Category Archives: Religion’s Cell Articles

What does God DELIGHT in?

Believe it or not, there are countless millions that sincerely believe that God delights in their religiosity. What is religiosity? It is any or all of the following:

•  Attending a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other place of worship
•  Serving in a ministry of any place of worship
•  Converting others
•  Following religious rules put in place by religious leaders or those of the Old Testament
•  Punishing sinners
•  Reading and studying religious texts
•  Supporting church leaders
•  Unquestionable loyalty to a religious institution
•  Unquestionable loyalty to religious leaders
•  Super modest attire (women and young girls only)
•  Giving to the church or its ministry needs
•  Growing a church to large numbers
•  Bringing people to church to ‘hear the truth’ or to get ‘saved’
•  Blind loyalty to religiously taught dogmas and precepts
•  Memorizing religious texts

Actually, this list of religious behaviors (religiosity) could really go on and on! It is endless what people believe will please God and make them ‘right with God.’ So, for the sake of the millions who are living under this premise that they are pleasing God, I would like to shed some light on what God says pleases him. I have already covered what pleases God many times in articles on this blog. However, sometimes it is necessary to not ‘beat around the bush’ and just come right out and say it plainly…..RELIGIOSITY AND RELIGION DO NOT PLEASE GOD!

• Attending a religious institution does NOT please God!
• Serving in a ministry of a religious institution does NOT please God!
• Following religious rules does NOT please God!
• Memorizing religious texts does NOT please God!
• Punishing sinners does NOT please God!
• Dressing ‘modestly’ does NOT please God!
• Reading and studying religious texts does NOT please God!
• Financially supporting religious institutions and their leaders does NOT please God!
• Unquestionable loyalty to a religious institution, its leaders, its dogmas and precepts, does NOT please God!
• Building a church does NOT please God!
• Bringing people to church (a religious institution) to ‘hear the truth’ or to get ‘saved’ does NOT please God!

Well, some of you might be thinking at this point that what I have just stated sounds ridiculous. Well, maybe if I deliver my thoughts differently you won’t think I’m completely off my rocker. So, let’s take a look at what GOD says pleases him as compared to what man tells us pleases Him. Religions of the world tell us that all the above things please God and keep us in ‘good standing’ with Him. Not so.

According to the Prophets – What pleases God?

MICAH
Micah taught that God’s primary demand of human beings is to act ethically: “And what does the Lord require of you? To do JUSTICE, love MERCY, and walk HUMBLY with God” (6:8). Micah doesn’t speak of faith, sacrifices, or religious behaviors or rituals. Instead he says God’s most significant demands are justice, mercy (compassion), and humility. All of these traits are rooted in ETHICS.

JEREMIAH
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; let not the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But one should only glory in this: That he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, Who exercises mercy, justice and righteousness on the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.(9:23-24)”

Jeremiah singles out the top three things that people tend to pride themselves on which cause them to feel superior to others and feel smug in their religiosity. But what delights God the most is mercy, justice and righteousness. Anyone who does not understand this does not “understand and know” God.

Don’t expect God to be impressed with how smart you are, how strong you are or how much money you have. Compared with God and his wisdom, strength and wealth, these mean nothing to him. However, using these things to bless others can impress God when used to achieve ethical ends. In other words, teach and inspire others to be good, use your power and strength to protect the oppressed, give your money to help those in need. People that do these things are pleasing to God.

ISAIAH
According to Jewish teaching, Isaiah condensed the Old Testament’s 613 commandments into six principles of behavior:

• Practicing righteousness
• Speaking truthfully and fairly
• Spurning dishonest gain
• Refusing bribes
• Closing one’s ears to blood (not associating with anyone plotting violence against another)
• Closing one’s eyes from seeing evil (blindness to abuses and abusers)

Jewish Wisdom teaches us that, according to Isaiah, a person who does these things “will dwell on high” (33:15-16); i.e. be rewarded by God. Isaiah, according to Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, “denounced the tendency to believe that God’s favor can be won by those who do evil, and then offer prayers or perform ritual acts: “And when you lift up your hands [in prayer], I will turn My eyes from you. Though you pray at length, I will not listen. Your hands are stained in blood” (1:15).

God’s main wish for us as his children is to be righteous and ethical. It is not his wish for us to act religiously! Your religiosity has absolutely nothing to do with ethics. Religiosity does not make one ethical, righteous, humble, or pleasing to God.

“Is such the fast I desire, a day for men to starve their bodies? Is it bowing the head. . .and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day when the Lord is favorable? No, this is the fast I desire: . . . to let the oppressed go free and to break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin” (58:5-7). Isaiah is telling us that we should not fast to try and please God, we should fast so that we know what it is like to be hungry! In knowing what it is like to put ourselves in shoes of the less fortunate, we will have more compassion on our fellow man who is in need. We will treat such a person with kindness, compassion, love and mercy – all ethical behaviors. Most people I know fast in order to get something from God. How many fast in order to learn to exercise humility, compassion, mercy, or justice in dealing with others?

AMOS AND HOSEA
Both of these men emphasized the importance of ethical behavior over religiosity. According to Amos, any prayer offered by unethical people actually offends God: “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (5:22-24).

Hosea teaches that ethical behavior appeases God. “For I desire kindness and not sacrifice, attachment to God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

ZECHARIAH
Zechariah also proclaims that God’s main concern is for people to behave ethically: “then the word of God came to Zechariah: This is what the God of Hosts said: ‘Render true justice, be kind and merciful to one another. Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the convert or the poor; and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another’” (Zechariah 7:8-10). It was Israel’s refusal to obey these injunctions that brought God’s wrath upon them. What makes us think we can escape his wrath for ignoring them?

MALACHI
Malachi teaches that fair and compassionate treatment of others is the fruit of belief in God: “have we not all one father? Did not one God create us? Why do we break faith with one another (not treating them ethically), profaning the covenant of our ancestors?” (2:10). What this means is that it is important for us to not only do God’s will by treating others ethically (doing what is just and right and not breaking faith with others) but, we need to teach it to our children. “Gen 18:19: For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (This is the covenant of our ancestors: to do justice and judgment and teach it to our children.).

In looking back at biblical text it is important for us to realize the reasons God punished Israel and take heed. God condemned Israel for doing the following:

• Oppressing the poor (Amos 2:7)
• Perverting justice (Amos 5:7)
• Using unjust weights (Micah 6:10-11)
• Accepting bribes (Micah 3:11)
• Lying (Jeremiah 9:4)
• Murdering and stealing (Jeremiah 7:9)
• Adultery (Jeremiah 5:8)
• Swearing falsely (Jeremiah 5:2)
• Not paying workers their wages (Jeremiah 22:13)
• Disregarding others’ property rights (Micah 2:2)

Because of all these UNETHICAL behaviors, Israel was continually being punished by God. It doesn’t matter what you BELIEVE. It doesn’t matter your RELIGION. It doesn’t matter if you go to CHURCH or give exorbitant amounts of money to charitable institutions. None of these things PLEASE God. The ETHICAL treatment of others pleases God. Rooted in humility, ethical treatment of others is what God is wanting from his children. Religiosity has nothing to do with ethics. I know many who have forgone ethics to do what their religion tells them to do. They have prostituted themselves with the “church” to gain the favor of the church and its leaders instead of doing God’s will and walking humbly, exercising justice, and extending mercy and compassion to others.

Ethical behavior means more to God than your religion, your beliefs, your money, your sacrifice! Ethics come from WITHIN. They are a part of one’s character. They are rooted in genuine LOVE and RESPECT for one’s fellow man. Religiosity and religion are rooted in man’s opinions, interpretations, and man-made rules given by the religious institutions one serves. Religion and religiosity can actually undermine the work of the Spirit of God in our lives by overriding our conscience to follow religious rules and/or precepts in order to ‘be right with God.’ Both can become a part of our character. Both are learned behaviors and attitudes. One leads to righteousness, compassion, humility and mercy, the other leads to hate, oppression, murder, inequality, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, etc. One causes us to lift up and edify our neighbor, the other causes us to disregard, oppress and harm our neighbor.

With this in mind, let’s do what pleases God. In doing so, we will make the world a better place and bring God’s blessing upon us and our nation.

Ethical not Religious!

