Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families
FEBRUARY 2007 Newsletter
LUKE 17:3 Ministries
for adult daughters
A sisterhood for those who seek support in developing self-esteem, setting boundaries and limits, forgiveness, Godly confrontation, recognizing and cutting ties with reprobates, healing, and rejoicing in the peace and love of
the Lord, our Father
Luke 17: 3 is the scripture often misquoted, usually by an abuser or his enabler, when he tells you that the Bible says “Forgive and Forget”, or that you must forgive him because you are a Christian. However, Jesus is very specific when he tells us to rebuke the sinner, and if he repents, to forgive him. Have you rebuked your abuser, and has he or she repented?
THE ONLY FORM OF ABUSE STILL CONDONED BY SOCIETY. THE ONLY ABUSE IN WHICH THE VICTIM IS CRITICIZED OR ABANDONED FOR TRYING TO PROTECT HERSELF. CHILD ABUSE THAT DIDN’T END WHEN ADULTHOOD BEGAN…THE CONTINUING ABUSE OF GROWN CHILDREN BY THEIR PARENTS.
If you have ever experienced Adult Child Abuse by a parent, sibling, or other relative, We Welcome You!
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Rev. Renee Pittelli
Luke 17:3 Ministries, Inc.
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Thank you Jesus!
They Can’t All Be Wrong And You Right…Or Can They?
Family Mob Mentality, The Pathological Denial of The Truth, And The Scapegoating Of Those Who Speak It.
I WOULD RATHER BE A DOORKEEPER IN THE HOUSE OF MY GOD THAN DWELL IN THE TENTS OF THE WICKED….Psalm 84:10.
ACQUITTING THE GUILTY AND CONDEMNING THE INNOCENT- THE LORD DETESTS THEM BOTH…Proverbs 17:15
IT IS NOT GOOD TO BE PARTIAL TO THE WICKED OR TO DEPRIVE THE INNOCENT OF JUSTICE…Proverbs 18:5
WHOEVER SAYS TO THE GUILTY, “YOU ARE INNOCENT”- PEOPLES WILL CURSE HIM AND NATIONS DENOUNCE HIM. BUT IT WILL GO WELL WITH THOSE WHO CONVICT THE GUILTY, AND RICH BLESSING WILL COME UPON THEM… Proverbs 24:24-25.
SISTER DEBBIE’S TESTIMONY
When Debbie was ten years old, her stepfather began sexually molesting her. When she was thirteen, she confided in her girlfriend, Anna.
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Surely he has done great things. Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things….Joel 2: 21
The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head….Obadiah 15
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother….1 John 3: 10
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it……Hebrews 12: 10-11
Anna told her mother, who tried to protect Debbie by reporting to Debbie’s mother what she had heard. Debbie’s mother reacted with anger and disbelief. Mortified, humiliated, and afraid her husband would go to jail, she chose to protect him by telling Anna’s mother that Debbie was a difficult child who was prone to lies and tall tales and had many behavioral problems. She insisted that her husband treated all her children very well and said that she was taking Debbie to a therapist for her emotional problems. A FALSE WITNESS WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED, AND HE WHO POURS OUT LIES WILL PERISH…Proverbs 19:9.
Debbie’s mother convinced Anna’s mother that Debbie was a liar and made sure the woman would not believe anything else she heard. As a result of Debbie’s mother’s lies, Anna’s mother was convinced that Debbie was a disciplinary problem. She became concerned that Debbie would be a bad influence on Anna, and sharply curtailed the time the girls were allowed to spend together. On top of all the other trauma in her life, Debbie lost her best friend and the only person she could turn to for support.
Debbie’s mother was enraged at Debbie for telling Anna the truth. She accused Debbie of making it all up. She frightened Debbie and made her feel guilty by telling her that her stepfather was supporting all of them and if he got angry and left, or was arrested and went to jail, they would all be out on the street. Although her mother continued to insist that she didn’t believe Debbie, she then accused Debbie of dressing provocatively and trying to seduce her husband. She grounded Debbie for “starting all this trouble” and would not speak to her for weeks afterward.
Debbie had nowhere to turn. But she knew one thing for sure. The repercussions of telling the truth were too great for her to ever tell it again. She knew she would have to suffer in silence until she was old enough to get out of the house.
One good thing did come of this. After Debbie revealed what he was doing, her stepfather stopped molesting her. He could never know for sure whether she would tell someone else and was probably fearful of being caught and arrested. But Debbie didn’t know he wasn’t going to rape her again. She spent the next four years living in constant fear in her own home until she married at age 18 and got out.
Debbie is now 36 and has four kids of her own. Her marriage is not a happy one, and the husband she chose at age 18 when she felt an overwhelming need to leave her parents’ house is a chronically unemployed drug-abuser. She was devastated to find out that her stepfather had also molested her sister, who, after witnessing how their mother reacted to Debbie’s revelation, never said anything for fear of being thrown out of the house.
And here is the biggest betrayal of all – DEBBIE’S MOTHER IS STILL MARRIED TO THE MAN WHO SPENT YEARS RAPING HER DAUGHTERS! She has never apologized for not protecting Debbie (or her sister) and for discrediting her so that no one else would believe her. She has never confronted her husband. She has never shown a shred of concern for or interest in her daughters’ feelings or well-being. And her husband has never admitted what he did or showed any shame or remorse.
Debbie’s mother is an expert at denial and blaming the victims. She continues to insist her husband is a good man who was a wonderful father to her children and was so fantastic for raising another man’s kids. She innocently claims she can’t understand why her daughters won’t let her babysit her grandchildren. She adopts a “poor-me- I have such ungrateful kids” attitude with her friends and relatives while complaining about the infrequency of her daughters’ visits. She is famous for saying she “just doesn’t know why they act that way”. NO ONE WHO PRACTICES DECEIT WILL DWELL IN MY HOUSE; NO ONE WHO SPEAKS FALSELY WILL STAND IN MY PRESENCE…Psalm 101:7. Her daughters do visit occasionally with their families, as well as attend family functions, but they need to keep a vigilant eye on their own children around their mother’s husband. Besides being an outrageous liar, their mother is totally selfish and completely oblivious to the psychological trauma Debbie and her sister go through at every family event when they have to be in the presence of her husband.
Worse yet, so is everyone else in the family. Now that Debbie and her sister are in their late thirties and have children of their own, they have finally gotten up the courage to tell other family members about their childhood sexual abuse. At this point everyone in the family pretty much knows about it, but it’s like the “elephant in the living room” that everyone is perfectly well aware of but continues to deny is really there.
Support and empathy for Debbie and her sister are non-existent, and most relatives have made it know that they are uncomfortable even discussing it. Some have told Debbie that it is “in the past” and she needs to “get over it” and “let bygones be bygones.” Other relatives continue to plan get-togethers which put both Debbie and her sister in the uncomfortable position of being in their stepfather’s and mother’s presence, and everyone pretends that everything is just fine. No one invites Debbie for a relaxing evening out which she can just enjoy without having to see her parents. Somehow, they feel that would be “disloyal” to her abusive parents, so they expect Debbie to just grin and bear it.
No one has ever criticized or confronted Debbie’s rapist. To Debbie’s knowledge, no one has ever mentioned anything to her mother, either. It is as if her relatives either want to pretend they never heard what Debbie told them, or feel bad for her mother for having such a scandal in the family and consider HER the victim. Incredibly, several relatives have criticized Debbie and accused her of being “unforgiving” for not allowing her unrepentant stepfather to spend time with her daughters without her supervision. No one appreciates that, in the interest of family harmony, she does tolerate being with her parents even though it is very painful and anxiety-producing for her. Her fears for her children and determination to protect them from her rapist by not giving him an opportunity to be alone with them have made her the target of open disapproval from several other relatives.
One of Debbie’s primary motivations in revealing her past abuse to other relatives was to protect the next generation of children that were being born into the family. She knew she could not live with herself if her stepfather abused one of her cousins’ or other siblings’ children. To her horror, the painful revelation over which she agonized for so long, and which caused her to be criticized and hurt by the rest of the family, didn’t make any difference at all to her contemporaries who had young children. None of them keep their children away from her stepfather or take any steps to protect them now that they know what he did to Debbie and her sister. AWAY FROM ME, YOU EVILDOERS, THAT I MAY KEEP THE COMMANDS OF MY GOD!...Psalm 119:115.
Sometimes Debbie feels like she went through the embarrassment of revealing her sexual abuse and the reliving of her painful memories all for nothing. It was not appreciated that she was trying to protect other children in the family, and it didn’t even succeed in protecting them because their parents refuse to act on the knowledge she gave them. It made her the target of family criticism and disapproval. She feels even more upset and degraded than she did before because not one relative reacted with any indignation toward her parents at all. It’s as if no one cares about what was done to her or her feelings. She has ended up feeling victimized and uncared for by her whole family. She and her sister are thankful to have each other for the love, support, and validation no one else will give them. But they both suffer from bouts of depression, nightmares, severe anxiety, frequent illnesses, and a host of physical ailments from back pain to migraines.
SISTER KATHY’S TESTIMONY
Kathy and Diane are cousins who had always had a give-and-take, fairly equal relationship. When Diane’s husband left her, she turned to Kathy for support, and then went way overboard in expecting Kathy to be there for her 24/7. She called Kathy night and day with every detail of her personal crisis. She interrupted Kathy at work, woke her up in the middle of the night, and rang her doorbell at inconvenient times. Kathy loved her cousin and did everything possible to be supportive. She was very patient even thought Diane was taking up hours of her time every week and causing her to stress over other responsibilities that she was not able to attend to because of Diane’s constant demands on her time and attention.
Diane’s hurt and indignation eventually turned to rage. Out of spite, she dragged the divorce out for months and did every nasty thing she could think of to her ex. She vented non-stop to Kathy, compelled to immediately express every dark thought that entered her head. No matter how Kathy tried to calm her or what she suggested as a way to compromise with her ex and move on, Diane was bent on anger and revenge. Sometimes she asked Kathy for her opinion or advice, but never followed any of Kathy’s suggestions and would snap at Kathy if her honest opinion wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Kathy began to lose respect for Diane and to doubt that she really ever wanted the divorce to be over with- it seemed as if she was doing everything she could to maintain a connection to her ex, even a hostile one. Finally the divorce was over, Diane seemed to be moving on, and Kathy hoped that she would calm down and their relationship could return to normal. But over the course of this two-year situation, something about Diane had changed. She had become a drama-queen. It was as if she was thriving and getting high on the ups-and-downs, wild mood swings, and emotionally-charged atmosphere her life had become. Instead of calming down, she began to find one reason after another to maintain her level of upset or anger. She became involved in one situation after another that was filled with drama and angst- at least to hear her tell it. Annoying little inconveniences became major catastrophes and every one had to be discussed ad nauseum with Kathy.
Diane exhausted Kathy with her constant venting, complaining and reporting of every detail of her life. Their relationship never went back to being two-sided. Diane had become totally self-centered and had no interest in listening to anything about Kathy’s life, only in talking about herself.
Finally, Kathy got a break when Diane began seriously dating one particular man. Diane became so involved with this man that she practically dropped Kathy. As relieved as she was, Kathy could not help but feel a little resentful that Diane now seemed to have no time for her.
Eventually Diane became engaged and married her new man. Kathy and her husband attended the wedding, gave them a very generous gift, and wished them well. All was well for a couple of years, with the two couples getting together and socializing frequently.
Then the tables unexpectedly turned. Kathy discovered that her husband was having an affair and wanted a divorce. She was shocked, devastated and heartbroken. But at least she would have her cousin Diane, who had been down this road before, to support her through this difficult time.
Well, you guessed it. Diane gave Kathy very little of her time, in fact, she often seemed to be blowing Kathy off. Whenever Kathy needed to talk, Diane would change the subject or say she had to go. Sometimes, Diane would not return Kathy’s phone calls. Once, she told Kathy that she was busy enjoying her relationship with her new husband and didn’t have much time to devote to anyone else. Never mind that in the past, she had monopolized so much of Kathy’s time with her issues that she might even have been partly responsible for Kathy’s husband’s dissatisfaction with their marriage.
Next, Diane said that hearing about Kathy’s divorce made her uncomfortable and brought back bad memories for her. She stated that she just wanted to be happy with her new husband and not think about “anything negative” (like unhappy marriages!)
Eventually, Diane inadvertently admitted to something interesting. She mentioned that her new husband and Kathy’s ex had become good friends, and that she didn’t want to be put in the middle or make her new husband angry. Kathy suddenly realized that several things she had confided to Diane had made their way back to her ex through Diane’s husband. She knew she could no longer trust Diane and would have to avoid telling her anything relevant.
After their divorce became final, Kathy’s ex married his girlfriend. Treacherous Diane and her new husband have remained friends with Kathy’s ex and see him and his new wife frequently. Diane has never batted an eye at betraying her cousin and thinks she is perfectly justified in stabbing Kathy in the back in order to keep her own new husband happy.
Diane actions have caused a major family problem, and the family’s lack of action has compounded it. Although the alternative seems clear (MEN OF PERVERSE HEART SHALL BE FAR FROM ME; I WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EVIL…Psalm 101:4), every family event is fraught with stress, aggravation and discomfort as family members struggle with thinking they have to invite both Kathy and Diane. Relatives squirm uncomfortably all night long being in the same room with both of them. While most disapprove of Diane’s actions, they feel awkward around Kathy as well, especially in situations, OF THEIR OWN CREATION, that bring them all together. No one has had the backbone to openly voice their disapproval of Diane’s behavior and stand up for Kathy; therefore, everyone continues to put themselves, not to mention Kathy, in awkward positions.
It hurts Kathy to see Diane and her husband because of their disloyalty and betrayal of her, and their continued friendship with her ex and the woman who broke up her marriage, but no relative has the integrity to protect Kathy and not invite Diane. As a result of their own cowardice and failure to stand up for what is right, family members feel guilty and are starting to avoid both Kathy and Diane, resulting in Kathy being victimized yet again by her unrighteous family.
A FEW WORDS OF TESTIMONY FROM ME
Although the names and identifying details have been changed, these testimonies are true and distressing examples of family betrayal and treachery.
I have already told details of my testimony of family betrayal in the articles “My Holiday Deliverance” (see Happier Holidays on our website), “Why Don’t They Just Apologize?”( see Repenting & Apologies on our site), and “The Silent Partner” (see The Silent Partner and The Silent Majority on our site). I don’t feel that my abuse compares to Kathy’s and certainly not to Debbie’s; however, it is valuable in terms of some insights.
To make a long story very short, my mother broke off her relationship with me after I began to set limits on my birth-father’s abuse, which was hurting my children and husband and causing me serious life-threatening health problems. My mother then lied to my birth-sister, aunt, and two cousins about what had really happened between us. She wore her poor, sweet, innocent persona as she badmouthed me and made up lies to cover up what she had done, and discredited me with my family, so that no one would believe anything I might say.
Without ever getting my side of the story, these ex-relatives then proceeded to drop me, as well as my husband and children, out of their lives. They refused to speak to me or my family anymore. They even hurt my child by ignoring invitations to his graduation party- not RSVP-ing, or even sending so much as a card- although in the past, he had taken time off from his job and lost wages a number of times to attend their children’s weddings and other events.
Most disturbing of all is that my mother, as well as all four of these other women, had witnessed first-hand my birth-father’s abuse, perhaps hundreds of times, during my entire lifetime. My mother, as well as my birth-sister to a small degree, and probably my aunt (who was my father’s sister), had been victims of his abuse themselves. Not one of these relatives had ever defended me when my father was abusing me. Even when I was a child, my aunt as well as my mother, watched me being abused without ever protesting. For 47 years, they all stood by silently and let an abuser get away with victimizing someone they claimed to love.
And now, suddenly they had amnesia. Because of their own shame, my ethically-challenged relatives were happy to conveniently forget what they had seen with their own eyes time and time again. Far better to “believe” my mother’s lies than to admit what they had allowed to go on in their family for decades. My mother gave them an excuse to pretend what they had ignored for years never really existed. If it were not for the rest of my relatives validating my experiences, encouraging and supporting me, I would have been completely devastated.
WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
In my family, defending me would have meant admitting what they did, so it was easier to “punish” me for rocking the boat. Not only were they not going to protect me, they were angry at me for finally protecting myself- and my children! Their indignation was directed at me and my family instead of the abuser himself, and we were shunned from their family, simply because I dared to stand up and say “No More.” My courage in defending myself and my children made them look bad. I stood against evil, they accepted and condoned evil. Seeing me would have been a constant reminder of how disgraceful, cowardly, and corrupt they were, so better to avoid me, and then justify their betrayal by turning me into the “villain”.
One conclusion is that just about every member of Debbie and Kathy’s families, and certainly these five members of my family, are just morally bankrupt. Kathy’s family is inconsiderate of her feelings and sends the message that such a family betrayal brings no consequences to the perpetrator. Debbie’s family is condoning child sexual abuse and incest, as well as serving up a fresh batch of victims to Debbie’s perverted stepfather on a silver platter.
As for my ex-relatives, keep in mind that their way of registering their disapproval of someone whose actions they find unacceptable is to stop speaking to that person. They are well aware of the unspeakable evil my birth-father did to my mother, whom they all claimed to love so much, before she died, not to mention the way he treated her throughout their marriage (see “A Portrait Of Evil” in the Reprobates & Cutting Ties section of our website for just part of this story). Yet, not only do they still speak to him, but they socialize with him regularly and even invite him and his wife, who was his mistress while he was married to my mother, for holidays. So what does that say about them? If they disapproved, they would have disowned my birth-father, but they continue their relationship with him; therefore, the only possible conclusion is that they condone what he has done and approve of his evil. It is acceptable to them. Birds of a feather stick together, and they are every bit as morally corrupt as he is.
By their silence, all of these relatives give their tacit approval to Diane’s disgraceful betrayal of Kathy, the lifelong abusiveness of my birth-father, and Debbie’s degenerate stepfather’s incestuous sexual abuse of children. To hear them tell it, they “don’t want to take sides”, but in actuality, that is exactly what they are doing. They are taking the abuser’s side against the victim. They are enablers, allowing the abuser to continue harming innocent family members with no consequences. They clear the path for the abuser, literally helping him and making it possible for him to hurt or even destroy their so-called “loved ones”.
The fact that the abuser’s presence makes the victims feel uncomfortable is not a subject for discussion. No one is going to stop inviting him just because of a little quirk like being a rapist, treacherous, cruel, or abusive. Everyone prefers to ignore this, because it highlights their own disloyalty and lack of honor in standing up for what is right.
These families make every effort to make sure the abusers feel comfortable and at home. They bend over backwards to accept abusive behavior. Treacherous, disloyal back-stabbers and sexual predators are welcomed at family gatherings, and relatives go out of their way to make them feel they are not being left out or looked down on because of their actions. In fact, the family tries very hard not to even acknowledge or mention the abuser’s unacceptable behavior- that is, until someone finally stands up and does the right thing. Then the family will band together like a pack of hyenas and attack the one righteous person who had the nerve to rock the boat.
BLAME THE VICTIM, NOT THE PERPETRATOR, FOR SHAMING THE FAMILY
In normal families, the abuser would be held responsible for disrupting the family and bringing shame upon it. But in dysfunctional families, the resentment is directed at the victims, for “putting everyone else in the middle”. Debbie revealed her childhood molestation, after much soul-searching, with all good intentions, to protect other children in the family, but her family was not comfortable with her revelation and blames her for their discomfort, rather than blaming the family rapist.
Kathy did not need to reveal what Diane did to her- Diane herself made no attempt to hide her treachery, only to justify it with the excuse that she was keeping her new husband happy, as if his recent friendship with Kathy’s ex was an acceptable excuse to destroy a lifelong, loving, family relationship. Yet Kathy is still paying the price in terms of strained relationships with family members who prefer to pretend everything was just as it had always been and Diane never did what she did.
An abusive family strives to protect itself and its “good name” from the shame of betrayal, disloyalty, or abuse being revealed to others. The family closes ranks, and victims are discouraged from revealing or discussing the truth. To make this point, the family will try everything from “helpful suggestions” on how the victim could have prevented her own abuse, or what she did to “deserve” it, to ignoring the victim’s pain, to ostracizing the victim from the family. It is the victim, rather than the abuser, who is seen as “disloyal” to the family.
…CONT’D IN PART 2 ON OUR SITE OR THE MAY 2007 ISSUE, WHERE WE WILL LEARN ABOUT THE LORD OF THE FLIES FAMILY MOB MENTALITY, CASES OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, DON’T ROCK THE BOAT, UGLY LITTLE FAMILY SECRETS, WE’RE ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY AND DON’T YOU DARE LET ANYONE THINK WE’RE NOT, THE BLACK SHEEP CONTENT OF A FAMILY, AND THE FABLE OF THE EAGLE WHO WAS RAISED BY CHICKENS……
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips……Proverbs 27:2
REBUKE-IT’S FOR THEIR OWN GOOD
By Rev. Renee Pittelli
SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, FOR THE RIGHTS OF ALL WHO ARE DESTITUTE. SPEAK UP AND JUDGE FAIRLY: DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF THE POOR AND NEEDY……Proverbs 31: 8-9
DO NOT HATE YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR HEART. REBUKE YOUR NEIGHBOR FRANKLY SO YOU WILL NOT SHARE IN HIS GUILT……Leviticus 19: 17
THOSE WHO SIN ARE TO BE REBUKED PUBLICLY, SO THAT THE OTHERS MAY TAKE WARNING……..1 Timothy
MEN OF PERVERSE HEART SHALL BE FAR FROM ME: I WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EVIL. WHOEVER SLANDERS HIS NEIGHBOR IN SECRET, HIM WILL I PUT TO SILENCE; WHOEVER HAS HAUGHTY EYES AND A PROUD HEART, HIM WILL I NOT ENDURE…….NO ONE WHO PRACTICES DECEIT WILL DWELL IN MY HOUSE; NO ONE WHO SPEAKS FALSELY WILL STAND IN MY PRESENCE. EVERY MORNING I WILL PUT TO SILENCE ALL THE WICKED IN THE LAND: I WILL CUT OFF EVERY EVILDOER FROM THE CITY OF THE LORD…..Psalm 101: 4-5, 7-8
REBUKE: (v) TO CRITICIZE SHARPLY, TO REPROVE SEVERELY; TO REPRIMAND.
(n) AN EXPRESSION OF STRONG DISAPPROVAL
“SON OF MAN, I HAVE MADE YOU A
WATCHMAN FOR THE HOUSE OF
Wow, the Lord can’t make it any clearer than that! If ever we had any doubts that God wants us to take a stand and speak up against evil, this passage should remove them. The Lord tells us that WE SIN when we remain silent about wrongdoing. God tells us that we are doing an offender a FAVOR by rebuking her. Offenders themselves may not see it that way, but quite frankly, their opinion doesn’t matter.
Although we hesitate and sometimes don’t know quite what to say,, rebuking a wrongdoer isn’t really that complicated. Rebuke is simply making a statement directly to the offender. It is saying to him, “What you’re doing is wrong, and I don’t condone it”, or “What you did was wrong, and you need to be accountable for it.”
Rebuke is not condemnation, rebuke is CORRECTION. It is teaching, pointing someone in the right direction, showing him, by our disapproval of his behavior, what is appropriate and acceptable. When we rebuke, we are warning a wicked person. We are giving her a chance to change her ways and save her soul. God WANTS her to turn from evil and be saved,. He does not want anyone to continue sinning and be condemned to hell. Therefore, he assigns us a divine mandate to REBUKE when we see evil being committed.
So why are we so reluctant to speak up? Maybe we never thought of it as being on a Mission From God before. Yet, that is what it is. Our mission is to turn as many souls to the Lord and away from the devil as possible. And rebuke is the God-given tool by which we will do that.
Unfortunately, few wicked people, or “fools” will turn from their sin, but the Bible tells us that righteous people will appreciate our rebuke and heed us. By rebuking, we can help good people to see the error of their ways, avoid destructive or hurtful behavior, grow in the Lord, and walk more closely with God. REBUKE A WISE MAN AND HE WILL LOVE YOU,. INSTRUCT A WISE MAN AND HE WILL BE WISER STILL; TEACH A RIGHTEOUS MAN AND HE WILL ADD TO HIS LEARNING…..Proverbs 9: 8-9. HE WHO REBUKES A MAN WILL IN THE END GAIN MORE FAVOR THAN HE WHO HAS A FLATTERING TONGUE…Proverbs 28:23. FLOG A MOCKER, AND THE SIMPLE WILL LEARN PRUDENCE: REBUKE A DISCERNING MAN, AND HE WILL GAIN KNOWLEDGE……Proverbs 19: 25. THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE, BUT FOOLS DESPISE WISDOM AND DISCIPLINE…..Proverbs 1:7. This is a Biblical version of “You can’t win them all”, but we’re still supposed to try, Those who can be saved, will be saved, and those who can’t be saved, by their own choice, won’t be.
Rebuking is different from setting limits or boundaries. We set boundaries on FUTURE behavior, but we rebuke PAST or PRESENT behavior. We usually rebuke ONGOING behavior, but we might also rebuke a one-time offense which caused pain for us or someone else.
Many times rebuking goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries. After we have rebuked an offender for something they have already done, or are doing on a continual basis, we then set limits on what we will tolerate from then on. The rebuke is the first step in letting someone know that their actions or words are unacceptable and will not be condoned. The boundaries are the next step, to make clear what is or is not acceptable in the future.
Rebuking can be described as “speaking the truth in love”. BOTH TRUTH AND LOVE are equally important. Being loving does not mean that we cover up, whitewash, avoid, or deny speaking the truth. And telling it like it is does not mean we are not loving, although offenders will often try to make us feel guilty for doing so. Speaking the truth is stating, quite simply and clearly, what the offender has done, that his behavior is unacceptable, and what the results of his actions or words were, including pain inflicted on someone else. Since we did not cause the pain, describing it and stating the facts is nothing for US to feel guilt over.
Speaking the truth plainly does not mean we cannot do it with love. We need to at least start out with a spirit of reconciliation and the hope of resolving the problem. Whether this is possible or not is not solely up to us, but will depend upon the offender’s reaction to our rebuke. Our only obligation is to live in peace with others AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON US. (Romans ) However, God realizes that it is not always possible to live in peace with everybody because it does not always depend on US, and we need to realize that, too. We are not responsible for an abuser’s negative reaction to our rebuke or his refusal to listen to rebuke. We are only responsible to rebuke him in the first place. If he refuses to repent and change his ways, our responsibility ends and we are released from any obligation to continue the relationship under those circumstances. In fact, at this point, the Bible tells us to have nothing further to do with him ( Titus 3:10-11; Matthew 18:15-17, Mark 6:11, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, 17-18, 2 Timothy 3: 2-5, Matthew 7:6, 1 Corinthians 15:33, 1 Corinthians 5: 2, 4-5, 11, 13, Proverbs 22:10, 24-25, Deuteronomy 17:7 ).
Rebuking with love does not mean we must be passive, wishy-washy, reluctant, or even calm when we rebuke. How we approach rebuking an offender has more to do with HIS nature than ours. We need to adapt our approach to the offender’s personality and character.
Jesus tailored the forcefulness of his rebukes to the personalities of those he was rebuking. When he met the Samaritan woman at the well, he stated the facts of her sin gently but firmly. “I HAVE NO HUSBAND,” SHE REPLIED. JESUS SAID TO HER, “YOU ARE RIGHT WHEN YOU SAY YOU HAVE NO HUSBAND. THE FACT IS, YOU HAVE HAD FIVE HUSBANDS, AND THE MAN YOU NOW HAVE IS NOT YOUR HUSBAND. WHAT YOU HAVE JUST SAID IS QUITE TRUE”…..John -17.
Jesus knew the hearts of his disciples and rebuked them gently as well: THOMAS SAID TO HIM. “MY LORD AND MY GOD!” THEN JESUS TOLD HIM, “BECAUSE YOU HAVE SEEN ME, YOU HAVE BELIEVED; BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET HAVE BELIEVED”….John -29.
“SIMON, SIMON, SATAN HAS ASKED TO SIFT YOU AS WHEAT. BUT I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU, SIMON, THAT YOUR FAITH MAY NOT FAIL. AND WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED BACK, STRENGTHEN YOUR BROTHERS.” BUT HE REPLIED, “LORD, I AM READY TO GO WITH YOU TO PRISON AND TO DEATH.” JESUS ANSWERED, “ I TELL YOU, PETER, BEFORE THE ROOSTER CROWS TODAY, YOU WILL DENY THREE TIMES THAT YOU KNOW ME.”….Luke 22: 31-34
With some people, we will need to take a mild, although firm, approach, because anything stronger will overwhelm or devastate them. These people are usually not chronic abusers, as chronic abusers usually have much thicker skins, but are perhaps thoughtless or inconsiderate. Blasting them with both barrels would be very hurtful and counterproductive. We may wind up doing far more damage to the relationship than the original offense did. Approaching them in a calm, laid-back manner and with a spirit of cooperation will give us the best chance for restoring the relationship to one that we can all be happy with. This is the best possible scenario, where everyone involved acts out of love, so that everyone’s feelings can be validated and hurtful behavior will stop.
