I think one if the very emotionally healthy aspects of Christianity is the emphasis that in Christ, ALL our sins will be not only forgiven, but really washed away. No shame!
…the problem is, this emphasis on grace has, in my opinion, encouraged some to condone, even encourage feelings of guilt and shame in all their forms: no matter how unfounded, no matter how damaging. It is as though we want more shame, so that grace may abound!
…but shame is bad, folks. Really, really bad. It causes you to hate the body that God gave you. It causes you to abstain from really beautiful things that God meant for you to enjoy. It causes you to hide parts of yourself from friends who care. It causes you to cut off parts of your life that God intended to sparkle, but that somebody shamed you for.
If you’ve done something legitimately wrong, walk to the cross and get that shame off of you. But don’t let people convince you that to be a good Christian is to walk under a cloud of self-deprecation.
Be proud of what you are, and live it out loud, because God made you to be awesome! 😎
To worship means to fear, venerate, prioritize, protect the reputation of, sacrifice for, adore, and to lay one’s life down for.
It is what abusers demand of their victims.
But victims cannot in good conscience worship any person in this way: because it is written, “you shall have no gods before me.” This is why children, wives, employees, and churchgoers are never told to obey unquestioningly, but to obey “in the Lord.” When someone appointed to Christ-like leadership begins to act like a false god, demanding absolute loyalty and submission, then there will be conflict. And there can only be one god in a person’s life.
At times, the most godly thing that one can do is to rebel against ungodly authority.
Because the Pharisees believed that a person could go to Hell for breaking any of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament, they (along with the lawyers, teachers, and scribes) made more rules, which some called a “fence” around the law. The logic being: if you can fall into Hell for gathering sticks on a Sabbath, then let’s make a rule about not even walking more than x number of steps on a sabbath. Just in case. Jesus comes along and just doesn’t give a hoot about their traditions. He walks through them like a bulldozer through barbed wire. Furthermore, he says: 1) You have totally missed the spirit of the commands (which were supposed to be about love) 2) You teach as precepts of God the commandments of men (Mark 7:6) 3) You tie up heavy burdens on people 4) You very often use tradition to even disregard commandments entirely 5) You measure your spirituality by your ability to follow a lot of external, showy rules. They seemed to think that the more rules the better: but Jesus seemed to think the opposite. ….so question… What are some of the “fences around the law” that you were raised with? Let’s make a list! I’ll start: …the Bible says “Don’t get drunk,” so tradition says, “don’t ever touch alcohol.” …the bible says “don’t cross-dress,” so tradition says, “women must wear dresses” (even when they are outdated and fairly impractical at times, especially for sports!) …tradition says rock music is bad. But nobody can seem to find the verse for it. …there is one fairly confusing verse about men having short hair (despite many long-haired dudes in the Old Testament) and so good Christian men don’t have hair past their ears. …now your turn… …what “fences” did you see around the law, growing up? What did it feel like to have so many rules?
It occurs to me that Jesus really didn’t seem to care much about protecting the reputation of the synagogues (proto-churches) or the religious leaders of his day. He pointed out their crooked financial practices, their hypocritical way of dressing, their ridiculous prayers, their pretentious religious paraphernalia, and their hard-hearted domestic lives. He called the temple a “den of thieves,” and the religious leaders “snakes,” “brood of vipers,” “sons of satan,” “white-washed tombs,” and “destined for hell.” Phew.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, were far more careful. They had a lot of private meetings about Jesus, but never called him out publicly. They were very tactful. They just asked him a lot of questions. They did not want to cause trouble or be seen as taking sides. They were very proper and correct. They would not have wanted to cause disrepute or lose esteem in the eyes of the public. They tried to deal with their problems internally, and probably would have killed Jesus secretly, if they could.
…and yet the Bible says, “The name of God is blasphemed among the unbelievers on account of you!” Whereas Jesus said, “I honour my father.”
In this day and age, I don’t think we are fooling anybody. With media shining an unfavourable light behind the doors of the church, sex scandals rocking the evening news, and situations close to home sending ripples through our communities…everyone knows that there are real people with real problems in the church.
…so tell me, what is more honourable? What brings more disrepute on the church, and glorifies God best? Being silent about abuse, sin, hypocrisy, legalism, and failures in the church, “to protect our testimony”? Or calling them out? And daring to point the way towards something better?
