Domestic Abuse in Christ’s Kingdom -- By: Barbara W. Shaffer

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 13:2 (Spring 2004)
Article: Domestic Abuse in Christ’s Kingdom
Author: Barbara W. Shaffer


Domestic Abuse in Christ’s Kingdom

Barbara W. Shaffer

Domestic abuse in the United States is an insidious, oppressive blight that eats away at the safety and stability of the family. Conservative estimates are that one million women experience domestic violence during an average twelve-month period.1 Other estimates place the prevalence rate at four million women.2 In response to increasing awareness of this secret terrorism, the 1994 Violence Against Women prevention legislation declared that domestic violence is a violation of human rights.3 It is also a felony in all fifty states and a violation of the marital covenant. According to Christian researcher Nancy Nason-Clark4 , the statistics suggest that it is far more dangerous for a woman to go home than to be alone at night on the streets of a city. What a chilling thought!

Domestic abuse occurs across racial and ethnic groups, religious affiliations, and educational levels. Researchers have not been able to compile a unique profile of a woman that would predict that she will most likely end up in an abusive relationship. Most victims appear similar to other people. For reasons having to do with shame and economics, middle class and affluent women may not readily disclose the abuse or seek treatment.5 If they have private therapists, they may avoid detection in many prevalence surveys.

Domestic abuse is also an evil that occurs in some form in

“good Christian homes” in every congregation. (Since the vast majority of domestic violence is male against female, the masculine pronoun will be used to identify the perpetrator. There are cases where the woman is also abusive.) While the overt target of this abuse is the wife, children experience “collateral damage” as they witness, overhear and / or sense the terrorism that occurs within the privacy of their home. Since domestic abuse is, as is all sin, an equal opportunity destroyer, it also inflicts severe consequences on the perpetrator.

It is very difficult to know exact prevalence rates of domestic abuse in the families of theologically conservative congregations. The problem is shame-laden for the victim and a “poor testimony” for the family and the church. In many groups the family is given such an elevated position that it is considered immune from accountability. The result of these attitudes and values is that usually nobody wants to address domestic violence in the fa...

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