Editor’s Reflections -- By: William David Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 23:1 (Winter 2009)
Article: Editor’s Reflections
Author: William David Spencer

Editor’s Reflections

William David Spencer

In the introduction to their important new book, Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home, the editors, CBE founder Catherine Clark Kroeger, Nancy Nason-Clark, and Barbara Fisher-Townsend, underscore the tensions raised when abuse is uncovered in Christian quarters:

Honest investigation disclosed that the rate of abuse among Christians was no less than that in the general population—even though it was often cleverly concealed. The insidious evil lurked in all denominational and non-denominational groups, in all ethnic and racial groups, in all socio-economic and political groups; and yet its very presence was so often denied, minimized, or ignored by the church of Jesus Christ. . . . Our theology of the family, sometimes based upon the dictates of self-styled gurus rather than upon the actual biblical precepts, raised a multitude of questions. How could a bruised and battered wife be likened to the bride of Christ? What would happen to the reputation of the church if news got out of violence within a member’s family? How could an endangered victim be placed in a safe location if that meant separating a married couple? Without violating the mandates of Scripture, could a survivor be provided with food, shelter, monetary assistance, or prayer support?1

When reality clashes with Christian ideals and, often, particularly, with our self-image as Christ’s faithful church predicated upon those ideals, we are shaken. We question our ability to self-perceive, and our sense of wellbeing within God’s approval is threatened. How can such evil occur in lives we are convinced have been committed to the gentle Christ we claim to serve?

A similar tension can be perceived within Islam. In the November 2008 issue of Christianity Today, senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Dalia Mogahed, reported:

Muslim women and men, surprisingly, hold similar views about Shari’ah. In Jordan, most Muslim women and men say it should play a role in legislation. Muslim women want and think they deserve equal rights: the right to vote without interference from their families, the right to work at any job they are qualified for, and even the right to serve in senior levels of government. In short, Muslim women don’t regard Shari’ah as impeding their rights; they may in fact see it as a road to progress. . . . Our research in Iraq shows 83 percent of Iraqi women say they do not want a division between state and religion, and most want religious leaders to take a part in family law.2

However, not everyone living under Shari’ah is so en...

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