A Cry For Justice

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

1. Introducing the Chris Moles series

Chris Moles

Chris Moles is seen as an expert in domestic abuse by the biblical counseling movement. But does his teaching line up with Scripture? I believe Chris teaches some good things about domestic abuse, but I have serious concerns as well. This series will set out both my praise and my concerns.

The biblical counseling movement is having four big conferences in 2018 on domestic abuse, and Chris Moles is speaking at all four. Chris is being seen as the poster boy because he gives them such hope for changing abusers. But in my view, Chris is still not awake to some of the most vital points.

I get the impression that many Christian counselors have not had in-depth theological training. They’ve studied counseling and psychology a lot more than they’ve studied theology. And because most pastors are dealing poorly with abuse situations, it has fallen to the Christian counselors to deal with the issue.

However, without a good grasp of theology and doctrine, Christian counselors and psychologists can make all sorts of statements which are not soundly supported by scripture. If someone does not know Hebrew or Greek they can’t assess the veracity of the claims of other self-proclaimed called Christian experts in abuse. If someone doesn’t have a good grasp of theology, they don’t have the background to weigh the full counsel (Word) of God carefully and they are not likely to able to discern doctrinal errors.

And pastors, too, are often in the same boat. There are big problems in the seminaries that are training pastors: deep doctrinal problems and wilful or foolish blindness to the nature of abuse, which leads to the cover-up of abuse when it has occurred. So the majority of pastors are failing to discern and correct the wrong doctrines of the Christian counselors, because they are likewise unskilled in discerning truth from error.

Do I know Hebrew and Greek? No; but I consult with and study the works of those who do, especially when it comes to a tricky passages about male-female relations, and divorce & remarriage.

Whenever I am unsure about something, I check my ideas against the teachings of men whose theological training I respect: Ps Sam Powell, Ps Jeff Crippen, Dr Liam Goligher, Dr Fred Sanders, Dr James Delozal, and of course the Creeds and the various Reformed Confessions of Faith. And I respect the work of Ruth Magnusson Davis who is showing us what excellent work Tyndale & Coverdale did in translating the Bible into English. I’ve also carefully read people like Dr David Instone-Brewer, whose work I agree with in some respects but diverge from in other respects. In other words, I’ve done my homework.

All along, A Cry For Justice has refused to join the bandwagon

We will not get on a train that we believe is being driven by people who are not yet fully awake to the issues and are not following all that scripture says about it. This applies not just to Chris Moles but also to

Those experts think that they need to proceed slowly and gently in getting the die-hards in the institutional church to turn around. It is true that change will take time. But by ‘softly prompting’ to lead the church towards change, I believe many of these so-called experts are not being fair to all victims and they are not conveying the whole truth, so they are inadvertently or wittingly giving leeway to the perpetrators of abuse.

I would not have any problem if these people were teaching things which are doctrinally correct. But from my more than two decades of of writing and reading in this field, this is what I’ve seen time and time again:  When people progress to the stage where they can face the tough truth that ACFJ presents, they have already had their minds filled with many false notions which we have to undo.

Here are some of the false notions which some Christian counselors and victim-advocates are teaching:

  • The abuser is blind to what he is doing, and he needs to be helped to become un-blind.
  • The victim can (or should) do things which might help the abuser wake up to what he is doing.
  • Christian counselors should work with abusers painstakingly, to lead them to change.
  • The victim is an enabler.
  • The victim is co-dependent.
  • Most victims need to be coached so they do not respond sinfully when being abused — so they either ‘stay well’ or ‘leave well’.
  • There are two words in Hebrew that are translated divorce. Only one of them meant a legal divorce with a certificate. The other word meant ‘put away’ – and ‘put away’ is not the same as ‘divorce’.
  • God hates divorce.
  • God allowed divorce because of hardness of heart.

When these so called experts teach or relay false notions to the church, it makes my job harder. And in my experience, most of these experts are resistant to learning when I give them constructive feedback. Ps Jeff Crippen, who co-led this blog with me till late 2017, had the same experience. He found that these experts are resistant to hearing our feedback.

Yet many of these ‘experts’ say how important it is to listen to victims! I can only conclude there’s a gulf between their rhetoric and reality.

I trust my upcoming series on Chris Moles will be helpful to many survivors of domestic abuse who are sifting their way through the information offered by Chris Moles and the other ‘counselling experts’ who are teaching about domestic abuse.

I hope the series might lead a few Christian counselors to open their minds to the directions they need to give more focus to.

After the Chris Moles series, I hope to devote my energies to writing the things that I still have to write: the second edition of Not Under Bondage, and my as-yet-unpublished insights into scripture that will help victims of domestic abuse. In other words, I intend to direct my sights away from critiquing the work of public figures in Christendom who claim to offer domestic abuse ministry yet are still getting so much wrong.

Please hold me to that intention, dear readers, as I can easily get sidetracked into exposing the errors of yet another false teacher. I could spend the rest of my life critiquing poor teachers, but I need to get on and write my own stuff. But have no fear; we will keep publishing posts on this site.

I am not asserting that the past and present team here at ACFJ has ‘said it all’. But I believe we have articulated enough principles for people who know their Bibles well and are indwelt by the Spirit to apply the principles to new material and new ‘expert teachers’ who may arise.

And if any of our readers find flaws in what we have published, then of course we are open to feedback. But please point out flaws in our analysis of scripture and present solid scriptural argument for your point of view. And please do us the courtesy of reading our material carefully by digging into our FAQ page and our Hall of Blind Guides before you make knee-jerk denunciations. And if you just say the problem is our tone because we are being ‘too harsh’ – that probably won’t cut ice with us. Jesus was very harsh with religious leaders who were leading the people of God astray.

So, if any readers want to understand the problems with Christian teaching on domestic abuse from now on, they can always read ACFJ’s posts (of which there are many)—and figure out the principles and apply them to the teacher they want to analyze. How to search our website

***

Further reading

Parched for truth — dehydrated — victims appreciate ANY water, but it’s better to give them pure rather than muddy water.

Critiques of biblical counseling published at A Cry For Justice

Wise as Serpents: Does the Christian Still Have an Evil Heart? (Part 24 of Sermon Series) – Jeff Crippen shows how many biblical counselors, including Leslie Vernick, have wrong-thinking or at least foggy-thinking regarding just who a Christian is. 

Pt 1. CCEF’s ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’ course — bread mixed with stones?

Pt 2. CCEF’s ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’ course — bread mixed with stones?

Pt 3. CCEF’s ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’ course — bread mixed with stones?

Review of Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s book “Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for those Suffering Domestic Abuse”

We were right! Dallas Theological Seminary has been using “Sexual Issues” in their BC101 Class

By ignoring domestic abuse, Christians can stigmatize victims — an example from Dallas Theological Seminary

A fundamental misdiagnosis of the abuser’s problem?  — an example from Dallas Theological Seminary

What does Dallas Theological Seminary say about divorce and redemption in cases of spousal abuse?

What does Dallas Theological Seminary say about divorce and redemption in cases of spousal abuse? (continued)

If God put you together you’re not allowed to separate — says Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC

Another abuser-enabling, victim-enslaving book: Jim Newheiser’s “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage”

Critiques of biblical counseling published at The Wartburg Watch

What is the Difference Between Nouthetic and Biblical Counseling? Just the Spelling.

Biblical Counseling: Anyone Can Do It, Sin is the Focus, Confidentiality is Not Guaranteed and Women Should Beware

Biblical Counseling Training:  Inadequate Education, Problematic Resources and Questionably Educated Leaders

Could You Pass the Exam to Be a Certified Biblical Counselor? Of Demons and Other Concerning Things 

Who Are the Men Only ACBC Fellows Who Supervise the ACBC Students? Also, Review Last Week’s Exam Question

43 Comments

  1. Good Blessed Day Barbara,
    I will certainly try to help keep you on point with your own projects. I am a huge culprit of getting side tracked myself. I think it’s like pleasures; the devil uses things that are “shiny” to sidetrack us from what our personal lane is. As we are crusaders, we easily can get side tracked by injustices that rile our ire. So I’ll help keep you accountable and would hope you would do the same for me (not that that is truly feasible).You are a gifted woman with the God given talent to see the puzzle pieces. I understand completely. Discernment though, as any other Gift of the Spirit can become over whelming. Sometimes we do need to step back and “do us” so to speak. We need to, as a pastor friend of mine is fond of saying, “Stay in our own lane.” And though those lanes sometimes merge with others, it is wise to go to the Holy Spirit and ask to be shown the parameters of ours again Clearly so that we don’t become overwhelmed (another effective tool of the enemy). I am Honored to be on this path with you, though we may be an ocean apart, our hearts clearly are siblings.

    As to this good series, I for one an grateful that you have taken the time and effort to write it. As always I am sure that it will be highly educational. And thank you for all the great links. You can be assured I WILL be using them!

    Be Blessed My Very Dear Sister in Christ.

  2. Seeing Clearly

    Barbara, your goals, purpose and focus are well defined. The structure and educational readings of ACFJ is unlike any resource ‘out there’ . I am thankful to be walking my journey at this place in history where truth is spoken and taught. I am thankful for my mini iPad, given to me by my adult children, that affords me access to ACFJ at any time.

    It is said that, while an airplane has a set flight plan, it does not follow that course exactly due to variables in the journey. Please trust that when your focus is tending to be slightly off course, you can still recognize it as an important/necessary part of your life’s purpose.

  3. Amy

    I truly appreciate all the work you, Barb, and Pastor Crippen have done here. I pass your blog onto my own readers and women who contact me re: abuse. Thank you so much for your ministry and for keeping us all aware of those who do not have a true grasp on abuse within marriage.

    • Thanks Amy.

      I removed the second paragraph of your comment because we don’t post recommendations of resources unless we have thoroughly checked out the resource first and find it is teaching sound stuff.

      We have had a quick look at author of the book you recommended and so far we don’t think she has sufficient theological discernment for us to recommend her work. You can email TWBTC if you want more info.

  4. Song of Joy

    I look forward to this series.

    A Christian wife is vulnerable to a scheming, manipulative, stubbornly evil husband. She is ALWAYS personally harmed and debilitated in many ways, and her faith walk severely hampered. Her helpless children are also affected in similar ways.

    (trigger warning)
    Does the Immortal, Invisible LORD God want wives and children to have stumbling blocks, fiery darts, snares and destroyed faith forced upon them by their very own husband and father? …. fear, anxiety, humiliation, degradation, shame, bruises, broken bones, choked necks, kicked stomachs, dead pets, withheld food/clothing/medical care, smashed homes, poisoned minds, violated bodies… all from his mocking, name-calling, cursing, lying, violence, perversion, weapons, hate-filled ranting, rage and other gross wickedness?
    (end trigger warning)

    It is horribly frustrating to hear from counselors and pastors that the Christian spouse needs to somehow continue to “respect” and “honor” the evil person, keep taking responsibility to resolve the manufactured crisis (in a dignified, self-controlled fashion, of course), and take all the right steps to save the sham of a marriage and family.

