Bringing the church to its knees: evangelical Christianity, feminism, and domestic violence discourse



In evangelical Christian communities, there is a small but significant movement to address the issue of domestic violence through the integration of ‘biblical feminism’ and traditional interpretations of scripture. This paper explores the multiple uses of domestic violence discourse in evangelical churches, including how categories such as domestic violence and family abuse may be used as a discursive strategy in resisting less readily articulated female grievances. Based primarily on participant observation of the Christians Addressing Family Abuse (CAFA) conference, the authors describe key conflicts that emerged between feminist and evangelical Christian frameworks, and the role of counseling principles in mediating conflicting understandings of domestic violence. The analysis explains how domestic violence has emerged as a focal point for women in both resisting and accommodating to church doctrine. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.