The statistics of domestic violence are frightening. The problem seems so enormous that it can be overwhelming. Yet as long as there is one woman or man in an abusive relationship, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, calls us to act justly. But what does “acting justly” really mean?
The story of Tamar in Genesis 38 can inspire and help. Tamar was a woman caught in an abusive relationship with her father-in-law, Judah, whom she was legally required to marry after her husband’s death. Faced with his abuse, she acts boldly. In the end, because of her bold action, Judah declares that Tamar is more righteous than he.
Of course, Tamar’s situation is not typical. Not every woman in an abusive situation can take such bold steps. The fear, pain, and shame of violence is often paralyzing. Her abuser will not proclaim her righteous. The boldness of Tamar is a call to action for those of us who feel like we can act. Talk to your church leaders about ways your congregation can become involved and act justly. If you or a woman you know is in trouble, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Consider showing the film, I Believe You: Faiths’ Response to Intimate Partner Violence, funded in part by Katie’s Fund.
This message is adapted from a devotion written by Heather McCulloch for Women of the ELCA in 1999.Today we remember Ansgar, Bishop of Hamburg, missionary to Denmark and Sweden, who died in 865.