Loose Screw #3: Predestination of…Everything?


This is what happened when a young woman told her pastor that she was raped by a fellow church member:

“He said, “[My name], isn’t it such a comfort to know that whatever happened to you…WAS SOVEREIGNLY ORDAINED BY GOD AND WAS STILL BETTER THAN YOU DESERVED?””

http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/the-stories/, SGM Casualty’s Story

Yes, a pastor said that to a rape victim.

I wish it surprised me, but it doesn’t.  I remember, after losing a baby, I was 33 weeks pregnant, and terrified of losing the baby I was carrying.  A friend looked at me with pity and said, “Taylor Joy, you know if the baby dies, that it was God’s will.”

It was also “God’s will” that I be born to an abusive mother.  It was also “God’s will” that I stumble into Christian Patriarchy.  Apparently, all bad things that happen in life are God’s fault.

Or are they?

We’ve been exploring the reasons why so many victims of abuse have been told by their churches to remain in an abusive relationship.  (If you haven’t read the first two installments in the series, you can find them here and here.  Please read them before you continue on, to know my heart and motivation for exploring this issue.)

Regardless of where we as believers stand on predestination verses free-will, we need to examine how our beliefs are informing our daily lives.  What fruit are these doctrines bearing?

To begin with, do some Christians believe that God’s will includes:

-allowing rapists to rape?

-allowing murderers to murder?

-allowing widows and orphans to be robbed?

The answer is, unfortunately, yes.

Ignorantly, I once believed that “Predestination” was only a doctrine concerning salvation: “God chooses some people to be saved before their creation, and chooses others to be condemned to hell.”

(Honestly, that didn’t sound like the God who would come in the flesh, confine Himself to time and space, and willingly give His life on a cross for people who were content in their sin.  But whatever. I mean, smarter people than myself have struggled through Calvinism/Armenianism/Free Will/Predestination–and we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m a musician, not a seminarian. In the words of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?” )

No.  Predestination, for some believers, means that every.single.act. was predestined by God, to show His glory to the elect.

For example:

“For what seems more attributable to chance than the branch which falls from a tree, and kills the passing traveler? But the Lord sees very differently, and declares that he delivered him into the hand of the slayer .”
“I concede more – that thieves and murderers, and other evil-doers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute the judgments which he has resolved to inflict.”
And even better:
“As I have hitherto stated only what is plainly and unambiguously taught in Scripture, those who hesitate not to stigmatise what is thus taught by the sacred oracles, had better beware what kind of censure they employ…
In all ages there have been wicked and profane men, who rabidly assailed this branch of doctrine.”
Not only does God predestine ALL evil things that happen, believing otherwise means you’re a wicked, profane, anti-scripture heretic who rabidly assails the truth!
Talk about stopping discussion.
(By the way, I was quoting John Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion.”  You can read  the whole thing for yourself here , and you can read a nifty “Dear John” letter that summarizes one man’s position against it.)
I’m not here to discuss anything for or against Calvinism.  However, if a pastor (or heck, any Christian) believes that murder, rape, infanticide, genocide, totalitarianism, abuse–and me stubbing my toe on the dresser this morning–are all caused by God, how would he react to an abuse victim sitting in front of him at 1am?
Even worse, if any Christian believed (like Calvin) that these things were either a) brought about as God’s judgment for sin, or b) acts that God intended to eventually work together FOR THE GOOD OF THE VICTIM, what would he counsel that victim to do next?
Go home. Pray. Find a way to forgive the abuser.  Submit to your husband/parents/spiritual authority. It’s the Biblical thing to do.  Show Christ’s love in the face of abuse. After all, Hebrews 11 clearly states that not all believers will be blessed in this life–and I can clearly see that you haven’t been sawed in two–so trust that God is going to bring some good out of this.
I. Could. Scream.
And of course, if you combine this “loose screw” with “Abuse of Authority” and a Van Tillian”Presuppositionalist” view of unbelievers, you will go home thinking that 1) God, in His authority and sovereignty, ordained your abuse–either for your good, for the good of others, or as judgment for your sin, and 2) No one outside of the church can offer you anything *better* than God’s perfect will for life.
Calvinists point out that Romans 9 clearly states that God predestines some and not others to salvation.  However, the “abuse apologists” that I’ve encountered seem to forget that Jeremiah 19:5 also clearly states: They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.
At the Linger conference, Matt Chandler said with a smile that “predestination” in Greek still means….predestination! He got some laughs from the audience with that one. I’m willing to bet that “nor did it enter my mind” in Hebrew still means…”nor did it enter my mind.”
Throughout Scripture, God shows his heart for those who are oppressed, who are hungry, who are beaten down, who are wandering around like sheep without a shepherd. Yet, like Pharisees of old, we as a church have theologically worked ourselves into a pretzel.
We have  become a stronghold that silences victims in the name of “forgiveness” and “God’s sovereignty” and allows abusers to continue to abuse.  (After all, we’re all just a bunch of sinners carrying around our own body of death. How are you any better than he is?)
Then, after being fed the “sovereignty” line for however many years, when we finally do start to speak up, people tell us it was our choice to be in the abusive relationship, or abusive church, and why the heck didn’t we get out sooner?
Which brings us to loose screw #4….
As all contingencies whatsoever depend on it, therefore, neither thefts, nor adulteries, nor murders, are perpetrated without an interposition of the divine will. (1.17.1) – See more at: http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=12190#sthash.v4OLj8Mc.dpuf

A Glimpse into the Heart of Spiritual Abuse

Cindy Kunsman accurately pinpoints the heart of spiritual abuse. ❤

Spiritual Sounding Board

What can #TakeDownThatPost teach us about the nature of spiritual abuse?  Thoughts from Boz Tchividjian and Patricia Evans.

quote Lewis

by Cindy Kunsman

I don’t know what the publishers of the Leadership Journal at Christianity Today hoped to accomplish when they published the article that initiated the #TakeDownThisPost campaign. In the wake of the problems, I hope that it demonstrates that abusers have a whole different psychology than the reasonably normal, reasonably mentally healthy person.

