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Wallace’s Story

Kris says:  Wallace submitted the following story.

“All sorrows could be borne if we tell a story about them or write them down”

Isak Dinesen

To blog critics and all others who assert that bringing these issues to the light somehow undermines or weakens the cause of Christ, we would say the behavior of some in the leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries does far more damage to victims of abuse and to a watching world.

We share our story with the hope that those with similar experiences will be encouraged to write their own and bring it to the light.

My wife posted numerous times on the Survivor blog under the name “Happymom.”

We left the Sovereign Grace Fairfax church in May 2007 because of the overbearing emphasis on personal sin and the cross.

During 12 years as members of the Fairfax church, two of our children were sexually molested by two different people who attended the church.  The molestations did not occur on church property.  We had completely forgiven the perpetrators.   However, the subsequent mental and spiritual anguish we endured both times in dealing with members of the Fairfax staff motivate us to write and “tell it to the church.”

Here is a brief description of how Fairfax has in the past typically handled sex abuse issues in their church.   This depiction can be affirmed by numerous former members who have had similar experiences.   The perpetrator of a sex crime and his family were brought under the care of a pastor.   This would involve counseling, accountability sessions and possible minor restrictions regarding movement in the church during services.   People “at risk” were not notified.   The victim and victim’s family however were usually confronted with opposition from leadership by minimizing and/or invalidating particular aspects of the victim’s story.

In 1998, we discover our child (child-A) had been molested by a young man attending the Fairfax church.  We did not press charges and regretted this later on.  The father of the young man was initially uncooperative in dealing with the situation until Steve Shank stepped in to handle it.  This took place during the time frame Benny Phillips was stepping down from leadership.  Steve Shank addressed our sin and asked the young man to apologize.

We forgave him; however, with minor restrictions imposed by the staff, he continued to intimidate our child during Sunday services to the point where our child was fearful of going to church.  The pastors involved had little to say concerning this as it didn’t appear to be a priority for them.

In October 2007, we discover child-B had been molested.  The molestation had occurred 5 years earlier.  Our child revealed to us what had happened only after being hospitalized 7 days for cutting and suicidal thoughts.  We eventually found out through our child’s counseling sessions that fear and shame were the two main elements for not telling us about this sooner.   Cutting was our child’s way of dealing with misguided guilt and self-loathing.

We then contacted the Police Department and pressed charges.  The detective assigned to the case came to the house and listened to our child’s story.  The young man confessed the crime to pastor SW (CJ’s son-in-law). We were given the impression that pastor DH had also heard the confession.  Two and a half years later in March 2010, we were told he did not hear the confession.  Pastor LG (our brother-in-law) was also in the loop as we had asked him to supply information requested by the detective but no information was given.  Pastor LG said to me, “Have them send the request to us in writing.”  The detective told us later on that Fairfax had been “uncooperative” in the investigation…. a fact they later denied.

During the investigation, pastor DH told us they “had a dilemma” because they were caring for the young man and his family.  There was no visible concern shown during this time for our child by the staff including our brother-in-law and his family.  No inquiring phone calls or emails.  Our child had just been discharged from the hospital.  When you leave a Sovereign Grace church for disagreeing with or challenging leadership in any way, all relationships you once had there are severed.

Sometime during the following months, my wife noticed her sister (wife of pastor LG) not speaking about anything associated with our child’s legal case.  She would consistently change the subject when our child was mentioned.  This led to a meeting we initiated with pastor LG in January 2008.  As no other logical explanation for the silence could be seen, we asked him 3 times if he had advised his wife not to discuss with her sister our child’s case.  3 times he answered no.  We were told in a future meeting by pastor VH that pastor LG was in fact legally instructed to inform his wife not to discuss the case with her sister for 2 days so that the police could complete their investigation.  When this was brought up to the leadership, our questions were ignored.  Pastor LG lied to us and was not held accountable.

As a result of our own research we became aware of the fact that pastor LG’s wife was not covered under Virginia’s clergy privilege statute.  According to the legal process, she could have been liable for any information she had regarding the case, and therefore could have been called to testify in court on our child’s behalf.  Pastor LG (our child’s uncle) put great effort into avoiding this possibility.   The truth is that this scenario presented a conflict of interest to pastor LG and members of the Fairfax staff as they were caring for the young man and his family as pastor DH had mentioned.  Exactly why this presented a conflict is a mystery.

The trial took place in March 2008.  Prior to the trial, not knowing how the young man would plead, we asked pastor DH to come with pastor SW ready to give testimony on our child’s behalf if needed.  Pastor DH made it known to us they were not coming to the courthouse.  I explained to him if the young man pleaded not guilty, our child would then have to get up in front of the court and reveal the entire ordeal along with answering questions from the attorneys.  It didn’t matter, they still weren’t coming.  His response to us was, “I have my church’s reputation to consider.” Not sure what pastor DH meant by this statement.  In a future meeting with the Fairfax pastors, he claimed not remembering making the “church’s reputation” statement and had no recollection of emphasizing the fact that he wasn’t coming to the courthouse.  I called the detective and asked her to issue a subpoena for both pastors to appear in court.  Fairfax would later claim there was no need for us to request a subpoena because one had been issued months before.  It wouldn’t have made any difference if we knew this information or not.  Pastor DH expressed to us they weren’t coming.  They also stated in a future meeting they knew the young man would plead guilty therefore coming to the courthouse wasn’t necessary.  In reality, there was no way of knowing how he would plead.  Nevertheless, he was not held accountable for this and it was put back on us.

Pastor’s DH and SW were at the courthouse for the trial.  Pastor LG came a few minutes before the trial and left.  His wife did not come.  She also didn’t make any attempts to call her sister during the days leading up to the trial.  My wife was abandoned by her family.  The young man pleaded guilty to a felony.…. Our child did not have to get up and speak to the court.

A short time after the trial, my wife attempted to communicate to her sister the hurt, frustration and lack of care she experienced from her sister and family and it was put back on my wife.

What followed during the next 2 years included a series of meetings, phone calls and emails involving Fairfax and Covenant Life leadership, 2 mediators, and an SGM pastor from South Carolina.

In December 2008, our child (Child-A) now 18 at the time, was greatly affected by Noel’s story after reading it on the blogs.  Our adult child contacted CJ Mahaney and asked him what SGM had to say about this.  Not sure what the response was however, our adult child also described to CJ what our family had endured from the Fairfax staff and as a result a meeting was arranged.  We met with CJ and he listened to our story.  He was grieved by our experience and asked permission to contact the Fairfax staff.  We asked him if he had any knowledge of our story.  He said he did not.  Over the next few weeks we received emails from him, thanking us for the opportunity to talk to us.  He assured us that the Fairfax staff desired to meet and discuss these important issues with us.

In February 2009, the first meeting was set up at our church with 5 pastors from the Fairfax church, CJ, and a neutral third party attending on our behalf.  Two days before the meeting pastor LG appears at our door wanting to apologize to our child.  We had not seen nor heard from him or his family for 11 months.  We asked him what specifically he wanted to apologize for and couldn’t get a straight answer.  He wouldn’t answer our questions.  Given the state of emotional torment of our child and to block any further confusion, we decided it would not have been in our child’s best interest and said no.    

During the meeting, the pastors apologized for not caring for us and poor leadership but avoided our questions.  We left the meeting confused and with a new list of questions.  A few days later, we discovered that CJ had given our neutral third party a check for $5,000……. 

A short time after, CJ urged us to begin meeting with pastor MM to iron out our difficulties with pastor LG and his family.

It is important to mention here that although we agreed to meet with pastor MM, we were well aware of Fairfax’s intentions to separate the mishandled sex abuse issue from the personal concerns we had with Pastor LG.  The opportunity to minimize the situation to a “family disagreement” had presented itself.  They could now step away from the spotlight of “sex abuse issues in the Fairfax church and the way leadership typically responds,” and let the light shine elsewhere.

A number of unresolved issues with pastor LG going back many years still remain.  Some of which are extremely painful for my wife and me. However, in March 2009, we began meeting with pastor MM with hopes of seeing some accountability leading to possible reconciliation with pastor LG.  We presented pastor MM with a list of questions for pastor LG. After 4 months of meetings and numerous emails, none of our questions were answered.  At the final meeting pastor MM said to us, “I find pastor LG to be a man of integrity.” And then he dismissed us.  (Simple logic would say, if pastor LG is a man of integrity, we must be liars)  We were stunned….Fairfax had once again put the issue back on us.

In a future meeting with the pastors, pastor MM apologized for not answering our questions concerning pastor LG ….but still didn’t answer them.

We contacted CJ and expressed our dissatisfaction with the meetings and final conclusion.  He suggested Peacemakers.  We declined.  He then offered to have SGM pastor JB from South Carolina step into the arena.  Our options were diminishing but we were not going to walk away from this.  For the next 8 months we spoke to pastor JB on the phone at least twice a month.  Our conversations focused on the “family disagreement,” and Fairfax’s response to sex abuse.  We had many questions regarding both topics.  Questions that had already been asked a number of times and not answered.  During our many conversations with Pastor JB, he assured us that Fairfax would now be handling sex abuse related issues differently.  After 8 months our questions for pastor LG and a few hard questions for Fairfax were still not answered.

There never were any changes made in how they handle sex abuse…our story proves the point.

In March 2010, a second meeting with Fairfax leadership had taken place.  Kenneth Maresco, Pastor JB, and Jim P., moderator for the SGM Refuge blog were also present.  We requested that pastor LG attend as well, but he declined. When questioned about this beforehand, pastor LG said, “I do not think my presence in the meeting would be helpful.” And Fairfax backed him up on this. The meeting was arranged in part as a follow-up from our time on the phone with pastor JB.  Some of our questions were answered however, a few of pastor JB’s answers had suggested that everything was just a big misunderstanding; that somehow we misinterpreted or perhaps judged motives incorrectly regarding both pastor LG and the Fairfax staff.  Also in this meeting pastor DH forgets important information and pastor VH reveals that pastor LG was in fact legally advised by their attorney’s back in October 2007.  But in the January 2008 meeting as mentioned above, pastor LG told us 3 times he did not tell his wife not to discuss our child’s case with her sister.  And Fairfax was ok with this.

In the same meeting the pastor’s would not let us ask any questions related to pastor LG. It appeared they did not want to deal with the fact that he had lied to us. However, they did want to apologize a second time for not caring for us and poor leadership.  We accepted their apologies but there were still unanswered questions.  But one hard question was answered; my wife asked pastor MM why they do not warn people at risk when a known sex felon is in their church. His response was, “that perpetrator could grow up and sue us for defamation of character.”  So in pastor MM’s mind, the possibility of being sued sometime in the future takes precedence over protecting children from known sex offenders.

An obvious pattern can be seen throughout the story; the pastors were eager to apologize for not caring for us and poor leadership expecting us to forgive, but they would not answer our hard questions.  And for some reason they were protecting pastor LG from having to account for the issues we presented.  Our forgiveness was premature.

In May 2010, we accused pastor LG of lying, specifically but not limited to the January 2008 meeting we had with him, and 2 consecutive apology letters he had written that were filled with deceptive statements.  This led to an “accusation against an elder.”  Fairfax’s solution to this was to hire an outside third party mediator to settle things. A professional conciliatory Christian mediator.  He was thoroughly impressed with the fact that CJ Mahaney was involved with this.  We reluctantly agreed to do this and had regrets later on.  I challenged Fairfax to show us where in the bible do we find that an accusation against an elder is brought to an outside mediator who gets paid for his services?  They ignored the question.  They were steadfast in maintaining that the struggles we had with the church and pastor LG stay separate and confined to a “family disagreement.” The reality is Fairfax had relinquished their responsibility in dealing with an accusation against an elder so they could walk away from the entire situation.  Maybe they were afraid of uncovering pastor LG’s pattern of deception.  We had 2 sessions totaling 9 hours in which pastor LG persisted in avoiding our questions and claimed not remembering key facts.  The mediator’s summation at the end was that pastor LG had not been deceptive and that we were “sinfully craving answers” according to James chapter 4.  We were put in the same category as murderer’s and idolaters!

How did we end up here?

We started out down this road as parents of 2 children who were molested and ended up being thrown into the ring with murderer’s and idolaters!

Only SGM could orchestrate something like this…..

Fairfax was indifferent to the fact that we disagreed with the mediator’s conclusions.    

In June 2010, we had our 3rd and final meeting with Fairfax, initiated by Kenneth Maresco and pastor JB as a follow-up to the March 2010 meeting.  Kenneth Maresco was not happy with the pastor’s apologies in the March meeting.   Apparently they needed to be a little more sincere.  They were given the opportunity to apologize once again for the same things they had previously apologized for, not caring for us and poor leadership.  But this time, the apologies were more detailed.

A short time after the meeting, our final interaction with SGM was at hand.  As a last ditch attempt to at least work out our family difficulties, I asked pastor LG if he would agree to meet with us and another SG pastor. He said, “that aint happening.” And Fairfax backed him up on this. We wanted a person he worked with to witness his response to our questions. We asked CJ, Kenneth Maresco, and pastor VH to intervene and be the witness and they all declined.

Pastor LG’s evasive behavior supported by a shield of protection from Fairfax is a symptom of a much deeper problem in their governmental structure…

The Fairfax church has a history of treating victims of sex abuse and their families in similar ways mentioned in our story.  We know 2 other cases and have talked with someone who mentioned knowing 5… all involving the Fairfax church.  Noel and Grizzly were told by pastor MM their story had inconsistencies… “Inconsistency” is an SGM euphemism for lying.  What pastor MM really meant to say was Noel and Grizzly were lying.

In the minds of SGM leadership they hear from God and tell us what God is saying.  If what ordinary people discern fails to line up with their program, they are dismissed.  This way of thinking allows them to continuously reinforce their spiritual agenda on a congregation conditioned to think they are being truly humble by accepting this.  Where in the New Testament do we find this type of church government?

***

“Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well governed?”                                                                               C.S. Lewis

Summary:

The faith and well-being of child-B had been severely affected by the molestation and 3 year ordeal with SGM.  Our child’s professional counselors have documented the adverse affects of family abandonment and how this contributes to thoughts of guilt and shame in a young child’s mind.  Our child’s perception of a loving God had been distorted.

My wife feels the pain of family abandonment plus the abandonment of a church she was a part of for 12 years.

Child-A is grown up and doing very well.

For some reason Fairfax had chosen not to deal directly and not dig deeper into the claims we made concerning pastor LG.  He was not held accountable for lying to us.  Fairfax hired a mediator who ultimately made the decision as to who was lying and who was telling the truth.

A few of the pastors expressed genuine sorrow for the way our child and my wife and I were treated.  Their apologies are nullified because in the end we were the one’s “sinfully craving answers” – murderers and idolater’s according to the paid mediator’s assessment.

We assumed Fairfax was in agreement with this.

Fairfax would say our questions for pastor LG were answered.  Here’s the problem; we weren’t there to hear his answers….  They were now finally able to close the door and move on to more important things.

The Fairfax staff told us they have made significant changes in the way they now handle sex abuse issues in their church.  Assuming this is true, we applaud their efforts.

The question is how will Fairfax handle their past failures?  Will they publicly confess their past sin before our family and the other families who have been hurt by their failure to lead, care, and protect, or will they remain silent and hope no one else comes forward.  Will any restitution be made to the families involved?

In light of the damage done, has anyone involved disqualified themselves from professional ministry?

The clergy privilege statute exempts church leadership in Virginia from having to divulge any information to the authorities regarding sex crimes committed by church members.  We had contacted a Virginia state senator who had been in the process of pursuing legislation to change this law.

The actions of Fairfax leadership in handling sex abuse in their church are good examples why this law needs to be changed.  The senator from Virginia heard our story and agreed.

606 comments to Wallace’s Story

  • Picketingscardeycat

    :clap :goodpost Thank you! Thank You! Thank You, Andy!!!! Our family has been ruined by them. I hope we can assemble a group and picket but I have to honest with you, I’m scared of them. I can’t figure out why, but I am. My daughter isn’t. I think she would lead a picket because she is so disgusted with them.

  • andy

    You know I have probably spent 15 hours reading over this site and a few others, and it seems that the abuses go way back to day ONE, all the way up to the present. What I don’t get is how they have managed to evade judicial review of their conduct in the form of civil litigation. I read a book that told of Benny Phililps ordering the church to not attend this young woman’s wedding (this is back when Benny was the big boy at Fairfax, and before his daughter ran off with an unbeliever). I read of children being sexually molested and their “dear uncle” attempting to protect the church’s reputation instead of his nephew. Now lets talk about how bizarre that is. I’m an uncle, and if some perv touched them inappropriately I would be waiting for him with a baseball bat or maybe a Glock & a ski mask. This worthless uncle and poorly qualified pastor chose to protect his Church’s image rather than his own family. To me he is just as much of a perv for even thinking that way as the predator. I hope these children realize that they have until their 25Th birthday to initiate legal action within the Commonwealth against their former church,worthless uncle and the predator since they were minors at the time of the assault. The church and dear old uncle worthless could very easily be sued for malpractice. The Clergy protection ACT will not stop a simple TORT case, and these kids have a great one.

    Then there is this lady that was disfellowshipped for not being submissive. She asked them to defend their positions with scripture and that got her declared an unbeliever ? Any church should be washing her feet and welcoming her into their church. She did exactly what Paul told us to do in Galatians. Unfortunately the collection of non-seminary grads that make up the Sovereign Grace movement (i have a hard time calling it a church at this point)couldn’t deal with a woman raising a perfectly valid BIBLICAL point. That is almost as sick as what they did with Wallace’s children.

    Then there is a case where a wife was told to shun her husband because he wanted to leave their “church”. Where does it end and after all the abuse, all the defamation and discrediting of people that have left SGM WHY HAS NO ONE SUED THEM. I did a bit of looking and I can’t find zip in the way of litigation against these ecclesiastical thugs. Why ? What are people scared of?
    I can think of about 25 attorneys in the same zip code as SGM that would be more than happy to litigate some of these issues. There is no Biblical prohibitions on suing an entity or corporation, or the enabler of a sexually criminal for that matter. How many wounded people do we need to know before this cult-like franchise of extortion and emotional blackmail is stopped.

    I still think a informational picket is in order. There needs to be wider exposure of these issues. Right across from the Fairfax location is a very long blacktopped sidewalk. That is property of the State. Perfectly lawful to assemble there about 1/2 before their main service starts with huge signs warning the community of their practices. Then you do the same up in Gaithersburg. Repeat 3-6 times a year and word gets around. I have over 1700 press contacts. With a emailed press release on the picketing there might even be some media coverage. That is what is needed exposure. Sure Cj would have a cry fest and solicit sympathy cards from his brained washed followers, but maybe some people would stop and think. Maybe some family would skip visiting SGM and find a healthy, well balanced church where people will love them.

  • Unassimilated

    “the role of the apostle is to ensure that the Gospel is preached and applied in the daily life of the church. Concentrating attention on the writings of Luke and Paul, one might conclude that apostles are devoted to church planting, being set apart for the Gospel and sent forth with the Gospel, that they might protect the Gospel and build with the Gospel.” – CJ Mahaney 2006

    “The apostolic team, for those of you new to Sovereign Grace Ministries, was for many years what we called the team of pastors who help us facilitate church planting, international ministry, and church care. But over time, we discovered the name confused more people than it helped, so now we’re considering alternatives.” SGM Ministries via http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/sgm/post/What-happened-to-the-apostolic-team.aspx

    “The success of leadership is dependent upon the proper submission and obedience of the people to their leaders. If the people aren’t obeying and submitting, the leader’s ministry cannot be fruitful. – CJ Mahaney from “The Happiest Place on Earth”

    “If you went back and listened to past messages, I don’t think you’d find us teaching, “There’s only one godly way to do this or that.” But we could have worked harder to highlight the differing viewpoints that still honored the principle.” -Josh Harris

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    Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., “downsizing” for layoffs), making the truth less unpleasant, without denying its nature. It may also be deployed as intentional ambiguity, or reversal of meaning (for example, naming a state of war “peace”). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth, producing a communication bypass.
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    “In 1985, I published a public apology through New Wine magazine because I felt that my teachings had been misused on some occasions.” – Charles Simpson

    “If we elevate a single practice and invest it with the authority of biblical principle, we can place a rule or burden on people that isn’t actually commanded in God’s Word.” Josh Harris

  • Roadwork

    Oh yeah, I remember this message now. I heard one very similar to it….
    Given by DH after BP stepped down at Fairfax. How’s that hope and change workin’ for ya?

    How about a real elder board if they really want to hear from “members”?

    I think everyone in attendance should have been given a BS filter at the door.

  • acme

    Here is the link to the transcript and audio of CLC’s family meeting last night. I think it’s a step in the right direction.

    http://www.covlife.org/meeting_notes/

  • anon

    Roadwork, if I told you then I would no longer be “anon”ymous. :)

    After all I’ve read here and at the Refuge, it’s quite obviously EXACTLY the same all across the SGM board. Same story, different SGM churches. Same exact thing. They are all the same.

    I not only lived it myself, I can read everyone else here has as well. That is the best illustration of the reality of SGM polity right there.

  • Unassimilated

    Paperbag princess –

    Compare Derik’s article to CJ’s happiest place on earth teaching.

    Start at page 11, (Charles Simpson’s “Joints” article should sound hauntingly
    familiar to your SGM friends as well).

    http://www.csmpublishing.org/pdf/newwine/02-1976.pdf

    He, CJ, uses some different scriptures, but both contain the same principals,
    methodologies, and perspectives.

    Also, Charles Simpson was still speaking at SGM events up until 2001’s celebration East. He spoke at Dave Harvey’s SGM Church in Philly that same year as well.

    If the aforementioned is not enough for your friends to take note and leave, perhaps a summarized resource page may not be of much help either.

    For the lurkers –

    In the end, you have to answer to God, I can guarantee that none of your SGM brethren will be with you for that, nor will “obeying your pastors” be a suitable plea before the throne. If it was a suitable plea, then what use is Christ?

    (Seems Christ would have spent his time re-educating the Pharisees if the “pastor” role was the future of his kingdom, right?)

  • Roadwork

    Anon:

    Yep. Although I haven’t asked, that’s been my perception. Great way to keep the manager of each franchisee in line and continuing to contribute to the corporation.

    Curious though… Which franchise were you in when you asked this?

  • anon

    Mole, we DID ask our former SG pastor point blank if he had authority to make decisions on a local level. He didn’t really know and had to check with his boss (overseer) and would get back to us. (That was basically my answer right there). He came back to us weeks later and said the answer was basically “Yes and no”. His regional “overseer” said, “Yes, you have latitude to make decisions, and yet at the same time I hope you would be in conversation with me”.

    Do you see???

    Translated, THAT BASICALLY MEANS NOOOOOOOOO, local SGM churches do not have autonomous authority to make any decisions, because they all have to be filtered through and ultimately approved by the higher ups. Like any corporation. Local pastors are “men under authority” – but it is man’s authority touted as “how God laid it out in the New Testament”. If they don’t submit to the way things are done in SGM and act as “men under authority”, then they risk losing their job (hireling). If they try to exercize their freedom in Christ and make decisions autonomously on a local church level by following God’s word and His Spirit with a genuine desire to please God even though it might rock the established boat, the pastor is then not in submission, sinning, and puts himself in peril.

    Paperbagprincess – great idea!

  • Stunned

    Mole, your post #591- AMEN!

  • happymom

    A Kindred Spirit,

    That’s a good question. Honestly this site and Refuge have been the most helpful, just knowing there are others who understand and communicate with us privately.

    The answer would also depend on what issue we are speaking into, it feels like we fought a war on three fronts. One for our child who still deals with the repercussions of what happened, second with family who abandoned her to protect their reputation and the third was with our former SGM leaders who refused to come clean about how they handled this for a year and then backed the family pastor (LG) who avoided all our questions and caused the division in the family.
    Depending on the situation we would have different thoughts and would be happy to share them with anyone who might want to discuss this privately, especially with anyone dealing with abuse or heading into a meeting with SGM. Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughtfulness!

  • old timer

    I like the term being ‘ground into pieces by persons with righteous intentions’. I look at it in another way though after being away from pdi/sgm for 14 yrs or more. My perspective now is that every move was ordained by God , for His purposes, His reasons, His Way. He used these people to get and maintain my attention.

    How did they respond when horrible acts were committed against those who couldn’t defend themselves? How about when folks were confronted with life and all of it’s challenges, struggles and perplexities? Did they model or imitate Christ? or just act like self righteous hypocrites whose yoke was hard and whose burden cast on the congregation was heavy? They showed me how wrong they are, and were in many situations, and that I should not be like them so I wouldn’t pass on those same disagreeable unrighteous, legalistic intentions to other people.

    Do I want to be like the Pharisees and Sadducees? No way, I would be like Jesus ( who only got angry at the religious ones and not the ordinary regular sinners of the day.)

    As far as the ones who can’t trust and won’t go to church, OR are trapped in the cult-like atmosphere of sm g, or a look a like church, I have faith for them that He who began a good work in them will bring it to completion…..in His time and in His way. Those situations get our attention and we either grow in faith and believe what is in God’s word, or we wallow in fear and unbelief that God isn’t going to do anything. We learn to trust Him and model His life ………or we don’t. And to be honest, it is’t easy much of the time.

    So yes, thanks to the leadership of pdi/sgm who started the process to get me to the place I am now.
    You helped grind me into pieces with your religious intentions so that I could learn to submit to His Will and Ways and to be ground into powder to be strewn onto those Paths of Righteouness for His Name’s Sake.

    I lift a glass of pinot noir to you leaders who believe you are being used mightily of God—–just not in the way you think you are.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Happymom,

    I know many people who are estranged from family members due to crap like what takes place within SGM with shunning, etc. when folks within a family disagree.

    How have you dealt with it all these years? It’s truly heartbreaking and grievous, especially when it’s parent/child situations. Are there books you would recommend, or support sites on the internet for such? I would appreciate anything you could share to help folks. The heartache is overwhelming at times.

    Thinking and praying for you and your family this morning.

    Kindred

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Rose,

    I glean so much from your comments, and have a lot of respect for you.

    Your husband is a lucky man to have you as his wife. :)

  • Mole

    paperbagprincess

    Your following comment, “SGM’s desired control over lifestyle behavior choices for men, women and children. I could go on, but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg”, prompted me to go ahead and post what I’ve already posted over at Refuge……

    “Deception is part of sin’s DNA. Sin lies to us. It seeks to convince us that sin brings only pleasure, that it carries no consequences, and that no one will discover it. Sin works hard to make us forget that character, conduct, and consequences are interconnected. And when we neglect this relationship–when we think our sins will not be discovered–we ultimately mock God.” – CJ Mahaney
    It seems that the issue of polity has been put forward many times as a reason for SGM’s proclivity for the maltreatment of its members. I would like to propose that the form of polity they have chosen, while an aberration, is not primarily responsible for the damage they have done. Their polity is simply the vehicle that carries the “culprit”; that culprit being, their obsession and insistence to maintain authority and control over the people. This is the “holy grail” of SGMs…..authority and control. It is important to realize this because they may very well change or modify their current form of polity. The undiscerning will think this is evidence of genuine change, when in actuality it is merely a “slight of hand.” To prove my point, I challenge any current SGM attendee to ask their pastor if the church has authority in any capacity. Do not make the question complicated. Keep it simple. Ask, “Does the church have authority?” Please keep in mind, whatever they answer; it must square with the clear teaching of scripture in Matthew 18, regarding church discipline, where it indicates the church indeed, does have authority. In fact, the church (local body of believers) is the ultimate authority in deciding matters of discipline. This is very important because if it is true that the church has authority but you as a member of SGM are taught, and therefore believe otherwise, then you in essence have done at least three things; you have allowed yourself to be deceived (believing something to be true that is actually false), you have neglected to embrace a clear teaching from Jesus himself, and you have abdicated your responsibility as a member of the body of Christ to exercise the authority Christ has mandated you to have and exercise. Your pastor may smile, give affirming nods, and otherwise make you feel valued. However, under no circumstance will he give up the “holy grail”, authority and control over you as an individual believer. They will throw you a bone but you will not get the meat. Jesus made it very clear that He did not want members in the body of Christ to have authority over each other in a hierarchal fashion. When someone has authority and control over you they have the power to abuse you. This is why many of your brothers and sisters have left SGM … they have experienced spiritual abuse at the hands of men who falsely believe they have hierarchal authority over other members in the body of Christ. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 20:25-28,
    “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  • paperbagprincess

    I agree with OutofStepford, as to a summary of points of why this blog exists. I have been reading this blog for a while now, and have family members still in an SGM church. I think we need to come together and set up a reference page to start directing friends who are really curious to what SGM is all about. I would start with the founding of the SGM, with the infant roots being in the Shepherding Movemen. As well as with CJ’s contributing efforts to this cult and then moving to the main components that have led to spiritual abuse towards it’s members. This includes the lack of democratic nominated elders and the choice to have an appointed hierarchy of leaders instead; SGM’s desired control over lifestyle behavior choices for men, women and children. I could go on, but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • happymom

    Andy said above,
    “being ground into pieces by believers with “righteous intentions” no longer even attends church and has serious trust issues.”

    I’ve lost track of how many people from Fairfax and pastor LG’s prior church have been ground to pieces. He has quite a track record. SGM is the perfect ministry for him to hide away in.

  • Roadwork

    Andy said:
    “A friend that attended SGM in Fairfax before being ground into pieces by believers with “righteous intentions” no longer even attends church and has serious trust issues. Her therapist said she exhibits all the indicators of being in a cult.”

    I’m curious Andy, that sounds like someone we were very close with. She was a CGL’s wife and they went on a plant out west. They returned and I don’t believe they have attended a church since.

  • jedi

    There is chronic consistant abuse happening in most SGM churches if not all. My opinion is that the newspapers, tv coverage, and the books being written will tell the tales of the horrors done to people under their false teachings. CJ mahaney is soverign in SGM churches. When they are exposed for what they are, perhaps then they will actually be able to humble themselves before God.

  • andy

    An informational picket would be something at Fairfax Church. If nothing else it might alert the regular members about what has gone on and they would be informed about a possible risk their kids might be exposed to.

  • andy

    I know many families that have attended the Fairfax location of SGM, even back when it was People of Destiny and Fairfax Covenant. The name may have been changed several times to protect the guilty but it’s still a very unhealthy,unbalanced and autocratically ruled church that comes very close to being a cult. I have seen people go there, get abused by leadership and their very unbiblical take on church discipline to then leave and find a healthy church. Some have been shocked to realize how controlling and bizarre SGM churches are, once they get into a healthy church and have something to compare it to. A friend that attended SGM in Fairfax before being ground into pieces by believers with “righteous intentions” no longer even attends church and has serious trust issues. Her therapist said she exhibits all the indicators of being in a cult. I remember her always saying that her church was “on the cutting edge of Christianity”. Folks that is just flat out sick, Jesus Christ was the cutting edge of Christianity.

    When such arrogance is the norm for a church and it’s leadership the stage is set for terrible abuse like described by the gentleman whose children where molested at this dysfunctional church. Reading that bought back horrible memories and I found my self crying out to God for these young people and crying for several hours. The impact on their precious lives grieves me to no end and I have been praying for these kids all week.

    What else can be done besides spreading the word on the Internet ?

    I suggest a organized picket of the church just like is being done to several Catholic churches that hid sexual abuse. The staff member that took a blind eye to the molestation of his sister n laws children is unfit to serve in ministry. He was just so concerned with the reputation of his church, that his nephew and a second (niece or nephew ?) was sacrificed on the alter of sexually perversion for the sake of this “christian” cult.

    Lots of very warped teaching and unqualified teachers came out of the Jesus movement. CJ was just one of them. When your church staff is essentially seminary free and only attended this rinky dink one year in-house bible training in Gaithersburg, RUN to another church. You have unqualified people teaching the Word and ministering to the folk.

    I’m totally serious about suggesting an organized informational picket of SGM. No church should be allowed to hush up sexually abuse of children for the sake of the churches reputation. Lets drive that point home with an informational picket warning our community about this “church”. I’m willing to participate and help recruit others, make/ pay for picket signs whatever it takes.

    The future of children/young believers being raised in this sick church hangs in the balance.

  • Rose

    AKS, I think that almost anyone is smarter than I am. Only after nearly 30 years and he developing debilitating anxiety, which was eventually identified as schizoaffective disorder, did I realize (when it was pointed out to me) that there is something really different about the way my husband thinks. As in Asperger’s Syndrome. He often objected that things I said were “inflammatory,” so I would try to tone it down and be more gracious, trying to limit my conclusions to what could be deduced, rather than go with my “suspicions.” I am pretty careful in what I read and can usually pick up on what it is they’re trying to say, even if they don’t say it very well. In that way, I’ve served as an “interpreter” for my husband all these years. Also, I am sometimes pretty good at making connections between things that are not obviously related, partly because my husband modeled methods of creating “counter-examples.” But I have to say that right now, with the diagnosis staring me in the face, I am feeling stupid to the extreme. Having Asperger’s Syndrome and Schizophrenia, my husband is extremely sensitive to criticism, and what we’ve gone through with abusive pastors in the church has really exacerbated his problems. I hope we can get into a healthy church, but I haven’t found one with an educated clergy and an evangelical view of Scripture that doesn’t lord it over the congregation. Maybe I’ll finally learn to just keep my mouth shut. Maybe I am finally getting smart.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Thanks, Rose.

    That’s the only article posted in that comment that I merely skimmed. I trust you, you are by far a smarter woman than me. :wink: :)

  • Rose

    AKS, Your reposting in 481 is EXCELLENT. :goodpost I also appreciate hearing about Paula Kirby’s editorial, but I don’t agree that she gave a perspective on “how some Christians come across in their teaching.” She was saying that the Christians who don’t oppress women are “deluded or disingenuous.” She was talking about what she, along with the oppressors of women, believes the Bible teaches.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I have personally benefited greatly from Karen’s ministry…especially her emphasis on the “one anothering” scriptures. Her passion and love for the Lord and His people shine through in all she writes. You’ll find the following on her blog.

    What does it mean to be a Christian?

    1. We must acknowledge that we are all sinners. “For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6) and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

    2. We are all accountable for our own sins before God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

    3. There is only one way to be forgiven of these sins and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

    4. If we confess our sin to the Lord and repent of it (not allow it to rule in our lives) we can be forgiven and be in right standing with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousenss.” (1 John 1:9)

    5. Genuine salvation will result in living lives of good works but none of those works contribute in any way to our standing before God which is based solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) and “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

    6. We all, men and women, boys and girls, have direct access to the throne of grace because everyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ is called a “priest and king” in God’s economy. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

    I believe that many of the false teachings within the patriocentric movement are in direct contrast to these Scriptures and I would encourage each of us to first examine what we believe about Jesus and His work on the cross, its implications and its marvelous power.

    Secondly, I would challenge anyone reading here to examine your own heart and ask yourself whether you have been trusting in good works….baptism, homeschooling, church attendance, modest dress, the list goes on and on, or if you have placed ALL your faith and hope in Jesus’ blood and righteousness alone.

    And finally, I would challenge you to examine the teachings within your own church system, whether it is Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc. Ask yourself what your church teaches about ecclesiastical authority and family authority. Does it line up with the Word of God? It is a top down system that requires certain works in exchange for a relationship with Jesus Christ or do you have the assurance that you are saved for eternity by His death on the cross in your stead? Does it teach that the fruits of the spirit and obedience to all the one anothers is what our lives will demonstrate or is there a list of man made rules?

    If you desire to talk with me about this, please send me a note to shesthatmom@gmail.com. My desire is that no one who visits this website will leave without knowing the glorious truth that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and can enjoy a life filled with His goodness and grace!

  • I know Karen Campbell to be pretty solid, and agree that she included the Paula Kirby link to remind us of how others see Christians. It was a pretty depressing link, though. I think I remember reading that Paula Kirby is a “consultant to secular organizations.” In other words, it’s her job to bash organized religion. But it is true that so many who are not believers view those who are believers as contributing to more problems than they solve. And when you look at organizations like SGM, it’s not too hard to see why. On the other hand, there are plenty who identify themselves as Christians who are bending over backward to blend in with the culture and make no “salt and light” distinctive at all.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    The reason Karen included article…

    I included the Kirby article because I thought she made some observations that the church needs to hear. We can become so myopic that we don’t realize how those who aren’t Christians observe not just our beliefs but how we practice them. I thought her perspectives of how many Christians come across in ther teaching on gender is especially poignant.

  • Rose

    Oops the url didn’t go through. Here’s the content from a report dated 4/7/11. It’s not much:

    ATLANTA (AP) – Former President Jimmy Carter says much of the discrimination and abuse suffered by women around the world is attributable to a belief “that women are inferior in the eyes of God.”

    Carter said such teachings by “leaders in Christianity, Islam and other religions” allow men to beat their wives and deny women their fundamental rights as human beings.

    The former president made the remarks Wednesday at a gathering of human rights activists and religious leaders from more than 20 countries at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

    Carter said he doesn’t fault religions for oppressing women, but blames men who selectively interpret the Bible and other scriptures. He suggested there are other, more flexible interpretations.

    Carter called mistreatment of women “the most serious and all pervasive and damaging human rights abuse on Earth.”

  • Rose

    Here’s a report on Jimmy Carter’s remarks: I guess Kirby took it as an opportunity to rail against religion in general. It is stupid (and lazy) to say that any one verse in the Bible taken out of context is crystal clear and that “only the deluded or the disingenuous could claim to see equality where there is only subservience.” It is stupid when the patrio-centric fundamentalists do it, and it is stupid when unbelievers do it.

    The reaction I have to such rhetoric is to recall Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Being made in God’s image and living in a world created by him, Kirby knows better, but suppresses that knowledge in unrighteousness. Her rantings, however, should not be used by those who have a form of godliness but deny its power to write off those willing to do the hard work of real exegesis as “liberals” or “worldly” or “wolves.” We lose our focus when it all revolves around “who is in charge?” because we can’t see Jesus on the throne through spiritual eyes that are focused on hem lengths, neck-lines, the cross, and loud-mouthed leaders who can’t be quiet long enough to see the Spirit at work in God’s people.

  • anon

    AKS, uh, :word :)

  • A Kindred Spirit

    No, Rose, I don’t know the context.

    It breaks my heart that there are so many out there in the world that need Jesus and the “patriocentric bunch” appear more concerned about how a couple find one another and marry, who should submit to who, how many kids a couple should have, and whether or not it’s “wise” for daughters to go to college. :scratch

    How did we lose our focus? :(

  • Rose

    I think you and Karen are right about that, though it is hard to know where to start. I have a brother-in-law who thinks similarly to the way Kirby does, and I do believe that those who oppose the gospel will become more and more self-conscious in their rebellion. Do you know the context of the quote Kirby gives of Jimmy Carter at the head of the article?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Rose,

    Karen Campbell referenced the article on her blog.

    As she said…”We need to not blow this one off….this woman speaks for many and if we are serious about our Christianity we need to examine what she is saying.”

    Most Christians would “blow off” such an article due to the “source.”

  • Rose

    AKS, Are you referencing Paula Kirby’s “Religion Lies about Women” from 4/13/11?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    5yearsinPDI,

    Here’s the link…

    http://communiosanctorum.com/?p=96

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Karen Campbell strongly encourages people to read Meg Moseley’s book, as well. She also posted some good links to other patriocentric articles.

    Meg Mosely’s new book is being released today and what a read it is! When Sparrows Fall is a journey into the world of a young homeschooling widow whose patriocentric and cult-like church has little understanding of what it means to truly take care of widows and orphans. The herione’s story could belong to any who have walked along her path and makes for a compeling story. My only criticism of the book? It ended too soon! http://www.amazon.com/When-Sparrows-Fall-Meg-Moseley/dp/1601423551/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304433438&sr=8-1

    OPC Pastor Shawn Mathis has some good insights and choice words for the Family Integrated Church movement and shares them in this article with the promise of more to come. Be sure to read through the comments for some helpful perspectives and respectful discussion on a movement that is having tremendous impact within the hoemscooling world. http://www.weswhite.net/2011/04/family-integrated-mathis/

    Eric Pazdziora has written, hands down, the best evaluation of the current betrothal trend among patriocentric homeschooling families! I can’t really even give it justice to comment other than to tell you to read it. Now. http://www.quiveringdaughters.com/2011/04/bondage-of-betrothal.html

    Washington Post writer Paula Kirby wrote this painful assessment of the problems women face within the body of Christ. We need to not blow this one off….this woman speaks for many and if we are serious about our Christianity we need to examine what she is saying. How does this apply to homeschoolers? I believe it has much to do with how we raise our daughters and how we train our sons to treat their sisters in Christ.

    If any of this patriocentricity stuff is new information to you, you might want to check out Christianity Today’s thoughts on stay at home daughters, which is central to patriocentric teachings.
    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2010/12/what_is_the_stayathome_daughte.html

  • 5yearsinPDI

    AKS….beautiful. Do you have a link? Thanks.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Another post on Matthew 18…

    Principles Not Procedures

    No one doubts that Matthew 18 is a relevant passage in dealing with resolving offenses between brothers, but the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 is set in a very specific context that is often overlooked. In churches where spiritual abuse is occurring particularly at the hands of ministers and pastors who rule by fear, intimidation, and the inordinate and inappropriate use of Scripture–passages like this can become a very powerful weapon to accomplish and maintain abuse instead of legitimate repentance and reconciliation.

    Much of the time, people find themselves caught in a web of spiritual abuse and don’t find out about what’s really going on until it is too late and much damage has already been done. By that time, families are divided. Husbands and wives in disagreement. Maybe even close to or already in separation or divorce. Children who don’t immediately understand the concerns of their parents and just want to see their friends at church again and never want to hear another word about what’s going on. Friends may even stare in disbelief at what you say and do in and out of this sort of abusive church world. Emotions and temperatures run high in an environment where the spiritual authorities in your life already have too much of a hold even after you break free from their grasp. All of this can lead to people being more impressionable than they might otherwise and it also lends itself to taking something like the above passage and allowing someone to outline and manipulate others based off a procedure rather than follow the higher principles that the procedure itself was designed to follow.

    People caught up in this sort of spiritually abusive environment often have mixed feelings and may find it difficult to know who to believe when presented with clear evidence that their leaders lie and manipulate people–even when it happens right before their very eyes. It’s easy to look at something small and say, “Well, he wouldn’t really think of it that way, or he certainly didn’t mean it like that”. Or, “Maybe we’ve misunderstood him.” And on it goes. There comes a point however in almost every person who has found himself abused like this that he recognizes that this is a pattern and that unless something is done about it–it will never stop.

    Sometimes efforts are made by well-meaning people trying to break out of a spiritually abusive mold to make their ministers conform to the Word of God in their practice and life and church members often don’t always go about it in a way which many people think it ought to be done. So the procedure goes…You have to confront the person privately first. If that doesn’t work, take some few with you and confront him again. If that doesn’t work–then and only then–take it to the church (and really you may generally be told that it shouldn’t ever get that far, will likely be unsuccessful, or that it’s really not your place as a believer to challenge those in authority over you). The tragedy is that if you don’t follow a procedure like this in many abusive church environments, you will be called on the carpet for disobeying our Lord’s words, acting against his ministers wrongly, and encouraging division in the covenant community.

    As usual, however, there’s always more to the story and especially so than the one which abusive church leaders press before you. And, it can be quite the shocking thing to reach out to denominational officials only to be told that nothing really is wrong and this is likely just due to differences in opinion or your own overly concerned scruples in the matter. What many people fail to realize is that their abusive ministers likely received their understanding, practice of ministry, and even their corrupting abuses from others equally abusive and any notion of a real appeal in the church over and above an abusive session or consistory then becomes almost impossible. When you sit down and think about this for a couple of years or more it one day comes to you that men who press you on how to properly confront sin in your church are merely using these things to justify their own misdeeds much like the Pharisees of old took advantage of the differences in vows and other laws to give themselves an advantage in disobeying God’s Word and thinking they could get away with it.

    We find out that a truly high view of the law of God is especially interested in the morality behind the law and not all the details presented to us in procedures and preferences. The moral law was the key to living God’s way even in the Old Covenant and that is no less true in our own days of the exercising of the New Covenant. It is this moral law that is written on our hearts and not the way in which men think we ought to exercise it. These moral principles take wisdom to exercise aright and it ought to tell us something that Jesus frequently criticized the wooden ways in which the Pharisees took the legitimate law of God and their traditions both to oppress others and to exercise their own undue privileges. It’s funny how certain wood is extremely bendable for certain purposes (like a minister’s preference about issues) and resolutely like oak in other instances (particularly where your obedience is concerned).

    But, look how our Lord confronted these men who bore the marks of spiritual abuse in their own day.

    Did he go privately first? Then take two or three? Then confront them in the temple or the synagogue? For that matter, did the prophets do likewise? The same prophets who these men who stood condemned by our Lord were the ones which were killed by their fathers. No. Our Lord called them out publicly. He laid their private deeds out for all to see in the open square of the day. When you realize how small of a world Israel at that time was (unlike our nation of some 300 million people) it was very obvious who he was speaking about and it is this very reason that the Pharisees and others put together plans to literally get rid of him. He exposed their wickedness for what it was. He made their insecurities and shortcomings plain. He said the things they never wanted said. He put light to the darkness. Effectively, he really did nothing less than name names. Interestingly enough, apostolic practice continued the prophetic tradition and followed our Lord in this when necessary.

    But, the goal of the 18th chapter of Matthew concerning personal reconciliation of brothers is found in the context of Christian leadership. Both before and after the verses in question our Lord is talking to his disciples and to Peter. It has been noted by more than one that quite likely this passage about going to a brother privately and then taking two or more and then to the church is a process which is primarily concerned with dealing with sin in and among a circle of leadership that you are a part of since our Lord was talking to the would be leaders of the church as he outlined these things. These are the men who are to treat little children with the dignity they deserve granted to them by our Father in heaven, the ones who ought to be going after the one instead of the ninety-nine, and the ones who have received forgiveness at the hands of our Lord and should not forget that same graciousness when dealing with those under their charge who also owe them as well. That is the context of Matthew 18 and we find our Lord’s words about offenses in and among this context.

    There is nothing in the passage that says that this is how a layman must approach a pastor or session in confronting sin. Wisdom should tell you that the deck is already stacked against you and to think this is the way to proceed in every case is to go well beyond what the basic outline of Matthew 18 proposes. Nor is there anything here in this 18th chapter as to how a person must confront their leadership at all with sin. It may very well be that the wisest thing to do in that type of situation is to leave as quietly as possible and not utter a word to the leadership or others that you have issues with what they have done.

    To the extent that elders are faithfully teaching the Bible, you are to do as they say but as our Lord said, “do not do what they do” (Matthew 23:1-3). Do not think that you must follow a set of procedures that they demand to be followed while ignoring the greater principles involved in handling these things. Not everyone is called to be an Elijah, Nathan, or Jeremiah that works to bring down the corrupt leadership in the church or state today and it may be best for your family to graciously and quietly remove yourself from their abusive tendencies. On the other hand, it may very well be that God is calling you to take a stand against them and if so again the question is not how because God will help you with those details and things will likely progress naturally. The question is, “What is the right and just way to make sure the moral principles of the law of God and His grace for His people is uttermost in our concerns?”. In short, what is the wise way to proceed as our Lord leads you?

    Astoundingly difficult to answer in a blog post. But the one thing you must keep in mind is that the Holy Spirit is within you and He will guide you. Lies and manipulation can have no power when you abandon the fear that corrupt elders project and have confidence that your understanding of the matter really is right. Think of our Lord’s words in Psalm 119 and consider its relevance to what I’ve outlined above.

  • Patti said (correcting the one error):

    “Page 91 of the Membership material under On church discipline on the CLC website states that if they find out the new church you attend while under discipline with them they may tell that church about you, especially if you are suspected to be harmful to children, seductive to young women, or divisive and gossiping.”

    First of all it is SGM’s opinion on what is “divisive” or “gossip.” As I and others have shared before, SGM/CLC is quick to call sharing of a lot of information “gossip” as a way to intimidate people from sharing and thus others knowing about questionable actions.

    It is also interesting how they mention “harmful to children.” Does anyone else see a contradiction here? With the subject of this thread and Noel’s story where SGM has seemed more concerned about the child predators than the these pedators victims how can CLC claim to have a policy like this? Sadly it sure sounds contradictory to these actions.

  • Patti, decisive just might be divisive anyway if you value thinking for yourself. Decisive for me was finally saying “Enough is enough!”

    I read the new novel When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley yesterday. Very interesting take on a young widow leaving a controlling church.

  • Patti

    Oops, I meant divisive.

  • Patti

    Page 91 of the Membership material under On church discipline on the CLC website states that if they find out the new church you attend while under discipline with them they may tell that church about you, especially if you are suspected to be harmful to children, seductive to young women, or decisive and gossiping.
    If another church informs them about someone from their church, they will without communion from them unless they decide their discipline was unbiblical.

    What? And they say what we are doing is gossip? Why are they allowed? :scratch

  • Patti

    Mattie,
    I may have missed if you said you will or will not be still SGM.
    Forgive me if that is something you don’t even want to say. Just ignore this post if you want to, I understand either way.

    :worm

  • happymom

    “One of the posts I read said that VA clergy aren’t required to disclose sex abuse to the authorities? Did I read that correctly?”

    Yes, you read correctly.

  • musicman

    Ok…that first sentence should read disclosure, not exposure….arrrgh, when will I learn to prrof reed?

  • musicman

    Former FCC…can I make a suggestion to you and any others that have experienced an alarming lack of exposure by their church concerning sex offenders? I would call or email your local newspaper. Many times they will want to follow up by writing their own article about the subject or they often times have a section, where guest articles of various topic are written by people in the local area. I think it might be a helpful way to make some folks aware and to alert churches in your area, that this lack of disclosure is very alarming to the average church member who’s salary is not dependent on the “image” of the church.

    Just a thought….. :mic

  • FormerFCC

    Golden said “Question: For the safety of children at these different churches, is there a way to get the names out there of these people who have molested/ raped/ abused children? (Thinking of this story, Noel’s story, etc)”

    This may have already been mentioned–this blog is way to big to go through. But in the state of Virginia, you can look up names of sex offenders on the state police website. You could just put in the zip code of the church, click on contiguous zip codes and see a list of everyone within so many miles of the church. The list might be large since northern VA is so populated but worth going through.

    After I moved away from the Fairfax area, I attended a Presbyterian church. I was single with children in their early teens. A married man from my church kept volunteering to help me and kept coming over to paint. He was around my children several times. Imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through the VA Sex Offender website to find out this man was a registered sex offender and had molested a girl in her early teens! I was ticked, to say the least. The church KNEW he was coming over to help. When I asked the pastor WHY did they not tell me that this man was a sex offender they said “oh, we thought you knew”. How would I have known? Evidently this man had been under church discipline, but I was not a member of the church when it happened. I would have not been at any meetings.

    One of the posts I read said that VA clergy aren’t required to disclose sex abuse to the authorities? Did I read that correctly?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Mattie Chatham,

    Welcome to the site. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation.

    That’s good to hear. The few from the SG church in my neck of the woods have ALL stayed in SGM. And the church has members that are graduates from GCC that stayed loyal, relocating to this area because it had a SG church.

  • Out Of Stepford, I completely agree about the need for an introductory page that summarizes the main issues. I think I have asked about that before.

  • presbyterian

    On a different subject:
    Did anyone see the new article in the Gospel COalition’s webzine/journal about Matthew 18? The article is by D.A. Carson, someone liked by SGM, and it is entitled: “Editorial On Abusing Matthew 18″ He really does a great job of showing how Matthew 18 doesn’t apply to the situations that are often brought up by SGM supports regarding this blog. I would encourage everyone to read it since this is a common complaint against bloggers is that they are not following Matthew 18. LInk is: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/publications/36-1/editorial-on-abusing-matthew-18

  • Mattie Chatham said:

    “As a SGM kid who went to GCC and is just now graduating, I’ve observed that most SGM kids end up leaving SGM and going either Presbyterian or Anglican by the end of their time at GCC. GCC’s culture challenges them to think a bit more broadly about the nature of the church than SGM would be comfortable with.”

    Interesting what you say. Isn’t that something that when SGM kids have some independence where they can think for themselves and information they received isn’t so controlled the kids change. I am sure this this explains why I hear SGM emphasizes local colleges.

  • Mattie Chatham

    #505: “Grove City College in Pennsylvania appears to be the college of choice.”

    As a SGM kid who went to GCC and is just now graduating, I’ve observed that most SGM kids end up leaving SGM and going either Presbyterian or Anglican by the end of their time at GCC. GCC’s culture challenges them to think a bit more broadly about the nature of the church than SGM would be comfortable with. :)

  • OutOfStepford

    Personally, I would like to see a post which gives an updated summary of why this site exists. I have read almost every post on this site, so I completely understand Kris’ motivation for writing it & some of the main stories. But, over the years, it seems like the concerns have become much more serious. Usually when I newbie pops in & makes a comment, they haven’t read through everything. Realistically, they won’t read everything b/c there is so much information & it would take days. I think it might be helpful for them to have an updated resource which “puts the pieces together.” I don’t know…I’m just brainstorming. But does anyone else see a need for this?

  • Luna Moth

    Celebration was a big multi-church conference. I’m not sure it was absolutely required, but it was pretty strongly encouraged…In recent years, we have rarely gone. I wasn’t gonna do it. And I think they finally quit having them. They seem to be having something else instead, in the summers, but it hasn’t been called the same thing every time in our area, and anyway I’m not going.

    The first one or two I went to had smaller workshops with various speakers, as well as the big worship services. But when we went more recently, it was just the main worship services, with CJ and other high-up leaders speaking.

  • Patti

    What exactly is an SGM celebration and is it required attendance? And I have also been reading more from their website like the membership requirements. I found one funny… One of the theologians that is quoted on the form to sign happens to be an egalitarian professor. Shhh…don’t tell. They would have to rewrite that portion.

  • anon

    I’m still here. :D I’m thinking we need a new post by Kris. I have a topic idea if she’s looking for one. :)

    Unassimilated – GREAT QUOTE! LOVE it.

    Another good one someone said to me once, “No one can manipulate you unless you let them.”

  • Patti

    Whew! I was thinking I missed the rapture or something lol.. Actually I was getting caught up on some other blogs, reading some new comments at SGM refuge and I just discovered one called Spiritual Tyranny. That one delves deeper into philosophy. I love that there are different focuses to the same problem.

  • Ellie

    LOL, I was wondering that, too, Pam. :)

  • Unassimilated

    “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.”

    – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Pam, I suspect everyone is sitting there scratching their heads and wondering where everyone else is!

  • Pam

    :scratch Where is everybody??

  • Pam

    Patti,
    Part of it was his need to interject into anyone’s talk like he needed to either be noticed or control the flavor of the speaker’s speech. I can’t put my finger on really anything specific. One thing I do remember from the first time I saw him was his insane rocking.

  • Patti

    Pam,
    Was your first encounter with him personal or observation from a distance? Was it just a feeling or was it what he said. Just
    anything you can give me that I can google. The reason I ask is I don’t doubt at this point that he is… I am just trying to find
    out for myself if it is on purpose or if he really believes he is doing the right thing under God.

  • Pam

    Patti,
    The first time I encountered CJ was at Celebration. My very first reaction? What a control freak! Why didn’t I run? Because my husband and I were drawn into the whole enthusiasm and also John Piper was the speaker for that year. Figured if John Piper was with CJ, this is a good place to be. Wish I had gone with my gut feeling.

  • Patti

    I just finished listening to an mp3 of a q&a session with CJ Mahaney. If I were a complementarian woman I think I would be enamored wiith his answers. He sounds like the perfect complementarian husband and if I believed it was biblical I would so want my husband to be exactly as CJ says. I found myself being very drawn in to him (CJ). But at the same time I felt confused, strange, I really was trying to be accepting, but it was difficult because I also know that he teaches it is sin for the wife not to follow. But how could you not follow a husband who treats you so well? So I guess I can see that if you are convinced that complementarianism is biblical you would never have an issue if your husband was that perfect. And that helps me understand this movement’s teachings that complementarianism needs to be indoctrinated from childhood and why it is such a central point in all their cross centered life teachings. It seems they think that if everyone would just be perfect in the practice of it then why would anyone want anything different, why even question whether or not it is biblical. While listening and trying to embrace CJ’s words I was actually in a mild confusing anguish and two words came to me in the last couple minutes of the mp3. Then my mind and heart cleared again. Those two words? Stockholm Syndrome

  • Patti

    Stunned,
    I love that quote, Nice Girls don’t change the world. Lisa Bevere quoted that in her book Lioness Arising. If you haven’t read I bet you would like it.

  • Patti

    Pam,
    Yes I had you in mind when I began the post and then I guess I got carried away.
    I also think a good Christian counselor that understands spiritual abuse could be a great help. I don’t think it has to be a professional paid psychologist but definitely someone you can feel safe disagreeing even with them doctrinally. I feel like I had the best person taylor made by God just for my personality. She never judged me or my progress. I pray you will meet just the right counselor or mentor for you. And I do not mean an accountability partner. Of course God has His own plan for your recovery but it could look like mine which was that God led me through hours of Bible reading every day for many months before it was safe for me to start even trusting the mentor He brought me or trust my own discernment on Christian books or church.. And I did still make some discernment errors and I think we always will to a point, but it should grow less and less. Even the apostle Paul went off with God Himself for a long while after his ‘wake up call’, not consulting any of the disciples who were older in Christ than he was. He even rebuked Peter for fearing the ‘rule makers’ so much that he began doing what they wanted instead of following his conscious of freedom in Christ. Peter would naturally have been his elder.

  • Stunned

    Vida, I love how God answered your concerns the very next day.

  • Stunned

    PS Pam, It took me five years after I was invited to leave my SGM church before I could bring myself to read that book. No rush.

  • Stunned

    Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynn Hybels

    It’s a tiny little book but one sentence really ministered to my soul. Helped me to see God was working in my life even though my life didn’t resemble what other Christians thought it ought. It was wonderful to see God at work. In that sentence He essentially said to me, “See, I am at work. Trust me. I’ll take care of you.”

    Stunned

  • Stunned, I thought you would like that! :-)

    I was writing down for my journal last night how sometimes it is hard to experience God as a loving Father and this morning that’s what our pastor was preaching about as he introduced a series on the Lord’s prayer. I felt like he must have been peeking at my notes! But I also remember what I’ve read here that it takes a while to recover and be renewed so I don’t put pressure on myself for it. That’s one thing really good about this blog.

  • Stunned

    Vida, your last line in your post 521 made me laugh. :)

  • xyz

    Hi all, while you’re talking about Bible translations, I thought I’d chime in and recommend Richmond Lattimore’s translation of the New Testament. He is considered one of the best translators of classic Greek texts, and his goal in translating the New Testament was to use whatever English words were necessary to convey the original sense of the Greek, and the result can be beautifully surprising sometimes. So if you’re looking for a reading of the New Testament that you haven’t heard before, I’d recommend trying that one. It’s beautiful — you can hear the differences in the “voices” and personalities of the various authors. Anyway, I’m not sure if this version has been mentioned here already, so I thought I’d suggest it.

  • Pam

    Patti,
    Not sure if this was directed at me but, thanks!

  • Patti

    If you have a desire to really know the one true God, the God Who is responsible for you, made you, responsible for all things… tell God you want that. Start from scratch. See if the scriptures become easier for you to understand. I recommend reading Genesis first. Concentrate on the first couple chapters. Does it really say what man told you it says? Then the New Testament. Especially note the words of Jesus. They will be healing to you. Then when you really get to know Jesus.. move on to the rest of the New Testament. Take your time every step of the way to look up every place of scripture that you stuck on emotionally. Don’t force yourself to try to just accept it. It’s easy to look up what it really says on scripture4all.com and blueletterbible.com. These are the same tools that scholars and pastors use every where. But I never see the abusive authoritarian churches encouraging laypeople to look it up for themselves, they may tell you what it says, but they don’t want you looking for yourselves. They would rather keep writing long books about what they say it says. The Reformers have succumbed back to the old Roman Catholic church that didn’t want anyone to learn on their own. Once the printing press was invented and the Bible reproduced, the state church didn’t stand a chance unless they bullied with burning at the stake et al. Now the internet has been invented. And there seems to be a mad scramble by the leaders of so called christian orthodoxy to hold their positions of spiritual authority by forming alliances with each other like the CBMW, The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel, etc. The reformed churches are mostly Calvinistic in theology. I think every one here has been taught the TULIP doctrine. I think everyone here has been taught how great Calvin was. How many of you have actually read his works or read all about his life and practices. Once he was in power he also started started persecuting his theological opponents with public humiliation and beheading. I’m not accusing the current ‘authority’ of the beheading part. By ‘authority’ I mean some of our more hierarchal christian leaders of our country who are banding together ‘for the sake of the gospel’. Google search for The Gospel Coalition, CBMW, Together for the Gospel. The staff and members are all listed. I am begging everyone to use the resources availble to develop an educated belief system about your Creator. it’s been a long time since education has been considered a bad thing. Did you know that female professors have actually been fired from seminaries since the new upsurge in male/female role teachings. And women aren’t even allowed to attend some seminaries even if they agree not to be a pastor. Even staunch black and white page KJV preachers have to agree with the verse that at the very least says. “Let the women learn” come on that’s got to be a real wake up call for us if education is starting to be denied people again. I know Christian oppression has always been there this way on the fringes. But the fringe is getting very culturally relevant and and techno savvy… and they only make the Bible itself seem more boring than books. Please pray that God makes the Bible itself more exciting to you than any other book you could pick up.
    But, just as the printing press took away any of our excuse to not know what the Bible said. Now we don’t have any excuse not to know if our translaters, interpreters and leaders are correctly expounding what those Bibles say.
    Someone asked me why then do we not have a more accurate translation/interpretation of our modern Bibles. First of all, I don’t think most tranlatiions are bad that if you really really look at the whole context of every subject you can’t at least start asking yourself and God..’couldn’t it possibly be interpreted this or that way?’ But if you have been spiritually abused the voice in your head will tell bad, bad, bad… can’t do that.
    The other reason there isn’t a better translation/interpretation is because even more of the ‘authoritative’ spiritual leaders in our country banded together to boycott all of Zondervan’s company if they printed it. Hmmm, beheading isn’t allowed but boycotting works pretty good too to stop opponents. :(

  • Pam

    Vida,
    I have not been able to look at anything yet. Always worried that the opinion of the author will be twisted.

    Has anybody looked into any deprogramming counselors? Wellspring, for example?

  • There aren’t too many Bible verses that trigger me from SGM, but phrases like “We have been so WELL-taught” make me roll my eyes and moan pitifully. And I still can’t get into quotes from the Puritans – even though some if them are good, I tend to not want to hear them. There was a season several years ago when Valley of Vision was like manna in the wilderness, but even just a year after that, it wasn’t at all edifying to me. It was too dark and depressing. And I tend to be suspicious of almost any book I have seen in the church bookstore. I have loved branching out into such a variety of Christian books.

    What books and authors have helped in your mind and heart renewal?

  • Enroth’s book was helpful to me when I read it last year, especially since it is available on-line.

    I was thinking yesterday of trying to compile a list of web sites I have seen that deal with spiritual and emotional abuse. I’m sure you all know of so many more that I haven’t seen yet, but I can come up with at least a dozen without even trying too hard, and more if I really unpack my brain. What are some of your favorites?

    As to switching Bible versions, going back to my beloved old NIV and ditching the ESV was really really good for me even before we left SGM. I think I was gearing up mentally for leaving. Fortunately our new church uses NIV too.

  • Patti

    Kindred,
    Thanks for posting that. I really like the part that says most of them don’t know that what they are doing is anything but the good caring way. I believe that. And for that I empathize and feel bad for the leaders when they read or hear confrontation. I think we all know the feeling when we have found out our good intentions were wrong, it’s a way worse feeling than when our impure intentions are confronted.

    While riding in the car yesterday I was sharing with my husband my frustrations with doctrinal differences I have with SGM..et al. after rereading a pastoral instruction written by the SGM leader. The subject content is not unique to SGM nor unique to anyone who dogmatically defends their position on any doctrine by use of the ‘clear’ language on the surface of an English translation of the Bible. When I use the word dogmatic I mean close minded to the degree that it is very difficult to share possible evidence that a deeper study could reveal at least a little consideration.
    Anyway, as I was waving my hands around talking about this I noticed the button on my dash that says REAR. that’s it, nothing else around it. It just says that. So I say..’see..it’s like that button, it clearly says this right here on the dash that this IS the back of the car. So since it says that then it is ‘obvious’ the other end is the front.
    And then I could start building a whole set of rules and explanations of how all cars are supposed to operate and be taken care of based on either my own interpretation or based on my following someone I respect more than myself’s interpretation of that first ‘obvious’ non-negotiable word placed there by the creator of the car. Now if the car breaks down I can get angry because he should have driven it according to to the instruction based on the word REAR. But rather than go back to the original car manufacturer’s manual myself (lost the original, figured a dollar store copy would suffice) I will just work on my own sin of anger against my husband not operating the car according to my limited knowledge of the intent of the car’s creator. And pray and wait patiently for him to repent of his sin against my clear need for him to value my intelligence.

    And if any of what I wrote sounds like :huh That’s exactly the way I feel after reading much of the doctrines and exhortations written out by many SGM et al leaders. I feel like they need to interpret their own writings. Like sometimes when I confront my husband on something he said, he will say he didn’t mean it that way but his explanation still says the same thing in just a different way. It’s Okay, say what you mean, Now I can choose how to deal with it. But it only works towards mind control to keep saying you don’t mean what you say.
    I like the written word better than spoken. I think that is why I love blogging. You can never say you wished you had agape recorder in that conversation.
    I really think CJ Mahaney is very clear in this teaching: and now I don’t have to wonder if I am hearing correctly. And I know many of the bloggers here would agree with his teachings here even if you have trouble with him in other areas. I just don’t want to base my arguments on hearsay of what he teaches but straight from him himself which I believe he would want also. Chapter 10 page 189 How to lead so wives will follow by CJ Mahaney. It is much too long to paste hear.
    https://www.cbmw.org/images/onlinebooks/pastoralleader.pdf

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I just refreshed the page and saw your last comment, Pam. :)

  • A Kindred Spirit

    “I know I won’t be able to look anywhere until I can stop reacting to verses that I have a knee jerk reaction to.”

    I know what you’re saying, Pam. Enroth touches on that in his book…

    The first stage [of recovery] also must address the doctrines of the abusive church. It is important to examine and carefully refute any unorthodox teachings. Most of the churches mentioned in this book are theologically orthodox, although nearly all would be guilty of distorting the Bible’s message in some way. Peter Sommer observes, “These groups are rarely heretical in theory. They don’t deny Christian basics; they tend to brush by them. Instead they focus on what makes them different from other churches or groups. They have lots of teaching, but it tends to be on such themes as commitment, submission, and prophecy.”6

    Stephen Martin, a staff member at Wellspring, considers instruction in sound study methods and the interpretation of the Bible important. In abusive groups, twisted hermeneutics are often used to instill fear and guilt and thus become a form of spiritual intimidation. “Since leaders of abusive churches typically twist the Scriptures, education in hermeneutics would help the ex-member gain the right perspective on Scripture passages. In talking with former members at Wellspring, I have found a number of them who have difficulty with or even an aversion to reading the Bible because it has been misused by the group to abuse them. Learning the proper application and interpretation of Scripture goes a long way toward healing the wounds of abuse.”7

    Sommer advises, “It may be wise not to read Scriptures that the group has emphasized; their interpretation may be deeply grooved into your thinking. Read instead the many texts that they did not teach you.”8 I suggest that these people attempt to rediscover God’s Word through the Psalms because those writings validate a person’s individual spiritual life. Paul Martin feels it is wise for victims to use a different translation of the Bible from that commonly used in the group.

    The book is only seventy-some pages, and a quick read. It touches on much of what folks have shared that they themselves experience/experienced.

    My children have all been affected by legalism from varying sources and in varying degrees. I inflicted some of the damage not knowing any better. It’s something I consistently pray about.

    I will be praying for you guys, Pam.

    The thing that drives me the craziest is that most SGMers still drinking the kookaid could read this book and they would respond by scratching their heads – they wouldn’t make the connection.

  • Pam

    Kindred,
    I’m already almost halfway through the book and what I posted above is typical of someone coming from an abusive church. Thanks again for recommending this book!!

  • Pam

    Thanks, Kindred
    So far what I’ve read that you posted really fits me to a T. I feel immobilized and very discouraged about even being able to set foot in any church. I know I won’t be able to look anywhere until I can stop reacting to verses that I have a knee jerk reaction to. I’ve thought of trying to find a therapist who could “deprogram” me but not sure I could trust them to fill my mind with healthy thinking. What if they would just give some different spiritual garbage? My kids are so scarred from this that I don’t know if they will ever be ok. Anyone out there have young adults that grew up in this that have given up on anything christian? My one child cannot tell the truth because if he does he’s afraid that we will be disappointed in him. He is still thinking that we will judge his actions like in sgm. And we weren’t even the heavy handed ones.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Taken from “Recovering From Churches That Abuse,” by Ronald Enroth.

    “I felt like I was put out to pasture, like an orphan, unwanted and unloved. No one but me knew the deep scars that I had inside. Even now, almost nine years later, I am still sensing great emotional scars that I thought were long gone.”

    These are the words of a woman who was rejected and abused, not by a boyfriend or a husband, but by a church. She still is not fully rid of the emotional and spiritual residue left from years of exposure to a church environment that was controlling, legalistic, guilt-inducing, and highly manipulative. “It’s still hard for me to expose my wounds, to admit to other Christians that I have been hurt spiritually and that my emotions have been damaged. I thought I was able to put it all behind me, but I guess the memories will always be there.”

    Most people have been made aware by the news media of the tragic problems of child abuse and spouse abuse in our society. Physical and sexual abuse, unfortunately, are not new to the human scene. But until recently, very little attention was paid to what has become known as spiritual abuse. It takes place where we would ordinarily least expect to find something so harmful-in churches and religious organizations. We expect to be helped, not hurt, by pastors and others in positions of religious influence.

    When our trust is violated by those who have been accorded society’s respect because of their special role as spiritual caretakers and shepherds of God’s flock, the pain, injury, and disillusionment can be devastating. Juanita and Dale Ryan state, “Spiritual abuse is a kind of abuse which damages the central core of who we are. It leaves us spiritually discouraged and emotionally cut off from the healing love of God.”1

    Spiritual abuse takes place when leaders to whom people look for guidance and spiritual nurture use their positions of authority to manipulate, control, and dominate. Or, as David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen describe it, “Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.”2

    Most people who are victims of spiritual abuse are sincerely seeking God, either out of a desire to serve him and know him more intimately or out of a deeply felt need to resolve problems. Being vulnerable in their spiritual journey, they would not knowingly subject themselves to pastoral or spiritual abuse. When they later realize that they have been involved in an unhealthy, abusive system, it is understandable that they may harbor resentment and bitterness against the leadership and against God himself. “Why did God allow this to happen to me when I was sincerely trying to know his will?” “How can I possibly forgive these people for the hurt and confusion they have caused me?” They may feel shame for having been deceived.
    Do the abusers intend to inflict hurt? In most cases, probably not. They usually are unaware of what they are doing to people in the name of God. They may, in fact, be convinced that their behavior is what the Lord has mandated. What others interpret as control they may view as caring for the flock. Ken Blue notes that “spiritual abusers are curiously naive about the
    effects of their exploitation. They rarely intend to hurt their victims. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don’t notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers.”3

    What aspects of authoritarian churches are hurtful? What happens to members when they decide to leave or are dismissed? Are they likely to end up in another abusive situation, or are they able to find a “normal” church? What about those who find it impossible to return to church, any church? Is it possible to break the cycle of spiritual abuse? Can people find true freedom in Christ after years of bondage in performance-based lifestyles?

    These are some of the questions we will address in the pages that follow. This is a book about the process of recovering from churches that abuse.

    You can read the book online at this link…

    http://www.reveal.org/development/Recovering_from_Churches_that_Abuse.pdf

  • 5Years, I have spent the past two years researching and writing about abuse of authority and other dysfunctions within churches, Christian families, and the home schooling movement. I now know more than I ever wanted to know and then some, thanks in part to both you at Survivors and Karen Campbell at http://www.thatmom.com. I am well aware of the issues. I will say it again in case you didn’t see it before – SGM as an organization makes me want to wretch. I wish MLC would secede but don’t think that is likely. And as I have alluded to before, I know of plenty of people who have had much less pleasant experiences with the pastors at MLC. That was certainly a factor in our departure. So I will hereby deny that I am in denial. :-)

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Vida, good suggestion…

    “I just got to thinking that with the National Day of Prayer coming up, that maybe we at Survivors and Refuge could pray for people in our country who are in less-than-ideal church situations (ranging from abusive cults to just-a-bad-fit). Sort of an intercessory niche, but certainly a pertinent one for so many of us.”

  • Stunned

    Vida said, “I do get frustrated that what I was trying to say in defense of MLC seemed to be discounted by some (though not all) of the people here. I don’t think I am being mistaken with that, but maybe I’m being too sensitive about it?”

    I don’t think you are being mistaken on that point, though it totally stinks to feel that your feelings are being dismissed. And I also don’t think you are being too sensitive about it. It is what it is and your feelings are very valid.

  • Stunned

    Vida, I don’t think you are sarcastic for a moment. I think you are a VERY loving person.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Vida, you really need to read up on what the secular world refers to as sociopathy. There are people who are charming, can appear to be very helpful and generous and pious, but they have a “streak” of almost unvbelievable wickedness. Its like the caring priest, beloved by 500 people in the parish who will all swear he is wonderful, and he sodomized a dozen little boys. Its like the nice guy next door neighbor who hacked six kids to death with an ax. The fine father who raped his daughters.

    Sociopathy is a continuum, not all of them are on the far side raping babies and chopping up little kids. Some of them live among us and appear as fine folks. It isn’t until you find out the trail of destruction they leave behind, with anybody who threatens them in any way, that you see it exposed. When you realize that they always have to win, they always have to be top dog, and will crush anybody who appears to question them, you start to suspect.

    I for one am not going to say they are all scoiopaths but I think some are. You might want to read “The Sociopath Next Door.” I believe it describes CJM to a T. Don’t know about your Metro buddies but I suspect you are in denial, in general, about SGM. Its how they treat the “bottom rung” that shows what they are. SGM might call such folks the “underbellies”, but a man like the recently dead Dave Wilkerson saw them as precious to God and devoted his life to “the least of these.”

    With sociopathy, even the good you see comes from the motives of a Pharisee and is a whitewahed wall. There is a difference between outer moral reformation and a changed heart at the core of one’s being. It is often hard to tell them apart. Only God knows with some of these pastors. But your tales of the good aspects is rather unconvincing to those of us who saw the nice guy on stage turn into a wolf. Yes, many of the members are true Christians, but it does not change the long bloody trail of wreckage at the hands of some apostles and pastors.

    Don’t bother to get on as others already have, and tell me how it damages our reputation and credibility to use the word “sociopathy” here. It is what it is. Paul would have called them wolves, false brethren, false apostles. Its all the same thing when it comes to self interest and destruction, instead of loving the flock.

  • AKS, very good point: “The very fact that SGM leaders, etc. ARE NOT all good or all bad is why SGMers struggle to deal with SGM’s problems.” That was probably one reason we stayed around a lot longer than necessary, trying to see if they could straighten it all out. I finally decided it wasn’t prudent for me to wait since I didn’t want my family exposed to more of the drama (and my deepening angst about it) when we could be happily growing in a healthy church. Fortunately for me, my husband was kind enough to defer to my opinion on this as he became more and more aware of what was going on.

    I hear of even more good things happening at MLC since we left, but I’m more than content to get that news secondhand at this point. I do love the people there. I know that God had us there for a season and for a reason (“for such a time as this”). There were things I needed to learn, people I needed to meet, ways I needed to minister to others. It’s part of my story, bittersweet, hopefully more sweet than bitter as my mind clears and heart heals.

    I just got to thinking that with the National Day of Prayer coming up, that maybe we at Survivors and Refuge could pray for people in our country who are in less-than-ideal church situations (ranging from abusive cults to just-a-bad-fit). Sort of an intercessory niche, but certainly a pertinent one for so many of us.

  • Dafna is a she, someone who knows me a little from church, though now I am confused about which of a few people she might be since who I thought she was actually joined the church (I think — just a foggy memory?) but I remember (maybe?) reading that Dafna said she didn’t. Either way, I know she is a very wonderful person (I am being sincere with that, not sarcastic — never can be sure how tone comes across) so I’m not at all mad at her. It’s just a different way of thinking.

    I do get frustrated that what I was trying to say in defense of MLC seemed to be discounted by some (though not all) of the people here. I don’t think I am being mistaken with that, but maybe I’m being too sensitive about it?

    I am NOT an SGM defender. SGM and CJ make my stomach churn, and that was even before reading the stuff in Wallace’s story. I am also NOT asking that ONLY good things be said — that would be absolutely ridiculous in the context of this blog. I personally really needed to see a confirmation of what was already upsetting me so much about my church — like most of you, to know I wasn’t going crazy or imagining things. Not to mention that I’ve stated my share of criticisms too over the past year and a half here. I’m just asking for a little fairness to the people still in SGM, many of whom are reading these blogs. What I’ve said in these recent posts are just my perceptions from “the vibe” I’m getting. I figure if I’m reading it this way, someone else might be, too — someone who might be reached more effectively with a little extra sweetness and sensitivity.

    AKS, good analogy with kids, but I’m not sure it quite fits what I’m saying. I think it is more like if you are always harping on your kid for what they did wrong, and you never had a word of praise or encouragement for them. How discouraged they would be! They wouldn’t even want to listen to a word you were saying because if they had any brains, they would know by that critical omission that I wasn’t really a reliable source of information about the rest of their character, and they would then take it a little too far (for my tastes anyway) and attempt to totally discount my correction as having any validity. Or worse, they might start to subconsciously believe everything I say and really think they are rotten to the core. Does that make any sense? This still isn’t a perfect analogy, but it’s the closest I can get at the moment.

    Sorry for the horrible grammar and punctuation here; I’m not in English teacher mode at the moment.

    And with this, I rest my case, what of it there is. No need to hash this over anymore.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    This discussion got me to thinking about my children…

    What if when addressing a child’s character or wrongdoing their side of the discussion sounded something like this…”Mom, you know I’m “good” MOST of the time…why do you get so upset when I lie?…why are you so concerned if I come across arrogant, prideful, or manipulative?…I make good grades and I got the character award at school…EVERYBODY is constantly telling you what a good kid I am…and every family has kids that are unkind and globber one another from time to time. I really wish you’d quit bringing up the things that I do “wrong” and look at all the “good” I do. Nobody’s perfect.”

    Sometimes “defenders” (and I’m NOT implying you’re a defender, Vida) come on here and sound similar.

    The internet was FULL of nothing but the “good things” about SGM until Kris put this blog up and a few others followed. All those blogs with nothing but “good things” are still out there – hundreds of them. Folks can still read all the good things about SGM. Some folks probably won’t believe me, but I actually wrote something “good” about SGM on one of those blogs. Of course, no one could write anything “negative” – the moderators don’t allow it. :wink:

  • A Kindred Spirit

    “Again, I don’t see people as all good or all bad and I don’t believe anyone here is suggesting such a thing.”

    I don’t see people as all good or all bad. It would sure help the “cause” if they were! :D :wink:

    The very fact that SGM leaders, etc. ARE NOT all good or all bad is why SGMers struggle to deal with SGM’s problems.

  • Stunned

    I appreciate you sharing your feelings, Vida. I know it’s not an easy thing to do.

    I agree with you that there are MANY wonderful people in SGM. (My best friend in the whole world being one of them.)

    I guess we don’t see SGM differently from one another, though it seems we view SGMSurvivors differently as I don’t see people criticizing things that are unfair or petty, though I completely respect that you have every right to see it differently. I also don’t see that any one here can’t see things from both sides. Neither do I see Dafna saying or suggesting that Danny & Benny are not “worth” anything. I still disagree with your perception of Dafna that she was judging you for “daring to find anything redemptive” in SGM. Can you maybe point me to some specific things that were being said that made you feel this way? It’s not that you need to at all in order for your feelings to be respected as worthy. They really are. It’s just that in my mind Dafna was not doing that at all and if you can point to the specific thing that would make you feel as if she were, maybe she/he (Dafna, sorry, I assumed you were a woman but I don’t remember you stating your gender so please forgive me if I offended) could clear it up if that is what he/she were not doing.

    Again, I don’t see people as all good or all bad and I don’t believe anyone here is suggesting such a thing. I just don’t understand why you preceive it to be so. Am I way off everyone? Is there someone, anyone out there who posts here that DOES believe that people are all good or all bad? Please come forward if that is the case so I can find out that my perception is off.

    Is there anyone here who DOES believe some of the other things stated here? I am missing it.

  • Stunned, I felt like MLC was being unfairly criticized for a number of things that were more petty and that many people do not want to acknowledge that anything could be done right there. That is my perception.

    I think we lose credibility if we can’t see both sides of the story. I don’t mind if people brings things up that bother them – small or large – but don’t think I should be dismissed as minimizing the problems when I do bring up something positive to bring a more balanced perspective.

    Dafna was suggesting that I was minimizing my pain when I was sticking up for Danny and Benny, like they weren’t worth defending. I just don’t see people as all bad or all good. I felt like I was being judged for daring to find anything redemptive – like maybe I was deceiving myself.

    SGM is not nearly as twisted as the Mormon church either. There are plenty of well-balanced evangelicals in SGM. Many of them are just unaware of the problems or they are staying to try to help.

  • old timer

    Patti wrote in # 508—- “If I actually lose communication with her I will definitely freely blog”

    Good grief, please don’t do that to your daughter. To me that is a betrayal of her confidence in you as her mother and could not possibly help your relationship with her.

    In a public forum like this there are many things that don’t need to be said for the whole world to see.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    “I’m on a tightrope between losing communication with my daughter and being able to freely blog.”

    Patti- if people recognize who they are then you need to respect her desire for privacy and stop talking about her in public. I have no idea who they are, but if all kinds of folks are recognizing them in your postings then please stop for her sake. You do NOT want to lose your precious daughter’s relationship with you over this.

    Perhaps there are some folks here you could email privately if you have no one in the real world to talk to about your concerns and burdens. (that would be best- real friends to talk to and pray with).

  • Patti

    Thanks for encouragement Stunned, I really need more than I can tell you right now. I wish I could explain right now but it sounds like you all probably have tried to help many from sinking into the quagmire so you might understand the pressure sent my way now. I’m on a tightrope between losing communication with my daughter and being able to freely blog. If I actually lose communication with her I will definitely freely blog. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that. Just for writing this much I may get into trouble so I will probably just stick to doctrinal and leadership issues that directly and indirectly affect the welfare of all believers, men, women, and children. Ugh! I can’t believe after all the studying I have done of religions, theology, doctrines and psychology that I have succumbed, but when the devil touches our kids… ………..oh…that reminds me of a another story I will tell later.

  • anon

    Patti – CRYSTAL!!!

  • Patti

    Mormons have helped a lot of people be law abiding citizens and people have found freedom from their addictions and sinful cravings through their Mormonism. Mormons have beautiful worship music. Mormons are dedicated to family. Mormons mean well. Mormons believe in Jesus and that He died on the cross for our sins. Mormons believe in doctrine. Mormons believe in the centrality of the church. There are now fourth generation Mormons who have carried on the faith of their forefathers because they were treated well growing up and trained in the Mormon values religiously. Some Mormons have been abusive. Some Mormons have never abused. Many Mormons are godly.
    But I have yet to meet a Mormon that has studied the original scriptures as much as possible on their own.
    I had a Jehovah Witness friend. She let me borrow her 3 foot high stack of Awakes and their Reasoning of the Scriptures big books and little books, basically I had all their theology books the highest ups in the Watchtower study. I studied it all against the Bible alone. I had to keep going back to the Bible on every little point or I would actually start seeing their point. The scariest thing I read in their material was this:
    IF YOU READ THE BIBLE ON YOUR OWN WTHOUT THE WATCHTOWER MATERIAL YOU WILL FALL INTO DARKNESS WITHIN TWO YEARS. So I certainly knew why I had never met a JW who had studied the scriptures on their own.
    You can imagine the JWs and the Mormons get frustrated at my door. I just wish they would set up an appointment with me instead of catching me off guard and scaring them with my morning face. ; {
    My point is this: actually I think my point is clear.. If not just shoot me the huh? icon

  • A Kindred Spirit

    “In our case, with 10 kids and state Bright Futures scholarships for Florida schools only, it is financial.”

    I understand, Vida. I wish more states were like Florida.

    And if I were a “betting woman,” I would wager that Metro doesn’t encourage their college kids to get involved in “outside” ministries. I’d dare say that’s a safe bet with any SG church.

    I find that if kids do go away to a college and live on campus, it’s almost ALWAYS a college near a SG church – even if it means driving a long distance.

    Grove City College in Pennsylvania appears to be the college of choice. :wink:

  • Stunned

    Vida, in post 492 you said, “However, I can’t point at any one person at MLC and accuse them of *trying* to hurt me.”

    I feel just the same way. I don’t think there is one person in SGM who ever intentionally set out to harm another. In fact, I have never heard any one person here ever even suggest such a thing. Have you seen it differently than I have? I mean, do you feel that people here are saying such a thing?

    You also said, “What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think it is helpful to get picky over every little thing (like there is nothing redeemable there).”

    Do you feel that people are being picky here? Personally, there are some things that one person may write about that don’t bother me, but I don’t think that person is being picky. If it has affected them deeply, I believe they have a right to say it without being considered picky or petty.

    “Nor is it edifying to carry on a personal vendetta like certain people at MLC are out to ruin things on purpose.”

    Again, maybe you know of stuff behind the scenes where this is happening, but in all my years here, I have yet to even once come across one person who has a personal vendetta here.

    I know you said you are trying to practice being positive but it seems to me that you are busy being positive to those who have done great harm to your family while slightly dumping on those here. If I am way off (oh boy can I be way off sometimes!) then I truly want to be able to dialogue with you further (or is it farther?) with you about this. But that post that I am referencing, at least to me, feels like you are trying to counter some argument here that I don’t even see existing. And maybe you don’t see the harsh judging in your words (and maybe I am the only one that does) but “personal vendetta”, “get picky”, and intimating that someone here thinks someone else purposely hurt them (when in all my years of reading here I have not seen once) seems really acusatory.

    And sure as heck, saying, “I can’t tell you all what to do, but in my time on this blog, I would like to focus on what is truly important (things like children’s safety and sound theology rather than ugly buildings), and do so with a measure of civility and true grace.” makes it sound like YOU have decided what is “truly important” and that you have decided OTHER people here do NOT “focus on what is truly important.” I don’t think you or I or anyone else has any right to tell someone what IS important and isn’t. One thing I like about this site is that people do NOT have their feelings and thoughts poo-pooed and judged like that. I’d really like to see that continue.

  • Stunned

    Tom, I am so sorry to hear that your church experiences have been so horribly legalistic. (Pants on a woman is wrong?! Crazy.) I am glad God is leading you farther into the promised land. And glad He has brought such healing to your heart. He is a good daddy.

  • Stunned

    Dafna, I LOVE what you said about the chin thing. That was very much me for a long time after I left my SGM church. It is common for people who have been abused (spousal, etc.) to NOT see what has happened to them. A long time. It is not until they have the perspective of time and being in a healthy environment before they can see what has happened to them.

    I am not saying that that is Vida’s case or anyone else’s here. I am saying that it was something that needed to be said as it provides a different perspective than one many people realize.

    I have a feeling you fell that day “for such a time as this.”

  • Stunned

    Patti, I can feel your courage in your 485 post. I have no doubt there was great fear in you as you wrote. Please, dear child of God, remember that when you fear in that way, it is NOT of God. This is an awful attack of the enemy who would desire with everything in him to silence truth and any perspective that he can not control by legalism. Keep questioning, but know that at the end of the day, when you are feeling that way, it is NOT God.

  • anon

    Vida, thanks for the balance in telling the other side of your story (of which I was unaware).

    I hear ya on the “cultivating a positive attitude” thing – we’re there, too. We have come away from our time in SG just shaking our heads, with burrowed brows, plus valid frustrations and anger and real pain. When we are away from them and pursuing the Lord daily we are flying high in faith and hope and joy. When we interact with the church and “leadership” we begin to doubt ourselves, we question if we really are hearing the Lord, and we are often times just thrown down spiritually again. We don’t feel that way when we are alone and reading the bible and praying and talking of all that God is doing and is going to do. I absolutely hate this roller coaster and the irony of it all. Church (that is, the Body) is the VERY PLACE we should feel lifted up! Something is very wrong here, and I can’t quite figure it out. It doesn’t COMPUTE. But you are right, positive attitude is a choice and must be cultivated. There are redeemable things in SG.

    I also agree that it is the skewed doctrine and polity that they SINCERELY believe is good and right that is what, fundamentally, is the root cause of most of the problems. There are good-hearted pastors (like Danny) and others. It’s not individuals. It’s the Corporation that is the real problem. I ALSO “strongly object to the weird emphasis on pastoral authority” – AMEN TO THAT! And as AKS so wonderfully quoted, “Our parents (or pastors, husband, and friends for that matter) cannot walk in the Spirit for us.” YES, YES, YES, and YES!!! How can we expect our pastor (or any other christian) to hear what God is speaking TO US? This twisted theology is not biblical (although I don’t negate there is wisdom in counsel), but it causes believers to doubt the Holy Spirit in them and make them look for God’s voice and direction in others. It’s messed up.

    I also stopped inviting people to church a long time ago. I honestly don’t care if they go to SG or any other church, what I encourage people in now is in seeking the LORD and pursuing a relationship with JESUS (not coming to church as the end all of the christian life).

  • A Kindred Spirit

    From “The Over-Controlled Adult Child”…

    In their zeal for producing godly offspring, many well-meaning parents insert themselves in their adult children’s lives in ways that are deeply inappropriate and hinder them from growth and maturity. Addressing the effects of this does not mean they are inherently bad parents or that we aren’t loving or loved. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Healing from over-control and surrendering to the transformation of the Holy Spirit in our lives is crucial to our growth — because it is when we walk in the Spirit that we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our parents (or pastors, husband, and friends for that matter) cannot walk in the Spirit for us.

  • AKS – you are definitely right about the students staying near home for college. In our case, with 10 kids and state Bright Futures scholarships for Florida schools only, it is financial. I can’t speak for others. My girls have been involved in other campus ministries but I wouldn’t say that is encouraged.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Honestly, I’ve NEVER seen a more fearful bunch than SGMers.

    It boggles my mind to hear all their big talk of God’s sovereignty and to observe all the fear in their lives. :scratch

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Most all of the kids go on to college, but most of them live at home.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Vida Savta,

    Most of the SGM kids I know live at home and don’t “go off” to college – they don’t live on campus. I’ve never heard one parent say the main reason is the cost of living on campus, I’ve only heard it’s their fear of what their kids will be exposed to.

    Most kids are still “serving” in their SGM churches, heavily involved in their SGM college ministry, attending care group meetings, etc. I don’t know of any, personally, that are involved in any sort of ministry outside of SGM.

    It sounds as though Patti’s daughter’s boyfriend is at least involved in a ministry at his college other than those he’s a part of at SGM, but maybe I’m wrong about that.

    The majority of SG kids in my neck of the woods have stayed tied very close to home, and SGM.

  • Dafna, in regards to the sin stuff, I’m not sure if you saw my poem written about the time we left. You can find it here: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2010/07/it-became-to-me-dark-thing-poem.html

  • AKS, the avoidance of college may be true in some SGM churches, but almost all of the young people at MLC — guys and girls, including pastors’ kids — go on to college, usually dual enrolled at age 16 or 17 if they are home schooled. I can think of only a few recent exceptions to that, and usually it is because the kid is already heavily involved in world missions, which is certainly not sheltering.

  • Dafna and others, if I may clarify… Yes, I did suffer spiritual harm in my years at MLC, specifically from the emphasis on mortifying indwelling sin rather than walking in grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. I strongly believe this kind of intense atmosphere can induce or increase depression and anxiety. I also strongly object to the weird emphasis on pastoral authority, and had a very long, in-depth discussion with one of the younger pastors on this after a troubling sermon last spring.

    However, I can’t point at any one person at MLC and accuse them of *trying* to hurt me. It is more the skewed doctrine and polity that they sincerely believe. I am well aware that other people who have left MLC have differing experiences and opinions on this. I am just sharing my own. For example, when my husband and I met with Danny (twice), I believe he expressed heartfelt remorse for what had happened at MLC and its negative effect on me and my family, even though I was not (to my memory) accusing him. I already had the spiritual resources outside the church that I needed to move forward in life and I was already on my way out (or gone), so I wasn’t asking him to make things better for me. There wasn’t anything he could really do for me personally, other than listen and understand, which he did. I give him credit for that. Trust me, I have *much* less fondness for SGM and CJ. I think those are more of the culprits — the system they set in motion, how they trained pastors, how they rule within the orgnization, etc.

    My point in all of this is not to say that MLC is a wonderful church. For goodness sake, I stopped inviting people a really long time ago and then I quit it myself! What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think it is helpful to get picky over every little thing (like there is nothing redeemable there). Nor is it edifying to carry on a personal vendetta like certain people at MLC are out to ruin things on purpose. They are just operating within their own religious paradigm — even though it seems to be a harmful one to me and many others. I can’t force them to think the way I do, just like I don’t want them to force me to think a certain way. But I can clearly state my opinions and expect to be heard!

    I am trying hard to cultivate a positive attitude in life to counteract the negativity that I experienced. Part of that is practicing gratitude — and that includes gratitude for the good things I still experienced in the middle of that troubling church situation. Another thing I am thankful for in regards to my last year or so at MLC is that it opened up my eyes to SO MUCH — so many hurting people, in the church and out of it. I think it has given me fresh perspective and compassion so that I am more effective in ministering to others who have experienced similar trials. God was still in control! And he was faithful to bring me beyond that, into a new little congregation where I can inhale grace and grow even more.

    I can’t tell you all what to do, but in my time on this blog, I would like to focus on what is truly important (things like children’s safety and sound theology rather than ugly buildings), and do so with a measure of civility and true grace.

    Vida Savta

  • A Kindred Spirit

    This is why most SGMers don’t want their kids going off to college. They know there’s a strong possibility their children will meet a “Christian outsider” and fall in love.

    When their kids see the genuine love these “outsiders” have for the Lord, and how grounded and strong they are in their faith, they begin to question. Their parents then have to answer those questions.

    That’s what boyfriend is hearing from his parents and his church right now.

    Man, how I’d LOVE to be a fly on the wall. I’d have to transform back into my body at some point because I’m sure I couldn’t stay on that wall as a fly and listen and not speak. :x

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Boyfriend,

    If you’re reading, here’s some tough love from someone who genuinely cares. If you really love and care about this girl, it’s time to grow a pair and be a man.

    You don’t need a church or pastors telling you what to do and what to think. You have a “direct line” to God just like they do. If you’re a Christian you have the Holy Spirit living within you – He will guide you and direct you, He will answer your questions, He will lead you to Truth – you don’t need some pastor or other “spiritual guru.”

    God may be using this girl to get your attention.

    I’m praying for you, Boyfriend.

    – Kindred

  • Patti

    Dafna,
    Just read your long post. Great! However…I hope you and I have become blog buddies now well enough for me to have a right to say something. I understand your feelings brn out of experience and empathizing with other’s experience, But if Vida is speaking what he/she really thinks for themself then I for one would rather read the back and forth. I really like to see all sides. I’m just saying I don’t like to see anyone hushed no matter how much I think they are wrong. And if you don’t think she is speaking from her heart but from a brainwashed point of view or that she speaks untruth about the church I know it is tiresome but please don’t give up the argument but keep refuting.
    And I welcome a healthy comeback from you on what I just said, anther you agree with me or not. :D

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Patti,

    I continue to pray for you, boyfriend, and daughter.

    If boyfriend is more concerned about convincing daughter that SGM is “not what the naysayers on the net portray them as” than he is about working through their differences, your daughter needs to *GET OUT* of the relationship.

    BIG RED FLAG!!

    Don’t let the “controlling mother crap” get you down. You know, and we know, that’s NOT who you are.

    Hang in there!

  • Patti

    Tom,
    Thanks for the background. Of course I don’t know you but I feel like telling you that I think God may be showing you lots of different ways people operate in His church for a specific serving you will have to speak into the church someday about all you will learn. So please even though you will read my opinions on SGM at this point and if you read my background in all the posts under Wallaces story (patti in the closed subjects is not me, and sorry to that patti, I didn’t see you b4 I joined) I somehow just have a sense you are where God wants you for this season.
    wow, if I am way off I apologize but I really felt like I needed to say that

  • Patti

    All I can say is the more ‘they’ try to convince my daughter that SGM is not what all the naysayers on the net portray them as the more I see they are. That is why it is so good for the postings from time to time on this blog by you who list overall cult type warning signs to look for in any group of any kind whether in business, family, or church. My daughter has relayed to me things spoken to her by SGM leaders and only because I am more educated than her in this area can I hear the tactics that they themselves are probably not aware of. The leaders have been very nice to her.

  • Patti

    Things are back to very rocky with BF and daughter. I just reread everyone of my posts about them. I have not said who they were. I understand CLC is a church of a few thousand? The closest I got to disclosing their identities was saying in one comment it was CLC specifically because I wanted advice by private email from someone familiar with that church. in every other one I used the SGM specifically to respect privacy. I did receive an email from someone with a story also and we have dialogues and it has been helpful. I have not disclosed any of that on this blog nor has that person and we have not even asked each other not to. I am writing this because more is going on now between BF and Daughter and there is attempt to silence my influence in their lives.
    I have been accused of publicly airing them. (daughter has no objections though). I realize that I am succumbing to the oppression of our enemy because I feel muffled.I am not even saying on here what is happening. But I feel I should but I can’t. I have been accused of controlling my daughter and the last kind of mother I ever wanted to be was controlling so I am examining all my ways. So far I only see I have laid out choices for her and information. My daughter does not see me as controlling but how long can she stand under this onslaught. It took a lot of courage for me to post today.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Dafna,

    I LOVE your heart, girl!

    It comes across LOUD and CLEAR.

    I’m glad you’re here. :)

  • anon

    I would also recommend you read the book “The Lucifer Effect” and look at the author’s website thelucifereffect.com

    I am still reading the book and the author does a good job of explaining what influence the power of the group can have on person’s actions.

  • Dafna, speak your mind freely! This is a no slink zone!

    Please note that Tom’s suicidal time came before he started attending SGM.

    I’ll comment more later but I am lacing on my walking shoes and heading out the door.

  • Tom

    Dafna,

    Just to clarify, it was after I began attending SGM that I found freedom from my sin. Did SGM cure me? No. God did. Did God use people at SGM? Yes.

    Vida,

    Yes, for a few months. After a pastor’s daughter mentioned it to me, lol. Her father has no problems with her reading it.

    Patti,

    I attended 3 churches before coming to SGM (at 19). The first, from 0-8yrs, was a very charismatic, almost prosperity Gospel, Maranatha church. The second, from 8-16, was a very conservative church, but they struggled with huge legalism issues (the assistant pastor got fired cuz his wife was spotted wearing pants). A good portion of the youth left as soon as they hit 18, even though a few months prior they all talked about how much they loved the church. The third, from 16-19, was a very small conservative church, that’s where my girlfriend went. So when we broke up, it was hard to keep going. Most of my youth, I was around people that were good at making themselves look like Christians, so I modeled myself after them, thinking that was what was acceptable.

  • Dafna

    Patti-

    Wow, I sure hope he comes around !! It bugs me to see young men, especially, get sucked into that mentality. I watched it happen to a very dear brother who is about to marry next week into SG’s pastor family, and I am heartsick over it. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the day, just practicing denial right now. Don’t even want to think about it.

    I pray the Holy Spirit will get through to your daughter’s friend. Hopefully another soul healed by the antidote to the :koolaid . And if there’s a party in your living room someday, I’ll bring the walnut brownies and nonalcoholic sangria.

    Tom-

    Your comment really touched me, when you said you were almost driven to suicide because of the GUILT FOR SINNING. This just makes my insides twist. From my experience with certain Metro people, I can totally see how this could be the case. I know a few young people that, since leaving Metro, have experienced such a change of mind from the old sin-centered way of thinking- it’s beautiful! You sound like you’re in a good frame of mind, glad you have come through that intense time in your life. Bless you.

    We got into a “confess your sins” mode of praying in our e-team, where Psalm 51 was the favorite scripture.
    For some odd reason, despite my protests and suggestions, the guys leading our evangelism group (including soon to be BP’s son-in-law) thought we alway needed a formal mini-teaching on “the gospel”- from Reformed viewpoint, of course. Half of us were Arminian. I used to wonder- why can’t we just pray or sing worship songs, to get our focus on Jesus ??? What better way to prepare to go street witnessing? Or just talk about our evangelising experiences or questions. Especially since we were coming from different backgrounds, it was like they would raise this tense atmosphere of questioning and debate, when in my opinion we really needed to focus on Jesus, get ourselves in one accord. It always had to be a structured teaching with no time for questions allowed afterwards.Like, dump on this teaching and leave no room for questioning, or say “I’ll get back to you on that”. And never get back to you. But someone here answered that head-bruiser :bang recently, how SGM’s take on fellowship isn’t like what most of us consider fellowship- they take it more seriously where it is not like any spontaneous fun or casual talking, what we might call “hanging out”- just enjoying each other’s company naturally, it has to be structured and geared towards correcting each other or instructing each other, whatever- had to be something “spiritual”. Weird. Almost as weird as CJ’s advice to men on his blog, an article about how to lead your family in a godly manner while on summer vacation (Blech!!! Can’t even enjoy vacation without the pious sin-o-meter beeping and chiming ).In my opinion, the SGM mindset really poisoned the good of what was going on in our little e-team. Or seriously hindered it’s potential. Glad they got “jettisoned”. But sad for EG.

    Dear Vida, please don’t follow this up with more defense of Metro. The excellence you may find in them, in regarding family values and homeschooling, etc. -things which I’m sure are very dear to you, can’t cover up their sick sin-focused teachings, which even you could no longer tolerate, it seems. I don’t think Tom is alone, there are probably many like him that this truly “graceless” indoctrination has wounded to the point they would contemplate suicide -FOR SINNING!! Where is the “Grace” in “Sovereign Grace” ?? It almost sounds to me sometimes like Orwell’s 1984, where the Ministry of Love practices torture, and the Ministry of Truth practices deception. Someone may not suffer like Wallace and Happymom’s kids did, or Noel’s baby, or the terrible, extreme ways others have. But bad doctrine is abuse, also, from my point of view. It may not be obvious but the bad fruit will show up one way or the other, robbing life of joy, freedom, vitality, creativity and eventually manifesting itself in possible health problems, relationship problems,etc. But it’s hard to see the rot for all the glow of the stuff they DO get “right”. I think there’s a scripture in Proverbs, a dead fly makes the ointment stink. And there’s some stinkin’ critters in SGM’s ointment. You’re a wise lady and I probably don’t need to be saying any of this to you- sorry to sound so harsh, like I’m all up in your face wagging my finger at you.I just know how highly you think of Metro and like to sing their praises here. I’m kind of on edge right now and this is something I am very passionate about. Tom’s testimony just nails it.

    I’m still not sure about your reply at 457, although I am glad you’re not the messed up little woolly guy I was imagining. But when you said you were “upset at the distortion of the gospel message and how it was affecting the church”, I couldn’t help but wonder if you were maybe minimizing the effect it had on you and your family personally, esp. since you spent several years at Metro, I think you said eight?

    I once busted my chin open when I was kid, running through the house, tripping and hitting my face on a VERY solid wooden recliner (good old medieval 70’s furniture). That dang thing had a big old brass door-knocker thing on the side shaped like a lions head. And apparently with my chin “predestined” to encounter it. When I got to my feet, totally humiliated because my brother had been chasing me, I saw a couple drops of blood fall on my shirt but insisted “I’m okay. I’m fine”. That was, until my Mom and my brother both took a look at me and began freaking out when they saw the blood streaming down my neck from the gash. What I thought was a Band-Aid moment, no big deal, get a washcloth, some ice, stop the bleeding — turned out to require a trip to the emergency room for some sutures.

    I was Minimizing the Damage Done to Me.

    And I’ve been rehashing this little vignette from my past for a couple days now, thinking, “I wonder if Vida might be minimizing the damage ….” For whatever reason — I know when I fell I was probably just shocked, numb, and maybe embarassed because it looked like my brother “won”- we use to have these cat-and-dog skirmishes, like siblings tend to do. I probably didn’t feel any pain at the time, just saw a couple of blood drops fall. Sorry if this sounds like “psychobabble”- it just gets my little bloodhound nose sniffing, the way you put needing counseling next to Danny’s very sweet encouragement.

    And no slinking from me this time. :wink:

    Kindred – #461, that was beautiful!

  • anon

    Glad that those videos were of value to you. Those videos show how SGM’s definition of what is “gossip” and “slander” works to to the leaders benefit. Silencing all questioning leads to people to think that they are the only ones with questions when there may be a number of others with the same questions etc. Their teaching that SGM Leaders stand in the “stead of God” instill an almost blind obedience.

    Both lead for the potential of abuse and may explain how a lot of the abuse has happened so long within SGM.

  • Dafna

    Kris-

    Thanks for reply to my email.
    *Sigh* Unless divine intervention happened. Very sad.

  • anon

    Steve240, great videos back on #427! Creepy true.

    As God-followers, we are all called to stand for truth, no matter what the social pressures (even in church)!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Boyfriend,

    Actually, I think it might be better if you and girlfriend just spend a *LOT* of time talking for now.

    And, of course, praying and studying scripture.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Well that’s good news, Patti! :)

    Boyfriend,

    If you’re reading, welcome. :welcome

    I’m glad to hear you and Patti’s daughter are back together and trying to work through things. Try not to let what’s said here offend you (although I’m sure that will be hard). Just “listen” and let the Holy Spirit guide you as to what you need to “hear”. I’m sure it’s overwhelming and it’s got to be tough to read these things about your church.

    The folks here are good and caring people. Many have been deeply hurt by SGM and many still have family and friends in SGM.

    I will be praying for you guys.

    – Kindred

  • Patti, thanks for the update. I hope all goes well for your daughter and her boy friend. One of my daughters will be engaged to an SGM guy within the next two weeks. They are so good for each other. He was born and raised at MLC. They have been good friends for several years and we all love and respect him. We are very excited for them.

  • happymom

    A Kindred Spirit,

    Thanks for posting that. Wow!!

  • Roadwork

    On another note, we’ve become friends with a couple that got out of the Worldwide Church of God (a bona fide cult) almost 20 years ago. What we have described to them about our local SGM franchise is all too familiar to them.

    I was over at their home last week and they were serving Kool-Aid for refreshments. I mentioned to them that I’m a bit sensitive to drinking any form of Kool-Aid right now….

  • Roadwork

    Did I hear correctly that BF has been reading here? And Daughter is willing to stand true to her convictions and what she believes God is telling her.

    That’s good stuff!

    BF: You must always be willing to follow God’s leading and not some “form of Godliness”. SGM, Inc., is very good at presenting an attractive “form of Godliness”. And it comes at the exclusion of the Holy Ghost being able to move freely and to everyone that does something different than their rigid pattern of how life should be lived.

    After 20 some years in SGM, we’re leaving. The leadership of SGM Corporate is a Good ol’ Boys Club and it will never change. And unless you’re willing to lay everything down for their way of doing things, your usefulness in their church will be severely limited.

    It’s not the same place we joined so long ago. And I feel like I’ve been had. And it’s my own fault for believing the corporate line that I should always “believe the best” and I let my discerner get dusty. Bob’s letter over at Refuge should get your attention. I’ll be reading that to my children.

    My wife, Squirrel, put it very well a few days ago – They teach the women what to do (love their husbands, keep the home, train the children, take meals, be hospitable, etc.) not how to live for and deepen their relationship with Christ.

    I think I would want an environment that encourages my wife to be all she can be in Christ, wouldn’t you? Why settle for something that can’t compare with the best?

    Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…

    Back somewhere around 333 I said, “What initially attracted me to my wife was her willingness to follow God regardless of what anyone else thought…” And that’s getting close to 30 years ago.

  • AKS

    Thanks for posting the information “The Yeast of the Pharisees: Spiritual Abuse by Pastors and Counselors.”

    A lot of those terms sadly apply to what SGM Leadership does to people.

  • Patti

    Tom,
    I appreciate your openness. You had to have wondered if you would get ‘blasted’ admitting you are still happy in your SGM church. I am curious what type of church you were in before and what your religious background is.
    I’m not really sure what an ‘expert’ on the Bible really looks like. I know more of the Bible than any of my friends. I know more than many pastors. But as the cleche’ says..the more I know of the Bible the more I find out how much I don’t know of the Bible’. And I don’t say that lightly,,, I really mean it. It truly is alive it is always speaking and the Holy Spirit speaks to us through it so I don’t doubt at all the Holy Spirit spoke those things to you through it.
    But I also believe God can use any church for his purpose for a season in our lives or lead us to a church because he has us there to minister to someone else for a season. Even if that church has doctrinal error.

  • Patti

    Thanks again everyone for all the kind words of wisdom from care and experience.
    Ah but the roller coaster ride is not finished. The kids are back together. I really don’t mean to exploit the BF here but I know you all care about both of these kids even though you don’t know them. But maybe there is hope for them. As you know Daughter had stood her ground and still is. To make a long story short he came back to her, apologized, told her he recognizes Christ in her, wants that, and wants to learn more from her about her views and realizes all he knows is what he has been taught and just assumed it was right. She said he was very much his genuine self when he was telling her these things. If you are new to this blog we had shared earlier that he is “not himself” when he teaches her his views on church issues. I know reading that they are together again will bring different reactions from you all but please don’t give up the dialogue. They may both be reading and you all have such good things to say.

  • :welcome Tom, and thanks for sharing your story in #460. Have you been reading the blog a while?

    Patti, my heart goes out to your daughter. O once broke a wedding engagement after I even bought the dress. Not fun, but in hind sight it was a lifesaver. I had just been to my business management class and heard the quote, “The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is that efficiency is doing things the right way, but effectiveness is doing the right thing.” Light bulb! No amount of patching it up was going to make it work for us. I broke up with him the same day. He was very controlling and unstable, so this was an intimidating situation, but it was worth being free.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    “The Yeast of the Pharisees: Spiritual Abuse by Pastors and Counselors,” by Edward J. Cumella, Ph. D.

    Spiritual abuse began in the Garden of Eden: Satan manipulated God’s words and convinced our earliest parents to follow him instead of God. This event epitomizes all spiritual abuse.

    Spiritual abuse occurs across denominations, in non-denominational churches, and across faiths—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, et al. It usually has little to do with the theologies of major religious groups and more to do with the personality of individual leaders. Spiritual leaders with personality pathology—especially narcissistic, antisocial, obsessive-compulsive, borderline, and histrionic traits—may become spiritually abusive. Because of emotional, relational, and cognitive problems characterizing these personalities, the Bible, theology, and church relationships can be distorted by such leaders to the point of serious harm.

    Scripture addresses spiritual abuse best through Christ’s scathing words to the Pharisees (Matthew 23), who are perfect examples of spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse has 12 features.

    AUTHORITARIANISM. Rather than modeling and teaching obedience to God, abusive leaders expect believers to obey them. Councils of elders, deacons, etc., are expected to rubber stamp leaders’ intentions rather than provide accountability.

    COERCION. Rather than respecting freedom and conscience, as God does, and offering messages that persuade based on scriptural integrity and reason, abusive leaders use strong-arm tactics to coerce believers into overruling better judgment and following their demands.

    INTIMIDATION. Rather than building up the Body in the bonds of love, abusive leaders use threats of punishment, excommunication, and condemnation to force people into submission and continued church membership.

    TERRORISM. Rather than inviting people to follow Christ with the Gospel of love and forgiveness, abusive leaders intensify believers’ fear, shame, and false guilt, teaching that problems in believers’ lives are due to the believers’ personal sins.

    CONDEMNATION. Rather than refraining from judgment lest they be judged, an abusive leader liberally condemns those who leave his church, outsiders, and those whom he defines as sinners. The message is that believers will join the ranks of the condemned should they deviate from the leader’s teachings or leave his church/denomination. Individual members become the scapegoat when something goes awry in the congregation.

    CLASSISM. Christ was no respecter of persons. Abusive leaders are preoccupied with power, promoting church hierarchy, referring to and treating people according to their titles and roles. Those lower on the hierarchy are taught that their needs don’t matter.

    CONFORMITY. Abusive leaders have the greatest hold over inexperienced, naïve, and dependent individuals who are seeking a strong leader. These individuals suppress their objections to the leaders’ teachings for fear of being shamed or ostracized. Hence, abusive churches often appear unified, but beneath the surface there is discontent, anguish, whispers, rumors, secrets, and a desire among many to leave.

    MANIPULATION. Rather than taking scripture in context, interpreting the Bible with the Bible and according to long-held Christian beliefs, abusive leaders twist scripture to convey their personal opinion rather than God’s intent.

    IRRATIONALITY. Because scripture is manipulated, one interpretation may contradict another. Interpretations may contradict reason and obvious reality. This requires suspension of critical thinking. Some abusive leaders claim to receive direct messages from God about their church or individual members, but these messages typically deviate from Scripture and reality.

    LEGALISM. Rather than treating others with love, grace, and forgiveness, as Christ commanded, abusive leaders offer little grace. They communicate instead that one’s worth and the amount of love one deserves depend on performance and status in their church. Abusive leaders expect believers to make heroic financial, time, and emotional sacrifices for their church and its members.

    ISOLATION. Rather than respecting family ties, community obligations, and friendships, abusive leaders are concerned that such influences will interfere with their control over believers, so they encourage isolation from family, friends, and the outside world, and wage war against the outside world as a sewer of sin devoid of anything redeeming.

    ELITISM. Rather than modeling and encouraging humility, abusive leaders beam with false pride and teach the same to believers. An attitude arises of, “We’re it! We’re special! Everyone else is condemned!,” partially compensating for the shame and worthlessness that believers feel because of other experiences in the abusive church. The leader instills that believers must protect the church’s image at any cost.

    ENSNAREMENT. Rather than promoting maturity among believers, abusive leaders inevitably promote self-doubt, guilt, and identity confusion, since believers struggle with the contradiction between what their conscience and reason tell them and what they are being taught. This ambivalence, coupled with fear of condemnation and loss of direction and fellowship, make it difficult and painful for believers to leave abusive churches.

    Think about a cult, for at its most severe, a spiritually abusive church is a cult. It has so diverged from solid Biblical teaching and grown so warped in the authoritarian rule of one man, that it has become a place of idolatry where God is no longer worshipped. “Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough… Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees…” (Galatians 5:7-10, Matthew 16:6).

    I know I’m repeating what others have shared but I honestly feel we can’t say it enough.

  • renee

    Patti —

    I’m so sorry that your daughter’s — and the young man’s — heart ended up broken. Your daughter sounds like the kind of girl who will take what she’s learned from this experience and apply it all to the next relationship she forms with a guy. With you as her mom, I’m sure she will.

    I do have to say the guy involved sounds a bit thin-skinned and in the long run, your daughter may be better off. That said, I know it doesn’t
    *in any way* diminish her heartache right now.

    Years ago, after a breakup with a guy I thought was “The One,” a very-wise-for-her-age girlfriend of mine said to me, “Renee, if you thought Schmoe was The Perfect One for you, can you just IMAGINE who God REALLY has for you?”

    I’ve never forgotten that.

    And how right she was. How right she was.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    You are so welcome, happymom.

  • happymom

    A Kindred Spirit,

    Thanks so much! We have been overwhelmed with the support and prayers from people who have never met us.

    Patti,
    Thinking of and praying for your daughter.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Wallace & Happymom,

    I read through your story again this morning and have been thinking of you and praying for you and the girls.

    Your opening sentences jumped off the page at me…

    “All sorrows could be borne if we tell a story about them or write them down” – Isak Dinesen

    To blog critics and all others who assert that bringing these issues to the light somehow undermines or weakens the cause of Christ, we would say the behavior of some in the leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries does far more damage to victims of abuse and to a watching world.

    We share our story with the hope that those with similar experiences will be encouraged to write their own and bring it to the light.

    Thank you, again, for sharing your story.

    – Kindred

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Patti (and Patti’s daughter),

    I’m so very sorry to hear your daughter and her SG boyfriend decided to break up. This time of grieving is almost unbearable. There is great comfort in knowing God, a loving father, is in control. No daddy would allow his little girl’s heart to be broken unless he knew that it would only be for a short season and that it was in her best interest in the long run.

    I frequently quote the following from C.S. Lewis’ “The Four Loves”…

    To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is D**nation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

    There will come a day when she will look back at the relationship and thank God for what He taught her and revealed through it. Her future husband will be thankful for it, too. :wink:

    To borrow the lyrics from Rascal Flatts…

    “God Bless The Broken Road”

    I set out on a narrow way many years ago
    Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
    But I got lost a time or two
    Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
    I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you.

    [Chorus:]
    Every long lost dream led me to where you are
    Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
    Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
    This much I know is true
    That God blessed the broken road
    That led me straight to you.

    I think about the years I spent just passing through
    I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
    But you just smile and take my hand
    You’ve been there you understand
    It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.

    [Chorus]

    Now I’m just rolling home
    Into my lover’s arms
    This much I know is true
    That God blessed the broken road
    That led me straight to you

    That God blessed the broken road
    That led me straight to you.

    I actually feel the “sorriest” for her SG boyfriend – I know how these kids are raised. They will stay in “the village” never knowing there is life beyond the scary forest unless something or someone leads them to the other side. Your daughter can take comfort in knowing that she most definitely had an impact on this young man’s life, especially if it’s God’s will to lead him out of SGM.

    Patti, I’m praying for you, too, as I know firsthand that a mother’s heart breaks everytime one of her children’s hearts break – when you think about it, moms have it the worse because they’re experiencing EVERYBODY’s heartache. :wink:

    I’m praying for a speedy recovery and a complete healing, and a LONG, LONG life.

    – Kindred

  • Tom

    Patti,

    A few years ago I went through a hard breakup. I’ll spare you the gory details (everyone involved was at fault). I struggled with depression for a long time. I was even suicidal (not because of the breakup, more that I felt guilty for my sin causing it).

    Now, several months after my relationship ended, I switched churches and began attending a SGM church (I’m still there). Honestly, I am grateful I am here, and not where I was thinking I was headed. God used the other singles to give me a vision of what it looks like to truly love Jesus. God has showed me that no matter what happens, He’s still in control. I am in a much healthier state, spiritually and emotionally, than I was before.

    Now, I don’t want to write this to brag about my church.

    What I wanted to say is this: God is a redeemer! I read a verse with new eyes the other night, Romans 8:28. Wow. I cried. Then again last night I read John 3, verses 18-21 were so comforting to me.

    18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

    20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

    21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on the Bible, so I might be wrong, but when I read the bolded part, I felt the Holy Spirit said, “it’s ok, I knew what was happening”. It was so very reassuring and comforting.

    So I would say this to your daughter, God knows.

    I would say this to all who have been hurt by SGM, God has seen.

    God is good.

  • Patti

    Thanks Dafna,
    I don’t think I can stop reading the blog though. You all seem like people I could just have over to my living room. I can’t ignore you. If we never meet in this lifetime.. I know we will be friends in the next.

  • Dafna

    Patti- Uh oh, I also wanted to say I am really sorry to hear about your daughter’s breakup and pray the Lord will put His arms around her and comfort her, and I also wish you a speedy recovery and healing. Calm down, my lady, take it easy- you might even need to take a break from this blog for awhile, but I sure would miss hearing from you! :P Peace- Dafna

  • Dafna, no slinking necessary! I had not been personally hurt by anyone, though I was upset at what I saw as a distortion of the gospel message and how it was affecting the church. I have always had a good relationship with all the pastors. I was not in wounded sheep mode with them, thankfully. More like really annoyed sheep who just wanted to be heard. There wasn’t anything I needed them to DO for me other than understand my point of view. I didn’t even expect them to agree. The counseling was for a multitude of issues, some related to the church transition. I mentioned that only because SGM pastors are generally known to frown on nonSGM counseling but he didn’t. He was very sweet about it.

    Blessings to you too!

  • Dafna

    Rose- I remember reading your story and experiencing two very different reactions:

    1. Outrage and disbelief at the way you were treated.
    2. Awe and admiration for you and your husband. The questions you had about the difference between the cross and Jesus Himself (if my memory serves correctly?) That you were a good enough Berean to question and research- unfortunately because you involved others on Facebook you got in trouble for it?
    That very thing was what I found hard to swallow with CJ’s “Cross-Centered Life”. Reading your story was one of those “Ah-ha!” moments I had, when I heard someone articulating something that was just a vague fuzz in my mind. Thank you so much!And I wi ll doff my wide-brimmed straw hat and jingle my tambourine in your honor. You two are my heroes. I admire your chutzpah.

    And I wonder if that recently graduated pastor’s brother had on a Humble Button. :scratch

    Anon- Girlfriend, you rock ! I loooove the way you think.

    I think it was the Lost Boys from Disney’s Peter Pan that had a little song that goes “We’re following the leader
    The leader, the leader
    We’re following the leader
    Wherever he may go ….

    Tee dum, Tee dee, a teedly-doe tee day ….”

    Patti – Isn’t it a shame such wonderful words get tainted??
    I’m looking forward, also, to the day when I can read or say certain words without my throat catching. Some people talk so piously that you’d think their feet hover off the floor about three inches. Bouyed up by all those puffy, lofty, spiritual holy words. Blech.

    Kris- Thank you so much for not installing a snark-filter on this blog, because three-fourths of anything from me would never get through :D

    Goodnight everyone.

  • Dafna

    Vida-

    After slinking away from my computer this morning, ashamed that I had somehow offended you about the Metro homeschooling thing, I kept mulling over something else you said that for some reason, kept bugging me. Hope you don’t mind me quoting it here, some words in defense of your former church:

    I spoke very directly and at length (in person, phone and e-mail) to four of the MLC pastors (Danny, Benny, Aaron and Jesse) about my concerns with the church over a period of months. Without exception, they listened carefully and responded graciously. I was sometimes rather tart in my tone, but they never responded with rudeness. I understand that this has not been the consistent experience of others who have brought observations, but I wanted to put that in from my own. They also all understood that I was reading and posting on both Survivors and Refuge. Danny was very encouraging and supportive when I told him I was going to a professional Christian counselor.

    Vida, what kept coming to my mind as I mulled over this, and I hope you don’t mind the comparison: imagine a hurting, wounded sheep hobbling up to its shepherd, maybe a little malnourished, some digestive upset from what it may have swallowed, wool is reddish or brown in certain spots from cuts, maybe a leg drawn up- not saying this is exactly how you feel or your experience, just a picture in my mind of how a wounded sheep might look. And that sheep looks up at the shepherd’s face and is basically saying how it has been fed improperly, wounded, or somehow not shepherded properly by this man, or group of co-shepherds, thus resulting in its present condition. Maybe the sheep is bleating real loud, like I imagine a hurting animal would (I sure hope you don’t mind me saying all this! The Bible does compare us to sheep …) And the sheep is basically saying, I need to get away from this pasture so I can find healing.

    Is the shepherd to be commended because he patiently and graciously listens while this hurting sheep is bleating so loudly at him??(You mentioned being “tart” and how they did not respond with rudeness. Uh, aren’t pastors trained to act that way, esp. when there is any disagreement, to act professional, sympathetic, etc ?) Did those wounds occur on his “watch”? And the shepherd is encouraging and supportive because the sheep is seeking healing in other pastures ??? Shouldn’t that shepherd be trying to bind up the sheep, to pour in the balm, put on the bandages, etc ( Ezekiel 34:4) ? Maybe the counseling you’re refering to has absolutely nothing to do with Metro, in that case, chuck everything I just said and forgive me for being so nosey. But when you said how encouraging and supportive Danny was because you were seeking counseling — well, something in me said :huh and my stomach started clenching, my eyes started to sting. Maybe I’m reading something into “concerns with the church” and “posting on Survivors and Refuge, going to a professional Christian counselor”.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, your defense of them seems a little, well -unjustified and odd? Unless I’m totally misunderstanding about the counseling, whether that has anything to do with anything that happened at Metro. And it’s really none of my business anyway- except wishing you all the healing from the Great Shepherd !!

    Sorry again, hope I haven’t crossed the line.I don’t want to cause you any further pain, or sound insensitive about your counseling. It’s just that little bit you said about Danny confused me. You totally don’t even have to respond to me. I may have to go slink into the corner again and curl up my tail around me. :(

    Blessings to you, Vida !

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Patti, I just want to say that I am truly sorry for your daughter’s pain right now and will pray that God comforts her heart. No doubt she was drawn to this guy as someone appearing respectful and self controlled and with attractive qualities, and it is always heartbreaking to go through any relational loss. The loss at this age when people are hoping for lifetime marriage partners makes the boyfriend thing especially hard. I went though it myself once.

    There is not a doubt in my mind, not a single speck of doubt, that she was making a big mistake. I am not going to put down every SGM guy, not at all, but this one was particularly tied to parental apron strings and just not ready for courting a girl. Hopefully he’ll be mature one day.

    The Lord can provide perfectly for your daughter. Again, as the pain eases, do encourage her to ask herself why she was attracted to somebody so potentially abusive (critical, demeaning, superior) and pray that she breaks this syndrome before she winds up with another guy who is much the same. It happens. (Might go back to dad stuff, I don’t know.)

    May the Lord heal her grief and bring along a solid kind Christian guy in His time.

  • Kris, I was just being a little sarcastic at the irony of calling a home school program institutional. My daughter has had a great year in public school with terrific teachers. The guidance counselor asked me if I was nervous about signing her up and I truly wasn’t at all. I am all for parents figuring out what their best options are each year for each child.

    The fun thing was that my daughter sang at the Broadway Night at her new school just two weeks after starting there. Her song was “Not For the Life of Me” about a girl leaving home for the first time to make her way in the big city. She was amazing! I posted the video here: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2010/09/this-girls-got-gusto.html

  • Rose

    Reading it in the best possible light, I think the “standing in the stead of God” concept is supposed to make preachers afraid to preach their own opinions or anything they are not sure follows necessarily from God’s Word. It’s supposed to warn them that false prophets were stoned for blasphemy. Somehow it doesn’t seem to have had that effect. :scratch Instead of realizing that they have no authority of their own, but only what attaches to God’s Word, they have responded by asserting and grasping an imagined authority they think they have by virtue of their “office.” They have completely removed from their Bibles that “in that day no one will teach his brother ‘know the Lord,’ for they will all know me” and that “you have no need of a teacher,”(I John 2:27) for we are led by the Spirit. Somehow they imagine us to be in the days before the Spirit was poured out on all flesh and before the new creation.

    They really do like to compare themselves to Moses and to Christ, but they are nothing like either of them. Christ, “though he was equal with God did not consider equality a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself.” I really wonder what they imagine “lording it over” would look like? Way too often what is set forth as “the voice of God” is just opinions and preferences that go way beyond what the text supports. They refuse to submit themselves and be constrained by the text, but insist that the congregation submit to their speculation and musings. Who are these people, anyway? #2 on Kerrin’s list: the leaders are self-appointed.

  • Patti

    I just checked my Facebook page and saw Daughter had posted this status, I believe I know her well enough not to be offended that I post it here.
    You all have been wonderful to us through this ordeal.

    “Walls are meant to keep something in, or to keep something out. Why must we be so eager to build them around our damaged hearts? That very same wall may protect your heart from further damage, but it will also prevent it from healing.”

  • Patti

    As always, when someone quotes or expounds a scripture passage in a certain way that does not sound familiar to anything I have read in the Bible before, I always think first calmly and rationally and say to myself,” hmmm, could it be true? That is interesting, let’s look it up..”. So that is what I did after reading comment #439 by examine who said ;
    In regards to trait # 2 on Kerrin’s list, apply the concept of loaded language to the following teaching given to the pastor’s college:
    “…the ultimate revelation is through the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He is a particular kind of revelation, a different kind of revelation, not just one prophet through a line of other prophets, but a qualitatively different revelation (Hebrews 1:1–2). And then the apostles stand in that same succession. Now preachers stand in that same succession.”
    Full version: http://sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/cj-mahaney/post/2008/03/05/The-Preacher-Standing-in-the-Stead-of-God.aspx

    I beg you all’s forgiveness if I find out I have accidentally looked up the wrong scripture quoted here Hebrews 1:1-2 or if I am just EUBER STuPId ! pLease read it!
    HOW DO THEY EVEN COME CLOSE TO INTERPRETING THAT SCRIPTURE LIKE THAT? MAYBE IF THEY WOULD LET A FEW FEMALES INTO THE THINK TANK THEY WOULDN’T BE SO …..SO… SO…( ok girl, calm down,, I did just have angioplasty ). You know that historians have never even totally concluded that Paul was the unknown writer of the Hebrews. There is a theory that the reason the author is not named is because of some possible evidence that Priscilla wrote it, but that’s a different blog.
    AND , I am rather emotional because Daughter and BF broke up last night. She is heart broken and second guessing herself. He read the blogs and was offended by the things she said about him and offended that she has been listening to them and me.
    I am ANGRY MAD because this branch of so called Christianity has ruined a fine young man from an early age and strained the heart of a daughter of God. I pray that every bit of the real Jesus he has rejected in Daughter will have mercy on him like Jesus did with Saul on the road to Damascas because Saul/Paul thought he was serving God when he was only serving a form of godliness and the extra biblical Jewish manmade traditions.

  • anon,

    When we were part of our SGM church, I never even realized that we rarely studied the Bible at our care group but instead focused on the previous Sunday’s message. I used to refer to our small group as our “Bible study.” Only after we left did it occur to me that the content of our care group discussions was very tightly controlled, very tightly guided.

    It’s not that I think sermon discussion groups are wrong, per se. They’re also not a feature limited to SGM – I know my parents’ church has recently instituted the concept.

    But typically, if churches have such groups, they’ll be labeled for what they are – sermon discussion groups. And the churches will also have many other options for group Bible studies, also clearly (and accurately) labeled.

    What bugs me about the way sermon discussion groups are handled at (most) SGM churches is that they basically take the place of Bible studies, and the switcharoo is pulled off without actually explaining what’s going on.

  • Dafna

    Vida-

    Loved #434, can I paint, too?? :clap

  • Vida,

    Your comment was in moderation for no apparent reason. The blogging program we use has no “snark” filter – but certain IP addresses and certain links will trigger random moderation…sometimes even MY comments have ended up in moderation.

    And…sometimes comments stay in moderation for a long time because I presently work as one of those “institutional teachers,” so I’m not around to check the moderation queue.

    Also, for the record, I really think that this paragraph,

    Those kids in the home school classes are at least home four days a week receiving customized education, not in a sterile institution where they have to fit into a prescribed plan. They are taught by creative moms, not overworked institutional teachers.

    contains some very unhelpful cliches.

    I could write reams about the formerly homeschooled kids who have joined my classroom…kids whose skills give little evidence of having been taught by “creative moms.”

    I know that the topic of homeschooling raises some pretty hot passions, and I don’t really want to take the conversation down that avenue right now.

    But to clarify, when I was talking about “support” for public schooled kids, I was not really thinking of academic support, or sporting programs, or anything like that. Rather, what I had in mind sort of harkened back to the talk that GS gave at CLC, where he bagged on public schools as questionable because parents would need to spend hours after school providing their children with a “biblical framework” and undoing the pagan philosophies their kids had been taught. It seems like a church that purports to be concerned about the effects of the “secular worldview” present in public schools could provide parents some assistance in that department. And I’m not aware of any SGM church that provides that sort of support for parents whose kids attend public schools.

    That’s all.

  • anon

    Rose, I think I read your “SG Bouncers” story somewhere… Yeah, I bet you were REALLY dangerous, thinking for yourself and all :scratch .

    I read Kerrin’s list, and it is shockingly SG. One word that we have come away with from our time in SG is “control”. There’s a serious control problem within the Corp. And that’s what it is – a company. Or at least that is how it, in reality, RUNS. The “we do it this way, we don’t do it THAT way” mentality quenches the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit does come along (and He is kind to often do that) in a way that doesn’t fit the box, it is dismissed as “it must not be God” then. :barf:

    The company and it’s workers are brainwashed by redifining all these common terms in Christiandom to mean something entirely different. One that comes to mind (in light of the recent Plant! conference) is SG redifining “missions”. It means one thing to 99.9% of christians, and something entirely different to SGers. WHy, well because (and I forget who, DH maybe) preaches on “Redifining the Mission of the Church”. :bang :barf:

    Recently I was talking with someone about something we are doing that doesn’t fit the box, but is clearly Biblical and clearly of the Lord and clearly practiced by the rest of Christiandom. This person asked me, “Have you talked to the pastors about this?”. Uh, well, actually yes, but why is that the first question I’m asked? I’ve also been asked, “Are you allowed to do that?”, “Does the church support you?”, “Is leadership behind you?” etc, etc, etc.. It is a mentality that is actively taught, unbeknownst to most of the trusting sheep who sit and listen and don’t discern and BUY IT, that says that something can NOT be of the Lord unless pastors and leadership agree with you. What happens is a nice game of we all “follow the leader”. If the pastors/leadership give the okay, well okay then! It’s a go. If they don’t… you can’t expect much support from everyone else. Control, control, control. Manipulation by NOT giving support, manipulation by offering support only when it’s serves their purposes, twisting of scriptures to support their agenda, mind control… it’s just maddening when all you want to do is follow the Lord and his Word.

    Another cultic thing that has ALWAYS bothered me is the absence of Bible study. Because if the lay people were ever to really study ALL of the Bible, the veil might be lifted and their eyes would be opened to the deceptions. You are taught “sound doctrine” on Sunday by someone you need because he’s the only one qualified to teach it to you (you’re too dumb to discern what the Bible really says on your own), encouraged to meditate on two verses all week (often times about submission), then you talk about YOUR FEELINGS about it at CG. Um, how about let’s study the Bible and find out what God is wanting to say here, and leave our feelings out of it becuase, uh, it’s not about us? Argh! Whatever. We had a clandestine Bible study going on at our house, and when word got out people were kind of shocked and in awe of us… rebels. Subverting the establishment and all. Ho-hum. Am I crazy? Or is this for real???

  • pdiwho

    To back up what vida had said I too know of a sgm church where homeschooling and public schooled children are split right down the middle. In fact they even have a special group for parents who’s children are in public school.

  • Kris

    In addition to items 1 & 2 the following sure sounds like SGM:

    4. Isolation from society — not necessarily physical isolation like on some compound in Waco, but this can be psychological isolation — the rest of the world is not saved, not Christian, not transformed (whatever) — the only valid source of feedback and information is the group</i?

    From what I have seen, a lot of people in SGM become isolated. Most if not all of their social life revolves around SGM. Maybe its not to the level noted above but there sure is isolation that goes on.

  • Schooling

    For what it’s worth, Kris, regarding the schooling options at Metro, as a college-aged member of Metro, I can say although Metro does not offer specific programs or ministries of parents who enroll their kids in public school (which, as Vida points out, is actually kind of natural. Apparently, from her experiance, she needs far more help educating her kids that are homeschooled as opposed to her child that is currently enrolled in public school. Although the support she needed, i.e., the transcript, Metro provided), I don’t think there is any hidden, mysterious bias that would make familes that enroll all their kids in public school feel bad. Growing up, I had 5 very close friends who were enrolled in public schools their whole lives. All of their siblings were as well. There were also several other people that I didn’t know as well who were also enrolled in public school. Three of the sets of parents of my close friends were caregroup leaders.

  • Oh, actually the comment with the link did go through. The one in moderation, #434, is a different one and a little on the snarky side…

  • A Kindred Spirit

    When I first saw such a list and thought of it in conjunction with SGM, I thought the parallels were obvious. And yet it seems like a lot of people who have read and commented here do not believe that SGM exhibits any of these traits (to the point, at least, where the trait would lead SGM to be characterized as a “cultic” group).

    I’ve often wondered why that is – why more people don’t read descriptions such as 1 and 2 and immediately see how those things are present within SGM.

    Kris,

    It’s because most Christians don’t believe other Christians (ESPECIALLY pastors & leaders) are capable of such. It’s true. I’ve observed it for years – EVERYWHERE. Or they think that it’s really not as bad as it sounds – a that’s-absurd-mentality, so-and-so just wouldn’t do that.

    The gullibility of Christians and their refusal to acknowledge the power sin can have in EVERYONE’S life (including pastors/leaders/etc.) is a great aide to Satan in wreaking havoc within the Body of Christ.

  • Just realized my comment #434 is still in moderation, probably because of my link to a blog post on beauty and justice. For those who are dying to read that article before my comment is visible, you can read it by clicking on my name, since I put that post in as the web link.

  • examine

    In regards to trait # 2 on Kerrin’s list, apply the concept of loaded language to the following teaching given to the pastor’s college:

    “…the ultimate revelation is through the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He is a particular kind of revelation, a different kind of revelation, not just one prophet through a line of other prophets, but a qualitatively different revelation (Hebrews 1:1–2). And then the apostles stand in that same succession. Now preachers stand in that same succession.”

    Full version: http://sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/cj-mahaney/post/2008/03/05/The-Preacher-Standing-in-the-Stead-of-God.aspx

  • Rose

    Oh, and I think the list Kerrin posted is very instructive and well thought out. I especially appreciated the item called “Doctrine Over Person”: If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question — it is always “turned around” on them and the questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly.

  • Dafna, no harm done! It’s easy to see how things might appear from the outside.

    I am a big one for beauty so I can sure relate to you there. http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2011/03/weekend-gratitude-just-beauty.html

    Our current church actually meets in a public middle school so I get to see profane graffiti on the bathroom walls. The Sunday School meets in the gym. My kids love to play basketball there while waiting for me to pick them up.

    A fancy building requires more maintenance. My girls all worked on the MLC building crew for pay while in high school. They loved the people there. It was hard enough just to keep the floors and bathrooms and chairs clean.

  • Rose

    anon, I and my family were met in the parking lot of the community center where the church meets by two men from the church we had barely met during the four months we attended this church. One of them was the pastor’s brother, who had just graduated with accolades for being humble, etc. from Pastor’s College. I don’t remember exactly being introduced to him, but I recognized him from when he stood up on the stage. It’s possible I shook his hand at some point. My memory for such things is pretty bad. I don’t really know who the other man was. The pastor’s brother did all the talking. The two of them met me as I was headed to the door ahead of my husband and two sons, age 20 and 15. It was raining out, so as we headed back into the parking lot I asked if it would be alright if we stood under the cover on a portion of the sidewalk while they “talked to us.” That little dispensation was granted, though we never actually got there. The conversation was held in the rain. They told us that they knew what we had said about the pastor on facebook and that we were not welcome there on the basis of what is written in Jude.

    They told us they were also aware of broken relationships at a previous church (A PCA pastor had hung up on my husband when my husband asked him how it was that he was in a position to judge our motivations based on the little evidence he had. This PCA pastor had switched a conversation about how the pastor had interpreted I Cor. 15 into a discussion of offenses we had purportedly committed. Later we learned that the PCA pastor had told the SGM pastor that we, especially I, were trouble.) and that they advised us to go back and “make things right.” They told us that, if we wanted to discuss it further, we could send an email and set up a meeting with the “leadership.” There were a few other questions asked and answered, but eventually we just left, shocked as we were. My husband tried to contact the pastor, whom we had considered a friend, on the phone, but he got a message from the phone company saying our number was blocked from the pastor’s phone. He did eventually reach the pastor via email, but the pastor said he was busy and would get back to my husband about setting up a meeting. As far as I know, and I don’t think my husband would keep this from me, my husband never heard from the pastor again.

  • Dafna

    Vida- sorry if what I said about Metro’s educational system may have offended, thanks for the info. I understand how much it means to you and didn’t mean to imply that homeschooling is presented there as “The” way to educate. I was just trying to put myselves in the shoes of a parent, like Stunned, for instance, who does use public school, how she might feel in an environment like that. I am really glad to hear Metro is not like some churches in the SG network. And I can understand how grateful a homeschooling parent would be in a supportive atmosphere, after having to enduring alot of criticism about how she has chosen to educate. I’m single, no kids, so my viewpoint on this topic is very limited.

    And Stunned- I am so sorry to hear what your family went through, it’s like a different planet from Vida’s positive experience with Metro. Maybe the Lord is shielding some churches from the extremes of abuses found in SGM ? Metro seems to be one of the better ones.

    I guess the fact that the building is used for so many different groups and purposes might explain the “bareness”. Maybe I put too much emphasis on aesthetics in a church meeting place, I don’t know. Different strokes, different streams …

    And I stand corrected on this: there were some construction paper thingeys displayed on the walls inside the … main area, near the entrance doors. I think the theme was “What I Like About Childrens Church”, or something like that, and the kids wrote in their answers. One honest little soul humorously scrawled “the snacks”. Cute.

    Dafna slinks away from the keypad, with tail between the legs ..

  • One more comment on the home school classes at MLC. Dafna was commenting that it made it seem like the church was an institution with all the classroom stuff going on. That is actually more of an indictment on public school, which I know we are all trying to avoid. But let’s be honest. Those kids in the home school classes are at least home four days a week receiving customized education, not in a sterile institution where they have to fit into a prescribed plan. They are taught by creative moms, not overworked institutional teachers. And it is because MLC opens its doors to home schoolers that many of these kids can reap the best of home schooling at all.

    Last I checked, nearly all of the classrooms at MLC were adorned with the beautiful, colorful murals, which by the way, were painted by a young adult who was home schooled. And if you have ever been to a Parents Night Out and seen the elaborate Disney themed sets that have been specially constructed and painted for just one night to entertain the kids – you see the marvelous, life-filled creativity of the public schooled and home schooled young people working side by side. These people amaze me for their ingenuity.

    And now it is time for me to go cuddle up on the couch with my kids and read to them about my hero Susan B. Anthony the women’s suffrage movement to for their history lesson. Heck, maybe we’ll even paint a mural on the wall.

  • Kris, what kind of support would parents of public school kids need? In my experience with public school, it’s really very easy to send her off there. Public school kids go to Sunday School and youth group just like home school kids. They can play on the TRA basketball team and even be in the TRA high school graduation ceremony. They play soccer and go to basketball camp and sing in choir productions. What else is there except maybe a group to pray for the kids as they go to public school? Some churches have those.

    Should we fault home school families if their very presence and prevalence makes others feel left out? Shoukd we say that no one – God forbid the church where their friends are – can do anything nice for them or say anything nice about them? Or do we need to go back to hiding in the closet like we did in the early years of the home school movement? I go to a church now where public school is the dominant educational choice. I don’t worry about what people think. I just don’t see it as an issue. But, given that my current church does not facilitate services for home school students I am even more grateful that MLC does, and that my kids can take classes there even if they can’t be enrolled in their program.

    As a side note, my daughter who started public school in 10th grade is writing a research paper for her AP English class on the viability of home schooling. She is not trying to prove that it is superior, just that it is effective, especially when parents find organizational support. Right now, public school is what she needs, and I never felt that any of my friends from MLC would look down on me for it. I did get some fierce and nasty comments from folks on a fundie home school blog, but not even a raised eyebrow from MLC.

  • Stunned

    Vida, I can’t get over how different your experience has been from some of us. (I am very glad for that for you!) My family suffered great rejection from people and leadership at our SGM church for believing that God was leading us to send our kids to a public school for a time. We also homeschooled for a time. In those homeschool years when I was around other homeschooling parents I would hear and see other mothers absolutely trash kids who were public schooled. Not specific kids but ALL kids. In front of their children no less. I had leaders in the church who would not allow their children to play with my kids because my kids were in the public school system. Heart breaking. Years later when they left the church, they would come to me and ask my forgiveness. That was nice, but it didn’t help that during my children’s formative years, they were rejected time and again by the very group of people who were to represent God to them. Very heartbreaking indeed. No wonder they hate church and think most Christians are self righteous hypocrites.

  • About Kerrin’s list (comment #409)…

    Over the past 3 1/2 years, I’ve posted similar lists, in various forms, and I’ve always been rather surprised at the reaction – or lack thereof – from readers. When I first saw such a list and thought of it in conjunction with SGM, I thought the parallels were obvious. And yet it seems like a lot of people who have read and commented here do not believe that SGM exhibits any of these traits (to the point, at least, where the trait would lead SGM to be characterized as a “cultic” group).

    I’ve often wondered why that is – why more people don’t read descriptions such as 1 and 2 and immediately see how those things are present within SGM. Here are 1 and 2:

    1. Authoritarian pyramid structure with authority at the top

    2. Charismatic or messianic leader(s) (Messianic meaning they either say they are God OR that they alone can interpret the scriptures the way God intended…..the leaders are self-appointed.)

    Maybe it’s the fact that #2 doesn’t seem to totally fit CJ and the other leaders. I mean, the leaders of SGM have never said that they are God or that they alone can interpret the scriptures the way God intended. In fact, the first half of that – that they say they are God – is clearly and obviously not happening within SGM. SGM is absolutely NOT “cultic” in such an overtly crazy fashion.

    But the second half – that leaders alone can interpret scriptures the way God intended – well, again, such a thing is never overtly SAID by SGM pastors. And, I do believe, no SGM pastor would EVER think that he sees himself in this way. CJ has also very carefully cultivated relationships with several highly visible leaders from outside SGM (leaders whom I have affectionately dubbed the “Reformed Big Dogs”).

    And yet…

    Well, within SGM, I think we can see a mentality at work where pastors are the authority – where the pastors and their people always seem to assume that the pastors have the final authoritative word…whether that word is about how to interpret scriptures (as in the case of Rose’s Facebook discussion about Jesus and the cross) or about other matters.

    Now, I realize that such a statement (that SGM pastors and members assume a pastor has the final say on matters) will provoke many people to disagree. And yet, I see this mentality at work every time an SGM defender comes around here and asks if we’ve “gone to the pastors” or “asked the pastors” about whether this or that issue is true. I see the mentality at work anytime someone says, “Have you tried to approach CJ about your concerns?”

    Uh, here’s the thing – if I see something with my own eyes or have experienced something firsthand, what earthly difference would it make to seek out what a pastor (or CJ himself) would have to say about it? I have NEVER understood why SGMers have this deeply held assumption that the path to truth is always first of all to go and ask a pastor about whether something or other is legitimate.

    That idea, that deeply held assumption – that your pastor’s (or CJ’s) thoughts on a topic are more valid and have more authority than what your own eyes and ears are telling you – demonstrates that SGM does somehow impart the idea that their leaders are the ultimate dispensers of truth.

  • Lynn

    kris,

    At my sgm churh they would always say that homeschool is not more godly than other ways. However they would always be praying for those mom who homeschool

  • Vida Savta,

    I appreciate your comments. They help shed light on what life was (is) like at your church. For those of us on the outside – especially for me, because I tend to get the agony-filled emails describing only the dark side – it is helpful to hear a bit about the bright side.

    I do wonder, though, about how a family with no homeschooling connections, who had all their children in public schools, would feel at your church. I mean, it’s nice that there’s such support for homeschooling, and yet if there’s not an equally visible level of support for other educational choices, the church can easily tend (by default) to become “that homeschooling church.”

    And – more importantly, in my mind – what sort of support system exists within any SGM church for kids in public schools? As far as I know, there isn’t anything like that out there, at any SGM church anywhere in the country.

    Sometimes a bias – in this case, “homeschooling is the ‘more godly’ choice” – doesn’t have to be stated outright from the pulpit to be the very real and defining truth for the majority of families within a church. Sometimes all it takes is an emphasis or a focus on providing support for one particular choice while completely ignoring other choices.

  • anon

    Rose, how were you excluded from worship????

  • Rose said:

    “I somewhat understand reticence to use the word “cult” to label SGM, but if what you are trying to convey by that term is “authoritarian religious institution in which dissension is suppressed and the leadership unquestioned,” I think it fits the congregation I visited for four months to a “T”. I found this site searching “SGM Cult” when I and my family were excluded from worship for very mild public questioning of the pastor’s statements in a sermon about Christ and the Cross. It was very validating to hear that others had similar, and even worse, experiences. ”

    Here are some old psychology experiments that might sadly explain why SGM does what they do:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE5YwN4NW5o
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYIh4MkcfJA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TAqBbFJtfE

  • I can’t resist a few more words of defense for my former church.

    I spoke very directly and at length (in person, phone and e-mail) to four of the MLC pastors (Danny, Benny, Aaron and Jesse) about my concerns with the church over a period of months. Without exception, they listened carefully and responded graciously. I was sometimes rather tart in my tone, but they never responded with rudeness. I understand that this has not been the consistent experience of others who have brought observations, but I wanted to put that in from my own. They also all understood that I was reading and posting on both Survivors and Refuge. Danny was very encouraging and supportive when I told him I was going to a professional Christian counselor.

    I also lent a copy of Jeff VanVonderan’s book Families Where Grace is in Place to Benny. I appreciate that he at least took the time to read and consider it, though as I expected, he did not agree with all of it. (I didn’t agree with all of it either.)

    I once had a heated argument with a man in my home group about walking in grace. After I called him to account for his very unbecoming behavior in starting and continuing the confliect, he apologized, and we remain friends to this day.

    There is a lady who started going to MLC after we left. Apparently she looks a lot like me and people often ask her if we are related. I have never met her, but today she sent me an FB message commenting how kindly people speak of me. Again, I have not heard of a single instance of gossip or negative talk about me since we left, and again, I have not been at all silent about my issues, so we didn’t just slip out surreptitiously.

    I often return to MLC for events like weddings and picnics. I have always been warmly welcomed there. We also see MLC people at the YMCA every week, and always very sweet interactions. No shunning of any kind.

  • anon

    Kerrin, wow, that’s a scary list.

    Vida, you’re right, I need to not let SG define what church is. God defines for us what it is in the Bible. I need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

  • A whole string of posts from me tonight.

    Yes, Dafna, the MLC auditorium was specifically designed to double as a basketball court and general gymnasium, and while we”re at it, the large grass parking lot was designed to double as a soccer field. Dozens of kids of all ages from MLC and other churches, from public schools, private schools and home schools, benefit from the Saturday morning soccer program. They believe in providing healthy teamwork building recreational opportunities for kids. Kids from the community are also welcomed at the summer basketball camps.

    All of the sports ministries are now led by parent volunteers with minimal staff hours involved.

    This is another area where MLC is getting it right.

  • I could never give up on the word GRACE. It was my constant mantra the last year we were there. I think I even started annoying people with how much I talked and blogged about walking in grace.

  • I should also note that though TRA official enrollment is only available to MLC, their weekly tutoring classes (such as high school math, science and foreign language) are now open to the entire home school community. God bless them for it! Home school families need all the help they can get. It can be a really lonely and overwhelming experience without the support.

  • Dafna,

    The home school program that meets at MLC on Mondays rents the space from the church at a reasonable rate. The co-op was founded six years ago on a completely volunteer basis by a then-member of MLC to replace the co-op program that the church ran that had taken a lot of staff time. Maybe half the members of the group are members of MLC since other families have always been openly welcomed. I never ever sensed any distinction in the co-op between MLC families and those who went to other churches. On Tuesdays, the church’s own home school program (TRA) offers classes that are paid for by the parents and co-ordinated by a volunteer. In my mind this is excellent use of the building. The building is also available for rental by other community organizations. All of this is very standard among churches and home school gropus. Home school co-ops have to meet somewhere, and this is ideal. It’s a win-win, especially since the pastors aren’t even in on Mondays since it is their day off, and there aren’t many other people in the building. We were members of that co-op for four years, have taken a year off from it, and are going back next year. Though there is no way I will ever rejoin MLC, I am glad that the folks there are still very friendly to me. Many of my MLC friends are members of the co-op. I have not been shunned in any way, shape, or form. I personally am extremely grateful for the co-op meeting at MLC. There were about 100 kids in the program when we left. That’s a big deal to me, to all of us.

    TRA also handled all of the transcripts, dual enrollment registrations, and Bright Futures scholarship details for my four older daughters, again for a very reasonable yearly fee.

    I also have a student in public high school. I never once heard a critical or questioning word from any of my MLC friends or pastors about that. TRA was extremely helpful in preparing a complete transcript to the public school with only about two days notice. That made all the difference for what credits were accepted by the public school. If we hadn’t had it, she would have had to retake final exams in several courses. As to how other public school parents feel there, I don’t know, but I rarely heard mention of home schooling from the pulpit, and at those times they were always clear about home schooling being one option of many. Usually the only times we saw mention of home schooling in the bulletin were if a support meeting was offered to parents, and all parents, regardless of school affiliation, were welcomed since it was usually more about child training than academics. MLC also hosts a large home school used curriculum sale each year, this year in cooperation within another local support group. A public school student can go to school and have everything provided right there. It’s been really easy to send a child there. Home school families, on the other hand, have to do it all themselves, unless they can band together or someone lends them an expert hand on the logistics.

    I have told Benny on multiple occasions since we left the church how much I appreciate his heart for serving home school families. No matter how much I might disagree with him on other things, I will always be grateful to him on that account. In my opinion, they are not doing *anything* wrong with supporting home schooling. I don’t know how home schooling is presented at other SGM churches, but I wish people would lay off of MLC for it.

  • Patti

    Dafna, I know what you mean about the language, just in the short time I have been studying SGM podcasts, blogs, Wayne Grudem, John piper, etc.. I realized I was bristling at the words like glorious, beautiful, grace, sovereign, design, a lump would form in my throat because those words are constantly used to force my heart and brain to accept systems that I believe are oppressive and wrong. I am now trying to reclaim those ‘wonderful’ words I was avoiding from my own vocabulary. :word

  • Pam

    My doctor was the one who told me about MOG. Her family was involved and then left. She understands completely what happened to me and my family. It’s really helped with discussing the stress and depression we have been under.

  • Dafna

    Thank you, Pam-

    After reading the articles on Mother of God, I’m adding a couple of other words to my “loaded language” vocabulary list:

    COVENANT and COMMUNITY

  • numo

    @ Pam: groups like MOG – and TAG – were/are very typical of the late 60s-late 70s charismatic renewal.

    I lived in 3 different (primarily Catholic) communities during the 1970s. All of them were involved in discipleship/shepherding, and all of them imploded. (Very badly.)

    There were many, many others that didn’t get media attention.

  • Pam

    Kerrin and all Look at this site.
    It’s a charismatic Catholic Movement community called Mother of God in Gaithersburg. The similarities are amazing. Look at the member’s stories. They have a Covenant membership paper to sign. It’s like dejavu reading this. Not sure when it fell apart but I think it started in the late 70s.

  • Dafna

    Ok, had to say this:

    from Kerrin’s post, re: Loading the Language, or as some of you call it, “SGMese”-

    I have just about elimanated the word SERVE from my vocabulary.
    Permanently, maybe.
    I made an apron that had the word SERVE batiked on it.

    I don’t wear that dang thing anymore.

    And whenever I hear the word GRACE I get these little
    facial tics and my head sort of jerks to the right involuntarily.

    Requesting prayer for the healing of my vocabulary :spin

  • Dafna

    One more thing- Kris mentioned her oddly happy feeling when she left her SGM church- this reminded me of something. Before I knew anything about problems in SGM, before I started researching- it must have been first week of January 2010- when Metro was dealing with the departure of Pastor Todd. I think I was in the little room where prayer is held before service every Sunday, and they were talking about what was going on, and praying against any gossip, etc. and for the welfare of the church. I remember the strange reaction I felt when I heard he was leaving Metro and SGM. There was a rush of happiness for him, like “That’s great! Good for him! God must have great things in store for him.” A sense of This is Something Very Good. If I had really known him and was unaware of the turmoil his leaving was putting the church through- I would have walked right up to him with a beaming smile on my face, grasped him in a hearty handshake and congratulated him very warmly. That’s how positive I felt at the time. Although my heart went out to all the confused and hurting sheep the situation engendered. Uh, so many precious and sincere people, so clueless …..

  • Dafna

    Lynn-

    Hmmm, yeah I can see how missing caregroup would get you in trouble in that kind of system, I guess that’s where the real “church” stuff- fellowship, accountability, etc. is supposed to happen. Wondering how you feel about your caregroup? Do you feel really “cared” for there? I attended a couple of care groups at Metro, both were pretty boring, they were talking about messages I never heard so I was kind of out of the loop both times, didn’t feel very welcome at one of them. The leaders at one always seemed to me very troubled or tense. No joy.

    You don’t have to answer me, actually, if you think someone from your church is reading this- no problem.

  • Dafna

    Kris- You mentioned in #404 the domination of homeschool culture. I can see that also from my experience with Metro, they have a homeschool academy that uses the building throughout the week, the whole building seems designed just to be an educational institution complete with a spacious gym/multipurpose room that serves as a “sanctuary” on Sunday morning (or whatever the acceptable term they use for meeting place). An institution, kind of cold and antiseptic. Which explains to me their seemingly “doctrinal” approach to evangelism. Doctrine seems to be the core of everything.
    I always felt as I entered the building on Sunday morning, or walking up that winding driveway, that I was entering either 1. a hospital- expecting to see signs in the hall that say,like, “radiology” with an arrow, or 2. a school- hush, class is now in session, no talking, goofing around, running in the hall, etc. But very odd to me, an artsy person, no sign of “life” in all those classrooms, no art hung on the walls, no construction paper thingeys kids like to make, no colorful bulletin boards with seasonal messages or things about God and Jesus– Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I always wondered why everything was kept so bare, so blah, no signs of creativity being encouraged. Except one day I was pleasantly surprised to see someone had almost completed a mural on one classroom wall of baby Moses in the river, I think. But other than that- no creativity seeming to be encouraged. Anyway, not saying anything is necessarily wrong with any of the above, just seems odd to me. And if I was a parent that decided to put my kids through public school, I probably would feel like the minority in that kind of atmosphere, like I somehow wasn’t doing the “biblical” thing with my kids. Not that I ever heard that said from the pulpit. But there definitely seems to be a vibe given off that homeschool is the “better” way. My sympathies to, and admiration of, parents at Metro who feel led of God to put their kids in public school.

    Maybe someone can explain to me those bare classrooms- I’m really curious. Vida Savta?…

  • Anon, one thing that helped me move on to another church was not letting SGM define church for me. I knew from the start of our being ther, nearly 10 years ago, that other churches were not like SGM. That used to be a point of pride for me – that subtle abd seductive satisfaction of elitism. But in the end that very thing helped me leave because I WANTED and NEEDED something different. So it became somewhat of an adventure to explore the variety of what was out there and find a place which would uniquely fit our family. I didymium homework on the web and asking around before I came up with a shortlist of places to visit. We tried four and settled into an unassuming little congragation that doesn’t make a big deal out of itself or its denominational ties. To this day I could not tell you the name of the guy who heads up the PCA. Maybe I’ll google it just for fun. The other interesting thing is that the senior pastor, in his late fifties, was in global parachurch ministry for 30 years, and I think this brings a really healthy balance. He has a heart for world missions and extensive leadership experience outside of a traditional church structure. I think it brings more of a model of cooperation rather than top down authority. There are also a lot of parachurch staff from various organizations among our members – both men and women, so there is not that assumption that only men can be active in ministry. Add in several counseling students from the local seminary, again both women and men, and there is really a nice mix.

  • Kerrin

    In relation to “cultic groups,” high-demand groups, etc. there are destructive cults and non-destructive cults. There is also a continuum on which a group can exhibit destructive cultic characteristics.

    See the list of characteristics of destructive cult on reFOCUS (http://www.refocus.org/what-is-a-cult.html):

    Characteristics of a Destructive Cult:
    1. Authoritarian pyramid structure with authority at the top

    2. Charismatic or messianic leader(s) (Messianic meaning they either say they are God OR that they alone can interpret the scriptures the way God intended…..the leaders are self-appointed.)

    3. Deception in recruitment and/or fund raising

    4. Isolation from society — not necessarily physical isolation like on some compound in Waco, but this can be psychological isolation — the rest of the world is not saved, not Christian, not transformed (whatever) — the only valid source of feedback and information is the group

    5. Use of mind control techniques (we use Dr. Robert Jay Lifton’s criteria from chapter 22 of his book “Thought Reform & the Psychology of Totalism” to compare whether the eight psychological and social methods he lists are present in the group at question)

    Milieu Control: Control of the environment and communication within the environment.

    Mystical Manipulation: Seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually has been orchestrated totalist leaders claim to be agents chosen by God, history, or some supernatural force, to carry out the mystical imperative the “principles” (God-centered or otherwise) can be put forcibly and claimed exclusively, so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation (or enlightenment).

    Demand for Purity: The world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure, the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside the group) one must continually change or conform to the group “norm”; tendencies towards guilt and shame are used as emotional levers for the group’s controlling and manipulative influences.

    Confession: Cultic confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself sessions in which one confesses to one’s sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism, generally transpiring within small groups with an active and dynamic thrust toward personal change.

    Sacred Science: The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology, holding it as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence questioning or criticizing those basic assumptions is prohibited a reverence is demanded for the ideology/doctrine, the originators of the ideology/doctrine, the present bearers of the ideology/doctrine offers considerable security to young people because it greatly simplifies the world and answers a contemporary need to combine a sacred set of dogmatic principles with a claim to a science embodying the truth about human behavior and human psychology.

    Loading the Language: Words are given new meanings — the outside world does not use the words or phrases in the same way — it becomes a “group” word or phrase.

    Doctrine Over Person: If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question — it is always “turned around” on them and the questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly the underlying assumption is that doctrine/ideology is ultimately more valid, true and real than any aspect of actual human character or human experience and one must subject one’s experience to that “truth” the experience of contradiction can be immediately associated with guilt one is made to feel that doubts are reflections of one’s own evil when doubt arises, conflicts become intense.

    Dispensing of Existence: Since the group has an absolute or totalist vision of truth, those who are not in the group are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right to exist; impediments to legitimate being must be pushed away or destroyed one outside the group may always receive their right of existence by joining the group; fear manipulation — if one leaves this group, one leaves God or loses their salvation/transformation, or something bad will happen to them; the group is the “elite”, outsiders are “of the world”, “evil”, “unenlightened”, etc.

  • Rose

    I somewhat understand reticence to use the word “cult” to label SGM, but if what you are trying to convey by that term is “authoritarian religious institution in which dissension is suppressed and the leadership unquestioned,” I think it fits the congregation I visited for four months to a “T”. I found this site searching “SGM Cult” when I and my family were excluded from worship for very mild public questioning of the pastor’s statements in a sermon about Christ and the Cross. It was very validating to hear that others had similar, and even worse, experiences.

    It was made clear to us that, by raising questions in the manner I had, I was regarded as dangerous, “a blot on their love feast.” Seriously, the discussion I was trying to have with friends over the content of the sermon was pretty normal, “let’s all try to wrap our brains around this and get at the truth” sort of discussion. I have run into other pastors who have gotten defensive when they were embarrassed at having been corrected when they misstated some doctrine or misunderstood a passage of Scripture or something they read (so often it is a problem with reading comprehension), but the hyper-sensitivity and ueber-control we experienced here set this congregation apart. Just as some state governments are suppressive, authoritarian regimes, so this congregation is focused on the authority of one individual and his personal preferences and is, I think, properly referred to as a cult.

  • anon

    Hey all, thanks for the welcome. It is so good to be here. :D

    I found this site, Vida, years ago when I was googled “SGM” looking for something, and I immediately saw “SGM cult” come up. OF COURSE I didn’t click on it back then because, *gasp*, SG is NOT a cult. How could anyone think SG is a cult, I wondered? (by the way, I don’t think it is a cult, but I do see it has an organizational structure that STRONGLY lends to cult-like thought patterns and enables and endorses cult-like activities – “cult-like” being defined as anything MAN-centered not GOD-centered).

    Just a couple of months ago, since going through this deeply painful thing AT our SG church, I actually went back and CLICKED on the link. Boy was I surprised to read that there were actual sites out there (including sgmrefuge and even more!) that are full of people who have experienced similar things, even WORSE, than I have. I couldn’t stop reading and nodding my head. I am deeply saddened by what I read here, the most tragic thing being that the overarching reason these things have happened (SG polity) has in essence not changed. And it won’t. That is was saddens me the most – that the cycle continues because the system continues. A lot of people are happy in it, I can see they really are, but I don’t think anyone is (excuse me for using a SGism) served by allowing the system to remain in place. The only ones served are the pastors and leadership. And they are ONLY served if they tow the line. It makes me so deeply sad to see men in chains to man’s system, and not free in Christ. Sigh.

    But, no more :koolaid for me. I’m so done with :bang in trying to follow the Lord at our SG church and finding that we not only can’t, we are actively discouraged to. I don’t understand it, it’s so frustrating and infuriating and mind-boggling when we try to talk to people about it and their eyes just glaze over. It’s NOT the people, for me at least it’s not, we love them, it’s the system that makes me ill.

    It’s affected me so much that I am now very leary of ever joining any church – who needs church? I need Jesus. I want JESUS. And I want to keep “churches” at arm’s length now. It’s sad, and I pray for our family that we can get over it soon and move on. I am praying for love, that God would give me love, because I know I can not change the system – the Lord will have to do that – but if the Lord gives me His love, it will not only give me courage to speak the truth to those who need to hear it as we leave (perfect love casts out all fear), but love also covers a multitude of sins. I want to grow through this experience to me more like Christ, not less like Him. I want this to be for my good, and my family’s good, not for evil. I don’t want to be angry or bitter or walking around wounded, and I am finding that much of this is my choice. But, maybe it’s easier for me to say that because my children haven’t been molested in church. If they had been my husband would be in jail right now I’m sure for killing the perpetrator.

    You know, years ago I read something that has helped my husband and I tremendously over the years in church. It was written by a pastor that has a well-known ministry to parents. They receive many, many letters from wounded sheep. He tells parents that he is MORE afraid of people in the church than outside of the church. He said that he expects non-believers to act a certain way, and he protects his children accordingly. But he is even MORE weary of people IN the church – wolves in sheep’s clothing. In church, people tend to be naive and let their guard down. They trust nothing will happen because they are in church. Pedophiles love this kind of environment and prey on kids that are easily accessible. Some people think we are over protective with our kids b/c we are extremely selective about who we leave them with, if we leave them at all. But reading this and many other stories is proof enough to me that you just can’t be too overprotective these days.

  • Lynn

    Kris,

    I felt the same way. I always felt Sunday was more about sin, sin, and yada. I do understand that for guest they need to say that there is sin. At the church I went to today, the guy who led prayer was talking about how all of us fall short of the glory of God. I have never felt more free on Easter Sunday. Everyone was happy. At my sgm church everyone always seemed so sad on Easter.

  • Lynn

    Dafna,

    Yes, I do serve in childrens ministry. And no, people don’t ask where I have been. However, I would feel like I was stoned for missin CG. If I miss church, then its no big deal, but CG, thats different. It may be bc my sgm church has about 1800 people who go. They cant come right after me saying why were you not in church. However CG, is smaller, so it will be noticed. Dafna, you’re not being nosey. Ask anything you care to ask.

  • Dafna’s story of how she found us makes me think of my own misgivings about SGM almost the entire time we were part of our SGM church.

    One of the saddest days for me during our SGM sojourn was Easter Sunday. We’d been at our SGM church for a few months by that point and had grown somewhat accustomed to the unfamiliar (and to my mind, dreary) SGM in-house music. We’d gotten used to the way that the homeschooling culture seemed to dominate everything having to do with children. And we’d gotten to know several really nice people – Guy and I would joke that they were our “instant friends.”

    But we still hadn’t grown completely comfortable with everything. I kept being nagged by something – I couldn’t quite explain what – that didn’t feel right to me. And on that Easter Sunday at our SGM church, I kept thinking that something felt wrong. It was like Easter, which to the rest of Christianity is the most joyous and triumphant of days, was turned into something solemn and serious and sin-focused. Even on Easter, it was like there was no joy.

    As Guy and I and the kids drove home from church that day, I was really bummed. We happened to take a route that led us past our pre-SGM hyper-Charismatic church, and I could see that their Easter service was still in full swing, and despite all our major theological disagreements with what was going on with that church in terms of their crazy money-focused name-it-and-claim-it teachings, all I could think of that day was how at least I knew that the atmosphere on Easter would be happy there.

