“Did he think I was that stupid?” That is a thought that recurred many times when I considered the behaviour of my abuser, and the contrast between what he said and what he did. I gradually came to accept that I couldn’t expect it to make sense. The abusive person’s behaviour doesn’t make sense. He, or she, is not wise, nor godly.
A few thoughts on 2 Timothy 3:
2 Timothy 3:1-7 New International Version (NIV)
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I have wondered whether rather than reading 2 Timothy 3: 6-7 as describing the women who abusive men target, as being;
* weak-willed/ silly/ vulnerable/ gullible
* loaded down with sins, and
* swayed by all kinds of evil desires,
* always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth;
that we should be reading it as describing the people described in verses 2-5 as the kind who;
* worm their way into homes and gain control over vulnerable women
* are loaded down with sins, and
* are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,
* always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth?
From my experience, verses 2-5 and the characteristics described in 6 and 7, describe my abuser to varying degrees:
‘…lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.’
‘…who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.’
In my own case, I was certainly vulnerable as a result of being lied to; I was young, and inexperienced with abusers, but after all due self-reflection, that is all from verses 6-7 that I could apply to myself. I know there are countless other women for whom those verses do not seem to apply, either.
If men target women who are kind, loyal, dedicated and honest (A Cry For Justice, Don Hennessy series part 3) a lot of these women are not going to be ‘loaded down by sins’, they are often diligently pursuing righteousness. The description fits for abusers, that they are ‘loaded down with sins’ (for example, as listed in verses 2-5) and ‘swayed by all kinds of evil desires’. The fact that such a small percentage of abusers ever reform, is in keeping with the description of ‘always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth’.¹
The punctuation varies between the translations, so I wondered what was intended in the original? Having looked at the New Matthew Bible translation at Bible Gateway, I found it written this way:
2 Timothy 3:6-7 New Matthew Bible (NMB)
6 Of this sort are those who enter into houses and bring into bondage women laden with sin, which women are led by divers desires and lusts, 7 ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I guess what we can say from all of this, is:
- At least some of the women who fall prey to the kind of people described in verses 2-5 can be described this way (in verses 6-7)
- The description in verses 2-5 does fit many abusers
- We could also guess that some of the people whose behaviour is described in verses 2-5, might also fit the description outlined in verses 6-7 because of their evident unrighteousness
- Verses 2-5 are not describing the male gender, but rather people of either gender in the last days, as verse 2 doesn’t specify gender²
- Verses 6-7 tell us that women of that description may fall prey to the kind of people described in verses 2-5
- Verses 6-7 do not say that all women who are abused by such people described in verses 2-5, will fit the description in verses 6-7
There is absolutely no reason within these scriptures, for anyone to draw a conclusion that a woman who is abused would by definition fit the description of the women described in verses 6-7. There is, then, no reason for abused women to think they are obliged to respond to, let alone defend themselves against any insinuation or accusation that they must fit the description of the women described in verses 6-7, if they are claiming they have suffered abuse.
Nor, should women imagine there might be something wrong with them, that perhaps they can’t recognise their own sin, if they fall prey to an abuser. If a woman is diligently pursuing righteousness, and making amends when she is in error, that woman is NOT laden down with sins. If a woman has been laden down with sins, and has repented and changed her behaviour, that woman is NOT someone who never comes to a knowledge of the truth.
Godly women who seek to be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and to love, be joyful, peaceful and exercise self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23) may be vulnerable to abuse, but they are not stupid. They are not generally ‘swayed’ from pursuing righteousness, and they often hold fast to God even if they are fighting against a fog of confusion for a time. They do keep learning, and they do come to a knowledge of the truth; the truth about what they are experiencing in contrast to the deceptions they are told; the truth of the good news about Christ, and what he called them to; the truth that God detests injustice, oppression, lies and slander.
Godly women are not stupid. They are patient, they are loving and kind, they are good, they are gentle and they exercise self-control when dealing with a husband who is abusive. They meditate on God’s word, day and night (as they wash dishes, as they tuck children into bed, as they search their Bibles and the internet! for answers to their confusion). They also worship God alone, not any man. It is for freedom that Christ has set them free, not to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5: 1).
2 Timothy 3: 12, says:
‘In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.’
It seems the very same chapter of Timothy also tells us that a woman who is abused, might also be a person who is wanting to live a godly life and is being persecuted by an evil man, an imposter, who is going from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. How much more is she persecuted, if the church leadership also fit the description of people in verses 2-5, who go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived?
2 Timothy 3: 11, ends with:
Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them [persecutions].
Yes, he does! He patiently takes us through, step by step to safety, and helps us learn how to manage those things remaining that we have no control over.
Here’s an uplifting song, “Rescuer (Good News)” from Rend Collective that affirms Jesus is our Rescuer with contagious enthusiasm!