Monthly Archives: June 2020

Discernment Practice: How Should Christians Respond to THIS?

Imagine you are a church leader, and one of the members of your congregation tells you this story:

“I never kept a journal, but over a ten-year period, I realized that Benjamin’s moods occurred in six-week cycles. It went like this: Explosive, violent raging that lasted from ten minutes to several hours, then Silence that lasted for two to five days, then Friendly/cheerful/affectionate behavior that would last three or four days. (When things were going well, Benjamin would apologize and even ask me to find out what might be causing his “crazy behavior.”) But then there would be a long deterioration that lasted four to ten weeks. Ben would become increasingly more critical, condemning, and short-tempered. He would deny his earlier apologetic remarks. Finally, there would be an angry explosion, and the cycle would repeat anew. Once I recognized the patterns, I knew what to expect. This made things feel more manageable for me.”

–From the book “Stop Walking on Eggshells”

This sounds like pretty obvious abuse, right?

But what if I told you this story was actually written by a man–about his wife, Barbara–and I changed the genders?

Does it feel a little weirder now, calling Barbara “abusive” when you don’t know her?  Are you wondering whether there is more to the story? (If Barbara has a different perspective on their marriage relationship, would it be difficult to decide who to trust?) 

These are just a few of the questions we should be asking ourselves as we strive to be discerning Christians and wise spiritual counselors.  

Oh, I know, we don’t always think about our role as counselors. We like to think it’s only a job for licensed professionals with nameplates on their door and paying clientele.

But, the truth is, every single person in the world has been called to give “advice” at one time or another, and we are even more regular Counselors with the people who are closest to us:  our spouses, our children, our sisters/brothers, and our best friends.

At some point, we all need to acknowledge how difficult it can be to know WHAT’S TRUE, when we’re faced with a He-Said/She-Said situation and being asked for our counsel.  

Here’s another case study–this time borrowed from the Biblical Counseling Coalition website.  It says:

“After listening to each girl express her thoughts and questions, I asked them: “What would you want to say to your mother?” One of the girls said she wanted to know why her mother was acting contrary to what she had taught them in the past. (The child referred to Mom as a “liar” a lot.) Then her sister, a precocious child who knew the Bible well, replied that she was pretty sure Leviticus had something to say about how wives should stay with their husbands. Inwardly, I was both surprised by her response and impressed with her biblical knowledge.

In my interactions with the girls that day and in the previous sessions, it was clear…the girls are confused by their mother’s actions, but they love her. It hurts them that Mommy claims not to love Daddy anymore. The girls feel confused because their mother has become a very different person from the person in their earlier memories. She used to tell the children that her marriage vows were important.

Throughout their earlier childhood, their mother would sing Bible songs and teach them Scripture verses. She was their care-giver and nurterer, but now she had deserted the family. Now, she still quotes Scripture, but uses texts to justify her sinful decisions… People who know this mother are shocked by what has happened, but it is a reminder that all of us are prone to wander. This woman’s wayward life could happen to anyone. It is by God’s grace that believers are in Christ (Eph 2:8, 1 Cor 15:10). People could try to make sense of the situation, learning what happened in this woman’s life, discovering what went wrong, but, in the end, sin never makes sense…”

Does this story seem even less reliable, or is that just my opinion?

How does it feel to hear two little girls talk critically about their mother?

Do you wonder whether they have been swayed or coached at all?

Would your impressions change if I told you I switched the genders on THIS story, too?…

Yes, if you click on that link above and read the original case study, it’s about a man who abandons his wife.  The girls repeatedly refer to him as a liar, and everyone in the community is shocked by the way his sin has transformed him from a Bible-quoting leader into a Bible-quoting monster.

Read it again.

Does it seem to make more sense when the man is doing the sinning and the woman is the one being abandoned?

—-

Maybe your answers to these questions are different than mine.

This is just a little thought experiment to learn about ourselves and our own possible blind spots or biases.

Being an impartial judge is HARD. (It’s so hard, in fact, that only God Himself gets it exactly right all of the time.) 

But, may we all continue to strive toward impartiality, so that we can be wise servants of God and seekers of Truth.   Not if–but when–we are called upon to offer godly counsel, may we seek the help of the Holy Counselor, to help us sort out these messes.

Update: I’m STILL Not a Feminist

Awhile ago, I believed that Feminism was the most fearsome False Religion facing the Church.  (This was before I learned the term “Critical Theory.”)  I could see the similarities between Feminism and Black Power movements and LGBT activism–but I didn’t know there was a word to unify all of those beliefs into a single worldview…

I only knew that I was a woman who could NOT agree with the religious nature of Feminism, and so I wrote about it a lot. 

