Recently the former pastor of Mars Hill Driscoll took to Twitter to give his two cents on deconstructionists. According to the Tweet, those who accuse their pastor of spiritual abuse are simply angry because they want a license to sin; those who accuse spiritual leaders of gas-lighting are also upset with leaders telling them to stop sinning; and those that call out aspects of church culture as “toxic” don’t want to submit themselves to the Bible.

Driscoll went on to play the victim by saying a Twitter mob was out to get him for this tweet. One person commented by stating that deconstruction is in fact soul-crushing, but went on to write that those like Driscoll (with a very recent past of spiritual abuse) should “sit this one out” rather than participating in the conversation. Another person on the thread asked Driscoll, “Who tells the pastor to stop sinning?”

The American Church values Image over People

For many in the Church, news of yet another scandal is nauseating but unfortunately has become the norm. With the amount of cover-ups coming to light, more and more parents seem to be questioning whether or not the local church can provide a safe environment for their children. What is clear from Jesus’ own ministry is that we seemed to care less about his image and more about people and their dignity. Jesus elevated those with little-to-no voice in society (such as women and children) which actually ended up hurting his image and brand. Jesus also called out the religious who seemed to use their power and clout as a safety-net instead of using it to protect the vulnerable.

American Evangelical Leaders have a Tendency to use Scripture to justify Toxicity

When a former member of Grace Community Church (pastored by John MacArthur) was seeking a restraining order on her husband, the church’s leadership advised her to avoid “a heart of retaliation.” Though she had reported her husband’s incest porn use, inappropriate behavior with their daughter, and infidelity, she was reminded to submit to her husband as to the Lord rather of provoke him.

Kate Shellnutt, in an article for Christianity Today, writes:

One former member of Grace, once excited to move to California to be able to sit under MacArthur’s teachings, said the faith that had meant everything to her was destroyed by the way the church treated her when she sought help during and after an abusive, unloving marriage.

Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today

The Bible is God’s Word, but what happens when it’s mishandled by those called to be shepherds and advocates of the vulnerable? The ramifications are often severe.

While many evangelicals label those who deconstruct as full of themselves, as being “trendy,” or even as never having been saved, the truth is that there is another reason many are deconstructing; it has to do with the failure of American evangelicalism and how church members and church leaders alike respond to abuse. Handling injustices poorly is a sin, for laypersons but especially for those who feel called to lead God’s flock. Not repenting and gaslighting in response is the way of the world, but unfortunately has become second-nature for the Christian leader and his followers.