on Male Violence Against Women, 1993
Mennonite Church USA
In February 1992 a group of men
from the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite
Church gathered in Colorado for a consultation. The clearly stated
focus was to have male church leaders confront the violence being
perpetrated against women. The experiences and leanings of that
weekend had a profound impact resulting in confession, repentance
and renewal for the participants. Following that event a call
has come for the Mennonite Church to adopt a statement on male
violence against women.
Too often in our biblical teaching
and practice, we have distorted the Genesis account to mean that
the curse was part of God's creation order. We must be clear--the
rule of man over woman is the result of sin. In Jesus, the redemption,
this curse has been lifted. Jesus restores the blessing and shows
how to live in the New Creation "like one who serves"
not as Gentiles who "lord it over." (Luke 22:25-26).
We believe that life is a gift
from God and that women and men are created equally in God's
image with inherent worth and dignity and entitled to the same
respect. The fall into sin has shattered God's intended mutuality
of women and men, distorting personal relationships and resulting
in dominance and violence of men against women. We believe that
the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has saved and transformed
us from these broken relationships and that Jesus calls us to
live in love and harmony with all (Genesis 1:27; 2:20-24; Galatians
3:28; Ephesians 5:21, 25-33).
However, we live in a society
whose structures imply men's power and superiority over women.
Within that system too many Mennonite fathers, husbands, employers
and even church leaders have used their power in oppressive and
violent ways. They have excluded women from opportunities, silenced
their ideas and protests, sexually harassed them and violently
We confess that we, women and
men, have by our silence consented to the system of male dominance
and to individual acts of abuse. We also confess that while we
have claimed to be a peace-loving people, we have not effectively
translated our theology into peaceful interpersonal relations
in our homes, churches and institutions.
We the delegates gathered at
Philadelphia 93 have heard the word of the brothers calling us
to acknowledge the sin of male violence against women. We are
aware that more work needs to be done on the broader expressions
of abuse. There is difference among us on the biblical interpretation
expressed in the preamble so we accept it as a challenge to further
study and dialogue.
Therefore as delegates we resolve:
1. to break the silence and admit
that there are Mennonite men who abuse women in various forms
such as verbal abuse, psychological control, sexual harassment,
battering wives and children, committing incest or rape;
2. to listen to, believe and
feel the pain of women who have been violently abused or sexually
harassed by men;
3. to declare that abuse is a
violation of the marriage covenant and that persons are free
to be sheltered from exposure to acts of violence while working
at the confrontation and healing processes.
4. to hold abusers accountable
for their actions, to call them to repentance, and to support
them toward healing.
5. to provide safety for abused
women and children;
6. to hold church agencies accountable
for dealing appropriately with abuse that occurs within their
7. to model, within our congregations,
alternative and counter-cultural ways of being male and female;
to practice parenting skills that help families learn how to
share power and resolve conflict peacefully;
8. to encourage study in our
congregations and church schools of issues of violence against
women. (Suggested resources include these materials prepared
by Mennonite Central Committee: The Purple packet: Wife Abuse;
Broken Boundaries: Child Sexual Abuse, and Crossing the boundary:
Sexual Abuse by Professionals. Lessons 9 and 10 on "Widening
the circle through care of victims and survivors" are in
the WMSC and Women in Mission resource packet 1991-92. See also
Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches, Herald Press
(March, 1993) by Carolyn Holderread Heggen.)
The Mennonite Church General Assembly approves
the statement "A Resolution on Male Violence Against Women,"
and calls on our conferences, congregations, schools, agencies
and individual members to test the biblical and theological assumptions
being made, to give serious attention to its message and full
its resolutions in a spirit of prayer and repentance.
Adopted by the Mennonite Church
General Assembly July 31, 1993, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Proceedings,
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