A Cry For Justice

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

Jason Meyer doesn’t understand domestic abuse very well. Chris Moles trained him.

Pastor Jason Meyer is happy for people to talk about domestic abuse in mutualising language and to airbrush the fact that perpetrators are the sole cause of abuse. He is the senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church Minnesota (John Piper’s former church). Despite the fact that he and his elders have been trained by Chris Moles, he still doesn’t really get it. At the bottom of this I’ve pasted the testimonial Meyers wrote for Chris Moles about the training Moles gave to the elders of BBC. The training of elders would have been done before this April 2017 evening event which was organised for the BBC congregation.* This makes me concerned about the adequacy of the training which Chris Moles provided to the elders of BBC.

As is typical of many church statements about domestic abuse, this article from Jason Meyer’s blog uses mutualising language to talk about abuse and it fails to name the abusers as the perpetrators. This kind of language renders the abusers invisible. It uses passive verbs to elide the author of the sin of abuse. The perpetrator is airbrushed out of the picture. The lens is fogged over by passive constructions like ‘abuse tells a lie about God’. This ensures that we don’t have our attention drawn to the fact that perpetrators lie and abusers commit abuse.

So I’ve fixed the language. Here is my #FixedIt rewrite. After that I’ve pasted Meyer’s original blog post, so you can see what I fixed.

NB: I left Chris Moles’s name unedited in my version but I don’t have all that much confidence that Chris Moles would be speaking with the forthrightness and scriptural clarity that the subject of domestic abuse requires. If he did, I doubt Bethlehem Baptist would invite him to speak. According to this link, ” …Chris Moles has helped churches like Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis and The Village Church in Texas develop protocols for dealing with this complicated topic.” Here is Ps Jason Meyer’s blog post edited by Barbara Roberts:

WE PREACH GOD’S JUDGEMENT ON EVILDOERS, AND FREEDOM IN CHRIST

[I’ve omitted the intro, but will show it in the un-fixed text below]

Next week, Bethlehem has an important opportunity to learn more about how God can use us to help victims of abuse get free from oppression and violence: Chris Moles will be speaking from his 10+ years of experience in working with men who abuse/offend. Chris is a pastor, certified biblical counselor, and certified group facilitator in domestic violence intervention and prevention.

Abusers and oppressors tell lies about God and pervert the gospel. If the statistics are even close to true, around 125–150 families in our church are suffering some form of domestic abuse. Two years into our domestic abuse ministry (DART) at Bethlehem, I can tell you that you most likely have someone in your church circles who is suffering under this destructive situation, and someone in your church circles who is perpetrating domestic abuse.

Given this reality, I invite you to come to this evening event for learning and equipping. …

The evening will begin with Pastor Jason Meyer giving a biblical view of complementarianism and how understanding and practicing it in our church and in our families helps us better identify when abusers have twisted this teaching to justify their sin. 

Chris Moles will then define abuse, identify what is at its heart, help us understand what abusers do—how they nefariously target and surreptitiously manipulate their targets, and how they groom and manipulate church leaders and congregations. Chris will then teach us to apply gospel solutions to this intractable sin, including God’s provision of divorce for abuse. We’ll have a time of Q & A at the end of the evening.

Domestic abusers are evildoers. They destroy our children, our families, and our community. We want to proclaim firstly, God’s judgement on all evildoers and liars, and His offer of healing, redemption, and restoration through Christ to all evildoers who truly repent and are come to a living faith in Christ. Secondly we want to proclaim the Bible’s teaching which frees abuse victims from false guilt and bondage. Please join me on Wednesday evening to learn how we can boldly identify and resist the abuser’s manipulative tactics, and how we can support the abused with sound scriptural teaching, love and practical care. 


Here is what Ps Meyer’s blog post said (link):

April 20, 2017

WE PREACH REDEMPTION!

