Methodist Conference adopts major report on domestic abuse

The Methodist Conference has adopted a report calling for moreaction to deal with domestic abuse. The Conference heard that eachweek two women in England and Wales are killed by a current orformer partner.

The report makes clear that domestic abuse is about as commonwithin the Church as within society as a whole: about 1 in 4 womenand 1 in 9 men report suffering abuse from a partner as an adult.Conference stood to make its vote as a sign of its commitment tostrive for justice and an end to abuse.

Margaret Sawyer, Secretary of the Methodist Women's Network, said'it has long been the case that churches view domestic abuse as aserious matter, and one in church terminology, we would call 'asin'. Abuse is sinful behaviour, and as such needs also to be heldwithin a framework of repentance, forgiveness and redemption.Repentance means that the abuser has to take full responsibilityfor their actions, and it means that abusers must understand thatthey still pose a risk to those who have been hurt.

'Forgiveness cannot erase the past, and as Christians we should notpretend that forgiveness is always easy. It may take a long timefor a victim of abuse to be able to forgive their abuser, so as aChurch we must not tell people that it is wrong if they don'timmediately forgive.'

We must also look at ways in which we can celebrate goodrelationships. The report gives a detailed overview of the biblicaland theological perspectives of domestic abuse that help usunderstand God's intention for equal and mutually lovingrelationships. Conference agreed that Methodist churches, circuitsand districts should circulate the report widely in order tosupport action, teaching and worship that highlights positive humanrelationships.