Monday, September 15, 2014

Pastorgraphs: “Women and Children, First”


E-Vangel Newsletter
September 15, 2014

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center

“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205
Pastorgraphs: “Women and Children, First”

To say women are the “weaker gender” is probably offensive to at least half the population. Rightfully so. While women may generally (but not always) lack physical strength compared to men, they make up for in inner strength, fortitude and perseverance.

Rather than “weaker”, perhaps we should say “vulnerable”. Women and children are generally more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

We have been reminded of that here in the North Park community of San Diego. Someone has been attacking women as they walk alone in North Park for the past three months. Even after police arrested a suspect last week, they warned women to continue taking precautions, as there may have been more than one attacker.

Last week was not a good one for the NFL. Between the graphic video of a player knocking out his fiancé cold and the disturbing charges of another player physically abusing his own child, the matter of abuse of women and children dominated the public conversation. It’s about time.
But it is not new.
  • Moses proclaimed, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” (Exodus 22:22-23).
  • Isaiah the prophet said long ago, “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” (Isaiah 1:17)
  • In the New Testament, James echoed the same message: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27).
In Biblical times, both married and unmarried women and widows had few if any rights. No one in history has done more than Jesus to elevate the rights, roles and opportunities of women and children.

This is a spiritual issue, and it is time clergy make it a priority. I don’t hear many sermons on violence and abuse against women and children. There are two exceptions.

At The Summit in Washington, Sojourner’s allotted a large portion of the agenda to the role of the faith community in dealing with spousal and sexual abuse. It was alarming to hear that the FIRST person most women turn to when they have experienced violence is their clergy – WHO ARE WOEFULLY UNTRAINED AND UNPREPARED to offer counsel. Studies show clergy often make it worse, by saying, “I know he really didn’t mean it. Just try to work it out.” Often an abused woman has nowhere else to go, and often returns to face more violence and even death.

It’s time clergy get trained, congregations get involved, and houses of worship become safe havens for women and children in distress.

I am grateful we have several organizations at Christ Ministry Center who are addressing endangered women’s issues: especially Waters of Jordan, Dress for Success and Coming Home women’s prison ministry. And don't forget AngelCare and our support of street orphans in Far East Russia.

But the best sermon on violence against women was delivered by James “JB” Brown before last Thursday night’s NFL game.
  
“Two years ago I challenged the NFL community and all men to seriously confront the problem of domestic violence, especially coming on the heels of the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. Yet, here we are again dealing with the same issue of violence against women.

Now let's be clear, this problem is bigger than football. There has been, appropriately so, intense and widespread outrage following the release of the video showing what happened inside the elevator at the casino. But wouldn't it be productive if this collective outrage, as my colleagues have said, could be channelled to truly hear and address the long-suffering cries for help by so many women? And as they said, do something about it? Like an on-going education of men about what healthy, respectful manhood is all about.

And it starts with how we view women. Our language is important. For instance, when a guy says, ‘you throw the ball like a girl' or ‘you're a little sissy,' it reflects an attitude that devalues women and attitudes will eventually manifest in some fashion. Women have been at the forefront in the domestic violence awareness and prevention arena.
And whether Janay Rice considers herself a victim or not, millions of women in this country are.

Consider this: According to domestic violence experts, more than three women per day lose their lives at the hands of their partners. That means that since the night of February 15th in Atlantic City more than 600 women have died.

So this is yet another call to men to stand up and take responsibility for their thoughts, their words, their deeds, and as Deion [Sanders] says, to give help or to get help, because our silence is deafening and deadly.” (Credit: NFL, CBS)

Amen, JB. Remember the old movies when the ship was sinking, someone would yell out “Women and children first”? They got priority seating in the life boats. It’s high time we put the safety and well-being of women and children’s first. As James Brown stated, “It starts with how we view women and children.”

In Christ’s Service,
Bill Jenkins

From The Quote Garden:
Remember, we all were all orphans before God. “Long before he (The Father) laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!)” 

The Message Translation.
~ The Apostle Paul, Ephesians 1:4-7

Photo Credit: Fotolia.com, royalty paid

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