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Theological Issues Relating to Domestic Violence

We believe religious institutions can be a powerful resource for the abused and the abuser when they are educated on domestic violence and address this problem openly with their congregations.  Unfortunately, some religious institutions have not effectively dealt with this issue.  Below are some of the issues which have kept the religious institutions from becoming fully involved. 

Suffering - Some abused women believe they have a religious obligation to suffer and they misapply this concept to tolerating abuse in their intimate relationships.  Religious leaders sometimes reinforce this notion.  We must remember that God does not want anyone to suffer needlessly.  "Suffering happens because of evil in the world.  God is present with her in her suffering, but in no way does this mean that God wants her to continue to suffer.5 

Forgiveness - Unfortunately, the idea of forgiveness is also often misapplied in abusive situations.  Women are often encouraged to "forgive" in a way that translates into the batterer not being held accountable for his actions.6 

Permanency of marriage - The religious idea that it is wrong to separate from one's spouse has often led to women suffering more abuse and in some cases being killed by their partner.  We must keep in mind that the physical separation - at least a temporary one - of the husband and wife is necessary to stop the abuse and get help.7 

Clergy are sometimes the first people a woman will tell about her abuse.  This provides religious leaders with a unique opportunity to offer community support, crisis intervention, and referral for help.  We invite you to become partners in the struggle to end domestic violence. 


5National Ministries ABC/USA. Pg. 11-19. Fortune, Marie M., Rev. "Family Violence Packet: A Congregational Resource."  
6
Ibid.  
7
Ibid.    

 


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