Abuse and the Privileges of Power

"The Privilege of Power" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“The Privilege of Power” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

(Like this cartoon? Get a print HERE.)

(*** Disclaimer: I am a white, middle-class, cis-gendered male who enjoys and can take advantage of these privileges I’m about to describe. I can’t help but write from my perspective. However, I do try to write as if from the shoes of the marginalized, the abused, the victims and the survivors. I try to do a new cartoon and post every day, so this post is written, some would say, in haste. But I hope it starts to convey the dangers of which I try to speak. I welcome responses that not only confirm, but challenge, correct, or complete what I say.)

I hear a lot of stories about abuse from victims and survivors. In fact, I think more and more of us are going to in the future because of the accessibility of the internet. Many of you will assume that this post has been inspired by my now infamous blog post and ensuing comments, Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What Came First, the Thug or the Theology? I would like to suggest to you that this is only partially true, because what I’m observing and trying to articulate is a pattern, and that post is only a piece of a very large, intricate and developing puzzle.

There is a story I want to tell you before I begin. It is very personal, and I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but I must because this is what jolted me into learning about the privileges of power. I was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1986 and served that church until 1995 when I left. When I left the ministry then I had no intentions of returning. I was suddenly a layman. Long story short, Lisa and I were looking for a church where we could just relax, get healed and renewed, and restore our passion and enjoy Christian community. We visited a Vineyard church. I asked if we could meet with the pastor before we came. He agreed. When we arrived, I learned the pastor was on vacation and the assistant pastor said he would meet with me. I was insulted that the lead pastor didn’t show me the respect I thought I deserved and keep his appointment with me. Through my conversation with his assistant, it became very clear that there was no respect for me as a minister and that, indeed, I was just another person visiting their church. I suddenly realized I had no influence. I was used to being called “Reverend” and treated with respect. I enjoyed benefits. Even favoritism. Not here. At this church, I was a nobody. I realized I didn’t have any advantages, and that I was really starting from scratch all over again with no investment, no equity, no favors. When Lisa and I left that church, I was struck by how stripped I felt of all advantages, benefits and privileges. But more than that, I was alarmed by how hurt I was, how offended, and how insulted I felt. These feelings were repugnant to me. They were ugly and I was ashamed, so I decided to face the ugly truth. In a flash I saw, because they were now revoked, how I had enjoyed the privileges of power and taken them for granted.

So when I speak of power, I’m speaking from experience. I’m also speaking generally about anyone who enjoys the following privileges. Some can say I’m really talking about influence or the size of someone’s sphere of influence. This may be true, but it doesn’t change the pattern. I am going to use myself as an illustrative example of this dynamic, pretending that I have abused my wife Lisa in some way. I’m going to sound like a real male pig sometimes. Forgive me, but it is for the sake of my argument.

So, here are some of the privileges of power that I can think of. Those in power have:

