I was having a conversation recently with two friends and they mentioned that they had been watching the video series Ann of Avonlea. They noted that there was a troubling, common, romantic theme played out in the drama. I may have the exact details wrong, but I believe they said there was an evil matriarchal grandmother in the story who worked to dominate her family. Ann was depicted as noble for just loving and loving and loving her. This is, of course, romantic fantasy. It is not real life.
Our conversation also turned to other examples of romanticized fantasy in which “love conquers all.” For instance, the “christian” movies such as Fireproof and Courageous and War Room, etc. You have the very same thing presented. Love, love, love no matter what. Stay in relationship. Stay. Stay. Stay. And in the end, you have such happy ending in which the abuser type repents, sees the light, and is radically changed.
This too is romantic fantasy. It is not real life.
And not only is it fantasy, it is a fantasy of the sinful selfish flesh. People WANT the happy ending of their own imagination. If you give it to them in your story line or in your preaching from the pulpit, they get what they want and stick with you. If you give them truth and reality, they gnash their teeth and leave.
What is the truth. Abusers, be they domestic, matriarchal, patriarchal, narcissistic, sociopathic….etc, never change. Nope. Never. In fact, the WORST thing you can do in dealing with such evil is to stay in relationship with it and love, love, love it.
Let me ask this question – is this what Jesus did? Did Jesus love sinners? YES! Did the love of Jesus conquer all and end in an everyone-lived-happily-ever-after of hugs and kisses? You know the answer to that question.
No. Love does not conquer all in the sense of “saving” everyone. What, or rather, WHO, conquers all is Christ. King Jesus. And His victory includes conquering the devil and his followers – not wooing them to repentance – but conquering them as the victorious King vanquishes His enemies.
‘Love’ conquering all in relationships is a Disney fantasy projected into the minds of children so that when they become adults they long to have that kind of ‘love’ in their romantic relationships. Except it’s not real love, and it opens the door to all kinds of abuse.
Run far away from relationships that mimic any of the Disney princesses. Do not long to be Cinderella – flee from both the matriarchal abuse presented in the story and the idea that you can know someone well enough after one night to commit to a life of marriage – even if he is a ‘prince’. Titles and a lovely waltz don’t save you from abusive people. They may open the door to even more abuse. or Snow White – whose kind, trusting, naive nature endangered her life because she wasn’t wise to the nature of evil. Do not seek to be like Belle in Beauty and the Beast and try to tame the beast because you think deep down there is a heart of gold underneath that beastly exterior. 99.999999% of the time, the beast is just a beast. Remaining in a relationship only sacrifices you and will not change him.
The love we see in the Bible demonstrated by Jesus isn’t the same “love conquers all” love we see in the movies and TV. Yes it is powerful enough to redeem us from our sins. Yes it saves us and regenerates us bring us from darkness to light. But it will not save everyone. It will not save the unrepentant sinner. It will not save those who blatantly pursue a life of wickedness. It will not save the covert abuser from his or her coming judgement.
Being saved by God doesn’t mean that all will be made right for you in this life. It doesn’t guarantee your body or your mind will be immediately healed from whatever ailments you wrestle with as a result of living in a broken, evil world. It won’t magically fix your issues with your boss, your finances or your toxic relationships. Healing comes slowly with time, with study of the scripture, prayer and in being in relationship with other real Christians. It comes with finding the right tools, techniques and resources to break through the negative behavioral patterns in your life. It comes with letting go of all desire to enact vengeance on those who harm you and entrusting God to get you perfect justice. It comes with choosing to embrace healthy boundaries with yourself and others. It is a lifelong journey we pursue and never quite arrive at, but the investment is worth the effort.
Choosing to follow Christ may result in life getting worse for you because what you used to tolerate and participate changes, causing the people you’re in relationships with to notice, and not always in a good way. I don’t say that as a means of discouragement, but as one who wants to speak the truth to you in love. Following Christ will cost you something. It may cost you everything. And it is worth the cost. Eternal bliss with Christ, free from sin, pain, abusive people and death is worth everything.
Those who’ve been accustomed to your old way of life, especially if they’ve had control and influence in your life, most likely will not appreciate you choosing to stop doing things their way and choosing to get free of the toxic and ungodly relationships in your life.
We are told in scripture that if we love, father, mother, sister brother more than Christ we can’t be his disciples. Christ has to be preeminent in our relationships. Any relationship that is abusive we are commanded to leave. Remaining in its toxicity is not loving to yourself or the abuser. It doesn’t honor God, and only adds to your pain.
God doesn’t require you to remain in abusive relationships with family, friends, spouses, or ‘professing Christians’. He commands you to not eat with such a one and to not be unequally yoked with them. Remaining yoked with abusive people only brings misery. The good works you are called to do cannot take place when you are unequally yoked with an abuser. They will force all of their burden on you and then shame you for not being able to carry it.
Cast off that old heavy yoke of bondage and embrace the yoke of Christ. His burden is easy, his yoke is light, and in him you can find rest for your souls.
Mountains of truth here! Thank you Lynn👍👍
Thank you Pastor Crippen and Lynn, such profoundly truth-filled messages. Almost stunningly so, amen on both of your wise counsel, information and shining the light on the reality of the abusers – and our Lord’s response.
ALL FOR JESUS MINISTRIES
Lynn, I could not have said this better. Everything you wrote is correct and so well stated. Great comment!
ALL FOR JESUS MINISTRIES
AMEN! AMEN!! AMEN, Pastor Crippen!!!
You are right. As human beings – made in the image of God – we have value. Christ would not have died if humans were of little value to God. When we think so little of ourselves and buy into the lie that we deserve what we are experiencing when we are in abusive relationships, it is not honoring God. We are unintentionally telling God we think our value is worth less than what scripture tells us it is. We have been bought with a price, redeemed from the curse of the law.
The suffering Christians are to expect is in relation to our faith in Christ, not abuse at the hands of wolves. We are allowed to escape our suffering and not remain there if we choose to and/or the opportunity presents itself. Jesus fled from the Pharisees when they sought his death. Paul and other early Christians often fled persecution for their faith. Jesus permits divorce in case of sexual sin, abuse and desertion so the victim can get free from the abuser. We are told to depart from all people who revile (abuse) others.
I love this message, particularly that last sentence!! So true!