“Thoughts of the Past” by John Spencer Stanhope (1859), Tate Museum, PD Art (PD-old-100)
The biblical prophet Hosea lived during a dark period in Israel’s history, around the 8th Century BC. Though prosperous, the Northern Kingdom had turned away from the one true God, instead worshipping idols.
Against this backdrop, God’s puzzling direction to Hosea was that he should marry a prostitute:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1: 2).
Hosea’s troubled relationship with his wife, Gomer, becomes a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel .
Gomer bears Hosea three children, whose names are symbolic of the spiritual deterioration of Israel . But Gomer is repeatedly unfaithful. Hosea even questions the paternity of the younger children.
Despite that, Hosea is commanded by God to love Gomer (Hosea 3: 1). God warns Israel of terrible chastisement to come for its sin . Hosea is not though described as punishing Gomer. Rather, he ransoms her out of slavery.
We can infer that Hosea provides Gomer food and clothing, and treats her tenderly. Ultimately, Hosea forgives Gomer’s infidelity as God forgives Israel’s.
Since Gomer does not speak, we are left to wonder about her motivation. Here she is, rescued from a life of degradation. Yet she does not – or cannot – remain faithful. Did she feel ignored by Hosea? Did she long for male attention and admiration? For the excitement of the streets (or the sensuality of pagan worship)?
Why can what we know is wrong sometimes feel so “right”? For abuse victims, self-sabotage may be part of the answer.
Self-sabotage is the expression of low self-esteem. Any behavior which undermines our success can fall into this category. Examples include binge drinking, engaging in unprotected sex, and selecting an alcoholic life partner. The behavior may be conscious or unconscious.
“Typically, one’s pattern of self-sabotage is closely related to one’s personal issues and family history. Survivors who grew up in addictive families may self-sabotage by driving while drunk… Survivors from violent families may…[be] beaten or injured. Survivors from wealthy families often find themselves losing money, getting swindled or making bad investments. Studies have shown that survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to be assaulted as adults .”
This is not to suggest that abuse victims are responsible for the abuse inflicted on them. Nor is it meant to imply that victims want to be re-victimized. Continue reading