    If there is any true insight and compassion in their hearts, they should urgently help the victim to recognize she is under siege, advise her how to best separate from the abuser, and *help her to do that in the safest way possible*. That includes telling her that divorce is a righteous remedy.

  5. T O’C

    I am so very thankful I took the time to click this link, Barbara! I am not a degreed theologian, nor a trained medical professional in psychiatry – but even I can see there are many problems in Christian counseling methods when there is a lack of deep knowledge, understanding and reliance on Scripture. I am eagerly desiring to learn more!

    • T O’C

      Welcome to blog!

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

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you may like to look at our FAQ page for more specific areas of interest.

      Again, Welcome!

    • And I’m thankful you are here, T O’C. We like hearing from new readers. 🙂

  6. Anon72

    Wow, Barbara! Just this post alone is jam-packed with wisdom. This bullet-point list is, in itself, worth its weight in gold:

    Here are some of the false notions which some Christian counselors and victim-advocates are teaching:

    The abuser is blind to what he is doing, and he needs to be helped to become un-blind.
    The victim can (or should) do things which might help the abuser wake up to what he is doing.
    Christian counselors should work with abusers painstakingly, to lead them to change.
    The victim is an enabler.
    The victim is co-dependent.
    Most victims need to be coached so they do not respond sinfully when being abused — so they either ‘stay well’ or ‘leave well’.
    There are two words in Hebrew that are translated divorce. Only one of them meant a legal divorce with a certificate. The other word meant ‘put away’ – and ‘put away’ is not the same as ‘divorce’.
    God hates divorce.
    God allowed divorce because of hardness of heart.

    I mean, each one of those is a rabbit hole one can and does otherwise get stuck going down, being harmfully exposed to more abuse, wasting more precious time, suffering greater harms, being furthered along the path towards disability, suicide, driven insane, or murdered because abuse escalates. It always escalates. If your abuser stopped beating you, he has probably ramped up the the psychological, spiritual, and mental abuse.

    If people really woke up to the horrors of abuse — or lived it themselves — they might not be so quick to offer ‘solutions’ involving any of the above bullet-points. I was there myself. I wish I had seen a proliferation of resources that spoke truth — hard truth — instead of the above, oft-repeated, false notions.

    Abuse is murder. Murder of the mind, one’s emotions, one’s spirit, one’s sexuality, one’s body, one’s life. Abusers are murderers. They maim and mar your soul. Abusers are poison. Abusers are Satan’s prized children.

    Abusers are snakes — we don’t need to understand how it came to be that they bite people with venom-filled fangs, we just need to avoid them like the plague, kill them if need be, and keep others away from them. Kind of like the Proverb where it says a leopard can’t change it’s spots. Abusers are going to hell. They serve their evil father, the devil.

    Your work, Barbara, is whatever you want it to be. But your work is as much these thorough, educational, sound critiques of blind guides as the other projects you mentioned. Those excellent critiques teach, instruct, and help the reader along in becoming wiser, more discerning, etc. But, that being said, there’s enough on this blog alone to keep a reader very, very busy.

    I get why it’s popular to spend time hoping to get the abuser to stop the abuse but it’s a time suck. It’s dangerous and it plays into the abuser’s hand. Leopards don’t and can’t change their spots — if you think they have done so, it’s likely the leopards just rolled around in the mud too long, and eventually it’ll rain and that disguising mud will wash right off, leaving you to behold — the spots are still there!

    • Anon72,

      Leopards don’t and can’t change their spots — if you think they have done so, it’s likely the leopards just rolled around in the mud too long, and eventually it’ll rain and that disguising mud will wash right off, leaving you to behold — the spots are still there!

      Yes!! And too often counselors and others don’t interact with the abuser long enough to see the spots revealed. The rain may not come for a long time and even then it may not be a down pour but just a sprinkle. And the leopard carefully keeps his ‘mud’ in place and fools many.

      That’s why it’s so necessary that we change our whole way of thinking to come to terms with what God really says about the abuser and other evil wolves who parade as ‘c’hristians – not what we want the Bible to say about them or what we’ve been taught to believe that the Bible says.

      • Anonymous

        And I don’t know if it is necessarily many counselors’ fault because I don’t think it’s possible to really, really grasp the horrors of abuse/DV/SA/domestic terrorism unless you live it yourself. Perhaps they should refrain from taking clients in terms of recognizing they are out of their league.

        Just like someone without any children in their life, not a mom, a big sister, a former babysitter, etc. should up and become a child therapist. There should be experience backing the counselors’ areas of work, where they refer the clients elsewhere if they don’t know much about it. Perhaps there can be a ‘learn as you go’ approach to some clients but when abuse is involved, people should realize just how potentially dangerous whatever they say is and what a fragile situation they have on their hands.

        The abusers that stay out of jail are either really good at what they do, or really powerful/privileged and can buy/bribe/intimidate their way out of any consequences. And the ones who have been abusing for a long time are so polished, so good at what they do….. I think there’s so many women out there who live horror-filled lives who are so ashamed, so embarrassed, so blamed/guilt-tripped, so brainwashed, so rattled, so subjugated that nobody would imagine what their life is really like. Just like one of the girls who was kidnapped, people didn’t know, and here she had lived some decade or so, birthed a child or two, and it’s like tentacles…… my abuser was a monster, a real-life monster, and nobody knew for the longest time and people still don’t know most of it because it is so horrific, which I think abusers deliberately do, because who would want others to know about that level of depravity/degradation/humiliation?!

        Perhaps the only therapists or counselors that should be working with victims are those that lived it themselves.

