The Abusive Brother

As well as being part of  a human family, we are also part of a spiritual family. For me it’s my fellow christians that I feel are my spiritual kin.

As Christians we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we are family, kin, related. We don’t always agree, we sometimes disagree a lot and sometimes aggressively, but nonetheless we are kin, we all began in the same way, found Jesus and head into eternity the same as everyone else in our family, God willing of course. But want if one of our kin falls from grace so dramatically that it is difficult to trust him or her again. How do we live out the love your neighbour mandate that Jesus himself gives us?

We could of course reject the individual but that is easy, and may lead to them reoffending. The alternative road less travelled is to live out the command love your neighbour (no matter who they are or what they have done) as yourself!

In recent months the church has been addressing, its checkered history in relation to our brothers and sisters in Christ who abuse. We have investigated, reported back, created covenants of care, been in the law courts seeking justice for all.

But after the clamour for justice has been satisfied, and the headlines have moved on, when the churches covenant of care is part of the fabric, and the congregation has moved on past the shock. What then of my brother the abuser?

That individual man or woman are still my kin in christ. How can I love them, knowing what I now know, as I love myself or even as much as God has loved them? A God who has forgiven them, and set them free from their sins as far as the east is from the west. This great liberator God who sets free, redeems, heals, and so much more. Or is that just talk, when it comes to the pedophile, or the abusive brother or sister!

This  is the hard edge of Love, of what it means to be a christian, this is the stuff that makes our prayer life deeper, our hold onto God tighter. Unfortunately for some this is the point they leave, sadly and understandably perhaps, they  cannot entertain a God whose servants, collared and un-collared abuse.

The excuse sometimes given in a misplaced attempt at engendering compassion for the accused, is that we are all sinners, which at some level of course is true. However that sentiment doesn’t cut it, in this scenario. Yet there is truth here, it is always unto the individual man or women to listen and to what degree to God. Choosing to behave as God and society would want, or instead ignoring the still small voice of the victim along with God saying stop.

So how do I love my abusive brother? Initially perhaps there is an honest realisation that for now loving the abusive brother might be a step too far, but deciding to be on that road and take that first step towards love, is to be intentional about what and how the lord wants us to love with all people.

On that journey to love there will be various stages forgiveness, acceptance, and perhaps peace. There will be a redefined relationship. It is in that relationship however where the abusive brother or sister might find healing, and a lived out love that is hard fought, but bears incredible fruitfulness, in the message not least of a God who’s love through Jesus is singularly unconditional.

So brother and sister in Christ, may whoever we are, wherever we have been or whatever we have done, may our family be an example of all the power, healing and grace that God offers us through christ.

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  1. Nienna says:

    I usually think, forgive but don’t forget. Trust must be ‘re earned and that’s not always possible, or wise. A convicted paedophile should never be in a position to have access to children again and should try to go to a different church service to any victims to spare their feelings, shouldn’t go to a specifically children’s or family service.


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