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
A heartbreaking trend began recently on social media. In the wake of the abuse exposed in the entertainment industry, women across the globe started speaking out about the harassment and abuse that they too have endured.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are virtually overwhelmed with the hashtag #metoo, identifying people who have suffered at the hands of an abuser. As each high profile case hits the headlines, our hearts are burdened by the victim’s suffering and we long to help.
Over the years, IBCD has invited pastors and counselors to share with us how to speak the truth of God’s love tenderly to those who have been abused. The Word of God is a powerful comfort that rescues the weak and needy (Ps 82:1-4). We want you to know that these solid, biblical resources are now located together in one place and can be easily accessed as you seek to minister the love of God.
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.
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?
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.
One problem I’ve seen in cases of angry and violent men is worldly sorrow too.
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.
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.
I just think that this is really one of the most practical and helpful conferences that there is. IBCD itself is just a treasure trove of resources. You can go to the website there’s … You know you can just … You’re dealing with something, you can have people listen, you can listen yourself, and so I love what you guys do and, of course, love what George and Jim have built into this over the years. I personally have profited from it. People in our church have profited from it. We’ve done levels one and two for Sunday school, for the care and discipleship. I just see this as really just sort of a hands on equipping type ministry.
Thanks so much for your contributions to that content as well. Having you come and speak and the way you open the word on these topics. I know it’s always, it’s fun for me as we think about a conference theme and then you and I talk a little bit and what aspects need addressed and you’re always willing to tackle something and see what the scriptures have to say about that, especially with the pastoral one another component of it. That’s really helpful.
Then your writings, Viewings In Faith and Spiritual Warfare, they’ve just been really helpful in pastoral counseling settings. Really appreciate having you on the team that was as well. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ll be talking about at this year’s conference?
Well, if you remember rightly, Craig, I tried to bow out of actually doing anything this year, but our mutual friend brought a little pressure to bear. The breakout session is going to be on pastoral lessons on dealing with addictions. Basically when you and I had talked about that as a workshop I though “Oh well that’d be great.” Well, then I started trying to put it together and it was really hard because there’s a lot of stuff that you realize we did that wrong, we did that wrong. So what I decided to do to kind of help prepare for this is three people that had been in drug or alcohol addiction that had, all three had been under church discipline. All three, or two of the three had actually been excommunicated. They ended up being restored, repented and restored to the church.
I sat down with each of them and just asked them a series of questions, just interviewed them. You know, how did you get into it, all the questions dealing with the sin itself to what did the church do that was helpful, what did the church do that was not helpful. Once I started to put that together and see the way that these answers were sort of jelling, then it became a little more clear as to the direction that I would take.
The implication there is, the real cause of worry, ultimately, is unbelief. They were not trusting in God. Oftentimes, the person who worries is desiring something in God’s place. They’re wanting their health. I had a person who was terrified of getting cancer, she doesn’t even have cancer, but she’s terrified of getting cancer. There are different issues going on. You could argue with her, well, statistically, it’s unlikely, you don’t have a lot of cancer in your family, you’re still fairly young. But can I tell her from the Bible, she’s not gonna get cancer? No, I can’t. Can I tell her she’s gonna live to see her children grown and married and grandchildren? No, I can’t make those promises. What can I tell her? I can tell her that God, Who is sovereign, has His plan, which is perfect for your life, and no matter what happens, whether He gives you cancer or not, that you can trust Him to do what is best, including taking care of your family. Some people, it’s financial security. They’re worried they’re gonna lose their house, they’re worried they can’t pay the bills.
And worry can become very life-dominating. That’s where all these things are together. A person who’s worried can get angry, when they’re threatened, they can become depressed. Worry can affect you physically. Laura talks about this, how when someone is really stressed on the inside, and they’re worried about a relationship, they’re worried about circumstances in their life, it’s going to affect you somehow, organically. Lack of sleep, tension in your stomach, digestive problems. Stress, worry, fear, all are related. And there are ways that we deal with worry sinfully when something concerns us.
