THERE is NO SAFETY BEHIND LOCKED DOORS. MARRIAGES ARE SACRED, BUT NOT ALL MARRIAGES ARE SAFE. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN THAT HAPPENS BEHIND LOCKED DOORS HAS INCREASED DURING THIS LOCKDOWN. Reports say that intimate partner violence has increased, in fact, doubled during this lockdown period. As complaints surged, the National Commission for Women announced a WhatsApp number (7217735372) to receive complaints, to be more accessible to women who find themselves in abusive homes.
“As painful as it is to admit that we are being abused, it is even more painful to come to the conclusion that the person we love is someone we cannot afford to be around.”
The history of domestic violence has been a history of silence and horror, and many families have borne the marks of violence. The body and emotions are damaged, relationships get broken, and the spirit withers. While some remain to tell their stories, some do not even live for their stories to be heard, because their cry for help fell on deaf ears. Sometimes people who have never experienced violence or never been abusive towards anyone find it difficult to believe the story and the sufferings of victims or to feel compassionate towards them, and that makes the victims trapped, alone, and scared. Even the parents and relatives of abused women many times do not respond properly, as they see only the tip of the iceberg of the woman’s suffering. In fact, people do not respond because history has left us with strange views on how men are supposedly superior to the fairer sex. Indian society has been one of the stauncher advocates of this thought. “Patibaghwanhai.” Even many political leaders and religious leaders, who we assume must lead exemplary lives, actually indulge in intimate partner violence that is carried out in secret. This makes the issue all the more sensitive. Many clergymen use Scriptures to reunite the abused and the abuser because they find it difficult to differentiate between marital conflict and an abusive situation. Also, the manipulative husband might pose as genuinely repentant of his violent behavior, and the woman might remain silent because of her fear and lack of social support and economic resources. The counselor or the pastor may hope that prayer might change the violent one, and so they pray for him but fail to confront him. In one case, a lady was advised to go back to her abusive home, and she remarked painfully, “He broke my back, but I had to get right back into his home, forgiving everything.” Because of the lack of support, family violence continues despite passing various Domestic Violence Acts and laws and setting up shelter homes and medical facilities.
How can we stop this? Whose responsibility is it to stop this? Should the community not wake up to the horrible effects of abuse, and strengthen the support structures for the abused and the violated? Be aware of this. I wrote the book – When the Flame Flickers: Emerging from Marital Abuse for creating awareness, so many will arise to support both men and women who are abused by their close ones.
Let us pray and protect the ones who are abused within their own homes by the same people who are supposed to protect them.
I wrote a day back the story of my fight with Pneumonia around 16 years back and wrote that I would attempt to answer some of the tough questions that arise in our minds when we face struggles in our life; when we face dreadful things. Like COVID-19?
Today I will attempt to answer partially the question – why do we have to face such a dreadful plague if there is a good God?
This perennial question becomes a great problem only to those who believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, and an all-loving God. Because if we believe that the whole cosmos came on its own and there is no god, and we float in this immense cosmic dark like a mote of dust, then this plague is just an incidence in the cosmic scenario. But this question – why is there suffering becomes poignant, if we believe in a personal, all-loving God, all-powerful and, an all-knowing God.
The question – why do we have to face such a dreadful plague if there is a good God? – has two components. Is God good, and if so, why does He allow that?
Is God good? People always think of goodness as the opposite of evil. But I feel that is not true because good can exist without evil, but evil cannot exist without good. The Triune God what the Bible speaks about is good not because He is good to us, but good in His being. Love is the sum and substance of all virtues, and this love makes sense only in a relational trinitarian God. That is why we call Him good.
When we encounter such dreadful things, many people think that God is punishing us. But if you can look into the world through the eyes of a loving God, you will know the pain in His heart. If you want to know the pain of God, look at Jesus on the Cross. Why did God, the Creator of the Universe, came down? (Even in one song Kannadasan sings as kadavulmanithanagapirakkavendum) To show us His love, His care, and to take the punishment for our sins on Him. That is why Cross – an emblem of shame has become the symbol of worship, and we worship this God-Man on the Cross who can comfort us in our suffering and walk with us as we go through this terrible path.
