Pastor Wilson has ticked me off, which is not unusual, he has ticked off a lot of people. So he writes a reasonably good post called the perils of zero sum counseling, some of which I agree with, but there is just something wrong here that won’t leave me alone, that nags at me.
He eventually says, “Any counselor who actually tries to address feminine shortcomings in a dysfunctional relationship is a brave counselor. One of the things that happens is that any such an attempted address is immediately construed as “taking the side” of the abuser.”
He does not say, “taking the side of the man” nor does he say “taking the side of the husband,” he says the “abuser.” So he recognizes there is an abusive situation right in front of him, a power imbalance with a clear abuser and a victim.
And yet he says not one word about providing safety, protection, or comfort.
To make matters worse he than proceeds to say, “We are dealing with a culture-wide insistence that women not be held responsible for what they do. This assumption has crept into the church, even into the conservative wing of the church, and has now been weaponized.”
Well call me crazy, but I ain’t walking into the office of a lawyer who has these words posted over his door, “We are dealing with a culture-wide insistence that women not be held responsible for what they do.” Nor a doctor’s office. Nor a pastor’s office. Especially not a pastor’s office. In fact, anybody who holds those words close to their heart better stand 30 feet outside my personal space bubble.
Is it any wonder that victims so seldom turn to the church in cases of domestic violence or sexual abuse or even simple marital counseling? Not to me it isn’t.
It’s a real shame too, because what is close to my heart is empowering women and empowerment means taking responsibility and being accountable for one’s flaws, sins so to speak. I cannot stand the culture of victimization we have created and yet I cannot deny that it exists for a reason, that there is clear cause and effect going on.
Do victims need to reach a place in their healing where they come to accept responsibility for what has led to their situation? Yes, eventually. I think coming to recognize yourself in the equation, forgiving yourself, and receiving Christ’s forgiveness and mercy, is incredibly valuable, it allows one to set down burdens, some one may have been lugging around that don’t even belong to you. And forgiving those who have harmed you can be very freeing, too. And marriages can be saved, reconciliation can be a real thing.
Victims, and also women in general, often need protection and safety, physical safety yes, but also emotional safety, emotional protection, ideas woven around justice, this is wrong and my grace and mercy will cover you. I will treat you fairly, I will name evil for what it is. Trust. Safety. Protection. Emotional cover. Otherwise you’ll just harden women’s hearts and possibly drive people away from faith entirely.
No man in his right mind would ever walk into a counselor’s office who promptly announced, “We are dealing with a culture-wide insistence that men not be held responsible for what they do and it’s been weaponized. My job is to right this wrong.”
No woman should ever have to face that either.