JASON MEYER   Pastor for Preaching & Vision

On Wednesday, April 26, Bethlehem will be hosting an evening with pastor/counselor Chris Moles for a teaching time on Understanding & Addressing Domestic Abuse. Kïrsten Christianson is Bethlehem’s Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) leader, and she has done a wonderful job organizing this event. She truly has been a gift from God—I can’t begin to tell you what a crucial part she has played in this and in our domestic abuse ministry. I will let her tell you more about this training and why we regard it as so important.

“From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.”—Psalm 72:14

Next week, Bethlehem has an important opportunity to learn more about how God can use us to redeem our brothers and sisters from oppression and violence: Chris Moles will be speaking from his 10+ years of experience in working with men who abuse/offend. Chris is a pastor, certified biblical counselor, and certified group facilitator in domestic violence intervention and prevention.

Abuse/oppression in all its forms tells a lie about God and perverts the gospel. If the statistics are even close to true, around 125–150 families in our church are suffering some form of domestic abuse. Two years into our domestic abuse ministry (DART) at Bethlehem, I can tell you that you most likely have someone in your church circles who is experiencing this destructive situation.

Given this reality, I invite you to come to this evening event for learning and equipping. Chris Moles is an engaging and knowledgeable speaker, and you will benefit from what he has learned.

The evening will begin with Pastor Jason Meyer giving a biblical view of complementarianism and how understanding and practicing it in our church and in our families helps us better identify when relationships have veered into abuse and sin.

Chris will then define abuse, identify what is at its heart, help us see how it is displayed in an abuser’s relationships (and how that affects our church), and then teach us to apply gospel solutions to this intractable sin. We’ll have a time of Q & A at the end of the evening.

Domestic abuse is an evil that destroys our children, our families, and our community. We want to proclaim repentance, healing, redemption, and restoration through Christ to each other and the world. Please join me on Wednesday evening to learn how we can better move toward the abuser and the abused with bold love and practical care.

* In this sermon which Jason Meyer preached in May 2016, Meyer reflects on the one year anniversary of the domestic abuse ministry at BBC (its acronym is DART).

UPDATE added 26 Nov 2017. 

In this clip Ps Jason Meyer is introducing Ps Chris Mole’s presentation on domestic abuse at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Meyer is explaining headship and submission. He gives an example of how he counseled a ‘very insensitive husband’ . He told the husband, “You’re tearing each other apart”.  By saying ‘each other,’ Jason Meyer was mutualising the blame: he was depicting both spouses as tearing the relationship apart. I hope this was a slip that Meyer has now repented of.

You can find entire video at https://vimeo.com/218959931. My clip starts from 26:35 in the original video.

***

Jane Gilmore is a secular journalist I admire for how she fixes media headlines that make perpetrators invisible.  Her blog is janegilmore.com  and her twitter handle is .  Check out her #FixedIt headlines — they are terrific. 

***

At Chris Moles’ seminar page you can see this testimonial written by Jason Meyer:

We invited Chris Moles to come and train the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church so that we could grow in our ability to shepherd our people through the horrors of domestic abuse. We had high hopes because he came highly recommended. We were not disappointed. Time and time again the Lord gave us “aha” moments concerning what questions to ask and when to ask them, how to look for warning signs, and how gospel confrontation aims for the heart in calling for repentance and gospel transformation. This training was a lifeline for us in a difficult season of shepherding. I thank God for Chris Moles and this material.

Jason Meyer, Pastor for Preaching and Vision. Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATE (added 6 Dec 2017): Bethlehem Baptist Church have officially removed Natalie Anne Hoffman (aka Natalie Anne Klejwa) from membership of the church. Natalie had ages and ages ago told them she wanted to be removed from membership but the church wouldn’t let her go… they chose discipline her instead so they could be the ones who expelled her. I just posted a comment here which shows the letter BBC sent to Natalie.

Related posts on ACFJ:

John Piper’s old church is admitting to fault in how it has addressed domestic abuse, and making changes. (April, 2015)

My Defense Against the Public Attack by Bethlehem Baptist Church — a reblog from Natalie (published at ACFJ in Feb 2017; originally published by Natalie in Dec 2016)

The fact that BBC, after all the training they’ve received from Chris Moles, is still traumatizing victims of domestic abuse is very concerning!

