"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.
In the past few years, numerous people have asked me why I make such a big deal about gender equality. Have I experienced such extreme inequality? What traumatic experience drives my activism? Why am I so passionate and outspoken about this issue? People often assume that a tragic event in my personal life led to this behavior.
In patriarchy, not only is the misuse and abuse of power justified, it is also institutionalized. But the misuse and abuse of power is abominable to God. The prophet Isaiah wrote: "I have more than enough of burnt offerings...Stop bringing meaningless offerings...Take your evil deeds out of my sight!" (Isa. 1:11-16). Then he solemnly declared in 1:17, "Seek justice, rebuke the oppressors, defend the fatherless and plead for the widows."
As I read the church’s brief report, my anger mounted. We knew that my friend had been abused. But we were now being told by our spiritual leaders, people with no professional training or knowledge on the subject, that she had not been abused.
This prayer challenges us to live into the gospel and make it real for our own day. In the case of domestic violence, this may mean finding ways that local churches and people of faith can do something that will gently and persistently shape the way members view and respond to issues of intimate partner abuse, whether it be in the community or inside the house of faith.
Here is a list of practical immediate ways to make your church a “Safe House.”
One out of every three persons sitting in the pews or chairs in your church on Sunday morning is or has been a victim of domestic violence or knows someone who is currently facing violence. But despite this, domestic violence is one of the greatest sins we never talk about in church. Those who are being abused or have been abused hear a great deal about forgiveness and the redemptive suffering of Christ. They also hear Scriptures that are presumed to teach male authority and female submission.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The statistics on domestic violence in the United States alone is staggering: one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime; each year, 3 to 4 million women will be the victim of assault by an intimate partner; 70 to 80% of intimate partner perpetrators also abuse their children; more than three women are killed every day by an intimate partner. In 2007, The Family Violence Prevention Fund surveyed 1,020 men in the Father’s Day Poll. The researchers found that the majority (56%) of men have had reason to believe that a member of their immediate or extended family, a close friend, or an acquaintance has been in a domestic violence or sexual assault situation. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of men think that our society should do more to respect women and girls. Rating the faith community, 36% of the men said that these institutions were “doing enough,” while 54% said these institutions should be doing more. In fact, several research studies suggest that the church may be more of a hindrance than a help for battered women.
Women make up 19% of active duty service members in the Air Force. I’m a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, and the numbers in my career field are even lower. The last statistics I saw reflected fewer than twenty female chaplains in the Reserves, out of about two hundred.