Dealing With Domestic Abuse in the Church

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 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.

5 responses to “Dealing With Domestic Abuse in the Church

  1. I agree with you. Domestic violence is one of those things we tend to sweep under the rug, and it should not be so. Just remember we must treat both parties with love when dealing with it. It is just as easy to judge one or the other as it is to ignore it, and both are wrong.

  2. We don’t like having to say anyone is the bad guy. We could rationalize…”There are two sides to every story right?” Things get messy and people would just rather stay away. In doing so we promote victimization and abuse by our refusal to stand up for what is right. I can’t imagine knowing someone is being abused and just not caring to do anything or say anything about it. I am glad this conversation has opened up a dialog that I think has been eye opening and helpful and hopefully will save some women some abuse.

    • I hope this does make Christians/Churches take a more proactive stance in dealing with and preventing domestic abuse. My wife, as a school teacher, knows that in the public schools staff members must report even suspected abuse. But with churches…

      Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Maybe if most local churches were actually strong communities of people who actually knew each other and cared about each other, this wouldn’t be a problem. I think the root of the problem with the church in these situations is, frankly, no one cares for each other. This is especially true when real problems come up. Whenever someone is in need, it feels to us like it is their own fault, and not our responsibility. May God help us be a strong community who knows and cares for each other.

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