Screaming abuse is a brilliant feminist tool to keep husbands compliant because while there are some abusive men who mistreat women, feminists know they can appeal to men as a group to do pretty much anything to try to help or protect women. Ironically calling good men abusers only makes the falsely accused men even more willing to do feminists’ bidding. By expanding the definition of abuse to absurdity feminists can henpeck men into doing exactly as the feminists bid, since anything other than what the feminists say to do becomes by definition “abuse”. Feminists tyrannize good men by accusing good men of being tyrants. It is sheer evil brilliance.
It isn’t just secular feminists who have figured this out. Christian feminists have seen how incredibly effective this is and followed suit. Joel and Kathy Davisson label anything husbands do that wives don’t like “abuse”. Accusing the husband of abuse (for the crime of making his wife unhappy) then sets the stage for the wife to lower the boom on her husband, in order to force him to buy the Davisson’s products as well as those of their mentor Dr. Paul Hegstrom (emphasis mine):
She must demand that he get into counseling and begin a journey of discovery, BEFORE the marriage is restored.
Our books are perfect for this man. Paul Hegstrom’s books are perfect for this man. Ken Nair’s books are perfect for this man.
Our Intensive Marriage Weekend is a required necessity for this couple, BEFORE the marriage is restored.
This should by now be a familiar pattern for my readers. What the Davissons call “abuse”, Dr Harley calls “neglect” and Dr. Clarke and Focus on the Family imply is abandonment. The solution in all three cases is to put the wife in charge so she can make the husband purchase their products. All three advise the same basic strategy of causing terror in the husband that he is going to lose his family. While the specifics of how to accomplish this vary somewhat, the basic plan is the same. What Joel and Kathy call “Lowering the Boom”, Dr. Harley calls “Plan B” and Dr. Clarke and FotF calls “Hitting him over the head with a shovel”.
But Focus on the Family doesn’t stop with implying that husbands are abandoning wives (and thereby causing them to lose the tingle). FotF has a dedicated series on their website explaining “emotional abuse”. They declare that Christian husbands emotionally abusing their wives is a rampant problem in Emotional Abuse in the Local Church:
Emotional abuse is rampant in our culture, and Christians are not immune.
They also explain that it isn’t just women who suffer, men suffer too. Women suffer from being emotionally abused by men, and men suffer from emotionally abusing women:
Dr. Margaret Rinck, a clinical psychologist and author, dissects what happens in emotionally abusive relationships and offers sound and compassionate advice in her book, Christian Men Who Hate Women (Zondervan).
She writes, “We need to set women—and men—free from the terrible bondage that entraps them.” It might seem that a husband is the “bad guy” in the relationship, but “in reality he is in no less pain than the woman, but he usually does not know it.”
If you are a man, you are likely abusing your wife and don’t even know it. But what is emotional abuse? Pretty much anything and everything, including a husband who instructs his wife on Scripture and submission. Focus on the Family asks if the reader knows any emotionally abusive Christian men, men like Mark:
Mark instructed Janet not to speak during the Bible study, telling her “women are to keep silent in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34).
Although Janet had questions, she remained silent in order to “submit” to her husband. Like many abusers, Mark distorted Scripture to manipulate his wife’s behavior.
There is some misdirection here because some will be tempted to assume this is merely FotF disagreeing with the husband’s interpretation of “church” in 1 Cor 14:33b-35. But this would be a disagreement on a difficult question, not abuse. What the article is saying is that it is abuse for a husband to instruct his wife on Scripture (contrary to 1 Cor 14:35 and Eph 5:26). FotF reinforces this same point in My Spouse Is Verbally and Emotionally Abusive*:
…it isn’t up to a man to see to it that his wife “submits.” The apostle has given tasks to each partner in the relationship. Each partner is responsible only for his or her own assignment. To put it bluntly, men need to forget about “submission.” Their job is to learn what it means to love their spouses “as Christ loved the church.”
The Abuse in the Local Church article quotes the Davissons’ mentor Dr. Paul Hegstrom, explaining that Scripture is used to condone abuse (emphasis mine):
It is a sad state of affairs in the church that when a woman has been abused, it seems that the congregation, her friends, and her clergy shy away from dealing with the situation…
Many times in a Church world, submission is held over the heads of women by men who are emotionally manipulative or abusive in order to get their way and maintain power and control.
Power and control. That phrase should ring a bell, because it is the language of the radical feminist domestic violence paradigm. Specifically, it comes from the Duluth Model, and the Duluth Power and Control Wheel. One of the spokes of the Duluth wheel is the feminist term “Male Privilege”:
Treating her like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.
Hegstrom uses the language of radical feminism, a paradigm entirely hostile to biblical headship and submission. As the Duluth Model website explains, the community which subscribes to the Duluth Model (emphasis mine):
Believes that battering is a pattern of actions used to intentionally control or dominate an intimate partner and actively works to change societal conditions that support men’s use of tactics of power and control over women.
This isn’t about abuse, this is about changing the power dynamic between men and women. This is about obliterating headship. This is Hegstrom’s field, so he wouldn’t accidentally adopt the language of a paradigm he didn’t agree with, and his framing of the issue is the same as the Duluth framing. He is concerned that the church uses submission to give husbands “power and control” in marriage. This is important. Hegstrom isn’t objecting to how husbands are exercising headship, he is objecting to headship itself. True to the Duluth model, he is working to change societal conditions that support men having power and control. And here is Focus on the Family citing Hegstrom as the expert in Christian “emotional abuse”. FotF’s endorsement of the Duluth model can also be seen in the Spouse article where they implore readers to (emphasis mine):
Make sure that the therapist you choose understands the dynamics of abuse, power, and control, and that he or she is well trained in the highly specialized field of marital conflict.
If you ask for a therapist using the language above, you are asking for a therapist trained in the Duluth Model.
After a great deal more straight out of the feminist playbook, the Local Church article advises pastors to send husbands accused of emotional abuse to Dr. Hegstrom’s program Life Skills International for treatment:
Along with loving confrontation, pastors should encourage the abuser to join a treatment program. An organization that can help is Life Skills International, found online at http://www.lifeskillsintl.org/. Founded by Paul Hegstrom, a former abuser, the program addresses abuse from a biblical perspective.
The website for Hegstrom’s Life Skills International will obliterate any remaining doubt you might have that Focus on the Family is selling the radical feminist paradigm of domestic violence. Among other things, the Life Skills website contains a Power and Control Wheel, including Male Privilege and Religious Abuse. See the full wheel and click on each item, as there is too much radical feminist insanity to quote. See also the Signs of Abuse page where any of the bulleted items indicates abuse, including a husband not sharing equally in the housework:
· Household responsibilities are not shared.
As I mentioned above, not only is Hegstrom the Christian authority Focus on the Family turns to in order to define how using Scripture on submission, etc. constitutes “abuse”, he is also the mentor of Joel and Kathy Davisson. Joel Davisson is a proud graduate of Life Skills International and credits Hegstrom for teaching him the proper interpretation of Scripture regarding husbands and wives. For his part, Hegstrom is so proud of Joel and Kathy’s work that he wrote the preface to their book The Man of Her Dreams The Woman of His!. Check out the book on Amazon to see Hegstrom’s name right there on the cover. Use the “search inside” feature to see the preface and to see how Joel and Kathy credit Hegstrom and Life Skills for their theology of marriage, including their doctrine of “women as responders”.
*In the Spouse article FotF also endorses Hegstrom’s Life Skills International.