Natalie’s Story of Abuse at the Hands of Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Pastors, Elders and Counselors

“According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Some say the statistics are even higher for emotional abuse.”Hidden Violence (WORLD Magazine)

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=66150&picture=woman
Woman

In 2015, The Gospel Coalition posted a sermon by Jason Meyer. He would become John Piper’s replacement at Bethlehem Baptist Church. In this post, it would appear he was against domestic violence, Hyper-Headship and the Scandal of Domestic Abuse in the Church. He claims to be against emotional abuse but that is not how this pans out in reality. This post is a way to compare what they say to what they do.

Not all abuse cases are the same, even though they may share certain things in common. If you have seen one abuse case, you have seen one abuse case.

We need to distinguish between two types of marital sinfulness: normative sinfulness and abusive sinfulness.

There are spectrums and varieties of domestic abuse. A good working definition of domestic abuse is “a godless pattern of abusive behavior among spouses involving physical, psychological, and/or emotional means to exert and obtain power and control over a spouse for the achievement of selfish ends” (John Henderson).

Does Bethlehem Baptist Church really get domestic abuse? No!

yada, yada, yada….noisy gongs and clanging bells…That’s how I often view these posts. I don’t buy what they say until I hear good stories coming out of these churches.This is not of those good stories.

Natalie Hoffman, a mother of 9, recently wrote Bethlehem Baptist Church Is Not a Safe Church for Women in Emotionally Abusive Relationships. She was the victim of her former husband’s serious emotional abuse over a long period of time. She describes the *counseling* that she received from Bethlehem under Jason Meyer.

Does Jason Meyer and the church get domestic abuse?  Not on your life! Meyer demonstrated his lack of understanding and caring by what he and his staff put this poor woman through.

This post is a lengthy and thorough read. It succeeded in convincing me that Bethlehem Baptist is somewhat cult like. Their dogma (some of it is so stupid I can’t even call it doctrine) appears unsafe for people in difficult relationships. I would highly recommend finding a good counselor and an even better church.

Here is an introduction to her story.

I believe the root sin of abuse is misogyny: the underlying assumption that men are superior to women. Spiritually abusive churches would deny propagating misogyny, but their words and actions don’t match. The way they treat women, what they teach about “a woman’s place,” and how they handle cases of emotional abuse all reveal this destructive belief system.

This is the attitude I encountered at Bethlehem, and until this attitude is eradicated, Bethlehem Baptist and churches like her will continue to hurt women while jumping in bed with their abusers.

Kirsten Christensen, one of the DART members at Bethlehem says, “Statistically, few abusers will repent, but God hasn’t made us privy to who the select few are. We pursue the hearts of those who abuse until they reject being pursued.

Their new DART initiative gets it wrong right out of the gate.

Seasoned advocates know that you don’t focus on helping an abuser who doesn’t think he’s wrong. That’s a wasted effort. You focus on the helping the victim deprogram from the abuser’s voice. But Bethlehem has mixed its misogynistic theology with bits and pieces of things they’ve heard or been taught about abuse, and they’ve created a toxic cocktail of emotional and spiritual death for victims. They know just enough to make them dangerous.

Natalie does not beat around the bush. She names the people at the church who counseled her. Many of them believe they are competent to counsel and are on the domestic abuse response team (DART.) My guess is these counselors have received their training from the dangerously weak *Biblical counseling* programs..

As things worsened in her marriage she reached out to others.

I believe she did the right thing in this next example. Sadly, those who received her entreaty, responded poorly.

In August of 2013 I wrote a lengthy letter to the men who were part of my husband’s “accountability” prayer group. These men had met with him every Tuesday morning for a few years, and I was hoping they, along with their wives, would come alongside us and help us. Two of those people, Chris and Barb Johnson, responded this way:

From Chris: “As for your letter, I do not plan to read it.  I am all for people confessing their own sins, but I find it very disrespectful to publicize other people’s, particularly when it appears to have been done without their knowledge or consent.

From Barb: “I am no marriage counselor, but I have a hard time fitting this email into Ephesians 5:33 “and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Here is another example.

Yoshi Kasahara, an elder, was meeting with my husband by this time, but it didn’t seem to be helping. In fact, I felt he was actually behaving more entitled than ever. I wondered why until Yoshi gave me a book called Fierce Woman. I realized at that point Yoshi believed my husband was a victim of a “fierce woman” who just wouldn’t back off. If only I would let my husband off the hook (because to press him to take responsibility for his behavior was too hard on him – Yoshi told me in one email I was “beating a dead dog”), if only I would be quieter and more cooperative, more of a gentle spirit, then my husband could become the man of God he needed to be.

And another:

n the late winter/early spring of 2014 I tried reaching out to David Livingston, the head pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist’s south campus, several times by email. Each time he was too busy to respond. He would apologize and give me reasons why he could not respond, and I trusted that he truly cared but was just too busy to help.

Interestingly enough, when I forced my husband to leave in September of 2014, he contacted David Livingston and got a meeting with him within less than a week. He then set up regular meetings with pastor Livingston that went on for several months.

Pastor Livingston never did respond to my request to meet, nor did he ever reach out to meet with me.

Enter the Biblical counselor…

That summer (2014) I heard about a female member of Bethlehem, Caroline Jones, who was getting her biblical counseling degree and looking for clients. I decided to see if she could help me.

Caroline didn’t want to counsel with me if I was thinking of a divorce. She let me know that right up front. Her help was conditional. Since I wasn’t considering divorce, I “got to” counsel with her.  She didn’t believe I was being abused. She told me once that abuse was a strong word to use, implying that it was too strong in my case.

…She told me in our next meeting that I was rude to my husband, and it “shocked” her.  I asked her what I had written that was shocking, and she gave me one example where I had been sarcastic, and I said, “Yes, I probably should have kept that out.” (By the way, victims of relentless emotional abuse can get quite sarcastic due to the insanity of their lives. I don’t apologize for that, anymore, nor do I judge victims for it. Seasoned abuse advocates don’t either.)

…At one point she said, “You’ve gone on and on about this stuff already. Can we move on to something else?

At first,  it seemed as if Jason Meyer and other leaders were encouraging her in seeking a divorce from an emotionally abusive husband.

That didn’t last long. The abuse from the church *counselors* began to pick up steam. From one the *counselors:*

More recently it seems like your main focus is on all of [your husband’s] offenses against you, all of the ways he isn’t trying hard enough, or he should know better,”

“Recently as I’ve read your emails it has seemed like you are resisting any suggestions that you have work to do.”

“No Christian can say that there isn’t change to be done in their lives, even when there has been abuse, it simply isn’t possible.”

…After this I was told to make a list of my expectations of my husband and then do a Bible study of what God says a husband is responsible for—and see if my expectations and God’s expectations lined up. This implied I had unrealistic expectations of my husband.

Natalie disengaged from the *DART* team and proceeded to file for divorce.

I found out from my counselor later that they DID talk to her, and she actually suggested to my husband (whom she was seeing only by my permission) that I might have borderline personality disorder.

…As it turned out, this counselor was not licensed, nor did she have any education that would qualify her to make a diagnosis. She had never even heard of C-PTSD. I had to send her resources to educate her about complex-post traumatic stress disorder, a very common diagnosis for victims of long term intimate emotional abuse.

She was not *allowed* to leave the prison church but she does anyway.

After a disturbing meeting with some team members who became enraged when she asked to record the meeting (her sister came along as a witness), she resigned from the church

They did not accept my letter of resignation from membership. They explain why in this excerpt from an email Chuck Steddom sent me in October of 2017. TWO YEARS after I had left Bethlehem and removed my membership.

“Although you asked for your membership to be removed, that that is not how membership works. According to our constitution, admission to membership and dismissal from membership must be by congregational approval…. Our hope would be to see you follow a path that honors God while also taking seriously the marital issues that have led to the divorce we understand you’ve been pursuing.”

There it was. He admitted their constitution trumps everything else. But they took it a step further. I found out later from the elders of the new church I was then attending that the Bethlehem elders had gone to my new church elders to warn them about me and my “unrepentant sin.”

And they shunned her and her children.

Instead of compassion and comfort, I was shunned by my former church friends. One woman who I thought had been a dear friend refused to let her 16 yo old daughter come over to our home to spend time with my 16 yo old daughter. (Is it any wonder the world hates the Church?)

I found out later that my oldest daughter reached out to Jason Meyer during this time, and he told her he couldn’t help. Another daughter told some of the elders at camp that her dad had abused her, and they gathered around her, promising to help her. When camp was over, they never contacted her again.

There is an interesting section in which she describes (via insiders) how her excommunication proceeded at a church meeting.

Their marriage has many issues. But no grounds for divorce.”

“We don’t believe we can grant her request to be removed from membership but we feel we must ex-communicate.”

“Pray that the Lord would persuade Natalie to reconcile and change Natalie’s mind.”

“Natalie accused ____ of being abusive and truly feels she has been abused. But we do not feel she has. So we are asking everyone to pray.”

Sadly, I have not reason not to believe her narrative. I have been watching John Piper’s increasing *rules for living,* and have listened to Meyer on a number of occasions. I believe that Natalie was abused by a church that pretends they support women who have been abused.

The caveat is “the women they believe have been abused.”  In Natalie’s case, they decided not believe her and attempted to condemn her to life with an abuser.

Folks, I do not recommend Bethlehem Baptist for any person who is struggling. It appears to be be morphing into a cult-like organization which has the ability to harm people who do not toe their exacting line. Hotel California, anyone?

Never forget. No church can hold you hostage. You may leave whenever you want. In fact, if you notify the church that you are leaving and they attempt to harass you, you may have a lawsuit against the church. Matt Chandler found that out and had to apologize and incentivize.

I am so glad Natalie found a wonderful new husband and is free from the bondage imposed on her by Bethlehem Baptist Church.


Comments

Natalie’s Story of Abuse at the Hands of Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Pastors, Elders and Counselors — 68 Comments

  1. “My guess is these counselors have received their training from the dangerously weak *Biblical counseling* programs.” (Deb)

    Nouthetic counseling is pathetic counseling in the hands of those who misinterpret the Bible.

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  2. Wow… tough story to read. You need to go to Natalie’s blog to get the whole picture. As a complimentarian myself…. I feel like my view of male headship causes me to put MORE onus on the man to grow up, and offer more support and grace to the woman. For all intents and purposes, women in abusive marriages deserve all the support that widows and single moms would get.

    I have seen church discipline related to “unwarranted” divorces over the years and only one time it was the woman that was disciplined because she literally took off with another guy. The rest of the times it was pretty simple to point out that the man was being a selfish bully, emotional abuser, addict, adulterer, etc… and we were able to discipline him and protect the Mom and kids. The women almost always wanted to repent and reconcile even when they were clearly being wronged.

    Church discipline was never a perfect process but we got the important stuff right.

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  3. ‘From Chris: “As for your letter, I do not plan to read it. I am all for people confessing their own sins, but I find it very disrespectful to publicize other people’s, particularly when it appears to have been done without their knowledge or consent.”’

    1 Timothy 5:20 — “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”

    Eph. 5:11 (with a nod to Barb and her citation of a verse later in the chapter) — “Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

    And Natalie says she went to her husband’s church group, which sounds like it could have been part of a Matthew 18 progression, which we know is cited in so many cases…

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  4. ___

    Looney Toon Watchmen: “A Journey Into Religious Madness, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    (in brief)

    Is Calvinism at the root of the proverbial problem?

    Pastor Jason Meyer and his staff are currently infected with Calvinism, a form of Reformed Theology. I place their form of ‘christian’ religion system at the root (foundation) of their abuse problem(s) domestic or community.

    Giving ample warning?

    Apparently, so much goes wrong when five point Calvinism is entered into the 501c3 Church.

    (got your bible?)

    John Piper promoted an obscured, misunderstood, and dangerously false and faulted form of the biblical Christian Religion all of his career. Calvinism in the form of John Calvin’s ‘Institutes Of The Christian Religion’passes for the real deal upon its church premises. (1)
    There is enough wrong with Murderous John Calvin and his faux religious system to fill volumes; yet it is the religious impetus driving today’s New Calvinist restless and reformed folks under 30.

    huh?

    One can only hope that discerning individuals will move past this church’s ‘enlightened rhetoric’ to see Jesus’ and His Father’s true purpose for the community of Christian believers called the church.

    What?

    Respectfully, strong warnings abound.

    It’s not too late.

    (Sēē your bible for details)

    “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain…” -Psalm 127: 1

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=63W_Z-XOEJ0
    https://www.gotquestions.org/calvinism.html
    (1) Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis)
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethlehem_Baptist_Church_(Minneapolis)
    http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/calvinism-study.pdf

    ;~)

    – –

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  5. John Piper laid the foundation for abuser enabling at Bethlehem. That is still its foundation. If I am not mistaken, one Pastor Chris Moles was summoned by Jason Meyer to come and impart his “wisdom” about abusers to the whole church staff. Yay, Chris! Wrong. It changed nothing. Moles is primarily about focusing on “fixing” the “poor” abuser. Can’t be done. Abusers don’t change. But then, Moles and the boys at Bethlehem got lots of good press out of it all. Never mind the collateral damage they do to people like Natalie. I knew nothing had changed at Bethlehem, but if you dare to bad mouth Piper and his kingdom it is incredible how angry people get. They are like the foolish Galatians Paul confronted.

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  6. Max: spend

    Max, would you support nouthetic counselors who correctly interpret scripture? Is there a time and place for this type of counseling? I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

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  7. The way in which Natalie was treated in a so called “church” is wicked and evil – Psalm 1:1. This wickedness by those who regard themselves as “leaders” and playing into the psycho-spiritual handbook of “complementarianism.” This concept is found nowhere in the original texts of our Holy Scriptures, and due to the hunger of “power over” translators, much of the Holy Text have additional words added to it so that man can “lord it over.”

    I wonder what Jesus will have to say at His Second Coming…..for He cometh with a sword, not jelly donuts and coffee sold for money at your local mega “church/coffee shop.”

    These wolves in sheep’s clothing did not care for one of the “least of these/sheep,” which in this case, is Natalie and her children.

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  8. As a mother of nine….she might have been a conservative homeschooler. Patriarchy is alive and well in conservative homeschooling families. So is abuse. It’s an attitude of male entitlement that runs rampant in these circles. Even if that doesn’t fit Natalie it fits a lot of other families. I know of a mother of a large family exposing abuse and getting a lot of pushback. Also I agree with Sopwith. Calvinism is dangerous. I’ve seen the trap of it effect Christians negatively. Calvinists are obsessed with …are they elect? Self analysis. Most Christians think about if OTHERS are saved….outward focus.

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  9. So glad I didn’t continue attending that church. I feel bad for the gal I was dating at the time who held that church and Piper in high esteem.

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  10. Yes, Calvinism is to blame. And Patriarchy/Complementarianism for sure. You will get no argument from me on that.

    But another thing that comes into play is their flawed understanding of building God’s Kingdom.

    These men believe that they are building God’s Kingdom by building their church (their own little kingdom).
    They look upon the family as a building block/brick/stone for their church. Each stone is important and needed to build their tower to the sky (like Babel perhaps?). An unmarried woman or single mother is not a whole stone in their minds. She is broken, useless, and a liability.
    This is why the stone of the family unit must be preserved at all costs. This is why they MUST minimize the pain and voices of abused women. A woman without a head does not a proper stone make.

    It’s all about building their churches/kingdoms. It’s about pride, prestige, and power.
    Recognizing the broken and abused women in the system they worship undercuts their doctrine, their credibility, and will probably cost them money that they don’t want to part with.

