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It seems that everywhere we look today we see images of women in bondage. Whether it is CSI Special Victims Unit or a trio of poorly written novels with little plot and lots of pain, our culture is saturated with the idea that it is fun to abuse women. Increasingly themes of bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) show up in mainstream television and movies as acceptable sexual practice. The normalization of BDSM should worry all of us. The more sexual abuse is normalized in entertainment media, the more likely it is that consumers will act out what they have been watching. That is, desensitization toward BDSM deforms our conscience so that increasingly, we accept anything the vile imagination can conjure. In Judges, an often a disturbing book of the Bible, we observ... Read more
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth…” 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.” Always assume that there are persons in your church who have experienced or are experiencing abuse. Be aware of subtle messages in your church that promote the assumption that “everyone here is okay and every marriage and relationship is healthy.... Read more
“You idiot!” “Who asked for your opinion?” “Get in here and clean this up.” “We never had that conversation.” When does communication cross the line into verbal abuse? When the words or attitude disrespect or devalue the other person. Both men and women can be verbal abusers. Verbal abuse in an intimate relationship most often takes place behind closed doors and the abuser generally denies the abuse, making it difficult for the one being abused to find help. In fact, a victim may hear from family members and friends that her husband is such a nice guy. Surely there must be a mistake. From the outside it appears that the relationship is functioning well. But underlying all verbal abuse is an issue of control. The abuser is tryin... Read more
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 socie... Read more
This is the third and final article of a series on human trafficking. Click for Part One and Part Two. The New Testament has many examples regarding the restoration of women to a place of honor. The narrative of the life of Jesus in Matthew poignantly begins with underlining the lives of five women: Tamar (Gen. 38); Rahab (Josh. 2); Ruth, wife of Uriah (2 Sam. 11, 12); and Mary. Four of these women were sexually abused and trafficked by men in positions of power and authority. In spite of the horrible life faced by these women, the Bible elevates them to the highest status; they become the bearers of the Messiah seed. In doing so, paradigmatically, the Bible is elevating the status and name of all women who are abused and trafficked as a result of systemic evil in human h... Read more
Part Two is a continuation of last week's Arise column on human trafficking. The Bible carries the idea of a strong woman throughout the canonical text. The highpoint is found in the closing section of the Hebrew Bible, which is called "The Hebrew Writings." This section consists of the following books, in this order: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. The book of Psalms describes worship in very emotive language and through music. It is rather unfortunate that we have lost the music of the Psalms in modern English Bibles. The next book, Proverbs, talks about a life of wisdom. Wisdom is described as a woman. In fact, the Hebrew word for Wisdom is a feminine noun. It is Lady Wisdom. The reader is repeatedly encourag... Read more
What does the Bible teach regarding the prevention of human trafficking? The answer to this question will depend on our answer to the next question. Is human trafficking just a recent phenomenon, or has it been a problem throughout human history? If we answer that yes—it has been a problem throughout human history, then we would agree that the Bible would have a lot to say about how to prevent human trafficking. In fact, a good reading of the Bible makes it very clear that the biblical answers to prevent human trafficking are not thin, temporary, band-aid remedies. They are, rather, thick, lasting remedies. The people groups in the Bible—the Sumerians, Akkadians, Egyptians, Canaanites, etc.—saw no problems in the trafficking of girls. In fact, it was the duty of the mi... Read more
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. They return home, full of the false hope that by being faithful and submissive, they can turn the hearts of their abusers. And then, many of them die—at the hands of their husbands, boyfriends, ex's, or partners. According to Bureau of Justice data, on average, more than three women and one... Read more
Crack the book that  Re-rewrites history  And grow new eyes to  Legal injustice As a girl I watched  Color decide  The lines between human and not  Hit me  Like the whip he used on your back  Your blood flowed and your screams  Choked my sense  Of humanity  Like a millstone  Around my neck  Growing heavier  With each black face  Pushed to the dirt They said you weren’t Allowed to know  What letters meant  On a page But when sleep  Took every head and  Their rules to bed  In the flicker of candlelight  Guarded I taught you  Worlds to be discovered Without warning your  Breath left Your tiny body  And became a flame inside me ... Read more
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." In the New Testament when Jesus stood up in the synagogue and read from the Book of Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21), he was announcing a social revolution, the coming of the kingdom of God. In that kingdom, the oppressed will be released, the debts of the poor will be canceled, the land will be healed, and social justice will be restored. Ma... Read more