What do you feel when you hear the claim that one in four Australian women have experienced domestic violence? Are you shocked (or even sceptical) that it could be that many? Do you feel anger, abhorrence, or a sickening lurch of recognition?
Whatever we feel, it cannot be indifference. As painful and as difficult as the subject is, domestic violence (DV) is a reality that we must understand and respond to.
That’s what we’re aiming to at least begin to do within the brief confines of this episode of the CCL podcast. Our guest is Kara Hartley, a member of the Sydney Anglican Domestic Violence Taskforce, and our conversation ranges over the nature of domestic violence, how widespread it is, how we can understand its causes, and how we can respond as Christians.
Links referred to:
- Video: “Let’s change the story about domestic violence in Australia”
- Let's change the story: Violence against women in Australia
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey (the raw numbers that are used as the basis for many reports on domestic violence)
This was not mentioned in the episode, but you may find it a helpful resource as you seek to love victims of domestic violence: Together Through the Storm: A practical guide to Christian care by Sally Sims (available from Matthias Media).
Runtime: 38:01 min.
Tony Payne: Hey, it’s Tony here, and just before we get started on today’s episode, which is on a fairly serious and heavy topic, just a reminder that our next Centre for Christian Living event is only a few weeks away. It’s on “Dealing with guilt and shame” and the speaker is Dan Wu, the venue is Moore College, the date is October 25, and if you haven’t come to one of our Centre for Christian Living events, this would be a great time to start. They really are great fun. Check out the CCL website for all the details.
But onto our episode.
VO: This is the story of a boy and a girl. It’s a universal story, and an Australian story. It’s a story that occurs every two minutes, in fact—a story that happens—
TP: You’re listening to a video called “Let’s change the story about domestic violence in Australia”. And I heard this video during a recent seminar that I attended for pastors on how to understand and respond to domestic violence—especially in our churches.
VO: —doesn’t have a happy ending. Because this is the story of how gender inequality contributes to the murder of one Australian woman almost every week. Sounds like a tall tale, right? Let’s take the—
VO: —we’d say that the social norms, practices and structures have shaped both the boy and the girl, creating a society where women are valued less and men are expected to be dominant and in control. In such a world, disrespect and hostility is excused, and violence against women is far more likely.
VO: —she is socially isolated and financially dependent on him. He controls decision-making and her. They are not equals. She is dependent on him for everything. So she never tells anyone that he has started to hit her. She doesn’t say anything to her family or friends. She grows more isolated. She has nothing else—
VO: —one way or another. This story isn’t a one-off; it’s a story shared by one in four Australian women, who have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner. And it’s a story of one in five women—
VO: —women and men aren’t treated equally. But we—you and I—can change the narrative. Better education, policies, practices, support and funding can prevent this all too common story. When women and men—
TP: If what this video is saying is accurate, then this is indeed a terrible and appalling story. And even if the numbers are spiced up a little bit or expressed in a slightly overstated form, as these things often are, it’s still a shocking story, and a huge problem for us as a culture and for us as Christians, because there’s no doubt that this kind of violence is happening in our churches as well. As painful and as difficult as it is, we do need to dig into this issue of violence within families—to find out just what is happening, to seek to understand why it’s happening, and to think about how we should respond as Christians, and that’s what we’ll try to do on this episode of the Centre for Christian Living podcast.
TP: Hello, I’m Tony Payne, and welcome to the Centre for Christian Living podcast, coming to you from Moore College in Sydney, Australia. Our goal in this episode, as in every episode, is to bring biblical ethics to everyday issues. And today it’s an issue that is disturbingly and tragically an everyday one: the issue of violence within households between men and women. How are we to understand this awful phenomenon? And how are we respond to it—and respond to it as Christians who take the Bible as our norm and our guide? How do we bring a biblical understanding to this question—particularly when some people blame a biblical understanding for the problem?
Well, our guest today is someone who has thought about this issue quite a lot as part of a special taskforce that the Anglican Church in Sydney has set up to discuss and respond to this issue. I sat down and talked with Kara Hartley.
