A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Salvation is not a ‘spiritual bargain’ you can make with God

Salvation is much mis-taught and misunderstood in Christendom.

ABUSERS who claim to be Christians could be roughly divided into two groups: the ones who genuinely think they are Christians, and the ones who intentionally lie in their claim to be Christians. The abusers who genuinely think they are Christians may be thinking they are saved because they’ve made some kind of spiritual bargain with God. 

It’s also possible that there are VICTIMS of abuse who think of themselves as Christians — yet they may not be saved. They, too, may be thinking that salvation is some kind of spiritual bargain you can make with God.

This guest post by Helovesme might help you think about these things.

Barb thinks there are two ways this post might help you, dear reader:

  • It might help you discern and detect the abusers in your life.
  • It might help you test your own faith. The Apostle Paul urges all believers to do this: “Prove yourselves, whether you are in the faith or not. Examine your own selves. Do you not know your own selves that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless you are castaways.” (2 Cor 13:5)

End of preamble by Barb. Now read on for Helovesme’s post….

Being a slave to sin, imprisoned by sin (as the Bible speaks of) does NOT mean you have no choice but to blindly obey its commands. Being unsaved does not mean you “can’t help yourself.”

Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master. (NLT)

Thy sin lieth open in the door. Notwithstanding, let it be subdued unto thee, and see thou rule it. (William Tyndale’s translation, 1537 Matthew Bible)

Those words in Genesis 4:7 were God’s words to Cain when he was intending to murder his own brother. Those words still stand. You do not HAVE to let sin be your master.

Abuse is sin.

The abused have nothing to repent of in being sinned against. The darkness, the brokenness, the suffering, are things victims unfortunately deal with — but they have no one to blame but the abuser for what they caused.

[A victim  of abuse is not to blame for being abused — that blame belongs wholly to the person or persons who did the abusing. The responsibility is fixed to the abuser, not the victim — the blame must be sheeted home to the abuser. Sheeted home is an idiom that is commonly used in Australia and the UK.]

When I was in the kingdom of darkness, I suffered from my own sins (which were many) and from the sins of others (which were also many). Nevertheless, one did not trump the other. No matter how much or how often I was abused, none of it reduced the culpability of my own personal sin. And no matter how much or how often I sinned, none of it reduced the culpability of who sinned against me.

Can you imagine the Lord telling me, as unsaved person, that because I was abused, the severity of my own sins were “decreased” in His eyes? Can you imagine the Lord telling me, “Sure, I get it: you were hurt by bad people and that’s why you are so bad yourself.”

Let’s say this really happened (it didn’t). My repentance, and becoming born again, would have been something of a joke. My old self, that Christ told us to “reckon” as dead, would not have been fully reckoned as dead, because I had just been given permission to downgrade my own sins, and upgrade the sins done to me — sort of like a “spiritual” bargain. So I’d only be sort of born again, kind of forgiven and possibly a new creation in Him. If I had refused to be held fully accountable for my sins, that would not have fully exited me from the kingdom of darkness — where excuses and denial of sin rules and reigns.

***

Thanks to Helovesme for allowing her words from this comment to be used in this stand-alone post.

Barb added William Tyndale’s translation of Gen 4:7, as cited in The Story of the Matthew Bible by Ruth Magnusson Davis (p 65).

Words in square brackets within Helovesme’s post are Barb’s.

48 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the title of the post “Salvation is not a ‘spiritual bargain’ you can make with God”

    ^That.

    From the original post “…..repentance, and becoming born again,….”

    ^That.

    My greatly condensed version (and often repeated words): The Battle Belongs To God 🙂

  2. Hope

    I was confused by the title at first, because I didn’t really know what a spiritual bargain was, but the last paragraph makes it oh so clear! Being just slightly “let off the hook” for sin makes salvation impossible, and I never thought of it quite this way before.

    Thank you! This gives me an entirely new way to explain salvation when talking to friends that aren’t saved, something I find difficult to do and which bothers me quite a lot. I love these friends, I need to be better at this, and this helps more than I can say.

    Too many people like to bargain, they want to pay for themselves, and they want credit for any good they have done – more types of bargaining that I do understand. This puts the entire bargaining concept into clear perspective, showing that all bargains are an illusion, they are each false and they do not save but instead condemn. The very concept of a bargain for salvation is nothing more than a tool of the evil one. I would rather be repentant, forgiven, and saved for all eternity than make a false bargain of any sort, for any reason, with anyone. If more people realized this, and realized the futility of bargaining with God for salvation, perhaps some of them would make a better choice, one that included following Jesus.
    Bless you for sharing this!

  3. Kind of Anonymous

    This is an issue that I have struggled with a lot. I think of my parents and the immoral lives they led and how selfish and abusive they could be. And I think of the terrible things that were done to them. Both suffered ongoing severe abuse. I find it hard to figure out how God sees it, how He balances the scales of truth and justice.

    My father became a sexual offender though he was never charged. His early years were full of severe beatings, torture and being sodomized by his own brothers as a means of humiliating him. I know that there are sex offenders out there who have never been abused. But the majority of them have.

    While I would never feel okay with saying that an adult who abuses a child sexually is not responsible and should get off scott free because that adult was once abused, it’s hard to deny that abuse damages our ability to think and also creates an opening for evil that we at that age, have little ability to defend against. I have a hard time believing that my father would ever have become the man he did, were it not for those years of sickening abuse and cruelty.

    Perhaps I am missing something between point A (child is horribly abused for a long period of time ) and B (child becomes an evil adult) so comments welcome. I’d love to be a fly on the wall and listen in on my dad having an encounter with Jesus and hear what Jesus would say to him though. Only Jesus would know how to get past years of defenses, shame fear and guilt to the heart of such a person.

    • Hi Kind of Anonymous, thanks for your comment.

      You said: “I know that there are sex offenders out there who have never been abused. But the majority of them have.”

      What is your source or sources for that? In other words, why do you believe that the majority of sex offenders are people who were themselves abused?

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Hi Barb, I will do my best to answer why I think this is likely so but also to elaborate how I at this point believe the meaning of that ought to be parsed. I apologize in advance for rambling a bit. It’s a lot to think through and to remember why and how I have reached certain conclusions.

        Feel free to edit and add in, my thinking on this is not the final assembly of the puzzle.

        When I was in my twenties, the father of a friend of mine worked with sex offenders in the prison system and this was what was generally believed true based on case histories. I remember wondering how he could do that job. I also spoke with a police officer about this as I had to testify in a case and he told me that having dealt with quite a number of these folks, the selfishness and denial level involved was very hard to break through with these guys and they tend to have a high recidivism rate. I had to ask him what that meant so if anyone besides me is unfamiliar with that word, it means the rate at which they relapse out of attempts at rehabilitation back into re offending. If memory serves he said something like many have suffered abuse but not all, some are just evil.

        In my own experiences, I have met / had unfortunate encounters with a number of these individuals and in nearly every case they had also endured an evil history though some clearly seemed to feel that if they could get away with it then they were entitled to it and were not necessarily acting out of any deep trauma. Just rather being used to gratifying themselves, and as scripture observes, began to be hardened and arrogantly entitled, because they thought it okay since God didn’t immediately deal with them for their sin.

        I observed the same thing with friends who had issues with lesbianism as far as the reaction to personal history went.

        Most had issues with abuse / trauma and some had issues with severe deprivation of nurture of their mother and / or had real resentment issues. But I have also heard of those who fell into it through other means, sometimes just be being exposed to the ideology of those who promote it, much like the way Adam and Eve were swayed by Satan’s slanted pitch.

        Then there are the testimonies I have read / heard, where someone has been abused by another and eventually reaches the point where they are able to extend forgiveness and the offer of Christ. In every case I read of, the person describing how God led them in approaching their abuser with confrontation and the offer of forgiveness if the sin was faced has mentioned that at some point, God either showed them that the person who abused them had also suffered abuse and gave them specific details to share with their abuser and / or the abuser themselves confirmed it. I don’t believe God would have shown this to tell the abuser it wasn’t their fault but rather to show the abuser that He is just and sees it all and can be trusted no matter what the sin and shame one is coming out of.

        However I have to say something about the meaning to be made of this fact, that a majority of folks have been sinned against in this way who have gone on to commit the sin themselves.

        To me, the correct meaning of this is that this is what the sinful selfward nature looks like in action, this is how sin and depravity work. If you change the emotionally and socially charged sentence from “Joe molested a child because he himself was molested.” to something like “Joe justified sinning against another because the sin principle within him reacted to another’s sin against him.”, or “Joe abused another because he allowed hurt, self pity and bitterness to justify doing the same.”, it’s clear enough. It is not a testimony that goes something like “See, the poor thing couldn’t help it and didn’t know any better.”. I don’t buy the idea that the folks who do this don’t know it’s wrong or know any better. They would not take steps to hide their actions if they really didn’t know any better.