The last couple weeks, we’ve heard much about being “Anti-Racist,” which is basically the race version of Feminism.  (We probably agree that another name for Feminism could be “Anti-Misogyny,” right?) To become an Anti-Racist assumes all light-skinned people have to “unlearn” racism, just as Feminism assumes all males need to “unlearn” their bias against women.

Men have more hegemonic power than women.

Whites have more hegemonic power than Blacks.

Heterosexuals have more hegemonic power than people who are sexually attracted to members of the same gender…
etc.

These core beliefs provide the foundation of Critical Theory.

And, on top of those fundamentals, the Critical Theorists have constructed many Commandments and customs:

#1.  Don’t “whitesplain” or “mansplain.”  Do not explain racism/sexism to an Oppressed Person. Do not explain how the microaggression which bothers them was actually just someone being nice. Do not explain how a particular injustice isn’t about race or gender. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but you can avoid it by maintaining a posture of active listening.
#2. Don’t equate impact with intent. Yes, we all know your heart was in the right place and you meant well. But your words or behavior had a negative impact on those around you, and that’s what matters. Apologize and do better next time.
#3. Don’t demand proof of an Oppressed Person’s lived experience or try to counter their narrative with the experience of another Oppressed Person. Systemic, institutional racism/sexism exists, no matter what anyone else says.
#4. Do not chastise Oppressed People (or dismiss their message) because they express their grief, fear, or anger in ways you deem “inappropriate.” Understand that historically, we Powerful People have silenced voices of dissent with our cultural idol of “niceness.” Provide space for POCs to wail, cuss, or even yell at you. Jesus didn’t hold back when he saw hypocrisy and oppression; so women shouldn’t have to either.

#5. Don’t get defensive when you are called out for any of the above. When a POC or a woman says that your words/tone/behavior are racist/oppressive/triggering, you stop. Don’t try to explain yourself. Don’t become passive-aggressive or sarcastic. Don’t leave in a huff. (It may be helpful, however, to inconspicuously step outside/go to the restroom and take a deep breath.) Remain cognizant of the dynamics of white fragility and toxic masculinity, and take note of how it usually shows up in you.

I didn’t write these Commandments, so please don’t think I’m exagerrating or trying to make this Other Religion sound more extreme than it is.

I took these warnings directly from a public note about “Whiteness 101,” posted on the “Be the Bridge” group on Facebook, and then I added the references to women and Feminism.  (Again: Anti-Racism and Feminism are basically two denominations of the same religion.)

If you’d like to read more about “Be The Bridge” specifically, you can start with this review by Neil Shenvi.

But I hope what you’ve seen from these “rules” is enough to help you understand why I’m grossed out by the cult of Critical Theory.

For me, seeing the way Feminists start with the wrong diagnosis and then try to correct supposed injustice in the culture by adopting EQUALLY SEXIST/ABUSIVE techniques was enough to convince me I AM NOT A FEMINIST.

And, I do my part to call out the Tribalism whenever I see it, by telling anyone who claims to be a Feminist that they don’t speak for me.   A woman who believes that systemic sexism exists may certainly share her opinions wherever she wants.

But don’t assume that she and I are on the “same team” just because the word “female” is buried in her religion’s name.

I don’t want there to be any confusion between the Feminist’s values and my Christian ones.

Thus, as the ugly fruit of Critical Theory begins to grow on the trees of its faithful, I’m only more convinced than ever that Feminism is a religion with nothing of value to offer me. 

We’re Okay Because…

First, I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of prayers and understanding, after my last blog post sharing some of the hellish events my family has endured recently.

Unfortunately, due to the length of the post, I didn’t have much room to celebrate the positive and uplifting things God is doing in our lives, despite the suffering.

I wrote to many of you directly and insisted that we really are doing “okay”–and that we’ve found the peace that surpasses understanding has come through in a supernatural way.

But I’ve been meaning to turn those feelings of gratitude into a fleshed-out blogpost for awhile. So here we go…

#1.  We’re “okay” because this isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with something really, really hard. When my second child was born, I struggled with crushing insomnia and suicidal thoughts as a result of postpartum anxiety/depression. At the time, I thought I’d never get through it.  I couldn’t imagine anything worse.  But–now–I can see God’s hand at work through the whole thing.  He led me through a deep darkness which I never would have chosen for myself, but it taught me some lessons (about control and submission and idolatry and faith) that I may not have been willing to learn without the pain.  Looking back, I’m exceedingly grateful for the losses I’ve had to endure, which have helped to prepare me for future suffering.

