Tacit Agreement

Image from When Church Hurts
Image from When Church Hurts

by Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts

Implied, inferred, understood without actually speaking.

I was chatting with someone recently about my experience with spiritual abuse. She asked how many of our friends at the church were aware of what had taken place and had spoken up in our defense.

I responded that no one had taken the initiative to contact me or my husband to find out why we were no longer attending. No took the initiative to call, email, message, write, or communicate in any way. We are pretty sure that there was a flurry of damage control that took place those first few weeks after we left. We are aware that the senior pastor’s brother (also a pastor in the church and the one who told us we were no longer welcome) continued to be present in a class that I was taking those first few weeks after we were tossed out even though he was supposed to be preaching during those class times. The only explanation for that is that he needed to explain to people who would be wondering why I was no longer present for the class.

My husband had been taking another class. Not one person called, texted, emailed or otherwise inquired as to his absence.

The only explanation for that is that they were all told not to communicate with us. And that’s not hard to believe given that when I was told that I could not participate in ministry many years earlier, I was ordered to tell no one about what was happening.

The woman I was speaking with was quite confused that no one would express dismay at what had happened and especially that no one – not one person – would make any attempt at all to hear our side of the story. “They must have made it sound like you and your entire family were reprehensible,” she said. “Otherwise, why would these people who had only moments earlier called you ‘friend’ not seek you out? Why would they not speak up in your defense and try to find out both sides of the story?”

“How do you know they think you are the person who is in the wrong?” she asked.

I answered, “It’s called ‘tacit agreement.’ When people didn’t make any attempt at all to find out from our side what had been going on all of those years, whatever they were told, they must have agreed with. The fact that they didn’t say anything – not to us and not in defense of us – says that they agreed with what was done. Even if they didn’t know what that ‘something’ that was done was.”

I think this happens quite frequently when there is spiritually abusive situations in the church. The people blindly follow whatever the leadership has to say about what happened and who was at fault. The people who have placed their trust in the pastor and leadership see them as authority figures whom God has called to lead the church and it doesn’t even begin to cross their minds to question.

And this mentality strengthens and emboldens the leadership. Their power is then multiplied.

How is it that not one person tried to understand our perspective? They didn’t want to. They didn’t want to know. They didn’t care. They didn’t want to risk their own position in the kingdom. I had proven that speaking up was dangerous. Precarious. Spiritual suicide.

It’s better to stay quiet. Agree by remaining mute. And trust that if God wanted it to be any other way, He would make it so.

Nobody wants to consider that perhaps . . . just maybe . . . they could have been the avenue for Him to work everything together for good.

Nobody wants to acknowledge that they are temples of God and His Holy Spirit just might have used them to bring healing and restoration.

Nobody wants to suffer for doing what is good and right and true and noble.

So they remain mute. Tacit agreement.

And I wonder what Jesus will say to them when they stand before Him?


Ellen is a member of the SASBN and she blogs at When Church Hurts

More about Ellen:

Several years ago I was the victim of a most heinous form of abuse unlike anything I had ever thought possible. Not having been raised in a Christian home, my first experience with Christians and pastors had been one of joy, grace, fellowship, love, and delight. When faced with the horrors of having the very essence of who I was as a woman of faith stripped from me in what I can only describe as spiritual rape, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. This was church, after all, and I believed that everything works together for good for those who love God. Somehow, it didn’t make sense that everything was not working together for good. When I was finally able to resign myself to the fact that God was not going to “work this out,” I made my escape and sought a safe haven. 
Little did I realize that I was going from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Oh, how I tried to beat back the flames! Oh, how I prayed and pleaded for mercy, for grace, for a chance. “But hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will toward” Ellen. 
He who began a good work . . . had forsaken me . . . and the silence was more than deafening . . . it was defeating. So intertwined were we, that as God went missing, so did Ellen. But I am nothing, if not tenacious.

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