1Sa 2:22-23 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. (23) He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?
Eli’s sons were extremely wicked, so much so that eventually the Lord killed them. But this evil had gone on for a long, long time. Even here in his old age, Eli still didn’t take the action God required of him. He weakly said, “Why do you boys do such things?” Eventually, the Lord severely rebuked Eli:
1Sa 2:29 ‘Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’
Eli was guilty. He actually had been participating in their sins because he was honoring his sons above the Lord.
Now there are some parallels here which we ourselves need to face up to. When we are in a relationship of some type (marriage, friendship, etc) with a RASN (reviler, abuser, sociopath, narcissist), we most often pretend. By this, I mean that we overlook, we deny, we assume, we excuse. I have done this far more often than I would like to admit and I bet most of you have too.
Now, there may well have also been elements of commendable motives in this pretending (ie, pretending that things aren’t so bad or that the red flags are imaginary) – commendable motives such as patience, love, forgiveness, and so on. But when the problem exists because we are dealing with a RASN, this all becomes pretending. Living a fiction – a lie, if you will. So, why is this? Why do we pretend?
I can tell you why I have pretended in the past – 1) I was naive as to the nature of evil – and this evil is so deceptive I didn’t see it, 2) I didn’t want to believe the person was a RASN, 3) I almost subconsciously realized that to confront the person would result in a blowup, a war – because RASN’s are always sending out wavelengths of “don’t ever cross me or say anything negative about me, or else,” 4) there were benefits to the relationship which would certainly dissolve if I didn’t keep up the pretense, 5)…….you can probably add to the list yourself.
It is not an easy thing to admit that a person who we believed was our friend, who we thought loved us, and who we depended upon for many things, is in fact wicked. A counterfeit. That the “love” was just a fiction and that if we confront the person with the evidence we have been ignoring for a long time, we are going to suffer great loss. Loss of friendship. Loss of perhaps even custody of children. Loss of our job. Loss of friendships of other people.
So is it any wonder that we pretend? Eli knew, and yet he pretended. And in the end he and his sons perished. Eli participated in his sons’ sin. I have known pastors’ wives who chose to pretend rather than to confront the hypocrisy and abuse of their husband. In so doing, they eventually become participants in the hypocrisy.
I have been guilty of this kind of pretending in years past. I have not said, for example, “you are trespassing in my life. You are violating the boundaries of my personhood by trying to have power and control which you have no right to.” With the Lord’s help, I do not intend to keep doing that.