‘Raca’ is character murder, or defamation of character
Jesus spoke against the dreadful consequences of ‘unlawful’ and unresolved anger, which has the power to spiral into hatred and murder. He warned in Mt. 5:21-22, “You have heard that… you shall not murder and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his [neighbor] without a [just] cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his [neighbor] ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council, [or human court...]”
Jesus wasn’t making the Old Testament law of ‘an eye for an eye’ into legalism; He was applying the outward Old Testament law to the inward heart of angry humanity. Jesus actually said, ‘You know that physical murder is a most horrendous crime, which deserves the death sentence. But now I say to you that everyone who is angry with his neighbor groundlessly; without real or good provocation, reason, or in moderation, will become an emotional and spiritual murderer.’ This means, unreasonable and unresolved anger will lead to tongue-murder through the undeserved reviling of our neighbor’s character, (by calling him ‘Raca!’) So, in modern terms, the word ‘Raca’ will qualify as the crime of defamation of character, or crimen injuria (in South Africa.)
Jesus wasn’t forbidding us to call a real, UNREPENTANT thief “a thief,” or a real, UNREPENTANT prostitute “a prostitute,” neither was He forbidding descriptive symbols relating to true character. Jesus Himself used such allegories in Lu. 13:32, “Go, tell that fox…” And in Mt. 23:33, “Serpents, brood of vipers…”
On the other hand, ‘Raca’ is an undeserved swearword, intended as verbal abuse; a word derived from the root-verb ‘to spit.’ Raca means the person is ‘as vile and worthless as spittle,’ ‘good for nothing;’ ‘will never amount to anything,’ etc. So, by commanding us to abstain from destructive name-calling, (not from truly descriptive and useful allegories,) our Lord forbade us to call innocent people undeserved and character-defaming names. Jesus warned that the use of words like ‘Raca’ constitutes a serious crime, which necessitates severe spiritual and legal consequence, as in the legality of God’s Eternal Word and in judiciary court.
Yet, most abusers commit tongue-murder daily without ever restraining themselves or weighing the severe harm they are doing to their victims, while, in most cases, family and friends participate and/or stand idly by without a thought to their suffering victims OR the impending judgment of God!
An incredible example of ‘Raca!’
For nearly sixty years, a socially accepted, loving ‘father,’ who died after refusing to speak to ‘his son’ for more than 20 years, repeatedly and without a flicker of remorse, screamed at him, “You mule’s ****! You are no good to man or beast!” [His filthy omitted swearword describes ‘a highly offensive term for a prostitute’s genitals. It is a swearword for someone who is viewed with great dislike and contempt, especially a man,’ – Thesaurus.] What’s more, as male mules are infertile, that abuser repeatedly ridiculed his victim for being as vile as a prostitute’s genitals and as unproductive as a ‘mule’s genitals’ - phrases directly from the pits of hell, which describe the swearword ‘Raca!’ perfectly.
According to that evil man, his victim had absolutely no right to live either as a human or as an animal, as he has absolutely no purpose or function in life but to be useless and vile. Furthermore, he cursed his victim from an early age to be completely worthless to both humans and animals; and therefore, to be despised and rejected by humans and animals alike!
Maybe even more horrendously, the ‘good’ mother of this person, the wife of this cruel so-called ‘father,’ never once attempted to defend her own child, but instead, defended and revered her demonical husband — especially after his death, trying to extend his evil legacy – (Lev. 5:1; Prov. 17:15!)
‘You Fool!’ is a murderous curse and slander
Jesus also warned, “But whoever says, ‘You Fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” In this context, ‘You Fool!’ is much more than an insult, and it does not merely refer to uncalculated behavior. It is a word spoken as a destructive curse. Jesus forbade cursing because it attacks the victim’s mental capacity, and his life and work in general, condemning him to be rejected and expelled from his very existence, work, family, and community!
Sources conclude that, where Scripture calls people ‘fools,’ it does not mean that they are mentally retarded for rejecting the Savior or the truth of God’s Word. Scripture refers to ‘fools’ in the sense that their decisions, words, or behavior are irrational or illogical. For instance, Ps. 14:1 states, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God!’”
However, the reviling abuser to whom Jesus referred, was not separating the person from his bad behavior. He was calling his innocent victim ‘a cursed fool,’ attacking his intelligence and self-worth. Also, that abuser incited the family and community of his victim to either actively participate, or to keep silent by turning a ‘blind eye,’ which constitute their approval and passive participation of that emotional murder, (Lev. 5:1; Prov. 17:15; Rom. 1:32.)
A good example of calling someone ‘a cursed fool’ and involving others either to never defend the victim and to participate in the crime, is the abusive ‘father,’ (describe above,) who continually brainwashed his victim with these curses, “Where there’s no sense, there’s no feeling!” “You're the brawn, but I am the brain!”
The reality of abusive curses
‘You Fool!’ and the term ‘Raca’ go beyond emotional murder to attack our neighbors from the spiritual world. Curses are in fact evil incantations; evil sayings, slogans and prayers; spells, religious bans, or evil oaths, which invoke demons over the victim and his life. As Satan never passes up an opportunity to maim and murder, these incantations do not necessarily have to be said in the ritual language of outright witchcraft. Abusive phrases like, ‘You good for nothing moron,’ or the terrible slogans of the so-called ‘father’ illustrated in this study, release dark forces upon the victim’s personhood and life to rob, belittle, pester, destroy, and even murder him physically. When it comes to cursing and blessing, ‘death and life are indeed in the power of the tongue,’ (of which lies and deception, especially concerning the Truth of God’s Word, are the worst,) as this type of crimen injuria surpasses the material world in source and severity, because it is brazen witchcraft!
Thus, Jesus seriously warned that abusers, who commit such murderous cursing, “Are in danger of hell fire:” God’s eternal punishment!
HEALING A BROKEN RELATIONSHIP
Face the facts; do not play with the roaring lion
While sincere believers ought to “pursue [Gospel-peace] with all people as far as possible,” Scripture does not suggest that victims of abuse may secretly cling to the hope that there can indeed be a relationship between them and their unrepentant abuser - regardless of their affiliation.
Jesus warned in Mt. 10:34-29, “Do not think that I came to bring [outward] peace on earth… I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s [worst] enemies will be those of his own household. He, who loves father or mother [son or daughter] more than Me, [My Truth and commandments,] is not worthy of Me…”
While we must “do good” to even our enemies for the possible salvation of their souls, we dare not fraternize with the roaring lion, thus giving him a “foothold” in our lives by submitting to his control and enticements, thus “becoming slaves of whom we obey,” (Rom. 6:16-23.) We should rather flee from him, contending for our physical and eternal lives!
If both parties in a relationship do not submit to the truth of God’s contextual commandments and the leading of the Holy Spirit, a Godly relationship will remain an uphill battle. If one of the parties stays unrepentant, a true, Godly relationship will remain impossible. In fact, Paul said that God forbade us to “be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” or unrepentant believers, friends, and family, (1 Cor. 5:11-12.) He firmly declared 1 Cor. 15:33 that sick relationships will lead to our own emotional and spiritual demise! The only exception to this rule is when one spouse comes to the Lord after marriage, while the other one chooses to stay behind in the world. Paul does not promote divorce under such conditions, if the unsaved spouse is willing to live with the saved spouse, and NOT vice versa!
God’s time is always now, this very moment; today!
An important aspect of life needs to become clear to every lonely victim, yearning for love and acceptance. We gamble our lives away by living in a dream world, pretending that our abusers will come to Christ shortly, and all our suffering will be over, (1 Cor. 7:16.) God can save anyone’s soul and radically transform any life. But for now, we are concentrating on Scriptural guidelines to deal with those who are intent on destroying us.
