Here’s an abuse survivor’s plea about nouthetic “Biblical” counseling

Yesterday I published a synopsis of and response to “Helping Women with Child Sexual Abuse in Their Past,” by Zondra Scott, a teacher of nouthetic counselors (going by the name “Biblical counselors”) whose husband Stuart taught “Biblical counseling” at  John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary and who currently teaches it at Southern Seminary (SBC) in Louisville, KY. I wrote this in light of the way “Jane” from The Master’s University says she was counseled after having been raped.

I emphasized that their style of counseling is one that they called “Biblical” but I’m calling “nouthetic” since that was its original name and there are other styles of counseling that are equally Biblical and arguably more so.

Though the details of “Jane’s” so-called counseling experience were of course unique, the overall picture looked eerily familiar to me. Continue reading “Here’s an abuse survivor’s plea about nouthetic “Biblical” counseling”

If “Jane” from The Master’s University were to seek “Biblical counseling”

As Providence would have it, when “Jane’s” account of rape in the environment of The Master’s University went viral last week (link), I was barely aware, because I was cleaning bathrooms and listening to lectures on abuse. One of them was “Helping Women with Child Sexual Abuse in Their Past,” by Zondra Scott, whose husband Stuart coincidentally was formerly on the faculty of the Masters College and Seminary in the area of “Biblical counseling.” Her lecture can be heard here (link).

As I then read the original post about Jane with its many comments and then read a number of follow-up posts about Jane, I thought about Jane’s situation Continue reading “If “Jane” from The Master’s University were to seek “Biblical counseling””

In which I have a small argument with a Puritan about suffering

Recently someone asked me to comment on Facebook on a quotation from a Puritan. I told her I found the quotation troubling enough to make a blog post out of it. Here, finally, is the promised post.

My friend said, “When I read this quote, I thought it was true and couldn’t refute it, which is why I posted it – I thought it was okay. At the same time I had doubts, and that’s why I asked you about it. It’s typical of the preaching I heard in my old church. For many years I primarily read Puritan books like this.”

So what was it? It was a paragraph from a piece called “Seven Inferences from the Great Suffering of Jesus Christ,” by Puritan Thomas Brooks. But before I offer commentary on his work, I’d like to ask you to read it without commentary. Continue reading “In which I have a small argument with a Puritan about suffering”

“Jesus as Intercessor”: barely restraining God’s wrath?

That was the feeling I got all through the years when preachers would explain that term “intercessor,” from Hebrews 7:25.

. . . he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him,

since he always lives to make intercession for them.

This “intercession,” I was told throughout my growing-up years, was Jesus’ prayer to his Father not to slaughter His people, since He had taken the punishment.

It was an unsettling picture in my mind. The Father, angry and eager to destroy. The Son, who stood between Him and us, uttering prayers night and day, holding Him off. Continue reading ““Jesus as Intercessor”: barely restraining God’s wrath?”

Mr. Charming and Miss Target (a guest post at A Cry for Justice)

This is one I submitted to ACFJ months ago. To my surprise it popped up this morning!

***

Mr. Charming and Miss Target are sitting together on the grass looking out at the starlit sky. Miss Target is a new Christian and Mr. Charming is an old hand at religion, so they’re not making out; instead they’re getting to know each other in a deep and intimate way through conversation.

They’re holding hands, and Miss Target sits with her head on Mr. Charming’s shoulder. Conversation lags a bit. Mr. Charming introduces a new topic, almost in a whisper.

“So, what are you afraid of?”

“Huh?” Miss Target raises her head. “Why do you want to know?”

“Well,” he replies, gently putting his arm around her, “we’re getting to know each other, you know, in a deep and intimate way through conversation. If you tell me what you’re afraid of, I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of.”

Read the rest at A Cry for Justice, here.

What if you married a Nazi (a guest post for Emotional Abuse Survivor)

Today I guest posted for Emotional Abuse Survivor (formerly Visionary Womanhood) [and note: later renamed to Flying Free].

Here is the first part of that post:


Back in the days when I taught math, I often helped my students with a complicated problem by presenting them with a more obvious problem that was similar. Solving the more obvious problem would usually give them the tools they needed to figure out the more complicated one.

This is the reason I recently re-watched the 1946 movie The Stranger, starring Loretta Young and Orson Welles. The problem and solution in this movie were just so . . . obvious.

Welles plays a Nazi in hiding in the U.S., one who has managed to disguise his identity so thoroughly that he now teaches in a boys’ academy and somehow arranges to exchange marriage vows with a sweet young thing.


But the sweet young thing is actually not a thing but a woman named Mary Longstreet. At some point in the movie she finds out she’s married to a Nazi. Her brother states the obvious solution: (arrest the Nazi and) annul the marriage.

It seemed an open-and-shut case for U.S. citizens of the 1940s that if you marry a Nazi your marriage can and should be annulled. How many Christians would have told Mary Longstreet she should have stayed married to the Nazi and submitted and tried harder and prayed more? How many would tell her she should just be content?

I think even many who “have a high view of marriage” (by which they mean they believe divorce should be available only for physical abandonment or adultery, and in some cases, life-threatening physical abuse) would be able to see that it’s obvious this marriage should be annulled.

(Would the “permanence view of marriage” proponents think this marriage to a Nazi should be annulled? I doubt it. If Mary Longstreet made a vow to “forsake all others” and “keep only unto thee as long as we both shall live,” then I think they would say she should stay married to the Nazi. If they were to say this marriage is allowed to be annulled, I would be interested in hearing their reasoning.)

As it turned out, Mary Longstreet didn’t need the annulment because her husband was conveniently impaled by a wooden sword wielded by a clock angel (don’t ask). But in most states of this nation, even in 2017, in similar cases an annulment would be impossible. In the case of a criminal life before or during marriage, in most states the only solution is divorce. Even in the case of one whose secret life is as heinous as that of a Nazi.

So now, suppose a secret evildoer marries you, one who keeps a convincing front as a kind college professor or a caring church leader or even just an average businessman. His covert reasons for marrying you may include the desire for a cover for his heinous activity, the desire to be “normalized” by you, or even the desire to have a handy object or objects for some of his heinous activity.

From the beginning, this Nazi-like evildoer scorned the vows he was making (and you made your vows under false pretenses that he had taken his seriously). From the beginning this marriage was a fraud.

It’s not very likely you’ll discover or recognize the fraudulence of the marriage or his heinous activity within the first few months of marriage the way Mary Longstreet did. It’s more likely you’ll find out after years of marriage and several children. And it’s more likely you’ll find out not in a burst of revelation, but as a slow dawning over time, as little bits of information force themselves into your awareness against your will. After all, you don’t want to see them because you vowed to love and honor your husband “till death do us part.”

But now let’s say a revelation occurs. . . .

*****

Read the rest at Emotional Abuse Survivor, here.

 

 

“You just need to be content” — a response to Desiring God

Recently Desiring God published an article telling us that discontent is Satan’s trap against every woman (link). In the style of Screwtape Letters,  author Rebekah Wilson Merkle offers “advice” from one demon to another. Here is a sampling:

Keep them looking at their husband’s failings (“he just doesn’t seem to even care about my needs”) and not their own heart.

If it happens that you can’t keep them from the book [the Bible] completely . . . keep all their thoughts focused on how their husband isn’t living up to the instructions the book contains.

You want to encourage friendships that will feed and pet the discontent, rather than uproot it. Even prayer groups and mentorships are fabulous places for this to happen. . . .

I wrote a response explaining how telling readers to be “content” in every relationship—even when “he doesn’t seem to even care about my needs”—can serve to keep a woman and her children in a highly abusive situation. Implying that mentors and prayer group friends shouldn’t listen to a woman tell about a troubled marriage because she’s being “discontent” will do the same. (I also communicated with someone at Desiring God about it.) But then a survivor of abuse from a patriarchal family wrote a response of her own and sent it to me. Since I believe her response is superior to mine and she graciously gave permission to quote it, I’m publishing it now. Here it is.

When I lived at home with my parents, I used to write articles about contentment and joy. I saw that they were closely connected in the Scripture, and I desired to live out those characteristics of a Christian’s life. My father would often tell me that he was grateful for my contented, joyful spirit. He would proofread much of my writing and he agreed that I could say such things because they were true of my life.

The years passed, and I began questioning the negative patterns, sinful behaviors, wrong attitudes, and hurtful actions of my parents toward others.

Suddenly I was accused of being discontent. My questions were never answered; the responsibility to “have the right attitude” was put on my shoulders. I was told that if I continued to raise questions about serious issues in my family, I was being discontent and unsubmissive. The accusation of discontent was constant. So I began to study the sin of discontent in God’s Word with an open heart to determine if the charge against me was true.

My study led me to understand that true contentment means to be at rest, characterized by peace and deep-rooted joy with the purposes of God. It is a satisfaction that God knows the needs of His children.

To be content is to be controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit in each circumstance, trial, or hardship.

But contentment does not mean resignation to or agreement with evil practices. Contentment does not mean complacency or willful ignorance.

The conclusion I reached was that I was not discontent with God’s  provision in my life. I always had everything I needed, and I was not pining away wanting things I did not have. I did not complain about wanting more than what I was given. I was actually quite content and grateful to the Lord for His provision in my life.

My response to my parents was, “I have searched and studied the Scriptures, and I have asked God to show me my heart. I have asked Him to reveal truth.” I shared my heart with my parents: what I had discovered in God’s Word, my own satisfaction with what God had given to me, how I did not yearn after more things or complain about circumstances. I was transparent about my heart’s attitude.

However, after careful study of God’s Word, I did recognize that there was something I should be “discontent” about. Sin. No Christian should ever be satisfied, accepting, or tolerant of the habitual sinning of others, especially if those sins are harming people.

I shared with my parents that I was “discontent” with the sin in my family. Carefully and specifically, I  stated the areas of direct disobedience to the Word of God that was occurring in the family. It wasn’t about a frustration with petty offenses or annoyances (such as dirty socks on the floor). The sins that I confronted were pornography, slander, vitriolic anger, malicious speech, control and manipulation, hypocrisy, and idolatry.

Over the years, I’ve heard much teaching on the sin of discontent, and it often focuses mainly on letting go of petty grievances. But that falls into the category of forbearance, not contentment.

In recent years, I’ve also noticed that those who are being severely abused and who question that abuse are charged with learning to be more content. “Suck it up and trust God with your trial. You need to learn contentment.”

This is an unloving response to those who are in harm’s way, trapped, afraid, and desperate for life and freedom. 

Continue reading ““You just need to be content” — a response to Desiring God”

Dear Christian, find your life in Jesus Christ

addressing the false teaching of “daily dying to self,” part 4

Part 1 (link) introduces how detrimental this concept can be in the context of an abusive marriage, and gives my husband Tim a platform to speak. Part 2 (link) addresses Scriptures such as “I die daily,” “deny yourself,” and “take up your cross.” Part 3 (link) addresses the Scriptures that talk about “mortification” and spiritual “dying.”

 The Christian life is about finding “rest from works” in the spiritual realm

Jesus promised that those that came to Him would find rest for their weary souls. He accomplished the work in the spiritual realm, so that we wouldn’t have to. Our part is to trust Him in His finished work. But . . . 

In contrast, the “daily dying to self” teaching is a work (in opposition to faith) that Christians are told they’re supposed to accomplish in the spiritual realm, in order to further our life in Christ.

But it’s impossible. Have you observed that it’s impossible in your own experience? Have you felt Continue reading “Dear Christian, find your life in Jesus Christ”

Dear Christian: stop trying to die

addressing the false teaching of “daily dying to self,” part 2

You can read Part 1 here. 

I die dailyPart 1 was an introduction to the topic of “daily dying to self,” partly to respond to a blog post, plus I had the privilege of providing a platform for my excellent husband.

But Part 2 will begin looking at the Scriptures that don’t teach “daily dying to self.” First off . . . Continue reading “Dear Christian: stop trying to die”