Domestic violence has no place in religions

I listened to a troubling story on NPR about a female Baptist minister being a domestic violence victim. She gained the support of her father, who is the minister of a church, to seek a divorce from her abusive husband. But, the deacons of her church threatened to expel her if she did not recant the divorce.

I have shared before the story of a friend who went to her minister because her husband was beating her. The minister asked to see them both. To her surprise, the minister told her in front of her abusive husband that it was her fault. If she was a better wife, then she would not be beaten.

Both women found new churches. As a Christian, I am appalled that male religious leaders can justify the abuse of another human being from their scriptures. And, other religious leaders can find similar interpretations from wording in their religious texts. So, domestic violence and even honor killings are more acceptable in some cultures.

My response is quite simple. These are crimes. If a religious leader tells you it is OK that a male parent or husband can beat or assault a woman, find another church or religion. A perceived supreme being worth worshipping would not condone such violence, regardless of what the religious texts might be interpreted to say. Women “hold up half the sky” says the ancient Chinese proverb. And, women were very important in promulgating Christianity after Jesus left earth.

My thesis is straight forward. Religious texts were written, edited, interpreted and translated by imperfect men. Even if the words were divinely inspired, they were not dictated. Men wrote them down. Sometimes, they were written many decades after the event occurred. I mention the word “edited” as some chapters got cut from religious text that governs two religions.

Given the two words “imperfect and men,”  it is my view there is no way every word should be held up as true. In fact, gospel is short for “good news.” The news is the writer’s version of the truth, so each gospel or book will include their version of the story based on their male and human biases. If women penned these texts, they would read differently.

So, domestic violence simply should not be tolerated. It is a crime. If my friend had been later killed had she heeded that minister’s advice, he would be culpable in her murder. Again, let me say this boldly. No religious leader should condone domestic violence. He is abetting a criminal act. If yours does, please find another place of worship.

In my worship and charity work, I have met some wonderful religious leaders of many faiths. But, I have also met some whose imperfections are more apparent. Find a religious leader that respects you as a person. They are out there.




16 thoughts on “Domestic violence has no place in religions

  1. I wanted to write that the Christians seem to still stick in the medieval age. Then I saw Holly writing something similar. Where is the love to blame someone that they are beaten… Intolerable for sure!! Unbelievable that there are still people who think so.

    • Erika, too true. The better mentors for religion make it live in today’s world. I think it is inspirational when a minister can read an example that Jesus used and give it context today.

      This post was not meant to highlight only Christian interpretations. Too many other religions make women possessions. The book “Half the Sky” was the first book to make me aware of “fistula” where a teen girl is forced to give birth before her body is ready and the vaginal tearing allow seepage from bowels into the wounds. And, it made me aware of genital mutilation that girls in some religions go through. Only a man would formalize these horrible religious practices. Keith

      • Oh, yes, of course. Religios are basically rather limited on granting individual paths and most “leaders” are more like dictators while abusing their powers. I just know this best from the catholics which I cannot identify with at all anymore. As your real-life examples showed that is the sad tendency which is more coming back than an open mind … for God all of his children are alike… or did I misunderstand that…

      • Erika, while religion has done a lot of good, it has been rather controlling over the years to the point of dictatorship as you note. That is why the purest of heart leaders – Mother Theresa, St. Francis, etc. – are remembered so well. Keith

  2. Dear Keith,

    This is where one has to walk in faith. God is the parent who wants the very best for each of us. When someone tries to justify mistreatment of anyone, that is a major clue that the person speaking knows NOTHING ABOUT GOD. RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN.

    That is why I get upset with anyone justifying the president’s recent orders to separate families. Anyone who has read the New Testament KNOWS THAT THE PRESIDENT’S DIRECTION WAS EVIL AND WRONG.

    I always tell people who want to walk in faith to read their bibles regularly and to develop that connection with God directly. Then pick a church. Pick a church where volunteering and helping the poor is a major part of their ministry.

    Hugs, Gronda

  3. There is NO reason, religious or otherwise, to justify domestic violence. That some would use their religion to justify or absolve them of doing so just shows the hypocrisy … shows that they do not understand the teachings of their own faith. It IS a crime, and any religious leader who would encourage or condone such behaviour is an accessory to the crime. People need to stop finding excuses and justifications for their bad behaviour and spend their time, instead, trying to become better people.

    • Jill, absolutely true. These stories stagger me. I left off to story I have used before how a large family of sisters and brothers had no idea their sister was being beaten by her husband – until he killed her. He was a using his kids as well. Keith

      • How awful!!! But, women often do not confide in anyone because the husband has convinced them that it is their fault and they are ashamed, embarrassed. Just another example of gaslighting. Tragic story.

      • Jill, thanks for using “gaslighting” as that is precisely what it is. The minister said she missed signals before getting married. Her boyfriend would comment on her weight and attire. It is all about control, isn’t it?. Keith

  4. I stay away from organized religion. Too much stupidity, too many hypocrites, too much bad government. Instead of finding “new churches,” these women need to find themselves. But I guess some people are wired to be led by others. Good riddance.

    • Pete, I hear you. People must find comfort from their religious leaders. If they cannot, they should seek it elsewhere. My biggest pet peeve is bigotry from the pulpit – that is as hypocritical as it gets. Thanks for opining and best wishes. Keith

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