Following Christ does not mean we must live in denial. Despite all the Christian doctrines to the contrary, God did not promise us the whole world. Jesus said, “Narrow is the way and few are those who find it!” And so, we might spend a whole lifetime in hope of sharing a better tomorrow with our abusers just to find that, for our own sakes, God wanted us to follow Him today! God expects us to realize that our lives are real now, for God’s time is always this very moment! (Heb. 3:7.) Thus, while seeking God’s face to lead us in His will for our particular situation, let us not remain focused on what we have lost, or become consumed by what we hope to gain. Let us rather thank God for the wisdom and everything else we have already gained, and for everything we have today. Let us ask Him to help us do the best with what we have now - for the sake of everyone involved. We can always trust God, for despite our physical circumstances, today, now, every sincere believer is already safe in Christ – if we remain in His will for us, of course, (read Rom. 8:31-37.)
Prepare for resistance and take care of yourself first
God created us as free-willed beings. Our Lord is the Highest God, and He is almighty, omniscient and omnipotent. He calls, and we must answer; He leads, and we must follow. He commands, and we must obey. Still, in utter fairness, He allows humans to choose their own destiny. God has a million ways to deal with sinning humanity, and eventually, He will punish all unrepentant disobedience. Yet, He allows us to choose what we want to do with every situation in our lives, (Jn. 1:11-13; 10:3-4; Mt. 7:21-23.)
In Mt. 18:6-9, Jesus taught on the gravity of abuse, and began by calling out “Woe” to those who reject His discipline, invoking the Devine Judgment of God upon them, even before He began describing the process to recover both victim and abuser from the edge of this treacherous abyss. Knowing the hardness of the psychopathic heart, and the stubbornness of its unrepentant soul, Jesus warned the victims of abuse, there is a great possibility that their abusers will never repent, (1 Cor. 7:15-16.)
And so, Jesus instructed the victims of abuse to take care of their own lives first, commanding, “Take heed to yourselves! [Look after yourselves; take care of your eternal souls and your physical bodies, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit! Do not allow hurt and anger to escalate into unforgiveness, hard-heartedness, and revenge!] If you brother, [or neighbor, seriously] sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…” (Lu. 17:3.)
If our abusers submit to Jesus’ steps to recovery, fine! Yet, there is a great possibility that they will not. So, be prepared to meet with unrelenting resistance, in which case, we must be prepared to also obey Jesus’ commandment concerning our own safety, whatever the cost.
FOLLOWING JESUS TO FREEDOM
Jesus Alone is the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the salvation, blessing, deliverance, comfort, healing, and peace of the Father, except through Him! Jesus’ Word is true under all circumstances. Jesus Himself has promised, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” Our Lord did not give us His Word to make life difficult, but so that we can live a life of emotional and spiritual freedom in Him. He did not speak in riddles either, but gave us clear-cut instructions to follow, so that we do not stray from His Way and get lost in the ever-deepening darkness of this world.
Especially when dealing with sin, suffering, and abuse, His “lamp for our feet,” (the whole context of Scripture,) tells us exactly how we should do ‘unto others,’ and what we can expect others ‘to do unto us.’ All we need to remember is to stay prayerfully at Jesus’ feet. He is the Good Sheppard. If we are willing to follow Him all the way, He will always lead us to safety.
Step 1 – Let us deal with our own ‘hang-ups!’
We cannot deal with anyone’s sin and abuse against us, if we do not deal with ourselves first, (Mt. 7:5.)
Jesus said, if we are truly His disciples, we will [increasingly] know the truth; and the truth shall set us free! Therefore, we should first ask our Father to let His Holy Spirit reveal the truth about ourselves and our own sinful emotions such as unforgiveness, hatred, and revenge. Then, we must seek Him to show us the truth concerning our situations, so we can know God’s will, and act according to the Truth of His WORD!
A: Do not believe lies about yourself
A concerned mother caught her overweight, but clever and talented 15-year-old daughter crying in her pillow at night and sticking her finger in her throat after meals. The girl abhorred school and wanted to quit. On further investigation, it came to light that, in gym class, one of her classmates, who were always on her case, mockingly laughed, “You know what, old Daisy de Melker? [Daisy de Melker was a serial killer and the first woman to be executed in South Africa!] No one can ever love you because you have the ugliest legs on earth!” No amount of reasoning could save this intelligent girl from quitting school soon afterward, and years later, she probably still lives with hang-ups about her looks. This victim of abuse did not realize it, but that was in fact a demon speaking through her ‘pretty, popular’ classmate. Yet, this girl chose to believe the devil’s lies; allowing Satan to murder her sense of self, as well as her desire to follow a promising career as a teacher.
It is a self-destructive sin to believe lies about ourselves. If the hurtful criticism of our behavior were true; if we are lazy, or a loveless busybody, or whatever, we must ask God’s forgiveness and repent with all our heart. However, when Satan reviles our looks, intelligence, character, gifts, calling, and worth; that is the crime of tongue-murder. We must reject and disregard such malicious onslaughts on our humanity and God-given abilities with all our might.
God did not merely love the world – He SO loved the WHOLE world, [every one of us personally,] that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who [personally] believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life! We can and must believe that we are SO valuable and loved that Jesus our Lord suffered and died, and was risen from the dead especially for us! May God help us to always remember that in His holy estimation, we are perfect just the way He made us! By human standards, we might not be rich, good looking, or clever enough; but praise God; He will never leave us nor forsake us, while He supplies all our needs! May God grant us His grace to always be grateful for what we do have, and use all our God-given talents, and everything He had entrusted to us, to serve and glorify His Holy Name above all else!
B: Realize that you had been the victim!
This heading does not pertain to victims, who turned themselves into unrepentant abusers by seeking revenge, not resolve. This discussion relates to people who have been conditioned to believe that they are the abusers, while the true abusers hide behind a victim-façade.
Some time ago, a woman desperately sought help for her ‘unreasonable jealousy’ of her husband. She took full responsibility for ‘destroying’ their marriage, because he repeatedly told her she was ‘sick,’ ‘demented,’ ‘senseless,’ and if they were to divorce, everything would be all her fault, as he is “breaking his back” at earning a decent living for them, and “all she can do, is nag and complain.”
He was a heavy drinker, who often embarrassed her and the children in public. At her insistence, he promised a ‘thousand’ times to take control of this destructive habit, but failed every time. She suspected that he was a womanizer as he eyed nearly all females, sometimes flirted openly, (which humiliated, hurt and angered her deeply,) and some of her friends complained that he had made suggestions to them. When confronted, he aggressively denied everything and accused her of being insane and making his life a misery with her jealousy and false accusations. When she retaliated in desperation and anger, he violently assaulted her. Because she could never find proof of adultery, loved him, and was dependent upon his provision, she always stayed on. She also described him as a workaholic, who left at five in the morning and came home at 10 o’clock at night; supposedly working weekends and most public holidays as well. Although he was a good provider, he left her to tend to all the other needs their family and take care of the household and garden as well, while working at her own career.
In counseling, she was very relieved to hear that every relationship is a two-way street, and such a problematic marriage rarely has only one culprit. What’s more, jealousy, as any other emotional problem, has many causes and catalysts. Therefore, the counselor insisted that the husband needed to join his ‘jealous’ wife for counseling.
