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.