Some temptations are stronger than others. This is particularly true when it comes to a temptation towards worldliness, which often has many layers to it. Sometimes it’s just as simple as a desire to fit in with the world rather than the Church. Other times, however, we get the sense that the world possesses solutions that we do not–that it can fix problems which God’s word prevents us from resolving. And sometimes, that problem is so emotionally compelling that it creates a desperation that screams “we’ve got to do something“, which in turn tempts many Christians to believe that we are actually morally obligated to discard God’s Word and embrace the sin of worldliness.
That’s the kind of perfect storm we encounter when it comes to the issue of domestic violence within the church. It’s the kind of problem that rightly begets a great deal of sympathy for the abused, for there are a lot of truly heinous situations out there. At the same time, domestic violence is framed primarily as a woman’s issue in our society (a questionable mindset despite its ubiquity,) the practical effect of which is to wrap it up very tightly with feminism–a fundamentally anti-biblical philosophy if ever there was one. So when the Church looks to the world for guidance on this issue, she inevitably imbibes a substantial amount of worldly philosophy that undermines Biblical teachings.
What makes it worse is that it’s extremely difficult to discuss and examine this situation critically because it is so emotionally charged. Anyone failing to toe the feminist line on domestic abuse is immediately accused of insensitivity at best and of being an abuser at worst. Because of this absurd level of pushback, too few Christians are willing to faithfully address the issue in any kind of critical depth.
That is why I’ve been extremely pleased to see Nathan Rinne tackling it over at Theology Like a Child.
It uses an official LCMS document on domestic abuse as its occasion, but the applicability is much broader than just Lutherans. I highly recommend reading the whole thing. I’m tempted to drop in some quotes, but Nathan has gone out of his way to be balanced & methodical and to avoid unnecessary offense; I don’t want to inadvertently work against that. But it deals with some big topics such as where divorce fits in with domestic abuse, whether the Duluth Model can be reconciled with Ephesians 5, and the relationship between feminism and radical Lutheranism.
You can (and should) read the entire thing here.