A Cry For Justice

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

What did Jesus mean by “Love your enemies”?

Can you help me understand these passages in light of how we are to treat the abuser? Jesus seems to teach us two diametrically opposed responses to those who do evil  — one of which is found in these verses.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)

I was recently asked this very good question.  Here was my reply.

So, aren’t we supposed to be telling abuse and domestic violence victims that God wants them to stay in the abuse, make themselves available for more abuse, let the abuser keep right on withholding money and resources from them, and wait for God to reward them on that Day? You have the same thing in the parallel passage in Matthew:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48)

In light of these commands, do we have this whole abuse thing all turned around when we tell victims to divorce the abuser or to turn them in to the police? No. Not at all. Let me show you why.

Jesus is teaching that His people are to emulate God the Father. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Sons bear the character of their father. If we are sons of God, then we behave as He does, reflecting our spiritual DNA given us in the new birth. So, how does God treat the wicked who are His enemies?

  • He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil
  • He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good
  • He sends rain on the just and on the unjust

See it? Jesus is teaching us about God the Father’s common grace. Common grace is undeserved favor that God shows to all people in common. It is an expression of His mercy and love toward all — a general mercy and love. Not His specific, electing and redeeming love shown to His own in Christ, but His grace poured out on all human beings. Just and unjust. Wicked and righteous. This is the thing Jesus is teaching about in these passages — how we are to reflect our Father’s character through showing all people, including enemies and persecutors, common grace.

How do we do that? Well, first of all we do not seek personal vengeance upon them. Pray for justice, yes. Turn them into the police, yes. Pray that Christ will soon come and mete out His perfect justice upon the wicked. Yes. Pick up a rifle and go snipe them? No! That is personal vengeance and we are to leave it to the Lord. Let Him repay them.

So let’s bring this home to the case of the domestic abuser and his victim. What is Jesus telling us in these verses about such a case? It is this:

  • Realize that they are indeed an enemy and a persecutor. Jesus is not telling us to pretend that this isn’t so. He tells us He is talking about “those who are evil, those who strike us, those who are our enemies.” There is no fiction here that He is promoting. “Well, he’s really a good guy who has just had a rough go of it in life and if you truly get to know him you would see that and love him.” Nope! None of that abuser-enabling stuff here. Jesus calls these people what they are. Our enemies.
  • But in dealing with these enemies, knowing full well that they ARE enemies, we extend the Lord’s common grace to them when the opportunity comes. We don’t zap them immediately — we leave that to the Lord. We don’t let them go hungry or naked — we give to them expecting nothing in return. If we see one of them laying on the road bleeding after a car wreck, we render first aid and call an ambulance. God the Father does these things and so must we. (In fact, the true Christian will WANT to do these things and we have to take care that this Spirit-led love in us is dealt out wisely or we get ourselves into trouble!).

NONE of this instruction precludes us from seeking justice or from escaping the abuse. None of it requires remaining married to the wicked abuser or keeping silent about the abuse. (In fact, God’s common grace sometimes comes in the form of His withholding of good things in order to lead someone to repentance).

So the question to ask in order to answer our quandries about Jesus’ teaching in this regard is, “Well, how does God Himself treat the wicked today?” “How did Jesus respond to His enemies when He was here on this planet?” The Lord, you see, showed them common grace, warned them to repent, announced the coming Day of Judgement to them, and told them they were children of the devil and would perish if they didn’t believe in Him.

But He never requires His people to be bound together with the wicked, to remain married to those who abuse them, or to just “suck it up and take it.” Nope. He doesn’t.  So don’t let anyone claim that He does.

***

If you’ve never commented on this blog before it is important to read our New Users’ Info page because it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And if you’re new to this blog we encourage you look at our FAQs.  The New Users Info page and the FAQs can also be found on the top menu bar.

Related posts: 

The Lord is Merciful and Gracious: but He Does Not Forgive His Enemies

Distinguishing Enemies From Brothers, And How We Deal Differently With Each

Dealing with Abusive Men (a reblog from My Only Comfort by Ps Sam Powell)

Does unconditional love even exist?

They will turn again and rend you — Matthew 7:6

Does “Turn the Other Cheek” Mean We Must Submit to Abuse?

