In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – and everything in between – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?
“Viewpoint” allows your Prayer Team’s talented writing team to express their opinions on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree with all they have to say. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say, and perhaps even receive a response back from the writer.
Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders.
Silent Epidemic In The Pews
Why Don’t Pastors Address It?
By Holly L. Meade
I could no longer remain silent. I felt like a prisoner. So I went to my church for help from my explosive husband. Instead, the pastor wanted me to “stick it out,” venture back into my childhood and work on my issues. For additional “counseling,” he paired me with two ladies, one of whom was also in a violently abusive marriage. Instead of finding a place of refuge from the pastor, I left feeling hopeless and wondering if I was the only one.
A 2010 national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than one in three women and one in four men have “experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” Unfortunately, the prevalence of domestic violence in the church appears to be comparable to the general population. Some statistics suggest that 25 percent of women sitting in the pews on Sunday live with domestic violence. According to Detective Sgt. Don Stewart, a retired police officer who handled domestic violence cases for 25 years, one out of every four Christian couples experiences at least one episode of physical abuse within their marriage.
So why is this silent epidemic happening in the very place that should be offering hope and refuge? Perhaps pastors find it inconceivable that a person who faithfully ushers every Sunday is a wife abuser and masterful manipulator. Perhaps pastors think spousal abuse only happens in certain kinds of families and not in their congregations. Perhaps in seminary they are not trained about domestic violence and the subject is not addressed at their conferences, retreats or seminars.
Perhaps it is all the above.
Monica Taffinder, a Christian counselor who specializes in trauma recovery, depression, anxiety and sexual abuse recovery says, “I really think people don’t think that it happens in their congregation. I mean, [pastors] know these people. They see these people. They go to dinner with these people. They worship with these people. I know they’re savvy enough to realize that there’s just as much as they don’t know about people in their congregations as they do, but still.”
According to a recent survey from LifeWay Research, forty-two percent of Protestant pastors believe domestic violence is a pro-life issue but “rarely” or “never” talk about it and less than a quarter speak to their church about it once a year. In fact, 29 percent of pastors who don’t address the issue believe domestic violence is not a problem in their church. Yet those who do address it are more likely to say it’s a problem for their community (72 percent) and not their church (25 percent).
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research Division, states there is a serious disconnect with the realities of American life. “Pastors cannot ignore or downplay the issue, when lives are being ruined – and sometimes lost – through sexual and domestic violence right in their own communities and churches,” he says.
“This is a conversation the church needs to be having but isn’t,” says Sojourners President Jim Wallis. Sojourners is a national Christian organization committed to faith in action for social justice. Wallis says, “We cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters live under the threat of violence in their homes and communities.”
Sojourners recently published I Believe You: Sexual Violence and the Church, a study edited by Wallis and Associate Web Editor Catherine Woodiwiss. The study features three essays about women, sexual violence and their experiences in dealing with their abuse in their churches. Rev. Amy Gopp, Director of Member Relations and Pastoral Care at Church World Service says, “I hope this report will educate faith leaders about the importance of reaching out to domestic violence programs in their communities and creating strong partnerships so that survivors are served in the way they deserve.”
While many religious leaders are vocal about abortion, same sex marriage and other social concerns, they have remained fairly quiet on one major issue: domestic violence. “The church needs to be part of the solution here,” says Stetzer. “This is an issue where people of faith, across theological lines, can speak together that it matters, we care and it must change. The gospel sets prisoners free – and that includes victims of domestic violence, who often feel like prisoners in their own homes. Pastors can do more to proclaim that message.”
Pray that they do.
Holly Meade is a communications specialist, writer, speaker and teacher with a master’s degree in mass communication. She has extensive experience in creating and producing content for radio, television and the Internet.
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