The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Secrecy
One of the common tactics that abusers use on their victims – ESPECIALLY if the abuser is wearing a “Christian” mask – is to pervert God’s Word to deceive and control his victim. Two of the most common of these distortions of Scripture are:
1. “If you ever talk to anyone about what goes on in this house, you will be sorry! God hates gossip and slander and He requires you to obey and respect your husband.”
2. “I know that I am not perfect, but sometimes you just push me too far. Besides, I am trying and I am making good progress. I am changing. You need to forgive me no matter how many times I blow it. God says we are to forgive each other 70 times 7 and that we are to love even our enemies. Surely that means you need to love and forgive your own husband!”
Let’s address the first distortion in this article, the second is addressed in “The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Forgiveness”). The charge that the abuse victim is guilty of gossip and slander against her abuser if she ever tells anyone what he is doing is very common, especially in a Christian environment. I personally have had THIS wicked tactic played on me more than once by guilty, controlling, abusive men and women who desire to operate in secret. I don’t play their secrecy games anymore. I’m on to them!
Gossip and slander are sins because they violate the second table of God’s Law which is summarized by “love your neighbor as yourself.” These sins of the tongue are motivated by an evil heart whose goal is to injure the reputation of another person. Gossip and slander can consist of TRUE or FALSE reports about someone. In the case of a TRUE report, the evil stems from a heart’s desire to present that report in a harmful, hurtful manner. The heart’s motives are the real issue here. Gossip and slander always proceed from a motive to cause harm to the victim or to exalt the slanderer in some way.
In contrast however, announcing from the rooftops what the abuser is doing to his victims is not gossip or slander. It is motivated by a desire for justice – a hungering and thirsting for righteousness. It is the exposure of things done in darkness by the application of the light of Jesus Christ. It is telling the truth where lies and deception have existed. THIS IS NOT SIN! It is right in every way!
Let me prove this. Consider the following Scripture (which is proving to be one of my very favorites lately) –
2 Timothy 4:14-15 “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. (15) Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.”
Now, think very carefully about what the Apostle Paul is doing here. He is writing to Timothy, announcing to Timothy what Alexander has done. Paul even warns Timothy to beware of Alexander himself. Are we going to say that Paul is guilty of gossip and slander against Alexander? Hardly! What Paul is doing here is RIGHT! Notice that Paul does is not motivated by a desire for PERSONAL revenge, but he does DESIRE justice and he leaves it to the Lord to effect that justice. (And remember that these New Testament letters were intended to be read to the churches! Timothy was not the only one then who read Paul’s warning about Alexander – can’t you hear Alexander screaming that this is gossip and slander against him?)
We could give countless other examples from Scripture of the very same thing – of the righteous telling other people about the wicked evils of abusive men. Have you ever considered how often the Bible names names? Just a few verses earlier –
2 Timothy 4:10a “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”
Is that a terrible, slanderous thing to say about Demas? No! And again –
1 Timothy 1:19b-20 “By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, (20) among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
Zing! Two more guys publicly exposed!
And consider the matter of church discipline. What happens when a person refuses to repent after being confronted with his sin by witnesses? The thing is told to the church! He is put out of the church. Is that gossip or slander? Obviously not. It is righteousness.
Let me make this statement so we get hold of it very, very firmly –
“If Christians and pastors and local churches have been guilty of anything in regard to the evil of abuse in our midst, it is most surely NOT the sin of gossip and slander about the abuser. Quite the opposite. We have been guilty of covering for him, often yielding to his deceptive distortions of Scripture by which he lures us into believing that announcing his sin would be sin on our part. This has been a powerful and favorite deception of the abuser, and we must reject it.”
Therefore, to victims of abuse, I say TELL! Tell someone. BUT be wise and be careful in doing so in order that your safety is not compromised. You are NOT guilty of gossip or slander or disrespect toward your abuser. TELL about the awful things he has done to you. As you do so, and as you read and learn more about the nature and tactics of abuse, you will be set free from his deceptive spell.