Pt 2. CCEF’s ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’ course — bread mixed with stones?
In Part 2 of this series on CCEF’s course ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’, we’re going to be looking at the redemption model of the course, and whether God’s Word shows that oppressors often get redeemed. And we’ll be examining the possibility that I might be treating CCEF too harshly.
[Read Part 1 of this series]
We’re picking up midstream in the Course Description:
Lectures and readings will provide the essential conceptual elements for organizing and understanding oppressive & abusive elements and how the gospel penetrates and applies. Through the use of written work and case studies you will learn how to connect the gospel to these overwhelming and complex dynamics. Big promises! Can the course deliver?
It worries me that Darby here is using academic management-speak which doesn’t mean much. Verbal mucus, as one Aussie writer called it. —“essential conceptual elements for organizing and understanding oppressive & abusive elements” … what exactly does that mean? And does CCEF realize that this kind of language makes victims of abuse feel like their pain — and the injustice they are swamped in — will be neatly dissected and pinned on the pinboard in this course, so all the neat squeaky counselors will go back to their offices and think that they have abuse down pat. . . and will be even less likely to listen to feedback from survivors, since they now have these ‘elements’ all tabulated and organized and boxed up precisely.
[dates and costs given. Cost to audit is $187.50. Cost for credit is $375.00 ]
- Overview and Conceptualization
- Biblical Framework
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Entitlement — Extreme Neglect — Deceit — and Economic Oppression
- Spiritual Abuse, Manipulation, and Terrorizing Behaviors
- Helping the Wounded Tell Their Story Okay, so if anyone is interested in hearing the stories from the wounded, I encourage you to read A Cry For Justice — both the book and the blog. And it won’t cost you hundreds of dollars! And it will inform you about topics 2-7 in this course outline as well.
- Church Involvement
- Bringing it together with Redemptive Stories see? This counseling is all about redemption.
Let me ask this. Does God show in his Word that oppressors who are dedicated to maintaining power over others, often very vulnerable others — does God’s Word show that these oppressors often get redeemed? Hmm. Let me see. Under God’s direct and personal counseling, did Cain change? What about King Saul? King Ahab? King Rehoboam? Amnon? (Tamar’s rapist) Absalom? Haman? Sanballat? Nope. Nebucchadnezzar — okay, but look what it took! Not a humanly delivered counseling program!
What about the fools in the Book of Proverbs? Nope; moreover, the fools in Proverbs are not depicted as being as wicked as many domestic abusers are! And look at what is said about rebuking (a.k.a. counseling) fools:
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Prov 18:2)
Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. (23:9)
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool (17:10).
Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. (27:22)
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (29:1)
Furthermore, the Book of Proverbs cautions us about the dangers of counseling the wicked.
Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. (9:7)
Yet so-called Bibical Counselors and Pastors have been advising domestic abuse victims to try to give the gospel to their wicked spouses by gently corrective words and humble demeanour. Cripes! If you want a good example of this, read Appendix 11 in Not Under Bondage (my book) which gives an account of no lesser personage that John Calvin doing this to a victim of abuse.
What about the “such were some of you” passage?
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
So some revilers (verbal abusers) were saved. Did get redeemed. And some thieves and swindlers (who manipulate and deceive for personal gain, like abusers do) got saved. And some idolaters and adulters and greedy people got saved. But the point is, they WERE that way, but they are not that way anymore. They are now washed and sanctified. They no longer practice those sins habitually, whether covertly or high handedly. (How in the world did all of those sinners in 1 Cor 6 get changed and redeemed without a band of Christian counselors to enlighten them?)
How can a person be a Christian yet be practicing sexually immorality, and/or idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, theft, greed, drunkenness, verbal abuse, and swindling as a way of life? Not possible. The fellow is faking his Christianity, and he needs to be called out on it, rather than counseled with sugar-coated carrots that promise him redemption. Call him the viper that he is. And leave him to deal with it . . . And maybe the Lord may lead him to repentance, but a program of counseling is hardly likely to. Unless it’s the kind of counseling where the Law thunders from Mount Sinai, it will be more likely to give him the idea that his problem is only influenza, when in fact it’s the black plague.
What does God say we should do with oppressive people who lie, manipulate, slander, revile, coercively control by extortion and threats, commit adultery and idolatry repeatedly and yet proclaim they are Christians? Hint: 1 Cor. 5:11-13.
Am I being too harsh to CCEF?
I hear someone say, “Barb, your tone is insulting. These counselors and professors at CCEF are Christians, and Christians should not bite and devour one another!” Hmm. Am I biting and devouring? Or am I just stating the truth?
Was Jesus insulting when he said this to Nicodemus:
“Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” (John 3:10)
Was he too harsh when he upbraided Simon the Pharisee?
“Simon, I have something to say to you. . . Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:40-47)
Did Paul badmouth other believers to Timothy or did he just state the truth?
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. . . .
At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. (2 Tim 4:10, 16)
And was Paul backbiting and devouring Peter here?
when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal 2:11-14)
And another question: is it wise to just take for granted that all the folk I am critiquing are believers? After Jesus whipped the sharks out of the temple, I bet many people said “But those officials in the temple are priests and levites, he shouldn’t have been so harsh with them!”
Note: I’m not saying they aren’t believers, I’m saying we should take nothing for granted, especially when there is so much money involved in marriage ministry book sales, course fees, counseling fees, and weekend retreats.
If I am wrong, and the CCEF course is going to teach that pastors ought to discipline and excommunicate abusers who have been masquerading as Christians, then I am happy to be corrected. But on the basis of what has been published about this course, I think I am probably right. Only a look at the full syllabus would persuade me, and even then I would still have my doubts that Darby Strickland and CCEF are able to deliver a loaf of bread without any rocks in it, because they have demonstrated already in their published material that they are tend to use victim-slurring language, whether they realise it or not.
In Part 3 (the final) of this series we will be looking at how the course seems to envisage churches working in conjunction with counselors to minister in domestic abuse situations, including whether they mention or condone church discipline for abusers and divorce for victims. We’ll also be looking at the reading list for the course. And I’ll summarize my overall thoughts about the course.