A Cry For Justice

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

7. Is “addressing the hearts of abusive men” the best way of reducing violence against women, Chris Moles?

[April 6, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Chris Moles believes that “the most effective means of reducing violence against women is addressing the hearts of men”.

And for Chris, that means addressing the hearts of abusive men.

Chris Moles speaking to an audience at Reformed Theological Seminary

But what if addressing the hearts of abusive men is NOT the most effective means of reducing violence against women?

What if working to change the attitudes and beliefs among the overall male population is the most effective way of reducing violence against women?

Men who abuse their female partners have adopted distorted thinking from puberty or even younger. And once a man starts abusing women he locks in, in many ways.

Skilled male offenders find it easy to get away with what they do, because they are seldom sanctioned. Many men who abuse women get collusion everywhere they go.

It is pretty unusual to come across non-abusive men who are speaking out about this or calling other men to account. Few men are talking about male violence against women and male sexual entitlement as a really important issue for society to address in its policies, procedures and laws. Most men still see domestic abuse and other forms of male violence against women as “a women’s issue”.

And only a minority of men who speak up about it are willing to listen to and honor the female activists & survivors who have decades of experience in addressing the issue. All too often, a male activist still wants to take centre stage.

But thankfully, some men (most of whom are not professing Christians) are ‘woke’ and humble enough to listen to the women who have experience at the coal face because they are survivors, or they have years of experience in supporting and advocating for victims.

As a society we may not be able to get the vast majority of abusive men to reform, but we can make it much harder for them to get away with what they do.

Preventing domestic, sexual, and all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls is primarily the responsibility of men.  This also includes teaching and promoting healthy concepts of manhood to each other, our sons and other boys.

The majority of men don’t perpetrate violence against women and girls.

What the majority of men are responsible for is creating, maintaining and benefiting from a male dominating culture that is required for the violence to exist.

Once educated to these realities we believe there is hope for men.

A Call To Men [emphasis added]

I encourage you to click through and read that entire article from A Call To Men.

A little while ago we ran a series about Don Hennessy. Let me repeat here what Don Hennessy says in his book How He Gets Into Her Head: The Mind of the Male Intimate Abuser¹

We need to find a way to challenge the tolerance of male sexual entitlement which is endemic in our society. This goal is the only one not supported by the skilled offender. (208, [emphasis added])

The issue that limits most of us is that the reality of intimate partner abuse is beyond our belief. (215)

After more than thirty years of energy and commitment our efforts have achieved very little. We have become tangled in a debate that is being orchestrated unwittingly on behalf of skilled offenders. I use the word unwittingly with caution because the power and the success of this distractive discussion may well be a highly efficient and well-hidden tactic of male sexual predators. (203)

The system designed and supported by the community has also been contaminated by the psychephile. (214)

The church is in a dire state. Abuse victims are leaving in droves.

Most people and leaders in the visible church believe a great many sub-biblical and incorrect doctrines — and this makes the church an abuser-friendly environment. In many cases, the church is a more abuser-friendly environment than the overall society.

I could paraphrase what Don Hennessy said:

The system designed and supported by the church has been contaminated by abusive men who portray themselves as Christians.

A person like Chris Moles has influence to educate the church about domestic abuse. And precisely because Chris has influence, he has a greater duty of care for the victims. So it is biblical for us to be holding him to a higher standard (James 3:1).

Someone like Chris Moles ought to be educating the church about all the recalibration it needs to do to eject all those sub-biblical and incorrect doctrines if it is going to respond rightly to domestic abuse. Like that robot which in the movies which said “Exterminate, exterminate…”, Chris should be saying to the church: “Recalibrate, recalibrate…”. But he’s too weak and too lacking in scriptural wisdom to do that. (I will back up those assertions in future posts in this series.) Instead, Chris is just enjoying the fame and fortune of being the Biblical Counseling tribe’s poster boy for DV.

So far, the secular research indicates that preventing and responding to family violence is highly complex and there is no single or easy solution (link [Internet Archive link]). Programs for abusive men are only a small element of prevention, and whether they have any beneficial effect long term is yet to be confirmed.

Changing social attitudes toward gender equality, and improving the social systems which respond to domestic abuse are at least as important if not more important than working with the abusive men themselves (see herehere and here). Attitudinal change in a society usually gives rise to changes in that society’s legislation, social policies and institutional practices. This big picture — the systemic attitudes, default assumptions, laws, doctrines, policies, rule books and between-the-lines unspoken codes — are the systems which make it easy (or harder) for abusers to get away with their abuse.

It is so doggone hard to get abusive men to change their hearts! What if changing social attitudes and default assumptions — and systems — is the best way to reduce violence against women? What if reviewing and improving laws, policies and codes of conduct is the way to best reduce violence against women?

What if a lot more people in secular society and the church were able to recognize an abuser’s tactics? What if more people would stop being passive bystanders and start actively resisting being recruited as abusers’ allies? What if a lot more people were equipped to identify the real victims and believe and support them? What if social systems and policies were changed to empower the victims, helping them quickly get safe and stay safe from their abusers, as soon as they realized they were being abused?

All those changes would make it much harder for abusers to get away with their abuse.

Chris Moles has signally failed to expose many of the wrong doctrines within churches which need to be recalibrated — possibly because he is blind to (and resistant to) seeing those things as false doctrines. And Chris speaks way too lightly about the practices that most churches have routinely been doing which compound the victim’s suffering. So he’s not doing enough to unseat the church from all its sub-biblical and false doctrines that need recalibration.

I wonder whether Chris has ever looked at our Non-Negotiables for Effective and Biblical Abuse Ministry.

He describes how when he’s running groups for men who are court-mandated to attend, as soon as he tells the men he is a pastor the first question the guys ask is, “When’s service, Pastor? Can I come to your church?” (C 53:420).

When some men in the community-oriented groups I lead find out I am a pastor they immediately try to build support or commonality by citing their own experience or the importance of their faith, often claiming to be in a backslidden condition and how it must be providential that they have met me. Usually this is followed by questions about my church’s location and service times. … I communicate with them that I will not be their pastor, at least while they are in the program. I share with them information about local Bible-believing churches in the area whose pastors are friends of mine and support the work we do.  … [I know that] this man’s “Christianity” may in fact be a tool to use me for his agenda.

… of the dozens of conversations like this, I have had a total of six men attend recommended churches, receive Christ as Savior, were baptized and discipled by their pastor. (M, p 78)

Chris says that it is rare for a man who abuses his intimate partner to reform (H 24:38). In all the lectures and interviews I’ve heard by Chris, he never once stated the percentage of men he has counselled who have become non-abusive. He was asked this question directly (H) and did not answer it — he only mentioned research which shows that abusive men who have been convicted of a DV crime and have then completed Batterer’s Programs have a lower rate of recidivism than their peers who do not go to Batterer’s Program.

I believe Chris may possibly be having a few successes because (a) he has been trained by secular professionals on the tactics abusive men use, (b) he has years of practice running abuser groups for his state’s Probation Department, and (c) the Probation Dept has the power to send the guys to jail if they don’t abide by their probation conditions, so there is a stick as well as a carrot.

But even in saying that, I am not convinced that any of the men Chris has dealt with have truly changed into non-abusers. And I am even more doubtful that any of the men Chris has treated have been regenerated — have been brought by the power of God to a living faith in Christ. I have no confidence that Chris and the pastors he refers abusive men to, are not abiding in the preacher-boys-club mentality: a mentality which makes it unlikely they would detect the abusive man’s snow job.

Furthermore, I know of quite a number of cases where a man seemed to be pretty non-abusive for months or years, but eventually he displayed his true colours as an abuser — or eventually his victim came out of the fog enough to identify that the guy was chronically disrespecting and mistreating her. In some of these cases, the man had stopped raging at his partner and being physically violent, but he was still sexually and emotionally abusing her.

Most biblical counselors and pastors who try practicing what Chris is teaching will not have received the amount of training Chris has received. And more importantly they will not be working in a program that has formal connection to the secular justice system. So when Chris teaches his model to biblical counselors and pastors, the chances are they will go away and practice it without the training and experience Chris has had and without the formal backup of the secular state which bears the sword (Romans 13) to restrain and punish heinous sinners.

One of the reasons why Don Hennessy and his colleagues in the Cork Domestic Violence Project decided not to keep trying to reform abusive men was that their program was not linked to the justice system. Speaking at the Cork Domestic Violence Project, Hennessy says:

Our own experience was that we were continually reminded of our inability to create lasting change [in the offenders]. We were also constantly reminded that we ran the risk of increasing the danger to our clients. We gradually wound up our group work with perpetrators as we became convinced that work with batterers should not be done in isolation but requires inter-agency efforts and multidimensional initiatives. What has become clearer in the last few years is that perpetrator programs are at best unhelpful and may even prove to be a further risk for sufferers of abuse.

(For more detail, see “How He Gets Into Her Head” — an introduction to Don Hennessy’s book)

I believe Chris’s teaching will enable churches and biblical counselors to go on neglecting and outright harming victims

Chris is teaching biblical counselors and churches an elaborate schema which enables them to proclaim ‘there is hope for the abuser’. I predict that most churches who imbibe Chris’s teaching will spout the rhetoric of victim care and safety, but will doggedly go on seeing marriage restoration as the most important goal. And Chris is not doing enough to guard against that outcome.

Chris is a little ambivalent on whether or not marriage restoration is the goal. But here is an example where he says it is the goal:

…hurried marriage-focused solutions may endanger one party and ultimately undermine the long term success of the marriage we are desperately trying to save.

The only way to view this is to imagine the reconciliation process like a hurdle race at a track and field event. While each hurdle must be cleared by the runner, he or she is bound by the rules to clear them in the proper order. … Our first obstacle [hurdle] is the husband’s use of violence, not communication, not nagging, and not even the marriage. Our first objective is to end the violence. Then we are free to traverse the next obstacle on the way to reconciliation. (M 14)

We already know of one instance where Chris’s teaching has not served to protect a victim. Chris trained the leaders and the DART team at Bethlehem Baptist Church. And despite that training they received, they have excommunicated a victim of domestic abuse — this is fully documented here.

Most church leaders and biblical counselors think they are spiritually equipped to ‘redeem’ abusive marriages. The R-word is like fairy dust which glazes the eyes of so many Christians.

I am afraid that pastors and Elders (and fog-bound victims) are still so fixated on marriage restoration that Chris Mole’s message “there is hope for abusers” will only serve to prolong that fixated mindset.

In my view, achieving the very rare instance of abuser reformation is far less important, and far less effective, than working to alleviate the plight of all the victims whose abusers will not reform. And I believe that the way to do this is to get men in general to recognise that —

  • Preventing domestic, sexual, and all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls is primarily the responsibility of men.
  • All forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls are interwoven.
  • All men are responsible for creating, maintaining and benefiting from a male-dominating culture that is required for male violence / abuse against women to exist.
    (source: A Call to Men)

[April 6, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to April 6, 2022 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 April 6, 2022 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 April 6, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (April 6, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Citations of items by Chris Moles in this post are shown in grey, with each item designated by a capital letter. The Chris Moles Digest gives a link to each item cited by a capital letter. The quote from Chris with which I opened this article — “the most effective means of reducing violence against women is addressing the hearts of men” — comes from C 22:45.

¹ Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.

Related material

How society can prevent domestic abuse (Don Hennessy series part 11)

For professionals who work in Domestic Abuse — (Don Hennessy series part 8)
Note: this post mentions Leslie Vernick.

Male Privilege is the underlying driver of domestic abuse. — Ken Lay, former Police Commissioner

Violence against women: it’s a men’s issue — a talk by Jackson Katz 

Men must do more to stop violence against women — by Damien Willoughby
Damien Willoughby is the co-host of the @AllMenCanAU podcast now available on iTunes and SoundCloud. Language warning: the two guys who do this podcast are not Christians and they sometimes use swear words when saying how outraged they are about male violence against women, and when recounting the awful things disrespectful men say.

How can we learn from #MeToo to shape the next generation of men? — several men discuss this question in this well-produced video from WeAreManEnough
We are sharing the video because what these men are say about #MeToo is so much more enlightened than what a lot of Christian men are saying about it.  But please note: these men do not appear to be Christians and there are a few swear words in their conversation and one brief mention of the ‘pro-choice’ lobby being a good thing.  A Cry For Justice does not support the ‘pro-choice’ lobby.


  1. Dale Ingraham @ Speaking Truth In Love Ministries
  2. Misti

    I can’t help but notice that attempting to focus on abusive folks’ hearts conveniently leaves handling the abusive person in the hands of church leaders who have the “right” training, reinforcing authoritarian ideas about discernment.

    It even easily reinforces misunderstandings about responsibility or falls into the abuser’s game. Eg. if an abusive person’s heart doesn’t change, well, you must’ve failed somehow; they would’ve only listened if you did X! (Which was standard logic in some churches I’ve been in.)

    Focusing on the abuser also strikes me as assuming, whether subconsciously or wittingly, that the problem is comparatively small, since the claimed “solution” isn’t scalable. Either that or it’s an intentionally ineffectual approach that lets people think or claim they’re doing their best and gives the smarter abusers room to shift their games, but I’d rather assume shortsightedness rather than calculation.

    Which is all aside from the way it ignores how much abuse happens because the abuser sincerely does not care if others are hurt, only if they themselves are. Sure, some folks abuse unintentionally and are sincerely willing to change when they realize it, but any approach that presupposes the abuser is willing to change or cares about relationships beyond the benefit to the abuser is just setting oneself up to get manipulated.

    It’s like, has Moles even read about about King Saul? Because as I recall, that’s a good example of how the abuser can make plays at sincerity that demonstrate themselves false.

    • Suzanne

      I speak from sad experience in saying that habitual, unrepentant abusers will always do what works for them, no matter how vile, and they don’t care who gets hurt in the process. For an abuser life is always and only all about them.

  3. healinginhim

    Thank you for this series evaluating Chris Moles’ ministry. Difficult to even express how the scarring from shallow counseling has left me, as the man I married is more empowered and ‘moving on’.

    Woe to these counselors like Chris Moles as youth and others are being misled into believing that this is the way Jesus Christ would want us live. It is a ‘false gospel’; not true Christianity at all.

  4. NJ

    Like that robot which in the movies said “Exterminate, exterminate…”.

    Dr. Who geek here. Technically, Daleks are these little aliens who get around in these outer shells that somewhat resemble robots.

    All men are responsible for creating, maintaining and benefiting from a male dominating culture that is required for male violence / abuse against women to exist.

    Here’s a question I have; how does one go about preventing abuse of women when that male dominant feature appears to be required in the church by divine revelation? In theory, secular society could become completely egalitarian, but orthodox church authorities for the past two millennia have overwhelmingly read the Bible as mandating near-exclusive male leadership, and with good reason, given some of the texts involved. From what I remember, those of you running [leading / owning / administrating] and posting to this blog are complementarian. I am interested in getting your take on this issue, given that conservative resistance to what you guys are doing stems in no small part from perceived links with theological liberalism.

    • Hi NJ, if you have been reading all the posts in this series, you would have read my earlier one in which I said that I think Chris Moles gets the gender thing right in domestic abuse. Within that post, I mention Chris’s take on complementarianism and how I agree with it.

      At this blog we have a page titled What Headship and Submission do not mean. Personally, I am not convinced by the egalitarian arguments regarding church leadership. And because the egal / comp controversy is such a contested issue, we have a policy of not going into that very much on this blog, as it would all too easily distract from our main goal.

      I personally believe that domestic abuse and other types of abuse can be addressed by correcting lots of other twisted, imbalanced or un-biblical doctrines (and translations) that are prevalent in the visible church. And if those ideas and beliefs were truly corrected it would flow into changes of practice and abusers would not be able to get away with what they do in churches.

      I don’t think that the comp / egal debate is the core issue, in the issue of abuse. It is part of it, but I don’t believe it is the fulcrum, let alone the main key to solving it.

      • NJ

        Thanks, Barb. I went back and re-read that first link. One thing really jumped out at me. Hard comps and patriarchalists like to arrogate all power and authority to men, until abuse allegations against them pop up. Then they suddenly transform into egalitarians who wish to share the blame and responsibility with women. Heck, they’ll give the ladies the whole kit and kaboodle if they’re willing to take it. All in the name of male headship and female submission. Truly, an amazing superpower; I doubt even Bibleman could match it. Instead, I say it’s time to go all Spiderman on these guys: with great power comes great responsibility.

        Seriously, you’d think we never got past Genesis 3, and into the work of Christ. The blame-shifting first Adam has been superseded by the responsibility-shouldering last Adam. But you wouldn’t know that in too much pastoral counseling.

  5. Suzanne

    What if social systems and policies were changed to empower the victims, helping them quickly get safe and stay safe from their abusers, as soon as they realized they were being abused?

    Is it too simple a solution to teach our girls from a young age that they don’t have to tolerate abuse, and that they are precious to God and too important to be involved with anyone who doesn’t respect them and their authority over their own choices? What would happen to rates of spousal abuse if every bride was told by her church and her family that, even if it occurs on her wedding day, it’s ok to leave a man they thought was good and loving but who revealed his true nature to be evil and abusive? We can talk about how to deal with the situation after it occurs, or we can prevent it by giving women the tools to safeguard themselves. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And the most effective prevention is female empowerment through education and a loving support system.

    • Hi Suzanne, I believe your idea is a good one, and it ought to be part of the way we make it harder for abusers to get away with what they do.

      At the same time, I wouldn’t want it to be the only strategy we use to prevent abuse. We must always be careful not to put too much responsibility on women and too little on men.

      • Suzanne

        Agreed. Boys should be taught that it’s their responsibility to respect and cherish the women in their lives from a young age. At present I see too few resources devoted to preparing both boys and girls to have a successful marriage and I think it’s a huge mistake that results in terrible suffering for women and their children.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        As a male victim of abuse I agree with you ladies. My heart goes out to all male / female, child or adult who has suffered.

        I was brought up, as Suzanne says, to love and cherish to treat all, not just women, with deep respect and care and love (in the true sense of word). My father taught me in word and deed, by action and reaction coupled with his wise and good advice as I grew up to treat women good and NEVER to ever hit a women or let my words rise to become verbal abuse either. I was taught to treat the women in my life over the years, mother, sisters, relatives, girlfriends at the time or later my wife as a princess gem. As scripture says as a ruby (a virtuous woman) to be cherished and valued etc., etc.
        I held these views and still do, despite all I have gone through and witnessed in other relationships. I want to make it clear that I am totally disgusted by any abuser and I’m ashamed to be a man when I hear of reports and experiences you all relate from your experiences. I have found the church no help and my pastor made things worse and family turned on me at first. As many of you have said they had the attitude that “marriage” is the be-all and end-all – keep it together by any means. Divorce is a red rag to a bull to many fellowships and leaders. I found that out to my cost.

        It is extremely hard for me, and I can see from the lack of males speaking up here that it’s same for others, but although we are very much in minority, it does happen. We just are terribly bad at saying anything. I’m still very ashamed and guilt-ridden that I allowed myself to get to such a position.

        I’m a person who can testify to that fact we do also get all the same as you ladies do. Daily I feel I’m being made to feel that I’m not allowed a voice simply because I’m a male. Believe me very few believe and it’s so hard. Those close to me do but I never talk about it – as many still follow the typical response as we are discussing here. It’s easier to say nothing and hide away. I’ve become a semi-recluse I guess. Because of the typical responses in society and in churches and the majority of abusers are males, it’s hard to share anything with anyone when you are in the midst of that struggle to break free. Believe me it’s intensified and has a lot of other complications when you are a male victim.

        Please ladies don’t forget there are some of us who have done and been taught and tried our best to be a proper man as God intended us to be – and because of our good hearts and loving, good godly nature we have been abused.

        I’m with you all and agree with lots I read on this site. It’s been my lifeline and help in many ways.

        Suzanne you are so right we should be brought up and taught good proper godly values in Life. Sadly it’s not enough in all cases. Sadly we live in a fallen world, but we should never allow or excuse abuse of any form to anyone. Certainly we should never let that stop us from speaking up and teaching others.

        As a man I will continue to stand as I always have against abuse and with a full heart for any victim. Please ladies continue to speak out, speak up, stand up, and and warn others. I have over many years both before my abusive relationship (I never once thought I’d be the victim one day) and will now after breaking free continue to do the same, but with much more understanding. We must take a stand if we have the strength. standing together for those who are struggling.

        No one helped me take the leap of faith I needed and no one dared hold out a hand to encourage me. I vowed I would never do the same and shun / ignore any victim but believe them and help them.

        I’m still going through much and a lot to work out in my life, but there is life after. I am getting there day-by-day just me and my God. I never portrayed myself as the perfect little angel, we all fail at times from God’s ideal, but I have never abused and certainly not been sinful in standing up against evil.

        Chris Moles’ views are abhorrent in that respect. He should not be allowed any more airtime.

        Please don’t think all men are bad (I often get that feeling when I read a lot here – but it’s understandable sadly) but I’ve found not all women are good either. Glad the people here are though. 😀

        As I tell women now and young women entering relationships (I say same to men) – treat each other as rare gems love cherish and treat with love and care. And never settle for anything less. If someone steps out of that and you feel things are not right or you are being abused, belittled etc get out and don’t look back (no matter what anyone including church says). A close family member has just done that as she saw herself suddenly in an abusive relationship similar to the one I was in. Thankfully she has jumped free although not without its hurts and scars.

        I only wish in my honeymoon when I knew things were not right I’d done the same, but church, my leadership position, my marriage-duty and a whole host of other things kept me in a relationship for almost another 20 years that almost destroyed me.

        Churches need to change, policies need to change.

        But most of all people need to truly ‘listen’ without any prejudice. After all the church is the people not the building. Without truly listening to us (the victims) true knowledge isn’t gained and without that little changes. Each of us will make those changes bit by bit as we continue to share and speak.

        I sincerely hope I have not offended any ladies in saying this. I’m in full support of you all.

      • Thanks, Now Free!

        I find nothing offensive in your comment. 🙂 Bless you, and I hope you keep commenting at the blog. 🙂

  6. MarkQ

    Yes, the basic assumption seems to be that the authority is right unless proven otherwise, and it is very difficult to get church authorities (pastors, Elders, deacons, etc.) to create policies and procedures to hold themselves accountable. Even if such policies theoretically exist (e.g. Presbyterianism), many pastors either turn a blind eye, or refuse to hold each other accountable.

    So, yes, when people start seeing what gauntlet they must face to go head-to-head with the church authorities when those authorities are abusive, they choose to leave rather than fight. Those who fight, unfortunately, get typically what they expect, which is the entire authority of the church turned against them.

  7. Helovesme

    When Chris said:

    the marriage we are desperately trying to save

    I think that pinpointed something faulty and startling.

    I could be wrong, but I feel like he tries to do a “dance” around what he does or doesn’t believe. If he isn’t looking primarily for marriage restoration, why does he say things like this?

    Chris is a little ambivalent on whether or not marriage restoration is the goal.

    Why does he “dance” around whether he believes abusers really do or do not change? That they cease to abuse (fully), not just change tactics. Example: they stop screaming, but still verbally abuse, just not as loudly.

    Chris says that it is rare for a man who abuses his intimate partner to reform (H 24:38). In all the lectures and interviews I’ve heard by Chris, he never once stated the percentage of men he has counselled who have become non-abusive.

    I’m sorry, but reconciliation is not about hurdles. You clear one, and you face the next one, and so on. Reconciliation between two people takes hard work on both sides. Even if one party has done the offending, it is up to the offended to forgive and work to build up the relationship.

    In the case of abuse, the victim has done nothing wrong, and she should NOT be forced or expected to take him back. I don’t care how many counseling programs or letters of recommendation her abuser comes at her with (Hey, look at how many hurdles I’ve cleared! Take me back! I’ve proved myself so you have to take me back. I did everything I could do to change, so you must reconcile with me.).

    I actually spend more time praying and asking for “hope for the abused.” Not so much the abuser. I truly believe it is best or at least better to leave them to the Lord’s discretion. it’s not our job to “save” [those] that are determined to perish.

    Only those who have gone through such a trauma can understand how abuse can challenge your walk with the Lord. And I wonder how many sheep may have wandered away from Him due [to] abuse, and how trauma only was added when they asked their church for help.

    My hope remains in the Lord, who claimed He will leave the 99 and go find that one lost sheep, because that is what a good Shepherd does. He has done that for me in the past, when I thought I was lost for good.

    It’s pleasing to the ears to hear that word “redemption” and then apply it to abusers. Who doesn’t love a story supposedly full of God’s grace and salvation, even for the most “extreme” of sinners? Even for the most damaged and broken of marriages?

    But if that is the focus, it is no wonder Chris is so popular and influential. He “dances” the dance by acknowledging the horrors of abuse, but presents the miracle of hope and salvation for the abusers.

    I don’t seem to hear him speak enough about the need for deliverance and healing for the abused, including children caught up in this mess that they were born into.

    Sometimes my greatest fear is victims becoming more and [more] isolated by these teachings. The focus is WAY too intense on the abuser, while the victim is left to pick up the broken pieces of a shattered life and a broken heart or body.

    The abuser is likely whole in body AND heart and mind. He has experienced no brokenness of any kind, yet he is the center of attention. The center of debate. The center of it all. Heal and redeem him. Fill all the pitiful holes from his miserable, godless life (No father as a role model. No love in his life as a child. No one to teach him right from wrong.). Poor sweet baby, right? WRONG.

    The majority of men don’t perpetrate violence against women and girls.

    What the majority of men are responsible for is creating, maintaining and benefiting from a male dominating culture that is required for the violence to exist.

    I was so blessed to have read this.

    Most men still see domestic abuse and other forms of male violence against women as “a women’s issue”.

    What if working to change the attitudes and beliefs among the overall male population is the most effective way of reducing violence against women?

    I too have met VERY few (if any) male Christians who were outspoken and vocal about such things. In recent times, I’ve met a few online. Here is what I noticed about them:

    These men have no interest (and I mean none) in benefiting from a system that comes at the expense of hurting their fellow sisters in Christ. These men have the heart of the Lord. They put Him first, and that means they put their fellow sisters in Christ on equal footing with them. Not higher or lower. Same level. Women have equal footing in His eyes, so they have equal footing in their eyes, too.

    It’s actually not that complicated! It’s fairly simple, and quite Biblical, if I may say!

    They don’t think of things as a “man or woman” issue. If it affects either or both genders, it means something to them, too. All of us are affected, regardless of gender (or race).

    I as a woman tend to feel very isolated when I am mistreated, because it is usually seen as “my problem” because it happened to me, not them. This is true with both genders, not just men.

    We don’t personalize attacks or abuse, because we’re just so relieved it didn’t happen to us. — It happened to “someone else” out there.

    If everyone else BUT ourselves are labeled and defined as “others”: who are out of our orbit and therefore out of our realm of concern, what does the Bible mean when it says: when one suffers, we all suffer. If one rejoices, we all rejoice (1 Corinthians 12:26).

    Men, it really is up to you to change the dynamic of demeaning and objectifying women. Men are mainly the ones doing or enabling the abusing.

    I will stop commenting, but I feel led to share a very difficult story. I would not share it unless I could do it anonymously.

    Two incidents happened almost 20 years ago, before and right after I was married.

    I had met my spouse’s family, most of whom are professing Christians. I had not grown up in a Christian family, and I am the only one [Christian] in my family. So this was something I looked forward to—and possibly becoming a part of.

    We were watching a movie where a woman’s eye was blackened. My husband’s younger brother, who was probably a preteen at that age, made a flippant comment about blackening her other eye. No one said anything. Either they did not hear it, or they simply ignored it.

    I buried it down because at the time, my mind went into automatic denial: I didn’t hear that. I could not have heard that! They must not have heard him say that, or else they would have said something. I buried it so deep I did not mention it to my spouse for years.

    The other incident is when this preteen was a teenager. We were in a car with him, his then-girlfriend, his parents, myself and my spouse. The details are fuzzy, but the way he was wrestling and playing around with his then-girlfriend made me very uncomfortable. I honestly believed he was being too rough, all in the guise of rough-housing or playing around.

    She was much smaller than him so I believed he was using his physical advantage over her. No one said anything, and neither did I. I also kept this from my spouse for years. I was shocked and very confused as to why I was the only one who seemed bothered.

    I wondered if she was consenting to this fully, because young girls may or may not have been taught how to establish boundaries, how saying “no” is your right. Sometimes I think girls or young women may just go along with certain things without understanding that they do not “have to” do anything they are not comfy with, in order to please or pacify.

    At a much later date, I noticed another teenager in the family being what I called a “smart aleck” to his girlfriend. Pushy and rude in some of his comments, disguised as humor. And negative, too.

    Here are examples at how professing Christians either don’t teach or notice or speak up or install certain values in boys and young men, who are on the fast track to leaving home and being in the world, full of whatever they were or weren’t taught about women.

    This same family was terribly cruel to a woman who chose to divorce a cheating, abusive husband. I worried and prayed about the message they were sending their boys, who might get the message that women deserved to be treated this way, should they dare initiate a divorce!

  8. Finding Answers

    So much to process…..the original post, the linked information, and the comments generated.

    (……insert net-speak for unable to generate a response…..)

  9. Anon57

    the marriage we are desperately trying to save

    There is no marriage with an abuser. There is entrapment and enslavement. Marriage is a partnership of equals committed to one another. No abuser is in a marriage. He may be technically married, as in, got that marriage license signed and filed, but that’s it. A piece of paper showing a lie. A scam.

    Chris Moles shows in that sentence that he is an abuser ally or otherwise blind. And when the blind are leading the blind, they both go down into the pit.

    What does righteousness have to do with unrighteousness? What does light have to do with darkness? If there is a need for a pastor to be intervening because of abuse, there never was a marriage and there is no way a church should be aiding an abuser in furthering his entrapment and enslavement (‘preserving’ the sham marriage).

    Bottom line? There never was a marriage. There is nothing to save. One party is an abuser. That says it all. Abusers abuse. It’s what they do and who they are. You cannot be an equal to an abuser. You cannot have a partnership with an abuser. It is impossible. They are insatiable in their need to dominate, entrap, enslave, abuse, control, etc.

    There is no marriage to save. There never was a marriage in the first place. It was a setup, a con, a scam, an entrapment of the victim. If Chris Moles spoke such truth, there’d be no books to write, no counseling sessions to offer, no conference talks to give, no training sessions to lead.

    • healinginhim

      Anon57 – You described my life. Even ‘he’ described it as a marriage on paper. Confessed to counselors that I gave more to the marriage. The churches which I can’t go to now because of their lack of true Biblical empathy always stated that we leave all problems at home. Yes, sadly, there is no marriage to save. And sadly, adult children, siblings and fair-weather friends condone this ‘marriage on paper’ which has me still here after many years but non-verbal….just the way ‘he’ likes it now that he has used my body for his pleasure and doesn’t need it anymore. It’s very humiliating to realize that the children condone this.

    • Krikit

      THIS! Absolutely this!

      And furthermore, NO “marriage” is God’s focus…it is the PEOPLE within it that have eternity….either in Heaven or in Hell.

      The “church” has made marriage an IDOL.

      • Singer

        Absolutely! I have been blown away by how little my pastor cared about my safety and well-being when I came to him for help in dealing with my abuser. Even now it is all about avoiding divorce and keeping hope for reconciliation.

        They are sympathetic to me so long as I toe the line and talk about how much compassion I have for my abuser and his problems and how much I love him and want him to be changed. But when I talk about what he’s done to me, I’m “bitter”, “hateful”, “unforgiving”, and I need to pray more. It’s like the marriage matters more than the people in it. Or maybe successfully restoring the marriage will make him look like such an awesome pastor, whereas if I leave then somehow he has failed pastorally and will get into trouble with God? I don’t know.

    • Suzanne

      You are so correct about this. And I can’t remember reading a better, more accurate, more succinct description of “marriage” to an abuser. Thank you!

    • Helovesme

      You cannot be an equal to an abuser. You cannot have a partnership with an abuser. It is impossible.

      Incredibly well said. Incredibly tragic. Incredibly insulting that so many church leaders will not face up to this truth.

      Do not be fooled when pastors or counselors try to use the Word to justify faulty beliefs. When you are hurting, emotions can be easily manipulated, and when the Word of God is thrown in as well, your mind can be easily swayed.

      I’ve been in situations where my fear and insecurities were used against me to coerce me into making unwise decisions. Again, use the Word of God in that midst, and it can create the perfect storm to prolong suffering.

      If Anon57 tried to use these words verbally to Chris or anyone like him, my strong hunch is that they might come back with verses to “support” their narrative such as:

      Nothing is impossible for God. Without faith it’s impossible to please Him. Faith as small as a mustard seed can accomplish great things. Love never fails. God rewards trust in Him, especially when all hope seems lost. God loves everyone (even abusers). Jesus also unjustly suffered and we must bear with it. Forgiveness is a commandment. We must honor our marriages as a way to honor God Himself.

      Some of the verses I paraphrased, but I’m guessing we’re fairly familiar with them.

      Please see ACFJ’s “FAQ” section to read up their narratives concerning many of these topics, to untwist and untangle verses used out of context and used to justify evil. They have helped me greatly.

  10. Jane

    I have been leary of Chris Moles. But because I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on it, I continue to occasionally read his articles. I personally do not think an abuser will change. I believe God is powerful, so I think they “could” change, but I don’t think they will. I guess I’m not “opposed” to someone working with abusers. I just don’t want it to be implied AT ALL that the victim has to reconcile because the abuser goes to a program.

  11. I have added this link to the ‘related material’ at the bottom of the post:

    How can we learn from #MeToo to shape the next generation of men? – several men discuss this question in this well produced video from WeAreManEnough 

    I am sharing the video because what these men are say about #MeToo is so much more enlightened than what a lot of Christian men are saying about it. 

    Readers, please note: these men do not appear to be Christians and there are a few swear words in their conversation and one brief mention of the ‘pro-choice’ lobby being a good thing.  A Cry For Justice does not support the ‘pro-choice’ lobby. 

    Thanks to the ACFJ reader who pointed me to the video. 🙂

    • Finding Answers

      I found the video well worth watching.

      There are some who might find parts of the video are triggering, depending upon their past experiences….there are some descriptive experiences shared by both men and women.

  12. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    Thank you Barbara for this post as it has been so enlightening and encouraging to hear someone finally speak truth around abuse.

    I have heard so much of what Chris has said, though others and [I] been scarred by it. These views sadly are so prevalent and if I had been in these meetings I would have felt even more abused. His views would have played right into my ex wife’s hands and given more ammunition to abuse. Certainly on reading I felt I should be the guilty one and actually labelled the abuser. This post has given me so much encouragement and knowledge, but most of all that for once someone has spoken up for me and (as you say) rightly divided the truth.

    I have felt so guilt-ridden for so long because of similar views which were pushed onto me, much against my own views and knowledge of my God and Saviour and how I knew in my own spirit witnessing with the Holy Spirit in such matters. You are the first person I’ve ever heard say these things and this is the first time I have felt some measure of healing taking place in my own soul regarding certain aspects of my abuse.

    Totally agree with you on all aspects. I cannot begin to express how sad I was to read these unbiblical views on abuse and how encouraged I was once [I] read your responses, especially that as a victim of long-term abuse that I am not the sinful abuser that my abuser tried to make me out to be. Sadly with tears in my eyes Chris Moles sides with my abuser and calls me sinful etc etc. If I was in his meetings I’d say, as I believe Jesus Christ would – “Chris, sit down and be quiet, you are totally out of order!”
    How anyone can be in such a position and be hailed as ‘expert’ on such matters with all sorts of Christians believing and pushing his views, let alone giving airtime in such meetings – this has astounded me. It is views like this that have kept me away from churches. If only more took on the truth and time to listen and gain a true understanding of abuse and victims (which obviously this man does not), I would be more willing to enter church and not feel I have to hide.
    Thank you Barbara for this series as for want of a phrase….it has been an eye-opener!

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