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.

A Few More Thoughts on “The Happy Church”

I recently posted the article Beware the Happy Church and add some additional thoughts this morning. Consider again the following:

1Co 11:20-30 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. (21) For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. (22) What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. (23) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (25) In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26) For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

(27) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. (28) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (29) For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (30) That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Let me suggest to you that what was going on at Corinth was “the Happy Hour” church. Party time. Here is a line you often hear from the pulpit of such a “church” nowadays: “What a wonderful place this is. So many exciting things happening. The Lord is doing mighty things here.” Such statements are made to tickle the ears of the flock and promote continued numerical growth. But what is the real state of affairs in the Happy Hour “church”? I can tell you:

1Co 5:1-2 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

That is to say, the Happy Hour church is full of sin. That is why the numbers are increasing so rapidly. It isn’t the Lord’s work at all. There is another spirit behind the scenes parading as an angel of light.

Lest you think I am just oh so negative, let me tell you what you will find if you were a fly on the wall in such a place. There are men abusing their wives in those pews. There are unrepentant adulterers parading as saints. There are egos looking to be stroked. Like Diotrephes (3 John) they “serve the Lord” in order to be “first” above everyone else. There are unsaved people being told they are Christians even though they walk in sin, having no desire for the real truths of God’s Word. I know of these things. I have lived in it for over 35 years now, watching. And everyone is happy, happy, happy. You know the line – “what did you expect in the church. We are all imperfect people serving a perfect God.” Thus most all evil is legitimized and excused and anyone trying to expose the real state of affairs is a threat to the happiness spirit.

Evil thrives in the happy church. It flourishes. It preaches “forgiveness” at its victims (“we are all sinners, you know”) and minimizes and excuses the oppressors. It is Laodicea all over again:

Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Do not expect justice from the happy church. You won’t get it. Don’t expect the happy hour folks to interrupt their party with your case and hear you. And generally I advise – do not try to change the happy church. You will only bring misery upon yourself casting pearls before pork. Shake the dust off your shoes and move along. No real Jesus to see here. Keep moving. Perhaps the Lord Himself will intervene as He did at Corinth. Maybe some will be weak and sick. And maybe even a number of them will “sleep.” Maybe, just maybe, that will get their attention so that finally they say-

Isa 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”