Jason Meyer doesn’t understand domestic abuse very well. Chris Moles trained him.
Pastor Jason Meyer is happy for people to talk about domestic abuse in mutualizing language and to airbrush the fact that perpetrators are the sole cause of abuse. He is the senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church Minnesota (John Piper’s former church). Despite the fact that he and his elders have been trained by Chris Moles, he still doesn’t really get it. At the bottom of this I’ve pasted the testimonial Meyers wrote for Chris Moles about the training Moles gave to the elders of BBC. The training of elders would have been done before this April 2017 evening event which was organised for the BBC congregation.* This makes me concerned about the adequacy of the training which Chris Moles provided to the elders of BBC.
As is typical of many church statements about domestic abuse, this article from Jason Meyer’s blog uses mutualising language to talk about abuse and it fails to name the abusers as the perpetrators. This kind of language renders the abusers invisible. It uses passive verbs to elide the author of the sin of abuse. The perpetrator is airbrushed out of the picture. The lens is fogged over by passive constructions like ‘abuse tells a lie about God’. This ensures that we don’t have our attention drawn to the fact that perpetrators lie and abusers commit abuse.
So I’ve fixed the language. Here is my #FixedIt rewrite. After that I’ve pasted Meyer’s original blog post, so you can see what I fixed.
NB: I left Chris Moles’s name unedited in my version but I don’t have all that much confidence that Chris Moles would be speaking with the forthrightness and scriptural clarity that the subject of domestic abuse requires. If he did, I doubt Bethlehem Baptist would invite him to speak. According to this link, ” …Chris Moles has helped churches like Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis and The Village Church in Texas develop protocols for dealing with this complicated topic.” Here is Ps Jason Meyer’s blog post edited by Barbara Roberts:
WE PREACH GOD’S JUDGEMENT ON EVILDOERS, AND FREEDOM IN CHRIST
[I’ve omitted the intro, but will show it in the un-fixed text below]
Next week, Bethlehem has an important opportunity to learn more about how God can use us to help victims of abuse get free from oppression and violence: Chris Moles will be speaking from his 10+ years of experience in working with men who abuse/offend. Chris is a pastor, certified biblical counselor, and certified group facilitator in domestic violence intervention and prevention.
Abusers and oppressors tell lies about God and pervert the gospel. If the statistics are even close to true, around 125–150 families in our church are suffering some form of domestic abuse. Two years into our domestic abuse ministry (DART) at Bethlehem, I can tell you that you most likely have someone in your church circles who is suffering under this destructive situation, and someone in your church circles who is perpetrating domestic abuse.
Given this reality, I invite you to come to this evening event for learning and equipping. …
The evening will begin with Pastor Jason Meyer giving a biblical view of complementarianism and how understanding and practicing it in our church and in our families helps us better identify when abusers have twisted this teaching to justify their sin.
Chris Moles will then define abuse, identify what is at its heart, help us understand what abusers do—how they nefariously target and surreptitiously manipulate their targets, and how they groom and manipulate church leaders and congregations. Chris will then teach us to apply gospel solutions to this intractable sin, including God’s provision of divorce for abuse. We’ll have a time of Q & A at the end of the evening.
Domestic abusers are evildoers. They destroy our children, our families, and our community. We want to proclaim firstly, God’s judgement on all evildoers and liars, and His offer of healing, redemption, and restoration through Christ to all evildoers who truly repent and are come to a living faith in Christ. Secondly we want to proclaim the Bible’s teaching which frees abuse victims from false guilt and bondage. Please join me on Wednesday evening to learn how we can boldly identify and resist the abuser’s manipulative tactics, and how we can support the abused with sound scriptural teaching, love and practical care.
Here is what Ps Meyer’s blog post said (link):
April 20, 2017
WE PREACH REDEMPTION!
JASON MEYER Pastor for Preaching & Vision
On Wednesday, April 26, Bethlehem will be hosting an evening with pastor/counselor Chris Moles for a teaching time on Understanding & Addressing Domestic Abuse. Kïrsten Christianson is Bethlehem’s Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) leader, and she has done a wonderful job organizing this event. She truly has been a gift from God—I can’t begin to tell you what a crucial part she has played in this and in our domestic abuse ministry. I will let her tell you more about this training and why we regard it as so important.
“From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.”—Psalm 72:14
Next week, Bethlehem has an important opportunity to learn more about how God can use us to redeem our brothers and sisters from oppression and violence: Chris Moles will be speaking from his 10+ years of experience in working with men who abuse/offend. Chris is a pastor, certified biblical counselor, and certified group facilitator in domestic violence intervention and prevention.
Abuse/oppression in all its forms tells a lie about God and perverts the gospel. If the statistics are even close to true, around 125–150 families in our church are suffering some form of domestic abuse. Two years into our domestic abuse ministry (DART) at Bethlehem, I can tell you that you most likely have someone in your church circles who is experiencing this destructive situation.
Given this reality, I invite you to come to this evening event for learning and equipping. Chris Moles is an engaging and knowledgeable speaker, and you will benefit from what he has learned.
The evening will begin with Pastor Jason Meyer giving a biblical view of complementarianism and how understanding and practicing it in our church and in our families helps us better identify when relationships have veered into abuse and sin.
Chris will then define abuse, identify what is at its heart, help us see how it is displayed in an abuser’s relationships (and how that affects our church), and then teach us to apply gospel solutions to this intractable sin. We’ll have a time of Q & A at the end of the evening.
Domestic abuse is an evil that destroys our children, our families, and our community. We want to proclaim repentance, healing, redemption, and restoration through Christ to each other and the world. Please join me on Wednesday evening to learn how we can better move toward the abuser and the abused with bold love and practical care.
* In this sermon which Jason Meyer preached in May 2016, Meyer reflects on the one year anniversary of the domestic abuse ministry at BBC (its acronym is DART).
UPDATE added 26 Nov 2017.
In a Vimeo video published by Bethlehem Baptist Church Ps Jason Meyer introduces Ps Chris Mole’s presentation on domestic abuse at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Meyer is explaining headship and submission. He gives an example of how he counseled a ‘very insensitive husband’ . He told the husband, “You’re tearing each other apart”. By saying ‘each other,’ Jason Meyer was mutualizing the blame: he was depicting both spouses as tearing the relationship apart. I hope this was a slip that Meyer has now repented of.
Below is a transcript of Meyer talking about the ‘very insensitive husband’. The entire video is about an hour and half long and can be seen at https://vimeo.com/218959931. This transcript begins at 26:35.
“…Two halves of one. Become one flesh. And so now he says husbands – it’s not just sinful to not love your wife. It’s stupid. It’s incredibly stupid. Because when you hurt her it’s a boomerang – you’re just hurting yourself. And he says nobody does that. When you wake up in the morning you don’t just say, “Huh, Should I take a brick and should I drop it on my toe this morning or should I go have breakfast.?” Yes, of course, you always decide to care for yourself. Nobody’s going to beat themselves up that way. And so He says, Husbands, you already do this in caring for yourself. Now your wife is one flesh with you. So hurting her is hurting yourself.One time I really tried to get this home to somebody that was just really an insensitive husband. And I was saying, “Brother, you’re not happy at all. Do you see what’s happened? You’re in this tug of war all the time. You’re trying to get control. You’re being coercive and oppressive. Neither of you are happy. You know why? Because you’re one. And you’re tearing each other apart….”
Jane Gilmore is a secular journalist I admire for how she fixes media headlines that make perpetrators invisible. Her blog is janegilmore.com and her twitter handle is @JaneTribune. Check out her #FixedIt headlines — they are terrific.
At Chris Moles’ seminar page you can see this testimonial written by Jason Meyer:
We invited Chris Moles to come and train the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church so that we could grow in our ability to shepherd our people through the horrors of domestic abuse. We had high hopes because he came highly recommended. We were not disappointed. Time and time again the Lord gave us “aha” moments concerning what questions to ask and when to ask them, how to look for warning signs, and how gospel confrontation aims for the heart in calling for repentance and gospel transformation. This training was a lifeline for us in a difficult season of shepherding. I thank God for Chris Moles and this material.
Jason Meyer, Pastor for Preaching and Vision. Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN
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UPDATE (added 6 Dec 2017): Bethlehem Baptist Church have officially removed Natalie Anne Hoffman (aka Natalie Anne Klejwa) from membership of the church. Natalie had ages and ages ago told them she wanted to be removed from membership but the church wouldn’t let her go… they chose to discipline her instead so they could be the ones who expelled her. I just posted a comment here which shows the letter BBC sent to Natalie.
Related posts on ACFJ:
My Defense Against the Public Attack by Bethlehem Baptist Church — a reblog from Natalie (published at ACFJ in Feb 2017; originally published by Natalie in Dec 2016)
The fact that BBC, after all the training they’ve received from Chris Moles, is still traumatizing victims of domestic abuse is very concerning!