Below is the article I wrote for the Randolph Church of Christ bulletin last Sunday. The article is in some measure a response to both the video above and the ensuing conversations that took place in response to this video and the issue it raises at this blog and this blog.
Earlier this week I saw a video clip on a blog of a fairly well know Evangelical Pastor speaking on the issue of domestic abuse and the passages which instruct wives to “submit” to their husbands (cf. Eph 5.22; Col 3.18). The Pastor suggests that for married women to follow this teaching they may need to endure the abuse but that they should turn to the church for help.
Needless to say, I strongly disagree with telling a victim of domestic abuse to endure it but that is not why I am writing. On the blog, the ensuing discussion that followed revealed how many churches have seemingly dropped the ball on helping those who are being victimized whether in a domestic situation or else. There were enough comments on the blog by women who turned to their church for help only to have the church do nothing, even act as though this is not part of the church’s problem.
That is the troubling part to me. The church is a community and if someone within the community is being harmed, the church should help. Just as the church helps those who are in need of food or shelter, the church ought to help those who are being victimized by others.
God’s people have always been called to do/act with justice. In fact, scripture reminds us that doing justice is more important to God than offering him worship (cf. Amos 5.21-24; Mic 6.6-8). While every situation is unique and any response must be determined with consideration for the uniqueness of each situation, it ought to be clear that the church as the People of God cannot turn their back to injustice.
When the church encounters domestic abuse it must act for the sake of the victim(s), for the sake of justice, and for the sake of God. This not only means helping those who are being victimized but also dealing with those who are the victimizers. There are too many stories of great tragedy in our world that could have been prevented if intervening action would have occurred when others first became aware of the problem.
If we know of domestic abuse taking place, there are ways to help. I am also providing the website for the National Domestic Abuse Hotline is www.thehotline.org and the the phone number is 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or 1.800.787.3224. Intervention is never easy and sometimes those who are victims are even resistant but by doing so, it may save someone’s life.