Holly T. Ashley

Oh did I type that outloud?

Dr. James Dobson Says, “Tough Love,” to a Victim of Domestic Violence – “Force the matter to crisis… Let him rage if he must rage…”

On October 26, 2015 Dr. James Dobson, highly acclaimed Christian psychologist and founder of “Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk” and author of over 30 books that are dedicated to the Christian family, posted his response to a victim of domestic violence on his blog. The full article can be found here.

As an expert in the field of domestic abuse, I was beyond appalled at his directive to this woman whose husband was a leader in the church, a prominent lawyer, and well respected in their community.

With a heart-wrenching letter to Dr. Dobson, she wrote about her recently loosened teeth and the fact that, “The beatings are becoming more frequent and more violent as time goes by,” (which, by the way,  is a statistical fact).

The writer feared her husband would “blow up” if she asked him to seek counseling and as a Christian she did not “believe in divorce.” She continued by informing Dr. Dobson that there was no telling what he would do if he found out that she was seeking his advice.

Her final plea was to inform Dr. Dobson that she was, “So tired of being beaten and then having to stay home for days to hide [her] bruises,” and ask how she was to “Deal with this situation.”

Dr. Dobson’s response?

After acknowledging that “wife abuse is reaching epidemic proportions in today’s families,” and that “entire volumes have been addressed to this problem…”

Dr. Dobson, well-versed in the APA’s view of domestic abuse, went on to “offer the victim a condensed answer,” concluding that it would be the “basis” for his counseling:

Let me quote verbatim:

“The ‘love must be tough’ response”

Based on his latest book, this philosophy, that is most certainly not based on any exegesis of scripture, says that “She must break out of that tyranny while she’s still young enough to cope with the consequences. This might be accomplished by forcing the matter to a crisis.”

So my first question Dr. Dobson… does that include the consequence of death? Is she “young” enough to cope with that? How about her children? Are they old enough? Young enough? What’s the standard age of “coping” the loss of their mother, for the children?

The next directive from Dr. Dobson is: “I would suggest that Laura choose the most absurd demand her husband makes, and then refuse to consent to it. Let him rage if he must rage.

I’m sure that will go well – especially due to the mere fact that in her letter to you- she stated that her teeth got loosened because of her failure to complete some “errands.” I cannot imagine the “rage” that she will endure for direct defiance – not just by her violent spouse… but God Himself who directs us to “submit” to our spouse.

Following this advice, provided she is still able to walk, use a phone, or in the slight chance that she is still breathing – Dr. Dobson advises she switch bedrooms…. But have some “friends” on call in case of “that critical moment.”

What friends? Can you not hear the sheer terror in her words? He is a leader in their church… he is a prominent lawyer… She’s already told you “NO ONE KNOWS….”

Dr. Dobson also recommended “competent Christian counseling for the psychological problem that is now apparent to everyone.”

First of all – “Psychological problem?” Is that what it is?

No. Dr. Dobson, it is a spiritual problem. This is a marriage of two disciples of Christ. This poor excuse of a husband needs to be dealt with accordingly – that is to say – Biblically:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. (I’m sure she covered that…) If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (We know how that turned out… the abuse is escalating).

“But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses,” (I would strongly recommend this done following documentation of the injuries, the police report that she will file, the order of protection…. and any and all confrontation be done by not only the police but those in the church).

“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. (The whole church). And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matt. 18:15-17).

Out HE GOES! Just like Cain. Banished.

“Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease,” (Pr. 22:10).

“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you,”” (1 Co. 5:12-13).

Secondly – this is ILLEGAL! You cannot beat your spouse! (I know this… because in Arizona, I helped to get that very law passed). The police need to be called immediately, the reports need to be filed, an Order of Protection needs to be obtained, and she needs to press charges AND a team of Christ-centered, well trained Domestic Violence advocates, supporters. lay-counselors, counselors… from the church (yeah I know… keep reading), need to go with her every step of the way!

“He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made,” (Ps. 7:15).

Thirdly – Victims need truth. Truth is found only in Scripture, I don’t care what degrees you hold, how many books you have written –  Any and all counseling begins and ends with scripture – nowhere else! I have walked through, memorized with, researched, and helped write every single paper my husband has ever turned in for both of his Master’s degrees from Seminary and he has joined me in fighting for this fact, even with them!

Victims need to understand the consequences of sin and that their abuser is the only responsible party to his sin – and as a “Highly respected… leader in the church… prominent lawyer,” he is held to a much higher standard:

“Above reproach,” (1 Tim 3:2), “Not violent, but gentle” (1 Tim 3:3), “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined,” (Titus 1:7-8).

Fourth: If there is no repentance found in this man, the Victim needs to understand her spouse’s fate: “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work,” (Titus 1:16).

And that NONE of it was because she didn’t practice “Tough Love.”

But nothing can be done without a “danger assessment,” this tool given by “COMPETENT,” well trained Domestic Violence Lay-Counselors, Counselors and Advocates, allows for the victim to clearly see for herself the state of the situation. This revelation helps victims to understand the danger that they are in and then the COMPETENT, well-trained Christian Domestic Violence counselor/advocate can walk through a well-thought out safety plan, to get the victim to safety and refuge.

The Bible clearly states that there are times that spouses need to be separated. 1 Corinthians 7:5 tells us not to deny ourselves to one another, except to dedicate ourselves in prayer. Granted it also says that it needs to be “agreed” upon… I would say he agreed the moment he  put the fear into her heart – but this situation calls for some immediate, deliberate, well guided prayer time with Jesus, without whom there is no reconciliation, redemption or recovery.

Dr. Dobson concludes that his advice may or may not work and that those of us who disagree would advise… So… Dr. Dobson, Church, Christian abuse victims – I have advised.

This is beyond an epidemic. I have tried unsuccessfully to get OUT of this field for the past 30 years because I have failed miserably to obtain the help these victims so desperately need and it has ended in frustration after frustration – defeat upon defeat.

I even spoke to Dr. Dobson this past September (2015) with regard to a  Christ-centered Domestic Violence curriculum that I had written and was in the process of having it accredited…. it has even been approved for court-mandated offender and victim Domestic Violence Classes.

We were at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) conference in Nashville, TN. I actually had Dr. Dobson’s undivided attention for a few moments, and using the fact that he had published my very first article that I had written for Focus on the Family, he listened as I explained the epidemic of domestic abuse, my work in the field and the R3 program.

I informed Dr. Dobson that I “could use his help and influence” to get this training guide it into the hands of churches, ministries and Christian lay-counselors, I even left a copy of the curriculum and the student workbook for his staff to look over…. But apparently 30 years in the field specifically as a family violence counselor, advocate, jury profiler, expert witness – even my experience with legislation – meant the same to him as it has to so many in the church today.

Zilch. You’re not competent. We’ll continue to do it “our” way….

I am in no way suggesting that this curriculum is the “end-all” to domestic abuse in the church – it is a simply a tool to train up disciples who have a passion for victims and offenders of domestic violence.

Whether they be Christian lay-counselors, Pastors – or even psychologists – Don’t  think for a minute that you have the tools just because you hold a degree – not only is that not scriptural… it is lie and the DSMV is no match for God’s Word.

Domestic Abuse is a separate beast that has been overlooked by the church for years, and masked by psychology to become yet another  “disorder” requiring “treatment” – Yet is the responsibility of the church alone.

“When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?” (1 Cor. 6:1-2). 

Along with Dr. Dobson’s revelation that Domestic Violence is out of control and is in “epidemic” proportions – Over 20,000 victims are turned away each year for lack of resources.

With the R3 (Restoration, Recovery, Redemption) training manual and student work book, we can train individuals to become Domestic Violence Lay-Counselors, Lay-Legal advocates, Advocates – even foster homes that provide a refuge for victims needing safety.

Through Jesus Christ and the Word of God, which is what this curriculum is all about, we can provide real restoration. Real recovery. Real redemption – even reconciliation.


Twitter: @DVRedemption


#Domesticviolence #DomesticAbuse #DomesticAbuseintheChurch

3 comments on “Dr. James Dobson Says, “Tough Love,” to a Victim of Domestic Violence – “Force the matter to crisis… Let him rage if he must rage…”

  1. Holly T. Ashley
    November 10, 2015

    Reblogged this on Cross Strength Ministries.

  2. insanitybytes22
    November 10, 2015

    Amen! It’s just maddening, isn’t it? I spent many years as a DV counselor too and one of my frustrations is that the church should be the first line of defense! The church should be over seeing our marriages, saying no to abuse, teaching us the benefits of headship and submission, not a perverted version that weaponizes scripture, and not nonsense about victims just applying some “tough love.” Where is the church with their tough love??

    There’s a lot of whining about the evils of feminism and I agree there, but guess what? Feminism sprung up from a void, from a failure of the church to address some serious issues. There are people today who have lost their faith in Christ Himself because they were not heard and protected.

    • Holly T. Ashley
      November 10, 2015

      Thank you! You have no idea how deafening the silence is… But then again you probably do.

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