The growing problem of domestic violence has come under profound scrutiny in recent months because the problem has surfaced quite often in the world of professional sports. Sports Illustrated, which has a great knack for solid journalism and good writing, has done some remarkably insightful reporting on the problem in several recent issues.
In the April 13, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated, in a column called “Say What?,” the magazine reports that Dallas radio broadcaster Tim Cowlishaw asked female Dallas Cowboys fans to call into his program to complain about the team’s signing of defensive end Greg Hardy. Hardy, a talented and needed defender, recently had charges of domestic violence against him dropped. Cowlishaw writes that, “We got [only] three callers, and [they were] fully in support of it [signing him].” Cowlishaw added, “Cowboys fans want to get that next victory more than they care about moral implications.”
Before you castigate sports in general, or even Dallas in particular, think about this again. Wide-scale cultural shifts are not created by sports but they are reflected within it because s[ports puts issues on the center stage of life as we know it in our broader society. The fact that a solid football player’s signing trumps domestic violence is not shocking to me once you realize that domestic violence is not alarming to most people. From what I have seen this includes many Christians who are offended by other sins that are easier to criticize and single out but take a pass on domestic abuse. I am quite certain that significant numbers of the perpetrators of domestic violence are present within our churches. Thus I would also guess many pastors and leaders are loathe to take a strong stand against this serious issue and many fail to deal with it aggressively when this response is called for in specific instances. (I know some great exceptions and have encouraged pastors in this work.) Sadly, I know churches that counsel women to put up with violence rather than abandon their abusive husband. Something is terribly wrong with this picture. Are we reflecting culture or shaping it?