Did you know that 1 in 4 women will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lives? It is not restricted to a particular class, ethnic group, or religion, but occurs across all of these. How many women could it therefore affect in your congregation?
Domestic abuse is a killer of dreams and visions, not to talk of the physical and psychological damage done to the victim and to any children who see or hear it. Do you know how you would respond to a woman who you suspect, or who tells you she is experiencing domestic abuse? Do you know what the Bible says about it?
When I experienced domestic abuse I found that the response of Christians varied widely. Some did not know how to respond at all, while others responded quite robustly but, with very little understanding of the issues, they did more harm than good. Some had strong opinions on the subject from a biblical perspective but these were completely contrary to another Christian’s biblical perspective which was quite confusing! For example, I suspect I currently have the same amount of people praying that God will restore my marriage, as I have praying that God will give me the strength to remain as far away from it as possible! Overall only a minority have been able to support me well.
Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. I strongly believe that because of a lack of knowledge about the realities of domestic abuse people are being destroyed; some are being killed, murdered, by the partner or ex partner, but the majority are having their ability to fulfil God’s plans for their lives destroyed by these relationships.
What can you do?
I hope that you have come across these pages because you have a desire to know more. I pray that you will not read and forget, but that visiting these pages will cause you to reflect and act where appropriate. Keep coming back and reading the BLOG and other pages. Join / start a discussion by posting your comments.
Whether you are a church leader or not, if you are a Christian, I would really like to know your thoughts on domestic abuse and your faith. For example:
- What do you think the Bible says about domestic abuse, if anything?
- Do you think the church has a role in tackling issues surrounding domestic abuse? Or should it be the domain of external agencies?
- What experience have you had in dealing with domestic abuse issues from a Christian perspective?
- Would you say that domestic abuse is a taboo subject?
- How do you think it could be tackled in your church or in churches in general?
- Does your church have a policy relating to domestic abuse? If not, are you confident in you ability to put one in place, or suggest this to your church leadership?
- Is anyone in your church leadership / counselling team trained to deal with issues surrounding domestic abuse?
- Would you like help in developing an approach to domestic abuse in your church?
- Would you know where to go to find this?
- Do you know how you would respond if a man in your church was accused or suspected of abusing his partner?
- Are you / is your church familiar with the organisations in the community of your congregation which help people who have experienced domestic abuse?
- Have you considered supporting any of these organisations financially or in other ways?
Do not feel discouraged if your answers to these questions paint a dire picture. Use it as motivation to make or press for changes in your church or in your understanding of the issues. In order to gain the knowledge needed to respond appropriately to issues of violence against women, equality, power, gender and abuse I would recommend educating yourself. There are good resources online and many good books (see Reviews for a few). I recommend this book as a starting point:
God bless you.