Isaiah 5: 20, “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!”
When an abuse victim approaches her pastor or a member of her congregation to share her story of abuse at the hands of her husband, it is likely she does so at great cost to herself. If her abuser finds out that she has “betrayed” him, she is likely to pay. How she pays will depend upon the level of abuse and the type of abuse she receives from her abuser. Yet, fully aware of the dangers to herself but unable to “go on like this” anymore, she takes courage and approaches anyway. Sadly, instead of finding a place of refuge, she is likely to be disbelieved or to be sent back to her abuser with commands to “try to understand him more” or to “figure out what you are doing that sets him off”. If she happens to mention the “D” word, she will, in many churches, be told that it is sin to consider “destroying her marriage”. Rarely does anyone stop to consider that her story might be true and that, by sending her away, we have come to the aid of the abuser.
It is so easy to accuse, castigate and condemn without ever stopping to think that we might be wrong in our accusations. When we are dealing with an abuse victim, our failure to listen, to believe, to come to their aid just might lead to them suffering severe injuries or even death.
We must take the time to really listen to the wounded ones who come our way. Go out on a limb and believe the abused woman. What if the story she is telling you is true? How must your denial of it come across to her? If you were the one who had been greatly wounded by someone and you took the chance and confided it, how do you think you would feel if the one you confided in refused to believe you?
Are we pleasing to God when we cast sorrow upon original sorrow by castigating and accusing those who have been abused? Do we honor our Lord by ignoring their suffering, by dismissing their stories, denigrating their pain, refusing to listen? Do we bestow grace by walking away? Do we show Christ-likeness by refusing to believe them simply because we don’t want to? Because it’s inconvenient to get involved? Because we are so sure that the one she is accusing is “such a godly man”? What if we are wrong? By refusing to believe her, we are calling evil good and are aiding her abuser.
Are we so callous as to fail to seek the truth and, through our failing, perhaps even become a pawn in the hand of Satan, an instrument used by him to pour salt into a fellow Christian’s open, bleeding, wounds? All of this in the Name of our precious Lord? Sadly, from my experiences and those of many I have known, these responses are often the norm.
To say we believe God is one thing. To live as if we believe is quite another. If we really love Jesus, we must live out our belief: the way we treat other Christians is indicative of our love for Him. When we are confronted with the stories of the abused woman, pray we remember that the Lord has taught us, in Matthew 25: 40, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”