Unfortunately, at the other extreme is the malicious abuser- the one whose behavior is outrageous and destructive- the one who betrayed you- the psychopath who couldn’t care less about anybody but herself- the one who makes your life, and probably everyone else’s, a living hell. This is not the type of offender you pussy-foot around. You are never going to get anywhere with such a person by being gentle and low-key. You will probably have no choice but to raise your voice just to be heard. This is the time to break out the big guns, make sure your rebuke is very strong, and make your disapproval of his behavior loud and clear. Allow yourself some righteous anger, and allow that anger to show.
Now none of this means that you don’t love your relative anyway- indeed, you are putting yourself through all this turmoil just to make your relationship better. It simply means that your relative’s stubborn, stiff-necked, or unloving nature makes it necessary for your rebuke to be powerful. Anything less, and this abuser will just steamroll right over you, and nothing will be accomplished at all.
Again, we turn to Jesus’ example to teach us how to forcefully rebuke a prideful, stubborn, or seriously abusive person when the situation calls for it. His rebukes of the Pharisees illustrate for us how to confront those who will not turn from their evil: “WOE TO YOU, TEACHERS OF THE LAW AND PHARISEES, YOU HYPOCRITES! YOU TRAVEL OVER LAND AND SEA TO WIN A SINGLE CONVERT, AND WHEN HE BECOMES ONE, YOU MAKE HIM TWICE AS MUCH A SON OF HELL AS YOU ARE.”…Matthew 23: 15
“YOU ARE LIKE WHITEWASHED TOMBS, WHICH LOOK BEAUTIFUL ON THE OUTSIDE BUT ON THE INSIDE ARE FULL OF DEAD MEN’S BONES AND EVERYTHING UNCLEAN. IN THE SAME WAY, ON THE OUTSIDE YOU APPEAR TO PEOPLE AS RIGHTEOUS BUT ON THE INSIDE YOU ARE FULL OF HYPOCRISY AND WICKEDNESS.”….Matthew 23: 27-28
“YOU SNAKES! YOU BROOD OF VIPERS! HOW WILL YOU ESCAPE BEING CONDEMNED TO HELL?.....AND SO UPON YOU WILLCOME ALL THE RIGHETOUS BLOOD THAT HAS BEEN SHED ON EARTH….”….Matthew , 35.
I smile when I try to imagine one of us having the courage to call even downright wicked people “sons of hell”, “snakes” or a “brood of vipers”. It seems we try so hard to voice our complaints about someone’s mistreatment the “peaceful” way, even though that rarely gets us anywhere with true abusers. One way of looking at it is that with some people, you might as well prepare yourself because there is no way, no matter how nicely you try to approach them, that you are not going to wind up in a big fight anyhow. This is THEIR doing, NOT yours. Getting all huffy and insulted and starting an argument when you try to reason with him is an abuser’s way of diverting your attention from the real issue, so he can avoid having to apologize or agree to any change in his behavior. In fact, if he’s really good at his little act, he’ll wind up getting YOU to apologize for upsetting him! This will also guarantee that in the future, you’ll be reluctant to ever again bring up anything else you might need to get resolved with him.
YOUR challenge, on the other hand, with a “professional” abuser, is to turn the tables on his strategy, and to make the confrontation so unpleasant for HIM that HE’LL be the one who is reluctant to rattle YOUR cage again.. If you succeed, there actually is a chance that you’ll be able to resume a reasonably pleasant relationship with this person, because, if nothing else, at least he’ll have some respect for you and hopefully be more careful about ignoring your boundaries in the future. If you can get him to censor what he says and does around you in the future, your interactions will at least be tolerable, should you choose to continue in the relationship, and whatever it takes to accomplish that should be tried. Again, although it is not the first and best choice, you can still love your relative and rebuke her severely if her own hard-hearted nature makes it necessary.
When rebuking a fellow believer, by all means, point out what the Bible says about his behavior. It is very important to lovingly show him how his sin will separate him from God. Unfortunately, this very important point, which means so much to us as Christians, will have absolutely no effect on a non-believer. When the offender is a non-believer, the strongest motivation for him to change will be social censure and the disapproval of his peers. You will find this is true of some “Christians” as well. But since WE are Christians- no matter who we are rebuking- it is very important for US to make it clear that WE do not condone hurtful behavior , and that WE strongly disapprove of wrongdoing.
The one you are rebuking may very well believe you are not being loving, and may accuse you of “harshness”, “attacking” her, etc. But just because she feels unloved at this particular time, does not mean it is true. You can tell her you are sorry she feels that way but that doesn’t change the fact that what she did was wrong and you do not accept it. Such a reaction is the result of her own pridefulness and the shame she feels at being confronted with her unacceptable behavior. Rather than learn from your rebuke and repent, she chooses to try and turn it around to make YOU feel guilty for speaking up to her. An abuser’s negative reaction does not mean we are wrong for rebuking her. Her reaction really doesn’t matter. It is not our job to make her happy at the price of turning a blind eye to her wrongdoing. Our only obligation is to be obedient to the Lord and stand up and confront wickedness as he has told us to do.
Here are some examples of rebuke in some common situations. First, I have given the mild version (A), and secondly, the more forceful version of these examples (B), for when the milder versions won’t work. These are just examples of dialog to demonstrate how rebuke might sound. The possible situations which might call for rebuke are endless and it is impossible to give exact examples to cover every circumstance, but I hope to give you some ideas as a jumping-off point:
(A)It was wrong of you to keep that money when the clerk gave you too much change. What if it comes out of the clerk’s pocket? You need to give it back.
(B)It is dishonest of you not to return that money. That’s stealing! Since when are you a thief? I’m ashamed of you!
(A)You embarrassed me when you told Aunt Marge about my marital problems. You broke a confidence and now I feel as if I can’t trust you anymore.
(B)How dare you tell anyone my personal business? It’s not your place to talk about me to others. If I want anyone to know my business, I’ll tell them myself!
(A)I know you don’t realize this,, but your behavior is inappropriate and your judgment is poor when you’ve been drinking. So you cannot be with my children if you’ve had a drink.
(B)Being drunk in front of the kids is totally unacceptable! You are never to drink in their presence again!
(A)I don’t like it when you raise your voice to me. Let’s stop this conversation now and pick it up again after we’ve both calmed down.
(B)I am another adult, not a naughty child you think you can yell at. From now on, you will address me with respect, is that clear?
(A)Maybe you didn’t mean to hurt Sally’s feelings, but what you said to her sounded a lot like criticism. I think you owe her an apology.
(B)Sometimes you say very hurtful things and you need to keep that in check when talking to Sally. No one really wants to hear your criticism. You need to apologize to her for what you said,.
(A)Let’s try and make our get-togethers enjoyable for both of us. I don’t want to spend our time together listening to you evaluate me, so please stop.
(B)If you are going to be judgmental of my life, then you need to keep your opinions to yourself. What I do is none of your business!
(A)How could you say that about Ellen? You know that’s not true. You need to go back and set the record straight.
(B)Why did you pass malicious gossip around about Ellen? You are a liar! She never did what you said, and she never did anything to deserve such treatment from you. I will not let you get away with hurting her reputation. You need to go back and admit to everyone that you just made it up!
(A)You know, Joe, you can’t always have what you want when you want it. You need to be a little patient.
(B)You know, Joe, you seem to think you’re the only one who’s waiting for this. Stop being so selfish and wait your turn like everybody else!
(A)Mom, sometimes you have to take other people’s wishes into consideration.
(B)Mom, you are being very demanding and selfish. It’s not all about you. Try to have a little consideration for somebody else for a change.
Sometimes, there are situations in which the behavior is just so wrong that a mild rebuke would be inappropriate. These are times we need to be direct and tell the offender in plain language that he is WRONG! Only forceful rebuke fits certain circumstances:
“You used my apartment to cheat on your wife? How dare you involve me in your adultery! I will not be a party to this. Give me my key back now- you’re not welcome here anymore!”
“I know you beat Jessie up. Your behavior is deplorable. You need psychiatric help! Stay away from me and my family!”
“No, I’m not your friend since you were convicted of child molestation. I don’t have friends who are child- molesters! I have to have SOME standards- What’s next, serial killers?”
“How can you have anything to do with Jim now that he’s in prison for raping your daughter? That’s disgusting! As long as you continue to support the pervert who raped your own child, I will have nothing to do with you!”
“You stole money from your sister?! That is disgraceful and despicable! What kind of lowlife are you?”
Mild or forceful, rebuke of a truly wicked person has little chance of actually working. The Bible tells us not to bother rebuking fools who will not listen. The point of rebuke is to correct and help turn from sin those who will listen, and to at least stand up to the evil of those who will not. The Lord’s judgment is righteous and perfect and all who continue in their evil ways will be punished. Our job is to rebuke wrongdoers, for their own sakes, and to try to influence them to repent. But God does not tell us to try forever- once we have given an offender fair warning that his behavior is wrong, then if he remains stubborn and continues in his sin, we are to give up and let him be. The Lord will deal with him after that.
HE WHO HEEDS DISCIPLINE SHOWS THE WAY TO LIFE, BUT WHOEVER IGNORES CORRECTION LEADS OTHERS ASTRAY…..Proverbs .
HE WHO LISTENS TO A LIFE-GIVING REBUKE WILL BE AT HOME AMONG THE WISE. HE WHO IGNORES DISCIPLINE DESPISES HIMSELF, BUT WHOEVER HEEDS CORRECTION GAINS UNDERSTANDING…..Proverbs 15: 31-32.
In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man,,,, Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”….I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done…..,Psalm 118: 5-8, 15, 17
God bless you for helping us to help others!
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The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues.
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships. We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.