Abused? Were you abused, phyically or sexually, in your marriage? In part 2 of this multi-part series on domestic violence, guest writer Jim Newheiser carefully looks at common assertions and takes a balanced view. This post appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is reprinted with permission.
Read Part 1 here: When to believe the victim, when to believe the abuser
I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse. Abuse affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.
Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop. They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).
While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups.
I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.
If You Feel Abused, Then You Were Abused?
ASSERTION: If you feel abused, then you were abused.
- The valid concern: This statement is often made to express the reality that abuse may have taken place even if the abuser does not recognize or acknowledge his behavior (yelling, pushing, bullying, coercion, threats, and intimidation) as wrong.
- The harm that can be caused: On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is possible to wrongly interpret the words, actions, and motives of others (1 Corinthians 2:11).
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11
For example, Eli falsely accused Hannah of drunkenness because her lips were moving as she prayed (1 Samuel 2:12ff). We cannot judge one person merely by the subjective feelings of another. For example, a man may be in a rush and accidentally bump into his wife (with whom he had had a recent conflict) as he turns a corner. She may accuse him of doing it deliberately to harm her when that was never his motive.
Words also can be misunderstood. What is taken by one person as angry and abusive might have never been intended as such. Nor might it have been interpreted this way by an objective third party.
Scripture reminds us: “Love hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7); in other words, love seeks to assume the best.
3. It would be better to say: A person who feels abused should be helped to objectively evaluate what has happened and to get assistance if genuine abuse has taken place. Part of this objective evaluation involves considering the ongoing pattern and cumulative effect of the accused person’s behavior, as well as the immediate accusation at hand. Proper evaluation over time keeps us from wrongly escalating the consequences for one individual incident while also not dismissing the whole situation because one incident wasn’t deemed as abusive.
Sometimes a Victim Has a Sin Issue Too
ASSERTION: It is never the victim’s fault.
- The valid concern: Many abusers claim that their victims are to blame because the victim provoked him or failed to be as good a wife or child as they should be. Many victims suffer from false guilt. There is no valid excuse for physical or sexual abuse.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
2. The harm that can be caused: Some victims have sin issues which also need to be addressed. I counseled in a case in which a wife would berate and insult her husband, saying “Come on Jesus man, hit me!” She admitted that she felt that she had won the argument when he finally struck her. Again, I emphasize there was no excuse for him hitting her. But she also needed to address her personal sinfulness.
There have been cases of sexual assault in which the woman got herself into an extremely compromising and dangerous situation (i.e., drunk, alone, and making out with a man with whom she is not married). Again, the man should have stopped when she said, “no”
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(also see Habakkuk 2:15). If he assaults her, he is guilty of a crime and should be punished. But she also needs to acknowledge before God her personal sin in the situation. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 addresses situations like this.
3. It would be better to say: Abuse is never justified, but victims may need to examine themselves to see if they have any sin for which they also need to seek God’s forgiveness.
(Friend, if someone has abused you, please seek help from a caring pastor, a spiritually wise woman at your church, or from a biblical counselor, who counsels the compassionate, effective Word to your hurting heart. Learn more about biblical counseling by Skype.–LAM)
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Food cravings come on quick and strong, don’t they? You’re driving along singing to KLOVE or whataver, and out of nowhere food cravings strike.You may crave a Snickers bar or chips or ice cream or a Ding Dong. Perhaps you crave strawberries, carrots, or freshly baked multi-grain bread.
Up the road sits a 7-Eleven, beckoning.
In this short article, let’s look at…
- Biological food cravings versus emotional food cravings
- A biblical solution to food cravings
Choose Your Choice
So what should you do when hit by food cravings?
A. Try your very, very best to ignore them.
B. Proceed to the 7-Eleven and get the goodies..
Well, it depends! Biological food cravings differ from emotional food cravings.
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It’s wise to fill the biological kind because your body needs what is craves. Just think of how delicious a glass of water is when you are super thirsty. So when you fulfill this type of craving, you’ll think and feel better. But fight the temptation of emotional food cravings. If you cave, you’ll feel worse, and you’ll miss out on God’s best too.
So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Biological or Emotional?
Here’s a simple what to tell whether your food cravings are biological or emotional:
When you have a biological food craving and fulfill it, you feel nourished. And it doesn’t take much food to meet such a need either. One bagel, a wedge or two of low-fat cheese, or a couple of chocolates–that’s it.
In contrast, emotional food cravings aren’t about food. They are an attempt to meet a need apart from God. An emotional eater looks for comfort in food. Sometimes it follows “I’m a loser” self-talk. And a small treat is never enough. Never.
Emotional eaters confuse love and self-acceptance with food. It is their drug of choice. Their god.
Solution to Food Cravings
The good news is by obeying and trusitn God, your can have victory over food cravings.
To have victory, you’ll need to break the vicious cycle of emotional eating.
