Should Christian Women Endure Abuse?—A Response

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Should Christian Women Endure Abuse?—A Response
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Should a woman endure abuse by an unbelieving spouse like a missionary endures persecution? 

Stunningly, this is the advice offered by Dr. John Street, chair of the graduate program of biblical counseling at John MacArthur’s school — The Master’s University and Seminary (TMUS) — and an elder at Grace Community Church (GCC). 

Street also suggests that wife’s failure to “fulfill” her husband can cause the husband to sexually abuse his children! And he says victims should report their abuse to church leaders first, and to police as a last resort.

This advice from the top counseling teacher at The Master’s is appalling. Yet it’s consistent with what our recent exposés have revealed about MacArthur and his institutions. 

In this podcast, Julie plays numerous clips by Street, showing his stunning views on abuse and abuse victims. 

And joining Julie to discuss Street’s views is Dr. Philip Monroe, a licensed psychologist and director of the Global Trauma Recovery Institute at Missio Seminary in Philadelphia. 

This is a revealing and informative podcast that the church desperately needs to hear.

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This Week’s Guest

Philip Monroe

Philip Monroe, PsyD is a psychologist who leads Langberg, Monroe & Associates, a private clinical practice in the greater Philadelphia area. He is the Taylor Visiting Professor of Counseling at Missio Seminary where he and Dr. Diane Langberg founded the Global Trauma Recovery Institute. In addition, he provides direction to the Trauma Healing Institute at American Bible Society. His personal and professional musings may be found at philipmonroe.com

Show Transcript

SPEAKERS

JULIE ROYS, Dr. John D. Street, PHIL MONROE

JULIE ROYS  00:04

Should a woman endure abuse by an unbelieving spouse the same way a missionary endures persecution? And should she report abuse to the leaders of our church and only go to police as a last resort? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And stunningly, what you just heard is the advice offered by Dr. John Street, the chair of the graduate program of biblical counseling at John MacArthur’s school, The Masters University and Seminary. Dr. Street is also an elder at Grace Community Church where MacArthur pastors. As you probably know, I’ve been reporting on how abuse is handled or perhaps mishandled at MacArthur’s church, and I published an expose revealing that MacArthur shamed and excommunicated a wife for refusing to take back her child abusing husband. But more recently, I published a report with numerous clips from lectures by Dr. John Street, and they indicate that teaching wives to stay with their abusive husbands is actually a policy at John MacArthur school. You’ll hear those clips in this podcast, but you’ll also hear expert advice on dealing with abuse and trauma from Dr. Phillip Monroe. Dr. Monroe is a licensed psychologist and director of the Global Trauma Recovery Institute at Missio Seminary in Philadelphia. He’s also one of our speakers at the upcoming Restore Conference, May 20 and 21st at Judson University in West suburban Chicago. And by the way, tickets are still available for what’s going to be an incredible two days of learning and healing. So, if you’d like more information on that, just go to Restore2022.com. Well, I’m so excited to speak with Phil, but before I do, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University, and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson University is a top ranked Christian University providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus, the school offers more than 60 majors great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shaped the world. For more information, just go to Johnsonu.edu. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity and transparency. That’s because the owners there, Dan and Kurt Marquardt, are men of character. To check them out, just go to buyacar123.com. Well, again, joining me today is Dr. Philip Monroe, a licensed practicing psychologist with Langberg, Monroe and Associates. He’s also the director of the Global Trauma Recovery Institute at Missio Seminary and the Taylor visiting professor at Missio. He holds a master’s with a concentration in counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. And he has both a masters and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Wheaton College graduate school. So, Phil, thank you so much for joining me, I’m so looking forward to our discussion.

 

PHIL MONROE  03:01

I’m glad  to be here as well. Thanks for having me.

 

JULIE ROYS  03:03

I’m really eager, like I said in the open, to get into some of these clips from Dr. John Street. But first I want to just unpack what biblical counseling is, because this is what Grace holds to. It’s what the Masters holds to. And I think for a lot of people, like there’s some maybe some folks that this is completely new to them. What is biblical counseling? If you could describe that, and then maybe contrast that with what’s known as integrationist counseling?

 

PHIL MONROE  03:32

Sure, biblical counseling has a lot of different types within it. So just like I’m a psychologist, and there’s lots of different kinds of psychologists who have different theories, within biblical counseling, there’s a lot of diversity. And so, there’s not one definition of it. There are some components that are probably pretty similar across the board. So, if I think about that, I think, you know, it tends to have a discipleship focus, it tends to have an advising focus. It tends to, of course, amplify the scriptures as a guiding tool. You know, it’s one person walking with another person who may have more of what we’d say a lay counselor role. Some maybe have gone through a certification process, and probably very few of them are actually licensed by a licensing board. The focus, generally speaking is how can I live as a Christian? What do the scriptures have to say about what I’m going through? I will say that biblical counseling history, though, probably has a lot more focus on the sinner side of things. So, some of my friends in biblical counseling would talk about we ministered to saints, sinners and sufferers, and I think those are categories that we can all relate to. But frequently, in some areas of biblical counseling, the focus is more on let’s get the log out of your eye. So, it’s much more about finding what you’re doing wrong, thinking wrong, believing wrong, feeling wrong and helping you to correct that.

 

JULIE ROYS  05:09

And so integrationist counseling, as I understand, would be sort of integrating biblical principles with psychology and sort of the best that we know from common revelation, right?.

 

PHIL MONROE  05:22

Right. And I would say even some biblical counselors are open to, you know, bringing in what would they say general revelation or things that are things, you know, maybe some medical information. They probably have hesitated. Not everyone now, of course, but some have hesitated to bring in anything that was psychological labeling that is secular, which is kind of interesting, because they don’t generally label the medical information as secular, but it’s equally scientific and focused. So yeah, interactionism is this idea of bringing Christian principles and the scriptures together with the best of Mental Health.

 

JULIE ROYS  06:00

And the Association of Certified Biblical Counselor. So ACBC, it’s my understanding that they would be more on the hard line of rejecting at least this is what I was hearing, and Dr. Street’s lectures, a rejecting of anything that smacks of secular psychology. That is really kind of vilified.

 

PHIL MONROE  06:21

I would say that’s generally true. I’m sure there’s some variations, of course, and not everybody would feel quite as strongly about that. But there would be definitely a suspicion. We need to check it out, bring it to the scriptures, find where the scriptures actually speak to this better, and use that.

 

JULIE ROYS  06:39

This isn’t my area of expertise, but I’ve seen some stuff out on the internet and read a little bit of Jay Adams, who is sort of the so-called Father of biblical counseling. I received an excerpt from a book that he wrote, The Christian Counselors Case Book, and some of it seems rather shocking. For example, there’s a case of incest. And he talks about in this case that the counselor should consider, and I quote, did the daughter participate willingly in the sin, and did she entice her father? When you talk about the log, now we’re talking about the victim needs to look at their sin or culpability, in a case of incest or abuse?

 

PHIL MONROE  07:22

But the irony here is, Jay may have been more influenced by his culture than he knew. Because it wasn’t uncommon, that in the early days of psycho analytic psychotherapy, that people would be thinking about young children’s fantasies, for wanting to have sex with their parents. And so, he may have been far more influenced there. But obviously, that’s an appalling viewpoint; that we would consider a child responsible for what an adult does.

 

JULIE ROYS  07:52

One of the clips that wasn’t reported in our initial article on Dr. Street and what they’re teaching at the Masters, but I did find it’s in one of his lectures that’s online from 2012. And I want to play that, and I want to see if you hear what I’m hearing,

 

Dr. John D. Street  08:09

There’s a story that I’m aware of, of a young lady. In fact, it’s written it’s entitled Glinda’s  story, and it’s about affliction by about a young girl who later on grew up to be a woman got married. But while she was young girl, her mother hated her, wanted to put her to death. Her sister despised her, her father when she was a baby left, and her mother remarried a stepfather, and the mother being a severe drunkard, the stepfather couldn’t hardly put up with her and ended up sleeping with Glenda from the time that she was four years of age. And because there was no sexual fulfillment with the mother, the stepfather ended up finding a sexual satisfaction with this young girl for several years. She is hated by her mom, hated by her sister, her mom’s a drunk, her stepfather is sexually abusing her. You can imagine the kind of life that this girl grew up in. And even in the midst of this, in her inner biography of her life, she admits to the fact that I as I look back now, I realized that even as a young girl, I had sinful tendency and  propensities even in the midst of what was happening to me. Now, you don’t hear that in a lot of abuse literature.

 

JULIE ROYS  09:23

You don’t hear that in a lot of abuse literature. I’m kind of glad we’re not hearing that in a lot of abuse literature. Again, he says that because there was no sexual fulfillment with the mother, the stepfather ended up finding his sexual satisfaction in the daughter. I mean, I find that shocking. My understanding is, even if you’re not finding sexual fulfillment as a man, it doesn’t necessarily lead you to having sex with a four-year-old. This is in 2012. This has been up for 10 years, this teaching from the Masters Seminary. Are you hearing what I’m hearing? Is this appalling?

 

PHIL MONROE  10:03

Yes, it is. No mention of rape. That’s what it was happening there – a rape of a child. Some sense of creating the sense of a because statement, right? Because of this than this, like there was no choice? That may not have been what he intended. But language matters, right? And then what’s really important, I think his main point here is, look, she’s willing to name her own sins even as a, I guess, a four or whatever young child that she had sins too. We call that a sin leveling. That somehow we just need to be able that everybody should be able to just only talk about their own sins, never their victimization. Why not talk about her victimization and how she was mistreated by her mother? It sounds like her sister abandoned by her father, raped by her stepfather. What’s the big fear we have if we name victimization?

 

JULIE ROYS  10:58

And that is the question and we’ve seen at Grace Community Church. I mean, I reported this horrific story of what happened with Eileen Gray, who wanted to simply protect her children from a child abuser who had admitted that he had abused her children and yet she gets discipline, Eileen for not letting him back into the home. I’m gonna play another clip and this is one where he begins by contrasting their approach there at the Masters with Minirth Meier. I’m guessing Minirth Meier, one of the biggest Christian counseling groups. They’re integrationist would that be fair to say? Okay. And so, he begins with sort of contrasting this, but then he seems to suggest, in fact, it’s not just seems it seems pretty clear that a wife should endure abuse, like a missionary endures persecution. Take a listen.

 

Dr. John D. Street  11:50

Now, we do agree with Minirth Meier that the Bible teaches mutual love and respect for one another, in the husband-wife relationship. But we don’t agree that the primary goal, the counselee, or the counselor working with an abuse situation, is to make personal escape and protection the essential object of their counsel. Virtually at this point, there’s no difference between integrationist counselor and the secular counselor. Both have the same goal that is ultimately saving the body. Let me suggest to you that 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. 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 churches openly abused, and physically harmed? Maybe we should do everything we can to pull and smuggle those people out of China. Or in Islamic countries where Christianity is outlawed, and yet there are Christians, there, undergoing persecution all the time, some of them dying. If saving the body is the ultimate goal, then those people shouldn’t be there. We should take no risks at all. That’s the ultimate goal. What is the goal? Well, I think from a biblical perspective, we can say that the goal of biblical counseling is to be God’s kind of person, even in the midst of your trial.

 

JULIE ROYS  13:42

Okay, interesting clip, because, you know, at the end, he contrasts these two goals. So biblical counseling, we’re trying to make you into God’s kind of person in the midst of trial. What Christian doesn’t agree with that kind of goal? At the same time, he’s saying secular counseling, integration of counseling, they’re just looking to escape harm, you know? When it comes to abuse, is it somehow wrong to escape harm? Or is it okay to have that as our first goal to escape being abused by someone who that has been sinning against you?

 

PHIL MONROE  14:20

Yeah, I’m not sure where to begin. Because there’s a lot of things about that clip I could take issue with. I think there’s a false dichotomy. And it assumes that somebody who is escaping harm, that was their first option. No, they actually stayed. It’s probably their last option. They’ve been trying everything else, but very few people just want to up and leave at the moment of the first sensation of harm. So that’s an issue that’s there. The second is I agree, actually, I want to be God’s kind of person in difficult times. God’s kind of person sometimes stands up and speaks truth. God’s kind of person gives grace to somebody by saying you’re not going to treat people this way anymore. The grace of limitation, right? That’s also there. Was Abigail God’s kind of person when she decided to go against her husband’s foolishness and do something to correct that and do what is right and to call her husband a fool for not doing it? Why is the assumption that taking abuse is the right biblical thing? Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s because they have idolized marriage. That marriage is so important that anything that would attack it must be itself bad. But if you view instead that somebody attacking the marriage is the abuser, then the abused standing up and saying no more, is actually one who honors marriage more than the other.

 

JULIE ROYS  15:56

And this idea that that somehow it’s in the perpetrators best interest to allow the perpetrator to keep abusing. I mean, how wrongheaded is that?

 

PHIL MONROE  16:07

Exactly, exactly. And, you know, I have to take issue with one more thing, and they’re like, you know, comparing it to missionaries. Missionaries voluntarily go places. And yes, they may know that their life is at risk. But we also don’t say, oh, you went to some place and your life is at risk. So, you’re going to have to stay there. Missionaries come home all the time. Because they realize, you know, what?, it’s probably best that I can leave for now and come back later when it’s safer.

 

JULIE ROYS  16:33

Well, I think a lot of this idea of, of sort of sanctifying the husband through the wife being the sufferer. You know, Christ suffered. I mean, he even makes that that analogy at some point, you know, like Christ suffered for us. And, and I know, Eileen said in the counseling that she got from Carrie Hardy, so this does, it again, seems indicative of a larger pattern. But in the counseling she got is that she’s supposed to model how to suffer for Jesus, to her children. By enduring abuse, she’s modeling for her children, how to suffer like Jesus. Perverse that a spouse would be training their children on how to be abused victims and say nothing. Absolutely appalling. But let me just play a clip where it seems to me like this is exactly what John Street is saying. This also brings us to our First Peter passage, because again, this is not classically what you’re going to hear in a lot of abuse-type teaching, even in the Christian church today. I Peter 3:1, he says, in the same way, the Greek terminology here is you can translate this in the same way, you can translate this likewise, like what is the idea in the same way as what? Well, in the same way that he is just referred to Jesus Christ in chapter two. All right, very important words, and we’re gonna go back there in just a second. But notice this, you wives, he says, be submissive to your own husbands so that if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word, by the behavior of their wives. Now, who are these people? These are husbands who are described as being disobedient to the word. Now primarily, that’s a reference to an unbeliever. However, Peter states it in such a way, that it’s has a broader context to it. It could be a person who professes to be a believer who is acting like an unbeliever, okay? He could have used the Alpha prefix tupistix and say basically referred to unbeliever, but he doesn’t.  The way he describes this is any of them are disobedient to the word. So, this could be a professing believer who’s living like an unbeliever, okay? This husband. And he says that though husbands may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives. In other words, the way you win your husband over is not by putting repent in the bottom is beer can. 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, unbelieving husband, that is being harsh, and mistreating his wife. Wow! I mean, this is absolutely stunning to me. I mean, we’re not even talking about an unbeliever. He broadens this out now. So now it can be a believer whose acting like an unbeliever, which, how does that make him a believer? You know, a tree by its fruit. But anyway, these are the arguments that he’s making. Talk about this first Peter passage. What is it really saying there? Is it saying what he’s saying that we just need to submit as wives, no matter what comes at us?

 

PHIL MONROE  20:10

You know, it’s problematic when we cherry pick a verse and don’t put other passages to give it context and meaning. You know, Bible says, Children obey your parents. Jesus says, Those who hinder children come to Me should have, you know, be thrown into the sea. You know, we have context there. We have context with how husbands and wives are supposed to treat each other. We have places where it says, live at peace, if at all possible. But it obviously means if it’s not possible, then you don’t live at peace, right? So, it always seems good when you look at one verse, oh, this is the only meaning of it. But we have all of the other passages that tell us what God’s heart is for widow, orphan, fatherless, people who have less power. The evidence is crystal clear that those who are abusing their power are going to meet a bad end, right? Maybe not in this life. And those who don’t stand up for those who are being mistreated, they are also going to be held as complicit. So, Peter is talking about we need to obey our governing authorities, even if they’re harsh and lording it over us. But I find many of our churches more than willing to stand up to the government and say, you don’t have a right to tell us to do what this that or the other thing. So, are they going to keep that passage as well and follow it the same way they’re asking this woman to follow it? No, of course not. Because they know, it’s not this blanket cement block thing that you have to follow.

 

JULIE ROYS  21:57

It’s interesting that you bring that up. A lot of people have noted how Romans 13, and being submissive to authorities, was something at Grace that was taught very strongly till they wanted to object to COVID regulation. Then all of a sudden, we threw that out, we have a higher calling. But one thing I mean, maybe this stood out to me, because I’m talking to abuse victims from Grace and more stories will be coming out. But I talked to one woman who said, marital rape was not something she even knew existed. She was raped so many times by her husband, that she said she can’t even count it. She has no idea. But it was repeated. And she got the message that as a wife, it’s her job to again, fulfill her husband, submit to it, submit to him, and by this will win him over, literally, by submitting to rape. I want to know; you counsel a lot of Christian women. How widespread is this kind of understanding of what it means to be a Christian woman a Christian wife?

 

PHIL MONROE  23:00

I think it’s fairly large. I would say most of the biblical counselors I know do not espouse what we’re hearing here. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Darby Strickland, but she’s written book, Is It Abuse?, and she’s a biblical counselor and would stand opposed to these kinds of thinking and has articulated extremely well from a biblical point of view. But unfortunately, widely across American Christianity, there is this focus that if you’re having trouble, it’s probably on you. It’s probably your fault. And you just need to, you know, knuckle under here, and God’s going to do something amazing about it. And so, there’s very little teaching about actually God’s heart for justice. You can’t read Malachi 4 and hear how in time, those who are perpetrating these kinds of abuses are going to be ashes under the feet of a calf who’s stomping on them going out for joy. God’s heart for justice is clear. We should be teaching on it. And I think if we did more, we’d have less of these ideas. You know, what you were referring to earlier to is probably from I Corinthians 7, hey, you’ve got to do your wifely duty because you’re not allowed to withhold. But no, that passage says that the husband can’t say that he controls his own body, but she gets to say. So, I guess she can say no, you’re not going to use your body in this way. But unfortunately, we haven’t heard as much about that part of the passage. Let’s talk a bit about separating from an abusive spouse because this again became a big deal in the Eileen Gray situation. And apparently, there seems to be a policy of really advocating against it, but I will let Dr. Street speak for himself. I’m going to play a clip and then we’ll discuss it.

 

JULIE ROYS  24:48

Now, the big question comes at the end of this. 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. Her goal must be first to please God. 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. Nobody wants to see that at all. But the answer is also no. If she is convinced, from a prudence standpoint, as we saw in Proverbs 22:3 and in Proverbs 27:12, that her husband is out to kill her, there’s no longer any desire for him to live as a husband with her. He basically has abandoned all of his husband’s provision, protection, that a husband is supposed to be for a wife. We would say this, a dead testimony is no testimony at all. So, I’m glad he doesn’t want abuse victims to die. But the standard that he puts up is, I mean, I just find it shocking. One, if somebody raises a hand to me, I’m gonna run. I mean, that’s like a self-protective reaction that God has given us for our own self-protection. It’s not wrong to seek your own good. And then this idea that abuse somehow is not always deadly, because I mean, I’m thinking and again, I’m not the psychiatrist, or the psychologist. I haven’t sat in your shoes, but I’m guessing there are situations where somebody has never been threatened deadly violence, but has been a violent person, and it becomes violent over in seconds, if it has the right trigger. So, I find this shocking, but I want to know from you the expert, what do you hear?

 

PHIL MONROE  26:58

I have one category of damage, and that is physical damage, death, cessation of life. We see in people who have experienced all kinds of abuse, and some of them have never been hands on abuse, actual damage done to their bodies, their adrenal systems are shot, their ability to be able to function around other people. This is not just something in their head, this is their entire bodies are damaged. It’s a real damage. But oftentimes, people don’t want to see or acknowledge invisible wounds that can’t be seen on the outer side of the body, or is just about whether you have life or not, right? So, damage is being done.

 

JULIE ROYS  27:43

You know, one thing with that, it almost seems when I was listening to this with my husband, he said that almost sounds like they’re gnostic, like the body doesn’t matter. This idea that somehow we’re divorced from it in the body isn’t a part of, you know, integrated to who we are. And that again, that’s an that’s a Gnostic heresy. I mean, are you hearing that too?

 

PHIL MONROE  28:03

Yeah, kind of a bobble head Christianity. There’s no body, it’s just a big head that, that has, has a lot of movement. And that’s the only thing that matters, right? But yet God gave us bodies and life, and he expected us to care for our own and each other’s. And to concern ourselves with that. You know, there’s another thing that came up in that clip, which is, you know, if her only reason to separate is to get to safety. First off that who says that’s where in Scripture does that say that’s not godly to run for safety? But guess what, there’s also usually another agenda. Usually that person wants the abuse to stop, because they know it’s harming not only them, but other people, including the abuser. And isn’t that godly?

 

JULIE ROYS  28:50

And the children? I mean, is it if someone’s abusive to his wife, isn’t he generally abusive to children in the environment?

 

PHIL MONROE  28:59

Yes. And our governments know that. They know that if children are witnessing their mother or father being abused, and it’s not being dealt with, guess what? That’s going to be reported, because those children are now victims as well.

 

JULIE ROYS  29:14

And they’re being trained. I mean, we know that abused children. That’s I mean, doesn’t always happen that way, thank God, and some find incredibly redemptive paths. But this cycle of violence is just being perpetrated. And it is just again, it’s heartbreaking to me, this is happening in such a prominent church. So, this whole idea of separating from the spouse, there’s also a question about when to bring in authorities, right? When is it time that this is bad enough that we need to bring in, you know, police? My understanding is that there’s a responsibility to bring in police as a first resort when there’s physical abuse, not a last resort, but I’ll let you speak to that, but first let’s listen to what Dr. Street has to say.

 

Dr. John D. Street  30:04

Furthermore, they talk about separate from your spouse. Because of the radical self-protective counsel given, the situation becomes so violent, the counselor is forced to insist upon  separation. Seldom is this ever an end in a reunified home. Couples grow apart as they learn to adjust to living separately, children are often put in a new school and resist going back to a new teacher. Meaning well, but encouraging wrong, parents of the respective spouses see the relief of stress because they often actually discourage any reuniting with a spouse. Of course, without that, there is not going to be any reconciliation. Then thirdly, they talk about divorcing the spouse. And the problem here is not that it’s not a biblical ground for divorce. In fact, statistics demonstrate, the University of Washington demonstrated this, just as many women are killed by divorced husbands or kicked out boyfriends. In other words, just as many women die from, from the men who they’ve been separated from as those who stay in the home. The statistic doesn’t change. And of course, I’m not endorsing live in boyfriend’s here, I’m just relating what the study indicates. But it doesn’t seem statistically to really accomplish its purpose.

 

JULIE ROYS  31:27

So, he’s making an argument that separating does no good. You’ve seen probably a lot of studies on this. Does it do good for a wife to separate from a violent husband and take her children out of that environment?

 

PHIL MONROE  31:39

The thing in a violent relationship is dangerous for a woman and the process of getting out? Sadly, there are women who do get further harmed or even killed in that process, you know. When somebody is controlling, and they start to lose that grip on control, they may react. And so, he’s trying to allude to that. I’m not sure it makes his point. No, actually, we probably need to help them get out faster and sooner. Yes, it is a complicated path. Because you don’t know when you first get out what’s going to take place. He alluded to reconciliation as the goal. Well, I’m waiting to hear conversations about repentance first, and changed fruit. Why don’t we talk more about that, then the worry about marriage ending in divorce?

 

JULIE ROYS  32:23

And it seems to be just a constant theme of appeasing the abuser. And you can’t appease an abuser, can you?

 

PHIL MONROE  32:33

No. Well, you can momentarily. And that’s why abuse continues. If I just do it a little bit better, if I just do this, maybe we’ll find that magic again that we once had. And so that’s why people end up staying. Because they want it to work. And it seems like it should be and maybe if I just do this. And so, he’s actually playing into that same deceptive thinking.

 

JULIE ROYS  32:57

Well, and I’ve heard it from women who have gone to the church and to church leaders who tell me, they were told well, what did you do to make him mad? What did you do to trigger, as if it’s her fault? And again, you might be able to appease in the short term. But in the long term, if you’re with a violent abuser, unless that man repents and gets help, and that takes time. And often, it requires being removed from the home for a significant amount of time, and a proven track record before you extend any trust. I mean, to put them back into the home, I don’t know this whole thing is mind boggling to me.

 

PHIL MONROE  33:29

Well, we’d like to skip to the end and get to the good stuff where everything’s all beautiful and peachy. But in fact, we’re missing out on the most important parts, which is, you know, we want to focus on the person who seems to be disrupting our fairy tale here, the victim. Where if we spent the same energy on the person who we want to see bear fruit of change, right?, and repentance, we’d probably have a lot more saved marriages ironically.

 

JULIE ROYS  33:55

Hmm. Well, let’s talk about reporting to police. Because this is a big issue, whether or not you’re required to report again, in the story that I did. There were two pastors at Grace Community Church who were cited by police because they were mandated reporters in the Eileen Gray situation. They didn’t report, they got off, it looks like probably because of statute of limitations. This actually wasn’t reported to police till two years later when the sexual abuse came out. But either way, we’re talking about abuse of children. There’s also abuse of adults, right? of spouses and what the mechanism should be. Do we go to police? Do we go to the church? How do we deal with it? Here’s what Dr. Street says. The question really comes the laws of the land, especially here in America. The laws in most states are pretty restrictive. And in talking about counselors as defining them as being responsible to report any kind of child abuse that’s going on. The question is, is that true of abuse that occurs with a spouse? Right? It does not have to be reported to my knowledge. Now, I’m not familiar as much with laws in other countries, but in this particular case, it’s my knowledge, unless, of course, you are aware that there is some imminent danger to someone, and, and you just generally have a civic responsibility to report that, so that it doesn’t result in somebody’s death. And more often than not, as a pastoral counselor, you do run somewhat of a risk in reporting some things to civil authorities, because basically, secular people with secular minds are going to take over and they’re not going to handle things in a biblical way. But we also have to remember Romans 13 and I Peter 2 that talks about the fact that God gave the secular authorities for a purpose so that there’s not general chaos in society. So, we still have to respect them, obey all of the laws of the land, as long as it doesn’t contradict directly a law of command of Scripture. So, and then beyond that, it’s up to our conscience and what needs to be reported and what doesn’t need to be reported. Okay. I’m just gonna throw that to you. What are the laws?

 

PHIL MONROE  36:16

He’s got a partial truth here. Mandated reporting versus permissive reporting, I think is a good way to think about. Mandated reporting is usually limited to minors and other vulnerable populations, where you don’t get a choice. You have any sense of what’s happening, you’re mandated to report. An adult who is being abused, domestically abused, you are not a mandated reporter, usually. This is where it’s partial. Like, again, there are those caveats. We have a duty to warn and protect when there is imminent risk to somebody that we can identify and you define imminent risk is that like, you’re going to get killed in the next 24 or 48 hours? Here’s another complicating factor,. An abuse victim has been coerced and controlled. As a therapist, I don’t want to come in and be a benign dictator and tell you what you’re going to do or not do and I’m gonna go to the police. I might actually be putting your life at greater risk, if we haven’t taken the steps to help you get out safely. It should be a conversation; how can we get the authorities involved? What would help? How can we get you to safety? Those should be conversations, but I can’t just violate confidentiality because an adult doesn’t want me to, even though they’re being harmed. One more caveat, though, if that adult has children in the home who are experiencing it, now I’m back to a mandated reporting experience. And now I’ve got to do that. And try to help that mother and children, you know, find a safe place as well.

 

JULIE ROYS  37:53

We also hear in that clip, the vilifying is a very us/them mentality. Us  vs Them. And it’s interesting to me because I talked to an abuse victim just recently, from Grace, and she was like, oh my word when I went to a domestic abuse shelter, it was the first help I had gotten in years. I had been told just to submit to it, put up with it. And so, for her it was just life giving. And she began, for somebody to label what had even happened to her, which is so horrific as abuse, because she had been trying to explain it away, was huge. But I want to play what he has to say about domestic abuse shelters. Unbelievable, really.

 

Dr. John D. Street  38:32

In fact, one literature says on this, a Christian psychologist writes, don’t make excuses for staying in a destructive relationship. I can’t afford to leave, I’ll never make it on my own, I have no place to go. A woman’s shelter will take care of your short term needs and the needs of your children. And we’ll put you in touch with services that will enable you to get on your feet and rebuild your life away from the harmful influence of abusive mate. Now, there are problems with this approach. Let me suggest some of them. These abusive shelters really take control of those women’s lives in an aggressive way. Many of them that I am familiar with show graphic films. The women and the children that come to those shelters of severe abuse, literally scaring them to death. And what they end up effectively doing is elevating the fear of man almost to a panic level. And of course, it’s designed with that in mind. I mean it’s designed so that they will not they’re heavily invested in not seeing that marriage work. They’re heavily invested in that. Now often when the location of a wife or family are kept from a husband, it creates even more anger in the husband, it leads itself to sinful manipulation and often precludes any kind of restoration. Furthermore, these shelters will not keep a woman indefinitely. They can’t. So now they’re forced to teach her to get a job, which involves leaving the children in a daycare center in order to support herself. Also, most of the council given in those shelters are extremely feminist and very anti marriage, or at least have a very low view of the sanctity of marriage.

 

JULIE ROYS  40:12

You know what I hear? I hear a pastor who likes to control the women. Not wanting to give that control over to an outside third party who might disagree with them. That’s what I’m hearing here. I’ve never been to an abuse shelter. What’s your impression of them?

 

PHIL MONROE  40:31

That no one wants to go to them, that they are a place of last resort, but that they are helpful. And I’ve never heard someone playing horrific videos. That would be you know, the wrong thing to play to somebody who’s just gotten out of a situation like that. What I hear here is someone who is claiming to be an expert in dealing with ABUSE, but I’m not hearing the kind of compassion for that experience. I’m not hearing the recognition that the one destroying the marriage is not the one leaving but the one who is forcing the other out. Why is there so much energy focused on the one who is getting out versus the one who is causing the problem in the first place?

 

JULIE ROYS  41:17

I don’t understand it either. In some of this, I’m like, this is just basic human decency. And when I felt the same way, when I heard his lectures, I was like, it made me so angry, because I was just like, there was no love. There was no compassion, there was I mean, I talk to these victims all the time. And sometimes I can’t sleep at night, because of the stories I’ve heard. And I just, I don’t I don’t hear heartbreak, I don’t even hear care or concern for them. It’s like a system he’s communicating.

 

PHIL MONROE  41:44

I hear a lot of focus, and not just here. But I hear a lot of focus on, right/wrong. On, what are the rules and the regulations of these things? I don’t hear either the indignation about the treatment, or the compassion for either the perpetrator or victim. It’s just about getting the right answer, not actually about recovery, which is what they’re saying they want-  recovery of the marriage. Yes, well, there are steps to that if it’s possible. But I’m not hearing that. Just concern. Don’t disrupt what God has put together.

 

JULIE ROYS  42:25

And lastly, I do want to address the issue of when the shoe is sort of, you know, on the other foot, so to speak. I mean, when actually men are being abused by their wives. I don’t know how common this is. And I do think it’s a little different. And maybe I’m wrong on this. But it does seem to me that when you’re being abused by someone much larger and physically stronger than you, it’s a little different than being abused. Not to say that it doesn’t happen but being abused by someone who is physically smaller than you that you could probably subdue. Not to say there aren’t some circumstances where women might be stronger than their husbands. But generally, that’s rare. But he tells a story. And in the story, it’s a man who puts up with abuse. And he, you know, Dr. Street seems to indicate that this is a good thing, that this is a noble thing. Again, following through this ethic that he apparently has, I want to listen to this and then get your feedback to it. I had a guy back in the early 90s in our church, who was a tall guy, probably 6′ 3″ or 6’4″. You know, physically fit guy, he owned his own company, did a lot of commercial work and had people that worked with him and stuff. And he had a little wife, and she was an unbeliever. And she ran some psychological clinics that basically were therapy group sessions for women who were unhappy in their marriages. They came together and what it was it was just a trash session the whole time for their husbands, which are only caused her anger to grow. And so, she was a very angry woman, even though he provided a wonderful home, beautiful place to live, had built it with his own hands and plenty of money for him. You know, as an unbelieving wife, she just she was just a hateful woman. One day, he told me or actually it was one night, he was sound asleep, and he woke up and she was on top of him, pounding him with her fists. And he had a bloody nose. And she took her finger and she pointed it right at him, and she says, one of these days you’re going to find a butcher knife planted right in the middle of your chest. That’s how angry she was. Now I knew him very well. He was a very gentle guy. You know, I’m sure that there was a sinful irritating thing that he did. But he was willing to work on those in counseling and tried to be the best husband as he could. And I know that if he physically would have done anything to her, I mean, it would have been probably pretty detrimental. But he never did. He was never that kind; he was just a big teddy bear. That’s what he was. And, but she was very angry, very violent. She would throw things at him. She would try to harm him. I think he could show you today scars, you know, on him that she has basically done. Where in any normal household, probably that spouse would have been in jail long time ago. But I remember asking him, and I’m gonna change his name, because this is still an ongoing situation. I said to him, Tom, what do you want to do? We had talked through these very passages just like I did with you. What do you want to do? And he said to me, Pastor, I want to, I want to stay with her, and win her over to righteousness. And I said, Tom, even if it costs you your life? And he said, yes. And he’s still living with her. In fact, one of the last times I saw him, he came up to me, and he said to me, he said to me, hey, guess what happened? I said, I don’t know what happened? He’s, you know, her father went to the hospital, and was dying. And she came to me kind of out of nowhere and said to me, will you go to the hospital to see my father and share the gospel with him? And he said, Well, sure, no problem. Why don’t you come along with me? Oh, no, no, no, I don’t want to go. But I want you to go. And that’s the first time he ever had any clue from her that she really even acknowledged that the gospel was worthwhile. And he was just beaming, all right? That was the greatest thing. Now, this is after several years of living with this woman. I mean, and she has made life miserable for him. So now, as a pastor, you know, I’ll die for somebody like that. I’m going to support them and help them as much as possible. The world would label them a psychological disease. The world would say somebody like that is codependent, all right, and that they have some kind of abnormal codependency with their spouse, where they’re willing to put up with this kind of hardship, you know. They’re not codependent at all. They have an overriding greater purpose than their own life even. And that is to see goodness go to that other person in terms of the gospel, and to accurately represent and live Christ in front of them. That’s an overriding concern. So as far as I’m concerned, that person is the most sanest person in the world, that they don’t have any kind of psychological disease or psychological problem. They’re really willing to put up with an injustice for righteousness’ sake. What do you hear?

 

PHIL MONROE  48:13

Abuse does happen to men. It may be less likely to be physical, it may be more likely to be psychological and emotional, financial, spiritual. And it’s a damaging thing when it happens to a person. So, I’m glad he actually spoke about that. But this idea of just take it for, you know, because it’s going to bring wonderful things. Actually, allowing people to sin is not a good thing, right? We wouldn’t say that about any other sin. So why do we say it here? I think it’s because we’re more invested in this institution. And we have seen the institution as mattering more than the people who are in it.

 

JULIE ROYS  49:00

Well, and I just can say, from, from a woman’s perspective, or even just from a human perspective, somebody to me, that just allows themselves to repeatedly be rolled over and abused, and I would tend to lose respect for that person. And I can’t imagine even the abuser respecting someone or what they believe, when they behave that way. And I’m not saying there aren’t times when we absorb the violence. I mean, there are times when we turn the other cheek. But to also allow, again, like you say, what does that do to the soul of the person who’s doing this against you? And what does it do to you? I mean, just such a toxic toxic message. And yet, as we’ve seen, this seems to be the policy at the Masters University and Seminary. Shocking. At Grace Community Church, where John MacArthur one of the largest figures in evangelicalism, who is heard by millions of people, and I’ve heard him say the opposite publicly. I’ve heard it in some of his messages to say that a woman shouldn’t just take abuse. But it seems, and I’ve talked to people who are students at Masters University and Seminary who say, absolutely, this is what’s taught. Absolutely, this is what is done when it comes to abuse victims coming to the church. So there seems to be a different public image maybe than what’s happening privately. But just final thoughts on what needs to happen now that this has come to the surface. And I saw Paige Patterson say some really toxic things about women, and he got removed from his seminary. Of course, he wasn’t maybe as in control as John MacArthur is at his church or at the Masters. But they’ve had accreditation issues in the past, where because there has been a culture of bullying and intimidation and nepotism, and all these things. What needs to happen now in the Christian community that this has been exposed?

 

PHIL MONROE  50:51

Well, I’m glad it has been exposed, and may help other victims and maybe future students, or current or past students who’ve listened to this and wondered, oh, this sounds different now that I’m hearing it in different light. I do think that whenever we see a person or an organization fixate on a particular type of problem, such as women leaving abusive husbands, that’s telling, and we should wonder what that means and why they’re so focused on that, to the exclusion of hearing about how to help perpetrators, how to help them repent. We seem very afraid of those sorts of things. And so, I’m grateful that they’re out. And I hope the conversations and people like Wade Mullen and Darby Strickland, and others who are in seminary settings and theological schools, who are talking about the scriptures are much richer, about the care of the oppressed, and for justice, let’s talk about that often.

 

JULIE ROYS  51:56

Do you think there needs to be some resignations?

 

PHIL MONROE  51:59

I think there needs to be some come to Jesus moments. Do I really believe these things? And I’d love to hear some people have to address that on the stage someplace where other people who are also biblically oriented Christian counselors are speaking other points of view. But yes, that that seems to be not comporting with either biblical or basic mental health.

 

JULIE ROYS  52:30

Well, so far, we haven’t heard any word from them. They have been John MacArthur has been quiet. The school has been quiet, the church has been quiet. But I appreciate you, Phil. Thank you so much for being willing to speak into this. And again, you’re going to be appearing at the Restore Conference coming up. So, I get to meet you in person in just a little over a month. I’m very much looking forward to that and very much looking forward to what you’re going to bring to the table at the Restore Conference. So, thanks again for taking the time for this podcast and look forward to seeing and you May 20th and 21st. Coming right up.

 

PHIL MONROE  53:03

Thanks for having me.

 

JULIE ROYS  53:04

And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. If you’d like to connect with me online, just go to Julieroys.com. Also, just a reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify or YouTube. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you have a great day and God bless.

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21 thoughts on “Should Christian Women Endure Abuse?—A Response”

  1. Well, if he still holds to this position then he is clearly not suited to his role and quite possibly is a danger to those in abusive relationships. It is also another blow to the credibility of biblical counselling, which is susceptible to the belief systems of those using it.

  2. Unfortunately this is what rigid literalism gets you.
    When you approach Jesus words on divorce and weld them to Pauls submission statements, this is a natural conclusion. This is why so many christians and nonchristians struggle with the bible. It seems to empower such dysfunctional heirarchies. We are hamstrung by infallibility and literalism. We are constantly hearded back into the corral of fundamentalism by the cattle prod terms such as “apostate” and “liberal” and “progressive christianity”. Sadly it seems that Christianity is on course to suffer a major rupture of devotion when people have had enough of choosing between sanity and loyalty.

  3. “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.”

    There is no way to justify this statement.

  4. Carolynn Tsabai

    There is just so much wrong with this lecture. The podcast pointed out a lot of them, but I noticed something else that seemed off. In the anecdote about “Tom” and his abusive wife, Dr Street says he asked the man what he wanted to do. He portrayed himself as respecting the other man’s agency (although of course the advice he gave leading up to that point might well have been coercive). Yet everything he was quoted saying about women was prescriptive. Why can a husband decide whether or not to endure, but it seems like a wife isn’t given a choice? In the rest of the lecture, did he ever talk about asking an abused wife what she wanted?

    1. Remember, he said separation was justified if you believed you were going to be killed. Tom’s wife had said she was going to kill him.

      1. Carolynn Tsabai

        That is a fair point. It seems he would acknowledge a woman in a comparable situation does have the option to leave. My objection has more to do with the differences in language and tone when talking about how to counsel women, versus how he represented himself counseling a man. A woman should flee if her life is in danger because “a dead witness is no witness at all”- even when it’s about saving her life, the emphasis is on her duty to preserve her witness, not on her ability to make a choice.

        Not that the handling of the man’s case was any better than what a woman get. A “Teddy bear” of a man puts up with repeated, vicious physical and verbal abuse for years, then he’s excited and grateful when his wife tosses him a scrap of interest in his faith? How desperate and beaten down would you have to be to take that as progress? What is that supposed to teach people listening to the lecture??

        1. Cynthia Wright

          “What is that supposed to teach people listening to the lecture?”

          I think it’s supposed to teach them that staying with a dangerously abusive spouse is the gold standard, because there might be a glimmer of getting through and “saving a soul” if the abuse victim doesn’t give up. Look, it worked for this “teddy bear of a man” who built his “little wife” a house “with his own hands,” and he was “just beamin’!” when he mentioned he might be sharing the Gospel with her dying father.

          (On reason I think it’s a fake story is the additional twangy folksiness in the speaker’s voice as he delivers various details.)

          The class’s attendees are supposed to have this in mind when they counsel a victim of abuse and make that victim feel absolutely terrible, eternally terrible, about prioritizing his or her own safety over even a scintilla of a possibility of “saving a soul.”

    2. Cynthia Wright

      ‘In the anecdote about “Tom” and his abusive wife …’

      Is there any reason to believe that was a true story? These are the sort of pastors who crib entire sermons, including personal anecdotes “that happened to me,” from one another.

      Note, I’m not saying that women never abuse men. They do. I just don’t see any reason to believe this super convenient lecture illustration really happened.

  5. Thank you for airing this program, As a Christian counselor who has worked with abuse victims, I appreciate your work to expose the horrendous ways abuse victims may be treated within the church as well as biblical counseling. There is NO excuse for abuse. To live as Christ can mean to extend tough love, boundaries, and not continue to remain in the sin of abuse by a spouse.

  6. How does this sick person attract any students. How sick is the Christian community of men to sit and listen to this guy and not walk out of the class. I wonder what his private life is like.

    1. He works for John MacArthur, who, regrettably, is one of the most respected authorities in Protestant Evangelicalism in the US today. The presumption, no doubt, is that anything being taught within his church/ministries has MacArthur’s seal of approval and is, therefore, beyond reproach.

  7. Wives, submit to your abusive, child molesting, narcisstic, arrogant, raging, scumbag husbands is clearly stated in scripture at…..Ephesians…..Chapter…….wait I can’t find it in my Bible.

  8. This is a sick CULT ! Even the police can employ deadly force IF he believes his life is in danger. When an abused wife believes that her safety or life is in danger she has to endure ? she shouldn’t report to the authorities ? She will be rewarded if she stays ? Are they talking about how their own wives should respond to them when they treat them badly ? Counseling in a church oftentimes if a projection of the prevailing reality among themselves. I wonder how many abused wives are there in GCC afraid of reporting to the authorities in fear of being castrated from the church and community. This is so twisted. But this is what Macarthur and GCC members believes and it is a free country to choose your own poison. Its time to start lookin into the lives and family of these leaders to see if they are truly walking the talk and more importantly WHY. The parole board recently called david gray a “sadistic abuser who weaponized religion”. I wonder how many more of those are in their midst.

  9. Great podcast! Would enjoy more on the various types of so-called Biblical counseling and to what extent peer-reviewed psychology and psychiatry are permitted in each. Long overdue for Christian leaders to quit condemning diagnosed mental illnesses or treating them with prescribed medications (in addition to professional counseling, exercise, sleep, social support, and spiritual growth) as sinful failures to trust God.

  10. This guy doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that these abusers are many times narcissistic psychopaths/sociopaths who will never change from their abusive ways. [..] I’m angry.

  11. I literally had to stop part way through to grieve and lament the harm done and is still happening to women because of this twisted and grotesque interpretation of scripture. Make no mistake this is the logical outcome of a patriarchal, sexist, misogynistic system that is complicit in protecting abusers and refuses under any condition to take responsibility and repent. I’m out!

  12. One thing that I see as very helpful is the tendency of some anti-abuse advocates to name the sin. For example, in cases where someone has sex with his minor daughter, they will correct this to “father raped his daughter”, and note “fixed it for you”. For cases of physical abuse, “someone beat his wife” (or vice versa in some cases). For cases of emotional abuse, “so and so lied to present his/her spouse/child/whatever as worthless.” For sexual abuse, “sexual assault” or “rape” very often works. Put things into their proper sin categories.

    The reason this is important is hinted at by the guest here–there are some advocates who will use “abuse” as something of a “get out of jail free” card where actions, motivations, and such are not scrutinized and interpreted. When this happens, we very often accept stories that we ought to scrutinize, and in doing so, end up re-victimizing the victims.

  13. catherine e. abernathy

    Dr. Street gives two straw man arguments in the first clip. 1. If counselors seek to protect the body, then that must be the goal in EVERY Christian endeavor. 2. If our goal is to protect the body, then ALL Christian missionaries should be pulled out of dangerous locations. A. Wetherell Johnson wrote that during the dangerous years in CHina, the OMF missionaries set aside a day to pray for individual guidance as to whether to stay in war torn China or to leave. Some were led by God to leave; others were led by God to stay. Right now, some missionaries have left Ukraine. i know of at least one who is working with Ukrainian refugees in another Eastern European country.

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