A Cry For Justice

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

This Biblical Counselor Thinks we have Misrepresented Biblical Counseling

A biblical counselor submitted a commented on this post of ours. We didn’t publish his comment on that thread because it would have been triggering for our readers. Instead we have chosen to feature it here because it exemplifies the kind of things that many biblical counselors say. We want you, our readers, to analyse and comment on it. Use it an exercise in discernment and assertiveness.

Tim Allchin, who is the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Centre Illinois said:

I am a biblical counselor, perhaps the kind that you tell people to run from. However, I don’t think you fairly characterized the kind of counsel that organizations like ours would give. I think it is true that we would struggle to “come right out and say” that “Abuse is grounds for divorce” because there is a better and more complete way to have the conversation. There is a more complete conversation that the scriptures would encourage us to have. Consider the questions below:

Is being lazy really abusive grounds for divorce?
Is “working too much” abandoning the marriage?
Is infrequent/ too frequent sexual relations really a subtle form of abuse?
Is failing to encourage your wife abusive?
Is “forcing” your spouse to attend your church with you abusive?
Is requesting “oral sex” abusive?
Is restricting the budget too severely, controlling and abusive?
Is avoiding arguments through silence abusive?

I have heard all of these referred to as “abusive” in my office. I think you could make a case that all of them could or would be classified as abusive in some relationships. Some are certainly more gray lines than black and white. However, to give a blanket statement to husbands or wives who are in these situations that their “marriage covenant is irretrievably broken” would not be sound, wise or complete counsel. It’s a far more complicated and lengthy conversation then that. Divorce would be the first response to some of the difficulties above and certainly not the desire outcome.

Here are some questions that come to my mind. We are going to email Tim when this is published, to invite him to respond.  And remember, he submitted his comment to this blog expecting it would be published, so he certainly understood that he might receive public pushback from us and our readers. Therefore, it would be unbiblical to claim that we were obliged to ‘speak to him privately first’ as per Matthew 18:15.

The questions below can also prompt you, readers, in composing your comments. We know of course that none of us can read Tim’s mind, nor can we or assume we know his motives. But many of our readers may have experienced similar statements from their own counselors — and we are all free to talk about our own experiences!

Qn 1. Does ACFJ give a blanket statement to husbands or wives who have experienced any of those behaviours from their partner, that their “marriage covenant is irretrievably broken”? (as Allchin claims)

Qn 2. Tim Allchin believes you could make a case that all of those behaviours he listed could or would be classified as abusive in some relationships. So, in his view, what is required to classify them as abusive?

Qn 3. How would Tim Allchin discern whether or not a ‘gray’ situation is abusive?

Qn 4. Are victims guilty of calling sins by their spouse “abuse” just to make a bigger deal out of it than it really is?

Qn 5. Are victims guilty of exaggerating?  Or of lying?

Qn 6. Are abusers guilty of exaggerating?  Or of lying?

Qn 7. Has Tim Allchin bothered to look at our careful definition of abuse?

Qn 8. Is it wise for Tim to have made his questions all about discrete behaviors?

Qn 9. By making his examples all about discrete behaviors while not talking about the mentality of abusers and the pattern of coercive control and the employment of power, is Tim Allchin showing that he understands domestic abuse well enough to counsel victims or perpetrators?

Qn 10. Is his focus on discrete behaviours designed to throw us onto the back foot? —to bamboozle or undermine us? —to characterize us as too black and white?

Tim admits that he and organizations like his would struggle to come right out and say that abuse is grounds for divorce. He explains his reluctance on the grounds that there is a better and more complete way to have the conversation… a more complete conversation that the scriptures would encourage us to have.

Qn 11: What, in his view, would that more complete conversation be like?

  • Would it look at the pattern, the coercion, the covert aggression, the power and control in the marriage?
  • Would it just drag out the standard wives submit, husband be servant-leaders, confess, forgive, reconcile, formula?
  • Would the conversation cover what to do when one spouse pretends to be a loving Christian but behind closed doors is a mean, harsh, deceiving, evasive, manipulative bully?
  • Would the conversation cover the fact that Malachi 2:16 has often been mistranslated? Would Tim Allchin inform his clients that God does not hate all kinds of divorce? 
  • And most important of all, would the conversation be done in a couple-counseling format?

The problem in the church is not that wives are saying everything is abuse.  

The problem, we believe, is that the church is saying very-little-to-nothing is abuse, and is hiding behind the excuse that “it’s such a gray area”.

And even when a church does say ‘x’ is abuse (e.g. physical violence), that is usually just rhetoric: when you take them at their word, you find they move the goal posts. “It wasn’t severe violence. Your life wasn’t in danger. You didn’t flee so it couldn’t have been that bad. Report him to police, they’ll deal with it (as if that always stops abusers!). Oh, but you can’t take a brother to court so forget the family court and divorcing him, and God hates divorce so you can only separate … ‘for a season’.  Oh, look! now he’s repenting, so you’ve gotta take him back!”

* * * * *

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.

Related posts:

What is Coercive Control?

Resisting slanderous misrepresentations of our work, like the claim that we say ‘you can label anyone you don’t like as an abuser’

Why Couple Counseling is not recommended for domestic abuse

God hates divorce? Not always. 

83 Comments

  1. Avid Reader

    I have a brief question for Tim Allchin,

    What type of “biblical” training/education in counseling did you complete to become a professional counselor? Please list specific courses/curriculum/books etc.

    Have you ever attended a Bill Gothard seminar?

    Read any of his materials?

    Or been influenced by those that have (such as attending a church teaching Gothard’s concepts)?

    • Tim Allchin

      I have never gone to any Bill Gothard websites, seminars and know only of him from a few internet posts that I have read. I can’t say whether I agree or disagree with him, as I haven’t ever read him. From the limited interaction I have seen on the internet and counseling folks who have been heavily influence by his movement, I suspect I would have strong and serious disagreements with what he teaches.

      As far as my schooling, I have completed 32 credits towards a Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Counseling (currently writing my dissertation at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis even though much of my coursework was taken elsewhere prior to transferring to CBTS),I have taken many classes on counseling and psychology in undergrad and graduate degrees and read 100’s of counseling book from the whole spectrum of christian counseling including biblical counselors and secular psychologists. Diane Langberg is an author that I really appreciate in this whole area of abuse.

      • Thank you for reading the post and commenting here Tim.

        I am glad you appreciate the work of Diane Langberg. We have some of her material on our Resources pages.
        And we have mentioned her work in some of our posts.

        I have read her latest book “Suffering and the Heart of God” and I intend to write a review of it here on the blog (when I get the time…). I found some things she said in that book were a little victim-blaming. She seemed to mostly be writing to Christian counselors, but that is a problem because she didn’t seem to be taking into sufficient account that some of her readers would be victim-survivors, and would hear her words as unduly pathologizing victims.

        But that’s a discussion for another day.

        The real point of this post is that we have concerns about the comment you submitted to this blog and that’s why we pointed out our concerns in this post. I hope you will respond to our concerns.

  2. But He Didn't Hit Me

    I appreciate you not posting this as a comment. It has a lot of triggers. Maybe Tim can humbly ask God for the truth about this matter? It seems whenever we think we have God and His word all figured out, there needs to be repentance, humility, and the subsequent teachable spirit. Tim you are so wrong on so many levels. Listen to victims. Read the ACFJ description of abuse. Read Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts books. If you really want to counsel domestic violence well. Otherwise, I suggest you are harming many many women and you will have to answer to God for that someday.

  3. Remedy

    Tim’s list of questions about what he hears in his office as abusive are extremely lightweight in nature and do not come close to the situations most here would describe they experience. The list is designed to make us out to be whiners and complainers vs people who have been SEVERELY mistreated over a long period of time in all sorts of ways. When we have tried to address the mistreatment with the one who vowed to love and cherish us, we are met with more harshness and/or dismissiveness. When, at our wits end, we seek help for relief and counsel outside the marriage through the church or Biblical counselors, we receive more, in many cases.

    He should spend some time on this blog, as well as others and read the books you listed this week as gifts for the financially strapped. Also “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans.

  4. Valerie

    The decision of whether to separate or divorce doesn’t belong to pastors or counselors. It belongs to the people who have to live with the consequences. If someone is divorcing a guilty person for good reason, they need our support. If someone is divorcing an innocent person for bad reasons, the innocent person is just as well off without him, truly.

    When two people want to work on their relationship and improve it, and repent of their sins to one another, a good therapist is a godsend, and working to restore their relationship can be a wonderful thing.

    But is there a tally board in Heaven that makes preventing divorce the number one good deed? Present the Gospel, yes. Preach the Word, yes. But remember that where the Gospel isn’t received with a true heart of faith and repentance, it doesn’t change anybody or fix anything. Without a true heart of love for God and others, without two people fully committed to one another’s welfare, saving a marriage will be a fool’s errand. No counselor or pastor has the amazing capacity to bring life from the dead.

    Divorce is not the #1 bad thing that the church should work hard to oppose. That #1 position probably belongs to abuse, actually. People who are distraught and inconsolable in marriage shouldn’t be considered guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.

