1Jn 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
1Th 4:9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
Recently I received an announcement from Focus on the Family about something they call “Hope Restored – A Marriage Intensive Experience.” The email had a some pictures attached. One was of a woman looking forlorn and having the caption “Do you feel alone in your marriage?” A second picture was of her and her husband lovingly embracing one another, this time with the captions: “There’s still hope for your marriage. A counseling retreat to help your marriage survive and thrive.”
I regularly receive accounts from victims of a domestic abuser spouse that include in their story something like this – “Our church told me that we needed to go to a marriage intensive. So we did. We spent three days there. I was told that I needed to…. After we got home, nothing changed except the abuse got worse.”
Is there a place for marriage counseling at all? Yes, but not for cases of domestic abuse. Furthermore, I suggest to you that even in cases where marriage counseling is appropriate, the substance of the counseling is worthless. It is not the message of the Word of God. It never addresses the real issue of “are you really born again.”
Let me be even more direct. Any notion that you can take people and run them through some exercises dreamed up by someone, instruct them in curriculum written by a supposed marriage expert and after one or two or three days of this, miraculously effect a transformation of some kind, is a flight of fancy. It is fiction. Especially if the whole business is wrapped up in a claim to be “Christian.”
Look again at the verses quoted above. Who is it that is taught by God? Every real Christian. What is it that the Lord teaches each one of His people? To love one another. And this is where any true Christian counseling must begin. Who are you? Are you really born again? You do not appear to be loving your spouse? Why is that? No one should have to be teaching you this if you are really born again.
Heb 8:10-11 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
But you are not going to hear this at these “intensives.” They are instead going to proceed on the assumption that the counselees are Christians and then they are going to run them through their fix-it mill and effect, by human effort and works, a marriage that has a fairy tale ending “they all lived happily ever after…because they went to the marriage intensive.”
And in the case of an abuser…he will have been intensively provided with much more ammunition to use on his victim.