    [It’s okay, Natalie. The builders back in the day rejected Jesus Who became the Chief Cornerstone. You are in good company.]

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  11. Reading Natalie’s story I was impressed again by how much abused Christian women put up with because they want so very badly to do what’s right. They try so hard to jump through all the hoops the church places before them… they allow themselves to be questioned and allow their own perceptions to be undermined… they’re not allowed to listen to the Holy Spirit themselves. Instead they must listen to every piece of advice that comes their way and turn themselves inside out trying to please their counselors/pastors. And in the end it’s all for nothing. They never had a chance because the cards were stacked against them from the outset. Meanwhile, the abuser has the cards stacked in his favor… all he has to do is shed a convenient tear when needed and people gather in a huddle around him and pat his back.

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  12. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    My thought exactly.

    These people are trained, from what I understand, what scripture ‘says’ and how to instruct counselees in the approved interpretations and applications. A friend, newly trained in and an ardent fan of biblical counseling looked at me in shocked dismay when I pointed out that good and godly people hold different interpretations of various scriptures. She sputtered indignantly, ‘Well, there’s only one truth!’

    Guess how much leeway she is going to offer her ‘clients’ to seek the leading of the Spirit in their lives? Instead she will dutifully tell them the one and only ‘right’ thing to do, which she has been ‘taught’ from her training. Which includes, if the client is a woman, submitting to her husband and elders, and owning the blame for bringing abuse upon herself by being in rebellion against her ‘proper’ authorities.

    This woman, btw, is one of the most controlling, domineering persons I have ever known – and she blames her admitted marital struggles on her husband’s ‘refusal to take appropriate leadership’ in their relationship. Go figure.

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  13. The audacity of people who would presume to judge whether someone else is being abused in their marriage or not! Only the person in that position knows what is happening. If you feel you are being abused, you do not have to get anyone else’s permission to feel that way! You have a right to feel safe and you are not required to sacrifice your life to an unrepentant abuser. It is to freedom that Christ has called us; do not put yourself back under a yoke of slavery- to a marriage, a church, an organization. God has given you the freedom to think and to make decisions of your own, you answer only to Him and you do not need any mediator to tell you what He thinks.

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  14. It would be nice if good people who love little girls would start caring for the daughters of these nightmare so-called families. My comp father trash talked women and girls my whole childhood. He said vulgar demeaning things about my mother to me when I was a little girl.

    Being born in comp and growing up in comp I decided at sixteen I would rather die and go to hell for eternity than ever be married to a Christian man. Also, because of the comp men in my family, I decided I would rather go to hell than spend eternity anywhere around comp God. Comp god much like comps gets so much pleasure out of children and women being used, trapped, degraded, beat, and raped by godly, gospel-centered, comp fathers and comp husbands.

    Complementarianism is nothing but pure slavery. Comp men like Ariel Castro and Phillip Garrido have arranged it for themselves that no matter what they do, no matter how vile they are; they are still entitled to a woman who can never escape them or refuse them sex.

    I was taught growing up comp that if I did not get married at eighteen I would be condemned, and after I got married I had to let my husband have sex with me anytime he wanted against my will. That there is no such thing as rape in marriage. That if your husband rapes you it is not rape and you can not divorce him. If your husband beats you it is your fault for not being submissive enough, and you can not divorce your husband for beating you. You have to be submissive to your husband. I was being sexually abused and was desperate for a day to come that I would have the right to tell men no. Comp was telling me God would never let me have that right. Can you imagine how all this sounds to a little girl who is being repeatedly sexually abused?

    I did not want to spend my life living like a canine or a seven-year-old trapped sex slave the way my mother was.

    Starting at thirteen I spent my teens despising all Christian men and grossed out by them. I hated for Christian men to look at me or talk to me. I wanted them all to get lost and stay lost. I also concluded that any women who wanted one was either a pervert herself or hated herself. To this day I still don’t believe comp women love their little girls. And any women who has a daughter with a comp man hates her daughter.

    Comp men have a pornographic fetish with their authority, wifely submission, and discipline. Who else has this fetish? Men who have sex slaves chained down in the basement. And I tell all my friends that is the group of men comp men belongs in; and incels.

    Most women in my large family are comp. In my family, there are two kinds of comp women. The trapped self-hating wife who acts like a submissive seven-year-old little girl sex slave. And the gross sexually sadistic one who gets a trill herself out of women living as men’s child sex slaves.

    Comp men have much in common with pedos because they are not attracted to adults. They want their wives to act like trapped little girl slaves.

    This post is not for people to think about me, but asking people to care about all the little girls trapped in these pervert misogynistic so-called families.

    Comp is degrading, demeaning, and massively painful for so many wives and many little girls. I never felt like God loved me. Even as a young girl I felt degraded and hated. I was born in comp, therefore, I was born in HATE and female slavery.

    My mother gave birth to me; my father did not do anything but be born with a penis. Comp men should be ashamed of the way they treat the human being who gives birth to their children. I wish I never knew my comp father. He is embarrassing and putrid.

