Friday, May 2, 2008

Bearing Your Cross?

How many times have sincere people crucified Christian victims of abuse by telling them that abuse must be “their cross” to bear? Far too many times.

It is a gross misrepresentation of scripture to tell others that abuse is a cross to heroically bear to prove their love to Christ.

If God’s will is to glorify abuse, then it would make sense to tell abused people to consider abuse their “cross.” Instead, I see a message of warning to abusers in God’s Word: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-21). Clearly, God is not glorified by the sins of abuse.

If the gospel said we could earn salvation, then it might make sense to tell someone that abuse is a cross they should pick up. However, the gospel teaches we cannot earn salvation because it is a gift God the Father freely gives us despite our sinfulness. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Sacrificing our safety and well-being to abusers does not gain us any points in heaven.

If submitting to your abuser would teach others about God’s goodness, love and salvation, then it might make sense to call domestic violence a cross for the gospel of Jesus Christ. But domestic violence actually tears down souls and Satan uses it to try to convince victims that God is absent at best and an unjust wicked punisher at the worst. In addition to that, children who witness abuse are likely to become either victims or perpetrators of violence later in life. Domestic violence doesn’t teach anything positive.

Jesus was warning his followers about upcoming trials when he spoke of his upcoming date with the cross and the cross his followers needed to be prepared to carry. Read Matthew 10 to see the context ( is an easy way to look up verses while you are at your computer). Jesus warned his followers that difficult trials were coming soon. He made sure that they knew that the world would hate them, just as the world hated Jesus himself. He wanted them to preach the gospel and to stand strong in Jesus despite opposition to the truth. He instructed them to say whatever the Holy Spirit prompted them to say when they were dragged into courts for teaching others about God (Matthew 10:19-20).

Notice that Jesus did not tell them to throw themselves at suffering to try to prove their calling in Christ. In fact, he told them to be on guard against men who would unjustly punish them (Matthew 10:16-17) and to flee persecution (Matthew 10:23). Guard against and flee. Not words urging us to seek out unjust punishment.

What is the cross Christians must carry? Our cross is our willingness to follow Christ faithfully by obeying God, loving God with all that we are, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and teaching others the gospel message of hope. Jesus is looking for people who will not be ashamed to stand up as Christ-followers even if it costs us family members who do not understand or even if it costs us our lives should our government kill followers of Christ (Matthew 10:23-33 and 16:15-25, Mark 8:21-35).

Our cross has nothing to do with allowing sinful family members to degrade and endanger us for their own perverted entertainment.

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft