Violence against women and girls is a human rights problem that extends across the globe, and includes widespread rape as a tool of war, gender-selective abortions, female genital mutilation, sexual trafficking, disfigurement, and economic exploitation. In the United States one out of four women has experienced domestic violence and one out of six has experienced attempted or completed rape.
Some churches have increasingly recognized violence against women and children as a moral problem, and they have worked to raise awareness and funds to aid women around the globe. Aiding individual victims by providing referrals to shelters, access to financial resources, and raising awareness of the problem (particularly in October, domestic violence month), are a few initiatives offered by churches that are helpful, and they can make a difference for families.
Yet, there is potential for the church to have a far greater impact on the enormity of violence targeted at women and girls—what is most accurately termed gendercide—than these individual programs. Like Ruth Moon wrote previously for Her.meneutics, this issue is not another charity case, but one that has the potential to shift the orientation and framework of the church at large.
The violence we see around the world and in our own communities is ultimately rooted in misogyny, patriarchy, and the misuse of power. The church has growing ministries to respond to the resulting violence, but our most significant work will come when we address these underlying issues.
To do so, we start with the gospel and the theological orientation of the cross. As I write in The Cross and Gendercide:
The power of the cross crushes the idolatry of power that leads to the ...1
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