07.28.14

What Stephen A. Smith Missed About Domestic Violence

When your job is to talk and you talk as much and as bombastically as Stephen A. Smith, you’re bound to say some things that get you into trouble. Usually Smith doesn’t care one bit. But last Friday the ESPN commentator made some comments about domestic violence that has him back pedaling and trying to explain himself.

For context, Ray Rice, a running back for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, received a two-game suspension in connection with a hotel video that shows him dragging his unconscious girlfriend from an elevator. The woman in question and the authorities reporting to the scene allege Rice knocked her out on the elevator. Following review of the video, the Ravens issued Rice’s suspension. Smith’s comments come in the wake of the suspension.

What did Smith say? To be fair, Smith got some things correct. He was unequivocal in repeatedly saying men “have no business putting [their] hands on a woman.” He expressed empathy and a protective concern for the women in his life—his mother, sisters and others. He suggested that a two-game suspension was not severe enough.

So why did the internet erupt last Friday following Smith’s comments? Why were his comments described as a “rant” and Smith himself as going “off the rails”? (see here) Well, it’s not because Smith was actually ranting. Anyone familiar with ESPN’s First Take can identity a Stephen A. Smith rant—he does it all the time. And we’ve seen Smith nearly come undone. But this was Smith delivering a sober and, for Smith, measured reply. He was serious and, from what I can tell, intended to send a message about the complete inappropriateness of men battering women.

The controversy stems from Smith’s comments about women needing to take measures to not provoke abuse or put themselves in situations with potential to end in abuse. Rambling and searching for words, Smith said:

“What I’ve tried to implore the female members of my family, some of whom you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this is what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that doesn’t happen.”

That’s one daddy of a run-on sentence, full of asides and qualifications, so it’s difficult to interpret precisely what Smith means. But here’s my best guess. He’s attempting to say three things, I think:

  1. He’s always encouraged the women of his family not to “provoke wrong actions” from men (i.e., abusive actions).
  2. If a man abuses a woman, then the response of law enforcement and family members will always be after the fact, that is, too late to prevent the abuse.
  3. So, he believes women should do “their part in making sure” abuse ‘doesn’t happen.’”

I think Smith means well. I really do. Yet I think he demonstrates some dangerous ignorance regarding the nature and dynamics of domestic abuse.

Stephen A. Smith plans to make more clarifying comments on today’s edition of First Take. Here are four things I think he missed the first time, and that I hope shape his comments this time:

  1. We cannot qualify the basic message.

Had Smith simply stopped with his opening statement—men “have no business putting [their] hands on a woman”—period—end of sentence—then he would have delivered a clear, unmistakable, and most necessary message. That message got lost because there are no acceptable qualifiers for it. It stands alone. It should be shouted repeatedly into a culture among professional athletes that all-too-often turns the blind eye to gladiator men smashing around beautiful women.

But any time you add a qualifier like “women should do what we can to prevent abuse,” you shift responsibility from the abuser to the abused. You blame the victim. Rather than focus on the perpetrator of the crime—and that’s what battering is!—you saddle the already entrapped, manipulated and hurting woman with responsibility for herself and for the one beating her.

  1. Domestic abuse is not a “women’s issue.” It’s a men’s issue.

I wrote about this a little while back (see here and here). It’s related to the blame-shifting mentioned above. The battering of women and children would decrease dramatically if (a) men owned this as our problem and (b) those men who do not batter would hold accountable the men who do. But too often we speak of domestic violence in terms that leave men blameless. We say, “Debbie was beaten” rather than “Joe beats Debbie.” In the first sentence, our usual way of speaking, “Joe” doesn’t even appear in the picture. And that’s the major problem. The abuser vanishes in the shadows while good men stand by quietly and women are left with “the problem.”

  1. Men must prevent domestic violence.

Smith rightly calls for prevention. We need to do everything we can to prevent abuse. But the “we” who needs to do something is men—not women. So many people seem to forget or know very little about battered women’s syndrome. When we’re ignorant of even the most basic description and dynamics we end up doing things devastatingly harmful for the women and children who experience it. Taking five minutes to read the Wikipedia entry would be a very helpful first step in educating ourselves for prevention. Men must prevent domestic violence because the women and children trapped in the repeated cycles of abuse-reconciliation-blame-abuse-reconciliation are overwhelmed with the grooming and abuse much the way war veterans with PTSD are overwhelmed with the effects of war.

  1. Putting women in abusive situations will cost someone their life.

Asking women to take preventative measures while involved with an abuser costs too many people their lives. Women make up about 75 percent of persons killed by an intimate partner. But sometimes the victim is the male perpetrator when women take desperate measures to defend themselves, another effect of battered women’s syndrome. We can’t afford to be uninformed about the global problem of men battering women—especially if our comments are as high-profile as Smith’s.

GSS_Domestic_Violence1

Lessons for the Local Church

As I thought about Smith’s comments over the weekend, my mind went quickly to my role and the role of Christian men in our churches. Let’s not forget that many of the battered women in our communities are in our churches, worshipping alongside us, pretending everything is okay, hiding brutal bruises, and making excuses for their abusers. Sometimes the abusers are husbands who are also involved in our churches. And, worst of all, sometimes the abuser is a church leader.

Domestic violence shelters can no longer be the only safe places for abused women and children. The safest place should be the family of God.

But it’s not. And our churches won’t be safe until we get in the fight on behalf of our sisters. Churches aren’t safe because Christians pretend blindness, remain ignorant, and sometimes provide disastrous counsel. How many times have we heard leaders and Christians tell an abused woman “God hates divorce” or some such thing? How often have church leaders made women the villains when men were abusers? How often have women be ostracized or shunned while men continued their service in the church?

We’ve got work to do, brothers. It’s time for godly Christian men to make domestic abuse and intimate partner violence a men’s issue. It’s time pastors preach and teach on this issue in an uncompromising, courageous and visionary way (here’s an example). It’s time we end our complicit silence and speak up for our sisters. We’ve asked women to support black men in a thousand ways for hundreds of years. But truth be told, men haven’t even begun to return the love, support, protection and hope women have given us! We’ve taken their support and turned our backs when and where our sisters have needed us most. We need to repent. We need to call a moratorium on all our “save the black man” activities until we show some strength in saving, protecting and nurturing some black women!

Personally, I can’t blame Black women for debating whether they should continue marching and protesting in support of Black male causes. I pray the debate (see here, here, here for example) leads to some necessary repentance and action among us brothers. The Lord knows that when guys are knocking women out in hotel elevators and worse in private homes, our sisters need us to step up for them. May He give us strength to do so.

Thabiti Anyabwile
Thabiti Anyabwile serves as a pastor of Anacostia River Church (Washington DC). He is the happy husband of Kristie and the adoring father of two daughters and one son. Holler at him on Twitter: @ThabitiAnyabwil

C’mon Up!

  • Russel

    You can’t have it both ways. You just can’t have it both ways. If you are saying that whenever a man strikes a woman that is a case of battery I can not disagree more. Women strike. Women hit. Women throw things. They even do it in elevators with rappers. I’m against anyone male or FEMALE striking someone else. Keep your hands to yourself. I am a 41 year old, Christian man that is the father of 3. (2 sons and 1 daughter). I have friends who have been stabbed
    and shot by females because they lived by the asinine code never hit a female.

    I have hit my wife. I am not proud of that. The difference is I am not ashamed of
    it either. I am ashamed it came to that however. Early in our relationship she had an uncontrollable temper and she would strike me. I took it for 5 months and then I warned her stop hitting me. After months of asking, both of us talking to her mother and father, both of us talking to the police and even her pastor she wouldn’t stop. Until I hit her back. It stopped then. We have kept our hands to
    ourselves for the last 19 years now. We calmly can talk about having an ought against one another now.

    Ideally, a man should never hit a woman. Ideally women should never hit men. But
    in reality women are sinners. Some of them are physically abusive sinners. You just can not have it both ways. I don’t think Stephen A. Smith articulated his position well. However, from hearing him speak on that subject more than once I agree with his intent last week even though his content was lacking.

    Where I disagree with you Pastor is domestic violence IS NOT JUST A MALE ISSUE. This younger generation of women can be very volatile. I currently teach on a university campus and involved in student counseling. Docile young black,
    white, and latino men are being struck and they have learned to accept it
    because they saw their fathers struck. By proportion and effects male
    abusive is generally worse however, female domestic violence towards men is on
    the rise.

    http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic-violence-men-abused-by-women.htm

    http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/men-the-overlooked-victims-of-domestic-violence/

    Pastor, trust me, it is a two way street. Even though more
    traffic flows on one side. Everyone needs to keep their hands to themselves.

    • Thabiti

      Dear Russell,

      Thanks for joining us on the porch and for this very important conversation. Let me start with two points of agreement:

      1. Of course, everyone should keep their hands to themselves. It isn’t any more permissible for a woman to batter a man than a man a woman.

      2. I, too, am saddened to hear that you and your wife had this painful part to your past.

      But let me add two important points:

      1. The number of men abused by women is incomparably small compared to the number of men abused by women. It’s not even in the same stratosphere, though both are equally wrong. Though men are battered, too, the vast majority of cases involve men abusing women. We don’t want to miss the heart of the issue by countering with the exceptions to the rule. We want to eliminate the majority and minority situations. We do that not by advocating “eye for an eye” but by getting the abused out of those relationships either altogether or until there’s substantive change in the abuser.

      2. We don’t want to generalize from our personal situations to all other situations. For example, we don’t want to take your 5 months of difficulties 19 years ago and argue that not battering is an “ideal,” as if it’s unattainable or unrealistic. The vast majority of couples do not experience abuse. So not battering is the norm and it is reachable. We have to be careful how we generalize from our experience–especially when it differs so dramatically from the experiences of others.

      So, we’re agreed. “Everyone needs to keep their hands to themselves.” And, if possible, that includes choosing to leave the relationship or getting help to leave rather than retaliating with our hands.

      “Never hit a female” is not an “asinine code.” It’s a code real men with self-control live by.

      Grace to you,
      Thabiti

      • Casey

        Where did you get your numbers for male abuse victims? How have you accounted for the culture that does not take men’s claims of abuse seriously? What role should the church play in helping men deal with abuse? Is it possible that this “Real Man” culture is exacerbating the lack of male reporting?

        • Thabiti

          Hi Casey,

          1. Sources for Statistics:

          Here’s a fact sheet from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf. They’re using statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Justice, and CDC. So these are government-tracked crime reporting statistics by and large.

          2. Men’s Claims:

          The point of the post isn’t the battering of men. So I haven’t really accounted for their under-reporting at all. But truth be told, both men and women under-report. It’s the nature of abuse and the dynamics of abusive relationships.

          3. Church role:

          Same role they would play with women dealing with abuse.

          4. “Real man” culture:

          Possibly. In much the same way that “submissive woman” culture contributes to under-reporting.

          My basic response to you Casey is you’re shifting the conversation from the abuse of women–which was the immediate context of Smith’s comments and this post–to the abuse of men. You’re moving the discussion from the larger problem (statistically) to the smaller in a way that takes attention from the larger problem. If you were simply adding abuse of men to the equation then I wouldn’t have any problem at all. But the “national discussion” of domestic violence has far too long shifted the conversation away from women or blamed women or just neglected abused women altogether. We’re not going to do that in this thread.

          And here’s one more reason why: It’s a classic tactic of abusive men themselves. Let be clear: I’m not saying you are an abusive man. I’m saying I’m not going to allow abusive men who may read this thread any room to justify themselves or hide out behind comments that unintentionally shift the focus.

          In this post we’re talking about men who abuse women, and I’m saying we need a zero tolerance approach to it as men. We need zero tolerance for any woman who abuses a man, too. But trying to shift the conversation there rather than expanding it is to repeat Smith’s mistake.

          Grace and peace,
          T-

          • Casey

            I better understand your viewpoint. It makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.

            Peace

      • russel

        Good afternoon,

        I apologize for not addressing you first. It was rude.
        Thanks for your patience.

        Allow me to reiterate what I said. “It is a two way street. Even though more traffic flows on one side.” If my giving specific examples came across as me countering with the exceptions, I apologize. I was attempting to do what you yourself just advocated in your response.

        “We want to eliminate the majority and minority situations. We do that not by advocating “eye for an
        eye” but by getting the abused out of those relationships either altogether or until there’s substantive change in the abuser.”

        Again if my giving a specific example appeared to be generalizing the discussion that was not my intention. I didn’t realize I did that. However, to ward off such an allegation I did include those websites. I didn’t realize I said those things and if that is how I came across then, I apologize and thank you for your correction.

        Allow me to further clarify myself because I believe we are
        speaking from two different contexts (if I am wrong please let me know). When I spoke of “ideally” I am speaking from
        the context of living in world post . I want to emphatically assert my experience is not the norm and neither is domestic violence the norm. However, a world post with no such occurrences is ideal to the Lord returns. My saying “ideal” does not
        mean individually unattainable but it does mean universally unattainable.
        I am rereading your article and I just notice I responded to
        something you didn’t say. You stated “It’s
        time for godly Christian men to make domestic abuse and intimate partner violence a men’s issue”.

        Upon my first reading, I thought your statement was “domestic
        abuse and intimate partner violence is a man’s issue”. Part of my response was to something I thought you said and that you didn’t. That’s a “me” problem. And I apologize for muddying the waters with my lack of clarity.

        Since I misread your post and I wrongly responded to nuances
        or perceptions, allow me to emphasize issues:

        Any man who physically abusing or battering is WRONG!!! No ifs, ands or buts about it.

        Overwhelmingly women are the victims of the two way street. As I said before, the majority of that traffic flows one direction.

        Here is where we more than likely still disagree. According to your statistics (which are debatable) “women make up about 75 percent of persons killed by an intimate partner”. That would mean males make up 25 percent. That is large percentage
        pastor. Large. Now you went on to say that some of those men
        died by women using self defense, which I don’t disagree with you about but I don’t have statistics on how many times that is the case.

        From the context of docile men who are physically abused I made the assertion “never hitting a woman is asinine”. By your statistics some of those “real men” with “self control” are dead.We don’t need specific examples or generalities on this issue. Everyone can agree one person dying at the hands of someone they are in a domestic relationship is enough. On this point………. we just disagree. I am a 7th degree black belt and I teach my students, if a man stabs you or a woman stabs you: you’re stabbed. So please defend yourself. I am not advocating knocking someone into next week and I would guess you are not advocating if in that position stand and be a punching bag (but I maybe wrong you would have to clarify that).

        Yes! There are preventive measures that can be taken.
        Yes!! Women are the weaker vessel.
        Yes!!! Churches, Pastors, Elders and Deacons should stand up be more proactive in regards to this issue.

        Now allow me to apologize again.
        1. I did not respond to the purpose of the post.
        2. I misread the post.
        3. I did not speak with clarity.

        Sorry.

        Even though we disagree I appreciate the time you took to
        point those things out.

        to you brother

        • Thabiti

          Hey brother,

          You’re always welcome on the porch and especially on important issues like this. You don’t need to apologize for anything. I wasn’t offended and didn’t take you to be attacking me personally. Perhaps I responded to curtly. I’m sorry for that. But you don’t owe me any apology. We’re good.

          As for the content of your response here, I really don’t think we’re far apart as well. I certainly believe every person has a right to defend themselves–male or female. I don’t mean to imply that a man in an abusive incident needs to just take it. He needs to protect himself in a manner proportional to the situation as best he can. But the goal in such situations is self-defense and disarming, not simple retaliating in an eye for an eye way.

          I don’t think we’re that far apart. You’re calling for attention to be given to men who face abuse as well. That’s important. I support that. I just don’t want it to overshadow the far larger occurrence of men battering women.

          Grateful for you, bro. Grace and peace,
          T-

  • Casey

    Pastor,

    I have never hit my wife. I am a large man over 240 lbs whereas she is around 110. I am very aware that it would be destructive to put my hands on her. She has however struck me. If a man 110 threw a punch at me there is no doubt that he would be handily dismantled. When the story was told of the fight his friends would chide him for making the foolish mistake of taking on a foe he couldn’t possibly hope to take down. I wholeheartedly agree men shouldn’t hit women, but your stats on domestic violence are woefully skewed. I would suggest you talk to the men of your congregation and ask how many have been hit by women in their lifetime, then do the same with your women population. You will find that men don’t report abuse because “REAL” men don’t get hit right! Perhaps we should stop basing masculinity on a man’s ability to endure suffering and abuse. We cannot take up for women’s causes by tearing men down. Domestic violence is a sin issue not a men’s issue. If we value women let’s treat them as equals and hold them just as accountable for their violence. Violence is wrong period. Let’s not qualify and say men’s violence is worse. Sin is still sin weather you are XY or XX

    • Thabiti

      Hi Casey,

      Thanks for stopping by to talk about this important issue.

      First, the post is about women who are abused because I’m responding to the specific comments Smith made last Friday. I don’t doubt that some men are abused as well, though they are a significant minority in the total number of cases. If we want to make sure we’re advocating for such men along with women, I’m totally cool with that. But we cannot shift the conversation entirely. There’s no need to pit these two things against each other. Rather, we should stand together to end all forms of domestic/intimate partner violence.

      Second, I’m glad you’ve never hit your wife. I pray you can reach the end of a long life still saying the same. But I think saying “she has however struck me”, which sounds like you’re describing a single incident rather than a pattern of abuse, is two mix apples and oranges. A single incident is as impermissible as a pattern. But a pattern of abuse-reconciliation-abuse is a far nastier thing and ought not be compared to an otherwise healthy couple suffering an incident where one is stricken. I trust you see the difference, and I may not be reading your reference correctly. But please don’t make the mistake of comparing an incident with an abusive relationship. The two are nowhere near the same and much damage has been done because too many haven’t educated themselves about the difference.

      Third, finally, I’m not aware of any place in this post where I “take up for women’s causes by tearing men down.” Quite the opposite. I’ve called men to step up. You’re correct: domestic violence is a sin. But it’s a sin men commit against women in far, far greater numbers than women commit against men. That’s why it’s a men’s issue–men are doing it by and large. We need to get our house in order, not excuse those who do abuse, and work with some knowledgeable zeal to end abuse.

      Thanks for joining us on the porch. Much grace, love and peace to you,
      Thabiti

  • george canady

    Two weeks ago the senior deacon of our church missed Wednesday night church. It was very unlike him. I found out that he had been at the hospital with his son, who had been at a club on Saturday night and got hit from behind. On Sunday my deacon friend asked us to pray for his sons’ salvation and informed us that he will continue to warn us and him to stay out of those places and away from those people.

  • danhill09

    Pastor Thabiti,

    I appreciate your thoughts on the situation especially that last section in which you charged pastors and church leaders to end the silence. Throughout my life I have been shocked and appalled by the sheer number of people I’ve met who have been abused, men and women included. Yet it’s almost as if we expect the victims to go, seek out counseling on their own, and heal themselves. This stands, as you pointed out, in the face of the statistics which clearly state that victims won’t do this regardless of their age.

    I think one of my problems with Stephen A’s statement was that walking away seemed to not be an option. I have had many experiences in the past few years where a male friend or roommate has done something which has offended or made me upset, a few times to the point of seeing red (the later most notably in response to the joys of racial slurs). But in those moments, physically retaliating is not an option no the table. The onus is never on someone else to control my actions. It’s called self control for a reason. So what does this mean? Well at times it’s caused me to leave restaurants and pay for food that I haven’t tasted yet. Other times it’s sitting outside until a cab arrives or walking home. But my point is that there are multiple options on the table.

    My question then is, as a pastor, how would you encourage this dialogue and move towards a solution? How can we as leaders within the church protect our sisters and mature our brothers? What does this look like? I’m no statistician, but if 1 out of every 4 women has experienced domestic violence this is undoubtedly is a problem that is present within the body of Christ as well.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Per usual they were helpful.

    • Thabiti

      Hey brother,

      Great questions and comments. Thanks for joining the discussion! We need your voice!

      As for moving toward dialogue and solutions, I don’t have the magic key. But here are a few quick thoughts for pastors and leaders:

      1. Educate ourselves and our congregations. There’s tons of fact sheets and referral sites that we should get up to speed with. We need to know what’s available locally and know something about their quality/effectiveness. And we can make that information available in church bulletins, bookstores, literature tables, etc. Put it out where folks can get it easily and even anonymously.

      2. Preach. Every place the Bible mentions “love” is a legitimate place to make application to domestic violence, the opposite of love. Do a series on the issue. Make application as you exposit a book of scripture. Read the scripture with a small group of women in the congregation, asking them to help you see how the text might apply to “women’s issues” from their perspective. I’ll bet you women read Sarah and Abraham, Abigail and Nabal, David and Bathsheba, or the woman at the well with really different insights. That insight can enrich our preaching and care for sisters in the body.

      3. Forums. I included a link in the post to a news story on Concord Dallas and some high-profile attention they brought to this issue in Dallas. I think Brian’s leadership there was exemplary. Host a forum or town hall on the issue. Invite the community, including representatives of shelters and women’s organizations. End the silence in the community.

      4. Stand up. Let me know that the church will take a zero-tolerance approach to domestic. Lead the leadership to understand that this is an issue that should receive discipline. Let men and women know that if anyone is suffering intimate partner violence they can depend on the leadership to stand with them, immediately get them physically out of the abusive situation, and provide every resource possible to rebuild their lives free from abuse. We gotta stand up and step in on this issue as church families.

      I’m sure there’s much more that needs to be done. But as church leaders, I hope these are good places to start. The Lord bless and keep you,
      T-

  • Georgetta Carvin

    This was a great article. I guess my concern with this issue is the then finance and now wife. I’m not sure what type of counseling she (they) received, but I think not only is there lessons for our local church for men, but our women’s ministry to come alongside women who are dating men that are abusive before they marry them. I don’t think I would have advised this woman to marry him until even though they already have a child together and was more than likely living together. Of course, I’m also not aware of their spiritual condition. Nevertheless, I believe that women must begin to see the need of such ministry inside the church and outside the church. There are several shelters where we can come alongside women and their children who have been abused.

  • QuiverFull

    I must admit when I first read the article written by Pastor T (An article that specifically deals with Stephen A’s comments) I was moved to react and respond the way some have. I am a man that comes from a relationship where my wife thought it was necessary to put her hands on me. It became a norm at one point. This went on for years, despite the warnings of many older sisters in the church.
    And so when I read the article I was offended and upset with Pastor T for seemingly making this issue “A Man’s Issue” as if it is the only issue manifested in any form of abuse. Yet I used the word seemingly because that is not what he was attempting to do.
    As I read it again I had to remove my experience and feelings, and read the article for what it is.
    Brothers on the Porch, we all would agree that domestic abuse in any form is a terrible thing, that affects the lives of many people. It can and does manifest itself in ways where both sexes are the victim at times. Yet this truth does not and should not move us to elevate one to the degrading of the other.
    Pastor T, thank you for your words, for so often times we can experience something that would move us to erase, or disregard a clear and present danger.

    As an old man told me this morning as I was discussing this article with him, he said “young brother I know what you are feeling, yet do not let those men who are abusing their wives hide behind the brothers who are being abused by their wives, These brothers need to be exposed and challenged for their actions.”
    So the call is given to the church, defend our women, their safety and lives Not in efforts to erase their shortcomings but in an effort to have all sin exposed and challenged. The adversary would have it that my experience with my wife would serve to silence me on an issue that is out of control. If I have felt the sting of my wife’s anger thorough the vehicle of physical violence, I shall not and will not keep quiet when women are forced to endure the same treatment.
    Much Love Brothers
    QF

  • Lawrence Robinson

    I don’t know if missed those things at all. I think he really acknowledged those things, but he felt like the responsibility is shared a bit more than we would like to believe. He did not condone Rice actions at all and felt that Rice should be held accountable. I think people are taking the “If you weren’t wearing such provocative clothes you would not have gotten raped” excuse and applying it to domestic violence. He clearly talks about using restraint because people can be provoked into doing things. I think Smith would agree with all of your points but in the 2:17 sound byte had had he wanted to make another point which is a point well taken and that is it is possible for a man to provoked.

    • Thabiti

      Brother Lawrence,

      I pray you’re well today. Thanks for climbing up on the porch, bro!

      I don’t think this is a matter of over-extended the “If you weren’t wearing such provocative clothes you would not have gotten raped” excuse. This is that. It’s exactly the same thing.

      Now, I sincerely don’t believe Smith intended it to hit people that way. I think he genuinely cares for women and was attempting to give a kind of pastoral word to women. But he completely failed to realize that that line of reasoning (a) is exactly how abusers reason and (b) no “provocation” ever justifies the kinds of beatings that women suffer from abusers. Just tour some of the emergency room photos online: http://askkissy.com/2014/02/26/face-of-domestic-violence-goes-viral-young-woman-shows-the-world-her-battered-face/. No “provocation” justifies this! Ever.

      It’s important that we not think about this issue as if it’s a matter of a few slaps and taps, or maybe somebody getting shoved and then it’s over. We’re not talking about these minor “scuffles” (which shouldn’t happen either). We’re talking about violence, brutal and damnable. There’s no “provocation” that justifies it.

      I think I track with what you’re saying. But I think Smith’s comments and defenses of his comments confuse the issue completely. And it proves he missed the opportunity with here almost ten minutes of comments on the issue.

      T-

  • Yolanda Solomon

    YES!!! Thank you so much for writing this.

  • bbnks

    Pastor Anyabwile,

    What are some practical ways Black men can support Black women on this issue? The church I attend is predominately Caucasian and there are not a lot of Black women in the area that I live in.

    • Thabiti

      Bro. bbnks,

      Thanks for joining the conversation, especially with a willingness to involve yourself. Here are a few things you might consider given your context:

      1. Pray. Be an active intercessor for black women, and indeed all women. Even though there aren’t many AA women in your context, you can still carry them to the Lord in prayer. God isn’t hindered by distance. He can and will parlay your prayers into blessing of mercy and love for the sisters.

      2. Read. Especially AA women authors. Get to know the issues from their perspective. I’m trying to get better at this myself. Our sisters bring their own set of experiences and insights that lie at the intersection of womanhood and ethnicity. That’s immensely valuable.

      3. Love. If you’re married or maybe pursuing a young woman, love them well. Be an example. One of my favorite quotes, I forget who said it, is: “The greatest gift a father can give his children is to let them see him love their mother.” One more cherished woman is one less abused woman and hopefully a light that gives hope to others looking on.

      4. Give. When you find a cause that supports women (i.e., breast cancer or other health issues, domestic violence prevention efforts, etc.) give your time and money to it. Show practical support by volunteering or writing that check. “Writing a check” gets a bad name sometimes. But many of these efforts could never happen without someone reaching deep and giving much.

      Just a few quick thoughts. I pray they help. Again, I’m grateful for your spirit, brother. Grace and peace to you!
      T-

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