    I was so conflicted the entire time we were part of SGM…so nagged by the feeling that something wasn’t right. Almost every Sunday I would come home from church and spend the afternoon searching for information about what I thought I was seeing and sensing. Back then, there were no blogs. All I could find were glowingly positive reviews of CJ’s book and SGM music.

    It was a lonely place to be.

    I do remember that when we finally left SGM, I felt an amazing weight lift off of me. When we drove home from the church we visited that first Sunday (the church we ended up joining), I was oddly giddy and sort of bubbling over with laughter for no real reason. I felt so free…

    Looking back now, it’s funny – I do believe that the entire time I was so beset with doubts and misgivings, those were nudgings from the Holy Spirit.

  • Dafna,

    Thank you for sharing how you found us.

    I’ve often been told that we ought to do more to promote this site – to “get the message out there.” My feeling has always been that we’re very easily findable – if people use the right search terms. And I believe that if people are at a place where they will be open to the things we discuss here, they will use the search terms that will lead them here.

  • Patti

    Vidal Savta asked~
    “I am curious where people first heard about this blog.”
    I stumbled across this blog while trying to help someone see the errors in Mark Driscoll’s teachings which led to cj mahaney which led to SGM. I was already finding a lot out about it just through there websites and blogs, things I did not like. At the very same time unbeknownst to me my daughter was getting into turmoil with her SGM boyfriend about his beliefs.

  • New post on my blog for those who (like me) sometimes doubt God: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2011/04/holy-week-resurrection-and-doubting.html

    It’s encouraging to know that God can handle our confusion and angst.

  • Dafna

    Ok, something humorous-

    Blues 0080 shared this: A man is never so proud as when striking an attitude of humility-CSLewis

    Reminds me of a Mike Warnke joke (christian comedian back in the 80’s)-

    (the sound of audience cheering and applauding in welcome) “No, no … please… no ….no….
    (audience keeps it up) No, no, no … please … really, the Lord has called me to be humble- and I’m very proud of that. I got an award once for being humble. It was a Humble Button.

    But they took it away from me because I wore it.”

  • Dafna

    Hello, gentle and gracious Vida! The Lord is Risen indeed, let us walk in newness of life, in unity with our heavenly Bridegroom, Yeshua- Jesus Christ, Lord of Heaven and Earth, coming King!!
    Amen.

    You asked before how I came to this website, and I have been pondering how to answer- it’s back there in the fuzzy recesses of my memory banks, the not-too distant past but recent enough where I can’t exactly recall it accurately. But to my best account, here goes:

    I remember one Friday night evangelism, back when Metro still allowed us to meet at their building, I recall Christmas trees in the lobby, yes …. like that song goes “It’s all coming back, coming back to me now … “. Must have been December of 2009, before Pastor Todd’s departure. I had stayed back to pray, I remember pacing back and forth in the lobby trying to pray for the team mates out there. I think they had gone out to Winter Park Village and the weather was yucky, cold and wet- I was concerned for them and praying for divine appointments to take place, in spite of the crummy weather- it’s amazing the people who hang around outside in bad weather. Anyway, as usual, I was finding it difficult to pray inside that building. But suddenly it was like the clarity and peace of the Holy Spirit hit me. I plopped down on a chair and these words seemed to rise up in my heart:

    ” A stream doesn’t rise any higher than its source.
    What is the source?”

    And I began to question in my mind “The source– of this team? Well, Metro church.” Which led to the next connection “The source of Metro church? Well, I guess Sovereign Grace Ministry- the group they are affiliated with”. I knew very little about Sovereign Grace the organization, except it was headed up by C.J. Mahaney, whose book “The Cross-Centered Life” I had read and found myself strangely disagreeing with (more on that later). Anyway, I think it sprang out of this moment- I must have then gone online and googled Sovereign Grace Ministry, to find out more info on them. And I think that is how I found this website, because when you google Sovereign Grace, the phrases “cult” and “problems” pop up. So this caught my attention. And the rest I guess is history, I came on here, and then found the Refuge, and John Immels website, all about negative aspects of this organization. Really, it was such a relief to see other people describing things in black and white, what was only a cloud of heavy fuzziness in my soul. To see my inner turmoil clearly explained, words put to things that were just nagging “checks” in my spirit, or I call them “stomach clenchers”. Rough bumps in an otherwise smooth road.

    So that night I think the Holy Spirit was nudging me, warning me to check out was going on at the “source”. Glad I followed through!

  • Dafna

    Lynn,

    I understand about the “serving”, I guess you work in children’s ministry? I had a friend at Metro that did that. I guess they expect all the singles to serve in children’s ministry on a rotating basis (gotta keep those singles busy and out of trouble, know what I mean?).Do people ask where you’ve been, haven’t seen you on Sunday- the times you’re not there? Do they act like they really miss your presence or is it said in a way that is trying to make you feel guilty?Sorry, maybe I’m being nosey. I think it’s commendable you wanting to keep your commitment to serving, especially when kids are involved- they get attached to teachers they love.

    About editing people’s baptism application- wow, never heard of that one before. Interesting, one time a leader of The Conversation (Alpha), Metro’s evangelism program, asked me to share my testimony to the group one night, when I told him I had a Catholic background but the Lord showed me I needed to be born again, etc. he came back and told me that he didn’t want me to share because it might offend the Catholics in the room. My immediate reaction was dismay and confusion, I don’t know, maybe he was being wise and I respect his decision but still it was hard for me to deal with because, like you said, “it’s my testimony”. It’s What Really Happened. And it made me feel like what happened to me was bad, something to be covered up. Something that didn’t fit the presentation. Another head-scratcher.

    Sounds like you’re in a good place now, hope everything goes smooth for you when the time comes to transition. And thanks for letting me ramble! :P – Peace, Dafna

  • Lynn

    Dafna,

    I have left my sgm church and have started going to a new one, which so far has been great. The only reason I went back was bc it was my turn to serve, and i dont want to just fall off the map. I’ll still go there once a month till my time is up in August. Today at my church for Easter they had baptism for some people. It was great, to me one of the best part was no one told how they came to the church, all they did was say they they believed in Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him. That is the most important thing. I don’t think it should really matter how one came to a church. At my sgm church, on the application for baptism, they actually say on it, “it may need to be edited” or something along those lines. Which led me to question, “why do you need to edit how someone came to Christ”? It’s their testimony. Also, people would always say, “these people have cared for me so much than anyone”. It alays seemed my sgm church was getting all the credit. All the credit belongs to God, not to man. And please Dafna, ramble away. :)

  • Dafna

    Anon at #388-

    :welcome Glad to hear from you! I am a novice blog commentor (commentator?) myself. Sometimes when I come here to chat I feel like those two guys from Wayne’s World, down on their knees saying “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” My experience with SG style of ministry was minimal compared to other folks here who have been abused, traumatized, ostracized, you name it, have invested their years of time, souls, finances, and families into SGM churches only to come out like the bleeding Samaritan on the roadside. Sounds like maybe you have had a similar experience?If so, so sorry to hear. I feel like everyone’s story, insights, and words of edification and comfort are necessary, which is why I keep coming back. No matter how seemingly meager the offering.

    You said this:

    There can oftentimes be a strange hyper-defense of “the church” also in SG, instead of defense of the TRUTH. “The local church” is lifted us as something to be praised, something to be loyal to, something you NEED, something to be thankful to God for so much so that the message becomes “follow the church”, not follow JESUS.

    This was one of those :scratch things I kept sensing while I was associated with my local SG church. The “church” replacing Jesus, loyalty to the group and it’s leaders, instead of loyalty to the Head, and being led by the Holy Spirit. I remember one young lady, at lunch after Sun service, cooing ecstatically about “how much she loves her church”. All that feel-goody esprit de corps. To where they can’t see the beauty of, for example, joining with other churches to do evangelism Out There, because they have their own style of in-house evangelism that is basically(from my snarky viewpoint) geared to indoctrinating people into the “biblical gospel”. And then hopefully, when the indoctrination has sunk in and they want to come to Christ, they will join the church and receive more “correct doctrine” , go through a crazy ten-week premembership class and an interview with a pastor to make sure they are worthy and serious about becoming a member of their church? Because if you get saved any other way, you will not be following the “biblical gospel” and other churches don’t really have the truth anyway? I remember reading in their statement of beliefs, on the SGM website: If a church doesn’t do “expository preaching” they are not doing the biblical thing. I thought, how crazy arrogant is that?? Where does it say that in the Bible?? Their so-called expository preaching is a passage of scripture followed by a bunch of quotes from books, John Piper, CS Lewis, Spurgeon, or some Reformed Dead Guy or Big Dog. That used to bother me about the church I briefly attended (Metrolife in Florida). The pastor would use book quotes and not other scriptures to back up his sermon.

    Sorry, Anon, don’t mean to pile all this mental spewage on you. Just venting. Ahh, feel better now. :D

    Also, another head-scratcher I encountered, for anyone interested: There were a couple of guys I encountered at Metro who seemed to turn everything I said, into a chance to ask if I had discussed it with a leader, even if what I was saying (probably to them sounding subversive or rebellious, heh heh) had NOTHING to do with any of the leadership. Not that I was putting down any of the leaders, just maybe mentioning my experiences and the way church politics works, I can’t even remember what I was talking about, but maybe whatever I was saying was hitting their “yellow alert” buttons, so they brought out the “discuss this was a leader” line. Like maybe they thought I was struggling with doubts or confusion and needed clarity, so I needed to find someone to give me counsel? Instead of just letting the Holy Spirit enlighten me. OK, and even weirder was the time one guy at Metro, at a church anniversary picnic that turned into a rainy afternoon- some of us were in the gym, one guy cornered me as I was sitting in there and somehow began pressuring me why I don’t become a member of Metro. And then he gave me this advice: Why don’t you talk to So-and-So (one of the oustanding men in the church) about joining Metro because he is leader and can tell you what God wants you to do. (I’m not quoting him verbatim, that was the gist of what he advised me). I felt immediately angry and responded, “Why should I talk to So-and-So? What does he have to do with my business??” And this guy just kept on and I found myself getting really upset and angry, I didn’t even realize why I was having such a strong emotional reaction- I finally ended the conversation, perhaps rudely, told the guy I didn’t want to talk about this with him anymore, and hurried myself out of there into the lobby where I sank into a chair and began to cry. Now, I see what I was reacting to: that weird mindset of “The leaders will tell you the will of God for your life”. Very creepy.

    I guess I’ll just sum all this up with, Thank God for this website, it has helped me sort out so much craziness from that time. Thanks again, Kris!

  • Happy Easter to all! The resurrection is our reality as believers – so let us walk in newness of life!

    I am curious where people first heard about this blog. I first found it while looking for an SGM church to recommend to a friend in another city, read some and then forgot about it. I stumbled on it again after somebody linked to it on a comment on Challies.com. Thanks to whomever did that. I was ripe for it by then. Like Anon said, glad to know I wasn’t crazy for thinking and feeling as I did.

  • Dafna

    Lynn- Please forgive me, I sent you a post about how glad I was that you left a SG church, and you found “sweet freedom”. I somehow missed in all your comments that you had not actually left that church. I hope I didn’t cause you any angst with what I said :( Well, it seems you have already “left” in spirit. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give you peace and wisdom to make the transition out- if that’s what you feel you need to do. So many times when you leave a church the pastors seem to curse you, telling you all the bad things satan will do to you if you leave , etc. May the Most High shield you from any of this sort of talk that might come from them, to intimidate you- IF you decide to go to them to say you are leaving. I’d rather be alone and free, then in a group in bondage. And you are definitely not alone, it sounds like you have found other fellowship, you are connected to the True Body of Christ which is bigger than SGM’s seemingly narrow vision of what the Body actually is. Amazing the variety, the color, the texture, the broad experience and knowledge of other believers outside our particular “camp”- that’s the beauty of the Body. So much bigger than the wrapped-and-tied parcels the enemy wants to make of it.

    *sigh* Sorry for rambling,

    Lord bless you, Lynn!

  • Dafna

    Blues0080 back at #349- Thanks for sharing the C.S. Lewis comment, wise words indeed

  • Dafna

    Happy Resurrection Day to all! The Lord is Risen Indeed, as one song goes:

    “The enemy has been defeated
    And death couldn’t hold You down …

    Shout unto God with a voice of triumph!
    Shout unto God with a voice of praise!..

    We lift Your name up!
    We life Your name up!”.. (with hands over head clapping)

    :clap :clap :clap

  • Stunned

    He is risen indeed!

  • Welcome, anon!

    We (husband and younger kids and I) left Metro Life last year after 8 years there. We are now happily settled in a mellow little PCA church. One of my adult daughters is a member of MLC, one is a messianic Jew and two others haven’t decided where to go yet as they have been out of the country for a few months and come back next week.

  • Defender

    Hey All!
    He is Risen!!

    Happy Easter!

  • anon

    Oh, forgot to say :new
    Sorry if I jumped in out of nowhere on the conversation – I’m a total novice blog commenter. :)
    We’re on our way out of SG after a decade and this blog and the Refuge have been helpful to me to see that we are not crazy or wrong. Too many other similar stories…

  • Ellie

    When an allegation is made involving sexual abuse, the person reporting the complaint is to be told about the guidelines and the procedures to be followed.

    Does this mean that parents are being told that, as members, they are to first report the abuse to the pastors before they speak with law enforcement or their own personal legal representative?

  • anon

    Lynn, another thing I wanted to add and one thing we are learning, is know who you can talk to and who you can’t. You will be able to tell. If you get the glazed-over-eyes look more than once, you may want to pull back and leave the person alone to think about what you have said. A LOT of people do not know MANY things that go on in their church, and they do not even know what is practiced and believed and policy (aka “sound doctrine”) in their own church, even after 5 or 10 years! SG controls and manipulates their sheep. And they do it VERY well. You either drink it up and thank them for it, or you eventually catch on – one or the other. There can oftentimes be a strange hyper-defense of “the church” also in SG, instead of defense of the TRUTH. “The local church” is lifted us as something to be praised, something to be loyal to, something you NEED, something to be thankful to God for so much so that the message becomes “follow the church”, not follow JESUS. This environment makes it hard for many true, Jesus-loving believers in your church to hear and accept what you are saying and going through.

    Also know when your friends have heard enough, too. We have a few true friends we talk to, but we know that they must get tired of hearing us complain about the same thing over and over and over again like a broken record. True, we are hurting and disillusioned and feeling like the very ones who are supposed to support us have washed their hands us of, but you know what – following Jesus is sometimes a lonely road. Just remember that He is always there for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. HE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. He understands loneliness, and rejection, and being misunderstood, and having even his best earthly friends abandon Him in the hour of his greatest need. Don’t hold it against them. Forgive them. If you can’t, pray the Lord helps you to forgive. God will liberate your soul, as He did for Job when he prayed for his friends. Keep yourself from bitterness, it will only hurt YOU. They may forget about you, most probably will, but you need to move on to the life in abudance waiting for you in Christ. Jer 29:11 :)

    Years ago I used to think I could NEVER leave my SG church (can’t believe I felt that way – how dependent I was on man!). I didn’t know what I would do, how I could survive. How would God care for me, how COULD God care for me without the Body, without them (as if SG is the only Body)? Who would bring me a meal, for goodness sake??? I seriously thought that way, and I cant’ believe it now. SOMEONE taught me and encouraged me in that dependence. I picked it up somewhere… instead of being taught to rely on Jesus alone. But there IS life after SG. And it’s good and free and it’s life in abundance. I’m reminded of that song don’t know who it’s by which says, “Step out of my comfort zone, step into the unknown, where Jesus is…”

  • Roanoker

    From the Child and Youth Abuse Prevention Program document adopted April 30, 2009 of our local SGM. This local SGM resides in the state of Virginia – the same state as the Fairfax church.

    I have no idea if it has been updated or modified since. Local church’s name replaced by the word, “Franchise”. I have some opinions but I’ll let it go for now.

    Response to Reports of Sexual Abuse

    Franchise will respond promptly to investigate any accusation of sexual abuse. All accusations of sexual abuse will be taken seriously. It is important to be appropriately respectful to the needs and feelings of those who allege sexual abuse and those who have been accused of sexual abuse.

    When an allegation is made involving sexual abuse, the person reporting the complaint is to be told about the guidelines and the procedures to be followed. The pastoral staff will begin investigating the allegations and may use the assistance of legal counsel or other consultants. The investigation will be conducted as follows:

    1. After talking with the alleged perpetrator, the victim and the parents of the victim, when there is reason to believe sexual abuse has occurred, the pastors will report the incident to appropriate authorities in accordance with state reporting laws and guidelines. (See Va. Code 63.2-1509)

    2. Report the matter to Franchise’s insurance carrier.

    3. Cooperate with authorities and insurance carrier.

    4. Franchise may suspend (with pay for paid staff) the alleged offender while a confidential investigation is being conducted.

    5. An official of Franchise (and legal counsel or other consultants) will then meet with the governing body of Franchise and present a report on their investigation, which will include findings and recommendations of actions.

    6. An official of Franchise will meet with alleged perpetrator and notify him/her of the results of the investigation and recommendations for actions.

    7. An official of Franchise will meet with the alleged victim, along with his/her parents or guardians, and notify them of the results of the investigation and recommendations for actions.

    8. During the investigation, a pastor shall maintain contact with the alleged victim and his/her parents or legal guardian, and inform them of the actions taken and assist them in their process of healing.

    9. An official of Franchise (and legal counsel or other consultants) may meet with the alleged perpetrator, the alleged victim, and any others with knowledge of relevant facts.

    10. Communicate with criminal and civil legal counsel of Franchise.

    11. Communicate with those affected by the ministry of the alleged perpetrator.

    12. Hire a consultant or assign a spokesperson to respond to media or prepare a statement for the media if the need shall arise, subject to the approval of Franchise’s attorney.

  • Anon

    duh, didn’t proofread too well, sorry about that – hope it’s understandable anyway!

  • Anon

    Lynn, Vida is right about 3 things:

    ONE, we DO need to be careful to not generalize about no one contacting you after you leave. That may or may not happen, you will not know until you do leave. If it doesn’t, then you have genuine friends. IF it does, and it will probably be painful, then we have to remember that they were 1) either being friendly to us because that’s what they are taught to do (the whole insta-friends thing and off-teaching about what real fellowship is) OR 2) they probably have NO IDEA why you left (unless you were talking about it yourself in church beforehand) AND they will probably never know why because they are most likely believing that even asking or talking about you is gossiping. That doesn’t make it right, or less hurtful, but it may help you understand and process.

    Two, it is true that we may unknowingly project our feelings of pain or frustration or alienation onto others (we don’t say hi like we used to, we pull away, we frown, we are not as friendly, etc), people will pick up on that and it’s possible that they will react in the flesh by doing the same with you. I have had to make a very conscious effort to be just as friendly as before, not assuming they even know anything about what I am going through.

    THREE, Vida’s suggestion go to your them first and start the conversation is an excellent one. One thing that has helped us is to pray for that God would give us LOVE, pray that He would help us be just state the truth but not also not to communicate anger or bitterness, and that he would help us to not criticize, but to just be forthright and upfront and leave the reactions in God’s hands. If they get it, praise the Lord. If they don’t, I can’t change that or them. In our experience, people will either understand, empathize and get upset at what is happening or will jump to defend the church. Remember to pray that GOd would give you the ability to communicate honestly, in love, and to help you accept the reactions, whatever they are. Honesty with rejection is always better than insincerety, at least in my opinion. But you need to decide that for yourself. Only you can decide if you want to talk about it and deal with all the consequences and emotions, or you’d rather leave quietly.

    Three,

  • Lynn, if there are certain people you care about in the SGM church, why not preempt any misunderstanding by talking to them yourself now? You can let them know you are exploring other churches but that you value their friendships and don’t want this to be a source of potential misunderstanding. Just keep it as natural and friendly as possible. Tell them that they are welcome to ask questions if they need to understand something better. When they do ask, state your concerns honestly but kindly. Reassure them that you are merely switching churches, not rejecting friends. Those who are really worth having as friends will appreciate your care for them. They will respect and understand your decision. If someone doesn’t, just let it go and move on. There is a big world out there.

  • Mommy2boo,

    Our SGM pastor did follow up by meeting with us both before and after we left. His care for us was genuine. He was far more concerned with how we were doing and that we could find a place where we would be happy than he was that we weren’t at his church anymore. I have had very good conversations with the other pastors as well.

    I think it is easy to sense our own frustrations and alienation and project that onto other people. We assume what they are thinking and by the way we treat them we can actually bring that onto ourselves. Yes, there are some who have been shunned just because they left and not because they were being hostile. But we can’t assume that will always be the case. That is just not fair. We would not want to be characterized like that. We were just where they were before we left. We need to give them time and space to understand us or not, but still be friendly and kind no matter what. We don’t need to make it more awkward than it needs to be out of our own anxiety. I have experienced such grace from everyone in our former church and I am thankful for it. I am not at all afraid to say why I left. I refuse to live on eggshells. So it’s not like I am hiding anything to keep the peace. I am just living my life with dignity and allowing others to do the same.

  • Mommy2boo

    I should clarify. Especially now that facebook exists, some people will stay in contact and some you might even stay relatively close with. But it’s likely that a pastor/leader will not be contacting you to find out where you went.

  • Luna Moth

    Lynn,

    Extrapolating–are you afraid that someone you like and care about will hear lies about you from the pastor and believe them, and write you off? And you’ll lose a friendship you wanted to keep?

    I can understand that fear.

    I can also understand the dread that people are talking about you in a disapproving way. That’s a scary thought. Even if you aren’t there where they are, to hear them saying it.

    Our Lord promises to hide us and shelter us from argumentative words (Psalm 31:20). There is a refuge with Him for you–and for me.

  • I think it is a generalization that people will never hear from SGM friends after they leave. We are still in contact with plenty of our friends after several months being gone. They matter to us and they have been very understanding of our reasons for leaving. Facebook definitely helps us keep in touch, too.

  • Stunned

    Lynn, here’s the painful thing. You have no control over whether your pastor lies about you or not. And here’s the other painful thing, if you leave pretty good chance they won’t give two figs and you will simply be written off as if you barely even existed in the first place. Neither are loving responses. But I’m afraid that is the way it will be. If you’re not a cog in the wheel then you ain’t nothin’.

    Patti, great news! Congrats!

  • Lynn

    Luna moth,

    What im concered about the most is that other people will ask me where I was and a pastor wil say something that’s not true. And of course people will believe them over anyone bc a sgm pastor cannot lie

  • Luna Moth

    Lynn,

    One more thing–

    If you leave, and they are mad at you–what can they do to you?

    What have you to dread?

    :)

  • Luna Moth

    You could always drop very broad hints and see if anyone bites. On your facebook or something, for example. :wink: :twisted: :mrgreen:

  • Luna Moth

    Lynn,

    I guess I can understand your wish not to leave on bad terms. But really–you don’t have to have the pastor’s approval as you leave. And I’m not sure there is a good way to leave, from their point of view.

    I’ve wondered if I would eventually be recognized, and if so, if I would be “confronted.” I’m at the point of not being afraid of being recognized. But I went for a long time keeping the guilty secret of how unhappy I was. Dealing with the disapproval when I did dare to let someone know, was no fun.

  • Mommy2boo

    Lynn – leave whenever and however you want. I can almost promise you from personal experience that even if you’re involved in LOTS of things – on the worship team, leading Alpha groups, in a discipleship group, involved in care group, babysitting a pastor’s kids, a 10+year member – and just walked away from it all with no explanation, NOT ONE PERSON will contact you or ask you why you left. Not a bloomin’ one. :scratch

  • Lynn

    Jester,

    Its just that I don’t want to leave on bad terms. I just wish that if they thought I was posting here that they would seek me and ask me why

  • Pam

    Patti,
    Thank God you went in!! It could have been disasterous if you hadn’t. Glad you’re doing well and your loopy post is funny!

  • Jester

    Lynn,
    Are you sinning? If you know you’re not, who cares what they think.
    Jester

  • Patti

    O no I just read what I posted, didn’t know I was that loopy..

  • Patti

    I’m a bit loopynon percacet sonforgivemebpeaseif I don’t makebsensw,
    Thanks for yourrayers. I had a totally blocked artery. Got a stent. I feel so much better already. The before andafterbpictureof my heart is amazing. I just have pain at site of the wire entry. I’m in hospital til morning ..be back blogging soon. I already can deal with some of these emotional issues without the chest tightness and pain.

  • renee

    Lynn —

    Well, if I were that pastor and his wife and I did *suspect* you were you and that you were reading this blog, I certainly wouldn’t approach you about it NOW. You’ve outed any potential weirdness, which I think is great.

    Why would they approach you now, knowing that IF they do, it’s possible you might come back here to the comments to confirm that they actually DID? By mentioning your suspicions of weirdness, you may be thwarting any ACTUAL weirdness.

    Besides, if they do approach you, you can always say, “How do you know anyone in this church is reading that blog unless you’re reading it too? Log in your own eye, my friend.” Turn it back on them. It’s the SGM way, right? :wink:

  • Lynn

    Jester,

    I feel that they could suspect I am bc the way one pastor was not as nice as he usually is. His wife didn’t even look me in the eye when I spoke to her. Maybe I am paranoid. I just don’t know. If they did think I was wouldn’t they come after me saying I was sinning?

  • Jester,

    Lynn didn’t say she felt that they were “monitoring her web activity” – just that she feels like she’s being treated differently. Following a blog (and apparently a LOT of current SGMers follow this site) and thinking you might know one of the commenters in real life…and then treating that suspected commenter with a bit of distance…those things are NOT the same as “monitoring a person’s web activity.”

  • Jester

    Lynn,
    Sounds a bit paranoid to me, do you have any reason to believe that they are monitoring your web activity?
    Jester

  • Lynn

    Question for everyone. I feel as though my soon to be former sgm church that the pastors know I have been on this blog. I go under a different name here but feel that the way they have been acting towards me. If they thought a “current ” member was posting on here, would they confront them? Does anyone know from experience? I do wish to leave my sgm church in good standing, but know im not too sure that will happen.

  • anon

    Reading this story made me think of something that happened with us. Just to illustrate that it still happens, in varying degrees. It’s a SG thing, not a Christian thing:

    For years we had problems with a boy my son’s age being aggressive, violent, threatening, sexually inappropriate (grabbing him up front and hitting him behind), and just plain MEAN to our son. He was a son of CG leaders. He is adopted, and comes from tragedy, so we tried very very hard to be as patient and gracious as possible, all the while teaching our son how to handle kids who treat him like this. We told the kid to stop, we told the parents, we told our son to avoid him, not sit next to him in class, not to stand in front of him in line, NEVER to go to the bathroom with him, and lots of other things.

    Finally after 5 years we had had enough. To make a long story short, the pastors ended up getting involved because we decided to make sure it came to an end one way or another. We THOUGHT we would try to do it biblically. But once the pastors got involved, the whole situation was totally taken out of our hands. We were going to take another witness with us and confront the parents (others had had the same problem with this child), but the church had already taken over. They went and met with the family, so “this wouldn’t come to them as a surprise” (5 years of issues is NOT a surprise but anyway). They were being cared for while the pastor made us wait ONE MONTH to finally get meeting with him. We were going to speak to the parents with witnesses, then take it to the church if they didn’t stop the behavior somehow. This is church, people. We are Christians! I would never, ever, ever allow my son to do this to another child. NEVER. The dad just said, “Oh, well I can’t lock him up.” Uh, yeah you can. Or at least make sure he is in NO position to do what he’s been doing. My son would not leave my side and wouldn’t sit for a week if he tried that (excuse me) crap with us.

    Now, as we are trying to be understanding and gracious and not gossip blah blah, things are hitting critical mass here because we have friends now that have children who are playing with this child and in the same classes with him and nothing is being done.

    To make a long story short, we finally, finally all got together with the pastor, but it was a “reconciliation” meeting. It said that on the paper he had in front of him. I coulnd’t believe it! Reconciliation?? No one has repented here yet, and we’re all supposed to make nice nice? Well, God was with us and we kept our cool – my husband rocked that meeting with stellar maturity and self-control, while the dad (CG leader) flipped out, almost stood up from his chair, yelled at us, accused US (still not sure of what), bit his nails the whole time, and never never never once apologized. In 5 years. The pastor was present the whole time, but did nothing. Finally after 2 hours (and 5 years) Dad did apologize for his sons behavior. And that was that. We were reconciled. Isnt’ that nice?

    No nothing else. Later they “stepped down” as CG leaders. We heard that they decided to, they were not asked to. The boy (now 10) seemed to have had some fear and respect for us and our son scared into him, but later pushed our daughter one day in church. Fortunately she didn’t break her arm. Child went running off to Dad, who came all made at us (again, cause it was our child that pushed him, right) and defended his son saying, “He came and told me what happened right away, that it was an accident. He ran because he was scared you would yell at him.”

    What?!? Whatever.

    We are all reconciled on the outside, hi’s here and there, and the boy knows to keep his distance, but my point is THE WAY IT WAS HANDLED. They took the Bible out of the way and took over. My husband did not allow them to turn the focus back on us, we were prepared, but it was so… I don’t even know what the word is.

    I must say though that I don’t think it’s so much our pastor (great guy, we love ‘em), but the system he is in. It’s sad. It was an eye-opening experience into the SG way. Our son is fine. He can handle bullies now, even bullies in the church. And so can we. We still pray for that boy, and his family. ANd SG, and the pastor, but man is the system SO WRONG.

  • Pam

    Nope, Daddy(senior pastor here) just has his son as a pastor, not son in law( from Copely church). I guess he was degifted, interesting. They were to go up to Copely and whip that church into a real sgm church. Guess it didn’t fly.
    ps sorry about the gravatar confusion. I was trying to post anonimously(sp) and thought when I used my name on the 2nd post my gravatar would change but I forgot to hit confirm. So if anyone reads this and puts 2 and 2 together, oh well.

  • noname(Pam)

    Formersgmer,
    Yeah I did that and I even went back almost a year on their fb and there wasn’t anything posted(that I could tell) about why they were leaving. Just that they were trying to sell their house. They are back here and going to their former sgm church in Maryland(not CLC). Even here it’s as if they picked up where they left off. I haven’t checked on the website here in Md yet to see if he’s listed as a pastor, so maybe it will say if he picked up where he left off as a pastor here.

  • formersgmer

    Noname:

    Check the SGM website because it says “Pastor not available” on the listing of churches and check the website for the Copley church because his biography and name have been removed.

  • Deb

    Patti,

    Keeping you in my prayers.

    Dee, my co-blogger at TWW, is a registered nurse and her husband is a cardiologist. Perhaps you could e-mail her if you have any general questions. She can be contacted at dee@thewartburgwatch.com

    Take care.

  • Pam

    Patti,
    I have the same problem-bad genes. So I know what you are going through and will be praying for you.

  • noname

    Actually, I checked their fb again and it looks like they have been back here awhile. They are still in sgm not sure at what capacity though.

  • noname

    Formersgmer,
    I just checked both the pastor’s and his wife’s facebook and this must have just happened because their statuses say they are on vacation. Nothing out of the ordinary on 4/13 there was a post about the men’s prayer meeting that night.

  • Stunned

    Aww, man Patti, please be well. I hope all goes well. Will be praying.

  • Patti

    Happymom,
    Thanks, I will read the link.
    Stunned,
    No I haven’t studied PTSD yet, but I will now.
    I am sure it affects the heart too.
    I am adding another experience to my ‘empathy portfolio’. I failed a treadmill/stress test today and I am scheduled for a heart cath tomorrow noon PAC time.
    My mother had a heart attack when she was young also. She grew up in a healthy religious home (albeit Christian Reformed). But as an adult there was so much religious tension between her and my father. The tension comes from being silenced IMAO. Add that to good ol’ genetics, and wa la’ . Anyway, ‘appreciate all your prayers.
    I can go through anything if I can talk about it.

  • formersgmer

    Looks like another degifting has occurred, Anyone know what happened to the senior pastor of the SGM church in Copley, Ohio? He was JIm Cannon’s son-in-law so I cannot imagine that he just bolted from SGM.

  • Blues0080

    oops..meant to try and put post #349 on “what makes someone humble?” thread…and i see now it is closed..so i’m not sure what i did here….please don’t take that post as meant for anyone in the wallace’s story thread…sorry

  • Blues0080

    i thought the cs lewis quote of the day would be appropriate to share…

    A man is never so proud as when striking an attitude of humility-CSLewis

  • Stunned

    Dafna, thanks for sharing your hair story! Very cool.

    Patti, I HATE that your child or any child has ever had to suffer from abuse. Has anyone who suffered from abuse considered researching PTSD and the effects on the brain?

  • happymom

    Patti,
    Your questions were in no way offensive, thanks for asking though! I am sorry to hear about your experience, the statistics regarding abuse are staggering and all the more reason why we felt a responsibility to bring this to the light.
    To answer your questions, Wallace struggled with their doctrines/polity immediately after we moved here, sadly, I did not and we stayed for 12 years. :scratch
    We left the church a number of years ago (it’s in the story) and we do not belong to a SGM church now.
    Yes, I do believe differently now and would not recommend a SGM church to anyone.
    The latest post on http://www.sgmrefuge.com describes a huge part of their problem and he articulates it better than I ever could. It is certainly worth reading.

  • Patti

    Daphna,
    Way cool that you took the time to address a bunch of us. thanks for your kind words to me regarding my past. I have experienced a little bit of such a diverse range of good and bad in many subjects throughout my life. You may think it strange how many different people I can relate to. Even though the stuff I wrote about happened well over 30 years ago, telling it all again to somebody like I did here sure is emotional. . I’m not Calvinist anymore either. But I can find all my beliefs in different churches. It would be nice to put them all in a computer and have it tell me if one exists that has them all together.

  • acme

    Kris, back in December you called me out that you loved me but thought what I said was beneath me. I’d like to return the favor. I love you — and I’m still hoping that the deletion of the original Comment 284 was simply a blog glitch, not a response that would definitely be beneath you (even if, yes, this is your blog and you can do as you please).

  • Dafna

    Wow, lots of good conversation going on here the past few days.

    After “spewing” my mental ruminations on Saturday eve, I thought it was OK to check back in- trying to curb my online interactions to every few days. But it’s just so hard….

    First, I want to say to Patti- Thank God you’re here! I have gone back to read your posts and my heart “clenches” at your testimonies. Along with the others, I want to say I am so sorry for all that you have endured at the hand of legalists and religious nutcases- the part about the so-called “sex education” you received concerning men’s and women’s sex drives- ugh, I can’t believe that kind of crap is being taught to children. Horrible!!!Horrible!!!
    About the spankings, I think you call them “hacks”, from the male teacher:
    I always thought that spanking teens was way out of line, esp. male spanking female- way too weird. What can I say?? Sorry can’t express it enough, but I hope you are feeling the support and empathy and Christlike love of people here, so glad that Survivors is here where you can share and vent, hope you are experiencing more and more healing as you share. May you feel the healing love of the Good Shepherd as He holds you close in His arms. On my first post I talked about reading Ezekiel 34 and feeling like I was experiencing the grief of Jesus over His hurting sheep, and I’m getting that same feeling again. Uhhh, wow. Patti, Lord bless you, sister. I hope you don’t mind, I’m kind of a huggy person, but here goes:

    {{{{{Patti}}}}} from a sister in Christ- Lot’s of love from above

    You have some great insights. I personally find a lot of so-called “psychobabble” is helpful. There is a book on Co-dependency written by a couple of Christian psychiatrist that literally changed my life. I read this book and went “Dang, that’s me. That’s my family.” I don’t believe all psychology is necessarily bad, I used to study alot of self-help therapies, used to like to read about psychoanalysis, Freud, Jung, Transactional Analysis (from the 70’s), anything about psychology. Weird interesting stuff. Right now I’m REALLY interested in the whole left/right brain thing and the power of creativity. The study of the Soul, Psyche- God created our Souls, Minds and Emotions and He knows how it should all function. And he can use secular psychologists and counselors to bring about healing, ironic since the Church is supposed to be a place where people come into contact with the Shepherd and Overseer (and Healer) of our Souls, but instead they get wounded in the church and have to look “outside” to get the healing they need. Sad, sad state of affairs… Lord, help us.
    Glad your daughter has joined the conversation, she seems to have the right outlook, I would have to agree though with 5years and others about the young man and his relationship to his parents. There comes a time to cut the apron strings and be a man and make his own decisions.I pray it will all work out for her!

    Happymom- about the prophet Nathan:

    *sigh* You are right. While I was attending Metro I thought the “open mike” was really cool, most prophecy I was used to was the personal type, where someone calls you out to give you a “word” from the Lord, so this was refreshing to experience. Once at Metro a guy actually spoke in tongues and interpreted, and I sat there amazed. “Wow, I haven’t seen this in years!!”
    Not since attending an Assembly of God church way back in the day. But after awhile I began to notice that it seemed only a few people, maybe the same four of five, would get up there and if they were not just reading out of their Bibles (not putting that down, of course) they were reading something out of their journal. Kind of scripted, it seemed. Interesting sidenote: I was there last January when Pastor Todd left, and all the shakeup that followed. The prophecies that came seemed to say “Look to Me, not to leadership”. Maybe the Holy Spirit was actually getting through.

    Rose, from #258 :word Excellent comments! Esp. about how authority should look in and outside the church, and the New Creation.

    Vida- about “our identity in Christ” not being affirmed, You’ve got it! The churches I’ve previously attended usually preached from that perspective. I was always taught that I was a New Creation and the righteousness of God in Christ, that I was dead, buried and seated with Christ, that I had authority in His name, etc. To hear Christians described in “sinful” terms was way new for me, and contributed to my decision to leave. Also, I guess more truthfully, I am not a Calvinist (said while whispering into the keypad)— Hope you Reformed folks will still love me :P . I must say, though, that of all the pastors I think Danny’s messages really came close to Who We are in Christ, not Zap the Sin out of your Life. I really enjoyed Danny’s messages and felt he was preaching out of his heart, not a theology textbook. I sensed the Shepherd in him.

    Stunned- Hope you don’t mind, but I kept mulling over the haircutting thing, and what you described actually makes sense to me. My hair is what my family humorously calls “puerto rican hair” (our ethnic heritage). Thick, hard to manage, thirsty for styling products. I used to wear mine in a long ponytail WAY up on my head, made into three braids. I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts (I just can’t keep donuts out of my comments) and would whip those braids around all day filling those boxes and making coffee. Until the day I asked my sister to help style my hair, and due to a disagreement between us, uh- well, my hair ended up REALLY SHORT!! And I remember after the first moments of shock and horror at the novelty of the look, and lots of primping and slathering on gel- I looked at myself and said “Hey, that looks pretty good!” And I felt lighter, freer, more Empowered. My thick, long hair used to be a screen I hid behind, but now that it was gone- it was like I was free to express myself, like that hair contained all the heaviness and weight of my soul. I suffered from depression and self-loathing and suicidal feelings all my young life, until the Lord intervened and healed me (praise His Name!!)I have an artist friend who cut her hair short recently and said how much better she felt, like she was discovering a new self, getting free of the past. So cutting off the hair “makes sense”.

    I’m glad, though, that I no longer resemble Sonic Hedgehog (what one co-worker nicknamed me) :wink:

    Goodnight all – Shalom, Dafna

  • Patti

    Ugh! I’ve been over at TWW reading up on so much i never knew you all were on the net till just recently. I can’t believe how much has been written, I will never be able to read it all, but I was also just reading about all the connections that are happening between the SGM and the IFB,, and I’m starting to recognize the influence of both getting into my own Assembly of God church.
    I never would have thought there would be friendliness between the Baptists and the Calvinists. They practically hated each other when I was a kid. But they ‘allowed’ us Calvinists to attend their school. To be fair to my parents. My mother started teaching piano lessons at my school after I graduated. I have much younger siblings who were still there. She finally saw what was happening there for herself, and yanked my little siblings out of there and put them in an Assembly of God school that was not abusive at all. So I do know good ones do exist.
    Also,, the SGM and Baptists are not new to the high control of adult kids. When I moved out of the house at 19 to my own apartment my Christian Reformed Pastor called a meeting with me to his parsonage office to find out why and tell me how I shouldn’t do that because girls need to be under their Father’s house until they go to their husband’s house. Even my employer, who attended the church called me to HIS office to tell me he heard I had moved out. I was afraid he was going to fire me over it. He didn’t, but both of them sure made me feel scuzzy for moving out. My BF(husband) didn’t want me to move out either. He knew better than to tell me he agreed with them. He just told me he didn’t think I could take care of myself. Ugh! When do girls get to grow up in these religions.

  • LongingForHeaven

    “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Aghhh that is so painful! I am so sorry…Happymom and Wallace. A family’s betrayal is disgusting and so is the leadership that has promoted them. Disgusting.

  • Patti

    Happymom and/or Wallace,
    I have read your story over a couple times before I joined this blog. I am so sorry. My heart aches for you as parents. I know the nightmare of having a child who was molested. (not the one on this blog). She wasn’t born yet. It was our next door neighbor”s so and our child was best friends with the half sister in the family who was almost molested by her half brother. We were all friends before this. I know the lies that surround the whole business and the guilt that I felt for not protecting her because I trusted them. They were not ‘christians’ either. I was not even in a relationship with a church or God at the time, I’m sure my own abuse in the religious system had something to do with that. So I know first hand in or out of church is danger. So, in what I am about to ask you comes from absolutely no pressure of blaming you in any way, Please don’t take my question that way. But my question is: While you were in the SGM did you believe all their suboordination doctrines (trinity,church leadership, home) , and I am wondering if you still are in SGM or that type of belief system. Do you have any different beliefs now than you did before you went through this nightmare. If I missed anything you said about this in previous comments just say yes and I will look. I am trying to find out if there is higher incidence of abuse in partriarchal , eldership hierearchical churches. The church I am in now.. the church members nominate several deacon candidates who will make up the board. Then they actually draw lots after prayer to fill the spots whose terms are up. And there is even a separate committee that searches for a new pastor if the current one gets called somewhere else. There are even women on that committee. But then if church leaderhip everywhere is corrupt on reporting child abuse.. how can I even find statistics. I so appreciate you posting your story, it’s got to be hard. I sure hope it inspires more people to be brave and post their stories. Again, I don’t mean to be insensitive. I hope I did not offend in asking.

  • happymom

    LongingForHeaven,
    Thank you for your prayers.
    No, we are not reconciled. We were close before, in fact we moved down here (from New York) to be near them and join PDI/SGM. :scratch
    I’m sorry I can’t answer your question about how they could do something like this.
    What is more incredible is our brother-in-law is the Family Pastor there. :scratch

  • LongingForHeaven

    Happymom and Wallace,
    I read your story here and had to spend weeks just letting the gravity of your experience sink in. I pray for peace and healing for you. I am still so baffled by how awful your experience has been. Are you at reconciled to your sister now? Were you guys close before? How could family do something like this? They treated you guys worse than strangers would in my opinion.

    I think one of the things that was most poignant to me was how hard you guys tried to reconcile or at least get some kind of closure even in the face of insensitive and callous men who supposedly represent Christ.

  • For those who treasure who Jesus is and who we are in him, he says “I Am!” http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-am-who-is-jesus-and-who-are-we-in-him.html

    There is a music video embedded in it which can minister to those who are hurting.

    Grace,
    Vida Savta

  • Patti

    Remnant,
    That was totally awesome! I think it’s easy for us to confuse one’s zeal for the church as a zeal for God. Big difference.
    I think that is where I made the mistake back in post #327 when I said SGM teaches “life in Christ” of which I was corrected by
    Vida in #329 saying it is not emphasized there. I think I confused it with their strong teachings of “life in the church”, in the gospel, cross centered life, etc.
    I hope you don’t mind, Remnant, but I would like to copy what you said and pass it on to other young women I have influence over.
    I could not have said all that so elequently nor have I been the best example of the things you said.
    Do you all remember the old 60’s song ‘House of the Rising Sun’ . It’s in my head all of the sudden. Last summer I watched a 60’s review musical.. and it was sung from the female perspective ( very touching performance). It was really good. “mama, tell your children, not to do the thing’s I’ve done…. ‘live your life in sin and misery…in the house.. of the rising sun. Wow, I can’t believe my heart is comparing the two dichotomies here.
    But the Bible does say to us who do anything against our conscience, to us it is sin, even if our leaders think it’s a ‘godly’ thing.

  • PDIWHO

    Daughter,
    If I where U i would walk away now….. I know its Hard to do, But i can promise you wont regret it….
    There are things going on that you have no control over. And when hes still answering to his parents like a small child he is in no way ready for a Relationship with you or anyone else.

  • happymom

    Daughter,
    Just by reading your post, #316, it’s obvious that you already possess wisdom and insight beyond your years. I pray that the wise advice in the comments above are an encouragement to you.

    A Kindred Spirit,
    {{{cyber hug}}} Thank you!

  • Daughter, I would also suggest you find a good Christian counselor to help you navigate this time of life. I don’t live in your area or I would recommend mine since he is very knowledgeable about abuse of spiritual authority within churches, families and Christian organizations due to his own extended family experiences. Many counselors will offer a discount for those with lower incomes, such as students.

  • Roadwork

    Remnant:

    That was excellent.

    As a friend of mine once said, “The boy you meet is the man you marry”.
    They are what they are and they don’t change. (And I speak from a man’s perspective.)

    What initially attracted me to my wife was her willingness to follow God regardless of what anyone else thought, including her unsaved parents.

    Almost three decades later, we find ourselves walking through our SGM exodus together as one. Being on the same page spiritually has carried us through all these years. And I will be forever grateful for this gift that God has given to me. Everything else is secondary.

    I will add that we did have a CGL and his wife intervene at a critical juncture many years ago. They appear to have since been shipwrecked – a casualty from the opening of a new SGM franchise (a.k.a. “church plant”.)

  • Remnant

    Daughter, when I was a young lady, a godly woman, Lydia Little (who I think knew CJ et all when they were young men) gave me wise advice, which I took to heart. One must be attracted to their future mate in four areas: physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

    Daughter, it seems that what is missing from your equation with your bf is the spiritual attraction. What attracted me to my husband in that area was his strong faith in God. His evident relationship with God, his reliance upon God, his desire for God, his seeking in the Word (with open Bible) to discuss/argue/delve into points of interest and theology, his outward worship of God, his talking to me about things of God. God and Godly things were not a contention between us. God and His Theology were glorious to us. We hungered for God, individually. When we together, we hungered to share our zeal for our Lord. It was glorious times, indeed.

    And what I continue to appreciate, after 3 decades of marriage, is my husband’s steadfastness in his faith, his continuing growth personally into changing into the likeness of God, his opening the Word daily, his reliance upon God, his heart to hear God’s instructions for his life.

    Other things wane: the physical attraction, the “love” feelings, the intellectual stimulation. One thing remains steadfast: my husband’s desire to know God. It’s been our anchor through trying times.

    I would caution you, should you choose to continue in this relationship after your time of prayer, in this: if your bf comes to you wanting to continue the friendship, if he seems willing to hear you and to acquiesce to your desires spiritually, be sure that he’s sincere and not changing temporarily, trying to coerce you. (Satan is wily!)

    Bring up “hot buttons.” (Will you be expected to join SGM once married or will he be willing to leave SGM? Will he resent you in the years and decades to come, “making” him leave SGM if that’s his decision?) See how he responds. If he continues to put off discussion, red flag. If he dismisses your concerns, if he won’t go toe-to-toe with you in a kind-hearted banter, if he patronizes you…red flags. You will NOT be able to change him later (it’s not your job to change him, even if you may want to). Now is what counts. How does he treat you today?

    I’m glad you are taking this time to pray. Ask yourself if you truly want to marry this man who is so closely tied to his parents. You’ll have a crowded marriage if he cannot leave and cleave. Do you like them enough to have them as an intrigal part of your life? Do they like YOU enough to not make you feel like an outsider and will they respect you as the strong, passionate, intelligent woman of God that you are? Or will you be fighting them for decades for your right as their son’s wife? Will he go to bat for you if it means standing up to them? Will he protect you from their harshness (if it comes to that?) Will he protect your integrity? Will he protect your soul and spirit? Will he nurture you? Or will he try to mold you (that’s God’s job)? Will he grow to resent your strength and independence?

    Please forgive an older woman her ranting warnings. I love who you are, Daughter of God. You are precious and made by Holy Hands. You belong to God your Father, first and foremost. Do not “settle.” Don’t aim for anything less than God’s glorious, fabulous, delightful, hilarious, glory-filled, life-giving Spirit. When your heart completely soars in joy and abandon, when you know and feel connected spiritually, you’ll know. Be patient and wait. The rewards will be awesome!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Wallace and Happymom,

    Thinking of you guys tonight and praying for you, especially Child B.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    http://sgmrefuge.com/2011/04/18/kingsway-community-church-midlothian-va/comment-page-1/#comment-30914

    Hey guys and girls, don’t miss this new post over at SGMRefuge.

    Daughter- I will pray for you and we’ll wait to see what happens.

    “Also, any suggestions on how/what I should say/do when I see/speak with BF is more than welcomed!”

    Be slow to speak, quick to listen, and carefully ask yourself if you are “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”. You must be gentle and above reproach in your manner even if you think he is wrong. And unless you see some dramatic repentance on his part about the things we have all discussed, I would “kiss this date goodbye”.

  • Actually, Patti, at our former SGM church, our “identity in Christ” was not affirmed but sometimes even discouraged. That is one reason I left.

  • Lynn

    Daughter,

    Please listen to 5years. Being single sucks,but being in a bad marriage is worse. This guy is 23 and he can ask his parents advice but he needs to stop going by everythin they say. For them to even say for you not to come is wron. Do u know why they didn’t want you to come?

  • Patti

    Great advice with choices. I didn’t even think of the possible dad factor and issues already there and counselling. Just the contact so far with this authoritarian religious influence can wreak havic with our psyche. After I returned to God I started becoming legalistic again. I started sheltering the family and even doing the hierarchy thing. It didn’t make sense to my older daughter. To fit in I even tried to wear a prairie dress.(the ones in style about 16 yrs ago? Daughter was too young to remember..but she would know that’s not my style. Pretty soon I realized almost everything we wear or do can be linked to some evil origin. After I discovered even our wedding rings and pink and blue for baby boys and girls have pagan origin I realized that legalism just leads to more legalism. All I am trying to say is that peer pressure ( shunning, cold shoulders, disapproving looks) at any age can be so subtle we might not recognize the gradual loss of our own identity. SGM et al teaches to be lost in Christ, our identity is in Christ,etc. True but it is still us. The “I” lives in Christ. I live. You live. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Do not become bondage again. No one can serve two masters. When we marry we become one flesh, not one soul. Sometimes it takes complete outsiders to look at our families and tell us what they see. :bang

  • Daughter

    5yearsin PDI,
    I appreciate your care for me, it is always helpful to be reminded of the dangers surrounding this issue. However, A Kindred Spirit outlines my reason for not running to the T. I have full faith in God, knowing that He will show me the way out if necessary. I also am not expecting a happy ending anytime soon; either BF dumps me… or BF does not dump me, yet plenty more obstacles courses will be clearly set, and only with the help of Jesus will we make it through.
    I most likely will not have any more updates about us until Friday this week, but I am eager to share what will come about.
    Also, any suggestions on how/what I should say/do when I see/speak with BF is more than welcomed!

    acme, thank you, I have not read “The Joy Luck Club”. It sounds encouraging!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    There was once a young man (SGMer) that posted here that met a girl in college and fell in love. I think she was an “outsider,” or they both decided to leave their SGM churches, or something like that.

    I also remember “work-in-progress” sharing that she met her husband in college and that he was an outsider. She left her SGM church.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Patti’s Daughter,

    It won’t be easy.

    Eventually you WILL have to ask him if he’s willing to leave SGM for you. And if he’s willing to cut the apron strings from his parents.

    But I’m sure you know that.

  • :welcome Patti’s Daughter! Praying for you — and for this time you have set aside to pray and read and learn.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever seen or read “The Joy Luck Club” — I love teaching this mother-daughter novel, but there’s one conversation that means so much to me after having married a CLC man, over the objections of my mother (who’s been good enough to keep on picking up the pieces with me).

    Ying Ying: Do you know what you want? I mean, from him?
    Lena: Respect. Tenderness.
    Ying Ying: Then tell him now. . . Do not come back until he give you those things, with both hands open.

    CLC says that women crave romance and men crave respect, but really we all need both.

    Anne CLC 1986-2007

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Lol…

    I just refreshed the page after posting and see you and I have different ideas on the relationship, 5yearsinPDI.

    And that’s okay. :)

    Daughter’s got her head screwed on right. Plus, look who her mother is. :wink: She’ll be just fine. God will guide her.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Daughter!!!!!! :D

    Welcome…I’m so glad you’ve joined us! I can see you have a lot of your mother in you, and that’s a GOOD thing!

    Haha…I called it…the boy’s definitely smitten by you. :wink:

    I knew he had to be if he was willing to risk a relationship with an “outsider.” You’re obviously quite a girl.

    I will be praying for BF’s freedom, and for you. He sees in you something he’s never seen before, and the fact that you are a woman will take care of the equality thing. Be patient (but stern) and gently show him and teach him. Getting him to cut the apron strings from his parents is going to be the hardest.

    Kindred

  • 5yearsin PDI

    “The scary thing is always that the decision never seems to be his, but rather him ‘agreeing’ with his parents decision. (Hence the creepy control taught in CLC/SGM); he’s 23… I have not witnessed BF’s parents make a decision that is (in their words) ungodly. And for every decision they have made I am eager to respect and understand. My problem is that my BF never makes the decision on his own.”

    Run. Fast. Far.

    You want to marry a man or a puppet?

    This is a no brainer. Get yourself out.

    When God said a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, if you don’t see that starting to happen with a potential wife, at least to some degree, the prognosis for a true and independent break in the guy is slim, with lots of potential tears and suffering for you.

    Get some help, seriously, not trying to hurt you but you have your own issues if you have fallen for this guy. I’ve seen it over and over and over, that certain girls fall for the wrong kind of guy. Maybe its related to your own Dad somehow, but the problem you need to deal with is you, not BF. Don’t just drop this one and end up with another one just like him. Please, get some good counseling. Singleness is hard but a bad marriage is even worse.

  • Patti

    Oops, I didn’t mean for that moticon to get in my last post. My iPad is touchy.

  • Patti

    I just started reading the IFB focus over at Wartburg Watch and was reminded that I did not yet answer an enquiry here about the legalistic rules in my school.
    Yes, the girls had to wear dresses daily. The boys wore jeans except on Friday the boys had to wear slacks and ties. Shortly after my mother had sown a really cool wrap around skirt (calf length was in style then so immodesty was not an issue) my favorite piece of clothing..the board decided demin for girls was imoral. Yup, mom had sewn my skirt out of demin material, it didn’t even have pockets or in any resembled pants. I have forgotten that. I was in high school. I am crying again right now over how proud I was of that skirt and because we were poor and I had little to wear and I worked hard to earn the money for the fabric. My mom always did an awesome job making my clothes look better than store bought. I feel like I am watching a sad movie of someone else. :new
    The boys had to have hair off the ears and collar or they would get disciplinary haircut. This was in the seventies.
    When shorter skirts were in style we would have dress checks. A male teacher would line us girls up on the floor on our knees wile he bent down in front of us with a ruler making sure the hem was no more than an inch from the floor. One day I had grown a little and I was sent to the home ec room to take the hem out of my dress. This brought my dress below my knee which was a very humiliating style that year. I was 12 yrs old.
    Movies and any music with a beat even Christian was forbidden. I remember how we werent even supposed to go see the Corrie Ten Boom movie because it was using a secular theatre. Sometimes my parents though brought us to Disney movies, and that was an exciting piece of ‘naughty ‘ info us kids liked to share with each other about our ‘cool’ parents.
    One Sunday night I went to my BF’s IFB church. I wore slacks like women and girls from my church (Christian Reformed) were doing on Sunday nights. The only welcome I received there was a reprimand for wearing slacks. Anyway, I could go on and on.

  • Lynn

    Patti,

    There are people who do read here from clc and from.all churhes from.sgm. they read in secret.