#2. We’re “okay” because we know that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against unseen forces in the spiritual realm…  and we’re not the Commanders in charge.    All we need to do is obey orders–making one choice to glorify God at a time–and He handles the bulk of the strategizing and mobilizing.   When we get overwhelmed or depressed or angry or defeated, we simply need to repent of trying to do God’s job and get back into formation.   We are being used BY HIM; not the other way around.  The only time we need to panic is when we start (wrongly) believing God needs us to strategize and mobilize HIM.

#3. We’re “okay” because God has graciously surrounded us with like-minded brothers/sisters, to remind us that WE ARE NOT ALONE.  Just when we’re tempted to believe the entire world has gone insane, God gives us a Present in the form of Soul Mates…

I’m not talking about romantic lovers or someone we find physically attractive.

I’m talking about people who speak our spiritual language and already hold the same values/beliefs we do, without having to start at the beginning and explain ourselves in a tedious and exhausting kind of way.  These are people with whom the conversation is easy because they just “get” us.  Or, they write something and share it at the perfect time, bringing instant relief, because it sums up everything we’ve been trying to say ourselves.

The number of Soul Mates God has revealed to me the last few weeks has been incredible, and I can’t even begin to highlight all of them.

But I’ll collect just a teeny, tiny list of articles, interviews, and videos which have encouraged me lately. They have reminded me that there are still intelligent, Justice-minded, Truth-loving humans of all colors, shapes, ages, and backgrounds fighting the same fight:

-Darrel B. Harrison and Virgil Walker (of the Just Thinking podcast).  This is an interview conducted by George Lawson, discussing the Reformed view of Race, Justice, and the Gospel.  (Spoiler:  The video features three black men agreeing that “race” is a pseudo-scientific construct, and people should find a more biblical way to discuss “racism.”)

-Center for Biblical Unity.  This new group was brought to my attention by Alisa Childers (who also deserves recognition as a Soul Mate).   The Center for Biblical Unity strives to bring the conversation of Justice back to Christ, in whom we find our only hope of true reconciliation.

Peter Heck has been a good friend of my family’s for a long time, and you should follow his column on Disrn.  He has written a lot of good things lately, but I especially appreciated this article “A Humble Request For Those of Us Who Believe Black Lives Matter.

Rochadd Hendrix and Samuel Sey are two brothers in Christ whose Facebook pages I found thanks to their interaction on Darrel B. Harrison’s page (see above). You can see an example of one of Rochadd’s posts by clicking here.  And one of Samuel’s is highlighted here.

Anonymous Berkeley professor. Apparently I don’t need to know a person’s name, age, or gender to resonate with their message.   Let’s be honest, we don’t even know if the author of this post REALLY IS a professor in the history department at Berkeley.  But doesn’t matter very much to me. This is still the best thing I’ve read in a long time:   Click Here for the Open Letter.

Matt Walsh’s article, We are Not United.     In this article, Matt talks about the huge divide between various groups within the United States, which doesn’t sound encouraging at first. But it’s actually nice to hear someone else is noticing this problem, and it makes me feel better about intentionally focusing on MY TRIBE and wasting less time trying to build bridges toward people who aren’t interested.  Just because someone is a fellow citizen of the United States does not mean I must subject myself to their evil philosophies and marinate in any selfish, backward religious practices. Feminists and Critical Theorists and Activists and Leftists might as well live on another planet. Thus, I agree with Matt that I will not be an ally of anyone who believes gender is a construct and monuments should be destroyed and healthcare involves women killing their preborn babies, etc…

Natasha Crain:     This article warning Christians of the ways Critical Theory is taking over the Church was originally published on Natasha’s website. But it has been down for several days, and her IT personnel suspects a cyber attack. If you want to read it–and I highly recommend it–you can find the text in this Facebook note.

A Huge Number of Personal Friends/Family, who have engaged with me in much-needed Soul Conversations recently.   I don’t want to embarass anyone. But I’ve been blessed lately by Jason and Lisa, Chris, Bethany, Tabby/Megan/Marla (my sisters in Christ and in flesh!), Kyrsti, the elders at my church, Grandma Turbo, Pkarlgh (and all of his many personas/pseudonyms), and of course my dad, John, and my husband, Luke.   All of you have been there to offer just a little bit of understanding when being understood is what I craved the most.

You’re loved!

——-

It’s because of all these people and all these Truths that I can honestly say: I’m okay!  Not that I will be okay someday, when this or that works out the way I want… But I am okay RIGHT NOW, to the glory of God.

A wish a sincere thanks to everyone who is allowing the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and has therefore become an indispensable part of my Community…my Tribe…the Body of Christ…the Family of God…

All honor and praise and power be His!