A Cry For Justice

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

Suppressing the Truth in Unrighteousness

The Apostle Paul identifies very clearly the fundamental reason for idolatry:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)

God has revealed Himself to His creation so clearly that all human beings are without excuse when it comes to their failure to honor Him as God/Creator and give Him thanks. Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, such people set themselves on a foolhardy course of foolishness characterized by the lie that the creature is God. Fallen man would sooner worship a snake than bow before God. Thus we see God justly handing these idolaters over to the depths of their evil and sin.

Now, what has all of this got to do with abuse? Certainly abuse is one result of life in a society that largely rejects God. But it is this matter of “by their unrighteousness suppressing the truth” that has jumped out at me this evening. In our ministry to the victims of abuse, we see — everyday — people who profess to be Christians suppressing the truth.  They hold it down. Like any truth, the truth about the nature and existence of abuse keeps trying to jump right out in front of our eyes, but for some reason most people suppress it. Shove it back down as if they were playing one of those carnival pop-up games.  There it is again! Whack, knock it back down out of sight.

Let me suggest a theory of mine. I suggest that there is far more culpability (guilt) among people who don’t “get it” about abuse than we might realize. Yes, a certain degree of naivete can explain things, but only for a time. At some point the Spirit of Truth in the Christian is going to put the truth about abusers, their thinking, their tactics, etc. square in front of that person’s eyes. And if the response is more suppression of that truth, well then, Romans 1 says there is a serious, serious problem. Because this kind of suppression is characteristic of people who are practicing unrighteousness. People who simply and knowingly refuse to submit themselves to truth that God has revealed. The thing really comes right up to at least the edge of idolatry because such people exchange the truth of God for a lie. That lie eventually is given some kind of form (marriage, for example) and becomes a false god.

Truth, you see, even as it is revealed by God Himself, is not welcome among idol worshipers. Which once again brings us back round to the question that so often nags at us — just how many people today who claim to be Christians, aren’t? Or how many have permitted idol worship to creep into their minds and hearts with its deceiving, blinding effects. I must confess myself – I believe I was more culpable in the days of my ignorance about abuse that I may want to have admitted to myself. We can probably all own up to that. But what, I ask again, what of people who have the truth about this evil put squarely before them time and time again, but they just keep on pushing it down out of sight?

 

19 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    In my case, many of his allies including family members are very very afraid of him; they fear his wrath and therefore will not confront him. They will comment on his many abuses toward me and others but as you say, they continue to keep pushing it out of sight. At the very least they are enabler’s. To enable is NOT to love. I happen to believe the highest form of love is to not allow someone to continue abusing you. So as the wife (separated but still married), of an abuser I believe I am honoring my marriage covenant by loving him in the highest form – refusing to be abused. This is certainly for my good, and for his good, but above all, for the glory of God!!

    • Remedy

      Well said anonymous…… I am in agreement about what love really does with a destructive person.

  2. To acknowledge truth is to be held accountable to it while refusing to acknowledge it is an attempt to avoid that accountability. When a person ignores the truth and suppresses it, they are putting off the inevitable fact that at some point, truth will not be ignored. Either they will willingly acknowledge the truth and change, or truth will eventually bring them down, crushing them beneath its weight. In the case of an abuser, the former is very unlikely and the latter, sadly, usually happens only at the judgment.

    As sad as this is, what is even more so, are the countless bodies of their victims which they leave in the wake of their willful ignorance. All aided by a complicit religious system that should know better.

    • Anonymous

      For them to acknowledge the truth is to recognize they are not in control, God is. Their power-hungry appetites simply cannot allow them to surrender. If so, they would implode. King Saul!

  3. surviving freedom

    This one really hits home for me. I do know that abusers can be masters at deception and manipulation, so those people who are naive to the true nature of abuse can be easily convinced that “evil” doesn’t exist, attempt to find excuses for it. Especially if the abuser claims to be a Christian, people would seem to rather hide their head in the sand or find something that the target of the abuse is doing that perpetuates the abuse. Even though God’s Word makes it clear that such people exist and He gives us His discernment regarding those people.

    I know for myself, even living with it for twenty-five years and experiencing it first hand, some days it’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that someone could do so much harm and not want to change, or that he does it on purpose. So I do understand that there are a lot of people who are Christians and do desire to follow God’s Word, but they have been mislead and taught so wrongly concerning abuse.

