Statistics reveal that churched families are not immune to abuse in the home, but few people dare to talk about it. Sometimes abuse doesn't even show because there are no bruises or black eyes or knocked-out teeth."But he never hits me," does not make these abuses okay and is no excuse for the equally—or perhaps even greater—damaging trauma of invisible abuse. Battered Without Bruises dares to talk about it.
Evangelical women face a myriad of messages related to pastoral and teaching roles in the church and academy. Some evangelical churches open their doors to women leaders while others reject the ordination of women and endorse explicitly hierarchical models of gender relations, both in marriage relationships and also in church and church-focused institutional hierarchies. Others even extend male authority to secular arenas, excluding women from exercising leadership or authority over men that is direct and/or personal.
The recent election has prompted significant reflection for many evangelicals, including notable contributions from Christianity Today managing editor Katelyn Beaty, Fuller president Mark Labberton and Fuller president emeritus Richard Mouw, and Northeastern assistant professor of New Testament Esau McCaulley, who writes about being black, evangelical, and an Anglican priest.
So often, when we meet people for the first time and immediately connect with them, we ask them, "Tell me your story." But sometimes, we only ask people who are like us to tell their stories, preventing minority voices from speaking on their experiences in a safe space.
Recently I was told the story of a 55-year-old woman currently attending an evangelical seminary. This story, and others like it, drive my upcoming research at the Evangelical Theological Society conference.
In No Will of My Own, author Jon Zens compares the patriarchy taught to families by the Roman Catholic and Dutch Reformed churches in Holland with an aggressive patriarchal wing of the home-schooling movement in America. He shows that the earmarks of patriarchal doctrine result in varying levels of abuse of young girls and wives. This book serves as a vital warning concerning the misuse of Scripture and church tradition to smother female worth and dignity.
A multitude of Bible translations exists, each with their own interpretation of what the biblical authors "felt" or "thought" was most important. Therefore,we must be diligent, so that when we discover a bias that has changed the meaning from the Greek word so that it implicates something other than the intent of the original author, we then perk up our ears to discover the truth.
"Home-schooled girls do not need 'further' education; they should just prepare for being a wife and mother." "A daughter should stay at home and serve her father until he chooses a husband for her." "The daughter is a 'helpmeet' for her father." "Parents should never let their daughter be out of their sight." "Women should never work outside the home." These and many similar sentiments are being dogmatically expressed by leaders of the Christian Patriarchy Movement.