“The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3
My dear friend is competent and passionate, caring and fun. I once noticed she was wearing big sunglasses, even indoors. I asked her about that. She told me she’d had to get a restraining order against her boyfriend. She showed me her black eye and bruised ribs. She said she was lucky to have escaped with her life.
Domestic violence is an increasing epidemic in Odessa. Chances are very good someone you know is being abused and keeping it a secret right now. It doesn’t have to be this way! Abused persons can get help and allow their self-esteem to be restored. Abusers can get help to change, and if they do not, they can be imprisoned. Our children can grow up seeing respectful relationships between their parents. Teens can date in healthy ways without fear of abuse. Women and men can enjoy safe, loving relationships.
Our faith community can take a leading role to help people live without fear. But sometimes churches unintentionally perpetuate the very abuse we should relieve and prevent. Churches communicate how men and women should relate in everything we do, and many people see that modeling as being sanctioned by God. If potential abusers of women are influenced by their church to believe their partner is inferior to them, abuse all too often follows.
Let’s take this moment during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to see how our faith communities are doing to exemplify safe and respectful relationships. Consider:
Does your church actively proclaim the equality of women and men, both made in God’s image? (Genesis 1:27)
Does your church follow up that proclamation by placing women in visible positions of leadership, modeling that women are valued equally with men? (Galatians 3:28)
Does your church teach that physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse is wrong, and that instead we are to yield to one another in love? (Ephesians 5:21)
Do your church’s leaders believe a victim of abuse when she speaks out, and do they know what to do to help her stay safe?
Does your church pray for and give financial support to the Odessa Crisis Center or other agencies working to prevent domestic violence and shelter the victims?
I thank God for the heroes in our community who speak out for respectful relationships, including our churches. I hope people of faith will light the way towards healing for many Odessa families.