Sunday, March 29, 2009

About Apologies that Aren't

Following some correspondence with Voddie Baucham, I posted this information about apologies on the Under Much Grace Blog. The information on apologies can be helpful when working through forgiveness, and I think this is a good place to start on the subject.

What exactly is an apology? The word originates from the Greek (and the Latin) word “apologia” which literally means a "plea" or “a speech in one’s own defense.” This straight definition more closely resembles the meaning of the word “apologetics” which we use to describe giving an account of one’s faith and the hope within us, with both meekness and patience. It also corresponds with the third possible definition that the Oxford Dictionary lists: “a justification or defense.” But in terms of asking for forgiveness (the process of repentance for causing an offense), what the Oxford describes as “a regretful acknowledgment of regret or failure” and how we most commonly use the word, using a defensive approach usually proves to be a poor one.

In terms of asking for forgiveness, using just the Oxford dictionary’s first description alone, an apology includes a few components – something that gives it meaning and substance.
  • Failure
  • Acknowledgment
  • Regret
Both parties must acknowledge that the offending party committed an act that either failed to meet a certain standard or resulted in some undesirable outcome. The person offering a sincere apology must be specific about this action and the outcome, because the rest of the apology builds upon this foundation. That is why general, blanket apologies which do not make clear that the offending party understands what they’ve done lack substance. An apology teaches each party more about their own boundaries and the boundaries of others, hopefully effecting some lasting change for the better of both as a result of the learning process. If there is no identification of the specific failure, can there be any way to avoid repeating it in the future?

Many weak apologies avoid assignment of responsibility for failure, because it is a painful and disappointing process to do so. Our human nature tends to discourage an objective view of ourselves, complete with all of our faults. Taking responsibility for failures points out to us that we are flawed, inadequate, limited, and sometimes, powerless. And sometimes that acknowledgment of our responsibilities reveals the dishonor in our own hearts. Apologies become even more difficult when circumstances beyond one’s control contributed to the failure or offense, particularly when the person responsible for starting the chain of events never intended and could not foresee the end result of the negative outcome. When a person behaves responsibly and another suffers harm or offence as a result, the offending party comes face to face with the limitations of their humanity, and this can challenge beliefs such as the idea that “Life is fair,” or “I am a basically good person that is in control of my environment.”

All apologies must include some expression of regret. Regret poses an even more difficult aspect to measure, though it is also an essential element of a true and sincere apology. Sometimes apologies are offered with all the right components, but sometimes, the party offering them can only be making the effort for their own personal gain. If they experience negative consequences as a result of their actions themselves, if the offer of apology proves to be just a public show to promote a certain persona of themselves to others, or if the party has been compelled against their natural inclination to make amends by some outside influence, then the apology can be more offensive than the original act of offense for the one who "sees through" the ingenuous apology. These insincere apologies only draw attention to the lack of care, respect and consideration that the offending party holds for the offended. It only intensifies the injury.

As it is often difficult to measure regret, it is here where one’s actions often speak louder than our words when conveying an apology. Efforts of restitution speak powerfully to the offended on behalf of the one who committed the offense, as true regret includes a desire to restore the other party. An effort to make restitution serves to seal an apology and can become a measure of the apology’s essential element of regret. Timing and the manner in which one offers an apology also adds to the effectiveness. The person offering an apology must show contrition and contrition regarding the right elements, as apologies should never serve as license to commit the offense again. Without contrition, there is not impetus to avoid the act in the future.

Read the whole post HERE.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Learning to Say "No"

OK to say NO!

By Adele Hebert

Jesus used images concerning the end of time. Both men and women are in these stories; both must be ready; both treated equally. Both involve hard choices, even saying NO!

What sort of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master arrival finds him at his employment. I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns. His master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. (Mt 24:45-51; Lk 12:42-46 says female servants as well.)

Immediately following is the second story, about the wise and foolish bridesmaids. Jesus took great effort to illustrate the same point, this time focusing on women. The big difference is that the women in this parable use their voice. This is a powerful lesson for women. They are not simply told what to do. In fact, they do not obey. Jesus gave women dignity, always defended them, and taught them about boundaries, not to allow abuse.

Jesus NEVER once told women that they had to submit to anyone. The word submit does not occur in the Greek; the actual word is Support. There is much confusion concerning submission. We want to do the right thing, but we don know where to draw the line. Often, we don draw any lines at all, or the lines that we do draw are way past the safety zone. We realize it when we are over our heads in trouble; then we get depressed and don know why. So where are the lines to be drawn that will keep us safe, walking in truth, and in the center of God's will? The word submit is still used to keep women in bondage. Without knowing these boundary lines, we allow others to use us. Jesus ADVISED women to use boundaries.

Ask yourself, would God want me to do this? Women, this is the boundary line! We have been taught that we are to blindly obey our spouse, but that is not from God. So we obey out of fear. We obey to keep the peace. But Abraham made Sarah lie. Ahasuerus wanted Vashti to show her beauty; she rightly refused. God gave us His Word so we will not be deceived. The Lord would not have us do anything ungodly or under coercion or manipulation. You are NEVER to submit to abuse. Here Jesus tells women they SHOULD say NO!

Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise: the foolish ones took their lamps, but no oil, whereas the wise ones took oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, he bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him. At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the wise ones, ive us some of our oil: our lamps are going out. But they replied, NO, there may not be enough for us and for you; go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves. (Mt 25:1-13) At times we Need to say NO. One of the most crucial lessons for women in the whole bible is right here. Jesus gave women permission to say, NO! Check out another woman with boundaries and a voice Lk 1:60.

*NO! an extremely valuable word for women*. Jesus gave women the right to say NO to stand up for themselves, for what is right, to protect themselves. Jesus Advised, even Encouraged us to say No!

Women, get boundaries or you will get used!

Adapted by Stephen Gola and Leonard Swidler.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Asking God For Help With Forgiveness

A Christian perspective on
forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

Pages 238 -239:

God knows our pain, our loss, our disappointments. He longs to heal our brokenness. He could do so instantly – but then we would not learn the lessons that are vital to our healing. For most of us, His promise to heal our broken hearts will be fulfilled over a period of time.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews assures us that “this High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses...So let us come boldly to the throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). We can stay there as long as we need to in order to experience the fullness of God’s healing grace.

As you work through the process of healing... invite your loving heavenly Father into the process with you. Allow him to heal your shame and guilt. Bathe each step you take in prayer. Ask God to empower you to follow through on each step and to endure the pain and hurt you experience. Ask him for the courage to risk making changes, both in your behavior and in your expectations. Ask him to give you the grace to forgive, so that you may be released from the bondage of the past.

Then ask him to give you the robe of honor, the ring of authority and the shoes of a beloved son or daughter. Let God show himself to you as the Father to the fatherless.

He has already made peace with you. He is waiting for you to come home.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ideas About How To Approach Peacemaking

A Christian perspective on
forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

Facing the Truth

pages 189 - 232:

Step One:
  • Identify the Symptoms

Step Two:
  • Get the Facts

Step Three:
  • Identify Family Secrets and Family Myths

Step Four:
  • Speak the Unspoken

Step Five:
  • Rewrite History

Step Six:
  • Process the Losses

Step Seven:
  • Wait

Step Eight:
  • Forgive

Step Nine:
  • Invite Others to Share Your Journey

Step Ten:
  • Explore New Roles

Step Eleven:
  • Redeem the Past

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Terrorizing Father

A Christian perspective on forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

Pages 181 - 182:

Additional Losses from the Terrorizing Father:

1. The child often experiences deep fear that turns into despair.

2. He or she may lead a life of denial in which all emotions are buried.

3. He or she may surrender to helplessness and adopt the identity and lifestyle of a perpetual victim, constantly immersed in fear, guilt and depression.

4. He or she may become angry and defiant in an attempt to obliterate a deep fear about life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Abusive Father's Loss

A Christian perspective on forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

Page 175:

Additional Losses from the Abusive Father:

1. The child is pushed back toward the mother, even more than with the absent father. As a young adult, the abused person may feel unable to leave home.

2. The child develops a fearful posture toward all of life.

3. The cycle of abuse is onften carried over into the next generation.

4. Common symptoms include academic problems, dropping out of school, running away, suicide.

5. As an adult, the abused person often becomes hypervigilant, consumed with anxiety about real or imagined danger.

6. The abused person is typically fearful of anger, both in himself and others.

7. In adult life, the abused person is commonly subject to bouts of serious depression.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seeing Our Parents Realistically

A Christian perspective on
forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

Page 169:

Think about your own mental image of your father.

If the picture you carry of him seems too good to be true, there is a good chance that it isn’t true. I am certainly not advocating that we set out to adopt a harshly negative view of our fathers – or of anyone else, for that matter.

It is entirely right for us to view our parents with charity and respect. But we also need to adopt a realistic view of our parents, acknowledging both their strengths and their weaknesses. Only when we see them as they truly are can we relate to them on a solid footing of reality. Only then are we free to grow up and become healthy adults ourselves.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The All-Good Father

A Christian perspective on forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

Page 167 - 168:

Sherri’s father died when she was twelve. When I asked her what she remembered about him, she smiled and described a virtuous, heroic, utterly perfect human being. I pressed her for any less-than-perfect aspects he may have had, but the more I did, the more positive traits she recited. The tables were turned when we discussed her mother. Sherri had nothing good whatesoever to say about her.

What Sherri was doing is called “splitting.” It represents our tendency to make one person all-good and the other person all-bad. Little children do it all the time; it’s a natural part of the process of emotional development. When adults practice splitting, however, it can cause trouble.

In her strong attachment to the too-good father, Sherri was setting herself up for some serious problems. To preserve her image of her father, she had to explain away his shortcomings as inadequacies in someone else. First it was her mother: Dad was all-good; Mom was all-bad. Eventually Sherri attached this badness to herself as well. Her idealized view of her father was the driving force behind a perfectionism that enslaved her.

Sherri’s unrealistic view of her father also led her to adopt a good husband, but Sherri had come to see him as hopelessly inadequate. She resented his weakness and believed there was almost nothing that she could do better than he could. She laughed at the very thought of comparing Walt to her father.

Without realizing it, Sherri had cast her marriage in the same mold as she had her parents – seeing one person as the repository of all that is good, and the other as the embodiment of all that is bad. No matter what issues we discussed, her inevitable refrain was that Walt had to “fix himself” before they could hope to have a successful marriage. Until Sherri becomes comfortable with the untidiness of human reality – that all fo us have both good and bad qualities, bot that all fo us are unique and valuable just the same – she will be imprisoned by her distorted view of life.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

So Easy to Blame

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves"
by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 246 - 250:

Sometimes we blame others as cover-up for fear, fear of punishment, embarrassment, responsibility, and the like. Self-protection is a strong drive in all of us.

At the most basic level, our tendency to blame others probably stems from our fundamental conviction that we ourselves are blameless. Isn’t that right? We might never come out and say it, but deep in our heart we know that we are just, honorable, and upright. When things go wrong, it must be someone else’s fault. Surely it couldn’t be ours ...

Face it: we want to blame. When we have been hurt – or think we have – something in us wants to place the blame somewhere (usually on someone else). But the more we blame, the farther we walk down the dangerous path of bitterness. The path never leads us to health and happiness, only to deeper distress...

