Domestic Abuse in the Church Part Two

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The statistics on domestic abuse are alarming and sadly, domestic abuse is not confined to those outside of the church. In fact, in the church the issue made worse by something called hyper-headship-a horrible distortion of strong male leadership that is controlling and harsh and thus a breeding ground for domestic abuse.

This post builds on my previous post on the subject and gives a few more resource recommendations for a woman in an abusive relationship. The post is also helpful for a woman who has a friend in an abusive relationship or for a man who wants to change (since the vast majority of abusers are men).

What To Do When You Are Abused by Your Husband by Debi Pryde and Robert Needham.

Book Description: For wives who suspect that they are the object of emotional, psychological, or spiritual abuse by their husband this volume is intended to provide a benchmark for establishing a responsible diagnosis. For Christian wives who know that they are the object of abuse, the authors have provided guidance to obtain resolution that is consciously biblical.

Recommendation: This book was written in 2003 (my edition) and as such it precedes the #metoo movement. As far as I know it is an early attempt to deal with the issue of abuse in the church and expose it. The title says it all since women often do not know what to do when they are married to an abusive husband,

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Hyper-Headship and the Scandal of Domestic Abuse in the Church by Justin Taylor of Bethel Baptist

Definition of Hyper-Headship by Jason Meyer preaching pastor at Bethlehem Baptist: 

Hyper-headship is a satanic distortion of male leadership, but it can fly under the radar of discernment because it is disguised as strong male leadership. Make no mistake—it is harsh, oppressive, and controlling. In other words, hyper-headship becomes a breeding ground for domestic abuse.

Recommendation: I like this article because too often men and sometimes even church leadership will rip Scripture from its context and hide behind it in their abuse of women. This article focuses on what Bethlehem Baptist is doing to make it right and thus it serves as a template for what other churches may want to emulate.

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

Book Description: Domestic abuse and violence are on the rise in our culture today, and just as prevalent in the church. With an estimated one-fourth of women in the church living with abuse and violence, pastors and biblical counselors need to have the resources to offer hope and help. It is time for godly men in the church to call abusive men to repentance and accountability. Here is a valuable resource for every church leader and Christian man.

Recommendation: This is an excellent tell it like it is resource. Chris works with the West Virginia Correctional System with men who are abusers. The men he works with are “in the system.” Chris does not pull any punches yet tries to lead them to hope in Jesus Christ and their ability to change through the gospel. 

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A Biblical Counselor’s Approach to Marital Abuse-Roadmap to Reunification,  by Julie Ganschow and Bill Schlacks

Book Description: In this straightforward exposition, the counselors at Reigning Grace Counseling Center outline a biblical, heart-focused method for repentance and restoration of marriages ravaged by domestic abuse. The four-phased process of Recognition, Repentance, Reconciliation, and Reunification gives Christ-centered hope in the midst of what is often considered to be a hopeless situation.

Recommendation: This book is as the title indicates a road map to reunification. It assumes that Christian men will want to repent and do whatever is necessary to change by applying the gospel. There is extensive counseling within each phase. There is an extensive Bibliography for even more resources. 

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Debilitated and Diminished: Help for Christian Women in Emotionally Abusive Marriages by Anne Dryburgh

Book Description: Debilitated & Diminished is written for those who are seeking to help Christian women who are being emotionally abused by their husbands. It provides a definition of emotional abuse, describes the behaviors involved and the effects of these behaviors upon the victim. A biblical approach for helping these women is proposed that looks at human nature, marital roles, and what it means for her to live in Christ. Suggestions are given as to how the church can be a support to the emotionally abused woman.

Recommendation: I have not personally read this one but have it on good authority it is helpful.

 

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Domestic Violence in the Church

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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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