Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

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Being Abused does not Justify Abusing

Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

1Th 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1Pe 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

I hope that all of you know by now that I fully understand the typical false nonsense laid upon victims of abuse that twists the Bible’s teaching on things like forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation, and so on. And I also, like all of you, hunger and thirst for righteousness, for justice, and even for God’s vengeance upon the wicked.

But I want to take the time in this article to be sure that in holding to these biblical and right positions, no one takes what we say here as grounds for doing to others what has been done to them. I am afraid that there are people and books floating around out there that justify such sin. They say things like “hurt people hurt people” and the implication is that somehow we are to give hurt people a pass when they hurt others. Not true. Nope. Having been the target of evil does not give me license to launch evil upon others.

Years ago there was a lady in our church who had gone through a bad marriage – I don’t know the details. But this lady was mean. She was demanding. And when she did not get her way she threw anger fits. She has hated me ever since the day I confronted her about her sin and told her that it had to stop. Her adult son took me aside one Sunday and said “we know my mother is a bitter woman. But we all have decided to love her anyway.” By “loving” her of course he meant “we ignore her nastiness and let her get away with it.” That is not love.

All of us have been abused by wicked people. Most of you who follow this blog have experienced deep, even intense evil and you have suffered greatly. The Lord knows and He will render His perfect justice to your persecutors. But this does not give us the right to be mean, to be seeking personal revenge, to snap at and lash out at anyone who does something we don’t like.

One form of this sinful nastiness is to become a person who hates men (or women) as a result of being wronged. I know such people. They have been abused by a man, so they resolved to hate all men. And they teach others to hate men. Where do you find that kind of thing anywhere in the Bible? You don’t. We are to love one another – love the brethren. That means loving both men and women. What are we doing to our children if we teach them such hatred? Girls, never trust a man. Men are evil.

Well, think that through. The Lord Jesus Christ is a man – the God-Man. While God is Spirit and in that sense without gender, nevertheless the Bible refers to Him as Father, as “He” and as “Him.” Can you see that a person who is taught to hate men is going to have a pretty tough time loving God?

We abused the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins put Him on the cross. And yet He set His love upon us. Thankfully, He did not choose to hate all human beings.

So let’s examine ourselves carefully in this regard. Perhaps someone reading this has been taught to hate men – or if your abusere was a woman, to hate all women. And maybe you, as a result, have become, well, mean. That is a trap. It does not lead to anywhere good. And it is sin. Ask the Lord to show it to you, grant you repentance, and set you free.

The Lord’s Other Prayer – Psalm 109

A friend recently reminded me again of this 109th Psalm and even put together a template of it so that we can personalize it and pray this prayer against the wicked. [If you would like the template you can email me and I will send it].

I say that this Psalm is the Lord’s “Other Prayer” because we all know about the “Our Father who art in heaven…” Lord’s prayer, but do you know about this one? There are clear references in this Psalm to Christ, showing us that it is a Messianic Psalm – the words of Christ if you will. Make no mistake, Jesus offered this prayer against His enemies, just as King David did.

As you read it, think about how “Un-christian” this prayer of Christ is regarded today by most people who claim to be Christians. I have often said that most professing Christians think they are better Christians than Jesus was! And yet, here is this prayer (and there are others like it) which it is right and good and proper and FREEING for us to pray! Ready? Here it is-

Psa 109:1-31 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Be not silent, O God of my praise! (2) For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. (3) They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. (4) In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. (5) So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

(6) Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand at his right hand.

(7) When he is tried, let him come forth guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin! (8) May his days be few; may another take his office! (9) May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow! (10) May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!

(11) May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil! (12) Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children! (13) May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation! (14) May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!

(15) Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth! (16) For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death. (17) He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him! (18) He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones! (19) May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day! (20) May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life!

(21) But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! (22) For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. (23) I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust. (24) My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat. (25) I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads.

