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Chris Moles

028 Interview with Chris Moles {Transcript}

Jim Newheiser:

I’m intrigued as well by you talking about batting average. And I’ll sometimes tell people that even one blade of grass on the moon is a miracle. And even one person like this transformed from a person of anger and judgment to becoming a person of grace and love is a miracle. So tell us in terms of what kind of positive results do you see? I don’t know if you have percentages? Or instances of … How have you seen this happen since a lot of us probably haven’t seen many cases where it’s happened?

Chris Moles:

So I think you’re going to look at a few different things. So let’s just do the statistical rubrics which don’t tell us a whole lot about the heart. But interventions, statistically, has a higher or I should say a lower rate of recidivism. So a man convicted of a crime who completes a course similar to ours in anything, even biblical or not, has a lower rate of recidivism. Even self-reflection helps the behavior.
But as far as transformation, that’s something that is observed over time. So one of the passages I like to use when I’m talking with pastors about this because one of the things in biblical counseling is that, I think, some of us have been pre-programmed to, “Well, if this takes longer than eight weeks, then it’s not worth my time.” And this type of work is not an eight week work.

I mean I tell pastors, when we’re doing consulting stuff, that we should plan for at least a year of work. That’s really a conservative estimate. Because I like to use Ephesians 4, the idea of, “When’s a liar no longer a liar? When’s a thief no longer a thief?” Paul communicates that, for instance with the thief, he’s no longer a thief when he has a job and he’s become generous. That doesn’t happen after a couple weeks of counseling, right? He’s got to build an income. He’s got to be demonstrative in his generosity so over time, people can see it. I think the same’s true in our work.

So we can look at recidivism and say, “Okay, it works that way.” We can look at behavior change and say, “Okay, he’s not as violent and people at home seem to be safe.” But the really filter has to be transformation. In order to see that, we have to watch over time, as you just said a second ago. Has he moved from a person of violence to a person of gentleness? Has he moved from a person who exercises privilege as a husband to somebody who exercises leadership as a husband? And that’s only going to be observable over time.

I think those are the marks of transformation, is giving him every opportunity to succeed and then holding him accountable when he doesn’t.

Jim Newheiser:

One problem I’ve seen in cases of angry and violent men is worldly sorrow too.

Chris Moles:

Right.

Jim Newheiser:

Where you get enough pressure and for a period of time, the behavior will change but it’s only the Spirit who can move someone from the deeds of the flesh to the fruit of the spirit.

Chris Moles:

That’s a good observation. So two things there. One as I’m doing training, I often talk about the pivot point of repentance. We tend to like that in the Church when someone says, “Yes, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” And we can be guilty of then dropping the ball there in saying, “Oh good, everything’s good.” But that’s just the turning point and we need this eventual, observable repentance, that fruit of repentance over time.

The second thing that I like to say is that pithy little statement, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” And then I say, “But you can’t feed him crackers.” We can’t force anyone to do anything and that worldly sorrow can come by pressure along. But Godly sorrow comes only after a man is thirsty enough to see not just the how dastardly his choices were in the past, but how amazing the opportunity is in the future. And so I want to see men become so thirsty to be the type of man that God’s designed him to be that they abandon that old way and they embrace the new way. So yeah, that’s a wonderful observation.

And the key to that in many ways, is time and then avoiding hoops for an individual to jump through. So we don’t just want things to check off the list when we hold men accountable. We want concrete measurable, observable steps in spiritual development.

So yeah, he might be a Bible scholar now because he’s reading his Bible every day but is there a gap between that as practical theology? Evaluating that, and again guys, this comes back to how positioned biblical counselors are at this. We’ve been doing this with other things for so long. We’re really positioned to speak into this maybe better than any other field I know.

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028 Interview with Chris Moles {Clip 1 | 1:32}

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From the Video:

Yeah, so I think one, you have to have an evangelistic heart. There has to be kind of a missional mindset to it so you understand that this is an opportunity for me to engage in the workplace. So I think I came into it first saying, “There are certain things about me that the people I work with and the people I work for need to know. One, I’m a Christian. Two, I’m a pastoral ministry. So my experience is not from some other field.”

One of the great blessing for me was I had a supervisor who told me one time, “Chris, you know, if we had a psychologist in this role, we would want him or her to speak to mental health. If we had a law enforcement officer in this role, we’d want them to speak to legal issues. So we want you to be free to speak in your area of expertise. So if a guy has a question about the Bible or you have some insight that can help them spiritually or from a faith-based perspective, we want you to feel free to do that.” So having that type of freedom was a huge blessing upfront in this particular work.

But also, I think, it’s just a matter of being obedient and allowing God to do the work that He’s called you to. And it’s certainly, not every community is going to be like my community. And there’s going to be maybe some resistance but I’d say if you’re really interested, give it a shot. And the first place to do that or how to do that is to maybe connect with some local agencies and get to know the believers that are there. Because they are there. There are believers in government agencies that are really looking for allies.

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028 Interview with Chris Moles {Clip 2 | 1:30}

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From the Video:

Several years ago I was on my way to a conference. I had not been speaking long, for very long on this subject, and I was on my way to a pretty large conference. And I called an advocate friend of mine, somebody that I trusted who has been in the work longer than me. And I asked her, I said, “Look, if you were in my situation and you were going to be addressing hundreds of pastors, what would you say?” And she thought for like just a few seconds and she said, “Chris, can you just remind them that the domestic violence is a sin?” And I think where that was coming from was all her years in the shelter, the place she had seen the most resistance was from the Church. And so I think there has been growing awareness in the Church. And I think the most beneficial thing we’ve done is we’ve actually reached out and had conversations with folks that maybe philosophically, we disagree with but we’ve acknowledged there’s a problem. They’ve been doing this work for a while. Let’s at least have a conversation, “How can we best help as members of the body of Christ?” Rather than just denying its existence. Once we recognize how severe of a problem it is, understanding we have a role to play.

And I think when service providers see that, especially in this day and age when government funding is down, where shelters are closing, where talk therapy’s not so popular, the Church actually has a pretty big void that we can fill. And if people who are doing this work see our compassion and our genuine sincerity, it can be an inviting atmosphere. So I think there’s plenty of work for us to do here.

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028 Interview with Chris Moles {Clip 3 | 3:20}


From the Video:

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.

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028 Interview with Chris Moles {Clip 4 | 1:52}

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From the Video:

So as I look across a group of men, I’ve got a class of 20 guys or I’m doing an individual with a guy. Yeah, there’s a lot of work that’s got to be done but the reality is, for me, what keeps me going? Twofold. One there’s hope, right? This is not an indescribable monster in front of me, this is a human being who yes, has made wicked and sinful choices. And that’s why Jesus came and did what he did, praise God. And secondly, each man that I minister to or work with, is representative of a family, behind him. So with every face of every man, even if he’s rebellious or angry or bitter at me or whatever, there’s a victim, children, maybe potential victims that are there.

So to me, it’s worth the effort even if the batting average is low. Because Jim’s exactly right. I love the blade of grass analogy. You can go for weeks or months and just things seem to be hopeless and that Sisyphus type thing, which is like, “I got to push this boulder again and nothing’s happening.” And then you have that one incident where this guy comes to you and he says, “Hey I was baptized last weekend. I’m being discipled by my pastor and he wanted to talk to you.” Or, you have the one guy who years after the program, you find out that he’s working at a Church camp and his marriage is great. Or you worked with a guy for weeks upon weeks and then his wife sees you in a restaurant and she hugs you out of nowhere.

While those are rare, right? Those are great reminders of how efficient and powerful the Gospel is. So to me, I guess if you focus on that, it really doesn’t get you down.

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Counseling an Abuser: 3 Steps

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This post was written by based on material from in "The Heart of Domestic Violence"

Typically, “why” questions are ineffective in counseling, as people are more likely to blame their sin on the behavior of another. This is especially true in the case of abusers. Asking an abuser why he hit his wife will open the door for him to blame her perceived lack of respect or submission, her chastisement of him, or some other aspect of her behavior that provoked him. This is not what the biblical counselor is after. Instead, asking “what” questions provides more specific, accurate, and valuable data. For example, asking the counselee “What did you expect your wife to do after you began calling her those names?” can expose the true desires of the heart. Through “what” questions, the counselor can discover the lust for control, desire for power, and overwhelming pride that is generally driving abusers. With this step, the biblical counselor should begin to look out for true, biblical repentance.

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020 Counseling Cases of Domestic Abuse {Transcript}

Craig Marshall: Guys, as you hear that and especially this idea of verbally abusive, what comes to mind of how we should approach it? Tom Maxham: To begin, God's word is not silent on the topic of verbal abuse, emotional abuse. In proverbs 12:18 it says, "There's one who speaks rashly like the thrust of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." In proverbs 11:9 it says, "With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor." God is well aware of the severity of verbal abuse and he likens it here to the effects of physical abuse. If you talk to women who've been legitimately verbally and abused over the years they'd said, "Rather he hit me than to put me through this kind of thing." God is well aware, but I think the church can grow and mature and be much more aware of how to handle these things. We can handle the typically marriage issues and we can handle the physical abuse, but there is lots of room for growth in the area of handling verbal and emotional abuse. God knows and God's words are efficient for it, we just need to develop that area. It is happening, people are speaking on it, there's a book out called The Heart of Domestic Abuse by Chris Moles and it is an excellent resource for this very topic. Jim Newheiser: I think when you are addressing abuse of all kinds, a good place to begin is in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, "If you hate your brother, you're a murderer. If you call him a name you deserve the punishment for a murderer." As Tom said, the Lord takes these sins very seriously, and yet, there is a degree, there's a spectrum of how bad this is. It's like in the very next section Jesus said if you've lusted you've committed adultery. A man who has literally committed adultery, or worse, raped somebody or something, that's one absolute end of the scale. The guy who was walking down the street and saw a girl with shorts on and glanced and looked away, he was still in that range but it's a much different degree.

