Biblical counseling, tribal loyalties and grooming. Windup of the Chris Moles series.
Biblical counselors who are carrying the DV banner are starting to say some good stuff about domestic abuse and how it affects victims — things that weren’t being said when ACFJ began in 2012. But there are some changes we are still not seeing.
1. Their approach to abusers
Either they are treating the abuser as if he is a ‘brother’ in christ, or they are behaving as if the abuser can be converted by teaching him how Christians are to live. They are ignoring all the precepts in the Bible which tell Christians to have nothing to do with abusers and to hand them over to Satan.
Biblical counselors like Chris Moles are now saying, “We need to do abuse counseling before we even think about marriage counseling.” But they still have errors in their approach and their understanding. Those errors will enable churches and biblical counselors to go on plugging marriage restoration as the most important goal.
If their view on the abuser is going to change, that would mean they would have to change their understanding of some basic theology. Changing those views will affect their influence, the crowd they run with, possibly affect book sales and speaking opportunities – ultimately it would affect their wallet.
2. They are still dancing around the D word (divorce).
3. They are still neglecting the needs of the victims and not responding to the critical and discerning feedback which victims are giving them.
4. They are still not firmly denouncing all the lord-it-over attitudes and false doctrines which church leaders have that contribute to this problem.
While this Chris Moles series was being published, I contacted Chris Moles, Jim Newheiser and Greg Wilson to alert them to what I was writing, in case they’re not watching this blog… in the hope that they might consider my thoughts and perhaps modify their approach. None of those men have acknowledged or responded to my personal contact.
In a short number of years Chris Moles has gone from an unknown pastor in the backwoods, to the poster boy for DV in the biblical counseling tribe. The tribe is parading him from one conference to another, and he is saying what they want him to say. He is responding just as they want him to respond. It seems that the tribe has been grooming Moles and they have succeeded. I don’t mean to imply that Chris Moles is innocent because he is a victim of the tribe’s agenda. Chris Moles has made his choice. He appears to enjoy the flattery, the attention, the hobnobbing with the big boys. Moles has accepted his role…but we must not forget about the tribe.
The power-brokers in the biblical counseling movement are not wise as serpents. They want their ears tickled. They don’t want to have to change too much; they prefer their comfort zone. Grassroots movements like #MeToo have made it all the more imperative that they be seen to be doing something about domestic abuse in the church. So they are pushing forward the spokespeople they like from their own tribe.
If the biblical counseling movement is led by a motley pack of wolves and blind guides, Chris Moles represents the next generation of this pack. Unfortunately, it won’t end with Moles. Moles is not the first target of the pack and he won’t be the last. In fact, as time passes, Moles may very likely be the one grooming the next one into the pack.
A survey by LifeWay Research (2017) found that:
Most pastors (87%) already believe that “a person experiencing domestic violence would find our church to be a safe haven.” Eleven percent somewhat agree. One percent are not sure.
It is very possible that 87% of pastors are naive and deceived and don’t really care about the victims, and some of that 87% are abusing their own wives.
I know that some male pastors are abusing their own wives because of all the accounts from survivors I have heard, not to mention the reports I’ve heard from Christian counselors who truly ‘get it’ about domestic abuse and are seeing the wives in their counseling offices.
Mega-church leaders who are publicly proclaiming that their church is a safe place are probably grandstanding. Examples of such grandstanding are Bethlehem Baptist Church Minnesota, and Highpoint Church Texas.
My advice to pastors
Your primary duty is to put the abusers out of the church and care for the victims.
To protect victims, you need to teach the church how not to stigmatize the victims, and how to resist the impression-management tactics of the abusers. You need to do this because once you’ve put the abuser out of the church he is very likely to badmouth you and the victim to the congregation, so he can win allies to himself and destabilise your flock.
We have great ideas to help you do this at our FAQ page.
No responsible person would try to stop an abusive man from voluntarily attending a secular Mens Behavior Change Program. But abusive men almost never attend those programs voluntarily.
The people who run Men’s Behavior Change programs in Australia say that men who attend their programs are either “court mandated” or “partner mandated”. No abusive man starts attending those programs because, in his flesh, on his own initiative, he has decided and determined to stop being abusive.
Our Chris Moles Digest lists all the posts in this series.
- Posted in: Counseling
- Tagged: abuser's allies, Barbara Roberts, biblical counseling, Chris Moles, church response to abuse
In their “defense,” I would have never believed my own story of psychological abuse if I hadn’t lived it.
What these clergy don’t understand is that, like Satan, abusers choose, on purpose, to cause strife and pain, all the while proclaiming to be Christian and a victim of the non-abusive spouse. Those of us in these marriages usually take 25-35 years to figure it out for ourselves! Why? Because for the first ten years we think God and marriage counseling can fix the behavior because….obviously they don’t INTEND to hurt….?? The next ten years we work on ourselves setting boundaries but by this time KNOW that we have nothing to do with causing their hostility and contemptuous behavior and in fact KNOW that the unbelievable is happening (strife, on purpose, calculated). Finally, we find the right books on Cluster B’s, verbal abuse, emotionally destructive marriages….and these tell the story of our marriages.
Bottom Line: Clergy have got to get educated on these behaviors so they can KNOW the difference between “reconcilable” and “abusive.” And understand that a percentage of marriages coming to them for counseling are in the “abusive” category (even when the non-abusive spouse doesn’t know it yet). And understand that the non-abusive spouse does NOT fit the cliche profile of poor self-esteem (quite the opposite). For me, the sadness isn’t that I “lost” 30 years of my life to an abuser….it’s that my two children are scarred (the abuse was to ALL of us) and now will need to get help to heal themselves. Thank YOU, Barbara, for all the work you do and for Crying Out for Justice!!!
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Well said Kim. I am forever having to explain to people just this, when asked why did you stay so long in the marriage. People just do not get it and non-Christians do not understand that sense of marital duty and the pressure from churches and even from within to try your best to keep to your marital vows, etc. Even my own family took a long time to come round to seeing what was really happening in my marriage. I often got quoted my vows back and that terrible quote “you have made your bed, now lie in it”.
The sooner the church and it’s leadership wakens up the better for us all including sadly the children who have been also scarred.
Every blessing to you. 🙂
Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog [Internet Archive link].
Thank you, Barbara, for your passion and intelligence to put this series together. I continue to learn about C Moles and the culture he chooses to abide in.
Every pastor is receiving promptings from God to engage the same passion and intelligence for Justice and Protection for the abused / victims in their flock that you have. It won’t always look the same, of course. God is not silent on this serious matter.
Men find it quite comforting to listen to false men when God longs to comfort and instruct them with His passion and caring. Yet they choose to wander in the wilderness and starve God’s flock of what is closest to God’s heart.
We, the ones who are wounded, starved, manipulated, despairing, longing for safety, are held in the palm of God’s hand, although it often does not feel this way.
Hearing / reading truth about what is going on in C Moles circles helps me to beware of most church leaders. Less vulnerability will save me months of recovery, over and over from the havoc these godless men wreak over us.
Many thanks Barbara for this series – very enlightening and encouraging. I only hope and pray pastors and fellowships take note and put this into practice. It would help immensely for those of us who feel totally alienated from everything to do with church and life within.
The sooner [Unless?] the church gets to grips with such issues we will continue history will repeat itself. As with any addiction the cycle must be broken for true healing to take place.
Thank you again to you, Jeff and team.
You have no idea how much strength I have received here and been an avenue of God’s healing.
Thank you again to Barbara and the team for your courageous and eye-opening work. Kim made such a good comment about not being able to understand unless you have been there, but even then, even if we have been there, we need to hear the truth plainly spoken like this.
It is laughable, the ruse that the church is a safe place. It ought to be, but for the most part the churches are some of the unsafest places around. Satan and his minions have infiltrated it, and in the name of Christ, and pretending to be safe and loving, they cooperate with abusers and condemn the innocent.
Amen, Been There.
In common with other ACFJ series, applying the information I learned in the series on Chris Moles extends beyond the focus, affecting personal, professional, secular, and non-secular arenas….similar to a case study in a course,
Thank you for adding to my jack-of-all-trades toolkit.
“Tribal loyalties” is a gentle name for a powerful cult that pervades, lies, strangles, kills in many ways. We who were / are struggling to simply breath, to keep enough oxygen in our main organs, are living on perhaps a false hope that any minister will repent, fight for truth, speak in Martin Luther-abandon, to stop this cult.