Dec 6, 2006

The Parable of the Bed

Once upon a time, there was a bed. It was a lovely, grand piece of furniture, but it was still just a bed. The bed served its purpose well and provided many nights of refreshing sleep. Then there was sin. The bed itself did not commit sin, but there was sin that took place in the bed, so the bed needed discipline.

The owner of the bed made a declaration, "The bed shall lose its mattress and all its linens." And it was so. And life for the bed was good.

However, the bed's master changed his mind several years later and decided that the bed had not been disciplined severely enough. A new declaration was made, "The bed shall have a different style of mattress." And it was so. And life for the bed was good once again.

Not entirely satisfied, though, another declaration was forthcoming, "The bed shall be put up on the trading block for auction." And it was so. But weeks passed and no one bid on the bed. And so the bed went back to being a bed again.

A couple years later, the angry master declared, "The bed shall be put out of its misery." But no one wanted the bed that was now 20 years old. It had served its usefulness and needed to be put out to pasture with all the other old beds.

Tired of the ever-changing declarations, the master's wife decided to become a judge and sentenced the bed to immediate execution. The bed was then chopped to pieces.

In its second life, the bed was then reincarnated into a workshop in the garage, while the master and his wife were relegated to sleeping on the floor. The master and his lady were very pleased with the bed's new purpose.

And the master and his lady lived happily ever after – well, after they commissioned a new bed. And life for the new bed was good.

A couple of years later, however, the master was indeed surprised to find that the copyrighted version of his story of the bed had been strangely warped and twisted, and was now being produced without authorization by young men with no scruples for honesty. Knowing the original story had only been told to his spiritual shepherd, the master and his lady were grieved to hear that their ecclesiastical privileges of confidentiality had thus been violated. And life for the pastor was not good.

28 comments:

Wondering said...

Thanks. I have been trying to figure out why the other side only mentions, "The bed" as if it were an animate oject.

disgusted said...

The story may come across to some as a little obscure if they haven't followed things closely, but I suppose that's part of the purpose of parables: to more clearly divide those who hear them. For those not quite sure what to make of it, keep at it; it's worth the effort.

Three things immediately stick out to me. First, if Mark agrees with this account, then the Always fed up with the Expletive people have lied in a most underhanded and deceitful way about this situation.

Second, it appears that the particulars of the bed story were divulged in confidence to Doug Phillips, who had an ethical and legal obligation to keep it to himself. That his out-of-control ex-intern assistants have been gossiping about the bed on the internet indicates he gossiped first. This is utterly shameless; no wonder, as the parable indicates, that people are unhappy with him.

The third thing that sticks out is that, if the sin occurred before conversion, Jen repented of it, and Mark has forgiven Jen, then who else has a right to say anything -- let alone use the incident as an excuse for any church discipline, let alone excommunication?

I don't think I have ever seen such ruthless and underhanded behavior by a pastor and ministry leader before. It's disgusting. Under the circumstances, I am amazed that Jen can make light of it all by writing this parable.

Mark Epstein said...

The Parable of the Bed is a true story. The bed really exists, or rather, used to. I am the master, and the bed was my bed. Unfortunately, I distanced myself from my wife, and the bed was put to new use – a use that nearly destroyed the lives of those who previously slept in the bed together. A long time passed in a spirit of unforgiveness; an unforgiveness that I, as the master instead of a suffering servant, was responsible for nurturing. It was an unforgiveness that demanded more repentance from someone who had already completely
repented. Such a demand is legalistic. It is impossible to satisfy. So in my unforgiveness I further sinned by telling others about the bed, and they used the information as a weapon to deliberately hurt a repentant sinner in the name of "church discipline". Now these "Christians," some of them "leaders" of the church openly gossip about and slander this same repentant woman for actions that occurred before she knew a Savior who could and did cleanse her of all past sin. Who is anyone -- whether a pastor, a deacon, or someone who barely know this woman -- to pass judgment on her in light of her Savior's and her husband's forgiveness? These "Christians" defy the living God by directly challenging His forgiveness of me and my wife, and he will judge them for their great presumption.

MTG said...

Who cares about 'where you have been'. Those of us that know and love the two of you through this blog care only about 'where you are going'.

I hope that the TWO of you have confronted the monster that you confided in and told him in no uncertain terms exactly how he has violated you. This must feel like spiritual rape.

Prayers....

Anonymous said...

Jen, our hearts are broken over all that has transpired and the trauma that your family has been through. How sad and awful it is when believers behave in such a way as to give the enemies of our Lord cause to blaspheme. You and your family are definitely in our prayers!

I was concerned to observe that the Ministry Watchman website is down. Are you aware of any problems there? I don't want to jump to conclusions, but if a lawsuit against them (and/or you) has been instituted, that is something that the Christian community needs to be aware of.

Jen said...

Ministry Watchman is just experiencing technical difficulties, it appears.

No lawsuits yet.

Jen said...

For those who have difficulty understanding this story, let me assure you that the lady did EVERYTHING that the master requested in both this and all other matters. The lady believes that wives should obey their husbands.

On the other hand, the master kept changing his mind, so the lady cheerfully complied with each change. I don't think the lady should be held responsible for the ever-changing whims of the master, but she did try to comply with his requests as they were made known to her.

Corrie said...

Jen, Thank you for stating this so clearly. Since you and your husband both the say the same thing, I am quite sure that you did everything you could to make the situation better. It seems like you took ownership for your sin and realized that this was a process that was going to take a while. It looks like the other site posted a skewed version of the story and made it look as if you were rebellious to the leadership, even in the simplest requests. Also, they made it look like you were fueling your husband's anger.

I am glad to see that this is not true.

Was DP the only one who your husband told this to? You don't need to name any names but were there others?

Obviously, there has been gossip and slander on the part of the leadership if the people on the other two websites know about this story concerning the bed.

I thought that things told in a counseling session were to be kept confidential? Bob Welch, who counseled your husband, wasn't aware of "the bed" was he? If he was, he was also under the duty of confidentiality.

Time will tell. Right now there is a great sifting of information going on.

As Dr. Phil says, people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

It looks as if you and your husband are hiding nothing. Everytime there is a charge, you willingly and kindly give your side of the story.

Jen said...

There were 3 people in the meeting when Mark talked about the bed, Doug and 2 others. The others are HIGHLY unlikely to have said anything. Knowing that person telling the story is a close confidant of Doug's, I will let you draw the obvious conclusion.

wondering no more said...

Boy! It is a good thing our Father forgives sin and remembers it NOT. Because your former church sure doesn't!

Not only that, but they gossip about confidential matters. A clear violation even the most secular of counselors would not do.

Jen said...

If you read the story on Ministry Watchman, you will notice another major violation of counseling confidentiality. No one's found it yet, but it's there, big as life!

Feeling Patronized said...

It is astounding how only those posts that affirm you and your husband's bizarre catharsis appear here.

But please do not stop the weirdness. It is entertaining. Entertaining in the same way one goes to the fair and stares at the bearded lady even though one knows it's not polite to stare.

And the more you talk the better the world sees your folly. So, I ask you to please continue.

Jen said...

I only approved the comment by "Feeling Patronized" to show the true "love" that some at BCA show to the Epsteins, and how they truly desire to encourage us, as stated in the BCA document. Yes, this is a typical example of how the interns and VF employees especially show their true Christian love to someone they consider wayward.

stay away from sicko said...

Feeling patronized said: It is astounding how only those posts that affirm you and your husband's bizarre catharsis appear here. But please do not stop the weirdness. It is entertaining. Entertaining in the same way one goes to the fair and stares at the bearded lady even though one knows it's not polite to stare.

This guy is a real sicko. He keeps coming to this site that makes him feel "patronized" and "weird" because such feelings are "entertaining"? If this poster is a Doug Phillips' groupie, then fathers had better keep an eye on their daughters at VF events. Or skip them altogether.

MTG said...

'Feeling Patronized' should feel sooooooo special since he/she has been set up as Gods right hand by BCA and therefore has all authority to judge all of human kind apart from the grace and forgiveness of God.

Go stand in the corner..forever.

(Jen this is the best I could do since I am just steaming about FP's comment)

praying and thinking said...

Jen, and Mark also, I am in your corner. What an extreme war is being waged against you both. Be assured that this is an honest inquiry, with no trace of sarcasm. Why do people remain in such a church with such a false leader? Do I understand correctly that you tried for 2 years after excommunication to be reconciled to Doug? At what point did you realize that this leader and group is so false and destructive, that you should separate yourselves from this man and group? Why do you think that other people continue to attend that church? Do you think that the reason people continue to attend this church and be under such a false leader is similar to the situation of Jim Jones in Guyana?
God bless and keep both of you and your children.

A sinner saved by Grace said...

It is amazing to me that this is how folks affiliated with BCA, VF or even DP operate. I am speaking of the website and posts to MW.

They are making your point for you! Although they themselves do not see this and may never unless they feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

If DP were following in the footsteps of our Savior, he would publically denounce that website. He would beg the authors to pray for you.

When I told my brother I was becoming reformed in my doctrine, he, a wonderful, loving, Christian man, said this, "That is fine as far as doctrine is concerned but beware, the reformed community is full of arrogant men who have abrogated the doctrine of election with an abuse of authority that is anything but Christlike." He did add that he felt Mohler was currently an exception to this.

He then went on to tell me stories from his seminary days that were not real flattering to reformers. He felt there was a real lack of love and forgiveness and it fed right into the election issue being totally misunderstood by these men. His words were: They understand Grace alone but rarely practice it toward others.

I am starting to wonder how these men (leaders and pastors) justify their actions based on Hebrews 10:26-

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[d] and again, "The Lord will judge his people."[e] 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Aren't they scared when they read verses such as these?

More than anything, we should all be praying for these men. That the love and mercy of our Savior pierce their hearts. That Christ hung on the cross for Jen and Mark just as He did for them.

ThunderScot1505 said...

I've been following some of your family's travails, and I thought this parable was excellent!

I pray and trust the Lord is using your trials for the benefit of His Bride. What an honor. Be encouraged.

M.A.B.

Anonymous said...

"There were 3 people in the meeting when Mark talked about the bed, Doug and 2 others. The others are HIGHLY unlikely to have said anything. Knowing that person telling the story is a close confidant of Doug's, I will let you draw the obvious conclusion."

Are you will to go on the record as saying that the 'bed' info was never mentioned in front of ANYONE else outside of those folks in that meeting?

Will said...

Good question, Anonymous.

It seems very hard for some of us to believe that as long as this whole stress about the bed between you and your husband went on-years, apparently-that neither one of you ever breathed a word of it to anyone but Doug Phillips and the other people present at the counseling session. Frankly, that's not believable at all, under the circumstances. Your husband even admits that he used to complain to others about your keeping the bed:

"So in my unforgiveness I further sinned by telling others about the bed, and they used the information as a weapon to deliberately hurt a repentant sinner in the name of "church discipline." Now these "Christians," some of them "leaders" of the church openly gossip about and slander this same repentant woman for actions that occurred before she knew a Savior who could and did cleanse her of all past sin."

He says that he told "others" about the bed, and only "some" of them are "leaders of the church". It's pretty clear that this whole disgusting story was common knowledge, thanks in large part to your husband. And I for one find it very difficult to believe that you yourself never "shared" your burden about your arguments over the bed with anyone during the years it went on.

Jen said...

For the record, there was never any argument about the bed; when he wanted something done, I did it to the best of my ability. Changing his mind does not constitute an "argument."

Wanting to be sympathetic said...

So then, and forgive me for asking, it is not true that he asked you to get rid of it?
Or that he asked and that you refused because that wasn't good stewardship?
And did neither of you *ever* mention his various issues about the bed to anybody but Doug Philips and the two others in that meeting?

And, forgive me further, but I have a question and a couple concerns about this:
I don't think the lady should be held responsible for the ever-changing whims of the master, but she did try to comply with his requests as they were made known to her.

At first, this phrasing really bothered me (and part of it still does) because it sounded to me like you were being very dismissive and demeaning about the agony of dealing with the betrayal of a spouse who has defiled the marriage bed while the betrayed is yet trying to maintain the marriage.
But then I thought maybe you meant something other than I first understood- by saying you shouldn't be held responsible for the changing whims, did you mean that he was changing his mind apart from any immediate cause on your part, that your recent actions in the marriage were as biblical as you knew how to be, and so it wasn't recent sinful actions or lovelessness that was prompting Mark's renewed agony and angry sense of betrayal?

I understand that this defilement of your marriage bed happened before you were a Christian and God forgave you for it and I certainly do not think the church was right to bring it up in documents excommunicating you, I do want to stress that. Whatever else I have questions about, that information had no place in BCA's church records and documents, nor should it have been any part of a judgment against you.
Nor do I have any doubts that you fully repented. I can easily believe that you were greatly relieved to be forgiven of this great wrong. There are no shadows in Heaven, and for this, I too, am profoundly thankful.

But sometimes sin casts a long shadow here on this earth, even when we are forgiven, and the betrayal of a spouse is one of the longest shadows I know. It seems to me you may have had an unrealistic idea of how long it should have taken Mark to recover his balance.

Characterizing your husband's flashbacks of misery and lashing out at remembered betrayal as 'everchanging whims' comes across as dismissive and cavalier. One does not recover one's equanimity after such a betrayal in a week, a year, or even a decade, and having been injured in this way once, it is easy to have a relapse of that sense of betrayal and all the agony it entails.

More than responding to his new agonies you you self-characterized as having 'cheerfully complied,' such a situation calls for as much sympathy and regret as if you had infected your husband with Malaria and he was having a relapse. You may be sorry, but he was still wounded and the wounds had obviously not healed.

I rather marvel at his sticking with the marriage and I am surprised you had to be asked to get rid of the bed, although I do think this is sin on your part as much as a lack of sympathetic imagination.

I was greatly abused as a child, and I have long forgiven my parents for that- but there are still times when something comes up that brings it all back in fresh pain- the birth of my first child, for instance, when I suddenly saw with fresh eyes the enormity of what had been done to me. Sometimes a phrase or a sensation that brings back some specific event- it's like a flashback, a sudden nightmare, and sometimes I have had to walk out in the middle of a conversation with them, or hang up the phone because of that sudden sensation.
If I had to live with them as a spouse seeking to preserve the marriage must live with his betrayer, I am sure I would sometimes be characterized as 'angry.'

Thanks for reading. I am sure this is all very, very hard for you all.
If

Will said...

Play all the word games you want, but there was clearly a problem with the bed.

You completely ignore the heart of my post, and blissfully skip over my concerns without even addressing them or acting like you saw them, instead merely focusing on a slight technical semantic issue.

And you wonder why people are having trouble taking you seriously as a witness again Doug Phillips?

Maybe you and your husband didn't have "arguments", but the bed was obviously a source of conflict in your marriage. You even wrote a parable about it. Clearly, the bed was the source of no small amount of stress in your marriage.

Whatever else is in dispute since this Ministry Watchman report on Doug Phillips-and there's a lot that's in dispute-that much is crystal clear.

And it's clear that your husband told different people about it, only some of whom were church leaders.

You neglected to address that in your reply.

Would you kindly address that now?

And I mentioned that I find it very difficult to believe you yourself never shared the bed situation, or the bed problem, or whatever you want to call it, with any friends or confidantes.

Would you kindly address that now?

You also neglected to answer the question posed in the comment previous to mine, which was this:

Are you will to go on the record as saying that the 'bed' info was never mentioned in front of ANYONE else outside of those folks in that meeting?

Would you kindly answer that question now?

Answering these three questions and concerns would go a long way to settling people's mind, because a whole lot of your credibility hinges on whether anyone but the few people in the room ever knew about the bed problem.

And you may choose to ignore this, or delete it, but if you'd rather not answer it here, I can ask it on another website which gets a lot more traffic.

Jen said...

Those who regularly follow my blog know that I am perfectly willing to answer reasonable questions, but I do have a life other than blogging all day. Since I was judging a speech and debate tournament today, I did not have time to answer your question until just now. If you are patient in the future, I will answer when I am available.

This is becoming a very strange line of questioning here. I can verify who I did tell something to, but it is quite difficult to verify who I didn't tell something.

In the last 16 years, the subject of the bed came up approximately four times. It was NOT a constant source of stress and tension between us. If it bothered Mark, he did not say anything to me about it. There was NEVER an argument about it. Mark was prone to changing his mind about many things, but I tried to obey him to the best of my ability each time he would change his mind about the bed or about any other subject, unless he asked me to sin.

I was not trying to portray a cavalier attitude here about the bed, as it certainly was a serious issue initially. I certainly did take each request by Mark quite seriously, as I wanted to do what I could to help him heal from the open wound that festered for so long, but that wasn't always an easy task. Mark changed his mind on numerous issues on any given day. The changes he made regarding the bed, or anything else, were not in any way related to anything I did or did not do on that particular day. However, since we have decided to put this in the past, where it belongs, Mark and I both agreed to have a little fun with this post, and I hope it only shows that this issue is truly in the past.

However, it seems that some people do not believe in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, and instead prefer to heap condemnation on one who has been washed by the blood of the Lamb. The point of the VF employees and interns bringing this story up initially was to divide Mark and me. Unfortunately, we are united in this effort, and their efforts were of naught.