    Far too much of biblical counseling, and some of its most basic presuppositions aren’t even found in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t promise to fix everything, all the time, if we simply believe the right things and do the right things. The Book of Job is in the Bible for a reason.

    • bright sunshinin' day

      Well stated, Valerie! The following 2 paragraphs you wrote spoke volumes:

      “The decision of whether to separate or divorce doesn’t belong to pastors or counselors. It belongs to the people who have to live with the consequences. If someone is divorcing a guilty person for good reason, they need our support. If someone is divorcing an innocent person for bad reasons, the innocent person is just as well off without him, truly…

      Far too much of biblical counseling, and some of its most basic presuppositions aren’t even found in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t promise to fix everything, all the time, if we simply believe the right things and do the right things. The Book of Job is in the Bible for a reason.”

    • Anonymous

      Great stuff Valerie!

      But is there a tally board in Heaven that makes preventing divorce the number one good deed? … Divorce is not the #1 bad thing that the church should work hard to oppose. That #1 position probably belongs to abuse, actually.

      SSSSOOOOOOO Good! Can you imagine a sermon starting with those two sentences? At any church besides Jeff’s?

  5. NoRegrets

    Sigh. The “biblical counselor” my ex finally went to see after three other psychs/counselors called him on his behavior, actually gave us a printed contract for our separation. We were to discuss together how often we were to date each other during the separation, how often we would go to church and religious activities, and to whom we would be accountable. He was completely bamboozled. I wish “biblical counselors” would, at the very least, immediately decline to do couples’ counseling when one partner alleges abuse. Even if it’s a gray area, even if it turns out not be abuse, a decent counselor should be able to make progress separately. By the way, I told that counselor to stuff his contract and homework assignments, and that I was leaving an abusive marriage and would under no circumstances pretend otherwise. My ex had a decade to repent and change his ways, but didn’t. No way was I going to believe that three months with a counselor had wrought a miracle. By evaluating only his discrete behaviors, which were great at that time because I refused to even be in the same room as my h at that time, he completely missed what was really going on.

    • bright sunshinin' day

      NoRegrets, I’m glad you had discernment to see the “counselor’s” contract idea as worthless.

  6. If only all counselors and churches demonstrated their ignorance on this issue so openly. Many of us could avoid a world of hurt.

  7. LorenHaas

    This list of behaviors reminds me of church youth groups teaching about proper dress and allowable “touching”. Instead of a holistic approach to honoring the value God gives to each of us, it becomes a checklist of do’s and don’ts. With this mentality we could rewrite the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery:
    Jesus: “She was doing what? That is on the list. OK, stone her in love, because we hate the sin , not the sinner.”

    • bright sunshinin' day

      THIS:

      “This list of behaviors reminds me of church youth groups teaching about proper dress and allowable ‘touching’. Instead of a holistic approach to honoring the value God gives to each of us, it becomes a checklist of do’s and don’ts.”

  8. waitingforthetrumpet2

    Would Tim consider the following situations abuse?”

    Husband, demands new bride dissolve all her long-term friendships, saying he is the only friend she needs.

    Husband demands new bride immediately give up singing in her church choir, which she had been an active member for many decades.

    Husband demands new bride immediately quit her church membership and never darken the doorstep of another church. And this husband was a licensed minister.

    Husband demands wife sever relationships with her mother, brother, daughter, son and grandchildren, and devote all her time to attending solely to his needs alone.

    Husband insists wife’s paychecks will pay for all bills, mortgage and food, while his paychecks are for himself to spend any way he wants to: ie video games for himself, boy toys, any other trinkets he personally wants for himself.

    Husband quits his job, refuses to get another job and sits all day playing video games, watching tv or viewing porn, while wife must continue working a physically demanding job to support both of them.

    While husband is unemployed, and while wife is working full-time outside the home, when wife returns home after a long grueling day of work, she must still do all the cleaning, cooking, dishes, laundry, etc. while husband continues to sit and watch tv, play video games or view porn; and when wife asks for help, husband refuses by saying housework is “women’s work”.

    Unemployed husband demands new wife take out a mortgage on the house he inherited, in order to pay his debts for him and to buy his siblings off of their share of said house; then once re-employed, lets the house go into foreclosure and abandons the house and most of their personal belongings before eviction.

    Husband critically condemns wife’s children, grandchildren, siblings and mother constantly, insisting they can do no right; while simultaneously praises his own children and grandchildren, insisting they can do no wrong.

    • Anonymous

      waitingforthetrumpet2, Sadly and sickly–there ARE evil people who would say this was okay. These people would not be OF GOD (although they’d claim to be) and because they have no love or care for others–they can do this with ease.

      The horror you’ve written is so sad and heartbreaking! And I think, what if you’d never married this man? What if you’d been successful in business, good with money and single? What if God had put on your heart to remain single? You’d have good credit, peace and a close walk with God. … [that is] how I think of things now. If I’d lived my life and displayed my heart it would look like what I’ve just written. Instead I had bad credit for a while, been slandered and lied about to my children whom I love dearly and I am physically damaged for life because of stress. Stress induced by an evil man given the right to abuse me by evil teachings like this. The man you’ve described is the OPPOSITE of God and His instructions on how we are to live our lives and it AMAZES me that counselors like this author would IN ANY WAY authorize the abusers behavior. But as you’ve stated–they DO endorse evil behavior on the part of one partner–as long as it holds the “marriage” together.

    • waitingforthetrumpet2 — I just realised this was your first comment. Welcome to the blog and thanks very much for your perceptive comment. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      • waitingforthetrumpet2

        Thanks for the welcome, Barbara, and I’ve read your New Users Info page. Thank you for that. I’ve got my own testimony on my own page, but I was careful to use a pseudonym in my story, but wanted it to be read. It’s part of my healing process, to get it out.

  9. kind of anonymous

    First of all, Cry forJustice NEVER tells people they must immediately divorce for any of these reasons or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. CFJ sometimes points out to women what their husband’s ongoing and observed behaviours indicate, ie unwillingness to care or repent but the decision is still up to the wife in each case.THAT is a mischaracterization on Mr. Alchin’s part. It doesn’t sound like he has read the definition of abuse at all.

    The answers to Mr. Alchin’s questions all begin with the two words ” It depends”. If by being lazy, a wife means that the husband isn’t as hard driving or ambitious as she would like and has allowed the grass to reach five inches tall, because he’d rather golf with his buddies weekends, and isn’t interested in redecorating the house like she is but otherwise works then no, of course not. But if by lazy, one means:the husband refuses to work, forcing the wife to take on two or three jobs in addition to running the household, is refusing to provide for his own when jobs are out there and will not repent of this selfish behavour etc. , Then: he has broken his covenant, failed to love and provide and meets the criteria for being put out of the church, that is, being worse than an infidel and having denied the faith.

    If by being overly restrictive with the budgeting, one means: the husband wants to account for every penny spent and insists on keeping all receipts, and on using an envelope system, but DOES provide the wife with a reasonable household budget and a budgeted amount of spending cash for each family member ea. month, or even if he has taken away her credit card because she keeps spending them into debt beyond their means and won’t get a part time job to help, then no I don’t consider that abusive.

    But if by being overly restrictive with money, one means that the husband says things like ” its MY money and Ill do what I want with it, refuses to provide reasonably for his wife’s needs or his kids, buys himself a speedboat but goes ballistic when the wife or kids need new shoes and school clothes and denies her access to the family resources, demands an accounting of WHY she bought a stick of gum, has the mentality that she is barely and only entitled to food, shelter and clothing whihle he is entitled to whatever he wants, and if she’s not happy with that, TOO BAD, well ,I’d say there is a good chance this man is using money as a means of keeping his wife totally dominated and controlled by restricting her basic human rights. He is treating his wife like an owned domoestic servant and not a cherished partner and that IS abuse.

    Does a husband have a right to force his wife to do anything? Generally, no, unless we are talking about something like an intervention , as in, Get help for your addiction, abusive behaviour towrds the kids, affairs, etc or this marriage is over”.. Where church is concerned, the only time I’ve ever head of a guy forcing his wife to attend a church was when the church in question had heavy male bias/patriarchy and was quite legalistic. HE was also very legalistic and controlling which was why he liked it there, it reinforced his views and had a heavy emphasis on male authority, and on not questioning the doctrines of the church. Perhaps a husband might make a leadership decision after careful investigation together and choose a church that is sound biblically but the wife is more into extremely charismatic chandlelier swinging type churches or even a quiet baptist church etc. I wouldn’t necessarily see that as abusive control unless the husband was forbidding his wife to EVER attend the church of her choice on her own time and had the mindset that HE was the only one who should make spiritual decisions and she was to have NO input at all. I know husbands and wives who make compromises where they go to one church as a family on Sunday mornings and she attends women’s groups and evening services at a church more to her liking other times and it works fine.

    I could go through each of Mr. Allchin’s questions but by now I think I’ve demonstrated that we victims are quite capable of critical thought and are not disobedient biblically illiterate cretans with devious motives. I find it odd that although Mr. Allchin refers to “having a more complete conversation”, his own conversation is incomplete, esp given that he has contacted a blog that deals with abuse victims who are understandably mistrustful of church authorities? Does he even acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons one would feel this way and that it ISN”t because one “just doesn’t like the truth”?. The examples he gives seem disingenuous; why does he dangle a deliberately vague example with no ” halo data” and no specific examples or backstory of what the counselee in question was referring to? Does he realize that even if a counselee presents with a rebellious demanor in an abuse situation, it doesn’t prove that she is the problem or is NOT being abused? That there needs to be a more complete conversation is obvious. What Mr. Alchin means by that I am not sure but I would hope that it isn’t the usual bible shaming and bullying that goes on in the name of bibilcal counselling in many churches today. Can he even admit that this happens and it is NOT biblical at all?

  10. Donald Johnson

    I numbered his questions and here are my responses.

    1) Lazy? Maybe, need more details.
    2) Working too much? Maybe, need more details.
    3) Frequency of sex? Need more details, e.g., what have been the discussions about this?
    4) Encourage? Probably not abusive, but it might be very loving.
    5) Church? Forcing an adult against their will to do anything is abusive.
    6) Requesting? Is this a pestering request or a normal request that respects boundaries?
    7) Budget? Budget should be worked on and agreed to by both spouses.
    8) Silence? There can be “the silent treatment” which can be abusive or there can be silence because one is in shock or beaten down and resigned. Need to know more.

    One basic problem I see is that people are not taught well about the grounds for divorce including abuse. Very few people get married thinking they will divorce and if they do that is fraud. So that basic teaching on covenants, vows, breaking covenants, marriage and divorce should be understood by all parties before marriage; this rarely happens, but it needs to be in the “background” of any counseling and so if it has not been done, it needs to be done, this is fundamental so that spouses can see the seriousness of some of their actions. This establishes the background framework for the subsequent counseling sessions.

    • Not Too Late

      Yes, yes, yes!

  11. Sunflower

    Are all these behaviours abuse? Attitude, attitude, attitude. Do these people know nothing of the mentality of a bully? Everyone knows when they are being bullied, and how the only thing you can do is walk away……..??? These people do NICE things abusively. That Gottman fellow says that the best predictor of divorce is an attitude of contempt. Like you’ve said before, Cain only had one counseling session.

    • Valerie

      These people do NICE things abusively.
      Exactly. Him throwing me a party once was one of the most manipulative things he did. Of course, no one who attended saw how he treated me once they weren’t around.

  12. MarkQ

    I think this highlights the failure of Biblical Counseling. It tries to find “THE SIN” in the relationship and then confront it using whatever form of spiritual discipline necessary. When I have approached Christian leaders about dealing with abusive relationships, work, parents, etc., it seems that they don’t want the complete picture. They want one thing they can point to and declare that as the sin. If they don’t get the one thing, there is nothing to see, and everyone should be encouraged to move on.

    So, yes, these questions are grey, but I have no evidence that BC can deal with grey. What I’ve seen is that counselors have to come up with some nugget of black and white, not necessarily various things that add up to a pattern, but concrete sins. Then all of the spiritual force can be brought to bear to fix the sinner.

    There are two blind patterns I’ve seen in BCs. The first is that they ignore the grey. That is, let’s say each of these eight accusations is grey. If a wife came to a counselor and said all of those things, with evidence that they were true, the BC would consider each one. Grey, Grey, Grey, Grey… Sorry Mrs. X. I don’t see that you have any grounds to say that your husband is abusive.

    The second blindness I’ve seen in BCs is the power/authority factor. For some reason, there is an unwritten rule that those in power are assumed to be completely righteous unless proven otherwise, generally with a bar so high that it’s unattainable. As a great example, there was a comment I saw that spiritual abuse recovery blogs were, perhaps, one in one hundred people who truly suffered from spiritual abuse, and the rest were people who simply rejected authority. This seems to be the majority view among BCs, so much so that they gloss over sins of those in authority.

    I was on a college team for a design competition. The team lead recruited me by promising the world. He got me lodging for the summer. In order to participate during the school year, I needed to take two classes and have lodging for the year so I wouldn’t lose more than a year. The day I left at the end of summer for a week break, he informed me that I would have to pay for my own lodging during the school year. That he had “tried” to get that for me, but the school refused, and that he had “forgotten” to tell me until it was time for me to move out of the summer housing. During the break, I was at a church conference with some of his leaders. I told them what had happened, and, my 21-year-old self was hugely surprised when they said that’s just how the business world works – they really didn’t think he had done anything wrong.

    Honestly, I probably would have been just as bad had I been in their shoes. It took years of being manipulated, deceived and pushed aside in my family and the church to finally put a name to the pattern. ABUSE. But, the church seems to assign a different name for it. Insubordination. As long as they can squeeze abuse into the mold of insubordination, then they can blame the victim and refuse to take action. My team lead lied to me and defrauded me, but because I was angry about it, I must have just been insubordinate somehow. Nothing black and white.

    As long as BC’s can make the “whiteness” of the victim a little dingy, and the “blackness” of the abuser a little bit excusable, then they can claim the greyness of the whole matter and refuse to take action. If pressed, they simply pile on the abuse. I have yet to see any other course of action. The abuser gets exonerated and the the victim gets revictimized.

    • Anonymous

      Great explanation about the grey areas being used to “enforce” marriage. As I was reading your post, I pictured a woman going into a counselor’s office along with her husband who a flaming demon–bright red, fire spewing from his skull, spouting blasphemies –and the counselor sitting there COMPLETELY ignoring the OBVIOUS –that this was a DEMON sitting across from him — talking to both of them like this was simply a matter of misunderstanding.

      Wife–“My husband is a demon. Ever behavior (pulled from the list) is evidence of this–least of which are the flames coming from his head and the blasphemies pouring from his lips. THESE I can handle–I just need help in living with the other things.”

      Counselor–“Well, let’s first look at what you “consider” to be abuse, Madame. Now, I notice that your hair and skirt are a little too short and your husband tells me you seem to WANT attention because of this yet when he approaches you for sex, you feel burdened. Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “Women must always submit to the husband sexually else they will burn in hell?”

      Wife– “Maybe your referring to Ephesians 5 which was written by Paul and it was explaining the LOVE a man should have for his wife–a sacrificial love–like Christ has for the Church.”

      Counselor–“See here now! There will be none of THAT behavior tolerated here. Why, I can SEE why your husband is angry! If THIS is the kind of sass he must endure when he simply misquotes a passage of scripture surely you are UNBEARABLE in every other area as well! You should be grateful he’s not Muslim! He’d have the right to beat you in public and kill you if he so desired. You’d best keep that in mind next time he leaves the toilet seat up and one of your many children fall in! From what I see here it is CLEAR that you are ungrateful and evil-hearted and this poor soul has every reason to “be lazy” as you call it, when he is forced to put up with this! Why I oughta throw you out in the street but because I’m so benevolent and understanding and a “peacekeeper,” I’ll put up with your insolence here but your angelic husband should not have to endure this in his own home! Now, is there anything else I can help you with?”

      Wife–“No. I’m sorry. I’ll try harder. I suck.”

      Counselor–“You certainly do suck, but us men of God we need submitting wives else we can’t be the great men God created us to be.”

      Wife–“Thank you for setting me straight. You have helped me see clearly what the Bible says regarding my place as a slave and a whore for my husband.”

      Counselor–“Think nothing of it. If I can save a “Godly” marriage, no harm done.”

      This was written from the woman’s perspective but wrong teaching can just as easily frame up lies to abuse the husband. This is a caricature but it sums up what I think of this childish, unbiblical counseling.

      • Avid Reader

        Love it! Thank you for saying what we’ve all been trying to verbalize! 🙂

    • FREEATLAST

      THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS!
      IT IS COMFORTING TO KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT ALONE!!

      “It took years of being manipulated, deceived and pushed aside in my family and the church to finally put a name to the pattern. ABUSE. But, the church seems to assign a different name for it. Insubordination. As long as they can squeeze abuse into the mold of insubordination, then they can blame the victim and refuse to take action. “

  13. Susie

    Tim is missing the entire meaning of what ABUSE truly is. It is scary to think he is a “Biblical Counselor”.

    • FREEATLAST

      Tim is missing the entire meaning of what ABUSE truly is. It is scary to think he is a “Biblical Counselor”.

      SO TRUE!
      THEY (BCC) DEFINE WHAT ABUSE IS!
      VERY DANGEROUS!

  14. IamMyBeloved's

    The first question I would ask of Tim is what kind of training he has had for dealing with domestic abuse and where he got his training.

    The second question I would ask is what makes him believe he is a qualified counselor, other than his owning a Bible or going through some counseling seminars taught by uneducated people.

    His comment alone leads me to believe that he is deliberately ignorant concerning abuse and does not care to educate himself about abuse. Otherwise he would not write a comment like that on this blog, when all the information he needs to obtain an answer to his question(s) is right here on this blog.

    Sorry, but it appears instead that Tim is looking to put victims on the defensive, re-injuring and triggering them. How can that even be considered to be good Christian counseling in nature? Does Tim really believe that victims here at ACFJ were asked about the family budget or were asked for oral sex instead of being forced to do what the abuser wanted in both those situations?

    I am not sure I think Tim even deserves an answer to his obvious choice to not educate himself or listen to the voices here on this blog. According to his own comment, he has read none of the victims’ or survivors’ comments or writings here. Yet, he seems to not care or have pity for the weak and oppressed but rather appears to already be on the defense for the side of evil, even though no one that I know of here divorced their spouse for being asked to go to the other’s Church or for being lazy or working too much, etc. People here are divorced from their abusers for abuse as it is defined at this blog. Too bad Tim would not even take the time to read that information openly presented here before sending out his red flare of judgment.

    If and that is a big if, Tim really wanted to be educated, he would have privately contacted Ps Jeff or Barb asked his questions to them and/or ordered the books, read them and learned that way instead of disrespecting and triggering the people here who are trying to get help and heal.

    We will learn more about Tim as he responds or fails to respond to this article and comments.

    • bright sunshinin' day

      IamMyBeloved’s, I agree. You said:

      If and that is a big if, Tim really wanted to be educated, he would have privately contacted Ps Jeff or Barb asked his questions to them and/or ordered the books, read them and learned that way instead of disrespecting and triggering the people here who are trying to get help and heal.

      We will learn more about Tim as he responds or fails to respond to this article and comments.

      What I’ve noticed over the years is that once some of these BC graduate from seminary or their counseling classroom with their degree in hand, they try and fit every situation into the “formulas” they learned (black and white – the easy route) rather than be like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures for themselves to see if what Paul had taught them was true. Due to this lack of discernment, courage, and hard work, many of today’s BC mislead and harm men, women, and even children for generations to come.

      It is past-time BC follow the Holy Spirit, the Great Teacher, live by faith as they study God’s Word verses holding to man’s traditions and teaching them as doctrine. It is time BC use their position to help others find comfort, true healing, and the freedom spoken of in Galatians 5:1.

  15. sara

    My first question is whether this “comment” of Tim Allchin is a fishing expedition for information for his dissertation for his doctorate degree that he is working on? I looked at Biblical Counseling Centre’s web site and what it says about Tim and it stated that he is almost done with his doctorate. I hope his questions are a true reaching out to learn and understand domestic violence and not a covert way of victim blaming once again. I question his true motivation here.

    My next point is from Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do that?,” on page 366 where he wrote:

    Abusiveness is like poison ivy, with its extensive and entrenched root system. You can’t eradicate it by lopping off the superficial signs. It has to come out by the roots, which are the man’s attitudes and beliefs regarding partner relationships.

    All of Tim’s points are superficial signs, but taken together create a deeply entrenched root system of abuse.

    I will address a couple of his points:
    “Is requesting “oral sex” abusive?” No. But forcing oral sex is sexual assault. The FBI states that rape is now defined as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. ” This definition extends to spouses who are being coercive. Coercive sex is not consent — it is rape — and can be prosecuted under the law. I recently attended a Sexual Assault Investigation Training Seminar put on by my states’ district attorney’s office and one of the discussions was spousal rape. This is a very real problem and the legal system is attempting to address it more forcibly.

    “Is “forcing” your spouse to attend your church with you abusive?” Yes. Forcing anyone to do something they do not want to do is abuse. The next question should be: Why would you want to force someone to go to church? If they are not there of their own free will –what good is it? And if they are forcing their spouse to attend church, what else are they forcing them to do?

    Lastly, I find it incredulous that so many Christian counselors write on this website that women are looking for an easy out through divorce. If women wanted an easy out, they would simply file for divorce and not go through the torture of marriage counseling. I am sure that every woman who has filed for a divorce, and escaped an abusive marriage, will agree with me in saying that it was the most difficult decision of their lives. I felt like I literally walked through the valley of the shadow of death and I did it by myself, because the church abandoned me too. In fact, the church further abused me, because it put the institution of marriage above me and my children, and shunned me for leaving my abusive husband. Leaving my marriage and my church was the best decision I ever made in my life and I have no regrets. I am slowly finding healing and learning that my life is worth so much more than what my ex told me it was.

  16. Tan

    “these people do nice things abusively” Well said Sunflower (speaking of abusers)

    This man knows nothing of the nature of abusers, he needs to get educated, he’s in a field he doesn’t understand. Its a joke he counsels the abused.

  17. kim

    because there is a better and more complete way to have the conversation. There is a more complete conversation that the scriptures would encourage us to have. Consider the questions below:

    Is being lazy really abusive grounds for divorce?
    Is “working too much” abandoning the marriage?
    Is infrequent/ too frequent sexual relations really a subtle form of abuse?
    Is failing to encourage your wife abusive?
    Is “forcing” your spouse to attend your church with you abusive?
    Is requesting “oral sex” abusive?
    Is restricting the budget too severely, controlling and abusive?
    Is avoiding arguments through silence abusive?

    My initial reaction to this quote was to observe that it is self-contradictory. On the one hand, it mentions the need to have “a more complete conversation” – then, in the subsequent examples, reduces everything to a sound byte that has no elaboration or, in fact, real content.

    The originator also puts multiple “alleged” abuses in quotes, as if to minimize or raise question about the validity of those claims. Note that when I cited “alleged” abuse in the previous sentence, it had the effect of implying a doubt about the validity of the abuse claims. “Working too much”, “forcing”, “oral sex” are all examples given in the originator’s quote, and the effect of enclosing those items in quotation marks has the same effect of implying a doubt about whether such claims are actually abuse. Since no further detail was provided, we get a slanted view, with a bias toward minimizing or denying the abuse claims, and any follow on detail the counselees provided. Is the originator biased against abuse claims? Does he expect someone claiming abuse to “prove it beyond a reasonable doubt”?

    Overall, the comment is superficial at best, which I hope is not their approach to counseling those who report abuse.

  18. shepherdguardian

    Where in Tim’s Biblical Counseling training did he learn about having “conversations”?
    Answer…He didn’t!
    He learned that from his post-modern, Narrative-Therapy studies. All man-based and flesh based which would state all those in all relationships are at fault and if we just sit around and talk about things ad nauseum (i.e. “conversations”), the Biblical solution will magically come about. I can think of nothing more triggering of secondary abuse than “Conversations”!
    What is so difficult to understand when Jesus says he expects OBEDIENCE from those who say they love Him.
    Apparently, though, to counselors (who think they are Christian) like Tim, we cannot come to obedience to God without “conversations” among fallen beings. What does one converse about, I wonder? The merits of Scripture? Whether or not to obey?
    Foolishness!
    S/G

  19. kechayne

    I would have some counter-questions:

    Do you consider divorce to be entirely off the table in all circumstances? If not, please provide a clear example where you consider divorce an acceptable option.

    If a divorce occurs because one partner sexually abused a child, who do you think sinned? The abuser, the one leaving, and/or the child?

    Have you ever heard the term “minimisation”? Do you understand what it means?

    Do you understand that if I have a consistent, chronic, daily pattern of offensive behavior but have a plausible excuse every time, I will still probably get fired?

    (Snark meter on)
    Do you understand that a big pile of spinach does not go away if you try to make it look like a lot of little piles on your plate?

    A PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy told me he was taught it is an ethical violation to do couples counselling in cases of abuse. How do you feel about ethical violations?

    Have you ever heard the term reductio ad adsurdum? (hint-it is a logical fallacy)

  20. Stronger Now

    NoRegrets said: “I wish “biblical counselors” would, at the very least, immediately decline to do couples’ counseling when one partner alleges abuse.”

    I could not agree more. I would add this – all counselors who are engaging in marital counseling need a questionnaire or checklist for each partner to answer, with questions phrased in such a way that they would reveal patterns of coercive control. They could easily find or create such a checklist by consulting books like “Why Does He DO That?”

    Every marriage counselor should have at least ONE session privately with each partner at the outset, so they could ask the right questions in an atmosphere where an abused spouse would be free to speak candidly. Any counselor who is reluctant to do this is not qualified to do marriage counseling, because they are ignorant or willfully blind to the dynamics of abuse and are in danger of doing more harm.

    Now, to address the questions presented.

    Mr Allchin is minimalizing.

    I hear Allchin doing what several pastors and/or counselors did to me. They assumed my complaints against my husband were gross exaggerations or outright lies. When I described the pattern of mistreatment and control, they assumed I was a rebellious wife. After all, they knew my husband was such a great guy in all the contexts where they interacted with him. They refused to believe they were capable of being bamboozled or having the wool pulled over their eyes. Therefore I must have been either lying or crazy.

    Every single one of Allchin’s questions reflects the same pattern of minimalizing.

    *Is being lazy really abusive grounds for divorce? When a man refuses to support his family, the Bible says he is worse than an infidel. When he refuses to take care of the home, the lawn, the vehicles, to the point that they are falling apart because he can’t get his lazy butt out of his recliner, that is poor stewardship and creating a dangerous environment for your family. Yes, that is abuse.

    *Is “working too much” abandoning the marriage? A man who leaves 100% of the child rearing responsibilities to his wife and is never home to interact with her or their children because he is addicted to work, has abandoned the marriage. Calling it “working too much” is minimalizing.

