The abuser’s deceptive way of asking questions; and Jesus’ shrewd use of questions to stymie the wicked
Telling the truth is central to Christianity. In the lead-up to my conversion, God pricked me multiple times about how I was a liar and I had to stop doing it.
Buckling on the belt of truth is the first step in donning the armor of God. If we don’t put on truth, the rest of the armor will be of little use.
… take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth … (Eph. 6:13-14)
For the domestic abuser, lies and deception are core conduct. Many of the lies they tell are designed to make them appear virtuous, honourable and beyond suspicion so they can more easily carry out their villainous deeds.
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Rev. 22:15 KJV)
The guileful abuser is able to make a lie in the form of a question; rather like wrapping up skunk-smell in a box with pretty paper and topping it off with a fancy ribbon.
Let’s look at how Judas did it.
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. … (Matthew 26:14-16)
So, having made a deal to betray Jesus to the religious leaders, having just signed himself up as an avowed enemy of Christ, he sat at the Last Supper with the other disciples and asked an ‘innocent’ smooth-as-butter question:
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” (vs 20-25)
Notice how Judas parroted the other disciples’ question. They had all asked “Is it I?”, so he asked it too. The abuser who masquerades as a Christian is a copy-cat; he notices what believers say and parrots their words. And he does it so well that for most people it goes under the radar.
Here is another example of Judas asking a softer-than-oil question:
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:3-6)
How godly Judas was! Such a good steward of valuable resources! So charitable to the poor! Could anyone raise an eyebrow at that? And he was courteous: he didn’t accuse or name anybody outright — he just posed a reasonable question to gently get people to think about their ethics. He was a model gentleman!
Like all forms of speech and writing, questions can be guileful or godly, villainous or benevolent. Questions can be posed to distract from the truth, or to probe for the truth.
Questions can also be framed to deflect the motives of fools, or to obstruct the schemes of the wicked. This is how Jesus often used questions. He asked shrewd questions to stymie those who craftily interrogated him to trap him.
Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” (Matt 21:24-25)
But Jesus answered [the Saducees], “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (22:23-32)
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (22:41-45)
When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? (Luke 5:22-23)
Many more examples of shrewd questioning could be cited from the New Testament epistles, not to mention the OT prophets. Maybe you can think of more. Or perhaps you can give examples of nefarious questions posed by abusers (but be careful not to cite examples that might too closely identify you.)
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By the way, I have not forgotten my promise to write a post about the ethics of using deception as a means of protection when one is under abuse or persecution, such as when the Hebrew midwives lied to protect the newborn Israelite boys in Egypt.