A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Another Example of “Biblical Counseling” that is Enslaving

Christians must always face the threat of man-made traditions being taught as if they were the Word of God. This is how we are brought into bondage and robbed of the freedom for which Christ redeemed us (Gal 5:1ff). Preachers, church teachers, theologians, and fellow Christians confidently repeat the “company line” without ever truly thinking through what they are claiming to be the teaching of Scripture. We are commanded to be diligent and careful in our study and application of God’s Word, workmen in the field of Scripture that will not have to be ashamed when Christ comes. We are to “cut it straight” as Paul told Timothy. Yet today we often see more jagged ripping than straight cutting.

When we hear some pastor or “biblical” counselor confidently make assertions, telling us that we are bound before God to do or to not do…whatever, we need to be very careful that it really is God’s command and not that of man. Today I heard just such an example of a counselor/pastor making this kind of statement that, in my opinion, is not biblical and will most certainly bring the oppressed into further bondage at the hands of the wicked. Here is the statement taken from this fellow’s blog:

As counselors we often come across counselees who are lax in keeping their commitments. A successful and capable woman who is married to a lazy selfish man may realize that she could find a better husband. A father who promises to attend an event with his son on a Saturday, only to be offered great seats at the big game at the last minute, may be tempted to abandon his commitment to his son in order to take the better offer….Expect to do some difficult things for the sake of keeping your commitments. There will be times when you may regret having made a promise, but must still keep it. The capable woman with the lazy husband made a commitment before God, and she must keep it (Matthew 19:6).

He is referring to Psalm 15 which reads:

A Psalm of David. O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. (Psa 15:1-5)

As you can see, this writer takes that phrase “who swears to his own hurt and does not change” and authoritatively announces that “the capable woman with the lazy [and selfish] husband made a commitment before God, and she must keep it.” (Italics mine). He then cites Matthew 19:6 as further support:

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
(Mat 19:6)

There is soooo much wrong with this fellow’s use of God’s Word here that it is difficult to know where to begin. I will just make a start and number the points off:

  1. Why does he zero in on a wife who is the one who wants out of her marriage? In doing so, you see, he places the onus upon the woman to keep her marriage vow. But she IS keeping her vows! Her husband is the one who is breaking his vows! So why has this teacher set the crosshairs on HER?
  2. The scenario is described in minimizing language. “Selfish and lazy.” Now think this through very carefully. Selfish and lazy. Have you ever known a selfish and lazy man who is married? What did that selfishness and laziness look like? I can tell you. It is no mere Huck Finn skipping school to go catfishing down at the Ol’ Missisip. Oh no. Read about him further in Proverbs where he is called the “sluggard.” This “selfish and lazy” man is a wicked man. He is worse than an unbeliever because he will not provide for his own. He is without empathy and expects his wife to wait upon him, grabbing any income she gets and spending it on drugs or alcohol or toys. I have another name for such a man. He is an abuser. He is abusing his wife. He has regularly, habitually, and without repentance broken his marriage covenant. And that is grounds for divorce.
  3. The writer quotes Matthew 19:6, one verse out of context, giving readers the impression that filing for divorce for any reason is to break one’s vow and invoke God’s displeasure. Remember, David Instone-Brewer wrote a book about the New Testament teaching (including the Old Testament and Rabbinic backdrop) on marriage and divorce. But this blog post just tosses this one verse out there as support for the position that, well, too bad lady. You married that lazy, selfish, no-good and now you are stuck with him. HE can break his vows all he wants to with impunity.
  4. The writer is well known in the “biblical counseling” movement. The nouthetic stuff that we encourage people to run from. And in this movement there is a persistent notion that with Bible in hand a counselor can “fix” things. Fix an abuser. Fix an abusive marriage. Fix a selfish, lazy, sluggard. People in this school of counseling are extremely hesitant to just come right out and say it, abuse is biblical grounds for divorce. To do so would bring the wrath and rejection of one’s fellow counselors down upon you. So you won’t find clarity in the literature of this kind of counseling.

