Most of you know that counseling married couples together in an abuse situation is a serious error. It just is not to be done. The wicked one will simply lie, wear a mask, and afterwards use the session to further attack his victim.
As I was thinking about this recently, I had some further thoughts about counseling in general – especially when the counselee is a wicked deceiver. And this thought came into my mind: How is a counselor able to counsel? The truth is, most counselors are not able to counsel. Why? Because they lack wisdom and they lack the truth. Think about it. Where does the counselor get his/her “data”? New client walks in, sits down, and the counselor asks “So, Bob, what is the problem?” (Thinking of “What About Bob” here).
Where is the counselor going to get the information? From Bob! It is Bob who tells the story. Bob who provides the data. “Everyone is against me. My wife just sets me up for failure. And now the pastor is telling me I need to get counseling. That’s why I’m here. I really want to save my marriage because I know that is what God wants.”
Think about it. Counseling is actually an impossible task unless the counselor knows the truth. Without the truth, a counselor who wades in where angels have the sense to fear to tread, is going to be like a medical doctor diagnosing and prescribing without really knowing what the problem is. And that is a disaster. Much “counseling” is a disaster – particularly so-called “biblical counseling.”
Here is a case from Scripture – it is a kind of counseling scenario. Real life. You could also call it a courtroom setting. But whatever the name, the fact is that the counselor is being called upon to make a judgment. What is the problem? Who is the victim? Who is the evil one? Take a look at this case. No witnesses. Just one person’s word against another. No DNA testing possible in those days. How in the world is Solomon going to sort it out?
1Kings 3:16-28 Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. (17) The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. (18) Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. And we were alone. There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house.
(19) And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. (20) And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. (21) When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.”
(22) But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.” Thus they spoke before the king. (23) Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.'”
(24) And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. (25) And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” (26) Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.”
(27) Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” (28) And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.
Why was the king able to figure this one out? Because the wisdom of God was in him. The Spirit of God was operative in him. Solomon is an Old Testament picture of Christ the King who will one day render perfect justice to everyone. Impossible to dupe Him.
Now, I want to ask you. How many people today who are supposedly doing “biblical counseling” are actually indwelt and led by the Spirit of God? How many of them really have been given the wisdom of God? I can tell you. Not very many at all. How do I know? Because the normal, typical outcome of cases of domestic abuse is that Solomon gives the lying party the child! Because the norm is that counselors (be they pastors or church members or “professional biblical counselors”) are siding with the guilty. Believing the liar and discounting the innocent.
People frequently ask me, “can you recommend a counselor or church to me that is wise in regard to domestic abuse so I can get help?” The answer I give? “No, I don’t. Not unless you can travel hundreds of miles to consult the one or two that I know. I can direct you to some books and resources where you can find God’s wisdom for your case, but basically I highly advise you to steer clear of counselors and pastors.”
These things apply to cases that do not involve domestic abuse too. Think for instance of the client who tells the counselor “I am afraid I am going to get fired from my job. I work really hard. But my boss has it in for me. He and another co-worker are all buddy-buddy and they just don’t like me.” And my question is, how does the counselor know about this case? Answer: From the information the counselee has provided. In fact, without the client’s permission, the counselor is forbidden by law from contacting the boss and the co-worker to get further information. In the case confronting King Solomon, there weren’t even any other sources of information to consult.
When it comes to domestic abusers hiding in the church behind an unholy charade, the fact is that almost all pastors, church members, “biblical counselors” and book-writers are ignorant of the mentality and tactics of these evil ones. And yet they are functioning as counselors. If they had been sitting on the seat of judgment when those two women came to Solomon, they would have handed the infant over to the liar and thrown the innocent mother in jail. Or at best they would have said “we don’t know for sure, so we are going to give shared custody and you can each have visitation rights.”
Do I exaggerate? Nope. Nope. Nope.
What you say is indeed true.
Over many years in the past, I have sought counsel from degreed marriage counselors who were also Christians, in regards to abuses that were going on at the time. Not once did I receive *wise* counsel. Not once. How do I know it wasn’t wise? Because the counsel only furthered the abuser’s evil, and even increased his knowledge of how best to perpetrate his sins. It wasn’t until I was out of the marriage and used 10 years afterward to diligently pursue wisdom on my own through deep prayer and the writings of such persons as Dr. George Simon, Lundy Bancroft, you, and other exposers of Wolves and their behaviors, that I was able to see the truths of what you write here. The “church” is BLIND. It has NO discernment regarding the reality of evil, both in the world, and more so, within its own walls.
