Agape Love Does Not Stay In Abuse

by Yvonne Chase on September 20, 2021

Yesterday my pastor spoke a message from 1st Corinthians 13 which covers the subject of Love. The overall message was good, but it went left when he talked about the verses that say, “Love protects, love trusts” and connected it to the domestic violence his mother endured. Here’s what he said about agape love:

“When we’re walking in agape love, we protect the one; we protect them from the elementsfrom the unpleasant things that happen in life. We try to cover them; we try to make sure they don’t get hurt by the stuff happening around them even if they’re the ones who caused it because love protects, always. It doesn’t reveal; it doesn’t show off to people; yea, look at her, you know what she did. No, no. When you love someone, you cover them. Love always protects!

And then he said, “It sees what the person could be, and it won’t quit on the person. It won’t throw in the towel and say you’re a loser; you’re good for nothing. No, I’m not blind. I know what you’re doing, but God could do something in you; it’s not over till it’s over. That’s what love does.

He continued with, “I thank God he put agape love in my mother,” and then he went on to share how his alcoholic father abused his mother and pounded her for years. The relatives came to his mother and told her to leave him, but she said no, God could turn him around, to which my pastor said, that’s agape. No matter how bad a person acts, God’s not done with them. How many have found that in your own life?”

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I cringed as I listened to that part of the message. Does a Christian wife not have agape love in her heart if she decides to leave her abusive husband? After the service, I sent the email below and learned I was blocked. I sent him emails in the past about incidents like this, but I didn’t know I was blocked. Thankfully I cc’d the executive pastor, who hasn’t blocked me yet. 

Dear Pastor,

I appreciate your message today about love; it is essential. However, it’s a dangerous message in the way it was taught because it lays the ground for abuse, specifically in romantic relationships, more specifically marriage. Husbands will use your message, especially where you spoke about your alcoholic father and what your mother endured. They will use your words to manipulate and control their wives into staying in an abusive marriage.

Again, your message is sound and valid from God’s word; however, it needs balance. That’s why the great writer of faith Henry Cloud wrote the book Boundaries. Abuse needs to be uncovered. It’s dangerous to teach it in that way in light of domestic violence that is pervasive in Christian families.

An abusive husband or wife can now take your message out of context and say to their spouse; love protects, love covers; therefore, you can’t report this abuse. You can’t tell anyone I punched you in the face, or spit on you, slapped you, pushed you, raped you, forced you to have sex with me, or worst threatened to take your life. That is wrong! Too many spouses are enduring toxic, abusive behavior in marriage because your message enables abusers. Christian writer Gary Thomas says it this way, “The very intimacy of marriage that makes it so capable of bringing in holiness and happiness also makes it capable of covering darkness.”

To bring it closer to home, I’m sure the late Ravi Zacharias must’ve used the verses you preached today and a host of others to abuse, control, and manipulate God’s precious daughters. Yet, he spoke in your pulpit numerous times, and no one knew about his egregious actions until he died. Ravi appeared to be “a Christian in good standing,” but it was a clever cover on his part.

I beg you to preach a follow-up message that clarifies and considers those in abusive situations. You can love others and forgive others as God calls us to do and still walk away. In closing, I leave you with words of warning from M. Scott Peck:

“Since the primary motive of evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one’s evil from oneself, as well as from others than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture?… I do not mean to imply that the evil is anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them.”

In Christian love,

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I have zero tolerance for messages that perpetuate abuse and enable abusers. So many women in the body of Christ are married to abusive men who will sit in the congregation, listen to his sermon and use the word of God against their wives to abuse them further. In contrast, the wife receives bad counsel to cover and protect her husband because God wants to do something in this situation as if God can’t do what God wants to do once the abused person is safe and no longer in harm’s way.

Churches must do better when it comes to the topic of abuse. Pastors need to be trained on the range of tactics abusers use and understand the vicious cycle of abuse. God bless his mother, who lived to the ripe old age of 104 and endured physical and emotional abuse in her marriage. After twenty-two years, her husband turned his life around and lived out the last ten years of his life serving God. Good for him. Would he not have turned his life around if she left? Are we suggesting that God only got the glory in that situation because she stayed?

Listen, staying in abuse could cost you your very life, while simultaneously sucking the life out of you. How about we love the abused enough to cover and protect them? In case you didn’t know, agape love walks away too! You are no less a woman of God or a loving Christian wife because you say “NO” to being a punching bag!

Something to think about…

What say you? How do you interpret agape love? Does agape love mean you become a doormat?

Here are 2 things I’d like you to do now: 

  1. Leave a comment below
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