We are occasionally visited on social media sites by former abusers.
They have used false names to try and ‘friend’ us, they failed.
They have tried to use their own names to ‘friend’ us. Again, they fail.
They also try and friend various members of our family they have not friended before, in the hope that they won’t know who they are. The trouble with functioning families is that they warn loved ones about abusers. Dysfunctional families don’t, so abusers don’t get that they are known and noted. They can’t get in under the radar because normal people are not dumb, they learn from their experiences and ensure they won’t be taken in again.
We have given up being surprised by these repeated albeit random attempts to get our attention so they can ‘listen in’ on our lives without actually participating in them. They are not interested in being friends, they are simply interested in any information they can glean. Its gotten to the point that we kind of find it amusing in a serious sort of way. Knowledge is power and gossip is king in the ever changing circles of communication with abusers. So, getting an edge on those people who have had the gall to cut you off because you won’t stop damaging them is all important. Shame that victims wise up to their tactics. There is just too much information sharing on the internet now, former victims tell their stories and let people know what goes on. Knowledge may be power for abusers, but experience is enlightenment for survivors.
Many Christians don’t realise that the Bible actually gives us legitimate reasons to shun others. When you have left a cult and people have shunned you because you are leaving, this is not a legitimate excuse. Especially if the people shunning you are the actual abusers. Paul warned Timothy (2 Timothy 3) that in the last days men would grow worse and worse and have a form of godliness but deny its power. He said ‘from such turn away’. He also cursed false teachers and along with John and Peter warned those they loved against them. In fact, it is a very loving act to warn others against those who would shipwreck others faith. Especially when you know that these issues weigh heavily in eternity.
Jesus, Paul, Peter and John all warned against those who would lead others astray and also against those who would attempt to preach a false gospel, especially one which rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ who came in flesh as the Son of God. There are more and more examples of false teachers, or followers of false teachers as time progresses to the end, and as much as it is getting very wearing to continually have to gird your loins against those who wish to destroy your relationship with God, it is entirely necessary. It is a spiritual battle, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, and it goes also for family members.
There is a great deal talked about regarding ‘no contact’ when it comes to abuse. We believe Christians have an obligation to talk to the abuser, or false teacher, face to face if possible and explain why their teaching or behaviour is both aberrant and damaging. I should point out however, that where teaching is public either via the internet or through published works, we are right to critically examine those teachings for ourselves without going to the author who we often can’t talk to simply because of practicality.
We are genuinely amazed at the growing numbers of people we know who will not just refuse to admit that they are damaging others but who act as though they are completely without sin at all.
I understand that facing up to your sins is difficult. We have all had to do it. It is even more difficult when you have to face the person you have sinned against. But when it comes to relatives, ‘friends’, or more particularly brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to walk in the light with one another in order to deal with offences. If the other person, especially if they claim to be a born again Christian, refuses to listen to or recognise the validity of the other Christian’s offence, there is nothing left to do, but walk away, commit them to God and hope and pray that they are brought to their senses before it is too late.
I was listening to a Paul Washer message the other day. He is one of those fire and brimstone preachers, whose messages are often to the point, direct and don’t mess around with words. I appreciate that. Few preachers these days have the courage to talk like this, and count the cost of losing friends and popularity as a result. As Washer said in this clip, he often hears people saying that he needs to ‘lighten up’ because he takes things too seriously, and seems to be depressed all the time. He explained that the reason that he seems this way is that people’s eternal destination is being weighed in the balance. He said that some of us will end up in heaven so glorious that if we were seen by those on earth they would be tempted to bend in worship, and others who end up in Hell will be so bent twisted and ugly and tormented that they will not be recognisable. As any loving brother, he wants everyone to be glorified, not end up in hell. For many church goers now though, hell doesn’t, conveniently, exist. So that kind of nixes that idea. Its pointless to pretend that Hell isn’t real and that God is ‘too loving’ to punish anyone. The fact is God doesn’t send us there, and we will all have had the opportunity to make a decision about Jesus Christ. God is just, righteous and good and is not willing that any should perish. If you end up there, it is because you have chosen Hell rather than to ‘have this man to rule over us’.
Our job as members of the body of Christ however, is to preach the gospel message, warn against and deal with reprobates – those who know the truth but who will not respond to it.
The whole point of going ‘no contact’ with abusers, especially those who claim to be Christians, apart from of course protecting yourself, is that they will be able to see the error of their ways. Shunning others seems like a terrible weapon to use, and so it is in the hands of those who have no righteous reason to use it. Most have tried to talk to their abuser repeatedly, to put across their point of view, to warn that their actions are hurtful, offensive and damaging. However, for those who have been repeatedly abused by false brethren, false teachers or false friends, this is a last resort and a final one.
When the abuser decides to try and get your attention all over again by contacting you on one of the social media outlets, you have no other choice but simply to ignore them. If they were going to contact you to tell you they have dealt with the sin, wanted to ask for forgiveness and repent, that is a different matter. So far however, after nearly 30 years of dealing with people like this, we have never seen anyone respond like this. Usually they are just continuing the old behaviour. In fact, if nothing else, it’s proof that they have not changed.
We pray that God will restore these ones to himself, but we are not going to lose any sleep over them. If they want to play the internet stalker, they need to recognise that in the end, it is simply going to make them look like the desperados they are rather than gain them any traction. Hopefully, in the end, they will go to God and ask Him for the gift of repentance. Otherwise, its no deal schlemiel.