Foolish Naivete About Evil Disqualifies a “Counselor”
John 8:42-44 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Romans 3:10-17 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”
The doctrine of the total depravity of man does not mean that every human being is as evil (depraved) as they could possibly be. Nor does it mean that all people are equally evil or that all sins are as sinful as others. What it does mean is that the being of man is totally fallen. That the effects of sin have infected every part of the human: mind, body, soul, emotions, so that there is no “island of goodness” in man which has been left unaffected. In other words, Luke Skywalker’s opinion that Darth Vader had some good in him somewhere is mere fiction.
Many people, including pastors and counselors, profess to adhere to the doctrine of total depravity, and yet in practice they are more like Jedi knights, looking to the good side of the force in everyone. This totally disqualifies them from dealing properly with abusers. I want to say that again. Anyone who approaches an abuse situation with the notion that somehow through kindness and love, through behavior changes by victims, etc., the “good part” of the abuser can be reached and appealed to, needs to step down off of their high horse and just stop it! Stop giving advice to victims of abuse. Stop counseling abusers or even listening to them. This kind of thinking is foolishness at best and rank arrogance at worst. And it is dangerous.
In my chapter on Dealing With Abusers in my book, A Cry for Justice, I addressed this foolish naivete about evil. I said that in dealing with an abuser you must believe nothing he or she says. You must seek corroboration to his claims. You must assume that he is trying to deceive you, that he is falsely blaming his victim, that he is lying. And then I wrote that if anyone is unwilling to use this approach, they are simply unqualified to be involved with abuse cases. Naivete is dangerous. There is no place here for “always keep thinking on the brighter side of life” because the evil of abuse is darkness. It is very dark, and there is no light in it at all. Yes, it is that bad.
Foolish naivete about evil leads to all kinds of crazy and damaging advice to victims: 1) You must be doing something to set him off, 2) We are all sinners, 3) The Bible says that if you just love him enough he will change, 4) He is just suffering from the torments of his childhood . . . blah, blah, blah. The reality of the abuser mentality is set out very plainly in Scripture however. There IS such a thing as evil. There ARE evil people. They won’t change. They don’t intend to change. They are indeed capable of appearing as angels of light. Remember, these “servants” Paul talks about are people:
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
God’s Word is very plain on the reality and nature of evil. We have no excuse for not being wise in this regard. And therefore I conclude that foolish naivete about some supposed “island of goodness” in every human being that can somehow be reached in some way is a willful disregard of God’s own Word. When I was a police officer, two of the laws I enforced were “careless driving” and “reckless driving,” the latter being the more severe offense. What was the difference? The level of culpability. Careless driving was an action that, through careless inattention, endangered others. Reckless driving was defined as a willful, knowing disregard for the rights and safety of others. So what I am maintaining here is that much of the counsel given to abusers and their victims is reckless. It is a willful and knowing and intentional disregard for what God’s Word says about evil.
And thus, such reckless counsel is evil in itself.