Review of “Sexual Issues” – A Really Bad Book for Pastoral Training

ACFJ received the following input from Dallas Theological Seminary today. We will put their comment here at the head of this post which originally maintained that the book reviewed here is being used at DTS in pastoral counseling classes. John Dyer of DTS informs us that this is not correct:

Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) would like to thank this blog and its authors for bringing up such an important issue and for running a blog that covers the important topic of abuse.

We are also glad to report that claims made in this post are inaccurate.

The stated book, “Sexual Issues” by Wahking and Zimmerman is not a required, recommended, or endorsed text at Dallas Theological Seminary. Although the book is out of print, it is available at our library along with many other books that DTS would neither endorse nor recommend. In the MA in Biblical Counseling program at Dallas Theological Seminary (Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling MA / BC [Internet Archive link]) students are correctly taught how to report abuse and the ethical and legal guidelines they must follow.

In the future, if you have questions about DTS or would like to verify the contents of our programs, please contact the Office of the President or the Executive Director of Communications any time. You can also peruse course syllabi at: DTS Course Schedule [Internet Archive link]. Finally, if you are interested, our podcast on cultural issues recently addressed the important topic of abuse: Transcript of the podcast [Internet Archive link]

John Dyer
Executive Director of Communications and Educational Technology
Dallas Theological Seminary

Beginning of the original post:

Trigger Warning!

Sexual Issues – by Wahking & Zimmerman

This manual seems to be written to less mature pastors who are not experienced counseling married couples who are having sexual problems. Throughout the book there is encouragement for young pastors who may find themselves sexually excited by hearing people describe their problems. (I think this is a sign that someone is not mature enough to be a counselor. Full Stop.)

But the focus of this review is Chapter 9: Strategic Pastoral Counseling with Survivors of Sexual Abuse. When discussing cases of child molestation and incest, here is what the authors recommend so that  “breaking up the family” and “scandal” might be avoided:

Sometimes there are alternatives, though they are very difficult in terms of the Christian ethic. You may want to consider talking privately with the perpetrator, and if he or she confesses and commits to not being abusive again and enters professional counseling immediately, you may commit yourself to not reporting the abuse for now while maintaining close contact with the person’s therapist. You can make it clear that any hint of further abuse means that you will most certainly file a report.

First of all: this is illegal in most states [Internet Archive link]. The authors fully admit that this is probably breaking the law, but they nevertheless recommend this course of action to avoid “scandal” and “family break-up”. The authors are completely outside of truth, justice, and protecting the defenseless in this chapter. Second: the only appropriate response from a pastor who discovers child abuse within their church body is to file a report with the civil authorities and to act for the protection of the children, no matter what the personal cost may be. Jeff Crippen has personal experience with this type of scenario and he can testify that a weakened or conciliatory response (even at the behest of the victims’ family) only destroys people further down the road. Pastors need to learn how to respond correctly to abuse, and they need to understand the courage this requires.

(As an aside, I have also recently finished the book The Socially Skilled Child Molester: Distinguishing the Guilty from the Falsely Accused [Affiliate link]. This book should be required reading for anyone in pastoral ministry as well as all parents. It highlights how dangerously foolish the authors have been in Sexual Issues, since those who get caught grooming a child for sex are almost certainly going to do it again, and they are devilishly cunning at getting away with it.)

The authors continue in Chapter 9 with a sample counseling session between a husband “Clark” and his wife “Brenda”, where Brenda has confessed that Clark has choked her, held her down, and raped her. The authors make sure that the counseling session doesn’t “beat up on the husband too much” (my paraphrasing) and by the end of it, the wife has agreed to cook her husband a meal that he really enjoys. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because I am afraid that it will be far too triggering for the survivors reading this blog.

I will end this with another quote from page 168:

Commentary: The pastor helped these two troubled people ventilate their anger without letting them escalate to the level of rage. He monitored his own hostile reaction to Clark and kept that from intruding on his counseling relationship. By the middle of the session he did not feel hostile to Clark. Surprisingly, Clark agreed to make some changes. The pastor then wisely invited Brenda to make some changes. She needs to make changes for her own well-being and by both of them agreeing to make changes, Clark has not become the “identified patient” or the one to be blamed. At the beginning of this session there was considerable evidence that these two people would require referral to a marriage counselor and that there might be little hope that they could remain married even after that work. By the end of the session there was evidence that Clark was willing to change and Brenda was willing to work with him.  [Emphasis original.]

The above quote should be a parody! It is a literal textbook example of how a pastor becomes an ally of an abuser; how a pastor helps the abuser shift some of the blame onto the victim; how marriage counseling is ineffective in cases like this; how the victim is guilted into trying to further please her rapist; how the abuser easily fools the pastor; how the pastor is lulled into ignoring the Holy Spirit’s outrage; how the appropriate resources are never called upon; and how the appropriate Scriptures are not brought to bear on these situations.

A pastor in the above scenario may also be held liable if rape and assaults are reported to him and he does not report it. However in some states he does not have to report this abuse if children are not involved (i.e. children are not witnessing the assaults). From another perspective, however, should we need to (as God’s agents here on earth) be forced into protecting the weaker vessels by the civil authorities? Do we depend on the threat of legal action to do what is right? Would we never report assault to the police unless there was some threat to ourselves? If the world clearly recognizes these things as evil and unacceptable, how much more so should we?

This book is a monstrous piece of garbage and I would take it out back and blast it with my shotgun, but it’s frankly too cold for that today and I can’t be bothered to put on my boots. I implore the seminaries to thoroughly review their counseling texts. At a minimum.

Jeff Crippen’s and Barbara Roberts’ books should be on the list of required reading at seminaries. Perhaps if we keep sounding the alarm, God’s men will answer.

[March 7, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to March 7, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to March 7, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to March 7, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (March 7, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

85 thoughts on “Review of “Sexual Issues” – A Really Bad Book for Pastoral Training”

  1. I could only read the beginning of this post. It sickened me to read further. No triggers personally, but deep disgust and simmering rage. May the Lord avenge His lambs soon.

  2. in Chapter 9 with a sample counseling session between a husband “Clark” and his wife “Brenda”, where Brenda has confessed that Clark has choked her, held her down, and raped her.

    Why is this man able to go to a counseling session? Why is he not in jail on charges of assault, physical abuse and rape? This book should be banned. From what little I know of it, it should certainly not be taught from.

    I am coming to the conclusion that most pastors have no business counseling where abuse of any kind is involved. I am afraid there aren’t many Christian counselors that should be involved either. I just gave the name of the counselor that I saw to a woman that I met last week who is going through “Legal Separation” for abuse. She had called “Family Life Radio” and this counselor was not for of the ones they gave her. I am sure it is because she believes in separation and divorce for abuse, abandonment and adultery.

  3. Katy, thanks for this review. It is shocking that seminaries are training future pastors with worthless, doctrinally unsound, dangerous books. No wonder the church is such a mess and that they largely are incompetent to counsel.

    1. I agree. I’m seeing that pastors should preach the Gospel in its purity. They are ill-equipped for marital counseling. But I am understanding that seminary does not create godly leaders and preachers. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Can it be that we are finding Holy Spirit-led teachers and preachers in the least expected places….away from what we have known in our traditions? It would seem so, more and more….

  4. I called DTS and spoke with a nice lady in the Counselling Division. She had no clue that in Texas:

    Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 261.101 (LexisNexis through 2011 1st Sess.)
    A person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter.

    The requirement to report under this section applies, without exception, to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, and an employee of a clinic or health-care facility that provides reproductive services. [Emphasis original.]
    (Source: Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect [Internet Archive link])

    800-387-9673 is the number for DTS. I told them y’all would call them. Please be kind, but please call and ask them to use this book as kindling. I am hopeful that we can bring this to their attention and bring about change.

  5. He monitored his own hostile reaction to Clark and kept that from intruding on his counseling relationship.

    Why on earth should we try to suppress hostility toward a rapist and a wife-beater?! They’ve ruined their own good name via their actions, and I’m under no obligation to act as if they still had / deserved it. In fact I’m actually obligated to warn people about them because they’ve demonstrated they’re dangerous and untrustworthy. I certainly don’t have to shield them from the consequences of their actions, esp. if it involves breaking the law to do so. Even if they genuinely repent, they may still be dealing with a drive toward recidivism (esp. with something like pedophilia), and should acknowledge that and remove themselves from tempting situations, like a recovered alcoholic who understands he can’t go to bars.

    I actually think a lot [of] people’s gut reaction to rape, etc. is hostility. It has to be trained out of them by the kind of religious culture that promotes reactions like this pastor’s. (This isn’t limited to Christianity either — you can find similar stories in Mormon, Orthodox Jewish and conservative Muslim circles.) I suspect this has something to do with why, in most fiction, a rapist character often comes to a less-than-pleasant end. Yet another case of Christians failing to have a basic conscience reaction to something everyone understands is wrong.

    The correct reaction by the pastor, after hearing about Clark’s behavior, would be to call the cops at a minimum.

    [Note added from ACFJ Eds, 12.33 p.m. Melbourne time: The following paragraph was obviously written before DTS told us that they do not use this book in their courses.]

    Also, you’ll be happy to know that a homeschool friend of mine, who is now a grad student at DTS, shared this post on his FB, with essentially a “head-desk-bang” [Meme? Cartoon?] next to it. So at least one DTS student read this and agrees with you.

    1. Most secular counseling or social work courses teach their students that counselors have moral and ethical obligations. If the counselee is abusing others in any way, the counselor should feel moral outrage and “take sides”, challenging the behavior of the abusive person being counseled and taking a “no excuse” stance on abuse. Most also follow the guidelines for reporting abuse and practice partial confidentiality when it comes to the safety of others. Why should Christian counselors have lower standards than that of secular counselors?

  6. Clark has not become the “identified patient” or the one to be blamed.

    Why the (blip) not? Why is this a good thing? Is the marriage more important than the abused women?

  7. Very good questions, Bridget. I for one wouldn’t want one of them who studied there, but my own pastor stated that seminaries do give training that he now sees as contrary to what he thinks should be taught on a variety of issues.

  8. What if it’s actually being used in the class as an example of terrible counseling which should be avoided?

    The book itself is obviously promoting terrible and damaging behavior, but maybe more information about how it’s being used in the class is needed before people start making too many assumptions.

    1. I see no reason for people to be shown how to counsel badly. Why would they need to do that? Especially, in seminary. They are suppose to learn what is good and righteous.

    2. One of their students talked about this book on FB, which is how I heard of it and passed the info along. According to him he brought it to the attention of his professor last semester, who is the chair for the department, and hasn’t heard anything back. To me that says it is NOT being used as an example of bad counsel.

  9. I do not think that ministers are equipped to effectively counsel couples who have serious marital issues, specifically abuse. Ministers have to take a practical empathetic approach to the issue of abuse in the marriage. How can you expect someone to stay with a spouse who hurts them. Some women fear their husbands. The issue here is that ministers think that a marriage is successful if the couple stays together. A successful marriage is one that is characterized by a nurturing loving relationship. It bothers me that women are suffering out there because they are receiving pro-husband counsel from a minister who lacks empathy. An abusive controlling man is a failed man. Ministers who allow abuse to continue because of their reckless advice keep men from reaching their God-given potential. The entire family is hurt.

    1. Very well said, Searcher.

      I am living this as we speak. Pastors lack the knowledge and experience to counsel abusive men. In my case it is empowering my husband to see himself as more of a victim, me as the hard-hearted bad guy, all the while not addressing his deep seated entitlement issues. He is using faith as a means to an end….get attention, support, correct his public- and self-image, and to dominate and isolate me further. I see this but the knowledge of his doing this to me doesn’t make it any easier. It still hurts. But because I see it for what it is I pray that I will be able to get [and] make a safer and more sane life for myself.

  10. If the world clearly recognizes these things as evil and unacceptable, how much more so should we?

    Right there we have the root of the problem. If the “church” and / or pastor doesn’t recognise evil when the world does then that “church” and / or pastor is false.

  11. First, thanks to the poster for making this is available so change can happen.

    My mind is led to asking what can be done. It’s tricky — a nonprofit religious organization that offers counseling doesn’t fall under a state’s mental health laws, and their non-profit status is deemed by the IRS who only cares if the non-profit has financial improprieties.

    What comes to mind is public awareness — making the information available widely through things like this post, protests and flyers at the church, local news stories, etc.

  12. In his post Christians and the struggle to report child abuse [Internet Archive link], Boz Tchjividjian says:

    A church Elder once told me that if he received a disclosure of child sexual abuse, his first response would be to interview the alleged victim. His rationale was that he wanted to “be sure that the allegations are legitimate before reporting to the police and ruining the man’s reputation”. When asked what training he had to conduct a child forensic interview, the man was silent. When asked whether he wanted the responsibility to determine the validity of a very serious felony, he started to shrink back in his chair. I then asked whether he was prepared to violate mandated reporting laws. Fortunately, the Elder got my point, changed his opinion, and acknowledged his need to learn more about child sexual abuse. An issue often at the heart of this critical struggle is whether the Church is obligated to subject itself to the laws of man when it believes that it is capable to address the sin “in-house”. [Emphasis added.]

    1. I have had this same conversation with an Elder in my church. He replied to me that he would want to investigate that the allegation was legitimate — first — before reporting to authorities. He explained how awful it could be for a man to be falsely accused. He didn’t seem to understand that CPS does not disclose anything about an investigation unless they conclude that a real crime has been committed. He also didn’t seem to know how badly he could harm a victim and an investigation if he went in asking all kinds of questions when he didn’t know what he was doing. He was way more concerned about the possible perpetrator being harmed than the alleged victim. I was stunned. He also seemed a bit taken aback that me, a woman, seemed to have some understanding of the issues. I came to the conclusion that if the occasion ever came up in a church environment, I would report directly to government authorities and not “first” to Elders. I would inform Elders of what I had done.

      My 16 year-old daughter has a job that requires mandatory reporting if she suspects child abuse. Why wouldn’t / shouldn’t an Elder or anyone else in a church environment do the same?

      1. My 16 year-old daughter has a job that requires mandatory reporting if she suspects child abuse. Why wouldn’t / shouldn’t an Elder or anyone else in a church environment do the same?


      2. He explained how awful it could be for a man to be falsely accused.

        Why don’t people like this Elder see how awful it could be for a victim to be disbelieved and for the abuser’s wicked deeds be minimized and the abuser given a slap with a wet rag by those in authority who SHOULD be protecting the victim?

        And no apologies for using the “should” word there!

    2. Also keep in mind that Doug Phillips has openly stated that CPS needs to be dismantled:

      We understand that the core problem with Child Protective Services is its existence. [Emphasis original.]

      (See the rest here [Internet Archive link] under part 5.)

      He wants this, of course, because he believes that the state has no “jurisdiction” in child-rearing because of his Reconstructionist background. In practicality, this translates into no consequences for child abuse, educational neglect, etc., because it’s the “parent’s business”, and children have no rights at all because they are lower down the “God-ordained hierarchy” (men / husbands > women / wives > children). Phillips’ friend Kevin Swanson has, I believe, actually encouraged parents to hide the fact that they are using corporal punishment, i.e. lie to the authorities when asked.

      Phillips has now imploded, of course, but his idea is still very much alive and well. It bodes just as ill for wives as it does for children.

  13. I just sent this email to Dallas Theological Seminary, via their webform, which you can find here Contact Us [Internet Archive link]. I addressed it to DTS Faculty / Staff.

    Please, in the name of Christ, read this post. This is not a spam message. We are Christians who are calling on you as brothers and sisters to consider your ways and improve the quality of your seminary.

    Yours sincerely,
    Barbara Roberts
    Co-Administrator at A Cry For Justice

    [The link to the ACFJ post in Barb’s email was updated to reflect the new URL. Editors.]

  14. Katy….my emotions are so very strong after reading this post. I, frankly, am so angry I could spit. And that’s saying a lot for a prissy person. Well-written and insightful. This book is anti-Christ, anti-Gospel and anti-Bible. Sickening.

  15. I am a current student at DTS. I looked up the course this is supposedly used for (BC101, Pastoral Counseling) today, and could not find it listed in and of the current Syllabi for any of the BC101 classes, regardless of the professor. Just FYI.

    1. JMS, I gather that only students or staff of DTS have access to the course reading lists on the DTS website? I just tried to look for them myself but could not find anything. Thanks for your comment. Perhaps that book was in use last year but they dropped it this year. If so, great that they’ve dropped that book, but one still wonders why it was in use for so long given that our understanding of abuse and the importance of reporting it to the police has come such a long way since that book was written.

    2. It was used last semester which is how it came to my attention. It is for the graduate studies, not undergrad.

  16. Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) would like to thank this blog and its authors for bringing up such an important issue and for running a blog that covers the important topic of abuse.

    We are also glad to report that claims made in this post are inaccurate.

    The stated book, “Sexual Issues” by Wahking and Zimmerman is not a required, recommended, or endorsed text at Dallas Theological Seminary. Although the book is out of print, it is available at our library along with many other books that DTS would neither endorse nor recommend. In the MA in Biblical Counseling program at Dallas Theological Seminary (Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling (MA / BC) [Internet Archive link]) students are correctly taught how to report abuse and the ethical and legal guidelines they must follow.

    In the future, if you have questions about DTS or would like to verify the contents of our programs, please contact the Office of the President or the Executive Director of Communications any time. You can also peruse course syllabi at: DTS Course Schedule: Biblical Counseling [Internet Archive link]. Finally, if you are interested, our podcast on cultural issues recently addressed the important topic of abuse: Transcript of the podcast.

