I was just reading about Malala¹, who started advocating for education for girls in Pakistan as a teenager, and who survived an assassination attempt at the age of 15. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
While many laud her bravery in seeking justice for girls denied their Human Right to an education, others detract because of their own agendas. While leaders around the world decry the assassination attempt as heinous, cowardly and reprehensible, Taliban stated she is a symbol of infidels and obscenity, and that Sharia says that even a child may be killed for propagating against Islam and Islamic forces.
Good is made to look bad. Advocating for truth and justice is made to look like evil lies. Oppression is made to look justifiable.
I am writing on the heels of news from one of my children that dad is in fact being married in the near future. My last attempt to address his ongoing reviling of me as a professing Christian has come to a point of “shaking the dust off my feet”² also. A witness to my former husband’s commitment to honour me and protect my reputation, has no where to take it further with me on my behalf, when my former husband’s pastor refuses to get ‘involved’.
Yes, we are divorced. But the fact remains, the issue has been raised that a professing Christian in that pastor’s congregation is continuing in sin, which we are cautioned about in I Corinthians 5:11-13 (quoted from NIV):
11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
The justice I was motivated to seek, was for the future wife, and my children primarily, and yes, I wouldn’t mind vindication either. I was once in that woman’s position, when apparently no one in a former church had followed up his first wife’s assertions about him, that he told me of himself. Of course he told it to me as if she had been spreading lies about him, and I felt compassion for his apparent suffering.
So, after receiving injustice over many years in relative silence, and after counselling made no significant difference to my concerns, I maintained a boundary regarding my right to feel safe by separating. Some understood, some didn’t. Slander continued. Then despite so many ‘sorry’ words to me (and once to another pastor) there was no apparent accompanying sorrow, because the abuse continued and further abuse was added. How could someone who is truly, sorrowfully, ‘sorry’, continue to use the same tactics as he was apologising for? There was obviously no accompanying repentance; no turning away from his sin (and no accountability, as there was no follow up by the pastor).
So, I applied for a divorce, which some understood and some didn’t. Slander continued. Despite addressing concerns numerous times over the years to no avail, I finally felt compelled (after prayerful consideration) to give further effort to address his ongoing sin, for the sake of his new girlfriend. The witness I approached understood, others didn’t. The pursuance of biblical intervention with justice in view, was described in a negative light by my former husband because he had his own interests to protect. He is not concerned for anyone else’s interests, certainly not mine, and not even the interests of the woman he is now professing to love, I assume. I would not like to be in that unregenerate man’s shoes, nor have to answer for his example to his children.
His deceptions, lies, abuses and theft have caused me and my children pain, and he has been the cause of the theft of my good name, and the good name of my children’s mother. And that through the injustice of misrepresentation, not through the justice of truth.
However, God knows the truth. He knows who I am, my heart, my actions, my words, my prayers. My poor children are sometimes confused, but they are not silly, and they do come to their own insightful conclusions.
I am finding online and in person, that many more people than I knew are awake to the inconsistencies of thought among Christian tradition regarding marriage. We may be decades away from the tide swinging in a more righteous and just direction, as it was for Wilbur Wilberforce³ and the abolition of slavery, and as may be the case for Malala and her quest for the right of girls to be educated, and in fact the right to education of all children, to become undisputed across the world.
Our just, thoughtful and prayerful actions, may be viewed negatively through ignorance of all the facts, or through the deceptive misrepresentations of slanderous, self-indulgent narcissists. We cannot always protect ourselves against this further injustice, but that does not mean we should back off from pursuing justice anyway. Nothing will change, nothing will be gained, if we are not prepared to lose anything, even our good name.
Our reputation, through staying the course for righteousness and justice, may yet be restored many times over, only God knows. Certainly, the attempt on Malala’s life catapulted her fame and her voice to an ever-increasing world stage, the complete opposite of the Taliban’s attempt to silence her.
Who’s opinion do we count most dear? Those that will treat us respectfully even if their opinions differ from ours, or those who value us so little that they trample us underfoot without care, or without even seeking our perspective for themselves? When all is said and done, no one’s opinion of me matters more than that of Jesus Christ, who will be the one to judge.
2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)
‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.’
‘Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…’
I want to be found to have obeyed God’s word, and responded to the Holy Spirit to me directly, and so I act when certain He is directing me. So that our willing, and fulfilling service to God may be long, and not cut short, prudence is certainly necessary; being patient and diligently waiting on God for guidance. When certainty comes, that is when we can act without the fear and dread that Satan tries to scare us with, knowing that God’s hand is on us, and nothing can separate us from His love, come what may. I ask Him to preserve my life until my children are grown and independent, but I trust Him to take care of them in what is beyond my control.
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Thank you, God, for rescuing me and for all of your loving care and provision for myself and my children. Thank you for the lessons learned in difficult times, that make times of blessing all the more appreciated. Thank you that there is nothing to lose by choosing to walk in righteousness, and everything to gain from peaceful companionship with You. I am comforted to know that others who may suffer at the hands of abusive people (who appear to get away with it) will find you in their circumstances if they seek you, and can know the joy of your rescue and provision, and your healing and renewed purpose for their lives. I praise You for Who You Are, and thank you for all that you do, in Jesus’ Name. Amen
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Remember, God knows.