A Cry For Justice

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

Are we testing God when we submit to abuse?

A guest blog from one of our readers.

Matthew 4:5-7, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’

Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”

I heard this preached this week — the story about Satan and his attempts to lure Christ into his agenda and deceive Him.

After taking him to the pinnacle of the Temple, Satan tells Jesus that He should throw Himself down if He is really the Son of God, because God has said that he will protect Jesus and command His angels concerning Him that they will bear Him up, lest He strike His foot against a stone. Jesus replies to Satan, that it is written in the Word of God, that you should not put the Lord your God to the test.

Sitting in the pew, I suddenly remember all the people who have said or insinuated to me that a person should not flee abuse, but rather should realize that God has put them in that situation and that even if they should die at the hands of their abuser, it is God’s will for it to end that way. They should just “trust God” to protect them, because He promises to protect His own.

Two things come glaringly back at me as my mind processes the message here. One is that those statements made to me are eerily like the statements Satan made to Christ.

“Oh! Don’t worry Jesus, God will take care of You, IF You are really His Son. He promises to, so just throw yourself off the Temple. Everything will be okay.”

“Oh! Don’t worry, abuse victim. God will take care of you, if you are really His. He promises to, so just stay where you are and take the abuse and love the abuser back. Everything will be okay, because even if he kills you, IF you are really God’s, you will be with Him and that will be grand. All your problems will be over then.”

The second thing that stands out to me is the response of the King of Kings, God Himself, as He tells Satan to stop doing what he does best, lying. He tells him that He’s got his number and that even though Scriptures are being used to cause Jesus to doubt, He stands firm against the false and deceitful interpretation of those Scriptures, and clings to the truth — God does not want Jesus to purposely place Himself in danger and devalue His life or risk losing His life, before the appointed time. He has a divine appointment in His future and plans to be here for it. That is His purpose.

Suddenly, that “flash of light” comes to me and I realize that in the simplicity of this text God is desiring to tell me something about my own and many others’ situations. I come away with the clear, unadulterated truth from God’s Word, and it is this:–  When I devalue my life and allow someone, anyone, to abuse me, I may be testing God. God gave me a brain, and there is something desperately wrong with not trying to protect oneself from abuse, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual or sexual. We are not to put God to the test in our lives by trying to be a hero or testing God to find out if we are His own children by doing something stupid with our lives, just to see if He will protect us.

It is amazing to me how people separate abuse from other forms of danger. For example, if you were a bank teller and the robber approached with his gun and asked for the money, would you just stand there and do nothing? Would you not turn the money over? Would you really say, “Well, God, if this is what you have planned for me, then I guess I will be with you shortly.”   No! We would hand that money over as fast as we could. Our families would flash through our minds and we would quickly give to the armed person whatever they were asking for.

I understand the Scripture here. There could be an argument about whether the “testing” is in the “if you are the Son of God”, but I have heard the same testing told to me. “If” you are a Christian, you have no need to worry. Just forfeit your life to the sin of abuse, and God will raise you up. If he does not protect you here, it is because it was His will for you to be killed, so you could be with Him.  It just gets more ridiculous, every time I hear it or repeat it!

I understand being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. I understand being martyred for Christ’s Kingdom. Oh, if this were just that. But it is not.

I hope this helps someone out there who needs to understand, as I do, that it is okay to protect your life and to cherish it for Christ. God even says that no one ever hated his own flesh, but loves it and nourishes it. That means to me that we are meant to love and nourish our lives. Not in a fleshly, selfish and sinful way, but that God gave us the desire to live and to care for our bodies and souls. It cannot be both ways. God cannot lie. Doing nothing about abuse, or anything else that could harm our lives or take them from us, because we are just going to trust God to keep us from dashing our foot against a stone, can be the same thing as putting the Lord to the test. We ought not do that.

22 Comments

  1. Brenda R

    Great post, Barbara,

    Great comparison of the 2 “don’t worry” scenarios. A power point of the 2 put up on the projector at church would be wonderful and maybe even some folks would give it some thought. It could be humbling for those putting marriage on a pedestal if they allowed themselves to think it through.

    “I understand being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. I understand being martyred for Christ’s Kingdom. Oh, if this were just that. But it is not.”

    That statement makes total sense and would be an honor. But, being martyred and persecuted for the sake of a spouse and marriage–is not.

  2. I agree that It is indeed testing God.to stay in dangerous situations awaiting his rescue.

    I think a very real problem that feeds into this mindset is the idea that marriage=Gospel. I think many, many Christians will tell you that marriage is worth dying for. The look at someone like Cassie who took a bullet rather than deny Jesus, and they (rightly) see a martyr for the faith. Then they look at abusive marriages, and they see the same thing. Some not not unto psychical death- they “graciously” allow separation- but at the very least intense suffering. I was told by the elders at my church that my job was no different from a missionary with his or her life on the line. My lot was to suffer.

    Now those who say that marriage is worth dying for, I doubt very many of them have been put to that test. In the end, this is idolatry, and the worst form: idolatry where others pay the penalty for it. Marriage is not the Gospel. Dying for a marriage does not exalt Jesus or the Gospel. Frankly, it slings mud at the cross making God into an abuser. And those who force others into this sacrifice are putting fellow Christians on this altar. They ought to be ashamed.

    • Heather 2

      Amen, Jeff!!!
      They have twisted the Gospel to keep victims on bondage. They should be ashamed, but they aren’t.

      • Forrest

        In some cases, I think pride is at work. The establishment doesn’t want any failure within their “church”.

    • Katy

      Now those who say that marriage is worth dying for, I doubt very many of them have been put to that test right on.

  3. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  4. Amy

    Reminds me of the story of the man stranded on a roof during a flood. A boat comes by to rescue him and he turns down their help saying that, “God will rescue him”, then a helicopter comes to get him which he also turns down saying the same thing, “No thanks, God will rescue me” and finally he drowns. When he gets to heaven he ask God why He didn’t rescue him and God responds, “I sent a boat and a helicopter, what more did you want??” LOL

    After my abusive ex left several years ago I remember thinking on that story and realized that I too over the years while living in an abusive marriage felt that I needed to stay and one day God would ‘rescue’ me. What I failed to see clearly over those years is that God had sent ‘help’ to me in the form of people, books, counselors, etc, but I was somehow expecting something more, kwim?
    Plus, having Christians around me saying how God put me in this abusive marriage and it was just my lot in life, made it extremely hard to leave for fear of appearing that I did not trust God enough.

    Nowadays I view life differently. I believe that God ‘speaks’ to us through people, books, everyday events, and we can either open our eyes and hearts to it, or we can keep waiting for Him to ‘rescue’ us only to find out later that He did send help. And yes, I also believe that we do all we can to protect our lives from those that try to harm us. As Leslie Vernick wrote about in this awesome post re: whether God wants us to suffer, http://www.leslievernick.com/2013/04/01/suffering/, we will suffer when we stand up against evil (abuse), but we are not called to just suffer through in harmful, destructive situations…that’s just plain ol’ ridiculous (my thoughts)! When we stand up for what is right and stand against evil and abuse, there will be suffering because the abuser will not like us taking a stand. Therefore, we will suffer consequences such as more harsh treatment from the abuser and excommunication from churches and members because we did not just stick it out.

    Anyway, just my humble .02 cents this morning! 😉

    • I thought of that same joke 🙂

      • colleenr

        Ditto!

  5. cindy burrell

    Excellent piece! Thank you for sharing.

    Once again, we see an enabling church – willing to condemn the victim while shielding the sinner from the consequences of his or her sin and calling it “love.” Yes, the enemy is alive and well and working among us. Our job is to call a spade a spade.

  6. K

    Wow, I had never thought of this scripture that way before. Thank you!

  7. To give a couple of examples. Did not Jesus, before it was his time, slip out of the grasp of the pharisees and sadducees while they were plotting against him? Did not Paul appeal to Caesar when he was being falsely accused and was about to be lynched? Yes, he ended up being martyred by Nero, but he used legal means to separate himself from immediate danger.

    Martyrdom for your faith is in a completely different class than willingly submitting to abuse in my mind.

  8. colleenr

    I cannot imagine having someone suggest that “if you die in this abusive relationship that was God’s will for you.” Dare I ask whether that might be because I have historically (tho not necessarily now) been in a more Arminian than Calvinistic tradition?

    • I don’t think is a Calvin vs Arminian thing. You’ve got Arminians like Paige Patterson bragging about sending a women back into a physically abusive relationship and smiling when she comes back bruised because it caused her man to “repent”. He didn’t explicitly say it was her job to suffer, but it sure sounds like that’s what he was thinking.

      • Brenda R

        That sounds much more like Sadism than anything Godly. Smiling because a woman is brused is not ever something to smile about.

      • Hi Brenda! Looks like you may be having a touch of insomnia tonight — but it’s keeping me company here in my time zone 🙂

      • Brenda R

        I have no sleep pattern. I was awake for 41 hours this time. A bit beyond insomnia for me. Slept a full 9 last night, have been up for 2 and could use a nap. Ah, the blessing of MS. I am still mobile and praise God for it!

      • wow. I don’t know how anyone would cope with that. I take my hat off to you!

    • Anonymous

      Colleenr-I think it is most likely due to the poor interpretation of suffering we have acquired, that really needs to be better understood. I do think (just my personal opinion) that reformed theology is more likely to have established this early on, but as you can see, some of that is changing and it is not a “blame the reformers” issue.. I think that the Catholics believe in suffering for God in anyway possible, because it helps atone for their sins. That is at least what my relatives have told me, that belong to the Catholic faith. So, not to put blame or anything, but when the reformers came out of that, they may not have revamped the issue of biblical suffering quite enough. But here, it is getting revamped and that’s all that matters.

  9. From a reader who sent this to me via email:
    Our body/mind/soul/spirit are for God’s use. We are the temple in which He dwells. We are to glorify God. God does not submit to satan, when tempted God incarnate did not submit to satan…the liar, deceiver. Actions of an abuser are not of God. We submit to God…. not a liar, deceiver, abuser.
    God wants us alive, living abundantly, serving Him, doing the good work He planned for us to do…. satan will try to stop us, kill us (through abuse, lies deception) and therefore stop God’s work.
    God saved us at great cost to be His. We either believe that or we don’t. Whose voice will we heed?

    • Brenda R

      Amen!

  10. Anon

    Thanks to the guest blogger who wrote this. Excellent!

    I tell my Christian friends that asking Christians to submit to abusive spouses is like encouraging Christians to smoke, then praying for their healing, over and over again. Doesn’t make sense!

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