Dealing With the Abuser – He is a Trespasser
Sermon 17 from the series: The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on November 14, 2010
- Locks and keys, safes and combinations
- The outer doors of your home
- The lock on your bathroom door
- A “No Trespassing” sign
- The property lines of your residential to or acreage
- The orders of a nation or state or county
- Rules of Etiquette
- A security clearance at a jobsite
- Yellow tape around a crime scene
- You shall have no other gods
- You shall not make a graven image
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
- Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy
- Honor your father and your mother
- You shall not murder
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
- You shall not covet
“…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
I. The Abuser as Trespasser
We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
So that these rights are boundaries that not even the king can cross.
Examples of Boundaries and Trespasses
But a wife, for example, has a right to certain privacy in her life. Privacy connected with modesty. Privacy in regard to her thoughts. Privacy in respect to her conversations with others (phone calls, emails, etc). Privacy about what she did with her day. She may choose to share these things. And in a normal relationship, that sharing occurs. But ONLY because she granted permission for her boundary of privacy to be crossed by someone – her husband for example. AND IN A NON-ABUSIVE, LOVING RELATIONSHIP – THOSE BOUNDARIES ARE RESPECTED!
- to know where she is every moment
- to know to whom she talks to and what that conversation was about
- to be able to intrude upon her – he despises locked doors, email passwords, unshared correspondence
- He may even monitor her telephone conversation and isolate her by forbidding her to speak with certain people
B. The right to govern her own body
1 Corinthians 7:2-4 ESV But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (3) The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. (4) For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Now, let me give you still another way in which the abusive man very commonly violates his victim’s rights over her own body. Ready? This one will get more argument, but we must not let the abusive man get away with this –
Ephesians 5:22-29 ESV Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (24) Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (26) that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (28) In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (29) For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
Other abusive men deny their wives the right to decide about medical treatment that a doctor has advised.
Do you understand then? In a healthy, one-flesh marriage, these things are decided together. The husband recognizes that his wife has certain personal rights, personal boundaries that only she can give permission to intrude upon. From the wife’s standpoint, she will recognize that her husband has a part in these decisions as well – particularly as regards childbirth decisions.
Still another kind of boundary that an abusive man will commonly ignore is his wife’s/victim’s choice of clothing, makeup, or hairstyle. It is not uncommon for an abusive man to demand to select ALL of these things for his wife, claiming that this control is a sign of his love for her. Not so. It is abuse. It is a trespass of her personal boundary regarding her own body. Are we saying that a husband has NO say in these things at all? Of course not. But you must understand that the abusive man denies his victim any say, any rights, any opinion in these things.
C. The Right to Happiness and Self-Fulfillment
“Christians need to take special care with this boundary. We know that it is very often abused, and that the Bible tells us to consider others more important than ourselves, that we are to patiently endure with contentment whatever God brings our way. These rights do not give us the right to DEMAND of God! Any rights we have all derive from Him. Nor do these rights mean that we are entitled to become the center of the universe ourselves. To do that is to become the abuser!
But knowing these things from His Word must not lead us to deny that God grants us boundaries which other people are not to cross without permission. We are not to become enslaved to anyone except Christ – whose slavery is actually freedom.”
- Pursuing a hobby
- Taking a course of study
- Involvement in a church
- Relationship with others
- A decision to get a job outside the home
- Selection of what she would like to read
- Development of new abilities – driving a car (some abusers prohibit this), learning to use a computer, running a marathon
D. The Right to be Respected and Shown Consideration as a Person – i.e. the Right to Have one’s Feelings Considered
The abuser is cruel in this regard. He has little or no consideration for his victim’s feelings and often trespasses this boundary. He mocks the notion –
Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
– Oh, you are just too sensitive!
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
II. Dealing With the Abuser Through the Enforcement of Boundaries
A. You Can Feel It
- Acts overly ‘familiar’ with you,
- Begins to speak about an inappropriate topic,
- Knocks on your door without permission and proceeds to intrude upon your values and beliefs,
- Tries to control your personal, private life with no authority to do so,
- Tries to dominate you by telling you what God’s will is for you, insisting that they know better than you,
- Defines you. Defining is a term that means dictating to someone what their thoughts and motivations are, the abuser insisting that he knows his victim’ s inner being better than she does. This is VERY common in the abusive man.
Colossians 2:20-23 ESV If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations- (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)– according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Not so in real life. A real Bob Wiley is an abusive, wicked man who victimizes people by intruding across their personal boundaries.
“Dolores, now in her 60’s, is the mother of four sons and three daughters. When her first husband died 16 years ago, she married a successful surgeon and is consequently rarely short of funds. Y et instead of taking expensive vacations or buying designer dresses, she spends most of her money on two of her children, Natalie and Larry.
Natalie, who is 40 years old, has never quite found herself, has been on welfare most of her adult life, and cannot seem to hold a job. Why should she? By supplementing what Natalie gets from the state, Dolores ensures that her daughter’s material needs are met. There is, of course, a blemish on the landscape of Natalie’s paradise, which is that she can do almost nothing without Dolores, who tells her what to eat, how to style her hair, and even where to buy groceries. [Do you begin to see that Dolores is a trespasser, a boundary violator? And the damage she is doing? Which of us do not have to admit some guilt here?]
Larry is a 38 year old ex-plumber who 4 years ago announced that he wanted to go to college. He has never taken more than one course per semester, rarely opens a book, and has less interest in learning than a tired frog. Dolores pays his tuition and keeps him supplied with cash. Not a bad life, you might conclude, until you notice that Larry is at his mother’s beck and call. He cannot even date without her approval. She picks out his clothes, shows up unannounced at his apartment, and insists that he take her out to dinner at least once a week. The surgeon doesn’t mind because she’s as intrusive with him as she is with her children.
On those rare occasions when Natalie or Larry tries to go it alone, to think or act independently, Dolores reminds them of how much she’ s sacrificed. And if that doesn’t work, she breaks into sobs, talks about how no one cares whether she lives or dies (‘Maybe it’ll be better for everyone if I’ m gone’ ), and locks herself in the bathroom. Because she once swallowed a bottle of pills, this makes short work of any attempt on their part to separate from her. [Toxic Relationships & How to Change Them, by Dr. Clinton McLemore]
What to Do –
Parents: You MUST teach your children these things. They must learn about boundaries. How to enforce their own boundaries, and how to respect other people’s boundaries. We do this by teaching them the Law of God – raising them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Isaiah 1:11-12 ESV “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. (12) “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?
Christ’s sacrifice is the ONLY payment sufficient for our high crimes. Christ is surely the only way that any of us can –
Isaiah 1:16-18 ESV Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, (17) learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (18) “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
Revelation 21:3-4 ESV And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (4) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”