When Facebook Comments are Abusive

When Facebook Comments are Abusive - Visionary Womanhood

Yesterday I analyzed and responded to some comments on my Facebook page that were typical responses Christians make whenever a discussion about a public figure and his/her sin is involved.  But I saved this comment for today’s post. Let’s rock and roll.

Self righteousness is not a virtue. Neither is going from house to house (or Facebook) being a busybody. Does it give you pleasure to gossip about this family’s tragedy? Do you have no compassion toward Beall and the children? Do you have any idea the immense pain they must be suffering? Do you think Jesus would share a story like this? I am so shocked and astonished at the homeschool’s community response to this tragedy. Here is a family who has served us all day and night and shared the vision of Family life. Restored it for all alot of us. And as soon as sin shows up, we all act like we have no sin and become Pharisees! My husband was addicted to porn 15 years of our 22 years of marriage. This crushed my children and I. When he repented, we needed healing and love from our friends, not condemnation, guilt and gossip! Unfortunately, we went through this tragedy alone, without the church. I will never do that to anyone. Today is Good Friday. Are you all without sin and need of the cross? Do you not believe the teachings of King David or King Solomon? Were they not adulterous as well? Do you condemn them? How about Bathsheba, the writer of Proverbs 31? She too committed sexual sin. God forgave both David and Bathsheba and continued to use them in ministry. If God can forgive them, we too can forgive both Doug and Lourdes. Bathsheba admitted her sin, Lourdes sinned too. Please stop crucifying these precious families and spreading more lies, gossip and satan’s darkness.

Before I even begin to answer the various issues she brings up, I’d like to point out the covert abuse here. I’m assuming she is directing this at me as well as the homeschool community in general.

My main purpose in pointing out the abusiveness here is because she, in her own words, is “shocked and astonished at the homeschool community’s response.” This implies that she is not responding in the same way they are. It implies that the homeschool community has responded in an appalling way. A shocking way. Unlike her own response which she perhaps believes is more righteous. She says at one point that she would “never do that to anyone.”

She would take the higher road.

On the other hand she is claiming to know some things about the homeschool community and me. Here they are, either explicitly stated or implied:

  1. We are self righteous.
  2. We are busy-bodies.
  3. We take pleasure in gossip on Facebook.
  4. We have no compassion on Beall and her children.
  5. We act like we have no sin.
  6. We are Pharisees.
  7. We condemn King David and King Solomon.
  8. We are crucifying precious families.
  9. We are spreading lies.
  10. We are spreading gossip.
  11. We are spreading darkness.

These are serious claims, and how can she possibly know they are true? She doesn’t. Yet she claims them in a public place anyway. (There’s a bit of irony there too.) She’s perhaps still healing from the pain of being ignored by her local church family when she was seeking help for a porn-addicted husband. Nevertheless, she is still responsible for her own public communication. And if she is going to vomit on my public page, I will point it out for what it is: verbal abuse.

But if we clear away the rubbish, there are still a few things we can address. Let’s start with:

Would Jesus Share a Story Like This?

Jesus wasn’t a news reporter, but if he HAD come to earth as one, then yes, He would have done his job and shared stories like this. Because He wasn’t a pretender. Because He lived in the real world. Because this isn’t just a “story.” It’s real. It’s happening. It’s news. She’s implying here that this is some kind of blown up, make-believe gossip story. The kind you read in the National Inquirer. We could pretend it was, and wouldn’t that be all flowers and butterflies? But it isn’t.

Should We Ignore the Sins of Our Spiritual Leaders?

Because, after all, they’ve done so much for us. The least we could do is sweep their improprieties under the rug in the name of forgiveness and all that jazz.

That’s silly talk. Here’s what God says:

19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I Tim 5:19-20

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1

 Let’s talk about Bathsheba

Do you think Bathsheba had a choice? Was it her responsibility that the King lusted after her, raped her, got her pregnant, and murdered her husband? (Read HERE for more insight into this.)

Young girls who are seduced, lied to, manipulated, emotionally abused, and silenced by Christian leaders (or anyone) are victims of gross abuse. Do we blame children who are sexually abused? Yet we blame young women who are abused in this way because they are older and “ought to know better.”

We must not put a beautiful, young, naive, vulnerable nanny in the same category as a mature, “godly,” spiritual leader of a church and ginormous ministry. When we elevate our spiritual leaders to the point of protecting them above protecting any other human being, we are worshiping them rather than worshiping God. I’m pretty sure there are some Bible verses about that.

Does God Forgive Unrepentant Sinners?

The short answer: No. The Bible speaks to this in many places – here’s one for starters:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

Repentance comes before forgiveness. Whether or not Doug Phillips has repented is yet to be seen.

Should We Forgive Unrepentant Sinners?

We should, but not for their sakes. When we forgive an unrepentant person, they are not free. We are. God wants us to forgive an unrepentant person for our own sakes, so we will be free from bitterness and anger. But if the offender refuses to repent, while God enables us to forgive them, He doesn’t require us to carry on an intimate relationship with them or pretend like things are “normal” between us.

We can forgive and show kindness, cordiality, and honor. But we can’t be close to that person. The relationship itself is broken until the other person repents.

In the same way, we can forgive Doug Phillips and his defrauding of the homeschool community (we can’t forgive him for what he did to that woman – that sin was between her and Doug – we have nothing to do with it), but that doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge the broken “relationship” between Doug Phillips and the homeschool community.

We don’t pretend. We don’t live lies. We are not children living in a fantasy world. And we don’t blindly and foolishly invite him back into our trust. We need to exercise mature discernment.

If you’d like to read a thoughtful, intelligent analysis of this whole mess, I recommend THIS article by Douglas Wilson.

And Now to Change the Subject

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Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, You Can Do it Too! 25 Families Share Their Stories, and The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking.

You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program.

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16 thoughts on “When Facebook Comments are Abusive

  1. I so agree with you. It is very easy to accuse people who talk about this kind of stuff as gossip. But the yuck must be brought to light and God has done that in this situation. As far as I can see D. Phillips has not repented yet either so why is anyone wanting to quickly forgive and restore him. You are so right about forgiving for our sakes so we are free and not resentful.
    I appreciate your blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to respond to the Facebook comments above and back it up with Scripture. It helps educate me on a proper response to others, specifically non-Christians.

    What I find most interesting about your blog is that you are having to defend yourself to other Christians. I started to read your blog, so I could arm myself with sound Christian responses to non-Christians. But I am learning that our fight in this world maybe more with our own. If we Christians can’t get it right, how can we expect others to get it right.

    Interesting challenge. :)
    Thank you.

    • So true. I’m fairly certain non-believers aren’t reading my blog. I really do only write for believers. My passion is learning how to think about things from God’s perspective – and then helping others learn to do that too.

      • I just want to let you know that I’m not a believer and I read your blog. I find it very well thought out and it gives me things to think about. Your treatment of this issue has, so far, been the one that’s resonated the most with me (and that includes secular and Christian authors). I want to applaud you because just by staying true you are in fact ministering to at least me, and perhaps others who haven’t found God, yet are quietly looking.

        • I think that’s just about the most heartening comment I’ve ever had on this blog. I’m honored that you would feel this is a safe place to think and explore.

          “Christian” Wemmicks have the same serious problems unbelievers have. The only difference is the love we’ve found in Jesus Christ. I will pray that you can sort through all the lies and hypocrisy on planet earth so that one day you’ll be able to see His face. He is not like us. He is beautiful in every way. I love Him more than anything, and He is the One Who keeps me. If you are looking Julia, that means something significant. It means you are not only looking for Him, but He is waiting for you. Now it’s just a matter of time.

          My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30)

  3. Maybe this isn’t the proper place to bring this up, and if it isn’t, I do apologize. Feel free to discern whether this should be posted here or not. I won’t be offended. I’m sorry it’s so long.

    But frankly, I’m sick to death of people calling this man “repentant.” While I cannot know everything in the heart of DP, I can judge (read DISCERN) that his words, deeds, and actions are not those of a truly repentant person. It doesn’t take all that much investigation to become very clear.

    It took me all of ten minutes to read the very first, original resignation letter and realize something was “off.” Phillips never asked for prayer for the other woman. He asked for prayer for every other conceivable thing, except for her. Why? Doesn’t a repentant person recognize all the parties who have been wronged? Including the person who was used selfishly in adultery? Why didn’t he make a full confession instead of a very vague one?

    Realizing this, I began to notice other things too. Such as he has still never admitted to committing adultery. (Isn’t he the teacher who has loudly proclaimed that “adulterers should be stoned to death” according to Old Testament law?) Rather, his “confession” read like “I did some bad things, BUT at LEAST I didn’t do XYZ!” (As in, I didn’t actually, technically commit *adultery,* because I didn’t exactly, technically “know” her biblically.) Does a repentant man say that? Or does a truly repentant man humbly admit all the wrongdoings and take responsibility for his grievous acts?

    The second issued statement was even worse. Not only does DP use lawyer speak to “smooth over” his sins by vaguely assuring us that yes, he should be away from ministry, (still not fully confessing his part in the situation) he actually tells US how to behave upon reading the news! How condescending. Claiming “don’t discuss this, it’s a private matter, anything you say about me will be labeled as gossip! Stay off the internet!”
    Are those the words of a truly repentant man?

    Does a repentant man get removed from ministry in his church and still continue to travel and preach for MONTHS until forced to publicly resign?

    Does a repentant man attempt to SUE his friends who fly in from different locations and come to lovingly confront him about his sin? Does he claim “conspiracy!” when good men and close friends try to help him see his sin?

    Does a repentant man go on interviews and lie and claim “there was no physical contact!” after previously admitting there was?

    No, a truly repentant person does not do those things. And until actual, genuine repentance is walked out over the coming years, and restitution is made to everyone involved, there is no possible way to claim that this man has repented and must be immediately forgiven and have his deeds ignored.

    While it may be true that God has used DP to do some good in years past, the fact is now that this man is a false teacher. This isn’t about “how we’ve all sinned, and we all deserve God’s judgment, so let’s not judge this man!” That is utter and complete foolishness. This is about coming to recognize when we’ve been led astray by someone very well known, who has spoken and directed the lives of countless families.

    This is about recognizing a criminal who used his authority for his own selfish pleasures for years while abusing someone who was innocent. Criminal may sound like too harsh a word, but according to Texas state law, that’s indeed what he is. It’s a crime for any pastor, clergyman, or spiritual authority to have any type of sexual relationship with their follower, regardless of the person’s age, or their consent.

    As Christians, it’s our JOB to be able to continuously discern the wolves from the sheep. If we cannot do that, then we have placed far too much trust in the teachings of men, and not nearly enough trust in the teachings of the Bible.

    • So, Michelle….I scroll down to the comments to post, read your comment and realize that we must be thinking out of the same brain (only you’re much more articulate than I) Amen Sister, great post : )

      • Thank you Lisa. I know we are definitely not the only ones with these same thoughts.

        Oh, and I’m very happy to be sharing a brain, because Lord knows I need the help! Perhaps you can remember for me where I left my darn car keys? :-D

    • Amen Michelle! I totally agree with everything you said. And Natalie, I am so glad you posted this. I get so tired of reading comments like the one you discussed in this post

  4. I appreciate this series… It has given me a lot to think about.

    1) We are responsible not only for what we say in person, but what we type online. God will hold us accountable!!!

    2) You have given me a lot to think about in regards to legalism…. I am afraid I was starting to head down that road a few years ago. As a 1st generation homeschooler, I was excited about what I was doing… As time has gone by, I am more cautious about the extra ” rules” that others may try to add to my Christianity.

    Hope that makes sense… :) Thank you for your blog!

  5. Great article. It was very well thought out and written in a way that showed love while rebuking the original statement. I also love how you explained forgiveness. It’s a concept that can really get twisted in today’s world. Keep up the good work.