Witnessing Against Abuse -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 11:1 (Winter 1997)
Article: Witnessing Against Abuse
Author: Anonymous

Witnessing Against Abuse

The newly formed Advisory Council on Violence Against XCS81993Women, co-chaired by Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, is seeking to maximize the impact of the Violence Against Women Act by recruiting the collaboration of national leaders from law enforcement, the media, colleges and universities, sports, health care, primary and secondary education, the corporate workplace and also from religion. On October 11, 1996, leaders from many faiths and religious groups gathered in Washington DC at an interfaith breakfast, with President Clinton as honorary chairperson of the event. The Attorney General gave the key-note address, and leaders of various faith communities were asked to respond briefly. Speaking for evangelicals, Catherine Kroeger made the following remarks:

God said to Cain, “The blood of your brother Abel cries to me from the ground.” What of the blood of thousands of our sisters? Does not that blood too cry out to God and to our consciences?

Although we evangelicals are a diverse group, one of our common distinctives is a commitment to the authority and inspiration of Scripture. We believe that the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are the inspired Word of God, our only infallible guide in matters of faith and practice. The Bible condemns violence scores of times, as well as stalking, lying in wait, word-twisting, threatening, and other forms of abuse. The Scriptures are quite explicit that the duty of the righteous is to deliver the oppressed from the hand of the violent.

Yet how often we hear of desperate women who go to the church for help, and then are sent home to highly dangerous situations along with the instruction to “Be more submissive and the problem will take care of itself.” This is not the calling of a church or of an individual believer. The Bible says: “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been violated . ... Is not this to know me?” says the Lord (Jer 22:3, 16).

Sometimes we have endorsed a theology that made our ultimate priority the preservation of a certain power structure within the family—even at the price of human life. Jesus indicated that other priorities were higher (Matt 10:35-37; Luke 12:53) and Jesus once asked: “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm, so save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4).

Our first obligation to a battered woman is not to offer bad advice but to offer assistance in finding safety for her and her children. This...

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