        I almost wonder who it is that goes to counseling or therapy? How many of those depressed women are really just reactively depressed and abused? There has to be some really good screening up front, not just ‘are you being abused?’ and ‘are you safe?’ and ‘are you a battered woman?’ because I think some people who are really in it and are most at risk of being killed or pushed into suicide are also ones who wouldn’t readily label themselves as abused/unsafe/battered because it is so ‘normal’ for them and if the abuser is really intelligent and tactical, he’ll have done so many numbers on their heads/psyches, inflicted trauma after trauma, brainwashed, etc. they don’t even know which way is up or that it is not their fault (so they don’t have to hide it — but they again, they might hide it because of misplaced loyalty, thinking it’s gossiping, etc.)

        And every counselor, therapist, pastor, etc. who dares to write a book about Christian women, Christian living, Christian marriages, etc. had better have a whole chunk devoted to saying, ‘this is NOT for you if you are being abused….and this is what being abused might look like….’ because otherwise they are just helping the abusers of society further their harms against their prey.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with this:

        How many of those depressed women [who go to counseling or therapy] are really just reactively depressed and abused? There has to be some really good screening up front, not just ‘are you being abused?’ and ‘are you safe?’ and ‘are you a battered woman?’ because I think some people who are really in it and are most at risk of being killed or pushed into suicide are also ones who wouldn’t readily label themselves as abused/unsafe/battered because it is so ‘normal’ for them and if the abuser is really intelligent and tactical, he’ll have done so many numbers on their heads/psyches, inflicted trauma after trauma, brainwashed, etc. they don’t even know which way is up or that it is not their fault (so they don’t have to hide it — but they again, they might hide it because of misplaced loyalty, thinking it’s gossiping, etc.)

        And every counselor, therapist, pastor, etc. who dares to write a book about Christian women, Christian living, Christian marriages, etc. had better have a whole chunk devoted to saying, ‘this is NOT for you if you are being abused….and this is what being abused might look like….’ because otherwise they are just helping the abusers of society further their harms against their prey.

        I’m reading Don Hennessy’s book Steps to Freedom. He talks about how the abuser colonises the mind of the target person so that she does not know she is being abused. And how the counselor needs to be very cautious, as the target woman will very possibly resist the counselor’s explanations about what her abuser is doing to her, because her mind has been taken over by the abuser’s explanations and opinions.

        Counselors like Don Hennessy are very few and far between. And Don himself says he learned about this from his clients – women who were being abused by their partners. He says he could never have learned it from a book.

        There is so much good stuff in Steps to Freedom. And for those who can’t afford to buy it, we have some to send out as gift books. (Don sent us some copies to give away.)

  7. Helovesme

    Gosh, thank you so much for all the research and homework you obviously do, so as to educate and inform those of us that need it. We certainly try to learn as much as we can on our own, but the help you give us is invaluable.

    I’m looking forward to this series! I too have a hard time getting sidetracked. Too much negative attention can derail from putting out real, helpful—this is only only what NOT do so, but there’s what you CAN (or SHOULD! do.

    You’ve pointed out that Chris Moles has some positives in his teachings, but unfortunately that does not drown out the negatives. IMO, these are the hardest people to come up against, because the insistence of “he really is helping others” (with his positive teachings) drowns out the “but he’s hurting others” (with the false teachings)

    I think you’re spot on with: “Yet many of these ‘experts’ say how important it is to listen to victims! I can only conclude there’s a gulf between their rhetoric and reality”

    I remember getting VERY worked up when I wasn’t being heard, or listened to. I wanted to say: um, I was there and you weren’t. How in the world can you try to re-define my experiences if you weren’t even there? Stop trying to change my narrative. It felt like a violation of my soul, because my memories, although traumatizing, are very personal.

    There were two points of false teachings that I have personally either struggled with, or still am working through to understand what is and isn’t true about it:

    “The victim is an enabler.”
    “The victim is co-dependent.”
    “Most victims need to be coached so they do not respond sinfully when being abused.”

    Since my main abuser was my father, that certainly makes a difference. I’ve encountered other abuses, however, in my life, and the narrative is almost always varied.

    My dad and I would often push each other’s buttons, and it wouldn’t take long before a screaming match would ensue. Being the minor, we weren’t on equal ground of course. But I felt like I enabled him by not being more in control of my temper. I knew what he was doing when he would try to pick a fight with me, and many times I gave into it.,

    This was especially true after I became a Christian (at the age of 18; legally an adult but still very immature), and even as a baby Christian I felt a lot more pressure to not provoke or enable him. I felt more responsible for his reactions, as if I could control the situation more if I held my tongue or said or did the right things.

    I always struggled with being co-dependent, because I was so neglected. But I even felt that way towards my abuser (and later on, Christians). My dad was in control of nearly everything in my life. To break away from him meant being on the streets as a child, and financially on my own as a young woman. I wasn’t able to do either, and I could see how I was almost too dependent on him, and too scared to break totally free.

    With the other abusive persons in my life, it was similar. In looking back, I felt like I allowed them to have too much power over me because I had no one else to depend on. I am not sure, but I think they may or may not have taken advantage of that. I fear that I am responsible for being too dependent on others, and am partially responsible for that.

    With the last one, that is the hardest. It ties into the first two false teachings. I kept telling myself that if I just didn’t respond “sinfully” my dad (and my family) would see Christ working in me. Would see the changes in me and (supposedly) be moved inside.

    Also, if my dad would see that he couldn’t bully or break me the way he used to be able to (because I chose to not respond “sinfully”) he would either slow down, stop it for good or change tactics and treat me like a grown up (as his equal)

    Perhaps all those false teachings are somewhat tied together: the abuser is blind (and it’s the victim’s job to undo that). If you don’t enable or give into them, they’ll change. If you stay or leave, it will be on good terms (is that what stay well or leave well meant?) And that counseling works with abusers (just be patient!)

    In my experiences with my dad (as a child) and with Christians (as an adult), the theme was basically the same:

    the perpetrator is insecure, troubled, unsaved, immature or ignorant. We must feel sorry for them. What led them to become this way? If we untangle the knots, they’ll become different people.

    the victim needs to be confident, untroubled, saved, mature and enlightened about the abuser’s plight. We must put the pressure and expectation on them to be or become this way.
    Isn’t it pitiful that abusers are so hurting inside that they act this way?

    I DID feel sorry for my dad at times. But that usually didn’t last long. I was so hurting and broken inside that there often wasn’t a lot of room in me to be concerned about his personal woes.

    And the more pressure I felt to either pity or understand him—the angrier I got, which didn’t help. I felt like a lousy Christian on top of everything else.

    It’s one thing to be abused, it’s another thing to be furious about it. That is usually frowned upon, as if I was supposed to have “good manners” and “be gracious” about it.

    That pushed me too far, and it still does. A few years ago, we lost a beloved member of our family. I couldn’t believe how insensitive and callous those around me behaved. Was I really expected to be “nice” and “understanding” when my heart was broken, and these people were making it worse? How in the world does one justify heaping more pain onto someone who is already barely getting through one day without sobbing for hours?

    Again, I so look forward to this series. I will do my best to keep up with it!

  8. Thank you for posting this article; for the many warnings throughout the years. Praying for future endeavours.

  9. Anonymous too

    The more I think about it, the more I consider psychology to be mostly an unhelpful load of crud. It’s almost the devil’s work because it pretty much confuses the issues, swirls in a load of junk, and removes basic concepts like right and wrong/good versus evil.

    If someone is beating on another, it is not anyone’s job to explore the childhood of the attacker. If someone is sexually abusing someone else, it is not anyone’s job to see if he is somehow insecure. Hogwash! Predators are NOT insecure, no matter how much they pretend to be, profess to be, etc. Predators are NOT insecure, needing love, warmth, reassurance, understanding, tolerance. No, no, no.

    Counseling needs to exist for victims, not perps. I can see counseling as being really beneficial in validating the victim, helping the victim see that she has worth/value, helping the victim deal with the harms and damages of the abuse. But nothing more for these perps. People don’t seem to acknowledge villainy anymore.

    Just like bullies. Kids who are bullying other kids are not insecure, little wounded ducklings who are needing to be coddled out of their supposed insecurities, shown unconditional love, etc. Nope. The bullies need to be punished. It is unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE. Bullies are not insecure but rather have over-inflated egos, entitlement issues, and enjoy being evil, mean, and abusive. Most are little criminals, too, stealing, vandalizing, assaulting, and all sorts of other things.

    Think about how God deals with various evil characters in the Bible. With Cain, God didn’t say, ‘oh now, now, I see you are jealous and that must stem from early childhood insecurities borne out of inadequate breastfeeding’ or any nonsense like that. It was, ‘Do the right thing Cain.’ And then when Cain murdered Abel, God sent Cain off to the other land.’ I think I am remembering that correctly. [Barb has slightly amended this bit].

    Proverbs is full of awesome wisdom. A leopard cannot change its spots. A leopard will eat you and lick its chops. A leopard is a predator. A leopard is a leopard is a leopard is a leopard. Proverbs talks over and over about wicked this and wicked that, evil men, ambush, laying their snares. Maybe its Psalms, too.

    Anyhow, I am done with this whole coddling the abuser, understanding the abuser, loving the abuser to Jesus, nonsense. These people are predators. They may be small time predators, or they may be big time predators, but they prey on you and nobody deserves that.

    Our bodies are temples.

    We are to be good stewards of our time, talents, energy, and resources and helping love evildoers to Jesus is an exercise in futility. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to do that but I hear this kind of nonsense preached at people often on ‘c’hristian radio stations, etc.

    These ‘save the marriage/save the family’ focused efforts are so out there, too. Divorce shouldn’t be a dirty word in the Christian community considering most divorces involve DV/SA/abuse, infidelity. Abuse should be a dirty word. Abuse should be the scarlet letter for the abuser alone, not the victimized wife and/or children. Abusers should have to leave the church.

    • Helovesme

      Anonymous Too thank you!

      I saw a Christian counselor over a decade ago, for many reasons, but partially because of my abusive childhood. After a terrible and traumatic experience with professing Christians, my walk with God had suffered so badly to the point where I was backsliding.

      He wasn’t a bad counselor, I need to say. But in looking back, I don’t think he was as helpful as he could have been had he understood abuse and abuse victims more clearly. There was a few times that I felt he was way off, but bear in mind how uneasy it can be to contradict a supposed wise, learned counselor that YOU are paying, to help you!

      I won’t repeat his bad counsel, but I now know it was bad (regarding my abusive father) and how I related to him.

      I DO wish, above all things, that he had told me that none of the abuse was my fault. In the non-Christian and Christian realms, because in both arenas, I struggled badly with guilt and shame and condemnation. I still do, but less so.

      Counselors aren’t mind readers, and they are not perfect. I am extremely wary of them now, and even more wary about books or what not that claim to be helpful. It’s shocking to realize how much false teaching and mere personal opinion/experience is out there, but disguised as Biblical.

  10. Finding Answers

    Barb wrote Those experts think that they need to proceed slowly and gently in getting the die-hards in the institutional church to turn around. It is true that change will take time. But by ‘softly prompting’ to lead the church towards change, I believe many of these so-called experts are not being fair to all victims and they are not conveying the whole truth, so they are inadvertently or wittingly giving leeway to the perpetrators of abuse.

