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

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Beliefs

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-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.

 

 

Domestic Violence: Education is the Key to Better Church Response

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Education

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 first time I was educated about domestic violence was in college as a ministry student 30 years ago. Sadly, I did not learn about the problem in any of my ministry classes. Church growth was the main focus at the time, not pastoral care. I pieced together my own ministry program that wasn’t offered, and included a class titled Violent Encounters in the Family. My eyes and heart were opened from that point on to advocate against abuse in any way possible.

I wrote my master’s thesis on Minister’s Knowledge, Views, and Attitudes Regarding Child Abuse. In 1996, my advisor thought this was unusual as she had never seen anything written about abuse from that perspective. Having been a ministry student, I knew that many pastors were not educated about abuse. My research, though very limited, confirmed that.

Education, I believe, is the first key for churches to effectively respond to domestic violence. The numbers from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence are staggering:

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States is raped during her/his lifetime.

66.2% of female stalking victims reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner.

On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls.

1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.

With numbers like this, it should be easy for church leaders to recognize that they have victims of domestic violence within their congregation. LifeWay Research recently conducted a survey of 1,000 Protestant churches asking how they handle domestic violence situations. Some of the findings include:

37% of Protestant pastors are aware of an adult in their church who experienced domestic or sexual violence in the last 3 years.

Half of Protestant churches (52%) have a specific plan or procedures in place for how to respond if someone shares that they are experiencing domestic violence.

The most common specific resource churches have in place to offer someone
experiencing domestic violence is a referral list with professional counselors trained in domestic violence.

60% would investigate whether domestic violence is really present.

Some of these numbers are encouraging; however, I find the fact that such a high percentage of pastors feel the need to “investigate” concerning. Investigation should be done by the police.

I recognize that there are church leaders who have taken the time to educate themselves and the church community about abuse. I have heard very encouraging stories from victims about how their church community is supporting them. However, we still have leaders, such as John Piper, saying that a woman needs to “endure verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.” The church can do better.

Paige Patterson, once the Southern Baptist Conference leader,  discussed the “proper way for women to receive beatings.” The arrogance and attitude toward women in this 4 minute clip is disgusting. The church can do better.

Women, such as Lori Alexander, say “seek help for physical abuse,” then turn around and say, “the word abuse is overused,” and finally, encourage women to win over their angry husband. Divorce is never an option for an abused wife. The church can do better.

“Pastors” such as Doug Wilson are promoted and quoted by organizations like The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and Desiring God. TGC removed a post that quoted Wilson’s book, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One Woman Man. “A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.” The fact that TGC initially thought this sexually aggressive wording was fine to promote is appalling. The church can do better.

Then, we have Mark Driscoll rising from the ashes. While at Mars Hill, Driscoll wasted no words in disparaging anyone who was alive and breathing. His words about women, if taken seriously, were enough to make men think they must have power and control in relationships. Women were called “penis homes” and were told to provide oral sex to their husbands because it is “biblical.” Men were encouraged to have their wives watch them masturbate so that the act is not seen as a form of homosexuality. The church MUST do better!

This is what the church needs to know:

  • Domestic violence can occur in any relationship.
  • Domestic violence happens in “Godly, Christian” families.
  • Abuse is always about power and control. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, and spiritual abuse, as well as stalking.
  • Abuse crosses age, socio-economic, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and national boundaries.
  • Please take abuse seriously. Always listen to the victim.
  • Abuse can cause physical disabilities, emotional trauma, or death.
  • Abuse can cross generations and last a lifetime.

There are many excellent resources available to learn about domestic violence. Please, church, become educated and be willing to open yourself up to helping victims. Every abuse situation is different, so the more you know means you’ll be better prepared to help someone in need. The following is a sample of excellent resources available:

National Domestic Violence Hotline – This resource offers a 24/7 hotline for victims of domestic violence. There is also a lot of information about domestic violence on their website.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence – “A comprehensive source of information for those wanting to educate themselves and help others on the many issues related to domestic violence.”

A Cry for Justice – Blog dedicated to addressing domestic violence and abuse within the Evangelical church.

