Domestic and family violence is defined as actions that involve violent, harmful, abusive or intimidating
behaviour carried out by a partner, carer or family member to control or dominate another family
member. This may include physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, or other types of abuse.
Domestic and family violence can use someone’s personal faith and church involvement, including
misquoting and misusing biblical texts.
God is opposed to abuse and violence in marriage and in the family. He particularly warns husbands to
be considerate to their wives and treat them with respect (Ephesians 5:28–30; 1 Peter 3:7). The model
of love in the Bible is Jesus’ suffering for others, the very opposite of abuse.
Any attempt to use the Bible’s teaching as a pretext for abuse or oppression is a distortion of its
message. The Bible’s teaching that a wife should submit to her husband is not a basis for a husband to
force submission or to seek to control his wife or to dominate her or cause her to fear. Similarly, the
authority of parents over children gives them a responsibility to love and protect and gives no basis for
abuse or violence. Acts of domestic violence and abuse are heinous sins.
Humans are prone to distort God’s good ways into evil, and this can happen with the Bible’s teaching
on marriage. Churches, ministers and elders and other leaders should actively teach against domestic
and family violence.
Ministers, elders and church leaders involved in pastoral care should be alert for signs of domestic and
family violence. They should do all they can to protect those who are harmed by it, including children
living in a family system impacted by it.
A Session should identify to the congregation several people, including women, whom members could
approach for pastoral care and support if they are facing domestic and family violence.
When a minister, elder or church leader is aware of domestic and family violence within a church family
they should follow the guidelines Breaking the Silence. The Conduct Protocol Unit should be notified
of any concerns about possible domestic and family violence in the church community.



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