Complete Personhood

It can be easy to overlook the underlying issues that exist when considering the effects of Domestic Violence within the family. One issue that can be easily overlooked is how acts of Domestic Violence can affect the wellbeing of others. It may seem overly simplistic, but the simple things are often those most often overlooked.

As stated in other posts this month, the folks over at wisely share that “Domestic violence shows itself in a number of different forms, whether it’s punching, slapping, choking, or threatening, manipulating, yelling and many others.” They are absolutely correct when they state that such acts are never okay, but why?

I like to rely on the wisdom of others as a United Methodist minister and as a person. One document of living wisdom from the ecclesial world is the Book of Resolutions, which is a collection of non-binding statements which often express the ideals and sentiments of the church as gathered every quadrennium (except for 2020) since 1792. The process of holy conferencing has not always been perfect, but the theory behind acts of holy conferencing remains sound (in my opinion).

The 2016 Book of Resolutions is an imperfect document created by a people who believe in striving towards perfection. The principles of Holy Conferencing helped to create this imperfect document. Even imperfect, the imperfections of this work do not preclude it from holding wisdom. The 2016 Book of Resolutions states in the section on the family within “The Nurturing Community” in ¶161.II.B. :

“We believe the family to be the basic human community through which persons are nurtured and sustained in mutual love, responsibility, respect, and fidelity. We affirm the importance of loving parents for all children. We also understand the family as encompassing a wider range of options than that of the two-generational unit of parents and children (the nuclear family). We affirm shared responsibility for parenting where there are two parents and encourage social, economic, and religious efforts to maintain and strengthen relationships within families in order that every member may be assisted toward complete personhood.”

¶161.II.B. “The Nurturing Community, The Family” in The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2016

The final statement of that section speaks to a family that ideally helps each person to become whole in each part of their personhood. Although the facets of human life are philosophically debatable, the aim for families to help each person become whole in body, spirit, and soul is an admirable aim.

What happens when we take the people in that system and shatter the dynamics between the members? Can a person be whole in spirit and soul as their body is covered in bruises? Can a person have a truly healthy body when their spirit is domineered and diminished by another person who should be nurturing them?

It is very easy to stand in judgment over situations where there is domestic violence: Are people being too sensitive? Couldn’t that person just say something? Shouldn’t they just stand up for themselves? Isn’t that person just asking for it?

It is easy to dismiss domestic violence from the outside, but from the inside things may not be so easily dismissed. Why doesn’t the person with thirty pounds of muscle just walk away from the person hitting them? Maybe they are frightened, threatened, or intimidated. Even if we never know why such a situation exists, it is still important to stand up for the ideal that every person should be provided a chance to be a whole and complete person.

Wholeness looks different from person from person, but each person should have a chance to live into their own personhood. Just like with the Book of Resolutions, things may not be perfect yet, but today is a good day to begin to work towards a more perfect tomorrow.

October has been Domestic Violence Awareness month since it was first introduced by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1981. Regardless of the month, domestic violence is never okay, no matter the circumstances. If you or someone you know is in desperate need of help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

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