your time if you continue to approach the from your angle.

    If you haven noticed, this blog isn’t for the cowardly, the faint at heart, the spiritually deaf and blind. It’s for courageous people who don’t feel the need to play by your stupid rules, rules that you don’t hold your leaders to, who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and try and accomplish what you shirk from and wouldn’t dare ever have the guts to do. So please save your weak arguments and double standards for those who are like you. I’m sure you’ll find such company at all the SGM branded blogs. Those blogs would serve you better.

  215. Shato –

    Have you been reading SGM Survivors for so long and yet say that you don’t know DB’s story about her own time in an SGM church and how she was, as she says “dismembered” for disagreeing over some damaging material (the Ezzo’s books) that were *the* thing at the time in SGM?

    I feel like this is the argument about “longstockings” and so on all over again, from when was it – last August?

    No bashing intended, but I am troubled by the way you paint all of us as “haters” bashers etc. etc.

  216. Shato,

    Funny thing happened recently namely the beginning of blogging and the true First Ammendment sort of power that those that had, for generations, been disenfranchised and given no voice suddenly have voice.

    People like Dee and Deb to a great extent because of their raw talent and the aching need for so many in the body of Christ to vent and share their story with others.

    And, for some of us, to snark a bit.

    Dee and Deb have opened their venue to others to share and discover their voice as well as their position as sons and daughters of the King.

    The Mahaneys enjoy a great level of privilege based upon nepotism, rather than the quality or validity of the message they have been spreading via their Girl Talk and little books directed to submissive women. They have profited by preaching submissive sub-standard lives for women and any voice of dissension has been squelched by those holding excessive levels of power.

    But the blogging era is upon us, and the rules of the SGM game have changed. News flash! God will not bless a sin-sniffing draconian sort of parenting. Lets face it, unless it eats its young, any animal on earth knows how to take care of its young better than keeping kids up late into the night to walk them through their sin or some other such twaddle.

    Car-0-lyn, sheeeereeeeee-ee-e-e and anyone else of that ilk, you have the God-given right to say pointless sexist and condescending twaddle but be prepared to defend yourself because, to be honest, it is way too fun to opine since one of yours tried so hard to shut me up.

  217. OK.

    I am troubled by the way Carolyn Mahaney and other women who promote patriarchal views are being held to a different standard of critique than are men who promote patriarchal views etc. etc. etc.).

    This strikes me as a weird kind of reverse sexism (or something; not sure exactly what to call it!)

    C. Mahaney and her daughters are out there, commenting and lecturing and publishing and selling books (and other media) in what some folks refer to as the public square.

    If they are so willing to be so public in making pronouncements, in what way are they exempt from reasonable critique?


    Eagle – about mental health things and most high-church denoms, I think the answer is “yes.” I am grateful that your sister is in a parish where she is being supported and cared for, not bashed for so-called sins. (I have had my own go-round with such charges, btw, and am still – almost 30 years after the fact – amazed that anyone would claim that serious depression can be stopped in an instant by simply repenting for being depressed.)


    Muff, Dee (and others) – de nada, and thank you for your great contributions here! You help keep me on an even keel and I’m grateful to you and to God for that. : )

  218. Deb
    They are seeking to discredit us, and even more so our readers. They cannot accept freedom of speech. They need to control it. Shato has an agenda and it is not to care for those who were hurt.

  219. Eagle–

    I can’t imagine how ur sis would be treated especially considering that most people in high demand churches like this need to be high performers and contributors to earn the respect of tge community. Those with serious needs often fall through the cracks.

  220. Dee–

    Fo sizzle! Oh and mom, I’m sorry I might want to skip our 11:00 sin-sniffing workshop but I’m confident you’ll hit me up in te morning to start all over again with so much joy and no complaint. I love it that you do this far more often than baking me cookies. I’m survey a lot less of a sinner for it. Love u!

  221. DB
    Finally, those treated like human detritus on the feet of the pastors have a voice! The people are speaking back and the boys who hid behind the skirts of authoritarian theology are having a hard time adjusting.

  222. Trina
    I have a series of recording that I will play over and over while you sleep…How much do you sin? Let me count the ways….I may finish by the morning. Good night, sometimes I think these folks are whacked.

  223. Dee–

    Well, mom, depending on if you want to know my thoughts. After all, Harry Connick was just on Law and Order SVU (insert tongue in cheek)… Hahahaha

  224. Rev. Please add to your daughter/elder’s subliminal messages: I will be a good ESS teacher in adult male Sunday school classes @echurch. And… Remember your first aPostle. Thanks. Donations accepted at www.….
    Saint: trying help you hit 300.
    You know, I made 3 serious comments today hoping to talk about the Bible, not criticisms or personalities, with critics of the post or supporters of Mrs M. I even prayed for a Bathsheba spirit for mothers… crickets… Maybe it’s the Appalled tag. Shortening to AA (apostle appalled).

