May 8, 2010
IN THIS previous entry, a reader described the outright worship of femininity in his mainstream Pentecostal church. In this follow-up, he goes on to recount the full horror of it. The experience nearly ruined his marriage and home, erupting into full-blown emotional confrontations with his wife and pastor. His story is long, but gripping and worth reading in its entirety. [The reader was previously identified as “K.” I now use his full first name, Kevin.]
I think you’ll find that there are a lot of Christian men “out there” who for years have maintained a careful silence on the issue of feminist indoctrination in the Church. In retrospect it all seems like a bad dream. The women in my former church group were incredibly domineering, but in a “holy” way, so that it never appeared as it truly was–religious manipulation.
The women would be the ones “having visions” of angels, or Jesus Christ Himself; they would be the “healers,” who would lay hands on sick people or to “impart” some spiritual manifestation; they were the “prophetesses” whose words carried the weight of gospel truth. More than once, after a particularly galling service in which we men suffered our characteristic derision from the pulpit, I’d go head-to-head with the pastor over this and sometimes it ended up a shouting match. He never admitted to error. It was nauseating to be constantly told (either openly or by implication) that, as a man, I was less spiritual than my wife, or the other women in the congregation.
And of course the pastor’s wife would go over my head to influence my wife against me when I reached a point where I started speaking out about the abuses (but her interference was called “being faithful to God’s calling” or some such drivel). My marriage was falling apart, because my wife was being told one thing by the church leadership, and I was telling her a completely different thing. She was torn between love for me and loyalty to the church, which she regarded as family, and whose leadership constantly told her that she was a prophetess, and that her “gift” was needed in the congregation. In other words: “Your husband is badly deceived. Humor him, but listen to us.”
It’s ironic, really. One of the main questions asked by pastors nationwide is “Why don’t more men come to church?” Well, because for one thing they don’t need to sit with their wives and daughters and suffer the humiliation of being publicly emasculated. My former feminist pastor had a saying that he repeated over and over: “There’s no humility without humiliation.” That’s pure nonsense. I don’t see our Lord Jesus humiliating His disciples or those who came to Him in faith. And He certainly didn’t lift up women to some higher moral plane. All of us, men and women, are sinners by birth in a fallen race. All are saved by grace, through faith in Him.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have taken all the abuse so seriously if I hadn’t been brought up to be a gentleman, to protect women and honor them. At that church, I felt it was all thrown in my face. They were happy to use that part of me so long as it didn’t thwart their teachings of superiority. But say a word out of place and I’d answer for it.
I need to make clear again that this was not a recognized cult like Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses (although those particular groups are male-dominated, just as bad), but instead a mainline Pentecostal group with a belief system nearly identical to Assemblies of God or any number of autonomous groups. This cult-like attitude is rampant in Pentecostal circles. For those involved in these congregations it’s kind of like living under religious totalitarianism. There is no such thing as freedom of speech. The voicing of unpopular thoughts sooner or later brings a crackdown by the higher-ups. And there are few things more damaging to a man’s sense of who he is than to be repeatedly shamed by the insults of a manipulative woman.
My tenure there ended on a happy note, however. Several months after I formally resigned from eldership, my wife saw clearly what was going on and we left without looking back. We formed our own little home fellowship to carefully examine all we’d been taught for that twelve years (and, oh boy, was it a lot of false teaching of all different kinds!), and along with one other couple who also left that group, we studied the Scriptures and grew in our faith. We actually went through a “deprogramming” period, much like cult members do after leaving their group. After two years, we moved into a small, loving, Biblically-sound evangelical church, where we’ve been for about five years now.
Although I’ve been a rather compliant individual for much of my Christian walk, it is only because female “superiority” formed the majority of my experience in the Church. Saved in a Pentecostal church, where religious matriarchy is rampant, my introduction to church doctrine was almost immediately tainted with feminist theology. I simply thought this was what true Christianity was supposed to be. Sure, I was suckered, but when you haven’t got any background against which to judge a spiritual experience, you tend to think, “Well, this is just the way things are.” That’s why I accepted so much abuse from our former group.
