There's a story in the Bible of extreme love and deception. It is a dangerous story that shows the consequences of abusive behavior.
In my last year of college, I had an internship at the American Trauma Society. The foundation existed to warn and educate people on avoiding potential traumas; anything from drunk driving, bike safety and staying inside during a lightning storm was covered in brochures, videos and informative lectures given around the state.
My particular project (in addition to answering the phones and showcasing my copy-making skills) was to highlight dating violence. I researched stories of dating violence and compiled a brochure that would be distributed in local schools. Part of my research landed me on the phone with a father whose 16-year-old daughter was stabbed 16 times by her ex-boyfriend.
It was an extremely difficult and heartbreaking project to be involved in.
It was around this same time that singer Rihanna was brutally beaten by her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown, during an argument. As time would go on, she would take him back again, despite the physical abuse she endured.
These are extreme, sad examples of the way "love" and lust can grip couples. Abuse is more than just physical; controlling behavior, verbal/emotional abuse and sexual abuse can happen to anyone, male or female. I want to draw attention to this because there are so many of us who have been in abusive situations or know someone who was, or is in one.
I look around at some of the people I know and circumstances they have been in, and it scares me. Even when I waitressed, I saw so many countless examples of strangers and the types of relationships out there. I saw women who wouldn’t meet my eyes who had their husbands order food for them, and I saw men who were belittled, criticized and embarrassed by their wives in front of my face.
There's a story in the Bible of extreme love and deception.
It is a dangerous story that shows consequences of abusive behavior.
Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.Judges 16:15-16
Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah. Rich and powerful rulers of Philistine bribed her to tell them the secret of what made Samson so strong, and how he could be overpowered and restrained. Samson’s power came entirely from God.
Delilah asked Samson 3 times to reveal his secret, and each time he lied. It was at this point she began nagging him day after day to reveal the truth, which Samson finally revealed in a moment of weakness.
“My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”Judges 16:17
When Samson was sleeping, Delilah told the Philistines his secret, and they came and shaved off his hair.
This story shocks me because of how blinded Samson was by love.
Clearly, their relationship was very unhealthy. He must have known Delilah was trying to betray him, but he still revealed his deepest secret with her eventually (after lying to her several times himself!)
In the end, it was Delilah’s guilt-inducing language of, “If you love me, you will…” that got him to spill his secret, and the consequences of this were numerous. The Bible says,
So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.Judges 16:21
This Biblical story has a lot of parallels to some relationships today.
Some people are trapped in relationships where, “If you love me, you will…” is a resounding threat. It’s also a reminder that sexual sin and lust in relationships can consume our ability to make healthy decisions. Usually there are warning signs in unhealthy relationships, like there was with Samson and Delilah, (especially concerning the back and forth lying).
...But why did he love her?
Simply put, Samson was enticed and drawn in, just as each and every single one of us can be enticed into a relationship or even compromise some of our values or morals with another person. Many people find themselves in horrible cycles of abuse that continue, and psychologically, sometimes guilt, shame or anxiety will bring people back to their abuser.
It’s important to know that dating/domestic violence is no joke, no matter how
small or simple the signs of abuse may be. We may feel helpless but I think it’s important to highlight
some of the ways abuse can trap people in what they think is “love”:
- Quick involvement: An abuser pressures someone into an exclusive commitment early on
- Not allowing you to hang out with friends or family; isolation
- Preventing you from doing activities you once enjoyed
- Having to be with you all the time
- Telling you what to wear
- Extreme jealousy
- Calls or texts constantly
- Threats of violence, such as, "I'll break your neck."
- Emotional threats, such as, "You can't live without me."
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Easily insulted
- Criticizes family members
- Shoving, hitting, punching, slapping, etc.
- Cruelty to animals or children
- Past patterns of abuse
- Forcing you to have sex
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Pushing the boundaries further than your comfort level
...Is there a Delilah in your life?
Someone who pressures you or makes you feel guilty for any variety of reasons? Are you in a relationship where you are compromising your safety or beliefs? Are there warning signs you can see with the person you love?
Whether or not you are aware of abuse situations in your own life or someone else you may know, it's important to be informed on this type of stuff. Just as Samson suffered at the hands of his love, so too will many of us suffer if we're not careful.
For more information on the project I was involved in, check out this link: Dating Violence
What do you think of the "love" story of Samson and Delilah? What do you think went through Samson's head when he revealed his deepest secret? What do you think of Delilah's motives?
Have you ever been in any kind of abusive relationship or know someone who has? Can you find any parallels to Samson and Delilah?
If you are currently in any kind of dangerous situation, please get help.
National Domestic Violence Helpline UK: 0808 2000 247
National Domestic Violence Helpline USA: 1-800-799-7233