Counselors of Death
[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.]