        Jesus spoke of those who cause children to stumble into sin, and of those who cause stumbling in others generally, so it seems that there is some truth to the idea of sin that is helped along by other’s sins against us. As C.S. Lewis has said, we are all the day long helping one another to one or the other of two destinations. But the danger of it all is as outlined in the article to which this comment is appended and which I agree with. We are still seeing the sinful nature in action.

        I think the reason that when we are deeply hurt we are seriously tempted to justify sin in retaliation is because we all guard and cherish self and that old man cries out piteously when something cuts across it. Even though we have been legitimately sinned against, and God sees it and will indeed hold the offender accountable, the problem of what was done to us becomes secondary to what the sinful nature does in reaction to it. It’s like bumping a jar of poison. A little elbow against the jar in the form of someone making rude gestures in traffic might spill a little poison. A serious offense against us might spill a lot of poison.

        I remember Jay Adams making the interesting comment that he believed that the cause of child molester’s behaviour was not that they had also suffered sexual abuse per se, but was in fact the problem of self pity. He described abusers as people full of self pity which made them feel pretty entitled to whatever they felt owed as recompense. And so it is with other forms of sin against us. I think he may be insightfully right here. I can honestly testify that as one subjected to ongoing abuse and family violence, quite often the damage caused by the abuse is not my main problem, but rather how I am tempted to think, feel, believe and respond on that basis. It becomes an idol made out of pain, hurt, fear etc., but it’s still a wrong way to live because it’s on the basis of evil, not on the basis of Christ. Understandable but not justifiable.

        So the danger in acknowledging that many people who have become abusive have suffered abuse is that the humanistic mindset automatically jumps to believing that we are not responsible then but are instead victims of causality and therefore are excused. If anything, that would suggest that because of the flesh and habituation principle, the likelihood increases that we are disposed to continue in that sin but it doesn’t remove responsibility. It ignores God and belies the fact that there is a God we can turn to.

        We need not fear that acknowledging that many abusers have suffered abuse equals absolution of responsibility and guilt before God, though this is the meaning that the world and humanistic psychology and our own fleshly nature would love to make of it. We do need to correctly parse meanings and truths though. I think they jump to the meaning that abuse causes us to abuse when really a step is missing. Abuse, if not responded to God’s way, leads to reacting out of the sinful / fleshly nature and thus continuing the sin and justifying it. The flesh demands to be fed. Sin crouches at the door seeking control over us but we must master it.

        I have also read of situations where people committed such sins because of other reasons. If Rome is a type of the world lying in the embrace of the evil one, then as far as routes to various types of sin, there are many roads to Rome. Being sinned against is just one of the more obvious and typical garden variety routes, but there are many secondary highways, backroads and grid roads that can get one to the same destination.

        Again, sorry for rambling on in attempting to show my thinking. It’s definitely a work in progress and involves much wrestling with how my own fleshly nature and human way of thinking war against truth. In my dad’s case, I could imagine Jesus weeping with him over the cruel things done to him, and comforting him, filling in all the empty places where his heart cried out for love and found only cruelty and rejection. But I could also see Jesus helping him from there to face the ugliness of the sins he condoned as justified and confronting him with his need to agree with God and get right with Him, not excusing him.

      • I didn’t think your comment was rambling, Kind of Anonymous. 🙂

        I very much appreciated your words about how sin nature/ the flesh/ the old man (in regenerate persons) responds to being deeply hurt. For my own sake, to clarify and distill my thinking, I will quote and paraphrase your words.

        When we are deeply hurt, we are seriously tempted to justify sinful responses in ourselves. We all guard and cherish self, and that old man cries out piteously when something cuts across it. In that temptation, self-pity can easily become an idol made out of pain, hurt, fear etc.

        The humanistic mindset automatically jumps to the conclusion that ‘abuse causes us to abuse’ when really a step is missing. Abuse, if not responded to God’s way, leads to reacting out of the sinful / fleshly nature and thus continuing the sin and justifying it. That humanistic mindset is wrong.

        It is incorrect to say: “Joe molested a child because he himself was molested.”

        It is correct to say: “Joe justified sinning against another because the sin principle within him reacted to another’s sin against him. Joe abused another because he allowed hurt, self pity and bitterness to justify doing the same.”

        In a separate comment I will respond to your idea that a majority of sex offenders were themselves abused. Thanks for taking the time to articulate why you believe that. 🙂

      • Hi Kind of Anonymous, thanks for taking the time to explain why you believe that the majority of sex offenders are people who were themselves abused.

        Dr George Simon Jr and Dr Anna Salter call into question the idea that most sex offenders were abused themselves. These two doctors say it’s a commonly held idea, but it’s more of a myth than an actual fact. I intend to write a blog post featuring what those two forensic psychologists have to say about this.

        K of A wrote:

        When I was in my twenties, the father of a friend of mine worked with sex offenders in the prison system and this was what was generally believed true based on case histories … In my own experiences, I have met / had unfortunate encounters with a number of these individuals and in nearly every case they had also endured an evil history…

        Your friend’s father who worked with sex offenders in the prison system said he was basing his statement on case histories. Okay, let’s think about that. Who first reported those case histories? The sex offenders themselves.

        Are sex offenders liars? Yes — all sex offenders are liars — that’s how they get access to abuse their targets. For a number of reasons, sex offenders seldom end up in prison: the rarity of victim’s reporting the abuse to the secular authorities, and the short falls in the so-called justice system when victims DO report. This means that those sex offenders who DO end up in prison are likely to be the most chronic and practised liars.

        I’m now going to write about male sex offenders but I recognise that some sex offenders are female. When a sex offender in prison sees a psychologist or psychiatrist, he will probably lie about his personal history, lie about his childhood, invent stories about his past, exaggerate some things that happened to him. He will underplay and conceal other things that happened to him. Will he tell the whole truth? No he will not.

        So the idea that “most sex offenders are people who were themselves abused” comes from the sex offenders themselves.

      • Helovesme

        So I had to read K of A’s longer comment in pieces, but I’m again amazed at the way with words:

        “I think the reason that when we are deeply hurt we are seriously tempted to justify sin in retaliation is because we all guard and cherish self and that old man cries out piteously when something cuts across it. Even though we have been legitimately sinned against, and God sees it and will indeed hold the offender accountable, the problem of what was done to us becomes secondary to what the sinful nature does in reaction to it. It’s like bumping a jar of poison”

        Goodness, if abuse itself isn’t bad enough already, top that off with being abused for how you responded to being abused. If I “talked back’ to my dad as he poured out provocative, poisonous words to me, that would usually cause the lid of the jar to fly off and I would be “punished” even more.

        However, what was I even being punished for in the first place? No one knows, no one asks, and most all—no one seems to care.

        If I shouted back at him, or showed any anger, or even real or imagined disrespect, again—-you’re abused for not handling the “abuse” the way the abuser wants you to?? And exactly HOW does the abuser want out of you? A passive target that sits there while the abuser pours gasoline on you and lights a match? An active, moving target that causes the abuser to hone his targeting and accuracy—-nice to keep those reflexes nice and sharp?

        This leads into your second apt observation:

        “He described abusers as people full of self pity which made them feel pretty entitled to whatever they felt owed as recompense.”

        This is absolutely true about my dad. Dang if I didn’t get the sense that something was controlling him from within that he could not (or would not?) tame or master when he was being abusive. He really did project a strong aura of self-pity—-sometimes I heard a tone of desperation in his voice when he would shout at me to not make him mad. It really did come across at times as pathetic—-like a small boy with a hammer that simply can’t resist using it to smash and bash anything he could.

        This is also why I think he was enabled: poor guy is so stressed or unhappy or depressed; he can’t help himself. Why can’t we be more well behaved and less problematic? Be more accommodating and understanding, plus kindness goes a long way and maybe that will “soothe” the savage beast in him.

        Never worked, by the way. An abuser looks for any and all opportunities to abuse, and if he or she can’t find one, they will create one themselves.

        I thought for a moment that we’d had a mind meld when I read this! “Understandable but not justifiable.” I have used that phrase many times to help sort and process complex issues. It’s a nice, nailed down way to look at things.

        The self-pity route, as a victim, has been a hard path to abandon. It still is. When no one has pity on you for your pain, you take it upon yourself to meet that need. And as always, apart from Him, we tend to a lousy job in such matters.

        I recall understanding the long, deep and dark hole that self-pity causes, and not only did I have a hard time NOT falling in, and going down deeper, I had a time climbing back out of. I may make a little progress, only to lose ground or fall even deeper.

        Then I understood WHY self-pity was so horrible. First of all, it’s consuming. Also, It blocked out the Lord’s ability to give me His clean, pure and perfect pity—one that strengthened and supported you. My own sense of pity, drawn from a not so pure and clean source—never did anything like that. It only weakened me even more and caused me to feel even more abandoned. More hopeless and helpless and it wasn’t going to get any better, only worse.

        The self-pity also drowned out my ability to see how I was hurting those around me. It really was all about me and no one else. And I was letting my dad’s abuse control me from within. I seemed to be daring them to create the same environment HE created: his temper ruled him, so he had little to no control over his treatment of us. My pity rules me, so I have little to no control over how I treat others?

        If he gave off the impression that he was so self-pitying that we simply HAD to let him abuse us; he simply had no choice in the matter, we have to feel sorry for him—-wasn’t I carving out the same sort of evil justification to be abusive? I’m so pathetic, I’ve been abused and I’m a victim so therefore the world has to revolve around me?

        Some of that is true, but the last part—not so much, not at all actually.

        I really, really do struggle with self-pity, however. It’s always available on the shelf to take down and take in—-and it will take you down. K of A’s warning should be heeded:

        “It ignores God and belies the fact that there is a God we can turn to.”

        Even if I am drowning in self-pity and can’t speak or find the breath to do so—He’ll hear my heart cry out for help. And self-pity chokes the life out of you. If ever I believe that it is healthy and nurturing, it’s false advertising. That’s like believing that a cereal that is loaded with sugar is actually good for you, just because the packaging says so!

        K of A’s comment was awesome, and a good read. But if you can’t read the whole thing, please take this away with you—I think this sums it up really nicely:

        “I think they jump to the meaning that abuse causes us to abuse when really a step is missing. Abuse, if not responded to God’s way, leads to reacting out of the sinful / fleshly nature and thus continuing the sin and justifying it.”

    • Helovesme

      It’s nice to hear from you again, Kind of Anonymous. As always you have such a way with words, and even more of way of introducing topics that are hard to discuss, digest and debate—but oh so crucial to do so anyway.

      It doesn’t matter if we don’t figure it all out (we probably won’t). But dive into this water anyway—it’s worth getting “wet” over even if we don’t find the treasure box full of all the answers we are so desperate for.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered what you have spoken of. My abuser, my father, once told me that his dad beat him with a shoe. He didn’t say why he was beaten, or how old he was, or if it was an isolated incident.

      My parents looked up to their parents and regarded them rather highly. I wondered if this fixated love and loyalty to them is why they insisted on the same or similar attitude from me—no matter what.

      I am a non-Caucasian, which has unfortunately led many to minimize my abuse and subsequent trauma. But I beg of you to hear me out—this attitude I just spoke of is rampant in American Christianity. I’ve seen it myself, and I am sure many readers have as well. You are told to stand on something that is not the solid Rock that is Him and Him alone. It may LOOK Biblical, but it is anything but.

      My family is not Christian, so that description doesn’t line up with them. But I have heard others muse about why their abusers chose to abuse.

      I personally wondered if my dad was terribly unhappy, lonely and laden with the daily grind. Perhaps he was disappointed with marriage and family. After his own father died, I remember him becoming particularly more easily angered, easy to set off. Was grief driving his rage?

      If you can’t tell, I was looking for ways to not only understand him, but feel sorry for him. Even just a little bit of pity might humanize him, because to me, he was little more than a monster masquerading as a man who happened to be my dad.

      Crafting a narrative that cast him in the light of a victim (even a semi-victim) aimed to do just that, but ironically, it only made me hate him even more. Let’s say he WAS reacting (or overreacting) to his own childhood abuse or grief or depression—-who was he to take it out on me, a child? I wasn’t to blame for his lack of satisfaction in life, disappointments in marriage and kids. As an adult, he has the mature mind that I didn’t have to sort these things out—did abusing me really make anything better for him, by dumping his misery onto ME?

      But even after becoming a believer, I noticed the aptitude for professing Christians to do as I had tried to do: cast my dad in the most sympathetic light possible, in order to bear with him and bear witness to him as well.

      It is a sensitive subject, because to this day I don’t know the full story. I WILL say this. At one point, my parents seemed willing (on the surface) to speak about the abuse. I wondered if I should take the only chance I might have, but I didn’t. My dad DID bring up a lot of overtime, and that was that.

      Now, I don’t buy that in totality, but I DID, in a minuscule sense, feel a twinge because for the first time, EVER—he didn’t blame me. For an unsaved abuser, that was something. It was NOT repentance, not even close. And I’m still very guarded.

      It’s going to take another comment, I think, to describe myself as a child of an abuser. What does that mean to me, as an adult?

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (18TH APRIL 2020 – 8:49 PM) “…..You are told to stand on something that is not the solid Rock that is Him and Him alone. It may LOOK Biblical, but it is anything but.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….because to me, he was little more than a monster masquerading as a man who happened to be my dad.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….Let’s say he WAS reacting (or overreacting) to his own childhood abuse or grief or depression—-who was he to take it out on me, a child? I wasn’t to blame for his lack of satisfaction in life, disappointments in marriage and kids. As an adult, he has the mature mind that I didn’t have to sort these things out—did abusing me really make anything better for him, by dumping his misery onto ME?”

        ^That.

        Thank you, Helovesme, for providing me with the words to summarize my own circumstances.

    • Helovesme

      This Scripture comes to mind when I think of my upbringing and

      “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

      Being trained in UN-righteousness is about as nightmarish as it sounds. That was my life as an abused child. Trained to survive by (nearly) any means possible. I DID have some limits, some scruples—but nothing firm and no solid foundation.

      I do not think there is enough time or comment room to explain or express how hard it is to unlearn the unrighteousness that had been trained in me from an early age.

      I know and STILL know the fear that I will turn out as I fear the most: a product of an evil environment that wasn’t my fault, but I cannot fully escape.

      No, it can’t necessarily “make” me choose to do evil, but it will never stop trying. It will never stop chasing me. It will never leave me be, let me be at peace, let me find rest.

      Paul spoke of the wisdom of knowing that he is in Him and not “rating” his growth in Him. So I’ve been born again for about half my life now, but truly—I sense that He’s barely scraped the surface

      “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:19-21 NIV)

      We love to apply these to abusers, who use darkness to hide their deception, and vice versa. It is a well used verse. But it applies to all of us as well, and for myself in particular—-when His light shined—-I saw my ugliness in all of its ugliness and then some.

      And YES, some of it could clearly be traced back to my abusive childhood. But I’ll be honest: I didn’t necessarily care WHERE I had learned those abusive ways. I just wanted to be RID of them. It did matter where they likely originated, so I could admit that how I was raised mattered. NEVER be indifferent to abuse and how it trains and traumatizes you.

      But once I saw that, I tried (and still try) to not become so absorbed in how I got to be this way, that I neglected abiding in Him so that this darkness could be expunged out of me.

      God didn’t use His light to expose my evil deeds, in order to shame me (although I felt plenty of that). It was in order to free me.

      I got tired of the mantra of forgetting your past, leaving your past in the past, get past your past and stop living in the past—-and so on. It is not wise to say: abide in Him, but control how He abides in you. And it was clear that He wanted me to deal with my abuse, whether it was five or fifteen years ago. What, am I supposed to tell the Living God to stop living in the past, because the “church” said to?

      The more I neglected facing the abuse, the more I noticed I was becoming a product of that abuse. Also, I didn’t like how I was treating others. I could see those abusive ways (anger, arrogance, apathy, an unruly tongue) sneaking out of me.

      I once read an article about some churches wanting to allow supposed “rehabilitated” sex offenders to be around children. They paid their dues, they’re changed by God, I believe they were assured they could hold them accountable—so why not?

      It wasn’t brought up if they had been sexually abused in order to encourage pity on them. But I was still appalled. If those so-called former offenders were truly repentant, I don’t think they’d ever want to take the slightest chance of endangering the vulnerable.

      It goes back to a former drug addict being told that if he hung around a barber shop long enough, you will get a haircut. It has nothing to do with NOT being clean and sober enough to hang around a crack house. It has to do with knowing you are clean and sober, and doing whatever it takes to maintain it. Doing nothing that might dare to challenge or compromise it.

      I can say that while I would certainly appreciate being shown appreciation for my abusive childhood, I would never want it to be used as a way to manipulate my way into something that might not be wise not only for me, but for humanity in general.

      I was never sexually abused; I was verbally and physically abused. I know the “pull” of wanting to demean the so-called weak or inferior, or find ways to feel superior and therefore entitled to treat them as I saw fit. I know the temptation to be cruel and callous and cold.

      I realized that if I wasn’t intentionally being trained in His righteousness, it was fair to ask if I was worthy of closeness with humanity (friendship mostly). Was I willing to be a part of two sided, two way, give and take scenario?

      My dad and I had a notoriously one sided relationship. He hurt me as much as he wanted to and that was the sum of it. He gave me next to nothing of value in return. I had to wonder if I was capable of building up others, not just thinking about myself being built up, or taking all the room up, making it to be all about myself.

      My dad could hardly ever handle NOT being the center of everything somehow. It had to involve him or be routed back to him or something like that. Now he could make it seem like he meant well or didn’t mean it or had a reason or he was pitiful or pathetic or insecure. Or he just needed respect and affirmation—-ALL of it, of course.

      His pride, as hard as a brick wall, went as high as the roof and then some. But he always seemed to find a way to justify it, or have an alibi or make one up or talk in circles or find a scapegoat (aka me). Always victimizing himself so that no one else could—especially me,

      So you can see how easily I could be or become just as consuming, even terrorizing in human interactions, relationships—-if I didn’t find a way to NOT make it to be all about me and my needs. I would be imitating my dad’s example, walking in his footsteps in a way but creating my own unique personal footprint pattern. Still wrong and evil and even abusive. Again, abusers just “swallow” up a victim’s identity and independence. I wanted to leave plenty of room for not only me to be loved by someone, but to also love them as well.

      I find friendship to be the greatest of love, as the Bible says, so I don’t necessarily speak of marital, romantic relationships—-although that CLEARLY applies to Biblical marriage.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (18TH APRIL 2020 – 11:12 PM) “I do not think there is enough time or comment room to explain or express how hard it is to unlearn the unrighteousness that had been trained in me from an early age.”

        ^That. Although I never acted on the unrighteousness, it was always the Holy Spirit who kept me from acting on the unrighteousness trained in me from an early age.

        For me, the ONLY reason I survived is because The Battle Belongs To God.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Helovesme, I can relate to all that you have said in your attempts at trying to understand your father and your own life experience. One thing that stood out to me was your comment about being trained in unrighteousness. I thought yes, that’s it, that’s true, that’s what happened to me too. Perhaps this quest to understand is a form of eating from the tree of knowledge, in that I am tempted to think that my sufficiency would come from having a handle on it and thus having control. I don’t know and am not sure.

        I can also relate to your discussion of your dad’s pride being like a brick wall and how he would no matter what, find a way to circle back and make it about him. My dad was the same. No matter what he did, he always managed to find a way to make himself the primary victim so that you felt like a real slime to actually expect him to address how his behaviour hurt you. No matter what, he was too hurt for it to be fair to be held to account, and the problem was that YOU weren’t forgiving and letting bygones be bygones. I relate to having learned this way of thinking from him and having to battle it. And somehow in a way I don’t understand, my pity and love for him led me to identify with him, which I thought was honoring and forgiving him, but which also instead led me back into bondage and confusion and acting LIKE him. Arrrrggh.

        I have noticed that in dealing with this kind of bondage to self and sin, there is a real problem with conflation. Yes, there is a need to forgive the offender and to believe his life has as much value to God as anyone else’s. But that doesn’t mean that sins against trust and relationship should be just brushed under the carpet. The irony is that while he expected me to do that, he himself was unable to do that with the mother who so brutally abused him and allowed his siblings to do him serious harm as if he had no value. He fully expected he had the right to confront her and to expect her to give an honest response and be willing to begin the process of rebuilding trust.

        I think that church that wanted to “prove” God had really changed those sexual offenders was failing to grasp the reality of temptation. Do we test that we are delivered of alcoholism by going to a bar and ordering a drink? It’s stupid! I got lured by that one myself. I had a serious problem in an area of my life that I was delivered from. It was just as if I had never been abused and never suffered harm. Somehow I got tempted into thinking “Now that I’m normal, I should be able to try this just once and be just like anyone else. (Making out with a boyfriend and yielding just a bit to the temptation to have a little sexual pleasure, to see what it felt like to be normal; sorry if that’s too much info.)

        This is clearly a foolish ignorance of spiritual warfare and the reality of how the flesh has been habituated to evil. To put those offenders in that situation showed neither love for them nor for the children they might interact with. Not to mention lacking understanding of grace and what it is and isn’t. Good grief, I saw a real example of this with a friend of mine. We had gone on a long camping trip together and at one point we got rained out and chilled to the bone. We began to shake uncontrollably and so I got the bright idea that a drink with alcohol in it would warm us and stop the shivering. Well it did do that.

        But what I didn’t know was that my friend had formerly been a drunk. She had been dry for well over ten years. But just having ONE beer activated all her bodily responses that had been a part of her addiction. She went on a dry drunk right in front of me. I had never heard of such a thing but it was horrifying to see. My kind friend was suddenly suspended over a dangerous cliff.

        This friend, who dearly loved Jesus and was thankful for the cross in her life, was desperately pushing money into another friend’s hands (a carnal nominal “Christian” friend who was on his way to the bar downstairs) and begging him to bring her some booze. I realized something bad was happening to my friend that could endanger her life, and so I shoved our other friend out the door and closed it behind him after grabbing my friend’s money back and then I guarded the door until the awful tremors and desperate cravings finally passed. Who knows if it was actually demonic what she was experiencing.

        But it’s a clear demonstration that something that is okay for one person is life threatening and dangerous for another. That when we get rescued from having fallen over a cliff, we don’t act like idiots and go back and play around the edge because now we are safe. I don’t mind telling you that with what I did, it set off all the things in my life that just a week prior I had been delivered from. My understanding at that point was sketchy at best but I wound up in that position that Jesus talks about where seven more come in and the last state is worse than the first. The way that is usually talked about in spiritual warfare / deliverance circles always made it sound like your condition, if you fell back into bondage, was pretty hopeless.

        Which left me terrified and suffering intense fear and torment. I calmed down a bit when I read that Jesus cast out a legion of demons from a man, and a legion is definitely more than seven more wicked demons in addition to what I had. This is not to suggest that this is a trifling matter mind you and we can foolishly take Satan’s bait and imagine we will remain in control, as I did. I’m still at this writing, struggling to get free of the bondage and battle that brought me. Arrrrrgggh. Not the sharpest tool in God’s shed and clearly rather foolish and willful. Praying for that to be changed, that’s for sure.

        You have said a lot of other things that are quite solid and insightful as well. But I will leave off here for now.

      • Kind of Anonymous — your comment was wonderful! I’m sorry that I’ve been slow to respond. I’m going to pick out what were, for me, the wisdom gems in your comment.

        Something that is okay for one person is life threatening and dangerous for another.

        If we get rescued from having fallen over a cliff, we don’t act like idiots and go back and play around the edge because now we are safe.

        Personalising this to myself:
        When I get rescued from having fallen over a cliff, please Lord help me remember not to act like an idiot and go back and play around the edge because now I am safe.

      • “Perhaps this quest to understand is a form of eating from the tree of knowledge, in that I am tempted to think that my sufficiency would come from having a handle on it and thus having control. I don’t know and am not sure.”

        Kind of Anonymous, I don’t think your quest to understand is a temptation to self-sufficiency. Nor do I think your quest to understand is a form of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I think your quest to understand is a quest to disentangle and dis-associate yourself from your abusers.

        Your abusers trained you in unrighteousness. God has given you the new birth through faith in Christ. Your quest to understand —— is it not you being changed in your nature by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is that good, that favourable, and perfect will of God?

        Romans 12:12 (NMB): “Do not fashion yourselves to this world, but be changed in your nature by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is that good, that favourable, and perfect will of God.”

        I encourage you to not condemn yourself. 🙂

      • Helovesme

        That was such a great reply, Barb, and very encouraging to me as well:

        “I think your quest to understand is a quest to disentangle and dis-associate yourself from your abusers.

        Your abusers trained you in unrighteousness. God has given you the new birth through faith in Christ. Your quest to understand —— is it not you being changed in your nature by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is that good, that favourable, and perfect will of God?”

        The Romans 12:12 verse you quoted is so well known, so well quoted, but for me—so well forgotten. How easily I forget that all of us who are born again in Him, regardless of our past and / or past sins, regardless of being abused and the subsequent trauma as a result, have full access to Him who can and does have the power to change how we used to think to how He thinks (and therefore how we should think as well).

        Barb (and others) have written excellent posts or comments about how abusers are very unlikely to change, which can also be described as: they’re unlikely to ever change the way they think. They are unlikely to change in order to think as He does. You cannot claim to be a part of Him but cling to a mind that thinks nothing like Him.

        For the victims, however, I do not believe this is the case at all. But so often we think like that. I can personally testify to truly and honestly believing that I could not be born again (aka a changed person in Him). I could not authentically be a changed person; the best I could hope for is to go through the motions of transformation—-and even that seemed extremely far fetched.

        I believed the trauma of my own sins plus the trauma of abuse had defined me for good. And I was barely out of my teens, so I was hitting a very low point at a very young age.

        I should continue on that path of authenticity and admit that I STILL have my doubts. 🙂 But the verse Barb brought up is a good one to cling to, especially if and when any of us starts to hit those low points along the way of being transformed by Him, in Him and for Him.

        I can focus on how this is done by Him, and done in me by Him—-but often I neglect the last part: this is for Him. For His personal glory, not just for my personal benefit. This is to honor Him as a Father, a Savior, a Potter and a Healer.

        Persevering in Him is worth it, in order to reach the end and see Him face to face, but it’s also in order to testify to Him (face to face) that He Himself is authentic and true to His Word: He did and does work and transforms those that seemed to be the least likely to survive and succeed, with so many odds stacked against them.

        Let me authentically clear and admit that these rosy words, real as they are and as real as they are to me—don’t always translate into the rock solid faith as easily as I would like! That’s the reality of it, but even if my faith is like a slippery rock, He is always that Rock that never slips and never fails me.

  4. Finding Answers

    Kind Of Anonymous commented (17TH APRIL 2020 – 9:43 AM) “…..can honestly testify that as one subjected to ongoing abuse and family violence, quite often the damage caused by the abuse is not my main problem…..”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Kind of Anonymous commented “….rambling on in attempting to show my thinking…..”

    You are NOT rambling.

    In the same comment, Kind of Anonymous commented “……do need to correctly parse meanings and truths….”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Kind of Anonymous commented “….Abuse, if not responded to God’s way, leads to reacting out of the sinful / fleshly nature and thus continuing the sin and justifying it…..” AND “…..because he allowed hurt, self pity and bitterness to justify doing the same…..”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Kind of Anonymous commented “Jesus spoke of those who cause children to stumble into sin….”

    ^That.

  5. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi Finding Answers, I like the way you sift through all the comments everyone posts and kind of lift out meaningful selections that stand out to you. Neat how our individual minds work.

    • Finding Answers

      Thank you, Kind Of Anonymous, for providing me with so many lovely selections in your comments to highlight. 🙂

  6. Kind of Anonymous

    Oops hit post before I meant to. Thank you also for your reassurance that I was not rambling, I felt quite anguished over how long my post was and that made me feel better.

    • Finding Answers

      Kind of Anonymous,

      You wrote:“….I felt quite anguished over how long my post was….”

      There are many times I feel (in the emotional sense) the same way about my own comments.

      • Dear Finding Answers, I have become quite accustomed to the way you write your comments. Please don’t feel bad about your writing style. It’s clear to me (from the way other readers reply to your comments) that what you write is often helpful to other commenters.

        We all have our own writing styles. 🙂 We are each of us unique. And God seems to be using each of us to help one another by giving encouragement, provoking insight, giving one another the sense of being ‘heard’…all those things and maybe more.

    • Helovesme

      Oh goodness, K of A, your comment was fabulous. When I said I had to break it up to read its entirety, that had nothing to do with you “rambling.” It was a time thing for me, but again, well worth the time. Hope you got that message through my words—-your comment was well thought out and frankly, an easy read once I put the time into it.

  7. Helovesme

    Just a quick follow up to your comment K of A:

    Your description of fictional “Joe” reminded me of how God confronted David about his sins. David had been a wanted man for a long time; by his own king and father-in-law no less. David would lament that Saul would not rest until he had hunted him down and killed him. So he knew the fear that his life might end rather abruptly, and not get to live out to old age.

    Saul was partially driven to kill David to stop him from taking his throne away (I think he knew God had anointed David to be the next king). I think jealousy played a part since David was a popular warrior and the people seemed to adore him for it.

    I wouldn’t call David a victim of abuse in the strictest sense of the word, but I WOULD say that he was seriously victimized and unfairly, unjustly treated—he had done nothing wrong and yet Saul was determined to kill him. And David lived on the run for a long time, fleeing for his life and in constant readiness to defend himself and his band of warriors (and their families).

    None of this came up when God confronted David for taking that sole and precious lamb (Bathsheba) that didn’t belong to him, that he had no need of, and killing her husband. God never even brought up his past, full of heavy and burdensome difficulties. David’s brothers even looked down on him and treated him rather contemptuously as well, so it seems his less-than-stellar treatment started at an early age. They never bothered to call him out of the fields when Samuel came; never even considered him as kingly material. Samuel had to ASK, are you sure these all of your sons? Ouch.

    David’s repentance never brought up any of that, either. I sinned and I deserve to die. Maybe, just maybe his mind flew back to his earlier life as a shepherd, a warrior and a so-called criminal on the run—and wondered how he dared to victimize the innocent, when he, too, could easily empathize with such pain. Maybe he’d lived the cushy life of a king for so long, that he forgot what it was like have lived in far more dire straits.

    Regardless, none of that mattered when he repented, because none of that mattered in order to fully repent.

    Again, a way with words:

    “Being sinned against is just one of the more obvious and typical garden variety routes, but there are many secondary highways, backroads and grid roads that can get one to the same destination.”

    Absolutely, amazingly well said, again. That’s kind of depressing, right? There are innumerable paths we can sin and sin against one another, but the good news is that there is only ONE path to repent and be forgiven. It’s comforting to know you don’t have to travel in circles to come to the foot of His cross.

    • Kind of Anonymous

      I never thought of David’s situation in that light, but you are absolutely right, it is the same sort of thing that would qualify as abuse, woundedness, etc. that could be used to justify oneself and one’s actions. He did receive a lot of mistreatment. I always found the way his brother spoke to him when he had come to the battlefield at his father’s command to be rather mean and persecutory. Perhaps it was jealousy because they would have witnessed David as the youngest being singled out for the honor of being anointed by the prophet. But it was still pretty hateful behaviour.

  8. Finding Answers

    In the comment by Helovesme (18TH APRIL 2020 – 11:12 PM), there are two different Bible quotations, each (Bible) quotation using a different translation of the Bible.

    For me, I have found reading the New Matthew Bible (NMB) translation can make a world of difference. (Pun intended. 🙂 )

    With ^That in mind, I am quoting the New Matthew Bible translations of those two quotations.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 New Matthew Bible (NMB)

    16 For all scripture given by the inspiration of God is profitable to teach, to convict, to reform, and to instruct in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be perfect and prepared for all good works.

    John 3:19-21 New Matthew Bible (NMB)

    19 And this is the condemnation: that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But whoever does truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be known, that they are wrought in God.

    • Helovesme

      Yeah I totally need to give this New Matthew Bible translation a go! I keep hearing (and reading) really good things about it.

      Yes, K of A, I didn’t think about David’s past when looking at his repentance narrative. I honestly think your comments got those wheels in my head turning.

      AFTER his repentance is another story—his sons went down similar, even more horrific roads. From rape to rebellion to murder—-the recklessness and ruin is the stuff of nightmares.

      A commentary I read while reading 2 Samuel brought up something we will likely not know the answers to: WHY didn’t David parent his sons with his own personal past in mind? There is no doubt he could understand the temptation and terrible pull to do something terrible to an innocent human being.

      There’s too much to delve into (I do recall Nathan’s omnibus prophecies about the ruination of his family unit)—but I do not think that should be used as an excuse for neglectful parenting. I highly doubt the Lord would have intended that!

      I don’t want to dive into the details due to potential triggering. Hopefully we’re familiar enough with the unfolding of events—and again, it’s something we don’t think we’ll fully understand on this side of eternity.

      When David prayed and fasted in the hopes that God would have mercy on his first child with Bathsheba and allow him to live (even though God had stated that he would not), I don’t think of that as “bargaining” with God. He didn’t make any false promises (I’ll be good if you let my son live). He didn’t make any false pleas (take me instead, let my son live). He didn’t argue or debate or cajole it seems—he simply prayed. And waited to see what would happen.

      K of A’s comment reminded me of how limited we are as Earth creatures. Heaven and Earth are two completely different places, and you can only live in one of them at a time.

      I want to believe that what makes no sense in this life will make sense in the next one.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (19TH APRIL 2020 – 8:32 PM) “….familiar enough with the unfolding of events—and again, it’s something we don’t think we’ll fully understand on this side of eternity.”

        ^That.

        Deep grief hurts. (Omitting details for my protection.)

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “I want to believe that what makes no sense in this life will make sense in the next one.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….Heaven and Earth are two completely different places, and you can only live in one of them at a time.”

        ^That.

        To quote a song (without breaking copyright laws): Sometimes life on earth is like dancing in the dark.

        Sometimes I wonder if (without my knowledge) some of those who made my life a living hell on earth will have been saved and become Christian (not “christian”).

        ^That would make the (Triune) God happy (to have some of His lost sheep found before they (the lost sheep) physically died).

        I am a Christian (not “christian”), and sometimes I think The Good Shepherd is so busy rescuing His lost sheep that He forgets about me.

        ^That is a lie, but when I am dancing in the dark, the thought breaks my heart, my throat chokes up, my eyes fill with tears, and I can find no comfort in Scripture (no matter which translation is quoted).

      • Dear Finding Answers, my heart goes out to you.

        You wrote, “when I am dancing in the dark, the thought breaks my heart, my throat chokes up, my eyes fill with tears, and I can find no comfort in Scripture”.

        For me, when I am ‘dancing in the dark’ and my throat chokes up and my eyes fill with tears, the only comfort I find is if the tears turn into deep sobs that heave my chest and come from my belly.

        I can’t “make” that happen. It only happens sometimes. Sometimes, if I have been fortunate enough to have been talking to a fellow human being who has shown me compassion and kindness, that can trigger the sobs. Sometimes the sobs only come during deep prayer or when I’m reading scripture and that turns into prayer. The sobs are not as painful as the precursor time (the build-up). And sometimes the build-up lasts for days and never ends in sobs — it gets stuck in a rut of self-condemnation.

        If the sobs do come, they usually do not last very long… like a shower burst, a refreshing downpour which clears the air and washes the dust off the trees and footpaths.

      • Helovesme

        Barb wrote something that was so poetic and poignant and dang that’s how it is for me, too, almost verbatim and likely with some variations as well:

        “Sometimes, if I have been fortunate enough to have been talking to a fellow human being who has shown me compassion and kindness, that can trigger the sobs. Sometimes the sobs only come during deep prayer or when I’m reading scripture and that turns into prayer. The sobs are not as painful as the precursor time (the build-up). And sometimes the build-up lasts for days and never ends in sobs — it gets stuck in a rut of self-condemnation.

        If the sobs do come, they usually do not last very long… like a shower burst, a refreshing downpour which clears the air and washes the dust off the trees and footpaths.”

        It may seem strange how compassion brings out those sobs, but it’s not! There is something about empathy that hits that “sweet” spot in a GOOD way and brings out what needs to be brought out.

        Yes, the build up is often more painful than actually breaking down! It’s really true! Again, it’s along the lines of holding it all in but when that dam bursts, it’s messy yes, but the water is finally flowing freely.

        And that last part is about as good as I’ve heard it described (self-condemnation). Self-crucifixion as I often “feel” it (and I mean no disrespect to Scripture or our Savior) really does drive the nails in where Christ already took those nails for me, and He wants to pull them out instead.

        And I say this even IF I haven’t sinned, so there is no sin on my part that He bore on my behalf. And even if I had sinned, this is not the way to be forgiven! You don’t punish yourself for a sin that He already took the punishment for on my behalf.

        And this is separate from any Biblical discipline needed. The Word is clear that His loving correction as a Heavenly Father is NOT the same thing as say, punishment from a sinful father.

        My history includes things like cutting and a few suicide attempts, so one can see how hard it was then, and still is now—-to escape that terrible but tired way of thinking.

        Sometimes my crying lasts longer than I’d like. Once I start, I can’t stop. But once I start, it’s good to start and finish on its own time. More often than not, it’s worth it even if it was draining, and a bit disturbing to deal with!

  9. Gany T.

    Thank you for this wonderful post and to all who have commented. I have been challenged, enlightened, convicted, strengthened, and encouraged by it.

    As Hope referred to in her comment [the 2nd one published in Comments], I would further say that Helovesme’s final paragraph is a stand-alone gem.

    Although I haven’t contributed to the discussion, I have read and been touched by the deeply honest and personal sharing and exchanges between Helovesme, Kind Of Anonymous, Finding Answers, and Barb. May our Savior continue His good and loving work in each of our lives.

  10. Helovesme

    Thank you for your comment, Finding Answers. I had you specifically in mind when I decided to not dive into the details about David’s two sons. I would likely hit very close to home with you. I’ve been struggling with nightmares for about a year now, I think? So I had myself in mind, too, as well as any of the readers.

    “I am a Christian (not “christian”), and sometimes I think The Good Shepherd is so busy rescuing His lost sheep that He forgets about me.”

    That was pretty dang brilliant. When I became born again, my thoughts ran along those veins. Now that I was a “found” sheep, is God now focusing on my abuser as a “lost” sheep?

    Sort of like: okay, you’re safe and sealed up in a nice envelope. Let me put a stamp on you and you’ll be “mailed” to Heaven when your time comes.

    Now, I’m off to find your abuser, who isn’t safe and sealed up. You stay here and nice and sealed up and nothing will go wrong.

    The professing Christians around me sometimes encouraged this sort of thinking, likely without knowing it, or even meaning it. I now think that they just had no training, no experience, no real knowledge as to how to deal with the trauma of an abuse victim, and also the trauma-causing abuser.

    They are seen as one and the same—while both our of souls are in need of the same Savior, when it comes to the arena of abuse, the abused and the abuser are in two completely different arenas. But it’s oversimplified by putting EVERYTHING in the same arena, salvation AND abuse. That’s dangerous, not to mention adding a layer of secondary abuse.

    As you said, it’s a complete lie that God is like that, but I just wanted to relate to you.

    “Sometimes I wonder if (without my knowledge) some of those who made my life a living hell on earth will have been saved and become Christian (not “christian”).”

    I’ve experience a lot of pain and rejection from those that do AND don’t profess Christ. I often and very wrongly think that they do or have or will “get away with everything.” Because honestly, that is really what I see and believe and get very worked up about.

    I keep saying it in prayer—I know that’s wrong, I know there’s no such thing, I know that Heaven and Earth aren’t the same thing: you can escape accountability in this life, but never in the next one. And make no mistake, everyone will eventually come face to face with Him, and their masks will come off, revealing their true faces.

    But like you, when I am “dancing in the dark,” desperately struggling to dance to the beat, keep dancing to that beat, and making sure the song keeps going so I don’t stop dancing, all I “see” is the darkness, and I really want to change the song to something else! Not so easy push the button and skip to the next song, or change the singer, or change the category of music or whatever.

    So many of the “songs” on our “albums” of life are sad or sorrowful, but they are real and it matters that they are heard.

    I once heard a great analogy of tendency of Facebook posters: they usually post their “greatest hits,” and not their “B-sides.” They post the best of the best, and ignore the rest.

    By the way—it’s okay for posters to share what they want to share. It should be understood, however, that there is usually a lot more going on that they don’t post about, and have every right to NOT post about. It’s good to keep in mind, however, that there is likely a lot more to a person than their PR-based Facebook page.

    I specifically recall a holiday season in which I sadly came face to face with the deep seated but well hidden cruelty in a group of professing Christians. This was all going on in private, of course, But on one of their Facebook pages, I saw a homey holiday picture that belied all the hate and hurt that was very real, and ongoing. I recall feeling so disillusioned and discouraged.

    I remember not knowing what was or wasn’t real anymore. And where the Lord, who sees and knows all, fit into all this.

    Time to change the music from the light, festive holiday song, to the music and song that fit the reality that refused to hide any longer. I can easily say I tried to keep the cheery songs going for a long time, until I knew they couldn’t be tolerated anymore.

    As you said, no version of Scripture could give me comfort, but also—there were no words to be found that COULD comfort me. No disrespect to the Word, honestly. I liken it to “groans that words can’t express” as (ironically) the Word speaks of!

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (20TH APRIL 2020 – 2:08 PM) “Sort of like: okay, you’re safe and sealed up in a nice envelope. Let me put a stamp on you and you’ll be “mailed” to Heaven when your time comes.”

      ^That. (Omitting a) some cynical humour about snail-mail versus email, and b) some details on why the word “snail-mail” is called a retronym.)

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Now, I’m off to find your abuser, who isn’t safe and sealed up. You stay here and nice and sealed up and nothing will go wrong.”

      ^That. The picture in my mind generated by your (Helovesme’s) words are of the abused individual being patted lightly on the head and being told (in a condescending tone of voice) “There, there, dear.”

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “The professing Christians around me sometimes encouraged this sort of thinking, likely without knowing it, or even meaning it….”

      (Strikethrough added by me.)

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….when I am “dancing in the dark,” desperately struggling to dance to the beat, keep dancing to that beat, and making sure the song keeps going so I don’t stop dancing,”

      For me, the Holy Spirit loves me enough to keep His song going.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “So many of the “songs” on our “albums” of life are sad or sorrowful, but they are real and it matters that they are heard.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….And where the Lord, who sees and knows all, fit into all this.”

      ^That.

      • Helovesme

        Finding Answers, I’m starting to see that you and I both use a lot of visuals to express ourselves. Or we have images in our head, or analogies that help us understand ourselves AND communicate ourselves with others.

        For example, I loved these lines from you:

        “^That. The picture in my mind generated by your (Helovesme’s) words are of the abused individual being patted lightly on the head and being told (in a condescending tone of voice) “There, there, dear.””

        That is a nightmarish image that is all too real, or has been all too real for so many.

        And:

        “For me, the Holy Spirit loves me enough to keep His song going.”

        I REALLY liked that last one. I can absolutely get a non-nightmarish image in my head from that statement! Thank you so much for that.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme,

        You commented (24TH APRIL 2020 – 12:22 PM): “I’m starting to see that you and I both use a lot of visuals to express ourselves. Or we have images in our head, or analogies that help us understand ourselves AND communicate ourselves with others.”

        ^That. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 etc.

        In the same comment, you quoted me and then wrote:

        “For me, the Holy Spirit loves me enough to keep His song going.”

        “….absolutely get a non-nightmarish image in my head from that statement!…..”

        (Bold added by me.)

        Amen to ^That.

  11. Helovesme

    I shouldn’t forget to thank Barb for honoring me by using my words to hopefully honor others. When I read the title, I had no idea I had used the phrase “spiritual bargain!” I may have used those words but Barb found a way to make them useful ha ha.

    I had written the comment about personal salvation, but then I started to see how applicable it can be to those around us.

    Abusers come in all shapes and sizes, but they can especially be found in positions of power, leadership and authority—-in AND out of the church—-that give them access and ample opportunity to abuse or assault those they choose to target.

    In non-domestic places, think: pastors, teachers, politicians, entertainers. elders, doctors, coaches.
    In domestic places, think: spouses, parents, older siblings, extended family or close family friends and neighbors.

    This is also applicable to historical figures (aka no longer living) that are often lauded and applauded, but they are known to be adulterers and / or possibly much, much more.

    I’ll use a personal example. My former pastor wasn’t famous, but he was well known and respected in our church and in the community in general. He decided to retire rather suddenly to supposedly spend time with his family, but soon after—-It was exposed that he was an adulterer, and he had retired to “dodge” the full impact of that bullet.

    He may have been guilty of much more, based on some of the talk that reached my ears, but we don’t know for sure.

    I am ashamed to now admit that when I heard, I sent him a private Facebook message telling him that I was praying for him and his family. I can’t recall my exact words, and I never heard back. It was short and simple and didn’t attempt to deny his guilt, but what the heck was I thinking? Why did I do something like that?

    I was crushed because I thought I’d finally found a safe church with a safe pastor. In order to cope, I had to watch myself to not “bargain” his guilt out in a way to give him even slight exoneration in my mind.

    I DO think I can safely say that because he was doing so much for others not only domestically, but internationally—-those around him that may or may not have seen or known or picked up on something—-either kept quiet or were insinuated to keep quiet.

    Possibly, the more good he spearheaded or accomplished, the more power he amassed and therefore the more spiritual “bargaining” chips he gained: I’ve got the power by doing all of this good for others. But now, I also have the power to do evil to others who get in my way or attempt to challenge me. If you topple me, what will happen to all these ministries I’ve started, and have grown powerful under my leadership—- and they have so much power to help others? Do you want that on your conscience?

    Bargain with me (metaphorically speaking). All of this help for a LOT of people is worth far fewer people getting hurt.

    This is all theoretical and should NOT be taken as exact truth. It’s fairly speculative with some real kernels of validity in them.

    It’s interesting because helping others and giving to others shouldn’t be seen or treated as a source of power, because it requires humility to receive His grace in order to help others.

    That’s the Biblical version of reality, but we know that that is not how it often plays out in the spiritual OR secular realm. Those that claim to do good, who at their core don’t really care about people, aren’t doing anyone any good—for themselves OR anyone else.

    Back to my reactions. I found myself, in that state of shock and confusion, unwilling (at first) to pay “full price” for the price tag that was attached to what was being sold. I kept looking for missing buttons or small holes (that didn’t exist!) so I could bargain down the price somehow. I just couldn’t “afford” to fully buy what that price tag signified.

    Now what? Do I start subtly pulling off buttons or cleverly cause even the smallest tear in the fabric, or clumsy me—-I dropped it on the floor and now it’s dirty.

    I need to make it clear that you do NOT have to idolize an exposed fraud in your midst, in order to struggle as I did. I prayed constantly for pastor, even before all of this, to keep him spiritually safe. I knew the power of temptation (not always sexual, but always real) , especially in full time ministry. I had previously worked very hard in a ministry NOT full time and it nearly ruined me with its trials and eventual trauma.

    Eventually I DID pay “full price” and stopped bargaining within myself, and hopefully those around him have as well. It is never, not ever worth the price of evil inflicted on even ONE member of humanity, then attempt to “bargain down” the “full price” of that sinfulness—-by bringing up the so-called good for MANY members of humanity. As if it one will at least slightly compensate for the other.

    The costs don’t balance out, you have no bargaining chips, and your “checkbook” is NOT in the black with profits showing, it’s in the red with debts written all over it.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (20TH APRIL 2020 – 2:55 PM) “Abusers come in all shapes and sizes, but they can especially be found in positions of power, leadership and authority—-in AND out of the church—-that give them access and ample opportunity to abuse or assault those they choose to target.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “In domestic places, think: spouses, parents, older siblings, extended family or close family friends and neighbors.”

      From my own (personal, past) experience, there are a number of instances where the younger individual abused older individuals. (Omitting details for my protection.)

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “This is also applicable to historical figures (aka no longer living) that are often lauded and applauded, but they are known to be adulterers and / or possibly much, much more.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Possibly, the more good he spearheaded or accomplished, the more power he amassed and therefore the more spiritual “bargaining” chips he gained: I’ve got the power by doing all of this good for others. But now, I also have the power to do evil to others who get in my way or attempt to challenge me. If you topple me, what will happen to all these ministries I’ve started, and have grown powerful under my leadership—- and they have so much power to help others? Do you want that on your conscience?” AND “…..All of this help for a LOT of people is worth far fewer people getting hurt.”

      ^That is a perfect summary of SO much of “christian ministry”. (Omitting a) a lengthy list of individuals like John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Paige Patterson, etc., etc. etc., ad nauseum, and b) some slightly off-colour humour.)

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “It’s interesting because helping others and giving to others shouldn’t be seen or treated as a source of power, because it requires humility to receive His grace in order to help others.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….the Biblical version of reality, but we know that that is not how it often plays out in the spiritual OR secular realm. Those that claim to do good, who at their core don’t really care about people, aren’t doing anyone any good—for themselves OR anyone else.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “The costs don’t balance out…..”

      ^That.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you again, Finding Answers, for sharing your thoughts and insights, and being very encouraging to point out what spoke to you personally.

        The “historical figures” comment I made could generate so many examples that we’d be here forever. I had wanted to trot out a few, just to illustrate the complexities, but I thought it more important to focus on church leadership, hence my personal example of my former pastor.

        But even there, we could look back in time and see where a lot of so-called church leadership was in reality, calling evil as good and good as evil—-one of the core aspects of oppression.

        Before that pastor, I was under the leadership of another pastor who I had more personal connection with and unfortunately, I should not have trusted. He turned out to be more like an organized politician than a trustworthy shepherd. I regret listening to his voice and going where he told me to, because his voice did not lead me into open pasture (John 10:9, 10:27). It was more like being led into a ditch.

        At the time, I remember giving in because I was scared of him. He did not abuse me; but he very much condoned the reviling of a so-called professing Christian, who targeted me and another person. I was scared of both of them.

        I’ve understood that sheep can be easily led, which is why it’s so important that WHO is leading them truly cares for them. A shrewd sheep, however, would not follow the wrong voice. Christ said they know His voice and will not follow anyone else’s. So it’s vital to ask for His help to truly know His voice, not just to know Who to follow, but who NOT to follow.

        I was not shrewd enough at that time, plus I was used to his voice and following it. I wasn’t the best at questioning it. That didn’t mean I should not have exercised Biblical discernment! It took real hindsight and hard work to untangle a lot of those knots, and honestly I’m still working on it.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme,

        You wrote (24TH APRIL 2020 – 12:46 PM): “The “historical figures” comment I made could generate so many examples that we’d be here forever…..”

        (Bold added by me.)

        ^That.

        In the same comment, you wrote: “….thought it more important to focus on church leadership,….”

        (Strikethrough added by me.)

        ^That.

        It is important to note: Some “leadership” does NOT come from a pastor, although the “church” might choose to follow the “leadership” of a) non-church and / or b) “church” individuals.

        In the same comment, you wrote: “….a lot of so-called church leadership was is in reality, calling evil as good and good as evil—-one of the core aspects of oppression.”

        (Two instances of strikethrough added by me, and the word “was” changed to “is” by me.)

        ^That.

        In the same comment, you wrote: “…..under the leadership of another pastor who I had more personal connection with….” AND “….. He turned out to be more like an organized politician than a trustworthy shepherd……”

        Words like ^That are SO frequently used in comments / blog posts / articles / etc. by victims / survivors of abuse, including non-ACFJ folks.

        In the same comment, you wrote: “At the time, I remember giving in because I was scared of him. He did not abuse me; but he very much condoned the reviling of a so-called professing Christian, who targeted me and another person. I was scared of both of them.”

        Words like ^That are SO frequently used in comments / blog posts / articles / etc. by victims / survivors of abuse, including non-ACFJ folks.

        In the same comment, you wrote: “…..understood that sheep can be easily led, which is why it’s so important that WHO is leading them truly cares for them…..”

        ^That applies to Christians / “christians” in both the world and the “world”.

        In the same comment, you wrote: “…. it’s so important that WHO is leading them truly cares for them…..” AND “…..Christ said they know His voice and will not follow anyone else’s. So it’s vital to ask for His help to truly know His voice, not just to know Who to follow, but who NOT to follow.” AND “…..It took real hindsight and hard work to untangle a lot of those knots, and honestly I’m still working on it.”

