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Season 4, Episode 12: Leaving the FLDS, Part 2: Control and Abuse

Season #4

Have you ever brought up a concern in your church, only to be labeled as an enemy of the faith? Do your leaders exhibit a troubling lack of humility? Are you sure you would recognize spiritual abuse if you saw it?

Our book this week is The Witness Wore Red by Rebecca Musser. She’s an author, activist, mom, and was the 19th wife of Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ father. This is part 2 of a three-part deep dive on this case.  We found some great takeaways from Rebecca’s story last week so if you haven’t listened to that one you can follow the link in the show notes to get caught up on Rebecca’s growing up years - the ones before Warren Jeff’s took control of the cult. 

Cults have always fascinated me. From the outside looking in, we wonder how people could believe some of what we see as outrageous teachings. Some are born into the teaching and know nothing else. Others, searching for meaning, fulfillment, and community, willing go along with teachings that are contrary to Scripture. As believers, instead of shunning people who are different or are seeking, we need to engage with them. If you haven’t seen the movie Jesus Revolution, I highly recommend it. A clash of cultures could’ve been a disaster if not for a handful of people who were willing to look past external differences to share the love of God.

This week, let’s investigate John 8:3-11:

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

When I’ve listened to this passage being taught, the emphasis is usually on Jesus’s interaction with the woman, or how he puts the Pharisees in their place. But I want us to focus on verses 6 and 7. Picture the scene. A crowd had once again gathered to hear Jesus teach - at the temple no less. The place where the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were used to being in charge. In the spotlight. 

So they tried to trap Jesus. They weren’t interested in upholding the law, and they certainly weren’t thinking about how they could help the woman live a God-honoring life. They wanted to take down someone they saw as a threat to their power and control. They were committing spiritual abuse. 

When Jesus didn’t take their bait, they continued to ask over and over whether the woman should be stoned or not. When he finally gave his famous answer that the one who was without sin could cast the first stone, they walked away. They couldn’t accept corrective teaching. Remember, they were at the temple. Their turf. But they were willing to walk away rather than even consider that Jesus could be right, and they could be wrong.

If you have leaders like that in your church, or at your workplace, or in any type of relationship - I want to ask you to check out links to the resources I’ve put in the show notes. If you are experiencing spiritual abuse, I want you to have information to help you address it. I’m no expert, but you can certainly reach out to me as well and I will do what I can to put you in touch with the help you need.

If you’ve dealt with a situation like this, I’d love to hear from you and learn from how you handled it. Shoot an email to [email protected] or message me on social media. I put all of the ways you can contact me below. 

If you liked this episode, be sure to check out some earlier ones. I’ve had so many amazing guests who gave me fantastic information you won’t want to miss. You can also help someone else begin their journey as a different kind of PI - a person of impact, when you share the episode, and when you subscribe, give me a five-star rating and a nice review. 

Please visit my website to access more episodes, read my blog posts, or check out ways you can financially support the podcast so that together we can impact more people, more families, and more communities. If you would like to contact me about booking me as a speaker, or ask about my consulting and investigative services, please email me at [email protected]

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If you want to listen to another episode about cults, check out this link:

Season 1, Episode 49: Without a Prayer


Listen to part 1: 

Season 4, Episode 11: Leaving the FLDS, Part 1: How Do You Spot False Teachings?


Buy The Witness Wore Red  and check out Rebecca Musser’s website


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