The Centrality of the Image of God
The dignity of women as one part of the image of God is inextricably tied to who God is.
Tamie Davis lives in Tanzania where her family partners with CMS Australia and Tanzania Fellowship of Evangelical Students. She is undertaking a PhD looking at the theology of a group of Tanzanian women.
‘So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them’
– Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
The Genesis 1 account of God’s creation of humankind contains these words:
‘So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them’ (1:27 NIV)
It’s striking that the image of God is not a ‘him’, but a ‘them’; it is together that male and female image God. This means that when we come to considering the image of God, we must pursue the flourishing of both parties under God, if God’s image is to be apparent. Furthermore, if one part of this partnership is diminished, it is God himself who is dishonoured. To abuse God’s images is to insult their Creator.
This means that when we come to consider domestic and family violence, the dignity of the abused carries significance for our witness to and worship of God. How can we claim to worship God while at the same time demeaning his image? We deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. We make a mockery of him if we seek to worship God without honouring women.
This issue of domestic and family violence is fundamentally theocentric; it cannot be otherwise, because the dignity of women as one part of the image of God is inextricably tied to who God is.
Let us not grieve him; let us not deface his image; let us not tarnish his glory.
How familiar are you with the idea that God is represented or ‘imaged’ by humanity? For you, how much does each of the two parties (men and women) figure in this?
In what ways does domestic and family violence warp or obscure the image of God?
In what ways have you seen the image of God come through more brightly and clearly through women being honoured?
God’s reputation is bound up in the dignity of women. Is this how you see it? How might God want to change the way you see things on this?
A prayer of thanksgiving:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, how amazing that you have made us in your image. We praise you for giving each of us dignity, value and purpose through that. We marvel that you are mindful of us, that you care for us (Psalm 8).
A prayer of repentance:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we grieve that we have not always recognised your image in the people you have made. We have let prejudice cloud our vision. We have not treated all people – men and women – as equally valuable, and we have not equally dignified them. We are sorry. We commit now to honouring each person, and you through them.
Understanding what the Bible says about faith issues that relate to domestic violence is a key step for any churches engaging in this area, read more at https://www.saferresource.org.au/the_bible_on_domestic_family_violence
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Every year, Common Grace’s Domestic and Family Violence Justice Team marks the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence with a series of daily reflections from 25th November – 10th December.
In the past, we’ve sketched out the basics of Domestic and Family Violence awareness – sharing statistics about the prevalence of abuse, characteristics of DFV, who is affected, and how.
This year, we’re changing focus to something foundational. We’re raising questions (and offering answers) on how cultures of violence are formed in our society and even our churches.
But, importantly, we’re also offering reflections, from church works and members, as well as experts, on how they can be changed.
If you’re interested in creating space for safety and healing in our churches, and our world, sign up to receive our daily reflections and prayer guide.
Together, let’s stand in solidarity with those affected by domestic and family violence – united for the common good, finding common ground and sharing in common grace.
Grace & Peace,
The Common Grace Team
The campaign will begin on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It will also coincide with the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign that, since 1991, has sought to galvanise action to end violence against girls and women around the world.
Why sign up?
As part of the 16 DAYS of prayer, you will receive daily emails from our team, with statistics, stories and prayer points, each regarding a different aspect of domestic & family violence’s wide-ranging impact. It will be a great way to get educated about what is happening in our world and to bring before God the cries of our hearts.
Why do Christians care?
Domestic & family violence has long been a private issue. When current statistics point towards one in six women having experienced domestic & family violence in Australia, we know that within churches there are both victims and perpetrators. How the church and Christians respond to them is crucial in seeing justice, healing and transformation. In some cases, churches have responded to domestic & family violence in wonderfully supportive ways for victims. However sadly there have been countless times when the church has let women and children down, and sometimes put them even more at risk through disbelief, minimising the victim’s experience, or staying silent.
This inadequate response must not continue. We believe that the first instinct of Christians must be a genuine compassion for those who have been harmed in our communities. We at Common Grace hope that we can support churches and faith communities to be equipped to be safe and affirming places for women to disclose abuse. Where justice will be sought, action will be taken and real support offered. Victims need to have confidence that they will be heard and believed. That domestic & family violence will not be excused, that victims will not be blamed.
Jesus always protects the vulnerable and exposes evil. We want to follow the example of Jesus: our model for equal, loving, and mutual human relationships.
We recognise that gender inequality lies at the heart of domestic & family violence. That violent attitudes and behaviours have their root in the same place – the abuse of power and control of one person over another.
In Australia one in three women experience physical violence in their lifetime. One in six Australian women experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner, and one in four experience emotional abuse from a partner. And these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg of the brutality and horror of this epidemic.
Common Grace also believes that governments have a major role to play and we will be doing more in the coming months to call the Australian government to urgent, well-resourced action.
Let’s stand in solidarity with those affected by domestic and family violence – united for the common good, together, finding common ground and sharing in common grace.
This was sent to JEDO from the team at Common Grace. Common Grace is a movement of Christians who are passionate about Jesus and justice. If you want to stay connected on social media can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
#RatifyILO190 is a central demand of this year’s Global 16 Days Campaign that aims to mobilize women, across movements, to collectively take action in advancing the ratification and implementation of the newly adopted ILO instruments: Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (C190) and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (R206).
A key goal of this year’s Global 16 Days Campaign is to influence a wave of ratifications for C190, which is an important first step towards the implementation of these standards at the national level. Here’s a brand new advocacy guide that has been developed specifically to support your efforts. The 2019 Global 16 Days Campaign Advocacy Guide explains why this campaign is needed and recommends specific actions that can be taken from November 25-December 10, 2019, to amplify the call for ratification and implementation of C190 and R206.
About 16 Days
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and used by activists around the world as an organizing strategy to call for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence. The core 16 Days campaign takes place every year between November 25 and December 10 and is run by more than 6,000 organizations in 187 countries. The 16 Days community organizes year-round, currently focused on ratification and implementation of the new ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 to end GBV in the world of work.
Learn more about 16 Days here.