“Harriet Syndrome”

Do you remember Katherine MacGregor? Sure you do. She was the actress portrayed as Harriet Oleson on the long-running NBC hit drama TV series, “Little House on the Prairie.” Her role played the embodiment of delinquency going unchecked in the church. We could recognize her behavior being less than moral. She was constantly involved with all sorts of tactics to hurt people of the congregation. A busybody. Gossip. Sower of discord. Divisive. At times you probably felt like giving her a good punch in the nose. Yet, if cornered to defend our case against her many offenses? We could not explain the attributes to categories the sins she had to repent from. For many of them were hidden behind skillful deception (“sleight of hand”). We ignorantly labeled it “personality” and allowed her to remain a member of the assembly. And this, time and time again, proved to create disorder in the church. 

Unfortunately, there are far too many Christians infected with “Harriet Syndrome” in the Lord’s body these days. Causing all sorts of disturbance in like manner. Persecutors among us wearing different hats. Trying to run us out of town. Perverting our character to anyone willing to listen. And sadly, most times, they fly under the “radar.” Perhaps because the leadership simply won’t administer faithful discipline? Cowards? Maybe they are ignorant of the Scriptures and have no righteous ability to discern delinquency taking precedence? In all instances, the different arteries of the persecutor in the fold is our topic of discussion for this article. Pay attention, here are descriptive branches (not extensive) revealing “Harriet syndrome,” 

  • The passive aggressive; his nuance, undertone, sleight of hand is designed to unrighteously judge while running from his accusations. He’ll accuse you falsely of all sorts of damnable offenses while still wanting to be in fellowship. He avoids direct or clear communication, evades problems, makes excuses, blames others, plays the victim, gives out backhanded compliments, and hides his anger behind a smile.

Ex: not too long ago an individual of the church accused us of being a Pharisees. Void of love, and binding where the Bible does not bind. This Christian was triggered by the truth regarding MDR (“marriage, divorce, remarriage”). And so this person said these things with a smile, still wanting to extend the right hand of fellowship, to worship with us. See the problem here? This persecutor wants to remain in an adulterous union and proceeds to try and run us out of town.

  • The virtue signaler; he thinks he has the moral high-ground. His subjective opinion is always the best ethical path to take. Every other way is “offensive” and “morally bankrupt.” He’ll say things like, “you’re what’s wrong with the church.” All the while his log is blinding him to the fact that he is certainly the problem.

Ex: not too long ago we shared an article on the moral damage homosexuality brings. This offended the virtue signaler and he proceeded to publicly expound his “knight in shinning armor” persona. Come to rescue the people from these “evil Christians” who publicly share the truth about the LGBTQ+ community. “That’s not the way you reach people with the love and grace of Christ.” You see, his way of telling people about sin is never public. Matter of fact it’s never, period. Because that would “push people away.” And that’s simply not “ethical.” And so his “moral” stance is always the “best,” and he’ll make sure you know it. This persecutor has been deceived by homosexuality and wants to run those of us who tell the truth out of town.  

  • The gaslight guru; he’ll attribute actions or behavior on our part which have no justification. If you’re being calm, mature, and humble? Communicating in a very precise and accurate manner? He’ll say you’re being forceful, immature, and prideful. Hateful and unloving. He’s “triggered” and can’t discern the situation. He’ll label matters of salvation as mere “opinion.” So his natural reaction is to project deceitful attributes to your character. Ever seen a sports athlete out in the field throw himself down in “pain” to blame an opposing team member of obstruction which never took place? Yeah. Ok. There yah go. 

Ex: not too long ago we tried to reason with an individual of the church regarding social drinking of alcohol. We were simply reasoning with him in a calm and mature way. But he’d try to demonize us by saying we were being hateful and unChristlike. This persecutor still wanted to keep drinking alcohol and so had to try and run us out of town. 

The following 3 branches of persecutors are similar in connection. 

  • The “enlightened” spirit; this person thinks he’s directly governed by the holy spirit in a miraculous way. God “touched his heart.” You can’t teach him anything. He’ll despise your Bible knowledge. He’s “guided by the Holy Spirit.” He thinks God is directly leading him through his emotions. And he’ll be sure to correct you every time, because you’re simply not as “enlightened” as he is. 

  • The “academic” abstract; he’s taken a few Bible classes in various “Christian” colleges/universities where he’s learned to be a liberal, not an evangelist. He’ll be quick to rebuke you publicly with a Greek word taken out of context. 

  • The “Jewish” germ; he grew up in the church and thinks he has lineage back to Abraham. No “Gentile” will ever be able to teach him anything. No “Gentile” is really part of the family. He’s a “know-it-all.” He’ll never repent and learn the depth of Scriptural context. 

All of the above are attributes of The modern-day pharisee among us. The hypocrite. The persecutor. “Harriet Syndrome” going unchecked. The sad part? These kinds are behind pulpits. They are elders and deacons. Leaders of the church. 

For each of these persecutors there is an example of such taking place in the Bible towards the Prophets, John the Baptist, The Christ and His Apostles. Can you find them?

Example: Do you remember how Martha treated Christ in relation to her sister Mary? (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was guilty of some of the things listed above. Learn to discern. 

These persecutors must be taken to task. They must be called to repentance or withdrawal of fellowship must take place. We must keep the body of Christ pure.