The two sites that are set up to show hatred for the Epsteins are clearly being fed information by Doug Phillips, just like Tim Dick (and probably others at Ligonier) were fed information by Doug Phillips, or one of his personal assistants. Tim Dick wrote us about 20 emails, but in one of them he mentioned several things about us that he had recently learned, which could only have come from Doug Phillips. Doug Phillips may not have provided legal advice to Ligonier, but I guarantee you he was talking to them about the lawsuit situation with Frank Vance and about the Epsteins. Thanks, Tim, for informing us of that. Vision Forum's denial of Doug Phillips giving Ligonier legal advice is just that - a denial of legal advice, but not a denial of any other advice and counsel.

The same thing is happening here; Doug Phillips is telling stories that were told to him in private counseling situations so that they could be spread as malicious gossip on the web. Unfortunately, the VF employees twisted and tangled the story so much, it is an outright lie on that hate-filled site.

Did anyone else besides Doug and other church leaders know about the bed? It is HIGHLY unlikely. You forget that I was forbidden during all my years at BCA from talking to anyone about Mark, so I didn't say anything. Besides, it was not an issue to me, although apparently it was to Mark. If you know of someone else that knew this story besides BCA "leadership," then I think you have an obligation to tell who that person is now. If you cannot name anyone else, I will continue to say that Doug Phillips is behind this mangling of the truth and malicious gossip intended only to hurt and divide the Epsteins. If you want to protect Doug Phillips' reputation, you have a moral imperative to reveal the gossip's name.

The irony of the whole bed story is that in that second meeting with Doug Phillips, when Mark brought up the issue of the bed (even though he hadn't said anything to me about it for a long time), and Doug asked some questions about it, Doug Phillips himself stated that I had done everything Mark had asked me to, so Mark didn't have a right to complain. So, why mangle it into a lie now, Doug?

a sinner saved by grace said...

Will said: "And I mentioned that I find it very difficult to believe you yourself never shared the bed situation, or the bed problem, or whatever you want to call it, with any friends or confidantes.

Would you kindly address that now? (ad nauseum)"

Will, I have to wondered since this story first came out if there are any grown ups in that church. It is becoming more doubtful everyday.

You are demanding an answer to a question that is moot. It will not clear DP and others. You do not want to understand that or perhaps you can't because your education is lacking.

Here is a scenerio for you: If Jen or Mark got on their roof and shouted about the bed or adultry and the pastor, his wife or other leaders discussed it with others outside of Jen and Mark, they broke confidentiality.

As a matter of fact, it was the pastor, his wife and the leaders responsibility to quell any rumors, discussions or gossip about it at all. (That is how professionals behave)

I once heard a repentent homosexual give this testimony: He went before the church after repenting and changing his lifestyle Years later because he wanted to work at the church and felt the whole congregation deserved to know the whole story. After he gave his testimony, the church had a vote. But before the vote, a beefy redneck guy in the back stood up.

The repentent man felt that this was it, the redneck guy was going to make it clear he did not want him there. Instead, this is what he said, "Well, this guy has had enough courage to come in front of us and tell us his whole story. Sounds to me as if he wants to be accountable for his sin. Why not before we vote, all the gossips go up and give their testimony's first. Then we will hear from the liars".

Good idea.

Mark Epstein said...

Sinner Saved By Grace Wrote:

"You are demanding an answer to a question that is moot. It will not clear DP and others."

You, SSBG, are absolutely correct - all of these comments requesting more information on the bed serve no godly purpose. What is done is done. Those whom God loves have repented and, hopefully, He is doing a work in those who have yet to repent.

The redneck guy had it right - now it's time for the gossips and liars to come clean.

Wanting to be sympathetic said...

Thank-you, Jen, for your answers. I want to apologize for a too hasty publishing of my comment, as I already see at least one typo where I say I think something you did is a sin when I meant to say is NOT- but I won't rehash all of it.

I know it must be frustrating for you to have people asking so many questions, but I appreciate your taking the time to answer as you have, because I can imagine how very difficult it must be. Thanks for your patience- I think some of us need more dots on our I's and crosses on our T's before we can be sure understand.

Anonymous said...

I came here via the funny women not needing all that eduation video to find some rather scary information.
I have had concerns about DP for many years and to hear this verifies my fears to my horror.
To a much and I mean much smaller scale, I can understand the "control" of a church. I pray that God will reveal to those who need to know what you have bravely revealed. Blessings