Breaking the Cycle of Silence: The Dangers of the Hold Your Peace Doctrine
The Bible teaches us many valuable lessons about how to live our lives following God's will. One of the most important lessons that it teaches is the importance of standing up and defending ourselves when we are faced with injustice or oppression. The verse that is often cited as evidence for the idea that we should simply "hold our peace" and let God fight our battles for us is Exodus 14:14, which states, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." While this verse is certainly true, it is important to understand the context in which it is written. Exodus 14:14 is spoken by Moses to the Israelites as they are about to cross the Red Sea. The Israelites are facing certain death at the hands of the Egyptian army, and they are understandably terrified. Moses, however, assures them that God will fight for them and that they do not need to fear.
The phrase "hold your peace" or "hold thy peace" can be found throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. The phrase is often used to convey the idea of remaining silent or not speaking out against something. This adage was often used in situations where individuals were facing oppression or injustice. For example, in Exodus 14:13-14, Moses tells the Israelites to "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" as they were being pursued by the Egyptians. In this context, the phrase "hold thy peace" is used to convey the idea of trust and faith in God, even in the face of adversity.
Similarly, in Isaiah 41:1, God says "Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff." This verse emphasizes the importance of being active in the face of oppression and injustice, rather than remaining silent. The historical context of the phrase "hold thy peace" is one of trust in God, even in the face of oppression and injustice. It's not meant to encourage individuals to remain silent in the face of abuse or mistreatment, but to remind us to have faith and to act with wisdom and patience when faced with difficult situations.
This verse is not meant to be a blanket statement that we should always simply "hold our peace" and let God fight our battles for us. Rather, it is a specific encouragement for the Israelites in a specific, dire situation. The Bible is full of examples of people who stood up for themselves and defended themselves, even when it was difficult or dangerous to do so. Jesus, for example, spoke out against the religious leaders of his day, even though it ultimately led to his death. The apostle Paul also defended himself and his beliefs, even when it meant being beaten and imprisoned.
In addition to Jesus and Paul, other examples of individuals in the Bible who stood up for themselves and defended themselves include Esther, who risked her life to speak out against the genocide of her people, and David, who defended himself against the unjust accusations of King Saul. These examples serve as a reminder that standing up for oneself and defending oneself is not only acceptable but also, it is a biblical principle. The Bible teaches us that we are called to be advocates for the oppressed and marginalized. Isaiah 1:17 states, "Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." This verse, and others like it, make it clear that we are called to actively work toward justice and to speak out against oppression.
Numerous verses in the Bible encourage us to speak out against wrongdoing and to defend the rights of the oppressed. For example, Proverbs 31:8-9 states, “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Similarly, James 2:12 states, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.” The Bible teaches us that we have a responsibility to speak out against injustice and oppression. Proverbs 31:8-9 states, "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."
Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches have been known to use the biblical principle of "holding your peace" to foster an abusive doctrine and to shuffle abusers without accountability. This doctrine, which encourages individuals to remain silent and not speak out against injustice or oppression, can create a culture of silence and complacency, where abuse and mistreatment are allowed to continue unchecked. One of the main ways in which IFB churches use this doctrine to foster an abusive environment is by discouraging individuals from speaking out against abuse or mistreatment. This can lead to a culture of silence, where individuals are afraid to speak out against abuse or mistreatment, and where abuse and mistreatment are allowed to continue unchecked. According to an article by the Christian Post, "many victims of abuse in IFB churches are discouraged from reporting the abuse to church leaders or the authorities, out of fear that they will be shunned by the church community and labeled as 'troublemakers'."
Another way in which IFB churches use this doctrine to foster an abusive environment is by shuffling abusers without accountability. This can occur when churches fail to report abuse to the authorities or when they allow abusers to continue serving in positions of power within the church. According to an article by the Huffington Post, "IFB churches have a history of shuffling abusive pastors from church to church without reporting the abuse to the authorities." This practice can make it difficult for individuals who have been abused to come forward and speak out against the abuse and can also make it difficult for the authorities to hold abusers accountable. This doctrine also perpetuates the culture of victim blaming and shame. As per an article by The Wartburg Watch, "Victims are often told that they must have done something to provoke the abuse, or that they should have been more submissive and obedient to their abuser." This type of blaming mentality can make it difficult for individuals who have been abused to come forward and speak out against the abuse and can also make it difficult for the authorities to hold abusers accountable.
Having faith does not mean being silent. On the contrary, having faith means standing up for what is right, even when it may be difficult or uncomfortable. Faith is not simply about accepting things as they are, but rather, it is about actively working toward righteousness and justice. The Bible teaches us that faith is not just about believing in something, but it also requires action. James 2:17 states, "Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." This verse makes it clear that faith is not just about believing in something, but it also requires taking action to bring about change. We should not confuse this with a “works salvation”. Salvation is by grace alone and not of works lest any man should boast.
We find the Bible teaches us that we are called to be active in the world and to make a difference. In Matthew 25:35-36 Jesus states, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." This verse and others like it, make it clear that we are called to actively work towards righteousness and to make a difference in the world.
Feeling frustrated with injustice is a natural response. When we witness or experience injustice, it is natural to feel angry and upset. The Bible recognizes this human emotion as well, in Psalm 73:3-12, the Psalmist speaks of the frustration and anger he feels when he witnesses the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer. However, it is important to channel that frustration into action and not let it consume us. The Bible teaches us to be slow to anger and to seek justice peacefully. In James 1:19-20, it states “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” This verse reminds us that our anger must be controlled and used in a way that promotes righteousness and justice.
Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches foster an abusive doctrine and shuffle abusers without accountability. This doctrine, which encourages individuals to remain silent and not speak out against injustice or oppression, can create a culture of silence and complacency, where abuse and mistreatment are allowed to continue unchecked. It's crucial to understand that having faith doesn't mean being silent. Isaiah 58:6, says "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to lose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" It emphasizes the importance of standing up against oppression, and injustice and breaking the chains of abuse.
The IFB culture of silence can lead to a culture of victim blaming and shame. IFB churches need to recognize the harm that this doctrine can cause and take steps to create a safe and healthy environment for all members of the church community. This includes reporting abuse to the authorities, holding abusers accountable, and creating an environment that empowers individuals to speak out against abuse and mistreatment.
"Victim of Independent Fundamental Baptist Church Speaks Out" https://www.christianpost.com/news/victim-of-independent-fundamental-baptist-church-speaks-out.html
"The Dark Side of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement" https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-dark-side-of-the-indep_b_58b7b5bce4b07112b64f8a05
"Victims of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches" by The Wartburg Watch. https://www.thewartburgwatch.com/victims-of-independent-fundamental-baptist-churches/
"IFB Church Abuse" https://www.ifbsurvivors.com/ifb-church-abuse
"Silent No More: The IFB Culture of Silence" https://religionnews.com/2018/03/13/silent-no-more-the-ifb-culture-of-silence/