Photo: Jim Loring/Tearfund

From: Footsteps 55

Practical ideas for supporting strong and healthy families

by Esly Carvalho. 

How can the church face up to the problems of domestic violence? Recently an investigation was published by the InterAmerican Development Bank, with some shocking findings… 

These statistics are alarming. Domestic violence can also happen in Christian homes. Some of the people who commit domestic violence are in church every Sunday – some even have positions of leadership in their churches. Domestic violence is one of the best-kept secrets. 

Unhelpful thinking  

Many women say they put up with violence because of their children. They think it is better to give children a home with a violent father, than to live in a broken home. The problem with this thinking is that the woman becomes an accomplice to the violence. She allows her husband’s behaviour to continue, without breaking the cycle. She doesn’t protect her children from the violence. 

The church does not always know how to cope wisely with homes where violence exists. To tell a woman that she has to put up with it is not a good solution. To threaten her with discipline or with expulsion from the church if she separates does not help. Sometimes the church’s teaching obliges a wife to continue with a violent husband. Every effort should be made to rescue the marriage relationship, but when an abused woman does not want to go back home to a violent husband, the church should support her decision. 

Breaking the silence 

I believe that, as Christians, we need to break the silence. God does not want any kind of violence to exist in the home. Colossians 3:12-15 teaches us that God has called us to peace. We ought to treat each other with humility, doing every-thing in a spirit of gratitude to God, linked together by love. The church ought to be the first to lift its voice in exposing the terrible secret of domestic violence. It should support the people involved in such situations so that they can find good, healthy and biblical solutions to their conflicts, including new methods of communication within families. 

Adapted from information in chapter 3 of The Family in Crisis by Esly Carvalho, published by INDEF Publications, Costa Rica. 

1 Report of the Latin American and Caribbean Agency of Communication (ALC), July 24th 1998; Apartado 14-225, Lima 14, Peru; by Edelberto Behs. Publications on women and domestic violence: www.iadb.org 

 

What can be done?

 

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