How Christians Defend Their Favorite Abusers on Social Media (And How You Can Respond)

by

This article is inspired by the responses to the Wes Feltner story on social media. The holy, godly, biblical part of me and the snarky part of me had a huge fight about this. But the snarky part won. Darn that girl.

I’m not trying to be mean or to shame Christian folks who parrot these responses all over social media. That’s not my motive, and I’ve got better things to do with my time. The first reason I lay this out for you, the reader, is because these responses are, themselves, abusive.

I realize sometimes the one spewing this garbage isn’t trying to be abusive. They actually, sincerely, and passionately believe this stuff. Kind of like Saul (before he turned into Paul) sincerely believed that Christians were blasphemous rebels who needed to be shut down.

Nevertheless, Saul was mistaken, and so are these good (and some not-so-good) folks. Ergo, this article.

The second reason I write this is because these words cut victims to the core. I mean seriously, please consider—let’s say your child gets beat up by a 25-year-old man who happens to be the youth pastor of the church down the street. He accidentally “stumbled” into getting drunk one night, and your child was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So you ask your FB friends to pray for your child. Now let’s say you hear the responses below.

Yeah. Pretty reprehensible, right?

So the following is SATIRE. If you don’t know what that is, Google it. It’s tongue-in-cheek. Some might call it sarcasm and send me an email warning me of the dangers of bitterness.

Oh my word. I see a rabbit trail I must follow. Here we go…

Rabbit Trail

Emails that warn me about bitterness make me chuckle – so if you want to make me chuckle – my email is [email protected] I love a good chuckle.

Just make sure you start your email with all your qualifications for being able to know my innards. You know – like how you’ve been in ministry since you were three, you’re a pastor’s wife, you’ve rescued 538 puppies, and you’ve got a doctorate in theology.

Also make sure to quote at least 12 Bible verses – and use as many Christian cliches as you can possibly work into an email that’s only 29 paragraphs long.

OH please, oh pretty please DO IT. Help me expand my collection. Send me an email telling me I’m bitter. 

Okay, the rabbit trail is over. Let’s move on with our regularly scheduled blog post.

The point of this particular piece is to take the sting out of the crappy things Christians say to victims. It’s designed to make victims laugh and perpetrators snarl. (And send me emails.)

If you are a victim who has heard these things before when your perpetrator was defended by Christians, then my heart goes out to you, and I truly hope you will be able to see how the problem isn’t you. It’s these comments and the blindness of the hearts behind them.

Okay, without any further ado…

How Christians Defend Their Favorite Abusers on Social Media

(Satire…) Here’s what to say on social media if you want to defend an idol who has just been accused of some type of abuse. I’ve included some special instructions on how to craft these correctly along with why they are effective. Always remember that the Christian community, in general, is extremely gullible and easily manipulated by certain holy, godly, biblical trigger words. Take advantage for best results!

Everyone stumbles. Be careful about judging lest you stumble too. (Don’t forget the “lest.” It sounds very KJV and therefore God-like.)

The Bible is about redemption. (Anytime you can throw out the words “Bible” and “Redemption” in the same sentence, you’ve got the other person on the wire. ON THE WIRE, I tell you. Nice work.)

The last time I checked, it’s still innocent until proven guilty. (Be sure to include the “last time I checked” for extra credit cliche points.)

If you are a Christian, you should. You never. You always. (Work this into the beginning of your rant, and the other person will have no choice but to buckle or admit they are a heathen.)

The Bible is clear that… (Don’t think about the fact that there are thousands of different Christian denominations who all disagree on how clear everything actually is. Your definition and opinion is exactly what the Bible is clear on. In other words, the Bible has an uncanny way of being clear about how right you are. Must be a spiritual thing.)

I stand by my pastor! (The one who is being accused of breaking the law. If you say it enough, maybe his actions will undo themselves. Like another spiritual thing. Anyway, it makes you sound confident and right, and most folks will think you actually are if you thrust your chest out enough and STAND BY YOUR PASTOR. Say it loud like that, too. It helps with your credibility.)

You’re trying to ruin a man and his family! (Spread the guilt and shame frosting all over this cake, baby. Nobody wants to be the cause of someone’s ruin. Especially not the ruin of entire families that include innocent women and children. If you say this, the accusers will back off because they actually DO care about women and children.)

