Domestic Violence

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  October 11, 2014

            The Bible is a powerful tool of faith that describes itself as a two-edged sword. In the right context, such a sharp tool is exceptionally useful and indispensably valuable. Yet, as with any tool of such power, when used inappropriately, out of ignorance, or from unholy motives, it becomes a demonic weapon of destruction and disgrace. Unfortunately, for all its good intent, frequently the Church is guilty of using the Bible as a murder weapon rather than a tool of faith.
            One powerful example of this disgraceful misuse of scripture is seen in the case of marriage. Inequality, hostility, and destructive power can easily enter into the sacred bonds of marriage and create catastrophe. The Biblical understanding of marriage is that of a sacred bond between two equal partners joined as one flesh. The two individuals in the marriage may enjoy separate interests, bring to the marriage different talents and gifts, and enjoy healthy autonomy within the marriage, yet when their shared partnership, equality, and mutuality is compromised, it fails to be a holy marriage.
When power, control, or inequality prevail, it is not a holy marriage. Some adhere to a demonic reading of scripture that arrogantly presumes one spouse is required to submit to the other, remain inferior to the other, and bow to the wishes of the other. It is called domestic abuse.
            The sin of domestic abuse is a disgrace facing the church because much of our history, tradition, and scriptural interpretation has unwittingly promoted used the Bible as a deadly weapon of domination and control rather than love, grace, and marital equality.
            Some pastors and church leaders have told victims of domestic abuse to remain in the home because of their presumed obligation under God to submit to their husband, remain faithful to their marriage vows, and accept blame for doing something to deserve the manipulative, punitive, and demonic wrath of their husband’s violent ager. Countless victims have been condemned to lives of fear, shame, pain, and unspeakable violence.
            As Christians, our call in Jesus Christ is to fulfill the ministry that he modeled. At the onset of his ministry, as recalled in Luke 4, Jesus defined his ministry through the prophetic words of the prophet Isaiah as one who would bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, bring sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free. For making this claim he was almost killed, yet he stood by his vision for God’s realm and lived out the remainder of his ministry accordingly.
            Although they are far from alone, the silent victims of domestic abuse are right here in our community. They sit with us in church on Sunday morning, they shop with us in the local grocery store, they cheer with us at our kid’s ball games, they work with us, and they are also reading this same article in today’s paper. Perhaps it is you. Yet, for all the silent suffering, the private misery, shame, and guilt, some of the misguided teachings of the church have cut victims off from the very liberation in Christ Jesus that the church is called to bring. 
            In the name of Christ, it is time for the silence to end! There is no excuse for domestic violence, unequal power, or control in any home. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. In recognition of this month, the Carlsbad Battered Family Shelter is hosting a prayer and candlelight vigil for survivors, victims, and witness of domestic abuse this Thursday, October 16, at Smith Park at the corner of Church and Mesa in Carlsbad. The vigil begins at 6:30 PM and lasts about an hour. Additionally, if anyone is, or knows of someone who is experiencing domestic abuse and needs help, the local crisis hotline is 885-4615.