Vol. 1, No. 3 November 1998
Convention Ignoring Domestic Violence
by Barbara Sessions, Chairperson of the Love County Task Force on Child Abuse PreventionDomestic violence experts are saying that the recent pronouncement from the SBC that women should "submit" to their partners plays into the hands of abusers. They are puzzled as to why Convention leaders would not have examined the public record on violence against women before choosing to make an interpretation that leaves women in a diminished position in marriage and life.
"For women of strong faith who come here to the Shelter, its quite common for them to think the Bible requires them to submit to anything their husband does to them. Now abusers will be able to say, the SBC says thats the way you should think. Its real frustrating," said Jean Ann Sprouse, director of the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma for Victims of Domestic Violence in Ardmore.
Violence against girls and women is pervasive. The Justice Department estimates that 25-33% of girls and women are sexually abused or raped by the age of 24.
According to national statistics on domestic violence, physical abuse by male partners is the single most common source of injury among women, more common than car accidents, muggings or rapes combined.
Some 2.8 million women are abused annually by their partners (95% of abusers are men), and witnessing violence in the family is the most important variable associated with a child becoming a future aggressor or future victim.
Over 50% of all rapes are to adolescents, the majority of them "date rape," perpetrated by men who hold rigid views of gender roles and are jealous, possessive and controlling.
According to Bob Reynolds, a former Texas police chief who counsels hundreds of convicted wife abusers in north Texas each year, "100% of the men I counsel believe religion is on their side. They claim the Bible allows them to treat their wife and children as property."
According to Reynolds, the verses most often quoted are in Ephesians, the same verses interpreted by the SBC amendment on the family.
"The proclamation gives license to males who use the Bible as a means to control their partners. It undermines what all domestic violence programs attempt to do, and that is to empower women and girls and give them a sense of equality in their intimate relations," said Sprouse.
The SBCs action on the family amendment indicates that it is not yet ready to find women worthy of full personhood in moral and spiritual matters, nor to attend to their sufferings.
Editor's Note: This article appeared in the Marietta Monitor on July 3, 1998. Afterwards, Mrs. Sessions pastor advised her that she and her husband would no longer be permitted to occupy any role of lay leadership within her church. Recently, her request to be elected a messenger or alternate to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma was denied.
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