In the 8th comment on my “Church Lies” post, http://submissiontyranny.blogspot.com/2010/10/philippians-48-finally-brethren.html, I bring up the question, “What can pastors do differently to be more effective at freeing women from their abusers and at stopping abuse.” Some of my own suggestions are that congregations should have at least 5-6 people per a 200 member group speak to the group about domestic abuse. That would give those who are mistreated by their spouses some choices. Instead of going to the pastor, they could go to someone they feel comfortable around, with whom they may have a closer relationship. In addition, instead of speaking on marriage twice a year and focusing on wife submission, pastors should speak on marriage six times a year, teaching against one-way submission, and instead teaching how a couple can submit one to another.
Especially important is the teaching of attitude. A spouse could keep the letter of the law, but if they are doing the bare minimum, their spouse will likely be unhappy and feel slighted. It is important that each spouse is as concerned about the happiness and satisfaction of their partner (provided that satisfaction is not gained by abusing and controlling the spouse.) as well as their own.
These are suggested because the wives who stay with their abusers, seem to think it will get better; that they must stay married, and/or refuse to report it because they think no one will understand, or think that since they are NOT perfect, the pastor will blame them, or that reporting is too nasty, or some combination of these. These are in addition to the concerns secular wives face. Some women think they ought not go to secular society for advice. So if their church doesn't teach about this issue, they think there is no one to go to. In addition, many Christian counselors are not trained concerning domestic abuse, and would be likely to push for couples counseling, which is extremely damaging to the powerless wife and her children.
I would like ideas and comments from others. What can our churches do differently to be more effective in getting the message about domestic violence and domestic abuse to women who need help in recognizing abuse and in getting themselves and their children free from their abuser? I'd like to save discussion for how to be there for abused wives for a different post. For this post, I want to address how the church can help abused wives get educated and unstuck before the damage to themselves and their children becomes severe. After all, the sooner the abuser is confronted and reeducated, the more chance he has of making permanent change, and the more likely the marriage can become a union of equals who respect and value one another for who they really are, instead of for some role they have been pushed to play.
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See www.wanetadawn.com A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.
Chronically Self-Centered Spouse Series - Nope, I'm not doing this series. Nope, Visionary Womanhood is not doing this series. But I do thank Natalie for linking to it over there a couple years back...
6 months ago