DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHRISTMAS: IS THERE A LINK?
Violence against women went to a new level in my country this past week. It began with a terrible story last Saturday when an ex lover killed his child’s mother, wrapped her in a tarpaulin cover, and attempted to throw the body in a gully. And then fled the scene when he was accosted!
All week it continued. Young lovers; one just 18 years old! More mature ones. And then a mad man beheaded a 71 yr old foundation member of her church, two days ago. Have mercy!
During the week also, a videotape of the confession of the white, young man who murdered 9 folks in a historic black church in Charleston, was released.
And which revelations no doubt helped in the jury arriving at a conviction of ‘ guilty’. But also gave us an insight into the mind of a very evil individual!
So between Dylan Roof’s madness in Charleston, and the horrible week in Jamaica, is this what Christmas is all about!
The surprising answer is ‘ yes’. And not just Carlene Davis’ searching lyrical commentary, ” Santa Clause do you ever come to the ghetto”. Or another classic which speaks to the reveling now associated with the season ‘ I saw mummy kissing Santa’.
And of course the ‘ shop ’til you drop ‘ excitement, pushed by the merchants who in the view of some ‘ have hijacked Christmas’. Thus marginalising the The Christ child who ‘ is the reason for the season’, and the joy of family and friends gathering and sharing quality time together.
So, a tweet I sent out as I heard talk show host #EmilyShields and invited ‘ experts ‘ struggling to find answers to the madness of #ViolenceAgainstWomen on #RJRHOTLINE, and #djmiller on #RJRBTH a couple evenings before – claims of incompatibility after money spent by men on women, and a power game, with men believing that they ‘ own women’, emergered- provides an introduction
@emilymshields listening to the discussion #swimmingupstream. Violence against women part of a larger problem of Sin. Began with #TheFall
As the Doctrine of Christianity has four pillars.
Creation – when everything was declared by God to be good. In fact very good.
The Fall – when everything went bad, and mankind lost it’s special relationship with God as Sin, ‘ the right to myself ‘, entered the world. And so did death and all kinds of evil, including #ViolenceAgainstWomen
Redemption – when Christ’s death on Calvary, and Resurrection from the dead, made all things ‘ very good’, again, and reconciled us once again to an eternal relationship with our Creator. The Hope for all who repent and accept the free gift of Salvation.
Judgement- the ‘ second coming of Christ, when He shall come again as King to ‘ judge the living and the dead ‘.
In this context then, of the specific, real and present danger of #ViolenceAgainstWomen and the wider issue of Sin, I read this revelation, from Rev. Timothy Keller’s book:
” Encounters with Jesus” this week
THE WORD OF GOD
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Matthew 26:36-38 NIV
….Early Christian writers such as Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp, pointed to the poise with which Christians faced torture and death. One historian writes that this was one of the ways that Christian thinkers attempted to recommend their faith to the pagan population.
They argued that Christians suffered and died better than pagans. Christians went to the lions singing hymns…….
But Jesus Christ is facing death in a way that his followers did not. His face is not as radiant as the face of an angel. He is not calm nor poised nor at peace….
Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention ‘the cup’ as the heart of Jesus’ prayer that night……
In the Bible ‘ the cup ‘ further refers to God’s own judicial wrath on injustice and evil doing……’ the cup of his wrath…..the bowl of staggering.
The reason that Jesus Christ did not die gracefully as later Christian martyrs is because none of them were facing the cup.
When Jesus himself speaks of the cup ‘ let thus cup pass from me, but not my will but thy will be done’, it shows that He knows that He is facing not just physical torture and death, ; He is about to experience the full divine wrath on evil and sin of all humanity.
The judicial wrath of God is about to come down on him rather than us.
THE WORD OF GOD
Then, no doubt, to reveal further the extent if the awesomeness of the judicial wrath of God, early one morning this week, I was awakened to read this.
Because of thirst the infantʼs tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them.
Those who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those brought up in royal purple now lie on ash heaps.
The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her. …..
Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field.
With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed. ….
The Lord has given full vent to his wrath; he has poured out his fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations.
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the peoples of the world, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous.
Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked.
Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile. But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.
Lamentations 4:4-6, 9-13, 21-22 NIV
But thanks be to God, a God of mercy and compassion, in the midst of the Lamentations, a prophetic and encouraging Word, that has sustained a host of people in times of trouble, over the centuries.
” Because of the Lord ʼs great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord .
Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV
A Word which led me to reflect deeply, to give thanks, and to pray earnestly becuase of this love of God in Jesus Christ who on The Cross of Calvary bore my sins, and the sins of the whole world. Including those who engage in #ViolenceAgainstWomen. And so this wonderful hymn came to mind.
1.Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto
3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Refrain
The challenge for us at Christmas then is twofold. One is keep in mind always, that the only power that a child of God has to intervene in this world of evil and disobedience, comes from an acknowledgement that the Christchild died for the sins of all mankind. And with mighty power was raised from the dead!
So that ‘ Any man who is Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, and behold all things are made new’.
Therefore, men who beat and maim and kill women, do not only need to be resocialized, made sensitive to the fact that they don’t own partners, and become aware of the human rights of others. But rather to become ‘ new creatures’ in Christ Jesus, and thus be able to uphold, and teach their children by example, the Biblical principle of, ‘ becoming one flesh with her’.
For by those principles was the Jamaican society built, and even in stable common law relationships, as people ‘ feared the Lord’. And having eroded that base, by multiple methods – but all singimg the same sanke in America and in Jamaica, ‘ we don’t want God to rule us’ – we are now scrambling and searching for, and working with, ‘ broken cisterns that can hold no water’
May God have mercy on us, for the second challenge of the Christmas Story is that one fine day, Judgement will come. And those in Christ will go with Him in glory. And those without Him shall live in permanent separation from God, and bear the full extent of His Judicial wrath – the cup of sorrows.
Regardless of where you live, and who you know, how well you treat your partner, and how much you have enjoyed Christmas!