Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Danger! Domestic Abuse in the church, an issue placed under the mat

Published:Saturday | February 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston


Domestic violence is rife in the Church. However, unlike the secular women who sometimes openly and talk about their issues, Christian victims are sometimes made to feel as if they are betraying the faith by talking about their abusive partners - be it pastors, evangelists or the ordinary church member.

The Church used to be a place where the broken can be fixed and those seeking solace could find comfort - now some of those inflicting the pain are those who should be offering 'the balm' for wounded spirits.

They must deal with the added trauma of watching their abuser lap up the adoration from the church members and dreading that moment when they must make the trek back to the privacy of their home ... then that sweet loving worker in church is transformed into a monster.

Addressing the reluctance in bringing these matters to light, Kerrian Johnson of Kerrian Johnson Ministries told Family and Religion that domestic violence is even more tragic when it occurs in Christian homes, "and this sin is rarely addressed from our pulpits. This matter is kept a secret as religious practices have priority, and unfortunately, some church leaders are not equipped to deal with this issue, while others do not want the stigma that is associated with it upon the Church so the abused suffer in silence," she said.

A lot of pastors instead of dealing with the abuser, encourages the abused to 'save their marriage', callously ignoring the fact that the next abusive episode could cost that person their life.

"Once again this is just another example of reputation taking precedence over someone's life. Many church hold to the doctrine of 'no divorce' and for this reason they encourage the wife to endure with the hope that God will change the husband, sadly this is rarely the outcome," said Johnson.

She shared that some pastors make the mistake of using Ephesians 5:22-24 - verses which speaks about wives being submissive in everything, as the basis for advising the wives to stay into an abusive relationship.

"But what God states in Ephesians 5:25-28 is really how a husband should treat his wife. Love her as Christ love the Church and gave Himself for her.

Johnson said it is not an easy task for Christian women to walk out of situations like these, but the wife must take a stand and the greatest thing she can do is "speak out and break her silence".

Pointing out that most times the minister's wife gets the brunt of the abuse, Johnson said she is usually reluctant to damage the image of her husband.

But for Johnson, there is only one thing for her to do, "she must look beyond the stigma and focus on the harsh reality that her life is in danger and find a group or an organisation and get help. Calling rather than in person is a good and safe way to start the journey to finding help. The bottom line in this matter is that you the wife must speak out and do not endure such evil," said Johnson.