Statement on Abuse and Biblical Counseling
Scripture speaks more clearly about the effects of sin on humanity, the beauty of redemption, and the certainty of hope despite adverse situations, than any other resource. God, through His Word, has provided sufficient wisdom about abuse; more than what worldly systems can offer. Past failures in how we have responded to abuse should not force us to look to worldly wisdom in order to build a comprehensive approach to the evils of abuse, but rather encourage our humility and reorient us back to the enduring sufficiency of God’s Word to provide wisdom relative to the complexities presented by the sin of abuse. It is important to keep in mind that gathering facts and accurately interpreting data is challenging in cases of abuse. Our confidence rests in the sufficiency of Scripture and the promise that our Lord’s perfect justice will one day prevail (Isaiah 30:18, Psalm 9:7-8, Psalm 146:7-9, Colossians 3:25).
The literature on abuse in the biblical counseling movement is maturing. As we grow and learn together, we want to ensure that the continuous expansion of these resources, as well as our counsel for the victims and perpetrators of abuse, follows a biblical framework representing the heart and wisdom of God. In cases of abuse, we should seek to provide biblical parameters derived from the whole counsel of God. We want to avoid temptation to cling to one portion of truth to the unintentional exclusion of other relevant truths taught in Scripture in order to apply it appropriately to the tragic and often dangerous situations of abuse.
God’s providential unveiling of the prevalence of abuse has provided the church with an opportunity to seek answers to this pervasive problem. The failures of individuals and churches, including ACBC counselors, regarding the complex issues of abuse demand that we grow in biblical wisdom and application for the sake of Christ’s name and the good of those affected by such evils. Regrettably, in some cases of abuse, responders have demonstrated an inadequate posture offering a mixture of insufficient counsel from the world and misapplied counsel from God’s Word. The origins of abuse are a result of the Fall, therefore we must be driven to Scripture as our source for answers to this problem. As individuals and churches, we must respond with humility and repentance in so far as any have been guilty of mishandling abuse situations.
The multifaceted nature and variability that accompanies each unique story of abuse demands that we minister the depths of God’s wisdom to the broken and oppressed with humility, clarity, confidence, and gentleness. This document is an attempt to acknowledge the volatility of abuse cases yet provide unwavering biblical wisdom to guide Christians, so they are not paralyzed when faced with the deepest of evils encountered in abuse cases. The goal is for ACBC certified counselors to stand firm upon the enduring doctrines of Scripture for proper action which confronts abusers and protects the abused consistent with the character of our God in his redemptive and restorative work. Our counsel is shaped by two truths about His character: God is the one who protects and cares for those who are reviled and misused, and He judges justly and will act in vengeance towards those who revile, oppress, and misuse others. God has ordained the church in general as means of demonstrating His care and protection to those who suffer unjustly by the hand of another. Therefore, in hopes of serving the church of the living God, protecting those affected by the sin of abuse, and equipping our certified counselors to minister with effectiveness, competency, compassion, and biblical wisdom we offer the following affirmations and denials.
AFFIRMATIONS & DENIALS
I. On God
Whereas, God’s sovereign and perfect will is not limited by any human motive or act and is often beyond human comprehension; and,
Whereas, God’s love is expressed, among other ways, in His desire to see all sinners come to a saving knowledge of the truth; and,
Whereas, God’s concern for the defenseless and oppressed and His hatred of violence are prominent themes of the Scriptures and demonstrate both the reality of evil and suffering in the world, but also confirm God’s role as protector and ultimate judge of the wicked; and,
Whereas, God has sanctifying purposes for all the suffering of His people and He promises to overcome evil for their good and His glory; and,
Whereas, obedience to God is required to grow in sanctification and the pursuit of holiness, it does not preclude the seeking of help from church and civil authority; and,
Whereas, God is the only true hope, light, comfort, and refuge in the midst of the most extreme suffering and darkness; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that God hates the mistreatment of others for selfish gain, which includes acts of abuse and oppression. God is concerned with unjust circumstances, and the Scripture testifies that God’s intervention in matters of human suffering and sin is primarily aimed at heart transformation for all involved and the fruit that results from that change, which brings God the greatest glory. God alone judges justly and vindicates Himself against the wicked. He is fully trustworthy and the only true refuge for the oppressed. God, as the definition and essence of love, willingly extends mercy, grace, and reconciliation through His Son to all sinners, whether they be victims of oppression or oppressors themselves. Regardless of the nature or extremity of abusive situations, God never wastes the suffering of His people. He desires to redeem past sufferings and sins in order to conform those involved into the image of His son, Jesus Christ, which is our greatest good. We affirm that biblical resistance to sinful oppression is pleasing to the Lord. The body of Christ, as God’s hands and feet, should provide a place of refuge and care for those oppressed and endangered. In His kindness, God redeems our suffering and sanctifies us through the trials so that suffering need not be wasted.
WE DENY that God is distant and detached from those who face abuse and injustice; we deny that wicked human acts alter, deter, or diminish the all-good and righteous will of God; we deny that God requires individuals to remain in life-threatening situations for sanctification; and we deny that God always promises and purposes to provide relief from trials or suffering in this age.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 50:20; Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 9:9, 12b; Psalm 11:5; Psalm 72:4; Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 27:12; Isaiah 26:3-5; Isaiah 55:8-9, 11; Lamentations 3:37; Romans 8:28-29, 32; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:11b; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 5:10.
II. On the Work of Christ
Whereas, Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, and all things were made by Him, for Him, through Him, and upheld in Him; and,
Whereas, Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows, despised and rejected, well acquainted with grief, and suffered in His sinless service to God for the sake of sinners; and,
Whereas, Jesus Christ came to save all types of sinners, including the oppressed and those who oppress others; and,
Whereas, Jesus Christ serves as the great high priest who can sympathize with human weakness and suffering; and,
Whereas, Jesus Christ is our perfect example of how to suffer faithfully, who, when
suffering at the hands of sinful people, trusted the Father’s righteous judgment; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ could propitiation be made on behalf of sinners to God. True change can only begin once a dead heart is made new in Christ. The oppressed and oppressors remain under the Lordship of Christ and both should be brought to Jesus first and frequently by their counselors as the ultimate source of spiritual help and healing. Christ’s response to his own humiliation and unjust treatment by others teaches believers to consider their motivations, attitudes, and actions as they seek to glorify God in their suffering. During His life on earth, Christ showed compassion for the oppressed and continues his advocacy for believers at God’s right hand in heaven. As head of the church, Christ desires for His body to continue His ministry of reconciliation for the oppressed and oppressors where possible. As judge of mankind, Christ represents perfect justice, wisdom and righteousness for the oppressed and oppressors. At all times, Christ is the refuge for the oppressed and as His earthly representative, the church is a tangible expression of his compassion and protection. We affirm that the hope found in Christ is the only hope that will not put us to shame. In His humanity, Christ is the example of manhood as a loving, gentle shepherd for leadership in the home and church.
WE DENY that suffering is beyond the scope of God’s redemptive plan or Christ’s redemptive work; we deny that Christ’s work is immaterial or disconnected from the hardships that the abused face; we deny that following Christ’s example means one must continue in suffering from current abuse without loving confrontation of the sin of the abuser; and we deny that repentant oppressors are by default excluded from Christ’s forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation due to the nature of their past sin as oppressors.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 46; Isaiah 56; John 5:30; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30; Philippians 2:2-5; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 1 Peter 4:12-14; Revelation 20:12.
III. On the Holy Spirit
Whereas, the Holy Spirit is God; and,
Whereas, the Holy Spirit is the all-wise counselor and comforter; and,
Whereas, the Holy Spirit is the permanent seal of redemption over the redeemed, never abandoning or forsaking them; and,
Whereas, the indwelling Holy Spirit provides both admonition and correction in response to sinful disobedience and rebellion, as well as comfort and peace in response to God-honoring faith in, and obedience to, the promises of His Word; and,
Whereas, the Holy Spirit enlivens those who were spiritually dead, enlightens the eyes of those who were spiritually blind, and softens the heart that was once hardened in sin; and,
Whereas, the Holy Spirit is the One who comes alongside as a helper to aid saints in their personal sanctification and enables them to entrust and submit their whole person to the Father; and,
Whereas, the Holy Spirit reminds believers of the Word of God, and uses it as an effective and powerful instrument of both nourishment (instruction) and pruning (discipline), in an effort to produce Kingdom fruit; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that the Holy Spirit comforts those who face adversity by bringing the eternal truths and promises of God to bear on the hearts of the weak and oppressed. The new heart is one of the most precious and powerful resources available to suffering and struggling saints. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God that never abandons nor forsakes the children of God, despite the severity of the circumstances surrounding them. The Spirit of God speaks to believers through the Scriptures, never contradicting the principles, precepts, and commands found in His Word.
WE DENY that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force; we deny that the Holy Spirit’s purpose or work is to diminish personal responsibility, cultivate self-esteem, or eliminate difficulties in the lives of believers; and we deny that sufferers should lean on personal subjective experiences or rely on their own understanding alone, in determining how to respond to challenging circumstances.
SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 3:5-6; John 14-17; Romans 8:11-17; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18.
IV. On Scripture
Whereas, as our Creator, God has authority to establish and define absolute truth; and,
Whereas, God has chosen to speak to man in human words that are recorded as Holy Scripture; and,
Whereas, Scripture is man’s source of absolute truth and is sufficient for life and godliness; and,
Whereas, Scripture is an inexhaustible fountain of wisdom and that Christians must
repeatedly return to the Word when faced with tragedy and injustice; and,
Whereas, Scripture cannot contradict itself and considering the whole counsel of God is therefore necessary in order to understand the deep complexities of sin and suffering; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that Scripture is sufficient to develop a comprehensive approach in ministering to the oppressed and oppressors. God’s Word does not necessitate additional information from secular sources that fundamentally misunderstand sin, suffering, and human nature. Holy Scripture is the most dynamic resource replete with sufficient hope, comfort, principles, and wisdom to help both the counselor and counselee accurately assess abuse and provide thorough solutions. Scripture condemns the sinful use of others, especially misuses of authority, which diminishes and degrades another image bearer for selfish gain. Human experience and observations never supersede biblical authority or sufficiency but may be used to illustrate biblical truth, promote study of Scripture, reveal where Christians have neglected biblical care and counseling, and refine broad biblical principles.
WE DENY that the accurate interpretation and wise application of Scripture can be harmful in the cases of abuse; we deny that human experience may be used as a means of establishing truth; we deny that eisegesis (reading into the biblical text what is not there), is a valid means of interpreting God’s Word and man’s problems; we deny that sufficiency of scripture means there is nothing descriptive to consider from nonbiblical sources; and we deny that secular abuse frameworks such as the Duluth Model, Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), or counseling models such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), or similar ideologies, are to be utilized as a necessary complement to Scripture or considered as biblically-informed tools to build frameworks for assessing, demonstrating, and addressing abuse.
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 4; Deuteronomy 6; Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119; Matthew 4:4; John 15:5-8; John 17:17; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11-12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; 2 Peter 1:3-4, 20-21; 1 John 5:13.
V. On Human Nature, Sin, and Suffering
Whereas, God created mankind in two complementary sexes of male and female who are equal in dignity and worth as image bearers; and,
Whereas, the fall of mankind into sin was an actual event, original sin is a reality, and all
of mankind is depraved and sinful by nature; and,
Whereas, the seed of sin is in every heart and that human beings are capable of horrific sin and,
Whereas, the natural results of sin lead to suffering in every human heart and life; and,
Whereas, all of mankind is in need of salvation from the enslavement of sin and the eternal punishment for unrepentant sin; and,
Whereas, God offers salvation to mankind exclusively through repentance of sin and saving faith in the person of Jesus Christ alone; and
Whereas, the love of Jesus Christ within all believers is to be a controlling influence for their responses in love towards others; and,
Whereas, it is possible to rejoice in suffering, knowing that God has sanctifying purposes for all the suffering of His people and He promises to overcome evil for their good and His glory; and,
Whereas all humans are made to be worshippers of the true God but because of sin now have a default toward false worship of self which includes worship of things like pleasure, power, and control; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that all people are culpable for their sin and accountable for their response to the gospel. An abuser’s sin patterns need to be biblically assessed, defined, and confronted. The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ gives genuine hope for repentance for the vilest sinners. As biblical principles are applied to the heart, abusers can be set free from these deeply rooted desires, sin patterns, shaping influences, and false worship. Lasting change happens through the biblical means of personal confession of sin, repentance, personal discipline, obedience, and the faithful “one another” ministry of the local church. Idolatry, in all of its manifestations, is at the heart of abuse. A truly repentant abuser will consistently bear fruit in keeping with repentance and this evidence is necessary before considering reconciliation and reunification with those he or she formerly abusively oppressed. Pride, selfishness, control, and jealousy are the primary root issues and such acts of abuse are symptoms of a heart enslaved to the god of self, rather than the God of Scripture. As believers we are commanded to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who abuse us. We affirm that it is loving and caring to expose the sin of abuse. The biblical counseling process should include encouraging and assisting the abused victim to seek safety and protection, by faith, from future abuse. The situation may require the counselor to report criminal activity to civil authorities and notifying church authorities of sinful behavior for appropriate discipline.
WE DENY that the abused must simply endure their suffering and forgo protection from the abuser; we deny deterministic perspectives that reinforce a pattern of victimization; we deny that an abuser’s disordered thinking and behavior is determined, not merely influenced, by outside factors such as poor parenting, familial sin patterns, trauma, biology, or any other circumstance; and we deny that it is impossible for abusers to change because of their personality or deeply rooted sinful patterns or that they are beyond reach of the gospel.
SCRIPTURES: Psalm 10; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 22; Proverbs 24:11-12; Matthew 3:8; Luke 6: 27-28, 35, 45; Romans 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; 2 Corinthians 7:10-11; Galatians 5:16; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:17-32; Ephesians 5:8-9, 19-21; Colossians 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:3; James 1:2-4; 1 John 4:20.
VI. On Marriage
Whereas, God is the author of marriage and it is defined by Him in its roles and purposes—the principal purpose being that of a living parable of Christ in loving headship and the church in joyful submission, which culminates in Christ’s return to claim His bride; and,
Whereas, God’s original design for marriage was corrupted in the fall, and continues to be so through sin, but redeemed through the work of Christ by the power of the Spirit through faith and repentance of spouses toward each other; and,
Whereas, God accomplishes His goal of bringing glory to Himself through the Son in the sanctification of spouses in marriage and thus promises to use even the sin of another for the sanctifying good of those who remain steadfast; and
Whereas, God is Lord of marriage and Lord of all married people and thus has the right to call people to honor Him in their relationships and that no trauma can ever negate His Lordship, all parties are to come before His throne seeking to please Him; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that marriage exists and functions under the authority of its Author as a covenant relationship between God, a husband (adult, consenting, biological male) and a wife (adult, consenting, biological female) for a lifetime. The relationship between Christ and His church, with Christ as a sacrificial and loving Head, and the church as a submissive and respectful bride, is God’s ordained model for husbands and wives. God has ordained this model of marriage to portray the good news of the gospel. Marriage is the means God has ordained for the creation of family units, and for the sanctification of its participants. It cannot be recreated in man’s own image or according to his likeness and it does not evolve in relation to human culture and society over time.
WE DENY that marriage is a human institution that exists merely for human intents and purposes; we deny that it can be constituted contrary to God’s design in the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives; we deny that it can be established between two men or two women or between an adult and a child; we deny that it is only a contractual relationship; we deny that husbands or wives have the right to misuse or abuse their mates for their own benefit or pleasure; we deny that it is informed as to nature and purpose by its cultural or historical contexts; and we deny that it can be dissolved for reasons not permitted by Scripture.
SCRIPTURES: Genesis 2:18-25; Genesis 3; Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9; Matthew 28:19; John 4:24; John 5:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 1:16; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Revelation 19:6-10.
VII. On Authority
Whereas, God is the only sovereign authority and He delegates authority to human institutions, giving them specific roles and responsibilities to maintain social order according to His holy will; and,
Whereas, He is righteously angered with the misuse of authority and will judge those who abuse their power and neglect their responsibilities; and,
Whereas, institutions ordained by God are designed to be good, wise, and necessary for order and protection, yet in some instances such authority may be sinfully expressed through passivity or tyranny; and,
Whereas, all people are called to submit to some level of authority, whether it be parents, husbands, elders, or governments; and,
Whereas, God made men and women ontologically equal and yet has also delegated different roles prior to the fall of man.
Whereas, God-ordained institutions should be evaluated and, where necessary, wisely reformed by the standards of Scripture; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that those who use authority sinfully will give an account to God. We affirm that delegated authorities in church, government, and family are to be obeyed “in the Lord,” in so far as they are consistent with Scripture. Disobedience to earthly authority is in order to obey God rather than man. We affirm that church leadership will give an account to God for the stewardship of authority and duty to shepherd both the abused and abuser under their care. We affirm the necessity of reporting abuse to civil authorities as an act of obedience to God’s ordained methods of justice. We affirm that the church must confront and correct abusive members, calling them to repentance through biblical means of discipline. We affirm the church’s responsibility to care for and protect the oppressed in gentleness and humility, and to confront sin with biblical resolve. Some churches, pastors, and counselors have compounded the harm of abuse by being negligent and mishandling the Word. We affirm that men in positions of spiritual authority who abuse those under their care deny the gospel by living for themselves instead of Christ and His church. We affirm that the church must faithfully uphold the beauty of God’s design for marriage. We also affirm the church should seek to reconcile and restore families through the gospel, but this is not always possible due to sinful responses and a lack of biblical repentance. We affirm that a major priority of the church should be to help sinners be reconciled to God first and foremost before pursuing the process of restoring the marriage and family.
WE DENY that authority—whether in the family, church, or society—is inherently abusive and unjust; we deny that the source of individual instances of abuse is systemic and abuse can only be addressed through dismantling the institutions in which imbalances of power exist; we deny that institutional reforms should be prioritized over individual change; we deny that seeking clarification from those who report such abuse dismisses the legitimacy of the disclosure; and we deny that Scripture is inadequate for confronting abuse and secular wisdom is necessary to identify the causes of abuse. SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:12; Matthew 28:18; Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-2; Hebrews 13:17; Ephesians 6:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Titus 3:1; James 4:7; 1 Peter 2:13-14.
Definition of Abuse
Whereas, current definitions of abuse include verb forms denoting mistreatment, misuse, or harm of physical objects (e.g., alcohol, drugs, people, animals) or immaterial concepts (e.g., power, emotions, finances); and,
Whereas, current attributes of abuse apply to a broad spectrum of behaviors (e.g., single instance of mistreatment, repeated abuse), attitudes, and forms (e.g., emotional, economic, physical, animal, marital, domestic); and,
Whereas, current Christian and secular definitions of abuse are ever broadening, resulting in confusion and making it possible to label nearly every sinful act as abuse; and,
Whereas, a definition of abuse utilizing biblical principles, concepts, and language is therefore necessary to help the church appropriately consider the nature, causes, and impacts of abuse, in order to engage the abused and abuser with hope-filled solutions; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that abuse is the pattern of sinful, selfish mistreatment of another made in God’s image, whereby moral agency, freedom of conscience informed by God’s Word, and God-given human dignity is violated by harmful acts (physical, sexual, verbal) or schemes to perpetuate oppression and unbiblical control. Using biblical terms and concepts including oppress, violate, defile, humiliate, deceive, weaken, scheme, bring low, self-interest, selfish ambition, and others to replace ambiguous psychological terms provides a biblical roadmap and solution for counsel. Using these biblical terms and concepts better depict the sinful depravity of abuse against the dignity and personal capacities of those created in God’s image. Expressions of abuse seek self-interest in the misuse and defilement of another person. Culpability before the Lord is not dependent upon awareness or intentionality of the abusive behavior. Acts of abuse can be sorted into three broad categories: inflicting physical and sexual harm, speaking reviling and corrupting words, and scheming to isolate from certain relationships and to restrict economic resources. We affirm victims of abuse experience symptoms from these acts of abuse in a multitude of ways including emotional, spiritual, and physical distress that may compound over time, yet abuse is best identified by intentional sinful acts against another for the purpose of harm and control.
WE DENY the use of broad and ambiguous definitions of abuse that make it possible to label nearly every sinful act as abuse; we deny that abuse should be defined only by its effects or individual perceptions of a particular experience; we deny that abuse should be applied to any and all instances where mistreatment, injustice, or discomfort is perceived to be present; and we deny that abuse is simplistic and should be categorized based solely on the effects of an experience separated from the wisdom of God provided in Holy Scripture. SCRIPTURE: Exodus 3:9-10; Deuteronomy 26:6-8; Judges 19-20; 2 Samuel 14; Psalm 5:6; Psalm 7:14; Psalm 10; Psalm 35:4; Psalm 40:14; Psalm 70:2; Psalm 71:10; Isaiah 30:12-13, 19:20, 49:26; Matthew 20:25-28; Romans 14:15; Galatians 4:20; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Philippians 2; 2 Timothy 4:9-18; James 4:3.
Nature of Abuse
Whereas, God is a stronghold for the oppressed, the church should likewise be a refuge;
Whereas, all Christians should be grieved by the sin of abuse and reflect God’s character to guard and protect the abused; and,
Whereas, humans have sinfully responded by either minimizing abuse or inflating all sinful acts as abuse; and,
Whereas, broad definitions of abuse lead to ambiguous solutions in addressing sinful acts
of abuse; and,
Whereas, most cases of abuse are perpetuated by men, yet men and women can be the abuser or the victim of abuse; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that acts of abuse are sin. God-ordained authorities exist for the good of the family, church, and social order. We affirm that the framework of power imbalances is inadequate to biblically understand the full nature and dynamics of abuse. Authority and power are not the cause of abuse, but sinful desires of the heart are the cause of abusive attitudes and behaviors. Stewards granted authority by God bear a heavy responsibility and will incur a stricter judgment in how they treat those under their care. The sinful desires of the heart are much more complex than worldly models can either discern or perceive. Demands for respect, the pursuit of selfish pleasure, fear of man, desire for control, and self-worship are all attitudes of the heart that lure and entice someone to abuse others. Abuse occurs when selfish ambition, born from sinful desires, leads to acts that are a stumbling block which can often violate the conscience and minimize the value or dignity of another image bearer.
WE DENY that the answer to abuse is to dismantle God-ordained authority structures in the family, church, and government; we deny that abuse can be reduced to “power imbalances” and is inherent to hierarchies; that the individual perception should be the principal threshold of what is considered abuse; we deny that conflict between those in authority and those under their authority should always be considered abuse; and that the Bible commands unconditional allegiance to earthly authorities.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 9:9; Psalm 72:4; Jeremiah 6; Jeremiah 8; Ezekiel 34:2-4; Mark 12:40; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 5:21-33; Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 13:17; James 1; James 4; James 3:13-18; 1 Peter 5:1-4.
Causes of Abuse
Whereas, the immediate effects of the Fall resulted in violence, decay, death, broken relationships, blame-shifting, manipulation, deception, selfish gain, fear; and,
Whereas, some circumstances can be observed as common among genuine abuse cases, the presence of these circumstances is not determinative of abuse since acts of abuse are always
conceived from and flow from a sinful and wicked heart; and,
Whereas, humility is required in evaluating abuse situations because the seed of every sin is in every heart; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that abuse is manifested outwardly, but also recognize that the source of abuse is from the inner man. All acts of violence are an expression of a violent heart. Violence, in all its forms, was an immediate result of the Fall. We affirm that there can be various organic and social factors that influence a person to the sin of abuse, but such factors can never be considered the cause for sin. Abuse is a choice to pursue sinful desires of the flesh and abusers are, therefore, morally and judicially culpable for their acts of abuse against others. Abusers can repent of their sin, be forgiven by the God of mercies, and change through the power of the Holy Spirit.
WE DENY that the sin of oppression and abuse can only grow and worsen; we deny that pride leading to abuse, often described in psychological terms as narcissism, involves a genetic or hereditary disposition or is a direct result of neglect and past abuse; we deny that victims must remain at the mercy of their abuser; we deny the secular and deterministic frameworks that portray that victims can only respond by feeling, thinking, and doing the will of their abuser; and we deny that God is helpless to transform abusers so that they no longer worship themselves, but Him wholeheartedly.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 4:8,23; Genesis 6:11-13; Genesis 12:12-13; Genesis 26:6-7; Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Ezekiel 36:26; Matthew 15:18; Matthew 16:24; Mark 7:21-23; 1 Corinthains 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:15-18; Colossians 3:5-7; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:14-15.
Current Models of Abuse
Whereas, current abuse models and analytical tools are developed to promote the secular
philosophical perspectives from which they arise and thus are not philosophically neutral; and,
Whereas, a Christian’s primary identity is in Christ and believers are to live for His glory through suffering, current abuse models portray victimhood as an individual’s primary identity; and,
Whereas, biblical counselors should only employ philosophies and methodologies that emerge from the Scripture.
Whereas, Scripture is sufficient to address all cases of abuse, ministering in these situations requires counselors to be full of the fear and knowledge of God, display proven character and maturity, and have spiritual discernment; therefore:
WE AFFIRM that Christians, the body of Christ, and biblical counselors should reject abuse models and counseling methods with unbiblical origins and framework. Even though these models may be based upon some accurate observations, the interpretation of all data should be exclusively biblical. The Duluth Model, which is rooted in feminism and social Marxist theory, promotes an unbiblical view of abuse and authority. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) is an unnecessary and unbiblical tool to identify abuse. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an unbiblical substitute for the biblical method of heart change through salvation and sanctification which produces changed thinking and glorifies God rather than man. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is not scientifically validated and violates biblical precepts to take thoughts captive and to protect minds from forces of evil while distorting one’s recall of events, thus causing confusion and fear. Exposure therapy violates God’s heart for sufferers. He does not expose his children to unnecessary suffering and in fact meets them in their distresses and promises to strengthen and deliver them from it. It is in the Lord that hope is found, irrespective of the situation.
WE DENY that secular abuse models are necessary for addressing abuse in the family, church and society; we deny gender biased models and language that indiscriminately vilifies men and excuses women; we deny that models founded on critical theory and focused on dismantling biblical headship truly identify, diagnose, or explain the evil in an abuser’s heart and point to the solution of this evil; we deny that Scripture does not provide an adequate or comprehensive methodology for caring for the abused and addressing the evils of the abuser; we deny that the church benefits from adapting secular methods for preventing abuse.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 107:6; Psalm 1; Ephesians 1; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 2-3.
IX. On the Abused
Whereas, a biblical anthropology depicts humans as body and soul; and,
Whereas, both the inner and outer man can be harmed by abuse; and,
Whereas, it is possible for our minds to be renewed by the Holy Spirit through Scripture
and our bodies to be healed; and,
Whereas, Christ is the ultimate source of help and the One to whom the abused should be encouraged to turn; and,
Whereas, all trauma and abuse will be redeemed for God’s glory and the victim’s good; therefore:
WE AFFIRM the abused are never responsible for their abuser’s sin. Victims are morally accountable for their responses and their pastors should compassionately, patiently, and actively shepherd them. We affirm that some have been oppressed and abused, but God’s faithfulness, and their position in Christ, is never altered, useless, powerless, or ineffective. Anyone experiencing threats to safety is encouraged to seek protection, by faith, from the abuser, including protection provided by governing and ecclesiastical authorities. We affirm that the abused may retain a lawyer to protect essential assets relating to provision for themselves and their children. Jesus Christ is always close to the abused, even when their hearts are broken. We are commanded to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and pray for protection and salvation from those who abuse us. We affirm that it is loving to expose the sin of abuse. While reconciliation is desirable, it is conditioned on biblical forgiveness and consistent bearing fruit in keeping with repentance, rather than worldly sorrow.
WE DENY that the only response for the abused is to endure suffering, seeking no protection or recourse; we deny that the victim is the cause of abuse; we deny that the body and mind will never be able to fully heal; we deny that abuse results in irreparable psychological damage that determines present behavior; we deny that once someone has been abused, their primary identity is as a victim or survivor. We deny such perspectives that see the abused as perpetual victims and dismiss the need for victims to address sin of their own heart.
SCRIPTURES: Exodus 21:26-27; Job 42:5; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 40:17; Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 23:3; Proverbs 27:12; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 2:13, 21-23; Matthew 3:8; Matthew 11:16; Luke 4:18-19, 28-30; Luke 6:27-28; John 7:1; John 10:39; Romans 3:23; Romans 13; 2 Corinthians 11:22-23, 33; Ephesians 1:17-18; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 4:15-16.