I found two newspapers that grasped the reason behind the Church of England's reason for their paper on Domestic Abuse. I hope more people read this than some of the others out there!
Distorted Christianity 'causing abuse'
By Ruth Gledhill
Bad theology and outdated ideas about women are triggars for domestic attacks, a new report finds
MISGUIDED and distorted versions of Christian belief have contributed to domestic abuse in Britain, says the Church of England. And the Church itself has not done enough to protect victims.
The report, which has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says that domestic abuse is as “prevalent among Christians” as among other groups and identifies problem areas in Christian tradition.
It warns clergy that the bride’s traditional marriage vow to “obey” her husband could be used to justify domestic violence as could referring to God as “He” and “Lord”.
Bad theology, such as using the Virgin Mary “to reinforce norms of female passivity and obedience”, has even been used to convince victims to forgive their abusers and not take action against them.
The report criticises the Church of England for failing to challenge abusers and for intensifying the suffering of survivors, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
“Over the centuries questionable assumptions about the relation between men and women, which were supposed to reflect the will of God, have influenced the Church’s interpretation of the Bible, its moral teaching and pastoral practice,” the report says.
“It is a tragic fact that bad theology, in this case a faulty understanding of God and human beings in relationship, can have the effect — whether intended or not — of betraying victims of domestic abuse and encouraging the actions of perpetrators.”
One serious example, the report notes, is how the theology of self-denial and redemptive suffering in the Crucifixion of Jesus has “undermined people’s recognition of the evils being done to them and implanted masochistic attitudes of acceptance, or even celebration, of their afflictions”.
It calls on the Church to distinguish between submission to abuse and self-denial.
The report highlights particular problems in the Old Testament, where the attribution of violent actions and attitudes to God required “careful interpretation with reference to the historical and theological context”.
Entitled Responding to Domestic Abuse, the report was written by a group set up by the Archbishops’ Council and contains new guidelines for clergy on how to deal with the problem.
In Britain one quarter of all assaults reported to the police are defined as domestic abuse. An average of two women a week are killed by their partner or former partners in England and Wales and nearly half of all female murder victims are killed by their present or former partners. Most victims also put up with an average of 35 assaults before calling the police.
The report defines domestic abuse as threatening or violent behaviour involving psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse against adults who are partners or family members.
Examples of spiritual abuse given by the report include telling someone that God hates them, refusing to let them go to church and using religious texts such as “submit to your husband” to justify abuse.
Although most abuse is carried out by men against female partners, the report acknowledges that clergy and prominent Church members have also been found to be abusers. “If the victim is a partner of a member of the clergy, the issues of disclosure are problematic because their relationship is particularly public and usually their home comes with (their partner’s) job,” it says.
The report calls for training for all clergy on how to spot and deal with domestic abuse.
Traditional marriage vows 'could be used to justify wife beating'By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
The traditional marriage vows in which the bride promises to "obey" her husband could be used by men to justify domestic violence, a Church of England report said yesterday.
The report, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, accused the Church of failing at "many points" to prevent abuse.
It said that theological ideas such as male "headship" had been enshrined in the marriage service and could be misinterpreted as supporting the idea that the wife should submit to the husband.
advertisementIn the traditional vows, the husband promises "to love and cherish" his wife "till death us do part", while the wife promises to "love, cherish, and obey" her husband.
The report said that clergy preparing couples for marriage should stress that men and women are of equal worth, and that the use of the word "obey" could be seen as an outdated view of the status of women.
The report said that the Church had, intentionally or unintentionally, reinforced abuse, failed to challenge abusers and intensified the suffering of survivors, often through "misguided" or distorted versions of Christian belief.
If people saw their relationship with God in terms of domination and submission, and uncritically used masculine imagery to characterise God, they could validate "overbearing and ultimately violent patterns of behaviour", it said.
Victims could often see themselves as deserving abuse and could be persuaded, in a spirit of "self-denial", to forgive the perpetrator and not take action against them. The report, entitled Responding to Domestic Abuse, Guidelines for Pastoral Responsibility, encourages churches to become places of safety for survivors of domestic abuse. The origin of the wedding vows used in Anglican services can be traced back to the Book of Common Prayer, as authorised by Henry VIII.
The Church now offers an alternative version, omitting the word "obey"
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