The flip side of that story is that my personal studies in the Scriptures led me to believe that much of what I and my wife were being taught was false, and I acted accordingly. Observing protocol, I first approached, with humility, the pastor and his wife to present my findings. That was where I was first introduced to the sarcasms and insults inherent in any attempt at civil confrontation between feminism and Christianity. My pastor (also a compliant man) was polite enough, but his wife considered it an affront for me to even mention the deviations from Scripture promulgated by the church leadership. Her slant-ad hominem attacks made me literally nauseous, not because I wimped out, but because I had previously thought so highly of her that her attack completely blindsided me. I had trusted her, and she ripped into me, albeit in a subtle, insinuating way.
That meeting accomplished absolutely nothing, but I continued to gently prod my pastor into addressing the issues of false teaching rampant in our congregation. Little by little I grew to understand that he had no desire nor intention of addressing anything, except my propensity to stir the pot. Once I realized that, I began to openly speak with members of the congregation about my concerns, prompting the pastor and his wife to go behind my back and do damage control. Our exchanges became more and more intense, to the point where I dug in my heels and refused to relent. After extensive reading of the Scriptures, and repenting because of what I had believed and even taught, I was convinced that to remain silent would be a sin. The one thing I knew for sure was that I couldn’t compromise the truth any longer, and if that meant that I lost everything in the process, then that’s what had to be. But I wouldn’t back down.
It’s important for you to know that I was fighting a two-front war at the time. My “prophetess” wife and I fought frequently, because she was told repeatedly, by the church leadership, that I was the one who was deceived. My marriage was being torn apart. I lay awake nights, unable to sleep, I lost my appetite, and I was terrified I’d lose my family. No one who hasn’t been involved with one of these controlling congregations can fully understand the sway these people have over members. The leadership’s pronouncements were considered a command from God, and to go against the leaders’ “vision” for the church was tantamount to going against God Himself. This is the quandary in which I found myself prior getting free of them. Once I knew what the Scriptures said about all this, I had no choice. I had determined that, if it cost me everything–church, family, whatever–I couldn’t back down. Christ was my hope, not that church group.
Please understand that all this doesn’t make me a hero. I was scared stiff a lot of the time. But I couldn’t compromise again. I vividly recall one afternoon, ten years ago, explaining to my wife about some of the false teaching in our church, and she rather blithely dismissing it. I suddenly couldn’t take anymore. Breaking into uncontrollable sobbing, I angrily gave her an ultimatum–“You choose. It’s either them or me.” She drove me to work and I left the car without speaking to her.
We later talked and at her tears I relented, but you have to understand that I couldn’t simply leave the group; it wasn’t that easy. To do so would have left her there unprotected. I had to stay for as long as she did, otherwise they’d turn her completely away from me, and perhaps completely from God. It was tearing me apart, but I couldn’t abandon her to them. When folks ask me why I stayed so long, well, this is the reason. As it turned out, several months later her eyes were opened suddenly in one of their church services. We left and never went back.
It was a crazy time. Folks on the outside can’t understand. They think we were stupid, that I was a real wimp for taking it, but Satan is very real, and he is master at twisting things around so that a guy can think that up is down and black is white. I thank God for His grace. He rescued us when we were at our lowest.
— Comments –
Sheila C. writes:
I found Kevin’s account both depressing and then uplifting. I’m glad he and his family were able to recover from what was an abusive perversion of Christianity and find a new church home. While my family certainly never experienced anything like the intense battle he endured, we also left our church for various reasons, some similar, and have been visiting various churches trying to find one where we again feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In essence, our church had become feminized: an emphasis on feelings and the personal touch, rather than reason and universal, unchangeable truth. Perhaps that’s why I was never attracted to the prominent “women’s ministry.” There seemed too much an emphasis on a woman’s special way of finding God and maintaining a spiritual nature. While I am in no way a feminist and definitely believe God created men and women to be different and complementary, I find the separate “women’s apprach” to be Christianity lite. I may be traditional, but that does not minimize my intellect or judgment, nor weaken my character so that I need special, sexually-specific ways to find God.
