This post was submitted at our request by one of our long-time readers, IamMyBeloved’s. Many thanks to her for this very insightful exposition and application of Scripture.
For several months now, I have struggled off and on with having moments where I found myself feeling sorry for my abuser and wondering if I have done or am doing all the right things in God’s eyes. I spoke with a trusted Christian friend about this. She said that in spite of the horrendous abuse suffered by myself at the hands of my abuser, that God had still kept my heart pure and teachable, soft and supple and that I had not become hard and bitter over any of it. She saw it as good, but questioned my periods of feeling sorry for him, and was concerned for me.
As a young child, I was already in love with God. I wanted to be in His house and worship Him. I talked to Him as if He were standing right beside me. I needed Him and I knew Him well. For a young child, I truly had an intimate relationship with Him. It carried on throughout my life. But, I had been raised in an abusive home and the decisions and choices I have made in my life have been influenced and colored by that abuse as a child. Like most victims of early childhood abuse, I have chosen what I knew and was “comfortable” with. That has nothing at all to do with the validity or maturity of my relationship with Jesus Christ. You cannot change what you do not understand. I am not making an excuse for my choices. I know I am responsible for choosing to marry an abuser. However, now I know how to ID one in flight and even one who is hiding behind his façade, which I had no idea how to do prior to being married.
During the course of my marriage, my abuser would consistently spiritually abuse me. He abused me and my children in many, many ways, but for this post I am only speaking about the spiritual abuse. He would say things like “You are so over the top about God; why can’t you be like everyone else I know who says they are Christian?”, and he demonstrated anger when he would come up at night and find me reading my Bible. He would also have to be invited to come to our family devotions and would then challenge God’s Word and the teaching we were doing, or he would sleep during that time. It was obvious that he disliked my relationship with God and he eventually used the church to get it against me and the children and ex-communicate me. Funny how God used that whole ordeal to show me how much my abuser hated my relationship with God and how much he also hated my soul. Even though I had taken the children and left that false church on my own initiative, the church came after me. My abuser was behind all of it.
However, I am so very thankful. I truly am. Had those events not taken place, I may not have ever seen how much my abuser hated me and my soul and (God forbid!) I may have fallen back into staying with him. I honestly believe that God knew that unless I went through that ordeal, I would never see that I was losing my way with Him because of all the abuse I was living in. Abuse blinds its victims.
As a Christian, who can be married to anyone who hates your soul and cares not about your relationship with God? Who? When things went wrong, he would taunt me with “where’s your God now?” or “where’s all that faith of yours?”, etc. He also made up his own interpretation of God’s Word, to fit his own agenda, and I was taken in by his deception. In the end, following my husband led me away from God in the sense of trusting the God I knew and trusting my beliefs about God and that I was following the God I loved and that He loved me and had not forsaken me. I did not question God — I questioned how God felt about me or saw me. I began to believe that God saw me as my abuser saw me, and that God felt I deserved the abuse, and that somehow I was failing God as a wife. I also started to believe that God loved the abuser, but not me; and I was very confused about the things the abuser was teaching me doctrinally about God and His attributes. It was all a lie. A deceptive lie.
I believe that all abusers have an agenda that consists of placing themselves in the position of “god” in the home (or church) and lives of their victims. They do this by exercising power and abuse, entitlement and control and they obtain their goal through whatever means of abuse they need to use to get it, whether physical, mental / emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual or psychological terror, etc. They are the “god” and their subjects are to worship them. This became evident to me only after my abuser was put out of my home and we were then free to see the lies we had been living in. We were also attending an abusive false church at the time, which only added to the abuse at home.
I began to wonder if these periods of feeling sorry for the abuser were from God or from the cycle of abuse. And I wondered what I should do about them. So, I decided to pray very specifically and ask God to show me exactly what was going on and what He wanted me to do about it — if anything. I asked Him once again, to show it to me in His Word. I have learned to pray very specifically about this battle I am in, as I believe that as Christians, we are called to “war” and be wise as serpents and harmless as doves in doing so. Amazing as it is, whenever I really put something like this to the Lord, He answers me pretty speedily and gives me great comfort and leads me very specifically.
The very next day, He spoke Deuteronomy 13:6-11 to my heart and I read through it. This is what it states:
“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife (or husband) you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you. (Deuteronomy 13:6-11 ESV) (Emphasis and addition of “or husband” mine.)
Wow! I guess this pretty much states it all and very clearly. Now; we know that stoning is not done today, but this law is in fact a moral law, so it IS still to be practiced today in the sense that you do not allow anyone to lead you away from God. I would not ever suggest killing anyone, but I do believe we need to heed its instruction concerning the list of “not to dos” above. It is speaking clearly about anyone — spouses included — who would try to lead you away from God.
The portion about secretly enticing you would include undermining God to others; making one believe that they have misinterpreted God or are over the top about their walk with God, when in fact they are not; leading them into things like Family Integration, Headship / Submission error, Federal Vision, false teaching and the like; as well as just secretly trying to change one’s mind about God and their beliefs. False gods are false gods. Idolatry is idolatry. Of course abusers do not typically bring home “idols” for their spouses and family to worship, but we all know there are multitudes of forms of idolatry. However, in some of these movements, the men do set themselves up in the home as the godhead. This is a false teaching, but is especially dangerous when dealing with an abuser. Remember the FIC [Internet Archive link]1 movement’s words? “The father is the prophet, priest and king of his home?” Yep – setting himself up as the “god” in the home. Remember? He makes all the decisions. He decides how everyone dresses and looks and where they go and what they do and who the children marry, how God is worshiped and where, etc. He is the one in complete charge. He is god.
Women (and men) who truly love God and want to please God and follow Him fully, can easily fall prey to these things and be deceived from the outward side of things, because they just want to do what is right. Abuse confuses you. It leaves you not really knowing what is up – what is right – what is truth, etc.
I am so happy that God has shown me this truth. I am now free and strengthened. I have only had one time of starting to “feel sorry” that came up since God showed me His truths about this and when it came, I instantly said to myself, “God does not permit me to feel this way. In fact, He forbids me to feel sorry for my abuser or even question whether what I have done in divorcing my abuser is right, because he was leading me (and my children) away from God. What I have done, is absolutely “right in His eyes.” No doubt about it now.
That does not mean that I hate or am angry in an ungodly way or that I do not care. Actually, I do not feel any of those things. I just leave him and the abusers in the old ‘c’hurch, to God. Jeff Crippen once said to me during the midst of all of this persecution, that I should “wear that ex-communication like a badge of honor” and I have learned to do that. God showed me in Scripture, how they did the same thing to Jesus, so now I just look at it as having shared in His sufferings, only I am certainly not Jesus, nor even close to having no sin and being perfect. I am free and it feels so good. I am free again to worship, trust, believe and love my God that I have known and worshiped my whole life, and that just makes me plain ol’ happy.
1[December 21, 2022: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page for Family Integrated Church. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]
[June 30, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to June 30, 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 June 30, 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 June 30, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 30, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Blindness Series Digest — Barbara Roberts series on blindness and deception.
Federal Vision — A list of ACFJ posts under the Federal Vision Tag.
Headship — A list of ACFJ posts under the Headship Tag.
Submission – A list of ACFJ posts under the Submission Tag.
What does God say about submission? — The ACFJ FAQ page containing a list of ACFJ posts and non-ACFJ articles, etc., on submission.
30 thoughts on “Nor Shall Your Eye Pity Him”
Very good post, IAMB!
Yes we are called to reject any relationship that leads us away from Christ. Jesus used very strong language on this topic, in Luke 14:26.
In regard to the ‘ex-communication’ from the abusive church and the loss of other false ‘friends,’ I have come to see these as part of the process of deliverance. You might enjoy my recent post on this topic: Deliver Us [Internet Archive link]
Thank you, for sharing!
Thanks, Joe. I too am starting to see that when we leave abuse, there are lots of others that are part of that relationship and make up the dynamic of the abuse, that may need to go along with the main abuser in order for us to become truly healthy.
Thanks for sharing your post. I will go read that now!
Very good. Thanks for this.
Very well said, IAMB,
Shine up that ex-communication badge and wear it proudly. You may want to add the name of the place on it so as to warn others of what lurks inside the walls.
Thanks, Brenda! Yes, that is an excellent idea and I am working toward that end. Just a long process and I want to do it right so others will listen and not fall into that specific place of which there are many more just like it. Shining as I write —
Great post!!! Wonderful, insightful, and necessary message!! Thank you and God bless you.
Thank you, Joyce. To God be all the glory. I am so thankful that He showed this specific Scripture to me in the light of my situation.
Joe Pote – I so enjoyed your post about redemption and deliverance – thank you for this thoughtful explanation with examples of the two words that have different meanings, but often accompany each other in teachings and in our lives. Great post!
Thank you, Joyce! Glad you enjoyed it.
IAMB, great insight! Yes! He will never keep us in service to idols – even the false idol of marriage. 🙂
IAMB, this is a meaty post with a lot to think on here. Thanks for reminding us of Deuteronomy 13:6-11. I can’t fathom what kind of explanation Piper would give for the plain word of the Lord here?? Bet he doesn’t bring attention to that passage in his permanence ministry very often.
Yes, it gets to a point with the abuser that they attempt to steer the whole family from God’s truth into worship of themselves. What else to call that but idolatry of marriage, idolatry of spouse, and just plain evil. If the church is assisting the abuser in leading the family astray, well what choice do you have but see that church as greatly deceived, shake the dust off of your feet, and look for a church that understands the love of Christ. I agree that you should wear that ex-communication as a badge of honor duly earned in intense spiritual combat. Proud of you, sister!
I am humbled, PW. We have all endured such intense spiritual battles in our efforts to stand against evil and for the rightly discerned truths of God’s Word, His attributes and His mercy and grace. Why should we as victims of abuse, be denied His tender care and understanding? I think that people who hold to the permanence view, are afraid to get to the truth and perhaps even know the truth, but deny the power of it to free us from the bondage we have all lived in. But here, we stand together in the name of Christ; we have sought out those truths from His Word; and battle to live in the freedom He has given us in those truths we have found and love and cling to. There needs to be more understanding in the true church, about the dynamics of abuse and those effects on the Christian wife / husband who is being victimized. The sad thing is, that most are not willing to learn about that. However, I think God has an opinion about that mindset. I believe we will never find that mindset in the true remnant of God.
Thank you for this. I needed to hear these words and mull over what to say to such questions. Like when my mom asks, “Don’t you feel sorry for him?” and I stand there slack jawed thinking to myself, “No, not really….don’t you feel sorry for me….for our son?”
Somewhere deep in my brain is a better response yet all I could really mumble out to her was something about what he did (is doing) is considered evil — sin — and that although I am not angry nor seeking vengeance over his actions; neither do I “feel sorry” for him or his inability to change. It’s not a question of compassion; it’s a process of learning what abuse really is and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.
I’m not sure what she thought of that. I left the room shortly after as the panic & anxiety were beginning to build (as they normally do in conversations with her).
Well, Charis, now you have a biblical passage to share with your mom, that will relieve you of all that panic and anxiety associated with dealing with questions like that. You could just plant your feet and say, “No mom. The Bible commands me not to feel sorry for him and if you are feeling sorry for him, then you need to read these passages”. Also, your panic and anxiety is normal and to be expected when backed into a corner dealing with some of these issues. Perhaps momma needs some boundaries to be set for her in your conversations with her. It may help make you feel stronger. I had to do that with my own mom and it is not easy, but it did bring me some much needed peace at the time. I find it helpful to just say to people, “these issues are not open for discussion” or “I don’t think we should speak about these things anymore”, because sometimes people just do not get it and the enemy uses them to keep us stuck and filled with sorrow and confusion. I learned that again, just today.
Oh yeah! That feeling that all the stuffing has been knocked out of me by one simple remark from a family member or bystander. Oh do I remember that! Many times!
Very thought-provoking. It has been my view that, while marriage until death of a spouse is God’s perfect will, divorce is sometimes allowed as being within His permissive will. IAMB makes a strong case that in some instances God actually requires divorce, which I see as equivalent to putting to death, in the theological sense in which death is defined as separation.
Marriage is God’s perfect will. Divorce with mercy-defined grounds is within His permissive will, except where it is His sovereign, compulsory will.
You said —
This was also my thought, Gary W. It may be that when we stay in an abusive marriage where we are being drawn away from God, that we are actually opposing God and living in disobedience by staying.
As for permanence in marriage, I guess that I see it this way — and trust me, I know I could be very wrong. However, marriage for life was given prior to the Fall. In a perfect world, perfect marriages could exist and last forever between sinless people. I do not condone divorce for any cause nor treacherous divorce in any way. Since sin entered into the world, we no longer have sinless people marrying. Enter abuse, sexual immorality and abandonment, the three grounds that I believe can constitute for a biblical divorce. Also, when it says that man should not separate what God has joined together, doesn’t that have to make us wonder if God really joined us to abusers? I think that would be more our doing, based on our past life experiences, than God’s doing for us. Just some thoughts.
IAMB, this is how I’ve come to look at that; God does not unequally yoke / join His children to false converts and / or impostors.
And about the Old Covenant law of not pitying the person that leads you astray, but to kill him. The New Covenant law is; From such turn away (2 Tim 3) and do NOT keep company with him (1 Cor 5).
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On further reflection, that divorce which is mercifully sanctioned by our Lord should not be seen as being within His permissive will. It is within His perfect will.
Agreed, Gary W. Good clarification.
Oh wow, yes, that is a great clarification. I suspect that many people who concede that divorce is sometimes permissible would see it as God’s permissive rather than perfect will.
In Jeremiah 3:8, God said that He divorced the northern kingdom of Israel. Since God never acts outside His perfect will, we know for certain that divorce is God’s perfect will for some situations.
Yes, Gary. Excellent clarification!
Thank you! I needed this now. Awesome how many different ways God can speak to us. 🙂 It has been made clear to me that I need to divorce my abuser, but I’ve been feeling guilty and worrying about how to do it with causing him the least possible pain. It’s been overwhelming and exhausting….trying to be kind, but also trying to be safe. I feel some clarity moving forward. Now I just need to find a lawyer. 😉 May need to come back to this post a few times during the process!
I really, really enjoyed and needed to read this post today!
Very interesting points. I wonder how this applies when a spouse doesn’t seem to be deliberately leading you away from God, but does nothing to encourage you in your walk, and the way he treats you makes it hard to hear God clearly.
Hi, Liz, if you haven’t yet looked at it, you might find this post helpful:
Neglect as a form of abuse
Thank you so much for this empowering post. Guilt and pity have been such a strong, powerful force in my life, as well as my children’s lives. After many, many years I have just finally gotten the courage to start the divorce process. Those verses are like life to my aching soul. Even the comments have touched me. I felt like I was settling for God’s permissive will, but thankfully I am in His perfect will. It makes sense, seeing the amount of peace He has given me, the way He is still using me and answering so many of my prayers and blessing me beyond belief. Those are not signs of someone who is living in rebellion against God! My heart is soft and tender in all of this, even toward my husband. The guilt has been like chains of bondage that I could not struggle out of without the help of a great counselor and friends, as well as great resources such as “Not Under Bondage.” It is so important that we are all here for each other.
Thank you for this blog and this post. It is life saving, to God be the glory!