    What is frustrating is when those who are leaders or teachers of God’s Word, those we are told to trust and respect, to go to for counsel and understanding are suppressing the truth, and worse. I have been quoted Scripture not only in attempts to suppress the truth, but also to condemn me for attempting to seek help for that which was in darkness. I was actually told by a pastor, a few years ago, that it is not his job to remove unrepentant sinners from the church that God will take care of it in the end (with a Scriptural quote to back it up), and that if my husband was not fulfilling his role as a godly husband, I’m still obligated to fulfill my role as a godly wife (again with much Scripture to validate what he was saying). And here’s the worst … that in no case should I be asking people in the prayer circle to be praying for me or disclose issues, as that would be DISHONORING to my husband.

    I know for many years I was unable to see the truth, but God found a way through. He showed me. For many years I would pray and ask God to show me what I was doing wrong, and then one day I prayed something I had never even thought of, but in desperation I cried out, “God, what is going on with him [my husband]” And you wouldn’t believe the things God started to reveal to me. It took time, it wasn’t all shown to me at once, but it can be so confusing when leaders and pastors just want it to be hidden away. Even the ‘c’hristian marriage counselor we had been seeing for a while pulled away from me and said, “Whoa, let’s not go there,” when I mentioned that I had been reading information about covert abuse and manipulation and I was seeing so much of it in my husband.

    So the truth is there is they are willing to hear it, unfortunately there are many who aren’t.

    • joy

      I had to look at the top of this post to make sure I hadn’t written it. Wow. My journey and my heart. Thank you.

  4. Anonymous

    “….but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The word “futile” here in the Greek is “mataioó” and means “to make vain, foolish; become vain or foolish, perverted; make empty; become aimless (“pointless”); fall into error.” It is used only once in the Bible.

    To address the question put forth, “….what of people who have the truth about this evil put squarely before them time and time again, but they just keep on pushing it down out of sight?” Well it appears that they become futile in their thinking and therefore foolish, vain, empty and fall into error. Wow. This entire passage puts the responsibility squarely on the individual who denies the truth about God as seen in his creation, and apparently this results in futile thinking towards other truths as well. If you continue reading the passage it goes on to say that another outcome for denying the truth about God is sexual perversion, a depraved mind (Greek word “adokimos” meaning “failing to pass the test, unapproved, counterfeit; unapproved, i.e. Rejected; by implication, worthless (literally or morally) — castaway, rejected, reprobate), and some of the harshest descriptions of the worst kind of humans possible:

    Romans 1:29-32, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

    Take some time to look up the meaning in the Greek for each of these words and you may be surprised just how accurately it describes abusers AND those who support them. God seems to have known about what we would be going through (go figure!) and was loving enough to write it down for us so that we would be encouraged that he is in control and does love his own, and to let us know just how bad it is…..and will be.

    Are you fully awake yet? Luke 9:32, “……..but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory…..” God is waking us up so that we can see his glory, and although it is painful (to say the least) you will come to realize just how blessed you are. Thank you again for this website, I wish we didn’t need it — but we DO! — so thank you for continuing to be here for us…we all need each other.

    (The word for “fully awake” is “diagrégoreó” and here’s what HELPS Word studies says: “(from 1223 /diá, “thoroughly” which intensifies 1127 /grēgoreúō, “awaken”) – properly, thoroughly, fully (totally) awakened (note the force of the prefix, dia) and used only in Lk 9:32. It emphatically expresses how the sleeping apostles were utterly shocked into full-alertness by the manifestation of Christ’s glory.) Beautiful isn’t it?

    • Valerie

      Good stuff anonymous!

    • marriedtohyde

      God surely woke me. For years I felt asleep in my own life and was naive and confused. When ex left, He made revelation after revelation to me, and each new understanding brushed the sleepy blindness from my eyes. It was my rebirth as His beloved.

      Being awoken from a dream is disorienting and even painful, but ohhh seeing reality as it really is has been such a blessing!

  5. Abby

    I think that the increase in abuse is directly related to those who will NOT see the truth and hide behind the church of “nice.” My biggest betrayers are not those that abused me but those that saw the truth and would not stand with me.

  6. a prodigal daughter returns

    Several words jump out at me from this convicting post. Idolatry is one of them. Yes, God’s spirit convicts, convinces and speaks to His children. The witnesses of abuse know on some level what they are witnessing. But because we love our comfort, because we rock ourselves to sleep in our Christian cradles with lullaby worship songs as background noise we excuse our “don’t want to get involved ” lifestyle as a Christian way of life. Our own comfort and ease our idol.

    That hard or indifferent heart to the suffering of abuse survivors is what those that are hard toward God look like. Their indifference is the evidence of distance despite their profession of devotion.

    I’m grieved and fearful for the church as I consider what we have made idols out of. A narcissistic preoccupation with our marriages, to the point of worship has supplanted an awe of God and a hunger to minister to the broken world Christ died for. We don’t look like His children or we would sacrificially love what He sacrificial loves. I stand convicted too.

    As our consciences become seared because we refuse to stop loving comfort more than we love obedience. Our idolatry of our own ease and comfort opens ourselves up to the lies and deception that abound around us. But, the day is coming when the consequences of a hard heart toward God and those He created will collect its payment

    Proverbs 29:1 One who becomes stiff-necked, after many reprimands will be shattered instantly– beyond recovery.
    1 Timothy 4 4 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

    I once made an idol of out marriage. I reaped dreadful consequences. May God mercifully wake His church up, it might be painful though.

  7. KayE

    I always tell the truth about my experience of abuse, to those people who ask. Only in outline of course, not in great detail. This is what I’m finding. Most of the non Christians listen and understand. But with only a couple of exceptions, the people who call themselves “Christians” have flatly refused to believe that any abuse ever happened. It seems that it’s normal for the average person to recognize the evil character of abuse. It’s the response of the “Christians” that is not normal.They reward the abusers for their actions and help keep victims in oppression. Thus they are captors themselves. So when I hear things like, “I’d like to say you’d be welcome at our church but…”, I’m not upset at all. I just thank God that He has rescued me from the captivity of those who claim to be His people but are not.

    • Jeff Crippen

      KayE- it is remarkable and maddening, isn’t it? How many of these people who claim the name of Christ really don’t know Him at all? The normal response to evil by a genuine believer is righteous anger and a willingness to stand with victims. So what does that say about these who refuse to believe?

  8. Valerie

    This is so spot on! They are willfully hardening their hearts. Think about the amount of effort the abuser (and some bystanders) expel by twisting, denying, distorting and suppressing the truth when it is presented time and time again from various sources. That takes a lot of effort! Think about every message they have heard about conforming to God’s image and how we are to treat others. Each and every time they have been suppressing the truth and searing their conscience. Scripture tells us we will be judged according to the amount of knowledge we have received and for these types they have willfully chosen over and over to destroy that knowledge rather than produce fruit with it. Scary indeed.

    • Anonymous

      They are heaping upon themselves judgment and more judgment!

  9. Charis

    We are studying Revelation right now – and the depiction of Satan is very obvious; he is ugly and grotesque. Definitely “prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” as the NT suggests. I find the OT descriptions of Satan to be what most Christians have forgotten: stunningly beautiful, dazzingly cunning, charming. How else would he have lured the King & Queen of Eden into sin? How else could he have truly tempted Christ?

    “There is a way that seems right to a man,
    but it’s end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12

    Yes, that’s it. It SEEMS right. Seems SO right. But we fail to follow the logic (or the love) to the outcome. Or we simply cease to care. Either way, the result is the same: death. Emotional death. Spiritual death. Marital death. Physical death. Death.

    This is Satan’s wheelhouse. And he’s driving the bus. And he’s thrilled to death about it.

  10. Abby

    I wish you were all my neighbors. So few understand this.

    • Valerie

      I was praying for something similar today. The only people I’ve met in person who get this were random people that weren’t local. I’m tired and weary from feeling like I need to educate others before getting support. I’ve met lots of new women friends who have been great about listening but you can see they really can’t relate. Hard to explain the effects of brain washing. :-/ Sometimes people glibly say “divorce is hard”. And I’m thinking about how I have barely processed the divorce part…I’m still working on the betrayal, deceit, years of being conned, brain washing and emotional abuse and C-PTSD effects.

    • Thank God for cyberspace, eh?
      Before the internet, we would all have been much more isolated. Finding Christians who have suffered domestic abuse and are willing to talk about it and learn about it is not easy, if we are only looking in our local church networks.

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