Unbiblical, Part 4 – Trusting God, Self, and Others

Detail from “A Girl Comes to Christ” by Fritz von Uhde (1884), Museum der bildenden Künste (Accession No. 550), Germany (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

Trusting God v. Trusting Self

Christians talk casually about God’s plan for their lives and the lives of others.  This can be grating to the ears of abuse victims (especially those new to, or unfamiliar with, the faith).

As victims are inclined to see it, God’s plan for them included abuse.  Whether He caused that abuse or merely allowed it to occur, He failed to protect them against it. And they have the scars to prove that.

The issue of innocent suffering is a profound one, and cannot be papered over with a handy Bible verse.  For abuse victims, coming to terms with it may be a lifelong struggle.

Trusting themselves can be as great a challenge.  Abuse has effectively “taught” victims not to rely on their own judgment, their own instincts.  This is something they must unlearn.

It is not helpful for Christians to urge victims to trust in God, rather than themselves.  Such trust will come with time.  It cannot be rushed.  There are deep wounds which must be healed first.

Trusting Others

Christians should be sensitive in the language they use around abuse victims.  To victims of incest, even the term “Father God” can sound disturbing.  To those who were sexually abused or tortured by siblings, the term “brothers and sisters in Christ” may be equally threatening.

Christians should not pressure victims to drop their defenses, and should not hug or make other physical contact with victims without their permission.  Victims may experience either as invasive, and shy away.

Christians should allow abuse victims to take the lead, insofar as relationships. Friendships should not be forced.  These will develop as victims gradually come to see they will not be harmed.

Originally posted 3/29/15

This series will continue next week with Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Unbiblical, Part 3 – Humility v. Lack of Worth

“Eve” by Auguste Rodin, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Author MicheleLovesArt (MIchele Ahin at https://www.flickr.com/people/39627257@N04) (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Many, if not most, victims will conclude from the abuse inflicted on them that they have little or no value.  They are likely to view God as angry and withholding, unconcerned for their welfare.  This applies whether the abuse is emotional, physical, sexual or in the form of neglect.

When in all humility Christians describe themselves as undeserving of Salvation or compare their righteousness to “filthy rags” (Is. 64: 6), abuse victims can readily identify.  However, abuse victims are inclined to view themselves as irredeemable.

Having been treated like filthy rags, having been taught that love must be “earned” – and never is – victims may, even as adults, wrestle with shame and believe that they are worthless.  This can drive them toward legalism (Christianity as perfectionism), in a frantic attempt to obtain the love they have been denied.

But God values every life.  His love is freely given.

Christ said:

“ ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ ” (Matt. 5: 5).

He said:

“… ‘Whoever receives this little child in my name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great’” (Luke 9: 48).

Christians must, first and foremost, demonstrate God’s love to abuse victims.  If they fail in this, the shame is theirs.

Originally posted 3/22/15

This series will continue next week with Trusting God, Self, and Others

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Unbiblical, Part 2 – Sin Nature v. Abuse-Related Guilt

Woman with a broken heart, Author Nevit Dilmen, Source Sunset 02459.jpg and Broken Heart symbol.svg (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christians speak regularly about the “sin nature” of mankind, the inclination by human beings to do wrong, as illustrated by wars and crime.

The following verses on the topic are typical:

“…[T]he imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen. 8:21).

“ ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…’” (Jer. 17:9).

“ ‘Then I will…take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in My statutes…’ ” (Ezek. 11: 19-20).

“ ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’ ” (Matt. 15: 19).

If anyone has experienced that sin nature, abuse victims have.  Victims, however, have been more sinned against than sinning.

Unfortunately, the continuous emphasis on sin is likely to sound like condemnation to victims, when what they need is love, encouragement, and hope.

Christians should remember that abuse leaves behind deep scars.  Victims of abuse may struggle with gender identification, sexual addiction or dysfunction, self-neglect, anxiety, depression, dissociation and related amnesia, drug or alcohol addiction, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, binging, and other issues.  The majority of prostitutes are thought to be runaways, with a history of abuse.

Dealing with major problems like these is not for the faint of heart.  Nor is it for the self-righteous.  Merely living ordinary lives can take enormous effort and enormous courage by abuse victims.  That victims, for the most part, accomplish this is amazing.

Victims should not be made a topic of gossip.  Nor should they be subjected to snap judgments, whether about their morality or mental state.

Above all, victims should be reassured that they were not the guilty party in abuse; that, as children, they were wholly incapable of consent to whatever was done to them; and that God still loves them, despite all they have been through.

Originally posted 3/15/15

This series will continue next week with Humility v. Lack of Worth

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

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Unbiblical, Part 1 – Submission v. Self-Defense

In a misguided effort to provide comfort and direction to abuse victims, well-meaning Christians will often quote Bible verses out of context or cite biblical principles which do not apply to abuse, thereby actually exacerbating the pain victims feel.

As a result, victims may turn away from the real comfort they would find in Christ.

This series of articles is intended to clarify – both for Christians, and abuse victims interacting with them – certain Scriptural passages and principles that could otherwise be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Submission v. Self-Defense

Perhaps the most damaging is the principle of “headship”.  The basis for this can be found in Chapter 5 of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, among a set of instructions on holy living for both men and women.  The entire chapter speaks of Christians loving and being “submissive” to one another.

The frequently overlooked instruction to husbands (highlighted below) is an integral part of the principle:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her [Emphasis added]…” (Eph. 5: 22-25).

God alone knows how many battered women have lost their lives on bad and unbiblical advice from a priest or minister that they return to a dangerous household, and submit to the will of their abusive, alcoholic, or drug addicted husbands. Continue reading

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“Domestic Violence in the Church” by Stephanie Jafta

First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI, Author DavidCrumm (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

I have discussed elsewhere the Scriptures clergy mistakenly use against victims of domestic violence.  This post by Stephanie Jafta addresses the responsibility of the church toward such victims.

“The words ‘domestic violence’ and ‘church’ do not belong together and do not exist in the same context.  To deny this would seem traitorous and unfaithful, and yet, to ignore it would bring into question our faith, values, and beliefs as Christians.  Domestic violence is alive and kicking in the church, and turning a blind eye to the plight of women, children, and men will only strengthen the excuses made for the abuse…[Continued at https://godinterest.com/2018/08/08/domestic-violence-in-the-church/ ].”

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

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Why Victims Don’t Leave

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Sex Tourism

Detail from painting at Casa del Centenario, Pompeii (PD)*

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was known for its hedonism.  Archaeologic evidence has been found of numerous brothels.  Erotic art was common in homes.  Phallic symbols were used all over the city, as signs of fertility and good fortune [1].

This may sound titillating to us.  We have not though progressed far, in the centuries since.  Sex tourism is widely advertised today.  Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia are among the countries that derive income from it [2].

Those who plan their vacations around the sexual activities – legal and illegal – available in foreign countries are unlikely to consider their impact on the local men, women, and children selling their bodies (and souls) to survive. Continue reading

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War Wounds

Azerbaijani refugee child (1996), Author Ilgar Jafarov (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“I am blind to beauty for I have seen the ugliness of war,
My heart discard, my soul’s an open sore,
My spirit’s broken, and my body is not well,
For I have seen the smoke and fire
And passed through the gates of hell… ”

– Kevan Lyons, The Poet of Churchill Square

These are grave times.  Terrorism stalks the world, striking without warning or mercy.  I can think of no better analogy for abuse.

Abuse is a conflict in which children’s lives are the battlefield; a conflict in which children go unarmed, yet have war wounds inflicted; a conflict in which children will never be victors.

Under wartime conditions of deprivation and abandonment, the simplest word of encouragement is denied a young heart.  Under wartime conditions of violence and destruction, the most defenseless among us are battered and broken.  Under wartime conditions of rape and pillage, basic sexuality becomes an item of commerce, and a lifelong source of pain.

Little wonder that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — first identified in the combat setting centuries ago — is common among abuse victims, as well. Continue reading

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Sexual Violence Among Children On Base

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Photo courtesy James Worthington/Pinterest

The Senate has ordered an independent evaluation of how the Defense Dept. deals with child sexual violence on military bases [1].  This follows an Associated Press investigation which exposed multiple failures, in instances with underage victims and assailants [2].

The US Armed Forces have attempted to come to terms with the rape of female soldiers for the past 10 years.  But reports of rape and sexual assault among children on base often die a slow death, under mountains of paperwork and red tape.  Some are deliberately buried.

The Defense Dept. does not, it seems, even track such reports for statistical purposes.  The Associated Press, however, managed to uncover nearly 600 cases between 2007-2018. Continue reading

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Branding, Forced Tattooing, and Domestic Abuse

Author Edgeplay101 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

“As we advocate in our guides to Intimate Partner Violence, one of the most crucial things to remember about domestic violence and child abuse, especially sexual abuse, is that control is a huge factor, and often the perpetrators of abuse will go to great lengths to maintain control over their victims.  One lesser known way that some perpetrators do this is by ‘branding’ their victims, or forcing them to get tattoos or body modifications, usually of the perpetrator’s name, that are meant to symbolize their ‘ownership’ of the victim.

This form of abuse is rare but particularly traumatic, as body modification is a very personal choice and having it imposed on your body against your will can feel like an extreme personal violation…[Continued at https://stmlearning.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/branding-victims-forced-tattooing-and-domestic-abuse/ ].”

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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