Hear, Believe, Act: Rethinking our response to domestic violence in the Brotherh



Table of Contents


Feedback 3

A word of thanks 3

My exhortation & prayer 3

CHAPTER 1: Wolves in sheep’s clothing 10

What are we thinking? 10

Wiser than the children of the light 11

What is the result of this thinking? 13

How are we overlooking the wolves? 13

Fear and shame – consequences for the victim 15

Ongoing consequences to children 16

Prevalence 17

Preparing the Ecclesia for reports 17

Responding to reports of abuse 18

Are wolves forever lost? 18

The atonement in action to save the wolf 19

Taking a stand 21

Discussion points 23

CHAPTER 2: All domestic abuse is violation of Christ’s Commandments 25

We must not accept domestic abuse 25

Domestic abuse is categorically un-Christlike 26

Should a wife submit to domestic abuse? 26

No Conscience 26

No empathy 27

Characteristic excuses 27

Domestic abuse is satisfaction of fleshly lusts 28

Entitlement 29

The cycle of abuse 30

What domestic abuse do we notice? 31

Sexual abuse even in marriage 33

What domestic abuse have we missed? 33

Can an abuser be rehabilitated? 34

Taking a stand 35

Prevention is better than cure 35

Discussion points 37

CHAPTER 3: How does family and domestic abuse hide in the Ecclesia? 39

A carefully cultivated environment 39

Sometimes our hands are tied 46

False Choices 46

Discussion points 47

CHAPTER 4: The Ecclesia’s response: refuge for the victim 49

Ecclesial Responsibility 49

The primacy of victim safety 49

Believing the victim 50

Confidentiality of the report 50

Warning the victim 51

Involving professional counsellors 51

Supporting the victim 53

The involvement of sisters 54

Responsibilities to the law of the land 55

What are signs we may see in a friend that may point to abuse? 55

How to raise the subject 56

Practical help 57

What if I witness potentially abusive un-Christlike behaviour? 57

What if I witness or overhear physical violence or threats? 58

Discussion points 59

CHAPTER 5: The Ecclesia’s response: saving the abuser 60

How to support the abuser 60

Dealing with manipulation and control 61

Abuser support ground rules 61

Avoiding being complicit in the abuse 62

Professional counsellors 63

Spiritual help 64

Counselling the abuser 64

Spiritual Counsellors 65

Discussion points 66

CHAPTER 6: Investigation & discipline 67

Abusers and qualifications for ecclesial responsibilities 67

Fellowship 67

The relationship with law enforcement 68

Restoring for the abuser 69

Investigating Domestic Abuse – judging rightly 70

Matthew 18 processes do not apply to long-standing domestic abuse cases 71

Matthew 18 is a conflict resolution plan 72

Scriptural principles 73

Available approaches and their consequences 73

Leading to repentance – a scriptural alternative 74

A spiritual counsellor’s approach 75

When spiritual counselling fails 75

Appointing spiritual counsellors 75

Early commitment to see it through 77

The purpose of spiritual counselling 78

Spiritual counselling and professional help 78

The scope of spiritual counselling 79

Measuring progress 79

Feedback to the professional counselling 79

Taking it slowly 79

The Role of the Arranging Brothers 80

Dealing with the pity play 81

Dealing with denial and denials 81

Accepting true repentance 82

A word about repairing families 82

Discussion points 85


Preparing the brotherhood 86

CHAPTER 1: Wolves in sheep’s clothing

We begin by looking at the general problem, the nature of abusers and their abuse and what ecclesias can do about it. Future chapters will look more specifically at family and domestic abuse, although much of what is said could also be applied more generally to other forms of abuse including maltreatment of children.

Discussion points

p<>{color:#000;}. What means can we use to educate brothers and sisters to be more aware of the reality of sins of abuse in our midst?

How can we create a willingness on the part of the Ecclesia to incorporate, where appropriate, the issue of domestic abuse into exhortations, study classes, sister’s classes, young people’s classes, marriage-enrichment classes and pre-marriage discussions?

What concrete changes can ecclesias make to ensure the Ecclesia does not contribute to the feelings of shame in being a survivor of domestic abuse or having a marriage that has been broken by domestic abuse?

What material can we create or things can we do to educate brothers and sisters to more ably respond to situations of domestic abuse that they see in their social and family circles? How can we empower them with ways to “call out” un-Christlike behaviours and confront the person doing them? How can we enable them to discuss what they perceive with the victim and provide support to her?

In our ecclesias, how can we use the opportunity to make policy and promote it in a way that really broadens brothers and sisters’ understanding of the problem, and engagement in being part of the solution? Remember, it is a confronting subject, some people do not want to talk about it or to listen to it being talked about.

How are we incorporating teaching about domestic abuse into our content and programmes for young people, candidates for baptism and marriage preparation activities?

CHAPTER 2: All domestic abuse is violation of Christ’s Commandments

In the first chapter we looked at wolves in sheep’s clothing. We saw why ecclesias must continue to enhance the awareness of members of indicators of abuse and put in place policies to guide the Ecclesia should members become aware of domestic abuse.

We now turn to contrasting the behaviours of domestic abuse with the calling we have received and the Commandments of Christ.

Discussion points

p<>{color:#000;}. How do we ensure that teaching of the scriptural roles of men and women in marriage especially around submission is properly balanced with the obligations of husbands and wives to show love in the relationship?

p<>{color:#000;}. How do we ensure husbands understand and accept their position of spiritual head of their home and teach attitudes and behaviours in accord with the teachings of Scripture and the example of Christ?

p<>{color:#000;}. How do we eliminate from the Ecclesial social setting the shame of marriage breakdown in cases of abuse, and direct the energy toward caring for the victim?

p<>{color:#000;}. How can we discern between repentance and the ‘calm’ phase of the cycle of abuse when responding to reports of abuse?

p<>{color:#000;}. How do we prepare ecclesial and brotherhood capabilities to support victims with brothers and sisters trained and able to provide help for victims that is distinct from marriage counselling and recognises the risks from the default responses generally used by ecclesias today?

CHAPTER 3: How does family and domestic abuse hide in the Ecclesia?

In the first chapter in this series we looked at ‘Wolves in sheep’s clothing’ to establish that based on the warning of our Lord and the Apostles, we should not be too surprised to find examples of gross wickedness and evil amongst the flock. We discussed how it is difficult to discern the wolf because he is in sheep’s clothing – he looks the part, he talks the part, he acts the part (at least in public). Our second chapter focused on the evil nature of domestic abuse. We now turn to exploring more of how the evil of family and domestic violence hides in the Ecclesia.

Discussion points

p<>{color:#000;}. How can we educate sisters to reject the myths and ‘false choices’ that are keeping some trapped in abusive situations thinking they are doing what God calls upon them to do, that they are helping their husband or helping their children?

p<>{color:#000;}. How do we ensure that all our sisters know that the Ecclesia will provide for their material needs including safe refuge, financial resources and companionship and support if they do choose to leave an abusive husband?

p<>{color:#000;}. How do we ensure that we do not allow ourselves to be part of the cultivated environment that abusers create that is a barrier to victims feeling able to report their abuse or consider leaving the abusive situation?

CHAPTER 4: The Ecclesia’s response: refuge for the victim

So far we have looked at the nature of wolves in sheep’s clothing, and particularly the effect of family and domestic abuse in the Ecclesia. We have seen how the problem hides in the brotherhood, that this is a problem that needs to be brought into the light and how we can prepare the Ecclesia to be a true place of refuge.

Our priority needs to be caring for the victim and in this chapter we review what is needed to do this.

Discussion points

p<>{color:#000;}. How might we balance the need to believe the victim while providing fairness to the abuser ahead of a report of abuse to police?

How can the Ecclesia provide secure places of refuge for victims without incurring gossip within our ecclesia or wider community?

What preparations can we make to help victims who report abuse? Who should we call? Where would we go for professional help if needed?

Where are the capabilities and resources of the Ecclesia and brothers and sisters of other ecclesias that can be catalogued in preparation should the need arise?

CHAPTER 5: The Ecclesia’s response: saving the abuser

Our Lord came to save the lost and to call sinners to repentance and the challenge of restoring the abuser while respecting the victim is the focus of this chapter.

Discussion points

p<>{color:#000;}. How can ecclesias prepare Arranging Brothers, welfare committees, and other capable brothers and sisters to provide good support to potential abusers?

p<>{color:#000;}. What training can the Ecclesia provide for members and Arranging Brothers?

p<>{color:#000;}. Where professional services for abusers are available in the local area?

CHAPTER 6: Investigation & discipline

In this final chapter we address how ecclesias might balance the need of investigation and possible fellowship action while providing confidentiality and safety for the victim.

Discussion points

p<>{color:#000;}. How can Arranging Brothers prepare to engage with abusers without being prone to accepting their excuses or disclosing the victim’s report and claims?

p<>{color:#000;}. Could ecclesias or groups of ecclesias engage professionals to train brothers in suitable methods of questioning of abusers that advances the process of realisation and repentance?

p<>{color:#000;}. Which external services are local and appropriate for victims, their children and abusers? Are they available for referral?

p<>{color:#000;}. What real protection can ecclesias put in place to ensure confidentiality and privacy for victims, their children and abusers?

p<>{color:#000;}. How can ecclesias engage abusers without confrontation that tends to push them away or establish insurmountable barriers to constructive dialogue about a brother’s problems?



1 James, K. (1996). Truth or fiction: Men as victims of domestic violence? Australian New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 17(3): 121–125

2 Intriguingly this doctrine is only an assumption in our Statement of Faith although clearly accepted.



Hear, Believe, Act: Rethinking our response to domestic violence in the Brotherh

A scriptural analysis of the problem of domestic abuse, and how Christadelphian ecclesias and brothers and sisters should be responding to it.

  • ISBN: 9781370873272
  • Author: Andrew Weller
  • Published: 2017-01-03 03:20:11
  • Words: 26568
Hear, Believe, Act: Rethinking our response to domestic violence in the Brotherh Hear, Believe, Act: Rethinking our response to domestic violence in the Brotherh