Recently, there have been public discussions on comments made during sermons by a Southern Baptist leader on the issues of women and spousal abuse. While we at Bedrock keep our eyes focused on Jesus and his word each Sunday , there are moments when the church must speak out and take stands on issues within society. Today, Mother’s Day, is a moment in which we can bring clarity to issues regarding women specifically–issues that have been kept silent or covered up long enough. I will not read this particular leader’s comments as I believe that you can see them for yourself on many news platforms and my intent is not to throw stones at another leader, but we will also not to defend comments that we do not believe reflect the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What I do want to clarify is the position of this church and where the elders stand concerning the issue of women in abusive situations.
First, We believe in the Imago Dei found within every women created by God Himself. We believe that every woman God creates, is created in His image and bears His image. All women, as image-bearers of God, cannot also be merely objects or possessions to lust for, overpower, abuse, or degrade. They also cannot be merely images to use for self-gratification and they must not be considered inferior or valuable for only some things. For a man to recognize a woman as an image-bearer, he will never attempt to empty her of personality, heart, mind, or soul. Instead, he sees each one as created by God, in God’s image, to bring God glory. It is through this lens that we should view all people and we believe that all men should honor, respect, and champion God’s image within women.
Secondly, we believe that abuse in any form, whether physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual, is a sin, and using one’s stature physically or positionally to abuse others is an affront to God’s created order and must not be tolerated, protected, or hidden, especially in the church. The Church, and Bedrock in particular, must be willing to recognize, protect, and advocate for those who are being abused within our society. In the case of women in abusive relationships, it is never our role to protect abusers or shield them from embarrassment. Abuse in any form must be exposed, brought to light, and in cases of physical and sexual abuse, brought to justice.
Finally, we recognize that “being pro-marriage doesn’t mean that the church must therefore be weak on abuse. God is not more concerned about the institution of marriage than he is the individuals in the marriage.”* And because God is passionate about both, His church should be as well. We would say to any woman who finds herself in an abusive relationship or marriage, that you have every right to and must, seek safety and protection from that abuse; even if that means physically separating from that relationship to do so. The church, while condemning the sin of abuse must also realize the painful and difficult process that can often follow women who seek to remove themselves from an abusive relationship. In acknowledging this pain, we must be willing to walk alongside, help, and support, these women, to bring them to places of provision, safety, and security. In the kingdom of God there is no place for abuse, misogyny, or marginalization of anyone created in God’s image. Even though we live in a world where these things are too often the case, we believe that in Jesus Christ and in His Kingdom, there is hope, peace, grace, love, and service, and these qualities should define those who are in His Kingdom, both male and female.