2009 Photo by Lambert Wolterbeek Muller, flickr

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen to you, take one or two others along…”

Does this passage require that abuse victims forego reporting abuse to the authorities and to make a private confrontation of the perpetrator? Sadly, I have heard stories where not only were victims chastised for reporting abuse, but then made to go to the perpetrator and confess their sin of not following Matthew 18.

I suspect that most people will reject this thinking and assert that victims and those around should follow the law of the land and report abuse. Passages in I Peter and Romans support the notion that we submit to our governing authorities, even if they are harsh.

But what exegetical reasons might you use to reject the reading of Matthew 18 as ALWAYS requiring private confrontation before public report?

I encourage you to check out http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/abuse-boz-tchividjian where Boz Tchividjian discusses the Matthew 18 passage and provides some interpretive comments (scroll all the way down to the bottom of this very long post).

After reading it, give me your response. Does it pass muster? How else might you tackle this problem?


Phil Monroe is Professor of Counseling & Psychologyand Director of the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He also directs Biblical’s new trauma recovery project. You can find his personal blog at www.wisecounsel.wordpress.com.

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