GodlyDating101 wrote; “Don’t just go by how they are in the good moments, see how they act when offended or upset. So many people think their spouses changed but they just never paid attention. When God shows you who they really are, don’t try to make excuses for it. Red flags are there for our benefit, don’t ignore God because you didn’t like His answer.”
One particular comment on this post on Facebook struck me as the person kept on defending his comments and quoting Scriptures. His defence was indeed very long but I’ll only quote a few sentences and summarize it so that you can understand the storyline before I address the issue from my perspective.
He wrote that the post is not holy or Scriptural because walking in Christ is not about judging but about forgiving and having unconditional love. And then he wrote, “Take this post down in the name of JESUS.” He went on to write that the greatest commandment is for us to love one another as Christ loved us.
I quote, “Jesus didn’t turn away from the afflicted. He leads, delivers, and brings salvation. When people Christians or otherwise place judgement they are seeing others through the world’s eyes not God’s, and opening themselves up to bondage. It is written ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’ If a person were abusive would you then condemn them to your own judgement before that of the Lord’s? Or realize that it is the spirit afflicting them and pray for deliverance? …”
In another comment, he wrote that if the enemy strikes us we should turn the other cheek to them, and that Jesus said we should turn the other cheek 77 times. And so, if he is dating someone who is emotionally, mentally or physically abusive, he would absolutely accept that person as a wife because he has a discerning spirit and he would know that it is not the woman that strikes him but the spirit of rebellion; and that he knows the woman has the right to salvation just the same as any other and she can be prayed for and delivered just as any other. Therefore, she would be his equal and no greater or no less than any other woman walking this earth.
This argument began on Saturday, and as I woke up on Sunday morning, I realized that this man was still defending his views by quoting Scriptures. It breaks my heart that we as Christians misinterpret Scriptures and endure things that we shouldn’t in the name of Christianity. Enduring physical, emotional, sexual or mental abuse is not a way of proving that you love someone; and walking away from an abusive relationship does not mean that you hate the person.
We like to form “prayer warrior” and “holier than thou” attitude. Paul was not mincing words when he said in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.” (CEV). You can be a very strong and devoted Christian but just one friendship, one relationship, one bad company; one wrong association can destroy your life.
When you see me write a lot about friendship, relationship and marriage, it’s not because I can’t write about things that people feel are “more spiritual.” I take my time to address issues like this because I understand from experience how one wrong association can destroy a person’s life. Some people have died without getting a chance to correct their mistake like the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16) and the story of Amnon and Jonadab (2 Samuel 13). But I survived to tell the story and I will write till my ink runs dry.
We tend to ‘over spiritualize’ a lot of things. If it is in Nigeria, the advice people would give to someone in an abusive relationship is go to their ‘war room’ and fast and pray. I love prayer and fasting and I believe it is effective but there are certain issues in life that wisdom demands that you take action rather than pray alone.
There are some issues we don’t need to spend a lot of time praying about because God has already answered us. The issue is that most times we ignore God because we don’t like the answer or because God did not speak to us in the way we want. God speaks to us in different ways. It must not always be an audible voice – you mustn’t hear a still small voice or a thunderous voice from heaven. You mustn’t see the answer written explicitly in the Bible. God can speak to us through the Holy Spirit – in our thoughts, through our instincts, consciences, convictions, urges, and promptings and by impressing something on our hearts. God can speak to us through the circumstances around us or by the actions of people. And so, God can speak to us by showing us red flags and warning signs in a relationship or friendship.
Now, for those Christians that feel cutting ties with a person or distancing yourself from a person is a sin, I’ll like us to look at a Biblical story.
The Scripture tells us in Genesis 13 that Abraham was a very rich man with sheep, goats, and cattle as well as silver and gold. Lot also had sheep, goats, and cattle, as well as his own family and servants. Now, there was not enough pasture land for Abraham and Lot to stay together because they had too many animals. So the men who took care of Abraham’s animal and those who took care of Lot’s animals began to quarrel. Then, Abraham suggested to Lot that they should separate. He gave Lot the chance to choose where to go and while Lot went one way, he went the other way. That is how two of them parted.
Does it mean Abraham didn’t love Lot? Why didn’t Abraham pray for an expansion of the land? Why didn’t Abraham suggest that they kill some of their animals so that the pasture land will be enough for their animals? The answer lies in the wisdom he had from God.
A similar incidence like this happens in our lives. We may find out that we are in a toxic relationship where we are always quarrelling or having misunderstandings and disagreements with the other person, or we are being abused [emotionally, verbally, physically, sexually or mentally], or the other person is hindering us from growing and moving forward in life [spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially] or the other person keeps hurting us repeatedly or treats us badly. These things can be called “red flags” or “warning signs” and most of them are obvious before marriage. But in the name of ‘being holy’ and ‘loving like Christ loves us,’ most people ignore these red flags and make excuses for these people. We’ve seen their true colours yet we make excuses for them.
“He is not a bad person. The Devil is only using him. And so, all I need to do is to pray and cast out the Devil.”
“It is the Devil afflicting her, so I’ll pray for her deliverance.”
“It is the spirit of cheating or the spirit of rebellion or the spirit of violence, so I will pray for deliverance and cast out the spirit.”
“He needs salvation and deliverance and I don’t want to judge or condemn him so I will marry him and love him like Christ loved me when I was still a sinner.”
“Jesus didn’t turn away from the afflicted. He ate and associated with sinners so I will still be friends with this person. If he hits me, I will turn the other cheek as Jesus said. I will love him as Jesus loved me.”
“I will fast and pray for her. It is only the attack of the enemy. I know her. She is a Christian sister, the Devil is only trying to use her.”
“He is not totally a bad person. He only allowed the Devil to use him at a point. I’ll pray for him and still marry him. I will love him as Christ loves me.”
And on and on, the excuses go.
Many times, we are quick to say “though shall not judge” without even knowing what that means. Let me just point out a few points that we should note as Christians.
- There is nothing like missionary dating or missionary marriage. Don’t think that you can change anybody by dating or getting married to them. It is only God that can change a person.
- Sometimes, you need to love people from a distance. Distancing yourself from someone doesn’t mean that you hate the person. When someone becomes toxic to your life, that is, repeatedly and/or deliberately causing you pain, hindering you from moving forward in life, leading you into sin or making you worse off generally, you may have to say goodbye to them and love them from a distance. You can love someone from a distance by praying for the person.
*To be concluded in my next post