Written by Noelle Sewell
Surprised? Not!! As the commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close I thought that it would helpful for people to understand why many pastors do not want to talk about this issue with their congregations. I can give at least four reasons why they don’t want to address it.
They themselves maybe or have been perpetrators of domestic violence (Yes I went there). There are pastors who are perpetrators and their deacons, elders and ministry leaders know it but they are afraid to call them on it. Often times the church leaders don’t want to appear to be attacking the pastor, cause disruption in the congregation, being shunned by other members, being removed from their ministry position, being asked to leave the church. Now you should make sure that there is abuse before approaching the pastor. Pray about if you have any doubts because once you make the accusation and it not true it will be difficult to restore the person’s reputation. If you witness it you need to address it with the leadership so both parties involved can be offered assistance. Be prepared to be osterized or removed from a position and/or asked to leave the church if the leadership is not ready to address the issue with the pastor.
They may have experienced seeing a parent abused and not have dealt with it. People who have witnessed abuse of a parent/family member may suppress the experience as a coping skill. Some may feel guilty because they wish they would have and /or could have stopped it. In order to receive healing and peace sometimes we have visit painful experiences. In Jesus there is freedom, healing and deliverance. Enough said!!
They are afraid of the reaction of congregation’s reaction. There are still some people who may feel that the church is not a place to address such (social issues). Now correct me if I am wrong didn’t the bible address social issues like rape, incest, adultery, homeless and hunger just to name a few. I guarantee you that at least one person in your congregation has either experienced or witnessed abuse. If the bible addressed such issues why shouldn’t we be able to discuss the same issues in the church? Make sure you are presenting it in a practical biblical way.
They are fearful of losing income (tithes and offering). Yes I went there again. I hope I don’t need to explain this. If I do please email me.
Okay I should have said at least five.
They really don’t have a clear understanding of the definition of domestic violence and the forms it could take. I would suggest two wonderful websites; The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute http://www.bcdi.org and the Faith Trust Institute http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org. Both organizations have a lot of resources to offer.
If your pastor does not want to address the issue and you feel God is leading you to do that ministry then I suggest you contact the organizations listed above and local organizations in your area. Volunteering with an organization that deals with domestic violence is a good place to start. You may even find someone who can assist you with designing a presentation for your church. Talk to women who have been victims (and we all know someone).
I want to share my personal testimony. I was in an abusive relationship for 15 years. Near the end of the relationship I started attending a church near my home. The pastor was young and I believe he meant well but did not have a clear understanding when he suggested that I marry my ex because know each other. Yes I was shacking up but that’s still does not give any justification for abuse. I was a babe in Christ but I did remember one thing that my grandmother used to say is “don’t be unequally yoked”. I left him with the house and everything that he had given me. You can’t put a price tag on “peace of mind”. I eventually ended up at a church in Philadelphia. If it were not for the prayers of my parents, the help from the church members and friends I can honestly tell I would either be in jail or dead right now. Now it has not been easy but it has been worth everything that I gave up, to have “peace of mind” and a better understanding of why living together before marriage is not God’s will. But most of all it has strengthened relationship with Jesus Christ.
My pastor has talked about domestic violence many times over the years and each time he presents the topic in a different way. As pastors they have a responsibility to provide guidance to the congregation so there is no way you can ignore the issue of domestic violence. There are specific scriptures that give us guidance on how to treat their spouses like Colossians 3:19 and Ephesians 5:29 to name a few. So you need to address the topic no matter how difficult it is. Now I am not a bible scholar by any means but one thing I know for certain, “submit does not equal hit”.