A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

What Does “Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs” Mean?

I added these few paragraphs over at the Our Place forum.  The question was asked, “what does 1 Corinthians 13:5 mean when it says that love keeps no record of wrongs?  Here are some thoughts.  You KNOW that this is just the kind of biblical phrase that an abuser is going to pull out of his bag of tricks-

It is interesting to see that this phrase is so variously translated. It took me awhile to find it, in fact. I looked in 1 Cor 13 right off, but could not find “love keeps no record of wrong.” Here are some of the ways it is translated –

NIV – “It keeps no record of wrongs”
KJV “thinketh no evil”
ESV -“is not resentful”

And there are many others. The phrase immediately preceding it is “is not easily provoked.” The Greek phrase is literally something like “it does not impute evil.” The word translated “impute” is logidzomai which is the same word that is used to define how God credits the righteousness of Christ to our account — “Imputation.” It’s a kind of accounting term. So it could mean keeping a ledger of wrongs done to us. Or it could mean perhaps “crediting evil motives”?? Whichever way you go, the basic thought seems to be that love is not characterized by sinful, vengeful anger. Even with abusers, we don’t seek personal vengeance upon them, but leave it to the Lord.

But this has nothing to do with a kind of “I will keep your account record totally blank and declare as inadmissible in my mind any memory of evils that you have done to me in the past.” My good old proof text that I always like to turn to is 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.

That doesn’t sound like Paul has forgotten what this rotten guy Alexander did. He even encourages Timothy to take note of it and to take the appropriate cautions. Unless we are prepared to say that Paul, who wrote 1 Corinthians 13!!! didn’t practice what he preached, then “love keeps no record of wrongs” cannot mean that we are precluded from remembering evil done against us and refusing to trust such a person who proves themselves untrustworthy.

So the abuser can just put that one back in his bag.  It won’t work.

20 Comments

  1. The Master's Slave

    Reblogged this on The Master's Slave.

  2. westfield

    Thank you , thank you, thank you

  3. Anonymous

    “… we don’t seek personal vengeance upon them, but leave it to the Lord.”
    That has always been my prayer but after three false professions of faith and many promises to be a better husband/father … I can’t even declare 2 Timothy 4:14-15 because for the past several years my husband has reminded me that “Look, I’m not saved. You’re expecting too much of me.”

    • Wow Anonymous, that’s a new excuse I hadn’t heard before. Their creativity in making up excuses never ceases to amaze me.

    • Yes, and then he will know that you will follow the verse that says if you are married to an unbeliever and they consent to stay with you, then you are stuck. Different verse. Different angle to keep you enslaved.

      • And if they pull the “if you are married to an unbeliever and they consent to stay with you, then you’re stuck” card, here is the rebuttal. I explain it in depth in my book, but this post gives a summary. Here is an excerpt from that post I just linked to:

        The perpetration of domestic abuse effectively pushes away the other spouse and divides the marriage. The fact that many victims eventually leave abusive relationships testifies to this pushing away. Perpetrators usually protest that they want the marriage to continue, but their evil conduct conveys the exact opposite – it effectually pushes the other spouse away.

        When applying 1 Corinthians 7:15, the key question is not “Who walked out?” but “Who caused the separation?” Would it be sensible to say that David was the sinful rebellious one when he left Saul’s court? No, he left because of Saul’s abuse. David left, but Saul was the cause of his leaving. If we translate the word chorizo as “separate” we see this more clearly: if the unbeliever separates, let him separate. The unbeliever is doing the separating; the believer is commanded to let it be done. This tells the believing spouse (and the church) to allow the marriage to be over, because the unbeliever has destroyed the covenant. It permits the victim of abuse to take out a legal divorce.

  4. Ann

    Please tell me if I am understanding this correctly. Imputing would mean assigning something to someone they don’t deserve; it’s unearned or not of their own doing. In the case of an abuser we are not assigning evil (as if it never happened, making it up); it rightfully belongs to them.

    • Ann

      (Sorry this goes with my previous comment.)

      Therefore remembering their evil to someone by oratory or written words is not wrong.

    • Yep, you are understanding that correctly, Ann. 🙂

  5. debby

    This was VERY helpful! This has been used by my counselors and abuser alike and I really had no defense because it SOUNDED like they were right. Now I get it.

  6. debby

    This comment is just a GENERAL comment, an epiphany if you will, after studying and learning on this blog for awhile now: Dealing with abuse is like a WAR. You have to STUDY and get to know your enemy, his/her tactics, and have a strategy (a defensive one (separate?), an offensive one (speak truth?), or sometimes, an EXIT one (LEAVE). This analogy is in NO way remotely related to what God intended when he designed marriage. Abusive “marriages” are not marriages at all. (Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield would be the theme song…except REAL love doesnt look or sound anything like a battle.) Do they expect soldiers to follow all the rules of a normal society in their interactions/encounters with the enemy? Of course not. That would be ridiculous and dangerous. But that is what abuse targets are expected to do. Also ridiculous and dangerous. I must stop following the “rules” of healthy relationships! They simply don’t apply when abuse is present.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Debby – A war indeed. Your eyes are seeing clearly!

  7. debby

    Jeff, it makes me sad that I wanted to be and tried to be a Godly wife when I needed to and finally forced to be a “soldier.” Not what I meant when I said MY vows, that’s for sure.

    • But He Didn't Hit Me

      I can relate Debby. I was signing up for a loving Christian marriage and what I got was having to escape with my life.

    • Herjourney

      debby
      Being a soldier is not a bad thing.
      The ramifications from the war can be tools used by the enemy to keep the target afraid to move forward. Been there! Frozen in a state of unusefulness. The enemy knows our weaknesses. To the enemy a weakness could be compassion. Kindness. Self control. Not fighting back when provoked.

      The enemy now knows our weapon is the word of God. Nothing can stop a soldier who has God for their shield of defense. As the song somewhat goes. Using female gender here.
      “It takes a soldier who knows her amour is the living God”! I will be praying for you debbie.

  8. Flo

    Marriage is hard work enough when both people are working at it. But when one is working at it, and the other is critical, judgmental, belittling, controlling, abusive, tempermental, a work-a-holic, unwilling and unable to communicate, and neglectful, you end up with a hopelessness that goes beyond normal disappointment. You end up in a fog of overwhelming despair after 35+ yrs that leaves you mechanically going through the motions of day to day survival.

    This I can forgive, but never to live that way again. Wrongs aren’t remembered to re-accuse, but to explain (because they don’t seem to understand what they did), and hope for true sincere repentance and restitution. Trust is completely broken down when the one you love with all you have does those things through many faithful years. Lasting change may never happen but now I am free to find my purpose in life as the Lord will lead. Much healing required.

    I would like to add that my church perpetuated my abuse through its “submissive wife” teaching and taught me to take responsibility for his salvation through scripture as well. When I am strong enough and can approach the Pastor in humility I will. I was faithful to God and tearfully held onto His hem for my redemption. I feel that He gave me the strength and resolve I needed to get away. I am sorrowful to have left my husband and break up my family, but it was for my literal survival because I had become so depressed and disheartened. I can’t know for sure (no medical diagnosis) but I think I had a mental and emotional breakdown. God help women like me. It’s confusing, sad and very tough to leave and start a new life after so long.

    • Hi Flo, welcome to the blog, and thanks for sharing 🙂

      You are right that “abusers don’t seem to understand what they did” — but the key word there is SEEM. They in fact do know that they hurt their targets. And they know that what they do is wrong. Otherwise, why would they go to such trouble to conceal it from bystanders? They don’t mistreat their workmates and bosses the way they mistreat their intimate partners.

      By acting as if they “don’t know what they do is wrong”, they are trying to put us all off the scent. They are putting up a smokesceen about their real natures. If they can get us to believe that they don’t know they are doing wrong, we will put heaps of energy into trying to explain to them that what they are doing is wrong. This drains the victim. It drains the bystanders. Many victims and bystanders feel sorry for the abuser because he seems to be so blind, so lacking in understanding. But in fact, the abuser KNOWS that what he is doing is wrong – he just doesn’t care.

      Here are some posts which relate to this:

      The Frustration of Explaining things to an Abuser

      The Abuser’s Goal – A Master/Slave Relationship

      Minimizing abuse

      “He’s just insecure”

      Overt and covert aggression

      Denial versus Lying

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      • Another reason we know that the abuser KNOWS he is doing wrong, is because he strategically plans how to crush his victim’s resistance.

    • Anotheranon

      Flo, Many years ago I came close to a nervous breakdown myself. As it was, I had a severe panic attack with a very rapid heartbeat for several hours. For years I had smaller panic attacks that left me in great fear. I may have even had a heart attack (an EKG showed evidence of infarction). All from several forms of abuse for 35+ years. If I had stayed longer I am fairly certain I would have had a mental breakdown.

      I left after a bad argument several months ago, and my divorce was final only recently. The despair I felt for over 25 years previously had made me want to die.

      I do not take glory in the divorce, but recognize it had to happen. It was hard for my children to accept. But now I am free to serve the Lord in whatever way He leads me. And yes, it’s hard to start over. I was able to acquire enough money to make things easier, but I’ll need a better job at some point.

      I wonder about you talking to your pastor. Do you feel you owe him an explanation or something? I would be cautious. You may be wounded by what he tells you, and I worry it will make you despair even more. Please take care, and let the love of Jesus bring healing to you. Praying for you as a sister in Christ.

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