Domestic violence is a sin against the Holy Creator of the universe, and should not be tolerated anywhere, especially in our churches. Sadly, like broader society, evangelical churches have historically done a poor job of addressing domestic violence and protecting women. However, as the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements continue to gain steam, pastors are addressing domestic violence more frequently.
A new survey published by Lifeway Research confirms that:
The #MeToo movement has prompted some pastors to action. It also appears to have led to some confusion among pastors and their congregations.
Forty-one percent of Protestant senior pastors who have heard of #MeToo say they are more inclined to preach about sexual and domestic violence in response to the movement. Forty-eight percent say they are inclined to speak about the issues about the same amount as they had in the past. Twelve percent say they are less inclined to speak as a result of #MeToo.
I have my concerns about the #MeToo movement (a few, but not all, of my concerns are expressed here). But, I am adamantly opposed to domestic violence in any form (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual harassment, et. al) and appalled, yet sadly unsurprised, at the continued revelations of domestic violence that have been covered up by church leadership. So, I think it’s a good thing and am thankful that, “57 percent of evangelical pastors say their churches have become more empathetic” to victims of domestic violence.
Lifeway’s research does reveal some disturbing and possibly willful naivety among pastors and churches about the issue of domestic violence:
Almost half (46 percent) of pastors who don’t address sexual or domestic violence say it is not an issue in their congregation. Twenty-nine percent say other topics are more important. Nineteen percent say they don’t know the issue well enough. Nineteen percent also say it is not an issue in their community. Sixteen percent say it is not appropriate to address domestic or sexual violence publicly.
I’m not sure that a pastor who claims that sexual or domestic violence is not an issue in their congregation is qualified to be a pastor. At the least, that pastor either has his head in the sand or he has the odd belief that his congregation is immune to certain sins. At the worst, that pastor is aware that domestic violence is happening but would rather sweep it under the rug.
Regardless of our thoughts about the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, we Christians need to make sure that we are protecting the vulnerable, preaching against the sin of domestic violence, and holding perpetrators of domestic violence accountable, which means reporting them to the secular authorities.