    John Dyer
    Executive Director of Communications and Educational Technology
    Dallas Theological Seminary

    1. John – thank you for your reply and explanation. We will have the writer of the post double-check the sources that made the report and publish our findings.

    2. John, I just finish watching both parts of the podcast that you sent with your response and found it refreshing and am glad to hear that what is being taught is truly from the heart of God. The speakers lovingly addressed the topic of abuse and gave clear answers as to what God’s expectations are. It was such a relief to hear more people say that 1 person cannot make a marriage work instead of “stay and just do your portion well”. Thank you for that and for clearing up what your institution is teaching.

      I do wish you would consider taking the book, “Sexual Issues”, out of your library and perhaps others like it. It sends the wrong message to those who could be easily led astray. Having access to information that is contrary to your teachings could be damaging to your students.

      I would also like to know what is taught regarding remarriage after divorce for Biblical reasons.

    3. Thank you for the link to the podcast tackling abuse. I haven’t watched the whole thing, but the from what I have seen, it is well done.

    4. John, you said:

      if you have questions about DTS or would like to verify the contents of our programs, please contact the Office of the President or the Executive Director of Communications any time.

      So I have a question. I’ll ask it here on the blog and I’ll also ask you by email in case you are no longer following this blog thread.

      I have looked in some depth at your website and explored all the links you gave in your message above and cannot find reading lists for your courses anywhere. Can you please provide me (by email) all the reading lists for the MA in Biblical Counseling and the other Counseling Courses you have? Perusing the course syllabi has not enabled me to find any reading lists. Thank you.

      1. Barbara,
        Here are some steps to get to the syllabi:
        1) Go to DTS Course Schedule: Biblical Counseling [Internet Archive link].
        2) Click on the course you want to see (this will bring up a gray box at the bottom with a description).
        3) Click the link that says “Download Syllabus”.

        For example, for “BC101 Pastoral Counseling” (an introductory course for for pastors, but not for licensed counselors), the syllabus is available at: BC101A Pastoral Counseling Syllabus [Internet Archive link].

        Hope that helps!

      2. Thank you, John. I had tried that exact process 12 hours ago but every time I clicked on “Download Syllabus” a message came up saying that the syllabus was not available. But now it is working and I can see the syllabi.

      1. Barbara,
        That video was designed as a basic intro to the larger topic of abuse for students and alumni, as well any one else who might find it useful. The subject of abuse wouldn’t be covered in just a single 1 hour setting. In a classroom, a professor would likely use a mixture of things like this video, or the video from the “Faith and Trust Institute”, and possibly a guest speaker. In addition students have various assignments where they say how they would handle various theoretical cases (there is one like this in BC101) and then the class and professors evaluate the students hypothetical response. Some classes handle more specific cases (see BE250 which covers broad legal issues, BC255 covering family law, and BC275 which covers trauma and abuse diagnosis and treatment, BC285 which covers substance abuse, and BC227 which covers Human Sexuality). There is also required counseling for the student and the student is required to do supervised counseling of clients where abuse may or may not come up.

        Hope that helps!

  17. We will certainly add this response from DTS at the top of this post. This book was brought to our attention from a seminary student who apparently got it from the library? And then was horrified by it. Of course, perhaps the books in the library should be reviewed. But in any event, we will note that DTS does not endorse the views in “Sexual Issues”, and for that we are all very relieved. This book, however, is a textbook example of how pastors in evangelical churches regularly treat victims of abuse, and this has not changed. This mindset is very accurate in our collective experiences, and it was a stunner to find this attitude spelled out in black and white in a textbook like this.

      1. Anonymous: That is a valid question. But I can understand why they do have such books in the library. For example, they probably have a “Book of Mormon” there (although of course that is much easier to spot as erroneous). I have books in my library that I don’t endorse everything in either. However, we do keep a much closer eye on what books we have in our church library because we know that a broader group of people will be using the library and some may lack the knowledge and maturity to discern.

        I think that it would be a good thing for a library at a seminary or even at a church to have a section marked “Bad Books” — and have books there that are present solely for the purpose of resourcing for illustrations of error. Ideally it would be good to have a warning label on such books. Sometimes we get careless, just take a look at what publisher published it, who endorses it, and then we slap it up on the shelf. That isn’t safe anymore.

  18. John Dyer said:

    In the MA in Biblical Counseling program at Dallas Theological Seminary (Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling (MA / BC) [Internet Archive> link]) students are correctly taught how to report abuse and the ethical and legal guidelines they must follow.

    While this should be the case in all professional organizations, including Sunday Schools, church congregations, counseling services, etc., the evidence is that Christians still seem to be wary of following secular law. I know of victims in churches that have formal policies regarding mandatory abuse notification who were privately told to be silent so that the church could deal with it. The pastors privately believed that involving secular authorities would not help the situation, although they publicly professed to follow legal guidelines. This does not seem to be a rare occurrence.

  19. Part 2 of the podcast link What Does The Bible Say about Divorce and Redemption in Cases of Spousal Abuse? [Internet Archive link] is a discussion on divorce and redemption in cases of spousal abuse. The panel discussion is quite enlightening. The interesting thing is that even though the panelists seemed unaware of the argument for Biblical divorce for abuse, they leaned toward the conclusion that the commonly accepted exceptions for abuse (adultery and desertion) are not necessarily the ONLY Biblical reasons for divorce, given how unbiblical it is to live in a abusive situations.

  20. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] and commented:
    This is absolutely outrageous and gives a snapshot of exactly what is wrong with much of the church when it comes to abuse.

  21. I am another student at DTS. Commenting on the fact that this book is in the library, I have to say that I would hope any academic institution would have a wide variety of literature on the subjects they teach. The classes and lectures and discussions are there to teach the concepts and techniques that are endorsed by the professors.