I only read just beyond the first paragraph of the piece, just long enough to confirm what I already knew about abusers. They operate under an entirely different psychology – one that is focused on self-gratification and self-interest. Those traits usually come along with self-aggrandizement, too.

The former youth pastor turned pedophile who was given a platform by Christianity Today showed this to us quite vividly, and the article gave him exactly what he wanted:…

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Loose Screw #2: Presuppositionalism



We’re exploring the reasons why so many victims of abuse have been told by their churches to remain in an abusive relationship. “Abuse of authority,” or even just a plain misunderstanding of authority, was an easy place to start. Obviously, if anyone believes that he was ordained by God to do whatever he likes to you, even if he thinks he’s acting in your best interest, he’s going to override your God-given right to make your own decisions.

In survivor-land, we call that “abuse.”

However, this next “loose screw” is a bit more subtle. It’s called presuppossitionalism, (Dang, did I even spell that correctly?) and it takes a moment to make the connection between this eight-dollar-word and our discussion. You wouldn’t immediately say, “Oh, by believing in presuppossitional apologetics, I’m going to be stuck forgiving horrific abusers and sweeping their sins under the rug!” Heck, you might even be happy to know such a long, intellectual-sounding word! (I was. Wink, wink.)

Thanks to Hester at scarletlettersblog, my eyes were opened to how presuppossitionalism has infiltrated so many aspects of the Christian life.  Her work helped me realize that, when mixed with abusers, this is a truly toxic doctrine.

Let me add that I’m not a seminarian, or a trained theologian. However, since churches have to be filled with non-seminarians at some level, knowing how the laity filter and distill these doctrinal ideas should be important to any pastor. If I’m wrong about any doctrine, I don’t mind you pointing it out in the comments. Just don’t think for a minute that laity all across the Church aren’t seeing it the same way.

First, some definitions for the real world:

Presuppossitional apologetics is a fancy way of saying: It’s stupid to even try to reason with unbelievers about whether or not God is real, or Christianity is true, because God is the source of knowledge. God is the one who gives us the ability to reason. If this or that person isn’t in a relationship with God, his reasoning is inferior to the reasoning of people who are in a relationship with God.

On the surface, this might make sense to some believers. Obviously, if we’re in a personal relationship with the creator of the universe, then we night assume that Creator would be a source of knowledge about any subject you might be interested in studying.

However, presuppositionalists take it to the next level with statements like this:

The argument in favor of Christian theism must therefore seek to prove if one is not a Christian-theist [he means a regenerate believer] he knows nothing whatsoever as he ought to know about anything … On the contrary, the Christian-theist must claim that he alone has true knowledge about cows and chickens as well as about God.

Do you know anything about cows and chickens? I don’t, and I married an egg farmer’s son. I would probably kill a whole flock of chickens before I ever got an entry-level job at the Tyson factory. But, according to this genius (a dutch Calvinist theologian named Cornelius Van Til) I would naturally know more about chickens than the president of the Tyson corporation, because I know Jesus.


“Well, that’s ridiculous,” you might say. “I would never believe such a stupid concept!”

Maybe, but let me ask you this: would you rather hire a Christian plumber, or a non-Christian plumber? Does a Christian pastry chef make a better cake than a non-Christian pastry chef?  Would you trust your kids’ health to a non-Christian doctor?

“No, but we could trust that a Christian plumber would be honest, and wouldn’t over-charge me, or perform shoddy work.”

Really? Well, what if honesty or laziness is a sin that the Christian plumber or baker or doctor still struggles with? Should we plumb their spiritual lives to see if they’ve developed all the fruits of the spirit? Should we examine their Bible study habits to see if they bake a good cake, or can unclog a toilet, or can tell the difference between strep and the flu?

Christians have been called gullible for a reason. We genuinely want to believe the best about everyone—and for that reason, we can be exploited by almost anyone. If an abuser has a working Biblical vocabulary, and can turn on the tears at will, he or she can likely convince any of us that repentance, holiness, or spiritual growth is happening before our very eyes. This means that abusers are attracted to the church. We give them credibility. We give them social capital. We give them a convenient hiding place.

Like the pulpit. Or the youth ministry .

Boz Tchividjian quotes a convicted child molester who says, “[I] consider church people easy to fool…they have a trust that comes from being Christians.  They tend to be better folks all around and seem to want to believe in the good that exists in people.  I think they want to believe in people.  Because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words. – convicted child molester –

(See more at: http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/04/26/sex-offenders/#sthash.a78s0EAY.dpuf)

If we genuinely have higher reasoning abilities than unbelievers, then why are we “easy to fool?” Why didn’t we know better than to allow child molesters into our doors?

If presuppossitional thought trickles down from the leadership, imagine the thought process in a church member who goes to report abuse:

1) You report the abuse the leadership
2) The pastor assures you that the abuser is repentant, and urges you to
1. forgive the abuser and
2. examine what role you may have played in the abuse.

Now, mix “presuppossitional” theology with the first loose screw, “abuse of authority,” and see what rattles around. The very act of stepping out of the leader’s umbrella is sinful. Plus, the leaders know more than the secular authorities.

Would you honestly think you had any other options at this point, besides doing what the pastor says? If Christians know more about cows and chickens than any farmer does, (cluck, cluck, moo!) wouldn’t they know more about abuse than any police officer or women’s shelter?  Would you doubt the abuser’s repentance?  Would it even cross your mind to do a google search through (gasp!) unbelievers’ web pages, about other ways of dealing with an abuser? I mean, heck, these so-called “victims” or “advocates” don’t have the Spirit of God! They can’t lead me in to all truth! And with all those pesky mandated reporting laws, what about the redemption of the abuser?

Which brings us to loose screw #3…


Marriage, Divorce, and an Ox in a Well

Jeff Crippen knocks it out of the park, as always. ❤

A Cry For Justice

Luk 14:1-6 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. (2) And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. (3) And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” (4) But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. (5) And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” (6) And they could not reply to these things.

One of the prevalent dangers in the church – especially in the conservative, Bible-believing church like the one I pastor – is that of falling prey to wooden, literalistic interpretation of Scripture that totally misses the heart of God…

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The Theological Loose Screw(s)



Nate Morales, a former staff member at Covenant Life Churches, was found guilty recently  on five counts of sexual assault. 

According to Brent Detwiler, who attended the trial, a pastor that was called to testify, Grant Layman, KNEW about the abuse, and didn’t report it to the police.

The fact that the sexual abuse occurred at all was horrific. The fact that a pastor (who is a mandated reported in most states) covered it up–which allowed Morales to continue to secure ministry jobs, and have access to children–is nauseating.

However, the fact that we as a church are continuing to allow these systems to stay in place–systems that allows pastors to have this kind of life-or-death control over people–is mind-blowing.

“What systems?” you may ask.  “This has nothing to do with any system–this is one sick, twisted individual who infiltrated a church.”

A year ago, I would have thought the same thing.  Then,  ATI, Vision Forum, JPUSA, Voice of The Martyrs, Pensacola Christian College, Bob Jones University, and of course CLC church (of Joshua Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” fame) all were involved in searing sexual abuse scandals.

Few of these organizations are directly related to one another, yet most of the victims said the same thing: “I (or my child) was sexually abused.  I went to the leadership of the church/organization.  The leadership assured me that the abuser had repented, and told me not to go to the authorities.  The leadership also asked me (or my child) to examine my/his/her own heart to see what role I/we had played in the abuse.  And repent.  And forgive the abuser.”

(Please, if you need a moment to vomit, by all means take that moment right here.)

Then, today I found out Christianity Today had the gall to publish an article by a convicted sexual abuser, and refer to his crime as “slipping into sin.”

What is happening in the church?

I believe that these horrific sexual abuse scandals (and the cover-up that followed) are the direct result, and the final, rotten fruit, of several theological screws that came loose in the church.  We as believers honestly didn’t address each isolated issue when it came up.  Individually, while they may be weird, they each seem fairly harmless, like they’re “no big deal,” and we don’t want to cause division by making a stink about them.  But when all the loose screws came rattling down, the very foundation of the Christian life was undermined.  And we didn’t even notice.

Loose Screw #1: Abuse of Authority

Loose Screw #2: Presuppositionalism

Loose Screw #3: Predestination of….Everything?

Loose Screw #4: Sin-Leveling

Loose Screw #5: Mountains out of Molehills

Loose Screw #6: The Sociopathic Concept of God

Today, I’m going to focus on Loose Screw #1, and I will hopefully add a new post every week, if Baby Agape keeps sleeping well. I’ll come back and add links to each Loose Screw when each post is live.

I want to add that I’m simply a layperson in the church–I’m a worship leader and skit writer–and I’ve not been to seminary.  However, that should make pastors and theologians sit up straighter and ask themselves, “How did this type of screwball thinking make its way into the church?  What are we communicating? How are we communicating?  And how can we be more faithful to God’s word?”

Loose Screw #1: Abuse of Authority

Many churches have embraced an unbiblical model of “authority” for so long that they’ve  forgotten it’s not in the Bible:


It’s called “The Umbrella Model.”  Apparently, if you or I stay under these cutesy little umbrellas of authority–in other words, if we as wives obey our husbands, or if we as church members obey our pastors–then we’re SAFE from the Devil’s evil schemes.

Kids are being taught this at an early age now:


Because GOD GAVE THIS AUTHORITY, going against this authority is going against GOD HIMSELF.  Going along WITH this authority is following God’s true will, God’s best plan for you, etc.  And this will KEEP YOU SAFE.

This is ludicrous for several reasons.  For starters, nowhere in the Bible are believers promised protection from any of Satan’s attacks if they just blindly do what the guy in charge says. In fact, Paul directly confronts Peter when he’s theologically messed up in the head.

