A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Resources on headship, submission and family values

These are not newly published resources, but they have been newly added to our page What Headship and Submission Do Not Mean.

The first article is Headship with a Heart: How Biblical Patriarchy Actually Prevents Abuse, by Steven Tracy. An intriguing title, isn’t it?

The second article is The Culture Wars Over “Family Values”: Are Evangelicals Fighting the Wrong Battles in the Wrong Way and Losing Badly? also by Steven Tracy. It’s a pretty long PDF, so I’ve picked out some of the best parts and quoted them below; the emphasis by blue type is mine, not Steve Tracy’s.

p. 1     For the past three decades conservative evangelicals have been heavily involved in social and political debate regarding issues deemed critically relevant to the welfare of the traditional nuclear family, particularly abortion, homosexuality, religious freedom, and limited government. … many of us have been largely misguided in the family values culture war with respect to the choice of issues and the manner in which the “war” has been conducted. … a loving focus on justice and mercy for the oppressed and broken is the most effective and biblical approach to “family values.”

p. 14 …I am ashamedly confessional when I assert that many of us have been largely misguided in the family values culture war. I stand condemned by much of what I am about to say. I have spent all too many years smugly proud of my self-righteousness and pro-family theology, calling myself a Christian leader yet all the while failing to live like my savior whose “family values” methodology focused not on attacking broken sinners but attacking the self-righteous religious conservatives like me and embracing broken sinners in the most costly, risky manner imaginable. I confess that all too often I have looked at homosexuals, militant feminists, and even inner-city single mothers who live on welfare with disdain, and at times contempt. Surely my self-righteousness and disdain for sinners is one of the most anti-Christian and anti-family postures one could have. Furthermore, for all too many years, and all too often in the present, I have arrogantly condemned theological liberals for ignoring a few select biblical texts about sexuality while I myself ignored literally hundreds of biblical passages about justice and mercy for the oppressed and abused. I continue to struggle to take the commands of Scripture seriously and to love and sacrifice as I am commanded. So I confess that as I critique the religious right for their approach to “family values” and at times reflect deep frustration and even anger at their tactics and actions, my own failures are no less odious in God’s nostrils.

pp.16-17  Using the wrong moral template of holiness/righteousness instead of a template of justice and mercy has led to some glaring and damaging inconsistencies in our use of Scripture. … There are solid exegetical reasons for asserting that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for homosexual acts but biblical “sodomy” relates to social justice for the poor and oppressed as surely as it relates to homosexual practice. In fact, Sodom’s apathy toward the poor is the only sin expressly cited by the prophet Ezekiel: “this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy” (Ez 16:49). The Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah also links “sodomy” with mistreatment of the vulnerable for “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah” is what stimulated divine judgment (Gen 18:20, ESV). The Hebrew word used for “outcry” (za`áqat) “is a technical word for the cry of pain or the cry for help from those who are being oppressed or violated.”

p.18  Oppression of the poor is not on the conservative family values’ radar.

p.24  … because we often have a Pollyannaish view of the Christian home we underestimate the threat of hypocrisy, abuse, and oppression from within.

p.25   Finally, one of the greatest threats to genuine family values is abuse.

p.28  Effective “family values” ministry does not flow out of our strength, our perfect families, or our use of power. God works most powerfully through weak, common, and fragile believers who lay aside their rights and humbly serve others.


  1. Becky

    Hi, just wanted to let you know the second link above takes you to a page that requires a subscription to read the entire article. :-/

  2. Anonymous

    Becky, you beat me to it! How I got around that was to find articles by Steven Tracy on the “Mending the Soul” site, and you will find a similar article entitled “Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: Challenging Common Misconceptions”. It is a very well-cited, well-argued, persuasive and informative piece indeed. The title given above is rather intruguing, and strategically so. It draws proponents of both sides of the argument in, and presents its position rather convincingly I must say. Without sounding cliched, it is a “must-read”.

  3. Anonymous

    Oh, and I forgot to thank Barbara for the reference to the other article by Steven Tracy as well! Lately, every time I have received something in my inbox from a Christian friend about fighting for family values, something in me has cringed. I think Steven Tracy has articulated it very well. Maybe next time I receive one of those types of emails, I should respond by forwarding Steven Tracy’s article!

  4. debby

    Every day I am on this site, I find TREASURE. This was so convicting. (in a healthy, growing in Christ way, NOT in a self-bashing way). I feel like I am totally revamping the way I understand what it means to “live a Christian life.” I am almost overwhelmed with all the “new” I am learning, about my abusive marriage, about what it means to be a “Christian woman” what “submission” really means, what becoming like Jesus really looks like, etc. There is a tiny, tiny part of me that wants to go back to Egypt! I have a lot more patience and understanding for them now, that’s for sure. But I am also excited about finding out who I really am. I’ve never met the real me before!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Debby- Thank you. And we can all remember – there were only onions and garlic in Egypt! It stunk!

  5. Innoscent

    Just bringing to your attention that the 1st link above is invalid (404 Page Not Found).

    • twbtc

      Thanks, Innoscent, for letting us know. It has been fixed.

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