Domestic Violence: A Call to the Church – Reevaluate Your Beliefs

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Beliefs

purple ribbons

-by Kathi


I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.

 

The church can be incredibly helpful to victims of domestic violence, or, it can be incredibly damaging to victims. The way in which a church responds to a victim depends upon the beliefs that the church has about domestic violence. This is an open challenge to the church to re-evaluate a few beliefs which may keep victims within abusive relationships.

Suffering

The Bible never promises that life will be easy. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Suffering can make a person stronger, or cause physical and emotional reactions that may take years for a victim to recover. The church can offer a victim of domestic abuse empathy and compassion. Faith can play an important part of healing for a victim when those within the spiritual community offer support and encouragement.

However, some churches teach that suffering is ordained by God, is a part of God’s will, and insist that Christians need to respond to suffering with joy. One only needs to go to The Gospel Coalition or Desiring God to see titles such as: 4 Reasons God Ordains Suffering for His People,  Don’t Waste Your Suffering, Seven Reasons You Owe Everything to Suffering, or Suffering Exposes Our Sin.

It is important to remember that abuse is about power and control. A victim of abuse experiences suffering involuntarily. Victims do not ask to be beaten, stalked, verbally assaulted, or sexually assaulted. The belief that a victim experiences suffering because it is God’s will makes God out to be cruel. Furthermore, a victim may choose to stay in an abusive relationship because they think that there is no other option or way out.

Marriage

The church places high value on the marriage relationship – almost to the point of making an idol out of marriage. For some, marriage idolatry is dangerous because divorce will never be never an option for a victim of domestic abuse. The marriage must be saved at all costs. (Lori Alexander is a fine example of this belief.)

When scripture from Ephesians, Corinthians, and Colossians is taught from the pulpit, a pastor may focus more on a wife’s role in the marriage than the husband’s. If a pastor misinterprets scripture and teaches that a wife must submit in all things, he is sending a message that abuse must be endured. This teaching also validates the abuser, and arms him with verses that support his authority in the marriage.

Scripture never provides husbands with power and control over the marriage relationship. God does not condone abuse.

Confession and Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

When an abuser confesses his sin of abuse to a pastor, the pastor may think that he is humble and contrite, and will offer forgiveness. The pastor may then ask the victim to forgive her abuser, and then the matter is taken care of. The pastor with a mindset of forgive and forget does a disservice to the victim. Abuse will never be forgotten. It stays with a person forever.

The problem with “simple forgiveness” is that abusers are highly manipulative. An abuser will say what a pastor wants to hear, but the confession may not be true repentance. After the confession, there may be a pause in the abuse, but it will start up again at some point. However, repentance involves a change in behavior. An abuser must show that he is willing to seek assistance to change his thoughts, actions, and attitudes about power and control. Pastors can play an important role in making sure that abusers stay true to their word that they are willing to seek change.

A pastor must also be open to a victim expressing forgiveness at her own timing. Forgiveness must neither be assumed to aid in healing, nor be forced. A victim’s ability to forgive should not be based upon a pastor’s expectation, but upon her own timing which must be respected.

Role of Secular Resources

The church must recognize when it is not capable of helping a victim and should use community resources when available.

A church that thinks that leadership must investigate all cases of domestic abuse may place additional trauma or harm by the perpetrator on the victim. Pastors must understand that domestic abuse is a crime which must be investigated by proper authorities. If cases of domestic abuse are solely handled within the church, the abuse may never cease.

Unfortunately, there are many churches that refuse to refer victims of abuse to trauma-informed counseling. Churches which focus on a Biblical approach to counseling may add trauma by focusing on the sin of the victim. There is no sin that a victim can commit that justifies abuse. The sin is on the abuser, not the victim. Churches may also refer victims to marriage counseling. It is widely known that marriage counseling is not an appropriate form of counseling for abusive relationships because of the focus on mutual  contribution to the problem.

Churches must be aware of professionally trained resources within the community in which to refer a victim. These may include abuse advocacy, treatment, and intervention resources. Churches need not be afraid of community resources which aid victims, but should find value in partnering with resources for a victim’s best interest.

Church leaders, please take time to reevaluate your beliefs about marriage, gender roles within marriage, suffering, confession and forgiveness, and the use of outside resources. The way you respond to a victim of domestic abuse may mean life or death.

 

 

24 comments on “Domestic Violence: A Call to the Church – Reevaluate Your Beliefs

  1. I agree on most of it. Counseling is always appropriate, perhaps not with the goal of reconciliation but at least to find out whether reconciliation should even be an option. But even if reconciliation is not an option counseling is necessary for both. If a woman (or man) claims abuse and then doesn’t want to get counseling, then automatically I’m going to suspect their claim. They need counseling if they’ve been abused so they don’t repeat the error with the next guy/gal. But if they don’t get it, then I start to wonder if they’re making stuff up and don’t want their own problems to be dealt with.

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  2. Avid Reader – Thanks! I’ve had strong thoughts and opinions about how the church handles all abuse for many years now. After first learning of the issue, I was so disappointed that my ministry program never offered any training.

    Livingliminial – Agreed! This post could have gone on and on and on…

    Terriergal – Given that I work in our community as a victim advocate, I find best practice is to believe the victim first. It is rare for a victim to lie about abuse. It does happen, though. I do think that counseling is essential for the victim and offender. Never together, though. There are some barriers to victims obtaining counseling. Depending on the cultural background of the victim, counseling may be viewed negatively and may cause more shame by family or friends. If there are no low cost counseling options, financial reasons may keep victims from seeking assistance. If a victim is left to single-parent children, work and family responsibilities may take time away from counseling. I guess my point is to not draw conclusions right away, but attempt to understand why someone may not seek counseling.

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  3. It’s interesting, terriergal, that you put the onus on the victim. I would have put the onus on the abuser: if the abuser doesn’t want to get counseling, I’m going to assume that he really is an abuser. I agree with Kathi, that counseling is not always a possibility for the victim. Remember, this woman likely has children, will have a huge drop in income, and may have to do heroic measures just to provide food and shelter.

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  4. Remember, this woman likely has children, will have a huge drop in income, and may have to do heroic measures just to provide food and shelter.

    Don’t forget that it’s also dangerous. Joint counseling is dangerous. Leaving is dangerous. I think that’s the thing that has helped me most to understand why people don’t leave right away.

    Sidenote: JA, did you see the Gospel Coalition article about stuff Christians should learn from the Weinstein situation? Ugh. One of his ‘lessons’ was that ‘once he was challenged, his power quickly vanished’. I guess he missed all the people who reported him before now. The fact that Courtney Love was apparently calling him out on TV in 2005. The fact that Corey Feldman has been talking about pedophiles in Hollywood for years and nothing has happened. The fact that many who did challenge him over the years had careers ruined.
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/4-lessons-for-christians-from-the-harvey-weinstein-scandal

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  5. I’m glad reading this article after some years reading other Christian sources on domestic violence and divorce. You’re right that some churches and Christian communities tend to treat marriage like an idolatry in which divorce is seen as a the most abominable sin worse than adultery, domestic violence or any violent offense which has always perplexed me. The idea is that marriage must be saved at all costs never divorce even if your spouse abuses you, sexually molests or assaults your children or other children, tries to kill you etc because the bible condemns this which I found ridiculous and there have been sad stories of Christians being shunned by their families and friends in the church for divorcing even if there is domestic violence.

    I think divorce is scary to many Christians because it shows that some marriages can’t be saved despite their belief that God wants made marriage to be for life quoted from the scripture Mark 19:6. In their eyes, God must be able to save a marriage no matter what but in reality this isn’t so black and white. Their are a couple of scriptures in bible that does permit a divorce even tough many will encourage finding ways to reconcile even in those cases.

    I have found about about some Christian books that discuss divorce and remarriage among Christians including “Divorce and Remarriage” by scholar David Instone-Brewer, another book under the same title by William F. Luck, “Something Happened On the Way to Happily Ever After” by Rick Walston, “One Flesh” by Bob Yandian and “Not Under Bondage” by Barbara Roberts. There are plenty scholars and Christians who believe the primary grounds for divorce among Christians are unfaithfulness, desertion and abuse as do I. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t advocate saving a marriage outside of these three reasons and saddened when I hear of Christians divorcing for other reasons as I believe marriage for the most is for better or worse till death do you part and hate the huge divorce rate in today’s society due to couples giving up and not taking the marriage vows seriously as much as I hate it when Christians are quick to condemn and shun others who do divorce without knowing the whole details.

    Anyway, I think Divorce is a touchy but important subject that needs to be addressed among the Christian community and how to better deal with Christians who are either facing divorce or already divorced or experiencing domestic violence. God Bless.

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  6. refugee, there is some weird sandwich obsession out there. It’s like a ‘meme’ now as a thing ‘good’ wives do, even though a sandwich is literally the laziest thing you can make in the known universe.

    If I’m making sandwiches for myself during the week, I just bring everything to work separately and assemble there, btw. Otherwise its not very good. (unless pb&j)

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  7. I I just read that fox news article like to add my two cents in(long rant). First I’m not a feminist myself but I don’t’ care for the anti-feminist message in that article especially since the author seems to equate men supporting women’s equality and progressive equal partnership in marriage that isn’t restricted to traditional gender roles as not being real men anymore or being weak men. Basically it’s not okay for men to support feminism even being referred to as Uncle Tims, but okay for author who is a woman and others women like her to support traditional manhood and patriarchy. They author doesn’t seem to have a clear understanding what feminism really is and twisted it as a selfish agenda only to serve women’s needs at the expense of men. I admit I don’t agree with some of the today’s feminist-mindsets and don’t agree with the attitudes of the so-called independent women who criticized the woman described in the article simply for making her husband a sandwich the idea that it makes her a slave to her husband ridiculous. There are many women out there who do take the strong emancipated woman thing too far. The real issue is just like other movements, somewhere along the line feminism got taken too extreme by many and origin of it’s ideals got lost and instead there is constantly looking for sexism or something offensive in a situation when there is no need like when you hear those complain that housewives and stay-at home moms are lazy or being oppressed, or man opening a door for a woman offering to change a flat tire for her or carry the heavy luggage is male power and coming to her aid when she’s in distress implies female dependency on men. When I hear or read these mentalities, I can understand the frustration with feminism to a degree. But other times when I read anti-feminist comments like in the fox news article I feel the need to defend the origins of feminism since I know not all feminists think a wife making a sandwich for her husband is demeaning nor find every single traditional gender roles in such a matter. I also checked out the youtube video of the known youtuber political cowboy Chad Prather and after only a few seconds I couldn’t finish watching it. I actually agreed with a few things he said but he came off too arrogant and condescending and the fact he just like the author confuses equality with being identical. Even some feminists will admit that men and women do have some differences and not just biologically and have some distinct abilities and strengths like women carrying babies and men have more muscles and as much as I’m fairly old-fashioned and all for chivalry I can maintain a reasonable balance of modern values and equality and they are mutually exclusive. Sorry for long rant. God Bless.

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  8. Lea said,

    Sidenote: JA, did you see the Gospel Coalition article about stuff Christians should learn from the (Harvey) Weinstein (movie producer) situation?
    Ugh. One of his ‘lessons’ was that ‘once he was challenged, his power quickly vanished’.

    I guess he missed all the people who reported him before now. The fact that Courtney Love was apparently calling him out on TV in 2005. The fact that Corey Feldman has been talking about pedophiles in Hollywood for years and nothing has happened. The fact that many who did challenge him over the years had careers ruined.