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  15. __

    Noble Barn Storming: “Gathering Up The Wheat, Perhaps?”

    hmmm… 🙂

    Calling it a “draw-a-line-in-the-sand kind of moment” for his church, Meyer read a statement from the elders about abusive theology:

    We, the council of elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church Minneapolis, are resolved to root out all forms of abusive theology in our midst. This destructive way of using the bible is a profound distortion of the holy scriptures because it defaces the depiction of Christ’s inclusive love for His church. The shepherds of Bethlehem stand at the ready to repent of their numerous misdeeds and protect the congregation from this harmful add-on theology, revising the long standing picture of how Calvin’s theology distorts God’s kingdom, limits His atonement, and confuses and alienates believers from the good news of Christ’s redeeming power.

    ;~)

    – –

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  16. TS00: A friend, newly trained in and an ardent fan of biblical counseling looked at me in shocked dismay when I pointed out that good and godly people hold different interpretations of various scriptures. She sputtered indignantly, ‘Well, there’s only one truth!’

    It seems to me that few (if any) people truly base what they believe on the Bible. Of course, the early church could not base what they believed on the Bible because they did not have a New Treatment – only after a few decades did they have individual letters and gospels in circulation. Rather, it looks like Christians from the earliest times based what they believed primarily on handed down tradition. We still do this today – we use the Bible to support the tradition with which we already agree. If we don’t like our church/denomination we find one that better suites what we believe. I’m not sayong this is bad, but I no longer belief that anyone starts with the Bible. It probably is not even possible to start solely with the Bible without some kind of tradition or bias impacting our understanding of the starting point. Otherwise we would not see thousands of disagreeing denominations all claiming the Bible as their starting point.

    This is why I doubt there can be “nouthetic counselors who correctly interpret scripture.”

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  17. Of course, what’s really lovely is that now natalie has lots of resources and help and support for other evangelical women who are stuck in covert abusive situations. And she really gets it!

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  18. Mara: flawed understanding of building God’s Kingdom

    Yes, this is at the root of many of the problems we see in the American church. If the Holy Spirit was lifted out of the organized church, most of the stuff would still go on. We see very little of the fingerprints of Jesus on most ministries, very little of the Kingdom of God on earth in the here and now.

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  19. The shunning is entirely believable. I have heard stories of a family getting shunned from an Evangelical church because a family member committed suicide. If what happened happened, all those supposed friends, an entire congregation and its leadership will have to answer for their actions at some point, because the truth will all come out. It always does even years from now. I am reminded of Hester Pryn and the scarlet letter by this story. May Natalie Hoffman’s figurative mark or blackball by Bethlehem Baptist Church hold the same meaning that that A meant at the end of Hawthorne’s novel. It came to mean Angel. The religious milieu of the Scarlet Letter was also Puritan. 9 Marks churches are Neo Puritan.

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  20. Guest: Complementarianism is nothing but pure slavery.

    There is an SBC New Calvinist church plant near me. We have visited it. The oppression on the countenance of the young mothers there testifies to the bondage you speak of.

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  21. Guest,

    i’m very sorry for what you’ve endured. it is so horrifically wrong.

    i do know some comp men who are very kind and treat their wives and all women with great kindness, and even cheer them on in a variety of leadership endeavors. but one thing i’ve noticed is that when the women are with men (say, at a group outing somewhere), the women are 100% passive and nonassertive.

    they wait for the men to decide everything. when it’s time to do this or that, and how to do it. When it’s time to go, where should we go, how do we make the transition, how do we get there.

    They literally just stand there or sit there, waiting for a man to make the move, say the word, even if it’s long past time to make the transition.

    and then when i said the word and made the move in suggesting to everyone what to do and how, it was like “wait…!! what’s she doing??!! on my goodness…. what’s happening….”

    i got these vibes from both the men and women.

    it was an astounding moment.

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  22. elastigirl,

    and when something perilous is happening, when there’s a crisis, i can’t imagine any of these women doing anything other than following the lead of any-man, no matter how foolish and endangering his decisions might be.

    a very stupid system.

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  23. Max: SBC New Calvinist church

    Calvinist will always remind me of JD Hall and Mark Driscoll.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/08/05/jd-hall-and-friends-theological-thuggery-and-braxton-caners-suicide/

    They all sound like they abhor Jesus and worship John Calvin. They are so drunk in their preferred ideas they don’t understand how culty they act and talk. And it is crystal clear that women and girls terrify them. Such as John Piper, I don’t believe he really cares about God or Jesus. He comes off as a very insecure man who learned a couple of misogynistic things about Christianity and it made him feel better. He needs to degrade and enslave women because he is so scared of them rejecting him. He is selfish, abusive, creepy, and extremely misogynistic.

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  24. Guest: They all sound like they abhor Jesus and worship John Calvin.

    Well “abhor” might be a little heavy, but it is clear that the New Calvinists talk more about reformed icons than they do Jesus. They talk a lot about “God”, while Christ gets little air time in their sermons; the Holy Spirit is rarely mentioned. I dare say that Piper’s name is dropped more than the precious name of Jesus.

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  25. Guest: He is selfish, abusive, creepy, and extremely misogynistic.

    Yes, Piper is a strange little man. And stranger still to think that thousands of young reformers adore him.

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  26. elastigirl: hey wait for the men to decide everything.

    It is creepy and perverted for grown women to want to act like little girls. It is like why didn’t you marry a man who is attracted to adults? Are you attracted to pedophiles?