    Another part of academics is research and writing. The course hopefully teaches the students how to discern between good and bad theories, but it is important to have access to different viewpoints in order to be able to analyze and compare. If the school hopes to produce competent and capable professionals, the students will at some point need to learn how to evaluate any method and determine if it can be used, adapted slightly, or completely thrown out. Censorship in an environment like this is detrimental. If students can’t be trusted to recognize error, they probably can’t be trusted to counsel someone either after they graduate. The student who reported this book to this blog in the first place obviously recognized error, although maybe they should have realized that not every book in the library is endorsed by the school.

    1. Thank you, Another DTS Student – I agree with your input fundamentally. However, I do not think that a seminary should make too many assumptions that the students will indeed be able to discern good from bad. You said that the course hopefully teaches the students to do that, and so it should. But what we find over and over and over again in this realm of abuse and the church’s mishandling of it is that the ability to discern cannot be assumed.

      Seminary-trained pastors are typically — not just rarely, but typically — rendering rank injustice to abuse victims in our churches. And there is a mentality afoot in our churches and Christian culture that will embrace the very errors we are identifying in that book, “Sexual Issues”. That is to say, if a book written by a “professional” says “you don’t need to report sexual abuse” — then all of us have a bent, all other things being equal, to assume that is correct. And that IS what is happening. Our evangelical churches and pastors are indeed covering up and failing to report. They are being duped by abusers. Many are embracing a rankly patriarchal view of Christianity that furthers the abuse. I mean, one would think that students would be capable of sorting out the false teachings of John Piper or Voddie Baucham regarding marriage and divorce, yet many seminary-trained students are not making that distinction.

      Sin and false teaching carries a darkness, a blinding effect with it. The danger of academia is that it is a world of “free thought” that can quickly deteriorate into the attitude of the Athenian philosophers in Acts 17 who did nothing but go about seeking something new to hear. No, a book like “Sexual Issues”, if it is in the seminary library, needs to be clearly labeled as an example of horrifically erroneous teaching.

      1. Hi, Jeff, thanks for the response.

        This is my first time on this blog and I have not personally seen instances of abuse you mention. I don’t dispute that they exist, but it’s beyond my scope of knowledge.

        On the subject of books in the library, I think especially in the field of theology, and probably counseling too, you see a vast array of viewpoints on any particular issue. You mention the views of two people and it’s clear that you believe that they are wrong on the issues you refer to. However, I’m also sure that many people see validity in the teaching of those two. I’m not debating their views on marriage, but the broader idea of discerning truth. Lots of passages have multiple views that could reasonably and honestly be believed to be supported by that text. Intellectually honest Christians disagree on interpretations and implications.

        If the school would throw out any book that had any false or questionable statement, even if most of the book is in line with the school’s stance, then there would be very few books in the library. Probably only books written by the profs. And even then they might disagree with each other on some points and throw each others’ books out. My example is a little ridiculous, but my point is, “Where should the line be drawn?”

        If there is a widespread problem in the church, I completely agree that it should be addressed. Schools should attempt to address that issue so that new pastors are prepared appropriately. But I think that involves teaching the correct way to handle those situations. Censoring will not help pastors to address the situation properly, only good teaching that sticks will.

      2. Good points, Another DTS Student – here is the problem. The evil of abuse (sexual, domestic, spiritual) is not being addressed in our seminaries. There may be an exception here or there, but the typical, normal scenario is that the thing is not addressed and exposed. Why? Because this is a particular evil that not many people understand. Furthermore, the widespread teachings such as Piper spreads around are blinding Christians. The byword is “God hates divorce” when in fact what He hates is the violent, wicked breaking of covenant by the abuser.

        If you intend to be a pastor or counselor, then you absolutely need to go to our “Resources” page here on our blog and start reading the recommended books there. If you email me directly at I will mail you one of my books and one of Barbara’s books. My book, A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church [Affiliate link] will not only equip you to see abusers as they lurk in your church, but it will provide YOU, the pastor, with a defense against their tactics which they WILL use on you. It took me 30 years of pastoral ministry to sort this all out. Really, the subject of abuse is very accurately titled “The Psychology of Sin / Evil” because like almost no other form of sin, the mentality and tactics of abuse illustrate evil at its “finest”. You will save yourself and your congregation all kinds of grief if you become wise in these things now.

      3. When it comes at academia, it is the accepted norm that alternative views are considered and the students come to a view. When it comes to biblical truth, then there is no scope to allow more than one “truth”. Seminaries do need to ask themselves, are they academic institutions or are they seeking to teach biblical truth. If the latter, then they do need to discern truth from error and teach accordingly. It would appear that they are already promoting / teaching fundamental errors, such as contemplative spirituality / prayer, Lectio Divina [Internet Archive link]1, etc. Everything they teach must be tested against the Bible.

        1[March 11, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Lectio Divina. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

      4. I agree, Another DTS student, that the censorship paradigm is not the best way to stock academic libraries. I’d like to add small points, however.

        1) While censorship is does not enhance things, is it not appropriate that if a seminary library is to stock this book or others like it, an official sticker from the seminary be placed in the book indicating the sections of the book which wrongly counsel people to violate the laws and the moral imperative that mandates all of us to report suspected abuse (esp. child abuse) to the civil authorities. And in some states mandatory reporting laws cover all types of victims, even adults, as Ellie’s comment pointed out above.

        That would seem to be the right thing to do. Then the seminary can in good conscience leave that book on its library shelves, having warned readers that those parts of the book’s counsel are NOT to be followed. Surely that is right? Surely even the insurance policy of the seminary would implicitly if not explicitly require such a duty of care from the seminary, otherwise the seminary could be held liable if its graduates go out into churches and follow the advice of this book by failing to report allegations of abuse to the police.