    I don’t have the nerve to read the article you linked to.
    Maybe later I’ll look at it. I can just tell from your description it would make my blood boil.

    Complementarianism is NOT a solution for sexual harassment of women (or for domestic violence), but actually plays a role in either making women into attractive targets for perverts and abusers, or complementarianism encourages girls and women to just “put up with” mistreatment.

    Complementarianism is part of the problem of sexism against women, not a solution.
    It’s utterly laughable that any Christian gender complementarian would propose comp as a solution for the mistreatment of women by men.

    Comps speak out of both sides of their mouths on all this.
    They will say that they and God “value” women, but by their actions, and how they mis-handle domestic violence and sexual harassment of girls and women, they show that no, they really do not value women.

    A lot of complementarianism is predisposed on several faulty assumptions, one of them being that all complementarian men are noble gentlemen who will come to the aide of any woman in trouble, so women can count on these men for protection.

    That is laughable and very untrue. Time and again, we can see examples of complementarian men (sometimes even preachers) who take advantage of women, girls, or who abuse their wives (Julie Anne has many examples of this very thing on this very blog).

    And complementarian churches usually do not help such girls and women,but victim-blame them, tell them to stay with their abuser, etc.
    (continued in part 2)

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  9. (part 2, reply to Lea’s post)

    Sidenote: JA, did you see the Gospel Coalition article about stuff Christians should learn from the (Harvey) Weinstein (movie producer) situation?
    Ugh. One of his ‘lessons’ was that ‘once he was challenged, his power quickly vanished’.

    I guess he missed all the people who reported him before now.

    You are quite right about Weinstein. I’ve read many articles about this awful story, and it appears every one in the movie business has known for 20 – 30 years what a sick predator the guy is, yet nobody did anything, either from fear, or-

    As one show business guy admitted (and he apologize for this) because he benefited from his relationship with Weinstein, he turned a blind eye to Weinstein’s sleazy antics towards women. (Weinstein would do things such as treat this guy to free, hard- to- get Broadway tickets, pay for vacations to tropical islands, etc.)

    Many media outlets refused to cover the Weinstein story!

    One of the reporters who finally broke the story, (Farrow I think his name is), said that NBC would not carry the story about Weinstein, so he had to take it to another media outlet (I think the ‘New Yorker’ was the outfit that finally published his story).

    Weinstein used to pay off, bribe, or threaten New York media outlets to not carry the stories of his harassment of women.

    It took 20 – 30 years of various women murmuring about all this in Hollywood circles, and that Farrow guy breaking the story, and Weinstein’s career losing steam (he’s not been making as many good movies lately) before anyone was willing to even lightly broach the subject.

    So far, I think the number of women who say Weinstein sexually harassed them was around 40 or 50, and about 3 to 5 women say he raped them. Three decades and dozens of women harmed. The “confrontation” of this guy by other people didn’t really happen until after much damage had already been caused.

    Same scenario with TV actor Bill Cosby.

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  10. A possible correction. I wrote above

    “A lot of complementarianism is predisposed on several faulty assumptions,”

    I think I meant “predicated upon” not “predisposed”

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  11. Curious Thinker said,

    (point 1)
    The idea is that marriage must be saved at all costs never divorce even if your spouse abuses you, sexually molests or assaults your children or other children, tries to kill you etc because the bible condemns this which I found ridiculous and there have been sad stories of Christians being shunned by their families and friends in the church for divorcing even if there is domestic violence.

    Point 1.
    I agree. Most Christians today, especially Protestant and Baptist (also, fundamentalists, evangelicals), have made an idol out of marriage.

    Singleness in adults (even in Christian adults) is treated like a disease or short-coming that needs to be “fixed,” and is treated as thus especially by Christians (such as Al Mohler or Mark Regnerus) who keep promoting this odd view that marriage can “fix” society and solve all sorts of problems.