So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
…abusers love positions of authority. Whether it’s pastor, father, husband, or boss: they love being in control of others. Religion seems to provide just that excuse to have unquestioned authority over others. Except…for Jesus. Jesus said that a true leader is a servant of all. Jesus washed His disciples feet. A true leader, according to Jesus, changes diapers, takes out the trash, and sets his own goals and dreams aside to prioritize the needs of those under him. …but people who demand absolute allegiance, demand that people serve them, and demand that those under them sacrifice *their* lives, wishes, wants, and needs in service of the leader are not leading as Jesus did. It doesn’t matter if they claim to be Christians: maybe they even are. But in their leadership, they are leading “like the rulers of this world,” and not at all like Christ.
Churches and Christians often seem ill equipped to help abuse survivors. This is because our religion has trained them to ask, “Is it right? Is it Biblical? Is it sinful? Will it harm our community?”
Whereas an abuse survivor needs to be asked, “Are you safe? Are you healthy? Are you speaking your own truth (and not just hiding behind a false self)? Are you taking steps that are right for you, (as opposed to living life to please everyone else)? What does your “gut”/heart say? Are you sure you are SAFE?
It’s not that most Christians are bad people. These are not even bad questions to ask: in certain contexts, these are exactly the questions to ask. For example, if a person is tempted to run off with his secretary, he aught to think long and hard about whether that would be right, or biblical, and what harm it would have in the larger community.
This is where our religion shines: in the black and white moments of average people tempted to sin. “The Bible says don’t do it.” That clarity has been helpful for many.
But these are not the right questions to ask survivors of abuse. In fact, they are exactly the wrong questions to ask. These questions will tend to re-trigger the deep shame that accompanies trauma. That shame will activate crippling self-doubt and brain fog, causing them to question themselves, doubt the survival instincts that are leading them out of a dangerous situation, and can cause them to robotically shut down and mechanically go back to their abuser.
And when the Christian community has these questions primarily in their minds, they will prevent them from caring adequately for an abuse survivor.
The more combative Christians will seek to silence or argue with the victim. The more thoughtful will withdraw to re-evaluate whether or not leaving is a sin. (This will take some time). Others will just not know what to say, since they lack the time or ability to render judgment on the matter, and they would not want to be caught aiding and abetting a sinner.
All this with the result that the simplest and most profound human gesture — simply being there, in a non-judgmental way, in a time of need — is precisely what many churches and Christians have such difficulty in giving.
It seems to me that the church has a much better history of protecting abusers than it does in protecting victims.
Among other things, this comes down to the fundamental nature of our religion. Showing grace, forgiveness, and “one more chance” to sinners is at the core of the Christian message. But verses about protecting the vulnerable from attack, leaving a wicked person, refusing to forgive an unrepentant sinner, and calling attention to sin — while they exist — are not front and centre in the Gospel story. It takes significant work and thought to integrate these ideas into our theology. That work is rarely done.
In the mean time, victims are made to feel that they have no voice, that they aught to just put up with abuse, (“submit”) and shamed if they end abusives relationships. If they bring up the debilitating pain of trauma, the PTSD, the flashbacks, the triggers, the anger, the confusion, the intense shame, the loss of joy, the hyper-vigilance, the loss of hope, the lost sense of sense of security, and the loss of hope in humanity that comes with trauma, they are often told to “pray through it,” and forgive. If they find forgiveness hard (especially if “forgiveness” seems to mean reconciling with the abuser, and not holding them accountable for their actions, and being placed in harms way all over again), they are at risk of being called “bitter,” even a dangerous “root of bitterness” to infect others. 😳
Our commitment to show grace and love to everyone is commendable.
But many times, our support of survivors could use some work.
