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Domestic Violence Doesn’t Make Sense, Because It Is Not Love (via Sarah Balogh at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Sarah Balogh reflects on the evil that befell Hannah Clarke and her children in Brisbane last week from a personal and professional standpoint.
When the question revolves around variations of what went wrong for someone to perpetrate such an act we find ourselves trying to make sense of of something that cannot be made sense of.
Whenever we think of such acts as love gone wrong we neglect the reality that love was never present, however the relationship looked, or whatever the perpetrator expressed about their victims.
Perhaps we recognise some warped expression of love for self, because that’s all the relationship was ever meant to serve. But even then it is a desire that is ultimately self-destructive.
It is the opposite of the love that is at the heart of the Christian Gospel, and makes all the more wretched any compulsion exercised by Christians for victims of domestic violence to continue to expose themselves to perpetrators.

An excerpt:

As a psychologist, I am familiar with stories of domestic violence. I know how victims (especially women) struggle against the manipulation of their abusers. I’ve heard them try and make themselves responsible for the abuse of others: “It was my fault … If only I hadn’t said … But he said sorry.” The stories are so familiar. And yet … always so painful.
Sometimes it stirs a fury in me and I want justice.
Sometimes after they leave the counselling room, I cry.
Often, I pray “come Lord Jesus.”

Domestic violence doesn’t make sense to us.
It doesn’t make sense when someone says they love you, but seeks to control you or your family or your friends. It doesn’t make sense when someone who promised to care for you tries to put you down or call you names—or, worse, tries to pit your children against you. It makes no sense when that someone hits you, and then says sorry … and does the same thing again next week, or next month, or next year.
We can’t make sense of it because it doesn’t and shouldn’t make any sense at all.
Domestic violence doesn’t make sense, because it is not love.

A loving husband treats his wife like a queen, not like a slave. A loving husband lays down his life for his wife—the same way Jesus laid down his life for his church.

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Suspect Relationship Advice From Gilda

For those who are following the movie marathon: in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, while Red and the prisoners are watching the movie Gilda, Andy requests that Red acquire a poster of Rita Hayworth, the star of Gilda. Andy has to wait before asking because Red doesn’t want to miss an impending scene featuring a famous hair flip. Andy eventually gets the poster; the reason for which he desires it becomes apparent later in the movie.

So, on the strength of that I watched Gilda.
Someone described it a dark reflection of Casablanca, which is pretty accurate.

Anyway, I promised you suspect relationship advice from Hayworth’s character Gilda.
It’s not much of a spoiler, just don’t put it into practice.

“Isn’t it wonderful? Nobody has to apologize, because we were both stinkers, weren’t we? Isn’t it wonderful?”


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Forgiveness Is Not A Self-Help Therapy (via Chad Bird)

Chad Bird writes about forgiveness, observing that forgiving others is not something we do for our own therapeutic benefit.
Followers of Jesus forgive because we have to pass on the forgiveness that has been given to us.
From Bird’s post:

What does it mean to forgive? For the Christian, it means simply this: to see all sins and all sinners in the crucified body of Jesus. And I do mean “all.” From the Nazi guard to the pedophile priest. From the petty criminal to the gossiping octogenarian. From the racist to the road-rager. All. None excepted. Jesus on the cross was all humanity compressed into one person. The one righteous man became all unrighteous people to atone for us all.
Just as we believe ourselves to be forgiven because God sees us in Christ, so to forgive others is to see them as God sees them in Christ. To forgive, in other words, is to put God’s eyes in our eyes and our eyes in God’s eyes. And those divine eyes see humanity only through the cross of Jesus.
For this reason, Paul tells us, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, to clothe ourselves with “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col. 3:12-13).
Note that last phrase: As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. It echoes the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Notice the order: God’s forgiveness of us leads directly to our forgiveness of others.
But here is where something crucial emerges: the forgiveness we give is not truly ours. Forgiveness is not our personal possession. We don’t own it or control it or (worst of all) manipulate it. Forgiveness has one name written on it: Jesus Christ. He is the sole proprietor of this treasure because he is the sole cause of its existence. All true forgiveness flows from him for he is the one nailed to the cross of atonement. Absolution is the gold he mined on Calvary.
When we forgive, we do so as the Lord has forgiven us. The better we know ourselves, the deeper our awareness of the selfish, horrible, shameful thoughts and desires and words and deeds of which we are guilty, the more we know of what the Lord has forgiven us.

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Deep Communion vs Digital Communication (via Drew Hunter at Crossway Blog)

Drew Hunter observes that modern communication technology can be a helpful aid in growing relationships when it supplements face-to-face interactions, but when it becomes a primary or sole means of communication relationships will stagnate at superficial levels.

Deep Communion vs. Digital Communication
… Modern technology is a great tool for keeping up certain aspects of our relationships. Writing emails, sending texts, scanning posts—all of these helpfully complement true companionship. But they cannot fully replace it. These are the shallow ends of relationships. We find these tools convenient, but then we’re tempted to neglect the deeper waters of shared experiences and face-to-face conversation. Very often the way we use technology leads away from, rather than in to, stronger friendships. We often trade deep communion for digital communication.
Technology can hinder friendship in four ways. First, it often depersonalizes communication. We use it to connect, but over time, we feel less, not more, connected. We use it to move closer, but we end up farther away. We trade conversations and experiences for details and updates. We’re more connected to more people more often than ever before, but many of our relationships become more superficial and less satisfying.
Second, technology can disengage us from real communion. Sometimes when we connect with people through technology, we disconnect from those who are sitting right around us. Friends sit across the table at a coffee shop and enjoy friendship, but not with each other—with the friends on the other end of their phones. Once when I visited a workplace, I stepped into a break room and saw six coworkers sitting around a lunch table. The room was silent. Five of them stared at their phones while the sixth looked at her food. She sat at the table with them, but she ate her lunch alone. Surrounded by peers, she had no one to talk to.
Third, technology disembodies conversation. When we engage in person, we experience our friends in unrepeatable and holistic ways. We notice her expressions, intuit her moods, and learn her quirks. Embodied friendship is full of dynamic, realtime, give-and-take interaction. In contrast, digital communication doesn’t demand much more than fingers to flit around a keyboard. This has a place of course, but it doesn’t match experiencing a person’s real presence. For me to see Dane’s head roll back and hear his laugh, to talk through personal challenges across the table with Taylor, to see the romance in Christina’s eyes, to sense the sincerity in Bill’s encouragement, or to pick up the witty humor in Trent’s tone—there is simply no digital equivalent.
Finally, technology creates dependence on less personal ways of addressing personal issues. Confessing sin and admitting failure, or on the other hand, addressing sin and confronting failure—each of these is challenging, and digital communication seems easier. We take time to craft a statement, and we don’t need to worry about immediate reactions. But then we soon prefer to replace a personal meeting with a phone call; a phone call with a voicemail; a voicemail with an email; and an email with a text. Each step smooths the path for the next. Soon we can hardly muster the courage to say anything difficult in person. And without the reassuring eye contact, gentle tone, and responsive clarifications, we often end up adding complications rather than clearing things up.

Read the rest of the post at Crossway Blog.


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The Practice Of Listening Well (via Brad Hambrick)

Brad Hambrick writes about listening well.
There are some good points about the difference between listening as a friend or a counsellor: ” a friend listens as a participant in your story while a counsellor listens as an observer of your story.”
From the post:

The Practice of Listening
No instruction can create or replace desire. The main skill in being a good listener is wanting to be a good listener. The core of listening is placing enough value on the other person and what he/she is saying that you quit playing your thoughts (mentally or verbally) over theirs. When you begin to do this you will find that your responses and body language almost always draw out the other person. The skills below [in the post] are merely examples of things that value other people.

Read the whole post at Brad Hambrick.


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Comforting (via Lunarbaboon)

A comic strip from Lunarbaboon that conveys some wisdom about the comfort of presence.


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Seeing Love Through Different Lenses (via Heidi Tai at Gospel Coalition Australia)

There are times when I wonder why I scan through so many online articles.
Then I read one like this.
Heidi Tai writes about a loving across generations and cultural expectations.
And the difference that Jesus can make in bridging those gaps.
Just go and read it.
Maybe have a tissue or two around, as well.

Growing up, my dad and I saw the world very differently. Coming from two different generations and cultures, we would clash for many years to come. As I became a teenager, our relationship became a battleground between Eastern and Western values. He would fail to meet my expectations of a loving father, and I would fail to meet his expectations of a respectful daughter. While I longed for love to be expressed through the Western form of affection and affirmation, Dad expressed love through his Eastern lens of provision and sacrifice.

Read Closing The Cultural Gap at Gospel Coalition Australia.