Domestic Violence

27 Apr

I’ve had a couple of days where I have got upset by some Christian’s attitudes. A number of things have disturbed me – ministry pay, conservative Christian responses to women, and what has really upset me the most is a story Heidi shared yesterday on her blog. Heidi has been sharing her Christian journey over a number of posts, which I really urge you to read. Yesterday she posted how part of her journey consisted of a situation with her friend, which I’ve copied below in bold.

“My friend sought pastoral counselling to help her work through some of the issues from her past. She met once with the pastor, who said that since she was still formally on the membership roles at her previous church, that he’d like to meet with her and her former pastor to “resolve their differences” before proceeding into more in-depth counselling with her. I was invited along as an advocate for her and as someone who knew her story well. I had no idea what to expect.

I had no preparation for what happened in that counselling office during the 3+ hours that we sat there. I watched the pastor of her former church turn into a petulant child, viciously attacking her character, claimed that she’d never repented for her sin (though the church had forced her to publicly repent several times, and though she was no longer in any kind of lifestyle of sin), and laying the blame for the awful treatment she’d received squarely at her feet. The pastor of the new church maintained a more calm, more “pastoral” demeanor, yet he too loaded her down with burdens. What was it the Bible said (in reference to Christ) about “a bruised reed he does not break”? How I saw these two pastors treat this young, single mom was very much “breaking a bruised reed.” The pastor of the new church urged her to stay in her abusive home situation, boasting that he had sent abused wives back into a physically dangerous home situation to “reconcile” with their husbands. After all, he said, if they were beaten they could call the civil authorities, and if they died, they’d go to heaven! The heartlessness and lack of compassion for victims of domestic violence disturbed me, as did the fact that I’d researched shelters for abused women and only a small number were faith-based or affiliated with churches. The truth was ugly and stark: we were not doing a very good job at caring for the orphan and the widow.”


Domestic violence in part is a sore subject for me, as my mother was a victim, and more recently my sister. What really distressed me about Heidi’s friends story was the spiritual abuse which took place by both pastors. No woman or man should be sent home to an abusive relationship if they have left it. The church should be supporting victims. I serve on a local domestic violence forum, and the stories I’ve heard would really make your heart break, and your toes curl. Victims need to be helped and supported as they move on with their life once they have come to the point when they say no more. It takes a lot of victims a number of years and a lot of beatings before they reach that point. It takes them a lot of courage to leave, as they literally walk away with nothing. Many have to change their own and their children’s names, and they get re-housed in a new area, miles away from where they have lived before. Please don’t slam the door in their face. Let’s take care of them. You can read Heidi’s full post here.

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4 Responses to “Domestic Violence”

  1. Paul April 28, 2007 at 06:56 #

    thanks lyn, i think compassion and common sense needs to inform our theology and practice more than form and expediency…

  2. John Smulo April 28, 2007 at 07:07 #

    Lyn,

    This kind of thing makes me mad. It’s terrible that anyone deals with domestic abuse, and its awful that there isn’t more support for people struggling with this in the church.

  3. Dave April 28, 2007 at 08:33 #

    Strange isn’t it, in the world a counsellor like this would go unpaid for such a bad attitude. Why do we rarely stand up to people who abuse, is there a law that says we cannot just punch people like this? Oh yes there is I guess – the law of Christ.
    Still it seems that pastors (or paid purveyors of God’s grace) are untouchable…how very sad 😦

  4. lynhallewell April 28, 2007 at 20:29 #

    Paul – very wise words – thanks.

    John – It is sad that there isn’t a lot of support within church. I represent the only church on the domestic violence forum; which consists of the police, lawyers, social workers, doctors and nurses, counsellors, womens shelters etc – in some ways I think the people there are quite wary of Christians.

    Dave – I think some pastors attitudes are disappointing in regards to situations like this 😦

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