 

 

27 Comments

  1. OvercomingSurvivor

    I needed to hear this again today. I am an adult daughter of a malignant narcissistic father, and I grew up with his abuse of my mother and us children. Today my mother and sisters still scapegoat me, telling me to stop talking about his abuse, to forgive and live in peace with each other because this is what Jesus wants. Except their peace is with a snake and they continue in his habitual relational sins against me and each other. Understanding how to love these enemies of mine is helping me heal and overcome his evil legacy at last. So thankful for Crying out for Justice, I have learnt so much and my understanding of the evil going on has grown so much as well. I wish my mother could have had this information when she was younger. She totally believed she had to change and work harder to save her marriage. She took all the blame for her husband’s evil.

    • Hi OvercomingSurvivor,

      I see you haven’t commented in awhile, so I wanted to Welcome you back!

      You may have already done this, but we like to encourage readers to visit our New User’s page and our FAQ page. You may find some helpful information there.

      Again Welcome!

    • Helovesme

      I’m so sorry for your being scapegoated. I know what that’s like–and it’s the hardest when it’s your family or loved ones doing it to you. They are so wrong for doing it, yet because of your relation to them (you care for them) or relationship to them (that’s your family!)–it’s hard to truly separate yourself from their attitudes towards you. … Persons who do that are in a dark place, and it’s vital that we do not share in their darkness, or carry a burden that does not belong to us. I’m finding that to be a daily grind, however, to not feel the humiliation and embarrassment that I feel responsible for, yet I am not in His eyes.

      I had the honor of reading the book of Job in a study fashion — and I cringed at how his so-called friends were treating him. They were just hammering away at him: “bad things don’t happen for no reason, so you must be responsible” But he refused to take any shame or blame that he knew he wasn’t guilty of. Job also knew he wasn’t perfect or perfectly sinless, but he knew he didn’t deserve to be scapegoated. The Lord made it clear he was blameless. I try to think of Brother Job when I am slammed on all sides with blame and shame that I do not deserve. BUT — I’m careful to ask the Lord if I do need to repent of something. It’s not always clear or obvious until He brings clarity.

  2. Amen, pastor Crippen, we will miss the regular but oh so practical wisdom from you as you take leave from ACFJ! Thank you for helping to distinguish between common grace which is for all human kind and that which is the inheritance of the saints who have hearts devoted to Him and are indwelt his Holy Spirit and chose not to abuse!
    Best wishes to you!

  3. Lily

    Jesus said to walk the extra mile, not 10. Or 1000. There is a difference. Turn the other cheek, not back and forth, back and forth. Show that you have no ill will to the person himself, yet will not stay and be used again and again.

    I was talking with the pastor about why so many people don’t get married but live together, sometimes for a long long time. Could it be partly because the church has portrayed marriage as slavery?

    • Helovesme

      May I ask how your Pastor responded? Those were interesting points you brought up. I think every couple has their individual reasons for wanting to live together instead of get married. Many couples seem to intend to get married, eventually.

      I think we could go on and on about how marriage is portrayed in and out of the church, so I don’t think there’s enough room or time on this website! I do think you might be “on” to something there, though, with how marriage is depicted or described in the church. My personal opinion (and I am married) is that there is massive amounts of confusion about what Biblical marriage is and isn’t. There are books, discussions, sermons that all try to figure it all out, but I personally think we haven’t quite gotten there yet.

      • Lily

        Well the pastor is a woman, married to an angry man, so……..she gets it. We talk about this website and similar, wondering how best to help some of the couples in the community. She also helped my husband and me quite a bit with counseling.

  4. M&M

    And if they end up in jail, they just got food and shelter 🙂

  5. Helovesme

    Loving our enemies has been grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted, and I’ve been massively guilty of that. Thank you so much for providing wonderful insight and understanding. I have probably caused myself so much harm and unneeded pain and suffering — trying to be a “good” Christian when I should have stood up for myself and abandoned the spirit of fear that He makes clear that He did not give us.

    However, it’s still not easy to love our enemies, even in the “common gracious” way that is so beautifully explained. No one but the Holy Spirit working within us could enable us to do it. It is in our fallen nature to want nothing but misery for those who have harmed us so badly (I don’t refer to His justice and proper vengeance, which is completely sanctioned to ask for and expect from Him).

    I recall the Lord speaking to my heart once about praying for my enemies, and I realized that He was asking me to pray for them b/c they needed prayer badly. The way that those persons were acting and behaving towards me was testimony that they were in a very bad place w/ Him, which of course He had great sorrow over. And He was asking me to have pity on them to replace the hate (again, not the kind of pity that excuses their sin or welcomes them into my life again. Sadness for their sin, sadness for their blindness — hope that He can still reach them. But I keep my distance from them. When I realized those persons are emotionally manipulative and/or using me — it was perfectly wise to get out and be free of them).