God’s central demand of human beings is to act ethically. — Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

ethicsEthics is slowly disappearing in the world. Instead of people having their own code of moral values with which to guide their lives, they have been deceived into accepting a corrupted set of values. There are countless millions that have given up personal ethics for “religion.”  In doing so, they have replaced ethics with a new term – “religious.” As a result, religion has effectively found a way to bypass an individual’s responsibility to treat others ethically. Ethical treatment doesn’t just include honesty it includes treating others with fairness, autonomy, respect, honor and dignity without regard to preference or belief. These are moral principles that all are entitled to receive. I would be very afraid of any culture that practices religion instead of ethics.

Sadly, just because you are religious does not mean you are ethical. Being religious does not mean you are spiritual. Being religious does not even ensure that you are going to be a moral person! “Religiosity” is adherence to a set of religious observances. It can be used as a façade or mask. Many wear this facade to hide abuses, sin, and unethical behaviors and attitudes. They want to appear upstanding, honest and ethical for peer approval. As a society we have merged the term religious with other terms that it has nothing to do with! Now, Religious = ethical, honest, respectful, trustworthy, thoughtful, caring, considerate, God-loving, etc.

Religious has nothing to do with all of these things! It has to do with ritual observances, not ethics. Most people will determine whether or not they will treat a person with respect, honor and dignity based on their religious observances because these observances are either rooted in, or influenced by, theological beliefs (the religion). What do we do when theological beliefs are twisted, and are rooted in lies and mens opinions? We will find abuses hidden under the façade! We will find all manner of corruption, oppression, rules, evil, and atrocities. We will also find countless victims of the abuses.

Theological beliefs do not make a person ethical (although they have potential to help a person develop their ethics). Theological beliefs do not make a person spiritual. Theological beliefs do not even ensure that a person is a moral person! All theological beliefs do is instill a set of religious rules and precepts (the religion) which will influence a person’s behavior and attitude for either good or bad. “Religiosity,” then, is a set of ritual observances influenced by theological belief. Many base their ethics on their “religion” instead of what is morally and ethically right! Ethics is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

Thus, we can find a flawed pattern of thinking for many religious people in determining how some of them treat others. (When I use “not religious” below, I am referring to not keeping the religious rules and precepts [theological beliefs] and/or exhibiting religiosity by attending church or serving in a religious ministry [ritual observances].) It could go something like this:

  • They don’t go to church (not religious), therefore they cannot be trusted. (Religion does not determine one’s honesty and integrity.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), therefore they are on their way to hell. (Religion does not determine one’s salvation.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), therefore they are “backslidden.” (Religion does not determine one’s relationship with God.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), so, I will do business with someone that does. (Religion does not determine one’s honesty and integrity in business.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious) therefore they are a bad influence and may lead me into sin. (Religion does not determine Character.)
  • They don’t go to church (not religious), they are of the “world.” (Religion does not determine who is “of the world.”)
  • They aren’t a part of my religion, they deserve to go to hell. (See how cruel Religion is?)
  • They won’t do as I say, therefore they deserve to be punished, or worse, to die. (Honor killing/violence – See how cruel Religion is?)
  • They don’t believe as we do, let’s hurt them. (Religion hurts those it cannot control.)
  • They are going through a tragedy, therefore God is punishing them for their sin. (Religion is judging people?)

Can you see the point I am trying to make here? Sometimes, we judge or make assessments about others based on our “religion.” Religion is the rules and precepts created by “the Church” that influence our behavior and attitude toward others. Instead, we should be basing our attitudes and treatment of others on ethics! God wants us to treat others ethically because, as Rabbi Telushkin says,  “God is a God of ETHICS.”

Ethics has to do with moral principles – judging people FAIRLY, expressing GRATITUDE, asking for FORGIVENESS when we have wronged others, expressing anger without inflicting irrevocable HURT, not speaking UNFAIRLY of others, HONESTY, INTEGRITY, treating others with DIGNITY and RESPECT, RESISTING the urge to be envious, to hate, to seek revenge. God wants everyone to be ethical toward others! This can only be done when we truly LOVE our neighbor as ourselves. Ethics determine what you will do when no one is watching. Religiosity, a product of “the religion,” is a façade used to project to others that you are righteous, ethical, and trustworthy, when in fact, you may not be. This facade totally bypasses a person’s responsibility to treat everyone ethically no matter what their preference or belief is. As a result of this new term in society, the Religious have an excuse for treating people unethically – based on theological belief! Religiosity can be used to gain notoriety, secure beneficial relationships for personal gain, hide sin, protect the evil from exposure, hide character flaws.

Religiosity and theological belief do not determine CHARACTER; although theological belief can affect one’s character. Thus, it is important to remind ourselves that just because someone is religious does not make them ethical. Let’s disconnect this term, religious, from our lives and live by ethics and integrity. Let’s treat people ethically no matter their belief, lifestyle or religious affiliation. There is no place of prejudice, dishonesty, judgmentalism, envy, strife, exclusion, or hatred within ethics. These traits only abide under a religious and theological banner where corruption has entered, taken root, and sprouted.

 

The Terrible Toll of Hatred

The Terrible Toll of Hatred

When people commit terrible crimes and an enormous punishment comes upon them, they step back, recognize the evil they have done, and repent. But people guilty of “groundless hatred” never acknowledge that they have committed a sin. Ask them if they think it is wrong to hate their opponents and they will tell you why their adversaries are worthy of being hated. Consequently, although their sin seems to be of a lesser dimension, they never repent of it.

“Love blinds us to faults, hatred to virtues.”—Moshe ibn Ezra (c. 1055-after 1135), Shirat Yisrael

“Hatred makes the straight crooked.”—Hebrew proverb

People who hate don’t “see straight.” Describe to them a good act performed by a person they despise, and they will formulate theories explaining why it really is evil, or motivated by evil intentions.

— – Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Wisdom, pg 197.

These words of Telushkin should cause us to step back and carefully consider how we are viewing those “we have hatred for.” Hatred should be aimed at “evil doers” in order to stop their tyranny and evil which is directly aimed at hurting and/or destroying innocent people. It is not for those we “hate” because of lifestyle, ethnicity, bad choices, or opposing beliefs. Evil doers are only interested in controlling and manipulating people for their own selfish causes; whatever those selfish causes may be (notoriety, money, power, religion, etc.). Evil’s goal is to impose its beliefs and standards onto others by force (bondage) or, through deception.  The opposition to Evil, is “unconditional love.” Unconditional love brings freedom, autonomy, and joy. One is rooted in “darkness” and the other is rooted in “Light.”

Sadly, when we allow evil doers to get away with their evil and they are not heavily punished, they will continue to perpetrate evil and more victims will fall prey to their destruction; or worse, begin perpetrating evil themselves against other innocent victims. It is so important that we stop Evil and those who perpetrate it before more innocent lives are overtaken by it and them. Evil does not want us to be happy and free. It wants us to be controlled. It wants to manipulate us into do its bidding. What is Evil’s bidding? Making people “blind” in order to perpetrate more Evil under a false facade. Evil uses behavior modification, mind control, and information control to bring innocent people over to its side. As a result, “blindness” causes good people to do and say bad things to other good people! It also causes good people to perpetrate evil against other good people.

Hatred is a seed that can sprout Evil in my opinion. Misplaced hatred for any reason other than evil behavior’s and attitudes that harm and destroy innocent people, is wrong. The Evil have made crooked a straight path. In the end, the harm they inflict will have a ripple effect and many will either succumb to the evil themselves or, be destroyed as a result. The Evil will be held accountable by God for each and every person affected by their evil.

This said, when Evil is perpetrated by people who claim to represent God, they commit the ultimate and unpardonable sin:

The Third Commandment also has not fared well in English. Lo tissa et shem Ha-Shem Eloheikha la-shav is usually translated as “You shall not TAKE the Lord your God’s name in vain.” Many people think that this means that you have to write God as G-D, or that it is blasphemous to say words such as “god-damn.” Even if these assumptions are correct, it’s still hard to figure out what makes this offense so heinous that it’s included in the document that forbids murdering, stealing, idolatry, and adultery. However, the Hebrew, Lo tessa, literally means “You shall not CARRY [God’s name in vain]”; in other words don’t use God as your justification in selfish causes. The Third commandment is the only one concerning which God says, “for the Lord God will not forgive him who carries His name in vain” (Exodus 20:6-7). The reason now seems to be clear. When a person commits an evil act, he discredits himself. But when a religious person commits an evil act in the name of God, he or she discredits God as well. And since God relies on religious people to bring knowledge of Him into the world, He pronounces this sin unpardonable.” — Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy

Overcoming FEAR

fearToday, I would like to cover a topic that is of major concern to me when it comes to those who have been abused. Abuse can come in many forms. It can be emotional abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse and exploitation. Whatever the abuse is that happens to us, it creates fear and this fear can stifle a person’s growth. Many times, these fears are “instilled” fears. They are learned over time through the experiences we have had to walk through in life. These instilled fears can also be the by-product of brainwashing/indoctrination. As a result, it produces in people negative traits that follow them wherever they go. It determines reaction. It determines outcomes. Because this issue is so prevalent and difficult to control, I thought I would take a shot at maybe helping others through their fears by telling about mine and how I deal with them. Let me start by naming some fears that many people deal with (this includes me!) who have gone through abuse of any kind:

  • Fear of other people
  • Fear of being made a fool of
  • Fear of being hurt again
  • Fear of being called names and labeled
  • Fear of being shamed
  • Fear of being wrong or making a mistake
  • Fear of being attacked physically or publicly (public humiliation)
  • Fear of being shunned
  • Fear of being slandered or character assassinated
  • Fear of government
  • Fear of church leaders
  • Fear of being threatened
  • Fear of not being believed
  • This list of fears could go on and on!

First of all, let me say that having fear is normal! It is natural to be fearful. As children, we are afraid of the dark; but then our parents help us through that fear by getting a night light in our room. As we get older and grow through further education, we realize there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark. Also, as children, we have parents that reassure us and nurture us along, helping to guide us through that fear until we are old enough to educate ourselves. But who do we have to help nurture and guide us through our fears as adults? Friends, family and professional counselors.

If you are a Christian reading this, then your answer would be, “You can trust in God! God will not give you more than you can handle. If you really trusted in God, you would not fear.” Sadly, these parroted responses taught to us in church or Sunday school do not eliminate fear. As a matter of fact, all they do is produce more fear, shame, and negative self-talk in someone suffering from fears or PTSD. Fears are REAL in the minds of those suffering from them and, these sufferers are desperately trying to cope and/or find a way to overcome them. None of us WANT to be afraid.

As survivors of religious abuses of varying kinds, we have had our thinking and behavior modified due to indoctrination. Just because we extract ourselves from the abusive organization, doesn’t mean that we leave as a “whole” human being. When I say ‘whole’ I am implying the leaving behind of the mindsets and behavioral patterns we have developed as a result of the indoctrination. When a person leaves an abusive organization or relationship, the mindsets, the fears, and the behavioral patterns all leave with that person. They do not magically disappear! These negative traits are a part of who we are as individuals. At the most inopportune time, they rear their heads in our lives and create untold hardship for us.

How does fear create hardship for us? Let’s look at some ways that it does for me and maybe some of you will relate.

IT PREVENTS FORWARD MOBILITY

Fear stops me in my tracks and prevents or hinders me from moving forward in making decisions that could be beneficial for me. It often prevents me from branching out and experiencing new things; from stepping out into the unknown to SEE what is available to me. Some of these new things could bring much happiness to my life; yet, fear prevents me.

My fears cause me to internalize negative teachings from my indoctrination in the cult into negative PERSONAL characteristics and attach them to my being. In the cult I was taught I was worthless because I was a woman. I was taught that women should not be listened to or believed. As a result of believing I was worthless, that I couldn’t do anything right, it produced other negative feelings.

Anytime I try to do anything good for myself or others, negative self-talk rears its head. My mind seemingly goes into auto-pilot mode and begins to tell me such things as the following:

  • You should have answered that question differently. People are going to misunderstand you because you said it the wrong way. See how stupid you are?
  • You should have answered that question differently. Because of the way you said it, you may have just hurt this or that person’s feelings. Now look what you’ve done!
  • You should have answered that question differently. Now people are going to take what you’ve said and use it humiliate you. They are going to twist your words! See, I told you, you are stupid!
  • You should have answered that question differently. Because I didn’t answer it differently, now people think I am a fool. Because I didn’t answer it differently, now I have lost credibility. No one will ever believe me again! See, “THEY” were right. No one should ever believe anything I say!

Here’s the reality. There is a possibility that some or all of these fears could be true. But so what? If someone misunderstands me, I apologize and make it right. If I hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize and make it right. If someone takes what I say and twists it in order to hurt me, SHAME on that person – not me! THAT person is perpetrating evil. I will continue to speak MY truth when asked. I am not perfect. I make many mistakes. I will continue to make mistakes in life as I learn and grow. Where would I be as a person if I did not have mistakes in my past to TEACH me and make me a better person? If I lose credibility, I learn from the mistake and work on getting better. No one is PERFECT. All have sinned. All fall short. Just because we fail or hurt someone does not mean we are worthless, stupid or a bad person – it means we are human! Pick yourself back up and walk!

Surround yourself with “encouragers” to help you pick yourself back up.  Encouragers are some of the greatest people you will ever meet. God has put them in our lives to help us through the difficult times. I LOVE encouragers! They are the most valuable to those of us who are hurting. Find an encourager and see the difference it can make.

IT CREATES NEGATIVE SELF-WORTH

Because we genuinely believe we are not good enough, we sabotage our efforts. We blame ourselves anytime anything bad happens! We constantly look within ourselves and reinforce the same negative traits through the same negative self-talk. It becomes a vicious cycle. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it can also lead us to PLACE blame on others in order to shift the spotlight off ourselves. Negative self-worth speaks to us as follows:

  • How could anyone love me? Look at what an awful person I am?
  • How could anyone love me? Look how I just messed up?
  • How could anyone love me? I am used goods!
  • How could anyone love me? Look at the mistakes I have made in my life!
  • How could anyone love me? I am so ugly.
  • How could anyone love me? I can’t do anything right!

This list can go on and on as well. Negative self worth prevents us from seeing how wonderful we are as human beings. It prevents us from being ourselves and enjoying life to its fullest. It will stifle mutually beneficial relationships and hinder or destroy friendships. It will also cause us to second guess everything we say!

Negative self worth can even manifest itself in ways that are repulsive to others! Have you ever come across a person that is boastful? All they do is talk about themselves and all the great things they have done? More than likely, that person suffers from a negative self-worth and acts this way in order to compensate. It never dawns on the individual that he not only comes across as boastful and proud, but he also reeks of self-absorption. Their negative self worth has hindered them from growing; instead, it produced negative fruit that will further harm them. They want to show the world they really are a fantastic person who can do great things. But what it shows others is they are not secure in themselves and who they are as a person.

When this negative self-talk rears its head, tell yourself you don’t believe it! I refuse to believe that I am worthless! I refuse to believe that I can’t do SOMETHING right! I refuse to believe that I cannot correct a mistake if I make one! I will get better! I will be better for ME and others! I will take responsibility for my mistakes and keep moving forward.

IT PRODUCES SILENCE

This has to be the number one trait of fear. It causes us to remain silent. In the face of injustice, our lips are tightly sealed. This is so sad. Because of fear, we enable abuse to further proliferate; allow abusive people to further harm others.

Here’s how my fears silenced me when I was in the cult. None of these are criminal, but they lead to a ‘blindness’ toward emotional abuse, information control and behavior modification.

  • There were opinions and lies in the many sermons that were preached. They had underlying meanings aimed at making women look bad. I said nothing to others, only my family, out of fear of being attacked or slandered for “questioning” the leadership. (See my adapted response due to fear? This allowed for these targeted sermons to continue to brainwash the men regarding women!)
  • This leader is too controlling. He wants everyone to go to him before making decisions for their family? I remained silent out of fear of confrontation or attack. I decide never to go to the pastor for advice on personal decisions. The pastor knows this and gossips to others about me in order to prevent them from listening to anything I have to say or, associating with me. Now I have only a couple of families as friends. I still remain silent and do not confront the situation. (This pastor will continue to do the same to others because of my silence.)
  • This leader is attacking me and my family publicly. I say nothing to anyone in the church. I quietly leave hoping the next church won’t use the pulpit as a whipping post to humiliate and attack people. (This allows for the abuser to keep abusing others the same way!)
  • That preacher was accused of child molestation? I won’t talk about it. It can’t possibly be true. No one else better talk about it either and hurt the cause of Christ! The preacher said, “No gossiping allowed!” (Aiding a coverup.)
  • Something is not right here. I am not getting myself involved! I don’t want to get hurt. (Another family is destroyed, has no support, and suffers because of my silence.)

