The Full Monte!

dumbfoundedAs part of his ongoing responses to yesterday’s post (Pastor Marc Monte: Satan called. Loves your work), this morning pastor Monte continued to press his case that victims of abuse should simply “radically forgive” by posting these two tweets:

yemustforgive

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to which I responded by tweeting:

nomoreforgiving

Pastor Monte answered with three tweets, written in rapid succession:

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 4.20.34 PM

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 4.22.04 PM

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 4.22.57 PM

and so on. (Twitter-wise, I’m @johnshore.)

Throw in other recent Monte tweets around this (sort of) debate, which include such enjoinders as, “Radically generous forgiveness is a good preventive medicine for mental illness,” “Dwelling on offenses is poison to the soul,” and “Practice the forgiveness of Christ and be set free today,” and you have a fairly comprehensive expression of a philosophy of forgiveness that today is very common, and which every day is not unlike a candy-festooned gingerbread house: it appears to be magical and wonderful—right up until you try to actually ingest it, at which point you realize that its hollow sweetness can only make you, Christian or not, ill.

More tomorrow (most likely; if not, Monday a.m.—when, as a gentle reminder, I’ll also be sending out my John’s Prayer for the Week mini-newsletter, which you can sign up to receive in your email here.)

Thanks, guys, for all. Much love to you.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://chucklestravels.wordpress.com Chuckles Travels

    Marc Monte is scheduled to preach 4 times in 2 1/2 days for Pensacola Christian College Bible Conference. https://www.pcci.edu/newsevents/2013/prebibleconference.html

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Chuckles! U rock. (We should totally have some fun guessing the titles of Monte’s upcoming sermons, like … “The Internet: My Cross to Bear,” or, “Tweet Heat: Did Satan Invent Automatic Spellcheck?” or “Alex Karras: Pfft. He Wishes.”)

      • SquirrelyGirl

        Oh they will eat that up with a spoon, not far from where I live. I am surprised I have not already heard about what a powerful man of God he is and how he is being persecuted for the cause by the liberal left wing anti/fake Christians. It is the mantra around here.

        • Matt

          “John Shore: Why is He Is a Big Fat Meanie and Stuff.” :D

          Watch them give him another fake doctorate for: “Revealing the toxic influence of liberal anti-christs in disguise claiming to be Christians. Hide your children.”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            So funny!

          • SquirrelyGirl

            LOL That was funny Matt…but you are probably right!

      • http://chucklestravels.wordpress.com Chuckles Travels

        “@John Shore, Satan’s plant.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Yeah, someone told me he’d called me/us that on a tweet, right? Something like that? That “Satan’s plants” were, like, reading his Tweets, or something like that? Yowzer. Plants are now reading!! What next??!

          • Jill

            I’m a wicked ficus tree.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Here is a photo from the website advertising the conference:

      obviouslesbians

      The obvious lesbianism happening with the two girls on the right is simply appalling. What has happened to Christianity in this country?

      • SquirrelyGirl

        I see their hands touching…yes..yes…their hands are definitely touching under that hymnal….

  • Gregory Smith

    One thing I find interesting that these fundies such as Mark Monty seem to so easily forget is that Christ himself doesn’t just forgive everyone everything. If he did, then everyone would be saved and go to heaven. There would be no need to repent of our sins.

    Christ forgives those who seek repentance. He forgives those who ask for forgiveness.

    We are to follow Christ’s example. Those who do not want forgiveness….. those who abuse children…. those who “lay off” long-term, loyal employees just before they are about to retire… those who call the abused psychos…. Christ does not require us to nor does He give forgiveness to them.

  • http://IsItJesusYet? Jennifer Sandberg

    He has absolutely no business being a “pastor”. He certainly does not represent Jesus’ teachings. He doesn’t even seem to know or understand what Jesus said. All I can say is, “WOW”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    For those not aware, here is a story related to this whole genre of crazy religious fundies.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/14/jack-schaap-pastor-sex-teenage-girl-indiana_n_2877551.html

    There really is a strong case for the corrupting power of Evil within “Christianity”.

  • Valerie

    Men like Monte make me sick.

    • Anne

      To call Monte a “man” is to insult all the real men who read and comment on this blog every day. Monte is not a man.

    • Anne

      Not that I was trying to put you down or anything. My anger is directed at Monte.