Of course, the man refused with the excuse that “he cannot even talk to his own wife; how would he be able to speak to a stranger?” To offer consolation, he promised his wife he would work on their relationship from then on. The wife believed him again and struggled along, promising that she, in turn, would try everything in her power to get her ‘jealousy’ under control. However, in later years, it turned out that her husband was an alcoholic not just a ‘heavy drinker,’ as well as a secret drug addict, child molester and serial adulterer. In short, this evil man, pretending to be the perfect example of kind heartedness, was a dangerous passive aggressive psychopath, who, through all their married life, constantly made a rubbish heap of their marriage and flushed all her love, respect, goodness, fidelity, and forgiveness down the drain. Apart from agonizing nearly a lifetime under his many perverse problems, this true victim of chronic abuse was suffering from emotional neglect and exhaustion, hopelessness, humiliation, and rejection.
Mostly, chronic abuse is on a MULTILEVEL. Over time, different forms of abuse come from different angles to layer itself like an onion around the thought-patterns of victims. Thus, nonstop abuse eventually affect the way victims perceive God, themselves, other people, life, feelings and relationships. For instance, the spouses of serial adulterers will eventually see most men or women as immoral, and a threat to their marriages. When the callous lovelessness and rejection of such adulterers finally dawn on spouses, they will have a hard time to define their marriages in terms of romance, fidelity, acceptance, and a safe harbor. This is because the soul-destroying crime of adultery instantly demolishes the holy marriage covenant, (Mt. 19:4-10.)
Although none of us are without sin, real victims of abuse should never allow abusers to obliterate them with false accusations and projective guilt. It can never be true that ‘it is all your fault.’ Real abuse can never be the victim’s fault, (except for tolerating and thus allowing it to escalate and continue unrepentantly,) unless the victim is not the victim at all, but a clear-thinking, psychopathic dominator or dominatrix, [the dominant male or female partner in a sadomasochistic relationship,] disguised as the victim. Such so-called ‘passive’ dominators act out disturbed and even life-threatening role reversals, which these incredibly troubled people play for sexual gratification and emotional control, not only with their multiple sex partners, but also in various forms, with everyone else in their lives.
Real victims never choose intolerable situations of entrapment; they never willfully escalate their own dreaded abuse and spiritual and emotional imprisonment; although abuse nearly always continues and escalates through the passivity of the victim. Neither do real victims intend to continue that misery to the end – whatever horrible end that might be. True victims always long for, and work towards escape; a solution to the problem, and closure so that they can find peace and a new life.
Real abusers, on the other hand, are never interested in ending their abuse or letting their victims go free. (This is especially true for victims turned vengeful abusers and those who wear a I-am-the-victim mask!) They have no conscience; feelings of guilt, shame or remorse. For instance, although truly unrepentant spouses might cry a river of tears when exposed, their emotional tantrums will be just another manipulative trick to regain control of the situation, get their own way, and continue their escalating scale of abuse. Thus, true victims of abuse dare not treat abuse as ‘forgiven and forgotten’ until they have obeyed Jesus’ commandments to resolve the matter to aid their own healing, and to bring the abuser to repentance, if the abuser should eventually choose to obey the Word of God and surrender to the conviction of the Spirit.
C: Realize that God loves both you and your abuser
In God’s eyes, sin is sin in young and old. Physical murder is just as serious as spiritual and emotional murder. Both fornicators and liars will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. God has no favorites. He is into Complete Righteousness. Thus, God forbade us to destroy our abuses and commanded us to restore them, if possible.
Step 2 – Private rebuke is a Scriptural commandment
Jesus commanded in Mt. 18:15, “If your brother [seriously, unrepentantly] sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone…”
Still, hardened abusers hardly ever take kindly to rebuke. Therefore, I believe we should tread carefully if this step endangers our physical safety. In this case, we should rather talk in public than in private - for instance, in a restaurant. Nevertheless, let the necessity of this step be fully explained by Lev. 19:17-18, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, [venting or expressing your anger and resentment in a grown-up, Godly way,] and not bear sin because of him…” As we have seen, Godly dialogue has the power to eliminate the reoccurring problem of abuse, and, if the abuser chooses to repent, save the relationship.