Interview with John J. Iamaio, Family Counsellor
We want to welcome our guest blogger, John J. Iamaio. We’ll interview John today and I know you’ll benefit from his years of experience in family counseling. John, please, tell us a little about you before we get to our questions.
My wife and I have been married forty-one years. We have two children and six grandchildren. I have served as a senior pastor for twenty-two years, taught at Webster Christian High School for twenty-three years, and, as you mentioned, I’ve been in family counseling practice now for twenty-two years. I’m an elder at Wheatland Community Church. (John’s education credits below)
Marlene: Great, our readers can get to know you better as we hope you’ll come back to join us again on our blog.
John, I’ve talked with victims of unfaithful spouses who are Christ-followers and want to do the right thing. Certainly, we all want to see Christians respond to suffering in a God-honoring way. But would you agree that it takes a number of steps and some time to make that proper response? Sometimes, well-meaning church leaders have pressed the wounded partner to immediately forgive the offending party and continue to live in the same house before any healing has taken place. What would you say to that victim who is being pressed in this manner?
I agree that American Christians have a tendency to want solutions to complicated relational problems quite quickly. Two major reasons for this are: We believe that we don’t have time to work through all the complexities and we don’t know really what to say about the particular complexities so we come up with religious statements to help pacify our minds such as, “God hates divorce.” As you alluded to, even well-meaning church leaders have pressed the wounded partner to immediately forgive the offender and to even live in the same house before any healing takes place.
But, I would say to the wounded partner that for healing to take place, time is essential. Love is built on trust. If trust has been violated, it will take time for healing to take place and for love to be reestablished.
John, what should be the responsibility of the church to help both parties?
The church should broadcast that the Biblical concern is that both parties get the necessary help in a wounded relationship. Elders should be aware of any abuse going on in the homes of the members. Approach to these homes needs to be dealt with much wisdom and concern. Preachers and the congregations should deal publicly with the matter of relational issues, abuse and dysfunctional relationships. Ephesians 4-6 would be an enormous help with these matters. If abuse continues as a lifestyle, the steps in church discipline should be seriously considered, Matthew 18:15-17.
Is there a passage of scripture regarding temporary separation that can apply here? For instance, if the offended party feels they need time alone, and the unfaithful partner does not agree to it, does that constitute sin on the victim’s part for insisting on separation?
One particular text for separation is 1 Corinthians 7. Yet, within the context of such separation, the elders need to oversee the people and time allotted. 1 Peter 5:1-3.
An insightful text that I would recommend concerning the matter of church involvement in abuse situations is “Mending the Soul” by Dr. Steven Tracy.
I did peek at Steven Tracy’s book, John, after you suggested it, and I was very favorably impressed with his insights. I am adding a link on this blog for our readers. (Ugh! still struggling with getting the link on here, I’ll try again tomorrow.)
Thank you very much, John, for sharing your experienced viewpoints and wisdom with us today.
John: I hope this has been a little helpful to you and your readers, Marlene. Please, let me know if I can be of further help.
John Iamaio, Bachelors in Theology, Master’s in Biblical Studies, Master’s in Counseling, PhD in Counseling.
Readers: Please leave comments and ask questions if you wish.