The problem of domestic abuse is often not dealt with well in churches. This book by Eryl Davies tackles the subject head-on.
If you want to avoid being disturbed, do not read this new book by Dr Eryl Davies. Its pages reveal a distressing reality which demands a personal and collective response.
What makes it even harder to read is that it tells the stories of the marriages of professed believers where the husband has abused his wife and the wife has abused her husband.
A cause of greater sadness is its record of marriages involving men in ministry that were characterised by brutality, harshness and sin, causing pain and damage to the wife, the husband and their children. The resulting separation and divorce has involved ongoing trauma, pain and sadness.
Through this book, Dr Davies has given a voice to those who are often unheard, and he asks church leaders and members to ensure that pastoral care is given in this complex area.
While the personal accounts featured in the text are harrowing, it is the third section of the book – Responding to Domestic Abuse Pastorally – which should be read even more carefully and worked through by church leaders.
We cannot afford to be naive as we wrestle with these issues; commitment to help will require wisdom, time, practical and spiritual support, and referral to specialist agencies.
Dr Davies highlights the role of women pastoral workers in churches (p166), the need for balanced biblical teaching on marriage, and the identification of the ‘flash points’ of respect, leadership and submission (p176-188).
No simplistic answers are provided. The issue of forgiveness and what that looks like, along with the implications, was helpfully raised (p 147), and the later chapter on divorce in such circumstances calls for careful thought.
There are areas to be discussed by church leaders, who would be wise to ask godly women to share in and contribute to their discussions. Women also must be brought in to ensure support to vulnerable women in these heartbreaking situations, helping church leaders who are seeking to provide pastoral oversight.
It is clear from reading the book that Dr Davies and his wife have helped people living through domestic abuse, and therefore felt the burden to write this book.
It is a temptation not to engage with those impacted by such sin and brokenness. As we seek to engage, we will do so with heavy hearts and tears. But we must be willing to provide kindness and help to those who suffer through such abuse, pointing to the grace, love and hope found in our Lord Jesus Christ, confident that God is able to be to his suffering people all that they need in such pain.
This publication is also a call to all husbands and wives to consider afresh the call to honour our Lord Jesus in marriage, so that Christian marriages truly reflect the relationship between the Lord Jesus and his bride, whom he treats as apple of his eye.
Hidden Evil: A Biblical and Pastoral Response to Domestic Abuse is written by Eryl Davies and published by Christian Focus.