See, one of the things we begin to discover as we wait into this world of prodigality is that the worst lies aren’t the ones that our prodigals tell us. The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves. This is why rugged love starts with strong enough to face evil. This is why I ask you to turn to Romans 12:9 where the word of God says, let love be genuine. Then, it pulls this second idea right up alongside of it, abhor what is evil. Then, we’re going to talk about the third idea in just a second. Let love be genuine.
And as we read the pattern, especially in the New Testament, the Biblical pattern, the Bible typically begins with the indicative, that is what God has done for us in Christ as the ground for the imperative, and that is what we do as a result. And you see this most clearly in the epistles of Paul where, for example, in Ephesians, chapters one to three, are description of the gospel, what God has done for us in Christ. And it’s a magnificent description of the gospel. Then, chapters four to six, it’s okay, therefore, and then it’s our call to be united and to love, and to put off and to put off, and to work these things out in our families. Likewise in Colossians, the first two chapters are description of what God has done for us. And then, three and four, put that into application. And Machen, J. Gresham Machen, says “Christianity begins in the indicative, not what we do. What God has done provides the foundation for what we do.” And I’ve been fascinated as well, in Ephesians, for example, where typically people will say, “Oh, well, the first three chapters of Ephesians are the doctrinal part, and chapters four to six are the application part.”
But when you read the application parts, when you read the very practical parts, these, too, are founded in the gospel, after Paul had presented the gospel in chapters one to three, when he starts giving these commands, he keeps going back to the gospel. And when he begins the put off, put on section, how we should not walk as the gentiles walked in all of their sin, then he says, “But you did not learn Christ in this way.” So the way we are to walk is the way we learn Christ. That’s the gospel. In verse 24, “As we put on the new self and the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” He’s talking about how this new self has been created by the new birth when we believe, when God made us alive, which he talked about in chapter two, in verse four, and likewise in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God and Christ has also forgiven you.” So even in the very practical section, he keeps going back to the fact, “How can I forgive?” It’s because God and Christ has forgiven me, it’s the gospel that enables me to do this.
Psalm 23 is a good verse for fearing people, I’ve got an outline on that in your notes, I’ve got audios on that, to learn to trust God. That He cares for you as a shepherd. He’s the one who protects you. You can’t ultimately protect yourself. Those who are trusting God are characterized by boldness. Proverbs 28, the wicked flee when no one coming, pursuing, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. And when facing fears, especially OCD type fears, the critical question is what would God have me to do? I can’t, quite frankly, if God wants you out working, it’s safer to get out of the house than to be in defiance of God, watching TV all day. That safety is found in doing God’s will. There’s famous quotes by Stonewall Jackson, who said I feel as safe on the battlefield as I felt on my own bed. Now, there may have been a bit of unbiblical fatalism in some of what Stonewall Jackson said, but there’s also some truth in the sense that he had this trust in God that, for him, he was doing his duty. And if he’s doing his duty, he’s as safe as a man could be. Not to mention the fact that when the bullet finds me I’ll be with the Lord anyway. So safety is in doing the will of God.
Some people are fearful because of fear of imperfection. I may mess up, so I won’t even try. Yeah, you’re gonna mess up. Only God is perfect. You have to trust Him. Only God possesses certainty. Only God has absolute control. He is to be trusted. And that means you need to stop trusting in yourself. The Scripture says as we look to Him, then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden fear, nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. That’s Proverbs, chapter three, verses 23 to 26.
What are some of the things you come up against most frequently that they’re seen differently? What are some of the most common things, especially for people listening who just aren’t familiar with all the ins and outs of those dynamics?
The way that the world counsels is therapy and medicine. That’s what their hope is in and that, somehow, you’ll magically find the answers within your own self. We know the answers come from God’s word and by his spirit. That’s what changes one’s heart, motives, and desires.
They just believe that you help the girls, you get them on medicine, and you create a safe environment for them, which we want that, as well, but then their method of change is not one that brings, really, any lasting hope. It labels them. It gives them medicine. It keeps them, I think, from finding the freedom that’s available in Christ.
We’re going to do counseling. The world says do counseling. We’re going to do it in a Biblical way and offer them anger management skills, but do it in a Biblical way. Everything that the world has to offer, we can offer in a Christ centered, gospel-centric way.
I had a question. I’ve actually had the opportunity to supervise people who are your interns, I think, or one who’s your intern at Vision of Hope. One thing that impressed me is, those people are working … I gave the analogy, “You’re not working the maternity ward, you’re working in the trauma unit.” I would assume you’re dealing with addictions, you’re dealing with the really hard cases.
I guess I’d have two questions. One would be, how do you keep yourself and others encouraged, because I’m sure there are a lot of cases where people continue in their sin, which is not your failure, but how do you keep people going? What kinds of successes are you seeing?
Yeah, the first one is tricky, because we kind of ebb and flow. Whenever a resident leaves the program, whether they leave in rebellion or we have to dismiss them, and dismissals are usually for reasons where they’re not safe, or they’re not helping keep other people safe, they’re putting them in danger … Whenever someone leaves, it’s always a dagger to the heart of the girls that I supervise. It is tough.
We have a weekly staff meeting, which I think is as important for relationship and encouragement as it is to cover the business of the week. We communicate well. You have to stay on the scriptures. You have to understand that some people get more connected to certain counselee in our place than others.
I think that’s my role, is to shepherd this group of ladies to help them to not take it so hard when someone leaves or there’s a failure. We do see a lot of that. We do have about a 30% graduation rate, which is great. I compare that … The world’s graduation rate, there’s a 45% success rate for 90 day programs. Typically, our girls are in our program 18 months or so, so we’re talking about a year and a half versus three months and we have a 30% graduation rate.
We think that’s a tremendous success rate and we’re thankful for that, but you do have to encourage each other. Hebrews talks about that, encouraging one another every day, exhorting one another daily. I think that has to happen in an environment like you described, because you nailed it on the head. That’s exactly what we deal with.
Now, peace is kind of a funny thing because everybody says he’s in favor of peace, right? Even the President of Iran will say he’s in favor of peace and yet peace is hard to come by. We live in a world full of conflict, among nations, throughout the world. There are wars, there are revolutions, there are divisions. And among individuals, our courts are full of lawsuits, divorces, people in neighborhoods fighting, couples fighting, abuse taking place, shouting, hitting. Churches have divisions. Conflict sometimes over important doctrine and sometimes over the color to paint a room or the addition of another musical instrument that some people don’t agree with or a different kind of worship. Pair church organizations often have a lot of trouble with divisions that can take place there. Actually, one of our missionaries, I was checking during a break, and he’s teaching in a seminary abroad, and he’s concerned that the seminary, which has been there for many decades, may dissolve because of a conflict taking place right now among the leadership of the seminary. And he’s been teaching there for some years and he may have to go find another place of ministry.
And David here what he’s doing with Bathsheba is such an act of ingratitude. The Lord’s said, “I’ve given you everything. How could you do this?” And I think if you were to know, and we don’t know for sure, but I doubt if David had written any psalms lately. I think, what he’s saying, is he had drifted from the Lord, drifted from the delight he had even when he’s dancing and rejoicing when the Ark of the Covenant comes into his capital. It appears that his heart has grown cold. He’s also guilty of neglecting his duty as king, verses 1 and 2. It says, “When kings go off to battle that he sends his underlings to go.” And in the context of that time in the rainy season you couldn’t fight. Now it’s spring, go fight. Another little detail in verse 2. Now when evening came David arose from his bed. Does that sound good to you? It’s not when I usually get up, in the evening, I don’t know. But you see what happens to David.
If you help people read the Bible through the lens of the suffering and difficulty that life has always held since the fall of mankind into sin. It can help them understand that they’re not alone. When they see the story of David who was a combat veteran, who went out, killed people, decapitated them, mutilated the dead bodies of his enemies to get his dowry, and then in Psalms 6, he’s describing sleepless nights where he’s soaking his couch in tears and his enemies surround him and he’s wrestling with these realities, that begins to help people connect their story to the story of scripture in a way that helps them understand, they are not alone.