Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. To an alarming degree, abuse is taking place between parents, children, and near relatives. Whether sexual, psychological, or physical, abuse is the dark secret that destroys family after family. Today, how to find the way back to healing and wholeness.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, abusing one's children in any way is almost unthinkable, yet it happens in even what seem to be good homes. Yes, Dave, there are houses and homes close to churches, and behind closed doors, children are being abused.
This is for me one of the most difficult subjects to talk about. The fact that right now at this moment, hundreds and perhaps thousands of children are being abused in various ways is more than I can take in. And you know, normally when I preach, I preach to those who have been abused, helping them to be healed, and I continue to do that. But at the same time, I want abusers to listen to this message. I want them to come to grips with what they are doing.
I want the Holy Spirit of God to show them how wrong they are, how destructive, and how what they are doing to their children will be carried, most probably to the next generation. My friend today, as you listen to this sermon, I hope that you call someone on the phone, invite them to listen, because this is a critical message for a critical time in our history. Let's listen carefully.
I want to dedicate today's message to a woman who wrote me a letter which arrived on my desk this week. I'm reading only a few of the sentences. I'm looking forward to your sermon on abuse, as I was a victim of extreme abuse. I cannot tell you all the horror I went through.
I didn't dare leave, because if he would have found me, he would have killed me, or he would have abused the girls. We were, believe it or not, members of, and then she lists a well-known and respected denomination. And yet, I couldn't tell anyone.
I did go for some professional treatment a few years after he died. However, the whole subject of abuse frightens me. I look forward to your sermon on Sunday.
So this, dear lady, this message is dedicated to you and to thousands of others like you who could have written a letter much like this. Today we continue our series on the family, and the topic is a destructive secret, and the secret is the secret of domestic abuse. It's covered up. People don't know it's there or don't think that it's there, but it is, and it's everywhere. It was C. Everett Koop who many years ago, when he was Surgeon General of the United States, said that domestic abuse is our number one health issue in America. One-third of all women who go to the ER for treatment are there because of abuse. But that, of course, is only the tip of an iceberg. There are thousands and thousands who would never go to an ER, but abuse occurs in their home. It is an epidemic. And the reason that it is getting worse and not better is that the more broken homes and the more abuse, the more there's a tendency, though it isn't necessary as we shall see, there's a tendency to reproduce that abuse in your home.
And so like a snowball rolling down a hill, we live in a society that is filled with violence and abuse. My text today is the fourth chapter of the book of Ephesians. The Bible always has the most accurate diagnosis of the human heart.
There are many people who come to saving faith in Christ when they read the Bible because they say the Bible so correctly tells the story about my own heart. Ephesians 4, verse 31, let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. There are two words in verse 31 for anger. That first word, let all bitterness and wrath, is the Greek word thumos. Thumos is the kind of anger that just lashes out. It shouts, it becomes violent, it throws things, it puts its fist through walls. And then when it's over, usually the person who does all this is calm and wonders what all the fuss is about. Why is anybody at home upset about what I did? I mean, oh yeah, I had this little outburst, but I'm over it and everything should be well.
Thumos. The other word, which is translated here, it says anger. The second word is orge. And it is a controlled anger that in many ways is even more devastating. If the first kind of anger is the anger of a pit bull who loves to just run and tear and rip, this is the anger perhaps of a cobra that likes to think through the way it's going to get its victim and think through revenge and does so without emotion, without a twinge of conscience plots how it's going to get even or how it's going to get its way. Two kinds of anger. And the Bible says, put it away.
Let it not happen. Set it aside and have a tender heart. What I'm going to do today is a little unusual.
Normally I go directly to the text and stay there. Today I'm going to spend some time on analysis. And then after we've spent some time on analysis, of course we're going to go to the scriptures, which is the fount of every single answer to the human dilemma.
But first of all, analysis. Some myths about abuse, angry people, whether Thumos or orge. First of all, myth number one, it can't happen here. It's not in our church. It's not in Christian homes. I want you to know it is everywhere. It's in the homes of the rich and the poor. It's in the inner city and it's out in the suburbs. It's in the home of Christians and non-Christians. You might be surprised where you find domestic abuse.
It is here. And many of you listening could right now stand up and testify. You are right. Second myth is that the victims can stop the battering if only they changed. If you only become a loving wife, it'll end. Well, becoming a loving wife often changes your husband, but sometimes it does not. Children who are abused think if I could just be different, you know, and then mom and dad wouldn't get so mad and my dad wouldn't beat me.
