“Christ is the central and chief theme of the Bible in both Old and New Testaments. His disciples could not understand the Scriptures until He opened their minds to this fact. They just didn’t get it. Neither do many who claim to know Christ today. They just don’t get it. And that it bad news. Not only for them, but also for those whom they try to teach or pastor or control. A Christless “christianity” becomes the religion of the Pharisees, and it is always abusive to people.”
On this Sunday morning there is one more article written by MeganC that I want to share before I switch topics tomorrow. I have never met Megan in person, but I know her. I know her story and I know thirty or more stories eerily similar to hers. There is a real problem…and people need help…and they are not finding it.
Pastor Crippen’s statement above makes me think of the “religions” of the modern world and the atrocities that occur to innocent men, women and children who refuse to go along with what they know is evil. I heard a story about a Canadian reporter who was sent to cover a horrific tale of brutality inflicted on young men because they refused to join the Taliban. The boys were students who wanted to continue their studies…but because they stood up to evil, they were taken into an arena and their arms and legs were cut off. Miraculously they did not die. As if that was not horrific and gruesome and appalling enough, in a couple of months when the boys amputated stubs were just beginning to heal, the Taliban soldiers came back and sawed off their legs a couple of inches above the healing wounds. And still the boys lived…and were still captive under the rule of their tormenters. And nobody could or would do anything. Amazing.
Why would any person ever purposely inflict hurt? How could they? There are evil people in the world and they do it because they can. Nobody stops them. And often it is in the name of “religion”. Hitler, the Serbs, Saddam Hussein, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, tyrants run amok in the middle east and Asia and Africa…the list goes on and on…and those are just recent atrocities. This type of power lust and brutality to enforce and inflict pain on others in the name of “God” or a god has been going on literally for as long as there have been men. “God’s will” has been a good excuse to rally support by ego-maniacs and psychopaths through the ages. And because men are easily swayed by charm and charisma, they can be brain-washed to believe that is what “God” wants. We have been given free will. If it isn’t what God wants, but we want it…we all have the choice to turn away from good and God and follow our own way. That is what evil people do. That is who evil people are…people following their own way. and anyone or anything who gets in their way is an obstacle…an inconvenience…a pot hole. But they will not be stopped…until somebody cares enough to stop them.
Let’s start at the very beginning. Cain was jealous of God’s favour shown to Abel…and God said to Cain, “Why are you angry? why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Cain ignored God. Cain took matters into his own hands. Cain became his own master and wielded evil power to control his brother to the extreme. Cain turned from God and chose his own course.
“Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know, ” he replied. “Am I my brothers keeper?” Genesis 4:6-9
That gives me chills.
But God did not kill Cain. God put a mark on Cain so that no one else would kill Cain either. God cursed Cain, but Cain lived and had children. We are those children. How can we break that curse? I believe it is to undo what Cain has done. I believe it is to be our brothers keeper. To master our selfish desires. to do what is right when we have a choice to do what is wrong. It is NOT the job of the church as an institution to do the job of the individual members of the body of Christ. The job of each one of us is not to be members of a “Christless Christianity”…not to be anyone’s judge or jury but to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper. People need help. You matter. I matter. We can make a difference if we choose to.
The sheer terror of what would become of my four children and me if I left my abusive first husband kept me in a dark marriage for way too long. The only regret I have regarding my former marriage is that I didn’t leave earlier. But I know and remember that when one is entrenched in a paradigm, it is so hard to see clearly (understatement). It is like there is ten feet of concrete above you, beside you, underneath you . . . and all the effort others make to speak truth into your life sounds muffled and faint. The loudness of the voices of lies is right there in your personal prison cell and the sounds are deafening.
It takes remarkable, God-given courage to step out of an abusive marriage. It takes bravery for both men and women. There are equally difficult reasons a man struggles to leave a marriage but I am only speaking to women in this post, due to my own experience.
If you are a woman who wants to leave her abusive husband and are overcome with fear, I understand. So many of us do. You are not alone. Lies can permeate your soul, agonizingly confuse your mind and lead you to cry to God for clarity out of a tortured heart.
Often, an abusive husband will tell you that you cannot “make it” without him. Brave one . . . this is a lie. God did not create you to be dependent on anyone but Him. I know things have disintegrated in your mind and that you do not feel like you are the girl you once were; I understand you feel beat down and helpless. But this is not true. Christ has given you His strength. You are not helpless. Don’t believe it! The woman you were created to be is alive and well inside of you and is waiting to thrive outside of his abuse! You are strong; you can do this. Financially and personally — listen! You can live apart from your abusive husband. There is help out there — sometimes in the most unlikely of places. You may have been a stay at home wife or mom for years and not worked outside of this home. It is a scary thought wondering if you can get a job or care for your children alone. You can. You have actually been doing this already. You have cared for a home and your children alone and yet with the extra added extreme stress of abuse thrown at you daily. Imagine life without the wrenches being thrown at you constantly. Even better, imagine a new life full of love and hope and promise.
An abusive man will speak ugliness into your heart with such force and for such a long time that you begin to believe him. Friend . . . those things he says that make you feel so bad and put you in a dark place are not from your Heavenly Father who adores you, loves you and calls you His Child — His Beloved One! Yes, you will lose friends when you leave your abusive spouse. You might have only one friend or two when it is all said and done. Your family and his family may turn on you. But there is life outside of those four walls. It will be difficult and it will take time but the life is there. And, when you have been gone long enough, you will look back upon that former life and think about how small it was in the big picture. Your personal prison is a very small place next to the world of freedom you can gain from walking away.
He might tell you no one else will ever love you. You might believe that you will be alone for the rest of your life. Goodness . . . you are so beautiful. God created you with a depth of beauty that is just about to come into fruition. All of your scars are lovely. All of your wounded-ness is treasured by your Shepherd. These words your abuser uses . . . they are designed to keep you in a place of loneliness. Control. Ruin. You can and will be loved by many when you leave. Simply refuse to listen to this disgusting, gross twisted-ness that has the mark of the Enemy all over it.
I used to be terrified to leave because my ex-husband would tell me of how it would ruin my children. He spent a lot of time drilling this into me. Not only would I carry the guilt of a failed marriage, but I would destroy my children, as well. What I could not see, at the time, is that I was allowing them to be destroyed by staying. Their perception of God was being demolished by a father who could not, would not, love them. They were beginning to see God as cruel, legalistic and unaccepting of them. . . a god who uses and abuses. They were also given a model of marriage that would be burned into their psyches as “normal”. It would have been a disservice to them and to their future spouses for them to believe that what their parents had was godly, good or promoting of healthy relationships. I am not saying it was easy or is easy . . . but I see the health my children have gained (relationally), and I know I made the right decision regarding them. I also protected them physically. They are no longer hurting and no longer see physical force as a part of their every day lives. There is peace. Even when he sees them and talks with them, there is time and space to work through their heart issues regarding his manipulation. They are growing up strong, wise and emotionally smart because of all they have been through.
My sister . . . if you are still in an abusive marriage, please know that the bitter world you live in can be left behind. There are other friends, other churches, other people who can and will be your family once you go. You may leave it all behind . . . but what do you gain?
You gain your freedom, that of your children, your esteem, peace, the godly pride of knowing you did the right thing, and a chance for a new life.
Courageous One, you are not alone . . . and will not be alone. God does not leave His wounded ones beat down, robbed and left in isolation. He will come to you and so will others.
You WILL make it.
Job 19:7 Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.
“Good people never pretend to be evil, but evil people pretend to be good. Sheep don’t wear wolves’ clothing.” ~ Jeff Crippen
We believe that marriage is a covenant, the terms of which are the vows. Habitual, unrepentant, violation of those vows destroys the covenant and entitles the wronged spouse to divorce, though does not require it. The Bible sets out covenant-destroying sins: desertion and abuse (1 Cor. 7:15) – abuse is a form of desertion because the evil conduct violates and repels the victim – and adultery (Mat 19, Mk 10). God doesn’t hate the legal process of divorce; he hates the sins of desertion, abuse and adultery that cause marriages to break down. We believe that a wronged party, after divorce, is free to remarry, only in the Lord (i.e., another believer). ~Pastor Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood