Why is Our Default Tendency to Focus on “Fixing” the Evil Person Rather than Helping His Victim?

Deu 13:6-10 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, (7) some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, (8) you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. (9) But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. (10) You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

If you have experienced being the target of a wicked person – a domestic abuser, sexual abuser, sociopath, narcissist, etc. – or if you have followed the stories of abuse victims then you know what I am about to say here is absolutely true. Here it is:

When a case of abuse is exposed, there may initially be some short-lived empathy for the victim, but quite soon the focus of most people familiar with the case will shift. It will shift from the victim to the abuser. It is the evil one who is pitied, counseled, prayed for, and even comforted. And when the victim refuses to enter into that new focus, she is made into the culprit who is standing in the way of the poor abuser being restored.

It’s true. You have seen it over and over and so have I. A great rotation occurs so that north becomes south and south becomes north.

Now, consider what the Lord says in the verses quoted above. Take careful note of what he tells us NOT to do in regard to the evil person:

  • Do not yield to him
  • Do not listen to him
  • Do not pity him
  • Do not spare him
  • And do not protect and conceal him

The Israelites, under the Old Covenant, were in fact commanded to put such a person to death. And EVERYONE was to be in full participation in doing so.

We do not live in that Old Covenant theocracy, and therefore we leave the execution of punishment to the civil authorities God has ordained. Nevertheless, the Lord’s commands to the Jews are also commands to us. Do not listen to him, pity him, spare him, or conceal him. Yet this is exactly what most all people do when evil comes among them and is exposed. And this error (this disobedience of the Lord) is especially common among professing Christians.

“Let’s get him some counseling. Let’s forgive him. Let’s listen to his story of how he was so abused himself as a kid. Let’s not report his evil to the police. Let’s permit him to keep being a congregant in the church.” And on and on it goes.

This is rank rebellion against God’s clear commandments.

Why, we ask, is the lay of the land in such cases sloped toward pity for the abuser? Why is that the direction most everyone drifts toward? Let me suggest that this happens because it is the easy road to travel. Furthermore, helping the guilty one is a way to gain personal acclaim – “just look at how loving and gracious those people are in forbearing with that fellow.” The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for doing this very thing (see 1 Cor 5).

I saw this very thing happen in our own church a decade ago when an evil wickedness occurred among us. Initially all eyes of pity were on the victim and the victim’s family. But that was quite short lived. Soon the empathy and energy swung over to the perpetrator. Far, far more energy was expended for him than for the victim. And ultimately in fact people left our church in a huff when, in their opinion, we did not show enough “mercy” to the guilty one.

Standing with a victim is far more costly than to conceal and protect and stand with the perpetrator. And I suppose that this is the fundamental reason that it is the perp who gets the pity party rather than the victim.

So, if your eye is on the abuser or the liar/deceiver or the sociopath or molester, it is way past time for you to get your eye off of him and turn your gaze upon his victim. Your eye shall not pity him. THAT is God’s true Word which we are to obey.

 

We do Not Really Understand What it Means to “Bear One Another’s Burdens”

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

This is a verse of Scripture that is frequently quoted but almost never truly understood. The typical dealings of a local church with a victim of evil proves that this is the case. Let me explain.

Most all of you who follow this blog have been targeted by evil – by abuse of some type (domestic, spiritual, sexual, etc). You were there. The abuser abused YOU. The abuser hated and hates YOU. It was YOU who had to deal with him. It was YOU who had to expose him, confront him, report him, protect yourself and your children from him. YOU had to do all this. YOU were the one who was there.

And yet what happened when you went to your pastor, your church, your fellow church members, for help? I can tell you because this is what almost always happens:

  • You heard your abuser excused or at least his sins minimized
  • You heard people remind you that “you are a sinner too” (a lie by the way. The Christian is not perfect, but is no longer classed as a “sinner” by God)
  • You saw people seem to show some empathy toward you, and yet they continued to associate with your abuser
  • While YOU could not tolerate being in the presence of your abuser without being re-traumatized, your fellow Christians continue on visiting with him and often even attending church with him still seated in the pews.

Such “friends” have failed to do what Paul says is the fulfillment of the Law of God. They have failed to truly extend genuine love toward you because they have failed to bear your burden. Why?

They failed because they think they know. They think that they understand what you have gone through at the hands of the evil one. But they do not know. They do not understand. And really, they don’t want to. It is too troubling and unpleasant.

If we are going to bear the burdens of victims of evil, then WE are going to have listen to them very, very closely. WE are going to have learn about how this kind of evil works. WE must put their shoes on and walk in their steps and do our best to understand just what it means to be THE target of abuse. And until you understand that, you will fail to fulfill the Law of Christ. You will continue to have no real problem attending a church service with the victim’s oppressor. You will have no real trouble chatting with the abuser when you run into him in the grocery store. Worse, you will piously preach at the victim – “come on! Move on! Quit reflecting on the past. Forgive.” – and other such whitewashed tomb talk.

Tell me, you who are comfortable in the presence of a wicked, oppressing person? Tell me. Why? How is it that anyone can truly understand the evil worked upon a victim (who YOU claim to “love”) and still be comfortable in the presence of that evil? Let me answer for you – you cannot. You do not. And until you do, you are failing to fulfill the Law of Christ. You are not loving the widows and orphans.

And God sees it all.

Just STOP Saying “We Are All Sinners” – STOP IT!!

1Co 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I cannot fully convey to you how absolutely sick and tired I am of hearing this line from people who claim they are Christians. “Well, you know, we are all sinners.” Let me explain why this not only nauseates me, it makes me boiling mad.

I detest false piety. It’s what the hypocrite does. A showy disguise of “godliness” – or so they would have us think. And that is exactly what this motto is. It is a lie, disguised as humble, saintly, biblical, godliness and worse – it is a lie that is used to:

  • Minimize the sin of the wicked (like an abuser)
  • Guilt and shame the righteous who are the target of the wicked
  • Justify doing absolutely nothing in the face of evil

Let me illustrate. I will try to disguise the culprits, though I don’t really know why I should. Here is Janet. You probably already know her story. Janet has been married for 30 years. She is a true Christian, but she has been soooo confused not only by the deceiving tactics of her abuser husband (who claims to be a Christian and loves to quote Scriptures to her) but also by the false teachings of her church. As Janet begins to sort through the confusing fog of all this, she finally approaches her “friend” Margaret (you know, the kind of “friend” who it turns out you need to steer clear of).

“Margaret,” my husband is not who you and everyone thinks he is. He is not the saintly, serving, godly man he appears to be. Let me tell you what he is really like and what it is like to live with him.” And so Janet shares part of her story.

Now, Margaret, for numbers of reasons (none of which are good) begins to churn inside as she works to process what she is hearing. Her world is threatened and she doesn’t want her world rocked. Too costly to her. So, when Janet is finished, Margaret gives her some “Christian words of wisdom” – “Well, Janet, none of us are perfect. We are all sinners. You need to be patient and loving all the more.” Margaret feels so warm and fuzzy inside. She has been a fine Christian in all this you know.

What is the reality however? The truth is that what Margaret has just done is right out of the pit. It is a conniving, evil tidbit of distorted doctrine invented by man, never taught by God’s Word. Margaret has just blamed and shamed Janet, the victim, and enabled and protected the wicked. Margaret is an ally of evil.

The Bible NEVER teaches us that Christians are sinners. Never. We were. We used to be. We were born into this world fallen in Adam. By nature:

Eph 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– (3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

BUT…. BUT GOD!!!

Eph 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– (6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

The Christian is a child of God, a saint, a holy one, beloved of God, a new creation, and on and on the titles for us go. We are still battling our fallen flesh, but that is not who we are anymore.

Gal 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Notice the “you” very carefully (boldfaced). Who are YOU, Christian?  YOU are the one who wants to walk in the Spirit. Those are the things YOU want to do. YOU are not defined as a person any longer by the flesh. The Bible says this over and over again:

Rom 8:4-9 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (6) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (7) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (8) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Therefore, when some supposed Christian like Margaret says “Well, we are all sinners you know. You need to forgive him. You are just as bad as him in God’s sight…” they are denying Christ. They are denying and rejecting the gospel. They are saying that a true Christian walks in the flesh but is still on his way to heaven. They are saying that the Christian is just as evil as the wicked abuser, deceiver, liar, child of Satan.

So if you are using this line, repent of it! Go to the person you shamed and guilted with it and ask their forgiveness. Get your head screwed on straight and start thinking biblically.

And perhaps be reminded of this:

Isa 5:20-21 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (21) Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!