  • anonymous

    Victims of abuse deserve comfort. They deserve to be safe. Providing this for them, is providing this for Jesus. They will be able to forgive when they receive enough compassion so that they can heal. They will be able to forgive when their abuser is no longer a danger to them or to others. They will be able to forgive when they receive the forgiveness of others. It is not our job to force forgiveness. First, we must comfort them and help them to be safe.

    37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

    41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [e]take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  • Donna Willis Kinnaird

    Unbelievable.

  • Jeff Blackshear

    Too bad the wine just kicked in. Well, I suppose actually it could be a lot of fun now that the wine’s kicked in. But it would just get out of hand…

    • Jill

      Turning water into wine was a good thing, so turning wine into lots of fun must be too.

      • boy jesse

        *points up*

        What Jill said!! Totally!

  • Pat Long-Gilbert

    Cherry picking to justify evil and putting all the weight onto the victim……sad, sad, sad. The man needs some serious prayer and perhaps a smack upside his head….if I was the sort of person that condoned such things…but this guy really pushes the limit of just about everything that is right and good.

  • Laura C. Minnick

    Forgiveness must be accompanied by JUSTICE.

    • Addie Denny

      ….and repentance!

  • DR

    People like this are so separated from their own need, their own rage and their own grief over unmet needs that they can’t allow other people to be victims – to really FEEL – because that would mean they have to in order to stay connected in those relationships. Christianity is one of the easiest places for those of us who are neurotic and scared of our deepest needs to hide from ourselves and our deepest needs.

    • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

      exactly.

    • Christy

      So very well said, DR.

  • Annette

    Have I missed something here, or has this “pastor” not yet addressed confession and repentance with regards to the perps?

    • Lymis

      That’s sure what I see. That sort of stuff “just stirs things up” so it’s up to the victim to forgive first – which, of course, makes any confession and repentance unnecessary.

      But, of course, that only applies to godly people like pastors. It doesn’t apply to sinners like homos, non-Christians, or Democrats.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        It’s not funny cuz it’s true.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

    I vote PTSD. Victims of abuse will usually confuse persistent denial with radical forgiveness, especially in a Christian community. Victims in denial can’t allow victims to express their pain. Move on. Don’t dwell on the past. etc. I know this dynamic.

    When people see this dysfunctional dynamic in a loved one, they should recognize it and try to help however possible. When seen in their spiritual leader, they should at least realize he/she is not a spiritual leader.

    • Christy

      Bingo.

    • Jill

      Ric, you are seriously genius. I am borrowing this to use later!

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    This paragon of virtue…that virtue being the ones many of us try not to aspire to really doesn’t understand the concept of forgiveness, on any level.

    Immediately forgive? You must forgive to experience God’s grace? It only becomes complicated when we justify unwillingness to practice it?

    Seriously? Does he really know what forgiveness is? Does he really want to perpetuate such a myth? Yeah, that stuff is a myth. For little baby things. sure, fine, like I took the last cupcake, not realizing that you’d really wanted. But for the big, dark, ugly, painful, destructive, demoralizing, stuff? It ain’t gonna happen.

    I read what I blogged about three years ago, http://allegro63.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/the-myth-of-instant-forgiveness/, and still realize how far I have to go following a marriage to an addict with abusive tendencies and the destruction emotionally, relational, financially, and physically that occurred. You just don’t forgive that shit instantly. I know I’m not the only one, struggling with this.

    To tell someone who has suffered such traumas or worse that they need to forgive immediately only serves to pour ants on open wounds. It offers no comfort, no peace, only blame.

    • Jill

      The word forgiveness itself has been so misused, misaligned, and misapplied because it means something different to probably every person, based on how the concept was taught to them.

      I’d dare say many of us learned it relates closely with shame and abject obedience, along with denial of personal boundaries and even personal safety.

      Thankfully that is not what forgiveness is actually about. And this guy uses the word as a sleight of hand trick– ‘maybe if I keep throwing out obligatory Christian phrases, no one will notice I’m not taking any responsibility or making any restitution for anything!’

    • Nan C

      “You must forgive to experience God’s grace?”

      Huh? Since when? I thought that was the whole thing about God’s grace – you can’t “earn” it – it just IS.

      Or do I have that wrong, too?

  • Lymis

    Bah.

    First, he has no clue what forgiveness is. Second, he doesn’t understand how it works.

    He thinks forgiveness is saying “Oh, that’s okay, you didn’t do anything wrong, I was never actually hurt, and I won’t hold it against you.”

    And then he thinks that even that is supposed to be initiated by the victim?

    Basically, all he’s talking about is letting the abuser sleep at night. No apologies, no repentance, no attempts to make amends, no effort to change. And then, to top it all off, he adds in the incredible passive-aggressive shift – “If you don’t forgive me first and freely, then you make it impossible for me to be forgiven by God. I’m not the abuser, YOU are, because you are keeping me from being forgiven by God, and also, (Nyah, Nyah), keeping God from forgiving you!”

    Forgiveness isn’t pretending nothing bad happened, or saying to the other person that they didn’t hurt you or that what they did is okay. Forgiveness is allowing yourself to realize that what someone did in the past only continues to hurt you in the present if you choose to allow it to.

    Forgiveness isn’t “what you did was okay and I am not hurt by it.” Forgiveness is “I am making the choice not to give you the power to continue to hurt me because of what you did.”

    That might involve continuing a relationship and letting the love and commitment you have outweigh the hurt. It might involve distancing yourself from someone so that they can’t keep creating new wounds. It might involve dispassionately involving the police or the legal system so that the person is properly punished and doesn’t continue to do the same thing to others.

    There is nothing whatsoever incompatible with forgiveness and the appropriate responsible and honest use of the legal system. And, in fact, I’d say that anyone who plays the “You have a moral obligation to forgive me” is sending a pretty clear signal that they themselves feel little or no remorse, and that the legal system is probably a pretty appropriate choice in their case.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Exactly Lymis.

    • Erin_D

      Wow, I’ve never heard of a bigger misrepresentation of what forgiveness is. And this guy has a PhD in Bible? (hehehe.)

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Hey, those aren’t easy to get. Sometimes you totally have to wait for your friend to finish his donut before you ask him for one.

        • Jill

          mmmm donuts.

        • Annie

          Stop! You just made me choke on my tea!

        • Russell Mark

          But then you’ve got confectioner’s sugar all over your diploma and greasy finger prints to boot!

        • boy jesse

          Just don’t cut your fingers on the tin foil that it’s wrapped in!

          • Lymis

            Hey, you can make good hats out of that tinfoil!

      • Lymis

        PhD: “Piled higher and deeper.”

  • Tim

    Can he please just drop it?

    Forgiveness is about holding both yourself and the offender hostage. There is a degree of “I won’t hold you accountable for acts you did to me. I shall not condemn you.” there, but there is also nothing to prevent one from doing whatever is needed to heal, prevent themselves and others from experiencing more pain, etc. To expect someone to get to that place anything near as quickly as you would over a petty issue is insanity.

    If someone lies to me, I can forgive them, but I trust them less. If someone becomes violent with me, I can forgive them less easily but trust them very little. If someone attempts to or succeeds in violating me or any other person sexually, forgiveness is a hard process and trust is almost impossible to restore (and would take a lot of time). These people either don’t get that God doesn’t expect us to be Jesus from the moment we believe, they expect us to strive. I don’t think God condemns the Christian who dies trying to defend themselves from/cursing out an attacker. I mean, Jesus was God wasn’t he? That is a standard to aim for, but one we are going to miss.

  • Melanie D.

    Think I’m about done with the e-mailing back and forth with the guy. It’s a bit like talking to a brick wall. He’s all “but I didn’t mean it like *that*” but then refuses to take responsibility for his carelessness and cruel words publicly. I’ll post my half of the conversation (with certain personal portions redacted and his part summarized since I am pretty serious about not getting sued for copyright infringement) on my personal blog eventually. I expect to maybe get one more response back from him and then I’ll do some posting and put a link here. It’ll be a total of 4 lengthy e-mails from me and 4 summaries from his side so I won’t put it in comments here.

  • Brad

    Sins should be forgiven. Crimes, however, should be prosecuted. I can forgive the person who violates me. But I owe it to my fellow human beings to protect them from abuse by seeing that the abuser is locked away for his crimes.

    • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

      Perfect encapsulation of our responsibilities & duties as Christians.

    • Allie

      Yes.

      I would also like to point out that those who are not victims, and therefore have no need to forgive, should act on behalf of those who are victims. It should not be entirely up to victims to see that a criminal pays for his crimes, but up to all of us, as loving Christians, to care for those who have been injured and stop further injuries.

      • Jill

        All of this right here, so perfect.

      • DR

        Yes. Exactly this.

      • Anne

        Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Anne

    At first I was kind of enjoying reading about all this stuff. I was cheering for John and all the others who got in a 1-2-punch.

    But the longer this continues, the more evil the wanna-be man preaches….I just feel sick. I am horrified, angry, sad, disgusted and cry silent tears of pain for all the victims. For every story we read there are hundreds we never hear about.

    So thank you all for fighting the good fight because I just don’t have the strength.

    Sigh.

    • Jill

      We pull together, and we support each other on this journey. No one is left behind, due to exhaustion or anything else. Each of us fights in our own uniquely gifted ways. But we come back together and build each other up to fight another day.

      Anne, it sounds like you and I do a lot of the crying on behalf of those victims whom no one heard. That is a powerful testament too. :)

      • Anne

        Words I really needed to hear, Jill. Bless you.

        • Matt

          As long as humans have existed, there is always more pain in the world than one person can possibly feel for others, let alone eradicate (Jesus notwithstanding). It’s so tempting to try it alone, but we must lean on others, and empower them as well.

          If we work together, things can be improved. If we create a welcoming space, every victim’s story can be told in their own words. If we realize that every hurtful word and action matters, then we can know that every helpful word and action matters to0.

          It’s also good to take care of yourself, too. In my profession (healthcare), one of the first things we learn and teach other is to jealously guard your vacation time, keep up a (dark) sense of humor, be intimate with your limits, and lean on your teammates. If you need time away or to talk more, we will understand.

  • Stef

    re: conference– maybe we should picket? Hold up signs making Monte look like the evil piece of scum he and others like him are?

    First and foremost, Monte totally forgot about Matthew 7:1: Judge not, lest ye be judged.

    Hey “Pastor”: how’s that judging-and-not-expecting-people-put-up-a-fuss thing workin’ out for ya?

  • Rachel G.

    If this weren’t so terribly tragic it would be comical. In ‘Dr.’ Monte’s world we should have no police; the victims would immediately forgive and forget.

  • FedUpB

    Please keep my email anonymous :)

    I wonder what Pastor M thinks about the concept that Jesus Christ *himself* does BOT forgive anyone who has not 1, repented and 2, asked for forgiveness. Is Jesus at fault for not immediately forgiving every soul? Would He ask us to do something that He Himself does not do?

    We are told to be willing to forgive, but not commanded to forgive unrepentant people who have not asked nor repented…is Jesus wrong? Maybe Marc should call Him out too?

    • Melanie D.

      Eh. He forgave those who crucified him “for they know not what they do”. There is some gray area for ignorance, there. But regardless of whether God forgives us or we forgive each other, actions still have consequences. To represent forgiveness as the one true cure is just stupid.

      • FedUpB

        He said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” but were they truly forgiven and entered into the Kingdom? I don’t think so…I think that statement was still about the “spirit of forgiveness” and not actual forgiveness. The thief on the cross had to actually repent.

        • Melanie D.

          Yeah, I think there is a pretty diverse opinion around here about how salvation works. Not going to contradict you; your beliefs are what they are. Some people are universalist and some aren’t.

          I also think there is a huge difference between forgiveness by God and interpersonal forgiveness. My personal belief (and you’re more than welcome to disagree with me here) is that Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection made it possible for all sins to be forgiven, regardless of who committed them and whether they “repented” in a particularly religious fashion or not. I think of Jesus’ earthly existence as establishing something of a bridge between planes of existence. Again, this is just what’s in my own head and heart and I understand that I am more than likely wrong–our brains can’t truly comprehend God. But metaphors are nice, aren’t they? Wow that got off topic.

          Anyway, God forgiving a person’s sin is way different than an individual forgiving a person’s assault. Individuals aren’t expected to be God. They are just expected to try to obey the command to love God and one another. Sometimes in order to heal from the pain of our pasts we choose to forgive our abusers, whether or not they are repentant, because it doesn’t serve us well to hold onto that pain any longer. That’s something that has to come from within the forgiver, in their own time, and in their own way. It can’t be forced by an outsider. And it has very little to do with God’s forgiveness of that person’s sin.

          I think of forgiveness as sort of an after thought to the 5 stages of grief or loss. I do think that survivors of abuse grieve for the life they might have had, for the innocence taken from them, for the trust that is gone. Forgiveness can only come *after* denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is not a prerequisite to begin the process the way Monte seems to think it is.

  • http://ingridspeak.com Ingrid Moore

    Maybe I am wrong. It’s happened before, but since when does forgiveness=forgetfulness? I mean my mother always says “when you KNOW better you DO better.” As Christians don’t we already know that abuse in any form is wrong and while foregiveness is a prerequisite for God’s grace in our faith system — don’t we also know that leaving a trail of crushed lives in the wake of an abuser with no counseling or compassion for their suffering is just as abusive?

    I believe forgiveness should be the goal of each of us, but like any goal there are steps to it. To forgive the wrong must be acknowledged. Because if you didn’t do anything wrong what the hell am I forgiving you for? For me Monte fails even that most basic test. Acknowledging thata wrong was done.

    Next, you (the abused) must seek help to understand what happened to you, and how you being to put your pieces back together. In instances of physical and sexual abuse you also need to understandthat you bear no blame for the perpertrator’s action. This can not be one if you are being brainwashed and told you are imagining things. Hence, another roadblock to forgiveness.

    I’ve forgiven some pretty big things in my life. Other things I am still struggling with, but in each instance I was always allowed to “feel how I feel” until I feel different. Not wallow in past wrongs, but work through them until I can come to peace with it.

    The past happened and we can’t change it. The future is unwritten and can hold any number of blessings and challenges, but the present is where we have to learn to deal with people and their issues.

    In this moment is when we acknowledge past hurts, provide couseling, and salve wounded spirits. How we treat people in this moment determines their ability to move forward positively into tomorrow.

    God does not call us to judge how a person feels about what happened to them yesterday, but to meet them where they are RIGHT NOW and show them Jesus’ compassion. That is how people learn to forgive.

  • http://chucklestravels.wordpress.com Chuckles Travels

    God has a few words for Monte.

    1-6 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!

    7-9 “‘Therefore, shepherds, listen to the Message of God: As sure as I am the living God—Decree of God, the Master—because my sheep have been turned into mere prey, into easy meals for wolves because you shepherds ignored them and only fed yourselves, listen to what God has to say:

    10 “‘Watch out! I’m coming down on the shepherds and taking my sheep back. They’re fired as shepherds of my sheep. No more shepherds who just feed themselves! I’ll rescue my sheep from their greed. They’re not going to feed off my sheep any longer! Ezekiel 34: 1-10 (The Message)

    • vj

      Powerful words. If only Monte would ‘hear’ them…

  • Melanie D.

    Holy cats, has anyone else seen all his retweets about the new pope? Irony so thick you could spread it on cupcakes. Mmm, delicious ironic cupcakes.

    E.g.:

    Jason Grubbs ‏@mtbcpastor

    The worship of any man other than Jesus Christ is idolatry. There’s no hope in the pope. There’s one mediator btwn God and man, Jesus Christ

    Retweeted by Dr. Marc Monte

  • Sonny Bellotte

    Someone above made the comment that sins should be forgiven, but crimes should be prosecuted. Let me introduce another example that may serve well to illustrate that point.

    Here in south Louisiana, we recently had a man who was on trial for 4th offense DWI, during which he killed 7 members of one family. During news reports after his sentencing, pictures of the mass funeral were shown – 7 caskets spread across the front of a huge church auditorium.

    At the sentencing, and afterwards, all of the family members of those who died said they had already forgiven the drunk driver. In fact, video showed family members of the driver and family members of the 7 who were killed, hugging each other and crying together after the sentencing – and after the convict was taken away to begin his prison term.

    The family of the victims forgave the driver who killed their family members. Because it was what they needed to do to move past the tragedy and begin to find some measure of peace about their loss. However, the drunk driver still had to face the legal penalties for his crime. He was sentenced to 70 years, with no possibility of parole or pardon for at least 35 years.

    Note an important fact: those who were hurt (the family of the victims) did the forgiving. But they did not do the exacting of justice. That was done by a higher authority – the state.

    To bring this down to what we’re talking about: when we are hurt by someone, we need to forgive that person, to keep US from becoming bitter and poisoned by the unforgiveness in our hearts, and so that we may be free to heal from the hurt. But a higher authority (God) will always return to the one who harmed us, according to his deeds (“What you sow, that shall you reap.”)

    Victims of child abuse need to find a way to forgive what happened to them, for their OWN sanity and to receive God’s grace and healing in their lives. BUT THAT DOES NOT (SHOULD NOT) RELIEVE THE CRIMINAL WHO ABUSED THEM FROM THE PENALTIES FOR HIS CRIME. Whether in this life, via governmental authority, or secretly via God’s justice poured out to them in “reaping” the consequences of their sins, or in the life hereafter via God’s Judgement, the one(s) abusing the child(ren) WILL receive his/their just deserts.

    Forgiveness does not release the sinner from the consequences of his sinful actions. It releases the victim of his sin from further suffering due to holding a grudge and becoming bitter.

    The ONLY wiggle room that a sinner has regarding suffering the penalty, or reaping the harvest, is when (if) that sinner turns to Jesus with a repentant heart and asks forgiveness. Then Jesus forgives, and the sinner is saved from eternal punishment in Hell. Note, however, that that may happen even though the “sinner” (criminal) may still have to answer to an earthly governmental justice system, and pay for his crimes with time behind bars, or with his life.

    The essential lesson here about forgiveness: FORGIVENESS IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE ONE HARMED, NOT FOR THE ONE WHO CAUSED THAT HARM.

    • Jill

      If it weren’t for all you amazingly intelligent, wise, and loving people out here, I would not have ever tried to find my Christian roots again. I’m starting to belong to a church now, and if it is anything remotely close to what this blog is to me, then I am well served and very blessed.

      Sonny, I read SO much on forgiveness in my old church, in their bargain basement literature, and it always pushed so much responsibility on the victim. That the love of God should just be enough to move on, blah. But what you wrote here is the pinnacle of it. I’ve never read anything on the subject so perfect.

      • Sonny Bellotte

        Jill, I cannot find the words to explain the difference between what you thought I said, vs. what I really mean. Let me simply state clearly, that I do not condone the evils which so many have reported within the IFB, BJU, or anywhere else where it may be found. I have NEVER agreed with a “blame the victim” mentality, nor with the “forgive and keep it secret” mentality shown in these testimonies. NO, the abusers should face legal justice, as well as everyone who helped to protect them.

        I apologize for apparently seeming to be saying the same thing they said. I was not. As it seems that words escape me to get across my true meaning (which I assure is loving and empathic), I will leave it there. Maybe at some future time I may be able to express what I mean, and what I know in my heart to be effective. Or not. I am very much on the side of the victims in this or any other situation where abuse shows up. I also suffered abuses (though not sexual) from the fundy (but not IFB) background I came from. I would never, ever side with the perpetrators of abuse – of any form.

        • Jill

          Wait, what? Obviously I wasn’t clear in saying that I agree with you.

          I merely meant that my experience was the old fundy way, and you’re very clearly loving and empathetic comment IS the perfect response to it. You expressed the pinnacle of truth and compassion, that’s what I meant. So sorry to confuse, Sonny! What you said was perfect. Don’t change a thing! :)

          • Sonny Bellotte

            Jill:

            Oh. Whew! Thanks, because I really struggled to write my response to you, (I tried about 4 different ways to re-address the issue), finally just giving up and punting.

          • Jill

            Sonny, I’m glad you and I are back on track! It’s all too easy for me to write in stream-of-consciousness and lose sight of the fact that you can’t hear my voice or see my expressions. (Why is that so hard for me?) My bad…

  • ash

    I grew up in fundamentalism – fundamentalist home, school, church (more than one school and church) and saw Monte’s and the IFB’s version of forgiveness. It is odd to look back on and try to understand, however. Forgiveness was for those who sexually molested, raped or assaulted women and children. The women and children were very quickly told to forgive. The moment something became known, it seemed that an avalanche of forgiveness warnings would be given to the victim. It was communicated that if we did not forgive immediately, people would go to hell, since “outsiders” would find out if we told. We were told that if we did not forgive immediately, we ourselves were risking hell since God only “forgives those who forgive”.

    The thing that I look back on with confusion is that no one ever seemed to address the perpetrators. They were often men considered honorable and leadership material. They were often exalted – often very shortly after their crimes. They were free to prey on others. I saw this time and time again. Perpetrators honored and victims shunned. As much as the victims were silent and appeared as if they had forgiven, they still were never restored to any place of honor. They were considered used, broken, useless, worthless, etc. They were viewed with scorn.