Wait, an APOSTLE can be wrong? Someone who walked with Jesus while He was physically on this earth could need correction from a fellow believer? Say it ain’t so!

It is so. We’re not only supposed to question apostles, we’re supposed to question prophecy.  We’re supposed to study, to grow, to ask God for wisdom, AND submit ourselves to authority.  We’re to love God with our heart, MIND, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Oddly enough, we’re not even promised protection if we do what GOD HIMSELF says.  Jesus promises us that “in this world, we will have trouble.”  Hebrews 11 states pretty clearly that some of God’s people will be great overcomers, and some will…not.


The Rotten Fruit

Dang, if people are following this authority, then how did all these kids get abused?

No one would willingly embrace a theology that says, “If your child is molested, you have to forgive the offender, not go to the cops, and let the molester walk free, as long as he cries and says he’s sorry.  You also have to consider what YOU did to seduce the crackpot who crept in on you during the lock-in.”  No.

However, did we as the Body stand up and say, “That’s not Biblical,” when our churches required women to wear skirts ?  Or when a leader proclaimed that all families should home school?  Or that getting married is our highest calling? Or that God didn’t have vocal chords?

Probably not.

We’d say, “We don’t want to cause division over something minor.  Is this a ‘sprinkling or immersion’ type of debate? That is so not an issue.  Who cares? We want to have unity!! We love these people! Heck, every church has its quirks, right?”

In my experience, few people want to challenge a pastor, teacher, or person in “authority” over whether or not a teaching is Biblical.  We either go along with it, or if it’s an egregious error, slide out the back door, and look for another church.  Either way, the teaching is allowed to stay, grow, and affect people’s lives.

“Hey, is it getting warm in here?” says the frog, sweating…

The Fallout

We see the cover-up of sexual abuse, because some brave people brought it into the light–but what do we not see?

How many people made other decisions under this authoritarian system? 

How many people chose/didn’t choose a specific college, because a “spiritual authority” counseled them to?

How many people stayed/didn’t stay in a certain relationship?

How many people chose/avoided a specific career field, or a specific mission field?

How many people handled conflicts, money, property, child-raising issues, under this type of authoritarian system, all believing it was the Biblical way to do so?

But we didn’t challenge this system, until we caught someone with their pants down.

We must start speaking up.

The authoritarian structure  gives the church member no other options.

There’s no appeals process.  There’s no one else to turn to.  In this false theology, “outside of the umbrella” is the land where Satan can attack you. And heck, those unregenerate people don’t know as much as your pastor or husband or teacher does anyway–so why would you even try going to secular authorities?

Which leads us to Loose Screw #2…..



Dear Pastor Tullian…(or, my emotional response to your apology for your emotional response)


Congratulations Pastor Tullian, you just fell into one of the favorite traps of abusers everywhere: “Let’s make the whistleblower the problem!”

**You said, “I’m sorry for saying things in my own defense.”

Last time I checked, some people lied about you, gossiped about you, and oh by the way, they systematically covered over an abuse scandal in the church because, you know, “Buddy System.”

The entire reason for Christians defending the Fatherless and the Widow was, as I understand Scripture, because these are people who can’t stand up for themselves. Where is the Biblical mandate against speaking in your own defense? The Bible says not to resist an evil person. We are never, ever commanded to turn our other cheek against a brother or sister in the Lord.


**You said, “I’m an emotional guy. And in my highly charged emotional state, I said some things in haste, both publicly and privately, that I regret.”

First of all, since when are emotions bad? God got angry when the Israelites did nasty things, like sacrificing their children and all that stuff. Jesus got angry when he saw money changers in the temple, and when the leper knelt before him wondering if Jesus would be “willing” to make him clean. I always thought Jesus was ticked off at how the weakest of His people were being treated by their leaders. I honestly thought YOU were reacting in that same anger. What’s wrong with that?


The site “A Cry For Justice” identifies this as “flat-affect theology,” the belief that any time a believer shows anger that he just must be wrong. Sorry. It’s not true. It’s not Biblical. Yet anger is used in our church culture as some sort of spiritual thermometer that says, “Oh gee, when I’m this angry, I must be in sin.” How exactly should we feel when we’re lied about, gossiped about, systemically cast out, and oh yeah, kids are abused? It think anger is appropriate here.


Secondly, what exactly did you “regret”? What are you actually apologizing for? Did someone really lie about you, or was it just a big misunderstanding? Did the TGC gurus really collude to kick you out, or was it an administrative hiccup that led to the problem? Is it still impossible for you to imagine that CJ Mahaney didn’t know about the SGM abuse victims, or do you now have new information? You can’t just bring an argument to the public like that, then say, “Whoopsie, I was wrong, sorry, peaceloveJesus,” and not explain yourself. At least, not without seriously damaging your credibility.


**You said: “I absolutely love and adore my friend, Tim Keller.” and “ The thought that I said anything at all that would hurt Tim or call anything about him into question makes me both sad and sick. “


I don’t care how much you adore Tim Keller, et al, because it has nothing to do with whether or not Keller lied about you in his public statement. Love may cover over a multitude of sins, but misplaced love leads to abusers being allowed to continue their behavior because “We all know he’s REALLY a good guy.”


Please. Gag me.


