Prayerfully Hand Shame Back to the Abuser
[June 13, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
One of the most empowering things an abuser survivor can do is to prayerfully hand shame back to his or her abuser. Theologians rarely discuss this concept, but it’s a frequent biblical theme. Biblical writers often asked God to shame their abusive enemies. [1see below for scripture references]. Most likely, this meant asking God to do two things:
(1) cause the abuser to be overwhelmed with shame for his or her sin so that they would repent, and
(2) bring utter destruction on the abuser if he or she didn’t repent.
Asking God to utterly destroy an unrepentant abuser is not an unChristian prayer. [Prayer for God to judge unrepentant abusers may seem to be at odds with Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies (Luke 6:27-35), but Jesus’ message and ministry repeatedly intertwined both divine love for sinners and divine judgment on the unrepentant.] Abuse victims experience tremendous injustice, but God is a God of justice. Humans long for justice and innately rebel with the cry “That’s not fair” when they don’t receive it. In fact, the Bible tells us that the prospect of God’s bringing full and final justice on the heads of unrepentant evil people is what allows us to endure injustice in this life without becoming bitter (2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Peter 2:23). Christians are not to seek revenge, not because it’s an inappropriate desire, but because they don’t have the power or the authority to properly exact justice on abusers. Paul admonished the Roman believers not to take revenge on their enemies but to let God do it for them (Romans 12:19). His retribution on evildoers will be perfect and inescapable. Thus, it’s biblical to pray that our abusers will be filled with shame so that they may repent and that they’ll be punished and destroyed if they do not.
Practically, abuser survivors can apply this principle by writing down the name(s) of their unrepentant abusers. They should then regularly pray over the list, asking God to engulf these individuals with shame so that they will repent, and to bring judgment on them if they do not repent.
1Psalm 35:4-8, 24-26; 40:14; 69:19-28; 70:2; 71:13; 83:13-17.
(The above is an excerpt from p. 89 of Steven Tracy’s Mending the Soul; Understanding and Healing Abuse, [*Affiliate link])
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
[June 13, 2022: Editors’ notes:
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