Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jesus Was Abused but Remained Sinless and Stainless; Why Should It Be Different for Us?

I wrote on Tuesday that victims of abuse have no need for repentance.  A friend made the following profound point to me, and I want to add some thoughts about what he said:

Jesus was abused himself.

As I have mentioned in multiple posts here on my blog, "perfect" in Matthew 5:48 is defined in the Greek as "complete, whole, fully developed". In the Sermon on the Mount, only God, the Father, is used as the example of perfection, while Jesus is included in the restating of it in the Book of Mormon. The last thing Jesus is recorded as having said in mortality is, "It is finished" - and I believe that is profound and important. It only was after the suffering of the Garden and the cross that he could say it was finished - that he was "complete, whole, fully developed". In other words, he was sinless according to our theology but not perfect until the very end of his life - and a major part of that perfection was enduring pain, suffering and extreme abuse without reacting improperly. Nothing about that pain, suffering and extreme abuse affected his sinlessness in the slightest, and he wasn't considered guilty or in need of repentance as a result of it. Rather, it was part of the refinement that he had to endure to die in a perfect state.

The only part of that I want to emphasize for the purpose of this discussion is that he was abused without being guilty, without sinning, without being stained in any way. What is even more profound, I believe, is that it is very easy to read the Biblical accounts of his actions and say that he brought it on himself through those actions.  In fact, I have read analyses that assert he intentionally provoked the Jewish leadership into their reactions - and those analyses are compelling.

With that in mind, he can be seen as like the proverbial woman who is raped while walking down a dark alley at night in a mini skirt. It's extremely easy to blame that woman for provoking actions by others (in this case, being raped) and to impute sin to her, but we don't do the same thing in the case of actions we consider to be "righteous". Jesus absolutely thumbed his nose at the Roman authorities and threatened the Jewish leadership in a very real, strong way during the last days of his life. In fact, it can be said quite logically that Jesus caused his abuse to a much greater extent than the woman in the alley caused hers - since the rapist in the alley would have attacked any woman who was in that alley, even if she was dressed in a burkha, while the Jewish leadership and Roman authorities would have overlooked a less confrontational, threatening itinerant preacher.

If we accord a guiltless, stainless, sinless status to those who cause their abuse in the name of what we consider to be a good cause, we ought to afford the same grace to those who are abused for actions we deem not to be in pursuit of a good cause.  More poignantly, how much more readily ought we to give that same consideration to those who don't cause the abuse they suffer?

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