Men, Women, and Alternate Realities

Growing up in a home with 2 sisters (and now 4), I learned early on in life how to be friends with girls. Throughout my early adulthood, I always had a mixture of close guy and girl friends. I thought this gave me a fairly good glimpse into the world of women. And then I got married. 

This is not one of those stories where a guy talks about how his wife is a mystery to him and thinks differently than he does. Instead, learning to see the world through Rachel’s eyes has forced me to recognize that men and women often live in alternate realities, especially when it comes to domestic violence.

I have been in numerous men’s groups and men only Bible studies and not once in the 20 years of these groups has a guy shared a story of being personally abused. (Though, stories of struggles with pornography are frequently shared, which is not often talked about among women.) Rachel has been in numerous women’s groups and in almost every one, someone in her group has shared a personal story of abuse from childhood, a previous relationship, or their current relationship. (This is not to say men do not experience abuse in their relationships. They do. But it is often minimized or ignored.) Men just don’t talk about this as much and women don’t often share these stories in mixed company. (I’ll let you come up with your own theories for why this might be.) Because of this, we men are often oblivious to the stories of violence and abuse in our midst or if we are suffering abuse we believe we are the only one.

That appears to have been the case for Gary Thomas, one of my favorite Christian authors, until he spoke at a women’s conference recently. He shares his reflections in a blog post entitled Enough is Enough. I highly encourage every man to read it. These are stories we need to hear. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. In a church our size, this means somewhere between 70 and 90 of us have experienced domestic violence in our lives. 

This is when I want to go on a rant about the injustice and horror of these numbers, but ranting doesn’t do much good. Offering space can. My desire is for our community to be a safe place for people no matter their past, no matter their struggles, no matter their burden. 

If you are experiencing domestic violence, we will listen. We will pray. We will believe you. We will not blame you. We will support you as you figure out how you want to move forward.

If you realize you are the one perpetuating violence, we will listen. We will pray. We will support you in counseling. But we will not condone or tolerate your sin. 

   © zion reformed church 2012