When is it ok to beat my girlfriend? If my boyfriend beats me, it means he loves me. If you buy your wife, you can treat her how you want. These are some actual thoughts on domestic abuse. Except it’s not called domestic abuse. It’s called tradition. Culture. Expectation. Love language. Hitting or beating a female can be seen as a sign of affection.
In teens’ club we spent a week discussing spousal abuse. In the Xhosa culture, men discipline their wives physically. It is culturally acceptable. It is normative. It is expected. One of the questions fueling the discussion was “Is our Xhosa heritage being changed by “Western” thought? Our ‘fathers’ (head of households) keep their women in line. Is that changing?”
This was hotly debated. It wasn’t only girls who were advocating a cultural shift, and it wasn’t only boys who were saying that men need to keep control of their wives.
When I (Kevin) had the chance to share from the Bible and my experience as a husband, I started by saying that I didn’t come to judge their culture, my culture or any other culture. I wasn’t commenting on anyone’s family. I wanted to find and share the heart of God. So, I told them that God is a God of relationship. He created male and female as equal image bearers. His plan is that a man and a woman will become one. It was a result of Adam and Eve’s choice to be independent that brought the consequence of the struggle for power in relationship.
Mutual submission is something that Paul encouraged, as well as sacrificial and giving love for each other. Dominating my wife and forcing her to do what I want is not following the example of Jesus. Doing to her what I would have others do to me is the golden rule that I can follow.
After sharing for 15 minutes one of the girls of club asked, “Then what is an acceptable punishment for a disobedient wife?” Cultural mindsets and lifelong observations don’t change because of one short talk. Only the Spirit of God can bring true change.