As published in The Christian Post:
Thirty-six years ago, as a newly minted minister, I encountered domestic violence through a gut-wrenching experience. A woman in the church, where I served as a youth pastor, came to my office in desperation. (The senior pastor wasn’t in.) She had a black eye and badly bruised face. “My husband did it,” she said. “And he threatened to kill me as he waved his gun in front of my face.”
I had never been in a situation like it before and it really rattled me. I called the police, but didn’t really know what to do beyond that. Over time, I would learn that it wouldn’t be my last encounter with such a victim in my profession.
When it comes to gun violence against women, the United States is the most dangerous country in the developed world. Each year, women in our nation suffer from 5.3 million incidents of intimate partner violence, and every month fifty women are shot and killed by intimate partners — a husband, boyfriend, or an ex.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in our country. It’s a month that honors individuals who have battled with this evil, support those who are still in the throes of domestic abuse and seeks to prevent future cases of domestic violence throughout our nation. It’s a month every evangelical church and pastor should observe — and not just in October. As ministers, we’re kidding ourselves if we think there is no violence going on in the households represented in our sanctuaries. Statistically—and sadly—it is.
There are also guns in the homes of many of our congregants. Some pastors will know what it’s like to have been called to a home where anger has elevated to rage – and firearms are tempting the perpetrator from the very next room. Put domestic abuse and firearms together and it means a woman is five times more likely to die in a violent encounter. Five times anything is not just a little greater chance, but an exponentially greater chance. Needless to say, fatal domestic violence is inextricably tied up with the presence of a firearm.