11,776 Women

11,776 Women

And then there was Donald Trump’s audio recording, and his feeble attempt to explain it away. Calling sexual assault “locker room talk” was deplorable. Trump’s words, in any setting, were not okay. They perpetuate the abuse of women.

Physical, sexual and verbal abuse is an epidemic, and nowhere is it worse than in the American home. According to the Bureau of Justice, 38 million American women (one in four) will experience physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Over 4.7 million are abused each year, 20 victims a minute.

The last couple of weeks have seen an increasing number of Evangelicals speak out against Donald Trump. I find their comments ironic, because the truth is when it comes to the American family, the Evangelical church has been condoning the abuse of women for generations.

Denise George, in her book, What Women Wish Pastors Knew, quotes a study of 6,000 pastors surveyed about how they handle domestic violence. The study found 26 percent told the wives who came to them for help with domestic abuse that they should submit to their husbands. An astonishing 25 percent suggested it was their own fault the abuse was taking place, because they had not submitted to their spouses! Fifty percent said women should be willing to tolerate some level of violence!

Those numbers were appalling. Surely they could not be correct. I began searching for other studies and found that among Fundamentalist pastors, those numbers are all too accurate. Over 80 percent of Evangelical pastors admit they have never preached a single sermon on domestic violence. Many have no idea just how bad the problem is, or how unknowingly the Evangelical church contributes to the problem.

Instead of providing solutions, many conservative churches exacerbate domestic abuse, assuming marriage should be preserved at all costs, that all divorce is sin, and that forgiveness and reunion are one and the same. They also misapply the scriptural passages on headship and submission, empowering abusers by sanctioning their behavior.

The complementarian view of submission and headship, held by many of these churches, feeds the dilemma. It encourages men to see themselves as superior to women.  But that is only half the problem. The power structure in these institutions is 100 percent male, and men just do not get it. I know I didn’t. I could not fathom a man who would abuse his wife, and women were not telling me about it, so I was not speaking out. Only now have I become aware just how pervasive domestic abuse is in Evangelical homes.

The church can continue to keep its head in the sand or it can attack this scourge. First, the church must reexamine its position on what the Bible does and does not say about submission and headship. Second, the church must allow women into formal leadership. That will bring the subject to the forefront in short order. Unfortunately, when it comes to Evangelical churches, neither one of those things is likely to happen anytime soon.

As so many are courageously doing with Donald Trump, Christian women must challenge the silence of the church on this plague. Lives are at stake. Between 2001 and 2012, 6,488 Americans were killed in Afghanistan. During that same period 11,776 women were murdered by their current or former partners! It is time for the church to admit its complicity on the subject of domestic abuse and make up for lost time. The violence must be stopped.

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3 thoughts on “11,776 Women

  1. I read this article with great interest, yet there is more to be said for sure. The article was thoughtfully written, yet incomplete. I can definitely relate to the Evangelical Christian culture that not only ignores this issue, but often covers it up to save face. There are many issues we can relate this article to. I’ve been part of church conflicts where important issues were not properly addressed. Women have been often relegated to second place status with dire results for the Church as a whole. Sadly, once again the Church has to be taught by the secular community how and when to take a stand. Even more sadly it has taken a Presidential race to draw up the issue.
    This issue of sexual abuse is not just a woman’s issue, however. Men have been sexually assaulted as well. That being said, this issue is an issue of humanity. It has nothing to do with actual sex, and only has to do with power and control and ultimately manipulation. This power and control takes on many forms. Whether it manifests as “locker room talk”, physical and emotional abuse or degradation, the end product is the same. A person has been sexually degraded and misused. That is never good for anyone. Trumps comments were not only stupid, but dangerous. Even if he was only talking. Sexual abuse, like all abuse, often starts out in one’s head.

    This power and control can also manifest itself in more insidious ways. Particularly through silence and ultimately through acquiescence. Those that know of sexual abuse and manipulation and do nothing are in essence condoning it. The Church has been quiet about this issue for too long even when there has been opportunity to address it. I’d like to hope that more evangelicals will wake up. Failure to speak out is not good for anyone.

    In fairness to the politics of the day, you are right to condemn the comments of Mr.Trump. As I have said, they are stupid and dangerous. However, the glaring lack of comment or clarity from Mrs. Clinton also gives me pause. Did she not know about her husbands accusers? Did she not know about the assaults that took place? No, she did not directly assault, but her silence is deafening. Her silence is acquiescence.

    Perhaps the failure to address this issue has helped keep things “status quo,” just like the Evangelicals do, as you intimate in your blog. “Don’t talk about it and maybe the issue will go away.” “Mrs. Clinton is going to be running for President and we don’t want Bill’s “sexual problems” to interfere.[wikileaks).”
    Mr. Trump may not be all that, but to my knowledge he hasn’t covered up sexual abuse by refusing to address it at all. I find it difficult to trash Mr. Trumps comments without also addressing Mrs. Clinton’s silence. That silence says volumes about who she is.

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  2. Paula, you were a male leader in this “movement” for what 40 years. How many times did you cover up the abuse? Rather than quote stats from some random source, do tell of all of this abuse you witnessed and what you did to stop it.

    I went to a pretty liberal high school and this locker room talk was rampant, mostly by liberals who vote Democrat. The very few Christians I knew were the extreme outliers of such locker room talk.

    I do hope and expect you worked hard to counter such abuse in your 40 years as a male leader in the evangelical world.

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    • Tim, I believe I have on numerous occasions, including in this post, written about how much I did not understand previously that I understand now. With these understandings are you expecting me to be quiet now as I was then? I am not sure I understand the reason for your comments. And by the way, I went to a pretty liberal high school in Ohio and never heard such locker room talk. Nor did I hear it in 25 years in the locker room of a Long Island health club. I’m sorry that was your experience. It was not mine.

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