I’ve been going through the Duluth Power and Control Model for a few posts, and given that the hypothesis of patriarchy being the major or primary cause is not remotely defensible, we really ought to develop a tenable hypothesis.
Let’s try Romans 3:23; we are all sinners, and hence we will do cruel things (insults, physical violence, sexual violence, etc..) when we have some justification (authority in church, politics, or elsewhere, mental illness, lack of conscience) and we think we can get away with it. We know from Scripture—Moses and the foreman, David with Bathsheba and Uriah, Peter regarding the Gentiles, etc..)—that believers also can fall into this trap when our consciences do not prevent us.
In recognizing this, we instantly reject a few claims of Christian proponents of the Duluth Model: that the accused is not a Christian, that he is not entitled to the Matthew 18 process, and that repentance is difficult to impossible. The Bible’s treatment of Moses, David, Peter, Paul and others refutes this.
(side note; I hope that people who assume the accusation is proof of guilt never get into a jury box!)
Rather, we must assume that repentance is probable for the believer confronted per Matthew 18—and even the unbeliever. The purpose of church discipline is not bludgeoning, but rather restoration—see 2 Corinthians 2’s treatment of the man caught with his father’s wife.
So if we have a case that I’ve seen—say the physically abused wife, or the wife of a man ensnared by pornography, alcohol and drugs who appears to have at least dated other women—why would we refuse to apply principles like 1 Peter 3:7 and Colossians 3:19 to that case? At best, we win a man to Christ or restore him to fellowship—at worst, we are where we started, needing to make tough decisions about how to keep the rest of the family safe. Either way, the woman can be freed from the abuse, and most likely the marriage.
For those not in the church, freedom from the Duluth Model means that we can finally differentiate between abuse cases rooted in patriarchal beliefs (of which I’ve seen at least one, to be fair) from those with other causes, and finally start dealing with what’s really going on in probably the majority of abuse cases. We cannot implement Matthew 18:15-19 as a rule for secular cases, but we can implement our description of abuse in terms of opportunity, justification, expression to better fit the real data.