Understanding Male Violence: Pastoral Care Issues

Book, 2003, 208 pp
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Our society is experiencing an epidemic of violence against women and children. Perhaps as many as a quarter of all children and a third of all women are victims of male violence. Yet the church remains largely silent on this issue, often enabling the perpetrator to continue such violence and abuse. Few pastors and pastoral counsellors are appropriately equipped to assist these victims and even fewer are prepared to deal with the perpetrators.

For the past fifteen years, James Newton Poling has been the leading theologian and pastoral counsellor dealing with issues of male violence, working with perpetrators and those recovering from the cycle of violence. In this book, he presents for the first time a full analysis of the problem of male violence and the range of strategies to respond to and prevent the violence. Poling proposes an understanding of male violence in the context of historical and social factors, including the complexities of racial and economic dynamics. He builds on his early work in theological ethics in order to show how pastors can respond to perpetrators and help them prevent their abusive behaviour.

Poling calls us all to resist violence and to participate in the work of bringing about a just world that moves beyond the epidemic patterns of domestic and sexual violence. He challenges us to hear the many silenced voices and to tell the truth about these painful issues. He grapples with the dilemma of forgiveness that often jeopardizes the most vulnerable members of our communities. Poling calls on the church to become involved through their practices and preaching in proclaiming the wrongness of abuse and violence and the need for justice, help, and care. Through sample sermons, worship services, and other resources for ministry, he encourages the church to preach, worship, witness, and counsel in ways that heal the violence in our midst.

"Not content with mere description or theological rumination, Poling presses on to understand the causes and the ways to prevent and limit violence. This volume unit[es] theological and ethical debate with lived practice, attending to race, gender, ethnicity, and class, and providing clear, concise guidance for preaching, liturgy, and pastoral care." -- Bonnie Miller-McLemore, Vanderbilt University

Poling includes gender, race, class and cultural analyses as he looks at male violence through the lenses of theology, scripture, ethics, sociology, and psychology. He allows the voices of survivors, perpetrators, and ministers to speak through his work. The ultimate point of these thorough analyses is the enrichment of pastoral practise--especially preaching, worship, and pastoral care." -- Christie Cozad Neuger, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

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