How many problems can you find in CBMW’s “Statement on Abuse”?
Chris Moles and I both have concerns about the Statement On Abuse which the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood published in 2018. But I see more problems in CBMW’s statement than the ones Chris Moles noticed.
This post is the penultimate in my series about Chris Moles. I know that some readers are wanting the series to be over and done with. Don’t worry, it will be finished soon!
If, dear reader, you want to hone your discernment about false teaching, you can use what I am about to say as a practice exercise. If you want to do that, here is your assignment:
- Read CBMW’s 2018 Statement on Abuse
- Then listen to Clarifying our Response to Domestic Violence which is a podcast by Chris Moles. At 5:30 in the podcast, Chris starts giving his opinions about CBMW’s 2018 Statement on Abuse. He affirms some of the things CBMW says, but he also challenges some of their points and suggests ways they could improve their wording.
- Mentally clarify your own views—
Did you pick up anything wrong in CBMW’s Statement on Abuse?
If you detected flaws in CBMW’s statement, what exactly did you notice?
Did you detect flaws in CBMW’s statement that Chris Moles did not notice?
If you have done that three-step exercise (or even if you haven’t) let me encourage you now to put your thinking caps in order to wrap your heads around the complexities of the backstory.
CBMW have published TWO Statements on Abuse
They published their first statement on abuse in 1994.
Here is a link to my critique of CBMW’s 1994 Statement on Abuse.
They published their second statement on abuse in 2018.
Here is a link to my critique of CBMW’s 2018 Statement on Abuse.
Chris Moles did not critique CBMW’s 1994 statement; but he has critiqued CBMW’s 2018 statement.
I have more concerns than Chris Moles has about CBMW’s Statement on Abuse.
Why am I bothering to tell you this? Am I just crowing about my discerment? No.
Here are my reasons for revisiting CBMW’s Statements on Abuse:
- CBMW’s Statements on Abuse have received little push back. I believe they need to be given more attention from those who are concerned about CBMW’s ideology. There are some folks (like me) who are not persuaded by egalitarian theology, but we are very uncomfortable with the version of “complementarianism” which CBMW has promulgated.
- As I’ve shown in my series about Chris Moles, I am very willing to honor Chris Moles for the things which I believe he is getting right.
- Chris Moles’ discernment differs from mine. By highlighting the differences, I hope to help readers work out for themselves whether and to what extent they want to consider Chris Moles as someone who is worth listening to.
Problems which I see in CBMW’s 2018 Statement on Abuse — these are problems which Chris Moles did not see.
CBMW’s definition of abuse is inadequate
They leave out coercive control by means of emotional, financial and spiritual abuse, gaslighting, isolation, micro-management of the victims’ daily lives. And they don’t mention legal / systemic abuse which abusers can also employ in their arsenal of tactics (especially when the abused woman is getting divorced from her abusive husband).
CBMW’s statement suggest that all victims of abuse are unregenerate
They talk about the abused finding healing “through the gospel”. The gospel, in its narrow sense, is given to bring the unregenerate to faith in Christ – “Repent, and believe the gospel!” (Mark 1:15). …If we take CBMW’s words in this narrow sense, they are implying that abuse victims are not regenerate, not born again, so they need to repent and come to saving faith in Christ. That is offensive to all the abused who are already true Christians.
If CBMW meant the gospel in the broader sense in which it is often used today, it would have been better if they’d said: “We believe that the church must offer tender concern and care for the abused and must help the abused to find hope and healing through Christ, the Word and the Spirit (Luke 4:18).”
CBMW are not specific about whether abusers who profess to be Christians are regenerate
They say “abusers need to…repent of their sin, and to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.”
Do CBMW truly believe that abusers who profess to be Christians are actually not Christians? — I hope so; but I very much doubt it: their wording is too vague. Chris Moles doesn’t pick up on this, because he himself is vague on this point.
CBMW cite scripture in a way that implies that if a women doesn’t submit, she is being abusive
They say, “We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7-8; 1 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).”
Citing Colossians 3:18 (wives submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord) is below the belt. CBMW are implying that when a wife doesn’t submit, she’s being abusive. This is a gross slander of women that CBMW needs to repent of.
If a wife is married to a non-abusive husband and she does not submit to a reasonable request from him, that may be unwise or imprudent on her part; she may be lacking in consideration for family harmony, etc. But if a wife is married to an abusive husband and she doesn’t submit to the abuser’s demands, she is not “being abusive”. Yet this is exactly what CBMW do when they cite Colossians 3:18 as as condemnation of abuse.
CBMW does this because it has a faulty understanding of the woman’s desire in Genesis 3:16. They claim that the woman’s desire for her husband is a desire to usurp authority over him, and they base this claim solely on one author, ironically a female author, Susan Foh, who in 1975 advanced a totally novel interpretation of Genesis 3:16.
Foh argued that just as sin crouched on the threshold, desiring to destroy Cain, and Cain was told he must overrule this temptation, so the wife desires to control her husband (by usurping his divinely appointed authority) and the husband must master her if he can.
Foh’s interpretation dovetails perfectly into the lying claim of the abusive husband (and his pastor ally) that the husband was harsh towards his wife because the wife wasn’t submissive. The perfect theological excuse for abuse!
Only if you accept Foh’s aberrant interpretation – an interpretation that no commentator had conceived of for the first 1900 years of the Christian era – do you swallow the notion that a when wife does not submit she must be abusing her husband.
Chris Moles does not seem to be aware of the far-reaching effect this misinterpretation of Genesis 3:16 has had on women who are victims of domestic abuse.
Bottom line: There is nothing abusive in a victim failing to submit to an abuser.
Since I only cited one item of Chris’s work in this post, I gave a direct link to it. It is item S in the list of citations at the Chris Moles Digest.