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  • Virginia Brown

Is It Abuse? Part 2

Last week I wrote about our need as a church to help abused women. Abuse happens, and the Lord requires us to help those who are caught in its grip (Ps 82:4). Nevertheless, there is an inverse concern I have, and it’s this: within our therapeutic world, well-meaning Christians tend to pin the label “abuse”—and its others labels like “trauma,” “harm,” “danger”—on situations and actions that are not abusive. This error trivializes the pain abuse-victims experience, and results in our failure to see abuse for the horror that it is.

To avoid this, we must distinguish abuse from what Myles Wentz calls “ordinary harm.” Ordinary harm entails those slights, misgivings, offenses, and attacks that all people everywhere experience because we live in a fallen world. If my wife snaps at me (which she rarely does 😊), I did not suffer abuse; and if I claim to be traumatized by her comment, there’s something wrong with me. Abuse entails a degree of wickedness and stress that exceeds ordinary harm.

If everything is abuse, nothing is abuse. We must protect “abuse” from devolving into a meaningless concept by only applying this label—and others like trauma, harm, and danger—to situations that demand it. Not every slight is trauma; not every offensive comment is harmful; not every unkind interaction is abuse. Resist the hyper-therapeuticizing of our age, so we can help those who suffer at the hands of other people.

Pastor Chance


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