    *Is infrequent/ too frequent sexual relations really a subtle form of abuse? Infrequent sex? By this, do you mean, he hasn’t touched her in 6 months and refuses intimacy when she initiates it? If you call that “infrequent” – you’re minimalizing.

    When a woman complains that her husband insists on sex a dozen times a week, and punishes her or her children when he doesn’t get his way, Allchin describes it as “too frequent sexual relations.” If the husband FORCES himself on his wife against her will, that’s not “too frequent” – that’s RAPE. If he uses punishment when he doesn’t get his way, that’s not “too frequent” – that’s coercion and RAPE.

    *Is failing to encourage your wife abusive? He never has a compliment for her, never says a good thing about her appearance, her housekeeping, her cooking, her parenting, or anything else, but always has a criticism, always tells her what a disappointment she is, always tells her she looks disgusting, always tells her she’s a failure as a mother, always compares her negatively with everyone else. That’s not “failing to encourage” – it’s abuse. And if she says he treats her this way and you call it “failing to encourage his wife” – you’re minimalizing.

    *Is “forcing” your spouse to attend your church with you abusive? As someone else already said, forcing an adult to do anything is unacceptable. The use of the word “force” here reflects a pattern of control. The fact that you as a counselor don’t see that is alarming. That you find it acceptable behavior is disturbing. Any woman who hears you support her husband FORCING her to do ANYTHING should get up, walk out of your office, and never come back. She should also report you to whatever licensing board is appropriate.

    *Is requesting “oral sex” abusive? What do you mean by “requesting” – is he using force? Is he insisting? Is he not taking “no” for an answer? Was his wife sexually abused before he knew her, and was this part of that abuse? If so, then asking her to re-enact her previous traumatic experience for his selfish pleasure is abuse, period. And if you think it’s not, you are a fraud.

    *Is restricting the budget too severely, controlling and abusive? Controlling the family finances to the point where a person has no financial autonomy at all, isn’t careful budgeting, it’s abuse. If you call it anything less, you’re minimalizing.

    *Is avoiding arguments through silence abusive? If the husband won’t discuss his concerns but rather gives his wife the cold shoulder, refusing to speak to her for days or weeks on end, to punish her for something she isn’t even aware she’s done or neglected to do, that’s abuse. If you are calling prolonged “silent treatment” – “avoiding arguments through silence” – you’re minimalizing.

    With all of this minimalizing, calling yourself any sort of Biblical counselor is fraud, plain and simple. Assuming a victim of abuse is exaggerating or lying, and telling her she doesn’t have the option of escaping her tormentor is heaping more abuse on top of her existing abuse.

    You, Mr Allchin, should be ashamed of yourself. You should resign as a “Biblical counselor” and get in touch with reality.

    • For Too Long

      You are spot on, Stronger Now. And not only is he guilty of minimalizing, but he insidiously uses the same technique that abusers do and that is to make abused wives question their perception of reality. For example, when my husband found out that I had filed for divorce, he repeated what he’s been saying for twenty-three years: “Don’t you think you may be over-reacting to things? I’m afraid you’re just a little too sensitive.”

      Even Mr. Allchin saying, “I think you could make a case that all of them could or would be classified as abusive in some relationships. Some are certainly more gray lines than black and white,” tells me that he deems himself the “authority” who will decide in these cases whether the behavior is abusive or not. Pity the woman who comes to him for help and he decides that the “gray” is not actually black and white. He then tells her that she is not allowed to divorce her husband. She may just be starting to come out of the fog; now he essentially shoves her right back into it.

      But, of course, if your number one goal is “saving marriages,” then everything you do will be colored by that. It’s the same with the actual abuser. In a sense, when his victim is about to leave, he tries to “save” the relationship, too. Minimalizing the woman’s experience and making her doubt the reality of how bad it really is are just two of his tools.

      • ADaughter

        Minimalizing the woman’s experience and making her doubt the reality of how bad it really is are just two of his tools.

        Why it’s good for an abused person to keep a secret journal to look back on.

  21. KayE

    Well, if I was seeking help as a victim of abuse, I would definitely run from this counselor. He doesn’t seem to see the difference between a normal marriage where there is some conflict and an abusive marriage where one partner is intentionally and consistently harming the other. This is like a doctor not being able to tell the difference between a head cold and pneumonia. Counselors should be able to recognize the red flags that indicate a pattern of abuse, and they should be able to recognize that pattern very early in the conversation with a client, without needing a “lengthy conversation”. Otherwise the victim of abuse will not feel safe and the counselor risks taking the wrong path and causing harm to the client.

    I used to be on the board of a “biblical counseling service”. I came to realize that far more important than the “biblical” label was the skill, wisdom and training of the individual counselors. What’s more, much of their most effective training came from secular sources.
    There’s really no excuse for any counseling organization’s being misinformed and indeed incompetent when it comes to dealing with relationship abuse.

    • Stronger Now

      Amen, Amen, AMEN!

      There is no excuse for anyone engaging in marital counseling to be ignorant of the signs of abuse. It is gross negligence and incompetence.

  22. Not Too Late

    To give Tim the benefit of doubt, he probably has genuine concern for his clients and wants to give Biblical, sound direction. He really does sound like many counselors and pastors I have come across.

    The problem with his approach, as I see it, is that he doesn’t understand what abuse is. He only needs to read the panel on the right hand side of this page to gain a better understanding. He asks about certain situations and wonder if they constitute abuse. But one cannot go by a list of behaviors. It reminds of the time counselors would ask me, “What did he do? What did he say?” What the perpetrator says and does has to be understood in context. Acts may be abusive, but they don’t necessarily characterize an abusive relationship. And acts that don’t seem *that* abusive (or are seemingly gray) may occur in the context of an unacceptable, ungodly, abusive relationship.

    What Tim should be asking (in his own head) is whether there are signs of a pattern of coercion and manipulation from one party. To detect that pattern, he needs to be educated on what it might look like. He cannot go on what the abused or abuser says, simply because the abused is confused and scared, and the abuser is lying.

    And maybe that’s why things can look gray. Maybe the abuser says she calls him lazy but he doesn’t let on that he is far more than that, being entitled and angry when requested to help. Maybe he says she is complaining that he fails to encourage her, but he doesn’t let on that he completely ignores her and when he does talk to her, he puts her down. Maybe…maybe…maybe Tim is not getting the full story and wonders why one party considers the relationship abusive and the other doesn’t.

  23. MarkQ

    Do you understand that a big pile of spinach does not go away if you try to make it look like a lot of little piles on your plate?

    I wouldn’t say this is snarky at all. In fact, I think this is a really compelling argument. Growing up, I thought of SIN as a big pile of spinach. That is, the kind of sin that is worth confronting is a big pile of spinach. However, if someone was adept at making sure each pile of spinach was small enough, he or she had won the game.

    My biggest abusers were exactly like that. They would never be so bold as to throw on a big pile of abuse, but they were really adept at getting their will by applying small amounts of abuse in a pattern. When I finally realized how bad it was, I realized I had lost. It was years and years of little jabs and cuts and manipulations, so many isolated incidents that I would never be able to convince someone that it was a pattern unless I was “keeping a record of wrongs”, which of course is a big silencing verse from my old denomination.

    No one I’ve talked to gets that – they are all looking for one SIN they can point at. When they don’t see the big pile of spinach, they assume that I’m too sensitive. I’m exaggerating, or I’m simply making stuff up.

  24. Misti

    Mr. Allchin, others have pointed out how you’ve ignored and warped definitions and statements that were right in front of you. If you have any knowledge of formal logic, you can identify the fallacies you’ve engaged in from that.

    Instead of rehashing what others have already said, I’ll direct you to Matthew 7:15–23, Matthew 12:33–27, and Luke 6:43–45.

    According to Jesus, a “good Christian” cannot display bad fruits (patterns of behavior). Examples of good fruits are found in Galatians 5, and many churches fawn over that…while ignoring the list of bad fruits we are told to separate ourselves from in I Corinthians 5:11—a list that includes verbal abuse.

    Jesus also made clear that Christians leaders are to be servants, which means force cannot be a part of biblical leadership. Also note that a shepherd’s staff is a tool to gently pull (outright forcing of an animal or person is a good way to injure them), and a rod is generally a tool to startle/warn with, not beat them.

    From your own words, you either ignore or redefine those Bible verses, which makes you a case in point of a “biblical counselor” following the traditions of men rather than the Bible.

    Hopefully the verbiage of your e-mail is just a result of a bad day, but the passive-aggressiveness it displays suggests that you’re just fishing for further content to twist to fit whatever argument you’re wanting to make. If you didn’t intend to give that impression, you might want to take some logic and communication classes.

  25. Gothard Survivor

    A few years back I went to see a biblical counselor who said to me, It doesn’t matter what your situation is, it isn’t good to get yourself out of a fix that God has you in. Then he asked for $100 and if I wanted another appointment. I refused to set up another appointment because he didn’t even offer me coping techniques to survive my situation. I would have been better off attending 10 movies–at least I could have had temporary relief from my situation.

    • FREEATLAST

      Dear Gothard Survivor,
      Thank you for posting this.

      “A few years back I went to see a biblical counselor who said to me, It doesn’t matter what your situation is, it isn’t good to get yourself out of a fix that God has you in.”

      You are not alone.
      At a Bible study our pastor’s wife recently told us how we must stay in our situation and submit, as that is what God commanded Hagar to do!! (Genesis 16:9, the angel of the Lord said to Hagar, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” Hagar is instructed not only to submit to Sarai’s authority, but to whatever mistreatment that involves.)

      My stomach still hurts at the thought of returning to this Bible study!

      • Karen

        I used to attend such a Bible study FREEATLAST, and the irony was the many of the women attending had / still have abusive husbands who are in church leadership: church board presidents, elders, praise band leaders and the like. How do I know this? — several have called me at my home, in tears, sharing of the abuse going on in their homes as we minister to one another outside of the study group. And why can we not minister to one another within the Bible study group? Because we had a distorted view of our Bibles compiled with a myriad of health, wealth and prosperity teachers whose study guides we used. A false theology masked as truth, and there was something wrong with us if we had problems. Our masks were thick.

        It’s interesting how churches revert back to the Old Testament in binding the captives to their abusers; hence we should be stoning everyone caught in some form of sin these days. I could no longer attend such a superficially cold, hard Bible study group, fully knowing that in our private conversations over the phone, these women were hurting and in need of help from someone.

        And my husband and I went to a so called Christian counselor many years ago seeking help for our marriage. She was more concerned about paying off her student loans (she was in her 50’s at that time) and getting one of us to sign off on a “mental instability” document so as to collect from our insurance company. Interesting to note, that while she was presenting the details of the document to us as a couple, she kept eye contact with me only, and as I glanced at my husband occasionally, he kept looking at me as well. Sickness welled up in my gut and my mind kept saying, “Do these two want me to sign this statement. NO WAY!”

        My response, politely spoken, “No, I just can’t sign that right now, but maybe my husband would like too.” The document was never signed and did not return to her counseling, or should I say, the lack thereof.

      • FREEATLAST

        DEAR KAREN,
        GOD BLESS YOU FOR BEING A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS OF ABUSE!

      • Hi Freeatlast, I have a small request. Would you mind not using all caps in your comments? Thanks.

        When a message is all in capital letters, it can be interpreted as ‘shouting in print’. I’m sure you don’t mean to shout at our readers. 🙂 …. and by the way, a measure of outrage is fine — when it’s clearly directed at false teachers and Pharisees. 🙂

      • Avid Reader

        I’m totally with you both on this. Sitting in those kinds of Biblestudies used to make me sick to my stomach too! How could the entire Bible teach us that submitting to the sin of abuse is sinful only for God to turn around and supposedly condone abuse in one verse?

        Looking for answers on the story of Hagar, I started reading some of the Christian books from the 1800’s where the abolitionist leaders had to answer the proslavery theology that tried to use Hagar to justify their wicked system. What the abolitionists pointed out is that God appeared to Hagar twice. The first time was when Hagar had the legal status of fugitive slave. Hammurabi’s Law gave the death penalty to anyone helping slaves escape so most doors would have been shut to her. Maybe the reason God sent her back was
        1) to keep her from starving to death in the desert
        2) Abraham owes her child support
        3) because then Sarah finally stands up for herself and refuses to submit to polygamy by granting Hagar legal emancipation.

        The second time God appears to Hagar she’s now legally free to start a new life without having to constantly look over her shoulder. For the first time in the story Hagar can make her own choices and God DOESN’T tell her to return to abuse.

        By the way, like many of you, I’ve had those conversations with people who hate Christianity. They like to point to certain verses in the Old Testament where it sounds like God is condoning abuse. But put the Law of Hammurabi next to the Law of Moses and suddenly God’s heart for protecting people from abuse becomes clear.

        The Law of Moses gave the death penalty to slave traders (Exo 21:15 & Deut 24:7) to “purge away the evil from among you” and commanded everyone to help fugitive slaves escape abuse (Deut 23:15-16). Just another example of God’s heart for women!

      • FREEATLAST

        DEAR AVID READER,
        THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT THIS IS THAT THE SUBJECT OF ABUSE IS NOT DISCUSSED.
        JUST A BLANKET STATEMENT ABOUT STAYING.

      • Thank you Avid Reader for that info about how the abolitionists saw Hagar. Good stuff!

      • This is a bit of a sidetrack, but not too much I hope since the topic of slavery has been raised here.

        I’ve just found this article by Martin Shields, who is a Hebrew scholar.
        Slavery in the Old Testament

        It’s interesting reading. If we import our modern notions about slavery back into the OT, we can easily misconstrue a lot of things.

  26. kind of anonymous

    Not good to get out of a fix that GOD has you in ??? And then he asked for a hundred dollars??!! What a turkey! I wonder what he would make of the scripture that says ” if they persecute you in one city, flee to the next”? That fellow only deserved a wooden nickel and to be told to take up road mending or something else more suited to his level of sensitivity and knowledge.

  27. Anonymous

    While reading this mans post, I kept thinking that he REALLY believes he has a valid argument or that by speaking calmly and rationally using questions that seem so logical and innocent, surely we who are “out of sorts” can see that perhaps we are overreacting. The truth is if we’d had TRUE biblical teaching BEFORE we married a wicked man–we would have very little need for counselors in the first place and we may be able to reach out and help those who do need it.

    I grew up in this region of the U.S. and it’s precisely these type of people that I ran into when I went for help when I was young. They cared nothing for me or my problems but instead loved to see if they could have me believe this crap. All it did was force me into deeper depression thinking there was something wrong with me and that others didn’t feel or see what I did. Gross. It also kept me from having a relationship with God–isn’t that the POINT of Christian counseling? Helping us get to His TRUTH so that we can have an intimate walk with Him? (Nope, they don’t care a BIT about this–they just want “correct behavior” from those who belong to the Lord so that all this baloney can “work,” Without OUR compliance the evil abusers would look like the evil that they truly are.)

    The heart. The heart. The heart. THIS is what we’re judged by. THIS is what motivates us. THIS is what is displayed when an abuser demands oral sex, or controls the budget too severely And this man misses it every time. We can frame up any behavior and justify it (as those of us here can attest to and been “encouraged” to do by men like this) but that doesn’t mean that it’s the RIGHT view of what is really taking place. When those of us who belong to the Lord come for help with all the “complaints” he listed above, it is usually after years of abusive behavior displayed by evil ones with us justifying it until we can’t take it any more. So yes Tim, all those behaviors have shown my husbands evil heart and God said we are to have nothing to do with such people. Thanks for helping us identify these evil ones BEFORE we marry them. I have YET to see a ministry that does THIS. .

    My husbands heart is wicked, evil, greedy and depraved. He is full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. He is a gossip, slanderer, God-hater, insolent, arrogant and boastful; he invents ways of doing evil; he disobeys his parents; he has no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although he knows God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, he not only continues to do these very things but also approves of those who practice them. (Romans 1:29-32) And people like you have given this evil creature the “right” to rape me at will and tell me to worship at his feet. This is vile advice from none other than one of Satan’s own—pray that God rapes your soul with His truth so that you can gain understanding because it would be better for you to gain this understanding NOW rather than continue covering for the devil and possibly ending up in hell.

  28. beckylovesthelight

    I went to some Christian counselors before divorcing my abusive first husband. I remember I would share small examples of behaviors that worried me, never leading with the worst stuff, the humiliating and degrading behaviors. You float out a test to see what happens. You are trying to see if you will be helped, or further harmed by this counselor.

    It’s alway much, much worse than the abuse victim leads with in the first few sessions.

    • Stronger Now

      YES!! You need to know if it is safe!

    • I would share small examples of behaviors that worried me, never leading with the worst stuff, the humiliating and degrading behaviors. You float out a test to see what happens. You are trying to see if you will be helped, or further harmed by this counselor.

      It’s always much, much worse than the abuse victim leads with in the first few sessions.

      Yes; the victim always discloses the tip of the iceberg first. If the responder shows compassion, interest and is not jugemental, she might then disclose a bit more. And then more, bit by bit, as time goes on, if she feels it is safe to do so.

      The victim usually doesn’t even have a clue how big that iceberg is, until way down the track. She has been conditioned to discount and numb her feelings and her perceptions for so long, and to believe that she is to blame, that she doesn’t realise how ginormous the iceberg is until she reads / learns about the mindset and tactics of abusers from those who truly get it: people like Lundy Bancroft, Jeff Crippen, and the family of survivors at this blog.

      • Becky

        Yes Barbara, that’s how it is! Then later you look back and wonder what took you so long to get it. It’s such a relief to talk about these things, even after all this time, with people who get it.

    • Not Too Late

      Also, I would not say too much lest I be chided for being negative, judgemental or in any way sinful in my attitude towards my husband.

  29. Kay

    Tim Allchin obviously has very little understanding of domestic abuse. Just reading his list of questions was a trigger for me.

