They suppress the truth in unrighteousness
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18 NASB)
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness (NIV)
This describes abusers so very very well. They do not want the truth to be uttered, to be seen, to be known, so they suppress it. They maintain their public mask of being nice godly people, reverent, generous, caring, charming, humble, courteous, supporting the elders, faithful worshipers, prayer warriors, good board members, supporters of missionaries . . . while simultaneously grooming, seducing, needling, squeezing, crushing and binding the souls of their targets, bit by tiny bit, so the targets are silenced, terrified to the point of almost paralysis.
When the Spanish Influenza was at its height in the final months of the First World War, ravaging its inexorable swathe around the world, killing more people than had died in battle during the four years of the war, and terrifying whole populations with its sudden onslaught and its ghastly symptoms (high fever, intense weakness, delirium, bleeding from bodily orifices, blackening of skin, lungs so soggy and swollen with inflammation they could not breathe, pneumonia opportunistically invading the sickened lungs and increasing the mortality), the American Government and newspapers were almost universally spreading lies about the epidemic — suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Listen to these quotes from the book The Great Influenza, by John M Barry, and think about the parallels between how authorities responded to the epidemic and how the so-called Bible Believing Christian Culture has responded to domestic abuse.
The book tells how Surgeon General Robert Blue, head of the US Public Health Service at the time, was not a strong leader. The leading medical researchers knew that an epidemic of influenza — incredibly lethal influenza — was about to hit the country and they knew they had no cure and no real way of preventing or slowing its spread other than isolating people and compounds and cities that already had the disease. But Blue took no preemptive measures until far too late. The Government said the war machine had to keep running — and honesty and good sense were casualties to the war machine.
[Surgeon General] Blue did, literally, less than nothing. He blocked relevant research. . . . He made no preparations whatsoever to try to contain [the disease]. … He made no effort to gather information about the disease. He made no effort to prepare the Public Health Service for a crisis. [At least two months after he first knew of the dangers of this virulent disease] he issued the first public warning:
- Avoid needless overcrowding [but army compounds were horrifically overcrowded!]
- smother coughs and sneezes
- your nose not your mouth was made to breathe through
- remember the three Cs — clean mouth, clean skin, clean clothes
- food will win the war, choose and chew your food well
- don’t let waste products of digestion accumulate
- avoid tight clothing and footwear and gloves
- when the air is pure, breathe deeply. (309-311)
The disease spread. It wreaked havoc wherever it went. The newspapers were not printing the truth about the epidemic. They repeatedly printed government officials’ false reassurances:
“There is no cause for alarm if precautions are observed.” “The so-called Spanish Influenza is nothing more or less than old fashioned grippe.” These words ran in hundreds of newspapers. But people could smell death in them. Then they came to know that death. (335)
“Don’t Get Scared!” was the advice printed in virtually every newspaper in the country, in large blocked-off parts of pages labelled “Advice on How to Avoid Influenza.” . . . “Don’t Let Flu Frighten You to Death.” “Don’t Panic.” . . . “The camp medical authorities assert they have the epidemic under control.” (337)
One newspaper reported a local physician as having said
“Ten people sit in the same draught, are exposed to the same microbes. Some will suffer and perhaps die, while others go scot free. . . The people during an epidemic who are most fearful are usually, on the testimony of physicians the first ones to succumb to the disease.” (337)
How could one not get panicky? Even before people’s neighbours began to die, before bodies began to pile up in each community, every piece of information except the newspapers told the truth. Even while Blue recited his mantra —There is no cause for alarm if proper precautions are taken — he was calling upon local authorities to “close all public gathering places, if their community is threatened with the epidemic. This will do much towards checking the spread of the disease.” (338)
You say your husband is abusive? It’s not that bad.There is no cause for alarm. You mustn’t over-react. You’re too sensitive. You’re too emotional. Fear and anxiety are sins; they show you don’t have enough faith in God. We are engaged in a war: we are battling the legalization of gay marriage, abortion on demand, the demise of the family. And because we are on a war footing, we have the authority to order you how to feel. We can tell you which emotions are best for you and which emotions you must suppress and resist. You must heed our orders. You must do as we say. Don’t panic. You’re spouse is not abusive, this is just the plain old fashioned ups and downs of marriage.
Follow proper precautions. Don’t marry an unbeliever (but we won’t help you discern wolves in wool, so good luck with that!). Don’t have too high expectations of marriage. Submit to your spouse. Find out how to please your spouse. Be more sexy when he comes home. Don’t gossip. Don’t complain. Pray more. We all have our cross to bear.
(10) For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little…
(14-20) Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
therefore thus says the Lord GOD —
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, you will be beaten down by it. As often as it passes through it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. For the bed [of the liars] is too short to stretch oneself on, and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in.
One last quote from The Great Influenza:
…whoever held power, whether a city government or some private gathering of the locals, they generally failed to keep the community together. They failed because they lost trust. They lost trust because they lied. (San Francisco was a rare exception; its leaders told the truth, and the city responded heroically.) And they lied for the war effort, for the propaganda machine that [President] Wilson had created.
It is impossible to quantify how many deaths the lies cause. . . . But while those in authority were reassuring people that this was influenza, only influenza, nothing different from “la grippe,” at least some people must have believed them, at least some people must have exposed themselves to the virus in ways they would not otherwise, and at least some of these people must have died who would otherwise have lived. And fear really did kill people. It killed them because those who feared woud not care for the many of those who needed but could not find care, those who needed only hydrattion, food, and rest to survive. (p 396)