Now, let’s look at some fears that I know others deal with that prevent them from stepping forward and reporting criminal abuses:

  • I was told not to report it because it was ‘my fault.’
  • I was told to let the church handle it. After all, I don’t want to hurt the cause of Christ!
  • I will be called a liar.
  • I am afraid of anyone else knowing what has happened to me.
  • I will have to carry shame for the rest of my life.
  • People will think less of me because of the abuse. They will despise me.
  • I will be ‘marked.’
  • I will be publicly humiliated.
  • Everyone will make fun of me.
  • I will be harassed.
  • They may try to hurt me.
  • And on and on we go. . .

The reality is that silence prevents justice, prevents autonomy, reinforces an abusers stronghold, destroys others, and self. Justice is really WORTH the price paid. But most don’t believe that! Speaking up could prevent further abuse. Speaking up shows others that they can speak up too! Speaking up emboldens others and, your courage in doing so may be what makes the difference in bringing about change.

Is there danger in speaking up? In standing up for yourself and your family against abuse? Yes. Don’t let the dangers stop you. It may be the bravest and most selfless thing you have ever done in your life! Standing up for what is right, because it is right, is the greatest character trait of all. Just think of how proud God will be of you! Will we have fears? Yes. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Our silence could mean destruction for someone else. Danger is a part of life. It comes and it goes. Personally, I would rather die for doing what I believe is right than hiding and cowering in fear of others and what they think. I cowered most of my life and I will cower no more. If I am going to make mistakes, I wont run from them! I will face them and allow people to SEE my humanity, my vulnerability, my genuineness. I know that through humility – owning up to my mistakes and working hard to make things right – people will forgive. I pick myself back up and march on.

None of us are perfect! We all will have good and bad days. But when we let fear LEAD us and GUIDE us, we have failed miserably. God is not pleased. ACTION overcomes FEAR. I will continue to do what I am afraid to do. I will continue to speak when I am afraid to speak. I will speak with discretion though, in order to minimize repercussions. I will use gracious words to minimize attack. I will use loving words, because I care about others. I will lift up and edify those that disagree with me, because they are human too. How I respond to the negative could determine whether or not someone who is watching is changed because of me. The same is true for each of you. Will I mess up now and again with my words? Yes. We all will!  We just apologize and move on.

Courage is contagious. Others draw strength from those that show courage and try to be courageous themselves. Fear proliferates SILENCE. Silence is also contagious. As a result, we need more people to choose to be courageous for the sake of others. If no one speaks out to stop the abuses, corruption has fertile ground to grow and more and more people will get hurt and destroyed.

Is silence worth the life of one single soul? No. Will FEAR continue to control my life and keep me silent? No. Eventually, I will gain the victory over my fears with each step I take to conquer them. Is there joy outside of the fear? Yes. Is there danger? Could be. You will only know what lies ahead when you take action to do what you are afraid to do. What I have learned is that, in MOST cases, my fears were always bigger than reality. I bet they will be for you too.

1 Cor. 14 – Shall Women Keep Silence?

Shall Women Keep Silence?

silence“Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church”

There have been countless attempts by church leaders to reconcile Paul’s directions about women “praying and prophesying” in Chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians, and the seeming command, “Let the [not your] women keep silence in the churches,” of Chapter 14. And sadly, no one wants to look at this corruption for what it is – a corruption (See my article “Corruption in 1 Cor. 14”). Yes, this is a corruption. However, because many Christians refuse to see if for what it is, let’s look at it from a merely logical perspective.

This lesson is my simple summarization of a chapter written by Katharine C. Bushnell (1856-1946). Bushnell was a brilliant Hebrew and Greek scholar and passionate advocate for the oppressed. Her career included serving as a medical doctor in the U.S. and China, working for social reform, and founding a mission for homeless women in Chicago. She also battled against prostitution in Wisconsin lumber camps and India, and investigated the opium trade between India and China. She received international recognition for her courageous reform work. Also a missionary and scholar, she studied the Bible in its original languages in order to determine the biblical status of women, publishing her findings in the book, God’s Word to Women.

The Theological Arguments

Argument #1: Paul is meeting a purely local difficulty of some sort that is of no importance outside of Corinth or to us in our day.

The Objection: We cannot assume that any point made in Scripture has only a local application even though this is sometimes the case. Otherwise, we can weaken the authority of the Bible.

Argument #2: Paul changed his mind and decided to forbid women to speak at all. (This is the usual claim by clergy.)

Objection #1: He changed it quickly, then, without any consideration or thought into the damages his words would cause later on. As we all know, this statement has affected millions of women for centuries in a bad way.

Objection #2: Was Paul really this fickle? If his words are supposed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit who prompted them, how could the Holy Spirit be so fickle?

Argument #3: He forbids women from ‘babbling’ and ‘chattering’ in church, but does not forbid them from prophesying.

Objection #1: Those who hold this view generally refer to the disorderly way women in Eastern churches, recently out of heathenism, conducted themselves. But there is no proof that Corinthian women misbehaved after this manner.

Objection #2: The Greek word here “to talk” (laleo), may be employed in the sense of “to babble”, but the Apostle never uses it in this sense elsewhere, and he uses the word 23 times in this very chapter for solemn utterance under Divine inspiration.

Argument #4: He only forbids women to speak and ask questions; they must ask their questions at home.

Objection #1: It is not known that even men asked questions in church, as the Jewish men did in the synagogue. There is an “assumption” that men asked questions. We cannot assume anything here. “Let all the earth keep silence before Him (Hab. 2:20),” could be construed as closing the mouths of the entire church, but we do not interpret it that way.

Objection #2: As to women asking their husbands at home, some of these Corinthian women would be widows, some divorced on account of their Christian faith, some with Jewish husbands, some with heathen husbands, some not married at all. This would be true of all the churches throughout history. I don’t think Paul would send these women “to their husbands” to ask questions. This would be foolish.

If Paul did such a foolish thing, then he is responsible for driving these women back to Judaism and heathenism for spiritual help; many others he deprived of all opportunity to get their questions answered since they had no husbands! In fact, a majority of the Christian women would have been left ignorant of very important spiritual truths by such a ruling. We cannot possibly believe that Paul went about giving the Bread of Life to all men and a stone for bread to women?

Argument #5: Paul uses the phrase, “it is not permitted,” clearly implying that others besides him knew this thing was forbidden even before he stated it.

Objection: Not one trace of any such prohibition can be found anywhere in the Bible until these very words of Paul appear. This raises the question about where these words came from. Who did not permit it? Where was it not permitted? The O.T. says absolutely nothing to forbid women to speak.

Argument #6: Most religious men believe that Paul’s command closed the mouth of every Christian woman.

Objection #1: We must remember to read the account of Miriam (Ex. 15:20); of Deborah (Judges chs. 4 and 5); of the immense assembly of important people addressed by the daughters of Zelophehad (Num. 27:1-7, where it is expressly said the Lord approved their message); the references to Huldah the prophetess (2Kings 22); the references to women who prophesied in song (1 Chron. 25); and to women who “prophesy out of their own heart,” where the rebuke is as to what is prophesied, not as to the prophesying itself (Ezek. 13:17).

Objection #2: There is a considerable body of women prophets and it implies that there were many other women prophets who were not false. Then, we must read of Anna, (Luke 2:36-38); of the women Christ caused to speak in public (Luke 8:47, Luke 13:13); the utterance of Peter as to women prophesying (Acts 2:16-18); and the reference to Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9).

As we can see from these arguments and objections, there is so much more to consider than just believing this ‘known corruption’ to be fact. Just looking at it logically, we find many flaws. So, all this said, let’s ask ourselves this question: If this one only utterance of Paul is to be used and set up as a Scriptural “law” to silence women, then what is to be done with the hundred and one other “laws” in the O.T. opening the mouths of women, — such as:

  • “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”
  • “Praise ye the Lord” (repeated about 100 times in Psalms alone)
  • “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
  • “Declare His doings among the people”
  • “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord,”
  • “Tell of all His wondrous works”

It is simply impossible for men to claim that all these admonitions and exhortations were meant for men only. As a matter of fact, it was not understood that way for thousands of years, and for religious leaders to teach such an interpretation of one SINGLE sentence of Scripture now, sets at defiance more than a hundred other scriptures.

Many scholars understand Paul’s words, “it is not permitted” as referring to some rule outside, not inside Scripture; possibly the oral tradition of the Jews. However, it is not likely that Paul would quote the oral tradition of the Jews and refer to them as “the law.” Paul spent a large amount of time battling against these very traditions just as Jesus did. Paul even warns against “giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Tit. 1:14) Even if we did not know this was a corruption placed in Scripture, one would still find problems with it. The Apostle Paul was probably quoting what the Judaizers in the Corinthian Church were teaching – who themselves said women must “keep silence” because Jewish law taught it. Scholars already know that many of the scribal marginal notes have been inserted into scripture as scripture, so this occurring here would not be out of the ordinary.

We could believe then that Paul was responding to the teachings of these Judaizers: “What! Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?”

One can gather from this Epistle several things:

  1. The Corinthian Christians had written Paul a letter (7:1) and he is answering it.
  2. There were divisions among them (1:11).
  3. Paul had enemies at Corinth, who disputed his right to be called an Apostle (9:1).
  4. They criticized him and his companions for leading about women with them (9:5). He declares that “we” have as much right to do it as “the other apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas.” Who was this woman? No doubt it was Priscilla along with her husband Aquila. Also notice Paul mentions Priscilla first instead of her “head.” This alone would cause a scandal in that day. She was a very well known person to all “the churches of the Gentiles” (Rom. 16:4). How could that be if she were silenced by Paul?

Women, Religion, Violence and Power

Women, Religion, Violence and Power

TRANSCRIPT

BOB FAW, correspondent: The abuse of women is a worldwide epidemic. Every year, according to the United Nations, nearly 700,000 women and girls are traded across international borders and sold into sexual slavery. Tens of thousands more are beaten, raped, and murdered. One quarter of all American women, by some estimates, will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. Melanne Verveer was the first United States ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and is now with the Institute for Women, Peace, and Security at Georgetown University.

AMBASSADOR MELANNE VERVEER (Executive Director, Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, Georgetown University): It is a global scourge. It incurs a great set of limitations on individuals—much of half of the population of the world. Women have enormous agency that is being kept back, and so they are not only being shortchanged, but our world is being shortchanged.

Justice-for-Women-post01FAW: Full-time female workers earn, on average, 23 percent less than men, while women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, says the United Nations, and women make up the largest block of the world’s poor. Jalwat Ali from Pakistan:

JALWAT ALI (Labour Education Foundation): Of course they are working, but they do not have recognition as a separate entity. No woman’s name is ever recorded in the registers. Whatever work she does is noted down with her man.

FAW: Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn have traveled the world championing human rights and charitable causes, and from what Carter has seen and studied, he says the abuse and exploitation of women is the world’s gravest issue. He recently wrote a book about it.

PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER (Author, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power”): The worst human rights abuse on earth right now is by far the abuse of women and girls, and this takes place not only in every foreign country but also in the United States quite severely.

FAW: In much of developing world boys are prized so much more than girls that newborn females are killed, and female fetuses are destroyed.

VERVEER: You abort a female fetus because you have this great desire that somehow she is not of the same level, the same worth as the son is.

FAW: Some policies like one child per family and extreme poverty, President Carter says, causes parents to choose boys over girls because boys are more able to support the family.

Justice-for-Women-post02CARTER: We believe about 40 million people were killed in the Second World War. Four times as many little baby girls have been killed in this generation by their own parents, who strangle the little girls at birth. Sonograms have become available to remote villages, and they can detect the sex of the developing fetus, and now after about 12 weeks or so if they discern it is going to be a girl baby, they abort the fetus.

FAW: in some countries like India and China, with so many females being aborted, there are not enough women available to marry, so girls are stolen from their parents and shipped off to be child brides.

SALEHA BIBI: I prayed for my daughter in the mosque, and I gave sacrificial offerings, and I keep praying so I can find her.

FAW: Carter says the World Health Organization estimates that 122 million women and girls have been subjected to female genital mutilation.

ASLI AHMED: What could I do as a child? The adults make the decision for me. It was not your choice.

CARTER: There are about 25 countries in Africa almost half of the females have their genitals mutilated. It is a custom that is perpetuated by women only. Husbands don’t insist on it, mullahs don’t insist on it, the government doesn’t insist on it. In fact, there is a law against it, but women when they were circumcised as children, and they feel it is proper for them to circumcise their little baby daughters.

Justice-for-Women-post03FAW: Carter and others say one root cause of this abuse of women is the misreading of scripture or sacred texts, legitimizing male dominance over females.

CARTER: The great religions misinterpret their scripture. The men leaders of the great religions select verses from the Holy Bible or from the Qur’an that show that women should be given, relegated to a secondary position in the eyes of God, and this gives a potential abusive husband or an employer who wants to pay less to women employees than men an excuse: If women aren’t equal in the eyes of God, why should I treat her equal in my business or in my home?

FAW: While Carter says he has great respect for many denominations, he is uncomfortable that Catholic women can’t be priests and deacons. That kind of restriction hit a personal note for Carter and his wife in the year 2000 when a conservative group took over the Southern Baptist Convention, of which the Carters are members.

CARTER: They mandated that women could no longer be pastors, deacons, or chaplains. Those kinds of things disturbed me, so we now belong to a Baptist church in Plains, Georgia, and we have female pastors and men pastors.

FAW: The term “gendercide” or “missing millions” refers to females eliminated by abortion, neglect, and murder, and Ambassador Verveer says if the culture which permits those practices does not change, neither will the abuses.

VERVEER: Women who birth daughters are being made to feel in many places that somehow they failed, they have failed miserably, and often these girls are the last fed, if they’re fed at all, and they are denied any prospect of the kind of life they deserve.

Justice-for-Women-post04FAW: Both Verveer and Carter agree that too many religious leaders have remained silent about these issues and that until that changes, progress will be slow.

VERVEER: There needs to be a stronger collective voice that says enough, already. We should not be treating half of our world’s population in the way they are being treated, and yet there isn’t that kind of reaction that says there is no place in our faith communities for any of this. And it’s not just religious leaders. We need political leaders across the board to be recognizing these issues for the serious issues that they are.

FAW: The problems are systemic, but progress is being made. In Senegal, for example, one individual, Molly Melching has rallied villagers and stemmed the practice of female genital mutilation. President Carter’s book proposes 23 other remedies, like prosecuting not just prostitutes but also their male customers, and on university campuses where almost one in four women say they have been raped, withholding federal funds if the universities don’t vigorously prosecute the campus rapists.

CARTER: The college presidents and deans don’t want it to be known that rape takes place on college campuses, so they discourage the girls from reporting the rapes, and we have the same problem within the military.

FAW: Carter and others agree very little real progress or change is likely without a change of mindset.

. . . . to finish reading transcript, click HERE.

 

The Evil – How to Identify Them – Cont’d

goodorevilDeciding to write about this topic was one I thought would interest survivors of abuse. Many survivors are currently dealing with evil in their lives – whether it be evil perpetrated against them to silence them or, just plain evil people – either way, evil will leave a person afraid, hurting, confused and a whole host of other emotions. Surrounded by evil behaviors from good people and evil behaviors and words from evil people, we must understand how dangerous the evil are and how they affect us. This information is so much more involved than just the little I share with readers here. I recommend everyone purchase and read a copy of M. Scott Peck’s, People of the Lie. He covers this topic so well and identifies so much of what we deal with as survivors from the people in the religious cults we came out of. It is a must read for every survivor. I am sure when he wrote this book, he never dreamed it would be applicable to the church and its followers!  Sadly, it is.  Knowing how to identify and avoid evil and those who are evil will save us so much trauma. All this said, let me take up where I left off in the first part of this topic and discuss the next characteristics of “the evil” that will help us to identify who they are.

People of the Lie

Peopleofthelie

Another characteristic of the evil is Narcissism, or self-absorption. According to Dr. Peck, some forms of it are normal in childhood, but not in adulthood. Some are more distinctly pathological than others. He talks about a particular pathologic variant called “malignant narcissism,” a term given by Erich Fromm.

“Malignant narcissism is characterized by an unsubmitted will. All adults who are mentally healthy submit themselves one way or another to something higher than themselves, be it God or truth or love or some other ideal. They do what God wants them to do rather than what they would desire. “Thy will, not mine, be done,” the God-submitted person says. They believe in what is true rather than what they would like to be true. . . what their beloved needs becomes more important to them than their own gratification. In summary, to a greater or lesser degree, all mentally healthy individuals submit themselves to the demands of their own conscience. Not so the evil, however. In the conflict between their guilt and their will, it is the guilt that must go and the will that must win.”—M. Scott Peck, M.D.

He goes on to say the evil are extraordinary in their willfulness. They have a strong will and are determined to have their own way. There is remarkable power in the manner in which they attempt to control others (Peck).

This said, a strong will does not determine that a person is evil.

“It is a characteristic of all “great” people that they are extremely strong-willed—whether their greatness be for good or for evil. The strong will—the power and authority—of Jesus radiates from the Gospels, just as Hitler’s did from Mein Kempf. But Jesus’ will was that of his Father, and Hitler’s that of his own. The crucial distinction is between “willingness and willfulness.”

This willful failure to submission that characterizes malignant narcissism is depicted in both the stories of Satan and of Cain and Abel. Satan refused to submit to God’s judgment that Christ was superior to him. For Christ to be preferred meant that Satan was not. Satan was less than Christ in God’s eyes. For Satan to have accepted God’s judgment, he would have had to accept his own imperfection. This he could not or would not do. It was unthinkable that he was imperfect. Consequently submission was impossible and both the rebellion and fall inevitable. So also God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice implied a criticism of Cain: Cain was less than Abel in God’s eyes. Since he refused to acknowledge his imperfection, it was inevitable that Cain, like Satan, should take the law into his own hands and commit murder. In some similar, although usually more subtle fashion, all who are evil also take the law into their own hands, to destroy life or liveliness in defense of their narcissistic self-image.”—M. Scott Peck, M.D.

What is the cause of this malignant narcissism, this arrogant self-image of perfection? How come it doesn’t afflict everyone? No one knows why. They have not even succeeded in distinguishing between all the different types of self-absorbtion yet. At the time Dr. Peck wrote his book, People of the Lie, there was no definitive answer. Some people can be grossly narcissistic and other not at all.

Another characteristic of the evil is that they are masters of disguise. As mentioned in the first part of this article, because the evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable (Peck). The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability. Everyone becomes expendable in order to maintain the façade.

And the last characteristic of the evil that I will cover is this: The evil always hide their motives with lies. The lies are not necessarily blatant or gross lies. “Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by the evil is most commonly the pretense of love (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). “Because we are good, loving parents, we are deeply concerned about Timothy.” “Because I am her pastor and I love Susie, I am only looking out for her best interests.” “Because we are your parents and we love you, we are doing this to you.” And yet, not everyone is operating under this disguise. So, then, according to Dr. Peck, it must be a matter of degree and it is difficult to know where to draw the line between those that are “falling” into evil and the “fallen.”

First there is a matter of the degree to which they are willing to sacrifice their victim for the preservation of their narcissisitic self-image (Peck). There seems to be no length to which they won’t go. It will not bother them at all to label their victim and use him as a scapegoat. Then there is also the degree — the depth and distortion — of their lying (Peck). The lies are so many that it is a web of deceit so vast that it is nauseating and overwhelming to those affected by it.

Evil is contagious. It affects those surrounded by it in harmful and destructive ways. It leads to many abuses and crimes. So, it is imperative we are able to identify those that are perpetrating evil AND those who have “crossed the line” and are Evil. Let’s review what we’ve covered thus far:

  • Evil begins when one denies his lies and abusive actions.
  • The consistency of the sins is what separates evil and good. The destruction is consistent.
  • Those who have “crossed the line” are characterized by their absolute refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness.
  • Another predominant characteristic of the behavior of evil people is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, the evil must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection.
  • The most typical victim of evil is a child because parents wield absolute power over them. I will add to this that religious leaders can also wield this same power over children.
  • The evil love raw power in order to control and manipulate others.
  • The evil project their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil: on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others.
  • Evil, then, is most often committed in order to scapegoat, and the people labeled as such are chronic scapegoaters and blamers. They are consistently placing blame on others for their inadequacies, short falls and wrong doing.
  • The evil are completely dedicated to preserving their self-image. They are continually engaged in an effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity and righteousness.
  • The evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable.
  • Another characteristic of the evil is Narcissism, or self-absorption.
  • The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability.
  • The evil always hide their motives with lies. The lies are not necessarily blatant or gross lies. “Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by the evil is most commonly the pretense of love (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).

In conclusion, because of the church’s attempts to defend the evil they hide underneath their façade of righteousness, I have endeavored to help readers understand how to identify the evil no matter where one may be. For the last several years, survivors of religious abuses have been doing their best to tell the world the evil they have endured at the hands of those they should have been able to trust.  The evil are in the church and outside of the church, they are family members, they are neighbors, co-works, employers, politicians – everyday people.

Identifying the evil that surround us will enable us to avoid the contamination to the best of our ability. It will allow us an OPPORTUNITY to avoid it, if at all possible, and not be blind-sided by it. Usually, evil is so subtle that by the time we do realize what is happening, it is too late and the harm has been done. Since there is so much evil lurking underneath the mantle of righteousness that many people wear, we must be all the more wiser and our radar needs to be on the highest possible alert level in order to avoid becoming victimized by it, or worse, fall into it. It’s that serious. Identifying evil and “the evil” can mean the difference between happiness or destruction, life or death. What I have come to realize is there is evil in the church system. The Evil have also made their home there. Yet, there are good people in the church system and they too have made their home there. It behooves us to know who our enemies are and avoid them. We also must be aware that because the evil and the good operate alongside each other, good people can be contaminated and influenced by the evil to do evil things to other good people. Those contaminated by evil can recover and be recovered. They are not lost to it. Only those that have “crossed the line” and ARE evil cannot be recovered. This said, one thing rings true where evil is concerned – its primary agenda is to protect self-image. Any organization where you see a complete focus on preserving a righteous and respectable facade; where the focus is to hide all the dirty laundry and corruption – you will find evil lurking. Be Aware.

**M. Scott Peck, M.D.,  is the author of, The People of the Lie, and The Road Less Traveled.

 . . . . . . click here for part one of this topic

The Evil – How to Identify Them

goodorevilOne of the problems religious abuse survivors have voiced over and over again is that the “Church” is full of pedophiles, rapists, misogynists, narcissists and physical and emotional abusers. Repeatedly the roar of the voices of the multitude of the victims of these crimes against humanity, drown out the church’s attempts to defend the evil they hide underneath their façade of righteousness. It’s very hard for those who have been victims of evil to understand they are indeed “victims not just of abuse, but of the Evil.” However, once we have a diagnoses and a name to what has been projected onto us, we can then take the necessary steps to escape the evil.

Let me say the Evil are not those who fill jail cells across the world; howbeit, there are evil people in prison. Evil people surround us. They are professionals, politicians, business owners, parents, employers, religious leaders, friends and neighbors. How can this be? All these people have the ability to gain dominion over us. While some of them may have perpetrated crimes of murder, rape, incest and physical abuses, still others may not be designated as “criminals” because their “crimes” are more subtle. They are criminals in that they commit “crimes” against life and liveliness. They attack the soul by destroying growth, self-worth, self-esteem, autonomy and individuality. They are not always direct with their evil. Their “crimes” are so subtle and covert they cannot clearly be designated as crimes. Those who stay in the presence of evil people will be contaminated and destroyed. The Evil are dangerous. The best thing one can do when faced with evil is to run the other way; get away from it as quickly as you can. But in order to IDENTIFY those who are evil, we need some way of being able to do so.

First, we must put a distinction between evil and ordinary sin. “It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the REFUSAL to acknowledge it (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). According to Dr. Peck, there is a kind of randomness to their destructiveness. Evil people deny responsibility for their evil deeds. However, evil deeds do not an evil person make. Otherwise, we should all be evil, because we all do evil things.

Sinning is defined as “missing the mark.” This means we sin every time we fall short of perfection. Because we can’t be perfect, we are all sinners. We will “routinely fail to do the very best of which we are capable, and with each failure we commit a crime of sorts – against God, our neighbors, or ourselves, if not frankly against the law (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). Everyone sins.

Evil, on the other hand, is different. Evil begins when we deny our lies and abusive actions. The consistency of the sins is what separates evil and sin. While usually subtle, the DESTRUCTIVENESS of evil people is remarkably consistent. This is because those who have “crossed the line” are characterized by their ABSOLUTE refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness. This is why they deny, deny and deny they have done any wrong or harm to others. Instead they place blame.

The poor in spirit do not commit evil. Evil is not committed by people who feel uncertain about their righteousness, who question their own motives, who worry about betraying themselves. The evil in this world is committed by the spiritual fat cats, by the Pharisees of our own day, the self-righteous who think they are without sin because they are unwilling to suffer the discomfort of significant self-examination. . . And it is out of their failure to put themselves on trial that their evil arises. – M. Scott Peck, M.D.

“Another predominant characteristic of the behavior of evil people is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, the evil must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).” Not only this, but evil people will use their influence to rally others to their cause of protecting their self-image. We see this consistently throughout the country across all denominations where sexual crimes and abuse are exposed against church leaders. As a result, countless “good” people perpetrate evil on other “good” people even though they have not crossed the line to becoming evil. Or have they? When we see consistency in evil actions being perpetrated, then we can say they have “crossed the line.” Many have crossed the line.

Take a simple example of a six-year old boy who asks his father, “Daddy, why did you call Grandmommy a bitch?” “I told you to stop bothering me,” the father roars. “Now you’re going to get it. I’m going to teach you not to use such filthy language. I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap. Maybe that will teach to clean up what you say and keep your mouth shut when you’re told.” Dragging the boy upstairs to the soap dish, the father inflicts this punishment on him. In the name of “proper discipline” evil has been committed. – M. Scott Peck, M.D.

This example is very common in religious circles. Many religious leaders teach that washing a child’s mouth out with soap is perfectly permissible in order to teach the child not to say certain words or, voice their displeasure, or for questioning authority, rules and doctrine. Without even realizing it, good people are taught to do evil things to the vulnerable who have no voice in anything that happens to them. Not only this, the evil teach good people how to become evil and, even believe the evil they perpetrate, is right.  In the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult I came out of, we were taught to “break the child’s will.” We were instructed to spank them for every infraction, CONSISTENTLY! This “breaking of the child’s will” could start as an infant!  This is evil and it is perpetrated consistently in this sect by seemingly good people.

Parents have complete dominion over children. This puts children as the number one targets of evil. As a result, “when a child is grossly confronted by significant evil in its parents, it will most likely misinterpret the situation and believe that the evil resides in itself. Add to this fact that evil people, refusing to acknowledge their own failures, actually desire to project their evil onto others, and it is no wonder that children will misinterpret the process by hating themselves. (Peck)” This is why children suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. This is why they attempt suicide, run away from home, or lean toward alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms.

To children – even adolescents—their parents are like gods. The way their parents do things seems the way they SHOULD be done. Children are seldom able to objectively compare their parents to other parents. They are not able to make realistic assessments of their parents’ behavior. Treated badly by its parents, a child will usually assume that it is bad. If treated as an ugly, stupid second-class citizen, it will grow up with an image of itself as ugly, stupid and second-class. Raised without love, children come to believe themselves unlovable. We may express this as a general law of child development: Whenever there is a major deficit in parental love, the child will, in all likelihood, respond to that deficit by assuming itself to be the cause of the deficit, thereby developing an unrealistically negative self-image.—M. Scott Peck, M.D.

Another indication of the evil is the way they are influenced by raw power. When an evil person has power or dominion over others, they are only interested in controlling them. This control causes the evil to neglect the needs, desires and wants of others. It also causes them to treat others disrespectfully; not allowing for their opinions, thoughts and desires to be voiced. The evil will sacrifice good people to protect their self-image AND in order to maintain CONTROL. This is why questioning rules and dogmas is taboo in churches with evil leadership. The evil want blind obedience and unquestionable loyalty. Those who do not meet these criteria are sacrificed in the most vicious and humiliating ways. Many do not recover from the evil projected onto them when they are scapegoated and cast off.

Since the evil, deep down, feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad. They PROJECT their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil: on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others. The father (in the example above) perceived the profanity and uncleanliness as existing in his son and took action to cleanse his son’s “filthiness.” Yet we know it was the father who was profane and unclean. The father projected his own filth onto his son and then assaulted his son in the name of good parenting (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).

Evil, then, is most often committed in order to scapegoat, and the people labeled as such are chronic scapegoaters and blamers. They are consistently placing blame for their evil behavior and words.

Strangely though, evil people also attempt to destroy evil in others. But instead of trying to do this, they should be trying to destroy the sickness and evil within themselves. The evil are quick to judge sin and sinners and condemn them to hell. They are quick to isolate themselves and their families from others so they can have complete control over their families. They are quick to take action against those that speak out about their abusers and abuses within the church. They are quick to inflict physical punishment or harm to those that disagree with their beliefs, lifestyles and/or do not follow the rules. The EVIL also kill in God’s name.

“The evil are completely dedicated to preserving their self-image of perfect holiness. They are continually engaged in an effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity and righteousness. The evil dress well, go to work on time, pay their taxes, and outwardly look like good people. “The words “image,” “appearance,” and “outwardly” are crucial to understanding the morality of the evil. They intensely desire to appear good. Their “goodness” is all on a level of pretense. It is a lie (Peck).” They cannot and will not look within themselves at the evil they commit and project onto others. They only see themselves as “righteous” and others as “sinners.”

Because the evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable. The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability.

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Are You Good or Evil?

zombieSometimes it is easy for people to commit Evil and not even be aware of it. There are countless people that harass, character assassinate, stalk and verbally abuse people who step forward to report their abuses at the hands of clergy. There are countless Christians who do the same to those who expose lies in doctrine or teaching. What they do not realize is that they are committing Evil in God’s name. These two things should never go together! God and Evil are opposites. Let me explain.

What many do not understand is the working definition of EVIL. “Evil is in opposition to life. It is that which opposes the life force. It has, in short, to do with killing (M.Scott Peck).” When I say this, I am not necessarily talking about murder as we understand murder. Evil can also kill the SPIRIT. Some attributes of human life are growth, autonomy, will, self-respect, dignity, self-worth. It is possible to kill or try to kill one or all of these attributes in a person without physically hurting them. This is done through psychological, emotional and spiritual abuses; or, religious indoctrination through mind control, information control and behavior modification techniques. Let me say emphatically this: Any belief or teaching that causes a person to perpetrate Evil is, itself Evil. It’s fruit will be Evil. The end result will be “soul murder” for the victim.

Religious indoctrination can employ this “soul murder” in order to make others controllable. Soul murder fosters dependency on leadership and the religious system and discourages a person’s capacity to think for himself. This prevents questioning, originality, autonomy and unpredictability in people. It produces “zombies” that are easily managed and told what to do and what to believe. The victims of “soul murder” are innumerable and God will hold religious leaders accountable for each “zombie” they create. Then, these “dead” people are used as pawns to further EVIL by attacking and killing others “in His name.” Yet these “dead” individuals do not know they are dead! They do not realize that their life force has been sucked out of them and replaced with Evil. They don’t know they are Evil because they are zombies. They are only interested in creating other zombies!

Evil then, can be said to be a force that resides inside of us that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness promotes life and liveliness. Some think that because they go to church, live a good life, are separated unto God or, know scripture that they cannot perpetrate Evil. This is so far from reality and truth! These “Zombies for God” go about killing the souls of those trying to escape the EVIL who are already broken, abused and wounded. The cycle never ends.

Evil is in opposition to God. God wants us to not just have life. He wants us to live life ABUNDANTLY. Satan, however, is a murderer. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning.” “Evil has nothing to do with natural death; it is concerned only with unnatural death, with the murder of the body or spirit (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).”

God is love. UNCONDITIONAL love promotes healing. Wherever there is this kind of love one can find healing.  Wherever one finds unconditional love there will be peace, joy, liveliness and contentment. Evil is deadly. Wherever there is Evil one will find brokenness, pain, depression, anxieties and fear. There will be a loss of dignity, autonomy and self-worth. It leads to death.

By hurling insults at victims, by harassing them, by stalking them, by calling them all manner of names, Satan has just effectively used you to do his will – to KILL. To kill the life force in a person is the worst possible crime against a human being. It is the greatest sin of all. Physical death at least puts an end to suffering. Soul murder does no such thing. It is either done to manipulate and control others or, it is done with the specific intent to cause more suffering and pain far into the future. Life, then, has no joy. Life is painful to get through. Physical death then becomes preferable to life.

Evil is a “choice.” One can CHOOSE to love others and lift them up in order to promote healing and autonomy as human beings. Or, one can CHOOSE to degrade, accuse and hurl insults in order to KILL their soul. If you truly want victims of abuse to HEAL, then stop the verbal abuse, the accusations, the name-calling, the harassment, the stalking. By showering them with UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and support, you will then enable them to heal. Anything less than this is EVIL.

Suffering as a part of Salvation?

inquisition picOne of the areas of interest for me, as a student of early church history, is the Emperor Constantine. What this emperor did by merging pagan and Christian concepts, was to create a man-made religious “system” that would take the world by storm. This new brand of Christianity was able to give Constantine a position that allowed complete domination and control of the populace through secular strength and power. The corruptions that ensued as a result of his leadership, helped to bring his agenda for control of the masses to fruition. The religious system developed, for the first time in human history, merged secular strength with religious control. This one man was responsible for the mutilation and murder of hundreds of millions of people “in the name of God” for the salvation of the world through Christ. Most of those mutilated and murdered were women and children. Because of his new brand of Christianity, the world and its view of women, was forever changed. Inequality and oppression toward women proliferated and emerged victorious through force.

Throughout Christendom today, countless multitudes have no idea that the brand of Christianity they serve is a by-product of this merger. Through the process of time, corruptions and mutations have occurred within this system that have set up mere men with the ability to sway governments, incite people to violence, and affect secular laws. The power and control wielded through “religion” is a phenomenon that very few talk about. I talk about this merger in my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse.

“The cross signifies the problem: When suffering is seen to serve a universal plan of salvation, its particular character as tragic and evil is always diminished.” – Constantine’s Sword, James Carroll, pg 6

Because of this merger between government and religion, those in control throughout the religious system had the power to confiscate wealth, the power to put anyone to death, the power to rape and torture – all in God’s name for the salvation of the soul of the victim. From the time of Constantine till now, this religious system that was created has reached its tentacles into every era throughout history with its evil. What is the evil? The mindset and/or belief that all this suffering, meant to bring about the salvation of others, was necessary and good. Does the end justify the means? What is it’s fruit? Let’s look at one example and see.

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(Excerpt from my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse.)

The Inquisition of 1320

During the Inquisition in 1320, when Pope John XXII formalized the persecution of witchcraft, women were the first target to be persecuted. In order to rid Europe of sorcery, millions of women were accused of being witches and were sent to torture chambers, burnt at the stake, mutilated, sexually abused or drowned. Since celibacy for priests was put into law by the church over 360 years earlier, this opened a huge door to sexually deviant or perverse priests. Countless numbers of priests used their confessional, to threaten female penitents with the “Holy Inquisition” if they refused to have sex with them (News1675).

In the Inquisition, pain inflicted on sexual organs was very prevalent, another clear sign of the sexual obsession brought on by the perversions of celibacy. This sexual obsession quickly grew to the point where a woman lived in fear that, out of the blue, she would be accused by some nameless wretch of being a witch; since accusation equaled guilt, that woman could expect a slow, torturous death at the hands of sexually deviant celibate priests.

 

This statement is historic fact, found in the official document of the Roman Catholic “Holy” Inquisition, “The Malleus Maleficarum”. (News1675)

The Inquisitors who wrote the Malleus Maleficarum, “The Hammer of the Witches,” explained that women are more likely to become witches than men:

 Because the female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh than men; because being formed from a man’s rib, they are ‘only imperfect animals’ and ‘crooked’ whereas man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged. (Ellerbe)

 Over the period that the Inquisition lasted, over 75 million Protestants lost their lives. King James I estimated that the ratio of women to men who “succumbed” to witchcraft was twenty to one. Of those formally persecuted for witchcraft, between 80 to 90 percent were women (Ellerbe, 1995).

Many styles of torture were invented during the inquisition so as to inflict the most horrific pain on the victims without killing them. The worst of these were used on those accused of witchcraft. Millions of innocent people were tortured and killed during this time. The Inquisitors followed the procedures set forth by the Dominican Monks of Pope Innocent VIII. During the early stages of the Inquisition those accused were simply urged to confess. The women were usually stripped naked, shaved, pricked with needles and knives for insensitive spots and then examined for marks of the Devil up close and personal. Before the torture started the victim was informed of what was about to happen. This gave them an opportunity to confess to whatever the inquisitors wanted them to. If anyone refused to talk even under the torture, they were accused of being aided by the Devil. While being tortured, another person was on hand to record anything that was said by the victim. Each round of torture became worse and worse (News1675).

Some women, says a person who was present, having been surprised in the church, were stripped of their garments, and the barbarians, making them join hands as for a dance, compelled them, by severely pricking them with their daggers and pikes, to march round the castle, amidst shouts of laughter and outrages, of which they were the objects. After this they took them, already covered with blood, and flung them, one after another, from the top of the rock upon which the castle was built. Many others were taken elsewhere and sold . . . A young mother, who was fleeing across the corn-fields with her infant in her arms, was seized and violated by these soldiers, or rather brutes, whilst she still continued to hold her babe pressed to her breast. An old woman, whose age secured her from similar outrage, was treated by them in a way which insulted both humanity and their own religion. They shaved her in the form of a cross, and having decked her with some worthless ornaments, dragged her through the streets, chanting in derision, after the manner of priests. This took place at Lauris, on the way between Cabrieres and Avignon. The procession arrived where there was an oven ready for baking bread, and the soldiers, pushing their victim forward with their weapons, said to her, “Go in there, you old damned wretch!” The poor woman was going in without resistance, so much had she been tormented, when those who had heated the oven objected, and prevented her from being thrown into it . . . Amidst such brutalities, a thousand times repeated, under different and more revolting forms, the army came to Cabrieres. (Muston, 1875 pp. 66-67)

 The exact methods of torture varied from place to place. The rack was used. Horsewhipping was used. A sharp iron fork was used to mangle breasts. Red hot pincers were used to tear off flesh. Red hot irons were inserted up vaginas and rectums. A device was used to tear out fingernails and then needles were shoved into the quicks of the nail bed. Special instruments were used to lacerate flesh and crush bones. They crushed fingers and toes. Acid was poured on victims. Limbs were immersed into pots of boiling oil or water. Eyes were gouged out with irons. Victims were set on fire. Water was poured down the throat of some victims with a knotted cloth and then jerked out, tearing up the bowels. There was no limit to the types of cruelty and torture used. Anything was allowed during the Inquisition. The inquisitors were sadistic and merciless. Even if a victim confessed, they were still subjected to more torture. Victims were sent to the gallows or burned at the stake. They were flogged, flayed alive, burned, branded or had their tongues cut out. Many were buried alive. By the seventeenth century, millions had died including men, women, children and babies (Inq11).

But how shall I describe the scene which took place in the church? It was the most horrible and sacrilegious scene of all; for it was there that a great number of the women and young girls of the place had taken refuge. The soldiers rushed upon them, stripped them, committed the most shocking outrages upon them, and then some were thrown down from the steeple; others were taken away to be still further abused. Pregnant women might be seen with their bellies ripped up, and the bloody fruit of their womb fallen from them. Mutilated bodies, still breathing, lay scattered before the porch. The advocate Guerin, who was present there, said in his deposition, “I think I saw four or five hundred poor souls of women and children killed in that church.” (Muston, 1875 p. 68)

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Because of the power and control that the church gained from Constantine’s merger of government with religion, the outrages upon humanity defied conscience and flew in the face of the God they claimed to serve. For centuries into the future, all this EVIL was perpetrated in the name of God for the salvation of the world. Millions suffered. Millions died. Millions were mutilated, burned, buried alive, and sexually abused. Inequality was ushered into the world on a level that was so massive that it has affected the mindsets of men everywhere for centuries; thus, paving the way for a worldwide culture of domestic abuse, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, rape, incest, emotional abuse and pedophilia of women and young girls across the world from then until now.

As a further result of what Constantine implemented, the religious leaders of his brand of Christianity began to change religious texts to point women into positions of servitude to men. The culmination of these changes was the production of a Bible translation that gave control of “religion” to men and men alone. It was the first translation to take all the corruptions of the manuscripts by men and use them to dominate and control women and point them into positions of servitude to men. All the while, this translation also gave these men the permission to oppress and abuse women, in the name of God. Once again, EVIL and suffering perpetrated as corrupt and base religious leaders used their influence and power to gain greater control. The difference this time was that now they had it in writing! Because King James I decided to give the world HIS translation of the Bible, which is specifically designed to POINT women into positions of servitude to men, as well as instill fear into the minds and hearts of the people through the concept of Hell, century after century it has been the root cause of the attitudes in men and young boys that lead to abuse of women. Century after century it has been the root cause of antisemitism, hate crimes and terrorism throughout the world.

It is time for “religion” to be wiped clean and for the abuses against women and children to stop. The fruit of male dominance and leadership has been war, murder, violence and hate throughout history. Equality is key in breaking through the evils and stopping the suffering and abuses. Equality in religion is key in setting right what man has corrupted that affects half the human race abusively – women. The time for this change to come, is now.