How Our Wish for Happily Ever After Can Enable Abusers
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. (1 Peter 3:18-20)
Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:3-5)
All of us love fairy tale endings. Movies that end with “and they all died and the bad guys took over the world, THE END — don’t leave us with a good taste in our mouth. For those who are in Christ, the Bible promises a happily ever after. But in this present life, in the fallen world in which we live, happily ever after with audiences cheering because the evil empire has been defeated forever are not very common.
I believe that one of the reasons abuse victims are so frequently rendered injustice by their family, friends, and churches, is because in the minds of most people “happily ever after” is something like everyone saying they are sorry, hugging and shedding tears, and living in perfect peace. And that scenario, I suggest to you, is so rare in abuse cases as to be almost fiction. Rather, happily ever after is getting free of that non-marriage to the abuser and getting him completely out of one’s life. That is happily ever after, but somehow most people just don’t get that, especially in the Christian church.
We forget just how evil and hard the heart of the wicked can be. Consider Noah. There he was, building an ark and thereby preaching a sermon for 120 years. God’s patience waited all that time. Did man repent? No. One hundred and twenty years the Word of righteousness went out, but to no avail. There was no happily ever after, at least in the Hollywood sense of the phrase. Man’s heart was only evil continually, and violence filled the earth. That is the heart, and violence is the fruit, of the heart of the abuser — particularly the kind who wears a “Christian” disguise.
We are very selfish and self-seeking if we insist that an abuse victim remain in bondage to the wicked. Why do we do that? Because we want to write the script. We want a happily ever after. It warms our hearts. And that, I believe, is one reason the church can be so cold to a victim who comes forward, reports the abuse, and takes steps to get free. We want these scenarios to end with the Hallelujah Chorus. The reality is that we can sing that chorus when we see that real justice is effected upon the wicked and for the oppressed. We will sing it as well on that Day of the resurrection when the wicked are judged once and for all and the righteous stand in glory in the New Earth and Heavens. And we won’t be singing because every marriage was preserved. We will be singing praises to the Lord because justice was brought once and for all upon the evil ones, who we will never see again.