  • Daughter

    Hello helpful and encouraging bloggers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been reading almost every post since my mom (Patti) has introduced these discussions to me. :new
    I can’t express how much all of your insights on my dilemma with the BF have supported and provided me with useful variations of advice.
    I would like to share with you an update. We have currently decided as of last thursday to completely hand our relationship over to God. Meaning, for one week will will fast from each other; no calling, seeing, or communicating in anyway for one week. During the time we usually would have spent together is now devoted to deep prayer and bible study. And… of course for me I also read these blogs :wink:
    I would also like to inform everyone with some details about this boy. If in anyway I felt controlled, abused, or held back from God, or if I felt I was in ‘danger’, I will leave the relationship. Outside of our scriptural arguments on man and women equality, we get along great. Not once have I felt belittled or manipulated into something I did not want to do. The things such as not being welcomed to come to his church early in our relationship was brought to surface at that time, and so forth with everything my mom has mention we (me and bf) have talked about it.

    The scary thing is always that the decision never seems to be his, but rather him ‘agreeing’ with his parents decision. (Hence the creepy control taught in CLC/SGM); he’s 23… I have not witnessed BF’s parents make a decision that is (in their words) ungodly. And for every decision they have made I am eager to respect and understand. My problem is that my BF never makes the decision on his own. Which now leads me into this bigger picture.
    I love him, but I also love Jesus and the freedom He has provided to our spirits. And that freedom means more to me than any earthly item.
    I know, because of BF’s differences he had in the past with his family with ‘obedience’, that he also desires this freedom. He happened to search for it in the wrong areas… leading him to crawl back to the only ‘safety’ he’s ever known.
    All I can do and ask for from anyone are their prayers for his freedom. I feel that until this freedom is achieved, he will not see the distortions of teachings on man and women equality, leadership, and other such topics from CLC.

    Again, I thank you all so much and would love to answer and partake in any questions. My responses may end up a few days apart. But I try to read the blogs as often as possible. If it is not too much for me to ask, please pray for him, and for everyone who seems to think of God as a ‘possession’, something you can keep in a box, and has potential of being stolen.

  • Rose

    In 307: “when you try to create artificial rules and formal parameters for human interactions, a lot of people are going to get left by the wayside.”

    Kris, that is such a wise observation! Related to it, I think, is when you try to create artificial rules and formal parameters for expressing spirituality in things like modesty, humility, and submission, etc. a lot of people are going to lose their spiritual voice and a lot of legalism will replace healthy expressions of spiritual life.

  • Patti

    Since most of you have been on this blog for a long time. Do you think very many current members from CLC read it? I mean, what are the chances of my daughter’s BF’s parent’s reading it? I don’t believe he himself has. I have not met his parents yet. I am surprised (I guess I shouldn’t be by now) that they have not contacted me at all.
    But they know her pretty well now. I mean if BF was going to school out here on the west coast I really think I would have reached out to his parents if nothing more than to say Hi. But now that I think of it she has always told me the east coasters are not the same as the west, so maybe it’s just cultural?

  • Patti

    Thanks for all the encouraging words everone.
    Shunned, you speak many words of wisdom and compassion to all here. I love it.

    Wallace, Your shunning comment helps me understand my daughter’s BF’s odd behavior when she wants to discuss differences in doctrinal beliefs with him. He is just passing on the conditioning he was raised with whenever he raised questions, or if he was a compliant child he certainly would have seen how other questioners were treated.

    Deb, thanks for steering me to the Mark Driscoll blog at wartburg. I was fuming by the time I was finished reading. Mars Hill (Mark Driscoll) is using Seattle’s Quest Field stadium for Easter Sunday. This will bring major publicity. I think that could bring quite a healthy debate about him among church folk around here. It will be sad though that many children may have to hear things in those debates around the adults that they shouldn’t have to hear. :huh

  • Singing Cook

    “when you try to create artificial rules and formal parameters for human interactions, a lot of people are going to get left by the wayside.”
    When Husband and I were asked to become care group leaders we were told we would have to “release” our current friends and become friends with only the people in our care group. Also on the fellowship note we were told we could have meals together and play games but were NOT to have bible studies or prayer nights.
    We wanted to keep our friends and gather in prayer so we declined CG leader invitation. Ended up leaving within a year later. Basically because it was coming to point of “finding another church” as Wallace stated.

    Something someone said about HM and Wallace’s story that has stuck with me. It was stated somewhere that LG was “assigned” to care for them. Why does someone need to be “assigned”? Especially a relative/pastor? Again the rules and parameters screw things up and prevent people from just ministering to one another. Where is the love of the brethren that should just flow according to 1 John???

    HM and Wallace, I hope you have been able to find mature, educated believers around you that are helping you heal on spiritual, emotional and psychological levels….. i am so sorry for all the pain on so many different levels… words are not adequate…

  • Wallace

    Blue Sky,
    Thank you for your support and kind words.
    The sad truth of this is, it doesn’t make any difference to SGM leadership whether or not you are a member. If you are a member and challenge or oppose them in any way, they shun you. And this inevitably creates a trickle down affect to the congregation. People we knew and were good friends with for 12 years will not have anything to do with us. (Read Noel’s story) While we were members, before the issue with child B came to light, I was told by senior pastor Mark Mullery to “find another church” because of my questions challenging their church doctrine and/or polity.

  • happymom

    Sorry – should read “or if you oppose them in ANY WAY they seek to discredit you”
    Happymom is not very happy this morning.

  • Stunned

    Lynn, thank you for your kindness in post 219. If only we could find a way to get help and love and support and understanding for people who have cut themselves or are darned near close to it.

    Patti, thanks. I like many of the ways you look at life. It’s kinda nice not to feel alone in certain views.

    Dafna, Sweetheart, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the little hug. I am thinking maybe I am just super hormonal or something. I probably took the letter much too personally. It just tore me up to see someone, especially someone who we have gotten to know if only in a little way, hurting so badly. Ugh, I wish there were none of the ugliness in the world that Wallace and HappyMom’s kids have experienced or any of us have experienced. Thanks for the kindness.

    Sweet Acme, I hear your suggestion about the IF part but I just was worried that it would come across as if I weren’t taking responsibility for something and I really would like to if that is necessary. I guess the “if” reminds me too much of the whole, “IF you were hurt by our actions, we are sorry to hear that.” Kinda thing. But I appreciate your heart in all this. Like I said, I am probably hormonal. Just have worked so hard NOT to be put in a box and that’s what it feels like right now.

    Patti, I hear what you are saying in 273. I am probably having my own reaction to something I can’t identify yet.

    Fashionably Late said, “Being attracted to one’s own gender is one thing; being sexually attracted to children is quite another.” AMEN! (Actually, I think many pedophiles don’t do it as even an expression of sexual attractiveness as much as an expression of power and control.)

  • happymom

    Patti,
    I am so sorry to hear all that you went through. I pray that typing it out was a part of the healing process for you and I will keep you in prayer. Thank you for the courage to share it.

    Blue Sky,
    Thank you for your encouragement this morning. Like I shared before that although we were no longer members, we were not completely off the radar. We still attended an occasional function or social event with SGM/Fairfax. And it wasn’t even so much the care we were looking for but just for these pastors to do the right thing MORALLY.
    To cooperate with the detective, to attend the trial and defend our child in the event the perp fought the charge (pastor SW had heard the confession) and to answer our emails! They began to resist helping almost immediately and we knew that they had been providing care for the perp for a very long time. They knew enough to call their attorney within a week of the discovery of child B’s molestation. They knew enough to tell pastor LG (brother-in-law) to go home and instruct his wife not to discuss this issue with me.
    They knew enough to ignore all the points we brought to them that challenged what pastor LG claimed he did. We immediately challenged the two “apology” letters from pastor LG as they were filled with deceptive statements that completely misrepresented what really took place. (CJ was the first person cc’d in on these letters…hmmmm….)
    We asked, why couldn’t pastor LG come to us and be honest and say, “hey, my wife can’t discuss the specifics of the case, but how can we care for you?” Instead he ignored us until we confronted him at a restaurant in Jan 2008, where he denied silencing his wife!
    What we witnessed for our 12 years there is that they care heroically for one another on the leadership team but if you are a nobody, or if you’ve moved on to another church – you can forget it or if you oppose them in anyway they seek to discredit you. The tough, business-minded pastor VH, turns into benevolent Uncle *****, reading bedtime stories to a sick LEADER’S child, but doesn’t give a hoot about an abused child and actually defends the actions of pastor LG. That pretty much sums up the leadership landscape over there. A look into the archives to read Noel’s story (same church,most of the same leaders) proves that all this took place under the same Sr pastor, who is still there. How many abuse cases against children does one have to botch up to be disqualified? CJ hand picked this guy to come take care of the church after Benny stepped down, maybe that’s why he stays. CJ would have to admit he made a mistake.

  • Blue Sky said,

    Wallace, you added a comment later on as if in a postscript that the molestations didn’t occur on church property. This made me start wondering why you felt you had to clarify that and why it mattered. Then it occurred to me that because the crimes did not occur on church property plus the fact that you were no longer attending the SGM church at the time the crime against Child B came to light probably unfortunately were factors into the church leadership’s way of thinking that led to a lack of care and compassion towards you versus the abuser who was directly under their care.

    Wow, I’d never thought of that before, but I think you’re absolutely correct.

    And it seems to me that this attitude on the part of leaders can be traced directly back to the way that SGM has seemed to codify interactions that are supposed to be relationships…to attempt to turn easy-going interactions between people into unnatural formulas.

    I think back to the way that CJ defined “fellowship” in his book Why Small Groups? In CJ’s mind, “fellowship” is NOT just one Christian relating to another Christian about anything the two of them happen to share. Nope. “Fellowship” has got to be turned into this formalized set of interactions based around certain predetermined topics. In CJ’s thinking, “fellowship” can only occur when people are focusing on faith-related stuff…and basically amount to sitting around, offering up correction to one another and talking about their sin. In that book, he even disses on the idea that “fellowship” can occur while a group of Christians sits around and watches a football game.

    We see the same thing with the way that the pastoral role is described in CJ’s Happiest Place On Earth sermon. Pastors don’t just relate naturally to people – no. They must go around “caring for souls,” focusing narrowly on “matters of the faith.”

    And if you’re not one of the “souls” officially in their care? Well, then, you’re out of luck in terms of whether or not they’ll “care” for you.

    Because it’s all been codified, reduced to a formula.

    Kind of like how they had to codify the way that a young person finds a spouse.

    And while it’s true that love can blossom anywhere, and that there are no doubt plenty of happy couples who managed to get together in stiff formal courtship scenarios, and while it’s true that many SGM members probably feel quite satisfied with how their pastors “care” for them, it’s also true that when you try to create artificial rules and formal parameters for human interactions, a lot of people are going to get left by the wayside.

    I think that’s what we see in Wallace’s story.

  • Stunned

    Patti,

    I am so grateful for the many people who post here. I feel it is a priviledge getting to know you right now. Thank you for being willing to trust us with your story. I hope you know that as you type your story, you are speaking for many who are too tired or too weary or too scared to type theirs. But reading your words brings them not only comfort but is part of their healing process.

    I admire your willingness to be so vulnerable with us here.

    Thank you,
    Stunned

  • Blue Sky

    Wallace & Happymom,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been grieving over what happened to your children and all the pain and suffering your family has been through. It’s very sad and on so many fronts. First, there was the devastating crime against Child A. Then like a recurring nightmare come true, the same devastating kind of crime happened to Child B. This alone is heartbreaking enough beyond imagination also for you as parents. Then on top of this to go through what you did by the inexcusable treatment by pastors compounded by the family fracture and lack of support from your own sister and brother-in-law who chose the SGM line over truth and compassion – it’s just too much. Happymom, how can your sister be anything but a very conflicted person. But in your story I also hear the Lord’s strength in your words and see great courage by your actions of not letting this go but persevering to hold people accountable for their deeds and lies. My prayers are with you and your family and I pray God continues to minister to both children, especially Child B who is still struggling through this.

    As it is with many other topics and postings on this blog, your comments have made me think about SGM and its mixed up ways in my own struggle to understand why things are the way they are, why SGM leaders have done certain things, and why at times like this they fail to demonstrate the kind of care you would expect from a Christian pastor who “cares for people’s souls.” Wallace, you added a comment later on as if in a postscript that the molestations didn’t occur on church property. This made me start wondering why you felt you had to clarify that and why it mattered. Then it occurred to me that because the crimes did not occur on church property plus the fact that you were no longer attending the SGM church at the time the crime against Child B came to light probably unfortunately were factors into the church leadership’s way of thinking that led to a lack of care and compassion towards you versus the abuser who was directly under their care. This still seems so terribly wrong to me. As I think about my own experiences at CLC over the years, I have seen this kind of treatment almost a complete lack of caring where one would expect compassion from a pastor, and it’s hurtful. Just because someone has left the church or is not a member…if a pastor was called upon for help, why would he not help if he could, is his heart and time so constrained like the priest and Levite who bypassed the beaten up man lying on the road? SGM pastors do seem to make that distinction perhaps for legal reasons but this lack of compassion is not the heart of Jesus. What difference should that have made that you guys had left your church by the time you discovered the crime or that the crime didn’t occur on church property? :scratch

    Again, I admire the courage and conviction you’ve been standing on and am glad you are leaning on the Great Defender who is on your side.

  • Luna Moth

    I looked up a little about Mark Driscoll, and a little was all I could endure. He is tromping with hobnailed boots into other people’s secret chamber. I cannot bear his coarse and lewd teachings. Sexuality is not evil, but his coarseness violates the heart’s innocence.

  • Luna Moth

    (Of course, Baptist covers a very wide range. Part of that has to do with Baptist churches being autonomous.)

  • Luna Moth

    Patti,

    I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you–both the abusive boyfriend and the teachings that laid the pathway. I’m so sad to hear that those things were taught in a Baptist church. I grew up Baptist and I have never heard any pastor or teacher teach such things.

  • Lynn

    Patti,

    Im so sorry that happened to you. About what u said about how men can’t say no is wrong and that person who told u is going to have to answer to God for that. I know from experienc its not true. I wanted to do more with a old bf of mine and he said no.. I have to write more later.

  • Deb

    Patti,

    If you’re that close to Seattle, you are probably hearing quite a bit about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. My blogging buddy Dee wrote a series of posts last month on Driscoll. Here’s a link to the first one: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/03/28/mark-driscoll-two-hour-theologian-and-repristinizer-of-patriarchy/

    Dee followed up with two more posts which you can access at the links below. As you will see, we are definitely NOT Driscoll fans.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/03/29/mark-driscoll-narcissistic-cowboy-or-knight-errant/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/03/30/mark-driscoll-deceived-andor-deceiver/

  • renee

    Patti —

    Your story is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through.

    A cyber hug from me too.

  • Patti

    ooh, I liked pocket knives too, fun fun

  • Patti

    Kindred,
    Thanks for the cyber hug, oh and I love the twin pistol icon. Those cap guns were another of my favorite toys as a kid. But again, considered a boy’s toy.
    Acme,
    Thanks for the info on what the kids are taught. I think most of us make the mistake with our kids on the romantic movies, however, I always fought my husband on that when there were romantic scenes in movies we and I our daughter’s were watching. If actors started making out my husband would do his fatherly groaning and hypocrytical disapproving grunts and fastforward. I think our oversexed religious leaders actually are the cause of their own plight of unsatisfactory sex in marriage. No matter how much they say how great sex is when married, they sure do a lot of negative talk about it with and around their daughters their whole lives. How are we expected to go from disgust to desire? And since women would usually watch a romance movie over a violent one.. again.. they just sabatoge themselves. :scratch

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Ditto Kris’s #280!!!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Acme, similar “teachings” went on at CW. You described it well.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I wish that guy had butcher knives in his hands instead of guns – I’m thinking “Bobbitt”!!

  • acme

    Hey, I saw that works-in-progress posted her email right after Patti’s horrific story — but when I came back it was gone. Maybe it fell in into the spam/moderation queue — a weird blog glitch.

    Patti, I’m so sorry that you were misinformed and betrayed by the adults in your life and then so badly treated by your first boyfriend. Your situation was every bit as horrific as that in the 20/20 episode.

    You asked what boys and girls are learning at CLC about sex. I was at CLC as a young single, then married, then mom of a teenager.

    – Boys and girls, unattached men and women are supposed to treat each other as siblings, as other people’s spouses. During the teen years, kids aren’t supposed to admit to or act on crushes. Violent movies/books are ok; romantic ones are forbidden. Kids often resort to subterfuge. After high school graduation and transition to singles care groups, the hounds are released — sort of — lots of scheming for more desirable mates, those in leadership or working at the church, etc.
    -The expectation for young singles in that the first kiss is exchanged when the preacher says, “You may kiss the bride” and that night, do whatever whenever to what extent. During premarital counseling we were given “The Act of Marriage” to read (while still supposedly not smooching).
    – CJ and Carolyn — and folks in married care group meetings — tend to reveal way too much information about their own habits which can be pretty intimidating. Almost every men’s meeting focused on male lust: pornography and masturbation. Almost every women’s meeting focused on how men would prefer to have PBJs for dinner and better sex, than gourmet food and a wife who’s too tired.

    Anne CLC 1986-2007

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Oh Patti, your story breaks my heart. You dear, dear sister…I, too, wish I could hug you right now – I don’t care how corny that sounds.

    When is it going to stop? That’s why blogs like these are so important – to educate people.

    With Wallace & Happymom’s story, Platy’s story of how her own family treated her, and now Patti’s story – I’m feeling like I might blow a gasket. I have the spirit of a vigilante!
    :cowboyup

  • Patti

    Deb,
    Well that explains why I couldn’t find some Mark Driscoll I had seen before… I was trying to show someone what I was talking about and I just seemed stupid because I couldn’t find it again. But I didn’t even see the one about the a..sex.
    What I did find though was a lot of people talking about him. One blog by some sort of clergy had an awesome point that I wish I had thought of.
    Mark Driscoll teaches all these lustfilled sex acts for a woman to keep her husband from straying. He uses someone’s pornographic interpretation
    of Song of Solomon for this command.
    Anyway, this clergy said Solomon is a pretty bad example for keeping your husband because since Mark Driscoll believes the girl in Song of Solomon was Solomon’s first wife and she did all these things for him..well we all know how well that kept Solomon on the straight and narrow.
    I believe Mark’s vulgarness is going to be turned into good by exposing so much heretical doctrine IMAO heretical.. that has always been so confusing to people. This is why I believe so much in finding out the original scriptures as much as is possible. I believe the scripture these porno pushing preachers
    are using to justiy lust in the marriage does not say anything goes. I believe it says Let the marriage bed BE undefiled.
    Mark Driscoll was telling how he protected his girlfriend before they were married and how he protects her now. He was bragging about it and teaching men to do the same. It sounded like the same type of control that my first BF did for me. How are we supposed to know if any wives are being abused
    if they believe they must obey, respect, revere, and honor their husbands and believe doctrinal error. Feeding the lustful addictions of these men will only lead to more bizzarre lustfilled fantasies demanding to be satisfied. If you have never seen hard core porn, don’t. It will destroy. And I for one do not believe Mark Driscoll or any other man or woman that believes his teachings, and likes them has gotten their desires to do these things from the Bible or the preaching but from watching pornography itself. And if anyone does however slip and watch that stuff and actually get off on it… do not let that stop you from speaking out against it. All this talk about how we all sin sin sin keeps us quiet because we feel we have no right to say anything then, in the mean time, people keep getting hurt. I found out things about my father many years after he did nothing during my teenage ordeal. I have seen it time and time again that quiet people in the face of injustice have something to hide. I am no exception. I also have kept quiet when I was also guilty.
    I still can’t believe how my googling on Mark Driscoll for another young person eventually led me to this site. I live an hour from Seattle and people have left our church to drive all the way there. It’s disgusting.

  • Patti

    Stunned,
    You made me smile with the repost and barf icon.
    You can post another one after I disgust you further by telling you this man went on to marry a distant cousin of mine who I never met and had 3 kids with her.
    My grandfather and her grandmother were brother and sister. I was already married when my mother showed me the picture of their wedding in her newspaper. And commented that she looked like me. At the time my mother still had no idea the extent of my abuse from him. I had merely told her after our break up that he hurt me but she never asked any questions. And she was very busy. The couple is divorced now and from the stories I hear she lived in quite a bit of abuse from him. I can’t find her. I think she stays off the radar to avoid him. I certainly don’t doubt it. He kept pestering me after I broke up with him.. coming to my high school jobs and causing trouble. When I started dating my now husband when I was 17, he nearly smashed my husbands car I guess out of jealousy. All this is one reason why I still like to lay low of him. Everyone would know who I was talking about if I went public. I only had one boyfriend and it was him before my husband. My husband and I married when I was 20.
    Many years ago when I was going through Chrisitian counselling and gettin my lfe all cleaned up and forgiving people and asking for forgiveness it seemed as though God was putting this man back in my face to deal with it. My husband came home one day and said guess who I met today. They were introduced to each other on a worksite and had to shake hands and work together. Later this guy actually calls our business to ask for an estimate for his business.. he knew exactly who he was calling and there are and were plenty of other people in my husband’s trade to ask… I was our secretary,,, I was so glad I just didn’t feel like answering the phone that day, but I shook all over at the sound of his voice. This all wouldn’t be so significant I guess if I had had multiple boyfriends, and if we were still in the same town. He set up business in my town.
    At this time I got brave enough to call my mom and ask her to do me a favor…
    (ok stunned, get ready now with barf icon.) I asked her to get a different Bible in their house than the one he had given them when we were dating. It was one of those giant family sized Bibles.. white one… with a nice little message inside from this guy to my family. Every Christmas my dad would read the Luke Christmas story out of it. Again, my mom just says.. oh sure honey… no questions asked, she says..meaning well. I remember all the years thinking I never wanted to tell my parents because I didn’t want them to feel bad. How sad. And all the religious teaching of forgiving and forgetting, whatever it is, ‘no one needs details’, etc. I usually don’t like sharing my past because I don’t want my doctrinal stances discarded like the CBMW crowd does. They say the reason for us egals is because of hurt past and we need to get over it. That is not true. It is a very educated belief. Jesus never said hurt people had to just get over it. He said, Come, all who are weary and heavy laden (with burdensom requirements of the mosaic law and of tradition, and of conscienceness of sin) and I will give you rest. Mat.11;28http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5412&t=KJV ( online study tool to help get the full meaning of the scriptures) Some people can’t be healed until God shows them exactly where Jesus understands their pain completely. I never really trusted Jesus all the way even though I had turned to God. But I kept asking Him how can You really understand women when You weren’t born a woman, and you have never been raped…how in the world can you touch that ! One day I heard a sermon.. and this is appropriate since Good Friday is coming up. But the preacher told us how Jesus was stripped completely naked, no nice little white cloth like the pictures show us. And how he was mocked while naked hanging on the cross. The preacher didn’t say it but I wondered if maybe even worse did happen to him during the passion. I’m sure we do not know all of the gory details. But even so, I instantly knew at that point, somehow, that He really was acquainted with my grief, and I felt healed. It took over 20 years for me.

  • Deb

    Patti,

    How awful that you went through that! Macho Man Mark Driscoll came and talked to my daughter’s campus ministry two years ago, and here’s what I had to say about it. I’m still mad about it!

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/?s=sex+tips+and+the+tipping+point

  • renee

    This is for Wallace and/or HappyMom:

    If you don’t want to answer, I’ll understand, but I’m just wondering if you’ve considered taking your story to the media. Given the recent 20/20 IFB story and the Washington Post story on Vienna Presbyterian Church, a trail is beginning to be blazed here, it seems.

    I don’t want in any way to underestimate the courage it would take to bring your story public on a much larger scale, but SGM seems to operate from a place of such arrogance, such HUBRIS, that they actually believe nothing can ever touch them.

    If brave and godly people were willing to go to the media with their stories, I’d like to believe that at least *some* of that hubris would begin to crumble in the face of that.

    Again, if you’d prefer not to answer, I’ll totally understand.

  • Stunned

    Patti, I am disgusted by the abuse you suffered. And sick to think this man may have some day married and procreated.

    Wish there were enough hugs to wipe away the memories and experiences altogether.

    Stunned

  • Stunned

    “Us girls were told by our counselor/psychology teacher who also happened to be the principals wife, that women did not have sex drives, and that boys can’t say no.”
    :barf:

  • Stunned

    Acme, you are such a dear. Thank you for your heart for God and His creation. Someday many of us will get to meet, yes?

  • Patti,

    Wow – what a story. My heart aches for you. I know you’ve experienced healing and I know that the whole thing happened years ago, but still.

    No wonder the Mark Driscoll-style macho sex talk doesn’t sit well with you!

    (Frankly, it doesn’t sit well with me, either. But that’s another topic for another time.)

  • Patti

    Hi Deb,
    I just went back to your post #231 to see where you said the IFB is going to be a subject this week. I haven’t emailed you yet because every time I think
    about actually sharing my story for everyone to see still makes me feel ill. When I think about how it won’t sound nearly as bad as what
    the girls on 20/20 went through it makes me even more crazy because then I feel minimalized again. It was easy for
    me to talk about the corporal punishment. But what happened with me the next year runs so so deep, I never told anyone all of the details until I was 30 and my counselor had to do a lot to get it out of me. :barf: Even after all my years of healing I can’t tell it without sobbing as I am doing now as I type. The deepest pain comes from believing it is the very doctrines and legalistic teachings that led to my ordeal. So how could I not be a Berean when I decided to follow Jesus at 30.
    I am going to type it out here and now because I don’t know any of you and I don’t think any of the people I know besides my daughter are reading this. And I believe it extremely important to all here who have an interest in doctrine, theology, and their leaders teachings on sex to their children.
    I have never written this story before. I am being extremely vulnerable here and it is scary.
    At the Baptist school it was customary to separate the boys from the girls in our freshman year just before the Valentine Banquet for a ‘talk’. They assumed that might be our first date. Us girls were told by our counselor/psychology teacher who also happened to be the principals wife, that women did not have sex drives, and that boys can’t say no. The only women who enjoyed sex were ‘ladies of the night’ . I equated what she was saying along with my certain feelings of sexuality’ that that made me one of two things, either I was a whore or a lesbian, (the only definition I had of a lesbian was a man trapped in a woman’s body, which sure made sense to me since I had always been interested in the things that they always told me were just for boys to be interested in like sports, woodshop, etc. but I was attracted to boys. Most normal 14 yr olds today would be able to tell the teacher she is crazy, but not when this sheltered life is the only one you know. She said if you go alone in a car with a boy and anything happens it is all our fault since he has a sex drive that he can’t stop. I was a freshman, my date was a Bible carrying senior.
    A long story short… we started dating and having sex, well actually he was having sex with me, I did not know it was rape because I had let him be close to me and I was alone with him. I won’t go into all the gory details here since the focus I want to make is the teachings.
    After he would rape me. He would insist I could not breakup with him because that would mean I did not forgive him. If I did not forgive him God would not forgive me. If I told anyone, that meant I was not forgiving him. Before the first time he did it he told me he just wanted to see what it felt like. He said he was a virgin and would never do that to me again. I later found the virgin claim a lie. Everything he mind controlled me with for a year he had done to his previous girlfriend. I asked her why she never told me. She said she was afraid of him. He was very controlling at school. He would even come the next year to school to check up on me. All in the guise of caring, loving and protecting me. He said I had to marry him when I turned 18 because in the eyes of God we already were married since we had sex. I couldn’t have any other man now. One day about an hour before my curfew, he pulled over into a hotel, I have blocked out my participation of how I got there, but I do remember remaining quiet in the car when he went to the run down window and paid for the room. I remember wanting the man behind the window to tell him no, we were too young or something just turn him down please! The worst time was in that room. I felt so stupid. I still feel stupid sometimes But then I have to remember my age and his age. If this happened today and I told anyone he would be in jail even if I couldn’t prove 1st degree rape. I still have my yearbook with a picture of him standing at the offering alter in chapel before he takes offering. And girls from his class writing great things about him in my yearbook. Of course, they were more his age, he had to prey on a naive freshmen. When I was 15 I thought I was pregnant and started planning a runnaway because I didn’t believe in abortion but I certainly didn’t want to be with this guy. I had a polyanna notion I could take care of myself and send notes back to my parents to tell them I was fine. Shortly after finding out I wasn’t pregnant I gathered the nerve to finally break up with him. He called me a whore for taking gifts from him. He punched me and repeated as he did before that I would be a murderer because he loved me so much that me breaking up with him would cause him to jump off the bridge. I decided then that a murderer and a whore I was but so be it. He had me so brainwashed that I believed him so much that I actually watched the news every day waiting to see them drag his body from the water. Instead, at the next basketbal game (mind you he was already out of school) he paraded a new girl past me.
    At one point during that year one of the male teachers asked me privately if the two of us were having sex, I wouldn’t talk to him but he kept pushing the issue every day calling me back into the classroom after the bell. I finally told him yes but I didn’t say how. He told me we had to tell my parents or he would. You can imagine how mad BF got. My parents were way too busy for me at the time to take this seriously. I remember when were confessing in the restaurant to my parents, I wanted my dad to reach over the table and just ‘clock’ him but instead this guy was such a sweet talker and we continued on together for a bit, I had learned how to keep away his advances and make sure others were always around. He always had me home before curfew. He didn’t drink, believed alcohol was a sin.
    Some of the teachings regarding sexual sin that we used to get behind closed classroom doors I am hearing being preached from the pulpits today. Mark Driscoll teaches oral sex is a command of God and he teaches out in the open. He teaches how much men need sex, and this kind. He lists CJ Mahaney as a mentor, so I am currently trying to find out what the boys and girls are learning at CLC. Or, as I said to my husband yesterday,, are they just supposed to find that out AFTER they marry? :koolaid this logo acutally looks
    refreshing right now

  • Acme

    Thank you, Stunned and Kindred and Platypus! I feel so much better now. Working out stuff is so challenging, but so sweet.

  • And, yes –

    Happymom is correct, in that the “effeminate mannerisms” remarks were in the comments of the previous post. The subject had been changed to Wallace’s (and Happymom’s) story…and the conversation had been meandering along completely different lines.

    The ONLY thing I can possibly think of that might have connected Wallace’s story with the previous remarks is that several of us commented on how we think that SGM’s obsession with what they call “biblical” manhood/womanhood, as well as SGM’s obsession with sexual purity (to the point where teen crushes aren’t just a normal part of growing up but instead are “falling in love with someone else’s husband”), could easily contribute to the trend of teenaged boys who sexually molest children.

  • I’ve been away for the past day and haven’t had the opportunity to reply to anything…and right now, I don’t have time to do much more than skim all the comments, but I wanted to say a couple of things –

    First of all, Stunned said,

    MY problem with CJ and my insistence on pointing out his effeminate behavior (which at this point I have no plans on not pointing out unless persuaded otherwise) has NOTHING to do with homosexuality or not. It has to do with the “talk” he talks and how he seems to try SOOOO freaking hard to convince everyone that he is Mr. Jock and Mr. Fit-in-the-box masculine. And the fact that he tries to make everyone else fit into this box. And the glariing OBVIOUS thing is, this guy DOESN’T fit into that box and he needs to give up trying to be someone he is not and to embrace being who he is. He makes men feel ashamed for who they are, yet they can’t see the obvious that CJ himself is NOT who CJ says a man should be. I am pointing out his freaking hypocrisy and hopefully helping men and women to stop holding him up as some ridiculous model to follow.

    The model is not a one size fits all. If you are a jock, then cool. If you are effeminite, then cool. If you are some where else, cool.

    YES! YES, YES, and YES!!!

    Thank you!!!

    This is ALL I ever meant when I talked about the tremendous cognitive dissonance I felt when I first heard CJ speak and saw videos of CJ teaching. I am pretty sure I even SAID – made the effort to SPELL IT OUT – that I was NOT saying that I think CJ’s “gay.” Just that it is very odd for a guy who so clearly isn’t the epitome of traditional “macho” masculinity to pour so much effort into creating a traditional “macho” persona for himself, what with all the sports and sex talk.

    And, I also think it’s strange that someone who is NOT the epitome of traditional “macho” masculinity to be so obsessed about shoe-horning others into traditionally maculine and feminine roles, what with SGM’s obsession with “biblical” manhood/womanhood.

    That’s it.

  • Stunned

    Oh Platy, I can’t tell you what you have done for my heart. I already feel immensely better reading your post above. (I know this isn’t over and I truly want to be able to learn more from you in this.) And I know it’s much too corny but I wish you could be here for a hug so you could know how valued you are. I don’t blame you for your feelings but I just so appreciate you coming back to share more. Whenever you are ready and if you are ready, we’ll be here.

    Stunned
    who can’t stop crying over this but now am crying from relief- is there anyway I could give you some of my crying and I could have some of your not crying- I always feel like I am “leaking”

    and double ps. I am glad you came back and posted but I am still also concerned for those who come here who don’t feel loved and cared for. I believe every person who posts here would like it to be a safe place for all, though I know it always can’t be because we as people will always be so unique and different. But maybe this can be the start of a long term discussion of how we can be careful to make people feel more safe and not condescended to, no matter which “side” someone feels on- and that includes both sides- not just liberal or not just conservative.

  • platypus

    Darn it, I’m sorry, I hit reply accidentally before I was finished…

    Anyway, that was part of why I felt it was important to come out… I trust that people here are kind and sincere and don’t set out to say things that could come across as hurtful to others – but sometimes the stereotypes mentioned, albeit unintentionally, do wound. And not only that, they hurt people that you care about without realizing it.

    I want to take this off the feed, if it’s all right with you. As Kris pointed out, she’s been very patient with this despite the conversation having changed. Actually, that’s part of why I posted on my own blog rather than just commenting here: I was trying to provide a forum for discussion that wouldn’t interrupt things here.

    I’d be happy to email anyone who has further questions, or who’s questions I haven’t answered yet. (Stunned, especially, if you could just email so that I have your address I would love to talk further. I feel I owe you a more personal apology.) You can find me at novareproject@gmail.com

    Thanks, guys. I wish you all the best.

  • platypus

    Hi all,

    I’ve definitely been following all you’ve said and thank you so so much, especially stunned and kindred and patti… I’m starting to realize I underestimated things, but I honestly expected my post to be ignored completely. It’s part of why I used such strong words… The other part was definitely emotion and hurt.

    I haven’t replied further because everything has been so heated here the last couple days that it’s been overwhelming. I want to sincerely apologize, too, for the harm and hurt that I caused… That was absolutely not my intention and I’m truly sorry. I love many of you so dearly and I never would intend to hurt you, just as I’m sure you never meant to hurt me specifically.

  • happymom

    I could be mistaken, but I don’t remember anyone linking our abuse story with CJ’s mannerisms. I think those comments were actually in the last post under How SGM Leaders Actually Handle Criticism.

    I don’t remember anyone making a connection between the two.

  • FashionablyLate

    Oh, I also wanted to comment on what you shared, Patti, about your child being molested. I’m so sorry your family experienced this too. :( Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and I hope that you don’t carry guilt for not pressing charges. No two situations are alike, and it’s difficult to know what would have been the best thing in this case. You did what you thought was best at the time. I know parents often think that the trial will be too traumatizing for a child. However, I have encountered more people who have had regret over *not* pressing charges, as opposed to those who regret pressing charges. (I just say that for anyone who is reading and might be in that particular situation now.)

  • FashionablyLate

    Rose– I think your post #258 is very good. :goodpost

    Stunned– “But did I COMPLETELY miss the part where someone, ANYONE on here said that the abuse of children is related to homosexuality?”

    I’ve been wondering that too!! I admit that I often skim…so I thought it was possible that someone said that, and I missed it. However, I know that I didn’t *read* anything like that because I would have commented and said that it’s not true. I think everyone on this blog understands that there’s a difference between been gay or being a lesbian…vs. being a pedophile. Being attracted to one’s own gender is one thing; being sexually attracted to children is quite another.

    Patti– “And sometimes we can hit wounds in another on this sight without knowing it because we have no idea where their wounds are.”

    I think that’s a very good point.

    Platy– I haven’t really had any interaction with you, but I want you to know that I read your letter and am sorry for the pain that you have experienced. I’m also sorry that you felt you had to hide your sexuality in order to be accepted or listened to at this blog. One of my closest friends is gay, so it really wouldn’t have made a difference to me one way or the other. I know you need to do what’s best for you, in terms of being a part of this community or not. I personally hope you’ll stick around.

  • Patti

    Stunned,
    I am so glad you wrote to Platy. It is a very natural (not even sinful in itself) reaction for any of us to reject everyone that resembles our abusers. Though it is difficult to learn how to relate to everyone by individual merit alone, it must be learned as part of our healing. But, as we also know, it does not come easily and certainly not instantly.
    Just the word Baptist still provokes a negative shock in my brain and heart and I have to work through emotions every time I meet someone who attends a Baptist church, even if it is one of the non traditional Baptist churches. I am sure if all the churches of Sovereign Grace Ministries had Sovereign in their title it would resonate the same way every time the abused met up with a church of any kind with that label.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Oh, and to clarify another thing…

    I’m not saying that to have “effeminate” or “butchy” mannerisms makes you a certain sexual orientation. Of course it doesn’t. There are gay men that have masculine mannerisms and gay women that have feminine mannerisms…and straight men who have effeminate mannerisms and straight women who have butchy mannerisms.

    However, those words do have certain connotations to them in our culture (right or wrong), and for CJ to LOUDLY “bark” one thing and act another is going to come across as odd to most people and illicit remarks.

    I’m so glad people weren’t obsessed with this crap when I was a teenager. My roommate came across as butchy (I hate that word) in appearance and mannerisms. She LOVED the men, if you know what I mean. I’m sure there are those that would have thought she was gay back then, and boy, would they ever be wrong!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Stunned,

    Right back at ya, sweet girl! :D

    You need to email me sometime soon and give me an update on your life.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    For the record…

    My references to CJ’s effeminate mannerisms in the previous post was to point out how odd it is when a man *KNOWN* for his staunch teachings on “biblical manhood” and “masculinity” (not to mention his comments about sex with his wife) acts so…”non-masculine.”

    As Kris said, it’s like watching a cat bark.

    I also was trying to point out that such behavior is very telling…MEANING…the guy has serious issues (or something going on)…not that he was gay.

    It would appear that CJ is the one that has an issue with gays! I shared this discussion with my gay relative and had him to watch some of CJ’s videos. He thought it was weird, too!! (I really wish he would comment.)

    And yes, I do think homosexuality is a sin…just as I think adultery, fornication, lust, pride, gluttony, selfishness, “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness,” etc. are all sins. And guess what, I’m guilty or have been guilty of a lot of them.

    Sorry folks, that’s who I am, that’s what I believe.

    However…he who has ears hear THIS…I value everyone that comments here and judge no one, and have grown to care for you as much as one can care within the blogosphere.

    I value this community of bloggers more than any of you will ever know. It is *RARE* to find this kind of community *ANYWHERE*!

    Unfortunately, I can be a poor communicator when it comes to the written word and things don’t always come out the way I intend them. If I offended anyone with my remarks I am sincerely sorry. I would never hurt any of you intentionally.

  • Stunned

    “but maybe you need to do what you’re always trying to get SGM to do and come clean about it. Be frank about your intentions and your target audience. Don’t act like you’re better than those of us who have left the faith, or are gay, or do drugs, or are holding on to our bitterness and anger, or vote liberal.”

    Look, I thought the target audience around here was anyone who was intersted in learning more about SGM and anyone who wanted to discuss their experiences here. I know someone above said something that made me think this place is for those who still think like SGM in many ways theologically. Oh heavens, if that is the case then I don’t belong here either.

    So I am either stubbornly ignorant in refusing to leave this site (could always be the case- I have had people be mean to me on purpose and I just haven’t caught on but it sure makes me laugh when i realized it happened because I can’t imagine anything goofier than a person TRYING to be mean and hurtful and failing due to the innocence and love of their intended victim.)

    “Don’t act like you’re better than those of us who have left the faith, or are gay, or do drugs, or are holding on to our bitterness and anger, or vote liberal.”

    Angry? Um, have you met me? I have never once denied being angry. I saw (OK, I didn’t see it but I read about it) Jesus pick up WHIPS. WHIPS for goodness sake, and start whipping the religoius. Turning over their tables. YELLING at them (you go, Jesus). Why the HECK would I feel ANY shame for feeling it, too. Hell, I think there is something wrong with someone who DOESN’T get angry when they are seeing a gross injustice taking place. And I think a lot of people who post here feel the same way though no one else seems to jump up and raise their hand and say, “Heck yes I am angry” as quickly as I do. Nor do they need to if I am already voicing it I am guessing. As far as I am concerned, people can throw the “angry” accusation at me all day. Hell yes. My question is, why aren’t THEY angry? (and I think most of us are when we read things like what Wallace and countless other have written.)

    Platy said, “You may not want to hear this, but you are the exact same hideous animal as SGM. You’ve just managed to hide it a little better.”

    Wow. Platy is this the way you feel about me? Go ahead and tell me if it is. I know you don’t know me that well, but that still hurts like heck. If it is the way you believe I am, I would appreciate it if you’d be willing to explain why this is. Because I am here on this site?

    “Especially after the latest round of gay-bashing, I’m feeling nauseous.”

    I can understand you feeling nauseous reading any gay bashing. I can understand anyone feeling that. But would you please educate me on this? I either missed something or am ignorant of it. Would you please let me know what you saw that I didn’t? I am not saying you are wrong. I am saying a few things may have happened. 1) I didn’t read it. 2) I am insensitive to what was being spoken by me or someone else and I need someone to help me understand how I and other have hurt some people so we can change our behavior and stop hurting people as to my knowledge, that is not anyone’s goal around here. 3) Maybe there was some misunderstanding.

    I like that you don’t want anyone to come here and feel unwelcome therefore I am glad that you opened up with us and let us know that some things that are being said can cause harm.

    I am not surprised by this as I feel many of us (me included) may sometimes be an open wound, bleeding on others without awareness of how we are expressing ourselves is hurting others.

    I read the part that says you may not read here again. I completely understand this. I hope you do as I have many questions and as I said, I have been hurt as I feel so terribly misunderstood right now by someone I have had a lot of respect for. (I can also understand how you may not have known how respected you are by many of us because we probably didn’t think to voice us. As for me, I just assumed it was known because that is how I felt. Though I can’t be sure that you are aware of it.)

    But if you reading this is the last time you are here (even if you read this much and if you did, thank you) I want to say that I am terribly sorry for the pain I have caused you. There was never any intention on my part to harm you. And the fact that I dont’ see it, doesn’t mean for a cotton picking second that I still didn’t hurt you. At the moment I am blind to it but I would really welcome you taking any opportunity you want/need to to let me know how my words have hurt you. I genuinely would never want you to feel that way, nor do I look down on you in any way so I wouldn’t want you to believe that I do. So I am aware that this sounds like a half hearted apology as I am not able to state what specifically I am sorry for saying but I truly regret not being more sensitive and for hurting you in anyway. Please know that that has never been, nor will it ever be my intention toward you nor anyone here who is hurting. (I can’t claim I’d be so gracious to those who I believe are perpetraiting evil in the name of God nor would I be to those whom I believe are still out destroying lives. And I don’t plan on apologizing for that either. Opps, I hope everyone here understands that I am referring to religious leaders who lead people ANYWHERE but to a loving God. I am not trying to make any other statements.)

    OK, I think that is enough. I am exhausted as I am sure those who have read this post and my other previous ones are as well. Three points to whoever made it through this one.

    Stunned

  • Patti

    Rose,
    I think sometimes the back and forth is good in the way that it reveals the very type of injustices that I believe this blog was created to reveal. It takes time for the renewing of the mind after abuse. Sometimes we don’t even recognize it until we spew it out to others. And sometimes we can hit wounds in another on this sight without knowing it because we have no idea where their wounds are. I figure if someone gets very defensive in something I write, I have touched a raw nerve. Who knows, it could be even someone who has spent their entire adult life writing books with false doctrines who is being pricked in the heart but isn’t ready to count all his great past works as dung for the sake of Christ. I’ll tell you what, I would probably have more mercy and compassion on him than anyone if he repented. Those are the kinds of sins that led Paul to call himself the chief “worst” of sinners. And really, even though I may be more in line with the church structural views you expressed I really don’t see where you haven’t just done the very blogging you criticized. You expressed your views like the rest of us. I see nothing wrong with us knowing what each other believes and if we think one system is abusive in it’s very premise alone shouldn’t we speak up?

  • Stunned

    “Now, I’ve come to the conclusion, after three years of participating with a practiced filter and hiding the truth in shame, that I can’t and won’t do it any more. I’ve been trying to think of a single succinct reason why, but an easy answer isn’t presenting itself. There are a number of reasons.”

    I think the last thing you should do is hide or experience shame. Shame is such a useless and in my book Satanic feeling. I am glad you are choosing to walk away from it. (If I understood you correctly.) OK, back to reading.

    Wow, Platy, that sounds horrific. Opps, I forgot to copy what sounds horrific- hang on- “You’re forced to see us as real, normal, average people who you interact with every day and not just some abstract, monstrous concept who at least have the decency to hide their faces from civilized society.” What an awful way to feel and to feel like people are treating you. All the more I am glad you are sharing this with us now. The last thing you should be feeling is that someone sees you as a monstrous ANYTHING having to hide ANYTHING.

    Platy also said, “And yes, some of us (as has come up frequently on SGMS lately) sexually abuse children. But frankly, as far as that one goes? The number of gay people who sexually abuse children is far lower than that of heterosexual men. Statistically speaking, the greatest danger to your kids is your husband, ladies.”

    Wooooo again. I mean,I 100% agree on the fact that statistically religous men pose a MUCH greater risk to children in regard to sexual abuse then those who are not. (I have written countless- well, you can probably count them- harping on such things because I want people to be informed,) But did I COMPLETELY miss the part where someone, ANYONE on here said that the abuse of children is related to homosexuality? I mean, I haven’t time to read every post lately (praise God, new work!) but did I miss something that was said? I don’t want to embarrass the person who said it but I am kinda shocked that somehow I missed that erroneous post if it’s out there.

    Platy said, “That lie is probably the single most pernicious, dangerous, and disgusting stereotype ever to have been perpetuated against gays and yes, it makes me absolutely outraged.”
    As it should, Platy.

    “The real point here is I want to challenge you. Open your eyes. Get your heads out of your asses and realize that lots of people have been seriously injured by SGM and just because they don’t all still think like you doesn’t mean they are in any less need, or are any less deserving, of support. It also doesn’t mean that they have less a right to participate in your discussions or that their arguments are less valid or their points less intelligently made.”

    Amen, amen and amen, Platy! (Except for the part about getting my head out of my arse. That is where it is most comfortable some days. ;-) )

    “If you are truly a group for survivors then you should be willing to offer that support to anyone who bears the survivor label. Period. Simple. End of story.”

    Agreed.

    “If you don’t want that inclusivity, if you’d rather keep it safe and sanitized for others who still think like you”

    Honey-child (not meant to be condescending but I’m in a southern kinda mood), I don’t think there IS anyone in this group of regular posters who are just like me or just like each other for that matter. Yes, some of us share more similar points of views than others, but I for one suspect my points of view are going to change 16 more times before I die. So even if I found someone who thought just like I did, that would be temporary at best because I am going to change my mind anyone.

    Though I do really value the opinions of those here, like KS, whether I know who the heck she is and whether we agree on everything or not. Or Kris or acme or ellie or canary or db or patti or the couple dozen other people who share here. (You included.) I love the diversity of opinion when it shows up. (wait, that was kind of a lie now that i think about it. I don’t always like it but I am glad for it as I know it can help me grow.)

  • Stunned

    ” I also didn’t reveal my sexuality.”

    Wait, I thought you told us a while ago that you were gay. Am I way off here? I don’t recall ever having any interaction with you “off site”. Though if we did, I HAVE to ask you to forgive me. My memory is AWFUL. Truly, sometimes my boyfriend will tell me about dates we went on and I’ll have to ask him what we did, what we ate, if we had a good time, anything to jog my memory and even then it still doesn’t work. I kid you not. HORRIBLE memory though I seldom or never have “created” a memory so I don’t know why I thought you had shared with us your sexual orientation if you had not done so before. Maybe you had alluded to it and I assumed you were coming out and telling us? Who knows? Possibly?

  • Stunned

    I don’t know, acme. You may be right but that isn’t how I am reading the open letter. It feels like a pretty broad brush to me. I would still like an answer from Platy as I am a regular poster and I am feeling accused. But I appreciate you adding your two cents. I always do. I have seen nothing but loving wisdom coming from you every time you post. I find myself nearly every time nodding in agreement and being so glad you are here. (OK, I am always glad you are here, even if I am not 100% agreeing with something. Though frankly I can’t think of anything I have disagreed with you on but what are the chances two people are going to agree on everything over a period of years. I like that you are willing to challenge some of us in what I experience to be gentle ways.)

    So Platy, if I am mis reading your open letter, I would love to hear it. Actually, I would be quite releaved as I do have affection for you and feel hurt to be so misunderstood. (Again, that may not be the case so it would be lovely to hear your response. At least, I assume it would be lovely to hear your response and I am keeping my fingers crossed- though not while I type- that that is the case.)

  • Stunned

    “After witnessing constant, not always subtle jabs about ‘effeminacy’ and gender policing and other homophobia I also didn’t reveal my sexuality.”

    Platy, I spoke about CJ’s effeminate behavior. What I don’t think you read ONCE in anything I said was that effeminate behavior is connected to homosexuality. I never once said that. I don’t connect the two at all. My two gay roommates (who happened to be the best roommates I ever had- sure as heck beat out the roommate who was trained at CCEF) were two of the most butch and masculine men I know.

    I think you have made a leap between me saying that CJ has effeminite behaviors and me linking him to being gay or ANYTHING homophobic in my comments. Though I can understand after all you have been through that that would be an easy leap. Let me clear up why I have pointed out CJ’s behavior at times. But before I do let me say that I do not think effeminate behavior is bad in a man. It just is who they are. The man I am closest to in this world is effeminate in many of his mannerisms. Not only that, he loves flowers, gardening, cooking, ballroom dancing and musical theater, and kittens. This is no way shape or form makes him less of a man than any other man. (I take that back, in some ways I think it makes him more of a man/strong person as he experiences his comfort in not having to fit into this society’s boxes. And oh yeah, he is just as comfortable with my gay friends as my straight friends and welcomes everyone with open arms.

    Does this mean that I think men who fit the stereotypical jock thing are bad? No, not at all. My son was the total jock. (But thank heavens he had a quirky sense of humor on the side. I just prefer that but even if he were just a serious jock, that would not make him less of a person. It would just be who he is.)

    MY problem with CJ and my insistence on pointing out his effeminate behavior (which at this point I have no plans on not pointing out unless persuaded otherwise) has NOTHING to do with homosexuality or not. It has to do with the “talk” he talks and how he seems to try SOOOO freaking hard to convince everyone that he is Mr. Jock and Mr. Fit-in-the-box masculine. And the fact that he tries to make everyone else fit into this box. And the glariing OBVIOUS thing is, this guy DOESN’T fit into that box and he needs to give up trying to be someone he is not and to embrace being who he is. He makes men feel ashamed for who they are, yet they can’t see the obvious that CJ himself is NOT who CJ says a man should be. I am pointing out his freaking hypocrisy and hopefully helping men and women to stop holding him up as some ridiculous model to follow.

    The model is not a one size fits all. If you are a jock, then cool. If you are effeminite, then cool. If you are some where else, cool.

    I for one am a tomboy who hates shopping yet loves summer dresses and winter boots. Makes no sense to me but what do I care? So I don’t fit into a box. I don’t have to. From what I can see when I read my bible, God doesn’t say I have to! And I couldn’t even if I thought it did say that.

    Now I am not saying there hasn’t been things here that I disagree with or all agree with. Though I believe people have the right to voice their opinions (thanks for that, Kris!) I don’t have to agree or disagree. I also don’t share everything about my life here because in part, I know SOME people here may look down on me. (You see what I did there, I said “some”. I don’t think everyone would so I don’t think it would be fair of me to paint them like that. Yeah, I know that the last two sentences sounded snarky. I am not trying to be but at the moment I have not been able to figure out how to say what I am trying to say without sounding snarky. But I swear, not meaning to.) And I don’t KNOW for sure how some, if any would look down on me at all. For all I know maybe not one person at all would look down on me or condemn me. I can’t know. But I for one choose not to share everything here because, in part, I don’t think it’s their job here to make me feel good about my life. (I am not accusing you of thinking it is our job here to make you feel good. I am trying to explain my decisions.)

    Hey, let me take this break to say I am probably making you feel cruddy right now. I am not trying to. I am guessing it sounds as if I don’t like you all of a sudden. I get that if you feel that way. I DO like you. And I AM glad that you took the huge, enormous leap of courage to share these thoughts with us. I think a lot of what I have read so far may make some of us more sensitive. (Normally not a bad thing in my opinion.) And I appreciate you taking the time (and like I said, courage) to do this. What I don’t appreciate and hope you will be willing to consider is the term some. I also think people can hear what you are saying a lot better if they see that allowance in your words. I know it may not make sense and at the moment I lack the ablity to explain it any better but I find often times that gross generalizations seldom allow the hearers to hear the communicators point as they are stuck on the end of a javelin instead of seeing the trajectory of where the “thrower” wants the javelin to go.

    OK, I need a tiny break again.

  • acme

    Hey, Stunned,

    I’m pretty sure Platypus isn’t saying EVERYONE on SGMS would do that — or even identifying particular individuals likely to do it. Maybe your question could be “let me know IF I have have done this to you or anyone here” — as I see it is in the the post just before this.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Patti,

    So he almost broke up with her over it, huh? I know that was upsetting for her. It sounds like he’s pretty sold on the SGM way. I will continue to pray for them – we all know the probability of a break up in these situations. Regardless of the outcome, I know God is using their relationship to reveal things to both of them.

    That sounds so odd, doesn’t it – *CHRISTIAN COUPLES* breaking up for fear of being “unequally yoked.” :scratch

    Wow, how sad. Times sure have changed in the last thirty years or so. The only comparable concern would have been the Catholic/Protestant marriages – and I know some people that have been happily married thirty-plus years in those unions.

    I continue to find myself shaking my head these days.

  • Patti

    Anyone who has experienced any kind of sexual sin perpetrated against them whether it was completely carried out or just attempted knows the life long damage to their soul. What bothers me the most is these leaders denying this by their broken sense of proper justice lumping these sins into all our daily misses. I posted about receiving ‘hacks’ in school and for the most trivial things. They did not help my behavior I just got used to them. As naive as I was about sexuality there was a feeling of violation that I cannot explain when I was swatted by a male teacher. Some teachers took you in the hall to punish but others to the front of the class which was more humiliating. Finally, in the 8th grade, I refused a swat. I was always perfect in this class because of the ‘pervy’ vibes I felt from this teacher who performed his paddling in the front of the class. All his victims had to grab their ankles completely bent over in front of the class. And yes, girls were required to wear dresses every day. One day he tried to punish me for something I didn’t do, so I finally had the courage to defy a teacher. After he finishes swatting the girl he thought I had talked to in class he starts swinging the paddle around like a toy hollering at me to come to the front of the class. I refused. I knew it could mean a chase around the room as it did with a boy the week before. So I hung on to my desk. He got so angry he said if I didn’t obey then I would go to the principle’s office, I said OK because I didn’t do anything. But he really wanted to swat me instead so the fight continued until I got to go to the principal. I would have just taken a swat before even if I had done nothing or even if it had been a female teacher I may have but this was an awakening day for me realizing the sexual assault I was sensing from a man in wanting to swat a 14 yr old girl completely bent over in a skirt. But I tell you, the lifelong damaging assault from that one of many IFB experiences doesn’t necessarily come from that fight itself (probably because I was strong) but comes from the principal doing absolutely nothing about it. He actually told me to apologize to the teacher for defying him and embarrassing him. He was also going to tell my parents and I would be suspended. I was already on restriction at home for getting poor grades from this teacher. I had him for 3 classes. The principal never called my parents.
    Parents, please,please prosecute your children’s perps, just because their assaults took place in the church is no excuse. And I don’t say this without understanding because I was there as a parent also, not in the church, but when my other daughter (not the one I have been blogging about here) was 4, she was molested by our 11 yr old neighbor. I did not press charges. 1. I didn’t want to put her through more. 2. His parents were going to get him counseling and I had forgiving understanding of his own background of abuse. 3. I didn’t think anyone would listen. Gee, I wonder where I was groomed into that passive behavior? Anyway, at the time I thought I was doing the best thing for her but since she has been an adult she says she wishes we had pressed charges. Justice needed to be served on her behalf and any others he may have hurt. Her father and I were her leaders and we let her down. The cycle must stop! …God requires us to do justice…Micah 6:8

  • Stunned

    I just read this from Platy, “Because of this, I didn’t reveal that I’ve left religion entirely and now identify as an atheist. I felt I had important things to add to the discussion and knew that if I outed myself my arguments would be discounted based solely on my differing beliefs”

    Wow. wow, wow. Again, would you please point out to me any time I did this? I am not saying it wasn’t done but to say, that you “knew that if I outed myself my arguments would be discounted based solely on my differing beliefs.”

    How did you KNOW that? I for one don’t care whether you are an athiest or not. And I am offended that you would make such a statement about me. (I say me because I am part of this community.) It’s one thing if you said, “SOME on there would say such and such to me” but to make it sound like a blanket statement makes me feel accused and judged all in one step. That is hurtful. Again, can you please let me know when I have done this to you or anyone here?

  • Stunned

    Hi, I’m back to try a second time.

    Platy said, “When I found SGMS and started reading Kris’s first few posts (there were only seven or eight total, then), I couldn’t even type a comment of my own because I was shaking so hard. When I had to go back in for another session, I looked at my therapist and told her through tears, “I’m not alone any more. And I’m not crazy!””

    I felt exactly the same way when I found it. I was alone in a hostel in New Mexico when I found this site. I read for hours on end and prayed and cried and couldn’t believe that I wasn’t the only one.

    Platy also said:
    The only problem, and it was actually a pretty big one, is that soon after starting to participate in discussions I realized that I’d left SGM, yes, but SGMS was not the safe haven I had initially believed. The people, while overall very welcoming and supportive to other survivors, by and large held to the same Christian, conservative, reformed views they always had. They were absolutely most supportive and sympathetic to survivors who still believed like them.

    Often, I witnessed a commenter, hurting and scared and in need of an understanding ear, come on, share their story, and at some point reveal they had left Christianity along with SGM… Instead of the love and support they needed, they would be pushed to the fringes of the group discussion and “reminded of the savior’s love”. Encouraged to come back to the fold, not throw the baby out with the bath water. Really, non-Christians there receive the same allegedly well-intentioned shunning that those who question SGM’s practices are subject to.”

    Platy, I am curious, did you see me do this? I ask this because I feel like, not that this isn’t significant and your experience and the experience of others are not valid and significant, but since I talk a lot here, I feel like I am being pigeon-holed or rather, this site is. Yes Kris (Hey Kris) has beliefs that may lean conservative and some others may, too. But have you not noticed that there are many of us who would fall in progressive camp? That there are those of us who do not necessarily believe what they used to?

    I am not into the labels of conservative or liberal. I pretty much hate labels and boxes. I thought you were the same way. So it kind of surprises me that that paragraph seems to be painting this site or those who post here into a corner or a box. I think this site is bigger than that. I am not saying that you and others did not experience what you did here. I am saying that not all people said things like that. Not that I am condemning those who did nor those who did not. It just seems from that statement above some gross generalizations are being made about a large group of people who come from different beliefs and differnt points of view.

    Now, that may be pointed out as I read more of what you wrote but since it was a lengthy letter and since my memory is so bad, I am commenting as I read. Maybe I’ll change my tune when I get to the end of your letter.

    But until then, I need to ask, did I ever say any of those things to you or to others? I would genuinely appreciate an answer to that question. It can come from any one.

  • Rose

    Maybe it adds nothing to the discussion, but it occurs to me that an over-reliance on subordinate standards; an over-reliance on check-lists defining spiritual graces like modesty, humility, and submission; the sense that “someone” has to have the last word and that the settled opinion or practice of the church for hundreds of years should figure significantly into our reading of the Bible all amount to a dimming of spiritual eyes and a failure to recognize the out-pouring of the Spirit in the new creation.

    Authority should not look the same in the NT as it does in the old, nor should it look the same as authority outside the church. It should look more like administrative leadership than hierarchy. No one, even those with gifts of teaching, needs to teach his brother saying, “Know the Lord,” for they all know him. Also, keeping in mind that anyone who thinks he knows something knows nothing yet as he ought, we could be both more patient with one another and speak more openly to one another. The Lord commands all men everywhere to repent, but we are not in a position of commanding, but beseeching, imploring, and persuading.

    I sense that the folks who comment on this blog understand these things better than most, but there are still times that we fall into old creation habits. I’m saying these things in response to what Platypus posted and to the little back and forths on complementarianism/egalitarianism. Keep seeking the Spirit! Love you all.

  • Roadwork

    happymom said, “Nathan is not welcome there, all prophetic words are screened before someone can step up the mike.”

    That’s true at every franchise that I’m familar with and it was true at Celebration.

  • happymom

    “two children abused in one family, blaming the victims and protecting the perpetrator, outright lying, scheming to protect the church’s reputation, “dividing” the issues to make it look like a family quarrel, CJ’s mysterious check …

    When does the prophet Nathan enter the picture?”

    And all this and Noel’s (and others) all happened under the same Sr.Pastor, who is still employed there.

    Nathan is not welcome there, all prophetic words are screened before someone can step up the mike.

  • Patti

    I like the way you go on about stuff Dafna, I can relate. And I never heard about the Wave. That’s interesting.
    And about cutting and hair cutting. Soon I will tell more of my school story. But one is that in Jr. High I was sort of cutting,
    I would sit in class and scrape my wrist under my sleeve with the point of my protractor everyday opening a wound and
    digging in and scraping until it hurt and bled a lot..It was a quarter size grossness, freaky huh. Until one day someone told on me and I was called
    to the principals office who just got really mad at me and said that is what Satanists do. Well I never wanted
    anything to do with Satan or the Devil so that scared me enough to stop. But why did they never call
    my parents or try to figure out what would make me want to hurt myself? By this time I had counted over 32 ‘hacks’ as we called our
    corporal punishment back then, between the grades of 4 and 7. My parents never knew about any of them, why didn’t I tell them?
    Just ask Oprah, she actually has some good psycho babble answers even though she doesn’t believe in God the same way we do. Anyway, just
    another porthole into why I am so freaked out my daughter is dating a fundie of any sort.

  • Dafna

    One more thing tonight and then I shut up!

    Stunned, from #218-

    I was really touched by your hair-cutting story, what an ordeal you must have been going through ! I had funky chopped up hair once and looked cute, too, but it kind of came about accidentally … well, let’s not talk about that.

    And feel free to “sweetheart” me anytime the need arises, OK? :P

    {stunned} – little hug from Dafna

  • Dafna

    I’m sure many of you remember “The Wave” from back in the eighties- a book by Todd Strasser, supposedly based on a true story, made into an after-school special. It deals with an experiment done by a history teacher, Mr. Ross, who wanted his pupils to experience firsthand the mindset of Nazi Germany. So he trains them to sit, walk, respond promptly to his commands, gives them a group identity with a salute, membership cards, rallies, etc.- and then sends them on a mission to recruit others into their “movement”. The students find themselves caught up in the rush of their “submission” to Mr. Ross and the euphoria of being in such a tightly-knit group. And Mr. Ross finds himself being taken over by the feeling of power his students
    are giving him, as they all look to him for guidance.

    I purchased this book back in 2008 because of current events and attitudes I was observing. This story came back to me, I watched it on YouTube and then ordered the book. Now I’m seeing parallels with SGM also. It’s juvenile fiction, so it’s an easy read, in case anyone is interested- I highly recommend it. My copy is marked and highlighted.

    It’s interesting the type of kids who resisted joining The Wave” -the “independents”, the class clowns and pranksters, and the main character who worked on the school newspaper- she had a sharp “inquiring” mind.

    In SGM I guess she would have been accused of “sinfully craving answers”. :wink:

    All together now, repeat and do the salute: Strength through DISCIPLINE !
    Strength through COMMUNITY !!
    Strength through ACTION !!!

  • Dafna

    Uh- getting back to Wallace and Happymom’s story: the whole “sinful craving for answers” thing has been bugging me for the past few days, and I actually was going to post a whole snarky list of “sinful cravings” I had while attending Metro- like the craving for a buttercream -with -sprinkles donut to go with the iced coffee I smuggled into Sunday meeting – but decided “Nah”. Not now. This is too serious for such levity.

    So I guess the little widow woman in Luke 18 had a sinful craving for -justice?? I think the original language gives the idea that the judge expected her to get violent, maybe give him a black eye if he didn’t respond to her. Talk about the “perseverance of the saints”- I think Wallace and Happymom have done their share of persevering on behalf of their children. And the Truth.

    Also, I keep thinking of King David.

    I can’t help but think of the amount of pride he must have had to think he could pick any woman he saw, commit adultery with her, scheme to get her husband into the picture, and then plot to have him killed in battle. It went from leisurely, luxurius kingly pride to murder. One sin leading to another, like I learned when a kid- if you tell one lie, you got to tell another to cover it up, and so on. I can see this in SGM in this story- two children abused in one family, blaming the victims and protecting the perpetrator, outright lying, scheming to protect the church’s reputation, “dividing” the issues to make it look like a family quarrel, CJ’s mysterious check …

    When does the prophet Nathan enter the picture?

  • Dafna

    Kris- re: #227, AMEN sister!

  • Ellie

    Patti,
    I’m with you on egalitarianism and being a berean – I need to read and study for myself to know what I believe.

  • Dafna

    This may have been discussed here before, but I was wondering how a church would go about severing ties with SGM? I am REALLY concerned for the people I know at Metrolife, and was wondering- Ok, hypothetically speaking, what if the pastors all got together and decided ” SGM is a corrupt organization. WE can no longer serve under their covering and possibly expose the people in our congregation to any harm that may come from our alliance with SGM.” Or let’s say there is a media expose’ on the abuses in SGM, which honestly I think could happen sometime very soon- and maybe the news trucks came rolling up Metro’s driveway to interview pastors, esp. Benny since he came out of Fairfax – they might think he might have answers. So then they decide to leave SGM, how difficult would it be, what would be the legal issues involved- who owns that magnificent building and grounds , etc. ? Just really curious. I should probably check the archives because I do remember reading something about this.

  • acme

    One of the reasons I like being at a denominational church after 20 plus years at CLC is that the theology and polity don’t change at a whim.

    I like being in a liturgical church because every Sunday, we
    – affirm our faith by saying the Nicene Creed and Lord’s Prayer together,
    – stand for the Gospel reading (not to clap for the pastor) and hear at least ONE other portion of Scripture in its entirety without interruption
    – hear a sermon based on the Scripture
    – take communion together without the agonizing introspection

    You don’t have to be complementarian or Calvinist to have or to appreciate a rich theological tradition.
    You don’t have to be a clone. It’s a rich and varied and beautiful mess of a “one holy Christian and Apostolic Church”.

  • Luna Moth

    Hi Patti,

    I’ve been out for awhile myself, and just wanted to mention that what I was referring to with regard to CJ’s mannerisms, etc, was an earlier conversation on the post before this. Some of the discussion got carried over. I wasn’t meaning anything about what you said, at all. So don’t worry on that account! :D

    I am glad you are joining in the conversation! It sounds like things are coming clear for you about your own life, and that’s a good thing! One of the best things about this blog for me has been how “listening” to the discussions has given me increasing clarity.

    And yes, the freedom to speak out on this blog is a very good thing.

    8) :)

  • Patti

    Thanks Acme, I will, but for now I need to give this a break, so time consuming..and at the risk of sounding hypocritical I need to go pay attention to hubby. :wink:

  • Patti

    5yearsinPDI and fellow bloggers, you gotta know I can’t leave this alone,

    The only reason my focus has been a comp/egal one here is because that was the whole reason for finding info/blog on the internet for help for my daughter to decide what to do. At first wondering if any one has seen a marriage like this work? And to find out how serious SGM people were about it. I think if I am reading right that my daughter could even be denied communion for her belief?
    I do happen to think every person should in a way re invent the wheel so to speak.
    Especially if like me you were raised in a Baptist school simultaneously in a reformed church, sheltered from all outsiders, parents became Pentecostal when I was a teen. Reformed teaching Election, Baptist teaching eternal salvation. Assembly teaching loss of salvation. Baptist teaching 2part being. Assembly 3 part. And all different stuff about the trinity. Baptist school teachers making fun of us reformed sprinkled as babies into baptism, a reformed church that didn’t speak much about the Holy Spirit, and a baptist teacher saying speaking in tongues is of the devil, having extended family members Catholic, JW, Mormon, and New Age.
    Of course read works from people before me, but if I am educated enough to read as deep as I can into the inspired holy scriptures (and even that I did not just take some old theologians word for it, i studied until i was convinced the original is inspired)then by all means I should. And you are right about the reformed churches in this day not being all the same. The Christian reformed church split over the complementarian debate. . At the time I didn’t know enough or even care who was right. I was running from it all. Now I look it all square in the face. I do respect a lot of people’s studies. I did not say Grudem’s book was all bad I said it wasn’t good in many subjects. Many famous theologians of even history would agree with that. I was taking issue because to simply call it good would not give me the idea that you might disagree with something in there. And if you aren’t studying for yourself how can you trust him.
    I do have a hard time respecting the theologians of history who had a very low opinion of women. I mean I was a Calvinette? Excuse me? And this was not an isolated reformed church with one crazy pastor. This was and still is a very respected huge denomination. Thousands of little girls all across the nation, Holland and South Africa practically saying ‘Hail Calvin’. When we ironed on our little cooking, baking, embroidery and babysitting badges onto our scarves before Wed. Night pledges. And I wanted to be a cadet because they got to learn knot tying and build fires and play sports. At least Grudem, Piper, and Mahaney try to make women happy by putting them on a pedestal as they say. But for me..it wouldn’t matter if my pedestal was the most desirable on earth. If I believe the premise to be fundamentally wrong then for me to place myself in that position would be sin. But again, this is not the blog on gender roles or any of the other secondary issues I listed. So I will hush now. :worm

  • Acme

    Hi, Patti. You haven’t offended me at all. I like what you have to say very much. If you’d like to talk about CLC or how awesome egalitarian theology is, you can contact me at ehlersacm at aol dot com

  • Patti

    KIndred,
    I have a lot of posts explaining the dialogue between my daughter and her BF. but page 4 post 167 I said what my daughter told me which was basically what you just said. And listen to this. The other night he almost broke up with her over it. She told me the entire story. How he prayed on the way to meet her and felt God say not yet. I wish she had time to blog for herself. But yes, God is in this, whether or not they stay together. She keeps telling me there is no way she will compromise. how can she? She has a ‘joyful’ relationship with Jesus and actively involved in a church wiithout hierarchy. like she could give that up? When you know the truth and have been set free from legalism how can you go back? Even though this is the first time she has experienced male hierarchy at this level, she at least has a college education now, can study for herself, something that is so discouraged in many cults.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    “the Heidelberg catechism, the Canons of Dordt, and the Belgic Confession as THE (emph.mine) true interpretation of the Word of God.”
    IMAO this is the kind of thinking that will always lead to trouble and this is the kind of thinking SGM has. In fact..daughter’s BF said to me..”don’t you think you should be in church where the pastor is confident that he has all the answers?” ”

    Patti, that is not typical of Reformed churches at all. They do not claim to have all the answers, in fact, they debate and argue all the time about every imaginable fine point of doctrine. The writings you mention above (referred to as the 3 forms of Unity) as well as the Westminster Confession and the 1689, are never supposed to be regarded as authoritative scripture. Never. They are the infallible writings of men, and a secondary authority. To think any pastor has all the answers is rediculous and shows ignorance about Reformation church history.

    Having said that, your position of “me and my bible and I decide what I think it says” is not acceptable in Reformed churches- and plenty of other ones- for good reason. Every heretic and every cult in history says “I believe the bible”. Reformed churches are not into reinventing the wheel every time somebody new shows up with their personal interpretation. Cases in point- the deity of Jesus. Is he God or is he just a man? We go with the confessions and are not going to argue all day that He is God or not God. The trinity- we believe in it and if you don’t, well, we do not accept your interpretation as valid. Justification by faith- the grounds of our salvation is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not what we do. You want to argue that your obedience gives you merit before God to get into heaven, well, join the Catholics (better to repent actually :D ). I could go on. Churches have decided over hundreds of years what they think the bible is teaching, and there is a reason for that.

    You say IMAO “this is the kind of thinking that will always lead to trouble”. I would reply that if you are unwilling to respect the thinking of great theologians for 100s of years and consider what they say, your independent thinking will lead to worse trouble. Other people read the bible before you, and studied it, and prayed about it, and what makes your “me and my bible” somehow a better interpretation than what they say? We must be cautious and humble and well read as we approach doctrine.

    In a church, the elders rule, they have authority in the church, and people can have opinions and ask questions but at the end of the day, it is not a free for all. What gets taught from the pulpit and in Sunday school has boundaries, like it or not. Its like parenting- they have to brush their teeth and eat green vegetables and pick up their toys, and they may not like the rules but there are house rules.

    SGM has major problems, but affirmations of faith are a good thing, and for a church to use a confession as one is a good thing. (Piper’s church has a very nice one by the way.)

    At SGM, their understanding of true Christianity regarding polity and heavy shepherding doctrine and the role of pastors, is such that I could not go there. Some of the greatest Reformed theologians in history- Edwards, John Owen- were congregational, so even there the SGM claim to being infallibly right is rather foolish.

    As far as Grudem goes, you don’t have to agree with everything, but it is a very nice Systematic Theology being used in a wide variety of denominations who do not agree with every point.

    At the end of the day your major issue seems to be complementarianism. I think you need to get past that and over that, or you will cut yourself off from a wealth of fine teachers both dead and alive.

  • Patti

    Kindred Spirit,
    My daughter and her boyfriend knew who each other were for a while I don’t know how long but at school (college). Then they started dating seriously last fall. I met him over Skype at christmas that is when some conversations about his beliefs and ours surfaced, but as yet had no idea where they were coming from.
    Your words :” I know it’s scary as hell, but there’s always the possibility that God is using her (and your family) to open his eyes to SGM. He’s obviously smitten by her. If he respects her, she can’t help but have an impact on him.” are a confirmation to me. It is scary for me but it helps to hear you say that. I will look back in this blog to see if I have left more info and give you the post numbers.

  • Patti

    Acme,
    I am still not sure if any of my recent comments about mannerisms were construed along with others I know nothing about but if they were I just want clarify that I was only referring to the tendency for them to pick them from each other so much that their own individual personalities become suppressed. At the extreme end who can forget the FLDS (more acronyms to google lol) women in the news a few years ago.

  • Patti

    5yearsinPDI,
    That’s good I think about your church being open to different books. I bristle though even to read: you wrote …Calvinist, Charismatic (ie Grudem style continuationist),and complemtarian. We read good theology books by Reformed authors….
    But the word ‘good’ before theology books I am going to fuss about. That is the closed wording that SGM habitually uses. I am not implying that You Personally meant anything by it but I am realizing that when someone doesn’t give some sort of ‘IMO’ before the word good,beautiful,glorious,masterful,wonderful when talking about doctrine,theology,God’s design for womanhood, etc I want to start blogging my views.
    So,
    Here goes; My daughter’s CLC BF brought his Wayne Grudem’s condensed version of systematic theology called Bible Doctrines of which I perused over the few days he was here. In my opinion it was NOT good theology in many subjects.
    If, in your church and church school all are allowed to voice their different opinions of different theological Christian works without persecution AND your church does NOT claim to have ALL the understandable and not so understandable perfect interpretations of the scriptures then maybe you do not risk becoming cultic.
    My Calvinette handbook says on the first page. …the organization has a beautiful goal stated in the preamble of it’s constitution in these words. ..that youth…serve Christ….. then, to have a sound foundation for this it (the preamble) says:
    “….it confesses the Bible is the only infallible revelation of God for faith and life and accepts the Heidelberg catechism, the Canons of Dordt, and the Belgic Confession as THE (emph.mine) true interpretation of the Word of God.”
    IMAO this is the kind of thinking that will always lead to trouble and this is the kind of thinking SGM has. In fact..daughter’s BF said to me..”don’t you think you should be in church where the pastor is confident that he has all the answers?”
    Selah!

  • Deb

    Mephibosheth,

    Acronyms can be so annoying! Sorry about that.

    “IFB” stands for “Independent Fundamental Baptist”. Here is a 20/20 investigation into this organization that aired last Friday.

    http://abc.go.com/watch/2020/SH559026/VD55121488/2020-48-victims-forced-confession

    We are planning to discuss this report and the IFB beginning Monday at TWW.

  • acme

    I have drafted several long responses to this thread — and held off on all of them.

    Kris, you know that I have been here a long time — and have found it to be a place of hope and healing, tears and laughter, recovery and truth. I have felt comfortable piping up and saying, “Hey, this doesn’t seem right” — and I hope I will be welcome to do that still even though I no longer many of the things SGM advertises.

    I never felt comfortable with the gender stereotypes at CLC — I always felt my differences to the gender norms propogated there (especially as they randomly changed, evidently based on the whims and preferences of the pastors’ wives).

    I also stand in front of very observant teenagers ALL DAY LONG — and would hate to have my mannerisms dissected — they probably are — but dang, i don’t want to know about it.

    One of my blessings/curses is imaginative empathy — I feel other people’s pain (not always, not universally) but I hate to see other people demonized for whatever reason. They are people — created in God’s own image, Jesus loves them just the way they are.

    Luna Moth :clap

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Patti,

    Have you said how long your daughter and SG boyfriend have been dating? Maybe you have and I missed it.

    I know it’s scary as hell, but there’s always the possibility that God is using her (and your family) to open his eyes to SGM. He’s obviously smitten by her. If he respects her, she can’t help but have an impact on him.

    There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Yea, four which I know not:
    The way of an eagle in the air; The way of a serpent upon a rock; The way of a ship in the midst of the sea; And the way of a man with a maiden.

    – Proverbs 30:18-19

    I am praying for you guys.

  • happymom

    renee, :clap

  • Mephibosheth

    Woa… can someone briefly fill me in on the “IFB” thing? I’m very intrigued.

  • renee

    Arrghh …. “to speak as THEY will.”

    Carry on. :wink:

  • renee

    Great question in #227, Kris.

    A person’s post-SGM worldview is that person’s post-SGM worldview. It has no bearing on what Kris’ goal for this site is. What I’m saying is that Kris’ goal for the blog stands separate and apart from any what any non-Kris person thinks it should be or wants it to be. While I’m so sorry for the marginalization Platypus feels — and said so on her post — I see Kris *really trying* to operate from a place of freedom here, giving people the freedom to speak as the will and letting the chips fall where they may. I don’t see her offering any guarantees that people won’t be offended. If this site is to be a site that operates in freedom, it really can’t coexist with anyone’s perceived “right” not to be offended.

    So, the way I see it, anyone coming to this blog clutching tightly to any perceived right not to be offended will guarantee that he or she is offended left and right. That person will never stop huffing and humphing and, well, that’s kind of exhausting, isn’t it?

    Kris has a worldview she values and a blog that she owns. Because of that personal worldview, this blog is not going to be all things to all people.
    Expecting that and then getting offended when it’s not offered is like going into RadioShack and getting all ticked when they don’t sell frozen yogurt.

    It’s a blog with a specific goal and a specific point of view, not the Walmart of ideas.

    I hear Kris saying she extends freedom of speech and expects it in return. That’s wonderful — and it’s messy sometimes. But I’d much rather be extended some messy freedom than see this blog devolve into strict rules and censorship.

    So let’s try to celebrate the occasional mess we make because that means we’re free! :D

    Isn’t that what we all came here for?

    To be free?

  • Deb

    Patti,

    Personally, I am enjoying your comments. It appears that you have a story to tell about your IFB school experience. When my daughters attended their Christian school (both have graduated), they became friends with kids who transferred from an IFB school in our area. They were stunned by what some of their friends had experienced in their previous school. Girls had to wear dresses EVERY DAY, and they had to be knee length or longer. My older daughter was friends with a guy who had great musical talent (playing the guitar and singing) and loved country music. He really reminds me of Scotty McCreery http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIBjM-CxrKs&feature=related

    Anyway, when he was in 7th or 8th grade at his IFB school, one of his teachers spotted him in a store buying a country CD. At school the next day, he was reprimanded!

    FYI, next week over at The Wartburg Watch we will be addressing the IFB. In particular, we will be discussing issues raised during the 20/20 broadcast on the IFB. When we cover various topics on our website, we like to explore them in depth. We sometimes feature guest posts, so please think about sharing your personal testimony regarding your IFB school experience, and we will consider publishing it. Feel free to contact me at deb@thewartburgwatch.com

  • Patti

    I was still writing I guess when Kris and Mephibosheth posted.
    I have tears, good tears. :clap

  • Patti

    1. Luna, I never knew about gay comments regarding any leaders mannerisms so I was truly just meaning how they mimic each other so closely… But you may not have even been referring to my post all, but just in case you were…

    2. Stunned, I like your heart too.

    3. I have to admit that I too felt ‘stung’ after Platys post. That is if a pro- SGMer read her whole link. ‘stung’ because it came right after my two very long posts and with my increasing openness about my daughters relationship with a CLC ‘lifer’. His family could be reading or alerted. BUT, then I pulled my head out of my own, and became grateful that Kris does not boot us off. AND I realized the kowtowing I still have a tendency to cave into for false peace, and I started seeing ways it could actually be useful that they would read it. Example: if they (SGM/CLC) believe so much that Platy has chosen wrongly then they should figure out where they went wrong with her. I believe God will bless openness, not secrets. I know I was not gay, I very much liked boys. But my IFB school nearly convinced me I was gay by their teachings on the difference between male and female sexuality and gender roles. There’s a story behind that statement if anyone is interested. I know we are supposed to be talking SGM here but when daughter’s CLC BF spent spring break with us I was shocked to find out how similar our schooling was. I thought my experience was a past thing, I thought church schools had changed their ways over the last 32 years. How I wish I did not waste so many years running from my past instead of shouting from the rooftops what happened. And maybe have helped some. Some people like him who believes it is the right way (or rather fear not to believe that) will go to raise their kids the same way. I was stunned when some of my classmates who had been abused started putting their children back into the very system they hated, but they had been brainwashed to believe they just went through a rebellious time and now their children needed to endure it. ‘breaks my heart.

  • Mephibosheth

    “Does Platypus’ lesbianism or Mephibosheth’s atheism make SGM any less dysfunctional?’

    Good question Kris! I feel that as a poster on this site it is more important to stick to the issues and subjects at hand rather than let personal values detract from the goal of this site. Many might think that as an atheist I would not respect the values and opinion of others on this site. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Everyone on this site is very well spoken for the most part and it really helps me to gather different perspectives on SGM. Although I am guilty of ranting on this site in the past (yes, I do get angry and heated sometimes when it comes to SGM), I feel in order for this site to have the true impact it deserves I should put my personal beliefs slightly aside to keep the message of this sight clear. What people decide to do after SGM is completely up to them. With love and respect I feel that we can all enter into this conversation. We must watch our words with wisdom and honesty. This site is amazing (that’s you Kris and Guy), and I would hate to detract from the overall message in light of my personal opinion. In order for this site to maintain its integrity, we must decide what is worth talking about and what is merely banter. I don’t care who you are. If you experienced what I experienced in SGM and are desiring to move on in a healthy manner, then I’m all for you and I’m hear to listen. Not tute my horn.

  • I was out for a run just now, and I had a flash of head-clearing insight.

    (Well, maybe the rest of you won’t think it’s insight, but indulge me anyway. :D )

    Here was my thought:

    Does Platypus’ lesbianism or Mephibosheth’s atheism make SGM any less dysfunctional?

    If not, then the way that ex-SGMers work out their post-SGM lives and belief systems really has no bearing on the discussion here.

  • Patti

    Kris, I think it’s awesome that you let everyone speak up here. That is healing in itself from the muzzling of the SGM et. al. crowd. A couple weeks ago I was surfing the net with search words like can a marriage work between a comp and an egal? I came across a seemingly unbiased blog where the question was put forth for other bloggers to give advice to a man who said he felt God calling him to be a pastor but he was comp and his wife was egal. I commented very nicely something I thought could be a solution. Another commenter posted a reply addressed to me and was extremely rude and blasting with his comments and quoting scripture that basically called this wife a dissenter and evil so how could I even suggest some sort of compromise. This after the would be pastor had well informed us of the very ‘Christlike’ character of his wife and how much he loved her. Anyway, I responded to that still very respectfully commenting but it wouldn’t get posted. I tried writing it a couple more times changing some wording mostly because I could not remember exactly what I said before. Then I actually blogged asking why my posts were not posted, completely ignored not even saying wait for moderation, then one showed up. But then it went away. I found it in his rss feed. By this time I finally decide to find out who the blog owner is. Alas, a bigwig from a well known IFB university AND traced him to actually being a speaker at SGM! No wonder he allowed a man’s abusive comment but not my very benign suggestion.
    I am so tired of anyone telling me why I am the way I am. I am not an egal because I was hurt (although I was). Nor am I an egal because I am rebellious. (although sometimes I am). I am an egal because I have studied the scriptures and that is what they say to me. Same goes for all my other ‘non essential’ beliefs.
    Platypus has her own reasons for embracing the sexuality that the traditional church says is wrong. There are Christians that teach it is ok. We can accuse all we want of scripture twisting to each other to shut each other up. Jesus Himself never said anything about it. And I am interested to read other blog sites that Platy is on. Jesus did get very angry at the Pharisees and pointed out their evil controlling ways. Correct me if I am wrong Kris, but isn’t this the purpose of your blog about SGM? I know there are way too many past posts for me, a newby to this site to read but I have read a lot, and I did go to Platys link she posted here. I also read a lot of past posts here relating to her. And unless Platy, you can steer me to negative posts towards you like I got from that ‘fundie’ blog I’m not sure what you are referring to from this site? I am not discounting you though, I just would like to see the ones you are referring to. :scratch

  • 5yearsin PDI

    “I think that’s why I often feel a sort of pressure to keep pointing out that most of us here are actually still Christians who actually still share a good many of SGM’s ideas about right and wrong. Many of us here still believe in the authority of the Bible…and yet we still believe that SGM is dysfunctional.”

    BINGO.

    I am in a church of several hundreds of people, and my pastor got his MDiv from a confessional Reformed seminary, and other people also went to seminary, and we are Calvinist, Charismatic (ie Grudem style continuationist),and complemtarian. We read good theology books by Reformed authors and sometimes go through them in small group, and have a church library full of them, as well as Reformed preaching CDs. We have stacks of CCEF counseling books,and we know that hormones and lack of sleep and other physiological things can mimic “sin”, so we are not instant condemners.

    My pastor preaches almost all bible, but throws in the occasional quote from Spurgeon or a Puritan or the WCF or 1689(that’s a Baptist confession of faith).

    And at the same time our very many homeschool families have interacted with SGM families over the years at a local co-op, and our leaders have interacted with the local SGM leaders. And everybody sees the SGM problems.

    I guess one big difference between my church and SGM, even though outwardly we seem so similar, is that we don’t claim to be anything but a church full of messed up struggling people who really need God and really need to pray for God to move. Plus we have elders with normal jobs in the normal world who can really relate, and lastly the leaders love the people and hang out with them, as friends and family. There are no “levels” or over-under superiority. No control freaks.

    Its the people who still hold to much of what SGM claims to believe- and were attracted to SGM for that very reason- who can most credibly point out to SGM defenders that SGM is NOT “doing it right”…they are doing it very WRONG in some key areas.

  • Luna Moth

    Kris, you said:

    One of my biggest concerns with this site has always been that I don’t want SGMers to come here and find it easy to poo-poo people’s concerns because they perceive that the survivors “only rejected SGM because of sin in their lives,” or “because they couldn’t stomach sound biblical theology.”

    Yes.

    By the same token, I was getting a little antsy over the big focus on CJ’s mannerisms and what they say about his masculinity because I didn’t want SGMers to have an excuse to discount this site because, “Yeah, that’s the site where they think CJ is gay.” I don’t want them to have any excuse to write off this site.

    However, as I pondered that (for the last couple of days), I also realized that trying to be “good enough” that they will respect me has never worked for me so far…

    But in any case.

    I hear Platy and work-in-progress and others asking for respect. I hear that. I don’t think anyone means to not respect them, but I see how some light remarks can feel like disrespect.

    In my early days in PDI there was a lot of arrogance and disparaging remarks about “traditional churches” and how dead and un-Spirit-filled they supposedly were. And it was repeatedly hurtful to me, as the daughter of a minister in one of those “traditional” denominations, to continually hear my (larger) family put down. That was the first crack in the whole PDI/SGM thing for me…

    Anyway. I don’t have a “let’s all do this” solution on the top of my mind. Not even “let’s all be excellent so SGM will listen to us.” Maybe, keep being real and keep walking in love.

  • Mephibosheth said,

    We all are here to expose the reality and ugliness of SGM, share our experiences, and help others along the way. Even within this site there are many who share different opinions about Christianity and its denominations, points of theology, etc. But it really doesn’t matter.

    That’s it. Exactly it.

    As long as we stick to talking about SGM’s issues, and to warning others about the dangers of an authoritarian church structure where pastors have no true formal accountability to their people, I think we can avoid much of the tension that arises when people have such divergent post-SGM beliefs.

    One of my biggest concerns with this site has always been that I don’t want SGMers to come here and find it easy to poo-poo people’s concerns because they perceive that the survivors “only rejected SGM because of sin in their lives,” or “because they couldn’t stomach sound biblical theology.”

    In other words – I want SGM defenders to understand that their opinions about a person’s post-SGM life have no bearing whatsoever on the truth of what the former SGMer has to say about his or her SGM experience. For instance, I know that at least some SGMers will read here, see where Platy says she’s gay, and IMMEDIATELY write off everything else she might have to say about SGM. They will IMMEDIATELY say to themselves, “Well, of course she couldn’t handle SGM – she didn’t want to be confronted about her sin!”

    What these SGM defenders (the ones who think like this) seem to forget – and what I don’t want them to forget – is that it’s NOT the former SGMer’s “sin” that makes SGM a controlling, unhealthy, and often abusive thought system.

    I think that’s why I often feel a sort of pressure to keep pointing out that most of us here are actually still Christians who actually still share a good many of SGM’s ideas about right and wrong. Many of us here still believe in the authority of the Bible…and yet we still believe that SGM is dysfunctional.

  • Kindred,

    Thanks! :D

    Last night I was venting to my sister about how ironic it is when people complain about this site and weigh in on what I can and cannot say…even as they are being permitted to use this site to say whatever THEY like.

    My sister said, “Why don’t you just quit publishing those comments?” And I told her that I almost never delete comments…and that it makes me uncomfortable to shut down certain people because they disagree with me.

    But of course, we’re not open-minded or welcoming enough here. No. Not at all. :lol:

  • My heart also grieved when Platy shared her story. And I’m pretty sure there’s been nothing but empathy extended her way throughout the past few years. I can remember how people would always express happiness over her occasional comments and would wish her well. As I already said, on a personal level, Platy and I exchanged lots of emails, and I’m pretty sure I never was anything but supportive and sympathetic toward her.

    Matter of fact, I can’t recall any SGM victim – Christian or gay or atheist or whatever – not having people respond to them with sympathy here. I also can’t recall any occasion where the Christians here have gotten preachy or condemning toward those who have rejected Christianity.

    Maybe there have been some comments that have been met with less enthusiasm than others. Sometimes that’s because my time is limited and I forget to welcome newcomers. And sometimes, I think that can happen because people don’t know what to say – and they are actually trying to avoid offending the atheist (or whomever) by seeming to come across as less than sympathetic.

    But I can’t actually recall a time when someone shared from a non-Christian perspective and then got smacked down for it…unless they were attempting to persuade others to take on their same beliefs.

    So it seems to me that non-Christians don’t have a lot of room for complaint when it comes to how they’ve been received here…unless, of course, what they are really looking for are others to affirm their post-SGM beliefs (or lack thereof).

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Kris said in comment #195 of previous post…

    …I tend to take a fairly hands-off approach about where the conversation in the comments goes. If someone raises a topic that I personally find interesting or intriguing, I’m happy to run with it, even if it is completely unrelated to the original post.

    At the same time, though, I’ve come to feel a level of responsibility and ownership for what is presented here. I’m unapologetically close-minded about certain doctrinal beliefs. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “I know Whom I have believed…” I also have some never-gonna-change views about the Bible and its inerrancy and sufficiency, especially after our personal dangerous sojourn through a hyper-Charismatic church where the written Word was actually NOT sufficient and where craziness took over too often.

    Consequently, I have – on RARE occasions – indeed deleted comments. Of the 28,927 comments currently on the site, I’ve probably gotten rid of 50. The comments that didn’t get published would fall into one of these categories: 1) they were heretical as I define heresy (those of you who have been here since the site’s early days might remember a particular commenter who had a driving need to bring every conversation back to his favorite hobby horse of universalism); 2) they were tiresomely argumentative and/or rude during times when I either did not have the time or desire to respond adequately; or 3) they contained recommendations for books that I’d personally read and had found offensive because of their disregard for the sufficiency of Scripture. (And yes, I know, this last one will probably anger some people and bring out cries of “Hypocrite!” and “SGM-style censorship!” but I really don’t care. Deal with it.)

    So, anyway – this is a bit of a meandering summary of my philosophy of site ownership. This place is what it is almost solely because of the contributions from the audience. Consequently, I don’t interfere a lot with what is said. But on the other hand, I’m a person just like anyone else, and I have my own personal biases and views. And I sometimes feel strongly called to act on those views.

    Kris,

    There are **VERY FEW** bloggers that actually allow “the freedom to comment.” You are one, and Karen Campbell is another one.

    Thank you!

  • Lynn

    Stunned,

    Im so touched by your post. And yes cutting yourself is serious and sgm needs to ask themselves why is this person doing this. When people cut it’d because they are trying to ease the pain about something else. Cutting yourelf is serious and needs to stop being called sins

  • Stunned

    Hi PLaty, I haven’t read your post yet but I saw all of the comments above so I know you’re shared something that is deeply personal and painful to you. If it’s OK, I am going to keep two windows open and “talk” with you while I read it. I am only explaning this so the post that I am about to write may make more sense as I write it. I have been happy every time you have written or rather, some of your posts have made me terribly sad for how you’ve been treated, but I’ve always been glad to “see” you here.

    Here goes:
    I don’t know who Larry is. I suppose a pastor at CLC?

    In my experience my SGM church was very good at exacerbating my depression, too. It makes me sick that depression, anorexia or cutting would be considered sins. When will people see that cutting is an expression of such deep pain and that it almost sometimes gives relief or escape to the pain. Sometimes during my marriage, being with my ex was so excrutiating that I would take scissors and grab my hair and cut it and for real there seemed to be an ease of my pain. It was as if (and I know this is going to sound crazy but it was real nonetheless)… it was if some of the pain had somewhere to escape from and it felt like the pain would flow out of me through the cuts in my hair. I only did this a few times, but it was a physical release from a pain that was physically unbearable any more. (Thank HEAVENS that super choppy hair was in when I did this so that it looked like I just had an edgy cute hairstyle. I never did it in front of a mirror but each time I got done then went to the mirror, I actually didn’t hate the results. Shallow side note over.)

    At first when I read your next paragraph I thought, “Why wouldn’t you come out? Woulnd’t it be so much better?” but I figured you had a reason. Then I read your next few sentences. You have shared here before that you were gay and that your parents had kicked you out and you were homeless (this part broke my heart that you would feel such horrendous rejection) but I don’t think I realized that they had kicked you out because you were gay. Or if I did, I had forgotten it. (PS. Why would anyone “choose” an identification that they know would garner them rejection from their society and family? Wouldn’t it make more sense if we had the power to choose things that we all chose to be doctors so our society would give us two thumbs up? God didn’t make everyone to be doctors. I doubt it that He makes everyone to be anything. He just made way too many of us unique – all of us I think- but whatever. I know you said you didnt’ want to tackle that right now.)

    Geez girl, six hospitilizations? Oh Sweetheart, I am so sorry you suffered so much. (If you are offended by me calling you sweetheart, please tell me and I’ll stop. It’s just that I think you are around the same age as my daughter and I tend to have my heart easily open to all the people in that age group who had to suffer growing up in SGM. Oh, the regrets I have in having my children there! I so badly wish I could go back and protect them from all the crazy making. Instead I can just ask their forgiveness and try to replace the lies they/I learned there with truths. And like I said earlier, you are one of the ones that I have come to like in particular, from our little interaction on this site and I would have given a lot to have been able to be there for you and given you a safe haven when you got kicked out. You just shouldn’t have had that happened to you. You just shouldn’t have. So as I read that your pain was so deep that you suffered all that, it is effecting me. Tears keep falling on my computer (that can’t be good for it) and I keep having to wipe them away so I can see the screen. So I can’t help but feel a bit like I wish I could redo your 2003 on years and have some how been a friend for you in that time. But if you feel the “sweetheart” is condescending or too maternal or too personal or something, please tell me. I don’t call everyone that except for those that I wish I could come give a hug to at the moment. But I totally get it if it bothers someone. (Personally, I love it when a waitress or toll booth woman calls me sweetheart or honey. I have no idea why.)

    So I’ll start that thought again and hope you don’t mind me using a familiar term for someone I don’t know in the “real” world.

    Actually, I keep crying picturing you in that inpatient ward. Let me take a break and I’ll begin again in the next post.

  • Mephibosheth

    Platypus!

    Dude, loved your post. Seriously, I totally agree with what you have to say. I can think of no other thing that has had such a negative impact in my life like SGM. You’re not alone in your beliefs. I know what it means to live the majority of your young life in suppression under the conditions of extremely dogmatic sect of religion. I support gays and also identify myself as an atheist now. I know most people on this site are very Christian so it can be hard for them to really understand where your coming from. Trust me. But now maybe this site can open a branch of dialogue where people with vastly different beliefs and lifestyles can join in on the conversation. We all are here to expose the reality and ugliness of SGM, share our experiences, and help others along the way. Even within this site there are many who share different opinions about Christianity and its denominations, points of theology, etc. But it really doesn’t matter. I believe that those who have grown up in SGM will have the hardest time walking away from it. I believe this because I have both lived and witnessed it. So please know, you’re not alone. After all, we didn’t come all this way for nothing did we?

  • Sidney

    Platy,

    I feel your pain. My poor kids were the only ones in their public school who were not allowed to watch Obama when he hijacked the classrooms in September. They had to sit in the library alone.

    And it was a bit embarrassing when the kids had to write a paper “Rock star for a day” and my daughter did hers on Francesca Batistelli…and nobody knew who that is. She doesn’t know any of the regular rock stars the kids listen to.

    Yeah, we stick out like a sore thumb at times. But, I know that I am choosing to be in a context that isnt always “tolerant” of my Christian beliefs.

    I understand that I am being forced to be tolerant of all beliefs and lifestyles, but I have learned to keep my mouth shut about my own. So what? I choose to be there…and I know ahead of time what I face. I would never try to change them. I just find my place in their world. That’s ok.

    I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just trying to help you see that we all face what you’re facing. It’s part of life. We learn to fit in the best we can.

    Your friend,
    Sid.

  • One more thing.

    Platy, you say all you’re requesting is transparency about the site’s stance on traditional Christian beliefs. But I’d say that anyone who reads here for any length of time would quite easily be able to get a sense of the site’s overall bent.

    People say stuff. Other people disagree. Others come back and disagree with those who disagree. Sometimes – when time permits me to do so these days – I weigh in. Or not. Why would gay folks be in need of some kind of special protection against “getting burned” by these sorts of exchanges?

    It’s a blog, people. The moderator has certain rather conservative views. You can weigh in with your non-conservative opinions. You can think that the moderator or the other commenters are ignorant bigots. And you can even say so and have your comment get published.

    Or…you could go read elsewhere.

    The truth about SGM and SGM’s harmful and abusive practices remains the same. If this site has evolved to have a purpose, it’s the discussion of those harmful and abusive practices, as well as SGM’s cultural oddities…and NOT the lifestyles of ex-SGMers. If ex-SGMers find that their present-day lifestyles are not affirmed here, or that some of the commenters (or the moderator) don’t share their present-day beliefs, so what?

    It’s possible to agree about SGM’s harmful ways and yet disagree on almost every other issue. Why is that a big deal, with the potential to “hurt” people? I’d think that someone smart enough to use the internet would be smart enough to understand how blogs and sites like this one work.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    AKS: “Sin is sin – I’ve got mine, you’ve got yours”

    Yes, but are you the worst siner you know? :wink:

  • Platy,

    You said,

    Respect, acceptance, and love free of judgement are very different from approval. It’s just what Jesus instructed us to do.

    For the record, Jesus did not actually instruct us to extend “love free of judgment.” Jesus Himself was quite the judgy guy in many instances, especially when it came to the religious establishment.

    And, WHERE did anybody “slander and spread malicious lies” about you or any other gay person? :scratch

    Also, WHERE did anybody demonstrate disrespect toward gay people?

    And how is it disrespectful to gay people to observe that CJ, an (extremely) self-avowed heterosexual with a rather extreme agenda about traditional gender roles, has flouncy mannerisms that make him seem less than traditionally masculine?

  • I’m going to request that we table the discussion about homosexuality. We could go round and round all night long, but the reality is that gay (and “affirming”) people are not going to be happy until everyone holds to their viewpoint and joins them in “affirming” homosexual behavior.

  • platypus

    Hi Kris,

    I’m not sure why you brought this back to a personal level when my points were about common themes and practice, not an assault on you as moderator. Frankly, I think you completely missed the points I was trying to make.

    1) Everyone is absolutely entitled to their own opinion. I’m not trying to change any opinions, either. I simply tried to point out that having a negative opinion of someone, even if founded on religious doctrine, does not give you free reign to slander and spread malicious lies about them.

    2) I also didn’t in any way say that you weren’t entitled to your own opinions regarding how your own blog/community should manifest. In fact, I said the opposite: all I asked was for transparency about those philosophies so people who disagree don’t unwittingly stumble in and get burned.

    3) I did ask you to evaluate your intentions, as well, regarding survivors who disagree with your beliefs, and I stand by what I said. Namely, if this blog’s overarching intention truly IS to minister to those injured by SGM, it would be wise to check your speech and ensure that you at the very least demonstrate respect for all people, no matter what they believe or where they are in life.

    Respect, acceptance, and love free of judgement are very different from approval. It’s just what Jesus instructed us to do.

  • work-in-progress

    There’s no irony. I’m not talking about censoring comments. I’m talking about creating a hostile environment with comments that consistently ridicule and slander a whole class of people. Nor am I telling you or anyone what to say; I’m commenting on the implications of things said here, and their effect on myself and others. I’m calling it like I see it, just as you do. I’ve increasingly felt uncomfortable commenting here because I don’t want to condone what I believe are cruel and wrong comments, and I believe it would be wrong of me to stop commenting altogether without explaining why I am doing so.

    People change the direction of conversation here all the time, so that doesn’t strike me as being an issue.

    As I understand it, part of what Platy was asking for was a clear statement as to whether this site can be a space where everyone can expect to be treated with civility and respect (which is not the same thing as all-embracing or totally inclusive). I think it’s pretty clear now. Like Platy I found this site to be very helpful to me when I was starting to work things through about SGM, and I’m grateful for that. I wish you all well.

  • S,

    Thanks for your comment. Welcome.

    You said,

    Yikes. Kris, we always had you pegged for an intelligent, sensitive person – but it appears you’re just as confused about how Jesus loves as everyone back in the SGM fold still appears to be.

    Uh, yeah. Because believing that the Bible does not endorse homosexual behavior automatically precludes intelligence and sensitivity…

    :spin

  • S

    Kris-

    Platy clearly just wants accountability for your opinions. You’re all free to be bigots if you like, but don’t put this forward as a safe space for all ex-SGMers if the general attitude is going to be gay people = pedophiles = not welcome in our community.

    “whining about “gay-bashing”..Yikes. Kris, we always had you pegged for an intelligent, sensitive person – but it appears you’re just as confused about how Jesus loves as everyone back in the SGM fold still appears to be.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Platy,

    I’m sorry you feel the way you do about us. I can honestly say that knowing you’re gay doesn’t affect what I think of you one bit. I’m sure that’s hard for you to believe, but it’s true.

    I have a gay relative that I love very much. He says he struggles with “flamers” (his word, not mine), and that he finds effeminate men unattractive. If he were to observe CJ he would definitely make a comment about his effeminate mannerisms – and a darn funny one, I’m sure.

    I’m so sorry your family treated you the way they did. LM lives in my neck of the woods and I think he’s a very arrogant, self-righteous, condemning man (and I’m not the only one).

    The Bible says that homosexuality is sin. Sin is sin – I’ve got mine, you’ve got yours.

  • work-in-progress,

    I wonder if you see the irony?

    You – and all the others who have objected to my remarks about CJ’s mannerisms – continue to have your comments published here. You haven’t been told to find another place to read.

    We even have a new post up, and the conversation was going in a totally different direction…yet I didn’t request that you quit bringing up the “CJ mannerism” topic, or whining about “gay-bashing.”

    You’re enjoying a level of freedom of expression on someone else’s site that you’re not wanting the site’s owner to have.

    Yet you say that you’re not being permitted to co-exist here.

    I am confused.

  • 5years,

    This –

    It is my opinion that one huge contribution of this site is helping people in – or just out – of SGM who actually want what SGM supposedly stands for, or most of it.

    is exactly right.

  • work-in-progress

    I suspect that anyone who frequents this site and is gay or affirming is well aware of what most people here believe about homosexuality, and I doubt any of us are under any delusions that we’ll change minds on the topic. But there’s a difference between believing homosexuality is a sin and singling it out for special ridicule or demonization. And the fact is, it’s not the case that straight sexual behavior that is considered sin by most here, like adultery or fornication,is spoken in the same way as homosexuality. Unless I’ve missed the comments where SGM has been described as having a spirit of adultery or fornication, or the comments that have implied that being involved in sexual sin of a straight orientation is related in some way to pedophilia or being a child molester. I don’t think any sort of traditional Christian belief requires making fun of people for effeminacy or “mincing,” or speculating about the links between homosexuality and child abuse. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for gay or affirming people to ask that they be able to share a space with conservative Christians without having false, dangerous, harmful stereotypes about us bandied about. And you know, Jesus was able to spend time with tax collectors and sinners. Telling people who object to negative and untrue stereotypes to find another site to read is no different from ‘inviting’ people to find another church to worship at.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    It is my opinion that one huge contribution of this site is helping people in- or just out- of SGM who actually want what SGM supposedly stands for, or most of it. Those of us who are conservative Christians and believe in the innerancy and authority of the bible, and appreciate the rich theological history of Protestantism, and don’t think all the gifts of the holy spirit ceased, and maybe are into traditional family values or even homeschool….

    ….we are the people who can say that SGM is an abberation, and SGM is not the final word on being Calvinist-Complentarian-Charismatic. Not is it the majority word…although they sure seem to be trying to achieve that status.

    Platy, I read your post and I am sorry for all of your years of pain, but I think you make a common mistake. Many gays think the reaction they are getting from their ex church is somehow uniquely aimed at gays. It isn’t. You’d get the same reaction if you were sleeping with a guy, or married and having an affair. Biblical Christianity limits sex to marriage, and straights can have as hard a time as gays do. You know what the biblical position is and I don’t know why you are so surprised. This is not an SGM problem, to say homosexuality-or fornication or adultery- is sin; that is typical of conservative Christians. Where they have a problem is when they try to legislate all kinds of things that are not in the bible, like saying you can’t put rogaine on your bald head or nurse your hungry crying baby at night, or respectfully ask a question about a sermon.

  • I was thinking…

    Maybe someone should start a site for SGM survivors that would be geared specifically toward those who have moved away from traditional Christianity.

    I’m just not at the place where I can do that. Matter of fact, I already know that I will never move away from my particular point of view.

    It’s actually kind of funny. SGMers come around here and accuse the site of not being welcoming enough to pro-SGM points of view. Or not being open-minded enough to the idea that it’s possible to have an SGM church where there is no danger of the pastor’s abusing his authority. Post-Christians don’t like that the majority of commenters don’t want to hear what they have to say.

    The reality is that there is no such thing as an all-inclusive, all-embracing community. I can only imagine that if someone WERE to start a “faith-neutral” site for SGM survivors, it would not be a place that would shower Bible-believers with loads of approval and acceptance. Neutrality is a myth. We all have our bottom-line belief systems, our own lines in the sand where we know what we know. How realistic is it to expect that a blog conversation will be able to extend full acceptance to anyone no matter what his or her perspective?

  • Platy,

    Eloquent post. I’m sorry you haven’t felt like your needs were being met here.

    I would say, though, that I feel like you haven’t been fair to several of us – those of us you connected with through this site who have interacted with you behind the scenes. You “came out” to me in some of our very first email exchanges, back in the site’s earliest days, and that fact never got in the way of what I thought were some great conversations. I do not believe you could read any sort of condemnation or lack of concern in anything I’ve ever written you. And I’m aware of others – others who share my Christian beliefs – who have corresponded with you and likewise didn’t let your sexuality stop them from caring about you.

    I’m not exactly sure what it is that you would be wanting from this site. I know what I believe about homosexuality, and I know what I think about those who have been hurt by SGM, and I don’t see how the two really intersect…unless, of course, what it is that you are really advocating is unconditional approval for every post-SGM way of life.

    And if that’s the case, then aren’t you asking at least some of us here to do what you yourself so proudly would never do? Aren’t you asking us to deny what we believe to be a part of our identity – our belief system?

  • Lynn

    Platypus,

    Thank u for being so open. You made a lot of points.

  • platypus

    Heya, SGMS.

    I haven’t been chatting much, lately, though I’m always reading. I’ve really been mulling over a lot and trying to think of the perfect wording to express my concerns, not to mention find the perfect time to do so… Some things have honestly been weighing on my mind for a couple of years now. I’m starting to feel there will never be a perfect time to bring it up, either, so I suppose now’s as good as any, especially since the subject has come up a few times in the last week or so.

    I wrote an open letter to the community which is posted on my blog and is guest-posted at http://arewomenhuman.wordpress.com as well. Any who are interested are absolutely invited to read, comment if desired, email me privately if you prefer. I’ve been extremely fearful to write this letter because I so value this community and the ways it has helped me through my recovery process but I don’t feel I can keep silent about my concerns any longer.

    Thanks for your time, all. Back to the discussion. :)

    platypus
    http://gendernos.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/an-open-letter-to-sgms/

  • Stunned

    Patti, I just read your post where you shared about your life. Can I say, I can already tell I like you a whole lot. I love your honesty- even your honesty about your “hiding”/dishonesty. Thank you for the true humility. I am really glad you are here.

  • Stunned

    CJ is vice chairman of CBMW board!!!!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!?! I had no idea.

  • Stunned

    Patti also said, “she was hurt that his family didn’t want her to come to church.”

    What sane Christian family would not want ANYONE to go to church? How insane is that? Can you imagine EVER saying that you didn’t want someone to come to a church that you thought was great?

  • Stunned

    Patti said, “Anyway, I came across a video where John Piper was Introducing CJ..you bloggers are not making this stuff up!”

    Ha ha ha ha. Trust me Patti, we are under-exagerating it all. No one could make up the crazy making that goes on there. Except for Satan.

  • Patti

    Deb,
    I was looking for live teachings from CJ Mahaney on sex because I wanted to see if he taught the same things that Mark Driscoll teaches because Driscoll lists CJ as a mentor. Anyway, I came across a video where John Piper was Introducing CJ..you bloggers are not making this stuff up! I know we all pick up mannerisms from the people we are around but these guys are eerily succinct. Not only was John Piper moving his hands and every sentence structure and emphasis identical to CJs (I watched Piper on YouTube alone and he didn’t act that way then) but the lengthy nauseating kudos he gave CJ was anything but humility encouragement. Mark Driscoll’s mannerisms are not like the other teachers but then I am learning the other teachers are not so happy with him because of his style, oh and because he lets women teach Sunday school. I think Mark Driscoll’s style of vulgarness just exposes all their teachings for what they really are. All the other teachers just candy coat the poison. I know I am showing my newness to all of this. I guess I am still in shock. This SGM stuff was only alerted to me because I was refuting a post by a young friend who had FB posted a live sermon of Driscoll’s and her statement was ‘possibly best sermon she ever heard’. After I listened to it I started going back and forth with her on the errors in his teaching. Then I noticed his 3 mentors listed. It was the Sovereign Grace Ministries that sounded slightly familiar to me, and when it said where it was and I started connecting the dots of this being her BFs church. I alerted her all at the same time she was in great turmoil over what she was finding out he believed but had not told me yet. and she was hurt that his family didn’t want her to come to church. All this has just happened over the last several months. I never heard of SGM before this. I see one listed 2hrs and 6hrs from here. But Mark Driscoll is huge in this area. I have been familiar though with CBMW just over the last year or so and it all started making sense to me and my daughter when I told her CJ is vice chairman of CBMW board. I believe it has been God keeping me obsessed with the egalitarian issue since my other daughter and husband got married and were arguing with their pastor during remarriage counseling. Since her and her husband were clearly egals I had nothing to obsess about, but I see I have been educated for this daughter. I do realize many of you may still be complementarian here but that is not the issue and I won’t make it one here. There are plenty of other blogs for that.

  • Patti

    Now that I am reading here that girls want to marry SGM guys and I am finding out how much teaching goes into these kids on the ideals of how to be the perfect mate helps me understand why her Dear BF is taking her criticism of his church at such a personal level. To criticize his church is to say he isn’t good enough for her. What a blow to his and is family’s egos. I have been interested in psychology since I was a kid, but I too was told by my religious leaders that therapy was a bunch of psycho babble. Now I have lived long enough to see every one that says that, they are and have been the ones that needed the therapy the most. I was 30yrs old before I stopped rejecting the God I was raised with. I listened to a Foursquare preacher that I just knew he knew God and I told God I wanted to know Him like that. My heart changed instantly. But I still needed lots of ‘psycho babble’ from a lady counselor at my new church who helped me heal from the abuses of my IFB school, my Calvinist church, my father who spent way too much time away from home in a ministry and both parents trying to please the religious systems. My mother was stronger than most though and I remember her threatening divorce if my dad took one step farther to follow a leader to take us to live commune style which was where some of the fanatical leaders were heading at the
    time. The SGM and other churches like them think they are ‘saving’ their kids by all this legalism.
    I had gone to the alter so many times to ‘get saved’ from the tribulation at IFB chapel but then to have that considered unnecessary by my Calvin church on Sundays(a.m,p.m, and wed.Calvinettes :)) because if I was one of the Elect that would be ridiculous and they teach post trib anyway. Parents turned Assembly of God when I was teenager. Other religions in my extended family. All this to say I raised my kids to believe in God but independently believe in God, know for yourself, don’t read just a bunch of religious books by flawed opinionated men. So far both my girls have tons of personality. But now, my daughter is walking on eggshells around her SGM BF. I am 50 now. She is so young and I am worried she will get confused. I think she has seen me not speak my peace in our own household a few too many times for the sake of false peace. That was not a good example. My husband, her father believes now in equality without hierarchy so that is a plus, but even he at 52 hrs old cannot seem to be honest with his religious parents (in their 80s) when he tries to explain what our daughter is fighting right now. I mean when do we grow up! They are still hardline Calvinists so they would probably really like this young man. Sorry to still ‘broad brush’ but ‘just wanted to give a little background. If I had not been so brainwashed into thinking I was rebelling against the true ways of God when I left home at 18, I would have shouted loudly the abuses that happened. I still have trouble sometimes saying exactly what happened and when I see people blogging against our blogs saying we need to keep quiet so we don’t malign the gospel (I was reading old closed threads here) at first I feel a trigger like thought go off in my head like I start agreeing with that. Then I read someone refuting that and I snap back to a clear head and I get angry. A needed anger. My baby is on the East coast while I am on the west coast and I thank God for this blog! Us Christians are told constantly to fear sending our kids off to secular universities lest they reject God and believe evolution. Little did I ever guess she would be fighting a religious battle of this sort. I fear this more right now for her than I did the college parties. Those are temporary, this could affect her whole life and the grandchildren I hope to have. Thanks for the soapbox. :mic

  • Stunned

    Lynn, my best friend had on her “list” that she would only marry a man who was SGM. Thank heavens she didn’t stick to that.

  • Stunned

    Dafna, I love your 188 post! Thank you for sharing.

  • Stunned

    Deb, that is truly scary to me. How many sheep/lemmings need to fall off the cliff before the leaders stop whistling and say, “Over here, Boys!”

  • Lynn

    Dafna,

    Thanks for your post. I’m ok. I’m not really sad about sgm anymore. The lord is helping me heal from that. I’m just happy that the Lord opened my eyes to see it as it was. When I sarted going to my sgm church, I always thougt there was something tryng to pull me away from it. I always thought it was the devil, but I actually think maybe the Lord himself was trying to pull me out of it before I got to into it. About, the boy/girl thing I never had that experience, but I know tons of girls who did. I used to always want to date and marry a guy who was a sgm guy. I’m so glad I no longer feel that way.

  • Dafna

    Lynn- Also, about the guy/girl thing. I feel you on this one, and really sympathize (did I spell that right?) Been there, done that, used the T-shirt as a hankie to wipe my cryin’ eyes. Not sure why this kind of things happens, and it’s worse I suppose if you are in love with him or have really strong feelings and suddenly you are the object of his sunshiney attention, and then- bling!- the beautiful colorful floatey soapbubble of happiness you briefly enjoy just pops in the air. I think people have tried to give wise counsel here. And I nod my head along as I read,

    BUT… (as Kris says)

    it still hurts when it happens. I sure love floatey soap bubbles. I painted a picture of me standing inside of one, floating away into the stratosphere ( I am an artist- a creative, funky “individualist” sort of person. Like to sew my own clothes and handbags. Been called a hippie. Probably why I never fit in at Metro :D ) Would like to “float away” someday with Mr. Dafna into the stratosphere of God’s will and purpose. Until then I just keep dipping that plastic wand into the bottle and blowing. My Abba Father loves me ( and you!!) and is working it all out, even the stumbles and tumbles as I run and skip through the grass. Thought maybe you were feeling sad and needed a sympathetic ear and shoulder to lean on.

    {{Lynn}}- little hugs!

  • Dafna

    In response to Jedi at #65- the idea of calling people with addiction problems the “underbellies of the church” really bothered me. I myself had the same kind of (pharisaical) attitude.There was a lady I was friends with at a former church who was really involved in addiction therapy (not for herself, I think it was because of husband’s porn problem). I so many times wanted to debate with her whether or not all these “therapies” were really the answer, when to me the problem was clearly – SIN!! Now I have come to look at it differently- I believe there is a physiological component to addictions, whether drug, alcohol, food, sexual- that involves how the brain wires itself to strengthen these behaviors. In other words, sin has a physiological, not merely spiritual, element that must be dealt with by wise and compassionate leaders. So it’s not enough to say “You have an idol and need to repent”. Although that may be true, repentance is literally a “change of mind” and the mind involves our brain, a wonderfully complex organism our Creator gave us. Maybe they need to incorporate more scientific understanding of how the “addicted” brain works into their counseling -and a whole lot more of the heart of the Creator and Healer of Mankind, the Compassionate Redeemer ? Just thinking. By the way, Jedi- :goodpost

    So people struggling to overcome addiction can’t qualify as leaders– ever?? Wasn’t Mr. Mahaney himself a “druggie” before the Lord got his attention? Hmmm, ironic.

  • red crab

    #166 Remnant-I wanted to respond to your post as it hit close to home with me. We attended Halpine for many years and left when Pastor Kline was asked to leave for infidelity. That rocked my boat for sure as I worshipped the man [ first experience as a believer]. Though I see your point as we were all made aware of THAT church being a “shepherding” church and PK did advise CJ that he should not pursue a “career” as a pastor. Which would have been “humble” of the man to have listened to PK at that time….still…. I have a hard time even now acknowledging that Richard Kline was any kind of model to have followed. Though I’m sure that is not what you are suggesting. I wish we had listened to all the advice we were given not to go to CLC but at that time I wanted to get as far away from Halpine as I could. Maybe it was “out of the fat and into the fire”?????

  • Deb

    Kris said,
    “It’s a bizarre and uncanny thing. I’m not sure how it happens, but it seems like almost all SGM pastors (and their wives) end up sounding exactly the same as they teach. I don’t think pastors are overtly told to mimic CJ’s speech cadences and preaching style, but so many of them do.”

    Kris,

    I am listening to Mike Bullmore who is speaking live at The Gospel Coalition conference. He sounds so much like C.J. Mahaney that it’s scary!!! If this was a live audio feed and not video, I would have believed Mahaney was speaking. Although Bullmore pastors an independent church in Wisconsin called (of all things) CrossWay Community Church (the “W” is even capitalized like SGM’s CrossWay), his church’s website states that they are affiliated with TGC, SGM, and Desiring God.

    I continue to be amazed by how far reaching SGM’s influence has been in the New Reformed crowd. :scratch

  • One more link from my blog post – an audio of a mom sharing about healing from childhood molestation
    http://www.thatmom.com/2010/11/07/november-7-podcast/

  • Patti

    Thanks Kris,
    Giving out my email is fine. I so much appreciate your time.
    I am so grateful to all of you for taking the time to post and to
    care. :clap

  • For those who want more specific blog links:

    The current post on my main blog which discusses church and family dynamics: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2011/04/in-middle-of-story.html

    The child abuse article after the Schatz murder: http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2010/02/child-discipline-or-child-abuse.html

  • AKS, Karen Campbell (thatmom) has been a huge help to me too. I linked to a lot of her stuff in my current blog post, In the Middle of the Story, in my section on family dynamics. I did write about the control issue and parenting with grace. I also had a section in that post on church, with the comment on how a choice of church can affect our families. I think the link to the podcast series I recorded with Karen last year is also in there. If not, you can sins them linked on one of my other blogs here: http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2010/03/titus-2-mentoring-podcast-and-links.html

    You are right that there is a growing cadre of home school bloggers who are confronting the patriarchy movement. We have become even more emboldened since the Schatz murder case brought the Pearls’ dangerous discipline methods to light. My one post on that had thousands of hits and still gets hits daily.

    One of the prominent leaders of the patriarchy movement (the one whose two daughters wrote a book on why dad needs to control their lives until they marry) used to be my home group leader in another church organization that used to be similar to SGM in leadership structure and authoritarian atmosphere. That group has changed so much since its leader stepped down in the mid 1980’s about the time we arrived.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    A lot of our friends are homeschoolers. We homeschooled our own children for several years. We also have some friends that are pretty big wigs in the homeschool movement. They are all VERY CONCERNED about the large number of homeschoolers (and christian schools) being influenced by patriarchy/patriocentricity.

    Many homeschoolers *ARE* like SGM due to the fact that they incorporate many of the practices found within the patriarch/patriocentric movement.

    For those who homeschool or have friends or relatives that homeschool and are interested in reading more about these “concerns,” I highly recommend Karen Campbell’s blog…

    http://www.thatmom.com

  • Patti,

    We don’t have a private messaging system connected with this site. But if you’d like, I can pass on your email address to anyone who wishes to correspond with you.

    What you observed as you listened to people from CLC is the SGM trend of cloning. It’s a bizarre and uncanny thing. I’m not sure how it happens, but it seems like almost all SGM pastors (and their wives) end up sounding exactly the same as they teach. I don’t think pastors are overtly told to mimic CJ’s speech cadences and preaching style, but so many of them do.

    Matter of fact, I’d challenge anyone to find another organization where such widespread mimicry exists. While I know that most denominations have their preaching heroes, their role models, I’m not aware of another group of churches where the preaching style – or even the pastors’ voice intonations – are so identical.

    Maybe longtime SGMers are able to pick up on the nuances and differences between these men, but to an outsider’s ears, they all sound the same.

  • Patti

    Hi Kris, is there a way I can invite certain bloggers to private messaging with me? I am really interested in talking to people from the same church and school my daughter’s BF was raised in and still attends the church. It is the CLC. My daughter has attended services with him a couple of times now. One time recently CJ himself preached. I listened to the mp3′. He just kept repeating stuff about when people doubt. I think the church has been hypnotized or something. I listened by mp3 to 3 different ladies speak at 3 different Saturday morning meetings. All 3 sounded exactly alike in their manner of speech. I listened to another lady and felt a little relief when she sounded like she had a personality but then I saw she was brought as a speaker from a different church!

  • Elijah Craig

    I don’t see where I broad-brushed home schoolers. You’re reading more into my words than I put in them.

    There is a complex of ideas that both IFB and SGM hold. My point is that it’s not going to be hard for the news media to jump from one group to another when they have so much in common.

  • Dafna

    Vida- You’re a fountain of wisdom, Thanks so much!!

  • I want to say that despite my feelings toward SGM and my grief at what has happened at MLC, I am so grateful for their kindness toward my family in the past 9 years. So many precious people there. The friends that my children have made there have meant so much to me as a mom. The opportunities MLC has given them for street evangelism, homeless ministry, prolife ministry and foreign missions have been priceless. Each of the pastors there has ministered to me in so many ways, standing by me when I needed them. I don’t always agree with them – and they know that because I communicated that quite bluntly on numerous occasions. But they never failed to treat me with absolute courtesy and they still do even now.

  • Dafna

    Lynn- I just wanted to say that I am so glad you got away from Sgm!! Like the Elton John song goes “Someone saved my life tonight … You almost had your hooks in me, you nearly had me roped and tied … Sweet freedom whispered in my ear, You’re a butterfly… and butterflies are flee to fly- Fly away!
    High away! Bye-bye…” I’m getting choked up just typing this. (Sorry, I’m real quick with songs, commercials, etc.) That one for some reason seems to fit you, sister. You started out here suspicious and tentative, now your really thinking for yourself instead of going with whatever They told you. And everytime you come on to comment I see like butterfly wings fluttering. It’s beautiful, baby! Keep it up!! :clap
    Hope you’re not embarassed.

    An “error in shepherding” – yes, that’s an understated way to put it. That’s It Exactly. Which is why I pray for the “smiting” (not any whacko violence, mind you) of the shepherds so the sheep can scatter for safety and freedom. Zechariah 13;7.

  • Dafna, pray that our gracious Lord would rain down his most abundant blessings on each and every SGM member, from the folks in the pew to the folks in the pulpit. Pray that they will deeply and richly understand the lavish grave of God through firsthand experience. Pray that God’s kindness will open eyes and hearts for true repentance where it is needed, and a complete release from shame for those who have been bound in false guilt for any reason. Pray that strained and severed family relationships will be completely restored. Pray that friends will be reunited by a common and passionate love for Jesus. How is that for a start?

    P.S. I think JP and EG are amazing people and I wish them all the best in their marriage. :-)

  • Dafna

    Oh, just in case anyone thinks I’m out to “get” any SG pastors or want to see God rain down buses from heaven on them: I don’t wish any physical harm to them, when I mentioned wanting God to “smite” them. Just that He would intervene somehow to stop them from doing the crap they are doing to people. Hope that comes across.

    On that note- does anyone have any prayer pointers about how to pray for SGM? Any particular scriptures or insights you feel God has shown you?? I am an intercessory/prophetic type person and would appreciate any input on how to pray.

    Thanks!- Dafna

  • Dafna

    Vida- Wow, I guess he just upgraded his sin-blasting technology, from sword to laser beam! Less messy- them darn blood stains to get out. :wink:

    Don’t want to sound like a Benny-basher. I know he has gone through his own ordeal with SGM, along with his family, but I can’t help but wonder how much he knows about all the excrement
    at Fairfax, even though he wasn’t involved in it. I mean with Noel and Grizzly, and then the other sex abuse cases after that. I guess I just assume he must have been somehow “in the know”. And to continue to be an SGM pastor knowing this is how they treat people– I just don’t get it, how can a man that people speak so well serve under such an organization ?? I see it as giving his approval. I assume that to mean he approves of the way they handled Wallace and Happymom’s case, and Noel and Grizzly’s case. And I can’t help but wonder what is being “silenced” at Metro? I think Sex abuse cases pop up in every church eventually, esp. nowadays with internet porn I believe helping to fuel the problem. I can’t help but wonder if Metro has its own skeletons in the closet like this? Maybe I’m way out of line here in speculating, I don’t know. I refused an invitation to the wedding over this very issue, the idea of a precious sincere brother like EG (our former e-team leader) leaping into the SGM fire through marriage. He’ll probably end up an SG pastor, God forbid!! He’s got the lingo down pat and the whole sin-focus thing pretty good. The Kool- Aid seems to have worked its magic on him. Nothing personal against JP, except her family SG’s connection. It makes me want to hurl execrations. Or just hurl. :barf:

    About the ESV bible: I switched to ESV happily after using the Nasb, because the language is way-easier to read. I had switched to the Nasb from using KJV for the same reason. But after reading the ESV I felt that several passages were mistranslated, so now I’m back to old King Jimmy,after all- its the Bible Jesus and his disciples used :wink:

  • Just found this linked by a friend on Facebook. GRACE = Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. It is a resource for churches on preventing child sexual abuse in the church.
    http://www.netgrace.org/index.asp?str_string=Common%20Questions~none~none

    Child sexual abuse is one of the fastest growing forms of child abuse. In 2003, there were over 90,000 known reported cases of child sexual abuse in the United States. Sadly, the Christian community is far from immune. In the last 10 years, there have been an average of 70 child abuse allegations against American churches every week. And those who survive child abuse face a lifetime of spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges. The financial costs of child abuse are staggering. Child abuse costs this country more than $94 billion each year. That translates to $258 million per day or $1,462 annually for every household in the United States. Within the Christian community, law suits were a result of 21% of the allegations made against Christian churches. Child abuse has been both spiritually and financially devastating to the Christian community. Today, over 60 million survivors of child abuse are living in the United States. This translates into 45 out of every 1,000 American children, many of whom are sitting in our churches and attending our Christian schools.

  • Lynn

    Acme,

    A co-wroker of mine told me the other day that SGM has what people call an error in shepherding. Thats another reason i left my sgm church, I felt afraid that i would end up in a marriage where i would be controlled andwhere i needed to get my husbands permission to go to starbucks.

  • Patti, amen! After 21 years in CLC when I searched for a new church, I knew I had to have one that let women use the gifts God has given them.

    My mom cried during my vows to a PDI/SGM man — and I so wish I had listened to her concerns way back then. I would have saved so many a world of hurt. My estranged husband’s sister and brother-in-law (Assemblies of God evangelists/tentmakers) tried to warn us of how heavy-handed the Shepherding seemed to them. I wish I had listened to them.

    Click on my name to read a short version of my story. I would tell your daughter to RUN! As enticing as the thought is, “marry the man today, change his ways tomorrow” just doesn’t work–and isn’t fair to anyone.

    w-i-p, thanks!

    Anne – CLC 1986-2007

  • Patti

    Dear 5yearsinPDI, please forgive me while I vent a second here, I really don’t mean it personal and I don’t think you were even referring to my post but here goes~ :word

    Drawing from my experience with Calvinists, IFBers, Calvary Chapelers, Complementarians, Hierarchalists, and now SGMers and all the homeschooling people I have known inside and outside of family I am afraid my brush is getting broader all the time.
    But what I am seeing the worst of right now is with the leaders of these movements actually NOT into reading their Bibles but rather each others interpretations of their Bibles. I keep looking for just one online sermon or material where one of these leaders preach from the Bible alone without quoting verbatim someone else. And then when I try to say what I believe the scripture is saying from my own extensive study with the help of lexicons, bible dictionaries, etc., I am the one broad brushed by all of them, broad brushed into feminism. And that before even hearing what I have to say because I am a woman. I know my daughter believes with all her heart that she won’t get brainwashed into SGM. Now that she knows what is going on she believes God intended for this relationship with this man to be for a higher purpose before they inevitably split or he changes. When I was sharing my concerns with her she said, mom, this is much bigger than just me and BF, the seeming coincidences of your studies, experiences and now simultaneous findings are just too revealing of that. I feel like she is right.
    But, with a mother’s heart, I do get panicky when I think of what could happen. I know first hand the abuse and ‘bewitching’ that heretical legalistic doctrine leads to. She has not experienced it personally except to be shunned by the church schoolers at church and shunned by her home schooled cousins because she was watching a cartoon they didn’t approve of. When our own youth pastor started making chauvinistic comments from the pulpit I did not enforce youth group, and pointed out where he was wrong. And that coming from a denomination that allows female leadership but still teaches home hierarchy.

  • Remnant

    I can’t help but think that Pastor Richard Kline was right more than 30 years ago when he did not support the young men, CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomsczak, in their quest to start a church. If only CJ had taken PK’s advice then, in true humility.

    When someone tells you something, believe them. CJ’s been trying to convince people for years that he’s the greatest sinner that he knows. Sin One: Being to haughty, thinking too much of himself, so that he did not take the advice of his mentor.

    CJ was warned decades ago.
    CJ, being the greatest sinner that he knows, has sinned against so many.
    CJ, it is past time to repent. Stepping down might be a good start. But just the start.

  • work-in-progress

    On the topic of painting with a broad brush, I have to say I was really disappointed and saddened by the comments that there’s a “homosexual spirit” in SGM and other gay-bashing comments (especially towards gay men or men who don’t fit a macho stereotype) I’ve read here in recent weeks. That kind of stereotyping isn’t loving, and I know I’m not the only regular reader here who finds it off-putting and alienating.

  • Lynn

    5years,

    you’re right. We should not say that all home school are like sgm. We need to be careful by what we say.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    “The ideas of courtship, nouthetic counseling, homeschooling, etc., are shared beween IFB and SGM and I’d be surprised if reporters haven’t already made the connection.”

    Could we please be careful here with the broad brush.
    Not all or even most homeschoolers are like SGM. Not all-or most- Calvinists are like SGM. I know hundreds and hundreds of complementarians none of whom are like certain SGM guys. Probably most of us believe in nouthetic counseling, properly understood, and SGM isn’t it (the compassion of Ed Welch is far more typical). They don’t represent “Reformed” either, or Baptists. Can’t say much about courtship, don’t know, but the point is, just because SGM is into something doesn’t make their version of it the majority version, nor does it automatically make the thing in itself wrong.

    They are into reading the bible too. So are we going to beware of the bible?

    Please, let’s be careful of the guilt by association tendency that is not always accurate.

  • Lynn

    I forget who said this, but I’m sure Wallace did. He said that clergy are exempted in VA for reporting child abuse. However, I watch What Would you do on ABC on Friday nights, like its my job. I remember this one episode where this lady was “passed out” on a sidewalk and the perimedics did nothing because they were on their break. I talked about this with a person who is in school to be a paramedic. He said, “legally they dont have to do something, but morally they should”.

    Yeah, I get it, they don’t legally have to, but don’t these pastors have any morals? SGM needs to be very careful about how they handle child abuse. Lets say for example, a member molest a child who has parents who are members, and the pastoral ledership don’t want to have charges brought against this person. Lets say this person goes and molest another child who has parents who do not go to church at all. Then, what if it is found out in court he did molest a child before, and the pastors who are in a state to report child abuse, don’t. That sgm church will face a lawsuit. Another thing I want to bring up is this, what if a child says they were “touched” by someone who is a member at clc, and that child goes to covenant life school, and they tell their teacher. Arent teachers required by law, no matter where they go to school to report it to the police?

    Those are just my thoughts about child abuse in sgm church lately.

  • Lynn

    Elijah Craig,

    I wonder when people will see the connection between IFB and SGM. However, I do think that day will come that SGM is shown to the media just how corrupt they are. Only time will tell. I’m sure there are so many more stories out there like happymom’s and they dont say anything bc they think that sgm pastors know what they’re doing.

  • “It does worry me that she gives into his not wanting her to bring
    up the subject when they are just having a ‘nice’ time together. He has already told her she should stop talking to me about it all.”

    One thing that SGM Parents expect of their children is a certain amount of deference to them which includes even when they are adults. Kris shared a while back that though these SGM Parents expect that of their children, these parents typically didn’t do this to their parents.

    It sure seems contradictory that this young man who is in SGM is saying that a non SGM mom shouldn’t have any input when SGM teaches that parents should be involved and a certain amount of deference to them even when adults. I am sure if the non SGM daughter told the young man who is in SGM that his parents shouldn’t be involved he would be quite offended.

    It is just another example of different standards depending on if the person is or isn’t part of SGM.

  • Stunned

    “It does worry me that she gives into his not wanting her to bring
    up the subject when they are just having a ‘nice’ time together. He has already told her she should stop talking to me about it all.”

    That boy is DEEPLY disturbed and controlling. What man tells his sweetheart that she should stop talking to her mother about ANYTHING? A deeply disturbed, controlling one.

    Please do not walk, but RUN to the exit. Your life will be hell if you end up with this one. God made you to be free. Do NOT give it up. Of all the things you will miss if you end up with him, you will miss your freedom the most.

  • happymom

    Dafna,
    I should have added that we never moved away from the church, we still lived 20 minutes away and kept in touch with and occasionally attended social functions with members of the staff. It wasn’t like we completely dropped off the map. We didn’t hear from any of them until CJ got involved a year and a half later.

  • Elijah Craig

    I grew up IFB and have some acquaintance with the people featured in 20/20 story. I’ve followed this blog for two or three years because it’s interesting to trace a similiar development to what led up to what the IFB folks are now going through.

    SGM really is not that different from IFB. When I first encountered SGMers after leaving the IFB movement, my initial reaction was “ick.” Mahaney and Harris have a Sword of Damocles hanging over their head as a result of the 20/20 expose. The ideas of courtship, nouthetic counseling, homeschooling, etc., are shared beween IFB and SGM and I’d be surprised if reporters haven’t already made the connection.

  • Dafna, I don’t remember the sermon about zapping our sins with a laser, but I’ll guess you wouldn’t have liked BP’s sermon on hacking Agag (our sin) to.pieces… Actually I’ve always thought there are many things he “gets” about life that others don’t. And I will never forget his personal investment in home school families. Another little odd thing that I appreciated is that during one message he actually used an NIV Bible, which I have went back to from the ESV about the time we left MLC. The funny thing is that he did that during a marriage retreat that I otherwise hated with a passion because of the sin focus. Blech. That retreat was the light bulb moment for me, even though it was almost another year before we left.

  • Dafna

    Happymom- Yeah, I guess that would “justify” their behavior, but still … horrible!!! Horrible !!!

    I retain all my execrations against their ministry.

    With apologies to U2, “SGM moves in mysterious ways.” :huh

  • happymom

    Dafna,

    Love that UB40 song! :)
    How I think these men justify their lack of care is that we were no longer members when we discovered what happened to child B. We had left the church a few years prior.
    Although we HAD been members for about 12 years before leaving and foolishly thought we had some friends left there. We knew the staff pretty well because of our relation to pastor LG. Their care turned to the perp and his family who were long time members.
    Thanks for your prayers.

  • Dafna

    Vida Savta-

    Hello “neighbor”! :D Yes, I know you- I used to sit in front of your family sometimes on that back left row on Sunday mornings, y’all took up the whole row !! Lovely family. Yes, I remember the name of one of the older girls, and there is one whose cute face I can see in my mind but her name escapes me. Anyway, yes, weren’t those good times at Friday night e-team?? I think you were there the first time I came, we met at S.K.’s house and I stayed to pray, of course, definitely didn’t have the gumption to talk to strangers at the time !! So glad to hear you have moved on and found a new place, I am sure you miss a lot of your friends and the good things you found at Metro- sigh – it probably was hard for you and your family. Anyway, I gotta go because it’s getting late, will definitely visit your website soon. Blessings to you and your family- love, Dafna

  • Oh Dafna, I’m pretty sure who you are by now!

  • Dafna

    Funny thing happened this morning. I was driving in my car and that song “Red Red Wine” by Ub40 came on the radio- that song has been rolling around my head alot lately (no, I have no desire to drown my sorrows in alchohol-not anymore, praise God !) But there I am bopping my head around to the beat and the part comes on where the guy sings,

    “Give me little time, Help me clear up me mind
    Give me little time, Help me clear up me mind ….”

    And then I realized that after de-lurking yesterday and talking about my experience at Metro, it was like I had stuffed alot of those things down in my basement, so to speak, like you would pack things in boxes to get them out of sight.
    Now it’s like that’s what my soul is singing: “Give me little time, Help me clear up me mind”.A little time to sort out what happened- not that any of it was traumatic, like many of the testimonies shared on this website. The most painful thing is the loss of relationships, seeing people you admire and care about deeply being assimilated by the Borg, being swallowed alive by Audrey II ( the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors) These are the best metaphors I can come up with right now for the evil infesting SGM.

    Back to Wallace’s story:

    We left the Sovereign Grace Fairfax church in May 2007 because of the overbearing emphasis on personal sin and the cross.

    BINGO!!! Of all those things I experienced at Metro that were bugging me which I had a hard time pinning down, that was probably the biggest. Although the reason I finally “left” Metro permanently was I couldn’t take any more of Benny’s sermons. He actually preached one Sunday on how we need to use the grace of God like in laser tag, to “zap” the sinful things in our character ( for some reason the slogan “zap your zits” keeps coming to mind, wasn’t there some pimple cream commercial like that?) Well, I had made it a point to be a good Berean at Metro, carting my ginormous Interlinear Bible with me on Sunday mornings, along with the Hebrew/Greek dictionary I cut out of the back of my Strong’s concordance. After that sermon I went home and looked up all the passages on “grace” in the Bible, and it all indicated to me that WE OURSELVES are the “targets” of the grace of God, NOT our sins ! And I think this makes a big difference, when you look at it that way. Not focusing on targeting sins, but fixing your eyes on JESUS, the author and perfecter of your faith. Sorry, there I go again :mic !

    There was no visible concern shown during this time for our child by the staff including our brother-in-law and his family. No inquiring phone calls or emails. Our child had just been discharged from the hospital. When you leave a Sovereign Grace church for disagreeing with or challenging leadership in any way, all relationships you once had there are severed.

    Wallace and Happymom- I find it unbelievable that those guys showed no concern for your child who was going through such trauma and was so in need of care. Absolutely shocking. What can you do when you read something like that?? These men are supposed to be shepherds, counselors, comforters, servants – everything GOOD you think of when you think of a godly spiritual leader, or for that matter a compassionate human being. And they completely failed to care for your child when he was most in need. Spiritual malpractice!!! My stomach clenches at the thought.

    May God remove them from having any sort of authority or influence over souls
    May they never harm anyone again
    May they never blacken the name of Jesus Christ with their false Pharisaical “ministry”.
    I pray God will yank the carpets out from under their feet-that He will “smite” those shepherds so their sheep can scurry away to safety, far away from the poison Kool-Aid poppy fields they have been feeding in.

    (pant! pant! Dafna is getting all worked up right now and probably needs to take a breather .)

    God bless you abundantly, your whole family, thank God you escaped and may you and especially this child, find healing from our great Yahweh Rapha. Amen!

    Shalom- Dafna

  • Lynn

    I follow Tullian Tchividjian(Billy Graham’s grandson) on twitter and he said this the other day, “Without fail, legalism always produces licentiousness. Always!”

    He also said, “What licentious people need is a greater understanding of grace, not a governor on grace.”

  • Lynn

    patti,

    I saw the 20\20 episode and it’s so sad what is going on in these churches. Also, it looked like the IFB picked their ‘pretty nice boy’ to talk to them. Like how Josh is the nice guy of sgm and they have him always speak on behalf of sgm. I do agree with what someone else said, they will only understands when it happens to them.

  • Patti

    I talked to my daughter this morning. She said she read all these posts and the one at Discipline and thanks you all. She is in such a great place at her own church right now and they are helping her through this.
    She is trying to assure me that she will not go to his side. She is extremely busy right now finishing her senior year college but she
    trusts me to post anything about what she is going through. It does worry me that she gives into his not wanting her to bring
    up the subject when they are just having a ‘nice’ time together. He has already told her she should stop talking to me about it all.
    Is that not outright cultic? She said her BF is catching problems from his family about this. He is the only one of 5 siblings who is not married to or dating an SGMer or she said one is dating someone fron a church similar to SGM. She has signed up with the cbeinternational.org and is reading the
    online mutuality issues and really likes those. They are so refreshing after trying to refute CBMW.
    Did anyone see the 20/20 last Friday about the IFB abuses and coverup cases? I grew up in one of their
    schools.. I am learning the SGM schools and churches can be the same and thanks to blogs like these I am learning
    the connections between them and SGM. Since I had similar abuses in my schooling as the 20/20, you can all know
    how deeply this :beat :beat hits home.

  • Nickname

    Way back in comment #22, Kris wrote: “Because of SGM’s belief that each of us must always be “the worst sinner that we ourselves know,” we basically give up our rights to ANY victimhood, no matter how heinous the crime committed against us.”

    I’ve been mulling this over, and thinking about a mature beleiver I knew who suffered some terrible indignities at the hands of another believer, who was able to say, through the strength of the Lord and the leading of the Holy Spirit, “I don’t believe I need to assert any rights in this situation, because I am a slave to Jesus Christ, and he gave up His rights for me…” I think, throughout our Christian lives, we will see people, every now and then, who can joyfully come to this kind of conclusion on their own.

    But though it is laudable, commendable, and a great example, it is not mandated through the whole of scripture, and it is not something that can be forced in another person’s life. The problem with SGM is that they have taken the “worst sinner” and “whatever happens is better than I deserve” ideas and made them into RULES for their congregations — and they expect to be able to apply this idea regardless of spiritual temperature, their maturity, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, in every situation.

    They also miss the boat by assuming that a victim has not exercised forgiveness when forgiveness is not the issue. Wallace stated that they’ve forgiven the criminals, and I believe him. What comes next, though, is a separate issue from forgiveness. It is the re-establishment of trust. And as the Kingsway church was just taught through the mediator from Peacemakers, those two things are completely different. It is unlikely, and unrealistic, to expect a re-establishment of trust between a victim and a sexual perpetrator. It is NOT unrealistic to expect the re-establishment of trust among the victim’s families and the pastors who let them down. But first, those pastors need to admit that what they did caused further pain and destruction to the victims. They need to admit, and apologize for what they did that was, as they like to say “not helpful.” It sounds like they did make an apology, as Wallace said, for “poor leadership and not caring” for them. But listen again to Paul Cornwell from Peacemakers. Did they really define poor leadership? What do they mean by “not caring” for them? Did they express godly sorrow for what they’ve done? And then, was there a change in behavior due to that sorrow? I wasn’t there, but from the cheap seats, it sounds like it was lip service followed by “sit down & shut up.”

    Every church that deals with this kind of believer-on-believer crime is going to walk the tightrope of caring for victims and caring for perpetrators. As spiritual leaders of both sides, they have a responsibility to both sides. SGM has done a pretty good job of realizing that bad guys need help. What they’ve messed up is that they have a responsibility to the good guys as well.

    Let’s say there’s a murder-suicide attempt. Both the victim and the murderer lie bleeding. Would they tape a bandaid over the victim and leave him groaning in pain while they anesthesize the perp and medevac him to the finest trauma center in the country? Hardly.

    One of my fellow former SGM’ers once said, about many issues with myopic church leaders, “they’ll only understand this when it happens to them.”

    God help us.

  • Luna Moth

    Patti,
    I also thought the bloghost (CD-Host) had some very good insights.
    I hope your daughter will feel welcome to post! :D

  • Lynn

    Patti,

    Please don’t let your daughter go to his side. People who go to sgm and are very loyal to their church can bevery convincing. A co-worker of mine just asked me the website for my church and I told her I no longer go there. I could not even recommend my church. When it gets to a point you cant even recommend your own church to someone who is looking for a church, then you have a poblem.

  • Lynn

    Happymom and Wallace,

    I too am curious if the check came from CJ’s personal bank account or from SGM account? If you don’t want to say thats fine too.

  • Patti

    Luna Moth,
    I want to thank you for saying you saw my post at http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2008/01/sovereign-grace-ministries.html?showComment=1301174666099#comment-c6728813978767321029
    That was back in March.
    I never saw their host reply. I couldn’t remember where I commented. I just read
    their very good advice also.

  • Patti

    Wow, Thank you all for the comments for my daughter. To answer a couple questions, she met him in college. They became serious this year, her last year at school. She was excited about him being a Christian and having the same values as her, even to the point of of getting married and her desire has always been to raise a family in a more traditional way meaning she didn’t want to put kids in daycare,etc. However she did not know this would not be a matter of choice in his mind. She also accepted the controlling behavior of his parents because he still lives at home and commutes far every day and she respected his respect for his parents. They dated for quite a while before she met his family or went to his church, according to her his parents at first did not want him to bring her. I remember that was the first sign that I had that something was ‘off’. Anyway, I would love to share so much more of her story but I am going to let her know about this thread and let her speak for herself. She is a strong woman but if I feel she is starting to give in to his side I will be back and I won’t be shy about what I say. Thank you all again.
    Oh, and in my first comment I meant to type Gospel Coalition instead of Christian Coalition.

  • Wallace

    Kris,
    Our third-party friend did not tell us the nature of the donation from CJ. He also didn’t say why he was given the check.

  • Remnant

    Lynn, it’s a crazy system. Say your have a 20-something son who is getting settled and thinking that he’s nearing ready to take on the responsibility of a wife. He’s never dated because, well, he’s not been allowed. He’s never allowed himself to look at the girls around him with an eye for romance, for commitment, for anything more than a group “date” to go bowling. But now, he wants to settle down, long-term with one of these gals within the walls of his church. If he shows outward signs, actually asks one of them out on a date, he’ll likely be scrutinized as having “chosen” his one and only, when in actuality, he just wants to go out with her to get to know her. So, to make her life less stressful, to make HIS life less stressful, to avoid being labeled as a “couple” after a date or two or three, he chooses not to date. He chooses to get to know her more deeply by subterfuge, if you will: he calls, perhaps, he texts, perhaps, he chats with her more deliberately, perhaps.

    How else can he get to know her without someone prematurely labeling them a “couple”?

    I know a young man who felt he needed to ask the young ladies’ father each time he wanted to get to know her more closely (and he was a college student) if he could court his daughter. He must have courted several young women. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather know my husband “dated” a few gals rather than “courted” a few before settling in on me.

    So, what’s a young man to do?
    To date is akin to a serious relationship, so that’s out because he doesn’t want to dive in that deeply just to get to know her.
    He could ask permission to court, but that’s diving in even more deeply.
    All he has left is to pay attention: quietly (via phone or text) get to know her, see if he likes her enough to come out and actually ask her on a date, bringing to public light and scrutiny his budding interest in her, placing on them both a heavy burden of “seriousness.”

    And the poor girl does know, by these methods that she’s garnering his attentions and can indeed, as is natural and normal, start to like the young man. When he decides he is not interested in moving into the public realm with his interest in her, she’s likely to be hurt.

    These are normal feelings for both of them. Usually, these types of feelings are experienced in high school years, when hormones naturally cause young people to “like” one another. It is safer, IMHO, that these feelings are experienced when the young people are young, when there is no likelihood of being labeled as “permanent”, when marriage is not right around the corner. There is safety in exploring who you like, what you like in a person, what turns you on, what turns you off, what attracts you, what doesn’t, when still safely ensconced at the family home. By the time you are 20-something and ready to settle down, you’ve already explored your OWN feelings and are ready to move into more mature relationships without having to play games with women’s (or men’s) hearts on the sly.

    Kissing dating goodbye is a system that has backfired for so many of our young folk. Yes, yes, I hear that Josh Harris rescinded his edict for no dating – but as far as I know, it was at one church (CLC) during one service, and was many years ago. He’s not encouraged kissing the kissing dating goodbye, he’s given lip service to it. He must still want royalties from the book, so he can’t kiss kissing it goodbye too hard.

    Comes back to money and a gross lack of care for those in their care. :bang

  • kenster

    Thank you Wallace and Happymom for being so brave in sharing your story. As a former member of Fairfax Covenant Church (now called Sovereign Grace Fairfax or whatever it’s calling itself this week), I knew there were issues but I didn’t think that they were of this depth. It sounds like they are more concerned about protecting the core members instead of taking care of the flock as a whole. They also imply that if you are not attending a Sovereign Grace church, you’re not walking with God. I left in 2004 and got a call from one of the Admin Assistants who said that one of the pastors wanted to “interview” me, but I never returend the phone call, as I had a sense how the conversation would go.

  • Lynn

    Stunned,

    I do agree with you, I think there are some males who love hanging out with their female friends. The girls I’m talking about are in there late teens and early twentys. I think in that mind set they just think well if he hangs out with me all the time he might like me. I can only speak for myself. I know if a guy gave me special attention all the time I would think he liked me. Idk. I just have seen a lot of girls in my sgm church hurt by what that sgm guys do :)

  • I was thinking some more about Wallace’s story. Wallace and Happymom, if you’re reading today, I wonder if you’d be able to answer a question. (If not – no worries! :D )

    I’m still wondering about the check that CJ gave to the third-party witness you brought with you to some of the reconciliation meetings. Since the witness did tell you about it and ask you what you wanted him to do with the money, I was curious to know if he also shared his knowledge about the source of the money? Was this a personal donation from CJ’s personal bank account? Or was it from SGM officially?

    Also, did your friend say whether or not CJ said anything to him about why he was suddenly giving him (or his ministry) money?

    Of all the harrowing details of your story, that $5,000 check thing stands out for me as the strangest tidbit. Even if your friend has (or is part of) a ministry, to where he is able to receive tax-deductable donations, it is just so odd to think of what had to be going through CJ’s head when he engineered the donation.

    I mean, just imagine – you’re the Big Guy, the tippy-top banana, the CEO of the ministry. You are now sitting in on some meetings to try and help some of your employees resolve a conflict with some members. The members bring along a third-party witness. Maybe the witness is a pastor or runs some tax-exempt ministry, which makes giving him a check a bit less irregular…but still. What goes through your head as you put the check request in motion? “I was in a meeting with Pastors X, Y, and Z, along with the Wallace family, who brought along a friend, Pastor A. Gee, I think we need to support Pastor A’s ministry!”

    If the $5,000 check was drawn on an SGM bank account, I’m thinking the request had to be approved by at least one other person. Was there nobody in SGM’s finance department who could take CJ aside and say, “Look, pal, this won’t look good”?

    And…if the check was not drawn off of CJ’s personal funds…

    Does anybody else think it’s bizarre that SGM’s money is being donated like this? Doesn’t it make all you SGMers out there kind of annoyed to know that your sacrificial giving is treated so randomly like this? For most people – at least those of us who aren’t the all-powerful, accountable-to-no-one head of a denomination family of churches – $5,000 is a significant chunk of change, not some paltry little amount to toss around.

    That this donation was given to Wallace and Happymom’s friend after CJ knew this friend had been brought into their meetings to serve as moral support for them and be a set of neutral eyes – well, it just amazes me.

  • I should clarify what I mean by “we left”. My husband and I and our six younger children go to a small Presbyterian (PCA) church. We also have four adult daughters. One worships as a messianic Jew with her husband and son (hence my screen name, which is Hebrew for beloved grandmother), another stayed at MLC (Dafna, you would know her from evangelism), and the other two (obe of whom you probably know) will make their decision after they come home from Italy next month.

  • Dafna, you probably know me since my daughters were quite involved in the e-team and I came a few times, too. Love those folks! We left MLC last summer after 8 years. I would love to hear from you and learn how you found this site. It has been a huge help to me too. You can click on my screen name to read my blog and e-mail me through there.

  • Luna Moth

    Hi Patti. Welcome. I saw an earlier comment you made on the church-discipline blog,and your daughter has been on my mind.

    Looking at the details you’ve shared, here and in that comment–the young man thinks it is “sin” for her to try to understand the truth for herself by digging into Scripture, he goes into “a trance” when talking about God–I see troubling signs here.

    I would caution her about continuing this relationship. In your comment on Church Discipline, you said “She did not know what they [SGM] believed until their relationship became serious.” How serious? Considering marriage?

    He already thinks she is doing wrong by challenging SGM’s beliefs. Instead of listening to her and looking into the Bible for himself, he is seeing her as the antagonist, the “bad” one. It’s one thing to be at theological odds with someone you’re dating. What about being at odds with your husband? What about knowing that whenever you challenge the church’s teachings, your husband will think you’re the one who’s wrong?

    You said, “She actually attends a church with female pastors and believes as do I the doctrine of mutual submission in marriage” (on Church Discipline). She will not find a SGM church to be a place where she fits in.

    Based on similar situations I’ve seen, I don’t think she will win out in theological debates with her young man. I don’t think he will leave SGM for her.

    Having discussions to help him see beyond the SGM mindset is one thing, but I think being in a romantic relationship muddies those waters.

    If he (or anyone) is going to leave SGM, I think it has to be God’s doing. It has to be for God he leaves. I think she can’t persuade him herself. And I would urge her not to compromise her own beliefs. Her integrity as a person and a Christian is something to be valued and held fast.

  • Stunned

    Hi Dafna and Patti. Welcome to the site and Dafna, thanks for de lurking. I know it isn’t always easy to open up. Patti, good luck with your daughter and her situation. I wish I had wisdom for you. Jesus CAN set this boy free and I hope he does.

  • Lynn

    Patti,

    I too thought it was unusal for a sgm guy who grew up in a church to date someone who didn’t grow up in a sgm church. I do think he is more open minded than others. I would just tell her to have be careful. From my experience in my sgm church, I never saw anyone who did not grow up in the church marry someone who didn’t grow up in sgm. There was this one girl in my church who grew up in my sgm church and did marry someone who didn’t, but sgm church was pretty much the only church he really went to. So in my opinion that doesn’t count. Really, I would tell her to ask him questions and ask him why he sees control, why doesn he do anything? Also, I’m just really curious, where did your daughter meet him, if you don’t mind me asking.

  • Stunned

    (this is a total side note happymom and wallace- I hope you don’t mind.)

    Hi Lynn,

    You said, “If a guy goes and hangs out with a girl all the time and the guy is always wanting to, then the guy is thought to have romantic feelings for her…I’m sorry but guys do not hang out with one girl without a motive. As one guy said, ‘guys have enough friends’. How it happened ay my sgm church the guy will tell the girl he only saw them as friends and nothing more.”

    Lynn, I think every situation is different. I have a few guy pals who love to hang with their female friends one on one and would do so all the time if they could. There is no romantic entanglement but merely a good buddy. I know people can be cynical but I am in my mid 40s and have seen lots of people remain as just good buddies.

    I don’t think friendship is healthy if it is restricted to one gender. Doesn’t make for a well rounded life in my book. Which ever guy said, “‘guys have enough friends’” may only be speaking for himself. (That or he doesn’t value women beyond their “role”.) There are a lot of men (especially those without a wife) who long to see the world from both sides so cherish their female friends without feeling something romantic.

    “I’m sorry but that is not right. These pastors need to know how a womens mind works…but I don’t thini a guy should give them special attention and later on tell them there was never a romantic interest at all.”
    I hear you and think a friendship should have clearly drawn lines so that either one is not heartbroken or confused. Though, again, I think it depends on the situation. I wouldn’t swap my guy buddies for all the money in the world. (OK, ALL the money and I’d think about it.) They teach me so much about the male side. They are loyal friends who have gone out of their way to help me get jobs when I was without and to let me cry on their shoulders when my heart was breaking. All without any confusing romantic feelings. (Though I do long to be a ten year old where there is never any question about the facts of life. Boys are only good for playing with and not for anything “yucky”. Now that I think about it, my best friends have often been males. I guess that’s ’cause I was a tomboy and I never understood things like dolls or the love of the color pink.)

    Best wishes for this great spring day.

    Stunned

  • Dafna

    Thought I would pop in on my way to the library website for tax info (uuggh!! those confusing IRS instructions- it’s like playing Twister)

    Kris-

    Thanks for the reply. I will share more later. As for why the Metro evangelism collaboration stopped- the guy who was our leader at the time was heavily involved in Metro’s main evangelism vehicle “The Conversation”, formerly known as Alpha. He started courting Benny Phillips daughter and I guess had worked his way up leadership ranks until they pulled him away to head up their own “inhouse” evangelism programs (uh, hope this isn’t gossip). His energies were wanted “at home” apparently. The beauty of what was going on- Christians getting out of their church “boxes” for a common Cause, laboring in the harvest, seeing people saved- seems totally lost on them, like they want those “walls” to stay in place?? This makes sense to me now, after reading some of the posts here about SGM’s mindset about the Local Church. But it was one of those head-banging things I would encounter.

    Kindred- Thanks for the welcome! :D Looking forward to “conversating” with ya’ll.

    John I.-I must read your article on “Spiritual Crack”. You wrote an article on spiritual tyranny in SGM that really just about left me in awe. As far as I am concerned, it Explained Everything.

    Shalom and Sweet Dreams to all- Dafna

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Welcome to the site, Dafna. I’m glad you came “out of the shadows” and joined us. :)

  • Walking Wounded

    Patti – He told you daughter it is sin that you look up doctrines for ourselves? What scripture is he basing that on?

    :huh

  • Wow

    Patti,

    I know it seems like the sex abuse issue is rampant at SGM. I think that you will find this in many churches and denominations where adolescents have been taught how to act Christian rather than live Christ. Often teens learn how to manipulate and win the respect and admiration of adults by “talking the talk.” I have seen this firsthand. SGM sadly reinforces this by putting adolescents on pedestals as somehow being models of faith well beyond their years, when in actuality all they really are are hormonal, confused, immature human beings with that sin nature SGM loves to emphasize.

    The problems comes in when there is a cover-up of child molestation. When the children themselves are left out of the equation, and the issue is resolved (or unresolved) through the pastors, the perpetrators, and the parents, the children are further victimized and disempowered. In the same way that a child cannot give consent, a child cannot yet conceive of what it means to forgive, or whether the child even wants to do so.

    All child abuse needs to be reported to law enforcement, regardless of attitudes of parents, pastors, or perpetrators.

    Period.

  • My brain rarely goes tilt, but… I’m pretty dang close. These interactions get increasingly more surreal. So many questions… so many sinful cravings. And I thought my article on Spiritual Crack was just adorably blunt metaphor… but uh… maybe not …

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Patti- I have NEVER, ever, not once seen a happy ending with a girl who thinks “she will change him.”

    Never.

    It doesn’t matter if it is doctrine, or his temper, or his sloppy personal habits, or the fact that he drinks too much or is too this or too that or not enough this or that. It never works.

    If right now she does not respect and admire him in that most important part of life, walking with Jesus Christ together, it can only end in misery for her. Going to an SGM church that will oppress and condemn her for being a Berean “searching the scriptures to see if this is so” is unthinkable. “trance?” That is no basis for a relationship where you need to be able to talk about God together freely and openly and intimately.

    I would strongly counsel her to break up now, like this very minute.

    Girls with guys can be like all the people out there buying lottery tickets….they hope that maybe they will be that one person out of billions of tickets to win. Deluded but oh so hopeful, and they waste so much on vain hopes.

    I would imagine your daughter might be helped by reading some of the lead posts here that Kris has written the past couple years. She probably has no idea how bad the bigger picture can be.

  • Pati,

    Welcome! Thanks for joining us.

    I know that others will be able to share more firsthand experiences and thus better answer the questions you asked, but in my opinion, your daughter’s relationship could go in either direction.

    On the one hand, it doesn’t seem terribly likely that her boyfriend will change any of his basic beliefs. If he’s complementarian and has already been outspoken enough to tell you and your daughter that you shouldn’t be researching doctrine by yourselves, that doesn’t bode well.

    On the other hand, it’s interesting that he’s even put himself in his current position in the first place, “dating” (and not “courtshipping”) a non-SGM girl. While I know there are those out there who would disagree with me, I believe it’s a fairly widespread conviction among SGMers that a potential spouse’s “commitment to SGM” is an important pre-requisite for getting involved with that person at all. The fact that this young man is in a relationship with your daughter would seem to show that he’s already more open-minded than a lot of SGMers.

    It’d be interesting to find out from your daughter if her boyfriend has broached the subject of where he’d want to go to church, should they get married. Also, has he introduced her to his family, and if so, how accepting are they of her? How close is he to his family?

    Again, some SGM families are far more open-minded than others. If his family has been open and welcoming to your daughter and had not seemed to mind her non-SGM status, and if this young man has been happy to go to your daughter’s church with her at least as much as he’s asked her to attend his church, then the situation might work out better than you’d expect from reading the stories here.

    But if he and/or his family are putting pressure on your daughter to “convert,” or if his family has been open about their disapproval, then I’d say the relationship won’t move forward unless your daughter becomes an SGM member. (That’s my guess, anyway. But like I said, I don’t have firsthand experience with this stuff, just a few years of corresponding with people who have been part of SGM.)

  • Hey, Dafna –

    Thanks for your comment, and welcome to the site! I apologize for how long your comment sat in the spam queue – I don’t know why that happens, but it has been happening more lately.

    Anyway, it’s been interesting to hear a bit about your experiences on the fringe of Metro, and I’d love to hear your impressions of what was “off” or made you feel like you might be the one with the problem.

    I’m glad to hear, though, that an SGM church was involved with a non-SGM group who did evangelism. It’s a shame that it didn’t last.

  • Patti

    I would like advice from anyone here. My daughter is seriously dating a young man from an SGM church. Over the last month or so we have been learning about the extreme legalistic and controlling nature of his religous upbringing. He seems to be a very intelligent person until we discuss these issues. Then he just repeats exact ‘phrasology’ if you will parroting so many statements I have been reading from CBMW, CJ Mahaney, Chistian Coalition,etc. He told my daughter it is sin that she and I look up doctrines for ourselves and question the things he has been taught. Of course the example I just stated is only a tiny tip of the iceberg of what we are uncovering. What I am very disturbed about though after reading these blogs about the sexual abuse is..how are we ever supposed to know if the person she is dating could be one of the molesters or not. I actually found myself checking the time frames of the stories here to see if his age would fit. But it sounds that would matter little anyway since this sounds like a pattern for SGM churches. My daughter I believe is hoping she can be an agent of change to his mind. He has a good close family that has been involved with SGM his whole life. He recgnises the control his family and church has over him that is different than her Christian family but believes his is right. Has anyone here seen anyone like that change their mind and be willing to risk losing his family over a very devout Chistian girlfriend that is egalitarian instead of a complementation? She thinks eventually he will have to break up with her but she is hanging on hoping she can ‘shake’ him out of the strange trance he seems to go into when God is discussed. Advice?

  • Mephibosheth

    Great Post. Thanks for sharing Kris.

    Tragic. And to think, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I hope Wallace’s Story gives courage to all the other victims in SGM. I hope that they too will come forward with their stories. But I can’t help but think of all the other stories that will never be brought forth from the dark shadows of SGM. All the stories of abuse that will never see the light of day. Sad.

  • Dafna

    Hello! :new I tried to type a reply yesterday but I think in the excitement and flow of thinking I accidentally deleted it.Been reading this website- and the others like it- for a LOOOOOOOONG time now, maybe a year. After reading Wallace’s story, I felt like I just HAD to come out of the shadows. First, let me express to Kris and Guy (also to Jim at Refuge, the ladies at Wartburg Watch, and John Immel) how grateful I am for these websites!! Thank you for withstanding the pressure and accusations.I believe God is using all of you to be His voice crying out for repentance and justice. To those of you whose stories I have read here, I want to say that the Father has seen everything, He has seen your tears, He has seen the physical and spiritual violence done to you and your children and I believe His anger is aroused to mete out justice. May you continue to experience His love and healing from what you have gone through. Even though people will come here and comment about people complaining and griping and gossiping, what I find so amazing is the mature and Christlike responses I have read, esp. to “those kind” of people- it is beautiful how so many of you have truly forgiven and actually grown closer to God in spite of what you experienced with SGM- you are thriving where God has placed you and you are experiencing the true meaning of “grace”, a word that unfortunately makes me cringe because of the way some people misuse it- or overuse it like some kind of buzzword. Last year while reading Ezekial 34 I was gripped with a very deep intense sorrow, like I was grieving- and I felt like I was feeling the heart of Jesus, the Great Shepherd, as He grieves over the condition of His sheep. It seemed like I was hearing Him speak to me many times how much He loves His sheep and how He will punish those who afflict them, who call themselves “shepherds” or spiritual leaders. This is a very sobering thing- it seems like the things coming out lately in the news media about abuses in churches is God’s way of using the “world” to discipline His people, like He used Babylon and Assyria to punish unrepentant Israel. Maybe this is what He has in store for Mr. Mahaney and SGM? They don’t seem to be listening. I pray these men will TRULY repent before it comes to a media expose’- but like someone posted previously- the reason they act the way they do is because it seems to spring out of their doctrine- because of our sinfulness we really don’t have a right to complain when an outrageous injustice/abuse happens to us. Because we are all unworthy sinners- yada, yada. In a twisted way, this “makes sense” – it is logically coherent- so they end up perpetuating gross injustices that make people on the outside shake their heads and wonder “What the —-?!!”
    I existed on the fringes of Metrolife in Florida for maybe a year or so, and had ABSOLUTELY no intention of becoming a member. Met some wonderful precious people there (I pray Metro breaks away from SGM). At the time I was part of a street evangelism group that one outstanding man at Metro (who has since left) started. They would meet twice a month on Friday nights to go out to local shopping villages, downtown Orlando, parks, WHEREVER- to share the gospel. Some would stay back to pray- it was really cool the things that happened. Good times! Metro officially jettisoned the group last year to concentrate on their own forms of evangelism. But for awhile we used to meet at Metro and use their tracts. The “e-team” group was made up of people from several churches in central Florida, not all SGM churches, not all Calvinists- just people with a vision for sharing the Good News with folks out there having a good time on the weekend. Outside the church walls.(Ooops, I feel myself ascending my soap box.Let me climb down :mic) I experienced some things at Metro, and even in this little “e-team”, that until I found this website I would feel like “What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy?” A lot of odd impressions :scratch ,frustrations :bang, awkward moments :( – that I just couldn’t put my finger on. Maybe I will tell more, but that’s all I am going to say for now. Interesting that Metro is also doing a Nehemiah series – is there a call to circle the SGM wagons right now? What I want to say to you again, Kris, is “Thank you so much!” When I found this website it was like finding answers to a lot of craziness, like finding a huddle of “sane” people in the midst of a spiritual scene in Christendom that is getting crazier. The control freaks are abounding left and right “in the name of Jesus”. Let us continue to pray and not faint against spiritual abuse and tyranny. This seems too long, sorry!- a lot to get off my chest- but I want to end with Ezekial 34:10 ” Thus saith the LORD GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”

  • Lynn

    Fashionablylate,

    you do have a point. What if that person does move? Who will protect the kids then? The law does need to know. You are right.

  • Roadwork

    I don’t know what SGM Inc.’s translation says but the official SGM translation that I have says:

    1 Peter 2:13-14
    Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

    Romans 13:1-5
    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer

    So…. “Be subject…to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors…” Sounds to me like it’s talking about government, and law enforcement in particular.

    “…as sent by him (emperor or governors) to punish those who do evil.” Sounds like government is put in place by God (those that exist have been instituted by God) to punish crime (evil).

    “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” If you do evil, you should be afraid of rulers. Again, government and law enforcement.

    “He is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

    Govenmental laws are in place for your good – as a restraint so that, for example, you don’t drive 70 MPH in a School Zone. When a crime is committed, law enforcement should be brought in as they are God’s servants to carry out His wrath (punishment) for crime.

    This is pretty straight forward. Crimes are to be immediately reported to law enforcement so that those committing the crime (the evildoers) can be punished.

    Apparently SGM, Inc. doesn’t have enough discernment to distinguish between sin and crime. Sin is sin and it should be dealt with as sin. When sin leads to crime, it is to be reported to the governmental authorities so that they can administer the appropriate punishment.

    Maybe in some inflated, twisted way, SGM leadership believes they are the “rulers” spoken of here. Or maybe they didn’t cover this topic in the PC.

    As a friend of mine once said, “Jesus came to forgive you of your sin, not your crime.”

    ~ Roadwork

  • FashionablyLate

    Vida Savta–

    I especially like this quote from the modesty article:
    “While immodest apparel focuses attention on women as sexual objects,
    obsessive teaching on dress codes creates the same focus. Preachers and
    other spiritual leaders reinforce the destructive message that
    women and girls are so distracting sexually that they must
    be covered up beyond cultural sensibilities.”

  • FashionablyLate

    Kris (re: 105)– Yeah, I thought those characteristics were interesting in light of the SGM culture. Still, I don’t think that SGM culture/oddities *alone* are enough to cause an otherwise healthy teen to begin molesting. But….the SGM culture/parenting + possible child abuse in the offender’s own life + mental illness might combine in some individuals to be a perfect storm.

    For those who are interested, here are a couple more links about adolescent sex offenders:
    http://hopefs.org/Behavior/cycle2.GIF
    http://www.practicenotes.org/vol7_no2/understand_jso.htm

    A quote from the latter article about the importance of treatment:
    Youths participating in treatment have lower recidivism rates than either adult sex offenders or untreated juvenile sex offenders. In an analysis of eight separate studies, Alexander (1999) found that while adults had re-offend rates that averaged 13%, juveniles who participated in offense-specific treatment had a recidivism rate that averaged 7.1% in a 3–5 year follow-up. Worling (2001), in a large-scale study that examined data from across Canada, found that only 5% of youths who underwent treatment were charged with another sexual offense within six years, compared to 18% of the youths who did not participate in treatment (Ryan, 2000).

  • FashionablyLate

    Lynn (re: 101)– I would thank this pastor for the info and never darken the doorstep of that church again. I think it’s extremely arrogant for pastors to believe that something as serious as sexual abuse can be handled “in house.” With what other crime would they do that? If a congregant came and confessed to murder or robbing a bank or anything like that, would the pastors think that the offender’s repentance was sufficient? (And once caught, most molesters do appear “repentant.”) Although our criminal justice system is far from perfect, it exists for a reason– to protect the citizens of our country. It cannot do that if people (such as pastors) decide they have a better way of doing things. When the offender moves or leaves the church, who is going to monitor him if the criminal justice system is unaware of any previous offense? Like Luna Moth said, in some states pastors are mandated reporters, and I wish that were the case nation-wide.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Vida Savta,

    EXCELLENT article on modesty!!

    I’ve printed numerous copies to share.

    Thanks for the link.

  • Lynn

    Kris,

    but the girls were not even told by the guys that they thought there could be something more. Josh harris has even said don’t assume a guy is interested in you if he is always talking with you and spending time with you. Look around and see if he does the same to other girls. Josh then says if you are the only girl who he is talking with and hanging with, then you need to question that. From my understanding, all guys are the same, christian or not. If a guy goes and hangs out with a girl all the time and the guy is always wanting to, then the guy is thought to have romantic feelings for her. Then the girl gets upset when he starts to date another girl. I’m sorry but guys do not hang out with one girl without a motive. As one guy said, ‘guys have enough friends’. How it happened ay my sgm church the guy will tell the girl he only saw them as friends and nothing more. I’m sorry but that is not right. These pastors need to know how a womens mind works. That was another reason I left, I didn’t want to get married to a controlling hubby and have my daughter get mis lead or my son be taught to mislead girls. Why can’t a guy just say I’m interested in you lets hang out. I do agree with you Kris that the girls shouldn’t get upset over it, but I don’t thini a guy should give them special attention and later on tell them there was never a romantic interest at all.

  • I can’t remember if I saw this link here or elsewhere, but it seems to fit the conversation: http://ptm.org/09PT/Winter/modesty.pdf — “Mixed Messages of Modesty” by Rachel Ramer

  • happymom

    Kris,

    You are not imagining it. That’s what we were told.

  • The idea that a teen child molestor’s behavior would be viewed by his SGM pastors as a “lust issue” is just utterly ludicrous.

    I don’t have the time right now to go back through Wallace’s post or all the comments, but am I imagining it, or did someone say that an SGM pastor told them that they were dealing with the abuser’s problem as a “lust issue”?

  • Deb

    Ellie,

    On the second list you need to put an asterisk beside Sovereign Grace Ministries (Level Three) and Grace Christian Fellowship, Spokane, WA (Level One).

    Your March 2009 comment is why I have been interested in SGM’s financial support of CCEF. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  • Lynn,

    RE your comment #98 – I year ya! It isn’t right for guys to lead girls on.

    BUT…

    It also seems to me that at least part of what you’re describing – the idea that personal attention from a guy inevitably has to “mean” something – is the product of SGM’s unhealthy teachings about courtship. In the “normal” Christian world, it isn’t unusual for a guy to ask a girl out a few times and then move on to someone else without “getting serious.” That time of one-on-one interaction without “intentions” is actually what DATING looks like. The idea of chaste dating, which is what normal Christian churches advocate, allows for people to hang out together for awhile to figure out if they even want to go in the direction of romance.

    Maybe the girls in those situations need to lighten up and just enjoy the attention for what it IS – a fun time with a guy, no strings attatched – and quit trying to figure out whether the guy might be wanting something “serious.”

    Maybe the girls need to look at those interactions as THEIR opportunity to figure out if the guy is worthy of THEIR attention. And if the attention drops off, they should shrug and move on. After all, if a guy loses interest, there’s no reason to keep wanting his attention. It’s no fun to be with someone when you feel like you have to TRY or WORK FOR their affection. If a guy has been spending time with you but then stops trying to get together, I’d try hard to have a philosophical attitude and move on. Eventually you’ll meet someone who will appreciate you for you, without your having to try and maintain his interest. The guy who quits texting just wasn’t that person.

    I actually think it sounds like a healthy thing, to have the freedom to go running together or have a guy text you without the automatic expectation that he’ll eventually want something more. Again – that’s called “chaste dating” where I come from.

  • Ellie,

    I probably need my second cup of coffee this morning, but could you explain your list? Does it appear that more SGM churches are now supporting CCEF, or fewer?

  • Fashionably Late posted an interesting comment (#95) that got stuck in the spam queue last night. She found some research on teen sex offenders that corresponds well with many of the scenarios within SGM that have come to my attention.

    First there was this (from the research cited by Fashionably Late):

    Adolescent offenders can sometimes be loners, isolated from their own peer group, preferring to play with younger children. They tend to have a limited work history, to be under-achievers and generally immature in most areas of functioning.

    Then there was this:

    Adolescent sexual offenders view their world as being basically antagonistic. Their abusiveness can be understood in part as a reflection of their need to retaliate against a world they perceive to be hostile toward them.

    I can imagine that if a boy grows up in a family that subscribes to SGM-style ideas about parenting – lots of parental control, lots of sheltering from the outside world, and lots of emphasis on “guarding one’s heart” and “sexual purity” – it could be easier for him to fall into the place where he’s immature for his age and sees the world as “hostile.” This would be true especially if he’d been in a family that bought into the rigid glue-stick-spanking teachings of some years back.

  • happymom

    Luna Moth,
    To second what you said, there is a heart-breaking story over at Wartburg Watch about a young man who was abused as a child who eventually took his life as a result.
    It is very difficult to read but I wish every pedophile or anyone who preys on children could read his letter and see what can happen as a result of their crime. My child has expressed some of those same dark thoughts about the abuse and it doesn’t just go away.

    One can not simply forget being molested, it often shapes that child’s thinking and self-image. How could a pastor with no professional counseling experience or training think he is equipped to handle this?

  • Luna Moth

    Lynn, re: your comment #100: In my state, clergy are mandated reporters of suspected child molestation or abuse. They have to make the call. There’s an exemption for “penitential communication,” but that only covers specific times of confession; if they learn or realize or suspect abuse during other types of interaction, they are not exempt from the requirement to report.

    It’s fuzzy in churches that don’t have the sacrament of confession. What counts as “penitential communication” in an evangelical church?

    I think that even if something is told to a pastor as a “confession,” the pastor ought to be very firm with the person that this CANNOT GO ON, and the pastor ought to take steps to make sure that the child will not be victimized again. I think people sometimes don’t realize how being sexually molested as a child affects a person throughout their life, if they don’t receive counseling. It’s not just, put it behind you, forgive, get over it.

  • Ellie

    Here’s a little something that I posted in 2009, just for comparison’s sake:

    March 14th, 2009 at 11:14 am
    Supporting Church Program
    CCEF enjoys partnerships with numerous churches that value the resources and training we provide. We invite you to join our Supporting Church Program, which includes the following three levels of benefits:
    Level One: $600-$1,199: one pastor free attendance at CCEF’s Annual Conference
    Level Two: $1,200-$2,399: 2 pastors free attendance at CCEF’s Annual Conference; $10 discount per hour of counseling
    Level Three: $2,400-$5,000: 3 pastors free attendance at CCEF’s Annual Conference; $10 discount per hour of counseling
    ……………………………….
    Current Supporting Churches
    *Abundant Grace Community Church Gainesville FL
    Aisquith Presbyterian Church Baltimore MD
    Bible Fellowship Church Greentown PA
    Calvary Baptist Church Darien CT
    Calvary Community Church Phillipsburg NJ
    Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church Hampton VA
    Capitol Hill Baptist Church Washington DC
    Cedar Creek Community Church Bayville NJ
    Chapelgate Presbyterian Church Marriotsville MD
    Christ The King Presbyterian Church Houston TX
    Christ the King Presbyterian Church Vero Beach FL
    Community Baptist Church New Boston MI
    Community Evangelical Free Church Elverson PA
    Cornerstone Christian Church Stockton NJ
    *Cornerstone Church of Knoxville Knoxville TN
    Cornerstone Presbyterian Church Ambler PA
    *Covenant Fellowship Church Glen Mills PA
    *Covenant Life Church Gaithersburg MD
    Covenant O. P. Church Reading PA
    *CrossWay Community Church Niceville FL
    *CrossWay Community Church Charlotte NC
    Davisville Church Southampton PA
    Emmanuel Bible Church Schooleys Mtn NJ
    Faith Baptist Church Lafayette IN
    Faith Baptist Church Sellersville PA
    Faith Church Of Worcester Norristown PA
    Fellowship Bible Church Winchester VA
    Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church Bear DE
    Grace Bible Fellowship Church Reading PA
    Grace Church of Gainesville Gainesville VA
    *Grace Community Church Ashburn VA
    Grace Evangelical Church Seaside Heights NJ
    Grace Fellowship Church Culloden WV
    Grace Presbyterian Church Palo Alto CA
    Greentree Church Egg Harbor Twp NJ
    Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church Abington PA
    Hope Reformed Pres Church Shippensburg PA
    Hopewell Reformed Church Hopewell Jct NY
    Household of Faith Community Church Gresham OR
    Independent Presbyterian Church Savannah GA
    *Living Faith Church Franklin WV
    *Living Hope Church Harrisburg PA
    Living Hope Presbyterian Church Emmaus PA
    *Metro Life Church Casselberry FL
    New Dorp Baptist Church Staten Island NY
    New Life Northeast Philadelphia PA
    New Life Presbyterian Church Dresher PA
    New Life Presbyterian Church Glenside PA
    Pasadena Evangelical Presbyterian Church Pasadena MD
    Pilgrim Church Philadelphia PA
    Redeemer Presbyterian Church New Orleans LA
    Reformed Presbyterian Church West Chester PA
    Reston Presbyterian Church Reston VA
    River Of Life Presbyterian Church Phillipsburg NJ
    Rocky Mountain Community Church Billings MT
    Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church Pasadena MD
    Shepherd Of The Hills U.C.C. Bechtelsville PA
    Sojourn Community Church Louisville KY
    *Solid Rock Church Riverdale MD
    *Sovereign Grace Church Apex NC
    *Sovereign Grace Church Chesapeake VA
    Sovereign Grace Church Marlton NJ
    *Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax Fairfax VA
    Tenth Presbyterian Church Philadelphia PA
    Trinity O. P. Church Hatboro PA
    Trinity Presbyterian Church Rye NY
    Westerly Road Church Princeton NJ
    Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church Suffolk VA
    * Sovereign Grace Ministries supporting church
    ………………………………………….

    Here’s what it is now:

    Level Three:
    Capitol Hill Baptist Church Washington DC
    Christ the King Presbyterian Church, PCA Vero Beach FL
    Knowlton Presbyterian Church Columbia NJ
    Rocky Mountain Community Church Billings MT
    *Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax Fairfax VA
    Sovereign Grace Ministries Gaithersburg MD
    Level Two:
    Bible Fellowship Church Greentown PA
    Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church Hampton VA
    Christ The King Presbyterian Church Houston TX
    Community Evangelical Free Church Elverson PA
    Cornerstone Christian Church Stockton NJ
    *Covenant Fellowship Church Glen Mills PA
    *CrossWay Church of Lancaster Millersville PA
    *CrossWay Community Church Charlotte NC
    Faith Baptist Church Lafayette IN
    Grace Fellowship Church Culloden WV
    Greentree Church Egg Harbor Twp NJ
    *Living Hope Church Harrisburg PA
    Living Hope Presbyterian Church Emmaus PA
    Trinity Orthodox Presbyterian Church Hatboro PA
    Trinity Presbyterian Church Rye NY
    Level One:
    Calvary Baptist Church Darien CT
    Cedar Creek Community Church Bayville NJ
    Clifton Baptist Church Louisville KY
    Community Baptist Church Trenton MI
    *Cornerstone Church Knoxville TN
    Covenant Church Whitestone NY
    Grace Baptist Church of Arlington Arlington VA
    Grace Bible Fellowship Church Reading PA
    Grace Christian Fellowship Spokane WA
    Grace Presbyterian Church Palo Alto CA
    Hope Reformed Pres Church Shippensburg PA
    Independent Presbyterian Church Savannah GA
    *Living Faith Church Franklin WV
    River of Life Presbyterian Church Phillipsburg NJ
    Shepherd of the Hills U.C.C. Bechtelsville PA
    *Solid Rock Church Riverdale MD
    *Sovereign Grace Church Apex NC
    Tenth Presbyterian Church Philadelphia PA

    (Are there any in the second set that I forgot to mark?)

  • Lynn

    Today I met this pastor today who is not in anyway associated with sgm at all. I asked him if there was a case of child molestation in the church what would he do. He said he would follow Matt. 18. He said if the person is sorry for what he or she did and has apologized to the family and person, then the church would let that person back into fellowship. He did say that they should not be alllowed to serve in child care though. He did say he would not blame the victim

    I mean I know some have said that you should press charges so the perp can get the help he needs. However, don’t you think that maybe the church should say if you wish to continue membership, you must seek help. And tell them if you do not seek help you will no longer be permitted at this church. I do think the perp needs help, I mean something is wrong with you if you molest a child. And with counselors actually trained to deal with it, then the perp can get help. None of these sgm pastors are nowhere near qualified to handle these situations. And part of being humble is realizing that you are not in your element.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Bill Gothard on “mental illness”…

    http://youtu.be/y4gieCr-YRk

  • a

    I just finished watching the 20/20 clip, something about that was hard and healing.

    There is something about documenting what happened…

    Run Forrest…..

  • Lynn

    Kris,

    That girl talk blog is a load of crap. Campus crusade for christ will say that having sex outside or marriage is wrong. Then some guy just said in another way, ‘look at it this way you’re sleeping with someone elses spouse’. That is understandable. I don’t think it’s wrong to have a crush on the opposite sex. I mean if you’re taking it to a point where you’re planning out the wedding and picking out the kids names, then that is a problem.

    This brings me to another topic. Sgm seems to always say that women need to watch what they wear bc of the mens lust problem. However, single men need to stop singling out one girl and go running with them and text them. For some girls if a guy is paying attention to them and only them, they will think they like them. And then weeks go by and they never ask the girl to start a relationship with him and then they start with another girl. The girl will go talk to a sgm pastor and they will say, ‘they never told you they were interested’. I’m sorry that’s not ok. If a guy keeps on hanging out with a certain girl and spending time alone with her, she is not to think anything of it?! If women need to cover up so men won’t lust, then men need to stop acting like they like a girl and making girls think they like them, and then break their hearts when they find out they don’t. There are so many young girls at my old sgm church this has happened to.

  • a

    Dear Wallace and Happymom,
    Thank you very much for sharing your story. I’m sorry you were treated so poorly by the church you loved and invested in and your family. Sovereign Grace Ministries has put so much strain on families, and continues to ignore major problems from the top down.

    I really am creeped out by men like C J M ahaney, J m Britt, D anny Jones, D an W alsh and the likes of them. B enny P hillips…La rry Mal and their little tag along Jo sh H arris. These men have heard the cries of Gods people and continue to pretend care.

    D anny j ones put it so clearly to me…in writing….”sorry I asked” He did not have the time, patience, integrity, care or really the smalls to answer hard questions truthfully. This man leads a Sovereign Grace Church and his compassion level for the pain I’ve personally experienced, not to mention so many others is zero. This would go for the above mentioned pastors and other wise care group leaders who make believe humility.

    And that whole payment thing. There are many that are “compensated” to be quiet, move along, or to co operate. I know of a few my self…. Hey, Money talks….The poor people give each week thinking their money is ministry dollars going to “further the gospel,” if only they knew their tithe and offerings were going to mask over serious problems. These men will soon be “sinfully craving” retirement, only to leave this mess to the next generation.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Kris,

    It’s so true.

    I was just sitting here thinking, “who would have thought the stuff in those 3-ring-binders would have such an impact?”

  • FashionablyLate

    Wallace– I completely understand and respect your wish to not get into those specifics. Thanks for letting me know that those individuals are no longer at the Fairfax church.

    Kris– I know that the weirdness regarding sexuality can certainly have a negative impact. The “being in love with someone else’s husband” teaching had me tied in emotional knots in my teen years. I don’t know if that stuff alone though would cause a teen to molest. I don’t know how old Happymom & Wallace’s kids were at the time of the sexual abuse, but Noel’s child was only four, I believe. There’s absolutely *nothing* normal about a teen boy having sexual feelings for a preschooler. *Something* has gone horrifically wrong with these teens.

    I’m going to do a little research. Here’s something I found right off the bat, from Health Canada, re: adolescent offenders: http://www.sasian.org/pdf/adolsxo.pdf

    A few “highlights”:
    -Adolescent offenders can sometimes
    be loners, isolated from their own
    peer group, preferring to play with
    younger children. They tend to have
    a limited work history, to be
    under-achievers and generally
    immature in most areas of
    functioning. [The weird teachings you
    highlighted, Kris, may cause emotional
    "stunting," in some people.]

    -Adolescent sexual offenders view
    their world as being basically
    antagonistic. Their abusiveness can be
    understood in part as a reflection of
    their need to retaliate against a world
    they perceive to be hostile toward
    them.

    -When confronted about their
    sexually abusive behaviour, adolescent
    offenders characteristically
    respond with denial and minimization
    and routinely blame their victims.
    [How convenient for them that the pastors
    will then do the same! :bang

    -A United States study on adolescent
    sexual offenders found that over 60%
    had been physically abused, almost
    half had been sexually assaulted and
    70% had been subject to neglect,
    while over half the sample had
    experienced a combination of these
    forms of abuse as children.

    -In most cases, the sexual act that has
    brought the young person to the
    attention of the authorities is not an
    isolated one. A study done in Toronto
    discovered that almost half of the
    offenders surveyed had previously
    committed one or more sexual
    offences.

  • Kindred,

    I think it’s so interesting how Gothardism continues to cast weird shadows across certain segments of Christianity.

    Josh Harris himself incorporated – whether consciously or unconsciously, we’ll probably never know – a lot of Gothard ideas into I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Detective Deb…..whoa. I am impressed :D

  • For those of you who think I’m exaggerating, here is a quote from a February 2011 Girltalk blog post by Janelle (Mahaney) Bradshaw:

    While I may have been considering my guy friends as brothers, they may have been thinking that there was something more. I remember my mom telling me to relate to all guys as “another woman’s husband.” I found this little phrase to be a very helpful heart-check in relating to my guy friends.

    She goes on to speak out of both sides of her mouth, saying in the very next breath,

    All of this said, friendships with guys are not wrong. In fact I would argue that friendships with godly young men during these years are a gift from the Lord and something to be enjoyed.

    It seems to me that this kind of double-speak would have to be EXTREMELY confusing to young people. These teachings pretty much condemn the natural (and, I believe we could argue, God-created, God-ordained, God-given) instincts that we have in our teen years to find members of the opposite sex romantically attractive, and to feel romantic affection for them. Yet at the same time, SGM kids are told that it’s good to interact with members of the opposite sex. What baggage these poor kids must be carting around if they desire to be “godly” – always having to stifle their feelings and strive to think “brotherly” or “sisterly” thoughts about each other.

    Is it any wonder that at least some – perhaps those who have also had some previous dysfunctional experiences, have themselves been victimized – would then find deviant channels for their sexual impulses?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    There have been a LARGE number of Christians indoctrinated with various versions of the whacked teachings on relationships, marriage, and sex since the early days of Gothard. We’re now seeing the negative effects of these teachings in large numbers.

    It’s really disturbing. Based on what she’s observing, I’m afraid we’re going to be reading and hearing a lot along these lines over the next several years. It breaks my heart.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Kris,

    That’s what I was trying to say in my #23.

    A friend and I were having a discussion along these lines just last week. She brought up the fact that she was seeing a disturbing number of teens engaging in homosexual acts, as well.

    She’s in a position to observe large numbers of kids in the homeschool culture and church schools like the one at CLC.

    She’s VERY concerned.

  • Fashionably Late –

    Earlier today I was actually thinking about that very same thing, about how odd it is that of the stories we’ve been hearing, so many involve teen boys acting out with children.

    I think you’re on to something.

    If we look at SGM’s culture, and how SGM trains its young people to view feelings of attraction and interactions with the opposite sex, I can imagine that at least some kids would develop all manner of weird hangups. SGM kids are trained to think that even something as benign as a young girl’s having a crush on a boy is akin to adultery – after all, on the Mahaney ladies’ Girltalk blog, they recently wrote a post about how the Mahaney girls were taught to view crushes and teen romances as “being in love with someone else’s husband.” Even though the young man in question would probably not be married for years, the fact that someday in the future he WILL be married means that when he’s 14 or 16, he’s already “someone else’s husband,” and therefore permitting oneself to develop romantic feelings about him is the same thing as falling into an emotionally adulterous relationship.

    That’s some very twisted stuff!

    Likewise the modesty checklist, and all the baggage that comes with teaching people to think that even something as prosaic as the way a seatbelt crosses a woman’s chest can be “responsible” for causing a young man to fall into the sin of lust.

    I wonder…and I’m just sort of thinking aloud here…

    I wonder if maybe all the fear that is instilled in these young men about the female form, and about noticing a young woman’s attractiveness, and all the courtship junk and the “must treat all women like sisters until – bam! – one day you select one to marry” teachings – I wonder if all of that training causes some young men to channel their sexual feelings to children so as to avoid the sin of lusting after a mature female.

    Or…

    It’s also likely that these young men were themselves molested in some way, and that that, combined with the SGM sexual weirdness, and the cognitive dissonance of all the he-man talk mixed with the light-in-the-loafers reality of some of their role models, causes them to develop twisted and unhealthy impulses.

  • Deb

    I have checked out the CCEF website, and it includes the following information:

    “Without donations, we could not keep our doors open… Contributions are our largest source of revenue.”

    Even though CCEF charges for counseling and resources, they still need donors. Interestingly, CCEF provides a list of supporting churches for 2010 on its website.

    There are three giving levels.

    Eighteen churches are listed for Level One ($600 – $1,199), and five of those belong to SGM.

    Fifteen churches are listed for Level Two ($1,200 – $2,399), and four of those belong to SGM.

    Six churches are listed for Level Three ($2,400 – $5,000), and two are SGM, specifically Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax and Sovereign Grace Ministries in Gaithersburg. Interestingly, Capitol Hill Baptist Church is also listed at this level.

    I was surprised to discover that of the 39 churches that made contribution to CCEF in 2010, over one-fourth (actually 28.2%) of them -11 out of 39 – were SGM churches. There are only 70+ churches in Sovereign Grace Ministries, compared to the MANy Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, and other types of churches located throughout the United States. Why does it appear that there is a disproportionate number (28.2%) of SGM churches giving to CCEF?

    You can find this information here:

    http://www.ccef.org/supporting-church-program

    http://www.ccef.org/current-supporting-churches

  • Wallace

    FashionablyLate,

    We’d rather not give specifics to question No. 1, but neither one attend that church anymore.

  • FashionablyLate

    Something that’s kind of unusual is that from all of the cases of child molestation that I’ve heard about within the SGM network, all of the perpetrators have been teenage boys. While teen boys do molest, it almost seems like this is occurring at a higher than expected rate within SGM. I wonder what factors in the larger SGM culture may be leading to this? I have heard people talk about teen boys being curious….but normally, teen boys are curious about TEEN girls….not little girls. I agree with Kris, Happymom, that you really did do the perpetrator a favor by pressing charges. Teen offenders who receive professional treatment actually have a fairly low rate of re-offense….but there needs to be appropriate treatment with a counselor who really knows how to treat sex offenders.

    For decades, I have been concerned about the way some SGM churches run their children’s ministries. For instance, at the Fairfax church, I believe that no background checks are required and all members serve in children’s ministry as helpers on a set rotation. I think the lack of background checks is highly irresponsible. However, I have not heard of any molestations occurring within children’s ministry. (That doesn’t mean that none have happened, but I haven’t heard of any.)

    Happymom and Wallace– A couple of questions, if you don’t mind answering. (If you don’t want to answer these, for whatever reason, I completely respect that.)
    1. What were the circumstances that allowed the perpetrators to have access to your children? Was this a babysitting situation, or you were friends with the other family and having a family get-together?
    2. Are the perpetrators still attending the Fairfax SG church?

  • 5yearsin PDI

    “5years,

    If CCEF knows about sgm and the harm it does, then why does dave harvey sit on the board of directors?”

    Lynn- back in the 90s, before CJ hooked up with Piper and all the big dogs( Dever, Duncan, etc), PDI began making their slow transition towards Reformed doctrine. Some of the guys began taking courses at Westminster Seminary outside Philly. Now that was a good thing- they were from charismatic backgrounds and they wanted to study the bible and teach theology better. I remember CJ preaching a sermon that started with 25 minutes of hilarious jokes (we timed it, 25 minutes, really) and then he sniffed about the cross for a while and finished up with some bible verses. It really was a good move that they saw the need for more bible training and teaching.

    Westminster is across the street from CCEF and there is a lot of overlap with students who are going to be pastors. Some take a whole year of CCEF counseling classes as well as the MDiv.

    Somehow maybe mid 90s or earlier, CJ met up with Dave Powlison, main CCEF speaker at the time I think, and for CCEF here was this charming guy with tons of potential students and hundreds, thousands even, of people suddenly buying CCEF materials. I am sure that for DP, to suddenly have all these people who want to come out of “psychobabble” and hear what you have to say, and train at your non profit center which is/was partly dependent on donations, must have been wonderful.

    I can’t say Harvey is on the board because of big donations, but I wonder. CCEF was tradtionally very Reformed and SGM is not, but on the other hand Harvey graduated from Westminster so I have no idea what the story is. To be fair, back when I heard Harvey speak he was excellent, far better than CJ ever was, and maybe he is good at whatever he does for CCEF, I have no idea.

    CCEF has some VERY compassionate writers like Ed Welch. But what you had with CJ was adopting a model of human hearts that turned them into idol factories, and only sinful idol factories. Around that time we saw a huge shift in legalism starting up, to help everybody get rid of their idols…although to be fair I’ve read things that imply it was just as bad earlier ( 80s) and maybe we just didn’t see it. Anyway, PDI was toting Powlison as the voice of God at the time, and everything was idols of the heart.

    Now I won’t blame Powlison for that, I don’t know the facts, and the person we know who told us about the fellow CCEF staffers liked Powlison a lot and said he was a good guy. I do know that at the current time, the biblical model that people are hungry and thirsty and need to learn to eat and drink-we are not just idol factories that need to repent-seems in place in CCEF books, although I haven’t read many. And Welch is so balanced about the body-spirit interplay when it comes to depression and mental illness, and so compassionate.

    It seems like SGM somehow took CCEF materials and used them as a tool to control and subjugate the quivering masses into silence and submission. They do the same with the bible, so no surprise there.

    I have no idea what the current CCEF director thinks (he has only been there maybe 5 years) and what went on in the past, and how it all happened that Harvey is on the board. I would guess that some big donations were part of it. But what I said is absolute truth, and CCEF staff counselors have had SGM clients who were really burned in their churches, to the point that they have told clients not to go to an SGM church.

    And hey, to all the SGM lurkers, go ahead and try and tell yourself this is an anonymous slanderer making it all up. You KNOW I am telling the truth, deep down you know I am not making this up, so face it, and try apologizing for all the legalism.

  • golden

    Lynn,
    Yes – what I am saying is if there were not charges – it would not show up on a back ground check. If a newer SGM member is assigning volunteers for children’s ministry placement and is unaware of that person being “handled” by pastors – they would obviously see nothing on a back ground check and place the guy on with children! thus giving that guy more than adequate opp to once again molest a child – AWFUL.
    Kris,
    Agreed – there IS an oversight in law from juv to adult. not once an offender always an offender – I mean we all do stupid stuff when teens (maybe not jail worthy, but…), but THIS type of crime is different. As you noted research does show this specific issue is prone to repeat offenders.

    My point is – if pastors “covered up” and now someone is serving in children’s ministry who once raped a child or in anyway violated a child sexually – that is just … there are no words.

    Personally, I think the names of these offenders should be out there. Hello – sex offender registry! Obviously there is an agreement among society (christians and non-christians alike) that to keep our children safe – we need to be aware.

  • Lynn

    5years,

    If CCEF knows about sgm and the harm it does, then why does dave harvey sit on the board of directors?

  • happymom and Wallace –

    The perp in your situation was actually lucky that you went ahead and pressed for justice so that he would receive court-mandated help.

    It’s incredibly short-sighted and foolhardy for these pastors to believe that they are equipped to be the only counseling resource for a teen who has acted out in a sexually deviant way toward children. It doesn’t matter if the perp’s tears and repentance satisfy the pastors and cause them to believe that he has “learned his lesson” and would “never do it again.” From what I understand, ALL the research out there indicates that it is EXTREMELY difficult for people who struggle with these sorts of impulses to change.

    Child molesters – even teenaged child molesters – have something within them that is deeply damaged, deeply broken, and to me it’s the height of arrogance for these (by and large) uneducated pastors to think that they’re somehow going to succeed where everyone else has failed. For goodness’ sake – SGM is supposed to be all about humility. I wish they’d SHOW some humility and acknowledge just how ill-equipped they are to deal with these sorts of problems.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    With reference to Kris’s #72…

    From http://www.defendingcontending.com

    “Can we warn about a ravening wolf spiritually while simultaneously throwing an arm around him?”

    Posted on April 5, 2011 by The Pilgrim

    That’s a fantastic question from a fantastic article recently posted by Worldview Weekend entitled:

    “Rick Warren’s Infiltration of the Reformed Faith”

    This is a must-read for everyone who’s concerned with what’s been happening lately in Reformed circles.

    Here’s a quote from the article to whet your whistle:

    “Rick Warren desires credibility and influence more than anything else, and he has been able to accomplish both over much of the religious landscape in America over the last decade. Some important holdouts have been the celebrity pastors of the Reformed book/conference circuit who were in stated opposition to him for his handling of Scripture and his man-centered, false gospel. All of that is changing quickly. What Rick Warren needed was to win over a leader whose status was great enough among Reformed evangelicals who could deliver the holdouts into his arms. He found such a man in John Piper. . . . Warren’s photo ops with Reformed leaders do nothing for the truth, and they do everything for Rick Warren’s relentless campaign for credibility and influence among those who should know better.”

    Read the entire article from Worldview Weekend here…
    http://www.worldviewweekend.com/worldview-times/article.php?articleid=7007

    A quote from a commenter…”The [Reformed] conference/book selling circuit you describe exists and must be a great source of income for the participants. This fact must weigh heavily on how these men behave toward one another. It seems to place collegiality over conscience.”

    Another quote from article…

    The enemy has come in like a flood, and those attempting to raise up a standard against him are under incredible attack. Biblically faithful believers are watching in shock as men they trusted are serving as useful tools in the hands of the enemy.

    The lesson in all of this for those who are Reformed and also for those who are not, is that the blind following of celebrity authors and teachers must end. The near papal devotion some of these leaders inspire blinds followers to spiritual danger.

    There is no substitute for knowing and reading the Scriptures. It is easier to listen to a gifted speaker or nationally-known teacher and author than to dig into the Word itself, but therein lies the danger.

  • happymom

    It is different when dealing with a perp who is a minor. After the age of 18, things are completely different, these crimes would most likely carry jail time for adults.
    Knowing the anguish our kids went through there has to be some way of offering protection to other children without divulging specifics about what the perp did. We have left out details to protect the identities of the kids/perps, but the behavior of the leadership towards the perp was beyond bizarre and certainly could not have benefited the perp in acknowledging the depth of what he did. Like you said above “making life normal as possible” for the perp was an understatement for what happened at Fairfax.
    Pressing charges guarantees that the perp will undergo professional counseling. Because we were aware how these perps were being counseled by uneducated pastors, we pressed charges just as much for the perp as we did for the much-needed validation of our child. A way to communicate to the victim that what was done to you was wrong, even if your former pastors are fluffing this off, in the eyes of the law, it is a crime.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Kris: “So I’ve wondered, how is it that SGM’s local reputation and its larger reputation are so different? How is it that plenty of the pastors at churches near SGM churches are well aware of SGM’s cultic ways and have been called upon to pick up the pieces, but the Gospel Coalition dudes and all the pet Reformed authors and bloggers are still so clueless?

    How is it that no Reformed celebrity has seemed to connect the dots?”

    My husband I stood around after church with our pastor talking about this very thing. Our pastor was saying that it is the same with Driscoll, you can get the most crude stuff going on and there is no public evidence that the Reformed Big Dogs care, but he hopes behind the scene that it goes on.

    My hub said that he has concluded that many RBDs only care about your doctrine. So long as you are into basic Calvinism, it does not matter how you treat the flock or what your prayer life is like or how much crudeness is spoken. So long as justifcation by faith and TULIP and not being dispensational are upheld, it seems like anything goes.

    God will surely judge.

    Just in case we picked up anybody new here, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Somebody on staff at CCEF, right there on Willow Grove Avenue down that steep hill of a driveway in that pretty old building, told us a couple years ago that some of the staff counselors have had to pick up the pieces with SGM victims (legalism was mentioned) and they cannot refer anybody to an SGM church. So there are people out there who see it and talk at least to each other, and hopefully will get opportunities to express concerns.
    Just keep praying.

  • Lynn

    Golden,

    I should say that at my old sgm church they do have backgrounds checks done on those who serve in childrens ministy. Also, as each new school year starts another backgroud check is done. Also, you cannot get into the childrens ministry wing without even showing a badge.

  • Gracie

    Happymom and Wallace,
    Like the others here, my heart aches for you and your family. My absolute disgust with SGM has reached new heights.

    Please know that you and your family are in my prayers. Though evil (truly, there is no other word for it) is in the church, still His Redemption is our hope and refuge. May He continue the work of His powerful redemption that no doubt has already been set in motion on behalf of your dear family til each one is made completely whole.

  • Lynn

    Kris,

    when people would say it was a cult, they would say how they think it’s strange how they have their own pastors college. And my mom said that someone else who was going there said they were all about homeschool.

  • Remnant

    Why would a church side with the rapist/molester rather than the victim?

    Of course they are seemingly more worried about reputation and money rather than souls, but wouldn’t the victim be more likely to sue or cause problems (look at these blogs!) than the perp to sue?

    Wouldn’t it behoove them to secure the confidence of the victim and to assure the victim’s family and friends that all is being done to protect others from the perp?

    I just can’t make heads or tails out of SGM’s upsidedown world.

    And…..I do wonder how church was at Fairfax this morning after Wallace’s testimony was posted earlier this weekend.

  • golden,

    It almost seems to me like there’s a giant loophole when it comes to perpetrators who were minors at the time of their crimes. SGM pastors in several states are protected by “clergy privilege,” so even if it can be proven that these pastors were aware of a (say) 15-year-old’s history of sexual assault on other kids, the church cannot be held liable for permitting him to volunteer when he’s 18.

    I’m NOT saying that I’m necessarily aware of lots of situations like that…just that theoretically, it could happen.

    What strikes me about all this is that the approach Jedi describes in comment #65 – where addicts and others with deep-seated issues are “mainstreamed” into the church and their problems dealt with as “sin is sin” – is a big reason why it’s likely that there will be repeat offenders.

    It’s well-established that SGM is hugely biased against the mental health profession. They are also biased against any view of deviant behavior that isn’t simply, “Get a grip, stop sinning, look at the cross and pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” And while I don’t disagree with them about the “sin” aspect of addiction and deviance, it seems obvious to me that people with these kinds of problems need more help than what SGM pastors are equipped to provide.

    In the case of a teen boy who molests children, I would think SGM’s approach is horribly simplistic. While yes, no doubt, the kid’s crime was a sin, it’s also obvious (to me) that such a crime is more of a symptom of a deeper need or problem. If SGM pastors are not addressing the deeper needs, it’s hugely likely that the teen will grow up into an adult with an ingrained pattern of behavior that he feels powerless to fight.

  • golden

    I apologize as I was not clear.
    I do not expect SGM to put those names out there.

    **I meant outside of SGM getting the names out there.**

    If there was a boy, for example, sexually abusing a young girl and that boy is now grown and seeking to serve in children’s ministry it will not show up on a back ground check if there were no charges pressed and such.
    New members of SGM working in capacities to fill children’s ministry volunteer slots would have no idea and put these people into the nursery, toddler rooms, etc…
    Or maybe old time SGM members who do know would still place these people in these positions. ??
    Regardless, newer members who have no idea that people who sexually abused children are caring for THEIR children may like to have access to this information.

  • Something that has always made me wonder is the disparity between an SGM church’s reputation in the local community and SGM-Corporate’s reputation in the larger Reformed world, among the Reformed Big Dogs.

    I’ve heard statements like Lynn’s again and again – that their friends and/or family had warned them that “SGM was a cult.” I’ve also heard from MANY people who – after their time in SGM – reached out in some fashion to other pastors in their communities. Or professional counselors. And these pastors and counselors have told the former SGMers that they were quite familiar with the bad effects that SGM has had on others.

    A couple of Christian counselors have shared with me that SGM’s damaging ways are well known in their local professional communities.

    So I’ve wondered, how is it that SGM’s local reputation and its larger reputation are so different? How is it that plenty of the pastors at churches near SGM churches are well aware of SGM’s cultic ways and have been called upon to pick up the pieces, but the Gospel Coalition dudes and all the pet Reformed authors and bloggers are still so clueless?

    How is it that no Reformed celebrity has seemed to connect the dots?

  • Lynn,

    One other thing. You mentioned that when you first started attending your SGM church, several people told you it was a cult. I’m curious, do you know why they said that? Did they give you their reasons for such an assessment?

  • Lynn,

    I think you raise an important point, which is that not all SGM churches necessarily respond to every one of these situations in the same way.

    I’m guessing that since “the blogs” have drawn attention to their past woeful behavior, they probably have greater motivation to prevent further P.R. nightmares. And, I don’t think all SGM pastors feel the same pressure to “protect the gospel” of the SGM brand. Despite their training, some of those guys no doubt still have one foot in reality and would do the right thing if an abusive situation came to their attention.

  • One thing I do know about the perpetrators in a lot of these situations is that they were not adults at the time of the crimes.

    Although that knowledge does nothing for the safety of future victims, and although it’s my view that kids who act out like that – and then don’t get intensive professional intervention – are extremely likely to be repeat offenders, if a perpetrator is a minor, it changes how their crimes are handled. It also affects how their record can be held against them once they reach adulthood.

    So there are probably legal ramifications for the church that would seek to warn people against someone who had committed such a crime as a minor.

    Still, though, it seems crazy to me that SGM pastors would be fully aware of the details of these situations and still seek to make life as normal as possible for the perpetrators…which is what sounds like happens.

  • Lynn

    At my old sgm church someone was accused of molesting someone’s kid. The family was going through a course at my old sgm church about an intro to christianity, and the mom went and told a pastor and the pastor told her to call the police. The odd part is since the one who was molested never was involved with sgm until that course, they gave the family care. And the person who supposedly did molest the child was treated badly. I think in sgm land, if a members child is molested, that childs family needs to forgive and forget. However, if a guest who is not a member of a sgm church, and doesn’t even attended a sgm church, but only attends on a mid week for a course, they are told to call the police.

    I think my church just wanted to avoid a law suit so they just sided with the victim, but I think the only reason they did was bc victims family was not a member. Sorry for this long post.

  • golden

    Thank you, Kris.

    Question: For the safety of children at these different churches, is there a way to get the names out there of these people who have molested/ raped/ abused children? (Thinking of this story, Noel’s story, etc)
    There are more current SGM church members who read this than you realize.
    Or will someone just end up slapped with a law suit if naming people publicly?
    Thoughts?

  • Lynn

    Happymom,

    I too would always think there was nothing wrong with my church. I thought it was the best. If someone said something negative, I would tell them they were wrong. When I started going to my sgm church so many people told me the place was a cult.

  • jedi

    Lynn the people in the church with addiction problems at clc were labeled the “underbellies” by one pastors wife. That is the attitude they have towards people that have drug and alcohol problems. They will probably never “qualify” as leaders so they are practically ignored. “High maintenance, low impact converts” is how they treat them. There use to be help in the form of a caregroup for those who wanted help from these things but then they decided it was not good because Sin is Sin and they should not be seperate. They do not agree with any kind of addiction counseling, help for things like OCD, ADD etc. They say sin is sin. They told me my child had an idol and to repent. They are not qualified and I know personally 3 people who died and I would say clc and their lack of response and care for them is certainly part of the problem. There are so many depressed and joyless people trying to measure up when you talk to them and they actually open up, it pours out. The pastors honor people who are grieving and show no sign of pain and agony because that would not be trusting in God. The rave about how they are trusting God and make it virtually impossible for someone to actually Mourn. There are so many double standards, cover ups, “Gospel Stradegys” as they like to call them. Not one pastor will step up and Honor God and loose it all for the sake of the gospel. They won’t get a pay check if they do that!! If they have a personal conviction, they suck it up and go around privately saying their thoughts and apologizing but will not man up and tell the people who need to hear it that they are WRONG and need to repent! They are cowards. Money is more important to them. Reputation is more important to them. I still go back and say the wives of these men should be so ashamed of their husbands. How can they respect them? These women should speak up and stop the silence!! People do not want to come forward for help anymore because of the finger pointing and accusations of sin. Who are they actually getting help from? God is always here for us, but he gave his people a bodylife for a means of help and encouragement etc. That body is not functioning properly and people need to wake up and do something about it!!

  • happymom

    Remnant,
    #45 -I agree with you but when the Sr Pastor is more concerned with a potential lawsuit from the perp, you can’t expect anything else from the rest of them.
    Part of the cult-like mentality is that you get to a point where you refuse to believe anything negative about your “perfect church” and even something as horrific as child abuse and their treatment of the victim just does not register.
    They are all out to protect their image, their take on the Gospel and all things SGM. Part of the loyalty is the pride one feels in protecting their leaders against these “assaults”

    FashionablyLate,
    Thanks for the recommendation, someone gave me that book and it it the best I have read on that subject.

  • Wallace

    I forgot to add in our story that the molestations did not occur on church property. Hope there hasn’t been any confusion about this.

  • SGMsingle

    Lynn,

    Oh yes, I definitely know what you mean and agree with you!

    Both SGM pastors and members need to reach out in love to those with addictions. Hurting people need love and regular support (sometimes including “tough love”), not more rules and formulas.

  • Lynn

    SGMsingle,

    Right, I’m not saying I blame sgm for the death of him. I just feel that sgm should maybe have support groups for those suffering with those addictions, like the new church I go to now does. I just think there may be an under laying problem why they do drugs and have a hard time breaking away. I do remember someone saying about the guy I know that died that maybe now he was finally at piece. Like you, I want to reach out to those who are suffering with these addictions. I do not blame sgm for his death or others. I just really wish sgm could just maybe reach out more to them with love and compassion, you know what I mean?

  • SGMsingle

    Lynn,

    I also knew two people at my SGM church who died because of addiction-related suicide, and two others who nearly died from drug overdoses. I can’t blame SGM for these deaths and near-deaths, but I do believe part of the problem has been with members and pastors responding wrongly to these hurting people. Too often these people were given reading assignments and criticism instead of love and inspiration of hope in God.

    I certainly want to reach out to people struggling with addictions to do my part to prevent more of the same!

  • Lynn

    I grew up in a christian home and went to christian school my whole grade school life and whenever a student teased another student about anything, that student was punished. They never made the victim feel it was their sin they feeling the way they did. They always sided with the victim. I remember a time when someone did something to me and I said I wanted to kill myself over it bc he had embarrassed me over it, the school called my mom in and recommened counselling. They never made me feel I had a pride issue and my pride was hurt. They called the person who teased me and punished him for it. This may have been off topic, but I was just trying to say how I was being treated un christ like and the school did everything they could to make sure I was getting counselling and even checking up on me every now and then to see how I was. That is how sgm needs to handle abuse.

    And, to go off what someone else said about doing all those things really questions your salvation. Some people just fall into sin after they are saved. I mean I do know of someone at my sgm church who had a drug problem and got saved at my sgm church and then just could not break the addiction. He kept on going back and fourth with it. It was just a struggle for him to get away from it completely and he died. Does sgm think he was not saved bc his drug problem? Sometimes I wonder if he would still be here if sgm would reach out to those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Luna- we cross posted. I am sure the reasons vary from man to man, church to church. It is true that you could have elders with secular jobs who could be on an ego trip trying to protect their position. But after watching churches and Christians for decades, I do know that money is a huge motivator.

    Reminder- Gospel Coalition this week in Chicago; lots of big names. How about we all pray God exposes the truth this week to some conference speakers and attendees who are being duped.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Kris 54-right on.

    I would also add that if they truly want to make things right, take some of the 7 figure SGM savings/investments (or some airplane travel money, or some pastors eating out together at nice restaurants money) and pay families back for all the money they spent on professional counseling and travel and hospital deductibles, and anything else related to the mess SGM pastors made. Pay some money for the hours the parents put into this, or pay just for pain and suffering. Justice in the church should be greater than what the world does.

    100 grand for Al Mohler? No, try a hundred grand for Noel, Wallace, and everyone else who is already known to have been victimized.

  • Luna Moth

    @5years, re: #40–

    I’m not sure it’s only money per se.

    While jumping ship and losing a career and an income would surely be a daunting prospect (!), I wonder whether losing your place in the in-group is not a bigger dread.

    When you have given so much of your heart and your youth to serve this “movement,” to have to admit it isn’t what you hoped it would be, it isn’t worth your continuing to serve–that could kind of undo your world.

    I do not say this to excuse them.

    I knew one of these men when he was young. Seeing all this makes me so very sad.

  • Luna Moth

    Or perhaps better–come away. Come away from there. What you have built has gone so terribly wrong. Come away, leave it behind. Come into the wilderness with Him, and call the others to come too.

  • That article from the Washington Post is interesting. It’s good that that Presbyterian church reached the point of publicly acknowledging that they handled the abusive situation incorrectly.

    But I was thinking…

    Just in case there are SGM leaders reading here, and just in case they are considering issuing some “talking points” for pastors to help them address the questions that are inevitably going to arise over the next several weeks about Wallace’s story, they really need to understand that while a public acknowledgement of wrongdoing would be a good start, there simply HAS to be more to it than that.

    They can follow the example of the church profiled in the Washington Post, and, like I said, that would be a start. They could admit that Wallace and Happymom’s situation was mishandled. They could – gasp – apologize. That would be good.

    But it really wouldn’t be enough.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the stories shared here on the site are really just the tip of the iceberg. This kind of garbage has happened at lots of SGM churches and has been handled in a similar way…almost like there’s some sort of playbook. Always, the recurring theme is that SGM’s reputation must be protected at all costs. And that the victims don’t have any right at all to victimhood. And that the perps receive more grace and understanding and love than the victims.

    These situations don’t all involve sexual abuse. Some situations involve other victims of other sorts of sins and injustices.

    But the pastoral responses are all the same. Blame the victim. Marginalize the victim. Call out the victim for his/her “sin” of wanting justice. Accuse the victim of being unforgiving.

    So – in case there are SGM leaders reading here and considering what sort of stuff to put in some kind of “talking points” document, I would suggest that for your P.R. efforts to be successful, they simply MUST go deeper than protecting your organization’s image. Your efforts MUST go deeper than mere P.R. efforts.

    You’ve got to address the root thinking that is behind your eager embrace of perpetrators and your skittishness about allowing victims to be victims and seek justice. You’ve got to deal with the twisted logic I described in my comments #21 and #22.

    I know this is huge, but it is the only way that you’re going to truly change your organization and keep these things from happening over and over again. It is the only way that you’ll actually be able to protect your organization’s reputation.

    These sorts of sins against victims cast long shadows. You may think that most of these situations have long been forgotten…that they live on only in the files locked away in a dusty room at Headquarters in Gaithersburg. But…you would be wrong. Victims remember. And now, victims are speaking out.

    So do yourselves a favor, SGM leaders: dig deep and deal with the stinkin’ thinkin’ that your sin-based view of “the Gospel” has given you. Until you do that, you are almost bound to keep repeating this craziness and creating still more victims.

  • FashionablyLate

    Wallace and Happymom– Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so sorry for what you and your children have experienced and for the way you’ve felt ostracized from family and your (former) church. I’m glad to hear that Child A is doing well, and I really believe that God will bring healing to Child B…though it may be a long road. Being molested is hard enough, without adding in the way the pastors handled the situation, causing fear and shame. I realize this is a little off topic for the blog, but I just wanted to mention an excellent, Christian book about healing from sexual abuse: On the Threshold of Hope by Diane Mandt Langberg. I will pray for your family.

    Nickname: Truly excellent post. :goodpost

    Some of you may be interesting in reading this article that looks at how another church realized that they had poorly handled cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by the youth pastor at the time: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/vienna-presbyterian-church-works-to-overcome-revelations-of-sexual-abuse/2011/03/30/AF3hNxQC_story.html

  • acme

    Here is the classic SGM spin cycle — which turns out to be borrowed from churches like IFB.

    http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2010/05/spinning-scandals/

  • Sidney,

    I’m with you, in that I find SGM’s ideas about assurance of salvation positively head-spinning. Really, within SGM, there is NO assurance of salvation. And yet they think they are “Reformed.”

    Whatever.

    But I think you are on to something, in that one’s believerhood status is measured by how deeply and how quickly one acknowledges one’s sins. The perps who confess to their pastors don’t get their believerhood status questioned in the same way as the victim who presses for justice.

    :spin

  • golden,

    Thanks for coming out of lurkerdom. Welcome to the conversation.

  • HighChurch!

    Great to “see” you again, after all these years! :D

    Yet I’m sorry that the circumstances – Wallace’s story – have to be so gut-wrenchingly sad. If people wonder why we keep doing what we do here, they just have to understand that although there may have been some cosmetic changes within SGM in recent times, little has truly changed. Or at least, so it would appear by the junk that continues to flood my “in” box.

  • Sidney

    Kris, re your comment #22…about sin and claiming “worst sinner I know” status being first and foremost.

    I kept thinking about the recent (past 2-3 years) teaching at CLC and flitering down through to all the little sattellites….re-baptism. I sat across the dinner table of my husband’s lifelong friend who said “I couldn’t have been saved all those years while I partied and got high and slept around. I wouldn’t have done those sins if I were a believer. I was saved [when I came to CLC]…that’s why I got re-baptized last year.” (I only put brackets around “when I came to CLC” because I don’t remember what year it was exactly, but I experienced his life at that time and I know this was basically when he “stopped doing those sins.”

    So what gives? How do I get my head around the new SGM doctrine of “you never would have done that if you were saved”? This is what I was told by my pastor in 1996 when I joined CLC. I was saved at 10 at an Amway church meeting of all places. I KNOW I was saved. And if that wasn’t enough, I was “also” saved at Summit Lake Camp, a camp of Montrose Baptist Church, when I was 11 or 12. Then, when my parents went to CLC when I was 13, I hated it. I “rebelled.” I decided that if that’s what it looked like to be a christian, I wanted no parts of it. So, I “rebelled.” I did “those” sins. All of them. Then, when I was 26, I “got saved” again when I came to CLC? What? The pastor, MM, told me that I couldn̵