Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hey! But This Is Serious

When we pray for peace we often use the words, “peace among nations, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts.” It is a prayer that is, for many, associated with praying for an end to violence and war in the world. But there is that little phrase, “in our homes.”

Twenty years ago a man walked into Montreal's École Polytechnique and killed 14 women. No thoughtful and caring person could say that was alright. We would all agree that it was a horrible, tragic and unbelievably sad incident. But we need to also recognize that horrible, tragic and unbelievably sad acts of violence against women continue to happen around the world, in our society and in our homes.

The title of this article is taken from a line in a song by The Clash. The whole line is, “Hey! But this is serious; she can’t even go for a walk in the park at night.” The violence that continues to be perpetrated against women in our society inhibits their freedom, inhibits their ability to live their lives unencumbered by fear.

Several years ago I attended a conference on violence against women and all the participants were asked to make a commitment to do something regularly to help end the violence in our society directed at women and children. I made the commitment to not preside at any wedding ceremony without first speaking with the couple about violence “in our homes.” I also made the commitment to pray and to keep the issue before congregations I serve.

Today, I take it one step further. If you are a victim of violence, it can stop, come to the church for help and if we can’t help you directly we will find someone who can. If you are a perpetrator then STOP, and if you can’t stop, come to the church for help and if we can’t help you directly we will find someone who can.

Violence against women and children is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel we all claim to believe in. The violence has to end. Hey! But this is serious!

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