1Pe 3:10-12 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; (11) let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. (12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Who is responsible for repentance? The person who sins. The guilty. Innocent people do not need to “turn from their evil deeds.”
And yet this “repentance of the innocents” is precisely what we see taught so often in our churches today. Let me illustrate.
Let’s say Tom wickedly abuses his wife and children. Oh, he wears the standard “saintly” disguise at his church. You know the drill all too well I suspect. His wife eventually shares what is really happening at home with a friend and eventually with her pastor. Saintly Tom:
- Rages in the evenings
- Refuses her access to finances
- Demands she obey him
- Tears down her self-esteem in many ways
- Isolates her from her parents
- Demands sex even after all this abuse
What is the typical response she is going to get from these “fellow Christians?” It’s going to go something like this:
- Marriage is hard. We must be patient and forgiving (ie, SHE needs to be more patient and forgiving)
- A wife is to submit to her husband in all things, even when she doesn’t feel like it. She does not own her body – Tom does
- Tom has heavy responsibilities that often a woman simply cannot understand. She just needs to _________ (fill in the blank)
- Tom was probably abused when he was a boy. His father isn’t the nicest guy, you know. She can “help him” through these angry feelings by being more understanding
- What “buttons” is she pushing to cause Tom to sin?
Now, let me ask you to think carefully about this. Where in the Bible do we ever see the Lord putting the responsibility for a wicked man’s sin on that man’s wife? You know the answer. Never! [Even Sapphira was held responsible ONLY for her sin, not those of Ananias]. And yet this is precisely what is happening all around us in the churches. The innocent is ordered to effect the abuser’s repentance and even to repent herself!
Is that how the Lord deals with evil doers? Does He fall for it when the wicked even try to blame Him?
Mal 2:13-14 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. (14) But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
I want to emphasize once again a basic, foundational, biblical fact that the wicked hate. Domestic abuse victims are not guilty of causing the abuser to abuse. And there is nothing they can do to make their abuser repent. Abusers abuse. And they do so because they have a profound mentality of entitlement to power and control. Being without conscience, they feel fully justified in using whatever missiles of abusive tactics upon their target in order to obtain and maintain that power and control. This is who they are in their being and essence.
Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.
No criticism of Ethiopians intended. The fact is however that it is an impossibility for a black person to change their skin into a white person or a white person to black. A leopard cannot one day say “I don’t like these spots. I’m going to go with a plain skin. Give me another set of DNA.” Nope. Can’t happen. Won’t happen.
Domestic abuse victim – listen carefully. Your leopard is never going to change his spots. No matter what you do or don’t do. Leopards are spotted and they kill for their meals. Abusers are domestic leopards (no put down of leopards intended) who feed on power and control. What you see is what you have. Want to know what tomorrow is going to be like? Or next week? Or next year? Just look at your experience with him today and yesterday and last month and last year. Disregard his “that will never happen again.” It most certainly WILL happen again.
So many abuse victims wear HUGE loads of guilt (much of it put upon them by their abuser and by their “church”). Year after year they keep thinking that God expects them to do “something” to fix the evil doer. If only. If only. And before they know it, 20, 30, even 40 years have gone by. Their health is gone. They don’t think clearly anymore. They habitually say “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” But the whole thing is a lie foisted upon them by the abuser and his allies, robbing them of their life.
Repentance is entirely the responsibility of your abuser. None of it is upon you. That is why you never go to “marriage counseling” with an abuser. You don’t need marriage counseling. He needs to be confronted with HIS sin.
I know that leaving an abuser is no easy task, especially with children involved – no finances available, fear and his threats, and more. I am fully sympathetic to those things. But in it all, if you keep waiting for your abuser to repent, if you keep thinking that in some way it is your duty to fix him, then one day you are going to realize that your whole life has gone by and in the end, he is the same as he always was. You however, will not be the person you once were. Don’t waste your life by carrying a burden that the Lord never put upon you.