What is the true application of this phrase in Psalm 15, “who swears to his own hurt and does not change”? It is this. “Mr. Sluggard, Mr. selfish, lazy, abuser of your wife, breaker of your marriage covenant, YOU will never see God’s holy hill. You will not be allowed into the Lord’s presence. He is going to cast you away into the outer darkness because YOU wickedly destroyed your wife and your marriage covenant. And God hates that violence.”

The kind of teaching then that this article contains brings Christ’s people into bondage. It enables the wicked and oppresses the innocent. And it is all around us today in the churches, in “Christian” books, in “biblical counseling” seminars. Everywhere.

Christian, Christ has set you free. Don’t permit anyone to counterfeit God’s Word with man’s tradition and rob you of that freedom.

 

***

If you’ve never commented on this blog before it is important to read our New Users’ Info page because it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And if you’re new to this blog we encourage you look at our FAQs.  The New Users Info page and the FAQs can also be found on the top menu bar.

22 Comments

  1. Tee3

    You nailed it, Pst Jeff. Lazy and selfish! These are my abuser’s main traits. At the beginning of our marriage, he was always pushing me to get a better paying job and attend more classes so that I could be promoted at work while he stayed home doing nothing! He still waits eagerly for me to bring my monthly pay home for us to spend, but I’m wiser now. I only add a fraction to the monthly budget.

  2. Valerie

    Tee3, that’s exactly what I was going to type…Jeff nailed it. He got right to the heart of the issue(s) that is permeating the churches and enslaving so many. Claiming to be upholding God’s word but truly upholding men’s desire to earn merit in God’s eyes. To obey is better than sacrifice. Thanks, Jeff, for exposing this!

  3. Sharon

    Counselling of this nature is so often directed AT the woman, leaving the man untouched. I know people that use this method would suggest that you are saying, if your husband misses one of your kid’s activities because he found some great tickets for a professional game, you can divorce him. You are speaking though, of a much deeper issue.. the heart, or lack thereof, of an abusive partner. One that does only as he/she wishes, with no regard for his/her family, certainly leaves the vows of marriage.

    Counsellors can become co-abusers in exactly this way, by “should-ing” on the wife, and minimizing the real sin by using words that we are all guilty of, from time to time. Much of this is stemmed in the rampant mysogyny found in the church. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female”.. If only we could see ourselves as co-heirs with Christ, learn godly principles, and learn scripture in context, and in its entirety.

    • Hi Sharon, we received your comment (on another thread) in which you asked whether Jeff would ever consider coming to your area to do a seminar. Because you named your location, we are wary of publishing it in case it increases your risk from abuser(s).

  4. Better Equipped

    Wonderful stuff! I so appreciate your articles as they have helped me mature and realize the fullness of my identity in Christ and have strengthened me to walk in that identity with boldness. I have learned so much these past years about discerning and cultivating a keen ear toward what’s being said behind the pulpit. Many times I find that legalistic mindsets/sermons are mostly too subtle to take note until I found myself, within my spirit, feeling this agitated inadequacy – I call this the the legalistic effect/aftermath of graceless ministry. Fortunately, my first exposure to God and church (I’m from a Muslim background and therefore very vulnerable to varying types of abuse) was Love and Grace. Had that not been in my life from the beginning of my walk with Jesus, I would not be able to compare, let alone discern legalistic/controlling/abusive/bondage-making teaching from Truth.

    This wicked stuff is strangely seductive, not sure why, but experiencing the fruit of the Holy Spirit should always be the ‘normal’ effects/aftermath of spending time with biblical counsellors, Christian fellowship, and Christian churches. Why? Because anyone who spends time with the person of Jesus experiences this and furthermore will exude this! If a pastor, counselor, spouse, or Christian doesn’t then I have made it my prerogative to stay away from them – their influence is negating and their long-term fellowship is besetting and not up- building. I find myself stripped of grace and sucked into having to defend myself. If a spouse displays and projects these legalistic tendencies or hurls abuses then my spouse is also cut off from my ‘inner circle’ of fellowship. Learning to guard my heart from such people, including ending relationships, has been the single most difficult task in my Christian life. In this process I have learned self-respect, which I never had before.
    “Let us throw off EVERY weight that hinders…”
    “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free therefore do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”

    • For Too Long

      Better Equipped – very well-said! Even though I don’t come from a Muslim background, I do have a very legalistic background from which I have been in the process of being released from its shackles. When you said, “I find myself stripped of grace and sucked into having to defend myself,” I smiled because I think most of us here can really relate to that feeling; you just articulated it very well. 🙂

      And Pastor Jeff – thank you as always for the insight this post provides. The counselor you quoted – I wonder if he was one of mine?! No seriously, though – the nouthetic counselors really do sound all the same. Like they’ve eaten from the same trough and are just regurgitating it. What’s more, I really hate the guilt-inducing line about how we must all share in the sufferings of Christ – as if having an abusive spouse were somehow all part of God’s plan for our lives. and his means of sanctifying us.

  5. Thank you Pastor Crippen for the insight. We keep forgetting this very important aspect as people try to stuff things into our heads that are not true. Christ has set me free! Yet my X, trying to counsel me, by bragging how much better of a Christians he is because he does his bible study first thing in the morning while I still feed all the pets and try to make a cup of coffee to open my eyes.

    • The Wary Witness

      Yes, NMT, I think it is the height of hypocrisy when the early birds of this world tell us night owls (and others who just aren’t morning people), that our prayers and Bible reading only count when we do them first thing in the morning. They base it all on one verse (“early will I seek thee”) taken out of context, and then hammer others over the head with it.
      So glad that you’ve found freedom in Christ.

      • Welcome to the blog, Wary Witness

        Ah, a fellow night owl! 🙂 Thank you for your comment. And we like to direct new commenters to our New User’s page. It gives tips for staying safe when comment on the blog.

        Again, Welcome!

  6. healinginhim

    Pastor Crippen, Thank you for correcting and clarifying the mishandling of God’s precious Word.

  7. Still Reforming

    I have recently begun to ponder if in fact the answer to question number 1 (“Why does he zero in on a wife who is the one who wants out of her marriage?”) can be found in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman…”

    • Good thought, SR!

      • Very good thought. But men also do not want to lose control of those in their manly kingdom. Control is power. It also makes me think of God’s remark that the sins of the father will be passed on to the 3rd and 4th generation … So, does this mean that we do not have control over this or can we still find God’s favor despite the passing on of the father’s sins …?

      • Hi NoMoreTears, to add to what Jeff said —

        I was sitting in a church service last night and opened the pew Bible at random. Got this:

        Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live.
        As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. (Ezekiel 18:14-18 ESV)

    • Seeing the Light

      I agree, Still Reforming. Thanks for sharing this here. To add a thought…since that statement in Genesis 3:15 was addressed to the serpent/the devil, one would expect the children of the devil to take after their father, and therefore, for their relationships with women to be like his relationship with the woman.

      • This is getting more interesting day by day … the more we start digging, the more answers we find.

  8. Jeff Crippen

    Answer for No More Tears – You ask a very good question. I think that this Scripture from Jeremiah, in which the Lord is speaking about the nature of the New Covenant in Christ, answers it-

    “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD. In those days they shall no longer say: “‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
    (Jer 31:27-31)

    In other words, there was a change when Christ established the New Covenant. That third and fourth generation curse was even lifted.

  9. Thank you! As always, I appreciate your comments, your insight and I am learning at the same time. Pastor Crippen, thank you for ACFJ.

  10. Anonymous

    I am currently in marriage counseling and our biblical counselor told us that forgiveness equals reconciliation. I had a problem with that statement. He is also very reluctant to label any conduct as abuse or abusive but instead calls it sin. We have been in counseling for several weeks.
    Though he has not physically abused me, I am afraid of my husband and what he may do in the future as he is very controlling and manipulative.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Your counselor is ignorant of abuse and of the Bibles teaching on forgiveness. Be done with him/her.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you and I thank God for leading me to this site. I’ve visited here before but last night, I was browsing the internet while trying to navigate my out of the confusion that I am currently in when I saw the name of the counselor mentioned.

      • Anonymous

        I also saw a copy of Leslie Vernick’s Tje Emotionally Destructive Marriage on his book shelf so I was hopeful that this counselor would understand and see our situation clearly without being snowed by my husband and that he had worked with couples struggling with similar issues. Once he said that true forgiveness allows for reconciliation, I had doubts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: