Compassion Requires Anger – If You Aren’t Angry then You Aren’t Compassionate

Posted: October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

I believe it was only a few weeks after we were tossed out of our church that a woman who is also a member of the church and knew my story sent me an email telling me that I shouldn’t still be hurting – after more than a decade of spiritual abuse I was supposed to be over it. So many abuse victims (whether as children, adults, sexual, physical, spiritual, emotional, etc.) are told to forgive, not to talk about what happened, to not be angry, to believe that God was/is trying to teach the victim something, to get over it already.

You are so right – seldom does anyone take the side of the victim and stand up to the perpetrator. In fact, they are more likely to stay in a relationship with the perpetrator than the victim – I know this is especially true in spiritually abusive situations where the “friends” of the victim stay in the church, continue to support the pastor and leadership, and stay silent – more than likely because they know that in speaking up, they will bring condemnation on themselves.

Thank you for such an important message. Victims need to be encouraged in knowing this important truth.

A Cry For Justice

Ok, it is time to shut down these wrong-headed and damaging notions:

1. A Christian must never be angry at another person

2. Compassion is calm, huggy, weepy, kind – milktoast.

Bleh!  Compassion. Let’s look at the word-

com + passion = feeling the feelings (passions) of another person WITH (com) that person

Yes, compassion is sympathy (sym (with) + pathos (feelings)) when it is extended toward a victim.  But when compassion, that is to say, when we enter into the victim’s passions in regard to the abuser, compassion is not calm, huggy, weepy, or even kind. It rages. It burns with wrath at the wickedness done and at the wicked person who did it. Does that sound UN-Christian or UN-godly? Then re-examine your idea of the character and nature of God.

When we claim to show compassion to someone who has been abused, then our compassion is a lie…

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  1. Dave says:

    People will likely get hung up on the “anger” aspect of the column and be uncomfortable with it, but the point is well taken. Sympathy or feeling sorry for someone requires no action; it can be done from afar, it can be done silently. True compassion involves action, it involves standing with someone and identifying with them in their hurt or their trials. It involves trying see the problem through their eyes, it involves trying to positively change or resolve or reconcile the situation or the problem. It does not mean downplaying or denying the problem.

    There is a cost. In our church hurt situation, my wife spoke up for those who were hurt, and said this situation is not right and it needs to be addressed. For that, we were labeled problems for saying there was a problem. She was told she was dwelling in the past and was refusing to move forward. She was told she was being unforgiving and just needed to let things go. She was told she was creating strife. Even friends said, if that is how you feel, why don’t you just move on to a different church?

    The original words and actions that resulted in hurt were downplayed and never addressed or resolved, because instead it all became about how the people saying there was a problem were the real problem. Problems that were easily fixable instead grew into much bigger problems once defensive positions were assumed and the shields and walls were raised.

    All completely unnecessary. All resolvable if there were only a degree of empathy and compassion. And humility.

    • Ellen says:

      I think the fact that so many people “get hung up on the anger” is one of the strong points of this post. Those of us who have suffered abuse are supposed to be loving, forgiving, kind, and compassionate toward our abusers and those who support them and if we are not, we are judged to be less Christian than those who damaged us. Ultimately, this adds to the impact of the abuse by further diminishing us.

      From your description, your situation is very common – though no less painful. Also, the experience you describe sends a message to everyone else to keep their mouths shut to the abuses or they will suffer a similar, if not worse, fate.

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