Do you see where this leads? Eventually we get all the way back to Eve – who, as we have seen, shirked her own responsibility as well. In other words, the blame game leads nowhere. All it does is prove that we are all flawed, imperfect people living in a flawed, imperfect world where “stuff happens.” So why bother playing it at all? Why not get off the path of bitterness and get on the path of forgiveness?

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blame Game

From Harriet Lerner in

“The Dance of Anger”:

This is the who-started-it game – the search for a beginning of a sequence, where the aim is to proclaim which person is to blame for the behavior of both.

But we know that this interaction is really a circular dance in which the behavior of one partner maintains and provokes the behavior of the other.

The circular dance has no beginning and no end. In the final analysis, it matters little who started it. The question of greater significance is: “How do we break out of it?”

(pg. 56).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Our Fallen Humanity and Family Dysfunction

Townsend, Cloud, Carder, and Brawand in

“Secrets of Your Family Tree”:

You may feel that your family of origin wasn’t dysfunctional since your father wasn’t and alcoholic....

The truth is, however, that due to the fallen nature of all parents (and children), all families are flawed and therefore dysfunctional to a certain degree.

Addictive and complusive behaviors (addicted to food, sex, work, and so on) are extremely common in even “the best of families,” and such behavior is almost always linked to some form of dysfunctional family background.

(pg. 15)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Being Who Our Parents Need Us To Be

"Beyond Survival:
The New Testament Solution
for Adult Children of Alcoholics"

by Nancy Curtis

As children, we tend to mold our personalities to adapt to our environment. If our environment is supportive, nurturing, and flexible, we are freed to express our own individuality. If our environment is rigid, demanding and conditional, however, we are forced to shape our behavior to fit the needs of others. We substitute our true self for a false self that is more acceptable to our parents, whose love and approval we need desperately. In essence, we compromise who we really are, and become what our parents need us to be.
(p. 53)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fair Lady with the Alabaster Flask

A Poem by Adele Hebert

Fair lady with the alabaster flask
How I wish I were there
To smell that fragrance in the air
All through the house
And what a cost A year’s wages
I would not forget that wonderful smell
And who could forget what you did?
Many saw you
Many knew you
Many smelled your precious perfume
Fair lady, I wish I had been there

You took quite a risk fair lady
You were not invited
Nor welcomed
And to enter a room
Full of men
Some were angry to see you there
Some are still angry
Some don’t care

Jesus was not though
He saw you and smiled
He knew why you came
Only a woman could do it
Only a woman would do
It had always been men before
Men prophets, men kings, men men

But suddenly now a woman
The time was right
A woman with some means
Who would buy the best
Who was compelled to come
Who dared to enter
Who dared to take a man’s place
Oh Fair lady, you were so brave

To anoint… the Anointed One
Not for a crown
Not for a title
But for his burial
A life giving sacrifice
For you and me
Fair lady, how did you know?

It was a special task
You broke that alabaster flask
…And it broke your heart
To see your Lord
You loved him so
To feel his skin
Knowing he would die
To smell that sweet fragrance
For his burial
He would have no funeral
Yet he was so alive
Oh fair lady, how could it be?

No singing in your heart
Only tears that night
Uncontrollable quiet tears
Sweet powerful smell
Tears pouring down
Costly ointment poured out
Oh fair lady, I can hardly bear it
Tears mixed with nard
Sweet sad agony
You used your hair
Oh fair lady on your knees

Jesus knew
Your heart and soul
He defended you
Against those men there
Said it would be a memorial
To remember you fair lady
Jesus knew
And so did you
What lay ahead
That’s what was so sad

But it had to be done
Jesus dying was the only way
The ultimate act of love
He loved you fair lady
Thank you for your precious nard
And especially for your tears
May we never forget you…
Mary of Bethany (Jn 12)

Fair lady with the alabaster flask.

Adele Hebert

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's Normal? How Would You Know?

Children don’t know what causes their misery. In fact, children don’t realize their dysfunctional home is abnormal.

Even physically abused kids don’t realize, while young, that normal parents don’t beat their kids, they think that there is no other way to live.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Botkin Family Shame Existence Binds

The shame-bound family system is fixed in its form and highly resistant to change, even though change is a natural fact of life.

This system is analogous to peanut brittle, with each person fixed in stereotyped, inflexible roles and relationships to one another...

When change exerts enough force all at one moment upon a rigid system, it may break and splinter.

The shame-bound system does not have good capacity to absorb very much stress and still regain its integrity.
(pg. 61)

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Basic Garden Variety Dysfunction and the Botkin Syndrome Contrast

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves"
by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 32 - 33:

Let’s recognize, then, that we are talking about a problem with a range of expressions. Some of us will consider ourselves products of.... “you basic, everyday, garden-variety dysfunctional family.” We recognize that our parents had their flaws and our family its weaknesses, but we have never felt that our adult lives have been negatively affected by them in a major way...

Still others will be unsure at this point. You may never have heard the phrase “dysfunctional family” before, let alone understand what it means or how it may apply to you.

All you know is that
“something’s not right”
in your life.

It may be anything from a lingering depression, to a problem with anger, to bouts of extreme anxiety, to inexplicable difficulties trusting others and getting close to them in relationships. You may have tried a number of things to deal with your problem, with varying degrees of success. You may be a deeply religious person whose commitment to spiritual truth has provided a great deal of comfort – but still you find yourself groping for the key to some personal difficulties that continues to elude you. If you place yourself in this category, we urge you to read this book carefully. It may well mark the beginning of an exciting time of self-discovery and growth for you.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Family Styles From Rigid to Adaptable

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves"
by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 78 - 83:

Chaotic and Rigid families – families at the extreme ends of the adaptability scale – have several things in common. For one thing, they are both rather poorly equipped for problem-solving. While the Rigid family will make some effort to discuss ways to solve problems, they tend to make decisions quickly and arbitrarily, and then to impose them on family members with little forethought or planning. The Chaotic family, by contrast, will often take a great deal of time talking about a problem, but in a confused, disorganized way that makes arriving at a clear conclusion very difficult. The Chaotic family typically does a poor job of following through with whatever decision it finally does come up with.

Both types of families also have a hard time dealing with emotions. The Rigid family tends not to allow the expression of emotions, and those that are expressed tend to be ignored. The result is that a great deal of anger builds up. But it is expressed in indirect and manipulative ways. In the Chaotic family, there is often a lot of expression of emotion, but the structure of family life is such that its meaning and significance get lost in the shuffle. The resulting implusiveness and volatility also stirs up anger...

The Rigid family is a very authoritarian family. Leadership is clearly defined and recognized: everyone knows who the boss is, and everyone knows what the rules are...

The Adaptable Family

The health balance between Rigid and Chaotic families is the Adaptable family. It is characterized by an approach that offers clear but flexible leadership and healthy but adjustable discipline. Everyone knows who is in charge; they also know that the leader is someone who can be talked to and reasoned with. They know that there are rules, and consequences for breaking those rules; they also know the rules are fair and sensible, and that exceptions can be made when the situation warrants.

Problems are discussed, and the discussion leads to a decision that reflects the input of various members of the family, both children and adults. Roles are clear – parents are parents, children are children – but communication is plentiful. People know what is expected of them, and they know how to negotiate those expectations when legitimate needs to do so arise.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Repenting of the Idolatry of Idealizing My Parents

From a series of posts examining "multigenerational faithfulness," examining unquestioned obedience and First Time Obedience as an essential component of multigenerational faithfulness as taught by the Botkin Family.

Excerpt from PART II Addendum: Spiritualizing All Activities, First Time Obedience, Multigenerational Faithfulness and Unquestioned Obedience:

In closing this post, I would also like to state that as a consequence of trying to conform to my parents standards and eventually abandoning what was a fantasy of idolatry for me, I did suffer something I deeply regret. I learned to be easily brainwashed by anyone who was like my parents or by anyone who occupied a position that seemed parental to me. I learned to sell out my mind for the greater good to any authority that I trusted, and particularly any authority that reminded me of my parents. If I could identify the worst and most terrible consequences of my all the experiences of my life related to what I learned by trying to conform by basically denying and even attempting to destroy who God created me to be, it would be this core of idolatrous self-hatred for identifying my identity in Christ as sinful.

Learning this process and wrongfully defining it as obedience to my parents has predisposed me to errors in judgement that have resulted in being molested and raped as a child (by one whom I identified as a trusted authority figure to whom I should submit) against whom I had no recourse. As an adult, it predisposed me to submitting myself to the unjust spiritual abusers and religious authorities in a very damaging, cultic Evangelical church that preached the Gospel and laid hands on the sick and operated in the gifts of the Spirit that I believed qualified them as trustworthy. For this reason, I believe that the costs of unquestioned submission and ideals like “First Time Obedience” do far more damage than good. It is convenient for parents who believe that they are acting in the best interest of their children, but I believe that trusting and naive young girls and women very much like me have reaped terrible consequences of this type of unqualified and demanded obedience.

Please consider this following technique of self-deprecation used as a tried, tested and true technique of thought reform. I believe that just as adults who are subjected to spiritual abuse suffer these consequences, I believe that these are very similar dynamics that I learned in my own home because I did not fit the expected norm. And I believe that this made the process of religious conversion in a Bible-based cult all the easier and more familiar for me, almost seeming to offer a solution to my primary problem: my perpetual failure to earn my parents acceptance. If I have lusted after anything in my life, surely nothing has compared to the idolatrous lust I’ve followed in seeking after my parents’ approval. And the quest to satisfy that lust has hurt me far more than any other factor in my life. My parents never intended this to be so, but they didn't undertand that they were fostering idolatry in my heart. Surely they never would have done so if they had known. None of us knew.

Son of David, have mercy on me for having served them, my own lust for their acceptance and the wounds of my own heart. All I ever really desired was You and wholeness in You through your Atoning Blood. And I didn’t know any better. Please spare Your people this same pain. My heart is ever contrite before You, my Creator. Ever let Your strength be made perfect in my – Oh so many – weaknesses. Search me, know me, see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

From Biderman’s Chart of Coercison on the reFocus website:

Devaluing the Individual

  • Creates fear of freedom
  • Creates dependence upon captors
  • Creates feelings of helplessness
  • Develops lack of faith in individual capabilities

Abusive leaders are frequently uncannily able to pick out traits church members are proud of and to use those very traits against the members. Those with natural gifts in the areas of music may be told they are proud or puffed up or "anxious to be up front" if they want to use their talents and denied that opportunity. Those with discernment are called judgmental or critical, the merciful are lacking in holiness or good judgment, the peacemakers are reminded the Lord came to bring a sword, not peace. Sometimes efforts are made to convince members that they really are not gifted teachers or musically talented or prophetically inclined as they believed they were. When members begin to doubt the one or two special gifts they possess which they have always been sure were God-given, they begin to doubt everything else they have ever believed about themselves, to feel dependent upon church leaders and afraid to leave the group. ("If I've been wrong about even *that*, how can I ever trust myself to make right decisions ever again?").

Warning Signs:

Unwillingness to allow members to use their gifts. Establishing rigid boot camp-like requirements for the sake of proving commitment to the group before gifts may be exercised. Repeatedly criticizing natural giftedness by reminding members they must die to their natural gifts, that Paul, after all, said, "When I'm weak, I'm strong," and that they should expect God to use them in areas other than their areas of giftedness. Emphasizing helps or service to the group as a prerequisite to church ministry. This might take the form of requiring that anyone wanting to serve in any way first have the responsibility of cleaning toilets or cleaning the church for a specified time, that anyone wanting to sing in the worship band must first sing to the children in Sunday School, or that before exercising any gifts at all, members must demonstrate loyalty to the group by faithful attendance at all functions and such things as tithing. No consideration is given to the length of time a new member has been a Christian or to his age or station in life or his unique talents or abilities. The rules apply to everyone alike. This has the effect of reducing everyone to some kind of lowest common denominator where no one's gifts or natural abilities are valued or appreciated, where the individual is not cherished for the unique blessing he or she is to the body of Christ, where what is most highly valued is service, obedience, submission to authority, and performance without regard to gifts or abilities or, for that matter, individual limitations.
Consider that this is what you are doing to your children when you demand your way and your desires for their lives, even from the time they are small and seek only to run to you and hide themselves in the comfort under the shadow of your wings. No parent desires to reduce their children into automatons or two dimensional beings with no depth of character to leave them wounded and confused. But that it what happens to many of us. We were not made for the Sabbath rest but the Sabbath rest was made for us. Yet for many of us there is only striving to meet demands of perfection wherein there is no rest for the people of God. So many of these parenting paradigms are millstones, hung around the necks of little ones. And we weep.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Denial and the Illusion of Control

Our symptoms are born out of emotional denial and they serve to maintain that denial. They are ways that we allow ourselves to live one kind of life while convincing ourselves that we have a very different kind of life.

And while they serve to give us the illusion that we are in control, they are in fact clear indicators that what we have really done is to give up healthy control of our lives to something outside of ourselves. (p. 23)

As Cited In
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Family Myths

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 68 - 70:

The opposite of family secrets are family myths. Myths are the things we talk about but never do. George Bernard Shaw once said that most history was nothing more than “a lie agreed upon.” Family myths are like that. They represent a silent conspiracy to pretend that things are different than they are. Ask almost anyone about their family, and the first thing you are likely to hear is one of the family’s myths.

The most common of these, perhaps, is the one that says, “Oh, our family was very close.” Time and time again I have asked people in the clinic to tell me about their families, and the first words out of their mouths are, “Well, you know we’re a very close family.” Tehn they go on to tell me about all the problems, hurts and disappointments their family has caused them, describing anything but closeness and warmth. But as they finish their account, they invariably conclude by saing, “But our family is really close.”

There are other common myths. People will say that their family was very loving or caring. People from strong religious backgrounds will often say that their family was very spiritual, even when there is little evidence of it.

Not surprisingly, family myths are frequently connected to family secrets: the one thing in the family is most ashamed of will be the thing they try to cover over with a myth. I remember Anne telling me about her family. In between the various problems she described, she mentioned repeatedly that her family was “very supportive.” “We’re always there for each other,” she would say. But about two weeks later, she exploded. “I thought my family was supportive,” she said. “But here I’ve been in the hospital for two weeks, and not a single one of them has come to see me. They haven’t even called. It’s like they don’t want to admit I’m here...

Where do family myths come from? To some degree, they are simply a social convention, as when someone asks, “How are you doing?” and you answer, “Fine, thanks.” But there is more to it than that. We have all been programmed in various ways as to what a “normal” or “happy” family is like. It is like the families we have seen on television programs, or read about in school books growing up. We know what a family is supposed to look like, and we have a natural reluctance to acknowledge that our family was not like that. Never mind that the images we have in our minds may be absurdly unrealistic. We want to believe that they are true, and that our life compares well with them. To acknowledge otherwise – to others, and even to ourselves – would be too painful.

This, of course, raises the question yet again: What is a “normal” family? And how do we measure deviations from that norm?

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tears Are Treasured

Tears are Treasured

A study on all the Tears in the New Testament

A guest entry by author, editor and independent scholar,
Adele Hebert

There are few words spoken by women in these gospels, but many tears are shed and recorded, mostly by women, some even by Jesus, the man of sorrows. The fact that all these tears are detailed says that God values all our precious tears, whether for joy or sorrow. Psalm 56:8 tells us that, “God knows our troubles and our wanderings, stores all our tears in a bottle, has counted each one of them, and they are recorded in the Book.”

The beginning of the New Testament opens with glad tidings, the announcement of two children, which brought tears of joy to Elizabeth and Mary. This joy would be short lived for Mary, as Joseph tells her that he will put her away her quietly. The betrothed was heartbroken, to say the least. An angel in a dream restores their marriage. After Jesus is born, Mary and Joseph bring the child to the temple, and it is prophesied to Mary that, “a sword will pierce your soul.” Lk 2:35. When Jesus was missing for days, she would have been beside herself with worry, but Mary would experience many more tears.

Following the joyful birth of Jesus, other women are not so lucky. Mt 2:18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” Those women were bereft; Herod had given the order; the soldiers had killed their babies.

There was a woman in Lk 7:37-44,

“who had a bad name… and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment. 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.” Jesus was touched by her tears.

There was another woman, taken in adultery, Jn 8:1-11. This woman would have been shocked, sobbing uncontrollably, knowing she would be stoned.

A man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, had a daughter who died. Lk 8:52 “They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, 'Stop crying; she is not dead, but asleep.” No doubt the woman who touched his hem, and was healed of her hemorrhage for 12 years would have rejoiced. Other women who would have wept with joy are the Syrophoenecian woman whose daughter was cured, the widow of Nain whose son was brought back to life and given back to her, the woman who had a crooked back for 18 years… and many more who heard the wonderful words of their Lord.

Jesus was friends with Martha, Mary and Lazarus. When Lazarus died, everyone wept. Even Jesus wept. Jn 11 says,

“When the Jews who were in the house comforting Mary saw her get up so quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw him she threw herself at his feet, saying, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who had come with her, Jesus was greatly distressed, and with a profound sigh he said, 'Where have you put him?' They said, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept; and the Jews said, 'See how much he loved him ' Sighing, Jesus thanked God.”

In Lk 23:28 Women wailed, “But Jesus turned to them and said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children.” He had such deep concern for mothers and their children.

There is no telling how many tears were shed at that cross or the tomb, by Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the other women. Their grief would have been unbearable. But on Resurrection morning, their tears of sorrow turn to shouts of joy.

Mk 16:1 says, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him.” These women were still mourning for Jesus. Tears are louder than words.

Jn 20 says (twice) to Mary Magdalene, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Then he called her name, “Mary, go and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' So Mary of Magdala told the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'.” Mk 16:10 “Mary Magdalene then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them.”

Apparently it was important to mention even in Acts 9:39 that, “all the widows stood round him in tears, showing him tunics and other clothes Dorcas had made when she was with them.” Another woman was brought back to life. Our tears are not for naught.

Jesus paid attention to all the tears; he saw them; he acknowledged them; he even cried with them. There are many tears in the NT, which says that Jesus knows our suffering, he hears our cries. Jesus also promised in Jn 16:22, “Now you are having pain. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

Thank God all our tears are recorded; each tear is counted, for our consolation. Jesus hears our cries; Jesus sees our tears. Jesus even cries with us.

Thank You, Adele!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Insightful Quotes

List of Quotes Cited in Dr. David Stoop’s

“Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves”:

First and foremost, children are taught to disown what their eyes see and what their ears hear. Because of denial in the family, children’s perceptions of what is happening become progressively and systematically negated. Overtly or covertly, explicitly or implicitly, they are told not to believe what their own senses tell them. As a result, the children learn to distrust their own experience. As the same time, they are taught not to trust other people. (pg 19)

What is common to all such families is the commitment of all family members to maintain the secrets through rigid rules about what may and may not be talked about. These rules prohibit spontaneity in the family relationships; with spontaneity the real feelings and facts might be revealed.

Family members create powerful myths about their histories, often leaving out the painful historical shapers of the shame. The children in these families are loyal through their lack of questioning about the past, thereby colluding in the family’s rules. (pp. 45-46)

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Botkin Syndrome Secrets

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 64 - 68:

Family Secrets

Family secrets are the things that have happened – and may still be happening – that everyone knows about but that no one ever talks about.

As you look back at the various families we have met so far, it is easy, in most cases, to see what the family secrets were. Perhaps as you think back through your own life, you are aware of certain incidents, people, or problems, that no one ever discussed, eve though it was obvious that everyone was aware of them. Perhaps you can recognize the part you played in maintaining the conspiracy of silence.

That conspiracy was a significant factor in Richard’s family. Richard came for therapy with a great amount of reluctance. He was almost overwhelmed by the feeling that he was betraying his family members by talking about their problems to an outsider. “We were taught from an early age that family business stays in the family,” he explained...

Family secrets are like having an elephant in the parlor. You learn at a very young age that the one question you never ask is “Why do we have an elephant in the parlor? If friends or others outside ask about it, the correct answer is, “What elephant?” As the elephant grows, you put a lamp and a lace doily on it and treat it like part of the furniture. In time you have to avoid the parlor entirely. But you never ask about it or comment on it.

Family secrets are one of the main ways that family systems resist change. Everyone keeps doing what they have always done, as if nothing was wrong.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves: Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Vicious Cycle of Idealizing Parents

A Christian perspective on forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

From page 167:

The tendency to idealize a father is often passed on to us, often by our own father, who may have idealized his father.

Children who idealize Dad will vehemently express respect and admiration for him. Nevertheless, they are keeping Dad at a distance. They are not dealing with the real person, but with a character devised in their own imagination. They deny the existence of any negative or imperfect aspects of Dad’s character or personality and focus only on positive traits – which may be real or imagined. A good test of whether we are idealizing our father is to look at how we react when someone suggests Dad may have been inadequate in some way. An angry, defensive reaction is symptomatic of idealization.

One result of idealizing Dad is a sense of guilt over our own inadequacy. We measure ourselves against our picture of our father, and inevitably, we fall short. It then becomes a vicious cycle, because every time we fall short, we elevate Dad to an even higher pedestal.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jesus Loved Women by Adele

Another entry from Adele Hebert, Independent Scholar.

Jesus loved women so much!

Thank God no woman was made mute.
Thank God no woman decided to kill innocent baby boys.
Thank God no woman was ever rebuked harshly by Jesus.
Thank God no woman was ever called a name by Jesus.
Thank God no woman was ever silenced.
Thank God no woman ran away.
Thank God no woman denied knowing Jesus.
Thank God no woman
was ever predicted to be part of
the plot to murder Jesus.
Thank God no woman pronounced Jesus death sentence.
Thank God no woman was part of the beating, mocking,
whipping, or crucifixion.
Thank God no woman ever hurt Jesus in any way.

Jesus loved women so much!

Thank God one woman said, Yes! (Lk 1:38)
Thank God another woman said, No! (Lk 1:60)
Thank God a Mother named her son.
Thank God for women prophets, even an old woman,
not ready to die telling,
telling all those who wanted redemption
Thank God women told and retold and retold their stories;
they were given a voice.
Thank God for the caring, nurturing, generous women who followed,
fed those men three years.
Thank God for the timid, trembling woman who dared to touch his hem.
Thank God Jesus called women forward to receive healing,
then gave them a voice.
Thank God women few words are recorded.
Thank God for the bold woman who asked for crumbs, was then
commended for her great faith.
Thank God Jesus defended children, called them,
hugged them, blessed them.
Thank God for the nameless voiceless woman who kissed Jesus feet,
anointed them with costly ointment, wiped them with her hair.
Thank God Jesus offered a woman living water.
Thank God the woman told, told her whole village.
Thank God for the named raped women in the genealogy of Matthew.
Thank God we are now called daughters, sisters, and friends.
Thank God children shouted, Hosanna!
Thank God Jesus said not to worry about many things.
Thank God even tears were treasured and recorded.
Thank God women were encouraged to sit at Jesus feet.
Thank God Jesus touched women,
even those with blood, even a dead girl.
Thank God Jesus made us equal in marriage and divorce.
Thank God Jesus forgave women, even for adultery.
Thank God the Holy Spirit is feminine.
Thank God for the parallel stories about women.
Thank God for servant girls speaking, and pregnant women praising.
Thank God Jesus wept.
Thank God for the woman who dared to share her dream.
Thank God Jesus uplifted widows for what little they can give.
Thank God for the nameless, voiceless women, but not forgotten.
Thank God Jesus revealed his being the Messiah to a woman!!
And the Resurrection disclosed only to a woman!!
Thank God women were honored, uplifted, blessed, healed, and heard.
Thank God Jesus gave women a voice!
Thank God women and children were precious!
Thank God Jesus consoled, comforted women who wept.
Thank God for the faithful women who were there under that cross.
Thank God the women took note of the tomb,
and how Jesus body was laid,
Thank God for the women who bought spices to anoint him,
the only funeral he would have.
Thank God the women went to the tomb that early morning.
Thank God Jesus chose a woman/women to be the first
to see the RisenLord!!
Thank God Jesus chose not to reveal Himself to Peter
at the tomb ut to meet the men over there in Galilee.
Thank God Jesus chose a woman/women to go and Tell!
Thank God she/they ran and told and told and told!
Mary Magdalene Beloved Disciple!!
Mary Magdalene Apostle to the Apostles!!
Thank God women were there in the upper room.
Thank God women received the Holy Spirit!!
Thank God for the women who had the first churches, in their homes.
Thank God women were teachers, co-workers, and apostles even martyrs.
Thank God women are still hearing the voice of God.
Above all, Jesus gave women a voice!!

Thank you Adele!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jesus Was Angry

Guest Entry written by Adele Hebert

“Is it right for you to be angry?” God asked Jonah (4:4). Is it right for a Christian to be angry? Anger, if not controlled, is a very dangerous emotion and can lead to murder.

The first person to be angry in the Old Testament (Gen 4:5), “Cain was very angry and downcast.” God had accepted his brother’s sacrifice but not his. What did he do with his anger? “Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”

The first person to be angry in the New Testament (Mt 2:17), “Herod was furious on realising that he had been fooled by the wise men.” What did he do with his anger? “In Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or less.”

Although we were told to love one another and to forgive our enemies, Jesus was often quite angry. Jesus got very frustrated with his disciples Mt 17:17, “Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you?” Jesus had righteous indignation at the sellers in the temple Jn 2:15,16, “Making a whip out of cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, sheep and cattle as well, scattered the money changers' coins, knocked their tables over and said to the dove sellers, 'Take all this out of here and stop using my Father's house as a market.” Mostly, Jesus was angry at the Pharisees Mk 3:1, “Then he looked angrily round at them, grieved to find them so obstinate, and said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand. '”

Amazingly, Jesus never got angry with the women. There were 5 women who Jesus corrected; they were definitely not rebuked as some commentators / preachers have alleged. Jesus only rebuked the wind, sea, demons, unclean spirits, fever and men.

Jesus was more severe with his male disciples than anyone else: he rebuked Peter, calling him Satan Mt 16:23; he rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire from heaven to burn up the Samaritan village Lk 9:55; and he rebuked the Eleven male disciples for not believing the women’s testimony Mk 16:14; but Jesus never rebuked women.

Let us examine the verses pertaining to women. Notice how Jesus leads them ever so gently, no names, and no harsh critical words. In fact, Jesus always uplifts them, guarding their honor, hearing them, blessing them.

Lk 2:48,49,They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, 'My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.' He replied, 'Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?'”

Lk 11:27,28,It happened that as he was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, 'Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you!' But he replied, 'More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'”
Jn 2:3-5,And they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the feast had all been used, and the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' Jesus said, 'Woman, what do you want from me? My hour has not come yet.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you… tasted the water, and it had turned into wine.'”

Lk 10:41,42,But the Lord answered, 'Martha, Martha,' he said, 'you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, and it is not to be taken from her.'”
Mt 15:24-28,He said in reply, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.' But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him. 'Lord,' she said, 'help me.' He replied, 'It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to little dogs.' She retorted, 'Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered her, 'Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.' And from that moment her daughter was well again.”
Mk 11:27-29, “And he said to her, 'The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to little dogs.' But she spoke up, 'Ah yes, sir,' she replied, 'but little dogs under the table eat the scraps from the children.' And he said to her, 'For saying this you may go home happy; the devil has gone out of your daughter.'”

Lk 11:39,Jesus said, 'Take the stone away.' Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, 'Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day since he died.' Jesus replied, 'Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?'”

Jn 20:17,Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

No matter how often and to what degree Jesus was angry, he never sinned; he was always in complete control. Anger only becomes a problem when it is not controlled, when is it not directed at the right cause, and when it is not appropriate. Jesus was angry as an expression of his zealous, holy devotion to God. His righteous anger had nothing to do with himself; it was always on account of others sinfulness or their lack of faith, both of which affected those around them, and those wanting to get into the kingdom of God. His reaction was also directed only at those he was angry at; he never took it out on anyone else; and his actions were also appropriate to the cause. Most importantly, Jesus’s anger was exclusively motivated by love, even to forgiving those who crucified him from his dying breath.

Jesus made it very clear that we were not to judge others; not even to call someone a fool, Mt 5:22, because names are destructive, demeaning, and abusive. A little further Jesus explains why, Mt 7:3 says, “Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother's eye.” Jesus was able to expose the Pharisees, Mt 23:17, calling them “Fools and blind!” because he was perfect. As long as you are without sin, you can cast stones.

Now, we will consider all the verses where Jesus is angry.

To whom
What He called them, what He did

8:26 Peter storm little faith
9:25 people ridiculed him turned them out
12:34 Pharisees 'chief of devils' Brood of vipers
12:39 Pharisees Sign Evil, adulterous generation
14:31 Peter Sinking Little faith
15:7 Pharisees/scribes Washing hands Hypocrites
16:4 Pharisees/
Sign Evil, unfaithful generation
16:8,9 disciples boat Yeast Little faith
16:23 Peter Rebuked Jesus Satan
17:17 disciples Could not cure Perverse generation
19:8 Pharisees Divorce Hard hearted
21:12,13 money changers Bandit's den Whip, upset tables, drove
22:18 Pharisee's disciples Taxes Hypocrites
23:3 crowds, Pharisees Do not practice Vain, hypocrites
23:13-37 scribes/
Shut up kingdom Hypocrites
Travel to evangelize Hypocrites
Swear by altar Blind guides
Swear by gold Fools and blind
Swear by both Blind men
Pay tithe Hypocrites
Straining gnats Blind guides
Clean outside of cup Blind guides
Leave inside full Hypocrites
Inside full corruption
whitewashed tombs
Look upright
Full of lawlessness,
Build sepulchres Hypocrites
Say you would never Children of murders
Escape hell Serpents, brood of vipers
You shed blood Murders, kill prophets

3:5 Pharisees Heal on Sabbath Grieved, obstinate, angry
4:40 disciples Storm No faith
5:40 people Ridiculed him Turned them out
7:6 Pharisees/scribes Washing hands Hypocrites
7:17 disciples Questioned him Non understanding
8:18 disciples Yeast Minds closed
8:21 disciples Do not remember Still do not realize
8:33 Peter Rebuked Jesus Satan
9:19 disciples Couldn't heal Faithless generation
11:15 sellers Bandit's den Drove out, upset tables
12:15 Pharisees/
Taxes Hypocrites
12:24 Sadducees Whose wife Doesn't understand scripture
12:27 Sadducees Rising again Very much mistaken
12:38 Pharisees Rob widow's houses Thieves, hypocrites
16:14 Eleven Refused to believe women Incredulity, obstancy

6:42 people On judging Hypocrites
8:25 disciples Storm No faith
9:41 disciples Couldn't heal Perverse generation
9:55 James, John Wanted to call fire Rebuked
11:29 crowds Sign Evil generation
11:39 Pharisees Wash cup Extortion, wickedness
11:40 Pharisees Wash cup Fools
11:42 Pharisees Tithe No justice, love of God
11:44 Pharisees Seats of honour Unmarked tombs
11:46 lawyers Load burdens Unendurable, do not touch
11:48 lawyers Build tombs Witness, approve killing
11:50 lawyers Send prophets Blood of Abel, Zechariah
11:52 lawyers Take away knowledge Prevent from going in
12:1 Pharisees Yeast Hypocrisy
12:28 disciples Worry So little faith
12:56 crowd Signs Hypocrites
13:15 ruler synagogue Healed on Sabbath Hypocrites
13:32 Herod Means to kill you Fox
12:34 Jerusalem Refused God Kill prophets
16:14 Pharisees Upright Loathesome for God
18:9 people Prided themselves Not justified
18:14 people High opinions humbled

The Fourth Gospel does not reveal an angry Jesus, although Judas is described indirectly twice.

To whom
What He called them, what He did

6:70 one disciple Jesus chose devil
12:6 Judas Not care about poor thief

Compare the amount of times Jesus got angry, and to whom, in the 3 synoptic gospels:

Number of Times Jesus Got Angry


Clearly, Jesus was not afraid, was even justified in calling the religious leaders names; he continuously exposed their wicked traditions, their motives, and their sins. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground in Jn 8:6, but all those men left, from the oldest to the youngest; and since he knew their hearts, he revealed enough to make them all leave.

Jesus got very angry with the religious leaders because they were keeping the people from the truth of God, Mt 23:13,14. The Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus but he, in turn, exposed their evil, “these are the men who take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes,” Mk 12:40. Two verses later Jesus points to “the widow with two little copper coins, worth about a penny.” He was not praising her, he was admonishing the men for her poverty! She was a widow and women were not allowed to own property. Not only did she lose her husband but now her property was taken away from her as well. That is why it was so vital for women to have at least one son. Because the Pharisees were the only ones who could study the law and teach it; the people were at their mercy for legal matters and instruction, plus the rulers made many extra laws which the people could not keep. The ones who would have been affected the most were the women, since they could not study the scriptures themselves and they had no rights, no voice; that is why Jesus made sure Mary of Bethany stayed at his feet.

The most important message Jesus was telling us:
Righteous anger is good; it motivates us to do what is right;
Personal anger is bad; it motivates us to do what is wrong (sin).

The most significant finding in this study was that Jesus was never angry with the women; they were not his enemies; they followed him; they supported him financially; they had great faith; they listened; they worshipped him in truth; they loved Jesus.

~ Thank You, Adele Hebert for contributing this post. ~