Rationalization as it Relates to an Abuser in Ministry
A friend writes:
In my first marriage, I had a very difficult time getting others to see the reasons behind why my husband would treat me so poorly. He was terribly neglectful, although I could not have known to use that word, yet. He worked long hours and went to seminary (of course, I did not realize then that his ‘long hours at work’ were just covering for his adultery). He could never attend anything for the kids . . . he did the weirdest things. He insisted on controlling the finances. We could not do the most basic of activities. He kept me in an emotional prison as I wished he could love me. Or would try to love me. Whenever anyone questioned me about his behavior, I would give them the same answers he gave me: He was called by God to be a minister and had to do all of these things in order to prepare for the ‘calling’. Or . . . he wanted me to be used to not having many things or spending a lot of money because we would be ‘in the ministry’. I would get the strangest looks. But, I believed him. I did not realize how out of norm his actions were. He seemed to be exceptionally called by God. Who was I to question that? And, if I did, was I not going against God?
One of the worst kinds of sin (in my opinion) is neglect and abuse done in the name of God. And, oh, what a slippery slope it is. It begins small. Little tiny justifications. At first, a victim is confused but, as she hears things often enough, she begins to accept the rationalizations. George Simon writes this:
A rationalization is the excuse an aggressor makes for engaging in what they know is an inappropriate or harmful behavior. It can be an effective tactic, especially when the explanation of justification the aggressor offers makes just enough sense that any reasonably conscientious person is likely to fall for it. It’s a powerful tactic because it not only serves to remove any internal resistance the aggressor might have about doing what they want to do (quieting any qualms of conscience they might have) but also to keep others off their back. (George K. Simon, Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, Loc. 1005)
What makes my friend’s acceptance of her abusive ex’s rationalization so heinous, is that it was done in the name of Christ. If God had called her husband to the ministry . . . and he has a special “calling” on his life . . . and her husband abused her . . . that must mean . . . that God has put His stamp of approval on the abuse. What must God think of her?
It is serious business. And not a business that God is pleased with. False shepherds out there masquerading as men of God.
Jesus had plenty to say about men who pretended (Pharisees), but I won’t get into that.
If you are a woman who has been abused by a husband who is a pastor or a seminary student or a missionary . . . God does not approve of what your husband is doing to you — or has done to you. Not one bit. You are His beloved daughter! You are His child! He does not just “let these things go”. He was there for every tear you shed, every little cry you let out. God heard every little desperate prayer you whispered in the midst of your exhaustion. He knows of every little scar on your beautifully designed body, every little bruise. He watched as you were humiliated and scorned. He knows about the times when you could not get out of bed when you thought you were crazy. He has not abandoned you.
Listen, God did not call you or anyone else to a life of abuse. And, chances are very strong, that he did not call your abusive husband into the ministry. Don’t believe that for a second. God does not care more about your abusive husband’s “ministry” than he cares about you.
Beloved child . . . do not allow this to happen to yourself, anymore. If you put a stop to it, you will not ruin your husband’s ministry. He already did that when he chose to give you a life of cruelty. No, my friend. You mean much MUCH more than that to God.