Every generation has had to reckon with those words and the subtle but terrible charge they bring against the Word–and therefore the character–of God. Those four words are much more than an innocent question; they strike at the core of our faith. This simple phrase, for all time since the garden, is an expression of whether God can be trusted. Is His Word true? And is His Word to us a loving Word?
Every couple of years I need a refresher on language.
Most of the time this happens through our children. They will say something, some word or phrase, and I will not understand. I’ll ask for a clarification, a definition, and maybe even for another example in context… and I still won’t get it. Most of the time I still need the help of Urban Dictionary to know what I’m supposed to be talking about. But even then I’m not really allowed to use these phrases.
The kids cringe with I do, and I get that.
I did the same thing.
And I assume my parents did the same thing when their vernacular was discovered and tried to be put in use by the previous generation. And so it goes, one generation after another, being linguistically left behind. And yet through each and every generation of human history, there is a link. The link is not a particular language, but instead four words translated into a multitude of dialects. It’s these four words that bind all the generations of humanity together:
“Has God indeed said…”
Way back at the beginning – in the very first generation – everything was good. Very good, in fact. All creation existed in perfect harmony, and at the center piece of everything was the crown jewel of creation. The man and the woman lived in perfect fellowship with God, walking without guilt, shame, or any other hindrance with Him. And into this harmony slithered the cunning serpent armed with what must have seemed like a very innocent question and just a few short sentences that followed it:
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.
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By Jacob Crouch — 1 month ago
No one is forcing us to do anything. Only God has the authority to command us, and we must follow Him. Christ has saved us, not to live for ourselves, but, “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor 5:15). So the next time you’re tempted to think that you must do something that violates your conscience to be a good parent, just remember that you don’t have to do anything.
“You have to let your kids watch/do/experience that! It’s so iconic. They’ll totally miss out!”
No. No they won’t. I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but parents, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. There is literally no one mandating the things that your kids must experience to be a full human being. Let me say it even more clearly: There is no movie that your kids must watch in order to function properly in society. There is no music your kids must listen to in order to really thrive. There is no destination that your kids must visit in order to really fit in. No one is forcing you to do any of those things. And while the world is trying to convince you that there are certain things that you must do for your children, I want to talk about the real imperative for all Christian parents.
Christian Parents Are Bound to Obey God
Christian parents have a duty to God, and God alone, in raising their children. “Each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12). God is the One who guides our parenting choices. If we know that we will give an account of our parenting to Him, why would we let the world have any say in what we do? We are commanded to, “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
By Rob Green — 2 years ago
In the movie Gaslight, the lights were flickering, and she knew it. But her husband attempted to tell her that her senses could not be trusted. We must help the “victims” understand that what they see, hear, touch, and smell can be trusted because that is how God designed them to experience the world.
In July 2021 I wrote an article on gaslighting that made the following three points:
Definition of gaslighting: “Gaslighting,” biblically speaking, is the deception by self-lovers who use eloquent and persuasive speech to destroy the emotional and spiritual stability of their victims. The self-lover wants to control and often hide their own sinful behavior.
Value of the term: Biblical counselors may choose to use the term as a subheading of the biblical term deception to highlight the particularly wicked form that this deception takes.
Impact on a person’s life: Gaslit sufferers assume that events and actions are their fault, refuse to make decisions, exhibit unwillingness to trust their senses, lie to avoid conflict, and look for a trustworthy person to tell them what to do.
In the months since that article came out, I have continued to study and think about the subject. I concluded that my article focused almost exclusively on what I now term “active gaslighting.” I also believe that passive gaslighting is also possible. I will write another article explaining this difference. However, I believe that successful gaslighting, whether done actively or passively, tends to produce similar result. This article presents an initial explanation of how to help.
Before I get started, I believe every person must be cared for as an individual. Even if commonalities exist between counselees, commonality is not sameness. The Bible encourages us to listen (Prov. 18:13; James 1:19) and respond to the situation accordingly. People are dynamic and that demands an ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
It is also important to remember that my list below is only attempting to address the gaslighting itself. The needs of the active gaslit victim may include issues not relevant to the passive victim and vise-a-versa. In addition, there may be other life factors that require counsel.
Acknowledge That Life Is Hard
Victims may seem confusing, immature, even childish to those who have never experienced treatment like this. Children who were biblically raised (cf. Eph 6:4; Deut 6:5-9, etc.) and taught biblical courage must listen to their counselee’s experience. The constant bombardment of deception, manipulation, and cruelty should lead us to compassion.
Feeling compassion is not enough. We must communicate it. We must find words to express our compassion for them and for their experience. Paul often wrote about other’s suffering. The Psalms express grief as does Job and Lamentations. Building a relationship where honesty and ministry can flourish requires a little “climbing in the casket.”
This is especially true of active gaslighting victims because the perpetrators are like Romans 16:18 says, For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
Even when the gaslighting was unintentional (i.e., passive) it does not change the reality that the person experiences many of the same symptoms. It is hard to live in a world where nothing seems clear or makes sense.
Remember That Gaslit Victims Struggle with Reality
When either counseling or supervising someone counseling these persons, we must constantly remind ourselves that they struggle with reality. There are different rules. When someone tried to tell me that I did not see something I really saw (I watched him run for a touchdown), something I read (a story about hurting people), or something I heard I did not find their comments confusing – I found them irritating. Those were my rules.
Victims play with different rules. They have learned that our world is broken and confusing. They have learned that trust is dangerous. Gaslit victims confuse what the rest of us would take for granted.
Persevering is an important concept. Gaslit people might make it hard to counsel. They might question your understanding of the Bible, they might question your application, and they might look to others for confirmation. It is not because they are rebellious, it is part of how they function. Rather than be angry at them, recognize that they need more help than the average person.
Thoughts on the Present State of the PCA: A Series of Theses Presented by a Concerned Member—Part OneBy Tom Hervey — 2 years ago
That the foremost sufferers of our present deeds are those that are tempted with homosexual lust. For they need to be encouraged diligently with the assurance that their sin belongs to the old man that was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), and that they are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) who have been cleansed of their sin and who can and will finally overcome it (Rom. 6:12-14). And yet we set before them as leaders and models men who proudly claim their sin as an essential part of their identity, and who name themselves by it.
That a defective doctrine of sin makes impossible all right thinking and practice in ethical matters.
That all same sex attraction is a species of lust. “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 Jn. 2:16, emphasis mine). And again, scripture in speaking of such desire always portrays it as illicit and contrary to the right order of nature (Rom. 1:26-27), and as having the same effects of defilement of body and mind as other forms of sexual immorality (Rom. 1:24, 27; comp. 1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Pet. 2:11).
That sin consists not only in unlawful deeds of the body or tongue, but also in the principle of corruption that animates such deeds, and in various perversions of desire, thought, or will. For as our Lord says, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).
That the teachings of those associated with Revoice imply that sin lies only in deeds and not in the corruption that issues forth as such deeds. Thus do they bring near Pelagianizing tendencies whose influence is apt to work corruption in other matters: for a little leaven leavens the whole lump.
That the teachings of those associated with Revoice have the practical effect of categorizing homosexual attraction differently than the right doctrine of the church. For we have ever held that it is a question of morality, of sin that needs to be repented and mortified; yet they often speak as though it is rather a burden to be borne, and thus conceive of it in therapeutic terms. In other cases they speak of it positively, as though it gives its bearers special grace that might be used to the benefit of others.
That it is well outside the bounds of propriety for members of the papal communion to be employed in conferences held at churches that are members of our denomination, or for their teaching to be permitted in other circumstances. A distinction is made here between Rome as she has been since the time of her depravity in the middle ages and the earlier church prior to her ‘Babylonian captivity.’
That the teachings of those associated with Revoice have brought near again the doctrine of concupiscence of the papal communion – which is no wonder, many of Revoice’s teachers being associated with that body. Having escaped from the errors and tyranny of Rome with such suffering and difficulty, are we content to again expose ourselves to its baleful influences?
That the Revoice position proceeds on the same assumption that was used to justify the recognition of so-called same sex marriage in society at large, viz., that sexual desires are the result of a largely immutable genetic or hereditary disposition (orientation).
That sexual orientation is a very recent and suspect concept, holding as it does that homosexual desires are exclusively a result of physical and psychological constitution, rather than being acts of the will or habits resulting from one’s behavior.
That sundry sins sometimes have a genetic or hereditary lineage, and that they are further propagated by example and environment; but these extravolitional factors do not comprise the whole body of sin, nor do they excuse it.
That all positive discussion of Revoice and the same-sex attraction controversy is an act of disobedience to our Lord. For he says in his word that “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Eph. 5:3); and yet we have discussed this matter openly and blithely before the whole world.
That to even have such a controversy is a loss for us and indicates how worldly we have become. For it should be unthinkable that such things would be contemplated or acted out in the church of God, and their first mention should have been censured in keeping with the urgency with which Scripture enjoins the suppression of destructive ideas (Deut. 13:6-8).
That we dishonor our brothers throughout the world in other bodies of the faith, for many of them suffer poverty or persecution at the hands of unbelievers, and yet while they languish we give ourselves to comfortable and orderly discussions of matters which ought not to be discussed at all.
That we dishonor our forefathers by acting contrary to them and dishonoring the heritage that they have bequeathed to us. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1); and who can maintain that those witnesses would discuss these matters as we now do? Can we imagine Moses or Peter or John Knox or Daniel Baker regarding it as an imperative of justice and ministerial effectiveness to plead the case of immorality as is now done?
That we ill serve the world that we ought to labor to save when we engage in such matters. For the world needs to be told to flee the wrath that is to come, not to see and hear that the Presbyterian Church in America is proud to have same sex-attracted ministers in her midst.
That the foremost sufferers of our present deeds are those that are tempted with homosexual lust. For they need to be encouraged diligently with the assurance that their sin belongs to the old man that was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), and that they are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) who have been cleansed of their sin and who can and will finally overcome it (Rom. 6:12-14). And yet we set before them as leaders and models men who proudly claim their sin as an essential part of their identity, and who name themselves by it. Paul says that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24), and that former homosexuals were among the saints in Corinth that “were washed . . . were sanctified . . . were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 6:ll) – and yet we would hang the moniker ‘same-sex’ about the necks of the tempted or permit them to hang it upon themselves, thus constituting them a separate class of believers.
That the reasons put forward for the propriety of having publicly identified same-sex attracted ministers are self-refuting. For it is intimated that this is an important measure to reach the lost, especially those that struggle with homosexual lust, and yet our previous position, in which something like the Revoice conference would have been unthinkable, did not dissuade many of these same agitators from joining us in past years.
That the scriptural injunction about quarrels about words does not mean that the language we use is a matter of indifference, or that we may use any words we please. Paul’s prohibition in 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:14 is upon petty or needless controversies of no real consequence that are engaged (as among the ancients) rather for the amusement of the disputants than for the benefit of their audience. Paul’s ban prohibits the church from becoming the Areopagus (Acts 17:21); it does not condemn the necessity of controversies – as of the Orthodox against the Arians, the Reformers against Rome, or the Fundamentalists against the Modernists – which seek to preserve the true meaning of terms of great consequence, the mis-definition of which are matters of spiritual life and death.
That it is seldom wise and sometimes sinful to use terms taken from unbelieving society at large.
That it is not right to use the contemporary terms of our opponents (and in some cases, persecutors) in our contemporary discussions of sexual ethics. “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Lk. 16:8), and they have deliberately chosen terms such as gay, same-sex, and Side B because they portray homosexuality as at least morally neutral, and often as positively wholesome and good.
That God in his word only denominates this sin with terms of strong, unambiguous denunciation (as “dishonorable” and “shameless,” Rom. 1:26-27), ever regarding it as contrary to the proper course of nature.
That it is proper for the church to use the terms of Scripture and of traditional Christian moral teaching rather than those of the world. For he who controls the terms that are used and defines their meanings determines how such matters are conceived, and thus controls the debate.
That it is the purpose of language to illumine, not obscure, and that any language which tends to minimize, hide, or deny the egregious nature of anything to do with homosexual sin is not appropriate for use by the church or her ministers. For such euphemisms are a form of dishonest speech, and as such have more to do with the kingdom of Satan than that of God.
That much of the language which has been used hithertofore has been worldly and euphemistic, and taken from hostile, unbelieving sources.
That the use of such improper language ought to be repented forthwith for the sake of all parties.
That unbelieving homosexuals are those who are most ill-served by the use of euphemistic language that obscures the nature and severity of their sin. For one cannot repent unless he realizes his behavior is sinful, and this process includes a proper understanding of how severe his sin is and of how urgently repentance is needed.
Tom Hervey is a member of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Simpsonville, S.C.