    Where does the Bible say that marriage will heal nations, fix people, fix cultural problems, or eradicate sin, or cause people to become giving and holy? It does not say any of that stuff.

    Despite the fact the Bible promotes singleness as being a good thing (see apostle Paul’s remarks in 1 Corinthians chapter 7), you’ll see conservative Christians and conservative Christian think tanks and “pro family groups” discuss adult singleness in highly derogatory ways (which pains me, as I myself am a conservative),

    Such conservative Christians or groups like to blame society’s ills on singleness (and associated, such as divorce), and push singles to marry no matter what – as though marriage will ‘fix’ everything in society.

    (But some singles don’t want to get married, others do wish to but cannot find a compatible partner to marry.
    And again, this view overlooks the fact that the Bible speaks favorably of adult singleness and does not say the way to fix a culture is to have everyone marry off.)

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  12. Curious Thinker said,

    (point 2)
    I think divorce is scary to many Christians because it shows that some marriages can’t be saved despite their belief that God wants made marriage to be for life quoted from the scripture Mark 19:6.
    In their eyes, God must be able to save a marriage no matter what but in reality this isn’t so black and white.

    Point 2.
    Yes, the older I get and mull things over, and look at my life experiences and consider that of other people’s, I don’t think real life works the way a lot of Protestant, Baptist, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians think and believe it will or should.

    There is definitely, I think, some unspoken fear on the part of a lot of Christians that if God alone or prayer or Bible reading cannot heal or restore a marriage, (or heal whatever else in life), it will prove the faith bogus.

    Not just in regards to marriage, but look at how Christians paint spiritual matters (prayer, Bible reading, etc) _as being guaranteed cures for mental health problems_ such as depression, when all of us who have had depression (or PTSD, or anxiety, or what have you), know that “God-only” methods promoted by Christians do not work for most people.

    I don’t think the Bible is meant to be an instruction manual for absolutely everything in life (contrary to the hokey evangelical mantra of “B.I.B.L.E.: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”).

    I think maybe the Bible was meant to primarily be intended to be about spiritual matters (and maybe some basic morals) – and that’s about it. I many Christians try to make the Bible into something God never intended for it to be.

    The Bible (or God) has not helped me conquer and solve every and any problem I’ve ever had.

    I think many Christians are misusing the Bible and expecting too much of it, and they have mistaken assumptions about its purpose –

    That maybe plays into a lot of this hooey about how if you just follow this or that Christian bullet point list, or just pray all the time, or trust Jesus, or have enough faith, or read the Bible…

    Your marriage will be restored, you’ll never get a flu or stub a toe, or your anxiety or depression will vanish, and you won’t have any problems in life.

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  13. Curious Thinker said,

    (point 2)
    I think divorce is scary to many Christians because it shows that some marriages can’t be saved despite their belief that God wants made marriage to be for life quoted from the scripture Mark 19:6.
    In their eyes, God must be able to save a marriage no matter what but in reality this isn’t so black and white.

    This also reminds me of how Jesus prayed for unity in the body of believers, but it looks to me as though this did not come to pass. Christians have splintered off into many different groups and denominations.

    Maybe the take away is, just because something is in the Bible does not mean God will do whatever that thing is, or it won’t come to pass.

    Another thing I wanted to comment on. (I’ve mentioned this several times at TWW blog, but I find it so funny.)

    I read an article by a marriage counselor (who may have been Christian, I cannot recall), who said his ideal counseling patients were ATHEISTS.

    He said the atheists would do his homework assignments (the therapist would give his couples “homework” to work on at home to improve their marriages).

    However, his Christian patients would admit they did not do his assignments. He asked them why not, and they’d say because they would just pray together and hope that God would fix their marriages.

    This therapist found this so frustrating. He was saying in the article he doesn’t know how Christian couples expect their marriage to work out if they won’t do the work.