    I don’t remember Jesus molly-coddling the Pharisees to mend their ways. I don’t remember Jesus saying to those He healed, “Hang on a sec. I don’t think you’ve proven your obedience.” I don’t remember Him gently dusting the tables prior to using the whip to clean His Father’s house.

    Institutional repentance can be rapid if the individuals within the institution are willing to make the change. Yes, there is time required for re-evaluation and learning, but that can be stretched out ad infinitum.

    The biggest impediment to change in the institutional church is admitting the need for repentance. They need to be Berean.

    I am grateful to those who are willing to contend with the behemoths, to be David to Goliath, to edify without compromise.

    I appreciate learning the “Why?” a doctrine is false, the resultant effects, the “Why?” subtleties and nuances can’t be ignored.

    The light bulbs need to be switched on…

    • Finding Answers

      I add on to my own comment…

      If I had encountered biblical counselling, I would be dead. Not through physical abuse, but through the soul-killing life in which I existed.

      I have had enough light bulbs turned on, I can now understand what I read in the recommended books. To reach this point, the Holy Spirit led me step-by-step through the ACFJ website, prompting me when I couldn’t connect dots. I have been blessed by those who responded.

      Here, scripture was untangled. Here, I read the stories and analogies which started to turn the kaleidoscope. Here, I could finally understand and say the hard, hard words, “I’ve been abused.”

      I look forward to reading the rest of the Chris Moles series, not simply to learn, but to understand the damaging subtleties of false doctrine mixed with truth. The leaven of the Pharisees….

  11. Singing bird

    During an absolutely horrendous divorce a few years ago, my abusive and yes, narcissist husband visited a counselor from The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (IBCD), which is based in California.

    He did it not to ask for help or to understand why his wife was afraid of him. No, he needed a reference letter of sorts. A sworn deposition for the court.

    This “Biblical counselor” provided a letter which was used by ex husband’s lawyer to state then-husband was a godly Christian man, a great dad and should have custody of our children.
    The counselor never met me. He never spoke to me.

    My ex husband is an abusive man. He was extremely cruel to me and our kids. I covered for him because I always believed God would not allow divorce. He was physically, mentally, emotionally, financially abusive to me for 20+ years. I lived in constant fear. I read every Christian marriage book, tried every different approach to him. The kids and I eventually would drive to the library or a store or anywhere to avoid him when he got home at night and began verbally abusing us. One day my teenager told me, “If you don’t leave, I will. I can’t live like this any more. He was very cruel to me, and took out his rage on me. I didn’t tell anyone.”

    He should have been an actor because he could charm everyone at the small church we attended where my kids and I were very involved. My ex husband was unfaithful, an alcoholic, a drug abuser, took medication for depression on and off. He was not nice; he made my life a nightmare. My then-young child told me not to ever leave him/her alone with Dad because he/she “did not feel safe.”

    The worst part however, was how my ex-husband could skillfully make himself look like a poor husband trying his best, not knowing what was wrong. He could manipulate people whenever he needed anything they could give.

    The judge in our divorce case actually has a reputation for siding with the Dad. So the court believed the letter from the Institute for Biblical Counseling “counselor.”. Many (not all) of the elders at my old church believed him as well. They suddenly started having meetings with my now ex husband. He wasn’t involved with the church before, but now he had a mission – to slander me. The church listened; the “Institute” listened to him. Because he is an amazing manipulator, he spread untruth at a dizzying speed.

    I was just thankful to get away, to have a peaceful home with the children. I did not try to fight back. I’m a fairly shy person and this stress caused me to completely lay low. I did not get amazing victories in court, but my kids and I are safe. We have peace. We have (I tell them often) God is my husband and God is their father. The Lord heard my cry for mercy. He heard me read the psalms to him crying on my bathroom floor daily. He delivered us. We don’t have a lot materially, but we are safe with God.

    The ex husband sees them rarely because he is busy with other activities.
    God intervened and rescued us. I praise the Lord for He heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.

    My older child emailed the Institute for Biblical Counseling because the child was so angry at their injustice and outright dangerous stupidity of vouching for an abusive man without ever meeting the wife. They answered my child’s letter by inviting the child to come in for an appointment.

    By the grace of our Lord and Savior we are safe in our home now – in spite of the Institute for Biblical Counseling.

    • Singing Bird,

      Welcome to the blog! Thank you for sharing your story!!

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

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you may like to look at our FAQ page.

      Again, Welcome!

    • Anonymous

      You are not the only one, Singing Bird. I have read about another abuser doing this. A rush to create ‘evidence’ against the wife, as the abuser knows he is the guilty one. Good thing your kids aren’t too cowed to speak out or too damaged to get mad, as evidenced by one of your children emailing his or her discontent at the counselor/counseling organization.

      It happens with calls to the police. One woman told about how her husband attacked her but then suspected the neighbors would be calling the police and he made a point to call 911, as I guess the first person to call the police is assumed to be the victim, and then, while waiting for the police to arrive, knowing they were on the way (the wife did not know this) he punched himself and marked himself up.

      The wife didn’t know police were coming and was just reeling from the attack the husband had just done and since she couldn’t prove his attack, but he had visible injuries, she was arrested and taken to jail for domestic violence. Isn’t that something?!

      • Aarrrgh…that sounds similar to the story of the woman who wrote Hanging on by my fingernails. We have that book on our recommended books list.

