Jesus wouldn’t treat Abused Christian Spouses as lower class people – from Hadassah’s Legacy
While the Hadassah’s Legacy website upon which this ACFJ blog post was based was active as of 08/26/20, the Hadassah’s Legacy website owner informed ACFJ the website will, at some point, be taken offline. The link in this ACFJ blog post has been updated to reflect where the original Hadassah’s Legacy link was saved to the internet web archive.
If traditional beliefs about marriage and divorce compel us to treat Abused Christian Spouses as lower class people, we’ve messed up! Jesus would never do that.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 6:1)
This is a quote from We’ve Messed Up, a brilliant post by Hadassah’s Legacy. I encourage you to click the link and read the full post. She absolutely nails it.
- Posted in: Unjust church responses
- Tagged: boundaries, divorce, false Christians, getting free, guest post, interpreting Scripture, Pharisees biblical/modern, prejudice, remarriage
From the original post
I also appreciate how Hadassah’s Legacy references the abuser, who is NOT an Abused Christian Spouse.
I thought this was wonderful!
I read this a few days ago but had no time to reply to it. But it stayed in mind for sure. I am ashamed to say this, but I have fallen into the same trap:
If it’s your family member (or loved one) that is abusing you, the same Biblical standards that we would apply otherwise do not apply.
Why did my mind think this way? How did I so easily accept something that when given real and honest thought—is backwards thinking?
I’d like to say that I wasn’t thinking, but I actually was—it’s just that my thinking was twisted up. Here is what I believe I was going through, then I’ll point to verses that truly helped me “break out” of that oppression.
My father was my abuser, and he did not claim to be a Christian—-but he certainly felt 100% entitled to abuse me like all abusers do. When I became a believer, I felt responsible to at least try to bring him to Christ. I didn’t feel like I could cut him off, because God would be upset that I didn’t try to “love my enemy.” I felt like separating myself from him would be signing his “damnation to hell” guarantee if I didn’t try to tell him about Christ.
I felt pressured to forgive him and try to have a one-on-one “adult” relationship with him (I was nineteen or so.). I also felt a great deal of guilt. At that time I had no idea that the abuse was entirely not my fault. I felt that I’d been a bad daughter, and the “honor your mother and father” commandment was now bearing down on me. I think I felt like I had to make up for all the ways I’d messed up. I recall at one point asking him (and possibly my mom as well) for forgiveness that I had not been a better daughter to them.
I also wasn’t ready to give up earning his approval of me, or at least his grudging respect. I thought I was living in fear of him still (which I was) and fear was supposedly the opposite of faith. Plus, the Bible says not to fear man, but to fear God. Also, faith was supposed to move mountains, so even my father’s “stone heart” could be moved, right? Also, no weapon formed against me would stand—-and as long as I had His armor on—I could “extinguish” the fire darts of the enemy, right?
Also, I blamed the devil for the abuse, as well as my dad. I thought Satan was the one pushing my dad to hurt me, and as long as I remembered that—-I could focus on the “spiritual battle” at hand, believing that darkness was the real enemy, not my own father.
Also, much as I hated my dad (and struggled not to hate him), I didn’t want to believe that there was no hope. My dad caused me a lot of tears, but once in awhile he could act nicely. I was also in college at the time and financially dependent on him.
The more I struggled with hating and not hating him, the worse I felt (feeling yanked back and forth is quite hard on the mind), and the more I think that kept me tied to him. I could not decide how I felt about him. I tried to feel sorry for him, but he was so mean and mean-spirited that he kept pushing me away, try as I might to handle his rage.
So I felt caught between a lot of rocks and hard places. I also had no idea how the Lord felt about abuse, and abusers in general. Like I said, I didn’t know that I wasn’t responsible for even one iota of the abuse. So that kept me from fully embracing those precious verses that were shared: no more yokes to slavery, being free in Him, etc. I knew He cared about my tears, and my pain, and my traumas—-but I didn’t think I deserved to be as free as others could be in Him.
I’ve also had to deal with professing Christians with plenty of abusive qualities, but I stop short of calling them abusers—I’m still seeking Him about that. Some are ones that I considered to be like family, and others are my family by marriage. So I DO understand, but not as thoroughly as others—-what it’s like to deal with those that profess Him, but are not safe to be around.
When it comes to family and those we love—-those ties can be so strong and so hard to break. Family and close relationships are a big part of our personal lives, of society in general—-and in the church as well. I do not recall hearing a lot of sermons that supported or advocated separating from family. The sermons mostly focused on family reunification, or family unity, or how to deal with a difficult family—-but never breaking away from them.
