Ghosting In the Machine

This post has nothing to do with Gilbert Ryle, or Arthur Koestler, or the English rock band, The Police. It has to do with something that goes on among Christians far too often within the “machine” we call the “church.”

Benjamin Corey at Patheos has an excellent piece on the practice of Christian “ghosting.” The term refers to  the act of cutting people out of your life overnight without a second glance behind you. If you’ve been “ghosted”, you cease to exist to those involved.

Corey’s article describes how this happened to him in his church fellowship and what the fallout was for him and his family. Once you are labeled, those who disagree with you on any number of issues can then discard you with ease. In many churches, there is no concept of co-existing with those who have divergent views. I’m not talking about views on cardinal doctrine, I am talking about things like gun ownership, length of hair on either gender, clothing choices, types of music listened to, education or vaccines—that sort of thing. Oh, and people will ghost you on secondary or tertiary doctrinal issues as well, like age at baptism, Christian “Sabbath” keeping, election and predestination, etc. etc.

I spoke once, this was about 12 years ago, to a family in the UK. They had helped to found a church in North America that became very large. Their family suffered a terrible wrong at the hands of one of the church members. Because the victimizer was a family member of an elder, the wagons were circled, the perpetrator was protected, and the church family, of one accord, turned on the victim with blame. Both parents took turns on the phone describing the horror of going from church founders,  beloved members of a church community, to pariahs. To be seen at a local mall and to have backs turned on you, people who once supposedly loved and cared for you is devastating. The couple and their family ended up leaving to return to their home in the UK.  It was a multi-layered tragedy., the fallout of which continued through the years in their family.

Lack of love and respect for others within what calls itself Christianity is a recurring theme at this blog. Daily, I am reminded of the damage done when sinful conduct towards others not only goes on, but is even passed off as piety. “We separated from the terrible compromisers!” Or, “We removed the leaven from among us!”  Actually, you attempted to cover the stench of your spiritual rot with the more powerful stench of your sanctimony.  But don’t let that get in the way of your act, ghosters.

The absence of a conscience on these matters is the hallmark of our times.  I often ask myself if those who have “ghosted” our family ever have a thought in the night of what they did.  Do they ever lie awake and feel an ounce of shame? What excuses do they tell themselves to justify what they did when we had done nothing to them? I can say with confidence that they don’t think of it.  If you have love, it compels you to right wrongs. If you fear the Lord in the right way, you can’t leave things unsettled for years on end. Shame, the right kind of shame you feel when you’ve done something bad to someone else, has to kick in at some point, and it makes you yearn for things to be right. That’s if you have a conscience.

It’s odd how the verse in Scripture about the loss of natural affection in the Last Days is frequently used by fundamentalist Christians  to describe things like aborting or otherwise abusing a child, a parent against child, a child against parent. We see this all over the headlines. But the most blatant loss of natural affection for each other as believers is ignored. That’s also a sign of the perilous times the Scriptures speak of.  No shame in treating your fellow Christians badly. No conscience on things that matter most—being right with other people around you.

I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll say it again.  The moaning about the exodus of young adults from evangelical and fundamental churches misses the most obvious cause for the departure. The forms of religion continue – but the power of God is gone. Where God’s power is, there is forgiveness. There is love for each other that is not easily wiped out. There is the right kind of tolerance–tolerance that allows the Holy Spirit to do the work in the lives of others,  tolerance that accepts differences of opinion, that doesn’t sit back and judge the motives and tastes of fellow Christians as though we alone have it right on every single issue.

You can mark it down. Wherever there is humility and reconciliation, that is where the Lord is present. Most churches today, I don’t care what stripe or label they claim, are operating by the power of the flesh. That includes many churches that thunder against the moral issues in the world while ignoring the weightier matters of cannibalism within their own ranks. That is why the landscape spiritually is so bleak. Hearts softened by the living Lord are moved to forgive.  They are moved with genuine concern, not about church growth—but about the well being of people.  That’s where healing is. That’s where joy is. And that’s the kind of living Christianity that will attract rather than repel.

Godspeed, Lourdes Torres!

stop-abuseI want to express my full support for Lourdes Torres, the former nanny to Doug Phillips who has filed a lawsuit regarding Phillips treatment of her as a “sex object”, according to the paperwork.

Lourdes has found her voice, and she is not hiding, afraid of the Patriarchy Mafia that so often stifles truth-telling on these moral matters. Having once promoted Doug Phillips’ ministry, with as much volume as I can muster, I am now helping to spread the word about its well-deserved demise.

