Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Covenant Breaking, Covering Doctrines and Hearing the Voices Again

Grace, at Kingdom Grace today, posted a bit about Covering and what people say when you have a string of bad things that happen to you. It was great fun in the comments as we poked fun at the doctrine and I chimed in with my few cents.

But this is a serious matter people. I still am reeling from this doctrine. I think it has been the hardest one to extract myself from.

See the other day I decided to do a piece on the practice we had in my old ‘church’ of making covenants. In leaving our group we were to have “broken covenant’ with all the people there. So I was going to write about what covenants are and aren’t and how this doctrine was used to keep people from questioning and leaving our group. I wanted to remember all that was preached so I went onto our old church website (now under a new name) and found the latest sermon on Covenants.

Sure enough there had been one preached in June of this year. As I listened I grew more and more disheartened. Covenant breakers were the evil that the Church needed to purge. They were the reason the harvest of souls were blocked. Those who broke covenant had marriages that had failed, children doing drugs and rebellion, insanity promised and the onslaught of homosexuality and other sins that attached themselves to you.

I knew what was being preached was garbage but then my weekend unfurled. I battled with a daughter over a decision that was going to hurt her – a decision that would have been harder to make had she surrounded herself with Christian friends. Then on Monday, TWO TRUCKS in my business broke down. One had the axle (or something connected to the wheels) actually fall out of the truck. Then an irate customer who was threatening to sue my company for something she perceived we had done. By the end of the day I was exhausted.

But more than that….I was hearing the voices again. “All this has happened because you are a covenant breaker.” “If you were in the ‘church’ you would be protected.” “God knows what you have been writing and thinking and talking with people about. You have talked ill of the brothers and therefore all these things are being allowed to happen.”

I was so mad at myself. I was ashamed to admit that I still heard these things in my head. I was flabbergasted that this man’s voice could silence the truth that I knew to be true.

So….no big ending here. I am more sane today. Best Friend spoke truth to me, Husband reminded me of times that were even worse – while still in the system, an adopted daughter laughed with me at myself, Grace’s post made me laugh too and another friend made me question what is still in my heart that I don’t really believe about God that shows itself when things like this happen.

I guess I just write to let you know that the journey takes a couple of steps backwards every now and then. I think that I’m not the only one who struggles so don’t despair when you find yourself having to deal with it again.


Tera Rose said...

yeah, I got friends like you too...

recently I visited my church website to give the site address to someone who asked what group I was in.

so I saw photos of them in my old group laughing, smiling, and looking perfect...

and heard those friends of yours saying, "see you really over reacted..."

"you're decieved"
"your wounds are prohibiting your spiritual growth"

and some of the things you said.

It sucks.

but thank God they visit less and less often...

and reason sets in quicker each time.

and just for the record in case someone reading this thinks I am writing literal- the voices that I hear are really "lines" that I heard over and over again...

brainwashing lines...

Tera Rose said...

and oh, hugs to you, know that you are appreciated and loved just as you are...

Ruth said...

Oh I can't believe I read this.
Yeah, I have had the most upended day I can recall in a long time. I have been out of the institution since 02 after struggling for at least a year prior to finally leaving.

Anyhow, the day - today - it was one thing after another! very weird. First my beloved golden retriever is suddenly weak, sick , then ,

Picked up my car (which heater wasn't working) was fixed, picked it up, drove 4 blocks , met a dump truck and guess what - rock chips windshield. not in it two minutes.

Get home, phone line is dead, daughter calls on cellphone, she is not doing well for various reasons at university (not her courses tho) ...

husband gets home, he has had a very frustrating day. (and day isn't over yet)

so yeah, the old record was even playing with my mind today after how many years ...

thanks for the post that let me know nevertheless to stand firm and that other's are having the same struggles ; He who has called us is wonderful, beautiful in each other, and SOOO faithful with us

fixin our eyes on Jesus,

Jeannette Altes said...

Yeah, I am very familiar with those voices. {{hug}}

Joel Brueseke said...

Yep, in the daily renewing of our minds to the truth, there are sometimes steps forward and sometimes steps back. I began to break free from the whole legalistic system around 1995, and I have to tell you that from time to time I still hear those old voices telling me that I've not prayed enough, read my Bible enough, not met together with the saints enough, etc, etc.

But Jesus is enough. He is the head of His church. He is our covering. He Himself kept the covenant with the Father, and we are the beneficiaries of this New Covenant. We aren't the ones who keep it. We simply get to enjoy the benefits of it, all due to Someone else's work and faithfulness!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Joel B. - Jesus is enough! He is the only covenant and covering you need. As for churches that require covenant – beware - it STRAINS relationships! And the church that I left behind encouraged it! The pastor in my CLB would not even defend his teaching - would not explain his teaching that covenant breakers were moral reprobates. Even gave a young newly wedded women the stage to pronounce to the members that she gladly picked his church over her parents! In this same church there are other families that have seen relationships strained to the point of breaking because of an insecure, ego driven ‘apostle’. Family means nothing, the church comes first in this CLB. Money is a major theme in this CLB and I truly believe it is wrecking this church as its members slowly see the light and exit stage right!

There outta be a law!!!

brad/futuristguy said...

Thanks for your continued vulnerability and modeling what it means to persevere in a journey toward Christlikeness, even when it sometimes seems one step forward and a few steps back.

Intriguingly, in the midst of the recent posts here and at Kingdom Grace on “coverings” and “covenants,” I find on my calendar that this Sunday my friend Gary and I are scheduled to go through John 17. Hmmm … We’ve been working our way through John 12-17 on the fourth Sunday of each month. So, who would’ve thought when we started this in June, that I’d be reading these passages this week from Jesus’ prayer for His followers:

“Holy Father, PROTECT them by the power of your name … so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11, NIV, emphasis added)

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you PROTECT them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. SANCTIFY them by the truth; your word is truth.” (vv. 15-17)

“My prayer is not for [these disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (vv. 20-21)

Umm … are we allowed to take the words of Jesus Christ Himself, spoken directly to the Father, as proof enough that our protection-preservation-covering as disciples is ultimately God the Father and no other? Seems to me it’s clear enough to see, for even someone like myself with no seminary degree.

And I’m not against authority, but don’t we have plenty of scriptural teaching to be against authoritarianism and avoid those who seek to impose their overlordship? Still, I’m sure those who teach a fundamentalist-Charismatic-Pentecostal-other version of some “leader” as our covering will continue their attempts to counteract or minimize or twist this truth.

How many of us have been traumatized by their tactics? Such as, all sorts of proof-texting to pull single words or verses utterly out of context to say things that sound quite plausible, but are actually absurd in light of the whole of Scripture. Linguistic backflips to transform a single word into an extensive and elaborate doctrine. Reading into these texts and others something that simply is not there. They impose upon God’s Word and us as Christ’s people a skewed system that seems completely sincere but in reality heaps guilt, shame, and fear upon all who hear.

And it’s like such lies get fused into our spirit by the searing bond of emotional pain inflicted. No wonder the voices of “Mr. Negative Tape” keep running through our head - even emotional earthquakes have their aftershocks.

And yet, in John 17, there it is. Period. Over and out. The Father is our covering. The new covenant is about the Holy Spirit inside us to empower us for transformation. This covering and covenant are part of what Jesus Himself prayed for/over us as the Church. His banner over us is love …

Tera Rose said...

well, it's my opinion that some of these pastors- supported by leaderships and their followers- really don't know the difference between themselves and God...

they misunderstand that there is a trinity and somehow feel part of the diety.


brad/futuristguy said...

I quite agree, Tera Rose.

Umm ... just curious if any readers can help with a question: In psychology, isn't there some theory about the stage at which children cannot differentiate themselves from mother/parents? Is that, say, infancy? And what are the implications of that for this situation ...?

getting there said...

I agree with your post, it is back and forth.. 2 steps forward, one step back.. thanks for sharing this barb!

Linda said...

This was interesting to me. A lot of the people from our CLB were hesitant to leave because of the idea of "breaking covenant." I was always a little bit surprised at the power they gave to that idea.

Since I was aware that my disagreement with their concept of covenant was considered "wrong", I didn't voice it very often. You can probably see how my position would be viewed as not committed and disloyal.

Even though I didn't buy into the covering idea, I can hear their threats when we left and imagine their perspective about the bad things that happen to us.

One of the things that I am detoxing from is the idea that God is ashamed of my fears and doubts and impatiently waiting for me to get my faith act together so that he can help me.

I guess it's good to see the "stuff" that is still in us and to know that God will use it to help us know Him better.

Tyler Dawn said...

Oh sweetie I understand!!!!

Right after God told me to stop tithing (and he really had to hit me over the head to get me to stop) we had a couple of problems hit and like the tithing addict I was, I reached for my checkbook only to hear a very audible voice,

"Am I a God to be appeased or the Daddy you proclaim me to be?"

Shaking, I put the checkbook down and became a daughter, dependent on my father to provide, instead of upon the vending machine god I had been taught.

You situation is so similar -- is he the dad you have come to know, the one who will walk you through when real life happens, or the angry tyrant?

And you know damn well that all those folks under "covering" are having the exact same problems -- just like you used to have. :)

Love you sis.