Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What We Can Do about Domestic Violence ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What We Can Do about Domestic Violence ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Article excerpt

One in four. One in three. Maybe half. Those are estimates of the proportion of men and women caught up in domestic violence - statistics I recently heard at a panel discussion presented by Harvard Divinity School ("Domestic Violence Panel: Awareness and Engagement in Faith and Non-Faith Communities," Nov. 30, 2006).

The federal Centers for Disease Control estimate that what they call "intimate partner violence" - physical, sexual, or psychological violence between spouses, former spouses, and other couples - affects some 32 million people in the United States. And that's not counting abuse of children and dependent elders - which adds up to huge numbers of people under attack within the very relationships that should be sources of nurturance, trust, comfort, and support.

I left that panel discussion feeling great compassion for the several survivors of abuse who had shared their stories. And I felt gratitude and admiration for all that each had done to redeem their experiences and to prevent others from suffering as they had.

But I also yearned to bring the teachings of Christ Jesus and Christian Science to bear on this difficult subject. When I was a child, my dad sometimes would ask, "What do you know for sure?" He meant it as a lighthearted way of asking about how my day was going. But more recently I've found it a useful framing question for complex and confusing issues like this very topic of "intimate partner violence."

So I asked myself, What do I know for sure? And here's what came to me:

* That Christ Jesus' demand that we love our neighbor as ourselves - one of the two "great commandments" he gave - is the gold standard in human relationships (see Matt. 22:35-40). Reaching that standard is not the work of a moment. But no one is undeserving of such unselfed love, or incapable of giving it. Whatever in our relationships falls short of this standard must ultimately fall away. …

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