    And I also prayed for them until the Lord told me it was time to stop & let go.

    I’m sorry for a long comment, but I also recall feeling so much pressure to pray for and forgive my enemies that I almost completely neglected praying for my own personal healing — which was badly needed. I was trying to hard to be “good” that I didn’t realize I was spiritually bleeding from many wounds. I didn’t realize that it was no crime to ask for pity for my own wounded soul, as well as asking Him to give me strength to have pity for my enemies. Our enemies are called that for a reason. They have caused us much damage. As much as He wants us to be like Him, we are also His children first and foremost–and no way did He intend for me to “bleed” to death while still trying to be a good little Christian solider!

    • Thanks Helovesme! I really appreciate this comment of yours. 🙂

      • Helovesme

        Thank you so much.

  6. Kim

    These verses address how we are to treat people in general. What is being confused here is that being married to an abuser is that he/she is breaking the marriage covenant (contract, vows) and not loving his/her spouse as their own flesh or as their own selves. So, although it is safe to say a victim tried to love them to teach them to love, it doesn’t work and is not appreciated by snakes. So, leaving and divorcing is saving your own life and is a different subject (apples and oranges) than the writer’s post.

    • Hi Kim, Jeff certainly has taught, many times over on this blog, that leaving and divorcing an abuser is totally permitted by the Bible.

    • Clockwork Angel

      No kidding! And what’s with even having a marriage covenant/contract/vows when it isn’t enforced when someone so gravely breaks it? But then the mantra is, “We all are going to break these vows every day by failing to perfectly love our spouse.” Really? Then why make vows before God at all? Isn’t that dangerous? And, now every little thing becomes a breakage of the covenant, which is just sin leveling, which just lessens the culpability of something that is truly grave like abuse or adultery.

      Who in their right mind would sign a contract for so much as a credit card or loan, thinking that just because they are a Christian that the contract isn’t enforced and that they can not pay their bills? It seems Christians in general have cheapened marriage to the point that the contract means less than that of a new credit card. Surely the more serious the contract, the more it should be enforced, including dissolution upon breakage?

    • Hi Kim, I just want to check something. When you said “What is being confused here…” did you mean that Jeff was being confusing/confused? Or did you mean that the teacher/advice giver who Jeff is responding to was being confusing or was confused?

  7. Rambling Rose Inspiration

    This is truth. Two days ago when I opened my Bible app on my phone, what instantly came up wasn’t my plans I’m reading or the verse of the day, but Isaiah 33: Woe to you, O destroyer, you who have not been destroyed! Woe to you, O betrayer, you who have not been betrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed. When you stop betraying, you will be betrayed.

    I’d never read that passage before! God is merciful AND God is Holy, Righteous and Just. I recognize this and now to His Justice, which is righteous, and His redemptive Judgment and say “Your will be done for Your Glory.” I did what I could to warn the abuser who dumped me, but I’m standing for truth now and trying to patiently wait on God’s will and authority and plan.

  8. Clockwork Angel

    Thank you, Jeff, for this timely post! In fact, your previous one was also timely.

    I received news last week that my biological father and abuser had passed away. It’s been hard to process. I didn’t think it would be, because I haven’t allowed him to be a part of my life, and have just been living life without him, happy. (Well, mostly happy, as the past still hurts.)

    At first I was numb when I heard. His sister had left a message on an answering machine telling me (since I would not call her back due to my own no contact rule). That’s how I found out. Ironically, what made me cry at first was not my father’s passing, but that my aunt (his sister) told me on her answering machine message how I needed to forgive, despite how he “had some failures as a father”, and how she was “worried for my soul”. She said basically that It dredged up so much. His side of the family acts like I’m hiding my secret lair plotting my revenge, concocting an elaborate plan to slash his tires or something. Not true! But because I wouldn’t talk to him anymore because he was *still abusive* and I didn’t want to be hurt anymore, that made me unforgiving somehow. And then there’s minimizing the abuse by calling them mere “failures”. It hurts to be raked over the coals like this, to have his family lash out at me. (I guess they couldn’t do that to my mother anymore, so now I am the new target. Granted, they always indirectly lashed out at me as collateral damage when lashing out at my mother. They always treated us like we were Siamese twins joined at the brain.)

