Love Does Not Act Unbecomingly — But Abusers Do
Love is not rude (1 Cor 13:5a ESV)
Love doth not behave itself unseemly (1 Cor 13:5a KJV)
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:7)
Let me talk some more about abusers. I hate the subject, believe it or not, because abusers are so wicked. But I find exposing them compelling and I suppose therapeutic. I suspect most of you know what I mean.
So let’s talk about how abusers (and narcissists) are often characterized by what I would call impropriety. That is to say, they don’t do what is proper. It isn’t that they fail here because they are putzes and mess up. It is that their profound selfish entitlement simply does not concern itself with propriety in their interactions with others. Because they do not love others, they act in a rude, unseemly (i.e. unfitting), unbecoming manner. Yet they think nothing of it.
Let me illustrate.
Let’s say you have a brand new boat. You invite a couple of people along to try it out. You have a fair amount of boating experience while your guests have little, but to be polite you ask (call him Jake)… you ask Jake if he would like to take the helm for a bit. Jake shows no hesitation and hoists himself into the driver’s seat like it was his own. He doesn’t ask questions that propriety would indicate should be asked such as, “which direction would you like to go?” or “what speed should we travel at?” Nope, Jake determines both direction and speed without asking. It isn’t a rank social faux pas (an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation) but it leaves you feeling unsettled. It unsettles you because in fact what Jake has just done is totally blown past propriety. He sees himself as entitled to be the captain of the boat and the fact that you are the owner means nothing to him.
Let me illustrate again.
You are at a summer picnic for your church and there are lots of events going on at a large rented facility, one of which is swimming in a large pool. People are leisurely floating in it, relaxing, having a grand time. Then here comes Gary and some of his young buddies. They cannonball into the pool and splash everyone. Not that they tried to splash them. No, they didn’t even consider the fact that these folks were there. And Gary continued to cannonball and splash until a couple of the men told him “you should not be doing that.” Gary didn’t so much tell them to take a hike as he simply kept right on doing what he was doing in spite of the fact that he, a professing Christian, was offending numbers of people. Gary is entitled. If Gary wants to do what he is doing then Gary is going to do it, proper or not.
Here’s another scenario.
John is a medical doctor. Now, not all doctors are good doctors, but John is. In addition, at least for myself, when I meet someone who is a medical doctor, I just automatically respect them. I honor them until they show me they don’t deserve honor. But until then, I respect a person who has had the gumption and drive and ability to go through med school and be licensed as a physician. If I am in their office, even if the doctor is my good friend, I try to remember to address them as “Dr.” rather than calling them by their first name. I was once pretty good friends with the chief of police I worked for, but at the PD, I called him Chief. When Jake or Gary somehow get to know Dr. John – say they all attend the same church – the fact that John is a physician means nothing to them (unless they are looking for free doctoring!). They will put down and accuse John just like anyone else they want to target. If John helps them, they are not thankful. Why? Because they are entitled. John has, they do not have. Therefore John is obligated to them. Jake and Gary do not act according to propriety. They are rude, unbecoming, and unseemly.
I have been at the receiving end of these types myself. I am a pastor and have been a pastor for over 30 years. I was a police officer for 12 years before that. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology, a masters degree in biblical studies, and a Master of Divinity degree from seminary. I know, I know. There are lots of pastors with those kinds of credentials who aren’t good pastors. I know this because I have met many of them. I get it. But, my point is this – even now when I meet a pastor, my initial response is to show them some level of respect. If I were attending their church I would address them as pastor. No, you don’t have to use such titles for your pastor and if someone in our church calls me Jeff, I am not going to press the issue. But what I am saying is that propriety directs us to do what the Apostle Paul says. We are to show “respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” But Gary and Jake will not. They are entitled. They will just as quickly level some accusation against a pastor as they would anyone else, and then they will boast about it.
Do you begin to see what I am trying to describe? Do you feel it? Have you felt it? Wives, have you seen your abuser do what is improper and unseemly toward you in spite of the fact that you are a wife and mother and perhaps a professional woman of some type? Abusers do these things. They are rude, unbecoming, and unseemly.
They are fools.