Is Dr. James Dobson’s Advice to Abuse Victims Dangerous? Pt. 3

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

[To read all the articles in this series, see Is Dr. James Dobson’s Advice to Abuse Victims Dangerous, Series. There is a link to the next article in the series at the conclusion of this one.]

3. “If he never responds, she never returns.” Again, on a positive note, this goes against established teaching in both fundamentalist and evangelical churches.

However, this statement falls short of the line. What happens if the abuser never responds? Is the church going to leave her in eternal limbo – locked into relationship with him? This eternal limbo leaves the abuser in control because he holds her still! Or will churches dare to take the next obvious step and invoke I Cor. 7:15 – the unbeliever who has abandoned the relationship, thereby leaving her the door of divorce?

Just because the abuser makes a persistent “profession of faith” does not make him a believer! We are challenged to evaluate fruit – the fruit declares the truth here.

The Word says that one who does not provide for those of his own house is “worse than an unbeliever.” (I Tim. 5:8 ) Does the Word really mean what it says? Can we dare to look at the Word as truly true, and judge an abuser according to his works? The word says if he doesn’t provide for his own – which includes all the provision of the one-flesh covenant, not just food on the table – he is worse than an unbeliever.

In I Cor. 5:11-13 the Word says,

but as it is, I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat.

For what have I to do with judging them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?

But them that are without God judgeth. Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.

Again, in Gal. 5:19-21 the Word says (in this case, I have interjected Strong’s Concordance definitions and Danni-interpretations of the terms for clarification, and have regrouped the deeds into “alikes”),

Now the works of the flesh are manifest (appear, known, manifest, open), which are these…

fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (includes all sexual violations – extramarital sex; child sex abuse – pedophilia or incest or child molestation/exploitation; addiction to pornography, x-rated videos, strip clubs, etc., persistent lust for others besides spouse – even if it’s “just” always looking and commenting which still puts those others between the one-flesh relationship with the spouse),

Idolatry (The Issue at the Heart of Domestic Violence),
witchcraft (this includes manipulation! even passive-aggressively; manipulation is the same spirit as witchcraft and magic),

hatred (hostility; by implication, a reason for opposition),
murders (to slay; murder:–murder, + be slain with),

Envyings (ill-will -as detraction, i.e. jealousy; spite), [this one could go with hatred and murder, or with all the anger, etc.]

variance (quarrel, i.e. (by implication) wrangling:–contention, debate, — being “at odds,” contrary, oppositional),
emulations (heat, i.e. figuratively “zeal” in an unfavorable sense, jealousy, as of a husband; or an enemy, malice; indignation),
wrath (passion, as if breathing hard:–fierceness, indignation),
strife (intrigue, i.e. by implication faction:–contention -ious),
seditions (disunion, i.e. figuratively dissension:–division),

drunkenness (an intoxicant — any controlling substance, habit or influence that supercedes the value of the spouse, thereby standing between the one-flesh relationship),
parties, revelings (not that all “parties” are evil! But there are many spouses consistently left at home while the other spouse goes out and parties all night, or longer. Again, these activities are being put in a position of preeminence over the spousal relationship and result in an abuser “not providing for his own.” This fits with drunkenness because both are controlling, addictive “escape/avoidance” techniques in the sense implied in this Scripture.)

…and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

I John 2:9 (see also I John 3:14-16) says,

He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now.

Does the Word mean what it says? Paul says we are to judge marital sin in the church, with the ultimate result of no longer associating with that person (I Cor. 5).

The Word calls a man who doesn’t provide for his own, worse than an unbeliever. The Word clearly defines abusive behavior — not just physically abusive behavior! — as deeds of the flesh putting the persistent doer into the category of one who “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Word also clearly states that a person who hates another is not a believer. And abuse has a heart of hatred – even if the abuser wouldn’t say the words “I hate” because the words would violate his twisted sense of righteousness.

These Scriptures seem to make it clear that an abuser is to be considered the same as an unbeliever – he is an unbeliever because he clearly doesn’t believe the truth about any of this!

The Word says our deeds demonstrate the truth of our salvation (I John 2:3-6, I John 3:6-10, and many others). Not that any of us will be free of deeds of the flesh – as is clearly stated in the context of I John 1-3. But one who is characterized by these actions as a persistent way of life, and lacking in the deeds of the Spirit, can be judged as an unbeliever regardless of whether they persist in a “statement of faith.” The actions demonstrate the truth — not the words.

You can see the entire original exchange and related posts here:

Response from Dr. Bill

Advice that Can Get a Woman Killed

2 Responses

  1. They will state separation is needed. SURE the figure you can stay in the state of limbo due to them stating its biblical.

    What happens when separation is NOT allowed in certain areas? So they don’t get a legal separation, and he doesn’t provide for his children – yet makes other demands? The church doesn’t step up to the plate there. They are suppose to per scripture, but they don’t.

    There are some churches like Susan Greenfield mentioned in her book about another ladies congregation that were there for the long haul, but that is few and far between. They tend to leave people between a rock and hard place – and tell them to have FAITH. Almost use manipulative comments like, ‘Don’t you believe God will help you?” Do they seriously feel that God would wish them to place that on his plate when they aren’t willing to do what he calls them to do as well? I mean don’t they have faith that God will hand them the means to help as well?

    This stuff just sends me reeling. They are willing to open their eyes just enough to allow their spiritual pixie dust type of statements to work. Beyond that? Don’t count on it. Where is the fruit there? hmm.

  2. Reading Hannah’s comment reminded me of how we may arrive at different understandings on these issues simply because the legal jurisdictions we live in have different laws about separation and divorce.
    From what Hannah says, is seems that in the States, some jurisdictions provide for ‘legal separation’ and some do not. In Australia, where I am, there is no such thing as a formal legal separation. There is only no fault divorce. One can be separated without being divorced, but one arrives at that status simply by no longer living under the same roof as one’s spouse. It does not require a legal procedure to achieve the status of ‘separation’. So ‘separation’ in Australia does not in itself entail compulsory rulings on the obligation to provide for one’s family, etc. The only way a person is legally required to provide for their children who are not living under their roof is if the primary care-giver parent asks the Child Support Agency (A Federal Agency connected with the Tax Office) to enforce child support payments from the other parent. This has nothing to do with Family Court procedures (or the absence of Family Court Procedures).
    I wonder if Dobson meant a ‘legal separation’ or just an informal separation, like the one I am describing. We can easily get confused on such things because we may mean different things by the term ‘separation’.

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