The Nature of Abuse Demonstrated in the Crucifixion of Christ

Last week as I was reading through the Gospel account of Christ’s betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, I was struck with how often this narrative exposes the mentality, nature, and tactics of abuse.  This really should not surprise us because abuse is just plain sin.  I think that it is in fact perhaps the most “diabolically beautiful” portraits of sin to be found.

Its essence is the lust for power and control over — everything!  It is the acting out of Satan’s declaration, “I will be like the Most High.”  In other words, the abuser, like the devil, lusts to be God.  Understand that and your eyes will be opened to everything else he does.

Consider with me then how abusers joined together to kill the Son of God on the cross.  After each section of Scripture, I will identify the abuse tactics and/or mentality that is so characteristic of this great evil we have all come to know too well:

Mat 26:20-25 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. (21) And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  (22) And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” (23) He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (24) Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Abusers are most often people whom we believed to be our intimate friends, such as a spouse.

Mat 26:31-46 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (32) But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (33) Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” (34) Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (35) Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

(36) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” (37) And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. (38) Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (39) And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (40) And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? (41) Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (42) Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (43) And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. (44) So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. (45) Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (46) Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Many people will claim to stand with a victim against the abuser, but when push comes to shove, they don’t.

Mat 26:47-50 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. (48) Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” (49) And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. (50) Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.

The kiss of Judas.  The abuser’s method of betrayal and abuse is so often couched behind a facade of “love” for the victim.  Especially in the presence of witnesses.

Mat 26:55-56 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. (56) But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

The abuser so often does his dirtiest work at “night” and brings out the most wicked forms of force and coercion at such times.  He dares not show his real nature in the daylight.  Once again, notice that no friends stand with the victim at such times.  They all leave and flee.

Mat 26:58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.

Following at a distance.  How many of our friends do this?  Not with us, but tagging along behind where they won’t suffer.

Mat 26:59-61 Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, (60) but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward (61) and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”

Lies.  False allegations.  An active seeking of false charges so as to bring condemnation upon the victim.  Notice also how these evil men used Jesus’ true and righteous words to condemn him.  “Well, wife, is it not true that you said….”?

Mat 26:65-68 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. (66) What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” (67) Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, (68) saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

The essence of abuse in regard to the innocent is murder.  The abuser’s righteous victim must be destroyed because she KNOWS him and stands in the way of his quest for power, control, and deity.  Notice also the tactics of mocking and the instilling of fear through physical assault.

Mat 26:69-74 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” (70) But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” (71) And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” (72) And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” (73) After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” (74) Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed.

Miraculously, and only because Jesus had prayed for him, Peter would repent and return to Christ, the Lord Jesus later giving him a gracious opportunity to confess Him as Lord 3 times to counter Peter’s thrice denial of the same.  But here, once again, someone very close to Jesus betrays Him, refusing to stand with Him in that darkest hour.

Mat 27:20-31 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. (21) The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” (22) Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” (23) And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

(24) So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (25) And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (26) Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

(27) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. (28) And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, (29) and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (30) And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. (31) And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

The abuser works toward this end: that the wicked are justified and the righteous are condemned.  See this horridly typical fact: the Son of God is crucified while the terrorist is set free and permitted full privileges.  The tactic of mocking is seen here once again. Notice however the sobering self-judgment the abuser pronounces upon himself:  “His blood be on us and on our children.”  And so it is.

Mat 27:39-44 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads (40) and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (41) So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, (42) “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. (43) He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (44) And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Here you have the public shaming of the victim, the slander and wagging heads and tongues.  How often do we see this in so-called churches after a victim is shamed away? How often do such people claim that if the victim was truly righteous as she claims to be, then God would be on her side and all these bad things would not be happening to her.

Mat 27:55-60 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, (56) among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

(57) When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. (58) He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. (59) And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud (60) and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

But in the end, there might be one, or two, or maybe 3 people who prove to be genuine friends of the victim.  Take careful note that the most consistent friends of the mocked and crucified Jesus were women.  Perhaps a more logical explanation is that they, and perhaps even Joseph, had suffered for following Jesus before, thus experiencing the evil of abuse themselves?  Inevitably, these are the kind of people who will stand with us in the end.

 

 

Abuse and the Wilderness Family Adventure

Colossians 2:20-23 ESV If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

It doesn’t work. The wilderness family adventure is not an answer to our troubles. My first church was in the mountains of Montana, 70 miles from a store of any significance. I loved that place. Spectacular mountains, streams, fishing and hunting like you can’t believe. Firewood and woodstoves. The first snows in November. Saddle up your horse in the yard and ride out into the woods. I loved it and I miss it. We lived there for 8 years.

But the church there was hell. Constant infighting. Mostly unsaved people who got very low marks in “plays well with others.” Abuse? Ha! In those little picturesque cabins in the woods, you wouldn’t want to know what went on in many of them. That church persists to this day. I hope that genuine Christians rule there now. I hope.

People moved there, including many professing Christians, to pursue the wilderness family adventure. They built their own log houses and soon ran out of the money they had when they came. Jobs were scarce. Many of them home-schooled. And they tried. How they tried to follow “the plan.” Keep the kids protected from the world. No TV, today it might be no internet. Modesty, modesty, modesty. No “worldly” music. And numbers of them had their rule books all printed out and categorized by men like Bill Gothard. The wife was to submit, which meant keep quiet and obey.

And you had to tread very carefully around them lest you violate one of their rules. I once took a group of young people to a skating rink on an outing and caught it from one of the dads when they ratted me out and told him that there was secular music playing at the skating rink. His two boys did not turn out well, by the way. Not well at all.

Let me caution all of you that when the Word of God says that these programs and rules that men create which are supposedly going to lead us into a higher plane of holiness do not work, it means exactly that. If anyone truly wants to live in the mountains and have a large family and home school because they truly want to and love it, go for it! But if this lifestyle is one that is dictated by some kind of list that someone has come up with and equated with godliness, beware. Beware! Here is the pattern I am seeing from stories told to me over and over again by abuse victims/survivors:

  1. Move to an isolated place
  2. Return to a pioneer lifestyle in food, clothing, reading material, etc.
  3. The husband/father is the patriarch who decides. Wife/mother and children submit.
  4. Home school using very, very conservative materials.
  5. Train up the boys to be men/leader/warriors and the girls to be maidens/mothers/wives/submitters.
  6. Find the rule book for these things that some person has written (preferably a guy with a long beard or a woman who stands behind her guy with the long beard), and follow it.
  7. Have a very large family.
  8. Have a home church.

Now I know there is a ton of potential here in what I have said to be misunderstood. Boys for example SHOULD be raised up to be men and fulfill manly roles. The same for girls (only womanly roles). Our current public schools often SHOULD be shunned by Christians. There is nothing inherently wrong with having lots of children. Ok? Understand?

But what I am saying is that I regularly have abuse victims tell me that in this kind of lifestyle/philosophy/pattern, they ended up being very, very damaged. That the children grew up and still bear some of the damage done to them. Damaged by what? Legalism. By the religion of the Pharisees. They have not come to know the freedom every Christian has in Jesus Christ. They see themselves as rotten sinners deserving of hell, even though Jesus has redeemed them. They see virtually everything as a crucial, moral issue — right or wrong. Usually wrong! And they are shamed.

What a load! What a burden to put on ourselves and our families. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.

Galatians 3:9-14 ESV So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (10) For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (11) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (12) But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” (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”– (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Shaming: A Favorite Tool of the Wicked

Domestic abusers are shamers, and we are very often far too willing to wear that shame.

Shame. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame.

What does that word mean anyway? Permit Webster to explain:

a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Humiliation, mortification, chagrin, embarrassment, indignity.

But the kind of shame we want to consider here is false shame. This brand is not caused by wrong or foolish behavior (which would be true shame, something that can be good), but by false thinking about our behavior, often initiated by the false accusations of a wicked person. False shame is incredibly destructive. Shame is very powerful. If it is not truth-based, big trouble looms.

I should be ashamed if I sin. That shame leads to repentance. I should be ashamed if I walk down the street naked, if I lose my temper, if I lie and so on. A lack of shame for sin is a sure sign of depravity and we see plenty of it in our culture today.

1Co 6:5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,

But there are things which we need not be ashamed of. In fact, which we must not be ashamed of. For example:

Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

The wicked love to mock and shame God’s people, so it is not at all surprising that abusers (revilers as the Bible calls them) thrive on shaming their targets. False accusations. Attributing false motives. “Let me tell you why you did that. Here is what you were thinking….”. You’ve heard those words I am sure. “God is not pleased with what you did.” Yada, yada, yada.

False shame does not produce good results. It enslaves us. It leads us to false conclusions about ourselves, about the Lord and how He views us. It causes us to make bad decisions (like suppressing our true thoughts and believing the lies). “If you leave your husband, you are a bad Christian. God’s anger will be upon you. If you were really holy, you would be patient and forgiving no matter what your abuser does.” Lies. All lies. False shame.

A typical and notorious reviler, hiding in a disguise of “saintliness,” once pulled this false shaming business on me. It worked for a time because I wasn’t wise to this tactic. I had confronted a wicked, evil, vile man who was blaspheming the Lord’s name and making threats against me. It was late at night and he had phoned me. I stopped him and told him he was a wicked man and he should fear using the Lord’s name in his profanities. He then threatened me and said “I ought to just come over there and knock you senseless.” Drunks never know when to shut up, you know. I told him “You come right on over. I will meet you by the front door of the church. Let’s go at it!” He shut up and that was the end of the conversation. Never had trouble with that guy again.

Now, enter Mr. Shamer/Reviler. “Oh, pastor, I just disagree with what you did. That was wrong. As Christians we need to be kind and compassionate to people. We need to suffer persecution patiently. What you did was wrong.” Blah, blah, blah. Over the years this guy brought up these same shaming accusations several more times.  Why was he doing this? What was his motive. Power and control. Its always about power and control. He must control the pastor. He must be better and more holy than the pastor. He must appear as a holy “martyr” ready to suffer anything for the Lord. So he plays situations like this for his own self-glory.

This is wickedness. What I did was not only not sin, it was right. It would have been wrong to remain silent and not confront the man. It would have been cowardly to just “love him.”

Your abuser pulls the same kind of shaming tactics with you. Like most all of us, at first at least, you have put on his cloak of shame. It has labeled  you like that Scarlet Letter of literature. I am stupid. I am not a good Christian. I am not capable of properly seeing things. I am worthless and good for nothing.

Lies. All lies.

The fact is that I have talked with enough abuse victims over the years and listened to their stories to know this for a fact: Abuse victims, especially domestic abuse victims, particularly domestic abuse victims who are Christians, are the bravest, strongest, and most wonderful Christians I know. Enduring horrible abuse for decades, their faith still stands. They are willing to die for their children. They hope and pray that their abuser will repent and be saved (he isn’t going to, by the way). They put their trust in the Lord in the darkest times, even when everyone in their church abandons them or even puts them out. They are the last people on earth who need to be ashamed.

Domestic abusers are shamers, and we are very often far too willing to wear that shame.

 

The Wicked Have no Shame – Observations on the Abuser

Isa 2:17 And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

If you have ever experienced “life” with an abuser (which no doubt most of our readers have) then you understand what I mean when I say that abusers have no shame. After all, they are the center of the universe. They are never wrong, never to blame. They have no conscience. They are not repentant. No shame.

This shamelessness evidences itself regularly in such a person. After treating their victim cruelly for instance, they will sleep quite well and behave as if it never happened. “Hey, babe, how about getting me a beer?” Or, “what are you so glum about this morning?” They will insist that the victim do the forgiving and forgetting, and even the repenting. After all, ultimately the whole abuse scenario the evening before was the victim’s fault, you know.

Continue reading “The Wicked Have no Shame – Observations on the Abuser”