Thank you Krikit. True indeed. Which tells us that much if not most of the visible church does not know Christ at all.
What’s really sad is when the pastors and counselors are abusers themselves because not only does the already victimized, abused woman get further abused, but then most of society goes, ‘a pastor? No, it cannot be! How dare you speak negatively about a pastor!’ Same with counselors. ‘A predatory, abuser counselor? No, it cannot be! You’re mentally ill.’
From what I have seen, those in the mental health field, along with so many counselors, are mostly wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s cushy jobs with no real work required and a vulnerable, easily discredited clientele, who can be bullied, mocked, mistreated, abused, exploited, etc at will and nobody cares, nor will anyone listen and side with the powerless client over the higher status professional.
As you note, Pastor Crippen, it is abundantly clear that couples counseling is virtually always destined to fail where abuse is involved – only individual counseling should be undertaken – and preferably with someone who actually understands abuse. Abusers will always prefer to participate in couples counseling so they can sell the counselor on their twisted version of reality. They rarely agree to go for individual counseling – and if so, only for a short period of time – until they feel as though they have jumped through the requisite hoops to prove that they’re good guys and they’re trying. What does the abuser usually convey? – usually frustration and self-defense.
As far as the victim goes, if her counselor understands the dynamic, it does not take long for the truth to be revealed. What does the victim usually convey? – most likely fear, confusion, shame and emotional exhaustion.
The easiest way to sort out the truth comes from distance, time and pressure, which requires separation and strict boundaries. Separation requires the abuser to surrender power to his victim. If he truly loved her, he would respect those boundaries. But an abuser can’t handle it for long and will soon look for ways to tear down the boundaries so he can manipulate and harass his victim.
He will complain that the “system” is unfair to him, that he is the one committed to the relationship and the victim is the one who is failing. His protestations make it clear that he is still putting himself first, that his wants and needs are the highest priority. Then you know.
The easiest way to see a wolf shed his sheep-like covering is to tell him ‘no,’ and stand back and see who – or what – emerges.
Absolutely. “No” is always the litmus test.
This is why I do not believe the church has the right to sanctify a marriage or a divorce. God and God alone sanctifies a marriage or sanctifies a divorce. Only God has full disclosure.
Way back in history the church had NOTHING to do with couples getting married or divorced. It was mostly an inter-family affair. The middle ages saw the Church as being the ones to sanctify marriage.
Then at the Reformations the job was handed to the state to sanctify marriage. Then the Church decided it would decide who could marry and who could divorce again.
The truth is, this is not Gods idea. When it comes to emotional and spiritual abuse I believe that….
The Church has NO right to decide who can divorce and who is right and who is wrong. Only God knows the truth, only God knows the real facts.
I agree Tony. The only area the church is to act with authority is when there is sin and the sinning party is in the church. That is the issue the church is to deal with. In other words the abuser is the one who is to be disciplined. But so often its the other way around.
And this is exactly why I know so many women who are abuse survivors who will not go to church! They have been treated badly by the very people who should be compassionate and believe them regarding their wool-wearing abusers.
What a sad, sad condition the church is in when abuse victims cannot receive care and healing from pastors, elders, and “friends” within its walls.
I also totally agree that the majority of “counselors” do more harm than good by believing the wolf and disregarding the cries for help of his prey. I absolutely agree that couples counselling is only an opportunity for the abuser to abuse his victim further. The victim rarely stands up for herself in those situations due to fear of the consequences.
Abusers know exactly how to intimidate their victims into staying silent and that is why so many women continue to be horribly abused for decades. The secrecy demanded by the abuser usually results in the victim not being believed when she finally figures out that she needs to tell someone, because she did not make the abuse known or even hint at what was happening. After all, people believe that he is such a “nice, godly, upstanding Christian man” and he is often a leader in ministry. The truth is that he is an accomplished liar and has deceived everyone.
And, yes, telling the abuser “no” always results in his true colors being revealed. I can personally attest to that.
Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for another spot-on post.