Insightful words at impeccably timed moments; Wade Mullen’s book is that kind of gift. It is an encouragement to someone like me, discerning for clarity amidst confusion.
Something’s Not Right, written by a Christian author, prompts me to wonder how the impacts of non-physical abuse might be addressed biblically. It is not enough for me if a writer or counselor simply calls themselves a Christian, I also consider whether their expertise is consistent with theology. Scriptural references to physical abuse certainly exist; In 2 Samuel 13; Amnon lures Tamar into a vulnerable place under false pretenses, raping and devastating her. Does the Bible support the existence of non-physical abuse as well? Quotes from the abuse psychologist echo scriptural references, including themes from Psalms and Proverbs. Gems abound;
“A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth… who plots evil with deceit in his heart…” Proverbs 6:14
“[The language of abuse] is a power retained through deception and used to harm and destroy lives (Mullen 2020).”
Mullen points out that we should expect wrongdoers to resist getting caught. They are sneaky! They deal in obfuscation, muddying the waters to avoid detection.
“How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it.” Proverbs 1:17
“They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say ‘Who will see it?’ They plot injustice and say, ‘We have devised a perfect plan!’ Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.” Psalm 64:5-6
Consider the kinds of traps made of words. Mullen’s discussion about threats and abuses of power bring to mind David’s years living in oppression;
“My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in anger.” Psalm 55:2-3
“Like most human behavior, intimidation exists on a spectrum and can take various forms- it does not need to rely on weapons or physical force (Mullen 2020).”
“Some of the worst forms of abuse are psychological (Mullen 2020).”
“His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” Psalm 55:21
I think someone could make the case that psychological abuse is referenced in our sacred text. Considering the Bible as the source of comfort and wisdom for all kinds of spiritual troubles, this would come as no surprise. Mullen’s book elaborates on this kind of abuse, bringing clarity to language cues that indicate abuse (or its concealment) are at play, and helping discern truth from obfuscation.
Something’s Not Right is a sobering reminder that no human arena is immune to the potential for egregious misdeeds. It is too easy even for someone like me, still constantly brushing against her scars, to abet the cause of darkness at times; To keep the lessons of overcoming just for myself. To mind my own business just a little too much. To politely observe the sweeping under rugs.
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7
“The best antidote to deception is truth. Silence grants evil exactly what it needs to be effective… Truth helps us move from confusion to clarity and from captivity to freedom (Mullen, 2020).”
Sin encompasses every style of abuse, purged at a cost. Perhaps the warning words of Wade Mullen are most timely for me; a reproof against hoarding my triumph, an encouragement to disown an overcomer’s power, and a prompt to soberly and reverently discern for truth even if it costs me, holding shrewdness in an open hand. As eager as I am to embrace teambuilding and unity, there is a time for confrontation. A time to refuse to limp away quietly from aftermaths. “A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing (Ecclesiastes 3:5).” Forgiveness and accountability coexist. It is right to dismiss the fear of adversity when circumstances justify an airing of honesty. And yet I hold out for redeeming reconciliation.
May Mullen’s encouragement for any person seeking roads out of confusion or obfuscation ring through. I highly recommend Something’s Not Right; Decoding the hidden tactics of abuse and freeing yourself from its power. Wade Mullen, 2020.
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Photo Credit: Dayan Rodio, accessed from Pexels.com, 9/22/2022