Saturday, February 21, 2009

Unit 4 lesson 2, I've Been Betrayed!

Webster's defines betray as "to lead astray, to seduce by false promise, to desert in time of need."

There is no question that a victim of sexual abuse is led astray by the effects of the abuse. And, for many, seduction is a part of the victimization. And most importantly, a victim is deserted in their time of need. A child in need of a healthy relationship with a parent is abandoned in the world of incest. The youth in need of spiritual guidance is betrayed by her minister when the relationship becomes sexual...

In your journal, describe your feelings toward those people who betrayed you.

As I read back over my answer from last year, what stood out to me was, "I feel like an orphan. My parents betrayed me. My birth father abandoned me as a baby. My adopted father sexually abused me and my mother knew about it and chose to look the other way. No one cared about me or did anything to help me - an innocent child! Because of their decisions to harm me and my decision to no longer accept it, I am left without a family. And the things they did turned me into a different person!" The abandonment and desertion in my life is glaringly obvious... It was harder for me to see just how much I'd been led astray. It took a long time for me to accept that the things they'd done (these people whom I so desperately wanted to love me) had completely changed me. Their actions changed how I thought of myself and the world... how I acted, what I believe in, what I valued, what I sought after, etc. Their betrayal had impacted my life in profound and devastating ways.

What about God?

At some point, most victims wonder where God was during the abuse. "Why didn't he stop it? Why did he allow it? Why didn't he help me? Why didn't he kill my abuser? He wasn't there for me then and I don't feel him now."

Consider these biblical teachings that relate to sexual abuse -
  • God considers sexual abuse to serious that in the Old Testament the penalty for sexual abuse was death. Leviticus 18 clearly sets forth the rules God intended for humankind's behavior. Sex with a child, with a blood relative, or rape all carried the death sentence.
  • God has granted the freedom of choice to people. They can choose right or wrong. Psalm 115:16 tells us that "the heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but the earth He has given to the sons of men."
God is all about relationships. Above all else, He wants us to love Him. Then we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. In order for us to truly love though, we have to have the freedom to choose. And with this freedom to choose love, comes the freedom to choose evil... He gave us free will to love Him or reject Him. If he forced us always to do the right thing, there would be no true love - we would merely be robots who automatically act a certain way.
  • God did not cause the abuse. He refuses to treat us the way those who commit sexual abuse treat their victims - by imposing their will on their victims. God does not force people to do what He wants them to do!
  • Horrible suffering occurs on this planet because people use their free will to do terrible things to each other. God's unfailing promise in this setting, however, is to bring us through all abuses or problems triumphantly as we commit our lives to Him.
God also promises to bring justice to perpetrators. All people are accountable for the choices that they make on this earth. God gave us a manual that told us how to relate to others. This manual is the Bible. Every victim's path has been crossed by someone who chose a path opposite to God's direct instructions. You were betrayed, but you were not betrayed by God.

The Hebrew word for betray means "to cause to fall" or "to deceive, in order to betray". God does not deceive humankind, and no word int he Bible suggests that God betrays people. The Bible is given to instruct us, lead us, and cause us to rise up and be blessed. Abuse is not a blessing, nor is it a way for God to "teach us a lesson". It is a betrayal by people. God is the One who redeems and restores.

How are you feeling toward God regarding your abuse? Angry, betrayed, confused, alone, other.

Are you willing to allow God to lead you to recovery?

Can you identify any barriers, especially beliefs or ideas, that keep you from reaching out to God for help in your recovery? (You are welcome to share these in the comments or in a private email to me if you'd like.)

Everyone struggles with questions about God, but at some point, we must understand that "He is our help." (Psalm 115:9-11) We live in a fallen world that will always have affliction, but God promises that He will never forsake us or leave us. God will rescue us.

Psalm 27:10 says "When my mother and my father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." What does that verse mean to you? Take some time to tell God...


Pastor Mark said...

This is includes an excellent treatise on GOD. I would like permission to copy that portion for use in my work,
Pastor Mark

Leigh Hall said...

The ideas, content, process, etc. outlined in each lesson are from the Shelter From the Storm workbook (Cynthia Kubetin Littlefield & James Mallory, M.D.). Most of the personal anecdotes and thoughts are mine, but otherwise all the credit goes to the book's authors. I don't see a problem with you teaching what they teach, so long as you reference their book. The material is really wonderful.