Though there are many various answers to abuse and its effects, Jesus is the Answer to abuse. Abuse is sin, and a relationship with Jesus provides the only remedy for both the abuser and the abused, the sinner and the one sinned against. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection extended God's forgiveness to everyone willing to receive it, on the condition that they forgive others who sin against them (Matthew 6:14-15); that's the gospel. This is not always good news to those of us who have been abused. We may be reluctant to relate to Jesus, expecting Him to be abusive. We get angry at God for allowing abuse to happen to us, and no longer feel He is trustworthy. We might have cut ourselves off from our emotions, and cannot feel His love for us; or our "self" might be so fragmented from abuses that we would not recognize whom He is loving anyway. We might have vowed never to be a vulnerable child before a "father" again. God understands, and accepts us where we are. He is willing to leave the wholly righteous sheep in the pen, search for His lost lambs, and then carry them all the way back to the fold rejoicing.

All abuse is spiritually damaging because it is sin. When abuse is experienced at the hand of an authority it often distorts the survivor's view of God. All forms of abuse violate personal boundaries. Until those boundaries are secured, an abused person is open to further abuse from others even if the primary abuser has been removed. I suffered spiritual, sexual, physical, and verbal abuse from my family. In my teens and twenties I endured spiritual abuse from a few pastors. I must also confess I have committed spiritual, sexual, physical, and verbal sins. After I married and became pregnant I began to knock down the black wall of denial blocking my childhood memories because I wanted a healthy childhood for the baby I was carrying. My world spun out of control.

When I realized my faith and my views of God were not adequate to help me through the effects of abuse, I turned to Christian counseling. It offered an interesting assortment of tools, some of which I found very helpful. But what I desperately needed was a new theology upon which to build a new life. This book is a compilation of Bible research I have done in an attempt to answer my own questions. Though I could obey and apply the truth of the Bible, I could not "apply" the Answer, Jesus Christ. You can't apply a person; you have to relate to him. I was angry and afraid of my "God" but I courageously determined to let Him reveal His true Self to me through safe increments of Bible study. The Holy Counselor began to expose my misconceptions of the Father and the Son, and to guide me into the truth of the nature of God (John 16:1-15).

I did not search the scriptures to find verses to support my current understanding; I did comprehensive studies that often challenged my beliefs and led to changes in my doctrine and practice. Too many Christians pick and choose what scriptures they want to obey, and then shun the rest; but Jesus' disciples are to obey everything He has commanded (Mat. 28:19-20). I have not studied Hebrew or Greek. I used concordances, lexicons, and other Bible references to find the original meanings of words. At first I did so in order to defend my beliefs and myself. Eventually I realized no matter how much I learn, knowledge cannot protect me from accusation or hurt, but it can offer me discernment to avoid it sometimes. Well-trained theologians have been debating the scriptures for centuries, so greater knowledge of the original written words does not bring consensus of meaning. We derive meaning from things in relation to ourselves. We all approach the scriptures from different backgrounds, and I expect the interpretations of others to differ from mine. Now I simply enjoy the fuller insight from the words in their original languages, and hope that their inclusion will bring others greater personal revelation as well.

I wrote this book primarily for myself as a Christian female survivor of sexual and spiritual abuse. I believe the Bible research and applications will be helpful for anyone, whether or not they have been abused. I realize that many who pick up this book will skim through my words, avoiding the scriptures that might have recently brought them pain. My prayer is that God's Spirit will gently lead people back to the scriptures, and encourage them to study at their own pace and to write down their own insights. I hope that, as people read and study and grapple with old and new concepts, they will emerge firm in their faith and at peace in their relationship with God.