Recently an abuse survivor made a very insightful comment. She said that she could always tell when her abuser (a professing Christian) was receiving support from a Christian. How? He stepped up the intensity of his abuse. She said that while non-Christian support for him would certainly encourage him in his wickedness, her suffering at his hands increased the most when professing Christians sided with him. This is very sobering.
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.
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.