Monday, August 6, 2018

Fed Up, Stuck – and Tired of Life in a Carnal Church? Thoughts to think about.

Opinion Editorial –

- written by a Former Member of the “Church” - all opinions belong to the author. The views stated belong to the author only and may not necessarily be the views and opinions of this Blog.

Many times this has been discussed, but it can never be discussed enough. Why is it that members of the splinters put up with the spiritual abuse that is blasted at them by so-called “ministers” in the Churches of God?
There is no doubt that there are many disgruntled, unhappy members in the Splinter groups. And there is also no doubt that this is for good reason.
The PCG has been well-accounted for extraordinarily horrendous policies involving separation of families (including minors) for dissenters. The RCG has been well-accounted for their “All things common” financial policies, and fantastically failed prophecies, that have scarred members both financially and spiritually. The COG-PKG has been time and time again convincing members of the time of the end, with failed date after failed date, pocketing money for lavish expenses, whose leader was convicted with tax fraud. The LCG, with a new leader at the helm, continues to assert submission to it's members to church government – while refusing to tackle serious issues brought up by it's members who see widespread carnality within it's ranks. The other splinters not mentioned are certainly not immune. From controversies to scandals, to ministerial misconduct – there is never any shortage of spiritual abuse within the churches of God. Whether or not it's minister-to-minister, minister-to-member, even church-to-church – or even church-to-world, the levels of carnality, wickedness, and dare we even say just plain evil have been accounted for factually for years on this blog, on the Ambassador Reports, on other COG-related blogs and websites, and other media sources. And yet, though more than a few leave, many decide to sit, stay – and pay.
What is it then that is the glue that keeps them sitting? What is it that holds them in what they have themselves said is miserable, discouraging, depressing conditions?
A Place of Like-Minded Community
The biggest reason that has been mentioned by Splinter Members over and over again has been because of community. The church that they are in – regardless of doctrine, teaching, disagreements, and authority issues – is their place of community. Many times their immediate families are members of the church as well. Many times long-term friendships – some lasting decades – are members in the church. To even think of not seeing them or spending time with them every week would seem to be nothing less than traumatizing. Members are also aware that in most Church of God congregations, shunning ex-members is strictly practiced within the church. It is a very real threat that if they leave the church, they will lose contact with everyone they have ever known. “No one in the world understands me, or can relate to me or my issues and beliefs”. Indeed, loneliness and depression is an extremely real threat to those who leave the church – and it can be more than enough of a deterrent to leaving the church, that members are willing to put up with spiritual abuse than risk losing lifelong relationships with the only people they've ever really been close to.
The Threat of Marital Division
Just as big a reason is spiritual unity between a husband and a wife in the church. Perhaps one of them has come to realize the level of spiritual abuse that has been endured for years – even decades. Perhaps one has become so frustrated that they feel like leaving. However, this individual is well aware that the consequences of leaving the church may have dramatic, traumatizing, life-changing events for not only the individual, but the spouse, and most importantly, the children of the married couple.
Spiritual divisions within the family can create dramatic tension, disputes, and arguments that can lead to grudges, separations, and even full-on divorce situations, that can cause lasting damage to children – not to mention bitter and drawn-out divorce proceedings. Many times on consideration of the dreaded road that leaving the church could put them toward, the spiritual abuse inflicted by the church seems to be a better option for them then losing their family – and potentially their children. Not to mention, possibly their house, car, and other possessions.
A Desire to Worship How They Believe is Proper
The third reason that a member may decide to stay is because of how they want to worship. Most members will tell you that they stay because they believe that they have a desire to keep the Sabbath, and the Holy Days in the common and accepted manner of their church. Their surroundings, worship style, and messages are predictable, and familiar. They do not have to worry about unfamiliar doctrinal messages coming from the pulpit, which would nearly certainly happen in another Church of God Congregation. They do not have to worry about losing their “place” in the church, whatever that “place” might be. And regardless of how spiritually abusive their ministers may be, the truth is, they are more comfortable with what to expect with them than they would be with someone new, where there's no certainty of expectations in anything.
What to Do, What to Do?
These are primary reasons why many splinter members of the Churches of God make the grudgingly depressing decision to stay. But these aren't the only reasons. As one member recently said in response to such a question in a popular Church-of-God related blog, paraphrased - “It is enormously complicated, you can't just get up and go”. And that's true. Uprooting ones self and starting over is one of the most difficult and scary things anyone can even begin to consider – and the consequences of those actions can change the entire course of life. How does one even begin to make the right decision? How does one even begin to know what to do?
Don't Decide on Your Own Strength and Power
In situations like this, it can be extremely easy to forget that you are a believer in Christ. If you're debating with yourself what to do – you can't stand your church, you can't stand being treated the way you are being treated. You know it's wrong, you know it's not Christian – you see with your own eyes the carnality, and you are frustrated at the actions you see all around you with disbelief – you seem overwhelmed and overpowered. Don't decide what to do on your own strength and power. Immerse yourself in prayer. Ask God to guide you, to lead you, in a loving, caring, and fatherly way through the jungles you find yourself trapped in. Remind yourself of the promises of His Word to you. That he promised He would never leave you, nor forsake you. That He promised that all things work together for the good to those who love Him, according to His purpose. That God's plan is to prosper you, and not to harm you – to give you a hope and a future. That God is good, all the time – and his goodness never fails. And that He is a merciful and loving God. And when you put your trust in Him – then you can be strengthened by knowing that God is faithful to His Word, and that God WILL make a way, where there seems to be no way.
Place your Burden on God's Hands. Then Let God work.
More than anything – give it to God. Give it to God in prayer, and do something that is extremely hard in this situation – trust Him. Trust Him that all things are going to be okay. And when God moves you in a certain direction – don't be afraid. Trust. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ.
Through trying to figure out your path in life, one thing is sure. No person should ever be subject to spiritual abuse by those who are trusted as representatives of Jesus Christ. No person should have to be subject to wickedness, carnality, and evil inside the Church. There's enough of that outside to last anyone a lifetime. If you are one who feels you are spiritually abused, trapped, and no idea where to go, or what to do – it can be easy to want to throw your hands up in frustration and resign yourself to your circumstance.
Perhaps you're not used to hearing this – but Jesus Christ loves you, and He died for you – and He does not want you to be burdened by spiritual abusers and oppressors. You believe in Christ. Go to Him. Talk to Him, heart to heart – brother to Brother. And then follow the advice of a well known scripture in Exodus 14:14
“The Lord will fight for you; You need ONLY to be Still.”


Anonymous said...

That "all things work for the good of those who love God" is a mis-translation. Simple observation and personal experience proves this. It's a favorite translation of many, since it implies that evil isn't really evil, and doesn't result in destruction. But the abuses mentioned in this article alone, shows otherwise.
God says "choose life or choose death." Death is death. What part of death don't people understand.
The correct translation should read something like "God will be with us in all our trials."

Anonymous said...

One thing I’ve never understood. What nonmember, be they male or female, would want to have sex with an ACOG member? Church members withdraw emotionally from all nonmembers, and revest their emotional involvement in Armstrongism. As a benchmark, would any of us deliberately marry a Jehovah’s Witness? People in the ACOGs may not realize it, but they are just as wierd! How could you have a full marriage relationship with such a person?

Anonymous said...

I'd say the biggest reason that glues people's butts to the seats is actually something else.

For whatever reason, people become convinced that they need a priest—someone to make intercession—someone to introduce them to god and show them how to get to heaven. You might call him a minister, or an apostle, or a presiding evangelist, or whatever, but you're there because you believe you need someone to provide priestly services for you. But not just any priest will do. There's a lot of people out there promising these priestly services. No, you want THE priest. And you believe that this guy is that priest.

I mean, I get it. If you were born into Armstrongism, as I was, then you're indoctrinated into these ideas before you even have a chance to rationally examine whether the questions or the answers are the right ones. And whoever your parents believe is THE priest, you'll believe they're right.

When I finally parted ways with WCG around 2000 and went to United, that priest/parishioner relationship was already broken, and from that time onward, my days in Armstrongism were numbered. The guy who I'd trusted as THE priest was dead and buried, and Joe Jr. was NOT a trustworthy replacement, and neither were any of the guys leading United, which, at the time, was the least bad alternative place to go. So here I was, left high-and-dry, without anyone I trusted to perform those priestly services.

This is actually the same place Martin Luther was at after being disillusioned by his time in Rome. When he led the protestant reformation, he said you didn't need the pope, or the catholic priests. All you needed was the bible, and you could do the rest yourself, which is why most protestant churches don't have priests. In theory at least, protestants are all people who have been left high-and-dry by the untrustworthyness of god's one true church (the catholic one), and so they're going it alone.

But for the average Joe, picking up the bible and trying to make sense out of it seems daunting. Smarter people than I have been thinking and writing about this stuff for millennia, and there's an entire history, and a tradition, and if you don't know about all of that, you won't be able to read it the way it's supposed to be read, right? How else will you know which parts of the bible are done away and you can ignore, and which parts are still in force? How will you know whether you're supposed to spend the entire days of unleavened bread in a Super 8 motel or a barn, or whether those words don't count there, but only in the part about the feast of tabernacles?

On second thought, maybe those traditions aren't all they're cracked up to be. In Armstrongism, we’d never even believed in any of those traditions! In fact, protestants as a whole have prettymuch not accepted those traditions either. Armstrongism just took it one step further.

Anyway, it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t have anyone I trusted to interpret the bible for me anymore, or introduce me to god and make intercession for me. It wasn’t my fault I was on my own, but I was. I don’t know how people can just simply throw it all in on some new weirdo like Flurry, or Meredith, or Malm. I couldn’t.

So I set about trying to “prove all things” and “work out my salvation.” That was something I wanted to get sorted out. And I did, too.

But, if believing in god is important to you, then I don’t recommend that you follow my example. No sir. Find some other weirdo to trust, glue your butt to the seat, and whatever you do, don't stop accepting those priestly services. Whoever you decide to trust, I'm sure they know what they're doing.

Allen Dexter said...

I know this all too well. When I opted out, it cost me my marriage. Old friends despised me and would have nothing to do with me. I compensated by slowly and painfully building a new life and soon had real friends. In my own case, life opened up when I got into square dancing and soon became a leader in a local club. Fear of the unknown holds people back and enslaves them. You have to be bold and determined, but the reward of a new life is well worth it. Move with determination and ways will open up. In the end, that path is a lot easier than meekly surrendering to tyranny.

Anonymous said...

10:18 AM

"Find some other weirdo to trust, glue your butt to the seat" The Bible says trust no man. I trust no one. %85 of the ministers I had in WWCOG left to make there own little kingdom or stayed for a pay check to preach just the opposite with Big and Little Joe or became a blues singer in a band.

9:55 AM

"would any of us deliberately marry a Jehovah’s Witness?" I worked in an office with a Jehovah Witness belly dancer. I'm not kidding. She married her Grade School sweetheart who lost interest. She was trying to reignite the flame. She was an easy mark for our low life credit manager. She was religious, but sexually frustrated.

I haven't sound many couples who have a "good" marriage just because they go to the same church. Many, many other factors involved.

Unknown said...

Im afraid that many are "COG" institutionalized like Brooks in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption"?

Brooks was a convict who was being paroled after having been in prison for 50 years. The thought of leaving was so overwhelming, that he attacks a fellow prisoner so he can remain in prison.

“Red” (played by Morgan Freeman) explains:

Red: Would you knock it off? Brooks ain’t no bug. He’s just…just institutionalized.

Heywood: Institutionalized, my ass.

Red: The man’s been in here fifty years, Heywood. Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man. He’s an educated man. Outside, he’s nothin’! Just a used up con with arthritis in both hands. couldn’t even get a library card if he applied. You see what I’m saying?

Floyd: Red, I do believe you’re talking out of your ass.

Red: Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First, you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them.

Anonymous said...

The comment to ask God to show the way is somewhat misleading I think on one level anyway. I know 2 people who asked for God to show them the truth, the 1st time they ended up in WWCG, the second time both of them ended up in RCG. So much for asking for the truth. One of the two managed to get out and now sees it for what it is. The other is completely convinced that Pack is Gods apostle and RCG is his true church in spite of the lies. When confronted about the lies, this person says, "No one is perfect". Now, is this truly God showing people his true way? It makes one question, which God is getting the request first?

Anonymous said...

"The Bible says trust no man. I trust no one. %85 of the ministers I had in WWCOG left to make there own little kingdom or stayed for a pay check to preach just the opposite with Big and Little Joe or became a blues singer in a band."

Do you trust the men who wrote the bible?

The bible also says not to lean on your own understanding.

The bible is a hopelessly contradictory book. To follow one part is to fall afoul of another.

Allen Dexter said...

"The bible is a hopelessly contradictory book. To follow one part is to fall afoul of another."

It took me a long time to come to that conclusion. I honestly don't put any more stock in the Bible than I do any other work of fiction or collection of platitudes. It has no lock on wise sayings either. You can find just as helpful advice in an abundance of other literature. There's nothing of divine revelation in it.

Anonymous said...

The bible does not say trust no man. If the whole verse it examined in Jeremiah, it's in the context of forsaking God and following men's flawed morals instead.
Ministers use the 'trust no man' in the sense of not having confidence in ones own judgment and hence blindly believing the minister. So forget or ignore the 'prove all things' thingy. Just believe the minister.
In conclusion, this verse is raped.

And no 5.53 PM, if properly examined and understood, it's not a contradictory book.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn’t the young COGlodyte males all be following the Biblical example set by David, who brought his future father in law bags of penises as dowry for the daughter’s hand in marriage?

Anonymous said...

"...if properly examined and understood, it's not a contradictory book."

John 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things...

Exodus 20:5 For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are you are saved through faith…not of works.

James 2:24 You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

But the bible isn't a contradictory book? That's a good one.

Anonymous said...

"One thing I’ve never understood. What nonmember, be they male or female, would want to have sex with an ACOG member?"

As someone who was a non member and married a member raised in WWCG, my answer would be I was young (21) and naive enough to not realize how messed up he was and how messed up the ACOGs were. I didn't do any reasearch before attending and by that time we were already engaged. No one, including the minister, even had heard my name when I went for the first time. Because of the situation, we had a relatively short engagement which was just shy of 6 months. By the time I finally started seeing the hypocrisy in the church and the issues that my ex husband had it was to the point of no return. I tried to stick it out with him as well as the church as long as I could but was miserable the entire time. The marriage was done first. Once I finally had enough of the torment of the Church and it's people and walked away I've never felt so free and at peace in my life.

Kevin said...

"As someone who was a non member and married a member raised in WWCG, my answer would be I was young (21) and naive"

I can understand, especially if he obeyed everything the church said, though dating you outside the church would cause me to think he didn't.

I remember in a YOU bible study on sex, when I was 16 or 17, the "minister" (now with COGWA at headquarters) said that when married there was to be no "kissing" below the chest.

We laughed about it, but now I know his wife had to be frustrated.

I too dated outside the church and married at 19, had our son 9 months and three days after our wedding. This fall will be our 35th anniversary and needless to say I completely reject that "ministers" advice.