Human nature being what it is, in my counseling office I am often presented with cases where one person has caused harm to another. Many of the cases I deal with are marital situations where husband or wife has grievously sinned against the other and have broken a sacred trust, violated the marriage covenant, or become untrustworthy in any number of ways. I have created several examples to help you understand the background. (It is important that I state that these examples while common are fictitious and do not represent any one person living or dead or any actual case history or personal story.) Example #1: Husband has been secretly viewing pornography on the internet or DVD. Wife discovers this and trust is shattered. She considers this adultery. Everything is now suspect about her husband. He is now a liar, cheater, adulterer, pervert, untrustworthy, purveyor of illicit sex, and a whoremonger.
Example #2: Wife has been spending money on credit that the family does not have. She has run all the credit cards to maximum and there is not enough money in the family budget to make the monthly payments on them plus the usual bills. After repeated attempts to stop, and numerous broken promises husband discovers wife has opened new charge accounts and is having the bills sent to her mother’s address. Husband’s trust is shattered. His wife is a liar, and has stolen from the rest of the family by her self-indulgent spending, she is untrustworthy.
Example #3: Wife has been involved with numerous extra-marital affairs. Each time she promises to never do it again. Husband has been forgiving of her, and is granting her forgiveness time and time again only to find another “love” note, receive mysterious “wrong number” phone calls, and realize his wife has unexplained missing blocks of time in her schedule. She is an adulterer, cheater, and a liar.
Example #4: Husband has always been an angry guy. He has yelled about everything their whole married life. He has never admitted he was wrong in all the years they have been married, everything has been her fault. It has gotten so bad that he has been forced to get some help (by whatever means) and has received counseling that has begun to make a difference in his life. He is viewed as angry, hostile, unreasonable, and untrustworthy.
In these situations there is always a victim. The heart of a person who has been victimized is focused on protecting self from being hurt again, this only makes good sense, correct?
The heart is the biblical term Jesus Himself used to describe the inner man. It contains your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, mind, thoughts, spirit, desires, soul, will, and every other immaterial thing about you. Your heart is the place where the essence of who you are resides.
Please allow me to draw you a word picture to help you understand. Picture the shape of a heart and in the center of that heart is you, and the heart of self desires to protect “me” as victim. Next to that heart is a box that would contain the thoughts, beliefs and desires that would flow from a heart that is protecting itself from being hurt again. Those thoughts, beliefs, and desires might look something like these:

  • I must protect myself
  • I must look out for myself
  • I must not ever let this happen to me again
  • He/she is not trustworthy
  • I must check up on everything he/she does
  • I must not be fooled again
  • Verify, verify, verify before trusting

So, we have the heart that is set on “self” and protecting “self” from being victimized or hurt again. Then we have a box flowing from that heart that contains some thoughts, beliefs, and desires someone in that position might have. And finally picture another box next to the first one. This one contains what the results of living this way would be.

  • Suspicion
  • Lack of faith
  • Lack of trust
  • Inability to move forward
  • Disbelief
  • Unresolved anger
  • Unresolved bitterness
  • A living desire to “make him/her” pay

I have seen this play out over and over in numerous people’s lives and it is a sorrow to behold. The victim is suspicious of the one who hurt them and ever-watchful- almost predatory like of the other person. The victim is suspect of many of the actions of the offender.
The victim is suspect of the motives of the offender.
The victim perceives that the offender is always plotting and scheming some new hurt.
The victim is often irrational about the actions of the offender.
The victim seeks to demonize the offender in every respect. In some cases, where there is no repentance on the part of the offender, these things are true in part or totally. In some of these cases, we teach the victim how to live with the offender in a Christ-like manner bearing up with the strength of God. In other cases we can allow the victim to seek a divorce after other means are satisfied and it is clear that hope for reconciliation is gone.
However, the majority of our cases of this kind are marital and they involve 2 believers who say they are willing to submit to our counsel and who say they are willing to change. What I find through the counseling process is that even when the presenting issue of the offender is dealt with biblically there is much work yet to be done.We will pick up here next time, if the Lord allows.