A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

How Perverted Notions of “Martyrdom” Promote Abuse in the Church

Abusers who use Christianity as their facade of choice quite often press the martyrdom/suffering-for-Jesus card upon their target victim, with the goal of keeping the victim in their evil grip. As I have seen this wickedness in action, it seems to me that it expresses itself in at least two different ways, 1) The false notion that Christ commands all of His people to remain in suffering and rejoice in the rewards it is earning them, and 2) The abuser playing the role of martyr himself.  Let’s take a closer look at each of these brain-twisters:

1.  Christ wants all Christians to suffer and to remain in that suffering, patiently enduring it while awaiting future reward. NOT!

One of our readers (Barnabas in Training) found the following quote by Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss and it is an example of this suffer-for-Jesus mentality.  You can hear the following quote at about 4:45 into the video clip at True Woman 101 titled Less than ideal situations.

“And to women who suffer in these relationships for a really long time, or have been deserted or abandoned, there’s one perspective to offer that can be helpful, and that is, our life is but a breath…it feels very long, I get that, but you have to live with the idea that one day you will stand and look at your savior face to face and you will be rewarded for what you did, not what you changed in someone else…….If you live in light of eternity, you will realize that out of his grace he’s going to give you a crown to reward you that you wear for all eternity…..This light and momentary affliction, which seems very heavy and long, is shaping and sanctifying and molding us, conforming us to God’s image….he uses even the failures and sins of others to sanctify us.  Pressure sanctifies”

As Barnabas In Training notes: “This is just horrible.  They are promising a crown to the woman who endures this torture, which, of course, condemns those who don’t.  No crown for you.  You blinked.”  [By the way, if you watched the video clip, did you notice that all the panel members were drinking out of identical coffee mugs? Hmmmmm….].

What is the truth about suffering for Christ? What does the Bible say?  It says that when suffering and persecution come our way then it is quite alright to escape when we can. The early Christians fled Jerusalem when persecution broke out. The Lord Jesus did not actively seek out suffering at the hands of His enemies except in the case of the Cross, in which case that suffering was redemptive, the giving of the Lamb of God for our sin. None of us can claim that kind of redemptive quality to our suffering. When suffering comes and there is no escape, we can take hope and patiently endure, knowing that God sees it and knows it and stands right there in the furnace with us. But when He opens the door to escape, we take it!

Abusers absolutely love all of this talk about remaining in affliction because they know that they can use it to further enslave their victim.

And then there is the abuser who puts himself off as the saintly “martyr” –

2.  Abusers play the role of persecuted martyr.

This one is difficult for me to write about because I have been its target many times for many years. What can be more evil than evil putting on the face of a victim, of one to be pitied, of a suffering christ hanging on a cross? The thing disgusts and angers me. I see it. I see its face just after it has attacked, now cocking its head to one side a bit, widening its eyes just a touch, its lips apart slightly as if at a loss for words because I have treated it so unkindly after, just moments before, it had attacked. The martyr role.

One common quality of wickedness is that it is deceptive, deceiving, lying, and confusing. Most of you know this thing all too well. The martyr would have us believe that we have lit the wood on its stake. That we are the persecutors. This is the heart of darkness at work and nothing less. It is a son of the devil who was a liar and murderer from the beginning.

Here is a precise definition of this false martyr tactic used by evil people:

1Co 13:3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Evil has no love. Evil has no empathy. Evil has no conscience. But evil will “give its body to be burned,” presenting itself as the most sacrificial saint of all. Therefore, before the Lord, it is nothing. And worse than nothing. It is hateful in His sight.

Many times then, the most “Christian” and “saintly” appearing person in our churches is wickedness in disguise. Real righteousness goes into its closet to pray. It does not sound trumpets on the street corner. Real righteousness isn’t even aware of the goodness that it shows to others and will one day have to ask the Lord, “What? When did we give you a cup of water?” Not so the evil person. He boasts of his righteousness and makes sure that everyone knows just how righteous he is.

Beware then the martyr. Beware of the person who scurries about in “self-sacrifice” whenever he sniffs a “need” to be met. By these tactics, wicked people deceive the naive and often do so in order to gain allies against their victims. And then, you guessed it, when they are exposed for what they are, once again they play the martyr. “Oh see, see how I am abused.”

Well, don’t worry, “martyr.” The Lord sees. Oh yes, He sees it all very clearly.

16 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Trigger. Sirens. Flashing Lights. However, I love at about 2:20, how the one woman talks over Nancy as Nancy is counting on her fingers the words “bitterness”, “anger”, etc., while describing women in bad marriages. I wonder how long it would take the never-married Nancy, to dial 911 once her boyfriend smacked her in the face, broke her arm, verbally trashed her, emotionally abused her or raped her, or for that matter, messed up her hair. Sorry for the facetiousness and bad humor, but how can any never-married woman speak into the lives of women living in abuse? I bet if it were Nancy or any of them, that the “civil authorities” they refer to would be called instantly as they sought refuge, which they should, from their abusers, whether he be boyfriend or future spouse. The panel lacks a Christian woman who loves God and has lived through abuse in her marriage. I am not certain they were all drinking the same “kool-aid”, but at least 3 or 4 of them seemed to be.

    So, I think the post is very good and right on and immensely timely for me and what I am going through at this time in my life.

    “One common quality of wickedness is that it is deceptive, deceiving, lying, and confusing.”

    You are right, Ps. Crippen, most of us know this so well, but for me, I need to ingrain this on my brain because the deception, etc., is so subtle sometimes (another mark of it being from the enemy) that I forget that all deception is wickedness and I continue to doubt myself and believe lies and get caught in the confusion. Thanks for a great post!

    • PEARL

      I don’t know, the shock and the shame might muzzle her. Depends on if she really believes what she preaches.

    • PEARL

      Also, if you are a stay at home wife/mom and you only have your husband’s income, it is very hard to send him to jail, besides the shock and shame, in this day and age, once you have a criminal record, it is very hard for a person/man to get a job. I think that would seriously undermine a women’s desire to call the police, because somebody is going to jail if they are called. I think a lot of times this shackles a woman more than anything.

  2. K

    It’s incredibly condescending to refer to a woman in an abusive relationship, or who has been deserted or abandoned, as a “less than ideal situation.”

    • Barnabasintraining

      Minimizing, right?

  3. FreetoGO

    Been there done that. I tried that ”suffer for heaven’s sake” stuff. This kind of thinking is what kept me trapped for many yrs. Leaning on our own understanding can be very fatal. Especially when a victim listens to such talk…desperate for some kind of hope, I would rather enter heaven whole and sane, functioning the way i was made to. Having lived an abundant life with the promise of no crown.Than limping, bruised, broken, grasping for breath with the promise of a crown, No thanks. Not worth it.

  4. A coffee clatch with Nancy — i’d rather step on a rake. repeatedly. on the radio program she did with Holly Ellis, Holly said a woman trapped in an emotionally/verbally abusive marriage for 30 years was just dealing with “a tough issue”.
    Every time Nancy opens her mouth about marriage a big pile of snakes falls out. *shudder*

    • Barnabasintraining

      A coffee clatch with Nancy — i’d rather step on a rake.

      lol!

      • oh and I love how they all have the same fake nails and french manicure. these patriarchy wives all seem to have the same uniform – right down to the jewelry and hairstyles. maybe i’m being too critical but it’s sooo STEPFORD
        and they all emphasize how a wife must be “gentle” in the face of her husband’s abuse. lol
        Did you feel like maybe the woman in the center wasn’t too impressed? I noticed that she said something about forcing a woman to submit to abuse wasn’t Biblical. I wondered what she was thinking while Nancy was prattling on about wives being bitter and angry, ha ha

      • Barnabasintraining

        Katy, you have no idea what a blessing you are to me tonight. 🙂

        “I’d rather step on a rake.” A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

        Honestly, you pulled me out of a pit with that. 🙂

      • aaw BIT, I hope you feel better! It wasn’t a very “gentle” thing to say though, was it. 😉
        ha

  5. Ellie

    Great post Jeff. X was/is great at playing that victim card. And it used to be so confusing. I longed for peace. So I would gladly accept his view most of the time and then apologize ad nauseum until he would let up on his tantrum and we could get back to our fake peace.

  6. Heather 2

    Wow! Put your trust in God and not in your husband! How many of us can say BTDT? I did that for decades. And as they said, there are no guarantees. As correct as that is they seem to use it as their own escape clause, if you will.

    They say it isn’t simplistic, but they seem to be patronising all the same.

    I never could listen to Znancy on the radio. Do these women ever get angry or throw something or have a bad thought? I wonder if they take their own advice. They are far too slick for me.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Do these women ever get angry
      Only at women who leave their abusive husbands.

      or throw something
      Lots of useless words.

      or have a bad thought
      Almost all the ones they talk about.

      …OK. That was mean. I shall go sit in the naughty corner.

      (In the comfy chair…. 😉 )

  7. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    My ex-idiot was always playing the victim or claiming that I was “faking it” by claiming to be a martyr. Which I wasn’t claiming but was suffering in silence. Ugh!! The lies, the evil twisting lies.

  8. Anna

    I know I’m a little late in replying on this post, but I have recently found this blog. I went through this for SO long…thinking that suffering in my marriage was sanctifying me and making me a holy martyr who participated in the sufferings of Christ. I truly felt it was my cross to bear and that we had to take up our crosses and follow Christ, which I guess is true. But, was it really sanctifying me to live life with extreme anger all the time, with anxiety bottled inside me that caused multiple health problems like heartbeat irregularities and the like? How about lusting after other men in my imagination when I would “fantasize” being married to a kind and loving husband? That was not sanctifying me at all. I must admit, I am still not really sure what I should do, but I don’t think that staying in an abusive marriage is the right thing anymore.

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