Perhaps yes, but not necessarily. When it comes to abuse, the problem, the problem is the abuser. Third, if an abuser wants to change, he can. You know, he just goes through this experience and then he promises that he's not going to do it again, then you might as well believe him. Well, something like you believe an alcoholic who tells you he's just had his last drink.
It is his last for a little while. The roots of rage go deep and unless it's dealt with in a biblical and good way, the roots will remain. And then there's another myth and that is that abuse is a problem with women and children. Well, yes it is primarily, but there are men who have been abused as boys, most assuredly, and there are also women married to men who abuse their husbands. It's that side of the equation too, though in this message I shall speak primarily of men being the abusers.
What is the profile of an abuser? Well, primarily of two kinds, according to Sandra Scott in her book, Charmers and Con-Artists. First of all, there's the charmer.
The charmer, he wins women easily because women are drawn to him because he sees himself as special and he makes you feel special. But when you get to know him, usually during the honeymoon, when you get to know him, you discover that he believes that he is a victim and that life hasn't been fair to him and he has kept this skillfully hidden and that's why before you marry you should know very well the person you are marrying. And he keeps it hidden and and because he feels that he deserves better than he's getting, the rules that apply to others he believes do not apply to him. And because he's narcissistic, that's a good word that is so descriptive. I was in a car a couple of weeks ago being taken to an airport by a husband and wife whose daughter-in-law was divorcing their son. And they gave me one little bit of information and I knew that she was a narcissist so I began to describe the narcissist and they couldn't believe it. They said, for all we're concerned, you must have met this woman.
I said, no, I've not met her, I just study human nature. Because they're narcissistic, they have no compassion. Man can beat his son and the son cry for mercy and it matters not. They've turned off their consciences, they become incapable and that's a strong word but at this point they are incapable of genuine sympathy and weeping with those whom they make weep. And yet because he's so skilled in lying and deception and he's got all these things worked out, the charmer comes to church and everybody loves him because he'll do anything for you, remember. And people don't understand that the reason he's so nice and willing to sacrifice on your behalf is because he needs to continue to feed this hero image that he believes he has and that's he gets it through the affirmation of others. The wife married to a man like that, bless her heart, can't go to anybody to tell the destructive secret because after all, nobody will believe her. After all, she's married to the man that all the other women in church wish they were married to.
He would never do something like that. I've known women who have died with the secret believing that no one would believe them. Now there are charmers who are the real deal by the way, they do exist out there so just relax a little bit.
I want to say at this point but I dare you to find one but they are out there. Con artists, well they are more manipulative and they have a better understanding of what they are doing and so forth, we could go into them but the bottom line is this that regardless the person refuses all responsibility. They're incapable basically at this point, I'm not letting them off the hook but they have so insulated themselves with denial that they have no sense of responsibility for what they are doing. You made me hit you. It's your fault that I took and spanked you and whipped you and tied you to bed. It's your fault you see because they are so narcissistic they are unable to even understand who they are. Some of the characteristics of them are strict rules without emotion, exacting extreme punishment, mood swings Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and women by the way you know can be narcissistic as well. Sometimes a man comes home and he wonders what is he going to meet? Is he going to meet a happy woman, the woman that he thought he married or is he going to meet a woman who is so angry at the slightest possible thing that it's absolutely unpredictable as to what she might do because there's no cause-effect relationship that makes any sense.
It is totally irrational. So is she the woman that when the company leaves becomes angry but while the company is there is very hospitable and sweet? So you have that kind of personality unable to handle rejection. You have men who see themselves as worthy of trust and if you don't trust them they become victims. What do you mean you don't trust me? It hurts me to think that that you would never trust me. So they want to lay that guilt trip on you when in point of fact there's no reason under God's blue sky as to why you should trust them. They've given you plenty of reasons not to trust them but they begin to go into that victim mentality.
Look at what you are doing to me and you ought to feel guilty for it. Pride themselves in the strictness of religion. Always beware of a very judgmental spirit. Oftentimes people who are so strict are hiding something. So they pride themselves in this very very strict religion and yet they are out of touch with their own sinfulness and out of touch with their own pain. You'll notice what our text says. It says that we should be kind one to another and then it says tender hearted. If there's anything that can be said about an abuser it is simply this he has lost his tender heart.
It is a hard heart very hard. What are the types of abuse? Let me list them very quickly. Of course what an abuser wants what he wants is is strict control. Wants to make sure that that everything that is under his sphere of influence is done the way he sees that it should be done with no negotiation that is really meaningful. So there's intimidation by the way he looks by the way he acts his gestures destroying personal property all do this to you. There are abusers who will kill a pet and then say you know what I did to the animal all due to you you're next unless you shape up.
Emotional abuse, belittling, name-calling, humiliation, pleasing shame, putting other people down because the whole idea is you see that if I can put you down and make you a pygmy so to speak then I'm exalting myself and you just have to know that in my presence you are scum because just look at me look at what I've done and some people speak to their children this way destroying their whole sense of well-being their sense of self-worth isolation and control. I remember a woman telling me that her husband would go to the car every morning before he left for work go to her car go to the speedometer and there write down exactly what the mileage was to the last one-tenth of a mile you know there are those little gadgets that tell you right to the tenth of a mile and then he'd come back in the evening and she'd have to give an account for every single mile she drove tell me where you were wow economic control I keep the money in this house and if you want any you come to me and you know that you're getting it from me I just want you to know where the money in this house comes from and you had better give an account as to how you spent every last penny. Maybe calling her on the phone or cell phone dozens of times a day making sure that he knows exactly where she is what she's up to what's happening because after all he is in control. You have abusing male privilege using the Bible to justify treating his wife as if she were a servant. You know I'm the head of this home God put me here this world is crooked and he's asked me to straighten it out and I'm here to make sure that it's going to be straight and you'd better do it the way I want and you speak when spoken to and when I want you to you need to learn submission dear lady.
Physical violence throwing her against the wall slapping beating the children in anger shall we say even about sexual abuse and yes wives can be sexually abused in a marriage as well you know by a self-righteous determined self-absorbed man and then child abuse of all different kinds. Remember this that in the mind of someone like this everything is totally justified. His roots go down very very deeply in the soil of rage and he is convinced that what he is doing is absolutely right. As I mentioned that the world is out of shape he sees himself as probably the last arrow left that is really really straight and everybody had better shape up. Furthermore his conscience has been deadened because you see in his mind what he's saying is this when I was growing up I had my own pain why should I worry about the pain of anyone else? I've got my own agenda who was there for me when I was growing up you see and rather than allowing his past pain to humble him and to make him tender hearted it has done the opposite.
It has made him very hard hearted and very very indifferent to the plight of those who are in need. Well I've given you a brief outline of abuse. You say well what is really the cause?
What lies behind it? Why are there people like this? Well almost always you know it does go back to childhood huge abandonment issues. The feeling that I was abandoned and therefore I have a right to mistreat others they don't think of it of course as mistreatment and so what happens is this child grows up powerless if he's been abused he grows up powerless and and thinking to himself someday when I'm stronger than my dad someday when I'm stronger than those around me I'm going to find some weak person he may not be thinking of that consciously and I will show them a thing or two I will show them who is the boss.
I can't emphasize too strongly that just because you were abused as a child that does not mean that you have to turn out that way. In fact the whole purpose of this message and the messages to follow is to break the cycle is to break the curse but without help from God without seeking help at all you have a tendency to recreate what happened to you and so it goes from family to family and there it is one quarter of all baby girls born this year will be abused sexually by a father by a mother maybe by a babysitter by an uncle by someone it's out there and it's terrible and it's everywhere and maybe even if there isn't abuse in the home all that you need to do is to grow up with this sense of inferiority and now you want to really prove who's boss take Cain in the Old Testament. I don't think that Adam and Eve abused Cain and Abel. What was Cain's problem?
Well firstborn characteristics certainly but here's this here's this brother of his you know and his brother is acceptable to God and he offers a more acceptable sacrifice and Cain says wait a moment I worked at my sacrifice too and it's the product of hard work and furthermore maybe Adam and Eve began to favor Abel just a little bit because he seemed to be more compliant and so what Cain is saying is I can't stand this anymore I can't put up with somebody like that who's making me look bad what I'm going to do is to show who's boss here and he did show who was boss by killing him. Isn't it remarkable that the very first family the first family on this earth was dysfunctional it even included a son who committed murder he murdered his brother and yet God instituted the family as a basic unit of society and it's so critical for us to understand that the kind of family you grew up in is going to influence you for the rest of your life. Of course there's help and there's healing. I believe very deeply that this series of messages entitled reclaiming the family will be a great blessing to you as you continue to listen you might however want to have these messages permanently because you might miss some on the radio you might also want to share them with others for a gift of any amount we are making this resource available to you. Here's what you do go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again because I believe that this is an opportunity for you to receive helpful information no matter where you are in your family experience. Remember as you connect with us thanks in advance for helping us because together we are making a difference.
Here's what you do go to rtwoffer.com rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago. Next time why even Christian men can abuse their wives and children and what we must do to help those in the bondage of abuse. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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