An entire church will be destroyed because of your GOSSIP! (Be sure to shriek the word GOSSIP. It’s a trigger word that immediately shames the truth teller who is already nervous as it is. Capitalize on this. Plus, use capitals.)

It isn’t godly to convict a man on social media! (If they are doing it somewhere else, just replace “social media” with wherever they are telling their story. Because all Christians know it isn’t godly to tell the truth about anyone ANYWHERE if that truth is bad or convicting.)

We live in a free country! We can decide who we stand by! (This brings in an element of patriotism which will almost always play in your favor. Patriotism and Christianity are basically the same thing. And who can argue with the fact that we have free choice to do what we want? Besides. There’s always forgiveness. Which is the next one…)

God forgave you, so why can’t you forgive this man? Everyone is guilty! (That’s right. Put everyone in the same pot: murderers, pedophiles, porn addicts, serial adulterers, wife and child beaters, chronic liars, frauds, people who swear, get mad at their kids, have a beer, wear too much makeup, and vote Democrat. They all get to be free to do whatever the hell they want to because. Forgiveness. Jeez, it’s so obvious.)

Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you! (If someone has molested you or someone you know, the Christian response is not to tell anyone about it. We can’t hold anyone accountable. That’s not loving or forgiving. No, we need to love them and do good to them by covering up their sin (love covers a multitude of sins, remember?) so they can keep sinning. The more they sin, the more forgiveness is in the world. Duh.)

This is a spiritual attack of the EVIL ONE on our church! Our pastor must be doing something RIGHT to get attacked like this! (You can use this one in so many situations. Anytime anyone gives you feedback, just scream that the devil is attacking you. Nobody wants to be on the Devil’s side, so you’ll immediately put the other person on the defense. Plus this is actually biblical. People called Jesus the son of the devil, so you’re in good company.

Now let’s shift gears…

How You Can Respond When Christians Defend Their Favorite Abusers on Social Media

Everyone stumbles. Be careful about judging lest you stumble too.

Stumbling or slipping implies a mistake. “She stumbled over the ottoman. She slipped on a banana peel.” Stumbling and slipping are accidents. Abuse, on the other hand, is a choice. People choose to hit, hurt, cut down, molest, murder, shame, and abuse their power. And just because someone points out abuse doesn’t mean they will become an abuser themselves.

The Bible is about redemption.

That’s right. The Bible offers hope and healing for the weak, the marginalized, the widow, the repentant, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the abused. God will redeem this situation when we tell the truth about it. God will redeem the abuser when he accepts responsibility and consequences, repents, and makes amends to his victims.

The last time I checked, a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Please notice that this statement is sometimes given as a response to someone coming forward with allegations. In other words, victims get the clear message that in order for their story to have any credibility (so people will believe them), they can only come forward if they have proof. But does abuse only happen—is it only real—if someone can prove it? Like an eye-witness? Someone who took a video of the relationship or the abusive incident? That’s not available in almost all cases because abuse is under cover. It’s done in secret. If a victim’s testimony doesn’t count, then perpetrators are innocent? No wonder the world is full of abusers. They get to be innocent while their victims are judged as liars. In other words, the only people that are innocent until proven guilty are perps. Victims are guilty of lying with no proof necessary. #doublestandard plus #nonsensical

I understand the fear of someone purposely trying to ruin the reputation of a good man or woman. My ex-husband and Bethlehem Baptist did this to me, and I work with women of faith who have gone through the same thing. Abusers are very effective at smear campaigns, so how do you know what’s happening? Who is telling the truth? Generally speaking, abusers want things kept secret. They don’t initiate anything that might expose them. On the other hand, victims (when they are ready) want help. That means bringing secret things to light. Victims take huge risks when they expose an abuser. Abusers lie and manipulate with zero guilt, so they come across savvy and innocent. Victims are often nervous, emotional, desperate, and easily triggered.

The other thing to remember is that this law protects people from being imprisoned without a trial. It’s not for religious leaders who may have to lose their jobs preaching because they abuse their power.

If you are a Christian, you should. You never. You always.

A Christian is a Christian because of Who they are putting their faith in – not because of what they do or don’t do. When people say this, they are spiritually abusing others. It’s never okay to use Jesus to manipulate others. It’s blasphemous.

The Bible is clear that… 

If the Bible was so clear, there wouldn’t be thousands of denominations inside of Christianity. The fact is, the Bible is not clear on a lot of things, and it’s designed that way. If everything was so clear, faith would not be necessary. The Holy Spirit would not be necessary. Wisdom would not be necessary. So let’s stop saying this.

I stand by my pastor!

Okay. I stand by Jesus, truth, justice, and love.

You’re trying to ruin a man and his family!

A man is ruined by his choices. Even if he was the victim of a smear campaign (like I was), he can still continue to serve Jesus in every single thing he does, whether it is busing dishes in a restaurant or being kind to the clerk in a retail store. If he is the real deal, he will humbly move on because he knows Jesus loves him and will use him in other ways. Preaching isn’t the only way we serve Christ.

An entire church will be destroyed because of your GOSSIP!

Gossip: casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.(Source)

A victim coming forward to report abuse is not gossiping. Advocates fighting on behalf of victims are not gossiping.

And gossip doesn’t destroy churches anyway. Hate, greed, control, and power destroys churches. Enabling wolves to flourish destroys churches.

We live in a free country! We can decide who we stand by!

Yes, you can. So use your freedom wisely and don’t support people who abuse power.

God forgave you, so why can’t you forgive this man? Everyone is guilty!

God forgives the humble and repentant. And how do you know someone hasn’t forgiven their abuser? You don’t. Forgiveness doesn’t equal reconciliation.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean lying, denying, minimizing, justifying, or enabling sin to flourish. Everyone is guilty of sin, but not everyone is guilty of abusing others and lying about it.

Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you!

When I tell the truth and bring a wolf to justice, I am loving not only the wolf but the innocent lambs. Love for the wolf means exposure. Love for the lambs means protection. The only persecution I see happening here is Christians persecuting their brothers and sisters who are on the front lines trying to rescue victims. Fight or go home.

This is a spiritual attack of the EVIL ONE on our church! Our pastor must be doing something RIGHT to get attacked like this!

It’s definitely an attack of the evil one. And if your pastor is doing something right, you will see the character of Jesus Christ in his humble, beautiful response. You will see compassion for the victims. You will see him publicly acknowledging what he has done to hurt them (BEFORE he gets caught. Confession after getting caught is not super impressive. Just sayin’). You will see him making amends to his victims. You will see him stepping down from his role as a shepherd because he knows he has violated his position. You will see him learning from his mistakes and seeking to serve God in the quiet, normal ways 99.9 percent of other Christians serve Him.

Other rules of etiquette on social media (in case you’re interested):

  1. Don’t attack other people. Focus on the arguments and ideas.
  2. Be a good listener.
  3. When others get their focus off the arguments and ideas and start to sling personal jabs, stop engaging with them. Silence is powerful.

And of course, fly free!

Natalie Hoffman

Oh – and the next time a Christian drops one of these clever little cliches in your feed, you don’t even have to respond. Just link them to this article with an emoji wink. And hopefully I’ll get another “You’re so bitter” email so I can have myself another good chuckle!

28 Comments

  1. Avatar

    “There is no perfect church and if you find one, it will become unperfect at the very second you step in.”

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    I was spiritually abused by my church board after I left my abusive now ex husband. Years later, I had a negative encounter with one of those men who didn’t understand why I was upset at him. He told me that he wasn’t my ex-husband (as if I had no reason not to trust him.) I’m pretty sure he has not acknowledged that what he and the other board members did to me was spiritual abuse.

    Reply
  3. Avatar

    How about the “It happened so long ago. I don’t know why they are bringing it up now.” I’ve heard that one from both abusers and defenders.

    Or some of the details are called into question. “An 8 year old can’t have an erection.” (deeply uninformed defender) Or “we would never have let you wander that far from home” (three blocks in a quiet small town of the 1950s)

    “We were best friends in grade school. You never told me.” (defender who realized eventually that I hardly told him anything)

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      I’m so sorry. All of those responses are horrific and ignorant. I’m deeply saddened that this happened to you and that you’ve had to live with this your whole life. It’s evil and wrong. It sounds like you are healing that little boy inside with love and understanding now.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    One of our “marriage counsellors” actually said to me in defence of my abusive ex husband that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands”! Meaning I should shut up about him beating me up infront of our daughters if I have ever done anything wrong my entire life! Otherwise I should remember my past wrongs and accept my bleeding arm as equity and cover my head, pray for my husband. This was the around 100th time he had beaten me! I called the police, took pictures and got a court restraining order. Today I am divorced and relieved.

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      I’m so glad you got out. Abusers are all about the double standard.

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    I’ve really enjoyed the condescending “love you guys” and “praying for you” to fill awkward spaces in passing by people who won’t actually talk to me and treat me with contempt.

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      I’ve experienced this as well. Extremely painful. Plus just plain old disgusting.

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    Natalie! So thankful for you!
    I never cease to be amazed at how spot on AND brave you are! Words can’t express how much I appreciate your willingness to say it like it is.
    You bring clarity and strength to so many by your willingness to share what you have learned in the furnace! I’m so incredibly thankful for you!!!!

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    Hiding these sins and others like them are exactly why there is so much abuse in the church. It’s no wonder the world sees Christianity as a religion of hypocrisy. We as the church need to call out abuse and not stand for even the appearance of it in Christ’s church.

    Reply
  8. Avatar

    My question is….how does one respond to such comments! They really DO shut one down. Especially if you are still reeling from the abuse… or are still in the abusive situation. One part of me says, “Do not engage”, but when you’ve brought your accusations to those who are supposed to be the authorities who would deal with it, and THEY are the ones who are saying such things, how do you proceed? Most of these things put one on the defensive… so I think we SHOULD NOT engage in defensiveness, which is what these statements are designed to do, because it gets us off the subject of the abuser! But they can be very debilitating, and make it almost impossible to continue with the arguments and proofs of the abuse itself.

    And if they DO listen to us, hear us out, agree it was abuse, but conclude that we are to blame because we are female and (fill in the blanks), or even simply dismiss all we had to say and home in on a fault of our own (maybe not even blaming the abuse on the victim, but simply ignoring the abuse altogether as if she’d said nothing at all!… this is how I was treated!). I washed my hands of them at that point. And left my husband, and all of them (the church leaders) soon after. But every one’s situation plays out differently, and some may simply have to keep talking to them and explaining… maybe even forced to by a judge.

    So… how do we do it? I’d like an honest answer we could give for every accusation that you’ve heard laid on the victim. Maybe it could be a sort of playbook…. when someone spews one of those “well meaning” statements, or outright accuses us, we can look up ways we could to respond to their statements, if we feel we should. Thanks

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      This is a good suggestion. I will consider updating this with some ideas. Thank you.

      Reply
  9. Avatar

    “I pray this doesn’t ruin his career. He’s very talented.”

    Be sure to say pray instead of hope. It’s sounds more spiritual.

    Reply
      • Avatar

        “and so anointed”

        Reply
  10. Avatar

    Natalie, I love your snarky self. This is so good, and so spot on.

    Reply
  11. Avatar

    Don’t forget to remind them thst it is “not our job” to be the Holy Spirit in other people’s lives, so just leave it to God to convict them.

    Reply
  12. Avatar

    This is just so great, Natalie! “Snark” is a crucial element in healing : )

    Reply
  13. Avatar

    “We can’t wait to get him!!!

    You need to find something to do with your life instead of slamming someone.”

    – Paul Batson

    My favorite response so far!

    Reply
  14. Avatar

    The ever popular, we are all sinners saved by grace. Who are you to judge?

    Reply
  15. Avatar

    Adding the whole Bibley “plank in the eye” verse will add some powerful credence to the “everyone sins, don’t judge” play.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Oh, absolutely!

      Reply
    • Avatar

      Yaaaaassss!!! I just read several comments exactly like that!

      Reply
    • Avatar

      Lets see what else I got told about this besides I was ruining a mans life. People told me I couldn’t possibly know it was true because I wasn’t there. They said that the victims were just as guilty because they were “of age.” That I needed to “check my heart and my motives” for talking about this and make sure I was right with God. That these things shouldn’t be talked about in public. That disagreeing with them about holding abusers accountable meant I was attacking them and attacking the church. That I am angry and bitter and oversensitive to abuse in the church. That this is a spiritual attack against Gods anointed and a church making a difference. That Satan is bringing out these lies or accusations. That none of us would want our past drug out and we need to assume he’s different now. There are more, these are off the top of my head. Yesterday was such a special day.

      Reply
      • Natalie Hoffman

        Lots of great fodder for snark here, Jess! Way to go!

        Reply

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