People question why abuse could go on so long. The power dynamic, referred to by Torres’ attorney, has to be understood. When someone controls every aspect of your life, when the only teaching a woman has had is from the Patriarchy world, when religion and “God” are a part of the whole thing, when your own church has the predator in authority, thinking can be incredibly warped. The world of false Patriarchy teachings has created a seedbed for a number of evils. These wrong teachings have led to situations like the one that Lourdes has gone through.

My sincere prayers are with Ms. Torres, as she faces an opposing legal team that will, without doubt,  do all they can to destroy her reputation to discredit her. When bully leaders are brought down, hell has no comparable fury. But I hope Lourdes knows that there are a large number who are supporting her, admiring her courage and who are grateful that she is speaking out. As I said in a previous post, there is a new wind blowing, a rare good trend amid so many bleak ones today. Corrupt leaders are dropping like flies. May it not stop until all of them are stripped of their platforms to hurt others.

Here is the story from WorldnetDaily.

Toxic Relationship Tip of the Day

If you said, “Aha! Exactly!” when you saw this, just realize that this is absolutely textbook behavior for narcissistic sociopaths who harm others. There is a very simple solution for this, but the most obvious thing tends to be the last thing we notice sometimes in these situations. Don’t take the bait from these people. Hit the road and congratulate yourself on progress.

(P.S. Anyone who believes the distortions and lies from those who characterize justified moral outrage and hurt as “instability” doesn’t love you anyway, so who cares?)  🙂

 

baitingandbashing

Sex Abusers in Our Midst: Be Very Afraid

stopchildpredatorsWell, well, well. This week we had the suspension of Bill Gothard by his own ministry (they’ve placed him on what they delicately call “administrative leave”) after a mere 34 women alleged sex-abuse as girls at IBLP. Those of us who said something was rotten a long time ago in Oak Brook, Illinois, among their other locales, were dismissed as virulent Enemies of Truth, willing to question a Great Man of God. I have one response to that: Pass the sick bag.

We just went through the public downfall of another champion of family values (and historical costuming), Doug Phillips, who flamed out in spectacular fashion. This morning I checked my email to find yet another savory tapa served up from the  kitchen of evangelicalism. It appears that numerous adults are making allegations (and filing lawsuits) over rampant child molestation among the Jesus People USA, a big fad a few decades ago. I say “fad” because most evangelical movements, whatever they are, last about 20 years if they’re lucky.

If I had a dime for every evangelical and fundamentalist I’ve heard sneer at Roman Catholic priests because they are “dirty child molesters”, I’d be one wealthy woman. Indeed there were and are Roman Catholic priests molesting children and destroying innocence. But let’s not act like Protestant evangelical fundamentalists can keep away from children any better.

I subscribe to several sites that share breaking news on child molesters whatever their religious stripe. We have an epidemic of child sexual abuse, and it doesn’t seem to matter what the pervs claim to believe. They are a menace to children. The Independent Baptist church molesters and their filthy enablers who cover up sexual abuse are just as damned as any molesting priest wearing a clerical collar or some cult leading loon. They are all monsters for harming children.

Why does it take so long for these outhouses to blow? I know why. It’s because everyone who enables abuse has something to lose by outing the perpetrator or leaving. Everyone is on the take. People get paychecks. They have mortgages. Or maybe they like their position of influence. Or it makes their empty life feel more important because they are the right hand man/woman to the First Grand Cyclops of whatever “ministry” or “church” they operate. Whatever it is that causes them to demonize the victims and cover up for the perp, the net result is destruction of innocent people. And I’m sick of it.

There’s a new wind blowing, one of the only refreshing breezes on this fetid planet. That wind is the sound of victims who aren’t being quiet anymore. They’re coming forward, whether they are former missionary kids dumped and molested at boarding schools in some remote place while Mom and Dad evangelized strangers, whether they are altar boys scarred for life by pedophile priests, ATI/IBLP Gothard refugees who are now reporting what really went on, or one of the innumerable victims at churches of every stripe on earth. I say to them, step up to the mic. The world is ready to hear your stories.

We blame much of the downfall of this country on the war against the traditional family, abortion rights, and on and on. My theory is that this country is finished because the people who were supposed to be the lights in the darkness are actually part of it. They live their darkness, however, in secret, all the while braying into bullhorns and microphones about family values, raising “godly” kids, fighting Muslims and Obamacare.

I have a message for all the spiritual abusers in high places who prey and feast on innocents. Here it is: You’d better run. Your victims are finding their voices. To those who say that those voices speaking out “harm the cause of Christ”, let me ask you this: Since when did the Cause of Christ involve child molestation?

The true Cause of Christ is served when those who claim to be followers of Jesus deal with the perverts in their midst who harm innocent children. The true Cause of Christ is to speak for the helpless and for those without a voice. Failure to clean house in churches and ministries guarantees that the world will do it on the next newscast instead.  To paraphrase a bumper sticker, Jesus is coming back, and boy, is He angry.

