Tag Archives: sanctification


“Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” by Guercino (c.1621) at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (Accession No. DPG282) (PD)

Many abuse victims are tormented by perfectionism.  This is the unrelenting pursuit of perfection.  Perfection and perfectionism are not, however, the same.  One is, in fact, antagonistic to the other.

Perfection as a Standard

Perfection has special significance for abuse victims.  As children, abuse victims come under constant and unjustified criticism.  Harsh criticism may be accompanied by still harsher punishments, penalties far beyond anything a loving parent or guardian might administer for a childish infraction.

With time, victims conclude that perfection alone would satisfy their tormentors.  We strive to achieve that.  In reality, no amount of effort could attain the impossibly high standards set for victims.  But the effort is ingrained in us, as is the self-criticism.  So perfectionism begins.

The Need for Approval

As adults, abuse victims are frequently motivated by a need for approval.  We become “people pleasers”, conditioned “to feel bad about [our]selves and to please, appease, accommodate others” [1A].  Studies show that perfectionists of this type may “exhibit…‘a strong sense of duty, which masks underlying feelings of personal inadequacy’ ” [1B][2].

Dirt and Cleanliness

Sexual abuse can add another layer of torment.  Child victims may be too young to understand what exactly is being done to them, other than that it is a painful violation.  The violation is commonly, however, associated with cleanliness issues.  This is especially true when children are accused of being “filthy sluts”, “dirty whores”, and the like.

Having been made to feel “dirty”, children may rub dirt onto their skin and clothing.  They may soil themselves, even if long since potty-trained.  In the alternative, they may wash unceasingly; may bathe and change clothes several times a day.

As adults, the victims of sexual abuse are likely to have difficulties with sex.  They may view sex as threatening and disgusting; themselves as soiled by it.  Some can feel nothing sexually.  Others treat sex as a commodity.  Far too many throw themselves into frenzied sexual activity, in a desperate search for the love of which they were deprived.

Most abuse victims do not grow up to become prostitutes.  A great number of prostitutes (male and female) were, however, abused as children

Washed in the Blood

Verses can be found throughout the Bible which refer to cleansing [3].   These are not concerned with soap and water, but with sin and repentance.  They convey something of the power of God to forgive whatever wrongs we may have done, and “cleanse” or rid us of the evil done to us.

The Bible’s cleansing verses are not meant to suggest that abuse victims are somehow filthy or defiled.  The child victims of abuse – even sexual abuse – have NOT sinned, sexually or otherwise.  And God, above all others, understands the extent to which their adult actions may have been impacted by the sins inflicted on them as children. Continue reading



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women


I cannot claim to have written this piece, but I wish I had.  (Anyone able to identify the author is asked, please, to let me know.)

The torment sexually abused children endure – the pain they carry for a lifetime – raises the eternal question of why God would permit evil to flourish.

Abuse can only be understood (if at all) against the backdrop of Christ’s own suffering.

As with Pharaoh’s murder of Jewish infants at the time of Moses’ birth, and the massacre of the innocents by Herod the Great following Jesus’ birth, the horrors inflicted on children by sexual predators are inexcusable.

Yet the image of children so violated may be as close to a likeness of Christ on the cross as can be had in this fallen world.

Lamb of God

Few among us would not give his/her life for the life of a child, if called on to do so. We would not hesitate. These little lambs are precious to us.

So, too, with Christ. The sinless Paschal lamb offered Himself as the Lamb of God for the atonement of our sins. Recall that John the Baptist exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” when he saw Jesus (John 1: 29).

This sacrifice by Christ was accomplished from a love so great we can barely conceive of it.

Suffering Servant

Christ is, also, described as the Suffering Servant in scripture (Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12).

Jesus took on a human nature in willing obedience to the Father. He was pierced and wounded on earth; His status as Lord was not grasped. Yet, the revulsion at His disfigured appearance will be replaced with great wonder. Nations will bow down before Him in adoration. Broken, He will be exalted.

Abused children differ in that they are incapable of consenting to their abuse. No one can argue that a crucified God does not understand their suffering. Why then would He allow it? This is the heart of the matter.


There has long been a war under way between good and evil, with the earth its venue. In reality, that war was won by Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, spiritual battles continue daily.

The adversary has the “advantage” of using even the most horrific means to accomplish his ends, to turn us from God and inflict pain upon Him. Our suffering does just that, i.e. grieve God as we are grieved when our own children suffer.

This is the context in which abuse takes place. Harm inflicted on the most vulnerable among us is a cunning weapon by the adversary against God.

But good triumphs over evil, as love is stronger than hate. At the end of time – a point which only God can determine – evil will be defeated and the scales of justice finally balanced. Like the martyrs under the altar (Revelation 6: 9-11), we wait anxiously for that day.


Meanwhile, we are conformed by God to the image of Christ. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had this to say about the sanctification process by which this takes place:

“Sanctity, then, is not giving up the world. It is exchanging the world [for something better]. It is a continuation…of the Incarnation in which Christ said to man: ‘…You give Me your time, I will give you My eternity… You give Me your slavery, I will give you My Freedom. You give Me your death, I will give you My Life. You give Me your nothingness, I will give you My All.’ And the consoling thought throughout this whole transforming process is that it does not require much time to make us saints; it requires only much love.”

Day by day, mile by mile, we follow in the Lord’s footsteps – each carrying the particular burden we have been allotted. At times, we stagger forward only by the Lord’s strength. Ours is spent.

It is love – God’s love for us, and ours for Him – which supports this impossible endeavor, and achieves this impossible goal. Not threat, not fear.

The adversary has lost, defeated by a holy God… and the weakest among us.

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse