Battered Women are just too Uppity [classy.hack]

Several understandings of Christianity and Christian traditions place the authority of the church and the family in the man's hands.  But what happens when men take too much authority and beat their spouses with those hands?

According to a Southern Baptist Convention professor, much of the blame is in the man's hands...but the blame is also put into women who do not accept their authority.

From EthicsDaily:

One reason that men abuse their wives is because women rebel against their husband's God-given authority, a Southern Baptist scholar said Sunday in a Texas church.
This merits a new category at's call it a classy.hack: blaming the victim.   It's probably a subcategory of a bad.hack.
Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said women desire to have their own way instead of submitting to their husbands because of sin.

"And husbands on their parts, because they're sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is of course one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged--or, more commonly, to become passive, acquiescent, and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and in churches," Ware said from the pulpit of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas.
Violence in intimate relationships is never acceptable and is never justified.  I accept that Ware is not justifying men's actions so much as seeking out the root of the problem.  However, I don't think blaming the victims (often wives and spouses) for being too uppity is the way to go.

Thoughts?  Do battered women challenge a "God-given" authority in ways that lead men to abuse them? Or is this just classy?

I want to clarify I'm not picking on the SBC, but I am picking on public statements and theological points presented that I do not think are reflective of a helpful and empowering Christian ethic.
Zemanta Pixie


Cecilieaux July 18, 2008 at 7:15 AM  

By all means, let's make sure you don't pick on Protestant denominations! Or are Baptists "Catholic," too?

Clueless July 18, 2008 at 11:43 AM  

This theology is twisted in how they interpret the Bible. Oh, this makes me so angry. It is the abuser's sin that should be the focus. The one being abused is the one trying to survive the best one can. And they have a right to be angry as well. The God I know does not condone battering in any way even emotional...would Jesus do this? Even with Mary M., she was clearly in sin, but did anyone throw a stone. A person that batters another has serious mental health problems. Yes, I am called to submit to my husband, but submission does not mean to accept being cruelly treated. Husbands are called to love their wives...battery is not love, but objectification of the person. (I also want to make it clear that men are also victims) I'm not trying to men bash, but some of this reasoning has to do with being a patriarchal church. Yes, it is clearly blaming the victim and with the church backing it, healing and leaving this type of situation only makes it more difficult. I have more to say, but that is it for now.

Hannah July 18, 2008 at 11:48 AM  

Men that abuse generally do so out of their own brokeness. Their need for control is what drives things, and I'm sure they could justify it as 'role' being threatened!

Personally, I think Mr. Ware hasn't got a clue about the defination of abuse really is. If he did he should would NOT have used it in his example.

Men and Women sin because they are sinners. LOL Goodness knows we don't need others 'pushing' us along in that department!

HP July 21, 2008 at 6:42 AM  

There seems to be a lot wrong with this theology...beginning with the claim that women ought to submit to men.

Now, I know there are varying creation stories...but the one that seems most authoritative to me in the context of the whole of Scripture and particularly Jesus' own treatment of women, is the story of co-creation in which women and men were created together in the image of the Divine.

The idea of submission is really not consistent with the overall ethic of mutuality, love and respect that we see throughout Scripture. (And, yes, I'm aware of Ephesians...but that too, I argue is out of sync with the larger values and ethics of the Christian faith).

Yes, Clueless, this all is absoutely wrapped up in the patriarchy of the faith. For more reading on this check out books by Rita Nakashima Brock, Rebecca Parker, Traci West, and Mary Daly.

Anonymous,  July 21, 2008 at 7:12 AM  

yeah, I'm with hp (and there's a surprise!). The root of the problem here is not even that the theology is supporting the habit of placing blame on the victim, but that it rests on an underlying problem in adopting an interpretation of scripture wherein submission to anyone other than God is required. That's also the problem in 'hacking' or liberating this theology; its root in biblical literalism is so strong that it is hard to get at the source problem, which is not the violence but the reading of scripture in a way that endorses violence.

HP July 21, 2008 at 8:17 AM  

I'm not sure that it is biblical literalism that is the problem. I wonder if it is the influence of outside norms (like patriarchy/kyriarchy) on the interpretation of scripture.

This is the argument of folks at Faith in America who claim that the use of the bible to condemn homosexuality is rooted in secular heterosexism and is religion based bigotry.

Likewise, in the past interpretations of scripture to keep women out of the pulpit and slaves in their masters' homes, were also influenced by outside norms of sexism and racism. Religion based bigotry.

Can there ever really be biblical literalism given that human interpetation is also necessary? Everytime we read something, we interpret its meaning.

Sonja,  July 22, 2008 at 8:51 AM  

It seems to me that Mr. Ware is only dealing with one side. What of those non-Christian men who typical abuse out of alcoholism or other substance abuse? Does that meet his criteria?

I think that most abuse whether spousal or of children or any other for that matter is a systemic condition probably begun in a person's childhood. However, there is a thought process that leads to abuse and that is that it is what the man is supposed to do. I have seen this in people who may or may not have been abusive of their wives, but the "church" (not mentioning a denomination) encouraged them to take a "hand" in their wives "training." The spare the rod and spoil the child thought went further into their marriage.

We have all seen how a church leader can influence people to behave a certain way, because "it's what God wants" at least according to that one person. Which is abuse of power and leadership at its best.

So abuse can have a theological basis, even if the majority of abuse going on isn't even related to Christianity or other religious beliefs.

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