Let’s Be Careful About How We Use The Word Abuse, And How It Is Used To Justify Biblical Decisions
We humans are easily deluded. Our own flesh cries out for significance and causes us to misjudge ourselves in so many ways. Satan loves for us to question everything and bring into doubt the difficult commands from God, given for our protection and growth. The world dances to the sound of a personal distortion and calls us to empower our thoughts about ourselves beyond God’s creative intentions.
The result, all too often: “ I am more important than others think.” Which in turn yields to, “I am not appreciated,” giving birth to “I am not valued” which in turn ultimately leads down the trail of, “I am abused.”
We must be careful that we have not believed a lie, that somehow out of all of God’s human creation, I am special, loved, gifted, etc.. Not that this is not true, in a limited way. But, our generation has taken the idea way beyond its biblical intent!! “Find” yourself because you are special!”
When I feel abused, I focus on an abuser. The trail of thought leads to justification to break with the abuser, whether friend, job, church, or even spouse. For the Christian, the break is somehow “affirmed” by God. But in fact, all too often, God had nothing to do with the break, and scripture in fact was disobeyed.
The most obvious and personal result of this decision to break, is Christian marriages. All too often, the parties involved were not provoked to divorce by adultery in one or the other. Nor, even by physical abuse. But, instead, the culprit is this new “emotional”abuse train of thinking.
Jesus says that anyone who divorces their spouse except for adultery, causes the next decision to marry in either or both to be an adulterous relationship. “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32)
I am not trying to work out the impact of abuse as it is now understood by the American Church. Nor even am I trying to decide whether these new adulterous relationships are forgivable. I am simply trying to allow prior Biblical foundations to take their full stand.
Forgiveness by God is always available to the truly repentant soul. But, I would like to think that we guard ourselves from unbiblical decisions, no matter how “right” the world says we are!
The first foundation is the sacredness of the marriage vow. A vow made before God and in front of friends as to the seriousness of our commitment to each other. God’s blessing is invoked, a vow is made before Him and our family and we dedicate ourselves to work towards a shared life that honors God.
The second is the dual commandments from the New Testament: husbands love your wives as your own bodies, and, wives respect your husbands. (Ephesians 5:33)
Third, imitate Jesus. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Fourth, forgive as we have been forgiven. “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:10-12)
Fifth, God is not obligated to make my life a happy life. He created me in Christ Jesus to serve Him with all that I am. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Sixth, I am created, and recreated for eternity, not necessarily time. “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
Seventh, obedience is more valuable to God than our personal expectation outcomes about how important and valuable we are. “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8)
This last idea is one of the most compelling thoughts in the Bible. God does not give me, His child in Jesus, control over outcomes. In most things, God Himself sets outcomes in place and they do indeed come out exactly where He intended them to be. This concept is so full of intellectual complexity that it drives us into occasional wonder and intellectual struggle.
How does evil set inside of divine authority? How does the world respond to God’s creative original intentions and boundaries, even while we abuse it? Why does God allow His message in Jesus to be ignored and rejected by the people who have life only because of Him? Etc.
There are answers to each question, but never easy ones. In all of them, He asks me to trust Him.
Husbands love your wives! But what if he doesn’t do so like I think that he should? Like I expect him to? Wives respect your husbands. What if she doesn’t? Children obey your parents! What if they don’t? Employers treat your employees with the kind of respect and payment that God would. What if they don’t treat us that way? Church leaders care for the body of Christ as ones who lose sleep over their maturity process. What if they don’t?
In each case, and many more, God has a creative intention. But, all too often we ignore that intention and move straight on to our complaint of the other by setting up outcomes for them IF we are going to fulfill our part.
Of course, there are appropriate and active things each of us can do to try and encourage each to greater obedience and maturing relationships. But what do we do if the other does not respond as we expect them to respond?
Am I free to ignore God’s mandates to me?