The Church is to be a sanctuary a place of safety and restoration. This has now broadened its remits as it returns to its original design in being a holistic association. We as humans are not perfect and therefore no Church is perfect and of old has been the cries of the critics adding shade in being reluctant to providing help. No church is going to have a ministry or group to support everyone with everything but this cannot be the reason for not having something – at the very least there can be information sign posting a hurting, vulnerable person in crisis or despair.
Here could be an opportunity for churches to join forces with other local churches and or denominations to being on one accord when it comes to protecting the vulnerable.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
Some churches now have ministries supporting those experiencing Domestic Abuse. Coming a long way from ignoring the cries of individuals who required critical help due to lack of awareness or unable to provide help.
There is however a lot more work to be had within the church as the congregation (on the whole) still hold a misogynistic view on how women are to be regarded (see Myths below). This position is increasingly changing for the better as women are now reflective in more Pastoral and leadership roles – not limited to traditional children and women ministries. Today’s culture encourages women to take on more male dominated roles and men too are exchanging their suits and ties for pushchairs and home-schooling.
Sex and the Unity…of Marriage
This include the Abuser!
What may play a big role in fuelling DOMESTIC ABUSE within the church, individuals are encouraged to get marry (often at young ages). Many of which were married to prevent them from having sex and transgressing.
I’m not advocating that young people (or adults) engage in pre-marital activities before marriage as the Bible is very clear on this. However, the church would benefit by investing thoroughly into preparing members at all ages for marriage or singleness. After the honeymoon ends and there’s no other attraction than the initial sex exploration and tension, may be preparation for an arena of Domestic Abuse to develop and mature.
A big leap’ you may say?
Individuals are given guidance on the Bible’s ethos on sexual morality and immorality but this should not be the only reason for marriage. Paul said ‘It is better to get married than to burn’ (1 Corinthians 7:9) I hear you say, ‘Yes, this is true however the joining of two people was not designed just to satisfy a ‘burning’ outlet for sex’.
Sex is a gift given from God created to be enjoyed and used as an act of worship in the safety and parameters of marriage. Worship fashioned to be the sharing of joy and pleasure a reciprocal one – not a one side act evolved from an inward ‘burning’. If sex is the nucleus for marriage, is there room for God to be at the centre of this unity?
Educating Young Minds
It is essential that young minds are given rounded and intelligent details on how their bodies are developing are NORMAL. Some young people are led to believe that it is of the devil to have sexual urges and are only overcome when married. Information about their bodies preparing for adulthood is a topic that may be discussed by the care-giver. However, here the Church can reinforce a Godly aspect of puberty and maturity of this natural transitioning to adulthood.
- Is there enough support within the church of talking frankly, openly and fully about sex in a safe and supportive place?
- Does your Church have facilities, where young people can talk in confidence about this sensitive topic, with trained professionals? If not, they will find other outlets to glean this information.
- What age should this be introduced to young people within the church? (Consider ages between 12-14 and 15-18 years old). Not leaving the responsibility of sharing information for schools alone to educate.
- Is this a ministry your church and the young people may benefit from, if not, why not? Here’s an opportunity to form a consortium of churches to ensure the standards and quality of the knowledge shared is age appropriate and balanced within the cultural climate and legal framework.
Fantasies and Feelings
Young women are caught up in the idea of marriage. The fairy tale wedding, the dress, the ring are some of the attractions to marriages. Although sex is on their radar it’s the intimacy, affection and companionship that rates high after the event. In some cases the background of who they are marrying such as a Pastor, minister or deacon can be another factor.
This is not exclusive to this group as older women too are caught up with ‘missing the boat’ and ‘body clock ticking’ will feel frustrated with the wait and marries to speed up this process. A Sarah and Abraham moment comes to mind here – Genesis 16:2. Although older women too have sex on their agenda alongside companionship, being ‘left on the shelf’ may play high on their list over looking substance and character.
Young men too are liking the aspects of being married but generally are more focussed on the honeymoon and the sexual encounter. They have been conditioned (consciously or unconsciously) to be ‘A man’ – have good sex, provide for the family and protect his assests. Hawes (2020:26) states ‘Instead of full focus on each other, the stresses of work and life can consume the couple and before they are aware of what has happened, the couple individually retreat into old survival patterns or coping strategies.’ What survival patterns have your church informed young people of?
Often this pressure leaves the male emotionally vacant. Its here that abusers can get fixated or frustrated as they fight to control or replicate a fantasy where everything is new and without problems. (See Cylcle of Abuse.)
Older men tend to fall into both camps of young men and older women but come with stereo-typical, cultural and age old views of what women are really wanting.
Its these positions that couples need to have clarity on and this is where the church can help distnguish and minimise these perceptions.
Now God made us as relational beings (Genesis 2:18) and provided a suitable person – how can a scared, shaken wreck of a person be of help? Singing off the same hymn sheet is paramount to have tailored teaching covering different age groups, cultural thinking and behaviours.
Including a post marital platform endorsing their unity in having a Christ led marriage, will be a foundation to minimise ‘Red Flags’ and other issues that may arise now married.
|Hawes,J||(2020)||The Secret Lives of Men -Ten Keys to Unlock the Mystery.Hug Publishing:United Kingdom.|