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?”

agape

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,

agape

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
  2. Share this post if you like it and even if you don’t like it because someone might need it

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Trina Taylor September 20, 2021

She’s back with yet another great post that hits right between the eyes. Where have you been? I don’t even know where to start. SMH! Agree, God bless his mother but that could’ve gone a whole different way. Gabrielle Petito comes to mind. Have you heard her story? Abuse needs to be called out. Abusers do not need to be protected. And yes, I was shocked when I learned about Ravi. What’s done in the dark comes to the light even in death.

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Yvonne Chase September 26, 2021

@Trina,

Unfortunately, I heard about the tragic end for Gabriel Petito and her story is yet another reason I am so passionate about this subject.
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Lisa Blair September 21, 2021

I appreciate that you are walking in agape love by speaking truth. May the Lord bless you as you continue to speak the truth in love.

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Lisa Blair September 21, 2021

Yvonne, I’m glad that you walk in agape love by speaking truth. May the Lord continue to bless you as you speak the truth in love.
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Lisa notes September 21, 2021

Amen, amen, amen! I hope your email made it through to the executive pastor anyway because this is toxic information that was preached by the pastor. 🙁 It discounts the truth that God also wants us to love ourselves and take care of ourselves because we too are made in his image. Sermons like this cause so much harm for both to the partner being abused as well as for the one doing the abuse.

I’m continuing to pray for decisions you are making about next steps! You are a treasure, Yvonne. Keep speaking up in this world. Love you, friend!

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Yvonne Chase September 26, 2021

@Lisa,

Thank you for including the points about loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves because we are made in his image. We are!

And yes, if we continue to preach this type of sermon, we are causing harm to the abuser because they won’t see the need for help and seek it out.
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Theresa Boedeker September 21, 2021

Hi Yvonne. Great letter. That was bad advice the pastor gave. Love does not turn its head away when others sin and do harm to others. Love does not cover up wrong dong to keep up appearances. Love speaks in truth and walks away from sin. love calls out sin and tries to convict the person to change. Love has boundaries. Love does walk away because love takes two people both working on loving each other. Not just one.
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Yvonne Chase September 26, 2021

@Theresa,

Amen, Amen, and amen! And I didn’t even share all that he said. He actually said his mother was pounded by his father; pounded! I felt that when he said it and that is what provoked me to write the letter.
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Linda Stoll September 21, 2021

Absolutely amen, Yvonne. I was cringing alongside you as I read and am 100% with you on zero tolerance for any kind of abuse, including spiritual abuse.
I’m off to share with the people in my world. Bless you.

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Yvonne Chase September 26, 2021

@Linda,

Spiritual abuse grinds my gears. I’ve been on the receiving end of it from the pastoral staff at my church. It’s ugly!
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Debbie Wilson September 21, 2021

Yvonne, I think of the verse that says “the sum of your word is truth.” You need to look at the whole Bible. It’s not loving to enable someone to continue in sin. And if we are to love others as we love ourselves, tolerating abuse isn’t loving. Glad David didn’t take that advise and instead hid from King Saul before he was killed.

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Robyn Jones September 24, 2021

Who needs to look at the whole Bible, Yvonne or her pastor? He is the one who took one scripture out of context and used it to preach that enabling someone’s abuse is agape love. The nerve of that pastor! ‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️
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Ashley Rowland | HISsparrwBlog September 22, 2021

I find it interesting that your pastor blocked your emails when he’s preaching sermons like that one. His duty is to love you, after all, and it seems a glaring contradiction. It’s dangerous to teach women that they are pleasing God when enduring abuse from their husbands. No part of scripture encourages a woman to accept that kind of behavior from their husband, and it’s very clear as to how a husband should treat his wife—and that ain’t it.
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Yvonne Chase September 26, 2021

@Ashley,

I was shocked because I didn’t expect it, however, I’m not surprised. My pastor and his staff would rather I am silent because they do not want to hear the truth. It’s not the first time I’ve sent an email. Unfortunately, my pastor and his staff show love for those that go along with their bad theology. People who call it out are blocked and ostracized.
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Joanne Viola September 22, 2021

Yvonne, we need to take a stand against against abuse and not perpetuate it from one generation to another. “Abuse needs to be uncovered. It’s dangerous to teach it that way in light of domestic violence that is pervasive in Christian families.” I pray your pastor revisits the topic and brings clarification and truth to this subject. Blessings!

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Donna September 23, 2021

Yvonne, standing with you on this, I was in an abusive marriage, and praise God my pastor counseled me to “leave”. He did not recommend I immediately pursue divorce, but to remove myself from harm and get to a safe place. He said it was NOT love to stay in that situation. He counseled us individually, and eventually together. God did work in the situation, healing my husband and subsequently our marriage. We will celebrate 34 years of marriage this December, which would never have happened apart from my pastor’s counsel. I realize not all abuse stories have a happy ending (My daughter’s is one example) But no woman should stay in an abusive relationship, that is not love. I remember my pastor said marriage is to be an illustration of Christ and His bride the church; an abusive marriage mars that image and apart from God’s healing, it should not continue.
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Yvonne Chase September 26, 2021

@Donna,

Thank you for sharing your story. Each story of domestic violence is different. Your pastor provided wise counsel. I’m glad he told you to leave and he made sure you were safe. Your safety and the safety of those who find themselves in this sunken place are optimal. Blessings to you as you celebrate another year of marriage. May it be a reflection of Christ and his bride the church.
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Tammy Kennington September 23, 2021

Yvonne,

Your letter was both humble and written in a God-honoring way. As someone who grew up in an abusive home and has seen other women ‘counseled’ by the Church to stay with the abuser, I believe you spoke with wisdom and clarity.

A good resource women and churches should have on their shelves, written by Charlene D. Quint, is “Overcoming the Narcissist, Sociopath, and Other Domestic Abusers”. It deals with the tough argument often presented to the abused person in a marriage.

Thanks for sharing this important post.

Blessings,
Tammy

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Yvonne Chase September 26, 2021

@Tammy,

Thanks for the book recommendation. Charlene left no stone unturned. It is a comprehensive guide to every aspect of abuse and recovery.
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Charlene Quint September 24, 2021

Thank you for this thoughtful, gentle, humble message of truth. Love protects – why is the message from the church not “Husbands, you need to protect your wives,” instead of “Wives, you should cover up the abuse of your abusive husband”? Ephesians 5:11 implores us to have no fellowship with the evil deeds of darkness, but to expose them. Paul, when writing the letters in the New Testament, exposed those who betrayed him and the church by name. Throughout the Bible, we read of those evil people – by name – who rejected God. And the Bible says “Have nothing to do with them.” (1 Cor 5; 2 Timothy 3; Titus 3:10). It makes no exceptions for spouses. The Lord commands us to have nothing to do with evil people who are out to destroy others because (1) it is damaging to those he loves (2) it divides a church and (3) it gives those outside the church the idea that we agree with evil when we tolerate it. The church must call domestic abuse what it is: evil. The church must support victims of abuse, hold abusers accountable, and have nothing to do with those who abuse – while supporting the victims who will have nothing to do with abuse.

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Rebecca Jones September 24, 2021

I shared this post because it is so important. I have seen women stay, endure, and nothing change or get worse, I know terrible stories. It begs the question are these men truly saved, we have to judge righteously and the Holy Spirit you can trust. Men are told to love their wives like Christ, that should be the sermon. While we have all had arguments, said things we regret, abuse is unacceptable. I am praying for women to have discernment and a safe way out.
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Robyn Jones September 24, 2021

I am astounded that your pastor taught that message! What about the scripture that says husbands are to love their wives as themselves? Or the one that says husbands are to honor and cherish their wives? What about the scripture that husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loved the Church, that is to lay his life down for her? What about do unto others as you would have others do unto you? And as you point out, what about loving, protecting, and covering the abused?

This is another danger that comes from a woman remaining in an abusive relationship: the message it teaches the children. Obviously this pastor’s view of love has been corrupted by witnessing both how his father treated his mother and how she responded to it. I am so glad that you stood up to this pastor. I pray that he changes.
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Lois Flowers September 24, 2021

Yvonne, you were wise to suggest that your pastor revisit this topic to clarify what he said. I hope the executive pastor shares your email with him and that he follows up. I’m sorry he’s blocked you though … the perspectives you share might be hard to hear but that makes them even more necessary, I think.
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Yvonne Chase October 3, 2021

@Lois,

I’m crystal clear on what he said. I want him to preach another message that teaches the full counsel of God’s word and a message that protects the abused and calls out the abuser. As others have shared in the comments, love does not turn a blind eye to evil. Also, the Bible that I read talks about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. You can’t obey that verse and pound your wife like his father pounded his mother. That was the descriptive language he used in his sermon.
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