    I remember being told that it couldn’t have happened if I wasn’t already impure, so I essentially deserved it. Someone else informed me that I must not have been living a righteous enough life. They blamed my missing church services for the abuse. It was ALWAYS the victims blamed, never the perpetrators.

    How can things become so twisted that the victims are shunned and condemned in the fundy world, yet the perpetrators are exalted and held in high esteem? Is this what forgiveness does? I don’t know what happened with each perpetrator I knew in fundamentalism growing up, but I can trace at least part of the story of one of them. The part of his story that I know began with his young daughter. He was caught raping her. She was told to forgive and not tell. He said he was sorry. So far, so good. Follows the fundy map. Then he was caught raping her again, and again and again. Each time, he said he was sorry. She was told to forgive. This continued for years and years. I don’t know when he began pursuing others. He could have been doing that the entire time, however, I do remember the day he began pursuing me and the terror I had knowing his intentions and that I had no protection. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t just me, that he had terrorized most of the girls in our church. Forgiveness? Well, his current pastor’s version of forgiveness includes allowing him to have Bible clubs in his home. After all, he is forgiven. The past shouldn’t be held against him.

    People can argue all they want about forgiving, but if forgiving translates into letting someone continue to destroy lives, something is seriously wrong. This man still lives a life of freedom. His victims still suffer.

    My question for Monte is, is this your definition of forgiveness? If so, do you feel no responsibility for all the lives you will be part of destroying? Not long ago, I heard the story of an older sister who remained silent (“forgiving”) until she realized that it was going to destroy her little sister. For love of her sister, she begged for help. Pleading for help cost her dearly as it was labeled unforgiveness. No one acted to protect her little sister. Is this really Christianity? Can anyone possibly look at Jesus in the NT and see this as a picture of what he desires? I can’t! He always acted to protect.

    Monte, your views seem more comparable to the Destroyer, not the Savior. I wish/hope/pray that you will wake up and discover you are worshipping the wrong God. You take certain verses to justify your position and look great in the eyes of men, but you destroy the wounded with your arrogance and pride. You have missed out on the entire Gospel. While you shout out hatred, anger and mocking towards those who have been hurt, the Jesus of the Bible is bringing us healing and hope through his real followers. I pity you.

    • Mindy

      Ash – I have no words. Like Linda, you are a warrior, a survivor of the most amazing kind. I send my prayers up for your continued healing, and for justice for the many perpetrators who continue to victimize, unfettered. Unbelievable.

    • Jill

      “You have missed out on the entire Gospel.”

      Can we finally just state for the record the entirety of fundamentalism has missed out on the entire Gospel? (John’s probably said something of the kind out here before and haven’t seen it.)

      Ash, I’m so inspired the courage of your words. Perpetrators think they’re stealing what belongs to us, taking what they think was stolen from them once or never knew they had. So pathetic. Our light cannot be taken from us. Ever.

    • Hannah Grace

      “How can things become so twisted that the victims are shunned and condemned in the fundy world, yet the perpetrators are exalted and held in high esteem? Is this what forgiveness does?”

      Powerful. Forgiveness is not about perpetuating abuse. Justice begins with bringing the dark deeds of humanity into the light and exposing them for what they are, and bringing and end to them – this needs to happen before the process of forgiveness can happen. Perverting forgiveness into an acceptance of evil is something fundies tell the genuinely forgiving and grace-full that they do, when they accept the oppressed and victimized, like LGBT people and sex workers. Sick to see them doing in truth what they always say the righteous are doing – perverting God’s mercy into a license for evil.

    • boy jesse

      Wow… You have my utmost prayers and compassion, my dear. i am BEYOND sorry for what you and others like you have gone through.

      Somehow i get the feeling that these evil men kind of glossed over Matthew 24:45 – “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

      • boy jesse

        Gah. 25:25, even.

        Sheesh. Too many 2s and 5s for my brainpan to sort out, i reckon.

    • vj

      “People can argue all they want about forgiving, but if forgiving translates into letting someone continue to destroy lives, something is seriously wrong.”

      Indeed! This is what I just don’t get (I know, I’m foolish to even try :-/) – Monte is quick to tell the victims to forgive, even using weaponized Scripture to try to manipulate them (in his Mark 11:26 tweet). There doesn’t (so far, in what John has reported here) appear to be any public acknowledgement from him that any abuse has been perpetrated – yet he is quick to tell the ‘victims’ [he clearly does not think of them as actual victims] they must forgive. But if there was no wrong-doing, what is there to forgive? And if there was something that must be forgiven, if there is something that the victims must let go of in order to have victory – why is he not also advocating for JUSTICE? Why can he not even acknowledge that some really bad stuff HAS been done? He just goes straight for the heavy-handed ‘forgive, or else’ nonsense! He has NO IDEA what real forgiveness is…

      Jesus made it clear that we are to repent when we do wrong, yet not one peep regarding repentance has emanated from Monte (except, of course, when aimed at the victims). This shame-the-victim mentality is SO the opposite of how Jesus responds (even to guilty sinners, let alone innocent victims). Seriously, does he even read the Bible he is so quick to bash people with?

  • Hannah Grace

    Jesus is as forgiving as it gets. That doesn’t mean he didn’t hold corrupt church leaders to account – and all they did was be judgemental hypocrites. Something tells me raping little children stinks worse in the Kingdom of Heaven than anything the Pharisees did. And using the example of Jesus is ironic enough to be funny, if it wasn’t so blasphemous.

    • vj

      Agree!

      Historian Thomas Cahill, in his book The Mystery of the Middle Ages, draws a very disturbing parallel between Jesus’ injunction that “whatever you do to the least of these you do to me”, and the abuse of young boys in the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal(s). His argument is that people who assault children in this way are essentially perpetrating their evil on Jesus himself…

  • Don Rappe

    Fundamentalism compares to Christianity in the same way that worship of Moloch compared to the worship of the God of Israel in the Old Testament. While both religions believed in sacrifice, only one sacrificed infants on the altar of their God. (I use the capital letter here to emphasize that when someone sacrifices their infant, they sincerely believe they are dealing with the true God.) I can learn how God responds to Fundamentalism by reading the Old Testament. It describes his judgement both of those who are deceived by the false God and those who act as their prophets. Christians owe it to those who are deceived to point out the differences. I hope I am putting this in terms that fundamentalists can understand. I believe they may well be familiar with God’s attitude toward their idolatry.

    • Jill

      Don, you just made my heart soar. Thank you for saying this–it is so clear.

      • SquirrelyGirl

        I second that Don!

  • robert

    aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh…. sorry, I just had to get that out… everything I have read on the last two post… floods me with the idea… the banality of evil… this man, the way he twists words and concepts and truths to suit his own ends… is sociopathic… this is the main reason that I have nothing to do with most born-again, southern baptist christians… they have the ability to turn black into white, white into black, wrong into right and right into wrong… they are delusional, crazy people.

  • Brian

    Though forgivness is something we all should strive for, a person who has been wounded by someone else doesn’t “turn on a dime” and forgive right away. Sometimes forgivness can take a while; the injured person has to sort through what has happened and like a prosecutor arguing a case before a judge, accuse, try and pronounce judgment on the agieving party. After that, forgivness comes when the injured person is ready to let go.

    It seems to me that this so-called minister of God wants to wiggle his way out of something by conveniently dictating how those he may have harmed should behave toward him. How convenient.

    Offenders are often the most “self-righteous” about their behavior. Imagine that.

  • de la Nae

    Ugh. He’s still doing it a little bit, though most of his missives via Twitter lately have tried to focus on other things. Most.

    I’m keeping on him a bit, because he’s a neighbor, more or less, and because… because I think I won’t feel right by God or myself if I don’t try to break through that some more. We’ll see if it works, with time.

  • PS

    Some people sure know how to put the “twit” in Twitter, don’t they? Ugh… too bad he thinks the whole part of needing to be responsible when expressing one’s right to free speech doesn’t apply to him.

  • Glenn Kennedy

    Jesus telling us we should forgive – and we ourselves striving to – is one thing. One person demanding someone forgive an offender as a means to ‘brush it under the carpet’ is quite radically another.

  • RoycePashtun

    John,

    It seems weird, I know, but your posts just may be playing into his persecution complex – and rather than bringing about his heart conviction and repentence, he may actually view your comments as proof he is doing the right thing:

    “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”


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