Kara Hartley: So I’m Kara Hartley. I have an official title, called “the Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry in the Sydney Diocese”. Basically that means I get to encourage women, support women in ministry, involved in various aspects of training/leading women in ministry.
TP: In ministry to women, it’s impossible to avoid that most painful and difficult of subjects today, which is domestic violence, which, by a fairly large majority, affects women more than men. It’s a—it seems more prevalent than it once was. Is that your experience in dealing with this issue and in thinking about it—that it’s more prevalent than it was?
KH: It’s hard to know, isn’t it, because DV, by nature, is often a very hidden thing in our community. Our broader community, of course, became more aware of it through Rosie Batty; our church community, in the light of her and the experiences that she had, and also through various people raising it and having conversations over the years has become more aware of it. And as you become more aware of something, suddenly you notice where it’s happening more and more. So is it more prevalent? I think the key is we’re becoming more aware of it. And it’s tragic—you know, the fact that there are any cases of domestic violence in our churches—in our church communities—is horrific. But we are becoming more aware of it as people are finding opportunities—as it’s more a conversation piece in our community—finding opportunities to speak up and tell their stories about what’s happened to them.
TP: The fact that Kara can’t be quite sure about the statistics is understandable, because it is hard to chase down good, accurate information on this most difficult subject. It’s not made easier by the fact that sweeping claims are made in the media regularly—such as the claim made by women’s groups that one in four women are subject to violence, or the counterclaim made by men’s groups that one in three victims are men. Now I’m very wary of getting into the detail of statistics, because behind every number, there is a story—a story of personal suffering and heartbreak that is hard to imagine. But I think it’s perhaps worth doing, if just briefly, because I know some listeners will hear some of the claims being made in the media and wonder if those numbers are accurate, or whether they’re exaggerated, and wonder, in fact, whether this is really as significant a problem as some people are making out.
So here are some numbers—taken from a very comprehensive and well-regarded study called “The personal safety survey”, carried out in 2012 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It was a study with a very large sample size; interviews were conducted, followed up, and then those raw numbers were extrapolated to the population as a whole. Now, the survey defined partner or domestic violence quite robustly: it was any physical or sexual assault, or the attempt to make such an assault, or the threat of such an assault in a face-to-face manner that made it likely that it was to occur. So it was any such assault—physical or sexual—like that, or the attempt or threat of such an assault, that had taken place at any point since you were 15 years old, or in the last 12 months. And the basic figures were these: they estimated that out of the 8.7 million women living in Australia who are over the age of 18, 1.48 million or 17 per cent would have experienced such violence at least once since the age of 15. And that of the 7.5 million men in Australia, 450,000, or just over 5 per cent, would have experienced this violence since the age of 15. That’s nearly 2 million Australians—just under a quarter of them men. In terms of people who are experiencing this sort of violence now—that is, sometime in the last 12 months—the numbers are obviously smaller, but still a lot of people: 133,000 women and 52,000 men.
Now, whichever you cut it and however you present these numbers, it’s a lot of people. This is not an insignificant problem. And it does affect more women than men, although I was certainly surprised at just how many men are affected.
So those are just some of the raw numbers. How you present them, of course, makes a difference. But how you explain them is of vital importance. That’s one of the very difficult issues surrounding domestic violence: what story explains what’s going on and helps us to know how to deal with it? And getting back to Kara, I asked her what is the normal and usual story that is being told to explain domestic violence in our community?
KH: The normal—the normal story is—and because domestic violence happens more commonly against women than men, though it’s not exclusive to women, of course—the normal narrative will be it’s about respect—men not respecting women—and it’s about inequality—that somehow our society lessens the value of women; women don’t have equal rights/understanding as men, and therefore, the violence will happen to them; but if therefore the conclusion is, if there’s true equality between men and women, whatever that means as far as our society’s concerned, then domestic violence will disappear. Unfortunately, I think, you know, feminism has been on the rise since, let’s say the 1960s. Those kind of—that kind of narrative gets lost, because we say, “Well, feminism’s been going now for 30, 40, 50 years; women are more ‘equal’ in inverted commas if you like, than they were before, and yet we’re having more and more conversations about domestic violence.” So it’s a strange narrative that we’re running, I think, in our community—that the problem is that there’s no gender equality—and yet we’ve got more “gender equality” (again, in inverted commas) than we’ve ever had before, and yet domestic violence continues.
