1Co 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
One of the reasons I am not very popular with the “bigger” names in the domestic abuse ministry realm is because I maintain that we are not to waste our time and energy with programs and “ministries” designed to “fix” abusers. In fact, I maintain that abusers as we have defined them here in this blog do not change. They do not repent. And, in fact, they play us for fools when we try to “save” them.
And yet this is not the message most professing Christians want to hear. They like a “they all lived happily ever after” ending to the story. That is why things like this gain popularity for their practitioners:
…we offer a twelve-week course for church leaders and biblical counselors who desire to grow in their ability to respond to abusive men with the help and hope of the gospel. By completing this course participants will be equipped with the knowledge and skills required to call abusive men to repentance and provide necessary accountability.
On its very face, such a claim is foolishness and looking just a bit deeper you will see that it is absolutely contrary to the “gospel” it claims to proclaim. Think this through:
- Anyone can spend just 12 weeks (certainly not a full 7 days each week, I am sure) taking an online course and they will have all the knowledge they need to deal with deceptive sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists.
- They will be able to hold these abusers accountable. What? “Now Bill, did you abuse your wife this past week?”
This is not the gospel. This is a false gospel that replaces Christ with a man-made program that will legislate heart change in a wicked man.
[Our Program] is a twelve-week, long-distance, biblical coaching program designed to help Christian men move from destructive patterns in their lives and relationships to healthy, supportive alternatives. In addition to weekly coaching sessions [online], participants are required to form a local Shepherding Team, involve an Advocate for their spouse, and complete weekly assignments.
These kinds of hotshot programs gain all kinds of popularity for the “experts” who invent them. But can you see the insanity in this? Do you see how ridiculously unbiblical this is? This is sheer use of Law to conquer sin! But all the Law does is empower sin (see Gal 3:10-13 and 1 Cor 15:56). Furthermore, notice the bald statement that abusers are “Christian men.” Impossible! And finally notice that this cure-all program is really nothing more than “couple’s counseling” in that it requires the abuser to identify an “advocate” for his victim! We all know that abusers only recruit allies for themselves, never true advocates for their victims. And yet this program is being widely received in churches. Do not be duped by it.
You will notice in the Scripture quoted above that the Apostle Paul includes in his list, “revilers.” That is what an abuser is. A reviler. A man who accuses. Who makes his victims out to be villains. He villifies them. And what does God’s Word tell us to do in regard to such a man who claims to be a Christian? Hold him accountable? Offer him the gospel? No! We are to put him out from among us and have nothing to do with him.
The Corinthians were dealing with the wicked man in their midst in really the very same way these modern day abuser-fixers do. They were arrogant. They boasted about how gracious they were even to the likes of someone who was sinning worse than the pagans. Paul called them out on it and commanded them to humble themselves.
Largely what we are seeing today is a pastor here and there, a supposed biblical counselor, and others climbing the fame ladder by promoting their books and programs that promise fixes for abusers. Oh they may throw in a caveat that not many abusers reform, but they claim to have some success stories and they tell us that it is the Lord’s will that we offer the gospel to abusers. Really? Is that how the Scriptures tell us to deal with someone who has crept in among us, claimed to be an eminent saint, and for years behind the scenes cruelly abused his wife? Of course not.
But if you want to become a popular guest speaker at the big conferences, if you want to mix it up with the usual suspects among evangelicals in this arena of domestic abuse ministry, then you absolutely must do a couple of things. Here they are:
- Don’t talk a lot about divorce. In fact avoid the word if you can. Oh, slip in a get out of abuse by divorce card subtlely in a side comment or a foot note, but if you can get by without mentioning it at all, so much the better. Talk about “separation” instead.
- Offer “healing and hope” for the abuser. Assure everyone that wolves can be shepherded into sheep and if you have a program designed to do that, by all means tell the audience where they can get their copy for only $19.95
Now, if you think that my words indicate that I am all jealous and bitter because I am not “popular” with the in-crowd of Christian domestic abuse “experts,” let me set you straight. I gave up being popular long ago. One Friday I was a police officer, well-respected and good at my job. The next Sunday I was a pastor and viewed by most as a fool. And so it has been for the last 36 years.
But I can tell you this before the Lord – I have not compromised His Word in order to be popular. And I won’t compromise His truth in this area either. Handling domestic abusers – especially the ones who claim to be Christians – is not to be done with fix-it programs. Such men are incredibly evil. They have tasted of the goodness of the Lord and in return they have trampled under foot the blood of the cross. They are Esaus, for whom repentance is impossible.
Where are our energies to be put then? On the victims. With the widows and orphans who have been the targets of wolves. There we will find ears to hear and eyes to see.
Finally: Here is a quote from a counselor/abuse survivor that illustrates exactly what we have been talking about in this article –
I was reading this article about domestic abuse that looked like it was going to be good. But on the last page, it talked about how there’s hope for abusive marriages! It gave an example of ONE couple that were reconciled because the abuser was held accountable. It doesn’t talk about how rare that is, and it gives victims false hope that there’s hope for their abuser to change.