Inspired by 1 Peter 2:19-25
“When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:23-24 (NRSV)
The bible can provide words of comfort to those who are suffering, but it can also be used to justify and needlessly prolong suffering, twisting and perverting the good news of God’s grace it is intended to proclaim.
The text cited above has often been used to instruct victims of domestic violence to remain with and submit to their abusers, because one who accepts suffering and abuse as Christ did receives God’s approval. However this text is in specific reference to slaves accepting the authority of their masters, which was itself in reference to all Christians accepting the authority of every human institution. By doing so, and still remaining true to the Lord and doing right in his eyes, the faithful would silence the ignorance of the foolish. This has happened on many occasions, and human institutions have changed as a result. Although slavery was a common human institution in biblical times, the ignorance of it has since been exposed, and it is no longer an acceptable practice. Likewise, the treatment of women and children as the property of the husband and father has since been exposed as ignorance, and women and children now have the recognized right to expect safety in their home environments.
When Christ was abused, he did not return abuse. When he suffered, he did not threaten. Those examples are still worth following, regardless of the circumstances. God alone is judge, and we are called to entrust both ourselves and those who have wronged us to him. But we do not have to endure needless suffering in order to achieve our salvation; Christ has already done that for us, and it is by his wounds that we have been healed.
Let us pray. Compassionate God, you neither require nor desire us to suffer abuse or live in misery because of someone else’s selfish whims. Grant us the wisdom to discern the difference between standing firm in righteousness and suffering needlessly, that we may honor you and live the grace we have through your Son. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.