Reblogged from FaithTrustInstitute’s website, a good reminder of what Scripture teaches on how we are to treat the victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Thank you, Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune:
A woman recently shared with me her experience of being assaulted and stabbed by her abusive husband. As she recovered from her injuries, she turned to her church, expecting pastoral care and support.
She was not then employed because her husband would not allow her to work. So unemployed and healing from the stabbing and trauma of her husband’s abuse, she found her church unwilling to help her: they did not want to show “partiality.” At least for other members who were recovering from cancer treatment, the church members brought in meals and for families struggling with unemployment, there were Thanksgiving baskets.
I am trying to contain my outrage at this congregation and I pray that God will forgive them because “they know not what they do,” but I must confess ever time I reread this story, my blood boils. NOT SHOW PARTIALITY???? What Bible do these folks read?
Beginning with the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:29-37], let’s just consider the basics of the Christian faith tradition. Who is my neighbor? Jesus tells this parable to challenge the religious and community leaders who pass by the injured person by the side of the road. They are afraid; they don’t want to get involved; they don’t want to be partial and take sides! Finally it is the Samaritan, the outcast, the “other” who stops, attends to the injured person’s wounds, takes the person to safe shelter, and pays the bill.
I don’t know how Jesus could be much clearer about how Christians should respond to the needs of a battered woman. The God of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament is a God who takes sides with the oppressed, the vulnerable, the victim. The Hospitality Code is the common thread throughout these texts that mandates the community to care for those who are vulnerable: and in this day and age, that means battered women and abused children for sure.
This is the fundamental ethical norm of both Judaism and Christianity. Taking the side of the powerless usually means standing up to the powerful. I can only surmise that the abusive husband in this story probably was a person of power in the church and community. I can also hear the voices from the church: “Judge not that you not be judged.” [Romans 2:1-11]
Read the whole passage. Judge not IF you are doing the same things as the one you judge. For a pastor or rabbi, if you are abusing your wife, don’t stand in judgment of your brother who is abusing his. But hopefully you are not abusing your wife and if not, then your job is to stand with the victim of abuse and call the abuser to account and repentance.
If we learn anything about God from scripture, it is that God shows partiality for those who are victimized by another person. We, the church, can do no less. Only then is there possibility of healing for the survivor and repentance for the abuser.
Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune