Domestic VIolence and The Church #31dbc

If you have read any of my post you know I am a believer. I made the choice to share this victims story….

EDITOR’S NOTE: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

A woman I’ll call “Marleen” went to her pastor for help. “My husband is abusing me,” she told him. “Last week he knocked me down and kicked me. He broke one of my ribs.”

Marleen’s pastor was sympathetic. He prayed with Marleen—and then he sent her home. “Try to be more submissive,” he advised. “After all, your husband is your spiritual head.”

Two weeks later, Marleen was dead—killed by an abusive husband. Her church could not believe it. Marleen’s husband was a Sunday school teacher and a deacon. How could he have done such a thing?

Tragically, studies reveal that spousal abuse is just as common within the evangelical churches as anywhere else. This means that about 25 percent of Christian homes witness abuse of some kind.

These numbers may shock you—and they certainly shocked me—so you may be wondering if the studies were done by secular researchers hostile to the church. I can assure you, sadly, they were not.

Denise George, a gifted writer and the wife of theologian Timothy George, has published a new book called What Women Wish Pastors Knew. “Spouse abuse shocks us,” George writes. “We just cannot believe that a church deacon or member goes home after worship . . . and beats his wife.” Tragically, however, George notes, some of these men justify their violence “by citing biblical passages.”

Well, obviously they’re misinterpreting Scripture. In Ephesians 5:22, husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church; beating wives black-and-blue hardly constitutes Christian love. 1 Peter 3:1-7tells husbands to live with their wives considerately. And the Bible makes it clear that the church has no business closing its eyes to violent men. In 1 Timothy 3:3, the church is told that when it comes to choosing leaders, they must find men who are “not violent but gentle,” sober, and temperate.

The amount of domestic abuse in Christian homes is horrifying, and the church ought to be doing something about it—not leaving the problem to secular agencies. But this is one mission field where the church is largely missing in action. And sometimes pastors, albeit with good intentions, do more harm than good.

George sites a survey in which nearly 6,000 pastors were asked how they would counsel women who came to them for help with domestic violence. Twenty-six percent would counsel them the same way Marleen’s pastor did: to continue to “submit” to her husband, no matter what. Twenty-five percent told wives the abuse was their own fault—for failing to submit in the first place. Astonishingly, 50 percent said women should be willing to “tolerate some level of violence” because it is better than divorce.

Advice like this, George warns, often puts women “in grave danger”—and in some cases, can be a death warrant.

Pastors need to acknowledge that domestic abuse in the church is a problem, and learn how to counsel women wisely.

Stay tuned for more on this subject—one the church has not said enough about.

Obviously, Christians must uphold the sanctity of marriage. But we should never ignore the dangers of violent spouses—men who use the Bible to justify abusing, and even killing, their wives.

*This article published April 20, 2009.


Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday

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4 thoughts on “Domestic VIolence and The Church #31dbc

  1. Situations like this cause people to walk away from the church. Church hurt is real and when church leaders fail to rally around their members and offer real guidance and support things like this can happen. I’m not church bashing at all, but I feel like the church should be the moral majority and the first ones to stand up for the rights and protection of anyone experiencing abuse. Thanks for sharing and I pray that God will continue to use you and your gifts. 🙂

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    1. Praise God!!! I agree with you the church needs to do a better job of being the voice in the community. We don’t need to wait until IT happens, it’s needs to be addressed before the issue arises. It’s reasons like this people don’t come to the church. Most feel like its more hurt in the church. I’ve experienced church hurt and I know God is able. Domestic violence is a passion of mine. I really wish the church would do more concerning domestic violence since the church is FULL of women.

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  2. I taught classes on domestic violence in a shelter as well as worked one-on-one with survivors. I’ve definitely run across my fair share of people who don’t understand it (as evidenced by a pastor who would suggest that abuse was earned by lack of submission) including the women who have continually experienced it. This story breaks my heart but also has my brain reeling thinking of ways to create DV training for pastors. Obviously, within the church, divorce is not something looked to lightly but separation, counseling and time to heal if both parties are willing to change is a healthy course of action. A key part of the curriculum for the class I taught was the book Why Does He Do That, which is an excellent read if you haven’t read it already. I still have the curriculum/worksheets etc based upon the book if you would like to have it so that you can present it to church leaders. Since I am not in the church, I might meet with a little more resistance but it is important information to be shared, all the same.

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    1. Good day!!! I would love for you to share the information with me!! I’m looking to start soon. Please send email me at nomoreblows@yahoo.com. I appreciate you being honest about how it’s looked at within the church. The sad part is often men will not deal with it. That forces them to look at their action and behavior. Like I sad in the other comment the church is filled with too many women for it not to be addressed. Thanks for stopping by!

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