Even Darth Vader had the love of Padme. And of Luke. But he still, you know, cut off Luke’s hand and turned him over to the Emperor. This was before he claimed to “convert” back to the fictional “good side.” Keller and the TGC guys are ALREADY supposed to be Christian believers! You SHOULD be angry when they screw up this royally, and you SHOULD call them out publically if they don’t respond to private confrontation.


Oh yeah, that’s the part of Matthew 18 that everyone forgets–verse 17: If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.


**You said, “The late Francis Schaeffer once noted that bitter divisions among Christians give the world the justification they’re looking for to disbelieve the gospel. But when reconciliation, peacemaking, and unity are on display inside the church, that becomes a powerful witness to this fractured world.”


Did you know that the late Francis Schaeffer’s son wrote a book claiming that the late Francis Schaeffer was physically abusive towards his wife? I mean, how could an abuser use the Bible to shut down legitimate confrontation?


Finally, and you can cross-check my next statement with your brother Boz on this: you just played the cards that every abuser wants you to play. You confronted someone with their sin, they wouldn’t repent, you tried to bring it into the light, and they MADE YOU THE PROBLEM. Your anger. Your divisiveness. Your disunity. Never mind the fact that the whole source of your anger, divisiveness, and disunity is
their behavior, you just need to fix your heart.

So, when you fix your heart, do they ever fix their behavior? After all, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” What does their behavior say about thecondition of their heart?

This part feels personal, because bringing my family’s abuse to light was always my problem. It’s my fault that my mother is depressed, (“She misses you so much!”) and my father drinks, (“He misses you so much!”) and my nephew doesn’t get to have an “Aunt Taylor” around. I was always told that I should have a forgiving spirit, that I should be “Christ-like,” that I should forget the past, and move on. I was always told about the holidays that were forever changed, the family reunions that were so awkward (because everyone’s like, “Where’s Taylor”) and the fact that my kids won’t know their grandparents.


Oddly enough, NO ONE ever thought to say, “Maybe your parents should stop being abusive…? Maybe they should get treatment for their drug addictions and paranoid delusions…? Maybe you should make sure they don’t hit your kids, or drive your kids anywhere while they’re drunk, or get killed because a parent let an addicted boyfriend or girlfriend into the home?”


Of course, none of this behavior has changed. Nope. It was all about MY heart. My forgiveness. Apparently, being Christ-like means being so submissive that I’d be willing to let my dad drive drunk with me and my six month old baby (happened!) and I should just not rock the boat.


What do you think will do more damage to the unbelieving world? Watching a pastor disagree with those in power, and fight for justice? Or watching one more pastor sweep injustice under the rug?


Pastor Tullian, please have the testicular fortitude to be angry in a Christ-like manner, to stand up against bullies who wrongly use the Bible as a 2×4, and to rock the boat. For the sake of all of us, don’t set an example that allows people to continue to abuse their positions of power. Yes, you’re free to fail. But you’re not free to cover abuses and call it Christian love.


Dave Ramsey and the Gossip Problem



The recent social media dust-up surrounding Dave Ramsey surprised me. I’ve followed his teachings (and promoted them at every single church I’ve been a part of) for over ten years. I couldn’t imagine him getting his briefs in a bind over some parody Twitter accounts—which, last time I checked, are protected under that whole “freedom of speech” idea.

I have heard Ramsey blast the concept of “gossip,” over and over again, on the radio show. He’s referred to it as one of the most toxic things that can happen in any business, or any church. In some respects, he’s right. Unsubstantiated rumors can destroy a person’s reputation, influence, ministry, or job. Vindictive, cruel individuals have no qualms about using distortions, faulty appeals to emotion, or flat-out lies to tear down another person. I’ve personally been in the cross-hairs of liars and manipulators, and it’s not a fun place to be. I’ve lost family and friendships because a disordered person painted me with a brush that only had two colors—black and white.

However, there’s two areas where Ramsey seems to be dead wrong on this issue:

1) Parody Twitter accounts are not “gossip.”

Dave, did these guys share Lampo trade secrets with the Twitterverse? Did they tap your bathroom, record you singing Marvin Gaye off-key in the shower, and broadcast it on Youtube? Did they reveal the location of Rachel’s super-secret honeymoon location, and put her safety at risk? No—according to media reports, they said you were spoiled rotten, authoritarian, and power hungry. (And since you worked to have the Twitter accounts deleted, well, I have no way of checking it on my own now, do I?) They must have said it in a funny, compelling way too, because you reacted like you’d been stung by a swarm of bees. You could have taken the high road, and invoked that little-known Bible verse that says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11) Instead, you threatened legal action and moved to shut them down. You also created a nifty little Streisand Effect, and increased the follower-ship of the last parody account ten-fold.

So it makes me wonder: Why are you able to stand against an entire culture and say, “Credit is bad, credit scores are worthless, and you can truly live without this system,” but you can’t stand against some paltry little anonymous Tweeters that call you a bully?

2) Matthew 18 has been the basis of almost every “anti-gossip” crusade that I’ve encountered as a believer.

However, Dave, there seems to be a part that you left out of your Bible study:

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

So, if someone had confronted you on authoritarian, bullying behavior, and you simply “fired their butt,” where would they have to go next? According to Matthew 18, their JOB, Biblically, would be to “tell it to the church.” Since you’ve created a national platform for yourself (which has done a lot of people a lot of good) then the national and international church, via Twitter, is arguably a logical place to do this. If you still refuse to be repentant, then the Church’s next role is to treat you as a pagan or a tax collector.

Dangit, Dave, do you really want to be compared to the IRS?

You showed some interesting colors here, Dave. You could have laughed this off if they were telling lies, or you could have said, “Gee, maybe I was wrong, and maybe I have something to learn about authoritarian behavior,” if they were telling the truth. Instead, by working to get these Twitter accounts removed, you raised the suspicions of those of us who have been faithful followers of your program for years.

Nice job.

Please work to clear this up. 


A Long-Time Fan


Why TGC–or at least Al Mohler and Company–Must Apologize

I read this exchange with Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition, and my stomach sank.  Carter seems completely oblivious to the culpability that members of TGC—heck, FOUNDERS of TGC!!!–have towards the Nate Morales abuse survivors.  Since he can’t seem to put the connections together, allow me to spell it out for him:

1) Carter claims that “TGC has no authority to get involved in matters at the local church level.”

REALLY? Well, apparently, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and others didn’t get that memo.  They are the face of TGC, and they’ve publically supported C.J. Mahaney since the civil lawsuit began.  Even better–Mahaney sat on the front speakers’ row at the Together 4 the Gospel conference.  Sorry, when founding members of TGC support a local pastor–that’s an involvement!  Like it or not, Mr. Carter, The Gospel Coalition **members** have been actively endorsing C.J. Mahaney for a long time, except for Tullian Tchividjian.

Oh, whoopsie–Tchividjian is not a member anymore, is he?

If TGC has no authority over the cover-up of Nate Morales’ abuse, then why were Mohler et al allowed to use Together 4 the Gospel slogans and stationary to support C.J. Mahaney?  Or does TGC have no authority over T4G matters either?

2) Carter claims that many protestants want a hierarchical organization for the church, similar to Catholicism, but then claims that such a structure doesn’t exist, and that each church is autonomous.

Carter must have his head in the sand, because the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement promotes a different–but just as binding–type of authority structure:


The Neo-Calvinist crowd cannot promote such stringent authoritarianism in the home and the church, then claim that TGC has nothing to apologize for.  If Mohler, Piper, and friends weren’t actively promoting that everyone submit to some figurehead above them, then parents of abused kids at Sovereign Grace wouldn’t have been programmed to submit to their pastor’s “authority,” and keep the abuse from the police.  You can’t program “authority” into the hearts and minds of the sheep, then disavow any responsibility once the wolves come in.

3) Carter claims that TGC has already spoken out against child sexual abuse, and that its critics are saying it “wasn’t enough.”  He refuses to make a statement in support of the victims, because he thinks critics will CONTINUE to say it wasn’t enough, unless TGC outright condemns Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.


Founding TGC members supported Mahaney, who was just revealed to be a bald-faced liar!!  That was a slap in the face to every victim who had to endure the cover-up, and submit to their pastoral “authority!!” These victims and their parents believed the falsehood that GOD HIMSELF set up this type of authority, and if they didn’t SUBMIT, they were disobeying GOD, and where do you think they GOT THAT IDEA???


So. No. Speaking out against the amorphous idea of child abuse in general is not enough.  It will never be enough.  Your organization has specific sins to repent of:

1) Supporting Mahaney vocally, and publically, despite multiple witnesses to a HUGE cover-up of sexual abuse.

2) Teaching unBiblical hierarchical authority structures for the church and home, and even going so far as to imply that if a church member disagrees with these authority structures, he or she may not be saved. This created such a culture of fear that few were willing to break with the authority, and go to the police.

The Gospel Coalition needs to apologize. Publicly.  Immediately.  Now.




Welcome to “Baby Agape!”


It finally happened, our fourth and final baby was born!

She was healthy, stubborn (twisted in a funny way, and refused to come out for hours!), ravenously hungry, and absolutely beautiful.

So far, she’s the easiest baby of them all–she only cries when she’s being undressed or changed.  She’s so precious and sweet and snuggly…yeah, she’s amazing. And we’re not biased in this house at allll. 😀  I can’t believe she’s ours.

My in-laws came for a while, and pampered us and spoiled us rotten.  I don’t have a single piece of dirty laundry in the house, and until this morning, I didn’t have a single dirty dish.  I was able to just rest, recover, bond with my new baby, and surprisingly, begin to enjoy the dynamics of having [by modern standards] a very large family. 

One of my most painful emotional memories from middle school was being squished between a bunch of students that I barely knew on the bus during an eight-hour school trip.  I remember wishing I was around people who loved me, that I could just be accepted, and that I would be “comfortably squished” among a lot of friends and family.  I never felt that way, in my home or among my peers.

Strangely, now I’m piled up with a ton of kids that I never expected to have, and certainly never thought I’d be any good at parenting—and I’m comfortably squished among so much love that it’s overwhelming.  We love and accept them, and they know it.

So, hopefully I’ll be back to blogging soon.  I’ve been so surprised by the response to some of the articles, and I was honored beyond belief to have my story posted as a “Resource for Children of Domestic Violence” at  “A Cry For Justice.”  Once that happened, I realized that there are good things I can contribute to the survivor community, now that I’ve been out of my family of origin for more than a decade, and I deeply want to help others coming out of the situation I was in.

God bless all of you!

Taylor Joy


“Dear Sheldon….” A Story of Maternal Abuse

Recently, Julie Anne from Spiritual Sounding Board posted the story of “Sheldon.”  It was so intense, so triggering….and so dang familiar….that instead of clogging up Julie Anne and Sheldon’s comment feeds, I wanted to reply to him here.  This is my story, and it never should have happened.  However, as long as churches defend abusers and place heavy burdens on victims, these stories must be told, so that the Body of Christ can learn how to tend wounded sheep.


“She’s your mother. You know she loves you…”

Dear Sheldon,

I wish so deeply that you hadn’t experienced such crazy abuse at the hands of your parents, then your family’s pastor. I also wish that I couldn’t write this long letter to you and say, “Dangit, I understand.”

I wanted to share the highlights (lowlights?) of my story with you, and any of our readers, just because…it always made me feel more sane to know that I wasn’t alone. Between the parents (or any other abusers) who are crazy, and the church institutions that blindly defend them, it’s easy for us to suffer from gaslighting, and start to believe that, “Hey, maybe we should just submit harder, or do something different, and everything would be okay!” No, we would just slowly lose our minds and our identities. Like a caged animal in a zoo, eventually we would forget that freedom ever existed. Writing down our story is like dropping pebbles behind us in the forest: we remember that there is a way out.

The Early Years…

My mother never physically abused me—I just got to watch her physically abuse my father and sister. From my earliest childhood, I knew my mother had what she called “White-out rages,” where she claimed that she literally couldn’t see anything, and lashed out with her fists at my father. I witnessed her punch, kick, slap, and scream at him over and over again. Since I was apparently “such a good listener,” she would then pack me in the car, drive me all over the county, and explain exactly why he made her do it. ­

I learned the all-important lie before I could even talk: the victim is responsible for the abuser’s behavior.

The worst part of any week was the thirty-minute drive to church. My parents would scream, yell, argue in circles, and then get out of the car in the church parking lot and act like nothing was wrong!! How could they do that? Why would they do that? Every time they smiled at another parishoner, I wanted to scream, “It’s all a lie! They just threatened divorce for the thousanth time! They pulled over on the side of the road, she stormed off into a cornfield, and he begged her to not leave him alone with the baby!”

The Walkman was literally the greatest invention of my life. I could drown out their insanity with my music. My most vivid visual memories of my elementary school years are the floorboard of the car, punctuated by the soundtrack of the homemade mix-cassette-tapes I made off of the radio.

I grew older, I fell in love with Jesus in my own right, and I eventually went away to college. (That journey is another story and another can of worms altogether.) I was still frequently dragged back into the drama of my family—once, my mother even assaulted my sister, and drove for hours to my school to come pick me up so I could “intervene” with her.

This Can’t Be Happening….

However, the worst night was right before “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” came out in the theaters. I was so excited to go on a “group date” to this moviewith a guy I cared about…and I got a screaming phone call from my brother: “Mom punched dad, and broke his jaw. He says he’s leaving. You’ve got to come home and do something!!”

I arrived at my parents’ million-dollar house the next day. Mom and dad were laying on their bed in their sweats. He was holding her hand. He was just finishing up a bowl of Honey Combs, wanted another, and asked my mom if she wanted some.

“No thank you, honey,” she said.

He turned to get up, and I saw the huge, swollen bulge on the left side of his face.

“Hey sweetheart,” he said to me. “What are you doing home from school?”

Walking straight into a Raymond Carver story, I thought.

I have absolutely no memory of what happened later that day. My best guess is that everyone else acted like nothing had happened—except that I knew my father had to look in the mirror while he shaved. I wondered, did he wince when the razor scraped over that part of his jawline? Did he close his eyes and compartmentalize? Logistically, I know that he didn’t leave. I went back to my school, my job, my dance-around-relationship with a guy I sort’ve liked.

Later—I don’t know how many days later—I got a call from my mother while I was at work. Dad had left, and she had taken so many sleeping pills that she was slurring and crying. It was the first of four suicide attempts.

A Slow Awakening….

Over the next two years, I realized the truth of a saying from the book Understanding the Borderline Mother, by Christine Lawson: “Children are the first to know, and the last to recognize, that something is wrong with their parents.” I became a surrogate caregiver and spouse to my mom. I gave her money. I gave her time. I set her up with support from my church (she and I went to different churches—also another story) and I was there for her whenever she needed me, at any time of the day or night. I became absorbed in her needs, in her drama, in her sexual escapades (which she described to me in detail), in her hatred of my father, in her desire to have my father back…and slowly, over those two years, I realized two things:

1) I was a tool to meet her needs, nothing more.
2) She was not getting better.

She’d started and stopped therapy. She’d started and stopped meds. She continued to verbally and physically abuse my brother and sister. She stalked my father from two states away.

The Final Straw….

Then, she started on a peculiar form of sabotage—my relationship with my future husband. I called to tell her we were engaged, and she started crying, begging me for money. Which I hurredly and gladly gave, since she said she was going to be evicted the next day.

I called her to set up at time to pick out a wedding dress. “You realize he’s just like your father. He’s going to leave you the moment you gain weight.” WHAT??

