The appalling scene of violence on the suburban streets of Brisbane a couple of days ago has sent shockwaves across the nation. And rightly so.
We were confronted with a story that we hear all to often, that we see in statistics, but that we all too successfully keep away from our sensibilities. It is an uncomfortable truth.
Yet the scene of a burnt vehicle wrapped in tarpaulin was one that could not be denied, minimised, or avoided.
A father had set fire to his children and their mother. This was intimate partner and family violence in all its raw horror.
Just recently we’ve been reading through parts of the Sermon on the Mount in our lectionary readings, where Jesus sets a standard of behaviour way above the law; identifying that acts of violence are at the extreme end of a continuum that is grounded in pride and selfishness and the attempt to put oneself above or at distance from another; that these attitudes of the heart are at the core of the flaws in our nature.
Our western culture—in throwing out some standard norms—is also in the throes of finding new ways of dealing with intimacy and vulnerability–the key challenging elements in any fruitful relationship. Men, in particular, are struggling with the decline of those standard norms and the rebalancing of power in their intimate relationships.
Yet intimate partner violence affects us all. The incidence of intimate partner violence is consistent across the spectrum of intimate relationships.
While we, the church, are sideline voices in this whole-of-society problem, we can, and are doing something about it.
Last year, in this Synod, all the presbyteries hosted workshops for ministry agents and lay leaders on domestic violence awareness, led by staff of UnitingCare Queensland.
Queensland Churches Together also holds workshops for Christian leaders.
Critically, we have a responsibility in the way we conduct our relationships, both inside the church and in our wider community and the way we build our communities of faith so that people can speak of the reality of their life, with confidence they will be heard.
If you need to talk to someone, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Queensland Police Service on 000.