Violence against women is receiving increased attention internationally. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently decried the rape of women in the Congo. But one doesn't need to visit a different country to uncover gender violence. Most people know someone who has suffered from sexual or physical abuse.
Unfortunately, religion is sometimes part of the problem. Scriptural verses in the Bible, the Koran, and other religious texts might imply that men are God-empowered to rule and limit the rights of women. There are even texts that are interpreted to justify beating women when they are disobedient.
Using religion as a weapon is a perverted view of divine justice. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, revised the view of a punishing, angry tribal deity. Jesus spoke of God as a merciful, loving Father who heals and saves. The God whom Jesus represented and worshiped is the God of divine Love, not physical lust.
Jesus taught respect for women. When he was traveling in a foreign country, Samaria, he spoke kindly to a woman drawing water from a well. Surprised by his respect, she continued the conversation, asking Jesus deep questions about God. He responded by saying, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Here was a genderless view of Deity. Jesus didn't refer to God as male or female but as divine Spirit, ever-present.
At this point, Jesus asked her to call her husband. This woman had had five husbands, and wasn't actually married to the man she was currently living with. But Jesus didn't reject her unconventional life. When she asked Him about the promised Savior or Messiah, Jesus revealed himself to her, a foreign woman, as the promised Christ.
When their conversation ended, she acted on what he had told her – sharing this good news with prominent men in her city. Had her fear of being ridiculed or abused been removed by the spiritual message of Jesus? Certainly the men respected her enough to investigate her claim that Jesus was the Savior. They discovered for themselves that the divine message or Christ was indeed embodied by Jesus. To me this indicates that they felt the saving and healing presence of divine Love for themselves (see John 4:30, 39–42).
Christ is present to heal and save each individual from imprisoning views of inferiority or from the degradation that may be associated with abuse or rape. Christ is the spiritual idea of God revealing to us our own spiritual nature. This higher identity saves us from being buried in hopeless physical circumstances. The moral and spiritual goodness that come from God cannot be contaminated or taken away. All the good qualities of God are qualities of woman and man, including strength, courage, confidence, wisdom.
When a woman is trapped in or threatened by personal violence, prayer for wisdom is a practical response. Divine wisdom doesn't rush from the smoke into the fire. Calmly and quietly, the woman of God strives to mentally silence fear by declaring the power of God and His supreme goodness. God is able to deliver and protect each of His children.
A friend told me that when she was a young girl she was attacked by a man. She was outside the village and no one was there to protect her from being raped. She silently called out to God for help. Just then the man became frightened and ran off. She was safe. She learned later that at that very moment, the man thought he saw and heard a troop of military cavalry riding down the road. There was no physical cavalry. But the power of God was manifested in a way that protected her.
Divine Love's merciful power will protect each one from violence or from violent impulses. God's love will change us, perhaps one person at a time, until the salvation and safety of Christ is witnessed throughout the world.