Churches and their leaders must confront domestic violence
Churches and their leaders must confront domestic violence.
Domestic violence isn’t just a problem for society. There is no doubt that domestic violence is prevalent in our churches, and in Christian marriages. Christian leaders urgently need to speak up about it and take action.
November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It’s also known as White Ribbon Day.
Domestic violence is a global problem. It manifests in all cultures, ethnicities, classes, suburbs, and religions. Domestic violence is everyone’s issue. We should all get involved, and confront domestic violence.
Today, many around the globe are taking this pledge: “I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.”
Violence against women is a continuum. It starts with demeaning, sexist, sexual, and discriminating words, attitudes, and actions. These are expressed in many places in society—churches, schools, universities, workplaces, public transport, homes, and more.
Domestic violence includes threats or acts of violence, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty. Sexist, sexually intimidating, demeaning, and threatening attitudes and behaviors, lead to other expressions of physical, sexual or psychological violence against women.
One in four Australian women experienced at least one incident of violence from an intimate partner since the age of 15.
At least one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner.
Men can be the victims of domestic violence too, and we should acknowledge that. But all the data shows that women and children suffer from domestic violence in much greater numbers. So, let’s not minimize violence against women by saying “but men suffer too.”
Churches and their leaders must confront domestic violence. We must make it clear that we won’t accept or commit violence, and won’t support attitudes that promote violence (discrimination, demeaning words and action, sexism, and so on).
Our society won’t get the traction it needs to confront domestic violence against women until religious leaders (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and others) confront the issue.
We will not get traction on this issue until churches and Christian leaders take a public, vocal, active stand.
We need to focus on the safety and wellbeing of victims. And we also need to focus on real accountability (including punishment, consequences, and, hopefully, rehabilitation) for perpetrators.
As Christians, we need to talk about the dignity of all persons, and about the need for love and care and respect for all persons. We need to talk about the need for justice and action, and about the nature of safe and loving and respectful and enriching and God-honoring relationships and families.
And we must speak about the prevalence of domestic violence in our churches.
Christians, churches, and their leaders need to speak up about domestic violence, and take concrete action against it.
We can’t sit back and pretend it isn’t happening in churches, Christian marriages, and society.
We must take notice, take action, and implement clear, thoughtful, holistic, proven responses, in partnership with other groups, that honor the biblical witness about the dignity and worth of all people.
Here are some resources on domestic violence:Churches & their leaders must confront domestic violence, in church & society. Click To Tweet
Dr Graham Hill is the Founding Director of The GlobalChurch Project – www.theglobalchurchproject.com. He’s the author of “GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches” (IVP, 2016), and 3 other books.
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