        2) All seminary libraries exercise some censorship by default, by simply choosing not to shelve or purchase certain books for their collections, and choosing to have other books in their collections. Librarians and academic staff have to make decisions about what and what not to have in the library. No library can hold infinite titles. So there are choices being made all the time. I wonder if this book is so bad that it should be removed from the collection altogether and room thus made on the shelves for some better books. Hem hem. We have a few suggestions on our Resources pages! 🙂

      5. Barb, I know of a local primary Christian school that removed a children’s story book that had the word “demon” in its title. The author was a well-reputed international author who lived locally and considered herself a Christian. She was rather puzzled by the censorship of her book and pulled out her children from that school. It’s funny how Christians are quick to censor anything that doesn’t sit well, but will allow material with harmful directives to sit on their shelves, without any warnings attached.

        I think that the “line” should be drawn where there are moral obligations. Containing the word “demon” does not of itself invoke any moral issues, but contents that discourage practices that are legally mandated, and materials that condone abuse by taking a “neutral” stance with the perpetrator, are both morally abhorrant.

      6. I feel that it might be helpful for our perspective to note that his book is present in the libraries of the following seminaries: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Moody Bible Institute, Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Multnomah Seminary, Denver Seminary, Andover Newton Theological Seminary, and Princeton Seminary.

        Also, if you’d like to help others, you might consider writing reviews on Amazon (Sexual Issues: Resources for Strategic Pastoral Counseling), GoodReads (Sexual Issues), or other similar sites where it is likely to be seen by a wider audience than those who read this blog.

      7. Excellent suggestion, John, about writing reviews. However, I take issue with your defence of others are doing it too. Whether others are or are not stocking the book is no defence. Either it is appropriate or it is inappropriate. Our argument is that it teaches wrong practice, both biblically and legally and should, therefore, have no place in the library of an organisation that claims to teach biblical truth.

      8. I find it scary that seminaries stock this book in their libraries. Seminary students (especially those from conservative backgrounds) hardly ever have the discernment necessary to reject “Sexual Issues” completely.

        As someone who suffered abuse at the hands of my husband (and went to my Southern Baptist church leaders for assistance in 2009), I have seen how seminary grads do not have the discernment to handle even the most obvious cases.

        In short — I would wager my entire yearly wages that this book is not being used as the example of horror and error that it truly is. This is NOT the same thing as having various theological viewpoints on eschatology represented in the library. This is like stocking the Satanic Scriptures on the shelf, but it’s labeled as “CHRISTIAN approaches to counseling, for CHRISTIAN pastors” — this is not about censorship.

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      9. Interesting. In my blogging “work”, I have referred people to attorneys for help when their church / Christian institution has failed to report sex abuse. I wonder how a particular school can use the defense that they followed Wahking and Zimmerman’s advice over their legal obligation (especially they are a Title IX [Internet Archive link]1 school) as a defense? Let’s see how that works in court.

        When I saw that list of seminaries that also carry the book, it reminded me of my kids that try to pull this one on me: “Well, Jonny did it, too. How come he’s not getting in trouble?”

        1[March 12, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Title IX. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

      10. This discussion has gone much further than I intended to debate, so I’ll make a few closing comments before I bow out of the discussion:

        I personally have no desire to keep this book in the library. I’m thinking more about the high-level concept of whether it makes sense to remove books from libraries or not.

        Barbara, I appreciate your discussion. Perhaps this book does cross a line if it can be traced to be the cause of pastors unwittingly helping abuse to continue when it is brought to them. However, this is not the only book people read and if they read multiple other ones with contrary advice they are still going to have to decide how to respond when they are in that situation. Yes, I agree that all libraries censor in a way by choosing which books they purchase, but it’s more by subject matter. I would expect DTS would have many books on counseling and theology, as well as any other subjects they teach. I would not expect to see zoology or computer programming in the DTS library because they are not relevant.

        On the idea of putting a sticker in any book that is not in line with the school’s position, I find that practically impossible. Librarians probably have not read every book in the library, nor would they be the correct people to determine if it doctrinally matches the school. Professors or administration are busy enough and would likely have no interest in reading every single book as it comes in. And who would have the final say in which books to sticker? And then do they have to mark each page or just something inside the cover saying that there’s some part of the book that’s objectionable? DTS library certainly has books by heretics in church history who nonetheless played an important part in history. Do they need to sticker those even though the person is known to be a heretic? Although all professors sign a doctrine agreement, there can even be disagreements within that among professors. Seems a whole lot more realistic to focus on teaching the students the proper way to think. Yes, there may be shortcomings with the program in general or some students may miss certain points, but it’s a lot more realistic.

        Forrest’s post [comment] I think reinforces my earlier point that intellectually honest Christians can reasonably disagree on interpreting Scripture. I agree that there is only one true interpretation of Scripture, but I believe only God knows that. We humans are fallible and our interpretations are biased by our culture and experience whether we realize it or not. Lots of Scripture is very clear and will bring agreement between most interpreters. Other passages are not as clear and have multiple interpretive options that are possibilities and to try and say there is “one biblical truth” is bordering on arrogance (or maybe stepping way over it). We need to develop convictions as best as we can and hold on to them with humility and dependence on the Spirit. Forrest mentioned “Lectio Divina” and seems to think it is a fundamental error. But in my understanding that is what Benedictine monks did (among others) and involves reading Scripture on a certain schedule, meditating on it, praying about it, and contemplating it. I’m not sure what’s fundamentally wrong about that. Maybe he has good reasons to say that, but that doesn’t mean that other people shouldn’t be able to read about it. That’s why I argue that censoring is an exercise in futility.

        Maybe if a book causes as much controversy as this one, it would make sense to put a sticker in on a case-by-case basis. That seems reasonable.

      11. Another DTS Student said:

        Perhaps this book does cross a line if it can be traced to be the cause of pastors unwittingly helping abuse to continue when it is brought to them. However, this is not the only book people read and if they read multiple other ones with contrary advice they are still going to have to decide how to respond when they are in that situation.

        Thanks, Another DTS Student, for your perspective. I understand you want to bow out of the discussion, and I am not intending to be inflammatory in responding, but with regard to the statement above, I’m not sure that there are many books on this topic. If I were in charge in a library, I wouldn’t like to be brought to account for stocking a harmful book hoping that readers would also come across books with contrary advice. Not when I, as a born-again believer, have an obligation for the well-being of others — isn’t that what love is, i.e. wanting the best for others and protecting them from known harm?

