Monday, January 10, 2011

Fear doesn't live with Love

This post is a sister post with my other blog, Scarred Seeker, inspired by the verse in both and the need for all of to realize that abuse is unacceptable - any and all abuse.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ can as easily be abused and tend to, in some communities, be less able to escape the abuse and fear because of religious bias.  This must end.  God does not condone abuse, neither should we either by silent assent or verbal legalism.

There is no fear in love; 
but perfect love casteth out fear ...—1 John 4:18

There are no less than ten instances in the New Testament where we are admonished to love one another.  With kindness, with mercy, with a humble spirit, as we ourselves would be loved as God showed and taught us to love. 

Love does not live with fear.
Love does not live by fear.
Love does not love through fear.

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: 
We should love one another. - 1 John 3:11

Sisters - love is not fear!
Brothers - loves does not require fear!

Love one another, love without fear and without threat of fear.  And yet, so often, too often in our lives we cross paths with zealous believers who would wield fear as if it were a God given axe or embrace us with fear as if it were a God sanctioned set of shackles!

This is where abuse can enter our faith places, this is where abuse becomes fear disguised as love.

He is a pastor, priest, Godly (seeming) person and therefor I must be wrong for how I feel about the things that happened.  He is my husband, my wife, my parent, my sibling and if we are believers then is it God's will?  Am I being punished for something?  

Let me tell you a true story and for the first time it is coming to light!  I was sexually abused by a youth pastor in our very evangelical church in a very 'righteous' congregation in a seemingly safe small town.  The times I asked for help I was not listened to.  Once I was told it must be a compliment, the person he really wants looks like you.  It was a one time thing.

Nothing excuses this violation!  I was a child!  He was an adult!  This is abuse sexual and spiritual.  I finally, many many years later, while on a healing path decided to tell the former head Pastor about this.  I phoned, I left a message, I prayed  and he never called back.

I've been wracked with guilt for  years over this!  I was 'dirty' for years from that one night!
I felt that I was unclean and that I was worthless and had no voice.  What if there were other girls?  What if my cowardice and shame kept them in harms way?

I understand now that I was a child and only until recently have I had the strength and healing and confidence in my faith and my relationship with God to speak up.  To speak out.

I learned from that and other situations that there are some folks who believe that they need fear to control and that love was the reward for being fearful.  Peopled admonished me to be fearful and fight your weakness, fight your sin.  I didn't understand that message. I still don't.

I remember a vibrant young woman who married a man who seemed very Godly.  She stopped smiling, she stopped being joyful.  She stopped living as a child of God because she was imprisoned by fear.  He stole her Godly joy as a woman and replaced it with fear.  He chose to read only those verses which enforced his views.  Who in that church said, there is something wrong here?  No one.  When she made a life saving choice to leave him, who do you think was cast in the role of sinner?  Not him who raised his and voice.  Not him who killed their love with fear.  She disobeyed her husband and was wrong.  

Wrong to save her life.  Wrong to protect her children.  Wrong to seek sanctuary and safety.

Friends, please tell me, what would you have done?  What would your church family have done?

I learned something on the path to healing that God granted me and that was: there is no room for God's love when we live in fear.  We cannot freely accept grace or redemption, we cannot minister to those around us when we live in fear.  There is no room for God's love in fear.  However, we are saved by grace and by grace we can be acceptable to God.  

What was the one verse you remember the quickest and easiest?  For God so love the world...

Stop right there! God loved us so much HE made the way clear for us to be redeemed.  He took away fear and He took away death and He told the mob, "He who is without sin, he shall cast the first stone..."

No one has the right, nor the sanction, to commit abuse upon another person.  No pastor, no lay leader, no spouse, parent, grand parent, stranger or peer.  No one. No religious community or place where there are people is immune from those who would abuse us but that does not give them the right to sanctuary from answering for it or does it give them sanction to commit it.  You are no one's property, you belong to God and He loves you.  

If you safely can, get help.  Remember there are many brothers and sisters who not only understand but they also  have survived abuse.  Reach out, keep reaching until someone grabs your hand, and don't let go!

If anyone brings you a dish of fear laced lies to say you are not worthy of love, of peace, of safety from abuse remember this one promise:

 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? 
Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 
- Luke 12:6-7

There are many resources including hotlines, websites and groups to help you, including:

If you know of others, please share in comments.

You are not alone and you are not to blame!