So many things happened in the week that touched me or raised concern, but none more than the plight of Hannah Baxter and her three children at the hands of her estranged husband. The only adjective I can think of is inadequate, but tragedy it is.
It takes me to my own childhood and living with a father who was violent with all of us, and who clearly believed that God had ordained him head of the house, and according to him Paul had underlined this in Ephesians. Needless to say, the church congregation of the day were unable or unwilling to help in any supportive way for our family, and the parish priest suggested that my mother really should look at pleasing my father more, that might end the problem he said. He also reinforced the "sin" of divorce should she have bothered to ask his advice. She didn't and why would she have? He was locked in his narrow theological world and was of no possible help to her, nor did her ever approach my father about his behaviour, that being necessary as my father held several positions in the parish.
My mother never left, in my view she had been thoroughly indoctrinated by the church to suck it up, and to appease my father, which never worked nor would have under any circumstances. It is important to acknowledge that she was also terrified of him, and this fear paralysed any thought of flight. Having survived it myself, I have always taken an interest in the matter.
The combined Australian number of recorded incidents of domestic violence (DV) for the period 2014 - 2016 was 264, 028. To me that is a staggering number, and they're just the recorded ones. The number of programs from the 1980s till today, the advent in the early 70s of women's refuges, the work recently by Rosie Batty, have not been able to gain full traction in the community, mostly because they have suffered short term fad funding by state and federal government funding.
By far the greatest issue is dealing with male identity and culture. There is so much in terms of psychology around male behaviour, but in the most basic sense, the idea that women and children are the property of husband or partner has to be deconstructed. Where is that being taught, who are the role models least helpful, what role does the media play, and for us, what role does the church play? So little seems to have happened in spite of all the awareness raising and funded programs over the past forty years.
Elements within denominations still teach "headship theology" today which is a flawed teaching, that the male is to be over the female in all relationships, family or institutions.The dogma of headship is based mainly on 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5. These texts are used by neo-calvinists to teach that there is a hierarchy in the trinity, which then must lead to human hierarchies. There is a significant difference between the theology of the Old Testament and the New. In Exodus 6 and 18, Numbers 7 and 25, the Patriarchs are referred to family and tribal heads (Rosh). But in the New Testament, head (κεφαλη) is in reference to Jesus, and not to human headship as male leadership or male superior authority. It is very clear to me that the matter of "headship" has been hijacked and misappropriated from scripture. The church, I believe, has a responsibility to deconstruct this aberrant teaching and the probable deleterious effect it has on relationships.
In my view there is a lack of community and political will to face this issue, and even that we are going backwards on the matter. Women are still being murdered because they have taken the decision to protect their children and themselves and leave their relationships, and rightly so. But we ourselves need to engage seriously with this issue. What are you doing about it?