How Should Churches Respond to Victims of Domestic Violence?

by Bobby Lawson

When it comes to domestic violence, we can be like the proverbial ostrich that keeps its head in the sand.  We do not like the thought of such a heinous act being so close to us.  It may be in our community, but surely it does not affect someone we know personally.  Surely it is not in our churches.  Such thinking will condemn many women to a lifetime of hopelessness.

Consider again the facts. Read the weekly police reports and notice how many calls are domestic violence calls. Notice the frequent articles where men are arrested and women are killed because of domestic violence.  This is close to home. Remember that one out of every four women in the U.S. will be victimized by domestic violence in their lifetimes.  Who are all these women?  Are they strangers to everybody?  Or do we know them but fail to know of their suffering?

If you are a member of a church with 100 women in it, according to the statistics there is a good chance that 25 of those women have experienced what it is like to be abused by their spouses. If you are in a smaller church with only 20 women, 5 of them may have experienced such abuse.  While it may be less in your church, this would be the norm across the nation.  It very likely could be the reality in your church.

What are the odds that you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence? High. More importantly, what is your responsibility as a member of your church to help those victims become survivors?  Can you keep your head in the sand and please your Lord? Here are some things that you and your whole church can do.

1)      Educate yourself about domestic violence.

2)      Open your eyes and ears and begin looking for victims in your midst. Be responsive to their needs.

3)      As a church, take to heart the words of God in 1 John 3:16-20 and apply it to the victims of domestic violence. Become a voice that advocates for your church’s resources to be used for domestic violence victims.  Let thoughts become words, words become action and actions become deliverance.

4)      As a united church, hold accountable anyone in your church that is a batterer no matter that person’s position or status in your church. We are all accountable to God – even the leaders in a church.

5)      Call the leaders in your church and in your community to become involved in combating domestic violence.  All resources of the church and community will be needed to change this part of our culture.

6)      Get involved and support efforts to help victims become survivors.

We may find the reality of domestic violence is too ugly to accept. However, we cannot help those in peril if we do not accept the reality that exists and commit ourselves to defeating this evil that is among us.  No church is exempt from this struggle. No disciple of the Lord can sit idly by.  No community can afford to have its collective head stuck in the sand.