We all know that it is wrong for a man to hit a woman, to throw something at her, to threaten to harm her, to scream at her, to cuss her out, to verbally/emotionally abuse her, to belittle her, or to take advantage of her in some way. Those things are just not acceptable at all and they shouldn’t be tolerated by women.
My precious sisters, this is a two way street!
Men and women are all capable of sin (Romans 3:23). All sin is abusive. Sometimes we act like it is okay for women to hurt men. Others think the opposite – that it is okay for men to hurt women in some cultures. Both of these views are wrong. Unfortunately, we all can come up with justification – in our own minds – for why our sin is okay. It’s not! For Christians, there is truly NO REASON for any of us to ever purposely seek to hurt someone else – unless possibly we are stopping someone from hurting another person or we are defending ourselves.
Here are some things that just should not ever be present in Christian relationships if Christ is our Lord:
|brandishing weapons to threaten someone||throwing dangerous objects||screaming, cussing, verbal abuse|
|gas lighting||refusing to allow someone to have their God-given free will||blackmail, coercion|
|threatening violence verbally||physical violence – choking, slapping, hitting, pushing, shoving||uncontrollable rage|
|contempt, hatred||name-calling, insults||purposely trying to provoke someone to violence|
These kinds of things are very clear sin for anyone and they reveal that the sinful nature is firmly in control not the Spirit of God. If Christ is Lord, the Holy Spirit is to be in control (Gal. 5:18-25). These sins in the chart above are not “early sins” – they are the result of sin going on and on unchecked in our hearts for quite awhile.
God calls us all – men and women – to treat each other with His kind of love, respect, and honor. (I Cor. 13:4-8)
If you see some of these things in yourself – you can do something about it! Stop. Grieve over any sin in your own heart and life. Turn away from it completely and turn to Jesus and yield your heart and life completely to Him. Ask Him to forgive, heal, and change you. Apologize to anyone you have sinned against and seek to make things right and rebuild trust. Find a godly mentor to help you grow and to help you learn to follow Jesus. Spend time in the Bible and pray for God to transform your heart to make you like Jesus. Humble yourself before God and admit that you need Him desperately and all that Jesus did for you on the cross. If you are confused, reach out for trusted, wise counsel!
If you see these things in a friend’s relationships – pray and seek God’s wisdom about if/when you maybe should address the problem humbly, prayerfully, and lovingly. It is not a gift if we see serious sin in another believer’s life and we say nothing (Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17, Gal. 6:1-2)
(If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus as your Savior and LORD, please check out this post.)
Early warning signs that a relationship is not on a healthy, godly path are often unrepentant, unaddressed sin issues on either side of the relationship like:
- blaming others and not taking personal responsibility (refusal to ever admit fault or to apologize)
- idolatry of self, others, things, ideas, or relationships
- major fear
- petty jealousy over very minor situations (talking to anyone of the opposite sex at any time for any reason, for example)
- trying to control the other person and make decisions for them
- not respecting the other person’s boundaries and limits
Sin is progressive, as my pastor always says. If we don’t stop it and turn from it to Jesus – if we let it go on and on – any sin snowballs eventually into a very destructive avalanche to all of my relationships. Sin always leads to death. Death of relationships. Physical death eventually – as bitterness and hatred ripen into rage and then violence.
(Here is a secular article that may be helpful on the topic of recognizing toxic relationships early on in dating. It also addresses why sometimes women end up in multiple abusive and toxic relationships. I think it could be insightful – but we do need to be sure to compare everything any human author says, including myself, against the Bible.)
Leslie Vernick writes about emotionally destructive relationships and how to have healthy relationships in a godly way. She shares what is necessary for a healthy relationship:
There are three essential ingredients that must be present in order to have a healthy relationship with someone. When any one of them is missing or not practiced mutually, the relationship becomes unhealthy and may turn destructive. They are:
- Mutuality – as in mutual caring, honesty, respect, repentance and responsibility
- Reciprocity – as in both give in the relationship and both receive.
- Freedom – as in the freedom to be yourself and speak honestly about who you are, what you think and feel, and what you want/need.
IF YOU NEED HELP:
If you are in a relationship that is destructive, please reach out for help. Talk with me or talk with a godly counselor. Free, private counseling is available at www.focusonthefamily.org. Comment on Leslie Vernick’s site. Read the free resources available there. Or you may be able to find an appropriate counselor through your church.
If you are in danger, please try to get somewhere safe as soon as possible – but be aware that if you try to leave the relationship and you are in physical danger, leaving can be the most dangerous time. Find the resources you need – legally, through the police, through counseling, through your church – first, if possible. Then hopefully you can get the help you need to plan to get somewhere safe. If you are in serious danger, please find a secure phone or computer to contact www.thehotline.org or call them in the USA at 1−800−799−7233
If you are a danger to someone, please also reach out for help – whatever kind of help you need, a pastor, a godly counselor, Celebrate Recovery (that may help with rage and anger issues), legal counsel, medical help, etc… Don’t wait. Don’t sit and continue to be a ticking time bomb. There is healing and hope available for you in Christ! No one is beyond His reach.