The power of Love is amazing…not just any love, but God’s love, poured out on the cross for us…a love that can run into the deepest places.
His love can literally cover any sin…any hurt…any disease and bring healing and restoration.
BUT…this verse is not an instruction, or even excuse, to create a culture of secrecy – particularly surrounding abusive circumstances. The love talked about here is not a ‘blanket’ to be thrown over sin, covering it up in the name of protection, hiding what’s festering away underneath.
Love is not a band-aid to stick on a wound and hope it heals.
No one likes to highlight abuse – it’s not a pleasant subject, it’s messy, painful and there are often consequences to the establishment bringing it into the open…let alone to all the individuals involved.
I recently completed some training looking at serious case reviews for abuse in education settings. One case clearly ticked all the boxes for an immediate referral to child protection at the highest level (4). As we went around the room sharing our feedback and justification for chosen level, one member shared how they identified it as a level 1 (lowest level). In theory this was a young child presenting with physical injury, stating it was caused by their parent – and this member of the group had not wanted to “jump to conclusions” or “cause more problems” – particularly in case the child was lying. No wonder so much abuse goes un dealt with.
The church is even more vulnerable in these circumstances. Scripture has often been taken out of context. We are taught that love believes the best, love covers sin and we take no account of a suffered wrong. Believe me, I’ve had all these things said to me in the worst of situations!
Does the bible say these things? Yes. But maybe not as we’ve been led to interpret. There are some things that need to be brought into the light in order to be dealt with. Too often we shy away from dealing with the uncomfortable issues in life – leaving people to drown in depths of shame and despair. Victims afraid to speak up for fear of not being believed, their situation being belittled and then being sent back into the lion’s den to continue to fight for survival.
Does this mean that we should shout from the rooftops and publicly expose every abuser – no, not necessarily. But that does not mean we say and do nothing, pretending it’s never happened and hoping that time will magically erase the issue.
Time does not heal an abuser. Time does not heal a victim.
Love does not cover sin by sweeping it under the carpet, nor does it cover sin by staying in a place of denial.
God, who is Love, allows us to be able to come alongside others and love them in their darkest places. Love does not make an excuse for sin, but it allows us to release His healing. Love gives us a voice to speak up for those who need it, but does not permit needless gossip.
Do I believe in forgiveness? Yes.
Do I believe in restoration? Absolutely.
I believe we are to love unconditionally. But I have learnt that unconditional love does not mean becoming a doormat to be trampled on. Unconditional love believes the best – not disregarding the truth of a situation, or loving the place of pain and acts of abuse – but believing for God’s best for that person. Unconditional love will release anything and anyone back into the hands of God for Him to have His way.