(26) Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! (27) Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it! (28) Let them curse, but you will bless! They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad! (29) May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak! (30) With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. (31) For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

Zeal Without Knowledge: Bible Interpretation that Leads to Mercilessness and Injustice

I have written on this subject and on the following Scriptures in other posts. But they have been on my mind again the last few weeks. I keep seeing them violated by Bible teachers, pastors, and counselors of a certain type. Recently I have seen this “zeal without knowledge” pattern in publications by writers of the NANC (nouthetic counseling) school. In their zealous handling of Scripture and in their desire to be absolutely “biblical,” unswayed by any input outside the Bible, they come to erroneous interpretations and make harmful applications. The same kind of hermeneutic (interpretive method) is rampant in other conservative Christian circles. This approach to God’s Word creates the very thing such folks say they don’t want to create: man-made traditions that trump the Word of God. Read these Scriptures, and then I will try to explain more clearly what I mean.

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,‘ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1-8

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23

Wooden literalism demands a specific proof verse for everything. And it proposes specific proof verses as a basis for a very literal, unbending application. Wooden literalism leads to applications that make no sense at all in real life and that are devoid of mercy. It takes one verse and derives from it an all-inclusive, broad principle which is divorced from the larger context of Scripture that, if considered, would reveal things like the mercy of God. This school of Bible teachers just will not listen unless you can give them chapter and verse. Oh, and that chapter and verse MUST use the exact, literal words on the subject you are discussing.

This approach to interpreting Scripture and applying it to real life is also characterized by an underlying legalism or works-righteousness. One of their underlying assumptions is that if we are to please God and be “perfected” in his sight, our marriage must be preserved at any cost. This is a fundamental plank in these teachers’ agenda, and it is the product of their flawed hermeneutic. The formula, in their eyes, goes like this: Jesus said marriage is forever. Jesus said let no man separate what God has joined together. Jesus said no divorce except for adultery. Boom! That’s it. That’s the rule that governs all cases. Therefore, no matter what kind of terrible abuse a victim might be suffering, Jesus did not use the “abuse” word. No divorce for abuse. You say that makes no sense? Well, my child, God’s ways are higher than your ways. And so it goes.

Let me give an example taken from a small book on abuse, written by a pastor who I believe truly desires to help people. And yet, his method of approaching Scripture leads him to merciless conclusions. Never once, not even by indirect allusion, is divorce mentioned in this booklet. Yet it is the elephant in the room as the abuse victim reads what this pastor has to say. [I say again, the acid test of whether someone is really going to stand with the victim and against her abuser is whether or not they grant that abuse is indeed a biblical grounds for divorce].

Ok then, listen to this excerpt and think about how what this pastor writes is a product of a fundamental, stiff handling of Scripture that leads him to embrace the assumption that there is no divorce for abuse:

God may use your suffering to bring glory to himself. Peter writes that our endurance through suffering proves the genuineness of God’s work in us, which will result in ‘praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’… We who follow him should not be surprised when we suffer…but instead should realize that all who follow Christ will suffer (2 Tim 3:12). Many preachers, missionaries, and ordinary believers have glorified Christ as they were tortured and killed for the sake of the gospel. Rather than being angry with God over our suffering, we should submit to his sovereign will and count it a privilege to suffer for his Name’s sake (Philippians 1:29; Acts 5:41). The faith of other believers will be strengthened and God will be glorified when, in the midst of your suffering, you declare with Job, ‘Though he slay me, I will hope in him’ (Job 13:15). I have known victims of abuse who glorify God by their ongoing joyful trust in him.

Now, once again (after you get your heart rate back under control), think about how in the world a Christian pastor could be led to such a conclusion. I mean, what he is saying to the abuse victim is that she should be willing to stay in the “marriage” and if it be God’s will, be killed by her abuser and ride off into glory land as an eminent martyr. What is totally confusing is that in a couple of places earlier in the booklet, the author alludes to the fact that perhaps in some cases a victim may need to get to safety. But here in his conclusion we see what he really thinks. The marriage must be preserved at all costs, and that means at ALL costs.

Mercy and Justice, Mr. Pastor. That’s what God desires. Yet you have done what the Pharisees did. You demand sacrifice, and disregard the weightier matters of God’s Word.

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