Marital abuse is a significant issue in Christian circles. Consider this quote from biblical counselors Julie Ganschow and Bill Schlacks and their new book, A Biblical Counselor’s Approach to Marital Abuse.

Reports and concerns about domestic violence have surged to the forefront in our communities and churches. Since the #metoo movement and the stories of hyper-headship have come to light, more victims than ever before are coming forward with stories of abuse in their own homes. Statistics reveal that “Every nine seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.” My research indicates that the prevalence of domestic violence is the same in the church. At the time of this writing (Summer, 2018), 98% of the counseling taking place in our biblical counseling center is comprised of couples who cited “marital issues,” or “the need for marital counseling” on their paperwork. Astonishingly, 98% of that group of counselees are abusers or victims of abuse.

Julie Ganschow directs a biblical counseling center in KC, MO. The ministry is set-up to take people from all over the greater metro area and from a variety of evangelical churches. Her research is derived from that context.

I am a biblical counselor as well, but work primarily within the confines of my own church. To receive biblical counseling in my church a couple would have to agree to attend my church. My research into the area of domestic violence within the church is far too limited to claim a 98% abuse rate.

I am able to say that over the last few years I’ve had more than a few contacts from women within my church who are friends with women in other churches or no church at all seek counsel on how to help their friends in abusive situations. I’ve also had one recent case of a young woman who did come to our church for help with domestic violence but her husband refused to take it seriously-a common MO for an abuser. All this to say that even within my limited experience I can verify the problem certainly exists within the church.

I am grateful for Julie and Bill’s book that provides a roadmap for reunification in the Christ-centered path of the Gospel. Their four-phased approach includes recognition, repentance, and when possible reconciliation, and reunification of the couple.

Recognition is when both the abuser and his victim understand that what has taken place in their relationship is abuse.

Repentance is when the abuser admits and recognizes that he has sinned without blame-shifting, rationalization or justification. Most importantly, he has a change of heart about his sin. He no longer desires to demonstrate power, control, and anger in his life and begins to address the sin in his heart.

Reconciliation includes supervised interaction, supervised dating and couple’s counseling.

Reunification is how the couple is gradually reunited.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this process for a great deal of counseling takes place in each phase.

It should also be pointed out that abuse is on a continuum ranging from verbal fights and intimidation to domestic violence of the physical and sexual types. It should also be pointed out that men can also be the victims of domestic abuse although it is far more common that the man is the perpatrator.

I recommend A Biblical Counselor’s Approach to Martial Abuse. 

I also recommend, The Heart of Domestic Abuse: Gospel Solutions for Men Who Use Control and Violence in the Home by Chris Moles.

Link to Reigning Grace Counseling Center in KC, MO (Julie Ganschow, director)

Link to Chris Moles Peaceworks (ministry to men who are abusers)

Both books are well documented and feature a bibliography with other links. If you know someone especially in the church in an abuse situation take them to these resources and the other resources listed in the books.

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