CommonSense

Hello.... Hi there... I'm Cynthia Gee, and I'm creating this as a mirror of my other CommonSense blog at HomeschoolBlogger. I am copying the first several articles from over there, and moving them here in their entirety, complete with reader's comments. So if you see your comment HERE, and remember posting it over THERE, relax. You're sane.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Letters, I get Letters: Are we our Brothers' Keepers?

I received a letter in the comments section of "Beyond the Hyper Patriarchs", over on my mirror Commonsense blog at Homeschoolblogger this evening, from a person who chose to remain anonymous. It reads as follows:

Untitled Comment
1:45 PM, Jan. 30, 2007 .. Posted by Anonymous
we should not be discussing what is not our business and involves slander. take it to the person directly and don't involve others. don't you read your bible? how about if i started a web page all about you and how you spend your time blogging about others. and copy and paste everything you write and then comment on it. i just don't understand all this. who is homeschooling your children while you are investing you time blogging about what you feel isyour just cause? where is your husband? who is keeping your home? we are called to mind our own business and let God fix the world.

Really, if Anonymous wants to create a mirror site of mine, and post her comments there, I guess I should feel flattered. Of course, if she does, she won't be "Anonymous" anymore, she'll at least need to blog under a pseudonym. But then, pseudonyms and mirror sites seem to be quite the thing in blogdom nowadays.

As it is, I invited her to visit this site and address her concerns, and I'm posting her letter here, because it raises some interesting questions regarding social accountability, questions that are almost as old as mankind:

When we see something going on which we perceive to be wrong, or when we notice an injustice, what should we do?

When we see such things as child abuse or spousal abuse in the private sector, or, (as has been happening recently), when we become aware of things like fraud, graft, or abuse of power in churches, businesses, or in the political arena, do we address these things, or just move along, hoping God will take care of it all? Do we owe it to our fellow man to confront evil, and shine a light on it?

Are we our brother's keepers?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cynthia,

Your letter writer brings up a good point. Recently I read an exchange between a couple people regarding holding public leaders accountable. One of them contended that it is only the job of those in authority over another to hold that person accountable. The other person disagreed, saying that we have seen much good come out of the public holding public leaders accountable.

This is what I believe. The amount of abuse endured by church members today at the hands of church leadership is outrageous. Our family has experienced it first hand and we have seen it happen repeatedly to others. There always is a pattern to the abuse that looks something like this: Some person has the audacity to question a church authority on some matter, usually not an earth-shaking doctrinal matter, but something that has extrememe significance to the authority. Maybe the layman knows it is a big deal and maybe he doesn't. Nonetheless, this showing of "rebellion" on the part of the layman must not only be not tolerated, it must be nipped in the bud and everyone else in the congregation must see the consequences to the person who questions the authority. This stage may take several times of discussions between the layman and the elders to reach the point where the layman is singled out for either being attacked from the pulpit, shunned, or both.

Finally, the layman, in frustration and after suffering much pain and humiliation, leaves the church or is expelled. Sometimes he leaves under duress with his family only to be drug back into the church by leadership that refuses to release his membership, suffering even more of the same treatment. Sometimes that leadership follows him to a half dozen or so churches, poisoning the well for him so he cannot attend anywhere. Eventually, if he is lucky, he can move on and some other church will take him in and he will spend years trying to recover, to trust another in authority, to gain a perspective on the priorities of the Christian life, like evangelism and personal holiness. In the meantime, his family might be ok or his wife may have given up any hope of using her spiritual gifts and his children might go along until they leave home, where they never darken the door of a church again.

The leadership, in the meantime, make sure that they "set the record straight" for anyone who wonders whatever happened to that nice Smith family. Since the pastor has sole control over the pulpit and, in some cases, the airways, Christian conference platforms, popular blogs, self-owned publishing companies, not to mention workshop slots and booths at homeschooling conventions, he only has to continue preaching "the truth."

Now, you tell me, who received most of the rebuking from Jesus? Was it those under authority or those in authority, especially church authority?

And now you tell me that if a public figure abuses his congregants, who and how should he be held accountable? And what if those in his inner circle refuse to address the problems, then what? Is it ever appropriate for someone to go public? Darn tootin'. As far as I am concerned, a church leader places himself in the position of being scrutinized and hte more public a figure he is, the more accountable he is. This business of leaving it to "those in authority over the guy" is absurd. It is like leaving the cat in charge of the birdfeeder!

6:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cynthia,

Here is something else to consider.

Many people choose to blog anonymously for the very reasons I just listed regarding spiritual abuse. They are weary. They are hurting. Frankly, they just want others to not have to endure what they went through. Is that so hard to understand?

And for those people who just can't seem to "get it" I say, "Just wait, you will have your turn."

6:46 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

"Many people choose to blog anonymously for the very reasons I just listed regarding spiritual abuse. They are weary. They are hurting. Frankly, they just want others to not have to endure what they went through. Is that so hard to understand? "

Anonymous, I do understand that. And if you have gone through such things yourself, you have my sympathy.

You mention church leadership that follows such people "to a half dozen or so churches, poisoning the well for [them] so [they] cannot attend anywhere".

Many would wonder why folks who have attended a church where they have been controlled and abused would choose to attend another church in the same denomination, but dominational loyalty is a powerful thing.

I understand that too.

What strikes me, though, is that people who have been abused while attending a *NONdenominational* church, often leave such a church and then turn right around and seek membership at another independent church of the same abusive stripe.

It seems to me that this is what enables such ministers as you mention to harass their former members from church to church: only a minister who is questionable himself would give heed to the lies of a "pastor" who does such a thing.

Most (but by no means all)reputable ministers in mainstream denominations are trained to recognise the patterns of abuse, and they typically give short shrift to tale-bearing pastors who come to them peddling such nonsense; and, independent pastors who have no denominational oversight are much more apt to fall into controlling, abusive patterns of behavior in the first place.

Some abusers start their own churches for that very reason -- precisely BECAUSE they couldn't get away with that stuff in any traditional sort of church setting.

If you have been abused, don't give up, ARE lots of good churches out there. But if church abuse begins to become a pattern, it may be time to shift gears and try out a more mainstream type of congregation.

9:16 AM  
Blogger momofgrace said...

Biblical counselor, Jay Adams, contends that a church must uphold the discipline of another church body. Reformed people believe that discipline is one of the marks of a true church. Combine the two, add in a dose of overlording, and there you have it!

9:23 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Well, no wonder there's a problem then. Discipline is one of the marks of a true church body, but it is also a mark of Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Islam.
The idea that a church must uphold the discipline of another church body may have worked in the first century, but it has been obsolete since at least the time of the Reformation.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Corrie said...

Anonymous,

Great thoughts.

Especially this:

"Now, you tell me, who received most of the rebuking from Jesus? Was it those under authority or those in authority, especially church authority?

And now you tell me that if a public figure abuses his congregants, who and how should he be held accountable? And what if those in his inner circle refuse to address the problems, then what? Is it ever appropriate for someone to go public? Darn tootin'. As far as I am concerned, a church leader places himself in the position of being scrutinized and hte more public a figure he is, the more accountable he is. This business of leaving it to "those in authority over the guy" is absurd. It is like leaving the cat in charge of the birdfeeder!"

I couldn't agree more. I don't know many situations where these sorts of leaders are held accountable. Sure, there is a lot of "talk" about the theory of holding them accountable but there is little if any evidence of such accountability. These sorts of leaders usually get a "pass".

11:09 PM  

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