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You can make this break when you begin desiring what God desires and, with God’s help, change your heart. Your heart is the immaterial part of you where your motivations, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and actions reside.
For life transformation you need heart transformation!
God’s life-changing power helps you embrace a right perspective of food, make good and godly food choices, straighten out your thinking on food, and practice, practice, practice. A great resource with helps for those times you mess up — and we all mess up sometimes — is Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by biblical counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick.
God wants you to live life based on truth, not emotions. The truth of who he is. The truth of who you are. His truth is sure. Our emotions go up and down like an elevator.
Now emotions are fine; God gave them to us. You and I must not trust them to influence our decisions. We need to turn to truth.
10 Tips for Healthy Choices
Here’s truth talk on healthy eating. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:
~ Choose water over coffee and soda pop.
~ Shrink your portions by using smaller plates.
~ If you desire seconds, go for the veggies.
~ Eat at least five vegetables and fruits daily.
~ Choose whole grains.
~ Limit your consumption of sugar.
~ Skip foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce.
~ Sit down during meals.
~ Eat slowly.
~ Remember eating becomes sacred when it becomes worship.
Remember the Bible verse I mentioned? So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Let this command guide your motivations and desires.
When you do, then everything — from washing dishes and sweeping floors to helping your children with homework and writing blog posts — can be worship. As long as you line up your thoughts with God’s, the simplest things become sacred.
And so it is with food.
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Sharing hope with your heart,
Who likes trials? Only masochists, right?
Yet in Jesus Christ’s flip-the-world-upside-down gospel — where the weak are strong, and the poor are rich, and the messed up are cleaned up — trials are the wild path to joy, to true happiness. And here’s a key:
Blessing of Trials
Sucky trials get your attention.
Then you feel a need to deal.
Did you know he wants you to think like he thinks? Did you know you can — what a mind-boggling thought! — because he empowers you to do so? It’s all Jesus.
‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinshtians 2:16, ESV
With Jesus, trials help you and me see, really see. They help us gain a new perspective, God’s perspective, as long as we’re open to listen to him. But Satan tries to interfere.
As Timothy Lane and Paul Trip say in How People Change:
Nothing is subtle about the ongoing war that rages throughout the Christian life. Trials and temptations about, but we respond to them from a new vantage point.
New Perspective of Trials
We can change our perspective of trials. Here are just three ideas.
1. Remember that God continually blesses you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.
2. Decide to want what God wants: a close relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
3. Embrace the truth that God uses sucky trials to increase your desire for the highest dream.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can spend the rest of your life enjoying him? That trials have a goal?
And what is this goal? To become more and more Christlike as you love God and love your neighbor.
Invitation for YOU
Friends, we gave one hope: Christ
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. But sometimes life beat us down. This is where biblical counseling can help. If you’re facing trials and want God’s best for you, I invite you to consider biblical counseling.
I’m a trained biblical counselor persuing a doctorate in biblical counseling. I also am certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and by the Association of Biblical Counselors.
I meet with counselees (women, teen girls, and couples) in person and by Skype. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)
May our great God bless you, as I know he will. Ephesians 1:3
Sharing Hope for Your Heart,
Bitterness: Find out what feeds it and the 4 keys to end it.
You can exchange bitterness for “better-ness,” says biblical counselor and teacher Sherry Allchin, M.A. Chances are you know the look of bitterness. It …
- sours your face, may raise your blood pressure, and contribute to other unwelcome physical ailments.
- wards off friends, coworkers, even family when you let it out.
- eats you up inside, turning you into a snap dragon.
What Is Bitterness?
Bitterness is anger under wraps. It’s testy, irritable, rude, and critical. It’s a disagreeable attitude swimming in biting, snarky comments, an attitude dripping self-righteousness and self-pity. Bitterness grows like black mold in the heart.
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The writer of Hebrews said this about bitterness:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:15, ESV)
Cause of Bitterness
Bitterness has its roots in a wrong belief that your rights — real or perceived — have been stomped on and kicked across the room.
I remember my confusion, hurt, and bitterness toward my husband — several years after our daughter Laura was born. We had agreed I’d work part-time from home as a freelance journalist while he worked 9 to 5 at his office.
The problem started when I figured wrongly that he could read my mind and know that when he was home we’d share normal household duties like setting the table, washing dishes, laundering, and changing diapers. And he figured wrongly that I’d be a mom like his mother, and he’d be a dad like his father.
My wrong desire: It’s only fair that after we’ve both put in long days, I should get a break from the baby and my husband should know this desire of mine without my expressing it.
Eventually I aired my feelings but still felt bitter. How come? I didn’t get my way. It was the same old same old.
Rather than thanking God for a great husband who provided and protected our family, I held tight to prickly bitterness that began with a hurt and a wrong belief.
