Sometimes the sentiment is subtle, sometimes it is overt: Your abuse was God’s will, a part of His good plan, for your good and His glory.Whether this idea comes from a theological framework that declares God sovereignly ordained the experience in your life in accordance with His plan or whether it is a friend who…
via Did God Cause My Abuse For My Good? — Blog – Ashley Easter
I am sharing this post written by my dear friend and fellow advocate, Ashley, because she did a great job answering an extremely important question.
If you know the story of Joseph from the Old Testament (Genesis 37-50), he is often used as the prime example. At the end of the story, he says to the brothers who left him for dead and then sold him into slavery, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good”. People have interpreted that to mean that God caused the horrible abuses Joseph suffered. I grew up hearing in Sunday School, “Be like Joseph who stayed faithful to God even when he was being treated badly”. It’s not a bad lesson but it’s not the one Joseph was giving.
I once comforting myself with the belief that God allowed me to be abused because he wanted to teach me something, wanted to make me more compassionate, etc. It sounds very martyr, right? It’s a common idea in the church environment I’ve grown up in. It’s a twisting of a couple token verses in the Bible to suggest that abuse is merely a trial, a gift from God himself, that will make us all better people.
False. God hates abuse.
Joseph (and God) put full responsibility for his abuse on the people who deserved it: his brothers. His brothers and their selfish, hateful choices caused at least the beginning of the abuse Joseph experienced. God did not cause Joseph to be left for dead or sold as a slave. What God did was redeem the sinful actions of Joseph’s brothers and rescue Joseph. Ultimately, yes, what was meant for evil became very good because God had a purpose for Joseph’s life in spite of what his brothers had done.
While it is true that God can redeem evil, he does not cause it. He is in total control of the universe but he is also entirely holy, loving and just. My abuse was caused by the sins of other people. God was with me during those difficult times in my life. He wept when I wept. He comforted me and kept me alive, quite literally. He has taken what was broken and brought healing. I sincerely believe that God brought me to this place in my life – a survivor with a career in advocacy – because of the abuse I suffered and the empathy and compassion he gifted me with. I do not, however, believe that God made my abuse happen or wanted it to happen. God delights in his creation – every man, woman and child. He does not tolerate abuse (even if it seems like people get away with it). He is a God of justice; I wholeheartedly believe that, as well.
I grew up hearing from pastors and Sunday School teachers that Bathsheba was an adulteress because she slept with King David (II Samuel 11). Except God never laid blame on Bathsheba. Why? Because David used his authority to “take her”. In other words, David raped her. She did nothing wrong. God held David responsible for David’s abusive actions.
Bathsheba definitely suffered; she was raped, her husband was murdered and then her newborn son died all because of David. But God did not abandon her. God did not cause Bathsheba’s abuse but he redeemed her. She became one of David’s trusted counselors and birthed one of the world’s most famous Kings, Solomon, who regularly sought her out for advice and gave her a seat of power in his own throne room. In fact, she is most likely the virtuous woman of whom Proverbs 31 speaks. Oh, the irony! I grew up hearing, “Don’t be like Bathsheba!” and simultaneously, “Be a Proverbs 31 woman!”
Once I finally realized that God did not call my abuse “good” for the sake of giving me something “better”, I gained a better understanding of his love. It is beyond comprehension. God hates abuse. In his plan for redemption, there is coming a day when there will no longer be evil in the world. In that day, abuse will cease to exist. Until then, if someone has told you that God wanted your abuse to happen or caused it, they are wrong. If they say God wants you to stay in an abusive marriage because “it’s a trial” or “God hates divorce” or “you’ll be rewarded in heaven”, please do not take that advise. That advice enables abusers and threatens the safety of the abused. It is not a true representation of God. “God loves people more than institutions [like marriage]” (Gary Thomas, Dear Church: It’s Time to Stop Enabling Abusive Men).
Thanks for this post, Ashley!