Domestic Violence: How Christians should respond to domestic violence
Written by Lydia D’Ross, Ordained Minister and Outreach Chaplin for RENEWAL at Brookhaven Hospital
As a church or community religious leader, we have a duty and responsibility to work to eliminate domestic violence against men and women. We need to work and coordinate with our community resources and licensed professionals to educate ourselves on how to recognize the signs. Clergy and pastors are often the first point of contact to encounter families experiencing domestic violence.
With Oklahoma having the highest rate of domestic violence, many may wonder why the church is not more involved in providing prevention, education and connecting with community professionals. Simply getting the person out of the home is not enough. The perpetrator of the abuse as well as the abused individual need professional help.
Christian women often feel trapped, and will call the church for help. Domestic violence involves a cycle of abuse that often makes it difficult for the abused individual to leave. They may continue to hope that it will stop, and, in other situations, they may be under serious threat of physical harm and too scared to leave. As clergy, we are accountable to protect and bring justice, using the sword of the Word but also utilizing the community resources that will bring restoration and healing. Some pastors do not have proper training to deal with the difficult issue of domestic violence.
In order to stop domestic violence, churches must do more in providing education and to recognize the cycle of domestic violence. Most abusers are repeating their own family cycle not knowing that there is another way to deal with family problems. Sometimes those learned behaviors from the abuser’s childhood escalate with financial struggles or the disease of addiction.
Pastors need to preach and teach what it means to be a Christian, and that there is never an excuse for domestic violence. A man might try to use scripture to justify abuse saying “well, I am the head of the household and she must submit, or else.” That is a complete misconception for the Lord says, when you leave your mother and father, you are joined as one. Headship has been misunderstood by some Christian believers. Headship in the Bible is not power and it is certainly not abuse. Headship involves the man sacrificing himself like Christ did as the head of the church. Christ does not order us around, but as the body of Christ, He expects us to walk and work together as husband and wife in one accord.
Brookhaven Hospital’s Renewal Christian Care program is here to serve you, to help you recognize symptoms or behaviors that may be need to be addressed with professional counseling.