Safe Harbor is a local nonprofit here in the upstate of South Carolina, dedicated to helping victims of domestic abuse in a variety of ways.
Until recently, those “ways” didn’t include a whole lot of interaction with evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Until recently, when a person coming out of abuse wanted to find a conservative church that was safe, a conservative church that understood or at least wanted to understand, Safe Harbor didn’t have much to offer in the way of recommendations.
I was privileged to be part of a team that included pastors, counselors, and domestic abuse survivors, to form a CARE covenant (Commitments, Affirmations, Responses, and Education) that conservative churches can sign. By signing, they’ll acknowledge that domestic abuse (which is defined in the covenant) is a real problem, and that marriage gives no permission for one partner to manipulate and control the other.
Churches who sign the CARE covenant will actually commit to preaching against domestic abuse, in order to help people in their congregations know what it is, know that it’s wrong, and know that they can safely report abuse to the church leaders, who will deal with it as a sin. Churches who sign the CARE covenant are committed to put the safety and needs of the victim above the institution of marriage. Churches who sign it are committing to getting educated about abuse and best practices.
Churches who sign this CARE covenant will commit to taking reports of any form of abuse seriously, and will “refrain from pressure for quick forgiveness and reconciliation.”
Do you see how significant this is for the conservative Christian community of the upstate of South Carolina?
Almost seven years ago I told a friend I hoped I could one day somehow be a part of bringing a greater understanding of domestic abuse to the Christian community. Participation in the development of this covenant has been not only a privilege for me, but even an answer to prayer.
I applaud Safe Harbor, a nonreligious organization, for wanting to reach out to the conservative church community and work with them in bringing training directly to them about this crucial issue. I applaud any churches that sign this covenant and commit to the training.
This is a huge step toward caring for ones who so often have not even been allowed a voice, toward showing justice and mercy as God has called us to do.
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
Maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
Deliver them from the hand of the wicked.