Summary: Domestic Violence is the Family’s Bermuda Triangle.
One of the things about the planet earth is that she contains many interesting and mysterious places. One such place is the Bermuda Triangle.
The Bermuda Triangle is an area of the Atlantic Ocean that is bordered by the island of Bermuda on the north, the island of Puerto Rico on the south, and the city of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on the west. It is a place into which ships, planes, and the people have vanished. It is one the earth’s mysterious places and spaces.
There have been many theories as to why this patch of earth has created such tragedy. Some say that there are magnetic currents that create problems with compasses and other navigational instruments that create confusion for pilots and captains. Others have suggested that human error is to blame for the loss of life in this area.
This image of the Bermuda triangle came to mind as I prepared for this week’s message. A message that I believe is the most difficult one that I have ever preached because it deals with what I call the family’s Bermuda Triangle: Domestic Violence.
This month is Domestic Violence awareness month and this Sunday has been designated Domestic Violence Awareness Sunday by the Noble County Domestic Violence Task Force of which I am a member. And so, in remembrance of victims’ - women and men as well as children, I prayerfully and carefully address this very serious social and spiritual issue.
I call Domestic Violence the family’s Bermuda Triangle because it has sucked families into a no-return zone of fear, rage, abuse of all kinds, and even death. This is not God’s will for spouses, parents, children, and families.
This dollhouse, used during this month by our county’s domestic violence task force to raise awareness, has some very sobering statistics attached to it.
1. In the year 2000, there were 251 domestic battery cases filed here in Noble County.
2. In the fiscal year, 2000-2001, there were 41 deaths due to domestic violence in the state of Indiana.
3. In 70% of the households in which wife abuse by men occurred child abuse also occurred.
Very sobering statistics, aren’t they?
I have had a hard time putting thoughts for today into words because the very mention of the term Domestic Violence creates a variety of emotional responses from uneasiness, to uncertainty, to anger. It has also been hard because there is a lot of denial about this issue within the church of Jesus Christ as a whole.
Al Miles, a fellow Church of God pastor and author of the book, Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know, illustrates the challenge of breaking through the denial of this very serious issue in a story in which he recalls the responses to an article on men’s violence that he wrote for religion section of the Honolulu Advertiser. Al says, "male clergy reacted with the most hostility" to the article calling him, among other things, "heretic," "lesbian lover," "male basher," and "troublemaker."
But what is domestic violence? From the Stuben County, Indiana Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence Protocol come this definition:
Domestic Violence is defined as a pattern of coercive, manipulative behavior used for the purpose of gaining power and/or control over an intimate partner. It is a learned behavior. It is not a single incident. It is not anger based.
I want us to turn to the book of Ephesians this morning to chapter 5 and verse 21. I am going to read from verse 21 to chapter 6 verse 4. Then I am going to make four suggestions based on this and other passages to help us start understanding this terribly tragic and wrong societal Bermuda Triangle.
(READ THE PASSAGE)
Suggestion number 1. "Admit there is a problem." A few weeks ago in Wednesday night Bible study we visited the story of David and Bathsheba.
David had an affair with Bathsheba while her husband, Uriah, was with the Israelite army. He then tried to cover up both the affair and the subsequent pregnancy from the affair by first bringing Uriah home in the hope that he would act in a way that made it appear that he got her pregnant. When that failed, he had Uriah placed at the front line where it was highly likely he would be killed. And he was.
Well a year passes. Bathsheba is now David’s wife. But, the prophet Nathan comes to David, as we read in the opening verses of 2 Samuel 12, and tells a story about two men, one rich, one poor, and the one sheep owned by the poor man that is stolen and slaughtered by the rich man. This story, which is really a story about David and Uriah, infuriates David and he demands justice to be done to the rich man.