For the next few Sundays we want to feature a sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes by Ps. Sam Powell. The series is not directly about abuse, but because many of our readers are without a church we want to help by offering some non-abuse-related biblical material from time to time. In addition to learning and growing in the knowledge of abuse and evil, it is good to balance our growth with other aspects of the Bible.
Here is the first sermon in the series: Wrestling With the Darkness
Sam Powell blogs at My Only Comfort. He is the pastor of First Reformed Church, Yuba City California. Until recently he also taught Hebrew at a seminary. We’ve featured things by Ps Sam Powell before on this blog and we value him as a colleague in the battle to expose and prevent domestic abuse in Christian circles.
The topic of sexual abuse is very hard for victims to raise when speaking to counselors or supportive friends. It’s hard to bring up, but once it has been raised, it’s easier to talk about.
Domestic abuse researchers have found that victims are often glad when a counselor or support person brings up the subject of sexual abuse. A gentle way a support person could bring up the subject would be by asking something like, “Have you been pressured or coerced into sexual things which you didn’t want?” Or, “Has your spouse ever sexually abused you?”
We have compiled over a dozen posts that address different aspects of sexual abuse, both before and in marriage.
I don’t have a relationship with most of my adult children. This wasn’t supposed to happen. If I followed all the rules and sacrificed my life for my family I was told that I would be enjoying the fruits of my labor and that society would benefit from them as well. Lies, lies, and more lies keeping us working like monsters only to realize that it was for naught.
There are three things I wish I’d been taught — TRUE things I wish I’d been taught:
- Not all humans are capable of loving others, and what this means is that they are always only playing games with other humans. And like their father, the devil’s fate has already been determined because “These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations…” Isaiah 66:3. I was NEVER taught this biblical truth and I certainly wasn’t allowed to believe it once I discovered its relevance. The church community tried to KEEP me from believing it but God has shown me the truth of it all–in His word and in my life.
- Being well-behaved with good manners and articulating words perfectly are simply another means that abusers use to make us feel they have a right to judge us and waste precious brain cells too. I wish I’d have spent time with the few people I’ve known over the years who do have a conscience and have been through hard times. This would’ve been time well spent. They didn’t even notice that I didn’t display perfect behavior or pronounce every word just right. Unfortunately we were all going through the same honing process and didn’t realize it and we were in the midst of raising the many children we couldn’t afford or figure out how to guide because none of the Christian books we read explained it so we were just trying anything thinking if we just did MORE, all would be well.
- Marriage and children are not God’s plan for everyone. Jesus didn’t say that we needed to have kids in order to please Him. He did forewarn us that when the end times comes it will be hard on nursing mothers. And Jesus (in His word) is always about our individual relationship with Him and God and how we are to view Him and how we are to view our biological families. Matthew 12:50. And if He does put it on your heart to marry, there’s no hurry, no pressure. He’ll guide you.
If I had to do it all over again my life would be completely different and as a result I would not be the person I am today. I’m not saying I’m grateful that I am this person just that I wouldn’t be who I am if I were given the chance to change it all. So that means that any of the hard, hard, super hard wisdom that I have been forced to learn is in spite of what I want and thus it only comes from GOD himself, so if it blesses anyone else, you can thank HIM. I would have high-tailed it years ago and found a nice cave to live in with maybe God sending some food on the wings of a dove or some thing like he does. And I’d remind him every time he visited me, that he was to tell no one where I was, and that I need several decades of no emotional and spiritual rape in order to be well rested enough to be prepared to be around other humans. I’ve been sucked so dry from them all!
So there’s my Christmas card! (I stopped doing Xmas cards years ago. Another of the social norms that kept me feeling guilty —like I needed to do more and more).
I would LOVE to receive a card in the mail like this. I would laugh and cry and be amazed that somebody else got it, and I would hold onto them and love them.
An anonymous reader left this comment on our post Don’t Fall for the Abuser’s “Repentance” — Lessons from Zacchaeus. It was so good we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to see it. Thank you, Anonymous!
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (John 4:15-18)
Over the years in this ministry to abuse victims at ACFJ we have been fairly regularly contacted by victims who are not only presently married to an abuser but who have been married previously to other abusers. And in most cases they are asking themselves, “Just how stupid can I be?” Or, “What is wrong with me?” Or, “Am I going to be alone for the rest of my life?” These questions and more.
I suspect many of you who follow this blog can relate very well to this scenario. And many people who are ignorant of abuse and abusers will be quick to answer those questions — “Well, yes, you must be stupid.” “Yes, there surely is something wrong with you.” But in reality all that has happened in most of these cases is that a wicked, deceiving person came along, identified some vulnerability in his target, capitalized on it, and deceived her. All of us have had that deception dupe us in some relationship or other and most often more than once.
Was the Samaritan woman at the well a loose woman, a whore who went from man to man? That is usually what is claimed, but surely there is a very high probability that she was the victim of deceiving, using men and she was an easy target for them. Why? Might I suggest it was because she was “thirsty,” but she was looking for the wrong kind of water to quench that thirst. John 4 is the record of that day when Living Water met her and she was never the same again.
Yes, I would suggest that a victim who has been duped by abusers several times does need to look within herself. Not to blame, but to try to understand what it is that is making her so vulnerable to evil ones. Does she fear being alone? Does she believe she is just rather worthless if a man doesn’t want her? Maybe she is just too naive about evil? None of these possibilities is sin, but each one is certainly dangerous.
It seems to me that a woman who has been repeatedly abused in a sequence of “marriages” must be somewhat similar to the traumatized rape victim. Through deception and guile the rapist drew her in, used her by force, and cast her away. Or if she is still with the abuser, he is killing her slowly, just as a rapist so often murders his victim.
We know numbers of women who have been through this chain of abusive marriages, and I am sure that they could be greatly helped by our readers, especially those who have had the same experience. What have you discovered about why this happened to you? Did you have some awakening moments when some truth jumped out at you that helped you? How can a victim of this serial abuse make some changes to break out of this cycle of being a target? (We are not placing any blame on victims at all here by the way).
Let’s hear from you.