Our former church was initially Episcopalian, but with strong Baptist influences (music minister, youth minister, one priest was a former Baptist preacher). As the years went by, our pastor sent out mixed signals – on the one hand, we left the national church and aligned with one of the Anglican groups out of Africa due to our holding firm on the Biblical proscription against homosexuality. On the other, as more African members joined our previously almost all-white church, our pastor not only embraced them (as he should all new members) but specifically elevated them, commenting from the pulpit that their specific presence improved our church (i.e. there was automatically some deficiency that having more black members rectified) . His preaching also became degraded. Where he used to be firmer on various issues (never rude or abusive, but definitive on right and wrong) he started to waffle, adding numerous caveats before any controversial statement. I think certain members who had homosexual loved ones or more liberal leanings complained that he was being too exclusive or judgmental – you know, the ultimate sin, that. Where he used to add personal comments or asides only rarely, he became almost effusive in discussing his personal past or present family life, and seemed to build his preaching on personal examples, rather than building it on scripture and occasionally adding a personal anecdote as an example. Some members apparently really liked this “opening up” on his part (he had previously seemed rather private, and was never a really touchy-feely sort of person) and he just ran with it. Then the former Baptist minister-preacher, whose sermons we came to prefer, was moved out, and our pastor’s son (a young, new, and to our eyes extremely inexperienced priest) was chosen to head a new church plant. Obvious nepotism. Finally, the music changed as well – what had been a well-balanced mixture of classic hymns and praise and worship songs added newer Christian songs such as heard on the radio – which to our ears had no real tune and constantly repetitive lyrics, like a chant (alas but without the beauty of a monastic chant) to keep the “young people” attracted to a more “modern” worship service.
In the months after we stopped attending, he finally overturned a long-held exclusion of women priests. Previously, a few had become deacons, and some were truly helpful in that capacity, particularly since our pastor was not really approachable (at least we thought so) and reserved. When some real family issues or personal problems arose, he was just not someone we felt we could talk to. Not only did he decide that the Bible authorized women priests, against what quite a number of congregants believed, but he wrote a long explanation of his reasoning. One thing he never lacked was self-esteem or pride in his judgment; when I once sent him a long email complaining about what I saw as repeated preaching and teaching about an enforced diversity (a la the Catholic church’s push for “social justice” and open borders) he wrote back that I was too angry and sinful and needed counseling.
Kevin is a man. He studied the scriptures and then stood up to ecclesiastical corruption masquerading as legitimate biblical authority.
Sheila C. writes about her former pastor/priest:
One thing he never lacked was self-esteem or pride in his judgment; when I once sent him a long email complaining about what I saw as repeated preaching and teaching about an enforced diversity (a la the Catholic church’s push for “social justice” and open borders) he wrote back that I was too angry and sinful and needed counseling.
Sheila confronted a basic tenet of cultural Marxism in her church, she raised a lelgitimate issue as a member of her church, and paid for it with an insult from her pastor. This is the clear sign of an authoritarian regardless of their political or denominational affiliation. There is a difference between “authoritarian” and leading a church with the proper biblical “authority”, based on timeless Christian doctrine, that a priest is invested with. Kudos to Sheila and her family – I believe she knows the difference between these two concepts.
Sadly, tragically, the organized Christian chruch in the US is infested with spiritual corruption of every dimension. I could write for a long time on my complaints about this. However, I will just summarize and state that I have seen and heard about this corruption in almost every Christian denomination. I have even been subjected to some of it as well. It is tragic and injurious to God’s people. It is a crime against God’s people and will be judged most severely at the end of time.
To the authoritarians I say: Repent or perish.
There have been faithful pastors/priests who have suffered abuse at the hands of authoritarian church members. It can go both ways. It would be nice to hear from some of these faithful leaders.
To everyone else, do what Kevin and Sheila did – study the scriptures and act accordingly.