TP: It also strikes me that it doesn’t explain other aspects of the reality we experience—for example, the very high incidence of domestic violence in gay—among gay couples—especially male gay couples.
KH: And this is the thing that we’re almost not allowed to talk about. This is the difficulty we have, because we do have statistics: even on recent media reports—those statistics were raised about gay couples—the incidence is high. If it’s about gender equality, we’re talking, let’s say, male-to-male, there’s no inequality there, so what is driving it? There’s got to be something bigger and standing behind all of that, surely, otherwise that’s not explainable.
TP: In many ways, it’s like many attempts to explain reality or explain the world. The world’s an incredibly complex place, and violence is an incredibly complex phenomenon. It can be driven by all sorts of factors that well up within us that are cultural and contextual, that are personal, that are familial, that are psychological, psycho-emotional—and any single story like that, it’s difficult to comprehend the full reality, and perhaps we need to realise that—that whereas, there, of course, may be some instances (and I’d be very surprised if there weren’t incidences) where a man’s view of himself and his relation to the woman was dysfunctional and twisted, and that strongly contributed to his manipulative and violent behaviour.
KH: Absolutely! I think—
TP: That will happen!
KH: Absolutely! And I think just pinpointing violence to this one issue of gender inequality/equality leaves out so much of that conversation, and actually does a disservice to victims, because if you’re in a marriage, a relationship, and your spouse/partner becomes violent, is it just because he thinks you are less than him? I take it it comes—a whole raft of things are feeding—if that’s his view—a whole raft of things are feeding that view. This is not just a one—one-issue problem. This is so multi-faceted. And he’s fed—he has been fed by all sorts of agendas and frameworks, as you say—family background—all sorts of things have fed his view of why he thinks this is an appropriate way to treat his wife. It’s so much—and so if we keep narrowing it down, then I think we do a disservice to the victims.
TP: I think we also do a disservice to the victims in the sense that one of the arch villains in the narrative that’s being told commonly on our airwaves at the moment is conservative evangelical Christianity—presumably because of all the cultural communities within our society, conservative Christians—evangelical Christians—like us, we’re one of those places where more traditional gender roles and stereotypes are perhaps most preserved. It would be most common within churches to have more traditional views of what a man is, what a woman is—whether it’s a strongly headship/submission kind of church or not, it’s a part of the community where those roles are likely to be more preserved, just because of the nature of our culture—our church culture—and so the church has become something of a villain in the narrative: we’re one of these holdouts who are still preaching this awful gender inequality, and so we’re the problem.
How do you respond to that? As an evangelical Christian and as a woman, and as someone who’s having a lot to do with domestic violence, how do you respond to that?
KH: I respond firstly by reminding people that God has made me wonderfully—created me wonderfully—equal with men. The very first pages of the Bible open that up. So when we come to any teaching that might be viewed as feeding into that narrative of “women less than men”, then my answer is, “That teaching can only be understood in the light of the broader gospel narrative—the broader narrative of the whole Bible.” And it—right at the beginning, I’m told, that there is no inequality. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, as are men, in the image of God. So something else has to be happening at that point. It’s not about being unequal with men, because that’s already affirmed in the Bible.