If you do not respond biblically to the hurt (this would involve forgiving the sin, overlooking the sin, or realizing the ‘offense’ was not wrong in God’s eyes) — you may begin to rehearse the offense in your mind, reviewing it over and over again. The practice of continually reviewing and imputing (charging your offender with the fault or the responsibility for) the offense violates 1 Corinthians 13:5 (‘love does not keep a running account of evil’). –Lou Priolo
My new right desire: Because the Lord is in control, good, and trustworthy, I submit to Christ’s rule in my life and want his plan because his plan brings God glory and is best.
The moment I replaced my wrong belief with a right belief, I exchanged bitterness for “betterment” and let go of the whole bitter mess. You can end bitterness too.
4 Keys to End Bitterness
1. Acknowledge your bitterness.
Admit that you feel bitter. This emotion is like a warning light. It lets you know something is wrong.
Ask God to help you get rid of your bitter feelings.
2. Determine the root of your bitterness.
First, name the hurt or wrong. What wrong belief did you cling to?
What is a right belief that replaces the wrong belief? Ask God to help you act on the right belief. How do you expect your actions to change?
4. Obey God.
When you choose a wrong desire based on a wrong belief, bitterness may result. God’s desire is for each of us to choose what he desires according to his plans and purposes.
When you and I align our desires/motivations/wants/beliefs with God’s, then we choose the better thing, not the bitter thing. Our godly desires lead to “betterness” as we get free of the whole bitter mess.
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
Does anger sometimes get the best of you? If we’re honest, we’d all admit to flinging pointy words at a loved one or clamming up. Death by silence, right?
Anger is an emotion you experience when you’ve been wronged, real or perceived.
In this short article, you’ll learn–
- Three commons lies.
- A practical and doable solution.
Like you, I’ve believed lies about anger. When I was age 3, my mom snapped an embarrassing photo of me. My bottom lip protruded from Chicago to Shanghai, my blue eyes glared. Back then I believed the lie that the best way to handle anger was to not talk about it.
Then a couple years ago, when our family’s health insurance increased a chunk a money each month, I complained to my husband who said, “It could be a lot worse,” then resumed watching TV.
The insensitive clod, I thought.
I responded to his indifference with more quiet anger. Did you know this emotion ranges from mild irritation to frustration to self-pity to rage?
Lie 1: Anger Is Sinful
Anger is a God-given emotion. It is neither morally right nor wrong. Consider Jesus, fully God and fully man, who never sinned. He became angry at the sight of money changers in the temple.
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-13, NIV
Some thirty times in Psalms the word anger is used, often referring to God’s anger. God’s anger is always righteous. Righteous anger is holy.
Shepherd-King David implored God regarding his enemies:
Pour out your indignation upon them,
and let your burning anger overtake them. Psalm 69:24, ESV
Lie 2: Punch a Pillow
The way you express this emotion determines whether it becomes sin, or a violation of God’s will. Ephesians 4:26 says,
In your anger do not sin.
This means it is possible for you to angry without sinning. But let’s be honest: You and I almost always express this emotion by acting out loudly and destructively–yelling, slamming doors, using fists, name-calling, and punching pillows. Or. . .
Lie 3: Hold It In
We bottle it. Bottled anger may set up an unexpected volcanic blow up or even despair and depression.
Did you know that suicide might be considered an extreme and tragic expression of anger turned inward?
The apostle Paul says,
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15, NIV
I used to say awful things to myself. My soul-speak was full of condemnation. When someone hurt me I turned on myself: “You’re not enough” and “You’re a loser.”
Do you tend to hold in your anger? When you speak to your soul, what do you often say?
First, know the common sources of anger. They are:
- Hurt. When you feel hurt, you may use anger to protect yourself from additional emotional pain.
- Fear. When you feel threatened, you may give in to worry because you lack trust in God.
- Injustice. When you sense that your rights have been violated, you probably will feel this nasty emotion.
When you believe that life should be fair, and you’ve been mistreated, you’ll probably think your anger is justified, even good. You may believe that expressing it–loudly or quietly–is your right.
Second, exchange your wrong belief with a right belief. This is was a right belief sound like.
Right belief: “God is in control of all my circumstances so I can trust him and give him my rights. I believe that when I act upon the truth of the Bible, no matter how I feel, God will bring about a good result. I choose to allow my anger to motivate me to do what God wants me to do.”
Finally, look upon anger as a type of warning signal. It tells you something is amiss. Recognizing you feel anger helps you stomp lies about it and choose to handle it well.
May I Pray for You?
Please help me when I feel angry. Let it be a motivator to speak the truth in love to the person who has wronged me or to simply accept a situation that seems unfair. Give me patience and deeper faith. Amen.
Did you know that I offer a complimentary phone consultation to women who are hurting? To ask for his consultation, please contact me and we’ll schedule it. No obligation. 🙂
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,