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When Right Is Wrong and Wrong Is Right

When Right is Wrong and Wrong is Right

We slide into believing lies so easily. I’ve always had a very sensitive conscience, feeling the pain of guilt (including false guilt) and conviction quickly.

Telling lies has never come easy, even when it would save my butt, but believing lies has been effortless.

We marinate in them daily.

I’m immersing myself in the gospel of John these days, and one of the key themes in that book is that we live in an upside-down, or backward, world. What people think is light is actually darkness, and what people see as darkness is actually light.

Good is bad, and bad is good. Right is wrong, and wrong is right.

Jesus lived before His Father, not before men. That meant He was targeted, lied about, hated, and ultimately murdered. By people who actually thought they were doing the world (and GOD) a favor! Insane, but true.

In my own experience, I could continue to pretend my marriage was healthy and our family was intact and doing well. I would continue to be admired by fellow church friends. I would be “praised in the gates” (by humans) for being a good wife and mother. I would maintain my life-long excellent reputation among people in my circles of influence.

But I would not be doing the right thing before God.

What seems like love would actually be hate. And what now seems like hate – is actually love. Hard, honest, painful love.

Christians believe it is loving to encourage and support chronically hurtful, unrepentant spouses, and many tend to criticize and isolate the spouse who leaves the destructive relationship.

But that isn’t love. That’s enabling and empowering destructive sin. From an eternal standpoint, it is reprehensible and has ramifications that reach well into future generations.

What is right is wrong, and what is wrong is right.

Here are some examples in the Book of John. Read, and be amazed at how this message is DRILLED into every page of this book. Then read the book for yourself and see if you can find more examples.

 Jesus had strong emotions.

Have you ever noticed that religious people shy away from emotions? Like they are bad, or something? God is a very passionate God. His children, filled with the spirit, are passionate children. They may or may not have a personality that is overtly demonstrative of that passion, but they feel it.

Apathy is from the enemy, not God. (Apathy is worse than hatred.)

Jesus overthrew the money changer’s tables and called them liars and stealers. God made it crystal clear how He feels about liars and stealers in the place of worship.

When you get angry about injustice and deception, you are simply acting out of who you are as a child of God. (Be angry, but don’t sin in your anger. Anger itself is not a sin.) But the religious people gnashed their teeth at what Jesus did.

You see? Right was wrong and wrong was right.

Jesus did not trust people.

He knew what was in them. But religious people think we should just trust everyone. “Everyone means well. Overlook and cover up the sin. Don’t make assumptions. Forgive and forget.”

Jesus was no fool. When we choose not to trust those who have demonstrated that they are untrustworthy, we are being wise, like Jesus.

But in many religious circles, right is wrong, and wrong is right.

People love darkness rather than the light.

Which people? The ones whose deeds are evil. They don’t want to be exposed, so they hide in the dark and call it light.

Right is wrong, and wrong is right.

John says that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

Jesus experienced rejection for telling the truth, and He understands that the galling pain of truth is a lie, and lies are the accepted truth. People who have something to hide will do everything they can to vilify and cover up the truth.

The Jews hated Jesus because He did incredible, healing things on the Sabbath.

He broke their rules. Their rules were right, while God’s law of love was wrong. John points out that the law (like the Sabbath) came from Moses, but grace and truth come through Jesus Christ. I’ll take the grace and truth from my Savior.

“While accepting glory from one another, you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God.” So says our Lord Jesus Christ. If we want to please God, we will be vilified by men. Yes, even religious men and women we may have admired and desired to be in cahoots with.

When Jesus pointed out the truth that the religious people were looking to kill Him, they denied it.

They lied and screamed out accusations saying, “You have a demon! Who wants to kill you?” How many of our abusers have said things like that to us? “You crazy woman! Making up mean crap about me in your silly little head again!”

Truth is a lie, and lies are the accepted truth.

People judge according to outward things, like good grades and a smiling family sitting in a row in church on Sunday morning. But God wants us to judge according to “righteous judgment.” RIGHT judgment. Right. Not wrong. But that’s flipped around in our world.

Jesus points out that the father of liars – the people that inhabit this upside-down world – is satan.

When we lie and believe lies, we are doing the will of satan, not God. Our abusers lie, and when we go along with the lies to keep the peace, we are not living out of a place of Truth. (Please be aware that I am not recommending anyone confront a physically violent person with the truth. In that case, call a crisis hotline and get help.)

When Jesus healed the blind man, nobody wanted to believe he had been healed. In the face of blatant evidence, they refused to believe it.

Then, when the evidence was in their face, they simply raged against it and threw him out of the temple saying, “You were entirely born into sin!”

A classic example of deflection and blame shifting. Sound familiar? You confront your abuser with evidence of their sin toward you or the children, and they yell things like, “You are an unforgiving, judgmental, arrogant, assuming woman!”

The truth is a lie and lies are the accepted truth.

Jesus told the religious people that when they said, “We see,” their sin still remained.

Why? Because they thought they already saw everything. They believed they had it all together, so they didn’t need to repent.

Classic abuser stuff, right? They never do anything wrong. You are to blame for all of it.

But the truth is, their sin remains because they have no humility. They never change, because they don’t see why they need to.

There’s a whole section about the true Shepherd and the hired hands. The hired hands don’t really care much for the sheep. They run at the first sign of uncomfortable junk. Like wolves.

So it is in our experience.

Women and children are devoured by wolves, but rather than reaching out to draw them close and keep them safe while getting rid of the wolves, they allow the wolves to feast and then invite them into the sheep pen to rest their full-bellied bodies. What is innocent is bad, and what is evil is good.

Jesus did not walk openly among them once He knew they were out to kill Him in earnest.

We, too, have every right and obligation as stewards of our lives to not walk openly among sick, emotionally toxic people. If our Savior can do that, we can.

He gave Himself over to them eventually because He came to purchase His own. But His work was accomplished. We do not give ourselves over to them as well, as if there were something more we could add to the work of Jesus Christ. Anyone who says that is deluded and must be dismissed as such.

Jesus said that if we loved our lives, our reputations, and the approval of humans, we would lose it all.

But if we died to those things and looked to Him alone, we would be saved and reap a harvest. If we honored Christ, God would, in turn, honor us. Whose honor do you prefer? The honor of self-promoting religious humans? Or the honor of the Creator God?

John points out that Isaiah’s prophecy about the people’s blindness came true. And then he said a very sad thing. “Many DID believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”

I was excommunicated from my church for speaking the truth and living the truth. They call it a lie, and they believe lies. It was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever faced, but this really encouraged me!

Lies are truth and truth is viewed as a lie.

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, demonstrating that to be a leader means to be a servant.

The world has that backward.

What the world cannot see, God’s children CAN see!

If the world hated Jesus, they would surely hate God’s other children as well.

Jesus said a time is coming “when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God.

I think that has happened to many women. Thousands of women. They have not been killed, but they have been rejected, vilified, slandered, and abused. In the name of God.

When Jesus was arrested and questioned by the high priest, He spoke the truth, and one of the temple police slapped Jesus, accusing Him of speaking disrespectfully to the high priest. Has that happened to you? You speak the truth to your abuser, and they punish you for it, telling you that you are disrespectful or a horrible Christian or disobedient to God or worse?

Jesus sums it up when Pilate questions him: “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

So there you have it. Listen to Jesus. He’s got the voice of Truth.

Your abuser is a liar if he says things that Jesus would never say.

Your church is full of liars if they say things Jesus would never say.

You don’t have to listen to them.

I hope you will grasp the bottom line here.

YOU CAN SHAKE OFF THE SHAME YOUR ABUSER HAS HEAPED ON YOUR HEAD.

Your Savior, Jesus Christ, has also experienced all of those crazy, galling things. And He did it with His pure and holy eyes gazing straight ahead. With style and grace. With strength and love.

When you see your abuser’s hateful face in your own, close your eyes and replace it with the face of Jesus Christ. Up close. His face right up into yours. He is truly there. Always there.

And when you gaze on Him, everything flips, and what is right is right. What is true is true. What is pure is pure. What is lovely is lovely.

It all makes sense, and you will know that He is working toward that day when everything will be made perfect and whole again.

Including you.

Flying Free Sisterhood

An online coaching, education, and support community for women of faith in destructive relationships.

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Kay Jay
    March 19, 2024

    It was maddening how a former elder at our church took the narc husband “under his wing” and led him to a new church where he now teaches Bible studies and assists the (obviously clueless) pastor there. No one ever bothered to ask me anything about why I was leaving or if I needed anything, etc. It’s been over two years and I still can’t bring myself to go back to any church.

  • Avatar
    Alyssa Wakefield
    March 23, 2021

    This is —- I don’t have words. This writing is so good and so true. And I relate and believe it 100%. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The confidence and deludedness of my ex has only enhanced and the abuse continued due to the church who has surrounded him. As long as they encourage, support, and believe him… he continues to be unable to even come to grips with the massive depth of his behavior. All you said here is just. Yes. Thank you. I can’t tell you how you have encouraged me and kept me going. I feel I owe my life to the truth you’ve been willing to write and speak. Also the timing of this article was God loving me today.

    • Natalie Hoffman
      Natalie Hoffman
      → Alyssa Wakefield
      March 23, 2021

      I’m so sorry you’ve experienced that maddening denial and ignorance from the church, but I’m GLAD you are getting unhooked from all their cray-cray in your own mind/life. That’s what it’s about.

  • Avatar
    Kary
    January 20, 2020

    Thank you for another great article Natalie and I really enjoyed the comments that followed as well. Totally agree about how the church has told us to stuff our emotions… I still
    Fight against feeling like ‘too much’ or ‘over bearing’ at times when I’m just sharing normal human emotions anyone would feel…

  • Avatar
    Debra
    January 7, 2017

    This is a great article, but I would like to respectfully
    point out that the law did come from God. He wrote it with His finger. In the NT Jesus said that not one jot or tittle shall be removed from the law. The law did not come from Moses. God gave the tablets to him and he then carried it down the mountain and presented it to the people. Jesus kept the law, all 10 commandments, even in death as He rested in the tomb over the Sabbath hours.

    I also want to tell you how enlightening your website has been for me. I share the concepts whenever I can, I’ve always been disturbed by the high level of misogyny manifested in our churches. Many times unknowingly, but there just the same. Thank you for all you do to promote the health, knowledge, and security for all women .

    • Natalie Klejwa
      Natalie Klejwa
      → Debra
      January 7, 2017

      Thank you for responding, Debra. John 1:17 says “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
      If we tie that in with what happens in John chapter five, we see this illustrated beautifully. (Jesus illustrates this several times in the book of John, actually.)

      The law was given before Christ – to show people how they fell short of God’s righteousness. Now we have Jesus Christ’s righteousness covering us for what we could not “do” on our own. This is the beautiful message of the gospel. Law doesn’t save, but it forces us to go to the One who does. 🙂

      • Avatar
        Rebecca Davis
        → Natalie Klejwa
        January 7, 2017

        I was thinking of this same Scripture. One of my favorite websites about the “grace and truth” of Jesus Christ is http://www.escapetoreality.org. Many beautiful truths about what His grace really is can be found there.

  • Avatar
    sheisovercoming
    January 5, 2017

    So much truth in this article. Whether the lies come from religious wolves, family, abusers, or the “world”, all lead to destruction no matter the illusion of peace they present.

  • Avatar
    sheisovercoming
    January 5, 2017

    “Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, demonstrating that to be a leader means to be a servant. The world has that backwards.”
    I remember desperately trying to get a deacon and his wife to understand …telling them this abuse left us broken – just as broken as if it had been a physical injury. Wouldn’t time and proper support be needed to heal a broken leg? Their response was they didn’t do that kind of thing there. They have to advance the kingdom of God.
    “The world” are not the only ones who have it backwards.

    • Natalie Klejwa
      Natalie Klejwa
      → sheisovercoming
      January 5, 2017

      Wow. Sort of like the religious leaders who left the man beaten by the side of the road. Not good neighbors, according to Jesus Christ, Himself. A day will come when eyes will be opened. That will be a sorrowful day for many and a day of rejoicing for many others.

  • Avatar
    Rachel
    January 3, 2017

    If you leave a church of your own volition because they’re clearly unbiblical, can they still “excommunicate” you? If you don’t want to stay at a bad church then isn’t it just leaving?

    • Natalie Klejwa
      Natalie Klejwa
      → Rachel
      January 3, 2017

      It should be. I did send an official notice to them last week, warning them to stop talking about me or I will take legal action. We’ll see what happens. It is in their bylaws that if someone is in sin (according to them), they can refuse to let them go and excommunicate instead. Of course, most people reading those bylaws before becoming a member aren’t anticipating escape from a destructive marriage and then being vilified for it. So. Yeah. But churches all over the country are doing this exact same thing to women. I’ve talked to dozens of them now. It’s totally satanic, in my opinion.

  • Avatar
    Jen Grice
    January 2, 2017

    Yes!! Amen! Living a lie is only temporary happiness in trying to please others. But the suffering is just stuffed inside – kept in the dark – only hurting our own hearts. We are called to please God.

  • Avatar
    S ANN THELEN
    January 2, 2017

    Thank you. Like so many others, I have been blessed by you as you have affirmed the real, living TRUTH OF THE LORD JESUS. I pray blessing and protection for you and yours.

  • Avatar
    Janet
    January 2, 2017

    This is truth. I am blown away as I read your words, Natalie. I chose the word “truth” for my word of the year. . . And then read this. It’s as if you wrote it just for me. Thank you.

  • Avatar
    Rebecca Davis
    January 1, 2017

    I’ve thought a lot about several of these topics, but the very first one is the one I’m most focused on these days. I have a friend whose elders told her when her abusive husband came back from his affair that the way she was to show her forgiveness was by not showing any emotions. Now she’s finally separated from him, so she’s in a place in her life where she needs to grieve, but so far she’s still unable to. When those God-given emotions are all bottled up, they’ll turn inward and eat a person alive in some other way.

    Hope this isn’t too off-topic, but there’s a fascinating BBC documentary called “The Century of the Self,” available for free viewing on YouTube, that in some measure explains how we got where we are regarding emotions–a problem that the people of the Bible didn’t have at all (and people in other cultures too). So now we hear sermons pitting Faith against Feelings when the Bible never, no never, does that. Instead the Bible pits Faith against SIGHT. (We believe in the true, real things that can’t be seen with our physical eyes.) I could go on, because I’m passionate about this topic, but will stop with this–I believe the no-emotions teaching robs Christians of much of their true inheritance in Christ, and in the hands of abusers this teaching fosters a Doormat Culture.

    • Natalie Klejwa
      Natalie Klejwa
      → Rebecca Davis
      January 2, 2017

      Wow. Great thoughts. I’ve struggled with huge amounts of guilt over the years – even in childhood – for having strong emotions. And I’ve spent most of my life stifling them. I’m just now allowing myself to experience and embrace them without guilt as I revel more in God’s full acceptance and love for me. It is extremely freeing. Thank you for the documentary recommendation.