  1. A SET OF SKILLS: Those who have power have been endowed with a certain set of skills that they have developed over their lifetime and often their careers. This is the power of persuasion. So let’s take me, for instance. I started to learn how to persuade people as a child. I could talk articulately. Even lie convincingly. As a teenager I lead youth groups. I became a preacher and teacher for over 30 years, who’s primary job seemed to be to change minds and convince people to believe me. So let’s say I abuse my wife Lisa. Lisa is a nurse in a palliative care home. She quietly cares for the dying. She doesn’t like speaking publicly. She doesn’t have the personality that desires to change minds or persuade people to her way of thinking. Plus her whole raison d’être doesn’t require it. If the story leaks, when I tell my side of the story I have a certain set of skills that can persuade you to believe me. Lisa may share her side, but it may not have the same persuasive power. Where I may often say things to influence people, she doesn’t have that same drive. She will just quietly and gently tell her story, but only to a trusted few who she cares what they think of her. But because of her lack of need to persuade, especially strangers, her version may not have the same appeal. She might not understand, like I do, that spinning a personal experience is more important than the experience itself. If this were to really happen and I need to persuade you that my version is the true one, I know that I should sound reasonable, humble, calm, cautiously explicit but in a respectful way, articulate, and in control but the real victim here. On the other hand, Lisa would probably not employ those same rhetorical skills. In fact, if she acted out of character and tried to publicly tell her horrific tale of abuse, she might sound unpracticed, unprepared, unreasonable, angry, hysterical, out of control, inarticulate, and mean. My hope would be that my impression of poise would trump her impression of instability.
  2. A CACOPHONY OF CONNECTIONS: What many in power take for granted is the endless connections they enjoy. On the one hand they’ve earned them. On the other hand they are a privilege. I suppose I’m talking about resources. Again, let’s take me as an example. I used to pastor a well-known Vineyard church and have many connections in that movement. Through years of blogging and posting on all kinds of social media outlets, I have made a lot of significant connections with thousands of people. I have nurtured these connections with personal correspondence, some of whom are famous. I’ve written four books and am working on my fifth and have received endorsements from many Christian celebrities. My cartoons appear in a lot of books, journals, magazines, blogs, and all kinds of other media and I have a relationship with all who used them and maybe even with their readers. I’m popular! I’m not bragging. I’m just pointing out that I have thousands of connections, and some of them are to very influential people. So, let’s say I abused Lisa and the story leaks. To tell and get support for my version of the story, I can immediately pick up the phone, write an email, or post it on all my social media and thousands of my fans see it. They have no reason to disbelieve me. I could also cry for help and immediately get free legal advice, professional counseling, collaboration from popular journalists and writers, a ton of personal support throughout the ordeal, and maybe even financial help. Lisa, on the other hand, is a very private person who avoids publicity. She has a total of 160 friends on Facebook. Period. And most of them are real friends… family, buddies, co-workers, and such, and none of them, as far as I know, have any influence, especially in the world that matters most to me: mine! Before she even gets up in the morning I already have thousands of supporters. She could try all she wants, but she would never be able to match that. If her story did slip past someone’s eyes, they would already have seen my well vetted and collaborated story, and their first reaction might be, “Who is this crazy woman?” I guess I would get tons of sympathy where Lisa would get tons of questions.
  3. PLENTY OF PLATFORMS: One of the most powerful privileges those with influence enjoy is the number of platforms they have at their disposal where they can tell their story. If I was an abusive husband to Lisa and I was a pastor, for example, I would have my endless connections, my “church” (in this case my online community The Lasting Supper), my social media outlets, my publications, my audio-visual productions, my speaking events, the platforms of my friends that they would loan me, and more. They are tools that I use automatically without even thinking about it. If I want to get my story out there, they would function like a blitzkrieg of information for all my friends, fans and followers. I have a popular blog nakedpastor that has thousands of fans. Over 100,000 people see my work every month. I have nearly 5,000 friends on my personal Facebook page, almost 10,000 fans on my nakedpastor page, almost 10,000 followers on Twitter, and thousands more on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn and GooglePlus. I have a small but growing mailing list. I also have an online community of nearly 400 people who love and support me daily. I have taken years to earn these by blogging and posting and currying connections every day for ten years. Plus, I could employ my connections with influential people to have them share my version on all their outlets. My story would spread like a virus across all kinds of platforms. This gives the impression of credibility. What does Lisa have at her disposal? Just her Facebook page! Or, if she was stupid enough or had the guts, she might tell her side of the story in a comment on someone’s blog post. Most people would wonder why she’s telling such a private story in such a public place. Many would think it was a sign of desperation and highly inappropriate. They wouldn’t realize, and maybe Lisa wouldn’t either until it’s too late, that I am fighting a war for public approval and will win. I know that if my story gets published by authorized people and authorized publications, that it lends incredible credibility to my case. Just by the sheer volume of the availability of platforms, my story gets all the official publicity and would therefore seem most true. Lisa’s story, then, because it only appears in inappropriate, unauthorized, and unconventional places, would seem random, insignificant, and therefore probably not accurate. My authorized story is endorsed by authorized friends through authorized news channels in a morning, whereas she has nothing but recourse to private relationships, records and documents, if she has them, but that she will be required to produce to corroborate and substantiate her unbelievable story.
  4. THE LUXURY OF LEEWAY: Most leaders don’t realize they enjoy this luxury, but they are granted more leeway than those who don’t have influence or aren’t as important as they are. Because of the internet, we are seeing just how much those in power can get away with. Yes, we give leaders wider berth. It’s because we subscribe to the notion that their job is more important then their character. We look past the wife-beating because he’s such a great actor. We look past the drug-abuse because he gets things done. We look past the bullying because people are getting saved. We look past the deception because he’s an influential theologian. A celebrity has a greater chance of getting a warning for driving while intoxicated than a twenty-one year old college woman in a scoop neck tee and short skirt. Pastors and preachers, like politicians and other celebrities, are constantly forgiven for embellishment, exaggeration, and expressions of egotism. But we turn a blind eye to this because we just accept that this is how those in power operate. In fact, we might even chuckle at the ridiculousness of their behavior because sometimes it’s kind of cute. Men get away with stuff because, well, “He is just a man after all.” I recently heard about a pastor who had an affair. I was immediately informed that his wife struggled with a disorder, and I just knew that people jumped to the conclusion that the husband was unhappy at home and in bed and, being just a man, looked for love elsewhere. This is how the world works. So if I abused Lisa, I suspect that there will be enough people who, if they get a whiff of the story, will look past it, or ignore it, or disregard it, or forgive me and let it go, or dismiss it, because they appreciate the work I’m doing. My hope is that they would realize I’m just a man with my own needs, and that sometimes in moments of weakness I do bad things just like they do. I would accept some responsibility, but I will somehow portray myself as a victim who acted out of my own deep need for love and understanding, and that I was desperately trying to stay alive personally and professionally. I would also suggest that to take me down would be to take down the important mission I’m on, and we don’t want that. I would also remind people to not believe false reports, but if they did they should forgive me so I could get back to my calling. I think most people would because I already have a space in their heads and hearts. Lisa, on the other hand, is unknown to them so she has no leeway. She has absolutely no space in their heads or hearts, and it is very difficult to get there if she sounds hurt and hysterical.

There are many more, but I think these are the main privileges of power. It is so subtle, but it is also so obvious if you are even slightly aware of them. My observation is that most people with this power aren’t even aware of it. It’s like air to them… something they don’t even have to think about. It’s just there to enjoy and take advantage of every moment of every day unconsciously. I know this personally because, like I said, I enjoy these privileges and can take advantage of them, as I occasionally have. I’m not saying leaders shouldn’t have these privileges, but that they should be aware of them and use them properly and justly, always remembering they have an advantage over the marginalized, including the victims of their own abusive behaviors. In fact, they should use this power on behalf of the marginalized to prevent further abuse.

In closing, I just want to suggest that even the way I wrote this betrays a privilege of power. Because this is my platform, not Lisa’s. Sometimes in this post I wrote as if I abused Lisa. I hope you can see for yourself that Lisa appears here as a kind of shadow. She’s not the main character. I am! Just by the sheer volume of words and how I used them places me firmly in the spotlight and escorts Lisa into the shadowy sidelines. Even in the way I told this story, I have assumed center stage while she is hardly even in the theater. I loom large and my story gets heard and maybe even applauded while she gets ushered behind the curtain and may even get booed for trying to disrupt my program.

Yes, this is how power works.

I’d love to hear what you think about this.

SHOP

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47 Responses

  1. Bill Kinnon says:

    Powerful and provocative. Well done, David.

  2. Caryn LeMur says:

    Well said and well put. The skills practiced over a life-time lend themselves to the Internet quite well.

    The sad part is also the funding that a person of stature, such as perhaps a Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, or a Mark Driscoll, could generate. I recall republicans saying that they had never met someone as amazing a public speaker, and a great fund raiser, as Barak Obama.

    Then again, we are use to Presidents having Clinton-like affairs.

    We are use to Christian self-appointed leaders and authors having affairs, divorcing, and cohabitating with their lovers. Tony has admitted to all three publicly.

    Modern American Christianity is little different than American politics.

  3. Dani Kelley says:

    I really appreciate this post. It’s so frustrating to hear people who have the exact same kind of power that you have insist they don’t have it and that any blowback against them is unfair and JUST AS ABUSIVE don’t you know. Power dynamics are such an important thing to take note of in abuse advocacy.

  4. James Paul says:

    Great point, Dani Kelly.

  5. Aysha says:

    Very well expressed and illustrated.

  6. Dena says:

    Beautifully explained.

  7. Annie says:

    This may be my favorite thing you’ve written. Thank you.

  8. Great observations David.

    I would add that we leaders have the privilege of using the ‘I know something but I cannot tell you’ card.

    I train managers in business and it is used in that sector too. Wherever there is power, including politics, the ‘secret information’ card is used as a conversation stopper.

  9. jim rogers says:

    “It is like air to them…” Imagine a available leader who had some indiscretion and actually used this power to reveal himself and give power to his victim, not that would be something.

  10. Laura says:

    Wow, that’s really powerful writing.

  11. ​A provocative but appropriate image and message for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, David … thanks for bring this to us, on this day especially.

    It reminded me that 30 years ago, my friend “Janet” asked me to help her by editing a book she was writing on her experiences as a survivor of domestic violence. In my eyes, my friend is a superhero, so I felt honored to serve as her sidekick.
    Early on, Janet told me the story about how she got the title for her book. She was at the fancy annual awards ceremony gala put on by the mayor, and happened to be sitting at one of the head tables. So, she was surrounded by other prestigious guests. During the presentations, the man two seats away was called forward to receive the Citizen of the Year Award. In the bustle and applause with his going to the podium, his wife, who was sitting right next to Janet, turned slightly toward her. She grazed Janet’s arm to get her attention, and whispered carefully out of the side of her mouth, “He hits …”

    Who would ever believe this woman’s story? Surely a celebrated man of such elite status could never commit such despicable acts! Yet there she sat, dripping in diamonds in the midst of a situation dripping with irony, while her husband was acclaimed as a “progressive and involved role model for all.”

    And that is how “He Hits!” became the title of my friend Janet’s book. She borrowed that from a fellow victim, and wrote it under a pseudonym because, if she wrote under who own name, who would ever *ever* believe her story, given who her husband was — a man well known and highly esteemed in their community?

    As to the issue of privilege, it’s probably not common knowledge that the first “men’s movement” so called, actually consisted of pro-feminist men in the 1960s and ’70s who did what we could to work with our sisters, mothers, female friends, and others for the cause of equal rights for women. And I think that historical moment helps consider what to do when we have by birth or providence a position of privilege. Will we use that privilege to *overpower* others into conforming with our agenda of desires, or use it to *undergird* others by supporting and serving them as they pursue theirs?

    ​To the best of my ability, I try to do the latter. It is not demeaning to serve, especially in Jesus’ name. And in the days when I used business cards, they provided a light-touch reminder​ of this more-weighty responsibility. They said: “brad/futuristguy. SuperHero Sidekick. I help people identify, validate, amplify, and activate their superpowers. (And hopefully keep from distributing their kryptonite krud on others.)”

    Could it perhaps be a manifestation of the Kingdom to turn that pyramid upside down, so the point ends up where it really needs to be?

    In Jesus’ name, amen!
    ​​

  12. Roger Johanson says:

    I’m a college professor. I will retire in June after taking one more student group to Costa Rica. I will have them read Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. I too – and my students – have privilege. Freire asserts that liberation has to be achieved by the oppressed, not handed to them by the oppressors. Those of us who have privilege can only help by recognizing our advantages (often hidden) and treating all people with dignity and respect. Thanks for a good resource in our dialog (the tool most advocated by Freire).

  13. Kind of speechless at what you’ve done here, and so grateful. Persuasiveness, Networks, Platforms, Leeway . . . these things add up to the ability to hide abusive behavior in plain sight. They add up to Power. The scenario you’ve invented plays out in every field I can imagine, including the way our own government has thrown its weight around on the world stage. When one party gets to set the terms of every interaction, it controls the outcome before a single word has been said.

    Someone asked me recently (not making this up!) what it means to be marginalized. I was shocked until I realized that the question can only be asked by someone who hasn’t seen what privilege is. Having read this, I can say that being marginalized is the opposite of your 4 qualities: you’re on the dangerous margins if you’re inarticulate, if your circle is small, if you words go no further than the room in which you speak them, and if it is understood that you have no room for error or lapse.

  14. Lydia says:

    Thank YOU! I have tried to explain the institutionalized church’s pattern of abuse of power or the result of privilege for years. Some of it is so subtle that most won’t ever see it. The problem is what it does to the owner of the power/privilege over a period of time. They lose the ability to really relate to pew sitters . Thank you about being honest about that and recognizing it in yourself even on a small scale..

    There are so many privileges that over time they add up to a unrealistic view of life. Everything from having the pulpit to create an image to many people willing to do your bidding and shower with gifts, services, etc. In mega churches one thinks they know the pastor’s character well if they shook his hand in the foyer once. It is cult of personality.

    I can remember being shocked at mega church high level staffers who had drawers full of gift cards. It was like, where are we having lunch today? And they would pull out the free gift cards and decide, Olive Garden? Red Lobster?. There were stacks and stacks of Starbucks, iTunes, etc, etc. There are paid vacations, the best service on their car, better medical treatment….all by way of their “celebrity”. Rank has its privileges. But in the name of Jesus?

    I once bought a car through a leasing agent that was previously owned by a mega church pastor I know well. He was going to give it to his son but his son did not want it. I went to buy it cos the pastor told me about it and the leasing company was furious. See, they did all this extra work on it because it was for pastor x’s son. And they made sure to tell me about it. They wanted to charge me extra than the price agreed to broker the first deal! They would never have done it for me, a nobody, they made that clear. I could give example after example of these things.

    People have no idea the privileges that come from being a celebrity Christian. I saw it daily when I was in that world. Everything from free villas in Hawaii for vacation to putting a 40% down payment on a new home for the pastor as a gift from the elders. In effect, they are kept men in so many ways.

    But the biggest privilege is always being believed or given the benefit of the doubt no matter what. Most of the bad things done to people are carefully orchestrated or hidden with star chambers, kangaroo courts, etc, like what was done to Julie. If she had no real proof who would believe her now?

    It is almost impossible for any victim of spiritual abuse (not physical abuse) to prove and it is done that way on purpose. It can take years of tracking patterns and who does that? Most folks are in such shock they don’t even document what happened.

    I finally got to the point (and please do not be offended) that I started seeing pastors as people who don’t live in a real world and have little to teach me concerning being a Christian in the real world.

  15. Powerful stories and replies. Thanks everyone. I’m glad to participate in this revolution where the marginalized are finding a way to have their voices heard.

  16. Ryan Bell says:

    Thank you, Dave! This is amazing! I just watched Selma last night with some good friends and afterwords my girlfriend said, “Where is the movie about Corretta?” To my embarrassment, the thought hadn’t occurred to me. But like with all privilege, the minute you see it you wonder how you’d never seen it before.

  17. Isn’t that true! I read the official biography of King and it was obvious, between the lines, that Corretta has a story to tell. I think the film implied that.

  18. Ken Garrett says:

    Thanks for a very provocative, challenging, and creative presentation of these truths! My favorite sentence: “I suddenly realized I had no influence.” I wonder if THAT realization is the gateway to authentic, Spirit-led service and ministry…

  19. Well I can assert it certainly was the beginning for me.

  20. Gale says:

    I think too there are people who like being told what to do, how to think. They feel better if the issue is ‘packaged’ for them. A friend of mine said this to me once, it’s not my idea, but I think there is a lot to it. If someone is looking for ‘guidance’ on how to think, someone with a ‘platform’ is the perfect place. I’m not looking down on the people who like being told what to do and how to think. I can understand that it can be the path of least resistance and sometimes you can have a lot going on and can’t take in one more thing. The path of least resistance is an easy path to take, at certain times in your life. It can lull you into a false sense of security.

  21. Shazza tha dazzla says:

    Wow, Thanks David. I’m speechless. It’s such a relief to read that you ‘get it’ and you’re prepared to say it! I found this a really moving post.

  22. thanks. your encouragements help me to press on.

  23. Exactly, David. Right on: “what I’m observing and trying to articulate is a pattern, and that post is only a piece of a very large, intricate and developing puzzle.”

    “Yes, this is how power works.” Describing ‘how’ power really works and calling it what it is, is liberating—it releases people from flawed thinking.

    Lydia, Yes, you have stated your experience so well and so clearly.

    Many people are waking up to many unfortunate and shocking realizations about unscrupulous leaders. As I stated in another chat: This is all too often ‘the normal’ and it is only that some of us are catching on to these ever-present and harmful behaviors.

    The reason that we are catching on is that the internet has provided a huge and visible way to see into the darker realm of people’s hearts, whether Christian or not, through their misguided behaviors. One can only continue to observe, compare notes with others, and inevitably grow through these disheartening scenarios.

