Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Recipe for Violence Among Christians

Contents of latest Media Advisory:
I just completed an interview with a Christian radio host in which a new ingredient, in addition to submission, patriarchy and blame shifting, has been added to the recipe for Domestic Violence among Christians -- 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 Dare any of you having a matter against another go to the Law...?

My position is, that any woman, Christian or otherwise, who experiences physical violence should, for safety's sake, take immediate action to protect herself. And this usually involves legal action. My interviewer was obviously not in agreement with this approach. He seemed to feel that the scripture which admonishes believers not to take other believers to court should be interpreted to mean that a Christian wife should not report assaults by her husband to the authorities at all, but rather to her local church leadership only.

For battered Christian wives, this is a very dangerous, life-threatening, interpretation of that scripture. It is an interpretation I am not at all in agreement with. I do not believe that particular scripture is referring to violent crime. And my interviewer conveniently left out the part that says... "but rather let yourselves be defrauded." Obviously this verse is referring to disputes over money or property--not to physical assault.

This interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:1-2, leaves the door open for blame-shifting, an ingredient in this volatile recipe which transfers the responsibility from the one who is perpetrating the violence to the one who is being assaulted. Christian wives are commonly told that they are most likely provoking the abuse, and if they would react to their husband's abusive behavior more submissively, then he would change. Research has shown just the opposite, and blows this unbiblical argument clean out of the water.

The interview underscored the fact that, among Christians, domestic violence is not considered all that dangerous -- as if a Christian wife-beater is not as much of a threat to his wife as a non-Christian wife-beater. This idea is ludicrous, but very prevalent. The proof of that is seen in John MacArthur's statement that a wife should leave while the heat is on, but with the intention of going back when the heat is off.

When is the heat ever off? When is it ever safe for a battered wife to return to a violent home?

During the course of this interview, I was also asked about church discipline for batters. I agree that church discipline for members who commit violent crimes should be enforced, but in addition to, not as a replacement for, arrest and prosecution.

Jocelyn Andersen, author of Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence is available for comment or interview.

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