You endured family, you did not abandon them. You kept that flame alive somehow, and you never let it go out completely. There might be exceptions made for criminal behaviors, but it was never spelled out where to draw those lines. And abuse was rarely talked about—-perhaps applicable in the non-Christian world, but not spoken of within marriages where the abuser claimed to be a Christian.
“Marital strife” wasn’t totally ignored in so-called Christian marriages, but again—it was all about “working it out.”
Family was also a “lifestyle” in the churches I’d been to. Most events and activities revolved around family interaction and bonding. It seemed to be a natural part of the “Christian lifestyle,” almost in line with or at least a part of the foundation of being a Christian. So one can see how easy it is to be deceived into thinking that family is so important to Christ, that to cut off your family is like cutting Him off!!
“Misguided and misplaced loyalty” is how I now describe the mentality that if you profess Christ, you must never give up on your marriage, or on your family in general.
The Gospel is full of warnings from Jesus about family—so He knew that family relationships can be tricky, dicey and must be handled right. Where there is deception, there is bondage. Where there is conflict, there is confusion. And relationships can be complicated—-so it’s vital to hold fast to the Lord, and not to the traditions and commandments of people, or of a church (if it doesn’t line up with the Word).
His own family had issues with Him, not supporting or believing in Him at first. Family members might also turn on each other—“a man’s enemies will be his own household.” He warned of the danger of putting family above Him, or on the same level as Him (Luke 14:26).
Now, He never said to disregard and neglect your family! This isn’t how He wants it—for there to be deliberate division and dysfunction in the home—but since we live in a fallen world where sin runs rampant—it’s vital that we keep in mind who we belong to, and who we obey. And Christ comes first—before anyone else. Anyone who is trying to separate you from the love of Christ (or take His place in your life) is out of line.
It’s not easy to give Him your all-in-all, and not idolize the ones you love—-because God will not tolerate that. Not only that, but He IS the foundation for your life in Him—-not family. If He ever leads you to cut off a family member, it is painful—-but it is not a sin to do so. I would not wish that sort of decision on anyone, but He will give you strength to do what needs to be done.
If you want to follow Christ, you must ask Him to teach you how to stand for His righteousness, even if it means opposing those around you. If we insist on abandoning His principles “for the sake of family or church family unity,” something is not right. No amount of unity is worth sacrificing His perfect, pure righteousness—something He gave us as a great cost to Himself.
I am the only believer in my family, and many times I’ve felt very alone around other professing believers. I couldn’t understand their behaviors when it came to who they stood up for, or who they stood against. Or where they stood on certain issues. It seemed very backwards to me. Loyalty to your loved ones seemed to “trump” everything, even if they personally didn’t agree with them and didn’t like their behaviors. But in order to preserve the family unit, that “wholeness” that we depend on in so many ways—-you just went with the flow, no matter what the cost.
And I believe that those that choose to side with their family—-do not want to cause any ripples because of dependence on them. For example, when bad things happen, it’s almost always the family unit that is depended on, or steps in, or comes in to save the day—-offering much needed support. During the holidays, which are very family centered, do you want to be lonely and left out and unloved? Do you really want to jeopardize all of that, for the sake of Christ?
There are real consequences if you come from a “broken family” or have suffered from a “broken marriage.” Or, you admit you were abused and did something to it—-people might look at you differently. If they believe you, they might not respect you because you “brought this on yourself.” Who wants to socialize with someone like that—-the word “victim” might follow you around and they don’t want that rubbed off on them.
If they don’t believe you, then you also “brought this on yourself!,” and you might be shunned because they see you as dishonest and deceptive. They look at you differently because you dared to break up the “family unit,” and now you must pay for that.
There might be real stigma attached, real suffering that comes from doing what is right in His eyes, But real freedom, and real breaking of real yokes that are not from Him—-I would like to believe that that is worth the price.
I would also like to remind everyone that being “broken” from the inside out is far worse than coming from a broken family or marriage. What abuse does to a person should override our mantra about “preserving the family unit for the sake of the Gospel.”
You know what will witness to a broken world? Caring more about broken people, like Jesus did and still does. Marriages and families won’t exist in Heaven, but people will. It would be nice to offer the hope of wholeness in Him, rather than insisting they endure utter brokenness.
Helovesme also commented:
Helovesme also commented:
Going No Contact with my family of origin allowed me to start healing from the inside out. The effects of their abuse on me is a price no one should have to pay to “preserve the family unit” for ANY reason.
Thank you, Finding Answers!
Great sum up at the end.
This post was updated 08/26/20. Please refer to the update information at the top of the post for further information.