Law & Love
The words "law" and "love" may seem worlds apart... but in the Bible, they are inseparable.
Many love to quote the comforting words of I Peter 4:8, that love covers a multitude of sins, and I Corinthians 13:7, that love covers all things.... But these verses can also be misapplied by abusers and their enablers to silence victims and witnesses of abuse, to keep them from getting help, to silence them so that the harm being done to them and/or others does not get exposed. Such "covering" maintains secrecy - the secrecy critical for the perpetuation of abuse. Abuse and love do not go together. Love does not endorse nor participate in lawlessness, including abuse.
Law and love are inseparable.
To fulfill God's law, the summary is given: You shall LOVE....
In Matthew 22, Jesus said that these two commandments - to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself - fulfill all of the law and the writings of the Prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures (Matt. 22:37-40).
A couple of chapters later, in Matthew 24, Jesus said that because of increased lawlessness, the love of most people will grow cold (verse 12).
In Galatians 5, Paul says that if we keep the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, we fulfill the entire law (verse 14).
In the following chapter, Galatians 6, Paul says that if we carry one another's burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ (verse 2).
So, "I love you" is not compatible with treating someone abusively. "I love you" should be supported by a living and by treatment of loved ones that adhere to and even surpass the righteousness defined by the Ten Commandments. Love fulfills the law.
Considering some of the Ten Commandments, specifically those related to relationships among the people of God:
Love is not dishonest or deceitful; it doesn't keep secrets from "loved" ones. It does not lie by commission of falsehood, nor by omission of the truth. Abuse requires dishonesty, secrecy and deceit.
Love is faithful to one's spouse. Marital abuse rejects, abandons and harms one's spouse, granting better treatment to others than to one's spouse. Fidelity should be physical as well as emotional, financial, verbal, psychological, and spiritual. Choosing to be with one's parents at the exclusion of one's spouse is not fidelity, nor is it the fulfillment of the commandment that we honor our father and mother.
Love does not kill; it is life-giving. Abuse is deadly - psychologically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, socially and/or physically. The killing is usually covert and gradual... but lethal nonetheless.
Love does not steal. Abuse steals. It steals trust and innocence and simplicity. Specifically, financial abuse in a marriage steals from a legally equal partner his/her rightful access and ownership to a couple's jointly owned assets.
Love does not covet. It does not wish away what God has given, nor wish for what God has not given. Love is grateful and content with God and God's provision, including one's spouse.
But if one's spouse is abusive, love requires safety. Love requires lawfulness. Love can seek help. Love prevents further casualties. Love speaks the truth. Love takes action. Love - somehow - finds a way to end abuse... lovingly.
Love is incompatible with lawlessness.
Love. Law. Inseparable.