Over at The Daily Genevan, a new open letter was posted in response to the open letter posted here about the outing of Genevan Commons (GC) on Facebook in the wake of Aimee Byrd, leaving the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and the Mortification of Spin podcast. Now I’m sure others will respond to this letter much better than I can, but still, I thought I would take the time to break down my impressions of it.
“Dear Brothers and Fathers”
The Salutation stood out to me since this is a letter responding to the fallout of Aimee Byrd’s situation yet this open letter doesn’t even address the women that are mentioned in this letter, nor even acknowledge the sisters in the church that are watching this situation.
“. I tell you plainly and sincerely, despite your best intentions and desires to promote righteousness, you have been deceived as to the nature of the group.”
This is Gaslighting, pure, and simple. Those Screen Caps that are out there for all the world to see, well, they are not what you think they are. You are deceived. You have the problem, not me—a common ploy used by abusers to keep victims off balance.
“How much more so a group of hundreds of Christian brothers, of varying levels of maturity, and among whom no doubt, as in all Christian communities, there are at least some tares among the wheat?”
This is more gaslighting and blame-shifting. He is ignoring the fact that some of the worst offenders were admins in the group or the founder of the group. These were not just some young guys who had gotten out of control on a few threads, these were the leaders in the group egging on the things being said about Aimee and Rachael.
“Many posts and comments have been edited or deleted… Naturally, such changes could not be demonstrated in a screenshot. This is not to mention the times admins have quickly deleted ungodly speech,… Neither this fact nor the other two were even mentioned in the screenshot site, on the blog of Aimee Byrd who promoted it, or in your letter.”
First of all, given that Aimee was not in the group, she could have no way of knowing this, so I’m not sure why the author would expect Aimee to mention it.
Second, this section stood out to me because, as I was working on this blog, I was watching Athlete A on Netflix. Near the beginning when they are talking about the story breaking about USAG they show a news clip in which the response from USAG was eerily similar, “we feel the Star left out significant facts that would have painted a more accurate picture” Timestamp 10:42 I realize that this is a bit of an aside. Still, abusers tend to follow the same patterns.
“That Byrd and Miller are “members of our church” is immaterial.”
Full disclosure I am not a member of an OPC church, but from my understanding, there is a system set up in which church discipline can take place. So Byrd and Miller being members are important because there is a system set up to deal with members who may be drifting. The fact is that the men in the GC didn’t take those steps and instead gossipped about these women in a Facebook group, and they got caught, and now they are trying to shift the blame back on their victims.
“Putting aside the contradiction that your letter was published on the personal blog of an author of such books, insofar as in it you seek to disarm us of the verbal weapons with which we make our attack, or at least imply that the books’ errors are not so serious as to warrant our sharp speech, you are indeed protecting those books, and their harmful teaching. We beg you therefore for less carping about our style and method, and more engagement with the substance of our critiques.”
Here we have language that admits to being abusive, “verbal weapons” “attack” and then a complaint that their substance is being ignored. Another gaslighting technique, yes, I’m being abusive, but you’re making me say these sharp things, and you need to change so that I’ll stop.
“The appeal to ordination vows is a red herring. The vows say nothing against appropriate use of privacy in Christian conversation. The equivalent response to you would be, please send us transcripts of your private phone calls, emails, and messages that went into the preparation of your letter: if God will reveal all secrets on the last day, why keep secrets now? Furthermore, by your standard we ought never talk behind closed doors with our wives, our elders, or our members; or at least we ought to be willing to reveal everything that was said, to anyone, and any time”
This is by far the most eye-rolling section. First of all, the fact that many of these men have been ordained is essential as they are held to a higher standard, and Aimee did an excellent job in her post, showing how they failed to live up to the criteria laid out in the Bible and OPC confessions. And then trying to act like a Facebook group with hundreds of members is the same thing as a private discussion between couples or a few elders in the church. He is just grasping at any reason to not deal with his sin at this point.
“ We believe, from the Bible, that the heart of godly patriarchy is a loving, sacrificial use of manly strength for the care and protection of the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7; Eph. 5:25). This is as far from misogyny as possible”
Putting “godly” in front of patriarchy doesn’t make it any less misogynistic. And I find this laughable given that as I pointed out earlier, he didn’t even have the decency to include any women in his salutation.
“It is why we will not be pressured into silence by your letter. And furthermore, it is why I am compelled to write this reply to you: despite your good intentions, your rebuke is unjust and ill-considered, and ought to be retracted.”
One last attempt to paint GC as the victims here and attacking those who have rightly called them out.
The men who engaged in the despicable behavior in GC need to be called out, and their gaslighting such as this needs to be exposed as such. It is time to stand up against those who would use their platform to harm those they view as lesser. I will be watching to see how the OPC handles this situation.