  225. We live in a day when “mega-ministries” are created almost overnight. This is largely due to the spread of information over the internet and the marketing of “christianity.”

    Because the desire for fame has overwhelmed men, and the desire for profits has overwhelmed the marketers, almost anyone with a following of 250 or more can qualify.

    Marketing campaigns are planned, and controversy is written into that plan. After all, controversy sells, doesn’t it?

    And just as fast as these men rose, they will fall. These are like shooting stars, that flash brightly, but soon fade.

    However, “Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament,And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3, NKJV)

  226. “Sorry, but my BS detector is really going off with this group.”

    Best comment in a long time!

  227. Eagle,

    Great analysis! Your past experiences have equipped you well to see through the smoke and mirrors. 😎

  228. Eagle,

    To second what Deb said, that is a great analysis.

    Imagine the difference it would have made if CJ had responded like Wade Burleson, when he learned of the people who were struggling with a few issues in his church. Wade responded with humility and approachability and there was lasting fruit as a result. What a contrast to how SGM has responded. It’s so sad.

  229. Happymom,

    Great point! What a shame that pride got in CJ’s way. Wade Burleson is the one who showed true humility.

  230. Debbie K,

    I think I confused you. Sorry. It was the sermon he delivered at Emmanuel three days ago. It was when he was talking about the beast feast. You should listen to it! We will feature it here this coming weekend.

    Oh yes. I listened to it as it was being preached. I think this may be one of my favorites and I am so glad this will be featured. You are right. It was great. STOP IT!!

  231. Debbie K,

    I loved the antics with the antlers, too! Your pastor is very gifted.

    EChurch@Wartburg goes up tomorrow night, and I can hardly wait.

    P.S. Whenever I eat at a Chinese restaurant, I think of you… (and NOT because you look Chinese!) 🙂

  232. Trina,

    I went to Liberty in the early 90’s. At the time, things seemed mostly normal. There were a few folks and a few “messages” I didn’t agree with. There were things Falwell did/said that I just shrugged off then. Even so, it was a sound counseling program at the time. Since then, LU has seriously disappointed me with some of their decisions and scandal.

    Looking back at my own experiences, my conflict with counseling theory, techniques, and interventions didn’t surface until I began really immersing myself in authoritarian church culture. Thankfully, I never stopped doing what I was doing (until I left the social work and mental health fields and went into education). I never fully believed that mental illness and other personal problems were the result of sin or a demonic foothold. When you work with troubled folks day in and day out (especially children who are mentally ill), it’s very difficult to believe that they’re in sin or there is a generational curse or there’s demonic oppression. But these were the messages I was getting from the church – these problems are exclusively the result of sin or allowing Satan a foothold. It was very confusing.

    On some level, I do understand the brainwashing that has happened with the Mahaney women (daughters). Being constantly immersed in the cult(ure), being kept up late at night for idol identification, being told you’re not good Christians and good daughters if you dare to believe differently than your parents, if you “rebel” and go down your own road, if you choose to live a life of Christian freedom rather than in bondage – your very salvation is in question. I have empathy for anyone who has had to walk in those shoes.

    But I firmly disagree with commenters who refuse to believe the Mahaney women are excused from responsibility. These women are grown women. They are adults. They are making choices to perpetuate the cycles of exploitation, manipulation, and abuse. They are standing by their father and doing nothing to minister to those who were thrown to the wolves. Abuse victims will tell you that what hurts worse than the abuse itself is the betrayal by those who know and stay silent.

  233. Girl Talk, Feminine Appeal…. the titles alone turn my stomach – ugh! These Calvinista wives and others of their ilk seem to me to be like madams in theological brothels grooming other women to perpetuate their own subjugation.

  234. MM said:

    “These Calvinista wives and others of their ilk seem to me to be like madams in theological brothels grooming other women to perpetuate their own subjugation.”

    Well said!

    I pity the man who wants to be married to a dish rag or a doormat!!!

  235. Wendy,

    This was such an important comment:

    “Abuse victims will tell you that what hurts worse than the abuse itself is the betrayal by those who know and stay silent.”

    It’s difficult to confront an abuser, but silence is not the answer.

  236. I’m still confused by it. I get why the Mahaney women do it – power, prestige, money. They’ve got followers. They’ve got an agenda.

    But why do ordinary women buy into this? What’s the hook?

  237. P.S. Whenever I eat at a Chinese restaurant, I think of you… (and NOT because you look Chinese!) 🙂

    I think of you and Dee too. It was a wonderful night that was all too short. I hope we can do it again and again. 🙂

  238. Deb,

    This quote is applicable to our discussion on the Mahaney women:

    “Silence is complicity, and defensiveness is endorsement.” -David Sirota

  239. Wendy
    The good thing about you is that you are an independent thinker instead of accepting all that is fed to you. Way too many people look for a church to tell them what to think and do and, before they know it, they are being abused.

