Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is God an Abusive Partner?

Last week I saw this picture on Facebook, comparing the Judeo-Christian God to an abusive husband/boyfriend:

Interestingly enough, the first thing I noticed in the comments were several people disputing these statements by claiming that this is only what man says about God, not what God actually says.  Fair question.  I've certainly heard such sentiments preached in church and I've read it in Christian books, but does God actually say anything like this?  So I decided to do some digging.  For the sake of this exercise I'll be looking at the Bible as my source for what God said.  Now I realise that for more liberal Christians this would be insufficient since their view of Scripture is far more elastic than most.  Obviously if you only consider the verses you agree with to be truly "from God" then trying to debate this will be like trying to nail jello to a wall.  So I'm not doing that.  Instead I'm going to go with the more orthodox view of Scripture as being the Word of God.  Unless the verse in question is a quote by an enemy of God or is directly repudiated by God in the same chapter I will consider it representative of God's view.

OK then, lets look at the charges and the Word:

"You're NOTHING without me."

"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. " John 15:4-6   

"If you even THINK about leaving me..."

"If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again."  Deut 13:6-11

"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginningIt would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”"  2 Pet 2:20-22

"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned."  Heb 6:4-8

"You don't DESERVE me."

"Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah." Ps 39:5

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." Ps 51:3-5

"The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done."  Gen 8:21

"You will never find ANYONE as good as me."

"“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone." Mark 10:18

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Jam 1:17

"You brought this upon yourself"

"For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. " 1 Cor 15:21-22

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned" Rom 5:12

"Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." Rom 5:18-19   

"You're a TERRIBLE person and you need me to be better"

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. " Ps 51:5-7

"As it is written:  “There is no one righteous, not even one;"  Rom 3:10

"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin."  Rom 3:20

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" Eph 2:8   

"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. " Joh 14:6

"I know best."

"The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today." Deut 6:24

"Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. " Mat 6:8

"If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." 1 Joh 3:20

"The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;  I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ” " Jer 1:4-5

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. " Jer 29:11

"Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. " Isa 64:8

"You're not worthy of my love"
(See also "You don't DESERVE me.")

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. " Isa 64:6

"What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:  “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. " Rom 3:9-19

"I'm only doing this because I love you."

"have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,   and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Heb 12:5-11

"Don't listen to ANYONE who doesn't understand what we have."

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!"   Gal 1:8-9 

"What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” " Rom 3:3-4

"For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" 1 Cor 1:19-20

So is God like an abusive partner?  There is definitely a strong case to be made but you can decide that for yourself.  You may disagree with the verses quoted here or with my interpretation thereof but I didn't change a word of it and I quoted from the New Testament as much as possible to avoid the whole "but that was the OLD testament" complaint.  And yes, I do realise that there are many verses full of love and kindness in the Bible.  The thing is, that only strengthens the case.  After all, one of the reasons people in abusive relationships stay loyal to their abuser is because of the occasional kindness that lets them hold on to the hope that it's not really all bad.  It's that mix of love and fear, kindness and cruelty that makes long term abusive relationships possible.

I'll let CDK007 have the final word.  Think about it. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you d' think that Jesus layed his life down to bring forgiveness and acceptance to all sinners, you would see that this is not what abusive men do for the abused woman...

God is God, and He made a person. An abuser has not made his wife.

God has the right to say have sinned , but I give my life for yours to redeem you from that deprived fallen condition...
An abuser destroys, punishes you for faults real or imaginary , God points to your sins and then take them upon himself to do away with the,and to give you wholeness, forgiveness, he loves you with an everlasting love to make you good.

God is good, abusers akin to the devil.