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And I was talking to one of our participants here at the Conference earlier where he was talking about batting averages. He’s like, “It doesn’t seem like we have a good batting average.” And I said, “This is not an all star game. This is not a high percentage game because it’s hard, hard work.”
But with that said, Jim, I think what does distinguish, and I don’t want to say my work, but I think what distinguishes biblical counselors. Let me put it this way, when I first got involved in batterer intervention, when I was invited into this secular model of working with men to see behavioral change, I knew going in that that wasn’t my goal and I quickly found a partner or the lady who invited me into the program, my partner, I quickly found an ally. Once we began talking about the centrality of the heart and she’s also a Believer, it transformed the way that we did programming. Because we knew that behavior changes is not enough, right? It’s like stapling bananas on an apple tree, it’s only temporary. There had to be heart transformation.
And so over the years we’ve doing this, I discovered that this type of work fits our paradigm extremely well. Because at first, in order to do batterer intervention or abuser intervention, you’ve got to believe, I think, that change can happen. And you’re right, we get pushback. It’s interesting, I get some pushback from the biblical counseling movement, but I get more pushback from my secular peers who, “Men can’t change. You shouldn’t invest this much time in them. Some programs, they should only exist so that two hours a week, advocates can go to the house and try to persuade women to leave.” Some people literally see us as babysitters so they can try to go and work with the victim.
So I think for me, what really compels me is that we have the message of the Gospel that says, “Not only did Jesus die for us, He died for violent men,” as I like to say. That’s the reality. Not only did He die for violent men, He died in place of a violent man. It’s not like Barabbas was this every day dude. He was an insurgent. And so the very message of the Gospel reaches even to men who’ve used coercion, control, physical force. And so if we don’t hold steady that hope, then I think we’re — I don’t want to say we’re not Christian — but we’re a little less than Christian. And so we got to really hold on to that.
But I would agree with you, I think there is this model out there or this mindset that abusive people can’t change and that we should just kick them out of the Church, which my next question to that is always, “Well what about the next Church?” “We should remove them from the home,” and my question to that is, “What about the next victim?” Because if we do victim care, which I’m all for, I agree with you on that. We help a victim and I want to do that. But if we do really solid perpetrator work, then what happens if a man’s heart’s changed? Then that victim’s safe and every subsequent victim is safe because this is a men’s issue.
I’m proud in many ways to have that banner but I think it’s something that biblical counseling can really get behind because of all the models out there, we’re the one who believes that change is possible for anybody.