What is the Biblical model of marriage? I have outlined the biblical model of marriage and how the church or any other support groups should respond when evil and violence creep into that beautiful model. To get a better understanding of this sensitive issue, one should start from the nature and breathtaking activities of the Triune God who is the basis of all reality. The concept of Trinity, the one God who exists in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is profound. The unity in diversity that exists among the three Persons of God is the starting point of the highest virtue, the love within any relationship. The perfect love that has existed among the three Persons of Trinity from everlasting was passed on to the humankind, the epitome of creation, in the Garden of Eden. The Bible indicates the unity in diversity that existed among them by the verse: “Let us make man in our image and likeness.” God made both Adam and Eve in His very own image or resemblance and built the hardware for loving into their very being—the ability to love and to be loved. Matthew Henry remarks in his commentary on the Bible (Genesis 2:21–22), regarding the creation of the first woman from the side of the first man, “Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to rule over him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him and near to his heart to be loved by him.” The beginning of human history holds a greater level of significance for our lives than we can ever imagine, as God made man and woman so that they can complement each other as one team. That is why Jesus gave importance to this part of history by referring to it in Matthew 19:4–6: “From the beginning, God made them male and female … so [in marriage] they are no longer two but one…” Jesus pointed to the fact that God established a monogamous heterogeneous marriage relationship at the beginning. In the Garden of Eden, when Adam looked at Eve for the first time, he knew that she exactly matched him—bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. They were both in the image of God, but she was different, made to compliment him, and they were unashamed and joyful. God intended sacrificial love and mutual submission to be integral to this exclusive relationship, lasting throughout their lives. In their world, which is marked by shared intimacy, both of them are free to communicate their thoughts, experiences, and emotions. The sexual union, that involves the husband and wife’s total being, is not only physical but spiritual, and that is why it enriches the human spirit and does not degrade it. In such a relationship, neither is less than the other, as both were made in the image of God. The writer to the Hebrews says that marriage is honorable and its bed to be undefiled (Hebrews13:4). The garden relationship shows how God intended marriage to be—that a couple should live life with no trace of abuse, betrayal or manipulation.
Jesus Christ came physically back to life 2000 years back after His death and promised that whomsoever believes in Him shall live as He lives. There is life after death. Christianity stands or falls on this claim. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, Christianity would be the biggest fraud perpetrated on the human race. That is why many set out to find evidence for the resurrection and understood that the evidence is overwhelming. I have presented a cumulative set of evidence for the historic Resurrection of Jesus Christ, in one of my videos in my YouTube channel. Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a cosmic event transcending space and time, as it is a complete victory over death and life. That is why Jesus could say in John 14:3. If I go, I will prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also. There is life after death because Jesus lives.
The Great Exchange
Happy Easter to all of you. While this pandemic is wiping out parts of the population, how do we celebrate Easter? I have compiled my thoughts and presented them as a video with prayer, hoping that these words may be a source of comfort and healing.
On this Easter day, I want to present before you the best exchange that ever happened in the history of the world through a movie scene. There was one poignant scene in the movie The Passion of Christ that will never leave the mind of anyone who had watched it. Jesus was standing before Pilate with his hands tied to Roman soldiers and Barabbas, a rebel, a thug, was brought to the same stage so that the people can choose whom they would like to be released on that holy day as per their custom. It seems to us as though Pilate and the crowd hold the destinies of these two men who were standing on that stage. It is a chilling moment… we sit there wondering who the people would choose. To our surprise, people choose Barabbas.
The soldiers are unlocking Barabbas from his chains, and he laughs and walks out of that place freely, giving a strange look at Jesus. When Barabbas gave that strange look at Jesus, it seemed as though Jesus was talking to His Father, Father let Barabbas go free. I am happy to take his place. Father God allowed His Son Jesus Christ to take the place of Barabbas so that Barabbas could go free because God loves Barabbas.. Bible says while we were still sinners, Christ died for us because of His everlasting love. He died for us so that we can walk away free, not bound to sin and satan.
When I saw that scene of Barabbas and Jesus, I remembered those 5 days when I was hooked up to a ventilator some 16 years back. Now I understand that on that day I stood in that same place of Barabbas When I saw the vision of the Cross and His blood washing away my sins, there was this great exchange. Jesus – the Son of God taking my place and allowing me to go free. Jesus purchased an unworthy person like me that day with His crazy love and His precious blood. I deserved death. I deserved punishment. I deserved sickness.. But Jesus said.. I love you. You don’t need to face any consequences. Give me everything..your pain, your burden, your sin, and your bitterness. I will give you a great exchange. I will give you peace, I will give you joy, and I will give you beauty..
That is the great exchange of my life. This pattern of the great exchange ..can be seen even from the beginning of the history of our world. In the first chapter of the Bible, we come across a man called Abraham, who was asked to sacrifice his own son Isaac. Abraham binds Isaac and lays him on the altar to be sacrificed, and when he lifts his knife to slay him, there was a voice from heaven …Do not harm your son. I will provide the sacrificial lamb… God meant the sacrificial lamb … Jesus Christ… to take the place of Isaac. When the lamb of God, Jesus Chris +t was sacrificed on Calvary, God was saying to you and me I want you. Satan and Hell cannot have you. You are mine.. I have purchased you with a heavy price. Because of this exchange, we can say boldly that Calvary is not the end… It is the beginning…Good Friday is not the end… but Sunday is coming… On Sunday, the third day Jesus rose again. That Friday, when Jesus was hanging on the Cross for 6 hours, the disciples thought that it was the end..but only on Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead, they found that it was not the end but the beginning.
When Jesus was put to death, the disciples were like us locking themselves inside their rooms in fear… they forgot that just a few days before Jesus taught them that He would rise again.. They were scared that the Roman soldiers will come and kill them also just as they did to Jesus. They forgot everything about Jesus. Even the faithful women took the spices and went in search of a dead body to anoint it on Sunday morning- the Easter day.
But there was a great earthquake… the angel of the Lord rolled the stone away so that these women can see something awesome… What the women saw was spectacular..the tomb was empty, the body of Jesus was missing, and in that place, there were two shining angels… what is the first thing that angels said?… why are you looking for the living among the dead… He is not here .. He is risen..yes He is risen.. Cross could not break Him, Death could not stop Him, Tomb could not bind Him, and Hell could not hold Him.
It is not Friday.. It is Sunday… Jesus Christ defeated death..and grave.. Paul says O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, On that Sunday, every satanic power cried out… Oh we lost our power. we lost these men and women.. they are covered now by the power of God… we cannot touch them.. there is power, there is a direction in their life, now they have a direct connection, and they get command even from the very throne of God..Yes it is not Friday; it is Sunday..there is power in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today Jesus stands before us and says just as He spoke in Rev. 1: 18, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold. I am alive forevermore. And Because I live you too will live. Yes, because He lives, we can face tomorrow.
The world needs it very much..the world needs to know this great exchange..Death has lost its hold. It is not the end.. It is just a movement into a beautiful place..when the trumpet sounds we will all rise again, and we will see Jesus Christ face to face. Even death has lost its power because Jesus took the place of Barabbas. Jesus took the place of Isaac. Jesus took the place of me. He took the place of you. He changed our mourning into dancing..
The Maundy in Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin root mandatum, or commandment. This is taken from Jesus’ words in John 13:34: – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Before speaking these words, Jesus, the Lord of the Universe did an unbelievable thing to teach His disciples about that kind of love. He girded Himself with a towel and knelt down to wash the disciples’ feet. In the days of Jesus, washing the dirt off someone else’s feet was a task reserved for only the lowest ranking servants, and slaves. Imagine … The King of the universe kneeling down with the towel and basin at the feet of His own disciples? Too marvellous to fathom. Hands that shaped the stars now wash away filth. Fingers that formed mountains now massage toes. And the one before whom all nations will one day kneel now kneels before his disciples. Hours before his own death, Jesus’ concern was singular. He wanted His disciples to know how much he loves them and to tell, “I have set you an example, that you might do as I have done unto you.” That is love in action, & it is the power that can turn the world right side up!
On Maundy Thursday, Jesus dropped to his knees to scrub away every ethnic and economic hierarchy from the church. Through that act, Jesus upset cultural norms calling us to a place where we will serve one another. That is why He said by your love; all will know that you are My followers. He said in Luke 22:26 – you shall not be like the worldly rulers. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who leads like the one who serves. Maundy Thursday reminds us of the Son of Man who came to earth as a slave to be crushed for our sake to free us from the slavery of sin and eternal death. His love is so vast that we cannot measure. He is our Servant, King. Let us worship our servant King. What is the significance of Maundy Thursday during the time of plague that sweeps over the world? This reminds us that just as God cares for us, we need to look at the struggling people and support them with provisions, love, comforting words, and most of all prayer, praying with tears and burden that can reach the throne room of God.
The greatest tragedy of life is a life without any purpose. Do you want to find the purpose or the WHY of your life? Then first find out the WHO of your life, and you will end up discovering the WHY of your life.