I watched Join Us, a documentary about a cultish group in TN, the other day. Twice. I’ve also watched a documentary on Westboro. It still amazes me that they use almost verbatim the same words, verses, and manipulative techniques, even if they preach against each other or say the other groups are absolutely wrong.
The thing that stood out yesterday wasn’t really misuse of scripture, but the way the pastor manipulated his people. Apparently some of the footage was live by hidden camera. A few times, one woman tried to contact her former pastor. Every time, guilt was dumped on her, not love. It was so obvious to me, and reminded me of the same thing in my former church. When Jesus talked to the woman caught in the act of adultery, He didn’t say, “Just look at what you’ve done to yourself! This is your fault, and you hurt my reputation. Now I’ll just have to fight the devil because I love you so much. *sigh*” No, He said, “Where are your accusers?… Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
“Neither do I condemn you…” how opposite of what I experienced and witnessed in my former church, where people were stood up and their ‘sins’ (indiscretions, perhaps, and sometimes lies or misrepresentations) announced to the church at large. “Neither do I condemn you…” The woman wasn’t going to have to live with the guilt and shame of what she’d done forever. She wasn’t humiliated by Jesus, but loved.