When people share their stories of harmful church teachings about gender roles, we’re accustomed to real horror stories of abuse. We also know that the problem is far more widespread, and it’s not always so overt.
Domestic abuse is prevalent among Christians and often perpetuated by the way churches respond to women who report, which is reinforced by common unbiblical teachings on divorce. Churches must do better.
While the world was preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, an invisible pandemic was quietly yet viciously invading homes. Marriages were at new high levels of distress, punctuated by increased levels of gender-based violence.
C. S. Lewis argued against women as priests in his 1948 essay, “Priestesses in the Church?” His reasoning was that a female priest could not adequately represent a male God. Winslow examines this reasoning and finds it lacking.
On average, one woman a week in Australia is killed by a man who says he loves her. The prevalence of domestic violence is staggering. The figures are breathtaking and hard to believe. An unimaginable number of women’s lives are blighted by this scourge. In the US, Europe, and Australia, one in four women will experience physical abuse from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Catherine Kroeger, the founding president of CBE, stated, “although women had made forays into the field of biblical interpretation, it was to be Katharine Bushnell who would bring out the heavy artillery.”
The #MeToo movement has revealed sexual abuse and assault in every sphere of society, including the church. But victims are routinely ignored by fellow Christians who deny their accounts and fail to bring accountability to the perpetrators. All too often, churches have been complicit in protecting abusers, reinforcing patriarchal power dynamics, and creating cultures of secrecy, shame, and silence. Pastor and survivor Ruth Everhart shines a light on the prevalence of sexual abuse and misconduct within faith communities.