Why do Christians insist that Abuse Victims Return to Egypt?

Right on through Scripture, any desire to return to bondage and slavery is treated as foolish and even sinful.

And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:1-6)

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:1-3)

The Israelites grumbled. The Lord had done wonderful things for them by His might and power, delivering them from the harsh life in Egypt. But when the going got even a little difficult, the grumbling began. They longed for Egypt. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Abuse victims want freedom. They are enslaved and oppressed by their own personal “pharaoh” and once they begin to see just what is happening to them, they yearn for liberty.

Freedom and liberty in Scripture are good things. It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Don’t let anyone trick you into returning to bondage. That is what the Bible says.

So why do so many pastors, churches, counselors, and individual Christians teach the opposite when it comes to abuse? What do I mean? The standard line — you all know it far too well — given to an abuse victim in a church is “Go back to Egypt. Go back. Return. Be enslaved. Submit to it. You’ve got a contract with pharaoh and it can’t be broken.” So the abused ones go back. And the abuse intensifies —

So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. (Exodus 5:10-12)

Why? Why is it that there are myriads of “freedom” programs (aka “ministries”) allegedly under the banner of Christ, offering liberty to captives — but not to abuse victims? “Come on, you can be free from slavery to overeating. You can be free of addictions. Here is how you can get free of co-dependency.” And on and on and on. But abuse victims? Forget it.

Think it through. How many ministries are in professing Christian churches specifically designed to set abuse victims free? You are going to have to search high and low to find one. Oh, but go looking for “ministries” (quotation marks here indicate my sarcasm) that put victims back into bondage in Egypt and you will find them all over the place. “Come on down and we will fix your marriage. Don’t even think about divorce. We will show you how to live happily ever after….with Pharaoh.”  Am I right? Of course I’m right. Because all of this is true.

Christ redeems His people. That means He sets us free. That is why He came and went to the cross. Anyone telling you to stay in Egypt is not of Christ no matter how “Christian” they might appear.

Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer

One of the recurring themes we hear from Christians who are abuse victims/survivors is that when they went to their pastor or church for help, reporting the abuse, they were told that they must remain with their abuser or at most separate from him for a time, always working toward reconciliation.

In all cases like this, we have seen pastors and churches “shepherding” or “caring for” the victim and abuser — as they put it. And behind all of this there has been an attitude or conviction or doctrine of the church and of the pastorate and even of the nature of the individual Christian that essentially says “we will mediate Christ to you.” It is quite Roman Catholic actually. The thing is much like a formal priesthood which behaves as if the individual Christian is led and directed by the church, unable on their own to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd. And yet:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me  (John 10:14)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

Every real Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is led by the Spirit (See Romans 8; Galatians 5:16ff). Every real Christian is thereby enabled to understand Scripture.

Continue reading “Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer”

The Abuse Victim as Widow

Exodus 22:22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.

Deuteronomy 10:17-18 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (18) He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

Psalms 94:6 They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

These few verses are just a small sampling of many others found in Scripture that repeat the very same theme – God commands us to render justice for and give care to the helpless and weak.  Orphans and widows are prime examples.  I would like to suggest to you that the victim of abuse classifies as a widow, and therefore the Lord expects us to provide her with justice and protection.  Why do we call her a widow? Because her husband really is no husband.  He is an oppressor and tormentor. Often, she is a “widow indeed” because her abuser has successfully alienated the rest of her family from her.

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Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, (27) and give no opportunity to the devil.

We had a discussion once in a Bible study group about whether it is right or not for a Christian to ever be angry when they are sinned against.  That is to say, some people wondered if anger is ever appropriate when we ourselves are the victim.  Being angry when another person was victimized didn’t seem to be troublesome to anyone, but the idea of being angry when we personally are victimized seemed to be sinful in the thinking of some.  Someone said, “well, Jesus was angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, so anger must not always be sinful.”  Someone else responded, “but we are not Jesus.”

Now, this much I do know.  If we tell abuse victims that it is sinful for them to be angry about what was done or is being done to them, we are going to do them much harm.  In fact many abusers will use this very tactic against their victim: “You call yourself a Christian!  You are just an angry, bitter person!  You are unforgiving.” You know the line I am sure.

So what about it?  It is pretty easy to find Scriptures that show that it is right to be angry when we see evil and injustice.  But what about when we are the victim of that evil and injustice ourselves?

Continue reading “Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?”

The Beauty of Vindication – A Table in the Presence of my Enemies

Psa 23:1-6 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. (3) He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

In this present evil world, the Christian is going to be accused, slandered, persecuted, and hated. Is that not what Jesus experienced? Well, the servant is not greater than his master. If the world hated Christ, it will hate us as well.

We know that the wicked accuse the righteous. They even use the fact that we are persecuted as “evidence” that God is not blessing us.

Mat 27:43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

Notice then very carefully what David tells us in the 23rd Psalm:

Psa 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Christ vindicates His people. We experience some of that vindication now on occasion, but the Day is coming when we are going to be “guests of honor” at Christ’s banquet. He will own us, He will invite us. The King will say to each of us “come to My banquet which I am preparing in your honor.”  And get this:

The King is going to do this right in front of our enemies

They will be “outside” looking in. They will not be invited, but they can see it all. So let’s put this right down where we can get a firm hold on it:

One day your abuser and all of his wicked allies are going to watch you be honored by Christ the King at a banquet like no banquet this world has ever seen. You will receive absolute vindication right in front of them. All of their evil, false accusations made against you will be revealed to be lies. And then the King will order these enemies to depart into outer darkness, never to return.

That is what the Scripture means when it tells us that Christ prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies. And it is going to taste really, really good.

 

Accusing the Victim – A Favorite Tactic of the Wicked

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Zec 3:1-2 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. (2) And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Have you ever been accused of something falsely? If you are someone who has experienced being the target of the wicked, such as a domestic abuser spouse, then I am certain that you have. As you can see from the Scriptures quoted above, accusing is the devil’s business. Particularly accusing Christ’s people. This is why Satan loved the Law. While God’s Law is holy and righteous and good, Satan pointed at all who broke it (which was all of us) and demanded our death. Christ rescued us from the curse of the Law and thus removed the basis for the devil’s accusations:

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”–

Col 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (14) by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Satan therefore no longer has a basis for accusing Christ’s people. The curse that was upon us for our own sin, Christ took upon Himself on the cross and paid our debt in full. Begone, Satan!

But in this fallen world, Satan and his servants still use this tactic of accusing. Sometimes they focus on times that we have sinned and though we confess it and repent and Christ forgives us, these wicked ones try to convince us and others that we stand guilty and condemned. We must reject such lies.

Continue reading “Accusing the Victim – A Favorite Tactic of the Wicked”

Let’s Put This “But he hasn’t physically abused you” Nonsense to Rest Once and For All

Listen to these far too common words from a pastor to an abused wife who has gone to him for help. The abuse has occurred for decades, habitually, without repentance:

From what I have been told, you have suggested that your husband’s looking at inappropriate images on the internet is adultery,  but he has not committed the physical act .  Could this not be more appropriately handled with counseling than divorce? From what I have been told your husband has not deserted you but conversely is willing to go to a counselor of your choice. You have intimated that your husband has not physically abused you, but has said mean things in the past and has been manipulative.  Again, could this not be more appropriately handled with counseling rather than with divorce?

There it is. “He has not committed the physical act of adultery. He has not physically abused you. Therefore, tough it out and quit complaining. Why, your husband is even willing to come down here to the church building with you and let me counsel the two of you.”

Continue reading “Let’s Put This “But he hasn’t physically abused you” Nonsense to Rest Once and For All”