    These people never expected anything of my abuser. Just me. Just my Mom. The scary part is that this aunt who left the nasty gram on my answering machine is a pastor. God knows what she counsels other abuse victims to do. An even bigger betrayal is that she herself grew up abused by her own father. She ought to understand, of all people, but she just can’t see that her brother willfully chose to be a narcissist. She treats him like he’s a little victim. The child abuse he endured doesn’t excuse his behavior. It is, in fact, a betrayal of his own wife and child to inflict what he himself hated so much.

    Anyway, it began to hit the next day. The finality of it all. Not knowing if maybe my father repented as he slipped away, or if he couldn’t anymore, that he was too far gone and past that. I started crying, thinking to myself, “Why didn’t you listen? I tried to warn you! My Mom tried to warn you! Why? You had the truth. You went to church. You had the Scriptures! Why?”

    I don’t feel for him as I would a father. He killed that relationship long ago. Anything I felt for him as a child was of a mirage of the father I had wanted him to be. I don’t see that mirage anymore. But I lived with him for nearly two decades of my life. I care for him on the level of a roommate, a human being. To think of where he might very well be today is very gut-wrenching. Gut-wrenching that a human being could make these choices, to not repent, to not see themselves as they truly are, despite all the warnings and truth they are presented with. There is something horrifying that hits home when you know the person who chose this path, who might very well have not met a good end.

    The hardest part for me comes two-fold. One is that the last abusive act he could do to me is to leave me without closure. All he ever had to do was say he’s sorry. Not the manipulative sorry that was meant to get me to talk to him so he could feel happy about himself. Not the blanket apologies he’d give to get you off his back, where he’d parrot what you’d said to him, but can’t give specifics of how he behaved that way. A real apology, where he *can* name specific events of what he did, without any blame shifting. An apology where he promises to get help/counseling for his abusive behavior with someone who won’t allow him to blame shift. This should have been to both me and my mother, or else it wouldn’t be sincere. And very importantly, I wanted him to go to all the churches where he slandered us and confess the same specific list of events and overall behavior that was abusive to them, so as to clear our names. This is the man who not only abused us both for years, but who also abandoned us and tried to drive us homeless. (And we very nearly went there, too.) Real repentance would have admitted to all that he had done, with specifics, and would have made it all public to those to whom he had slandered us. (The guy literally painted me as a rebellious teenager to his church elders, so that he could come home from church and tell me how his elders told him he could kick me out as soon as I turned 18. God knows what he said about my Mom, but she would instantly be unpopular wherever she went to church with him.)

    Such a sincere apology would have brought me so much healing, because it would have finally brought me VINDICATION. Isn’t that what we crave? That our names are cleared, that we are declared innocent, that our reputations be restored? Instead, he abused me and my mother one last time by withholding it. Instead, right up until last year, we kept getting manipulative letters with “Please forgive me” on the envelope’s return address. No true, sincere apology. Just manipulation to get what he wanted — money, a false sense of comfort from his daughter. Even his “nice” letters contained degrading statements and blame shifting. He left me without the vindication I needed to heal. That’s what made me break down — that, and the fact that I would have had hope for him as a human being if he had done this one thing for me and my mother.

    The other hard part in all this relates a lot to your last post, Jeff. The teddy bear church that sweeps grave sin under the rug. This false teaching of this teddy bear god in the sky who sweeps sin under the rug has made it very hard for me to heal from the abuse, because it made me feel like God didn’t care about my suffering. I’m just collateral damage, just like my extended family treats me. I am horrified at the idea of dying and finding out that my abuser is in heaven without God so much as dealing with him in any way, like making him repent. I have such mixed feelings! I don’t want a human being to go to hell, and yet I don’t want to share space with my abuser in eternity with everything just swept under the rug, like what he did to me and my Mom doesn’t matter. That would be hell! And this is the common church teaching, that heaven is really just more hell for the abuse victim. The ideal would be that my father repent, so that he would be a whole new person. But that doesn’t seem to have happened in this life. And even if that happened at the last minute while he slipped away, doesn’t that cheapen the horror I experienced? Why couldn’t he repent sooner so that I could have some peace? And so I feel conflicted and confused. What should I hope for? What should I even wish for? Is it wrong? What is right? And worst of all, how do I trust that God isn’t like my extended family and my father, that He won’t just sweep it all under the rug like it’s no big deal?

    It’s that last one that has eaten me for decades. And now I’m having to face it head on. Can I trust God that He cares? That even if my father did repent at the last minute, that God will still address what he did to us? That he didn’t just get a blank check in life?

    I’m sorry this comment is so long. I just wanted to say thank you, Jeff, for two blog posts that have helped me to make peace with this. I still have a long way to go, but your work here (and Barb’s — indeed, everyone at this entire site) has helped me come very far.

    Perhaps my overly long comment can somehow help other people’s children here. I know most of those commenting here are the spouses of the abusers. But someday their children will grow up and be in my boat. Their abuser will pass. They’ll have to deal with the lack of closure, and having to wait for a final closure on that Day. It’s a long wait, to be sure, to receive vindication and closure, to know for sure what finally happened to your abuser, and what will ultimately happen to you.

    Thank you for hearing me out, and for hearing all the other victims of abuse. You don’t know what it means to us to have this site!

    • Thank you Clockwork Angel. 🙂 You have expressed all the facets of your feelings and thoughts so very well.

      I don’t know whether me ‘offering condolences’ is the right wording… it seems like those words would fall very far short, given what you have so carefully and truthfully articulated here.

      This false teaching of this teddy bear god in the sky who sweeps sin under the rug has made it very hard for me to heal from the abuse, because it made me feel like God didn’t care about my suffering. I’m just collateral damage, just like my extended family treats me. I am horrified at the idea of dying and finding out that my abuser is in heaven … I don’t want a human being to go to hell, and yet I don’t want to share space with my abuser in eternity with everything just swept under the rug, like what he did to me and my Mom doesn’t matter. That would be hell! And this is the common church teaching, that heaven is really just more hell for the abuse victim. … so I feel conflicted and confused. What should I hope for? What should I even wish for? Is it wrong? What is right? And worst of all, how do I trust that God isn’t like my extended family and my father, that He won’t just sweep it all under the rug like it’s no big deal?

      These are good and valid questions, given all the spiritual abuse and false teaching that ‘c’hurches and ‘c’hristians gave you.

      God is not like your extended family. No one can go to heaven unless they have repented — wholly and fully — unto saving faith in Christ. The churches who taught you that teddy-bear god in the sky concept are false churches. They are what the bible would call synagogues of satan. Places where the devil and his children can prowl around devouring sheep and preaching falsehood from the pulpit.

      It is right to wish for vindication. These false churches never give vindication to the oppressed and abused. But victim of abuse who has come to saving faith in Christ will most certainly received vindication from God! You can confidently hope for that and expect that God will vindicate you, if you are a true Christian. God will say to you “They were wrong. Your father and your aunt and the other members of your extended family were wrong to abuse you and to sweep your father’s heinous sins under the rug, pressuring you to overlook them as if they were no big deal. They were wrong. They were wicked to say and do that to you. You are healthy to want an apology. The most likely will never apologise to you. But God sees their sins and he will vindicate you and comfort you for all the wrong you have suffered.

      You might find these links helpful, if you haven’t already read them. Sorry if I give too many links. Don’t feel obliged to read them!
      ((hugs)) from Barb

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/03/10/forgiveness-requires-justice/

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/05/23/vengeance-and-vindication-what-is-the-difference/

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/03/30/job-shows-us-how-we-may-respond-to-suffering/

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/10/12/according-to-many-pastors-the-saints-in-heaven-are-sinning/

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/08/23/oppressed-by-the-wicked-but-rejoicing-in-the-lord-psalm-64/

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/04/13/christians-need-to-get-pity-right-and-stop-pitying-the-wicked-while-refusing-pity-to-the-innocent/

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/06/26/sin-destroys-relationships-and-sometimes-the-destruction-is-total/

      • Clockwork Angel

        Thanks, Barb, as always! No, you can never give too many links!

        I think the hardest part is that there is a brainwashing involved in the whole thing to see the teddy bear in the sky view. It’s hard to break through that brainwashing and to take Scripture at its word and have it really sink in deep into the soul. It makes trust in God hard, because my brain just snaps right back to the false view of God rather than the true view as He presents Himself in Scripture. This is why I’m so grateful for this site. All of you affirm that God actually *cares*. I couldn’t be a Christian otherwise. I remember once meeting someone who grew up in a “Christian” home where there was abuse, and who watched his abuser being affirmed by his church. He grew up discarding Christianity thinking that God hated him. And who could blame him? His church excommunicated his mother when she finally had the courage to leave the abuser. This young man needed to hear that God hates the abuser and not the victim. (Which I did tell him, but he had a hard time believing it. I pray in time he does.) This teddy bear in the sky view of God needs to be demolished so that these broken people can find healing in Christ and know that He doesn’t hate them.

        In the meantime, I hold onto Revelation 3:9. Our abusers *will* be forced to fall to their feet and acknowledge that Jesus has loved us. Considering how my father used to tell me how I wasn’t Elect back when I was a teenager, this verse has meant a lot to me. It’s hard to believe it sometimes because it sounds too good to be true. It’s all too easy to forget it’s there. But it is. And I’m going to keep trying to hold onto it and not let anyone tell me it’s not going to happen.

      • > This teddy bear in the sky view of God needs to be demolished so that abused people can find healing in Christ and know that He doesn’t hate them.

        Amen. I believe this is what Paul was getting at when he talked about spiritual warfare being casting down imaginations and every high thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. (2 Cor 10:5, KJV).

        Or, in the NASB:

        We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

        Here’s a post I wrote about this. https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/12/06/dealing-with-a-spiritual-stronghold/

    • Helovesme

      Oh goodness I am still blown away by your post. I know so much of what you described personally–but our experiences also differ in a lot of ways. But the heart of it, the pain, the agony, the terrible trauma — I do feel your pain. I hope you know how “not alone” you are and I will do my best to be praying. I would be happy to reach out to you in a more personal way so we can share stories but I understand this website is anonymous for good reason.

      I can’t pick out all the ways I related to you, b/c there are so many! But some that jumped out @ me strongly: the desire for vindication, feeling “trashed” as a person, wanting real repentance, not just something shallow and selfish, wondering if God really cares about your abuse, dealing with the horrors of abuse (it’s like layers, one on top of another), feeling shamed or blamed by others who obviously don’t understand or reflect His character. Wanting your father to be the person you see in your head, but he’s not that way @ all.

      Obviously, I’m speaking of my own father (who isn’t a Christian), but there’s been other types of spiritual abuse after I became one that I’m currently dealing with. It hurts the heart, all the way around. I too am unsure if I should express sorrow for your loss; that just wouldn’t “cut” it I feel like. I will just leave it that I am simply so sorrowful for all the ways you’ve been hurt. And I know He is with you, empathizing and carrying your burdens daily (Psalm 94:19)

      “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
      That I would see the goodness of the Lord
      In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13–this verse encourages me to keep going. Pray it gives you a moment of consolation)

      • Helovesme

        I apologize for double commenting. I will try to keep this short. I had a chance to re-read your story, and process some of it a bit further. I am offering this as food for thought (as it has helped me), not as some sort of counsel. If it in any way, shape or form comes off as mean spirited, it s not my intention at all.

        You mentioned the conflict and confusion about your father at the end of his life. It brought to my mind the thieves on the cross, being crucified w/ Jesus. Sometime during their horrible ordeal (at first I believe both of them were hurling insults at Him)–one of the thieves rebuked the other thief for being so cruel to Jesus: asking him if he feared God, saying that they were suffering justly, but that Jesus had done nothing wrong. He then asked Jesus to remember him when when He went to His kingdom. And Jesus assured Him that he would be with Him in Paradise. (Luke 23).

        I was drawn to this story for lots of reasons. First–this thief had no name, no back story–but he went home with Jesus right away. He also said he was receiving just punishment–and w/ the obvious exception of Jesus Himself–they did not crucify people lightly. So his crimes must have been heinous, and most likely there was ample evidence to put him to death this way. And I now wonder about his victims–who they were and how they might have reacted @ those words of Jesus–if they were still alive. And–he didn’t ask Jesus to take him home with Him–just to remember him–but Jesus went further and said he would be with Him in paradise. Not only that–but it’s very, very painful to talk while being crucified. It makes the pain worse, and words do not come easily, if at all.

        There’s a lot to chew on here. God doesn’t extend forgiveness lightly. And He would never sweep aside the victims of this man’s crimes, or sweep the sins under the rug. Someway, somehow–justice was served for both the criminal and the victim. The man did not climb off the cross, suddenly a free and forgiven man. He did pay the price for breaking the law, but he went home with Jesus due to full recognition of his crimes–although at the last minute.

        One thing that sorrows me to no end, even now–is that my childhood was ruined b/c of my horrible family life. I’ll never get that back–I’ll never get to be that young again and feel safe, innocent, no adult responsibilities & no happy memories to look back upon from that time when I should have been carefree and not fighting for survival. Even if my dad does repent, he can never give me back those years. That is something I still carry around to this day, and I feel great pain over still.

        However, I would rather be considered a child of God for the rest of my life, rather than have a ton of happy memories for a short number of years (in my early 40’s, I can claim that!). My childhood sufferings opened a door for the Lord to show me love and compassion like no one else bothered to. Even though I struggled to call Him “Father” for a good decade or more (I couldn’t separate how different my father and my Heavenly father were, no matter how much Scripture I read)–now I call Him that all the time. He is my Father–nothing like my earthly one. Even the best earthly fathers in the world, put together, cannot compare or equal or compete with His goodness in any way, shape or form. He is never abusive. Never loses His temper with me. Never slanders, gossips, betrays or and would never, ever lay a hand on me. EVER. He is pure, perfect and loves me. Loves to be with me. Loves spending time w/ me. Seriously–even in writing those words–I’m bowled over and blessed–and a bit in disbelief, still. When you have spent so many years feeling unloved–it’s hard to believe such a Father exists.

        Now I am begging Him to use my sufferings for His good, for His purpose, to bless and help and show compassion to others. There are so many people who have been through unspeakable tragedy, and all they want is a kind word, a friendly ear and a prayerful voice. I would do almost anything, I think, to erase what happened to me, b/c it has also ruined a good part of my adult life–although I am slowly rebuilding that, too.

        I don’t know if I will ever be vindicated, but you are right on for never losing heart in that area. It is a serious thing to have our names dragged thru the mud, our reputation slandered and lies told about us to anyone who will listen. My hope rests in the fact that He knows all, sees all and understands my pain (remember how He was slandered and treated abusively). I trust He will someway, somehow make beauty from these ashes–albeit a big, tall pile of ashes! I pray the same for you, too, friend and sister in Christ.

      • And God would never sweep aside the victims of this man’s crimes, or sweep the sins under the rug. Someway, somehow – justice was served for both the criminal and the victim.

        The way justice was served on that criminal was that Jesus Christ bore the punishment for that man’s crimes. When the criminal repented and trusted in Christ as Savior and Lord, the benefit of Jesus’s substitutionary punishment was effectually applied to him. The criminal’s body died from the crucifixion but his spirit was saved and he was forgiven because in his last few hours on the cross he recognised his sins, saw that he was a wretched blind miserable sinner under God’s wrath, and trusted in Christ for salvation. The Father drew him, the Son died for him, the Spirit revealed to him who Jesus really was and quickened his dead-in-sin spirit to life.

      • Clockwork Angel

        Thank you so much for your response! (Indeed, for both of them!)

        I get what you’re saying with the repentant thief on the cross still dying. There are still temporal consequences to our actions–we tend to call it “discipline”, so that we don’t do such things again. It reminds me of when murderers in prison have their come-to-Jesus moment and then plead for the governor to pardon them just because they discovered Christianity. While I believe in mercy, there are still consequences in real life that God allows and even perhaps causes in some cases. These consequences ensure that even we as Christians don’t cross lines that should not be crossed, and misrepresent God to others. They also stop us from continuing in bad behavior and bring us to repentance.

        David never got off the hook for what he did to Uriah and Bathsheba. He suffered gravely when God removed His Divine protection from His household. Yes, he was forgiven, and his relationship with God restored. But God wanted to make sure this never happened again in David’s life, and that others would not be emboldened. But so many today just want a free pass with no consequences for their actions. Christianity today has been reduced to a get out of jail free card. When victims are told to “forgive” their abusers, what they are really being told is to hand out one of these cards and absorb all the consequences that would have normally fallen on the abuser. In other words, we get abused all over again. The abuser continues in his behavior, never seeing a reason to do otherwise, as there are no consequences.

  9. TuffEnuff

    I find it incredulous that Christians want to compare my living in an abusive marriage to the relationship of “masters and slaves” and “enemies”. They do this with a straight face, too.

  10. everydayBRAVE

    This is very helpful. Thank you!

  11. Readers who have found this post helpful might also like to read Jeff Crippen’s post Does “Turn the Other Cheek” Mean We Must Submit to Abuse, which was published in 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: