Friday, July 13, 2007

Christian Men's Movements & Domestic Violence

Here is a question I was asked this week and my answer:

Q:In the early 1990s the Promise Keepers was founded and seemed to usher in a new Christian men's movement. .. I'm wondering how you view the rise of the men's movenment as it relates to domestic violence, keeping in mind the following statement from Tony Evans:

"Men, sit down with your wife and say something like this, ‘Honey, I’ve made a terrible mistake . . . I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim the role.’ I’ m not suggesting, Tony Evans says, that you ask for your role back, I’m urging you to take it back . . . there can be no compromise here. If you’re going to lead, you must lead . . . Treat the lady gently and lovingly, But lead!"

A: I have not kept up with the rise of the Men’s Movement, so I really cannot comment on that. I would like to comment on the statement by Tony Evans that men need to “reclaim” leadership roles within their families regardless of how their wives feel about it (isn’t that what he said?) If that is the message of the men’s movement, I can see how that could translate into domestic violence in some cases.

I cannot disagree that many men have seriously dropped the ball in regards to responsibility towards their families in ways that burden wives with taking on multiple roles of mother, father and breadwinner. But Evan’s advice for husbands to “take back” authority they perceive their wife has usurped from them is a recipe for disaster in a marriage where the husband is prone to domestic violence—and there are plenty of men who are prone to domestic violence in evangelical Christian churches.

Evan’s statement is not surprising to me at all. It reflects an attitude that is quite prevalent among evangelicals that if the leadership balance at home is restored to what they feel it should be, with the wife in proper submission to her husband, then most family problems would automatically be solved.

His directive is not so much dealing with the issue of men reclaiming leadership roles within their marriages as it is with men demanding submission from their wives. This is made quite clear by the fact that the wife is given no option in the matter and lines up perfectly with the way the doctrine of submission is taught and interpreted within many evangelical churches. It is statements like this that lead men to believe it is their God-given right to exert authority over their wives, and this logically leads to problems with abuse if they attempt to assert this authority—especially with men who deal with unresolved anger issues and are prone to violence.

I feel certain Dr. Evans would argue that he is not suggesting that men exert authority over their wives, but what else can he be suggesting when he tells men they need to “take back” the leadership role within their marriages whether their wives agree to being defaulted to a subordinate role or not?

1 comment:

miss susie said...

THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH IT IS SO SAD TO REALIZE THAT MEN OF THE 20TH CENTURY STILL BELELIVE THAT A WOMAN IS TO SUBMIT AS A CHILD AND NOT HAVE AN OPINION.