Helpful Links for Those Struggling to Understand

Given the surprising recent number of hits on articles I have posted in previous years about toxic relationships, I’m going to post some further article links here that will hopefully give additional insight. Each year at this time, there is an uptick in online searches on topics related to dysfunctional family systems. The holidays have a way of resurrecting issues many thought they had buried. These are just listed FYI, and may be of some help on the subject.

Verbal and Emotional Abuse – this is a helpful list of behaviors that, once understood, can be better avoided. Take special note of the term “gaslighting.” No other toxic behavior of destructive people (the ones I call the Human Wrecking Balls) is as effective at destroying others as this one. When you toy with someone’s mind and perception of reality for specific ends, it is evil on steroids. Narcissists create the instability that they then can falsely finger as the source of the problem. Very clever. Identify this behavior and walk away.

Selfishness and Narcissistic Family Systems

Narcissists Force Co-Dependent Relationships

I have more to share and will add some in coming days. Conservative Christians are often so busy inveighing against the evils of psychology, it’s a little embarrassing to realize that narcissistic sociopaths are explained and defined down to their last method in psychology text books around the world, while those with their Bible raised aloft frequently seem to know only how to further enable the perpetrators. This explains why people in the corporate world are frequently seen on the front pages of newspapers for losing their platforms and jobs for destructive behavior, while pastors and other Christian leaders can continue on for decades untouched by consequences. They are surrounded by those who claim to believe in God and his Word, and yet they enable the most unspeakable evil done in Christ’s name. Those injured are shunned and discarded.

If people can identify these behaviors for what they are, whether in churches or in families, it’s step one in ensuring that more lives are not destroyed by this kind of thing. If many people, Christians in particular, were aware of what this grotesque, malignant pride does and how it manifests in relationships, there would be a great deal more hope for salvaging lives before untold damage is done to health and to faith. Yes, it is all sin, but seeing the enemy of soul’s devices is a first step toward resisting.

Faith. The greatest damage, beyond the emotional and psychological, is done to faith. The question asked by the “little people” when they see God “using” these “great workers for God” is this: If this, God, is what you have to use to advance your kingdom, what exactly is being advanced when it’s built on the bones of victims? It becomes very difficult for those injured, sometimes horribly crippled, by soul-destroying people, to understand what exactly they are following when God seems to put his own stamp of endorsement on “Bible-believing”, conservative leaders who grind those closest to them under their cloven hooves – behind the scenes, where nobody can see it or hear the cries for help. Or, should I say, where nobody will listen to the cries for help.

It is not godly to be silent on these issues, contrary to the pietistic thought of many in churches or families. One of the greatest tools of the enemy is to convince those injured in Christ’s name that they are “suffering for Jesus” by saying nothing and not sharing what they have learned. Persecution by the world and declared enemies of Christ is bad enough, and we are told to expect it. Abuse wielded under cover of a Christian banner and churches and ministries is quite another. All silence does in cases like that is lengthen the victim list. And that is a terrible thing.

Rejecting “Sticker Jesus”

stickerjesusI once saw a Sunday School chart on a wall where attendance was kept. For each Sunday that kids showed up, a sticker was placed on the chart with a cartoon drawing depicting Jesus on it. It is helpful for each of us to ponder whether that is the “Jesus” we as professing Christian believers have or not.

The world of  Sticker Jesus is a confusing one. It seems to be a “Christian” place, if by “Christian” we mean adhering to a specific set of external standards. Certain things are shunned in a knee-jerk fashion, like rock music, smokes, booze, certain words, even playing cards (because somebody might think you are gambling.) I once heard someone rail against “sipping saints” while the indignant tee-totaling person was a nasty, lying gossip. (Sticker Jesus is not OK with a glass of wine with dinner, but gossip and slander and lies, not a problem.) So external rightness is the norm in Sticker Jesus Land, but upon closer scrutiny, other things don’t look Christian at all.

In Sticker Jesus Land, your behavior doesn’t have to look anything like the Jesus of the Bible. Here, you can invent false narratives to explain any relational  irregularities in your life caused by your own corruption. (Please pray for Brother or Sister X, they have gone prodigal. Pray that something dramatic happens to bring them back to the Lord.) Worse still, Sticker Jesus followers actually come to believe those lying narratives. Blindness is the norm. Who cares if I am ignoring whole swaths of Scriptural teaching? My “Jesus” is the one I serve, and he tells me that it’s everyone else’s fault if things are bad behind the scenes. Let’s pray for those with a root of bitterness!

Sticker Jesus is OK with a lot of things the real Jesus is not OK with. That is, if you actually read what the real Jesus said in the Bible.  Sadly, Sticker Jesus followers do incredible damage, because they wear deceptive masks. When the masks eventually come down, and they always do, those they have misled are left to wonder whether any real Jesus actually exists, because Sticker Jesus followers often give their family and followers a foretaste of hell, not heaven, and those burned and deceived want no more of that. Those affected by Sticker Jesus followers can be effectively inoculated against the real Jesus Christ because of the hurt they carry.

Sticker Jesus followers are legion. Real Jesus followers are rare—too rare. Better to have no pretense of a Jesus at all than to be a walking billboard for a counterfeit Christ.

A Strange Encounter of the Bearded Kind

bikerI was at a fireworks display for the 4th of July with my sister’s family, Tom and our kids. It was a beautiful evening, and a lot of fun was had by all. As we gathered up the blankets by the lake shore to head home after the grand finale, a bearded character rolled up on a bicycle on the sidewalk behind us, seemingly out of nowhere. Without saying hello, without introducing himself or any niceties of that nature, he looked directly at me in a fierce kind of way, and proceeded to praise a certain religious activist I used to be involved with in the old days. His exact words were, “He’s the greatest, most courageous man in the world right now with this terrible onslaught.” (I assumed he was referring to the culture wars, but who knows.)

I stared at the creepy and rude man in confusion. First off, who in the world was he, how had even known who I was in the darkness, sitting with my family? And what made him think I wanted to hear him laud the character traits of a man he didn’t even know except on radio?

The bearded messenger rolled off into the night without the courtesy of a good-bye. I have wondered about the encounter ever since. The biggest thing I took away from the conversation was that the man had shaped his entire judgment of the aforementioned hero based on a disembodied voice coming out of his radio or computer. I happened to know that the man in question is not a man of courage, he is a miserable coward, a misogynist, a bully and an opportunist of the highest (lowest) order. He is a flaming narcissist who has left a trail of victims in his wake. But I have a feeling that truth would not have been welcomed in the mind of the mysterious bicyclist. It would have conflicted with the “Great Man of God” idol he had erected in the vacuum of good leadership we have today.

Please, let me help readers with this. Having been there, it takes zero courage to get on the radio and say things. Sitting in the comfort of a padded studio with a decent income and a little fan base to cheer you on no matter what you do, it is hardly a sacrifice. The average person out there says, “Gee, that is great! Somebody is leading us. Let’s follow. Let’s carry banners and proclaim them to be a person of great moral courage.” I have one thing to say to that, and it’s found in the title of a song from Porgy and Bess: “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

As I have noted before, the world of “Christian” media is littered with human train wrecks. The nature of media attracts highly insecure, ego-driven people who find their personal affirmation in campaigning for this cause or that. They find they can assemble a group of (sometimes brain dead) followers who will cheer them on no matter what. It’s a chance at “celebrity”, a chance to be the voice that thunders truth. Ethics, meh. Not important. Relationships with other Christians? Are you kidding me? Only if they are useful to the cause. Otherwise they are just a part of the great unwashed rabble needing a kick to the head to straighten up. The thinking goes like this: If they object to my little kingdom, heck, they are probably mentally unstable to boot. In fact, they ARE mentally unstable to oppose me, and come to think of it, deserving of anything I dish out. I think I’ll send some anonymous hate mail to underscore their moral inferiority and human worthlessness. (And if I get caught, I’ll lie about it. Nobody will believe that I, the Great White Knight, am capable of such a thing! It’s that nutty dissenter off his/her meds again.)

If my tone sounds a bit harsh here, you are very perceptive. The blind idolatry of Christians is more apparent to me every day that goes by, and it has, for me, the effect vinegar has on milk. It curdles things. This kind of behavior and thinking does incalculable damage to those trying to hang onto their faith in the midst of these confusing times. If you don’t believe that, explain the countless websites published by victims of this mindset. It’s enough to make the angels weep. Our young son listened to the bearded bicyclist praise somebody he knew was corrupt. He looked at us as we walked to the car. “I don’t think that guy got the memo,” he said, shaking his head. No, apparently not. Memos like that are unacceptable. Go with the myth instead, go with the public image. That is, apparently, all that matters.

So, to any other odd bicyclists out there who intend to do a drive-by hallelujah session for their favorite Christian bully on the front lines, save your breath for the ride home. I don’t listen to the bully boys anymore, and I don’t listen to their followers. I don’t care about their flashy new websites, social media platforms where they can preach to each other, and I don’t want to read their dire warnings online. I’ve blocked anybody on Facebook who wants to link to them. Integrity matters, and I no longer have time for the borderlines, the sickos, the corrupt users, the morbidly obese egos draped in spirituality, and the Great Men of God who leave their own families in smoking ruins. You men and your fawning enablers are no longer welcome in our lives.