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The Battleship of Abuse

...until he comes to a place of repentance for his oppressive behavior. For help in counseling abusive men, see https://ibcd.org/product/counseling-care-for-domestic-abuse/ and The Heart of Domestic Abuse, by Chris Moles. [iii]...

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Top 10 Podcast Episodes of 2020

...her listeners with content that is both scriptural and practical. This podcast is a must-listen for the Biblical counselor. —Chris Moles, Pastor, Author, Speaker, & Biblical Counselor This past February,...

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020 Counseling Cases of Domestic Abuse

To close out season 2 of the Care & Discipleship Podcast, Craig Marshall sat down with Jim Newheiser (Director of Biblical Counseling at RTS Charlotte) and Tom Maxham (pastor of Grace Bible Church, Escondido and staff counselor at IBCD) to discuss the tenuous situation of dealing with domestic abuse when counseling a couple. This episode is a response to a listener question and addresses a very relevant issue in the church today. The counselors discuss how to respond not only to physical abuse but also how to think through verbal and emotional abuse. They detail the various ways in which churches tend to make mistakes regarding verbal and emotional abuse and articulate a proper response.  They also engage with the book The Heart of Domestic Abuse written by Chris Moles who will be speaking on the issue at the 2017 Summer Institute and Pre-Conference.

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What is Domestic Abuse {Handout}

Some Things to Consider

  • Power and control are at the hub of the wheel because they are at the center of violent relationships. Domestic violence is not caused by one or both parties being drunk, high, stressed out, or angry. Abusers want power and control over their victims and they will use any means they can to do so. (James 4:1-4)
  • Each spoke of the wheel represents a category of abusive tactics, ranging from emotional abuse to economic abuse to use of children. Although every violent relationship is different, they share many of these tactics in common. (Luke 6:43-45)
  • The rim of the wheel represents physical and sexual violence. Although some abusive relationships do not include the reality of physical and sexual violence, the threat is always there for the victim and the fear that goes along with that threat can be a powerful motivator for the victim to stay in the relationship.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”                                                                                                                Proverbs 29:25

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Finding Rest When There Isn’t Any part 2 {Transcript}

Death. The kind of pressure that he’s undergoing. For some of us, we’re blessed. We have a position, we have a salary, we have people who are responding to the Word, responding to our counseling but we’re constantly complaining that God isn’t something and we just forget. Paul has no pension and Paul’s actual life is on the line and he’s saying, “I’m scared” and he’s looking to the Lord. The convergence of things that cause us hopelessness, despair, sadness, are legitimate. This is legitimate fear. I understand irrational fear very much in my own life. I’m a fearful person. A person of anxieties, person of melancholy. I am Eeyore, “We’re all gonna die.” My wife, Jessica, and you’ll know what I’m saying when you meet her, she’s Tigger. “It’s the morning, it’s a new day!” Right? But this is legitimate, sane fear. Emotional fatigue from external pressures of criticism, situational afflictions, bodily he’s tired, and all of this has made him sad. So let’s just pause there for a moment and say we get sad and we have pressures. Some of us imagine more pressures than there are but all of us have legitimate ones and there are times in your life when you will say, “I’m sad, I’m scared, I’m wore out, “I don’t have any rest, I can’t sleep, “and I’m afflicted”, and that statement, those statements, will not mean that you have no faith. Those statements will be undergirded by the faith you have to say them and to know that you are held by the one who undergirds all that stuff and gets through all that stuff. Because somehow he says, “But God”. Now here’s the thing, notice Paul can’t fix it all.

So number one, he can’t be everywhere at once, he’s local in a place. Number two, he has afflictions, he has fears that he cannot fix. Notice none of these circumstances change in his life. Something’s gonna change inside of him but his circumstances don’t change. It’s not fixed. It doesn’t go away. He’s gonna go to bed that night and everything is not made right and so you were never meant to fix it all. I know you’re trying so hard to. That’s why some of you are driving other people nuts. They have to walk on eggshells around you, they have to figure out how to talk to you ’cause you are constantly trying to fix it. And the thing is, being able to fix it all, being able to have the ability to do that, that’s described by a word like “omnipotent”, all powerful, able to fix anything and there’s only one person in the entire universe that has that quality and it isn’t you and it isn’t me, it’s God. You were never meant to repent because you couldn’t fix it. You’re meant to repent because you tried to fix it all. And Paul can’t fix it and he doesn’t know everything. He doesn’t know what’s gonna happen, that’s why he’s scared. He doesn’t know what’s coming around the next corner. He’s afflicted at every turn. To know everything is called “omniscience” and you and I, as a finite local creature, were never meant to know everything. Stop repenting because you don’t know everything. Start repenting because you’ve been trying to. That is the great temptation when these pressures come, to be like God: everywhere, fix it all, I know it all, I can manage it. And look at that remarkable penetrating freedom to deliver you from all that and just to say, “I gotta tell you, “this is a hard hard hard season of my life.” Just to say it. Because life under the Son is stressful. It involves criticism. It is psychologically, emotionally fatiguing and worrisome but God, but God, who comforts the downcast comforted us by whisking us away into a beach side cave where mystically He came down and we ate quinoa. It’s not like that. It’s just not like that. It’s not like that.

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