Is Christianity Within the Church Walls Becoming A Cult Mentality? -or - "Thrown Away Christian
The Voices of the Thrown Away Christians is not a group of victims. This is a group who has been conned, bullied, and victimized by church leadership, yes - but it is far from having a victim mentality. This ministry wants people to heal from their wounds caused by church and pastors – but the main thrust of this ministry is to educate and make Christians recognize and hold accountable those in the church who are cruel and unchristian by nature, and for the authority’s that are trusted by the church to be held accountable when they betray that trust. The key word for this group is “Education.”
I John 5:1 states, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (English Standard Version). We are to love all other Christians and treat each other the way you want to be treated. Jesus states in Matthew 25:40, “And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (ESV). About this passage of Scripture and Matthew 18:5-9, John MacArthur (1983) preaches:
How you treat God's people is how you treat Jesus Christ. Very important truth. That's the basic principle. However lowly, however you may affirm that believer to be the least, the kindness, the care, the protection that you give to that believer to keep him from stumbling and from sinning is exactly how you treat Jesus Christ. That's the principle. That's the positive.
Let's look at the negative, the peril. Verse 6 and 7 [Matthew 18]. Verse 6 says, "But," now here's the adversative, the other side of it. "Whosoever," in or out of the church, folks, saved or unsaved, Christian or non-Christian...whoever, doesn't matter. "Shall offend," cause to stumble. How do you offend...a Christian? By causing them to do what? To sin. That's the only thing it could mean. To trap them, to catch them in a trap, a death trap, a sin trap, to make them stumble into evil. It's the very opposite of verse 5 where you protect them, where you care for them, where you receive them as one who belongs to Jesus Christ. (paras. 27-28)
Many people are blinded by the authority and possible charisma that their pastor has. Many people are willing to follow the pastor and stand up for him/her despite any kind of dishonesty – illegal or not –and through any discrepancy in their ethical behavior. In an article by Josiah Hesse (2017), he cites Basyle "Boz" Tchividjian who says: “The few cases that I had that involved a faith community, I saw the faith community respond to it in a terrible way. More often than not, if the pastor or member of the church came to court to speak on behalf of somebody, it was on behalf of the perpetrator, and not the victim” (para. 17). Basyle Tchividjian is speaking about sexual abuse in the church, but if it is true of something as heinous as sexual or physical abuse, how much easier is it to protect the perpetrator of cruel behavior, lies, gossip, and manipulation to a church member?
It is also worthy of notice that in holding church leadership and pastors accountable for breaches of confidentiality, lies, gossip, breaches of trust, and breaches of fiduciary duties, is the concept of Doctor Patient Confidentiality. Now, a pastor does not have to take the Hippocratic Oath, but at the U.S. Legal Home (n.d.) website, they state:
The concept of “doctor-patient confidentiality” derives from English common law and is
codified in many states’ statutes. It is based on ethics, not law, and goes at least as far back as the Roman Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians. It is different from “doctor-patient privilege,” which is a legal concept. Both, however, are called upon in legal matters to establish the extent by which ethical duties of confidentiality apply to legal privilege. Legal privilege involves the right to withhold evidence from discovery and/or the right to refrain from disclosing or divulging information gained within the context of a “special relationship.” Special relationships include those between doctors and patients, attorneys and clients, priests and confessors or confiders, guardians and their wards, etc. (para. 1, underline, italics emphasis- mine).
The point is, church leadership are responsible to uphold the ethical standards (both legally and biblically) of confidentiality.
Another very important issue to make a point of regarding pastoral and physician ethical standards, is that of nurses. Nurses are also to practice the very same standard. How many nurses and physicians are in all of the churches in the USA? If on the medical job, a nurse were to witness a confidentiality being cruelly broken, and harm being done to an individual by another nurse or doctor, how quickly (as a professional and a Christian) would she report that doctor or nurse? Yet, in a church setting, if an educated nurse or physician (or anyone else who claims to have a high education) sits silently and watches while a church member’s confidentiality is being broken and an individual being cruelly treated by a pastor and other church leadership –what is their reaction? From what I have witnessed, their reaction is silence and support for the cruelty of the pastor. Is that Christian? Do these “professionals” suddenly lose their professionalism at church? Is there something about the influence of a pastor that makes them forget right from wrong? Is Christianity within the church walls becoming a secretive, cult mentality? Ephesians 5:8-14 tells us:
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (ESV)
The comment has been made to me that “nobody’s perfect.” True – nobody is. However, does that mean that nobody is to be held accountable for harm done to a group or an individual? Nobody in prison is perfect either – yet they are being held accountable for the choices they have made in their lives. (While on the subject of prison: many who go into prison suddenly become Christians, but the only true Christians in prison are the ones who understand and admit that they are there to be held accountable for their crime committed.)
Like it or not, it is the responsibility of the church members to hold their leadership responsible: “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality” (ESV, I Tim.5:20-21).
If something is happening in your church that you do not understand, it is your responsibility to to investigate and examine it and find out what it is. Do not believe what you hear but look at the evidence that is presented to you… and be sure to find out if there is any evidence being withheld from you as well. In order to protect their reputation people – Christian leaders and pastors – will lie about anything. This may sound harsh, but you know it is true.
One other thing, just for the record: The Voices of the Thrown Away Christians is not a political group; we are neither left nor right – just biblical. My political opinions will generally be kept to myself – but under no circumstances will I will keep biblical truth nor gross injustice quiet!
As for those who flippantly say “nobody’s perfect," or accusingly say, "just get over it," when it comes to church abuse, here are some facts that you should chew on: here are just a
few of the wounds that are inflicted on anyone – including Christians – who has undergone years of bullying, manipulation, betrayed trust, breach of confidentiality, public shaming, and overall cruelty by the hands of their pastor and/or leadership. The damage is very real, very severe, and sometimes it is irreparable:
Physical problems such as diverticulitis, arthritis, heart disease, asthma etc… which then can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and medications.
Mental and emotional problems, such as anxiety disorders, Agoraphobia, the fear of people, Chronic Complex PTSD, clinical depression, sleeping disorders. They lose their self-esteem and become shame based and also they lose all ability to trust anyone. All of these can also result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and medications
Spiritually, they suffer from a loss of purpose and goals, they suffer extreme spiritual confusion and lack of trust of God, loss of faith, they fear church, they fear Christians, they fear ministers, and most will probably never go to church again. Some become agnostics, and there are some who become hardcore atheists. Others suffer from an unhealthy fear of God and a very broken relationship with Him. Many believe that God doesn't care about them.
It also results in loss of relationships, loss of friendships, loss of ministries, loss of church home, loss of reputation, loss of wages, and damaged family relationships.
I hope by now you are understanding that I am not talking about "just someone's feelings getting hurt" in church, or someone getting ticked off for some immature reason. I am speaking about real abuse – something that church members who claim to be Christians, should not be willing to abide in their own midst. And yet they do. My question is why?
Josiah Hesse, (2017) Billy Graham's Grandson Says Protestants Abuse Kids Just Like Catholics - VICE. Retrieved 1 Sep 2017, from: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwwd3w/billy-grahams-grandson-says-protestants-abuse-kids-just-like-catholics.
Legal, U. and Inc., (n.d.) Doctor Patient Confidentiality Healthcare. Retrieved 1 Sep 2017, from: https://healthcare.uslegal.com/doctor-patient-confidentiality/.
MacArthur, J. (1983) The Danger of Causing a Christian to Sin. Retrieved 1 Sep 2017, from: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/2328/the-danger-of-causing-a-christian-to-sin.