Prior to, and especially since, my last post, I've been accused of being bitter, angry, being wrong in naming names, lacking grace, hurting the cause, not being fair, and failing to speak the truth in love (and probably a couple of others I'm forgetting). I realize I'm a polarizing writer, generally leaving little gray area where my opinions are concerned - but, even so, let's address a few of these things.
Anger and bitterness are a couple of the numerous emotions I experience whenever I think of the last three years of my life and my personal brush with hyper-fundamentalism. I'm not a perfect man, I'm not an alien, I'm not a vegetable, I'm not superhuman. I continue to grieve and move past a great, completely unnecessary, and sinister loss at the hands of manipulative and evil people. If you take issue with how I'm doing that, that isn't really something I can, or will, help you with. I've been clear from the beginning that my writing, and style in general, lacks pretense, lacks aesthetics, and is raw and emotional. If it makes you uncomfortable, there are numerous other blogs you can read, and I'm not holding you here at gunpoint. Frankly, I feel for you if the fruit of "biblical" patriarchy doesn't make you angry, too. It sure tastes bitter. That I know.
As far as "speaking the truth in love", this has become a loaded phrase in the Christian community that's dangerously close to losing its merit and meaning as it's usually applied. More often than not, one person uses it to manipulate the speech of another - and do so religiously. Love, like so many other things, comes in all shapes and sizes. As I've written elsewhere, 1st Corinthians 13 isn't a list of rules (which it's usually used as) - it's a list of fruits. Was Christ speaking the truth in love when He was calling the Pharisees a bunch of slimy snakes and hypocrites? And doing so angrily, loudly, and to their faces? Yes, he was. Speaking the truth in love has absolutely nothing to do with tone or volume. It has to do with intent and purpose. Sometimes it's gentle, sometimes it's pointed. Here, it's often pointed.
Is Paul suggesting a method of speaking the truth in love here in Titus 1?...
For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money. Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith. They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth.
"Reprimand them sternly", or "rebuke them sharply", comes from the Greek word "apotomos", which means - "abruptly, precipitously, sharply, severely, curtly". Paul continued with strong language in the verses that followed. Was he speaking the truth in love?...or was he speaking the truth that needed to be spoken in a form of love that moves beyond the surface? Was he moved to defend a spiritually naive people from wolves and vipers like Christ was?
As far as naming names, I feel no guilt about naming those who use their platform to abuse, manipulate, and take advantage of the flock, particularly those profiting from it. Paul named names. John named names. The prophets all named names. You probably know those names named - and only because of them being named.
Those who are being deceived by these patriocentric doctrines are, as evidenced by a series of exchanges I had yesterday, so naive that they can't distinguish the spiritual from the cultural, as they're being encouraged to rely on their own forms of circumcision (the conservative, dominionist, patriarchal lifestyle and it's formulas) to define their faith. You could literally take Jesus out of the equation and He'd not be missed. They aren't putting any faith in Him, anyway. A simple gospel and faith has been perverted by "you must do this, this, and this." I have no choice but to speak up about it.
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith.
Even if it comes beautifully gift-wrapped, a cyanide capsule will still kill you if you ingest it. Too many are falling for the gift-wrapping, never truly examining the substance and merit of what's inside of it - nor the intent of those gifting it. Dominionist/patriarchal doctrines are spiritual cyanide.
Now, to those who say I lack grace in my writing - In the sense of the Grace Kelly kind of grace, I couldn't agree more. I'm not very graceful as a writer. In the sense of the Jesus kind of grace, you're way off base. I want to see those I write about whole and healthy in Christ. I strive to point to Christ. At the same time, I've no interest in rendering myself spiritually impotent in "extending grace" in such a manner as to suggest to those teaching, promoting, and practicing these lifestyles that it's ok. It isn't ok. People are being seriously hurt - spiritually, emotionally, and in some cases physically. Idols are being set up, becoming obstacles in personal relationships with Christ. That needs correction, THEN grace.
Jude urges us to contend for the simple faith in Christ we received. I intend and attempt to do just that. He also encourages us to extend mercy, but to do so cautiously toward some. I intend and attempt to do just that.
If, in your opinion, I'm hurting the cause, I ask you to measure...Do you believe this because of your personal feelings about confrontation? Do you believe this because there's biblical evidence of it? Do you believe this because you know the facts of the situation and the hearts of my target audience, and the facts lead you to believe that you're correct? Well, unless you've hacked my email, there's no way you could apply question #3, and I don't believe you could answer "yes" to question #2, so that leaves #1... which, by the way, is fine, as long as it isn't masked in spirituality rather than straight and raw personal opinion.
Some in this camp think I need to say things in a different way. To those of you who believe as much, if you genuinely know of a different way to say the things I say here, I'm all ears. I don't think it can be done without watering down the message, and remember, you won't be held accountable for my message. I will. Ironically, most of you who disagree with my "tone" agree with the message. That one I can't figure out.
I don't always get it right and I'm not in any fashion perfect. At the same time, I've no intention of letting the personal preferences, whims, and wishes of those who read here define my calling, so don't expect my writing, tone, or topics to change anytime soon.
I marvel at the ministry of friends like Hillary McFarland, who beautifully tackles tough issues of spiritual abuse with both the Grace Kelly kind of grace and the Jesus kind of grace. While we share many of the same readers and address many similar issues, our ministry and target audiences are different, and that should be taken into consideration. Hillary generally addresses the healing of the wounds, I generally address the weapons used to wound, with some overlap in both directions. The same can be said of all of those on my blog roll. Diversity is wonderful, and that's what I hope to point my audience toward in the writing and experiences of others. We each have our own ministry, our own purposes, and our own style. Ideally, it can have the Paul, Cephas, Apollos effect, or that would be my hope, anyway.
I write here completely, and reverently, aware that God will hold me to a minimum of at least the standards I profess and promote here and the measure I apply to others. I don't begin to take that lightly.
One last thing - for those who think I'm "unfair" toward a specific sub-culture...Read the blog header. I don't hide the intent of my writing.
If this doesn't satisfy you, you'll probably never be satisfied here.