Sunday, January 06, 2013

Are You "Divisive?"

"Division does not immediately come from disagreement but rather from those who take action upon it." - Kevin Johnson

I've heard countless times from church leaders that to disagree with the pastor/church/doctrinal statement, etc., means one is "divisive."  Holding to beliefs other than the official beliefs of the church is viewed as very problematic, no matter how much a hero Martin Luther is to them in holding to beliefs other than the official beliefs of the Roman Catholic church - an act and an attitude that started the Protestant Reformation - to which they heartily agree.

As you can gather from the above quote, division is caused by people taking action on disagreement.  Divisiveness is the state of causing division.  If I disagree with my church about something, but I resign myself to attending there in spite of my difference, I am not causing division.  I am helping the body remain intact as one.  On the other hand, if I disagree with my church about something, and they ask me to leave, the church is the one that is causing division.  They are dividing me from them.

Of course, there may be a good reason for the church to divide from an individual - such as a failure of church discipline to bring about repentance for a sin committed.  But simple disagreement over a doctrinal issue doesn't necessarily imply that disagreement is sinful.  So, to divide over such a thing, and to be somebody who has a habit of dividing over such things, is what division and divisiveness are.

In addition, to "cause division," as many like to put it, I would have to recruit somebody to my cause and sway them to divide from others.  This is what it means to cause division.  Merely disagreeing with church leaders is not in and of itself the causing of division.  Realizing that there may be others who disagree also and hold to the same view as you and having lengthy discussions with those people is not causing division, either.

So, whenever I hear references to causing division or to divisiveness, I try to make sure just who it is who is doing such things, if they are doing those things at all.


  1. You're right! We were labeled as divisive when they asked us to leave. So they were projecting that divisive word onto us. I hadn't thought of it that way before. This is such a common thing, too, in spiritually abusive churches.

    And good grief, I have tried about 8 times to sign on with WordPress - wow - I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. Trying a different way.

  2. I've been called "divisive" before. It's used to make a mountain out of a molehill, so to speak. Instead of honestly discussing conflicts in an open and mature manner, Christians would rather engage in a bloody fight.

  3. Nice blog. Church discipline, in my experience, is practiced at churches with authoritarian styles of leadership in order to punish legitimate questions. It's not done in love. Favoritism abounds and the "inner circle" of people who can get away with anything.
    For my raising the concern about a convicted sex offender on Megan's List with my church's four pastors/elders, they screamed and yelled at me in a meeting and threatened me with being an unbeliever, with being shunned, etc. The sex offender is one of their friends and they defend him to the hilt. They said they permitted him to become a member "because he said he was coming off Megan's List" of sex offenders. His supervising agency, the Sheriff's sex offender's task crime force, called that "a total lie". The Sheriff was so concerned by the lies my pastors/elders told me about this sex offender that the Sheriff's contacted the California Attorney General's Office which runs our state's Megan's List. The Attorney General said it "was a total lie" and he's NOT coming off Megan's List.
    The pastors/elders ordered me to never tell the name of the church I went to, the name of the pastors/elders to law enforcement, and to never speak to law enforcement again. They are legally mandated child abuse reporters in California and it's a crime for them not to report. (I am legally mandated as well.)
    I was recently kicked out of my church of 8 years and ordered to be shunned on some trumped up charge. Before me, a godly doctor, married to his wife for 40+ years, was kicked out on some trumped up charge.
    Church discipline is used as a club to beat the sheep.
    Even the Sheriff's task force demanded to know what kind of church that I went to that would threaten me, silence me, and has pastors/elders that REFUSED to meet with this supervising law enforcement agency's!
    Great question Sheriff's.

    Helpful books that I've discovered:
    1. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen
    2. Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free From Bad Church Experiences by Ken Blue
    3. Toxic Faith by Stephen Arteburn and Jack Felton
    4. Churches That Abuse by Ronald M. Enroth
    5. Recovering From Churches That Abuseby Ronald Enroth
    6. Breaking Free: Rescuing Families from the Clutches of Legalism
    by David R. Miller
    7. Predators in Our Pulpits by W. Phillip Keller

    8. and a great bunch of blogs on "spiritual abuse"


    1. Michaela,

      Welcome, and thanks for your comment. I'm terribly sorry about your "discipline" encounter with your church leadership. This is a tragedy.

      Did they involve the entire congregation in the matter, including allowing them to hear your side of the story? Doesn't sound like it. Either way, it is sickening. I hope you are able to move on with your life in spite of the experience. Blessings.