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The Centrality of the Cross for Counseling Rape Victims

By keeping our minds focused on the Lord and His victory at the cross, we can live in life-giving hope and share this hope as we counsel.

Aug 27, 2021

As counselors, helping people who have suffered the horrors of rape can be difficult as we struggle with the reality of evil and the depths of human depravity. The long-term repercussions in the lives of victims can be upsetting and distressing. While counseling these cases, it is helpful to keep the work of Christ on the cross central in our minds so that we are not overwhelmed by what we see and hear. 

The Cross Applied 

When we look at what Christ did on the cross, we know that God cares for those who suffer. Jesus became sin for us so that we might become righteous. He experienced one of the most extreme forms of physical suffering so that we can be reconciled to God. We can give and experience hope and purpose beyond what they have gone through; we can live to know and glorify the Lord. We are called to know Christ and become more like Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

Reality of Evil 

The evil intentions and suffering that are involved in rape are a result of living in a fallen world. After Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s commands in Genesis 3, sin and suffering entered creation. Before their rebellion, as we see in Genesis 1 and 2, there was no suffering, pain, or sin. Creation was declared to be “very good.” Adam and Eve lived their purpose of reflecting the character of God by being His image-bearers in creation. It was after they chose to disobey God, which we read about in Genesis 3, that they experienced suffering, death, relational problems, sin, fear, and shame. These disastrous effects are seen in their son, Cain, who murdered his innocent brother, Abel, because of anger and jealousy (Genesis 4:1-8). Abel was a worshipper of the Lord who had done no wrong toward Cain. Yet he suffered innocently at the hands of his brother. The disastrous consequences continued as Lamech later killed a man (Genesis 4:23, 24). We too live and counsel in a world that is fallen, is cursed, is full of suffering, and where people commit evil against others.  

Evil Conquered 

Thankfully, evil does not reign and does not have the final say. Through His death on the cross, Jesus defeated Satan and evil. It was at the cross that Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities, putting them to open shame, and triumphing over them (Colossians 2:15; Psalm 110:1). He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, having defeated God’s enemies (Ephesians 1:20-21). He destroyed the devil and his works (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8). 

Even at the worst moment in history, when Adam and Eve had chosen to rebel against God, He graciously promised that evil would be conquered. He announced that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Through His victory on the cross, Christ has transferred believers from the domain of darkness and transferred them to the kingdom of His Son where there is the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13, 14). 

Sin Conquered  

Jesus suffered in the place of sinners by substituting Himself for them on the cross. He fulfilled the demand of the law, thereby satisfying the justice of God in their place. The guilt, which must be punished because of God’s just nature, is covered, or satisfied, by the death of Christ on the cross. By grace, through repentance and faith, the sinner is pardoned. Since Christ was made a curse for us by bearing our sins on the cross, and because our punishment was placed on Him, if a person trusts in Christ and what He accomplished on the cross, he or she can be forgiven and come into a new relationship with God (Galatians 3:13). 

Thinking it Through 

When we counsel rape victims, we come face-to-face with the reality of evil. We might at times be tempted to wonder if darkness is more powerful than light. By keeping the cross central in our minds, we can live out of the truth that evil has been defeated by Jesus at the cross, as have the devil and his works. . The evil of rape will not have the final say. Jesus’ work on the cross is more extensive than His glorious conquering of sin. He also defeated evil, Satan and his works, and death. This is true for the victim, for us as counselors, and for creation’s future. We can trust God that He is just and that evil will be punished. 

By keeping our minds focused on the Lord and His victory at the cross, instead of being overwhelmed by the evil of rape, we can live in life-giving hope and share this hope as we counsel.