Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on September 23, 2014
The news has been filled with reports of violence and domestic abuse. Many of these reports have centered around football players, some of the biggest, strongest, and most recognizable men in our society. Some contend that these “bad apples” are the exception within a culture of men with honor and integrity. Others note that these reports are merely symptomatic of a widespread problem within our broader culture. Reactions have covered the spectrum with some blaming the victims as instigators and with others offering swift condemnation and stiff consequences to send the unequivocal message that this behavior is unacceptable.
Can we make sense of this violence and abuse?
In the first chapters of the Bible, sin enters the world as a deceptive and destructive force that contaminates and wreaks havoc upon the earth. In Genesis 4 (the story of Cain killing Abel) sin is described as a predator “crouching”, waiting to pounce on, master, and even devour its victim. In a powerful word picture, the scripture says that sin’s “desire is for you.” Therefore, we are exhorted to “master sin.” We are to tame and exercise control and authority over sin, so that we are not devoured and destroyed by it. If we do not take the initiative against sin, it will pounce!
Interesting that the only other place in the Bible that uses this particular word for “desire” is found in Genesis 3:16, describing the impact of sin upon Adam and Eve. To the woman, God said, “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This was not how God created men and women to share life together. Rather, this was a description of how life would be now that sin had entered their lives, both wanting to exert power, control, and authority over the other. And as we know, this struggle for control can be exercised and exhibited in many ways, including physical violence.
So, is there hope? Is there a better way than the constant battle for power and control in our relationships? Of course there is! It is found through the life and teachings of Jesus, who prescribed a better way to live: a radical, new way that confronts the relational battle for control. Jesus said to love your neighbor as you love yourself. He taught that power and authority are to be used to serve one another, not to lord and exercise power over another. Strength is not intended for selfish acts of violence, but for the benefit and protection of others. The Apostle Paul developed this more fully when he said that we must “do nothing from selfishness, but regard others as more important than ourselves.” He acknowledged the reality of anger, but exhorted us to not sin in our anger. He wrote that we must “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.” If we could learn how to embrace and practice these relational principles, the types of violence we have seen in the last days would come to an end.
In the meantime, let us walk with victims to find help and healing. Let us confront offenders to seek justice and redemption. Sin and violence are always crouching, ready to pounce, but let us be master over these things through love and service to one another.
Tags: sin, abuse, violence