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.

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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.

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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.

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