Abuse and Submission
… What’s Biblical and what’s intolerable?
Second of a four part series.
One of the most common questions we receive by letter, e-mail and from callers on New Life Radio has to do with the tolerance of verbal and physical abuse within a home as well as with hostile people who persecute Christians.
Should we take a path of passivity or should we resist?
How do we reconcile victimization and abuse with submission within marriage?
What exactly does abuse mean?
When do we turn the other cheek?
Here are more thoughts in my e-mail dialogue with Bob!
(Reprinted here is Bob’s original question followed by Milan’s thoughts on the subject)
“Thank you for the detailed and thought-provoking response you provided for me, below. Yes, exactly, you are right that I am focusing on the meaning of Jesus teaching on ‘turning the other cheek.’ It’s interesting to me that, in John 18:23, even Jesus himself doesn’t literally turn his other cheek after he is unjustly physically struck, but rather Jesus immediately verbally confronts the man who hit Jesus for no good reason. It’s also interesting to me that Paul stands up for his personal rights very assertively and boldly in Acts 16:37, and Paul aggressively prevents himself from being physically harmed in three passages in Acts — namely in Acts 22:25 and Acts 23:1-3 and Acts 25:11. From these passages in Acts (namely, Acts 16:37, Acts 22:25, Acts 23:1-3, and Acts 25:11), it seems like Paul felt very comfortable defending his own human rights, with an unwavering commitment to never let himself get unjustly harmed by anyone.
In essence, it seems to me that Jesus and Paul set and maintained healthy boundaries with people in a variety of different circumstances and settings, demonstrating to me that Jesus’ command on ‘turning the other cheek’ must have meant that Christians should never return insult-for-insult or abuse-for-abuse, rather than a literal instruction for us to keep receiving mistreatment from people or to actually invite people to mistreat us even more….” Bob
- In John 5:13; 8:59 and 12:36, we observe that Jesus hid or pulled His little “disappearing in the crowd” trick at times to evade persecutors who were attempting to make Him do or be something according to their interests or timetable.
Clearly, He evaded abuse or coercion by others when given the choice.
He did not disappear though when it was the right time to die for our sins.
Yet prior to being taken into custody, He made a display of power that made the arresting party fall down and He said that He could ask the Father to send a legion of angels to protect Him if He so desired.
He then allowed Himself to be taken into custody after this display so that it was clear who was in charge of the situation… He was.
His death after all was the primary reason why He came into this world… to die for our sins so that we would not have to pay for our own.
As Christians, we should not confuse His ultimate goal of becoming the sacrificial lamb with our Christian journey …that is, that we should necessarily choose or expect suffering or martyrdom as our pattern.
I have heard victims in intolerable situations express this kind of rationale for staying in abusive relationships.
- In addition, the pattern of the Apostle Paul corroborates this kind of thinking and pattern.
In II Corinthians 11:32-33 Paul is let down through a window in a basket by a team of supporters to escape a hostile authority in the city of Damascus.
This covert action saved Paul’s life.
Thus, Paul and other believers planned an escape route from a persecutor rather than allow himself from being treated in a hostile manner.
You may need a team to help you assess your situation and perhaps help you escape from an emotionally unhealthy person.
This needs to be planned and well coordinated with multiple levels of involvement by friends, family, church leaders, pastors and law enforcement personnel.
- Pastors, social workers, teachers etc, are court-mandated reporters.
They are required by law to report abuse toward children of to Child Protective Services.
Tell your pastor or therapist what is happening in your home.
- The church is to exercise church discipline (Matthew 18) against anyone who sins repeatedly and ultimately, put out of the church if non-compliant.
To Be continued…
Milan and Kay