TP: It’s interesting when you go to some of those passages that specifically address this question—how men and women are to relate together in relationships in marriage—such as Ephesians chapter 5—the big message of that passage for men is to subjugate themselves, as it were: it’s to lay down your own life for the sake of your wife—to give everything for her sake—to love her and to be prepared to do whatever you need to do to your own cost, as Christ did for the church, for the sake of this person who you’re called on to serve above all other people. It’s a very different picture from subjugation, and it often makes me wonder if that’s what the apostle is urging and commanding men to do—and husbands to do—what’s the problem, or what’s the distortion, or what’s the issue that he’s addressing? And I suspect what he’s addressing is the underlying question of why these terrible things happen—why women don’t respect husbands, why men don’t respect wives and love them. Which, I guess, comes ’round to the bigger underlying question, so let me circle back to that. In terms of the Bible’s bigger picture, what would the Bible say? What would we say theologically about the causes of domestic violence?
KH: It’s simple, isn’t it: it’s sin. That’s what the Bible says. It’s sin. That is—in our very nature, we are playing out our disobedience to God. We are playing out our determination to run our lives our way. We are playing out what it means to have rejected God’s rule over us. And how does that play out? Well, we try and oppress one another. We try and take advantage of one another. We commit evil against one another. And this is what that is. This is an evil; this is not how God wants his people to relate to one another. As you said, the marriage relationship, it’s a beautiful dynamic. And we keep talking about, you know, these—the husband’s role and the wife’s role, and we keep forgetting that they work together. And when they’re actually together and the husband is playing out his God-given role and the wife is playing out her God-given role, then the marriage relationship actually works: it’s this beautiful dance that happens. But the minute sin comes into it, that dance gets clunky, and sometimes that dance is really fractured and we see the consequences of that. And I think that’s where we’re at when it comes to domestic violence. There is sin at play, and that is affecting and infecting all of our relationships, and in this case, to an extreme: it’s affecting and infecting our marriages.
TP: So the Bible has a different diagnosis. It tells a different story about what’s going on in the lives of men and women who suffer this tragedy of violence and abuse. It’s a story not just about gender stereotypes, although that can be one expression of it. It’s really a story about the deep-seated impulse lodged within all of us to seek our own interests before the interests of others—of seeking to build our world around me. It’s a story that starts with our rebellion against God, our rejection of him, our declaration of personal autonomy—of personal rule—of self-absorption—of selfishness. And it issues in all kinds of behaviour, including the impulse to control other people—to manipulate and even abuse other people in order to achieve what we want—in order to get what we want. Now, perhaps men and women, speaking very generally, find different ways of doing this. It seems that men are more likely to do this by physical threat and violence. But the underlying problem is not the construct of manhood or womanhood I have in my head—the construct of inequality; the problem is the construct of me that I have in my head—that I am what matters and that I would rather do evil to somebody else if it benefits me than lay down my life for someone else or put them first. So the Bible tells a very different story about the roots and causes of domestic violence. And it also proposes a very different solution.
KH: So what’s the Bible’s solution? It’s to call us to repent—to turn away from our evil behaviour. We’re called to do that in all aspects of our life. The sad thing is and the tragic thing is that often those committing domestic violence don’t actually recognise their behaviour as sinful. And so that needs the Christian community as a whole—for us to recognise it and call it for what it is and call people to repentance when we discover it.
We also know that the other aspect of Christian life is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, love your neighbour as yourself—love your spouse as yourself—we’ve already talked about that. True Christian love is not using power over another; it’s actually allowing the—yourself to serve the other, and no more so than in marriage, absolutely. So there’s some ways to address it.
But let’s be really clear: because of the complexity of why people commit domestic violence against their spouses—why husbands abuse their wives—because of that complexity, there’s no simple solution. It’s not like you call somebody to repent and know—you know—they’ll immediately do it. By the Spirit of God, that is always possible. But more often than not, this will be a long and slow process, and will take a lot of care and sensitivity in that.
TP: And like repairing any terrible mess, may require all kinds of drastic action—
TP: —may require the couple to be apart—
TP: —may require there to be long periods of counselling and separation and so on.
KH: Absolutely. And we need to be okay with that. I think we’ve—that’s part of—been part of our struggle in the past, and probably part of our naivety in trying to help couples in this way in the past—to help women in this way in the past—is that we haven’t been okay with that. We’ve thought the better thing is for her to stay—for her to keep working—keep persevering. But actually when we recognise that the behaviour and the abuse that she’s suffering is not only sinful, but very complex, fed by all sorts of different factors, then we need to be okay that the better thing for the time being might be for her to leave that situation. And support her in that.
TP: If the situations are complex—if the causes are complex and not simply reducible to gender inequality and male domination—could it be, do you think, the solutions are also complex? So there may be some occasions in which the form of abuse that’s taking place is milder, less dangerous, less toxic, where you would say, “No, you need to stay together, but you really need to work on this, ’cause this—this is bad already and it could get vastly worse.” In other words, are there situations in which you would say a couple should stay together?
KH: If a wife has said—has come forward in whatever context—with a friend, with you as the pastor, whoever it might be, and said, “I’m—he’s abusing me. He won’t let me … He’s either hitting me or he’s controlling me in some way”, I think to urge her to stay is the—one of the least helpful things you could do. Because you haven’t hurt her at that point. That’s what she will feel. She will hear, “I’m not trying enough.” Or “It’s my fault.”
TP: Or “It’s not really that bad.”
KH: Or “It’s not that bad.”
TP: “You should be able to suck this up.”
KH: “Come on.” Yeah. “We’ve all got tough marriages. You should be able to”—you know—“love him more”, whatever it might be. So actually what you’ve done is completely dismiss what she’s told you. And it’s probably taken her a lot of courage to tell you.
There’s a difference between a marriage that is struggling—that has issues, that needs counselling—and domestic abuse. There’s actually a difference there. And so, what we’re saying is not, “Just go to marriage counselling together and this will get better”, because he is not acting in any way interested in being a proper husband. He’s abandoned that. He needs to get that his behaviour is totally and utterly unacceptable and evil. That is different from a husband and wife not dealing with conflict well. And we need to recognise that difference. And so, urging her—now, it might mean that she tells you she’s being abused, but actually she’s not prepared to leave at the moment for the sake of the children—for whatever reason. You need to honour that as hard that is. But that’s different than saying, “You need to go back and kind of keep working on the marriage.” They’re two different things.
TP: We’ve had a long discussion about the potential causes of domestic violence. Is the gender inequality narrative a helpful or accurate one? Or are there other causes? So we’ve been probing the bigger social questions that surround this issue and probing its causes. Now, often when that happens, the answer can come back, “You’re just being insensitive. You’re not listening to the victims”—as if any discussion of what’s going on here and what the causes are and how we are can understand it is in itself an invalidation or dismissal of the victim’s story. How do you deal with that?
KH: I think, first and foremost, recognising that God’s good word to us gives us frameworks for how men and women are to relate. So we don’t want to dismiss that, because some are twisting that and using that as a—as some kind of reason for their sinful behaviour. We want to uphold God’s good word. We want to keep teaching that. We want to teach that in a way that shows that anyone twisting it is misusing God’s word, and it’s unacceptable. So we need to—we want to keep doing that.
So we want to uphold God’s good word. That is not a failure of listening to victims. That is actually helping victims, I think, see where, when their marriages aren’t as we teach from God’s word they ought to be, they can actually see that, “Hold on, I’m not—that’s not what I experience at all. I experience something completely different to that.” And I think that actually gives them an opportunity—a voice to kind of speak up about the abuse they’re suffering. That’s the first thing.
The second thing, I think, is in responding to the criticism, I want to say that … I think there have been times when we’ve got it wrong. I want to own that. I think there have been times when we have laid it too much on the woman—her responsibility—without calling men on to their responsibility. So we acknowledge that and we make sure that we are very clear—as clear as we can be—when we teach and when we uphold God’s word what we are actually doing. That is, we’re putting forward God’s pattern for marriages, we’re showing where that pattern can come unstuck, and we’re giving people permission to speak out and say, “That’s not the pattern I’m experiencing. Help me.”
TP: In many ways, what you’re saying is that if we had a more vigorous and robust doctrine of sin and believed it, we wouldn’t fall into these traps.
KH: That’s right.
TP: We wouldn’t be inclined to think, “Oh no, that couldn’t happen. Oh these are all nice couples sitting here in front of me. None of this would be happening in marriages of people like that”—you know, upright, moral doctors and lawyers like that. But the Bible would tell us time and time again those are exactly the people—like all of us—in whom those terrible things—among whom those terrible things can happen.
KH: It’s extraordinary, isn’t it—people who are so convinced—evangelicals—we read God’s word, we trust God’s word—we’re so convinced of sin, we preach it. And yet we somehow think there’s—yeah—there’s people in our churches, “But I know him. He’s a lovely guy.”
TP: “He couldn’t possibly—”
KH: “He couldn’t do that.” And I think that’s one of the areas we’ve really misunderstood. Like in the child sex abuse area, the role of grooming: perpetrators of domestic abuse are often very good groomers. They will become your golf buddy. They will be the guy on parish council. They will be the guy that you know you can trust in this area of ministry and that area of ministry. It’s extraordinary that the number of times I’ve heard from victims how well-liked their husband was—how well-trusted he was. They’re expert groomers. And so that just shows the psychological dimension that’s going on in an abuser’s mind—in a perpetrator’s mind—the kind of cleverness that they’re somehow able to hold these two lives together—this life in front of their church that they’re able to groom people and then this life behind closed doors.
TP: It speaks to the deep insecurities and fragilities of many abusers as well—
KH: Oh yeah.
TP: —in the sense that their desire to control and the dysfunctional desire to do that to another human being for my own sense of wellbeing and power that I feel better that if I keep you down in this appalling position—
TP: —that plays out within social relationships in a desire to ingratiate.
KH: Absolutely. It’s the same thing, isn’t it. It’s that control. It’s making sure he—so there’s my minister, I’ll make sure he’s got a picture of me, and in fact, so much so that I’ll disparage my wife. I’ll talk about her fragile condition at home—how difficult it is living with her because she’s unstable. And I’ll actually paint a picture, and I’ll paint a narrative because I’m in control. We hear that time and time again. It’s—and again, if we had a more—we preach sin, but if we really understood it and believed it, we would be able to recognise … When she tells me she’s suffering, I’ll hear it. I’ll listen to it.
TP: The second question I wanted to ask in response to what you said earlier was how we can respond ourselves as friends—as congregation members with other Christians—in two circumstances: first of all, in a circumstance in which we ourselves are—and there might be people listening to this podcast who are deeply concerned about the state of their own relationship—fearful of either where it’s at or where it’s heading—what would you recommend someone like that do—how they should respond in this situation?
KH: Often those people are feeling so isolated, and as if—and taking on blame and thinking, “There is no one—no one who will believe me.” I’d encourage them if they’re in a Bible Study—if they have one friend who they think they could just bravely say something to, then they do that. Make the time. Go and speak to them.
I made a really big error a few months ago. I was talking to a friend and I said something flippantly about, “Isn’t it good we’ve got good blokes that we’re married to!” Not long after that, I discovered maybe she wasn’t married to such a good bloke. And I felt terrible, because I hadn’t—I’d made an assumption. And rather than just speaking personally, “I’m thankful that I’m married to such a good bloke”, we don’t ask one another about our marriages. “Are you—is he treating you well?” So if you’re somebody out there who is worried about where your marriage is at and where it’s heading, please do find that friend. Maybe it’s your minister, maybe it’s your minister’s wife. Maybe it’s that other woman in your Bible Study. Have a quiet word to them. And do just speak about some of the horrible things you’re experiencing.
TP: And if we’re that friend, how do we respond?
KH: We’ve got to listen, don’t we. We’ve got to listen. We’ve got to hear. We’ve got to stop. You know, often it’s funny: you know, you could be having a coffee with a friend for an hour, and it will be in the last three minutes that she says something. And you’ve got to go and pick up your kids, or you’ve got to go to that appointment, or you’ve got to get back to the office, whatever it might be … somehow, you need to put everything else on hold for—while you listen to her. And you’ve got to listen. It may mean, frustratingly, that you can’t do anything in the moment, like she’ll tell you, but there’s nothing to be done. It’s not like you say, “Well, come, quick. Bring the kids and stay at our house tonight.” It’s not that kind—it’s not finding solutions in that moment. It’s about listening in that moment.
