Too often past practices in church communities were built on false myths of male domination and control. And too often this meant that men were excused for their violent and abusive behaviour, and women were blamed and/or forced to return to very unsafe relationships.
The Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) wants to reduce the incidence and effects of domestic and family violence in our church.
Too often past practices in church communities were built on false myths of male domination and control. And too often this meant that men were excused for their violent and abusive behaviour, and women were blamed and/or forced to return to very unsafe relationships. It is therefore imperative that we re-examine the ways in which we provide support to victims of abuse, and challenge the values and behaviours of those who perpetrate it.
What better way to begin our re-examination of male attitudes to women than by considering Jesus’ relationship with women.
In his ‘Heartland’ eNews (November 2016), LCA Bishop John Henderson wrote:
In a society and time when women were regarded as the property of men Jesus numbered them among his disciples; when women were not allowed to speak with men in public Jesus spoke freely with them; when women were not allowed to be educated Jesus let them sit at his feet and learn. In his kingdom women are equal citizens: 'Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother' (Mark 3:35).
As Jesus fully accepted women into his kingdom, so now Christian men will seek to give all women and girls that same acceptance, respect, dignity and love, beginning with those women and girls who are members of our families, our partners, or members of our church, work and social communities.
One of the New Testament texts that has often been used to support male headship and, therefore male dominance, in marriage is Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 5:21–25:
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
The explanation of the LCA tagline, where love comes to life, says in part:
'Life in the church is a preparation and empowerment for a life of love in the world. Our families and our communities, our workplaces and cultural settings might well experience through us something of God’s love as it comes to life again in us.'
We must be mindful of how we reflect how God’s love comes to life for those who have been abused, or have perpetrated abuse and have come to us for support, healing, and confession.
LCA Campaign for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts campaign helps people to recognise violence wherever it occurs and to respond appropriately and pastorally. It encourages the building of relationships and communities that are kind and loving, based on mutual servanthood and respect.
The establishment of the campaign was requested by the 2015 General Convention of Synod, the highest decision-making body in the Lutheran Church of Australia. The resolution read:
That the Convention of Synod reaffirms its condemnation of all forms of violence in the family and authorises [General Church Council] to commit resources for a church-wide campaign to address the prevalence of Family Violence amongst us, which may include sharing of resources, education initiatives and the provision of pastoral care to the survivors of violence, as well as the perpetrators of abuse.
The Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts campaign is based on the principles set out in the LCA Standards of Ethical Behaviour, which promote compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience within relationships. It supports the LCA Statement on Marriage.
The campaign involves raising awareness in congregations, schools and other institutions of the church, as well as training, research, identifying and developing resources, and recommending and implementing specific actions.
All members, congregations, parishes, institutions, organisations, departments and ministries of the LCA are invited to actively participate.