[I see you. I care. Keep holding on. You’ll get through this. One day at a time. ❤️]
Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” Here are twenty reasons why that does not mean that a spouse or child should overlook physical abuse. 1) In the original context, Jesus was speaking to men, in a world of men. The implied audience was people who had the ability to strike back, not women or children. 2) Jesus told His followers to flee from persecution and physical danger. 3) Jacob, David, Abigail, and many other saints fled from authority figures, when they became physically dangerous. 4) Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A temple was the most sacred possible place in anceint times: your body is THAT precious! God promises to destroy anyone who destroys your body (1 Cor. 3:17). 5) Jesus said, “let the little children come to me,” and “if anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he be thrown into the sea.” Children need to be protected from harm. So do you. 6) “I’m sorry…you just made me so angry” is not an apology. It is a lie that their evil actions were the fault of their victim. If a person is not able to restrain their violence unless people around them “walk on eggshells,” that person should not be around vulnerable people until they find help. 7) “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t control myself,” is a lie. After all, they controlled themselves just fine in public. 8) “This is normal/all men do it/everyone slips up” is not true. Most spouses do not hit or abuse one another. The Bible tells us to love and care for our spouses as we would our own bodies (Eph. 5). Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, and laid down His life for the church. Care is normal, harm is abnormal. 9) “You have to forgive me,” is a lie. You do not need to forgive them if they do not repent. (Luke 17:3…notice “IF he repent…”) Repentance means bringing their actions to the light to people who can provide tough accountability (James 5:16). It means getting help, and making sure that it does not happen again. 10) “The Bible says ‘forgive and forget'” No it does not. This verse does not exist. You can release bitterness in your heart while still remembering. Memories are there to remind us of danger, and to keep us safe. 11) The Bible says, “Do not be deceived, whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” The natural consequence of violence is the loss of intimacy. “Do not make friends with an angry man, and do not associate with a hot-tempered man” (Prov. 22:24) 12) “This punishment is unreasonable! I miss you! I need you! People will be mad at me if they find out!” …is exactly what Cain complained to God after he murdered his brother. Truly repentant people (like David, Peter) are sad about their sins. Evil people (like Cain) are sad about the CONSEQUENCES of their sins. Know the difference. 13) “I love you….” saying the words, “I love you” does not mean the person loves you. Love is patient, kind, and unselfish. It is not provoked, does not hold a grudge, and does not act unbecomingly (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). If their words say “love,” but their actions say “hate,” that is hypocritical love (Rom. 12:9). “Let us love not in word and speech, but in action and truth.” (1 John 3:18) “You will know them by their fruits.” (Mat. 7:16) 14) “The Bible says don’t gossip.” That is true. Gossip is untrue or uneccesary tidbits, spread around to harm someone. But telling appropriate authority figures about abuse is exactly what Jesus told us to do (Mat. 18:15-17) 15) “You have to keep our secret.” Is impossible. The Bible says that all sins will be brought to light (1 Tim. 5:24). One of the hallmarks of a dysfunctional family is secrecy. “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20) But “the truth shall set you free,” (John 8:32). Good people have nothing to hide. 16) “I don’t trust the police/social workers/authorities.” …is a telling statement. “rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing.” (Rom. 13:3-4) 17) “You are wrecking the family!” is a lie. The one who is unrepentantly harming others, and not seeking help for their issues is wrecking the family. Those who protect themselves and others are salvaging what remains of the family. 18) “You hurt my feelings when you told me that I abused you. You always complain so much! Why are you so negative? You are always so mean to me. YOU should apologize to ME.” …is a gaslighting. Gaslighting is a technique of changing the facts, in order to confuse the victim. A typical attack is blaming the victim for the actions of the abuser. This is a form of psychological abuse: it is an attempt to break down your mind, confuse you, and weaken your most powerful defence: your trust in your own sanity. If reading this post causes you to feel dizzy, confused, anxious, an upset stomach, extreme fatigue, a headache, or an unexplained ache in a part of your body, you may have been a victim of psychological abuse. 19) “You can’t report this because I am your spiritual head,” is a lie. People in positions of leadership are held to a *higher* standard in the Bible: “judgment begins with the house of God” 1 Peter 4:17, and “If a church elder continues in sin despite being warned, rebuke him in the presence of all so that others will be warned not to sin” (1 Tim. 5:19) 20) “God forgives me, so should you” is not true. Nowhere does God forgive unrepentant sinners. God also does not forgive people who use grace as an excuse to continue sinning. Neither should you. (Hebrews 10:26-27) If you believe that you are the victim of physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, or financial abuse, please find a safe person and/or the appropriate authorities with which to share your story. If you believe that you are in physical danger, please leave now or call the police. Yes, Christians are allowed to call secular authorities: in fact, I would recommend that you start there. You were meant to thrive, not just survive. And the Bible was never meant to keep you in a cage!
I recently shared an interview from my therapist Chantelle Neufeld, entitled, “Raised in a Cult.” I commented that this would give my friends a window into what it was like to be raised in IBLP/ATI under the teachings of Bill Gothart, as my wife was.
I have had significant responses to posting this and other videos. I have decided not to share these responses, as most of them were made in private messages.
In summary, I have had quite a few women — mostly in their mid thirties — either simply “like” the interview, or reach out to me to say that my comments on this and related subjects really encouraged them.
I had two lengthy discussions with men in their fifties. They both were incredulous that I would call ATI a “cult.” When I encouraged them to watch the interview, they responded that the specific issues cited were clearly wrong, but that an entire system should not be thrown out due to “a few slip ups” of the leader. (For those who don’t know, there is compelling evidence that Bill Gothart was using his organization to groom and systematically rape young girls). When asked for evidence as to why ATI was such a wonderful system, they both responded that, “I had a great experience,” and “it is Biblical.”
The difference between these two responses is very striking to myself. Yes, the experience was great to the men who were told that “head of your home” meant that they basically had absolute control over the lives of their children, for life. However, that was not a good experience for the children — particularly the girls, but also the boys — who were trying to figure out how to grow up and learn to thrive under such harsh parenting.
I hope to look more at IBLP, ATI, and Bill Gothart in future posts.
I have been posting more on narcissism and spiritual abuse on my Facebook. Yesterday, I posted the following meme:
Words like “submit,” “obey,” “honour,” “forgive,” “reconcile,” “love”…were never meant to be used as chains. ⛓ You have permission to end a relationship with someone who is unrepentantly harming you. No matter how they are related to you, and no matter what they tell you God wants you to do. You have permission to protect yourself from abuse. Always.
This sparked a discussion with a friend I will refer to as Etienne, who started off the discussion by saying:
You didn’t find that teaching in the Bible. To find what love looks like look at how God treated Israel through the old testament, right up until He died to save those who were/are literally abusing Him. If you want to see what selfishness and “toxic” look like, view the same passages from the opposite perspective. The love God commands us to give, constantly requires us to set aside the justice we was to receive in order to give mercy and grace.
As I often do, I took a moment to write out my candid thoughts to myself in long form on notes, before taking a few breaths and responding to him. What I wrote to myself was:
“You did not find that teaching in the Bible”
…actually, I did. All throughout the Bible, we see God’s people following Jesus’ teaching, “whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next,” (Mat. 10:23). Jacob left his emotionally abusive father in law Laban. The Israelites fled from the deceptive and abusive king, Pharaoh. David fled from his verbally and physically abusive king and father in law, Saul. Abigail went behind the back of her stubborn and un-listening husband Nabal. Elijah fled from the unrepentant and moody King Ahab.
God instructs us to forgive our enemies. Forgiveness is something that happens inside. But reconciliation cannot happen when there is not true repentance. Repentance means a change of behaviour: and a change means at a certain point, harmful behaviours need to stop happening. Like David, there’s a time to just get out of town when one fears one too many times for their own safety.
Your choice of God as a symbol of someone who puts up with abuse is poorly chosen. Here is what God did in His relationship to Israel: he pointed out their sins; he stated that there would be consequences for their sins; he followed through on those consequences; when they repented, He forgave and reconciled; this cycle continued numerous times; eventually God identified that they were not truly repenting (no change in behaviours) but only trying to avoid consequences; His warnings became more severe, and he saw less and less hope in the cycle; Finally, God told Israel that He was formally divorcing it; God enacted a separation, by sending them to Babylon; when some repented, God made a new covenant with only the faithful Israelites; God sent His Son to make a way of salvation for those who repent; God follows through on His final consequence, of Hell, for those who persist in wounding Him by their sins and self-destructive actions. We are told that the same applies to Christians: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:26-27).
Properly read, the Bible is on the side of victims, not abusers.
When I decided to talk with Etienne, I decided that it was actually best for him to clarify his rather confusing post first. I was not entirely sure what he was advocating. And so I gave him an invitation to make himself more clear by writing:
Myself: So it would seem that you do not agree with the statement, “You have permission to end a relationship with someone who is unrepentantly harming you.” Do you find this unbiblical, or incorrect, or both? Thank you for your comment.
Etienne: First, I’m not saying that abuse is ok. Abuse is not ok. Second “love, respect, submit, unity, etc are not chains to hold one to bad relationships, if they are treated that way, that’s a great sign that there is abuse or at least very wrong thinking going on. I am suggesting that pursuing ones “rights”, “protecting myself”, etc are the real chains in this scenerio. Look at what the Bible teaches about how God thinks relationships work, it’s never pursuing justice for self. Pursue justice for those around you, but for yourself, pursue learning to give grace and mercy. This is a hard lesson for every believer, but if it can be learned; they will be free of the chains that put themself first. That’s a lot of freedom. Another way to describe it, don’t think of God’s commands as chains that restrict out freedoms, think of them as fences that protect us from harm that we don’t fully understand. Inside that fence we are completely free, and far safer than going beyond the fence.
At this point, it was bedtimes for my family, and I had work in the morning. I did not pick up this discussion until the afternoon. This gave a few other people a chance to chime in.
Sally (One of my friends): But you still haven’t answered whether a person should be able to leave an abusive relationship. I’ve seen people weaponize those commands to shame a person for leaving an abusive spouse. You didn’t pray hard enough, you didn’t trust God enough, you didn’t follow the commands correctly. Instead of acknowledging their abusive partner didn’t follow God’s guidelines for a relationship, how God never wanted his child to suffer at the hands of someone who is supposed to be a partner and love and care for and with them, they put the blame on the victim.
Etienne: I’m not going to answer that, God has already answered that, if you care what He thinks, you can find His words pretty easily. All I’m saying is that responding to sin with sin, is sin.
Sally: So if a woman is being beaten by her husband, you would shame her for fleeing to safety because God would want her to stay? I am honestly trying to understand.
Sally: Also to ask me to find the proof to your point is lazy. In no other discourse it is acceptable to say I’m right, look up the evidence to prove my point yourself. You are required to provide the scripture that explains your points. If your lawyer goes to court and says “Your honor, the evidence is all there. Just look yourself.” You’d loose. If your doctor said “This is what your disease is, the evidence is all there. Research it youself.” You’d upset. If a cop pulled you over and gave you a ticket and said “what you did all just happened. Remember it youself” you would fight that ticket. It is the responsibility of the person asserting a notion to defend it, not the person questioning it.
Etienne: The answer to your question is, no. I would not shame her. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong question. The right question is, “if a woman is being beaten by her husband, what does the Bible teach?” Then you must break it down into its parts, One, what does the Bible teach about abuse, and how husbands should treat their wives? Two, what does the Bible teach the believers response should be when someone is sinning against them? In regard to “look it up yourself”, if you want an opinion poll, Facebook is the place to bring your problems; however, if you want to know what God says, that’s best by far if read yourself. If you’re new to the Bible, an easy way to start is a Google search with something like “Bible passage abuse” or “Bible passage response to sin”. After you have the relevant Bible passages in mind, reading some commentaries is helpful to some, talking about them with some mature believers is helpful to others. Looking for people who tell you what you want to hear or else you’ll reduce their statements ad absurdum is not going to be helpful to you in finding the truth.
Myself (when I resumed the conversation the next day): I am glad to hear you say that “abuse is not OK,” and that Biblical commands to love, forgive, etc. should not be used to legitimize staying in an abusive relationship. …however, I am a bit confused, because you seem to be saying exactly the opposite in the rest of your comment, and elsewhere. You are saying that “rights” and “self protection” are really a form of bondage. You seem to be saying that an abused Christian has no rights, and should not flee, even to protect themselves. This stance should be understood as “freedom” I am just repeating your words back to you. Is this not what you meant to say? You seem to be trying to have it both ways. What do you actually believe? Can an abused person leave an abuser? Or not?
Etienne: what I’m trying to say is, responding to sin with sin, is not ok. So, find what God says is the correct response not what popular option says is right. You have the tools, you probably have the relevant passages memorized. After the Bible is read, it’s just a matter of interpretation and application.
Myself: OK, so what you are saying is that it is a sin for an abused person to leave their abuser? I disagree with that.
Let me show you some biblical examples of Godly people leaving situations of danger and abuse by the person in authority over them:
Jacob left his emotionally abusive father in law Laban. The Israelites fled from the deceptive and abusive king, Pharaoh. David fled from his verbally and physically abusive king and father in law, Saul. Abigail went behind the back of her stubborn and un-listening husband Nabal. Elijah fled from the unrepentant and moody King Ahab. On several occasions, Jesus left an angry mob, sometimes mid-sentence. Paul left cities before he was killed. The early Christians fled Jerusalem, and from there, city to city. These godly people followed Jesus’ teaching: “whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next,” (Mat. 10:23). These people did not “return evil for evil.” David in particular had reason and opportunity to exact revenge, but he did not. However, he also did not stick around to see if next time Saul’s aim would be better. Christians are not to retaliate: but there is a time to leave. It is not sinful or evil to simply walk away. In fact, this is what we are told to do. I re-affirm that it is not a sin for a victim to leave an abusive relationship. I think these passages are a strong support of this pattern, and can provide others if you would like.
Etienne: great biblical examples! Now keeping in mind the context and culture we’re in, how many of those examples apply to husband and wife divorcing, or friends ditching former friends at the first sign of trouble?
Myself: ”first sign of trouble”? No, we’re talking about abuse here. I would see them all as applying. As I said, these are examples of godly people leaving situations of chronic mistreatment and unrepentant abuse by civil or familial authority figures.
Etienne: ok, then at the interpretation level you and I differ slightly, as long as you’re being diligent before the Lord, God bless. I will leave you with one reminder, in all interpersonal problems, the goal needs to be reconciliation; and reconciliation starts with forgiveness, not with making amends nor with justice (as the world likes to believe).
Myself: That is not correct. We are only responsible to reconcile “so far as it depends on you.” (Romans 12:18). Sometimes, as in the cases of abuse I mentioned above, that was not possible. We are to let go of bitterness every time that we pray. That happens in the privacy of our own hearts. But we only forgive and reconcile our brother/sister if they repent first. (Luke 17:3-4). We are not only allowed, but instructed to separate from those who continue to sin against us, and are not open to Godly rebuke. (Mat. 18:15-17). I want to thank you for this interaction. God bless you on your journey, as you seek to honour Him in all things.
Clearly, there is much to be parsed out in the conversation. Among other things, we see fairly clearly that some people do indeed think that the Christian message states that an abused person should stay with their abusive partner, no matter what. These people seem to think vaguely that, “that’s what the Bible says,” and “that’s how God treats us”…but when pressed for specifics, they punt, go on the offensive or say, “well, you must know all the verses by now!” He shifted his position numerous times, but it seemed clear that he was still unchanging in his belief that an abused person should go back to their abuser, no matter what.
Another thing that is interesting is that I kept coming back to the word “abuse,” while he kept shrinking from it, trying to replace the word in our discussion with, “at the first sign of trouble.” This is gaslighting: our conversation was not about people giving up on one another “at the first sign of trouble.” It was about abuse. Abuse is a word in the English language that means something like, “ongoing, significant harm caused to a person.” It is not the same as, “minor annoyance.” When people try cheap tricks like this in debates, they show their true colours. I knew then that Etienne was not interested in learning anything: rather, he only wanted to justify himself and win an argument to prove that he was right.
He demanded that I do the work to prove that his view was right: which as “Sally” pointed out, was unreasonable. He was the one making a claim, and yet he provided no evidence for it. I also had made a claim, and so I provided logical and Biblical evidence for it. He retorted that my logic was not Biblical, and so I provided more Biblical evidence. He responded that these examples did not apply because the culture and times were different. Strange how culture and time only applies to verses that we find inconsistent with our beliefs. But I responded that actually, I think that these verses all spoke directly to the question at hand, at which point Etienne simply said that we had a “difference of opinion” about that.
The technique of asking for proof, then changing one’s demands when proof is given is called “moving the goal-posts.” This is another deceptive debate tactic.
Also, notice, Etienne never stated how he himself would interpret these passages. While trying to posture as someone who based their interpretations on the Bible, Etienne actually did not cite one single Bible passage. He referred broadly to “how God treats Israel,” but did not provide any specific Bible verses to analyze: this is because he had none on his side.
In a way, I should not have let him off the hook so easily. I certainly could have pressed him. How would he justify his belief that an abused person must remain with their abuser? What does he mean by that? And if he choses not to use the word “abuse,” what word would he use for continual, unrepentant, serious harm caused by an individual?
…but this is not my first rodeo. And I learned long ago that in online discussions, if someone choses to excuse themselves from a discussion, then it is just best to let them go. It is childish to try to get in the last word.
“if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15
These topics will be a major topic of discussion in future posts.