        ^That. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. Finding Answers

    Barb commented (20TH APRIL 2020 – 10:04 PM) “If the sobs do come, they usually do not last very long… like a shower burst, a refreshing downpour which clears the air and washes the dust off the trees and footpaths.”

    For me, the physically painful non-vocal sobs come when I have been betrayed.

    ^Those physically painful non-vocal sobs can last anywhere from minutes to hours.

    When ^That process is complete, I am left emotionally drained and physically exhausted.

    The Holy Spirit eases my pain, (figuratively speaking) picks me up off of my knees, dusts off my knees, and stands me on my feet.

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment (21ST APRIL 2020 – 12:09 AM).

      In my comment, I wrote: “For me, the physically painful non-vocal sobs come when I have been betrayed.”

      To clarify ^That sentence, as the sentence MIGHT imply various “normal” sob responses:

      For me, the combination of Asperger’s, C-PTSD, and living my entire life in an environment where crying was “not acceptable” (for any number of reasons), means the physically painful non-vocal sobs manifest as physical (somatic) pain in random areas of my body. (Omitting MANY details for my own protection and the protection of MANY other individuals.)

      • Hi Finding Answers, do you get any relief after the non-vocal sobs have manifested as physical (somatic) pain in random areas of your body?

      • Finding Answers

        Barb commented (22ND APRIL 2020 – 11:14 PM) “…..do you get any relief after the non-vocal sobs have manifested as physical (somatic) pain in random areas of your body?”

        No.

        Any relief I experience only happens once the physical (somatic) pain is completely gone.

        ^That relief does not happen until the emotion has been completely processed.

        ^That process happens for EVERY emotion.

        The process can take anywhere from a few minutes to days.

        All ^That somatic pain is completely separate from the never-ending migraines that I experience when I am coming to new insights.

        I have only two treatments for somatic pain: Coffee (in limited amounts) for the migraines, and (very rarely) VERY small amounts of acetaminophen for lower body pain.

        I very rarely use acetaminophen, as it causes constipation. I do NOT use NSAIDS, as I then experience commonly-known NSAID side effects of an increased tendency towards gastro-intestinal bleeding and an increased tendency to bruise.

        To make a long story short, the process of healing causes as much pain as the initial abuse.

      • Gany T.

        Finding Answers, I am so very sorry that, “To make a long story short, the process of healing causes as much pain as the initial abuse.”

        There is nothing I can offer to ^that 😦 but I am sending love and prayers your way today.

      • I second what Gany T. said.

      • Helovesme

        I “third” what Gany T. said. Getting better at keeping the commentators and posters in prayer; am glad for that since the needs are many.

  13. Helovesme

    Hi, this is in response to Kind Of Anonymous
    19TH APRIL 2020 – 2:12 PM:

    Thank you so much for what you wrote in your second paragraph. That is almost verbatim what I have lived through. That actually wasn’t the last time I experienced things like that.

    Here’s a highlight from that paragraph:

    “I relate to having learned this way of thinking from him and having to battle it. And somehow in a way I don’t understand, my pity and love for him led me to identify with him, which I thought was honoring and forgiving him, but which also instead led me back into bondage and confusion and acting LIKE him. Arrrrggh.”

    I’ve experienced that with professing Christians as well. In hindsight, I now believe that while I wasn’t abused in the strictest sense of the word, I WAS victimized and cruelly, contemptuously treated, and as in my childhood—-I was hurt by those closest to me. First it’s your body of “biological blood” family, then it’s the body of your “Biblical blood” family. It’s not exactly the same thing, but inside of you—they have both betrayed you in extremely personalized ways—from those that should not have betrayed your trust at all.

    I felt a mere, minuscule glimpse of what the Lord went through when the nails were put into His hands. I am being treated with cruelty that I do not deserve, but I am treated as IF I deserved every bit of it.

    The pity and love factors have supposedly gotten me IN trouble for daring to engage in them.

    OR, I was told I WAS trouble for daring to NOT engage in them.

    There are times it IS loving to not back down and stand up and stand in His righteousness. You will stand like a “brick wall,” you will not be moved, nor will you give an inch.

    You refuse to enable unrighteousness as you previously had. What you were once trained in, you will no longer stand in.

    There are times that is NOT loving to NOT back down. The “brick wall” is actually masquerading as righteousness, but in reality is self-righteousness (or the unrighteousness of someone else) at work. You shouldn’t stand up and stand in it, and you should give an inch (or more).

    The undoing of the previously “drilled in” unrighteousness is still being undone, brick by brick. Your un-training in what is evil (in His eyes) and re-training in what is good (in His eyes) is still a work in progress.

    When I wrote that, I first felt frustrated and impatient, and then I felt encouraged. The fact that He is undoing my previous training and attempting to retrain me means that He is actually working in me! He really is doing what I never thought could be done—changing me from the inside out. This encouragement, however, comes and goes. Sometimes you really do feel trapped, like being in dark tunnel that seems to never end.

    You’re not alone in these statements AT ALL:

    “But that doesn’t mean that sins against trust and relationship should be just brushed under the carpet. The irony is that while he expected me to do that, he himself was unable to do that”

    With my abuser, I think that he felt very little to no real accountability to me because he felt so sorry for himself. He’s the parent, he has to work long hours, he has all these heavy, tiring expectations put on him—-maybe he was too hard on me but he had so many hard things to deal with. Unlike me, who was a child and not as obligated and trapped as he was.

    Plus how hard is it to be well behaved and obedient when you don’t have to pay bills or put food on the table? How often would HE wish to be a child again and not have to be a responsible adult?

    This is part of the “bargaining” I was speaking of in the post. Imagine a courtroom setting, and the lawyer for the defendant (my abuser) is saying to the Judge (the Lord), can’t you give him a break? Look at his life, look into his eyes, look into his soul—-hasn’t he suffered enough to cut him a plea deal of some kind? Plus he doesn’t engage in these behaviors anymore now that the victim (me) is an adult and not under his care any longer.

    By the way, even though he stopped hitting me after I turned 18, I believe the verbal and emotional abuse went on. So, I don’t think I should say “thank you” to him for stopping one form of abuse but continuing in the others.

    (Breaking up the comments for easier reading!)

  14. Helovesme

    From K of A’s comment:

    “It was just as if I had never been abused and never suffered harm. Somehow I got tempted into thinking ‘Now that I’m normal, I should be able to try this just once and be just like anyone else.'”

    This is something that plagues me to this day. I had no idea what “normal” looked like, so trying to take my cue from those around me that either seemed normal, or seemed to know what was normal—-became problematic at best, disastrous at worst.

    Throw in trying to determine what was “normal” in the Biblical sense, once I became born again, and the doors for potential spiritual abuse were thrown WIDE open.

    Writers like Barb do a fantastic job in encouraging and / or using Biblical wisdom and discernment to undo the wide, never ending spectrum of lies and half truths and no truths and going a step further—calling out abnormalities that are whitewashed and cleverly disguised as if they are based on Biblical truths.

    So you have my sympathy and support—-and absolutely my prayers. I KNEW the abuse I was experiencing wasn’t normal, but it was all I knew. When I saw non-abusive homes or relationships, I felt the difference (this is more like my idea of normal), but personal experience drowned out what I had never experienced, and therefore had never personally known.

    However, idealizing life and relationships is also dangerous. It’s not normal to explain away domestic abuse as “marital woes” or “communication issues” or in need of “conflict resolution.” And childhood abuse as “discipline” or “tough love” or having a “problem child.”

    Yes! I recalled the same verse as you about “where seven more come in and the last state is worse than the first.” I started to realize it wasn’t enough to clear out what doesn’t belong, you have to bring in whatever DOES belong.

    Possibly that is why when Christ says to pour new wine into new wineskins, not new wine into the old wineskins. Imagine, however, if you had NO wineskins at all! Just pouring new wine onto the floor is just as useless.

    “Not the sharpest tool in God’s shed and clearly rather foolish and willful. Praying for that to be changed, that’s for sure.”

    My abuser would constantly call me stubborn and I refuse to change and that is just ONE of the many reasons why a child like me is more of a burden than a blessing.

    Problem is, he’s not all wrong in that. So my prayer to the Lord runs along these lines: I know I’m not very teachable and reachable. Please help me to be that way, so I can accept Your ways.

    It’s wise to know you need His help, even wiser to know you might resist His help. I try not to dip my toes into the “abuser’s” muddy waters when I confess my tendency to rebel. I instead try to throw myself into His arms, already muddied from those waters, muddied from my OWN muddy waters— and ask Him to accept me as I am, mud and all. No matter where that mud came from, please just tell me that I am Yours, and You are mine.

    You have a wonderful way of communicating and without a doubt you bring a LOT of contribution in your comments. I don’t celebrate at ALL that we all can relate to the horrors we’ve experienced, but it’s beyond comforting to know our personal experiences are not unique, and therefore we fill just a little less alone, a little less hopeless.

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