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  14. refugee said,

    Lea,
    Add to that the recent Fox opinion piece attacking feminism:
    (snip Fox news link)
    In short, men are supposed to protect women, and women are supposed to sit back and let themselves be under the protection of a man.

    I’m not anti Fox news. I am a conservative, but I fear sometimes other conservatives (including ones featured on Fox news) have this knee jerk tendency to reject anything that remotely supports women, because they all hate or distrust secular feminism. And I think that is a mistake.

    Not even secular feminists are wrong 100% of the time on 100% of issues, but other conservatives will never admit that (the reverse is also true, though – liberals won’t admit that sometimes conservatives are correct on some subjects).

    The page you quoted that is on the Fox news site – I skimmed the byline – is by Suzanne Venker

    Venker is notorious for promoting sexist views and bashing feminism. Every so often, she writes an inflammatory book or article that generates a lot of heat on social media.

    Venker made a comment in that article you linked to, something like,
    “Men don’t marry feminists.”

    No kidding, Venker, and that’s a good thing.

    See, this gets back to what I’ve blogged about before on my Daisy blog and have said on this site many times.

    Venker promotes a view of the genders that is very much the same sort of tripe Christian complementarians promote.

    And those Venker / complementarian views encourage women to be, or to act, weak, passive, demure, compliant, vulnerable – which in turn are VERY attractive to controlling or abusive men.

    By and large, if a woman displays self esteem, healthy boundaries (she won’t permit herself to be mistreated by men), that will scare or or disuade 99% of controlling or abusive men and chase them off, which is a GOOD thing.

    Awhile back, Venker wrote some article or book or whatever chiding “Alpha Females.” It received push back from different sources, including:

    _Oh No, You Guys, I Think I Might Be an Alpha Woman_

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  15. Re: refugee’s post:
    This is similar to Venker, the lady author of the editorial you linked to on Fox News.

    There used to be a woman journalist or commentator on Fox cable news channel named Andrea Tantaros who wrote a dating advice book for women (title: “Tied Up in Knots”) about a year ago.

    Tantaros’ dating books for women it was filled with sexist advice for women (such as, telling women to be demure, submissive doormats if they hoped to get dates or to marry – all similar garbage to what Venker promotes).

    Later, it was revealed that the book was ghost-written by a MAN (named Michael Krechmer). The male author was going to file a lawsuit or something, which is how I think the story leaked.

    _Ex-Fox News Host Andrea Tantaros Sued by Ghostwriter of Her Book ‘Tied Up in Knots’_

    It’s bad enough there are men out there promoting sexist views, but there seems to be a sort of special brand of “ick” when women do this.

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  16. Curious Thinker said,

    I admit I don’t agree with some of the today’s feminist-mindsets and don’t agree with the attitudes of the so-called independent women who criticized the woman described in the article simply for making her husband a sandwich the idea that it makes her a slave to her husband ridiculous.

    There are many women out there who do take the strong emancipated woman thing too far.

    The real issue is just like other movements, somewhere along the line feminism got taken too extreme by many and origin of it’s ideals got lost and instead there is constantly looking for sexism or something offensive in a situation when there is no need like when you hear those complain that housewives and stay-at home moms are lazy or being oppressed,

    or man opening a door for a woman offering to change a flat tire for her or carry the heavy luggage is male power

    I agree with you to a point, but there’s a lot of sexism that men (and a lot of traditional valued women) remain blind to.

    I wrote a blog post about this subject. See especially the sections on this blog post about Benevolent Sexism, Trans Man (biological women who transition to men), and related matters (you may have to scroll down this page quite a bit to get to those subjects):
    _On Men Not Believing Women and Being Blind to the Sexism and Harassment Women Often Endure_

    Also, some people still have “hang ups” about gender roles, so this works in reverse.

    Some men feel like a wuss or a “man-fail” if they are on a car trip with a woman, get a flat tire, and the woman changes the tire, because the man does not know how, or is otherwise incapable.

    I just saw an article about this months ago.

    That very thing happened. The man in the story felt his manhood so damaged that he stopped contacting the woman, and that upset the woman.
    She wanted to stay friends with this guy or date him. She did not care that he did not know how to change a tire, but it sure bothered the guy.

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  17. Daisy, I understand what your saying regarding Christians fear that God can’t fix every single thing for them and all they have to do is pray and nothing else. Even some Christian scholars agree Christians just pray to God for something positive to happen to them and they can just sit back and do nothing to try to change their situations but wait for God to magically fix it for them. I believe that while praying and turning to God for strength and guidance you should still be willing to do the work in fact you should turn to God to give you the strength and will power to fix whatever is wrong and to make positive changes. For married couples, they should pray and embrace God and rely on his strength and guidance to help them find the will to do the work and restore their happy union. I also see your point on gender roles, I think it has to due with traditional cultural expectations of manhood ingrained among men and what makes them real men like being the protector and the ability to take care of their women, using their strengths to protect and aid them when necessary and when the fall short on that they feel like a sort of failure as men, their egos being bruised. I actually think this is all good but it can also be taking to extreme and be too black and white as with the example you just described. I think there just needs to be a reasonable balance, with you example of the man he couldn’t just offered to assist the woman in changing the flat tire in anyway that would be useful rather than doing it for her sometimes two is better than one. I still believe gallantry from men are still appreciated and can be needed sometimes even to a small degree while other times valuing women’s ability to do some things for herself.

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  18. When it comes to Christian feminism, I believe that the underlying principle is respect for human dignity and human rights, regardless of gender.

    All of us find ourselves in positions of both weakness and strength throughout our lifetimes. There are times when I have been weak and vulnerable, and needed the help and protection of other people. There have been times when my basic human rights were violated. There are other times when I have been strong and powerful, when I have been there to help others and even stand up for the human rights of others. We give and we receive, because God created human beings to live in community.

    Should men be “chivalrous”? Perhaps. If an able-bodied, adult man — especially a man possessing wealth or leadership — finds himself in a position where he can help a woman or a child, or defend the human rights of a woman or child, then by all means, he should. But it’s not about gender. It’s about being a decent human being. A man should also help other men, not just women and children. A woman should also help other people, including children, men, and other women.

    The Bible teaches us to be kind to one another and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Whether we are making someone a sandwich, or changing a flat tire, or running into a burning building to save someone’s life, kindness is not about gender.

    The flip side of that coin is teaching others to help themselves. Teach your son how to make his own sandwiches and sew his own buttons on his shirt. In fact, teach him how to be a good cook. Teach your daughter how to change her own flat tire. Or a least give her a good education so that she can get a good job and pay someone else to change her tire. Or both. Money is power. Practical life skills are also power.

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  19. Pingback: Domestic Violence: Know Your Resources | Spiritual Sounding Board

  20. Daisy said:
    “I don’t think the Bible is meant to be an instruction manual for absolutely everything in life.”

    I see it as the core of all life. I think it sets the boundaries and tells us about God, what He’s like and what He wants for us and from us. But some Christians make it into an idol, and make it into something it’s not. Particularly, they use it to bash other believers who don’t quite see things as they do.

    To give an example: healing. My view would be that the Bible tells us what God wants for our wellbeing, and what wellbeing and health looks like (not just physical but emotional and mental too). We see healing and restoration as major themes in there. Personally, I think the correct follow-up understanding would be that if God wants health for me, then anything which promotes my health, from good food, exercise, medicine, to prayer and divine, instantaneous healing, are all His gifts to promote His kingdom value of “health”. I don’t see it as meaning that only the specific methods in the Bible are the ones which are okay for Christians to use.

    That’s how I see all Scripture application. You have to understand it in its context, and then pray for the Holy Spirit to quicken it to you and enable you to apply it in your present culture and situation. The principles are universal, but the application may well look very different depending on where in the world you are, adn what era you live in.

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