      • GypsyAngel

        Singing Bird,

        God did indeed intervene for you. Oh My dear one, I am so very sorry that your life was tarnished by those who misused their authority. I am very impressed that your child had the strength and presence of heart to write to “the Institute” and that can be credited to the amazing job as a mother that you have done. May you continue to be most blessed and covered by the wings of God.

    • Hi Singing Bird, may we put a link to your comment at our page Christian Ministries and Authors in our Hall of Blind Guides?

      If you check out that page you will see we recommend caution with all Biblical Counseling organizations, including the one your ex went to, IBCD.

    • Helovesme

      Singing Bird thank you so much for telling your story. I am BEYOND thankful that you are the kids are safe and away from this horrible monster that so cleverly disguised himself.

      Someone mentioned depressed women who seek counseling, but are actually being abused (either they don’t know it or are too afraid to admit it).

      I can relate. Especially hard on a Christian to even admit they are depressed, and then to try to admit they need help, and then admit all of this to another human being! Goodness!

      No matter what, IMO, there is a stigma attached to being depressed, being abused, or being victimized in any way—in or out of the home. No one wants that put on that label, because it can carry a certain price.

      Someone also mentioned making it clear, when speaking of marriage or relationships to put a footnote to say: “this does not apply to abusive situations.”

      That would be such a tremendous help. This “one size fits all” nonsense has got to stop. I would sit in church and feel queasy and fearful and condemned when certain sermons would focus on topics that NEEDED such a disclaimer.

      But again, what I’ve found is that no one really wants to discuss abuse or admit the reality of it from the pulpit. Maybe they fear violating the privacy or comfort zone of those listening (it IS quite an intimate topic), so they only want to deal with it behind closed doors, in private sessions?

      If I recall, Pastor Crippen and Pastor Jimmy Hinton have brought this up. They try to shine a light on such a heavy topic, and it makes pastors squirm. They’re asked to either avoid the topic or make it more palatable so people aren’t offended, or become uncomfortable.

      BUT, as a person who did see a Christian counselor, I can guarantee you that it’s not easy to bare your soul in private, either, even under the guise of privacy.

      But above all, I don’t think we as Christians are educated enough to even tackle the subject of abuse and victimization in general. How rampant and unhindered it is.

      When a light HAS been shone into abuse within churches, the reactions immediately reveal their true nature. Doubt, disbelief, disparage and downright denouncing of the victim and anyone else who stands with them.

      IF the pastors or those in leadership had taken the time and trouble to preach and teach about abuse, or made aware of the reality of abuse, I wonder if more victims would feel free to come forward. And it would educate others more, as they explain what happened to them.

      AND, perhaps there would be less of a backlash should people come out with their stories?

      • B.

        “Doubt, disbelief, disparage and downright denouncing of the victim and anyone else who stands with them.”

        THIS!

        There was this missionary effort that was aimed at kids and it was teaching the kids their body was a holy temple and to take good care of it by eating healthy foods, not smoking, not doing drugs, not drinking, exercising, etc.

        I think abuse needs to be talked about right at the beginning of kids’ lives. Presumably, many parents teach their young children that their private parts are theirs alone and to tell the parent if anyone ever touches them there. Sexual abuse is very uncomfortable to talk about but it’s done.

        Abuse is soul-marring and life-destroying, which, depending on severity, nature, and duration of the abuse is easily way worse and more damaging than not exercising, smoking, drinking, or eating junk food.

        Abuse is probably the most crucial topic. Bullying, stalking, harassment, physical violence, scapegoating, racism, sexism, etc. all have a core in abuse.

        I’d much rather have learned late in life about nutrition, benefits of exercise, etc. They cover it in high school anyhow. But abuse is not. Sex ed — or something like that — had more information about how to shave your legs without badly cutting yourself, learning body part’s names, but who cares about that if nobody is going to use that block of time with only the girls to speak on sexism, misogyny, rape, sexual harassment, predatory behaviors of men and boys alike?

      • Thanks for your comment, B., and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      • And by the way, we 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.

        And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

        You are spot on about the need to teach girls (and boys) about sexism, misogyny, etc.

  12. Trying Again

    Yes, I was forced to try a nouthetic counselor. She asked me what I had done to ruin the marriage. I said I had done nothing. She said that was not acceptable. I had to accept part of the blame. Well, no, actually I had NOT done anything to him. I had tried to help him, be kind to him, love him, work hard for him, etc. etc.

    She kept pressing me. So finally I told her I had done something–I had waited way too long to leave the abuse! I would not admit to anything else–that was the truth and the whole truth.

    Needless to say, the counseling did not continue. But that was fine. The counseling was only part of the plot to get me back in his clutches. And I am thankful for say, that did not happen!

    • Well done, Trying Again!

      Your testimony, and so many others on this thread, are showing that I am not wrong in what I’ve said about biblical counselors.

  13. Anonymous

    As a Christian who works in a secular organization helping victims, I can say that none of those listed false notions are held by professionals I have contact with. It is such a travesty that such deceptions are held by a people who profess to be dedicated to a God of truth. At the same time, Christian leaders tend to oppose secular groups who aim to bring freedom and wellbeing (read “wholeness”) to victims, claiming that as Christians, they must be faithful only to God’s Word of truth!

  14. BL

    Abused women are hidden in Evangelical Churches. They have been taught (and believe) they must endure, that God has called them to their marriage.

    In case of marriage relationship difficulties, there is a sequence of steps consistently followed in the church community: Go to your pastor, then to a Christian counselor (in or outside of the local church depending on resources).

    The majority of Christian counselors are seminary trained as Biblical Counselors. Ladies who are in abusive marriages seek help from them when pastoral counseling is not helpful.

    Chris Moles states that he is called by God to wake up Christians to an appropriate response toward people who are being abused. Because he has the respect of the Biblical counseling community, Chris has been invited to speak to Biblical counselors at their annual conferences. His message is centered on ensuring the safety of the victim, and providing her with needed resources while respecting her right to make her own choices. Chris is adamant that the abused wife or girlfriend be heard and helped by a full community response. He also asserts the abuser must be confronted, and church discipline principles followed. He strongly protects victims from secondary abuse.

    Those of us who are active on behalf of abuse victims should be thrilled that hundreds of counselors will be challenged to shift their paradigm.

    The leaders of the paradigm shift occurring in the church’s approach to long term domestic partner abuse do not need to get sidetracked by a theological dispute. I adhere to reformed doctrine. I understand the debate about the salvation of the abuser and the possibility (or lack of possibility) for him to change. I disagree with the assertion that Biblical counselors can’t be helpful until they change their theology. The urgency and the opportunity for Biblical counselors to make a huge impact due to their existing connection to the church cannot be taken lightly. Shunning a large group of trained counselors who already have access to Christian women is detrimental. Chris is a voice speaking truth to them.

    • Hi BL, I encourage you to read all the posts which will be coming out in this series, before you make a final judgement about what I am saying.

      May I ask — are you a Christian counselor? A victim-survivor of abuse? A church leader? —and if so in what capacity?

      I’m just curious to know your background. Feel free to not answer if you don’t wish to disclose.

      You said “Those of us who are active on behalf of abuse victims should be thrilled that hundreds of counselors will be challenged to shift their paradigm.” In what way are you active on behalf of abuse victims?

      And by the way, you might like to look at our FAQ page and our New Users’ Info page.

      One more thing. I don’t think we are encouraging our readers to shun Christian counselors. We are simply recommending caution, and giving information to help our readers discern whether a Christian counselor is going to be giving them wholly sound advice and counsel.

      If you read the comments thread on this post, you will see some examples of Christian counselors who have seriously mistreated victims of domestic abuse.

      • BL

        Thank you, Barbara for your response. And I will read all the posts. I am a victim/survivor of abuse. Also a medical professional. I am actively involved with assisting women who are in abusive relationships to see clearly what is happening to them and to take appropriate steps. These relationships are one to one, as God brings the ladies into my life. I am aware of examples of Christian counselors giving unhealthy advice (I experienced that). I am just not sure Chris Moles is one of those.

      • Thanks BL.

        And you might also like to consider this. It takes many victims of domestic abuse a long time to realise that what they are suffering is actually abuse and their spouse is an abuser. As they begin to realise this, they look for stuff that helps them understand it more. They find many things, books, websites by counselors, etc. If they find a someone who is saying things that turn on even a tiny light bulb or two for them, they understandably think that person is fantastic. This is like getting a the drop of water when you have been parched in the desert for years.

        But not all water is pure. And not all counselors or ‘experts’ are teaching and counseling pure stuff. They may be teaching quite a few things which are good, but that doesn’t mean that everything they say is good.

        The newbies, who are just coming out of the fog, are unlikely to be aware of this phenomenon. And they are understandably so thrilled that someone — at last! — has shed light on their plight, that they run with that enthusiasm…and they can run with that enthusiasm for a long time, without necessarily developing more fine-tuned discernment.

        This is not the fault of any of the victim-survivors. It is just a phenomenon that happens because of the way things are in the visible church.

        Here is a post where I explain this phenomenon more:
        Parched for truth — dehydrated — victims appreciate ANY water, but it’s better to give them pure rather than muddy water.

      • By the way. BL, you might like to know that an Australian study has just shown that female health professionals have suffered domestic abuse (intimate partner abuse / family violence) at far higher rates than the overall female population.

        The overall female rate is about 25% of women will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime. This study showed that the rate for female health workers is closer to 50% !

        Nearly half of female medical staff experience domestic abuse – ABC News, Australia.

        And by the way, I too am a survivor. And I used to be a nurse.

      • BL

        Both articles are on target. It is true that as we realize what is happening to us is abuse, and is not our fault, we crave validation. And we are not always discerning. I certainly read everything I could find in the knowledge gathering stage.

        And the article about a higher incidence of abuse among female health care providers: most health care professionals completed rigorous training. We are strong competent personalities. Add our people-helper commitment, and confidence that we CAN fix things by sheer will power and self sacrifice, and all that makes us prime targets. I had not thought about it before that article. But it makes sense. Also makes me consider being more open with my coworkers about my home life.

      • Don Hennessy, a relationship counselor from Ireland, says that men who target women for intimate partner abuse prefer to target women who are kind, loyal, dedicated and truthful.

        We showcased Don’s work in our Don Hennessy Digest.

  15. Finding Answers

    Thanks for including the ABC News link, Barb.

    It would be interesting to see of there were any other correlations, including workplace atmosphere. (I note the women quoted encountered different workplace responses.)

    I would also be interested to find out if the same statistical differences were found in other countries. And if the statistics would remain as high in a larger pool of respondents.

  16. GypsyAngel

    Barbara, You have already blessed me with two books previously one of which was Don Hennessey’s book “How He Gets Into Her Head.” which has been an extremely excellent teaching tool for my personal work. As well as your book “Not Under Bondage….” which has not only allowed me to answer clients’ questions with sound scripture, but has aided greatly in my own personal healing. I hesitate to ask (but I will) for the donation of Mr. Hennessey’s book “Steps to Freedom” as I still have no actual income. I have the strong feeling that it would be invaluable in my new position. Which thanks to God opening that door I am slated to start next week. Still unpaid…but then God IS my provider…lol

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: