Turning a blind eye or having a deaf ear to domestic abuse has been called the great scandal of today’s evangelical church.
o In the United States, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. This adds up to more than 10 million women and men who are the victims of domestic abuse every year – in the United States alone.
o 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual contact violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of services for victims, and sexually transmitted diseases.
o In their lifetime, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence like beating, burning, or strangling by an intimate partner.
o Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime in the United States.
o On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
And that’s just a few of the shocking and heart-breaking statistics about domestic violence in our nation.
Domestic abuse is the treating of one’s spouse or intimate partner with repeated unkind, cruel, or violent behavior, generating fear, terror, or actual injuries in the other members of the household. It’s the universal outworking and proof of the curse that came upon all humankind by the misery-creating sin of our first parents: The woman’s desire – a desire to dominate – will be the woman’s natural conduct toward her husband. The man’s response is to rule over her – to tyrannize his wife in one or many ways.
What you read in the third chapter of the Bible’s book of Genesis is the root of what we call domestic abuse or domestic violence. And the pattern is always the same – particularly when the abuse is by the man:
There’s a clash in the home. And the abuser is often so kind and nice and winning that no one ever suspects him. The abused woman believes that for some reason she deserves the abuse. The manipulative husband shifts the blame to her - creating even more confusion.
There’s a cycle of abuse. The man abuses. He backs off. He displays what seems to be a change of heart. He may weep. He may hug his spouse. He may ask for forgiveness – on his knees. But the abuse erupts again when it’s triggered by one or more things that are like a flame to gas vapors. The cycle repeats itself. (The couple may even seek counseling, but the counselor mistakes the sorrow part of the cycle for true repentance. The counselor, too, is swayed by the manipulative ways of the abuser. The victim is encouraged to accept the supposed change of heart in the partner. Forgiveness is granted. Encouragement is given. And the abuser returns home palliated but not truly penitent.)
The pattern continues until the abused spouse leaves the home – bringing any children with her. Or the spouse (and in not a few cases, a child or children) is physically harmed. That physical harm may be so severe that it results in death.
This is the real world of domestic abuse. If you’re one of the nearly 20 people per minute who are physically abused by your partner, you know exactly what I’m describing. Police and social workers in the civil realm must deal with this every day – and every hour of every day. For Christian leaders to turn
a blind eye or have a deaf ear to this kind of abuse – or to tell a woman that God calls her to submit to it - is truly the great scandal of today’s evangelical church.
Our topic today is domestic abuse – and how the church must respond to it. To help me with this painful topic, I’ve enlisted the assistance of biblical counselor, Jimmy Brewer, who lives in Deer Park here on Long Island in New York. Jimmy has served as a pastor. He is currently Protestant chaplain for the Suffolk County Police Department and also for the Long Island Ducks baseball team. Pastors regularly refer troubled people to him because of his counseling skills. In our program today, Jimmy Brewer and I are going to work through some of the issues related to domestic abuse.
Here’s a link to the full program:
Yours in our gentle and gracious Savior,