“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1a
The word “crafty” used in Genesis 3 describes the serpent that came to the garden. The word has also been interpreted to read “subtle,” “clever,” “cunning” or “shrewd.” The description clearly implies that this particular being’s intellect alone posed some kind of a threat. Continue reading The Power of Words
“You have heard it was said,‘love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44
This is a powerful verse that is often used to compel victims of abuse to remain with their abusers. The pretense is that no matter how we are treated or by whom, we are called to love and pray for those who persecute us.
But is that what Jesus is really saying? I don’t think so. Continue reading Love Your Enemies?
“There smites nothing so sharp, nor smelleth so sour as shame.” William Langland (English poet, 1332-c. 1386)
It ranks among the most painful incidents of my life, an event I never could have foreseen. It happened during a grueling, four-hour counseling session with my abusive husband – the day before I left him.
At several points in the session, my then-husband stood and raged at me, arms outstretched as I sat terrified in my chair only a few feet away. The counselor did nothing to calm or constrain him (which I now know was highly unprofessional of her). Over so many years, I had grown accustomed to his blistering, if false, accusations, and was so beaten down I didn’t dare offer a defense. When my husband finally sat again, awaiting my response, the counselor turned to me where I sat trembling and asked, “What are you feeling, Cindy?” and at that moment the weight of years of torment shredded my composure. I could muster only, “I’m afraid in my own home.”
Continue reading Shame
But to the wicked God says, “What right have you to tell of My statutes and to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you. When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you associate with adulterers. You let your mouth loose in evil and your tongue frames deceit.” Psalm 50:16-19
I have no reason to believe that abusers are believers. I view them as spiritual actors operating with one foot in the world and the other in the church, exploiting the perception of faith for the sake of image and self-protection. Abusers choose to cleverly assume a false identity, claiming a title that brings with it a presumption of innocence, legitimacy and authority. Presented with their good side, the unsuspecting are inclined to presume that the profession of faith is genuine. We generously choose to give a fellow “believer” the benefit of the doubt. To be sure, the image of faith carries with it many benefits, a presumption of positive moral standing, of good will and intent, of respectability.
Continue reading Faith Was Never Meant to be an Add-On
Upon separating from my abusive husband, a whole new realm of emotions surfaced: a constant fear of what new tactics my abuser might employ to torment me now that I was no longer within easy reach, fears with regard to the kind of future my children and I might face, and on top of it all there was the heartbreaking realization that some people whom I considered friends clearly could not accept the reality of what was going on my life.
Unfortunately, what might have been deemed simple ignorance was insufficient to enable me to dismiss some people’s responses to me. It went much deeper than that. It felt more as though they simply refused to believe that something so penetratingly dark could have possibly invaded our lives. Many came alongside to whisper, “There, there,” and pat me on the back and insist that things couldn’t be that bad. Those ignorant or insensitive or foolish people only made things worse.
Continue reading Misunderstood