TP: Well that was where my conversation with Kara concluded. And after I’d edited the audio, I did something I don’t normally do: I sent Kara a copy of the edit to get her impressions, because this is such a sensitive and important topic. And then I phoned her up the next day and asked her if there was anything she’d like to add or change, having listened back to it.
KH: Well, I—generally, I thought, “Yep, we’ve captured a lot of the issues and we’ve talked around some of the significant details around domestic violence.” There were, two things, though, that I realised I kind of missed or I’d emphasised in the wrong way. And the first of those was when you asked me about, “Should or a woman stay or leave when domestic violence was discovered?”, one, I kind of talked about the possibility of either, depending on her circumstances. What I should have said, though, was, particularly if there is a potential of or a threat of physical violence against the victim, then the police must be called at that time—particularly if children are involved. But if there’s—at that moment, the threat of physical violence, it’s important that either the police are called or the victim is taken with you to the police. That’s a must. So I should have said that and I realised, listening back, that I actually hadn’t included that. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is I realised I did—because the statistics are generally more women than men experience domestic violence, I did speak primarily about women as victims. But I wanted to acknowledge that there are male victims out there. There are men in our churches who are also suffering from a domestic abuse situation, and I didn’t want them to feel ignored or passed over by my emphasis on just thinking about women as victims. It’s mainly due to just conversation can get a bit clumsy and complicated all the time referring to men and women. But I do want to acknowledge there are male victims in our churches and we must be alert to their needs as well.
TP: And any final comments to add?
KH: Yeah, I guess the final thing I really wanted to highlight is that as we talked about it and we recognise that sin is an issue at the heart of domestic abuse, which plays itself out in power and control, what we didn’t say and what I think is so important for us to hear is that the gospel ultimately is our answer for all of this—that it’s the answer for humanity in every situation, isn’t it. And it’s the gospel of grace and the gospel of hope that we are grounded in—that we one day realise that our brokenness—our—this horror that we experience in this life, the Lord Jesus has died for us, and when we have our trust in him, our ultimate home, our ultimate safety is in him, and we look forward to that great day. And that’s something I guess I want to—I don’t want to say that to minimise the pain people experience now—“Oh, just keep persevering, and one day you’ll be with Jesus”—but to offer that as a real comfort and a real hope—that in our brokenness, that will be solved and completely healed when we are finally at home with the Lord Jesus.
TP: Well, that’s where we’ll have to draw this episode to a close, and just a few quick things to finish. First, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’ve started to realise that you really do need to talk to someone about what’s going on in your own relationship—in your own marriage—and you don’t know who to turn to, then send us a message here at the Centre for Christian Living and we’ll put you in touch with someone who you can talk to and trust, and who can help you. You can email us at email@example.com and of course we’ll treat your message with the strictest confidence.
Secondly, if you want more information about this whole subject, Kara is part of a taskforce that the Sydney Anglican Diocese has put together to prepare a detailed report and response to domestic violence. The report that they’ve prepared listens to the stories of the victims, it thinks about the issue biblically—theologically—and then suggests resources and ways forward for churches. And that report will be presented publicly this October, and as soon as it’s available, we’ll put a link on the page for this podcast at our website at ccl.moore.edu.au.
Thirdly, speaking of podcasts, if you want to keep getting these podcasts, make sure you subscribe at iTunes or wherever you subscribe. And if you’re enjoying listening to these episodes, then do leave us a review or a comment. It does help the ratings of the podcast and helps more people see it.
And finally, if you have any questions about the material we’ve covered today or any suggestions that you’d like to send in for other topics you’d love us to cover here at the CCL podcast, then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m Tony Payne. ’Bye for now.