It is in the best interest of an abusive man to use religious coercion to hold onto access to his victims.
Godly sounding “christianese” sometimes serves that purpose very well.
One phrase that sticks in my craw is this one:
“God designed marriage to make you holy, not happy.”
I can’t explain how this one became so popular, except by the first sentence above. But it is wrong.
God instituted marriage before the fall, when Adam and Eve both walked in God’s presence in the temple of Eden.
Adam was already holy when God presented him with Eve. Even was given to Adam as a fitting helper, and Adam exclaimed with joy, “At last! Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!” And God saw it and said, “Behold, it is very good.”
Man’s lack of holiness came AFTER the fall, when he was driven from Eden, away from God’s presence. That holiness is only restored in the Second Adam.
By union with him, we are made what we are not. We are holy, because we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. He has consecrated himself so that he might consecrate us and present us to God, a bride without blemish and without spot. If you belong to Christ, you ARE holy, and you will be MADE holy – whether you are married or single, widowed or divorced, male or female.
But the design of marriage is the same as it has always been. For the happiness and joy of the two entering into marriage.
So that brings me to compassion. We are called to enter into the suffering and pain of others, especially of the body of Christ. When one member hurts, all members hurt. We are called to hurt and suffer together as well as rejoice together. But that is costly.
It takes time to enter into someone’s pain. It may cause you to re-evaluate everything that you thought was solid. It may cause sleepless nights, wrestling in prayer. It may cause you to weep, which is always uncomfortable.
But it may also cause you to have to step out of your comfortable worldview, where “we are all nice Christians here” and into a worldview where wolves terrorize sheep and the sheep are often left scattered and alone and vulnerable.
And that is never a comfortable zone for anyone to be in.
So when a sister or brother tentatively reaches out about pain in marriage, about the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her husband, about the horrible things that human beings can do to each other, it is far safer and more comfortable for the hearer to bounce it back, put up a “I-am-so-not-interested” wall and say,
“Marriage is designed to make you holy, not happy.”
Then make some mmm, mmmm, mmmm sounds. Grasp her hands and make a sad face, and send her on her way.
That way you don’t have to disrupt your own life with uncomfortable truths.
But it is wrong.
As members of Christ, we are to be as he is. We enter into suffering as he does. We walk with the wounded as he does. We pay the cost to sit with the vulnerable and suffering, because Christ paid the ultimate cost and we are honored to take up his cross with him. He paid the cost so that we might be delivered from the hard bondage of sin and misery and the kingdom of the devil.
And it should be our greatest desire to lead others to the paths of liberty. What a great joy when a sheep escapes from the mouth of a wolf!
So listen to the uncomfortable stories. Tear down the wall that you think is keeping you safe and learn to walk with the wounded. Bear the reproach of Christ, and the insults.
It is tremendously costly. Ask anyone who has made a habit of it, and they’ll tell you.
But when you do so, you will have the honor of being more and more like Christ, reflecting his comfort, righteousness and beauty to a wounded and hurting world.
“Be ye holy”, he says. “For I am holy.”