Guest Commentary: “Wisdom in the Counsel of Many?” © 2019, Cindy Burrell

Friend and fellow blogger Cindy Burrell authored this guest commentary I believe will be of great benefit to readers who may stop by here in their own search for help while dealing with abusive relationships. She writes and counsels through a Christian lens. Cindy is the author of Why is he so mean to me?. Her blog is: www.hurtbylove.com/

WISDOM IN THE COUNSEL OF MANY?

“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.”  Proverbs 15:22

We know there is wisdom in the counsel of many.  Even in the midst of overwhelming heartache and confusion, we may have some vague idea of what we want or need to do, but out of a sincere desire to do the right thing, we prefer to secure a measure of validation from others before we proceed.

Unfortunately, when dealing with an abusive spouse, some of our most well-meaning advisers may offer up various measures of godly-sounding legalism rather than the kind of balanced, practical support that the one living in the cross-hairs of an abuser desperately needs.

For those living in an abusive relationship, the “spiritual” advice we hear may often lean in this direction:

  • Remember you must forgive seventy-times-seven.
  • When someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other.
  • Love your enemies.
  • Don’t allow a root of bitterness to take hold in your life.
  • Make sure you take the log out of your own eye before you focus on the splinter in someone else’s.
  • Pray: the effective prayers of the righteous person avails much.
  • Never give up. God can resurrect anything – even a dead marriage.
  • God is more concerned about your holiness than your happiness.

If you are to overtly accept these snippets of wisdom as blanket obligations, there is virtually no room to identify the abuse or the abuser in your home.  The basic premise is that abuse is not the problem, God knows you are suffering but your discomfort is irrelevant.  You must simply tough it out and trust that good will eventually come from it.  Regardless of the emotional scars left on you and your children, your unmitigated devotion will ultimately – somehow – bring glory to God.

As a result of such cold counsel, many abused believers actually come to question whether God is truly indifferent to what they are enduring, whether He really expects them to remain in a marriage defined by various degrees of trauma.

But just because these godly-sounding directives are applicable in some situations does not mean they are applicable to all situations.  It seems fairly easy for those who aren’t living with abuse to impose such heavy moral obligations on others living in a personal kind of hell – a life that simplistic spiritual soundbites simply cannot address.

Just once, I would love to hear that a victim has been encouraged by something along these lines:  “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.”  Proverbs 8:12-13

But I digress…  Let’s take a closer look at some of the counsel more commonly offered abuse victims:

  • You must forgive him* – seventy-times-seven.

Yes, we are called to forgive the one who is sincerely repentant, but we are not called to tolerate deliberate, ongoing wickedness in our marriages and our homes.

  •  When someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other.

Jesus was referring to people in the world, not a spouse in a so-called Christian home.  Your spouse should not “slap” you at all, whether physically or verbally.

  •  Love your enemies.

Our spouse should never be our enemy, but rather he should be the safest person in our lives.

  •  Don’t allow a root of bitterness to take hold in your life.

You should not have to pretend you’re not hurting, frustrated or angry.  When it’s not just someone, but your spouse (the one who vowed to love, honor and cherish you), who is taking cruel advantage of your nature and your faith, you’re going to become angry and eventually resentful.  Sin should make us angry!  It is okay to admit to the gaping wound that has been left on your heart.  You cannot ignore the source of your pain and expect to not be in pain.

  •  Take the log out of your own eye before you focus on the splinter in someone else’s.

It would seem that, since you’re not perfect, you have no right to complain about your spouse’s “imperfections.”  No, there is a profound difference between a believer who fails while doing the best she can and a wicked, power-hungry man who knows exactly what he is doing and exploits his bride’s faith to release himself from the natural consequences of his ungodly behavior.

  •  Pray – the effective prayer of the righteous avails much.

Yes, prayer is a powerful force.  But the Scriptures never promise that our prayers for another will change or save them. Every one of us gets to choose the kind of people we want to be every single day, and it is absolutely appropriate to separate ourselves from those who are inherently unsafe.

  •  Never give up on your spouse. God can resurrect anything – even a dead marriage.

The resurrection of a dead marriage takes two willing people. Of course, God can do anything in our lives when we are humbly following Him, but He rarely imposes Himself on those who are unwilling.  There is a time to allow people to reap what they have sown, and that time is between you and God and no one else. 

  • God is more concerned about your holiness than your happiness.

The inference is that your suffering in marriage is designed to make you a better person and grow your faith. So should your devotion to the Lord allow a wicked person to prey upon you and your children under the guise that such a dynamic is somehow a God-honoring thing if it occurs in marriage? No. That’s insane.

If the counsel you receive doesn’t settle with your spirit, pay attention.  It is entirely possible that another Voice has been whispering to your heart, a Voice that somehow drowns out all others; a Voice that is telling you quite clearly that, in spite of what others have said, something is seriously wrong in your relationship. Perhaps you are being prompted to do something to address the problem – perhaps separation or even divorce.

What then?  Whose counsel will you heed?  Are you willing to defy others’ expectations and take a course that makes the most sense for you regardless of what others may say or think?

I know that when you are weary and desperate for support, it’s not easy to go against the tide of popular opinion.  It feels scary and lonely.  Some of you know what it’s like to see the scorn on others’ faces, to be criticized or shunned based on the perception that you seemingly decided to reject “godly” counsel.  But, at the end of the day, if all the counsel you receive only serves to cement your own convictions, it is enough.

Each one of us must decide what believe is right before God regardless of what others may impose upon us, and then trust Him to make a way according to His wisdom and will.

 “…the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” James 3:17

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Copyright 2019, Cindy Burrell

All Rights Reserved

This entry was posted in abuse, Christian Women Topics, Commentaries, encouragement in hard times, GUEST and EMBEDDED FEATURES, most recent posts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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