Following his arrest on domestic violence charges this past May, New York Giants’ kicker Josh Brown was suspended by the NFL for one game. Brown appealed the suspension while being defended by his coach, several teammates, and the Giants’ owner. Undoubtedly, many of Brown’s defenders will be walking back their statements in light of the release of Josh Brown’s journals.
In one journal, Brown admits to repeatedly abusing his wife, and other women, verbally and physically. In a 2013 entry, Brown writes, “From the bruise on your leg when we argued … to the zipper that caught you last April. I am ashamed and disgraced to call myself a husband.” Setting aside the fact that Brown’s “remorse” is expressed solely in terms of how his actions make him feel, his regret was very short-lived, having abused his wife many times since that entry.
Many will claim that in light of the recent revelations, the one-game suspension isn’t enough. That’s absurd. No new revelations were needed in order to see that the NFL came down way too lightly in regards to domestic violence, once again. I guess Roger Goodell and company were too busy policing over-inflated footballs and end-zone celebrations. However, my purpose is not to eviscerate the NFL and their complacency when it comes to domestic violence issues (chances are, by the time this article is published, Goodell, smelling a PR mess, will have brought his arbitrarily wielded hammer down on Josh Brown). No, my purpose is to confront professing Christians with the complacency that many in evangelicalism exhibit when it comes to domestic violence.
This past offseason, a backup quarterback for the 49ers made headlines by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. Most everyone knows the rest of the story, and as that story unfolded, many professing Christians, offended by Kaepernick’s expression of his opinion, pledged to boycott the NFL. In fact, the outrage was so loud as to cause the whole childish brouhaha to dominate news cycle after news cycle. At this point, people are chortling over the NFL’s falling ratings while pointing to the unpatriotic actions of Kaepernick as the cause. I wish that people would express the same outrage whenever the NFL minimizes the atrocity of domestic violence. I mean, where are the loud cries for boycotts from conservative Christians whenever the NFL slaps the wrist of its employees who abuse women?
Unfortunately, many Christians only pay lip service to calling out the sin of violence towards women, and even then only in certain situations. For example, the number of professing Christians excusing or even laughing off Donald Trump’s violent comments is appalling. And, hopefully steering this away from politics, I’m not talking about pragmatically deciding to vote for the lesser of two evils; I’m talking about the way Christians have not only eagerly jumped to the defense of Trump, but have also been quick to excuse away his violent statements in reference to women.
Referring to any comments similar to those made by Trump as “locker room talk” or “boys will be boys” makes light of an egregious sin. Further, it stands in direct violation of the holiness of God as well as letting our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters know that their safety and well-being are far less important than other things.
Christians, of all people, should be appalled by domestic violence and take meaningful public stands against it. The reasons why should be clear. For starters, husbands are commanded to love their wives in ways that let the world know how Jesus loves the Church. Whenever a husband abuses his wife, either verbally or physically, he’s guilty of lying about the relationship that Jesus has with his bride, the Church. Christians should loudly let the world know that men who abuse their wives and people who make light of domestic violence are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, women, like men, are made in the Image of God.
According to Mark Meynell in his excellent book What Makes Us Human?, being made in the Image of God means, among other things, that humans “reflect God, in profound and essential ways.”
Whether due to ethnicity or gender, verbal and physical attacks on humans strike at the ways in which that person reflects God. As such, racism and misogyny are attacks against God. The attacker and/or abuser is demonstrating that he believes that God is worthless because His image reflected in the person being attacked and/or abused is worthless.
Likewise, excusing away actions and words that deny that women are made in the Image of God is also a form of gross rebellion against God. By God’s grace, Christians should be leading the charge at denouncing violence towards women. Sadly, over these last few months, many professing Christians have made it crystal clear that the abuse of women is not an important issue for them. Furthermore, professing Christians who in any way excuse or make light of violence towards women are a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s high time that Christians in America let unbelievers know that violence towards women is an affront to God and a sin that will not be tolerated.