You may want to read:
If you wish to watch the seven-minute video, please go here. The text this biblical counselor is applying is Psalm 105:14-15
He allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”
Joe Leavell is the presenter, and I have no question about his character, good intention, or desire to help abuse victims. Though I do not know him, I have no ill-intent or suspicion about his motives.
My concern is that too many biblical counselors (and others) seem to have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction, that no matter their good desires, they compromise their worldviews and methods in their haste to
The long-term effect will be damaging because if you build your soul care efforts on top of an unsound hermeneutic, you will not only be unhelpful, but you might weaponize the victims by passing along your improper understanding of God’s Word as they attempt to untangle from what happened to them.
Caution to Victims: Is your counselor a sound theologian? How do you know? Do you sense the bending of Scripture, making it say something that it does not?
It’s a stretch to say this verse talks about abuse; it is not. Joe is eisegetically reading back into Scripture with an “abuse presupposition” and making the text fit his interpretive filter.
I don’t understand why people have to stretch a Bible text to fit a narrative when all you have to say is “abuse is wrong.” Even the unregenerate world has a moral compass that says abuse is wrong. Honestly, you don’t need God’s Word to make this point. But when you bend Scripture to fit what you want to say, it discredits your message. –Rick Thomas
Joe is teaching abused folks bad theology, and in addition to their abuse, he will complicate their problems.
“Scripture is full of examples and commands of God’s heart towards protecting the vulnerable from harm.” –Joe Leavell
But God lets abuse happen, Joe!
What about “God’s heart” toward Job, Daniel, Paul, or Jesus?
It would be wiser to provide more robust teaching on suffering rather than giving the abused an anthropomorphic God.
Anthropomorphisms: Joe wants to connect the counseling ministry’s heart and God’s heart, as though they are the same—read the quote below. Joe makes an emotional appeal as though God shows emotion when abuse happens. The ministry is reading our human assumptions and reactions into who they want God to be, i.e., emotional.
“In this video, BCA counselor, Joe Leavell, shares our heart to protect the vulnerable from abuse, specifically addressing the protection of women.” –From the ministry’s website
Joe said Psalm 105:14-15 had been misunderstood and misapplied—he is correct. But he uses “abuse language” lifted right from the Bible to misapply the text, i.e., when they were vulnerable, small, of little account, few in number, surrounded by more powerful people groups. What Joe is doing is trying to connect with the victim of abuse by using meaningful words from the Bible that resonate with these victims.
Joe asked, “Who is it that God protected” according to this passage in Psalm 105, which is pointing to Genesis? Then Joe tells the stories of Abraham and Isacc lying about their wives, saying the men were abusing their wives, as though abuse is the point of those passages too.
Then Joe says that God stepped in to protect Sarah and Rebecca from being sexually assaulted and abused. From the straw man Joe has constructed, he presents an argument about how churches act like Abraham and Isaac by not protecting women but choosing to keep things quiet so their reputations can be in tack.
At this point, Joe will convince an unsuspecting person that Psalm 105, the accounts of Abraham and Issac in Genesis, plus God’s protective care of Sarah and Rebecca is all about abuse. Do you see how his good desire to help legitimately abused women has morphed into an unsound hermeneutic that twists Scripture to say something that nobody has ever thought and taught?
He is making the “empathetic mistake,” which is jumping entirely into the quicksand rather than “sympathetic counseling” that these hurting souls need, which is not dismissing the problem but exegeting Scripture biblically while bringing better soul care. Joe explicitly says,
What’s interesting about this passage, this touch not the Lord’s anointed, it is actually talking about protecting women from assault, from abuse. The heartbeat of God is about the protection of the vulnerable, even when men did not step up and protect them.
Then he compares their ministry with “being like God” to protect the vulnerable.
Our most vital need is for financial supporters. If you can help us, will you? We are doing more, and people are asking for more. To keep up, we must hire more while developing the resources to meet the demand.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).