Emotional Abuse vs. Christian Love

At times we here at Millennial Star compose posts or publish guest posts that provoke firestorms of controversy.

The most exceptional post of this sort was published during the attempt by some to coerce the Church to ordain women. I think the title was “OW: Thanks for Nothing!” For myself, I was disappointed to learn that the author was using a pseudonym, unwilling to put their own name to the biting commentary they asked us to publish.

Others are willing to put their name to biting commentary. If you don’t know which posts might fit into that category, I’m not going to bother pointing them out. The commentary tends to devolve to “How could you be so wrong!?!” versus “I/He/She was obviously right!!!”

Social media and the internet provide us an unprecedented opportunity to advocate for our particular worldview. As we become enveloped in our micro-universe, we can lose track of the fact that reasonable people might disagree with us. As we drift further and further into our isolation from respectful dialogue, we begin to denigrate those who are so ignorant and hurtful as to not think like we do.

There is no ideology whose adherents are immune from falling into this sort of bubble universe.

It is easy for the conservative Christian to presume that all advocacy for LGBTQIA individuals is hateful and destructive.

Similarly, it is easy for the non-heteronormal aka non-cis-gender individual to presume that all conservative religionists are similarly hateful and destructive.

Whatever our point of reference, it can become tempting to do whatever it might take to strip individuals of their hateful and destructive behaviors or thoughts. And this is the point when we start “lovingly” doing hateful and destructive things to the persons we claim are so hateful and destructive.

This is emotional abuse. And it can be accomplished by all walks of people.

This past weekend I had the privilege of conversing with a man who, though born to parents who had married in the temple, did not consider himself a Christian as a youth. Yet there came a time when this man felt called to embrace Christ. He described that opening his heart to Christ clarified how much the man had sinned, yet at the same time the man knew that Christ loved him and embraced him.

This love did not ignore error.

This honesty did not preclude hope.

True Christian love both embraces the one who errs while refusing to ignore the harm that has been done.

To consider one recent situation, true Christian love of pedophile priests would have affirmed that Christ could love even such sinners, yet promptly and permanently removed such priests from the opportunity to harm others.

True Christian love of victims would have affirmed that Christ could love even such befouled innocents, and promptly gathered such innocents into safety and healing.

If we are not guided by the love and honesty of Christ, then we might inadvertently be abusive, all unknowing, cushioned in our bubble universe.

Thus writes an old woman who has better things to do that immerse herself in the echo chamber of the internet. I now return you to whatever channel you enjoy.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

7 thoughts on “Emotional Abuse vs. Christian Love

  1. Can Christian love be both true and imperfectly applied at the same time?

    I would not want to suggest that another person’s Christian love was not true, or that the person did not have true Christian love, if that person maybe really does have Christ-like love and yet I judge that he or she displayed that love imperfectly. Or, for myself, I wouldn’t want to declare that I am not a good Christian, or that my love isn’t truly based in Christ, if I notice upon reflection that I may have imperfectly showed that love. I want to think that one’s Christian love be both true and imperfectly applied?

  2. I constantly fall short of the ideal in this area.

    At best, the one I love chuckles and gathers me in for a hug nonetheless.

    At worst, the one I love screams (or writes) that they never want to have anything to do with me for the rest of our lives.

    It’s a good thing repentance is freely available to all.

  3. Side-taking and arguments about facts are useless. Evidence is useless when differing parties have differient basic assumptions of reality. It’s all about metaphysics, the things we know/assume-to-be-true-without-proof, and not realizing they are assumptions. We take them as “givens.”

    Dr. Charlton writes often on the matter:
    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/search?q=%22basic+assumptions%22+metaphysics

    if it weren’t about differing basic/underlying assumptions (and motivations) then all the smartest people would belong to the same religion and political party.

    IOW, epistemology is worthless. It’s all about metaphysics.

  4. I think even during the restoration the identities of individuals had to be concealed in certain circumstances to avoid retaliation in the public square. Sadly, even our own public/civil servants now do cursory searches of individuals by name online while reviewing a case or applicant. No need to make the job of a judgmental bigot any easier.

    Regarding priests who preach Christ and then sexually abuse children, even having the children imitate Christ in the cross in the midst of being abused, as is reported; are far from the love of God.

    I don’t like the idea of going through a limited subset of humanity whom Christ will not forgive – but clearly his love is beyond some. I the Lord will forgive whom I forgive… Implies some will not be.

    True, we most forgive, as I think that’s part of healing and receiving his love for ourselves.

    But a Christ which says depart into fire, ye never knew me or that’s it’s better for a mill stone hung around your neck and drowned or that you are good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under the feet of men is not all that lovey-dovey to a certain group of faithful and now very fallen believers.

    It’s much easier to avoid talking about these things because judgment belongs to God. But I would not be so quick to rush over their endless torment and apply the soothing balm of Christ’s love to an elect group of sinners.

  5. I really liked your post Meg. Spiritual cancer as I like to call sins require varying ways of treatment. Not all are the same and some are carried out differently. Thank God for the Great Physician in who’s name we are baptized to put our sins in remission until that day when the Lord either through physical death or translation (to the lucky few) are permanently cured. Much like cancer sins can make anyone suspicious, scornful, dismissive, mournful, as well as hungry for being well, insightful, forgiving or trustful. The greatest deception of self righteousness is that it is capable of afflicting the those who are pious as well as the unrepentant prodigal. It is the pride that your humanity is superior to another’s based on “your” perspective rather than God’s.

  6. We cannot receive a God if we don’t receive his servants and his mortal servants imperfect love is a lesson to us (who are called to be servants) are less than perfect in our love. Any demand for perfect love is idolatrous because it can only be assessed from one standard–our own. See D&C 1:16

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