Lie Number Four: The “Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) applies to my abusive marriage.
We came home from another tense night out and I just wanted to go to bed. I rubbed my temples and made my way to the bedroom, desperately hoping to avoid what I had learned was unavoidable. I felt him grip my arm and I knew I was in for it. “You don’t walk away from me when I am talking to you!” I ended up on the floor, lying in the fetal position and sobbing as he screamed obscenities over me. Dishes and pans sailed across the kitchen and I squeezed my eyes as tightly as I could. I begged God to make it stop. Eventually the noise and the screaming subsided but I just stayed on the floor, tucked in a ball. I don’t really know how long I laid there, but after a while I heard my husband calling my name from the bedroom. He was calm. He was relaxed. He just wanted to talk. I wiped the tears from my cheeks with my sleeves and I made my way to the bedroom and sat on the floor. I put my head down and began to weep. “I just can’t do this anymore.” What happened next actually makes me physically ill when I recall it. My husband reached between the box spring and the mattress and produced a loaded gun. He spent the next several minutes trying to convince me to shoot myself in the head. I didn’t have to feel anymore pain, he said. It could all end that night. By the grace of God I chose life. And I got the message loud and clear. I shut up. No more crying. No more talking about my pain and how I couldn’t take it. When it was clear that I had come to my senses, my husband drifted off into peaceful slumber while I laid awake, staring at the ceiling.
As I lay in the darkness I wondered if God had anything to say about what I had just endured. And for the first time in three years of marriage I actually entertained the thought of leaving my husband. “I am not ready to die, Jesus. If I stay I might die.” Something was telling me to sneak out of the bed and run. Run to my family. Run to a friend. Run to a neighbor – anyone who could help me. Maybe I should run and tell someone. And that is when I heard an internal voice, not originating with me, speaking scriptures into my mind. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) Whoever was speaking into my soul reminded me that this passage of scripture was read aloud at my wedding. “Do you believe God or not?” I continued to stare into the blackness as I pondered that very important question. “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs…God calls me as a Christian to let go of this. Yes. He is calling me to forgive… Love always hopes… If I truly desire to live in obedience to God I cannot lose hope… Love always perseveres… I can’t give up. God has called me to endure… Love never fails…” I thought about that last declaration for a long time. “If I truly love my husband the way God is calling to me to love him, it won’t fail. God promises that love never fails.” Of course the voice failed to mention all the ways my husband had violated every one of the declarations in the “Love Chapter” in a single night. I took a deep breath, rolled onto my side, and decided that I would obey the scriptures even if it meant I was going to die.
If you only retain one sentence out of this entire post please let the following sentence be the one: Satan (the evil spirit), is an impostor. He does not wear a red jumpsuit and carry a pitch fork. He does not have pointy horns and a long tail. And he will never speak plainly to you: “Greetings. I am Satan and I have come to destroy you.” In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we are told that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He used to live in heaven. He was the chief worship leader. And he knows scripture. Now that I am no longer living in darkness, I am convinced that the voice telling me to run was the Holy Spirit. The voice that brought the “Love Chapter” to mind after my husband tried to convince me to shoot myself in the head, was the evil spirit. Because I listened to the lies of the evil spirit instead of the truth of the Holy Spirit, I spent nineteen more years in hell. Satan deceived me with scripture, and I am going to do everything I can, in the power and anointing of Jesus, to make darn sure he doesn’t do the same thing to you.
During the two and a half years that I spent clawing my way out of abuse and into freedom, I spent countless hours facedown on my living room carpet. As I poured out my heart to the Lord and soaked up his presence I wrestled with the lies that I am writing about. During this time I came to understand that God will never speak anything into your life that is contrary to his character. Therefore, if a scripture is brought to your mind that leads you to a conclusion that is in direct opposition to the truth of God’s character, you must reject that word for your particular situation. Scripture, when taken out of context, can be used for evil. Throughout history the holy scriptures have been used to legitimize the lynching of people with black skin, and the mass murder of Jews.
So that brings us to a very important question: What is the character of God? The answer to that question is so beautiful and so simple that there is no room for misinterpretation. God is love (1 John 4:16). Take a moment and just breath that in. God is love. He is not terror. He is not violence. He is not evil. God is love. So if God is love, then 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter” is actually talking about him! The love of God is patient and kind. The love of God keeps no record of wrongs. The love of God always hopes. The love of God always perseveres. And here comes the kicker: The love of God never fails. There is no pit too deep, no circumstance too dire for God because he is love. God is love and love never fails. I pray that you will choose the love of God over the lies of the enemy. May the Holy Spirit grant you spiritual insight so that the evil spirit will not succeed in using the scriptures to deceive you. Amen.