Telling anyone, being abuse will make them stronger, is doing an injustice to the abused and justifying the abuser – please, stop. Over my life I’ve heard more and more people justify the abuse of others by sayings, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This quote from Nietzsche has been used to justify abusing others, to harming others – and yes, it’s wrong. One of the major concerns I have is when those words come from Pastors, or other church leader.
Here’s what I believe, being abused does not make you stronger, it makes you abused; it hurts, it destroys you from the inside, and it eats at your soul for a very long time. When others tell you ‘it will make you stronger’ it simply means you’re still being abused. Keep in mind, Nietzsche was not speaking about being abused, but rather accidental/traumatic events in our lives. For example, events like the death of a loved one, a traumatic physical event in your life; it has nothing to do with others abusing you. Physical/emotional abuse is not done on accident. To tell anyone that abuse ‘will make you stronger’ simply justifies the abuser, and discounts those who have been hurt. Abuse is wrong, it is just that simple; all abuse is wrong, and to project a benefit from abusing others is inhuman.
A while back I ran into a church ‘leader’ who was very abusive to me when I started in ministry. After having an opportunity to explain all the pain they brought into my life, they turned to me and said, “Maybe what I did made you a better person.” People like this take their abuse, and tried to justify it by saying it was the abuse that made you a success. NO, not even close. I explained they had no right to take the credit for anything in my life. If anything, it’s not because of, but in spite of, the abuse that made me who I am. Because, if I’m honest with myself, if I listened to the abuse from this person it would have turned me in a very different direction. Even if, and this is a very big ‘if,’ my striving to get past the abuse, the abuse was, and is, very real – and it was, and is, still painful. When you abuse another, you have no right to claiming you helped them to become the person they have become.
In the Collective Narrative, Paul’s first writing to the Corinthians, and says it very plainly:
“Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.” [6:9-10 MSG]
In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews he adds:
“Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.” [13:3 MSG]
“Disqualified.” Pretty powerful word. It seems straight forward to me, abuse is wrong, and abusers can never justify their actions, or claim they helped you develop in a positive way. When I hear anyone say, “it makes you stronger” I hear people who are trying to justify the abuse, and in reality it simply continues the abuse – it’s just that simple.