16 Comments

  1. Hello Sunshine

    beautiful rewrite

  2. Still Struggling

    Barbara, thank you for fixing it. Too bad this pastor doesn’t see clearly about abuse to word it better. There is a definite focus in his statement on the abuser over the victim. I get the feeling that his interpretation of Psalm 72:14 is to apply it to abusers and victims equally. Why else would he exclude verses 12 and 13? Those make it clear that the victim of oppression and violence needs saving.

    It’s great churches are taking on abuse as an issue but without a focus on safety and support for victims escaping the abuser it does little to help them heal.

    After reading Natalie’s acount of how that church handled her case, I would not put my trust in their teaching and training.

    I’m praying they someday “get it” about abuse and turn their focus toward helping to free victims instead of laying on guilt to stay and reconcile. If they will only listen to ACFJ and others who work hard to shine a light on truth, imagine the changes other churches may make if we have strong examples of churches doing it right!

    Keep up the good work ACFJ because you are leading the change.

    • Thanks for noticing how BBC used Psalm 72. Good pickup! Here are more verses from that Psalm, so we can see verse 14 in context.

      Psalm 72
      The Reign of the Righteous King.
      A Psalm of Solomon.

      1 Give the king Your judgments, O God,
      And Your righteousness to the king’s son.
      2 May he judge Your people with righteousness
      And Your afflicted with justice.
      3 Let the mountains bring peace to the people,
      And the hills, in righteousness.
      4 May he vindicate the afflicted of the people,
      Save the children of the needy
      And crush the oppressor. …

      12 For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help,
      The afflicted also, and him who has no helper.
      13 He will have compassion on the poor and needy,
      And the lives of the needy he will save.
      14 He will rescue their life from oppression and violence,
      And their blood will be precious in his sight; …

      20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

  3. MoodyMom

    I would come to the first seminar! I would be excited about that one! I feel like the second description portrays just another seminar that just coddles the wicked – tells them how wounded they are and how they need to turn to Christ for THEIR healing, while leaving the truly wounded on the side of the road with only a lip-service pat-on-the-head try at compassion.

    My ex-church had dealings with Chris Moles’ teaching. The church sent their “biblical counselors” (cough cough splutter) to their annual training seminar at some regional conference. Chris Moles was there, teaching about DV. One of the pastors talked to me about it afterward, in the midst of the ongoing lousy counseling I was getting from their ministry. This pastor said that Chris Moles was teaching some really different things than what they had been used to.

    Two things about that:
    1) Chris Moles’ teaching sounded so very different from what they’d been used to because what they had been used to was the usual, awful “stay and pray”, “you just need to learn how to communicate better with him”, “you now have a mission field at home, so you need to reach X since he’s acting like a lost person right now”, “maybe you’ve just been misunderstanding his intent all along”, “hurting people hurt people,” “suffering makes you more like Christ” nonsense. So any teaching that even remotely said that abusive situations need to be dealt with differently than a normal relationship sounded radical to these counselors.

    2) When the counselors and pastors got home, I was told they discussed what they learned. Then the counseling ministry went right on with the “stay and pray”, “you just need to improve your communication,” “you’re just misunderstanding”, “suffer for Christ” nonsense.

    So even if they heard a “radical” (to them), but watered-down version of dealing with DV from Chris Moles, they just shelved it. It made no difference at all. Because… they already knew what they were doing, and they already knew what was best for abused people.

    I fear it would be the same with the first described conference. I fear, if any pastors or counselors showed up at all, that the info would just get packed away, and it wouldn’t make any difference where the rubber meets the road.

    • Thank you MoodyMom. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and observations with us!

      The resistance of your ex-church to even the mildest modification of their stance on domestic abuse… that is so sad, so typical, so deplorable.

  4. Liz

    I never understand why some churches do this. I think our yes should be yes and our no, no. All this language seems so godly, and “Oh look, how great that they’re addressing domestic violence.” And yet when you compare this to how they actually treat people, all this just seems like empty words being used to control people.

  5. Helovesme

    I tried to give a lot of thought before commenting b/c so many thoughts were running through my mind. Like MoodyMom, I asked myself if I would want to attend the unfixed version of the conference if I were a victim seeking help. The answer would be “no,” because it sounded more like family therapy or some sort of couples retreat/counseling. If anyone has ever been abused or dealing with a bully (I’ve been through both. Abused by my father and bullied @ school for many years)—the last thing you want to do is “sit down” and try to be counseled WITH your perpetrator. The last thing you would ever want to do is lower your guard, express pain, fear, anger and shame—because it just gives them more ammo to hurt you with, later on. It’s like giving someone access codes to your innermost being.

    No one ever held my dad or the bullies accountable. For some reason, the “target” is blamed. In my case, I was short, out of shape, considered ugly and didn’t wear the best clothes. Different skin color, different looking family, etc. made me a “prime” target. At home, my dad was just a negative, nasty, narcissistic bully, but there was plenty he could find “wrong” with me, so again–the target is blamed. If I were better looking, more successful, less “different” looking or in better physical shape—boy, my life would be different, eh?

    In school, it got so bad that I had to be removed from gym class. At the time I was so relieved that it was only YEARS later that I felt anger about that. Why was I removed, as if I was the problem? Why weren’t the bullies rebuked and brought in line? I’m not the problem, but I guess it’s easier to remove me and let them “grow up” and “grow out” of being so cruel? And it’s okay to stick me in a corner and let me lick my own wounds? It was humiliating.

    Churches are no different. Abusers are coddled and the victims are often left to clean up a very big glass of milk that someone else spilled. This conference makes me sick in thinking that that is the type of message they are going to send. I never had one Christian or one teacher or one parent or one person in general tell me that the abuse wasn’t my fault, that I was not to blame and that my dad and bullies like him were the bad ones. Dangerous. Untrustworthy. Not to be trusted. Their insults were not to define my character. One time I made myself sit with a young Christian girl who had terribly reviled me & I had to listen to her try to apologize and I felt forced to accept her apology so that this would all “go away.” I tried to say “no” but the leader @ that time pressured me into it and I was too afraid to defy him. She was a bully and a brat and she shredded my reputation and reduced me to a puddle. She was allowed to stay in the group but I eventually left, b/c I couldn’t stand it anymore.

    I read a book once about the “lies” we believe and one of them is the lie that people are basically good; of course the Bible shoots that down. But I found myself wondering how much I may be deceived still. Man had barely fallen, and Cain killed his own brother for no good reason. Jesus was barely born and Herod had a bunch of children killed. There are SO many examples like this, and yet we still seem to minimize evil or believe that people are “not so bad?” That they are misunderstood or that they “can’t be” that black hearted? They can, and they are, and they are leaving a lot of innocent blood in the wake of their actions. And yet we either are in denial, ignore the wounded and focus on getting “miraculous” testimonies out of these “poor, suffering, misunderstood” evildoers (who will represent Christ’s grace? And attract people to the Gospel? Will anyone ask if such grace was extended to the victims?)

    One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 73. The psalmist is dealing with evildoers–with the nasty attitudes and being very full of themselves. He is upset and feeling bitter b/c it’s like they are allowed to be this way, and never get sick or feel pain or anything. Then he goes to meet with the Lord, and is strongly rebuked and given proper perspective. The wicked are there one moment, and gone the next. He knows how to deal with them. The answer for such persons wasn’t in therapy, classes or trying to change them or to feed their self-pitying manipulation. Leave them to the Lord: “[After all] You do set the [wicked] in slippery places; You cast them down to ruin and destruction.”

    The Psalmist ends up praising and glorifying the Lord: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever.” And “Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You.” That is truly my favorite part. He ends up putting his trust and confidence in the Lord, who will “afterward receive me to honor and glory.” This Psalm is a message of hope for all victims, for believing victims but also for unsaved ones, who I pray will realize what a incredible God He is.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Helovesme.

      Psalm 73 has a lot of significance for me too.

  6. Jewel

    I love what A Cry for Justice is doing. Thank you for educating women (and men) about abuse and how to heal from it. I am only just coming out of the fog after almost 2 decades of emotional and financial abuse by my husband. The abuse still continues. I am not sure what to do.

    I am curious to know what God says about submission by wives in this situation. Is the abused wife supposed to still submit to her abusive husband and regard him as the leader of the home? My husband controls to a large extent how my income is to be used and he refuses to tithe. He has misused my money in the past. He is unemployed and says it is difficult to get a job. I would be afraid of submitting to him as it could place me and my children in a very vulnerable situation financially. I cannot trust him as he has been deceitful and treacherous with his dealings with me.

  7. Here is more proof that Jason Meyer doesn’t get it. I just found this video where Jason Meyer is talking about domestic abuse and he uses mutualising language which blames the victim along with the abuser.

    He says “…neither of you are happy. You’re tearing each other apart.” So his language implies that the wife is tearing her husband apart just as the husband is tearing his wife apart.

    https://vimeo.com/218959931#t=1646s (watch it to about 27:33)

  8. Posted at Facebook today by Natalie Anne Hoffman (aka Natalie Anne Klejwa)

    It’s official!

    The congregation of Bethlehem Baptist in the Twin Cities ignorantly voted to excommunicate me based on the chronic lies of my abusive ex-husband and some other personality disordered individuals I had the misfortune to get tangled up with in my efforts to get away from over two decades of hidden, chronic emotional and spiritual abuse.

    I’m in a safe and healthy (and extremely happy!) place – at peace to be on the other side of their drama.

    Bethlehem has an ugly reputation in our local Christian community. I’m proud to be yet one more who “got away” from the whole lot of them.

    Here is her FB post —

  9. Natalie

    The recent letter of excommunication from Bethlehem Baptist has me reflecting on those years of trying to get help.

    When I stood up for myself, I was told I was over stepping.

    When I fell apart I was told to consider whether or not I was operating out of the victim mentality or as a child of God.

    I was told that my emails were too long and it took a long time to process them.

    I was told to back off.

    I was told I had him under a microscope.

    When I forwarded educational articles on the subject of abuse, I was told to be cautious about the messages that I was getting from those articles.

    I was given the message that, as a victim, I knew little. They were my “rescuers” and they knew best.

    I was told what to do and when to do it, and if I didn’t do it their way, I was rebuked. Eventually they told me I was “not under their authority.”

    When I finally said I appreciated their
    “Help” but I was ready to move forward with some other options, I was told I made them feel bad for “firing” them.

    In reality the victim knows more about her situation than anyone. Wise helpers listen and learn. They don’t control and dictate.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Natalie!

      What an epic saga you have been through!

    • The responses which Bethlehem Baptist gave you Natalie, are all examples of them operating from a Colonial Code of Relationship.

      The colonial code of relationship goes like this:

      I am proficient.
      You are deficient.
      Therefore I have the right to fix you, diagnose you, change you, intern you,
      for your own good.

      In evangelical circles, it goes like this:

      You are deficient — you lack sense, your understanding is distorted, your desire is contrary to your husband’s, your desire is contrary to your pastor’s, you are afraid, you are angry, you are helpless, you are passive, you are rebellious, you are acting in a manner inappropriate for your gender, you don’t have the theological training that I have, you are sinful, you are foolish, you are crazy.

      And because I am proficient, I have the right, the duty, the sacred obligation and the authority to perform certain operations upon you. I can prescribe, educate, assess, correct, pray over and counsel you, and I can legislate what you can and can’t do, for your own good.

      See more here: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/09/14/the-change-of-genesis-316-ess-the-colonial-code-of-relationship-and-a-call-to-bystanders/

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: