Dealing Justly With Abusers and Their Victims
Our book is entitled A Cry for Justice. One of the Scriptures that inspired us to that title is posted on this blogsite –
Job 19:7, Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.
There is no justice. You won’t have to talk to many abuse victim/survivors before you realize that they do not receive justice. Not even in their churches. Perhaps it isn’t much of an exaggeration at all to say especially in our churches? If we can be used by the Lord to expose just this one thing – this lack of justice in our churches – then we will believe we have accomplished something.
Why this lack of justice? Why is it that violence can be done to the oppressed, right under our noses, and we don’t see it? The statue of the lady justice (the one holding the scales – you know) has a blindfold on. Justice is supposed to be blind. Not blind to justice itself, but blind to the status of the two parties in a conflict. Rich or poor, white or colored, man or woman – these things are not to be taken into consideration if we would do justice.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Why the injustice then? Here are some more Scriptures taken from Proverbs that point out some more reasons behind injustice –
Proverbs 17:8, A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers.
Proverbs 18:5, It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice.
Proverbs 18:17, The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
We are partial to the wicked- to the abuser – so very often. Why? Here is what Solomon says –
- The abuser often has assets and position. He (yes, sometimes she) has the resources to bribe us. To cast a spell on us. Then, the abuser prospers. Isn’t this sadly accurate? It is like the church has been enchanted by the abuser. He is so convincing. He has so much to offer us. We know him – or we think we do. So everyone believes him. We render injustice because we set ourselves up as competent to judge when an abuse victim comes to us, but in fact, we have been bribed. Who was it, the King of Ronan in The Lord of the Rings who had been blinded and enchanted by Wormtongue? That’s us.
- So we show partiality to the wicked. We deprive the victim of the justice due her. How often do we stop to consider that we are very likely not very good judges, and that for a number of reasons. Christians are usually ignorant of the nature and tactics of abuse. That doesn’t make for a very good judge. Christians in a local church often have personal knowledge of and relationships with the abuser and his victim. That doesn’t make for a very just judge either. In the world, a judge who realizes he knows the parties in a case must excuse himself from that case. But we don’t.
- Who is it, in abuse cases, that states his case first? You might be tempted to say “why, the victim of course. She/he is the one who comes to the church and reports the abuse.” But if you know much about the dynamics of these scenarios, you will realize that it is actually quite the opposite. Christians who are abuse victims are very hesitant to bring their case to the church. For one thing, abuse is quite confusing and so victims don’t understand for some time what is happening to them. And all this while, often for years perhaps, the abuser is stating his case. Daily. In comments he makes about his victim. In the deceiving way he presents himself to us. In his so-called “godly” works and demeanor in the church. And we believe him. We accept him for who he says he is. The one who states his case first seems right. And we buy it.
If we would be just, we need to heed these words of Scripture. We need to examine our verdicts in light of these truths and in many of our past cases pronounce — “mistrial.” Have we permitted the victim to have her day in court? To do what Proverbs says she has a right to do – until the other comes and examines him. Many of the church’s verdicts desperately need to come up for appeal. Either we do this now, or most assuredly, the day is coming when the Highest Court in the universe will hear the victim’s call for appeal – and He shall grant that request and render perfect justice and righteousness. We would do well to find ourselves on the side of that perfect justice when it comes.