    One of my grandmothers LOVED acting like my vile grandfather’s underage sex slave. The way she acted and talked was so perverted. As a kid, I hated going to their house.

    She was obsessed with physical appearances. My grandfather was short and became morbidly obese after they got married, so she started cheating on him.

    Comp women have to act like stupid children to give their feeble husbands and feeble fathers ego boost. I will always have comp men in the same category as pedophiles, incels, and Ariel Castro and Phillip Garrido.

    For comps to present comp fathers, comp husbands, and comp men as protectors is the biggest lie in comp. Comp men protect themselves and other men they don’t even know over all women and all children, even their own.

    How is the comp man protecting his wife when he beats and rapes her? And comps tell her she can not divorce him for beating and raping her. How are comp fathers protecting their daughters when they let churchmen and church boys molest and rape her? Then tell the daughter every sin is equal in the eyes of God and she needs to make the pervert feel better. And tell their married daughters who are being beat and raped by their husbands they can not divorce their husbands. I have a grandfather that did this to his daughter. Oh, how it pleasured him that he his daughter submitted to more abuse.

    If a woman or child has a comp husband, comp father, or goes to a comp church they are in extremely evil dangerous situations.

    I tell my friends who did not grow up in Christianity that comps real hero and idol is Ariel Castro. Because I have noticed anytime I read a story like the Ariel Castro or Phillip Garrido it reminds me of the comp lifestyle.

    I consider comp to be a perverted cult in Christianity and not real Christianity.

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  27. George: The rest of the times it was pretty simple to point out that the man was being a selfish bully, emotional abuser, addict, adulterer, etc… and we were able to discipline him and protect the Mom and kids.

    But did you respect these women’s decisions if and when they decided to leave?

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  28. Mara: Yes, Calvinism is to blame. And Patriarchy/Complementarianism for sure.

    I think these causes are flipped. Calvinism without patriarchy and complementarianism is safer for women imo.

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  29. Mara: An unmarried woman or single mother is not a whole stone in their minds. She is broken, useless, and a liability.

    This is very interesting way to look at it. Not a whole stone. Hmm.

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  30. SiteSeer: Edit
    The audacity of people who would presume to judge whether someone else is being abused in their marriage or not! Only the person in that position knows what is happening. If you feel you are being abused, you do not have to get anyone else’s permission to feel that way!

    Great comment. Thank you.

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  31. Sòpwith: Calvin’s theology distorts God’s kingdom, limits His atonement, and confuses and alienates believers from the good news of Christ’s redeeming power

    That has always been the bottom-line for me regarding Calvinism. For the life of me, I don’t understand why believers are attracted to such theology. Thankfully, 90+% of Christendom over the last 500 years have steered clear of the Calvinist God.

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  32. dee: Sadly, the only answer comp leaders give is “It shouldn’t be that way.”

    But, apparently it has been “predestined” to be that way in far too many comp churches … providing a dirty rock for domestic abusers to hide under.

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  33. Guest,

    “They all sound like they abhor Jesus and worship John Calvin.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    well, it’s easier on the ego to focus on ideas from some dead guy in some distant grave than it is the big man on campus who is alive — so big and standing so tall that everyone sings songs to him and about him.

    i’ve often gotten the distinct impression from a number of male christian leaders that Jesus is a threat to their ego.

    Jesus IS the big man on campus, and the only thing an insecure man can do is try to ignore the glorious guy (whose presence commands all the attention) and try to make himself the center of attention instead.

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  34. I often find help as well as plenty of disagreements with your posts. However, I cannot conceive of a church denying a resignation from membership. That is nonsensical brutality.

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  35. George,

    “The rest of the times it was pretty simple to point out that the man was being a selfish bully, emotional abuser, addict, adulterer, etc… and we were able to discipline him and protect the Mom and kids.”
    +++++++++++++

    so this discipline was the cure-all, to reunite the husband and wife?

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  36. George: As a complimentarian myself…. I feel like my view of male headship causes me to put MORE onus on the man to grow up, and offer more support and grace to the woman.

    Then you are a rare exception to the “BoyZ Rule, GurlZ Drool! GAWD Saith!” Comps that end up under scrutiny on this blog and others. To so many other’s, “male headship” means “Woman, Submit! I Hold The Whip!”

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  37. Abigail: I’ve seen the trap of it effect Christians negatively. Calvinists are obsessed with …are they elect? Self analysis.

    Surviving Puritan journals (and there are a lot of them; Puritans were very much into Journalling) are almost all Navel-Gazing Sin-Sniffing. TRAP is right.

    And to PROVE They are Elect (remember Calvin’s doctrine of False Election for Reprobates?) they navel-gaze for hard evidence. Once such Inerrant PROOF of Election was “material blessings”, i.e. getting filthy stinking rich; now it’s Purity of Perfectly-Parsed Theology.

    While pastors’ widows still have to eat out of dumpsters.

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  38. George: Church discipline was never a perfect process but we got the important stuff right.

    Again, George, you seem to be a rare exception who’s dodged all the Dark Side that gets exposed on this and other blogs.

    Like what happened to me during my time encountering the Dark Side of Furry Fandom, the best image is of C-3PO in the opening boarding scene of the original Star Wars, walking jerkily through the firefight with blaster tracers flying left & right all around him.

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  39. Max: But, apparently it has been “predestined” to be that way in far too many comp churches … providing a dirty rock for domestic abusers to hide under.

    Somebody really needs to compare and contrast HyperCalvinism and Wahabi Islam in a formal study. I long-ago noticed that when Christianity goes sour, it curdles into something resembling Islam, and would like to see a formal study/proof that the going sour of both Calvinism and Islam are the results of their core doctrine of X-Treme Predestination plus Entropy over time.

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  40. Lea: But did you respect these women’s decisions if and when they decided to leave?

    I’ve debated comp men online, and a lot of these guys give lip service that “abuse is wrong of course”, but they always have the caveat that it should be determined if the woman was really an abused wife or an “unsubmissive wife” who is part of the problem because of her “rebellion”. Never was there any real recognition that maybe the husband is abusing his position of power, or that a woman actually had a right to say no if she felt her husband was in the wrong. I read an interview a few years ago, where a woman and her husband attended “marriage counseling” under Mark Driscoll when he was at Mars Hill, and Driscoll told the wife that she was the problem because she wasn’t obedient enough. He even went so far as to claim the wife was possessed by demons caused by the couple’s sex problems (always sex with Driscoll) and he tried to perform an exorcism. Driscoll was a neo-cal at the time so how much of this kind of stuff is going on in other neo-cal circles? Do they do this regularly to abused wives and other abuse victims? Just saying. Neo-cal and comp teachings are something that I am definitely avoiding in the future especially if they come together.

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  41. Guest: Are you the Lea that post at SSB?

    Yes, the same one. And hi! I recognized you as well.

    I was raised Baptist, I just really like the presby’s now so I’m not sure I would necessarily call myself a ‘calvinist’. I do, however, think sometimes people focus too much on that side of things, and since I go to a decided non-comp church I can’t help but notice and point out my opinion based on this – that all the bad things are not the fault of a few aspects of theology. I think it can be horribly misused, yes. But I think patriarchy and complementarian thought, which puts men so much above women as to treat them like lesser beings, is the real culprit – and the combination of this with this way of reading the bible, both fundamentalist and Calvinist, it can do real damage.

    I am also very interested in how much of this is terrible people doing terrible things and excusing them with whatever is at hand, and how many terrible behaviors and thought patterns are we creating. We know power can corrupt, so it’s easy to see that placing too much power into the hands of men, or church ‘pastors’ or elders or whatever can cause problems that may not have been there before.

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  42. Headless Unicorn Guy: George: Church discipline was never a perfect process but we got the important stuff right.

    Again, George, you seem to be a rare exception who’s dodged all the Dark Side that gets exposed on this and other blogs.

    He certainly thinks he is the exception. I would love to hear that any of these churches have done a serious study on their use of ‘church discipline’ and it’s after affects.. Have they interviewed the women involved years down the line? Did any mysteriously leave their church and they just lost touch? Is he accurate that discipline was mostly applied to the husbands and not the wives? Is he attuned to the social pressures levied (possibly by him) on the wives to make them feel the way he describes here: “The women almost always wanted to repent and reconcile even when they were clearly being wronged.

    Lily Rose: Driscoll was a neo-cal at the time so how much of this kind of stuff is going on in other neo-cal circles?

    I think driscoll has gone charismatic, and the demons thing sounds more in their line to me.

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  43. Jason Meyer is in the middle of a series on divorce and remarriage. The elders at Bethlehem have never been on the same page on this issue, but it seems that after Piper’s retirement, the strict view he held is now in the minority. Meyer was careful not to name names but only to unpack the various views, and say that the “majority” of the elders now believe abuse can be a biblical ground for divorce and remarriage… and my guess is that Meyer is in that majority camp. Bethlehem is going to be voting this year on changes to the constitution which will soften the previous strict wording, which will have an impact on how this issue will be treated in the future.

    But sadly I believe it won’t matter. The operative words are that abuse “can be” grounds for divorce being acceptable. Sermon excerpt:

    “This whole discussion raises many practical questions about when specific actions are serious enough to break the marriage covenant. There are no “one-size-fits-all” answers because this is a wisdom issue. That is exactly the same thing we face in church discipline—which behaviors would we expect a Christian to commit and which would we not. Church discipline is a wisdom issue and so a church and its elders must deal with such situations on a case-by-case basis.”

    The revised constitution is not going to spell out exactly the conditions under which the elders would be OK with a woman divorcing her abusive spouse. The elders will always be the decision-makers. And it won’t matter if (for example) Meyer could see clearly that Natalie’s ex-husband was falsely repentant, if he will turn the issue over to a group of elders who decide that Natalie is a sinner too, or she didn’t do enough to fight for the marriage’s restoration, or didn’t jump through all their hoops while she and her kids continued to suffer, or that their so-called biblical counselors don’t think she read the right books or properly followed their instructions, or…

    The bottom line is still this: If you sign the covenant and agree to live under the elders’ judgment, you are giving up the ability to decide for yourself that your health and safety, and that of your kids, requires you to divorce. And the track record of the elders at this particular church should not make you optimistic that they will care for you while making that decision on your behalf.

    I’m just glad Natalie got clear of both the church and the abusive marriage, and is now remarried and healing and helping others on her blog. I wish her much, much joy.

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  44. Hi All,

    I have yet to read and catch up on the article above, but I saw the headline and wanted to point out something I found on the Bethlehem Baptist Church Constitution and By-Laws which should ring alarm bells of 9Marxism:

    “The Church shall have authority to refuse a Member’s voluntary resignation or transfer of membership to another church for the purpose of proceeding with a process of church discipline or for any other reason the Church deems necessary or prudent.”

    http://www.bbc-ky.com/constitution-and-bylaws/

    You are right, this is the behaviour of a cult.

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  45. On a related note, I wrote a letter to the leaders of a UK ex-gay ministry who support and promote John Piper and the Gospel Coalition. I used to be part of this group so I felt compelled to challenge them. My concern was that vulnerable Christians who come to them for help with “unwanted same-sex attractions” may end up in Gospel Coalition circles and experience abuse. I sent them the video of his infamous statement that women should “endure being battered for a night” and “abused for a season if her husband is “simply hurting her”. I asked them why they are promoting articles by men like this. They replied “we don’t believe negative, second-hand stories. He is prominent Christian leader and that is the price to pay for prominence”. Even though the video showed him saying those words, they were not interested. They are prepared to remind blind to his enabling of domestic violence because he writes good polemics against same-sex relationships.

    I was very disappointed because it seems that Piper can get away with saying anything. The evangelical establishment in both the US and the UK will continue to adore and promote him.

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  46. “I am so glad Natalie found a wonderful new husband and is free from the bondage imposed on her by Bethlehem Baptist Church.”

    I am so glad to hear a good ending to a very sad story. I would strongly advise against anyone going to Bethlehem Baptist Church. More than that, I would advise anyone against going to a church or ministry which is associated with Piper’s (or Bethlehem’s) doctrine, or any church that promote his videos or sell his books. 2 John 9-11 warns us that to even give a greeting to a false teacher is to partake in his wickedness.
    Whilst in the context that deals with a particular heresy of denying the humanity of Christ, it teaches a general principle of not approving false teaching in any way, shape or form.

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  47. ZechZav: The link you posted above is for a different Bethlehem church (one in Kentucky). The one we’re talking about here (in Minneapolis) is at https://bethlehem.church

    However, BBC Minneapolis has the same clause in its membership covenant agreement: They believe (and make you sign) that you can’t resign your membership if you’re under discipline. Of course that is not legally binding, but that’s what you’re agreeing to if you become a member.

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  48. ZechZav: Bethlehem Baptist Church Constitution and By-Laws … :

    “The Church shall have authority to refuse a Member’s voluntary resignation or transfer of membership to another church for the purpose of proceeding with a process of church discipline or for any other reason the Church deems necessary or prudent.”

    Calvinists have to have the last word on everything.

    ZechZav: this is the behaviour of a cult

    Indeed! New Calvinism began as a cult of personality, leading to cultish conduct by a reformed tribe of authoritarian narcissists calling themselves pastors.

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  49. Lily Rose: Driscoll told the wife that she was the problem because she wasn’t obedient enough

    The potty-mouth preacher from Seattle also blamed wives who “let themselves go” for their husbands’ infidelity.

    “It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness.” (Mark Driscoll)

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-goldstein/whos-to-blame-for-pastor-_b_33279.html

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  50. elastigirl: “The rest of the times it was pretty simple to point out that the man was being a selfish bully, emotional abuser, addict, adulterer, etc… and we were able to discipline him and protect the Mom and kids.”
    +++++++++++++

    so this discipline was the cure-all, to reunite the husband and wife?

    More Calvinistic nonsense. With their theology, there is little point in disciplining. It’s not like the non-elect have a chance of reforming, and the abuser is only doing, and will continue to do, exactly what God has ordained him to do. Consistent Calvinism cannot be lived out.

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  51. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Speaking of dumpsters, my former Calvinist pastor used to go through the trash can when he came home from presbytery meetings, to see if his wife allowed the children any ‘forbidden’ food or entertainment while he was gone. He would pull out hidden McDonald’s french fry packages with stern reproofs. The poor woman.

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  52. TS00: my former Calvinist pastor used to go through the trash can when he came home from presbytery meetings, to see if his wife allowed the children any ‘forbidden’ food or entertainment while he was gone

    Bondage.

    I wonder what pastor threw in the trash can before he came home from those meetings?

    “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us'” (Ezekiel 8)

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  53. TS00: so this discipline was the cure-all, to reunite the husband and wife?

    More Calvinistic nonsense. With their theology, there is little point in disciplining.

    But it’s so much FUN to Hold the Whip (and use it).
    That Oh-So-Delicious taste of POWER. “GOD WILLS IT!”

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  54. Max: “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us’” (Ezekiel 8)

    When I read “room of pictures”, the image I got was “secret porn stash, posted up all over the walls of a secret room”.

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  55. I know of a case where a person was excommunicated because he did not communicate to elders that his wife had left him. Woman committed adultery. He didn’t want to make personal anguish a public affair. Can Biblical discipline from the elder office or deacons be fair is a question I have? Everyone doing the judging has some biases. Say the elders don’t truly feel women should have a voice , then that bias will come out in their decision in a marriage dispute. And there are no women on that jury which can create partiality from the git go. Can elder boards make a bad decision because they are composed of human beings? I don’t know?

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