    Bottom line, it is better to know than not to know. Then it is good to have fellow travelers to share concerns with who understand. We each have a responsibility.

  24. It is better to know than not to know. Yes Barb!

  25. Yasmin says:

    Wow! How very clearly and powerfully you’ve put that! It is very easy to forget just how privileged we are, even if we don’t hold positions of authority. I am fortunate to earn enough to provide a roof over my head, a warm and (relatively) safe bed to sleep in, and more than enough to eat, and I know that I often forget what privileges those are, so I can easily understand how having such authority can also make one numb to its privilege over time. The basics of life, and the privileges of authority, become, very literally, taken for granted.

    Kate Willette, your use of David’s list of privileges to define the marginalized is brilliant. They are exactly the polar opposites of each other, and you’ve stated that so very well.

    I have read the entire “Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll” blog, and am left with a question that will never be answered: Are such leaders really and truly unaware of just how privileged they are, do they assume they deserve to get away with wrong-doing, or are they still aware enough of how wrong they are, but hope to take advantage of the privilege they fully recognize, to get away with it?

  26. Yasmin says:

    Barb Orlowski, you say
    “The reason that we are catching on is that the internet has provided a huge and visible way to see into the darker realm of people’s hearts, whether Christian or not, through their misguided behaviors. One can only continue to observe, compare notes with others, and inevitably grow through these disheartening scenarios.”

    I agree, and would add that the internet also allows us to read of many different experiences than our own, which can highlight abuse. If abuse of leadership privilege becomes the standard for us, normal and/or unavoidable, we can read of so many other instances where such privilege is not abused or may not even exist, and that can help us to stop the abuse, or to leave it before it damages us.

  27. wandika says:

    David, I had such a similar experience when I left being a pastor to being a full time counselor. I didn’t realize how much I had loved being loved, how much I had loved being the center of attention and how much privilege I enjoyed by being a pastor of a congregation. I hate to say it but it’s taken me 10 years to get over myself! I think I’m finally coming around but it was a real eye opener.

    The remnant I still am dealing with is the cynicism with which I view many clergy these days. Some clergy give off whiffs of narcissism, others just have a remarkable lack of insight into their own vulnerabilities and thus have no ability to examine themselves. Once in awhile I do meet a clergy person who is genuine, transparent and has a smell of genuine vocation. They are gems and I love being in their presence and learning from them.

    The last thing. As I am now sometimes a dissenter in my congregation I have to say that I’ve been appalled by the ease with which those with influence use their privilege and with so little self discernment. Dissenters are easily dismissed as “undifferentiated” and clergy take the position of “non anxious presence” thereby absolving themselves of any responsibility in the system they are helping to perpetuate. Frankly, I am now committed to being a pew sitter committed to relationships in the community but staying away from governance or having any opinions about mission, direction and vision. I just don’t trust the system.

  28. David. I would want to add that the problems described above are not just about individual discrepancy but are fueled by the culture that calls, motivates, trains, and sends those in ministry.

    The exhortation at many leadership conferences is for leaders to return to their churches and ‘stand their ground’ or ‘fight for the truth of the gospel’ (and many other similar sounding phrases.

    This can drive the leader to consider contradictory voices to be a distraction from their calling: thus ignoring, alienating, demonizing some of those who need ssupport.

    I say this not to excuse the behaviour of the individual but to suggest that there is hope for change as leaders are made more aware of both the issues and the alternatives.

    Posts and discussions are vital in this regard. I wonder how many leaders have read this and been challenged to rethink – even if they don’t comment.

  29. Yes Wandika. And Alan. In fact, I think these privileges of power are inherent in institutions of any kind.

  30. Gary says:

    Well done David.

  31. Dena says:

    When I researched Calvinism and its connection to gender stereotyping, misogyny, and abuse of all sorts, I came across this letter writen by John Calvin that disturbed me greatly. He is writing to women who are abused by their husbands. He writes:
    We have a special sympathy for poor women who are evilly and roughly treated by their husbands, because of the roughness and cruelty of the tyranny and captivity which is their lot. We do not find ourselves permitted by the Word of God, however, to advise a woman to leave her husband, except by force of necessity; and we do not understand this force to be operative when a husband behaves roughly and uses threats to his wife, nor even when he beats her, but when there is imminent peril to her life . . . [W]e . . . exhort her to bear with patience the cross which God has seen fit to place upon her; and meanwhile not to deviate from the duty which she has before God to please her husband, but to be faithful whatever happens [“Letter From Calvin to an Unknown Woman,” June 4, 1559, Calvini Opera, XVII, col. 539, in P. E. Hughes, editor, The Register of the Company of Pastors of Geneva in the Time of Calvin (Eerdmans, 1966) , pp. 344-345].

    This theology of “women just submit) that is so prominent in Calvinistic circles, dates back to the founder of Calvinism himself. Unfortunately many abused women aren’t heard because they are told to “silently bear it all for the sake of God.”

    Heartbreaking.

  32. Dena! Thanks for posting this. The theological justification for the perpetuation of abuse.

  33. A. Amos Love says:

    David

    Appreciate your transparency.

    And, much agreement, about Abuse, and The Powerful having Privileges…
    “Yes, we give leaders wider berth. It’s because we subscribe to the notion that their job is more important then their character.”

    “I’m not saying leaders shouldn’t have these privileges…”

    Could, The Privileges of Power, be why Jesus taught His Disciples…
    NOT to be called “leaders/” For you have “ONE” leader? Jesus?

    And NONE did. NOT one of His Disciples called themself pastor/leader.
    In the Bible, ALL of “His Disciples” called themselves “Servants.” 😉

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant”.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    Mat 23:10-12. TM – The Message
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Seems many, who have misappropriated this title/position, pastor/leader,
    A title/postion, NOT found in the Bible for one of His Disciples…
    Have puffed themselves up, and are getting the wind knocked out of them.

    Seems simple enough.
    If Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called leader?
    And NOT one of His Disciples called themself leader?

    But, today, someone calls themself leader?
    And allows others to call them leader?
    “Church Leader?” Christian Leader?” “Spiritual Leader?”

    In opposition to what Jesus taught His Disciples?

    Are they one of His Disciples?

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

  34. A. Amos Love says:

    wandika – January 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    I’m with you…

    “I just don’t trust the system.”

  35. A. Amos Love says:

    Brad

    Sounds good to me…
    “Could it perhaps be a manifestation of the Kingdom to turn that pyramid upside down, so the point ends up where it really needs to be?”

  36. Glenda Finnegan says:

    yes, you described power and how it is abused well. And all of the comments are about how well you did that. But that changes…. Nothing. The sheep are still worshipping the power mongers. The victims are bullied into silence. Nothing changes.

  37. Gary says:

    Really Glenda? It changed for me.

  38. Shary Hauber says:

    Thank you David for this great article. It is so true. David I hope you don’t mind if I appeal to Missionary Children MKs, now adults who have been cast aside by mission leaders when they report being abused. Their abusers are not punished in anyway but praised for the work they do for God. MK Safety Net was formed to help these MKs and show they do have some supporters. MK Safety Net is holding a conference April 17 to 19 2015 in Atlanta GA that helps show MKs they are supported. It is a non religious conference, where no ones beliefs or non beliefs are questioned. MKSafetyNet is our Facebook site.

  39. Thanks Shary! I don’t mind at all! Appeal!

  40. Lisa Birge says:

    Im at a point were I am working on legal remedies for the crimes. Although, the article speaks in terms of the power an abuser and influencer has it neglects to speak about the consequences of those action. Some people read that article but don’t get the full understanding the arthur is speaking from the viewpoint of the abuser not the victim and that an abuser will always believe he is unstoppable. But that’s where meaning great leaders have fallen! When the abuse starts to cover up crimes and used to blacklist and tarnish a person especially from their professional jobs then there are remedies. I would to see articles on the consequences of those actions and legal actions brought against these people. People think that a division between Church and state protects them from being brought to justice but when you are committing crimes to cover up one that does mean you are protected by the division of church and state. This is what I am dealing with in my presence situation. I have proof of what they done and am not afraid to go up against them.

  41. Lisa Birge says:

    I meant does not mean you are protected by the division of church and State.

  42. David says:

    Possibly one of the best illustrations of the imbalance in power in abusive relationships, when the abuser is a powerful figure. Not so much he said – she said, but HE SAID, HE SAID, HE SAID, HE SAID . . . . – she said. Excellent article.