  240. Wendy
    The hook is this. “If you do as i tell you, you will be thought of as a good Christian and God will love you more.”

  241. Dee,

    “The hook is this. If you do as i tell you, you will be thought of as a good Christian and God will love you more.”

    I can identify with that fear that God won’t love me if I don’t live by these precise rules. I’ve been in Christian churches and sub-cultures that imposed those manmade rules, and I know it can be easy to get caught up in it, and as you say, get abused in the process.

    It seems that we’ve gone from

    Do this and do that >>> so God will approve you more.
    Do this and do that >>> or else you won’t earn God’s favor and there will be consequences in your life, your marriage, your family, your ministry.
    Do this and do that >>> or you’re not the elect and you’re bound for hell.

    It seems that the consequences of following their rigid, legalistic rules have gotten more dreadful.

  242. Hi, Suzanne.

    Convictions on these topics are running high at the moment.

    If it makes a difference, I don’t think you were being referred to as a wolf.

    “…anytime wolves are warned about, their defenders call it “bashing”. It is in the playbook.”

    I think you would fall into the “defender” category. But I didn’t read you as necessarily defending “people” but rather a principle that is important to you.

    I don’t see that statement as applying to you. I hope this is helpful.

  243. I am joining the conversation a little bit late but here is one sad allegation about what Mahaney did with his son.

    Allegedly Mahaney’s son was caught smoking marijuana along with other kids at the Covenant Life School and was given preferential treatment including C.J. Mahaney arranging to have his son’s sin hidden.

    Sometimes I think that Mahaney has set such high standards that he had no choice but to hide his son’s sin otherwise C.J. Mahaney would be trapped by his own rules. I know this is an allegation but if C.J. Mahaney would blackmail Larry Tomczak then I am sure it wouldn’t be past him to hide his son’s sin.

    Of course as someone said, if C.J. was my dad maybe I would be tempted to smoke marijuana. 😉 JOKING

  244. Just my opinion, but I can think of far worse things for a teenager to do than smoking a joint.

    It’s not like he robbed the Bank of England. 😉

  245. numo

    True. Sadly, Mahaney held so many other pastors to such a high standard that when apparently his son did what is alleged, Mahaney had to hide it. Otherwise C.J. might have been expected to endure the same discipline he imposed on other pastors.

  246. Trina: belatedly catching up after real life busyness. I did see your comment and appreciated much, along with Dee’s video. My “crickets” jab intended ONLY for those who think we’re being too critical and want the discussion redirected to more positive, upbuilding topics– I suppose the bible to be one of those.
    Randall: marketing really is the “bottom line” on “PFODs” (popular fads of the day), isn’t it?

  247. Wendy said:

    “But why do ordinary women buy into this? What’s the hook?”

    I would love to know the answer to that question!

  248. Steve – I hear you, but at the same time, that’s C.J.’s problem, not his son’s. (Nor do I believe his son and the other kids involved should have been made part of a public display of whatever it is that SGM likes to get up to…)

  249. Eagle –

    I believe Joseph Smith’s first wife and one if his sons did not follow him out of Illinois to the promised land. Did you hear of this and I was wondering if you know the “why,” or do you have any speculations on the why? I have my own speculations. I’d actually like to know the truth as much as possible.

  250. Ah – that’s it. I’m wondering what the disagreements were and what Ema’s thoughts were about the “movement.” I might do a little research.

  251. numo

    My whole point is C.J. holding others to a higher standard than he himself lives by. Maybe rather than hiding his son’s sin as has been alleged he should have admitted that he set too high of a standard. Of course, this would mean that C.J. would have to admit that he made a mistake in requiring leaders to step down when he didn’t do the same.


    Interesting comment about Joe Smith not practicing what he required of others in his group.

  252. Steve
    I agree with you in this particular instance. He routinely got rid (or degifted) pastors whose kids sneezed without covering their mouths (snarky, I know). Then he gets a pass. he also got to escape to CHBC and now he will escape to what we believe will be another denomination. CJ is a master user and SGM got used as well.

  253. Is it just me, or does it strike anyone else as beyond weird for a Christian to be comfortable with a two-hour public extravaganza “honoring” (translation: extolling and hyping and praising) their life and work?

    And yes, the focus on “sin management” (to use Dallas Willard’s term for it) is just depressing. And it tends to stunt both grace and real spiritual growth and depth.

  254. John
    Oh yeah, we think such a thing is weird. I started to watch the videos over at SGM Survivors and was left somewhat slack-jawed. But Mr. Humility is not humble and never has been.