Abusers who claim to be Christians love to throw words around like forgiveness and reconciliation. It is one of many tools they use to draw the victim back into the abuse. But what they profess or claim to say is not true reconciliation. Let’s consider the biblical definition of agape love in I Corinthians 13
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The abuser longs for this type of love from their victims. They will say anything and do anything to get it. But do they give it? God calls us to love one another.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Again, the Greek word for love that is used in this verse is agape, which is the highest form of love. So if an abuser claims to be a Christian he is also called to love you in this way.
If he is demanding that you must love him with an agape love, pretend that he is talking to a mirror, talking to himself. Anything he demands of you is not given by him. This is hypocrisy. You can’t fully reconcile with a hypocrite. Partial reconciliation only means… you have fallen back into the abuse.
Tools of Love
The most obvious form of abuse comes from the tools of fear that they use. But they can also flip the coin. If their verbal, physical, or emotional abuse is no longer as effective, if the victim is beginning to move away from the abuser… they employ a false sense of love. Suddenly they are kind, seemingly repentant, and even helpful.
But their previous sins expose how false this love can be. Think of abuse like a whirlpool. The further away from the abuser you go, the more pleasant they can be. But if you are not careful, if you choose to draw back into them, the tools of fear will return until they pull you back into the abyss of physical, verbal, and emotional harm.
Love isn’t a tool. But, abusers think of everything as a tool, something to be used to achieve what they want. Even their victim is a tool to them, a thing that they pick up and use as they wish. agape love does not act in this way.
People can’t be both abusive and loving. So, if a consistently abusive person is suddenly loving, their love is always false.
Bad trees always produce bad fruit.
What is True Reconciliation?
Let’s look at the NIV version of 1 Corinthians 13
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
In verse 5, the ESV version says love is not resentful. The NIV version defines that as keeping no record of wrong. True reconciliation means forgiving someone of their past mistakes. Abusers constantly bring up the past. But then they claim that you should forgive them. They want you to be a Christian to them but they don’t act like a Christian to you.
How does love work in the present? Is it blind to present wrongdoings?
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
If you are to reconcile with a person, both parties must forgive each other for past mistakes. But both parties must also hold each other accountable to their present sins. You cannot rejoice or delight in the evil that they partake in.
Reconciliation is not possible with a person who demands love but does not return it. To those suffering from sexual abuse, Paul gives you this advice in Ephesians 5:
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them;
A Christian cannot partner with abusers, and abusers are not ever Christian. Any words of love they say does not reflect what is in their heart.
8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
We are not called to love unbelievers with agape love.
Biblical reconciliation is for believers who are equally yoked. Abusers do not consider you as equal to them. They are not believers in Christ but rather wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7). They should therefore be treated as the bible says we should treat unbelievers.
2 Corinthians 6
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial?[b] Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…
Agape love keeps no record of wrongs from the past, but in the present it doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing. It instead rejoices in the truth.
You cannot change an abuser’s heart by loving them. Surround yourself with people who will support you in this. Turn to them for help against abusers.
Flee and when you are safe, then, from a safe distance, pray for your abusers salvation and learn how to forgive them.