Domestic Violence In the Church – Pastor Rob Mann

“I refuse to use a set of wedding vows that talks about obey. I refuse. I just won’t do it!”

"The work we did on that found there was just as much domestic violence within the church as there was on the outside.”

"Now if you read the Scriptures, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in all of Scripture does it say wives obey your husbands. It says ‘children obey your parents’, but it never, ever, ever says ‘wives obey your husbands’,” Rob declared.

This is Rob Mann, 30 plus years a pastor and now chaplain for Vision Christian Media, who said the misuse of that Scripture comes out of Ephesians 5:22 where it says, ‘Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

'Abusers occasional church-goers'

The issue of domestic violence in churches has surfaced after an ABC News and 7.30 Report investigation into domestic violence and religion.

The research reportedly shows the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelicals who attend church sporadically in contrast to men who are regular church goers.

Of course church leaders say they abhor abuse of any kind. The critics are blaming the church saying it’s failing to address the issue. They’re saying the church both enables it and conceals it.

'Domestic abuse'

Chaplain Rob Mann, who admits it’s a difficult subject, believes the terminology domestic violence should be changed to domestic abuse.

“It sometimes comes out as physical violence but there’s an awful lot of abuse that takes place that doesn’t manifest itself as physical violence,”

Rob stated, saying it can be just as damaging.

“Also there are men abused by women and women abused by men, but the violence issue by a massive majority is men abusing their wives.”

‘Not In My Church!’

Rob gave an example. He said he was involved in the production of a CD Rom a number of years ago authorised by a group of Queensland churches.

“It was called ‘Not In My Church!’ The fact is the work we did on that found there was just as much domestic violence within the church as there was on the outside,” Rob informed.

20Twenty host Neil Johnson mentioned the fact that physical abuses in most cases are visible whereas other forms of abuse, such as psychological and emotional abuse, withholding finances for example, are not.

'Bible justifies control?'

“It’s like a slavery for some people who are in these things,” Neil commented, saying one of the criticisms is that some Christians will use the Bible to justify control over their spouse.

Rob said the outworking of violence is rooted in the whole issue of control.

“It comes back to this misuse of Scriptures where it talks about wives obeying their husbands.”

'Nowhere! Nowhere! Nowhere!'

"Now if you read the Scriptures, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in all of Scripture does it say wives obey your husbands. It says ‘children obey your parents’, but it never, ever, ever says ‘wives obey your husbands’,” Rob declared.

“It says wives submit to your husbands. There is a difference."

“The word ‘submit’ has a Latin basis. The mit part comes from mitto meaning ‘I send or I put’ and the prefix sub means ‘under’. So it talks about putting or sending yourself under somebody else,” Rob said, before giving the Greek meaning of submit.

'I will cover your back'

“The Greek word for submit is hupotasso. That word has two derivations. One military and one household serving.”

“The military derivation comes from the idea ‘I will stand with you back to back and I will cover your back. I will help to defend you in times of attack. You can count on me to be a co-defender with you.’”

“The household serving derivation comes from the idea that I’m here to make sure you’ve got what you need to get where you want to go,” Rob explained saying the misuse of that Scripture comes out of Ephesians 5:22 where it says, ‘Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

'You can count on me'

But Rob said that was a specific application to a general principle in verse 21 that says ‘submit to one another’ out of reverence for Christ.

“So what it’s saying, and I define submission as a voluntary choice of alignment; ‘I willingly take my place alongside of you. So in times of attack when we‘re facing opposition, you can count on me to stand with you and help defend you.’”

Pastor Rob Mann then mentioned there’s a whole aspect that husbands are required to submit themselves to their wives as well.

'My wife is smarter than me'

In short, wives and husbands submit to one another. Rob addressed the subject at a personal level.

“My wife is smarter than me in a whole lot of areas and much better. What kind of fool would I be not to submit myself to her wisdom in areas where she’s wiser and smarter than I am?” Rob confessed, saying it would be stupid of him if he didn’t submit to her wisdom.

“The other thing is the Scriptures are written in a patriarchal male dominated society.

'The man is responsible'

He said for a couple who are going through a decision-making process and if a decision can’t be made, that’s where God, and whether you like it or not, our society, holds the man responsible for the outcome of what happens in that home.”

“And if he’s held responsible why should he not be the person who makes the final decision?”

Rob said apologetically, adding a disclaimer that if he sounds male dominant, he’s not.

“My wife makes a lot of the decisions in my family.”

'To love and obey?’

“We come to agreements on things. Where a decision has to be made and you can’t reach an agreement someone has to make a decision,” Rob said.

Neil brought up the issue of wedding vows and how people react to the ‘love and obey’ in the traditional church sense with its perception that wives are to obey their husbands.

Again it shrieks of this idea of control and the abuse of power that one feels that one might have.

'I refuse! I just won’t do it!'

Rob Mann’s a pastor who marries people and he had a confession to make.

“I refuse to use a set of wedding vows that talks about obey. I refuse! I just won’t do it!”

Rob referred back to the passage in Ephesians quoting the one verse re ‘wives submit’ followed by a number of verses about what the husband’s supposed to do.

“In that it talks about how Christ gave Himself for the church and laid down His life and died for the church.”

'Abusers were abused'

“There’s a whole lot of controlling and not enough dying being done.”

“Men need to grab hold of this and begin to understand. But a lot of it (abuse) comes from the damage that has been done to men as well,” Rob remarked, citing men who’ve either seen examples of abuse or who have been abused themselves.

“They often say abusers were abused. We need to somehow find a strategy to reverse that historical trend towards that kind of thinking,” Rob shared, but he said there are many men in our society who don’t want to be accountable to anybody.

'Immune to the truth'

“They don’t want the church applying accountability measures to their lives. And by attending church sporadically they’re inoculated with just enough of the Word to be able to twist it around and make them dangerous.”

Rob said they become immune to the true work of the truth which would change their lives and make them accountable.

As for church leaders going into homes to challenge a perpetrator of domestic abuse, and in some cases, being shown the door.

“It’s an accountability issue as much as anything and I think we could better train and prepare our pastors and ministers in those kind of roles to work in those situations.”


Footnote:

Family and domestic violence support services:

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