Head of Counseling at John MacArthur’s School: Wife Should Endure Abuse Like Missionary Endures Persecution

By Sarah Einselen

A Christian wife should endure abuse by an unbelieving husband the same way a missionary endures persecution, according to John Street, chair of the graduate program of biblical counseling at The Master’s University and Seminary (TMUS) and an elder at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC).

Street makes this claim in a series of lectures on “advanced biblical counseling” posted online in 2012 by TMUS.

His teaching is especially relevant in light of recent exposés by The Roys Report, revealing that John MacArthur shamed and excommunicated Eileen Gray for not allowing her child-abusing husband, David Gray, back into her home. Evidence shows that GCC leaders knew that David Gray was abusing his children before Eileen’s excommunication and that a GCC pastor had urged Eileen to submit to the abuse. Street’s lectures likewise suggest that encouraging victims to remain with their abusive spouses is a matter of policy at MacArthur’s institutions.

In the lectures, Street claims the “abused victim is the key player in reaching and changing the abuser.” So, just like a missionary risks harm to himself and his family, an abused spouse should do the same.

Street also criticizes secular and “integrationist counseling,” which combines psychology and biblical principles, for focusing on physical safety of abused persons as a primary goal.

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“If saving the body is the ultimate goal in counseling, to be consistent, we would have to make that the ultimate goal of Christians across the board,” Street said in the 2012 lecture.

“So that would mean, a lot of our missionaries who are in locations around the world, where they are under bodily threat, we’re going to have to pull them home and put them in a protective situation because husbands, wives, children are under bodily threat. What does that say about Christians in countries like China where the church is openly abused and physically harmed?”

Rather than ultimately seeking to prevent harm, the goal of biblical counseling “is to seek to glorify God in order to win the abuser over to righteousness,” Street teaches, and “to be God’s kind of person, even in the midst of your trial.” He adds, “Jesus Christ did not come to help us escape all the hardships of life. In fact, through those hardships, this is where we learn to obey.”

In another online lecture, Street also claimed it’s wrong for a Christian wife with an unbelieving husband to separate from her spouse because of abuse. The only exception would be if the wife believes she is in imminent danger of being killed.

“Is it wrong for a wife to separate from her husband, or for that matter a husband to separate from an unbelieving wife? Yes, if her goal and purpose is to just simply get out of the trouble, I think it’s wrong,” Street said.

“Her goal must be first to please God,” he continued. “She needs to be with him, or he needs to be with her, in order to win their spouse over to righteousness. Sometimes it means hardship. Sometimes it means abuse. This is always the risk. . . .”

However, Street offers one exception: if a husband has convincingly shown he is “out to kill” his wife and the church government has been “brought in to play.”  In that case, Street allows separation, noting, “A dead testimony is no testimony at all.”

When it comes to an abusive situation where both spouses profess to be believers, as was the case with David and Eileen Gray, Street teaches that church leaders and members should rely first on church processes to hold the abusive spouse accountable. Church leaders should call in police only if those processes fail or if there’s imminent danger of death.

“If he’s unwilling to change, then formal church discipline is the key here, or as we said before we may have to bring in civil authorities in this situation,” Street said.

Diane Langberg, a psychologist and leading trauma expert, said what Street teaches in the lectures “does not look like Jesus Christ.”

Jesus, she said, regularly focused on care for the vulnerable and “did all sorts of things to protect them and welcome them.”

When a husband abuses his wife, she said, “it’s dragging her down into hellish things.” And allowing the abuse to continue—as Street teaches—does “terrible damage” to the abuser’s soul as well as the victim’s, she said.

“They’re helping to damn the man,” she said.

john street abuse counseling
John D. Street (Photo via TMUS)

Street chairs the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling program at TMU, where John MacArthur is chancellor. Street joined the TMU staff in 1999 and preached about counseling at GCC as early as 2001, church sermon archives show.

In 2002, Street presented two seminars on counseling during the church’s Shepherds’ Conference just months before GCC excommunicated Eileen Gray because she wouldn’t take back her abusive husband David Gray.

Also teaching on counseling that year were Carey Hardy and Bill Shannon—GCC staff pastors who were later written up by Los Angeles police over their alleged mishandling of David Gray’s abuse.

Today, Street is one of two faculty members profiled for the graduate program and the university’s doctorate in biblical counseling, and is an author of three of the seven books TMU recommends to its counseling students. He’s also president of the board of trustees of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and a former adjunct professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It’s unclear whether the 2012 recordings reflect material students still learn at TMU. Current program information doesn’t list a class with the same title as the recordings, and Street did not respond to detailed questions TRR sent in an email.

‘Secular people . . . are going to take over’ if police are called

In the first recorded lecture, Street upholds church discipline as the first mechanism for dealing with domestic abuse and local authorities as a last resort.

Street states that “churches without a strong membership policy will never—let me insist upon this, never be able to deal with abuse in the home because proper church discipline really cannot be enforced.”

Street doesn’t mention alerting police until after more than 40 minutes of instruction. And at the end of the session, he describes calling police as an option “if worse comes to worst.”

In the second lecture of the series, Street tells students they are not legally required to report spousal abuse to police “unless, of course, you are aware that there is some imminent danger. . .so that it doesn’t result in somebody’s death.” But he said, “Beyond that, it’s up to our conscience what needs to be reported.”

Street also warns that biblical counselors “run some risk” in reporting to authorities “because secular people with secular minds are going to take over and they’re not going to handle things in a biblical way.” 

Street also alleges that women’s shelters, which he characterizes as “very feminist and very anti-marriage,” cause more harm than good because they teach women to take steps that make reconciliation with a spouse less likely.

He says the shelters show graphic films of abuse to women and children, “literally scaring them to death. And what they end up doing is elevating the fear of man to almost a panic level. . . . They’re heavily invested in not seeing that marriage work.”

He adds that the shelters also teach women to get a job, which requires leaving their children in daycare centers.

In response to Street’s teaching, Langberg pointed out that all government is secular by nature. “Do we disobey all the laws?” she asked rhetorically.

And it’s even more important to separate from an abusive spouse in a home with children to prevent harm to the kids, she said.

“Children are obviously little people in formation,” Langberg said, and when they see one parent abusing the other, “they’re being terrified, they’re being traumatized over and over and over again.”

“Love does not put up with evil,” she added. “It doesn’t just submit to evil.”

Street claims boundaries result in violence

Rather than encouraging abused women to set boundaries and protect themselves, Street encourages them to “submit” to their abusers.

Street is very critical of domestic violence shelters, which teach women to set boundaries. Street calls this approach “assertiveness training.” Elsewhere in the lecture, he says setting boundaries can exacerbate the cycle of violence.

“When the secular abuse literature talks about a woman regaining control, translated, that means she’s got to take control of the home and the kids and the finances,” Street says in the lecture. “And if she remains in the home, that counsel is going to cause all kinds of strife to escalate, which results in either divorce or death by one of them.”

Street also says that when a woman sets boundaries with an abusive husband, such as by moving out and keeping her location secret, it just enrages her abuser and “precludes any kind of restoration.”

The situation often “becomes so violent” couples can’t live together, he says. Then couples grow apart while separated and reunification becomes less likely.

Street also claims that separation doesn’t increase the safety of abused persons because just as many women are killed by a partner they’re separated from as by a partner with whom they’re living.

Street cites statistics from the University of Washington as a basis for his claims but does not name the study.

The Roys Report asked Street for the name of the study, but he did not respond.

A 2006 Washington state review of domestic fatalities states victims of domestic violence are at greater risk when they try to separate. It cites statistics showing about half of domestic homicides happened while a victim of domestic violence was trying to leave or after the victim had already left.

However, the study concludes that domestic violence victims are still at risk when separating from their abusers partly because separation doesn’t always mean they cut off contact with abusers.

In addition, “communities do not adequately hold abusers accountable or prevent their ability to abuse again,” according to the review.

In contrast, a 2018 study of domestic incidents where police were called found that former spouses were less likely than current spouses to assault their victim. Former spouses were more likely to stalk the former spouse or violate a protective order, according to the study.

That study also found that victimized ex-spouses were less likely than current spouses to be visibly injured or shaken up.

‘Christ did not come to help us escape’

Street claims in the third lecture that an abused wife, by submitting to her husband, can lead him to Christ.

“The way you win your husband over is not by putting repent in the bottom of his beer can,” he says after reading from 1 Peter 3:1. “It’s without a word. You don’t win him over by lecturing him into righteousness. That’s not the way you win him over. And within context here, the context is a husband, an unbelieving husband, that is being harsh and mistreating his wife.”

Street also repeats his counsel that spouses should submit to abuse.

“We learn his faithfulness through all those hardships . . .” he says. “In most abuse counseling you don’t hear that, because most abuse counselors will be very quick to get that person to escape and not teach them God’s faithfulness or the importance of their faithfulness in living out Christianity even in the midst of severe affliction.”

Later, Street describes a man he counseled whose wife was so violent that under normal circumstances, “that spouse would’ve been in jail a long time ago.”

But Street apparently never counseled the man to report his wife to police—even though she was a social worker, according to Street.

Street’s view that Christian woman should submit to abuse contradicts standard counsel among Christian survivor advocates. However, Street’s teaching is in line with Jay Adams, the founder of biblical counseling.

According to Adams, the Bible doesn’t permit an abused wife to separate from or divorce her abuser because “even in those rare cases, where violence was not provoked, one is not told to leave but to endure without fear.”

Author and advocate Rebecca Davis has written several books examining Scriptures that are sometimes used to condition Christians to accept abuse.In an email to The Roys Report, Davis claimed that Street is mischaracterizing how Christians respond to persecution. She also noted that missionaries and other Christians facing peril regularly leave places that become too dangerous.

“Yes, there are martyrs, those who give up their lives on the mission field or in their native land because of their testimony of Christ,” Davis acknowledged, and she added martyrs should be honored for that. “But if they have the opportunity to escape, are we saying that they should not? That goes against both history (so many examples!) and the Bible.”

To support his interpretation, Street quotes Psalm 119:71, which states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.”

But the psalmist David was literally fleeing King Saul when he penned that, Davis said.

“Trying to keep oneself safe from a maniacal abuser can be a terrifying experience,” Davis added. “It sure would be nice to have help with it. David did, with his group of mighty men and even Saul’s own son, Jonathan.

“But in the modern-day Jay-Adams-style ‘Biblical counseling’ world, a Christian woman and her children would not have any help to escape and stay safe, because that would only be ‘saving the body.’”

Langberg also pointed to Scripture she said contradicted Street’s teaching.

“When you look at the Gospels and what Jesus did and said, ‘let the little ones come and don’t get in their way’—an abusive husband is getting in the way of his wife, who is vulnerable, and keeping her from her Lord,” said Langberg.

By failing to put an immediate end to a spouse’s abusive behavior, Street’s approach teaches the spouse that what they’re doing isn’t really that bad, after all, she said.

“Part of what their training does is help a bad man be bad,” Langberg said. “It isn’t going to fix the problem. It increases it.”

UPDATETRR has discovered that John Street preached a sermon at Grace Community Church on July 12, 2020, in which he urged spouses in abusive marriages to be “a missionary in that marriage.” Street also praises Sarah Edwards, wife of 18th Century theologian Jonathan Edwards, for pledging to stay in the marriage even if her husband “should horsewhip me every day.” And Street disparages author Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, for urging wives to set boundaries when husbands abuse them and their kids. Street says Edwards’ wife, who vowed to take abuse, was focused on glorifying God, but Vernick was focused on merely “protecting self.” Street says there’s a “theology for escape,” but adds that when to leave a marriage “takes a lot of wisdom” to discern. Street says the only grounds for divorce are unrepentant adultery and abandonment of a spouse.

This story has been corrected to accurately describe Street’s past affiliation with SBTS. Street taught a D.Min seminar at SBTS in 2018-2019 but is no longer employed by the seminary.

Julie Roys contributed to this report and freelance journalist Josh M. Shepherd provided technical assistance.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.



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126 thoughts on “Head of Counseling at John MacArthur’s School: Wife Should Endure Abuse Like Missionary Endures Persecution”

  1. The Bible prescribes punishment for slave owners who abuse slaves:

    “If a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, so that they lose it, he shall set them free for the eye’s sake. And if he knock out his servant’s tooth, he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.” Exodus 21:26-27. If a man is punished for destroying an eye or a tooth, and has to set the victim free, do we really believe God expects a wife to stay put? Is the wife’s role lower than that of a slave?

    1. Excellent scripture contribution!!! This situation is also where the leaders have lost all sense of justice and mercy. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: JUSTICE AND MERCY AND FAITHFULNESS. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

      1. Dr McGee’s position on abuse was that the wife stay married to the abuser–this is letting him know her continuing commitment to his wellbeing–she is being faithful to him. But if there is abuse, and all the more if there are children in the home, get out. Get away from the abuse. Don’t tolerate being the object of abuse; let the separation prevent him from acting out the abuse, which is for the good of both, and really all members of society. That keeps the abuse from snowballing and developing into something worse. If this is your spouse, don’t let him live in the illusion that you are his punching bag. And there was an assumption that ina church of Christian believers, there would be somewhere to go.

  2. It’s my understanding that Street states that schizophrenics cannot be true Christians. In other words, true Christians don’t suffer from schizophrenia.

  3. I grew up Southern Baptist, and later became a member of MacArthur’s Grace Community Church. My experience has been that the evangelical church in general (and not just this one) is NOT a safe place for women. This is the reason I no longer attend church. Why would any thinking woman volunteer to be abused and demeaned? I remember a Washington Post headline several years ago that said, “Baptists Just Say ‘No’ to Women”. Well guess what? Women just say “no” to Baptists. Evangelical men shame women for their gender and sexuality, teach them that they are less-than, then pursue them like beasts, using and punishing them in various ways and measures at their pleasure. These men are monsters. To my mind the definition of hell would be to stand by and watch your husband repeatedly sexually assault your children – and for the sake of Jesus, at that. So, what did this woman have to lose exactly by kicking the gargoyle out to protect her children? She was already in hell, and then she was punished for it. Once again, the church has shown itself to be cruel, dangerous, unethical, and insane.

    1. Rev. Bob Fritch

      Debra, I am so sorry for the experiences you have had. I am shocked that this professor would teach such things, just blows my mind. I would agree that a lot of evangelical churches do not treat women well. I pray that God will bring restoration to your soul and may you find a church someday that will treat women they way they should be treated and preach the true Word of God.

      1. Bob, I’m with you. I think the ‘submit’ notion has been wildly misconstrued and can’t see it extend to the betrayal of the requirement of mutual submission. If the abusing spouse is not Christian he or she has also repudiated the marriage IMO and as Paul seems quite open on the question of this type of marriage no problemo about escaping the abuse. But over all this, the abusing spouse is breaking the law and Romans 13 kicks in. QED.

        1. Gordon Hackman

          The mention of mutual submission actually makes me wonder what MacArthur and company teach concerning that passage in Ephesians 5.

          1. He submits to his wife by abusing her, whilst she submits to him abusing her, is most likely what they would mean.

    2. Ouch. Hard hitting but, sadly, true in many churches. But there are churches that do not demean women nor nullify their standing and ministry in Christ and the Church. And there are churches that are led by men who are not bullies, narcissists or abusers.

  4. Beatrice Tangai

    But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. BUT IF SHE DOES LEAVE HIM, LET HER REMAIN SINGLE or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
    1 Corinthians 7:10‭-‬11 NLT

    (emphasis mine)

    The Bible gives concessions for a wife to leave, as long as she does not remarry. Why is this ignored? Why is reconciliation viewed by this man as the only path?

    1. I can answer what my former church would say and not my own opinion. Paul’s instructions are for the wife of an unbelieving husband. Christians should not get divorced, so e.g. Westminster Confession say that essentially the wife has to file charges in the church, get the church to excommunicate the husband, and then has to request a divorce.

      This combined with Street’s commentary is essentially a “no way out” for wives. The chance of getting an abuser excommunicated is hard enough, but then the idea that someone should stay with an abusive spouse as a mission project.

      I agree with the comment about wives being treated worse than female [sex] slaves in the OT, and I will say that I believe the tone of “and he consents to live with her” in I Cor 7:13 isn’t merely cohabitation, but being consistent with the vows “to love, honor and cherish”. A man who makes these vows to his wife, then demonstrates a pattern of breaking them is not married, and the divorce is simply a notification to church and state that the marriage no longer exists. Annulments are given based on “fraud or misrepresentation”. If a man vows “to love, honor and cherish” and is incapable or unwilling to hold himself to those vows, the marriage is a fraud.

  5. Jennifer Eason

    I wonder why these sentences were left out of Street’s class material? And why were the men of the church not instructed to protect an abused wife and children?

    “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.” 1 Cor. 7:15

    There can be no peace while abuse is allowed to continue. To me, Street is privileging marriage above the Gospel. His evident desire for rapid reconciliation in troubled marriages is nothing more than image guarding. An elder who was truly concerned about wife/child abuse would be willing to wait and see if the supposed penitent husband “bears fruit in keeping with repentance.”

  6. Rev. Bob Fritch

    From what I have read in this article and other articles regarding this situation and the treatment that Eileen had received from the pastors there at Grace Community, MacArthur and his fellow pastor are just a good old boys club of misogynists and spiritual abusers.

    1. Amen. Too many are appointed and not anointed, although they don’t believe that much in the latter. Which might explain the problem!

      1. I’m reminded of Paul’s statement that “the letter kills but the spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6). These guys are so preoccupied with doing things “by the book” that they miss the spirit behind it all and treat the NT like it’s a legal document.

  7. Does anyone else have a feeling that if these people were living in the times when slavery was permitted in the US, that they would be preaching that the black slaves must submit to their white owners? I mean technically it’s not too different than what they are teaching now to the women.

    1. You can find any sermon from Christian theologians condoning slavery 200 years ago, do a cut and paste wives for slaves, and it will read perfectly as a complimentarian sermon from today. You don’t have to guess if they’d be the Christians for slavery back then.

      1. Mark…you are so Correct! I will be doing a series in my church in a few weeks on” women in the bible church ad home” where I will be dealing with the whole complementarian and egalitarian issue.

        I have been researching this over the past 3-4 years and intensively over the last year and a half.

        One of the things I will be contrasting/comparing is the arguments of pro-slavery theologians during the civil war area and the arguments of complementarians today for the permanent subordination of women/wives to men/husbands.

        I like you, have found that the arguments are practically identical ( the main difference being that complementarians will say that the rule of men over women is a creation ordinance while slavery is not -though I did find one pastor’s sermon who argued that the “creatures of the field” in Genesis 1 were slaves and that they handed Eve the fruit in Genesis 3, I kid you not!)

        Based on the hermeneutic principles used I would have to argue that President Lincoln, Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman and all abolitionist were wrong and contrary to Scripture – and we should still have slavery today. If we were going by the “plain reading of the text”.

        Oh and by the way…I’m black.

  8. “Her goal must be first to please God,” he continued. “She needs to be with him, or he needs to be with her, in order to win their spouse over to righteousness. Sometimes it means hardship. Sometimes it means abuse. This is always the risk. . . .”

    Wow, this is rich considering this very same group holds to the Calvinistic doctrines that humans do not have the ability to choose to turn to God. According to them, God must choose the man. So which is it? Is the wife now responsible for changing the husband’s heart? Hypocrites…the whole bunch of them. They should be ashamed!

  9. Barbara Garrett

    We used to attend GCC, years ago, long before this elder was a part of the school or the leadership. John MacArthur has been preaching this same doctrine since at least the late 70s. What I find stunning, in retrospect, is that a church that believes in submission to authorities so as to model Christ appears to believe that for anyone else, other than the church itself. During the COVID pandemic, GCC remained open in defiant violation of the local authorities and restrictions. The hypocrisy of obedience and submission for you, but not for me, is blatant.

  10. Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander , “First the gospel of Jesus Christ does not need your protection. It defies the gospel of Christ when we do not call out abuse and enable abuse in our own church. Jesus Christ does not need your protection; he needs your obedience. Obedience means that you pursue justice and you stand up for the oppressed and you stand up for the victimized, and you tell the truth about the evil of sexual assault and the evil of covering it up.

    Second, that obedience costs. It means that you will have to speak out against your own community. It will cost to stand up for the oppressed, and it should. If we’re not speaking out when it costs, then it doesn’t matter to us enough.”

  11. I am not surprised to find that these misogynistic attitudes and anti-women prejudices still exist in this church and that it involves the distortion of the scriptures to justify their stance on wife abuse. it goes to the heart of the hypocritical standards of the southern baptist church. If an elder or even male adult church goer in this church is questioned or challenged, then everyone comes to their defense. A woman can be abused but no one comes to her defense but instead victimizes her further.

  12. As they say, the devil in in the detail. The fine details of John’s theology are beginning to surface. True theology is grounded in love, grace, kindness and JUSTICE. Never its absence and never in contradiction to charity. There is false theology present in the foundation of Macarthur’s church which brings to light the behavior of its no. 1 follower and defender PJ. The church is built on John and not Jesus.

  13. Tim W Callaway

    What a load of “horse hockey!”
    As the parent of two clinical psychologists (I’m presently visiting one of them doing his PhD at Oxford), it should be pointed out that Mr. Street’s academic training IS ENTIRELY INSUFFICIENT for him to be pontificating on such matters. When I did the MDiv at TEDS years ago, there was one required Intro to Christian Counseling required. There is no DMin in the world that authorizes Street to dispensing the nonsense he has/does. Surreal!!!

  14. Absolutely Shameful…

    ‘A Christian wife should endure abuse by an unbelieving husband the same way a missionary endures persecution’- this must be from 1 Opinions 3:1?

    It would lead me to believe this must be written by a misogynist Head Abuse Master at Masters University and Sweatshop?

    Such a maligned twisting of scriptures to cover their authoritarian view. The infallibility of interpretation rears it’s ugly head once more. When your point is weak, circle the wagons and pound the pulpit harder!

    Romans 7:24 (ESV): “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

    1. Let’s not forget that as a licensed counselor you have a DUTY TO REPORT abuse! I’m a Registered Nurse. If I know abuse is happening and I don’t report it, I can lose my license and face criminal prosecution. So this is contrary to biblical views AND legal/ethical views.

  15. As a mental health clinician who has worked with women in abusive situations, this entire piece makes my blood run cold. I highly recommend the book “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft, to explain the mind and tactics of male domestic abusers. I can’t even begin to describe how Street gives license to abusive men…and he’s disseminating these toxic teachers to future pastors, who will have vulnerable people in their congregations. Too much to get into in one comment here, but wow. Every single thing I do with female clients in abusive situations is the antithesis of what he is trying to accomplish. Everything he is saying is the polar opposite of the Code of Ethics my profession requires.

    1. Jennifer Eason

      Thank you for your comment, Megan Thurkins. Your clarifying perspective helps bring the focus where it needs to be — on women and children who are being harmed, and in the name of Christ, no less!

    2. Thank you, Megan, for your comment. I am a survivor of an abusive marriage, and this article makes me feel, quite literally, sick to my stomach. It was the teaching of men like Street that kept me shackled for so many years, believing that I must endure to please God. I have, thankfully, found my way out of the horror and my children and I are doing well. I want to second your recommendation of Lundy Bancroft’s book. That is the most clarifying book on domestic abuse that I have read (and I have read many). Another extremely good book is “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” by Leslie Vernick.

      I also want to give a spark of hope. My church would be classified as conservative and evangelical (they even have a Biblical counseling ministry), yet they have been completely supportive of me. When I finally spoke up about the abuse I was believed immediately, the elders supported my decision to flee from my husband and now to pursue divorce. They are in the process of excommunicating my soon to be ex-husband as well. I realize that, sadly, my experience is the exception and not the rule but good, Godly men who value and will stand in protection of women do exist.

  16. I have to say I am wondering if these video clips of Dr. Street present the full context.

    I only say that because John and Amy Street’s book “A Biblical Counseling Guide for Women” reads quite differently and is much more balanced. In the final chapter, which is called “Victim of Abuse.” He states: “The police are God’s agent for restraining those who would do evil against us; the church provides biblical guidance and a safe haven for the abused….Husbands do not have authority from God to abuse you, nor to prevent you from from receiving the help of the police. Although your husband may use threats and intimidation, the wisest decision will be for you to run to these two God-given means of protection.” He also clearly states in the chapter that remaining with an abusive spouse and taking a risk for the Gospel’s sake as missionaries do is one option some women choose. It is not enjoined upon anyone to choose this.

    He also says: “A clear word of caution is appropriate here. A woman who decides to stay in an abusive relationship with the intent of being a testimony for the Gospel should never put her own children in danger. It goes without saying that removal of children from the home, for their safety, also necessitates the removal of the wife (mother) so that she can continue to supervise their safety and daily needs.”

    I don’t agree with everything Dr. Street says. But I do think there is an obligation to represent him fairly.

    I also believe the Eileen Gray case appears to have been handled in a dreadfully wrong way — and I believe an independent third party should be invited by Grace Community Church to investigate.

    1. Beatrice Tangai

      This is interesting. It should be noted that the book was published in 2016 while the seminar was held in 2012. The Roys Report also reached out to John Street for comment, he could have set things straight had he chosen to.

    2. Wayne,

      Does Dr Street say in the book “As pastors and/or counselors we should tell abuse victims ‘Get out of the abusive situation, you are not required to stay and it is unwise to stay. We will help you get out and let’s go to the police right now’ “?

      I ask because in your post it appears that he is NOT telling abuse victims that they need to leave. While he affirms that police are God’s agents that is not the same as saying “You should/need to leave -don’t stay in this abusive situation”

      My point is as pastors and/or counselors we should point out clearly that staying in an abusive situation is not a good or healthy option at all. While we can’t force someone to leave we can and must point out that this is NOT the best option or a healthy one.

      So I am just wondering if in his book he clearly makes the case that a abused spouse should/must leave for her mental/emotional and physical well-being and not wait until it reaches the level of imminent death.

      1. No, Mike, he doesn’t say she “must” leave an abusive situation. I don’t think it would be appropriate to do that, unless there is serious verbal degradation or violence. We are using the word “abuse” without carefully defining it.

        There are many levels and types of abuse. A man who has a short fuse can be labeled abusive if he tends to say unkind things when he blows up, and so can serious mental cruelty or physical violence. “Abusive speech” is a biblical term for unedifying communication of all sorts. I don’t think any counselor should tell a woman whose husband blows up sometimes that she “must” leave him.

        I certainly know of marriages where there was pretty serious verbal abuse. In one situation the husband had an abusive Dad and acted just like what he was raised with. He also loved the Lord and was willing to work on this problem with close accountability. With counseling the marriage completely turned around. She was free to leave if she felt she needed to at any time, and would be given full support. She didn’t think that was necessary and now they are a happy family.

        There are all kinds and varying degrees of behavior that can properly be called abusive. Maybe you can give me your definition of what kind of abuse requires absolutely that the spouse must leave.

    3. That’s great but then why is that “balanced” approach only found in the final chapter of a book co-authored by his wife? It’s like a newspaper putting a huge headline on the last page of the publication. These things need to be addressed before speaking to non-abusive situations.

  17. I’m curious. How would Street react if his wife continued to have multiple affairs? Let’s say she was out every night with various men. Would he stay with her and suffer for Christ?

  18. Joseph Stanley

    Does anyone else wonder where all the other Reformed voices are in all this? Ligonier? Paul Washer? Sinclair Ferguson? I’m afraid John MacArthur thinks that he’s off the hook because he wrote some commentaries and has a lot of money…and the others are too scared to say anything.

    1 Timothy 5:19-20 – “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”

    I think we have the 2 or 3 witnesses. So where is the open rebuke within GCC? Where is it from the other pastors who have fellowshipped with GCC? It’s a shameful thing that something like this is happening through the media, when it was supposed to be the job of the church.

  19. This quote of Street’s is really hard to put into context. Here he is blaming child molestation on the wife not fulfilling her husband’s sexual needs:

    “The stepfather ended up sleeping with Glenda from the time she was 4 years of age, & because there was no sexual fulfillment w/ the mother, the stepfather ended up finding his sexual satisfaction with this young girl for several years.”

    What context would make that statement ok?


  20. It doesn’t stop there. In Lecture 3 of the same series, he says this (around the 6:30 mark or so): “[The stepfather] ended up sleeping with Glenda from the time she was four years of age, and because there was no sexual fulfillment with the mother, the stepfather ended up finding sexual satisfaction with this young girl for several years.”

    He blames pedophilia on a wife not having enough sex.

    This is abhorrent.

    1. And shall we get into marital rape? Many of these people don’t even believe it is possible for a husband to ‘rape’ his wife, since ‘her body belongs to him.’ They believe he can do anything he wants.

      Keeping in mind that up until the 1990’s America was still debating whether marital rape should be illegal or not, where do they stand on wives who do not submit to the husband’s sexual demands?

  21. Nancy Guerrera

    I am completely saddened that Mr. Street believes he speaks the wants of God when he encourages humans to endure demoralization at the hand of other human beings. I will pray for your awakening. My God encourages love, self respect and kindness. The painful endurance is the loss of love once believed to have. Not the physical. There is still pain at separation. Surely you don’t believe killing to protect your life is the same as killing out of hate or greed. I feel you are very lost sir. Again, I will pray for you.

  22. I can’t thank you enough for exposing these ideas. Today, reading this makes me feel distressed – plus, it clarifies many things that I felt growing up listening to JMac on cassette tape, and then as a student at TMC and GCC over 20 years ago – these ideas were familiar to me on those campuses. Back then, I was struggling to become my own person after 14 years experiencing verbal and emotional abuse at home. The concept of submission as a Christian woman, and “winning the unbeliever without a word” were part of my belief system – in childhood, I’d learned to survive abusive treatment by submitting to it repeatedly. I’d shut off my brain and did not learn to trust my gut. After all, verbal and emotional abuse are “just words,” and Jesus told us to expect suffering in this life, so I reasoned.

    Fast forward 10 years after college. I hit bottom – no amount of Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, or repentance changed my distress. I felt like a broken, failed Christian. In desperation, fighting fears, I pursued what was ingrained in me as “unbiblical” – that is, seeking help from professionals with “secular” psychology training. However, I began to see a ray of hope that I could learn to be a different person, at peace with myself, with help from trauma therapists, and that’s exactly what happened.

    In order to move on from being an abuse survivor, my faith has had to change drastically. Never dreamed I’d say this, but I cannot accept TMU/GCC teachings as biblical now – their perspectives seem thoroughly skewed toward maintaining human-centered power structures that neglect vulnerable people’s needs. In the Bible, Jesus did the opposite, caring directly for the vulnerable with compassion and justice.

    (The Roys report makes exceptions to its policy of requiring a full name for victims of abuse.)

  23. Church elders must start taking their pastors, missionaries to task in the area of counseling. Especially if they are from Masters Seminary or worshippers of John Macarthur. The fruit will not fall far from the tree, my suggestion is don’t hire them or have them explain thoroughly their persuasions in the area of abuse in the family.

  24. Ive had many friends who were victims of abuse and helped them move to safety. Oftentimes, by the time they speak up they already have endured too long usually years for various reasons…wanting to preserve the marriage, kids, parents, community. While the Bible teaches us that women are the “weaker” vessel which is why they must be loved and protected by their husbands. In my experience, they have proven to be the stronger vessel and the husband is the wrecked. By the time women appeals for help, they have already reached points of desperation. These pastors who chastised her are monsters disguised as pastors. Not a single one of them offered to offer a temporary refuge for Eileen or her children. I really wonder why people would choose to stay in a church full of hypocrisy, absent of love and grace.

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