I called my sister to let her know we’d picked out wedding invitations. “You realize, if that son of a bitch ever lays a hand on you again, I’m kicking his f*cking ass.”
I was dumbfounded, and asked her straight up, “Cecillia, are you high?”
“No! Well…yeah…”
“Ok, call me when you’re sober,” I said, and hung up the phone. I immediately called my mother. “Where did Cecillia get the idea that my fiance was beating me?”
“Well, she said you were hiding bruises all over your back, that you were acting like you were scared that she would see them.”
“Mother, I live TWO HOURS AWAY. When would she have seen me? When would we have changed clothes in the same room?”

It turns out Cecillia got the idea from my mother. She was stoned enough to believe it actually happened, and that she actually saw it with her own eyes.

I received drunk, screaming, crying, drug-induced, late-night phone calls every single day until a month before our wedding. My future husband and I had moved to a new city four hours away, started new jobs, paid rent on two apartments until we were officially married….and despite the distance, I was still crumbling under the weight of my mother’s insanity. I finally told my fiance, “This is never, ever going to change. She’s going to harass us until we split up. I need you to sit with me for this next phone call.”

I held his hand, dialed her number, and haltingly told her not to call me again until she was willing to get some help. She screamed at me that she was only calling about wedding presents, at two in the morning. I told her again, “I’m not speaking to you again until you get some help.” She hung up.

She called back. I let it go to voicemail.
She called again. And again. And again.
Once she called more than thirty times in a single day.

I answered once, to agree to let her come to the wedding. The wedding is a whole different story, but in some ways, it was just like my youthful drives to church: smile when people are around, pretend like nothing is wrong, and have a complete and utter meltdown in private.

Some time later, she assaulted my sister, beating her to a bloody pulp in the hallway of her apartment over a dispute about a credit card. The police were called. Apparently my mother played enough of a victim that the police believed it was both of their faults. I knew better. I knew that my sister had been hit enough times that she’d decided to fight back. In a sick, twisted sort of way, I was proud of her for defending herself.

But it cemented my resolve: do NOT let this woman back into your life until she’s treated for whatever screw is loose in her head.

To this day, my sister defends and maintains a relationship with my mother.

Enter Pastor, Stage Left….

Sheldon, the worst part of this story is actually not the abuse that my sister and father suffered. As you know, the worst part is the response of the people in the church community when survivors try to TELL SOMEONE what happened.

My sister found out through the grapevine that I was pregnant with my first child, and told my mother. My mother then called my former pastor ,from my former state, that I hadn’t seen in eight years, and told him she was suicidal because her beloved daughter was pregnant, and had cut her out of her future grandchild’s life.

I was sitting in Panera, trying to write a play, when my former pastor called me. I could tell you what I was wearing, where I was sitting, and what I was eating, as I spent forty-five minutes trying to explain to this man that my mother was an abusive person. That she lived and breathed a lie. That she was pulling the wool over his eyes with her, “My daughter has abandoned me” act.

Guess how he responded?

He told me I needed to “Honor my father and mother.” He told me that I was not doing the “normal” things a daughter should do when she’s pregnant—shop for baby clothes together, pick out names, take pictures, etc. (At that point, I almost threw up my brocolli-chedar soup-in-a-breadbowl, because all I could think was, “What part of this situation sounds NORMAL to you??”)

I told him I couldn’t do that, because I was afraid she would abuse the baby. He said, “Taylor Joy, you are being a tool of the devil to hurt your mom.”

I froze. I’d spent six years of my life in this man’s church. It was a small church. I’d thought he and I had known each other well. My mother had been in his church exactly three times. She wasn’t even a person in his pastoral care. How could he believe this about me? How could he take her word over mine? Wasn’t she harming me? My brother and sister? My father? My husband? My future baby? Who was the tool of the devil here?

I ended that conversation as quickly as I could—and I don’t remember any response I made to that accusation.

I immediately called one of the church elders, who’d been like a surrogate father to me during that season of life. It was a seventeen-minute call. He basically told me that our pastor was full of crap, that our pastor didn’t know the whole story, and that I was doing the right thing. “Your mother would be drunk on your doorstep every night if you let her into your life right now. You take care of that baby, and tell your husband I said hi.”

In seventeen minutes, my old friend may have saved our family’s sanity.

I Believe You….

Sheldon, I wish you’d had someone like that to speak sanity into your life—someone who would just say, “Yes, I see it, abuse is really happening, and it’s wrong.” I wish the the cop who came to your house had acknowledged the fact that yes, you were the victim. I’m able to write about this with some objectivity, some level of detachment, because our story is almost fifteen years old. However, when the pain was fresh and recent, all I wanted was for someone to believe me. I want you to know that I believe you. I believe you because I’ve lived it. I believe you because I’ve heard the exact same words you have. I believe you have the right to be hurt, angry, and free from their control. I believe you have the right to live your own life.

I don’t really know how to end this letter/post, except to say that I have to go get my kids some breakfast, and work today on being a better mother than I was yesterday.  Life goes on, healing can come, good work can be done on your own soul, and there are good relationships to be had.  I’ll write later on why I was able to stay a Christian–but i made a commitment that i would never, ever try to convert a victim of spiritual abuse back to Christianity, unless he or she asked.  So, I hope this has been an encouragement to you, and please feel free to come by and talk any time.


“Taylor Joy.”