[August 22, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; (Hebrews 12:4 NASB1995)
If you have been “counseled” with the above verse in your suffering I understand your pain and am sorry you have had to endure this evil counsel. And it IS evil. Do you feel the evil oppression and bondage in your spirit when such things are spoken to you? God gave us emotions and intuition; they are indicators. Negative emotions can alert us that something is wrong. Using this verse to counsel a person in bondage to an abusive spouse is wrong.
When I first gathered enough courage to begin telling of the mental torture I was enduring at the mouth of my husband, I chose a “friend” I had known for many years whom I thought was godly. She asked if he had hit me. He can honestly say he never hit me. From the beginning of our marriage he made sure I knew he was much stronger than me and that he could be violent if he chose. He punched holes in walls, broke dining room chairs, pinned me down so I could not move or free myself. The scariest non-hitting violence was when he began to threaten my life. Throughout our twenty-nine year marriage he fostered an environment of fear. And no, he never hit me. But I feared him none the less. “Perfect love casts out fear.” “Husbands are commanded to love their wives.”
Having gathered the courage to speak about the abuse, the first person I chose to tell quoted “you haven’t suffered to the point of shedding blood.“ She also said if God wanted to use my husband to end my life, my life didn’t matter. She equated it with the suffering of all the persecuted before me and insisted this was my calling to die for Christ. This is not dying for Christ. This is dying of murder at the hands of an evil man. Have they not read God hates murder. She was cold and heartless. When I told her I was choosing counsel from others, she viciously tried to manipulate me to take her calls and answer her emails. She attempted to guilt me, accuse me, and then acted as if she were the victim. I realized she was my husband in female form. Satan is the accuser.
When she was done with me, I felt as if I had shed blood by the vicious stiletto of her tongue. I certainly suffered violence against my spirit. I was devastated and speechless: left on the floor with my soul “bleeding to death”. The power of life and death is in the tongue. This kind of counsel is a hateful view of God, an abusive tyrant demanding the life of one’s spirit. Forbearing with one another does not mean we are to condone their sin. Nowhere in the Bible will you find God demanding we are to suffer in abusive marriages and abusive personal relationships, much less requiring us to meekly offer our lives to a murderous husband / spouse. Quite the opposite. Not only does God call us to stand against evil and expose it, God calls husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
The love of Christ is gentle, kind and serves others; as when He ministered to the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, raising the widow’s son and Jairus’ daughter from the dead, washing His disciples’ feet, a task considered the most menial in that day and culture. When the sick came to Jesus, He healed them all! When He came across a funeral, He ended it! The all-powerful God who can speak a word and it will happen, loves gently.
Husbands are called to nourish and cherish their wives as they nourish and cherish their own bodies. But the counsel received from many ‘c’hurches puts the full responsibility on the wives. That is antithetical to the word of God. They have some explaining to do as to why they put their tradition above God’s word. We should not be on the defensive when they beat us over the head with the Bible using their words as violent weapons, they should be on the defensive. Like the Pharisees, they are twisting God’s word and adding to His law to suit their own agenda.
The shedding of blood in sacrificial suffering in the Bible indicates sacrifice to cover sins. Are those giving this counsel of death implying that the blood of a human covers the sins of the one murdering? If so, this makes my human sacrifice a means of salvation. The “pray more, submit more, fast more” counsel also implies my works will sanctify my husband. That is a false Gospel. The church is out of step with God’s word when abusers aren’t even given a slap on the wrist. Instead their hands are stroked with comfort while the ones they murder are tossed out in the gutter. The heart of all abuse is murder. Satan has been a murderer from the beginning. Jesus is The Life! This is a despicable scandal! It is a lie from the pit of hell that God demands you to suffer to the point of shedding your blood in death as a sacrifice to your abuser. This is a blood sacrifice to the idol of marriage.
Would these same people counsel you to bare your neck to be slit open at the hands of home invaders? Or would they counsel self-defense and defense of one’s children? When they give this counsel of death and someone is killed because they stayed in a dangerous situation, do these agents of darkness then have any empathy? Would they feel any pangs of guilt? God holds life sacred. Jesus is Pro-Life. If the church is to be consistent when it preaches sanctity of life for the unborn and the elderly, then they must also preach sanctity of life for women, men and children in abusive situations. But instead by quoting Hebrews 12:4 they are preaching death to the abused.
The Hebrews 12:4 passage, You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood….is being used to spiritually abuse those of us in bondage to murderous spouses. It is a spiritually manipulative guilt trip designed to shut up the victim and bring them back into conformity to abusive authority. There is a difference between gently and lovingly using Scripture to confront and convict one of their sin, or judgmentally using Scripture to condemn, control and subjugate. One is of God. The other is of Satan.
Now if we leave the Hebrew phrase at that, pulling it out of context we might assume it means “shedding blood in striving against sin“ in general. But in context the passage is speaking of God’s discipline toward those He loves as we resist our personal flesh, our personal sin. It is not speaking to tolerating the evil sin of murder. A man hitting his wife, or abusing her in other ways, comes from a heart of murder. “Thou shalt not murder” is the command. The command is not “thou shalt allow yourself to be murdered.” Hebrews chapter 12 goes on to say that Esau sold his birthright for a single meal, when he sought to inherit a blessing he was rejected for he found no place for repentance, even though he sought it with tears.
Is not the life of a spouse at least as valuable as Esau’s birthright? What do these counselors who joyfully condemn us to death do with that? If we give up our “birthright”, our precious lives given us by God, if we sacrifice our lives to the sinful pleasure a man finds in abusing, will we inherit a blessing when we seek one? God holds life sacred. That is one reason why His sacrifice for sinners of His perfect, gentle, kind, patient and loving Son is so incredibly great. It is not God’s judgment and punishment that draws me to love Him. It is His great mercy, grace and love toward me first that compels me to desire to know Him. Counselors of death proclaim a Gospel of death. The Gospel of Jesus is eternal life!
These are my thoughts on the issue. Do not give these counselors of death power over you. Listen to your God-given intuition. Take back the power and do what you know in your spirit God is calling you to do. Make your own decisions. Do not let me or anyone else force you to do something that is harmful or not right for you and your children. I am not a trained counselor. I am speaking out of my own experience and my reading of God’s word. God gives life and gives it abundantly.
May the God of hope fill you with all peace and courage as you trust in Him.
[August 22, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 22, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 22, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 22, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 22, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
18 thoughts on “Counselors of Death”
Amen, Friend, Amen. I was not counseled with that particular verse spoken, but the same “subtle” tactics are the same. You said it well. A trained counselor could not have done better.
I’m glad to see this. I am one who you corresponded with about resisting to blood.
I am in counseling and through counseling I realize from “babyhood” onward I have been taught, through words and actions, resistance is futile —people are bigger, stronger, mentally healthier, and I will never win….because there will be punishment.
I am almost 54 years old and realized a part of me has been trying die from childhood. I see the destructive patterns, the impotence, and the training to submit to anyone in authority.
With husbands (or spouses) that are abusive, resisting to blood….yep heard that. Heard resisting to blood for just about everything.
The only picture I get if indeed someone ever did resist to blood (sweating great drops of blood) would they then counsel: “but you haven’t been crucified on a cross!”
I no longer tolerate Scripture vomiting. If someone vomits, spits, or throws a Scripture I ask them to give an example how they applied it, what is the context, why does it apply, and how do they know that is what I need? Maybe I need something else.
What I know is this: too many say if you speak death you receive death so speak positive — okay. Now I’ve changed my perception of reality to fantasy and have called evil good.
“Give your cloak”, “walk the extra mile”, “turn the cheek”, “forgive”, etc. taught me to be abused and call it dying for Christ.
Scripture must be in context context context. God never changes yet they forget He stands up for the oppressed.
God loves us yet we are sinners not worthy of love.
I have a good counselor therapist and e [he? she?] recognises that I am a mess. I have tried for decades to speak positive, deny reality, believe His promises….but because I fail or despair I don’t trust.
I know I am not the only one who has had a disconnect because of life and preachings and teachings.
Christ came to set the captives free. He uses the Body of the church as His hands and feet. He uses the world when no body is available. He has authority over all so He can use use “outsiders” when the body tries [on] it own.
Lastly, I understand and see I am disconnected, meandering in this post [comment], and not finishing a thought.
Friday I am going into the hospital (I hope) to get back on meds, stabiized, and learn boundaries, safe and unsafe people, how to be free of guilt if I don’t do what someone thinks I should do, and try to encourage that part of me that wants to give up to hang in for a little bit more because I am determined to learn to live in this world with joy….
Dear Won’t Tell, I liked your comment. 🙂
Perfectly depicts the error and pernicious consequences of WordFaith Theology. Thank you.
One of my favorite pastors, Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills Church in MN did a great series about the concept of faith and doubt. A good chunk of it applies to the Word of Faith Movement. Might just set you free!
Faith and Doubt [Internet Archive link]1
The Wrestlers [Internet Archive link] — Part 1 of 9. Greg Boyd.
The Faith to Doubt [Internet Archive link] — Part 2 of 9. Greg Boyd.
Losing the Faith Game [Internet Archive link] — Part 3 of 9. Greg Boyd.
Toppling the House of Cards [Internet Archive link] — Part 4 of 9. Greg Boyd.
Imagine [Internet Archive link] — Part 5 of 9. Greg Boyd.
Integrated Faith [Internet Archive link] — Part 6 of 9. Greg Boyd.
Trusting In God Knows What [Internet Archive link] — Part 7 of 9. Greg Boyd.
Growing Our Faith [Internet Archive link] — Part 8 of 9. Seth McCoy.
Trusting a Killer God? [Internet Archive link] — Part 9 of 9. Greg Boyd.
1[August 22, 2022: We changed the link to an Internet Archive link because the original link was broken. We’ve added the list of Internet Archived copies of the PDFs of the sermons. Editors.]
Unhh. I can relate to both Don’t Tell and the ‘original post’ at the top. He slammed his fists into walls, counters, cars, slammed me into walls, doors, corners of islands, dishwashers, jumped on me, choked me, but when asked by the law enforcement weeks later if he fisted me – no, then no abuse, ‘You could have left at any time’ (really, where would I go, certainly not to you the law enforcement as you have been confronted by legal advocates and batterer’s directors of what x did and still refuse to listen). And the churches, experience with an awful lot of different denoms, but a lot with pastors of three denoms in particular including info. preached at their denomination conferences and their wives is enough to know I never want to be a part of them again. Not just patriarchalism, but outright aid and abet the abuse and full out guilt and threat when I left. And at least one of the denomination’s conferences I was standing near a pastor very upset with having become a part of the denomination because of all the abuse he felt due to agri setting, isolation, and patriarchalism and the church backing it all, little did I know at that time….
This is how I have heard this being said to me by others who hold to the teaching that Christian victims should be willing to lose their lives, if necessary, and not really think it is a big deal. It sounds something like this:
“Well, the abuser is a human being too. He may even be lost! (Huh?? Of course he is!) So, you giving your life for him, is needed and noble. Look at it this way. If you die at his hands, you will be with the Lord! That’s good news. So, don’t fear. What could be better than being with the Lord?”
How do you explain this, as a Christian, because no matter what you were to say at this point, it makes it sound like you love your own life, more than being with Christ. It is sort of like crazy-making, because of its double component. It is as if they are saying to you, “Choose! Your life here or Christ?”, as if saying, “choose salvation or death” and that choice for a Christian, has already been made – by Jesus. It seems there is a propensity to believe that God loves the lost abuser, more than the victim who belongs to Him. I just cannot make sense out of it, and I hate the confusion it brings.
Beloved, I hear your frustration. You nailed it. It IS crazy-making. Personally, I have adopted a policy of disengaging with those who will not listen and will not be reasoned with. It is our nature to want to defend ourselves against injustice. It is common to hear, “I thought if I could just make him / them understand.” They don’t want to understand. They have chosen willful blindness. A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still. It is hard to not respond to this trash, to not set it right. But their minds are darkened. In God’s wisdom He counsels us to leave them there.
The idea is, to pigs the precious treasure (the truth, pearls) becomes a projectile weapon used against them. In our society dogs are our pets and we love them. But in Jesus’ day dogs were a scourge that roamed around in vicious, foul packs. (Perhaps dogs and pigs are the names Jeff is looking for?)
Proverbs 9 says:
It might not ease the frustration of not being heard, but perhaps it helps to understand why they won’t listen and why they respond the way they do.
There must be an appropriate evil name for the kind of person / mentality that lays this hyper-spiritual garbage on others who are hurting. The person preaching this “shedding of blood” is, I think, using a sinful and abusive tactic that I suppose we could call fake piety. “Now, now….stop your blubbering. You must yield yourself fully to the Lord (as I have done), and willingly enter into the suffering He has called you to (as I have done). And you must be thankful to Him for this (as I am). Now, go, child, and sin no more.” They then float off in their self-made saintliness. But of course, like all Pharisees, they never are willing to carry the load of the burden that they put on others. Translated – if someone punched them and gave them a bloody nose, they would not say, “thank you, Lord, for considering me worthy.” Because the point of their whole game is not true Christian suffering for the sake of Christ (like Stephen when he was martyred for example), but it is all talk for their own self-glorification. They delight in being “one-up” spiritually. This ilk of person always has some kind of comeback. They are worse than Job’s friends because at least those guys sat there with Job for, what, 7 days and said nothing. No, with these types it is always some kind of “well, I can top that” reply. And the reply is always given with the motive of making them into the “helper” or “teacher” who is just at least one cut above the victim in piety.
For these reasons, we ALL must examine ourselves with ruthless honesty. “Just why, Jeff, do you want to help abuse victims? Why? Does it give you a feeling of being superior? Does rescuing make you feel good about yourself?” Such motives are wrong, wrong, wrong. A right answer is, “because our Lord is a champion of the oppressed and He calls us to help them. And because our Lord is a warrior who hates those who do the oppressing, and He calls us to oppose them. For His sake and His glory.”
Rescuing does not make me feel good about myself, it just makes me feel more hopeless because I can’t rescue anybody. 😦
If we are going to come alongside victims and share their burdens, we have to do it together and we have to have a strong Body, because each of us individually is not going to have the strength. I know we have to lean on God in these situations.
Counselors of death….yes they are.
Katy, on your own, or my own we cannot rescue anyone. But, Jesus can work through us to rescue someone. You never know when what you write on this blog just might be the very thing that someone needs to hear and God gave you those words. At just the right time. I didn’t rescue myself by any means. God sure did though.
My blood started to boil as I read of your “friend” blasting you with lies, as so many of my clients have heard the same erroneous twisting of Scripture. Your description of Jesus is wonderful. He was gentle & kind and protective of the very vulnerable women & children in His culture. He modeled for us what true love is. I wanted to send you blessings for what you have overcome, and am proud of you that you chose to ignore the garbage you were being fed and got away from the poison. Keep preaching, sister!
Thank you, Morven.
Suffering unto death….
I’ve told this story before….being so submitted that I neglected the threatened pregnancy that ex told me I was lying about when I showed him the blood, because that is what I understood that God, husband and church wanted me to do, to suffer.
Oct. 6, William would have been 14, but was born prematurely and lived 4 hours, my own life at the verge of death for the next 3 days (I saw Jesus in the room). What I didn’t know then was that I HAD the power to say “NO!” and God would not have punished me for taking care of my unborn child instead of picking, canning, cleaning, keeping everyone quiet, moving and taking a long cross-country trip to come home to ex going on his dream camping trip after admitting he tried to seduce a co-worker – and I was responsible for his attempted unfaithfulness because I was not willing to “give it up” (because I bled every time we did).
I think this may qualify, but the response of the hubby and the church:
“Holding a grudge!” “Bitter!” “Unforgiving!” because my heart still aches over the loss of my son. He was innocent, did nothing wrong, and paid the highest price of my foolish sacrifice to save what is now officially over….my marriage.
And sometimes, I am sooooooo disappointed in myself….
Mourning with you….
Laurie, I want you to know how glad I am that you are here to tell your story. My heart aches for you. Jesus was in the room with you through all of this and your son has been safe in His arms ever since. Forgive yourself. You had a troubled pregnancy. There may not have been anything you could have done differently that would have changed the outcome. Our children are a gift, borrowed from God for just a little while, they are ultimately His. You did the best you could at the time. He will make good come out of your loss. Hugs and prayers for you.
Laurie, I am so sorry for the tragic loss of your son. Jesus knows your heart. He knows that you were doing the best you could with the “truth” you had. He knows how wicked men deceive tender-hearted wives and use their desire to please God against them by twisting the meaning of the husband’s authority and the wife’s submission into crushing and cruel domination. They institute all manner of scare tactics including the threat of God’s displeasure or even threatening hell while demanding that the wife must submit to whatever the husband decrees. They never fail to remind you of behavior that displeases them while never correcting their own wickedness. This is not how God designed authority and submission. There is always a reason for abuse, but NEVER an excuse. It is NOT your fault you had been convinced you weren’t allowed to say “No!” The blame lies at the feet of the deceitful oppressors, the counselors of death.
It is good to know you are free from the bonds of a tyrannical “marriage”. Jesus’ presence with you is yet another example of His tender lovingkindness. May God comfort your heart and give you His peace. Your life is precious in His sight.
So much pain in the original post and the ensuing comments. So clearly written. So descriptive.
I have only two things to add….
“Family of origin” could easily be substituted for the abusive spouse. The added Scripture would be to honour your father and mother.
To anyone reading this post / website: Can you not see the abused have already resisted to the point of bloodshed without your “help”????