Marriage Matters - A Disaster in the Making
“[S]o hard is it for vain men, even good men, to have such authority, and not to be puffed up with it, and do more hurt than good with it, that our Lord Jesus saw fit wholly to banish it out of his church.”
– Matthew Henry
Spiritual abuse reveals itself in countless ways when it comes to the authority yielded within the churches of abusive pastors. One significant way is dealing with marriages. Marriages are a quick and easy inroad for narcissists. One reason is to do with the marriage relationship. God said the wife’s bent would be toward “being in charge” and the man’s bent would be either toward passivity or authoritarianism (Genesis 4:16). Most marriages will experience some level of difficulty through the years.
Where the issue lies with the intentional interference of the authoritarian pastor. If he can wiggle his way into the situation and offer his “counsel” then he has set himself up to control either the husband or the wife and he has placed himself in the position of the de facto head of the household.
Mike Reid has done a tremendous job in this area. He has taught countless classes on marriage and has recently announced their intent to do a “Marriage Conference” which focuses on the role of the wife, the role of the husband, and their role together, or as he calls it “one flesh” which undoubtedly speaks about the importance of physical intimacy in the marriage relationship. Here is a key element of his plan. If the man is “satiated,” (his words, not mine), then he has a happy husband in his church.
There is almost always a push for over-involvement in the marriage. We’ve seen this play out over the years at GFC. Marriages ended up being more harmed than helped. Wives end up being overburdened because there is also a push to have as many children as possible. I’m not against having children and as many as a family believes it can handle. There’s nothing new under the sun in this “teaching,” we’ve seen it all before in the Shepherding Movement, and the teaching of men like Bill Gothard.
In his book, Bully Pulpit, Michael Kruger describes something that is relevant, not only in discussing marriage but in general with Grace Fellowship. The track record of hurting people. Mike Reid and the elders of Grace Fellowship (Nick Rolland and Tyler Bolkema) are also complicit in the long list of people that have been damaged by them.
Kruger writes, “Every ministry has some conflict. We live in a fallen world where clashes are part of any church. But there is a difference with abusive pastors. The relational debris field of an abusive pastor is different not only in volume of conflicts but also the depth of those conflicts. Often the lives in his wake are genuinely destroyed; many leave the ministry and others abandon the Christian faith altogether. Also, abusive pastor often have unresolved conflict. They are typically estranged from many of the people they used to work with.”
There is no better description that fits Grace Fellowship so perfectly. There are divorces that have occurred because of his “counseling.” There are long-term relational problems that will take years to work through. There are many examples of the ill effects of living life under the shepherding of Mike Reid and what it has produced.
We can only hope and pray that no unwitting, well-intended people walk in the doors of Grace Fellowship on February 11, 2023, and succumb to these overbearing, authoritarians. May the Lord protect the sheep from these men and their wicked ways.
Lord have mercy.