No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence, by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark.

CBE International – Offers articles and book reviews about domestic violence.

John Piper on Complementarianism: A Hill to Die On

John Piper, Desiring God, Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, Gender Roles

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-by Kathi

Desiring God recently posted an episode of Ask Pastor John titled, “Is Male Headship a Lost Cause?

The question posed to John Piper comes from a seminary student in the United Kingdom who is discouraged to see more churches in his country move toward egalitarianism. Add in the legalization of gay marriage, and this distraught seminarian wonders if male headship will endure.

John Piper starts his answer in only the way John Piper can:

Complementarianism will endure. It is not a lost cause. The reason I think it will endure and is not a lost cause may not be exactly what you think. Let me give you three reasons it will endure that are not the reason I’m going to give.

Is anyone confused from the start? Please speak clearly John Piper.

He moves on to list three reasons why complementarianism will endure. I’m assuming that these are the three reasons we expect to hear. Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – Get to Work! and Is This the End?

Complementarianism, God’s Design, Gender roles

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The Watch Dog may not be a sheep dog, but he’s fluffy like a sheep.

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

This is a very sad day, children. This is our last day to talk about God’s Design. I know, I know….we’ll get through this together. Today, we will talk about work and summarizing everything we’ve learned. Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – The Church and Learning About Things We Already Know

Complementarianism, Women in the Church, Gender Roles, Proper Church and Family Roles

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-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about God’s design for the church and how to learn God’s ways (as if this hasn’t already been said enough). Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – Married/Single; Husband/ Father; Wife/Mother

Complementarian, Gender Roles, Being Married, Being Single, Desiring God’s Influence

married-couple

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about marriage and singleness, husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers.  Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book, “God’s Design” -Examples of Godly Womanhood

Ruth, Mary, Sarah and Proverbs 31: Examples of Complementarian Women

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-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, young girls have the chance to learn what makes a godly woman. I know you all were thinking hard about who the examples might possibly be. Now’s the time to find out! Continue reading

Children’s Book “God’s Design” and its Teachings on Homosexuality as a Distortion of God’s Design

God’s Design, Homosexuality, Complementarianism, John Piper & Wayne Grudem’s Influence

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-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

This week children, we will talk about homosexuality. This topic may potentially become heated. I ask that discussion please be civil and hope that we can acknowledge that as fellow Christians (better yet, as fellow human beings), we recognize that we may come to different conclusions. I ask that in our discussion we always maintain that it is the person that God created that is most valued and not our ideas or theology. Continue reading

“God’s Design” – Rebellion, a.k.a. It’s All Her Fault!

God’s Design, Headship, Complementarianism, Biblical Gender Roles, The Fall

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Adam & Eve

Who started this whole mess?

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

Today, children, we are going to learn about how man and woman rebelled against God’s design. Spoiler alert!…We’ll talk about one more than the other. Continue reading

“God’s Design” – Headship, Helper, and an Answer We Already Knew

God’s Design, Headship, Complementarianism, Biblical Gender Roles

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Image: Pixabay

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below (except for The Answer We Already Knew) are chapters in the book.

Today, children, we learn about God’s perfect design for man and woman. Oh, and remember how men and women are equal, but different? We’re totally equal. (sigh) Continue reading

“God’s Design” – Know Thyself, Creature

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God and Adam having a serious talk about who’s in charge.

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

Today we are gathering children around to discuss the first three chapters of God’s Design. Here we will learn that we have a creator and we are his creatures. Continue reading

Vaccinating Children with Complementarian: Series Introduction – Review of “God’s Design” Gender Role Book for Children

Complementarian, Egalitarian, Teaching Children, Children Desiring God, John Piper


Series Introduction

Vaccinating Children with Complementarianism

by Kathi

Owen God's Design

The SSB Watch Dog  gives “4 Paws Down” for this book.

I spent many years reading books to my children. Homeschooling families know all too well the importance of reading. However, I can say that I never read a book like this to my kids.

God’s Design is a children’s books which teaches about the importance of  gender roles.

Oh, yes. You read that correctly. Continue reading