Galatians 6: 2, Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Cancer is defined by Merriam-Webster as a serious disease caused by cells that are not normal and that can spread to one or many parts of the body or something bad or dangerous that causes other bad things to happen. That pretty much defines cancerous relationships as well. Abuse never happens in a vacuüm. One part builds on another, and another and another until it becomes a way of life for the abuser and makes life unbearable for the abused.
Abuse takes many sizes and shapes. From emotional abuse to physical, from sexual abuse to financial, from isolation to control, any type of abuse hurts. Any kind of abuse is sin. And nearly any case involving domestic abuse will far too often cause Christians to abandon post and forget that God’s Word commands us to bear one another’s burdens. Being in an abusive situation that you cannot get out of is hard enough. Being in one continuously over a long period of time while God’s people shake their heads and turn away is one of the most painful things anyone can endure. I know. I lived this life for decades.
During my over three decades as an abused wife, I turned to fellow Christians, to pastors, to elders, to deacons for counsel, for prayer, for guidance, for help, only to be turned away, blamed, told it wasn’t so bad, that he had anger issues, or that I just need to hang in there. I begged for help, for guidance, for advice (Please, tell me how to help my children. What can I say when my children ask me why their daddy is doing and saying the things he does? What can I do to comfort them? How can I help them? Provide for them? How can we get out? Can I get out…?) I had children…little ones…teens…who were witnessing abuse, dealing with the fallout of the abuse, who were being verbally, emotionally, and financially abused by their father, and I begged for help. I got some money from time to time. Money I didn’t ever ask for. But what I begged for, pleaded for, again and again and again and again…guidance…I didn’t get. I wasn’t out there running my husband down, or smearing his name, or even telling everybody what he was doing. I was sharing just enough to try to get some help. I was afraid for my children. We were doing without and in so much pain. I had no one to turn to. I was alone. I was desperate. I told them that. And it did me no good.
If it were just me I’d think, well, that it was just me. But it isn’t just me. I’ve talked with abuse victims from around the world. This is too often the norm for the way abuse victims have been treated in the church.
Bear ye one another’s burdens is what Scripture says. What it doesn’t say is unless they are abuse victims trapped in a cancerous relationship or trying to leave one. I love the Lord’s church; I mean that with every ounce of my being. Even though this has happened, I love God’s people and, so often, I don’t think that they mean any harm. They simply have no clue what to say or do.
My heart goes out to abuse victims. I know the pain that gnaws away at every part of your life until there is nothing but pain. I love the Lord. He truly is my everything. Without Him, I would be bound for hell. If not for Him, I wouldn’t have made it a year, let alone three decades, living as we did. I love the church. I long for Sunday every single day of the week so that I can be with the Lord’s people in worship. But things have to change. This must be dealt with. My prayer is that God’s people will examine their stance on how they relate to those who have been abused and start standing with victims as they ought to do…in obedience to God and for His glory.
Soli Deo Gloria!