God’s Relationship to Abuse – Fate and Justice, Part 1

We abuse victims often rage at God for our circumstances.  Given the pain we endured, that is only natural.  Is it, however, appropriate?  Is God responsible for fate and justice, by inference, for innocent suffering?

Blind Fate

“The Three Fates” by Alexander Rothaug (c. 1910), Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH (PD)

The Fates are a common feature in polytheism.  They are often depicted as a group of mythological goddesses weaving the destiny of mortals on a loom.  The ancient Greeks called them the Moirai.  The Norse called them the Norns.  They controlled the thread of life for every mortal from birth to death.

A belief in fate or blind chance can give rise to resignation, a stoic submission to events which largely removes free will from the equation.  This is a way of coping with the gross injustice of abuse.  It eases the pain, but reinforces a hopeless victim mentality.

What such a belief does not do is place responsibility where it truly belongs, i.e. on the predator.  That can be appealing, since we need not confront the excruciating truth that we were not loved as we deserved.


Young people today toss around the term “karma” as a short-hand for justice, with limited understanding of its implications and less understanding of God’s will.  What goes around comes around.  The universe – presumably sentient, omniscient, and concerned with justice – will take care of things.  No worries.

In reality, karma is a term about the cycle of cause and effect tied to reincarnation.  In Buddhism and Hinduism, karma is defined as the sum total of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence.  That decides his/her fate in future lives.  What happens to a person is thought to happen solely because the individual caused it through his/her actions, past and present.

This is a way – though, from a Christian perspective, a flawed way – of saying there are consequences to our actions, and explaining why bad things happen to good people.  Such reasoning would hold abuse victims responsible for the evil to which we were subjected.

Salvation and Sanctification

Much the same approach is taken by the biblical Job’s friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) [1].  They do not waver in their belief that Job’s suffering is a punishment for his sins.  Since God does not cause the innocent to suffer, they advise Job to repent and seek God’s mercy.

Surprisingly, God condemns their advice!  Though, in the end, Job erred in overstating his righteousness, he had done nothing to deserve his suffering.  The trials Job experienced were not related to his behavior.

Nor, of course, are abuse victims responsible for their suffering.  We did not cause our own abuse.  That must be emphasized.

In Job’s case, God used suffering as a test, and a part of His sovereign plan for Job’s life.

And abuse victims?  Christians would say that God determines the circumstances into which we are born (Acts 17: 26-27).  This is not meant in a fatalistic sense.  Rather, it is so that we might search Him out, working out our Salvation day by day (Phil 2: 12) [2][3].

[1]  The Bible’s Book of Job tells the story of a righteous man who loses all he holds dear.  In the process, Job comes to a deeper understanding of God, ultimately declaring “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13: 15).

[2]  Salvation refers to the restoration of our relationship with God.  Salvation is achieved through Christ’s death and Resurrection.  We are saved by grace through faith.  God freely extends us His favor, His love, His Son.  This is grace.  We can choose to accept or reject those gifts.  This is faith.

[3]  The term “work out our Salvation” refers to sanctification, i.e. the process by which we increase in holiness, becoming more like Christ once we have been saved.  It does not imply that Christians must “earn” their Salvation.

This series will conclude next week with Part 2.



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

17 responses to “God’s Relationship to Abuse – Fate and Justice, Part 1

  1. These insights are priceless. Thanks for sharing, Anna.

  2. looking forward to part 2 – great post

  3. Allan Halton

    Anna, thanks for your explanation as to the true meaning of “karma.” It has become such a popular word these days, the idea that “the universe” works in such a way as to see that all get their just desserts. This is flawed thinking; the mindless “universe” has no such ability.

    Who does have the ability is God, and the clear teaching of Scripture is that He gives to each according to their works, their doings. (However, this does not mean that somehow an abuse victim brought it on themselves. That is wrong thinking. As you said, “Nor, of course, are abuse victims responsible for their suffering. We did not cause our own abuse. That must be emphasized.” That is a very important emphasis.)

    I think that even some Christians view as “karma” the popular verse, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). This seems to be saying that the things themselves work together for good. But I understand a more accurate translation is, “And we know that, to them that love God, He works all things together for good…” In other words, He has not set in the universe a law of some kind that causes this to happen; He Himself is overseeing the things in order to bring about the good. That is the kind of love He has for us.

  4. We cheat ourselves in our secular society where fewer and fewer find time for to understand the truths that can help them.

  5. So well written Anna,
    I do hear so many saying if there is a God..
    I hope they discover the only true God, before it is too late..

  6. What a great post, Anna. I’d add that we all want the power to choose, that same power of choice that our abusers had. God isn’t responsible for choice. Anna – you write this like a brief. Are you a litigator?

  7. Pingback: God’s Relationship to Abuse – Fate and Justice, Part 1 – NarrowPathMinistries

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