    My husband is a “reforming” abuser. He has been working on this for ten years, but the struggle, under the best of circumstances, is profound and cannot happen by a “more complete conversation”! For me, it has been a fight for my life, and I wouldn’t recommend taking this course under most circumstances. It requires that I be well-versed in the tactics of the abuser so that I can identify them and confront them when it happens. It requires all the courage that I have in the world to stand up to him, to stand up to people in the church who unwittingly become allies, and to expose his behaviors publicly. It requires that he have so much to lose (his money, his children, and his freedom because he could face prison time for what he has done to me) that he is motivated to change. It requires that I do not accept his definition of me or his attempts to steal my liberty. And it requires that I have a strong support group that understands domestic violence. In my case, I have had to continually educate that support group so that they also can identify his tactics and not be sucked in to becoming allies.

    My husband has learned to think about what he is thinking and measure that against reality; his thinking still gets screwy sometimes, and I have to confront it. When he finally recognizes it, he checks himself back into domestic violence classes which, in this case but not all cases, is helpful. My husband was not motivated by any compassion for me, though as he grows and recognizes how messed up his thinking gets, his compassion is developing. It is profoundly difficult for him to look too closely at himself because he has constructed an ideal image of himself that keeps him focusing outward rather than inward. That’s why exposure to an educated public is so necessary. That image begins to crumble and he is forced to see himself as he really is. But this takes time and struggle and if there wasn’t continued improvement, I would walk away for good.

    Tim Allchin, your view is ridiculously naïve! I read the posts on ACFJ regularly because I need the constant reality checks so I don’t let down my guard. Apparently, you need to start reading the posts too.

    • OH Kay, your comment is worth its weight in gold!

      There are so very very few cases of abusers reforming. Your observations here are immensely important. So important that I’m going to reiterate them, in order that they can be a reminder to all readers here.

      Kay has been abused by her husband.
      Her husband is a “reforming” abuser. He has been working on “reforming” for ten years.

      For Kay, it has been a fight for her life.
      She wouldn’t recommend taking this course under most circumstances.

      It requires that she be well-versed in the tactics of the abuser so that she can identify them and confront them when it happens.

      It requires all the courage that she has in the world to stand up to him, to stand up to people in the church who unwittingly become allies, and to expose his behaviors publicly.

      It requires that he have so much to lose (his money, his children, and his freedom because he could face prison time for what he has done to her) that he is motivated to change.

      It requires that she not accept his definition of her or his attempts to steal her liberty.

      It requires that she have a strong support group that understands domestic violence.

      She has had to continually educate that support group so that they also can identify his tactics and not be sucked in to becoming his allies.

      Her husband has learned to think about what he is thinking and measure that against reality. His thinking still gets screwy sometimes, and she has to confront it. When he finally recognizes it, he checks himself back into domestic violence classes which, in his case has been helpful.

      But beware readers, beware Christian couselors, beware pastors: with many many many abusers, domestic violence classes are NOT helpful. Don’t put on rose coloured glasses just because the abuser says he is going to a DV class (a men’s behavior change program). Don’t live in Pollyanna Land. Your task — and it’s a giant learning curve — is to become educated about the mindset and tactics of abusers, so you can recognise them and hold the abusers accountable.

      Kay’s husband was not motivated by any compassion for her, though as he grows and recognizes how messed up his thinking gets, his compassion is developing. Kay says it is profoundly difficult for him to look too closely at himself because he has constructed an ideal image of himself that keeps him focusing outward rather than inward. That’s why exposure to an educated public is so necessary. That image begins to crumble and he is forced to see himself as he really is. But this takes time and struggle and if there wasn’t continued improvement, she would walk away for good.

      • Anonymous

        Excellent observations! Now, how much time does Kay have left over to devote to the Lord? It sounds like her time is consumed by her husband at the expense of all her other relationships, especially God. And I’m not faulting her –just pointing something very important out–that when we marry an abuser, the abuser takes away from our relationship with Jesus which was never supposed to be the case. From the time of Adam and Eve our relationship with a spouse was supposed to be to help each other so that we could more closely fellowship with the Lord.

    • brenda

      your wisdom and courage is breathtaking…

      • Hi Brenda,
        Welcome to the blog! We like to encourage new commenters to read the New User’s page. It gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. If after reading the tips you want me to change your screen name please contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

        Again, Welcome!

    • Ruth

      Kay- this quote: “. It is profoundly difficult for him to look too closely at himself because he has constructed an ideal image of himself that keeps him focusing outward rather than inward.”

      This perfectly describes my husband. He says he doesn’t care what other people think of him. But he must maintain a great self-image. His self-awareness is TERRIBLE ( unless he’s lying) ; he’s clueless about how rude/condescending he comes across but he is ultra-sensitive to any anger/negativity from me or the kids.

      My H has never done any of the obvious BIGGIES that definitely fall into BLACK areas. No infidelity. No physical violence. So he can gloss over his sinful attitudes while putting a TON of energy into cataloging my every fault or mistake.

      What is helping your H to change?

  30. kind of anonymous

    Reflecting on floating out test questions, I wonder if Tim Allchin’s questions are his version of what I call “reality testing”; or what Beckylovesthelight has called floating out a test; he wants to see if we are operating in the flesh and more concerned wtih justifying our own desires to “just get out” or if in fact, we are faithful to scripture and to obedience to God. Just the same, I do think like the biblical counselors I have interacted with personally, and read, he appears to think that because abuse is sin, he may believe that’s all he needs to know about it. That kind of “put it in the right bin”, just confront it and extract a promise to repent, and that’s scriptural counselling notion. Even if you hold someone accontable and they sign papers, well there’s no magic in that. You can lead a horse to water…

    Mr. Allchin’s questions remind me of when unsaved people who believe in the tolerance rhetoric of the day, ask me if I believe homosexuality is wrong. It sounds like an honest question, except that in most cases, there is already a truckload of presuppositions and beliefs behind it; its a rigged trap. If you say anything but what they think lines up with “truth” the trap is sprung and they have the the confirmation that supports what they already “knew”. Anyone who thinks homosexuality is not right automatically is a gay hating intolerant bigot who wants to see gays burn in hell and who is quite happy when gays are killed in hate crimes. Of course no real believer would EVER rejoice over anyone burning in hell or in a gay person being terrorized and beaten to death. Bias and conditioning are very hard things to overcome when the conditioning is not really the truth.

    It’s understandable that out of fear of further hurt from blind pharisaical religionists, or out of the equally legitimate fear, that of agreeing with something that is deceptive teaching, everyone would want to float out test questions. It’s a double edged sword for those on either side of a difficult issue. I just hope Mr. Allchin is aware of the heavy conditioning he may be bringing with him into the discussion, and of the equally heavy conditioning women are under in most “normal” churches today insofar as the inordinate amount of responsibility that gets laid on their shoulders for making a marriage work and blame if it doesn’t in the name of allegiance to scripture, and in the claim that this truthfully represents God’s view.

  31. cindy burrell

    Very interesting post and feedback here. The failure of Mr. Allchin’s logic lies in his descriptions of behaviors and his fuzzy judgments about whether those behaviors justify divorce. When it comes down to it, abuse has nothing to do with behavior, as such, and everything to do with the heart and attitude. He seems to presume that if relational behaviors can be agreed upon then the marriage can be saved. But even when an abuser is “good,” there is an undercurrent of superiority and a desire to assume and maintain control through even unspoken measures to invoke, fear and confusion that will not simply go away – and the counselor cannot see.

    Our Lord always looked beyond individuals’ outward appearance and behavior to see the hearts of men, no matter how righteous they appeared. Yet too many Christian counselors fail to exercise spiritual discernment, relying on individuals’ outward behavior as their feeble measuring stick. Most counselors’ priority is to “save the marriage,” not to identify evil within God’s sacred institution or to rise to protect the innocent when appropriate.

    This statement summarized the distinction beautifully: “The problem, we believe, is that the church is saying very-little-to-nothing is abuse, and is hiding behind the excuse that “it’s such a gray area”.

    Amen to that.

  32. Broken by the church

    Rather than address the questions themselves, I would like to address the assumptions behind them:
    1) women love divorce

    2) women will say anything to be allowed to divorce

    3)women have difficulty ‘submitting’ and their poor husbands put up with all kinds of grief from this

    4)women will use any excuse or accusation in order to facilitate the uprooting of their families, the disruption of church, friend, and family relationships, expose themselves to gossip and accusation, lose their homes and possessions, risk living in poverty, expose their children to trauma and emotional disruption, risk alienation from their own children, give up the indoctrinated and desired ideal of staying at home to raise children in favor of entering the workforce full time at a lower wage and less desirable job than they would have had, had they not sacrificed career for family.

    I don’t know why biblical counsellors think women want all this. No abused woman wants a divorce. She wants the pain to stop and she’s looking to the church (God’s “hands and feet”) for help, comfort, and counsel, where she has been led to believe it resides. Her sense of shock and betrayal when she receives accusation, minimization, and deliberate undermining from the leader she trusts causes a crisis of faith on top of the abuse she already suffers.

    I don’t think there is any need to argue the points Tim makes,for which most answers are “that’s not a grey area because she just told you she doesn’t want it and he isn’t listening to the point that she is exposing the relationship to third party scrutiny”.

    I would ask him with all my heart to consider starting the conversation with this assumption:

    The wife is not trolling for a divorce.

    • Broken by the Church,

      Welcome to the blog! and thank you for this comment! Excellent!

      Though it appears you have a sense of this, we like to encourage new commenters to read our New User’s Page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, Welcome!

      • Broken by the church

        Thanks for the kind words and posting my comment. I have been following quietly for a while. Glad to see that there are people who see how I do and are willing to speak up.

    • For Too Long

      Excellent comment, but Amen especially to number four! …Seriously, many of us wait years before making a decision to leave because of counting the cost of these things and seeing what lay ahead of us. It’s all of the things you named and more; yet, so far, getting away has still been worth it.

  33. IamMyBeloved's

    Just a couple other things. If you watch the video to the end, you will learn that Tim is taking over what his parents started.

    I am going to open this up, because the more I re-read the questions Tim asks of us, the more I wonder exactly why he uses these questions.

    Let’s start with this one. “Is being lazy really abusive grounds for divorce?” Did he read that anywhere here on this blog? The term “lazy” is very broad and covers unlimited amounts of actions or the lack thereof. Is Tim asking about a spouse who does not mow the lawn when it needed to be…once? Or is Tim asking about the “worse than an infidel” type of lazy? Why is he not more pointed with this question? Why is he trying to make us here at ACFJ answer such a general unspecified question?

    Then he goes from that question to this very specific question. “Is restricting the budget too severely, controlling and abusive?” What?!? Look at the words he uses. Restricting, money, severely, controlling and abusive. The words alone indicate a need for absolute power and control over the money by one partner. The term severely was Tim’s choice of words, not ours. He already states that it is severe, so why is he asking us? Severe would mean impossible to achieve! He has answered his own question, if he even believes that abuse is a real thing and is not attempting to live in the Pollyanna type world so many of us have had thrown at us.

    Last, but certainly not least, is his question regarding sex. I might add that his questions on sex outweigh the number of the other questions he asked about. “Is requesting ‘oral sex’ abusive?” Again, I have to ask myself why he even asks this question. Is it a trick question? He insinuates that someone is simply asking for this form of sex, like they are requesting a second cookie from the cookie jar! It seems to me, that perhaps Tim is using real life abusive behaviors he has encountered in his “counseling business”, and has failed to label them what they should have been labeled. Maybe the real question Tim wants to ask us is “Is it okay to force oral sex after the man has nicely requested it and his wife refused?” In any sense of the word, the reason for his questions bears questioning. If you study American law, you will find that oral sex was once considered a crime and was prosecuted as the offense of “sodomy”. Certain states could charge you with the crime even if they found out you were practicing this act in the privacy of your own bedroom. Of course all of that has changed now. It just seems odd to me that Tim has so decisively listed out these questions and this one in particular.

    The truth is that we all know deep down, that abuse is happening in probably each of these scenarios Tim lists. So does it seem quite obvious also, that in asking these questions, Tim is possibly covering for someone? Maybe trying to get an abuser off the hook? Is it possible that Tim believes so astutely in the idolatry of marriage, that he would rather see someone spend their life in unending abuse, than break the views he believes in? Is it possible he is genuinely asking because he does believe these things qualify as abuse but his “biblical counseling” prevents him from calling abuse what it is? Is it also possible that Tim is no longer married due to being accused of these questions? Sounds like a good mystery novel to me, but the simple truth here is that what we really need to know more about, is Tim.

    Maybe we should make a list of our questions for him and send it to over to him for answering! One thing is for certain. We would at least get to know better the man behind all these questions.

  34. Anonymous

    Thank you IamMyBeloved’s I thought the same things. Creepy is the word that comes to mind. Slithering. I can almost hear the hissing sound of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

    “Is it REALLY abuse Eve? If Adam simply, politely asks for oral sex after a hard day in the garden? Is he really THAT bad? After all, Adam spent much time naming all the animals and he was alone for so long, isn’t it the least you can do to provide him with this small, easy- to- give, thing? I mean, he’s down one rib so that you could be here, and you know how he still gets pain there when it rains….I think we both know what the right thing to do is and that is to please your husband. There, there now– once it’s over you’ll see that you got upset for nothing.” Gross!

    His nativity is dangerous and his lack of understanding on what the bible says on this matter is even MORE dangerous because he is not showing love or mercy and he is actually delivering INjustice to those who need help. I agree with what someone else said–that there needs to be a screening process for these counselors–we need to ensure that they themselves don’t have a Cluster A or Cluster B personality disorder and then they need to be trained to see a red flag and how to best help the victim.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Well the problem with the Jay Adams theology that we in the Church, because we are Christians and believe in the Bible, are ALL counsellors, is that there are wolves that then become counsellors as well. Those wolves then become counsellors to the true sheep and abuse ensues.

  35. Sherri

    I love this statement from your article:

    “The problem in the church is not that wives are saying everything is abuse.”

    That sums up my response perfectly.

  36. kind of anonymous

    I’d be interested in seeing Mr. Allchin wade in and honestly answer more than just the question about his education. He probably thinks we are all just too defensive. He’s right. We ARE defensive and mistrustful just like the early church was of Paul initially. He seems willing to show that by the definitions of biblical counselors at least, he is “competent to counsel”. But I would really like to hear some acknowledgment from him as to how the church typically blames women for what goes on in their marriages. I would like to hear him acknowledge that the church has strayed far from a truly bibilcal undersanding of truth and has much more cultural christianity going on than bibilcal. If I had said these words , cultural christianity years ago I would have just understood that to mean that things like rock and roll, worldly dress , and “make nice” churchianity had invaded the church which is of course, true.

    But what I would NOW mean is that a kind of 50s americana that idolizes mom, apple pie and marriage/family even in EVIL SITUATIONS where nothing of the sort is actually the realitiy because of an unrepentant husband or wife, and blind handing down of party lines without critical thought has invaded the church. When that happens, at first its just held to be truth and to be right even if you can’t find a specific verse for it. But eventually it becomes an ARTICLE OF THE FAITH”. A sacred cow that cannot be challenged. I’d like to see Mr. Allchin be willing to check out some sacred cows and/or to at least read Jeff’s book or Barbara’s and do an honest review of them.

    Tim, please do this for us. Review Jeff or Barbara’s books and offer up a review of what you read. Tell us specifically where you agree and where you take issue and SHOW us from scripture where you think we are spot on and where you may think we’ve gone astray. THAT would at least be the beginnings of a more complete conversation ( no sarcasm or mockery intended, just using your idea to point out what needs to happen.) As scripture says, iron sharpens iron.

    • MarkQ

      KOA, it hit me in a small group last night. I’ve heard from a lot of Christians about the moral decay we’ve experienced in the last xx years (you mention the 50’s). I think that the pervasiveness of the media has had as many good effects as it has had bad effects. For example, do we really think that the pedophilia crisis in the Catholic church began in the 70’s? I think rather that the children abused by their priests finally found their voices in the 80’s when they realized the church wasn’t powerful enough to silence the media. I think abusive marriages have been around since Genesis, yet somehow naysayers believe that the epidemic of domestic violence just began in the 1980’s, when the media finally took it seriously.

      Part of the problem with the “moral decay” fallacy is that we not only look at the past with rose-colored glasses, but we also assume we understand the past. In fact, the more I research, I find that things like “stay at home moms” are really an invention of the industrial revolution which were later appropriated by the church as the ideal family. The typical view of authority is the spiritual heir to “the divine right of kings”. We have become victims of the massive equivocation brought about in the church – the very words used in the Bible have been interpreted and tainted in light of our present culture. They then become the burdens the church puts on our backs for which they are unwilling to lift a finger. Like “Adultery and desertion are the only grounds for divorce”.

  37. kind of anonymous

    Hi Mark;
    Yep, nothing new under the sun in many ways. Trying to see clearly through all the various images sold to us within and without the church is indeed a challenge.

  38. FREEATLAST

    Sadly, I went to this “biblical” organization for counsel.
    I was given homeward (worksheets) on bitterness, etc.
    I felt minimized! Demeaned!
    Be very careful about the program that you are following!
    It is possible that you will be manipulated into thinking that you are responsible to carry the entire burden!

    • FREEATLAST, thanks for sharing your personal experience with the Biblical Counseling Centre, Illinois!

      Can I just clarify something? When you said:

      Be very careful about the program that you are following!

      who is the ‘you’ that your are referring to?

      I hope you don’t think that we (the leaders of A Cry For Justice) are following and endorsing the Biblical Counseling Centre, Illinois. I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean that. But because the word ‘you’ didn’t have a clear referrent, I wanted to make sure what you meant.

      Sorry if this seems pernickety, but I actually heard your comment as admonishing us, until I gave it more thought.

      • FREEATLAST

        Hi Barbara
        I wanted to warn anyone who might consider going to this organization (BCC.)
        I felt demeaned! Minimized!
        Just a warning for others, if they are considering counseling at BCC.
        God bless you, Barbara.
        This website (A Cry For Justice) is a blessing to many!
        The Lord bless you!

      • Thanks FAL 🙂 🙂 🙂

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: