This post is also being published today at the blog of Give Her Wings, an organization that helps and supports women leaving abusive spouses. Please visit their site.
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, though, I want to express my boundless praise for the gift God has given me in that valley, the people I’ve been privileged to get to know there. I want to shout out my thanksgiving to God for the faithful trauma survivors He has put in my life. Most of them were traumatized by people who claimed to be Christians, even Christian leaders. But in spite of that, these women are still following God, or longing to follow Him, in faith.
My heart swells in even thinking about them. I would far rather sit at their feet than at the feet of the most popular speaker.
This post is being simultaneously published at the website of Leslie Vernick.
I’ve been urged to watch 13 Reasons Why to see the 13 reasons (why) a young friend hates it so much. (Though I’ve read and heard enough about it to understand it, so far I’ve been able to get through only the first episode). The bullying she personally experienced at her Christian school, she said, was pretty much everything that happened in this Netflix series, and more.
One of the most important things she described to me about her school was the dynamicof bullying. Some students there were genuinely nice people, but they lived in such an environment of fear that whenever the main bullies were around, they remained silent or even participated in the bullying if necessary, so they wouldn’t become a target. (You may wonder why no one tried to alert teachers or administrators about this massive problem, but someone did and it wasn’t believed, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog post.)
So while I was pondering the dynamics of a bullying school environment that went stratospherically beyond anything I had experienced in my own high school days of mild bullying, we heard a sermon on Galatians 2.
“Well, what do you know,” says I to myself, “there it is again!”
The story goes that the apostle Peter and the other Jewish Christians were actually welcoming the Gentile Christians and even eating with them (a truly big deal in those days) . . . until the bullies came.
You’ll never believe the terrible state of my marriage. I was raised in a Christian family. My father and mother never fought. I wasn’t rebellious as a teen and my husband and I went through all the “proper” courtship process before getting married. Now, five years later, everything has fallen apart.
Roy, my husband, who was so loving and kind in the beginning has become rude, surly, and angry all the time. The good thing is that he doesn’t hit me or the children (one boy and two girls), but he gets really quiet and spends a lot of time in the basement. Every once in a while, he does blow up and wowser, what a blow-up. He curses, yells, calls us all kinds of names, and throws things.
We never know when he’s going to blow and what is going to cause it. We’re all walking on egg shells all the time.
First, I want to tell you that I get being hurt and confused. I’ve never been in your situation, but because of many friends of mine that I’ve listened to at length, I’ve tried to imagine what it must be like to think you were getting a loving and kind husband, but then realize he’s a completely different person, a scary person, and you don’t even know who he is. Hurt and confusion are appropriate responses.
“And what we don’t want to do is say everybody binds everyone by their conscience with things that the Scripture doesn’t bind us by, right? Usually everybody’s bound by the preacher’s conscience. I don’t want to bind you by my conscience; I want the Holy Spirit to bind your conscience, and I want you to obey your conscience.” ~Mark Driscoll, in his sermon “The Weaker Christian”
I’m eager to explore what the Lord has been showing me about the defiled conscience. It has much bearing on where we are in the church of Jesus Christ in this day.
The weak conscience: recap
In Part One of the conscience series I explored what is meant by the “weak conscience” in a Christian.
A weak conscience is one that lacks the full strength of understanding of what Christ has accomplished for them and who they are in Christ. The result is believing that certain morally neutral activities would affect that standing.
I also discussed how the weak conscience can be manipulated by spiritual abusers, resulting in
— confusion over right and wrong, as well as
— guilt and shame when one has done nothing wrong.
That fact—the guilt and shame when one has done nothing wrong—is immensely important in the life of the body of Christ.
The weak conscience can become defiled
First Corinthians 8:7 says that if the believer with the weak conscience partakes of something he thinks will spiritually defile him, there’s a danger that his conscience will be defiled, or “soiled” or “contaminated.”
Scout’s honor, I didn’t start out to make this a blog post about Mark Driscoll. I was thinking about how those with hardened/polluted/jettisoned/seared consciences take advantage of those with sensitive/weak consciences, and I wanted to study conscience in the Bible to understand it all better, and then post about what I had learned.
So I did the Bible study, learned a lot, and then wanted to see what other people were saying about the conscience. In the middle of all that, another former member of Mars Hill Church (which had imploded after the many scandals of the Driscoll debacle) decided to speak publicly about the spiritual abuse she and others endured, and in that interview she talked about his conscience.