        I don’t see the central issue here as being the higher concept of removing books. Seminaries and college libraries surely have policies that determine what books they will hold. What is of concern is that THIS particular book is on the shelf. I think most of us can agree that THIS book should not be on the shelf when its advice is contrary to legal guidelines, contrary to established benchmark guidelines for dealing with abuse and almost certain to add to the injuries of a victim.

      12. I apologize for the confusion over my post listing other seminaries. I’m not here speaking as a representative of DTS or defending the presence of the book in the library. What I mean to do is encourage the visitors of this blog to take up tangible action outside this comment section. You could consider contacting other seminaries and schools that carry the book (note: I have learned that Wahking and Zimmerman’s book was part of a series that many schools may have purchased in bulk without examining every page of every title), but it would perhaps be even easier and more broadly helpful to put your own warning on the book on sites like Amazon [Sexual Issues], and GoodReads [Sexual Issues], Barnes & Noble, and others. In the days since I first made the suggestion to review the book, there have been several comments here, but no reviews posted on publicly accessible sites.

        I hope that the original claim of this post, namely that DTS uses a book with faulty information in its curriculum and that its graduates are therefore untrustworthy with regards to reporting abuse, has been shown to be false. Again, please consult the publicly available syllabi [Internet Archive link] and the free resources for the church at large such as discussions on abuse, homosexuality, sex trafficking, and sex and the family. If you are concerned about DTS’s other teachings, you can also watch hundreds of hours of free lectures on the Bible, theology, church history, counseling, ministry, and more at DTS on iTunesU [Internet Archive link].

        Hopefully, the inaccurate claims about DTS were corrected quickly enough that most readers will not, as a result of reading the initial inaccurate information, avoid a DTS graduate when he or she might be the best trained person to help.

        Even so, the problem with the book’s content still remains. And a helpful thing you can do for the church at large might be to consider action beyond the comments section of this post.

      13. John, in reply to this part of your comment —

        What I mean to do is encourage the visitors of this blog to take up tangible action outside this comment section. You could consider contacting other seminaries and schools that carry the book

        I would like to say to you that we (the ACFJ team, and I think this is also true for many of our commenters) are already expending much energy trying to influence churches, seminaries, publishers, denominations, and ministries. And those of our readers who are not doing that kind of advocacy work, are very likely not able to be doing it because they are under the pump from their abusers’ ongoing tactics of abuse and / or the unhelpful and downright unjust ways that their churches and the civil and criminal justice system is dealing with their cases. Not to mention the nightmare that many of our readers face with having to hand kids over to the abuser for regular visitation.

        At the blog we are working really hard already and frankly we would love to see more people pick up the sword and the trowel in this work (if they are willing to get a good grasp of the issue and not start spouting off without a good understanding of the complexities of it). So while I can see you might mean well in making your suggestion, please be aware that we are already stretched thin and what we need are more people to take up the Cry for Justice, not more people sitting on the sidelines making suggestions without becoming active workers in the cause.

        Sorry if that sounds blunt. We do appreciate good suggestions, and often find them helpful, but with this one of yours, I’d like to throw it back at you. Why don’t you contact some other seminaries and tell them there are grave concerns about that book they have in their libraries? Then you would be really helping us.

      14. Barbara,
        It appears I have again offended you. I apologize.

        May the Spirit guide and bless your work here on the blog and elsewhere.

      15. John,
        Like the apologies we’ve heard from our husbands, this sounds empty. You say you are sorry, but are unwilling to change. Barb’s suggestion is to speak to the other seminary’s that you listed about their library selections. Are you convicted enough to help with that ministry? Do you really realize that change is required to help the many people who are living in the abuse and [are] often abused by the people they go to for help? You are in a position to make a difference. Will you? We could all write letters to seminary leaders and they would be filed away and forgotten. A letter from a seminary leader on behalf of abuse victims could go far.

    2. After reviewing the material in question, the DTS Counseling Department is moving to remove the entire Banner series from the library. It still needs to go through a committee, but the book’s removal is in progress.

      Thank you,
      John Dyer

      1. Thank you for letting us know, John. It is good news. 🙂 And I understand the committee process may be required. Thank you for being willing to take steps to protect victims of abuse.

  22. Another DTS student seems to rely on the slippery slope argument rather than deal with the issue at hand in THIS particular book.

  23. As we can see by this exchange, seminaries are no longer teachers of truth. I have had my doubts for many years now as I have watched these new young pastors embracing and teaching things which God finds abominations. This is one more item to add to the list.

  24. I’m sorry for going off topic by referring to other erroneous teachings, such as “Lectio Divina”. The central issue here is whether it is acceptable for students to be exposed to the false teachings contained in the book, “Sexual Issues”, without these teachings being identified as false. However, having raised this topic, I would like to provide a link to an excellent short article on the nature of “Lectio Divina” for those who would like to find out more….New Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract: LECTIO DIVINA — What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it? [Internet Archive link].

    1. This is not a good thing, Forrest. I had never heard of it before. It seems to be a first step in leading a Christian away from Christ by slowly desensitizing them into idolatry.

      1. A few comments posted after my attempt to bow out caused me to leave this one last message.

        Annie’s comment is one that I can wholeheartedly agree with. Thank you for that clear reasoning, Annie. The argument I was making was not the central issue, but it was instead provoked by some of the comments I see jumping to use words like “anti-Christ” and “anti-Gospel”, claiming that seminaries don’t teach truth, etc…. My argument was speaking in generalities about the idea of libraries not stocking any books that they don’t agree with. It still doesn’t make sense.

        However: The Holy Spirit has been convicting me this morning that I was too quick to jump into the discussion. I still stand by the things I wrote, but I believe that writing them in this venue was not sensitive. Any blog post that has “Trigger Warning!” obviously has a readership with at least some percent of people who have experienced abuse. My contributions were a bit tangential to the discussion of this blog post and the purpose of this website.

        I want to apologize to anybody that I have offended or riled up or provoked during the course of this discussion. This was not my intent. I intended to debate the general subject of books in a library that don’t agree with the school’s stated ideals. I think if this book causes pastors to break the law or unwittingly allow more abuse then the seminary should consider removing it like many here say. I hope anybody who was offended by my posts will forgive me.

        Heather2, I would hope you find my words gracious and that you would reconsider the cynical view that seminaries do not teach truth anymore. I believe that the death of Jesus gives me salvation along with anyone who believes, and I believe that I am now called to love God with all my heart and love my neighbors as myself with the power of the Holy Spirit in me. I have sacrificed tens of thousand of dollars worth of tuition, and even more when I consider what I could make doing a job other than ministry for most of my life after seminary. I have sacrificed many hours learning Greek and Hebrew so that I can know the Word of God better than I used to, and poring over passages so that I can really really really understand what they are saying. I try to live my life in a way that is a light to the world and that builds up individuals that I minister to as more devoted disciples than they were before they met me. The men and women who teach at my seminary have been a huge help in my walk with the Lord, and all the profs that I have interacted with have dedicated their lives to declaring the Lord’s goodness. I hope you will forgive me if I personally have offended you, and I hope you will remember that these men and women are your brothers and sisters if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior like we do.

        I think the people who run this site have a worthy cause and I encourage them to continue pursuing it in grace and truth as long as the Lord gives them strength to do so. Thank you.

      2. Another DTS Student, I’m sure your gracious apology is accepted by all of us. We understand that you see what difficult a topic this for us. Unfortunately, your knowledge as to our individual lives and how best to respond to them appears theoretical and academic. Most pastors and counselors miss the reality and in doing so minimize our pain at best. In reading the responses here I would say that we have tried to be careful in addressing you and have found ourselves responding much as the victims we are. We have questioned ourselves, given the benefit of the doubt, listened, tried to reconcile more times than we can count. Most of us stayed in our homes churches. Others have fled because of the emotional assault. So, our cynicism is understandable. This is what we have been conditioned to over many years.

        We spend time with our Lord, broken, questioning, often times despondent. So please try to understand. I might also add that we have seen such beauty, compassion and mercy from some of the least expected people.

        As you take your education further please do take what nuggets you may have received from us. You will encounter our lives in the future. I hope that your time spent here was not in vain.

  25. Another DTS student — thank you. 🙂 It is hard to have academic discussions about things like seminary library policies when your whole being is screeching over the abuse in the book in question. So many are disillusioned by the formal church / seminary complex, because of this kind of abuse being swept under the rug. I have been a Christian for 30 years and Pastor Crippen was the first pastor I met who understood abuse and gave me peace and understanding rather than condemnation and / or false teaching about divorce / abuse. If that tells you anything.

    I hope your ministry will be blessed by God, and you will take this information with you and that it will help you when you face these circumstances. According to most pastors I’ve heard from, there is a 100% chance you will face it among your own Elders and church body.

  26. Another DTS Student,
    Admitting that you were convicted shows that you are headed in the right direction. Take what you have learned here and take it with you to wherever you pastor. Remember that there will be those being abused in your church that you would not suspect. When a woman comes to you after going to your church for only a brief time and says that she is being abused, her husband changes from Jekyll to Hyde as soon as they leave the church, please don’t tell her that, “we’ve just gotta get him saved!” and never ask her how things are going after that. This is what I experienced.

    I feel like you have the potential to be a good pastor. Let us know where you will be. There are many here that are looking for a good understanding church.

  27. This comment was submitted by one of our Anonymous readers and I accidentally deleted it. Here is what she wrote:

    I recommend LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS website(s). They are very sensitive to the issue of protecting children. Protecting Children [Internet Archive link]

    Stands Up For The Truth Podcast: As The World And The Church Converge [Internet Archive link]1 During this interview Gary Kah is speaking on inter-faithism and the how churches and pastors that converge are unable to discern truth from error.

    At about 42:20 Mr Kah says that this originated in the Bible Seminaries including many of which in the past we would have thought to be evangelical. Going back as much as 30 years Mr Kah witnessed this for himself and began to wonder what was happening? Is this a Christian college? AND THEN Mr Kah stated:

    And then you add on top of that, the pornography problem….I realize I’m really shifting gears now but the pornography problem exists at some of the Bible schools as well….And we are aware of this first-hand not through rumour….It’s an enormous problem at Christian Seminaries….In some cases where half of some of the kids….are involved in pornography. It’s off the charts. It’s almost unbelievable. These young people that are coming out in their twenties gradually become senior pastors of churches; some of them by time they’re in their late twenties or early thirties and drag their pornography addictions in there with them. They begin to rationalize certain other behaviours and thoughts because they don’t want to feel condemned for what they’re doing because by now they have accepted their practices. And so, then, an openness develops to other religions.

    ACFJ has spent countless hours documenting the degrading influence of pornography. This addiction produces abusers. If the pornography issue is that prevalent in our Biblical Institutions, it should not surprise us that these individuals do not have the discernment as to what resources should remain on their shelves or whether they should take the time to “tag” them.

    1[March 12, 2023: We weren’t able to find the video Anonymous linked to on the Stand Up For Truth website, on the internet, nor were we able to find a copy that worked in the Internet Archive. We also weren’t able to find a transcript of Gary Kah’s video As The World And The Church Converge. Editors.]

    1. I would thoroughly endorse the recommendation of “Lighthouse Trails”. They publish a lot of good material related to abuse.

    2. Barb. Over the years I have heard a lot of preachers. I think some of the best never stepped foot in a seminary. These men preach the Bible from the Spirit in their heart. They weren’t taught from man’s point of view. When questions arose, they brought out the Bible and said, “let’s look at what God has to say.” I think what Anonymous said about the porn problem in Seminary reinforces my conclusion.

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