Abusing Authority

An observation I have had over the past few months is how many men in the church (particularly those who took the traditional pastor route of bible college – seminary), attempt to portray true masculinity in a way that benefits themselves. No one should be surprised that this happens: it is a more narrow observation of how authority is abused in general. Rather than discover a true form of masculinity that conforms with scripture and conform themselves to this standard, they make themselves the standard bearer for whatever they are hawking. This works in their favor.

They already have authority within their institutions. Speaking from their position of power, they proclaim “true manhood” in a manner so they are now viewed as a “true man.” This behavior is not limited to the topic of masculinity. Replace “manhood” with “spiritual,” and you now have a system where those in charge are the standard of spirituality. Being the good followers they are, audiences tend to be deferential, as opposed to skeptical, of their leader’s claims.

If you disagree, and contest their definition, you are the odd man out. Now YOU are the one rebelling against authority, causing division and strife, according to them. You are the one who isn’t spiritual. Unfortunately, even in the modern church, where you think people would exercise basic discernment, an appeal to scripture is received by deaf ears, or is met with the “you are a legalist” retort.

Rather than examine the word, you will be framed as one who “has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words …” Perhaps that passage will be quoted to describe you, even though you are attempting to correct a false teaching, error, etc. This tactic is known as gas-lighting, and is a go-to tactic for narcissists and bullies. In order to avoid confrontation, any opposing opinion will be framed in this manner. This abuse of power accomplishes several things:

  • It shuts down the conversation
  • It victimizes the person being accused or pressed on an error
  • It shames and punishes the accuser

Something that many abusers in the church do to evade scriptural application is appealing to “spirituality” and external behaviors. Their external behavior, especially after being accused, “is better than yours,” which they will happily point out. This is an appeal to their own sensuality, rather than reason. Its antinomian in nature.

You can’t win in any type of confrontation with these people. For one, the attention feeds their ego and self-importance. These are the guys caught up in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14). Most likely, they influence others, and others in power, with a combination of head knowledge, and external “spirituality.” Even going through the church discipline process is dangerous for you, as you risk not only being accused yourself, but risk social ostracizing by the entire congregation. Entities hate admitting they are wrong, and many in positions of power do as well. (These people are not leaders, at least of anything positive).

In Titus 3, it is commanded to warn those who stir up division twice before being separated from. After that, you are to have nothing more to do with that person. Sometimes, or even most of the time that is the best resolution to a toxic situation: RUN away.

2 thoughts on “Abusing Authority

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