Should You Speak Out?

Do you know of injustice but feel you are powerless to make a difference?

Are you a victim but think you can’t change anything?

Do you see abuse but not know what to do so you don’t do anything “this time,” with good intentions for “some other day?”

I had a major revelation recently. It is one of those — so incredibly small it’s incredibly huge — things.

All the power anyone has is the power of ONE.

You may think that someone else has more power than you do, but that is only because he or she uses their power differently than you use yours.

But the fact is this, all the power anyone has is the power of ONE.

Where the power of one becomes greater is when the power of one becomes one plus one, plus one, plus one..

Margaret Mead, the famous American anthropologist said,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

YOU can change a life. Because you have the power of one.

You can change your life.

You can change one other person’s life.

You can change many other people’s lives, simply by doing what you can do – you have no idea how much one person can do who will just do what is within their grasp to do.

And when you join hands with others, there are no limits to how much you can do.

If you know of abuse, speak out.

If you are being abused or have been abused, speak out.

If you do not know who to speak out to — e-mail me. I can help you. And then we can join our power of one and become one plus one.

Yes, you can. Because God made you one – in His image.

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Why NOT Speak Out?

Reasons I didn’t speak out as a young person:

1) I had seen the mincemeat made of others who didn’t “toe the line.” I knew I would be blasted with more power than I could withstand.
2) I also knew my parents and siblings would be tarred with the same brush if I dared.
3) I didn’t want to dishonor my parents, who advocated submission to authority and felt that if there was really something wrong happening God would take care of it.
4) Young people were not ever allowed to “talk back” to authority. I tried to speak up within these parameters, without making direct accusations, but only gained a reputation as an angry person.
5) We were completely indoctrinated with the concept that we were too immature to know God’s will, Word or truth on any matter; we must have the direction and interpretation of our elders in all things. Any time a young person dared to suggest they thought God “told” or taught them something, there were sternly – and probably publically – rebuked.

Reasons I haven’t spoken out as an adult:

1) First, and most importantly, I spent 20 years in a marriage that didn’t allow me that option. My husband was strongly opposed to my beliefs and writing. I studied and learned and wrote a little – and tried to stay within the limits I was allowed as far as possible.
2) I still don’t want to dishonor my parents.
3) Fear – I grew up in abusive churches, went to an abusive, cult-like Christian college and spent 20 years in an abusive marriage. I know very well how rabid abusers and abusive systems can be. In these environments acceptance is a rare commodity, and emotionally, I’d love to spend the rest of my life being accepted and affirmed. 😉 I don’t really relish making a target of myself by speaking out.
4) There is always the possibility it could put a crimp in my future career; or maybe not. But the thought has certainly occurred to me.
5) What can I say that would make a difference? I’m only one person with no particular “power” that would incite anyone to listen to me.

Reasons I’m choosing to speak out anyway:

1) In the larger picture, I have nothing to lose. The truth is often not popular, and the truth is all that matters to me. Should I attempt to protect myself from attack if speaking for truth might help even one person?
2) How much can one person do? One person can speak one word that changes the life of one other person. And with the church in desperate need of change, one person, plus one other person, plus one other person – multiplied by the number of people God raises up – can make a difference.
3) Do I have a responsibility to speak out if I know about wrong, injustice, and false doctrine? I’ve asked myself that about a million times. I’ve also wondered, as I’ve walked through the events of my life, why no one in the church would stand up for me. The church’s silence and even corroboration with evil in their attempts to “save a marriage” hurt me deeply. Do I have the right to do the same to others?

Calling Evil Good

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

Has Christianity forgotten this verse is in the Book? By default, covering up evil in the church IS calling evil good. Sometimes churches even literally call evil good. If churches or church leadership call an evil-doer a “good” person they are calling evil good. When churches fail to expose known evil, they are acting in collusion with evil and “calling” these evil actions good.

What is Evil?

Here are a few definitions from http://www.dictionary.com:

–adjective
1. morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.
2. harmful; injurious: evil laws.
3. characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous: to be fallen on evil days.
4. due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation.
5. marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.: He is known for his evil disposition.
–noun
6. that which is evil; evil quality, intention, or conduct: to choose the lesser of two evils.
7. the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin.
8. the wicked or immoral part of someone or something: The evil in his nature has destroyed the good.
9. harm; mischief; misfortune: to wish one evil.
10. anything causing injury or harm: Tobacco is considered by some to be an evil.

Within the realm of Christianity, let’s use the standard of Christianity’s own truth to define evil.

Strong’s Exhausting Concordance defines evil (as found in Genesis 2 & 3) as “bad or evil (natural or moral)…”

At its most basic, evil could be described as anything opposite of the character of God, since God is good and His character defines good.

Evil can also be defined as behavior which agrees with the character of the devil (John 8:44). This would specifically include lying and everything opposite of the truth; murder and any sort of violence, anger, defamatory comments and actions (character assassination); and stealing or taking what belongs to another by any means – whether this is someone’s money, material possessions, or innocence.

Does God Need Us to Protect His Reputation?

Are we defaming Christ if we address abuse issues in the church? Are we turning people away from God?

I think it is a hard thing to consider speaking out when you truly do love God and wish no ill to the church as a whole. I do not want to turn anyone away from God. At the same time, I am seeing the church turn people away from God. I saw it happen to personal friends who were not able to separate God from the church. I see it in blogs online all the time — people bashing God because the church has failed them. The recent church shootings in Colorado are a vivid example.

What I am concerned about is something I saw and still see as a prevalent attitude in church — don’t make God look bad by daring to speak out against church error and abuses. I’m glad Martin Luther dared to post his 95 Theses on the door of the church! He ended up being excommunicated because he just wanted the church to return to the truth. He didn’t intend to start a new church; he just wanted to bring truth back to the church he loved.

God doesn’t need our help to protect His reputation. On the other hand, the only ones Jesus spoke harshly to in the Word was the religious leaders of the day who were teaching untruth and leading people astray. One of the basic things we are supposed to do as believers is to help the afflicted (I Tim. 5:10). Jesus stated His purpose in coming, and the definition of the gospel, was to heal the broken-hearted, provide deliverance to captives, and provide liberty to the bruised (Luke 4:18). This verse is usually spiritualized, but there is nothing in the text to make the assumption Jesus meant only spiritual need and affliction. In fact, in His earthly mission He first addressed people at the point of their physical need and then applied that healing to their spiritual need. The Word also says that it would be better for a millstone to be hanged around the neck of someone who causes others, particularly the weak, to stumble (Mt. 18:6, also recorded in Mark and Luke). And Paul was very specific in I Cor. 5:1-7 about the absolute necessity of openly confronting gross sin in the church.

There is a lot of bitterness out there. There are a lot of people who equate the church and God and discard them both with much angst and a plethora of defamatory commentary. That is not what I’m about here. My goal is to confront gross sin in the church because I believe that is my responsibility as a believer. My desire is that the church return to the truth of the Word and stop sweeping the dirt of some who are corrupt under the altar cloth.