rev-dr-walter-t-richardson_web.jpgAnyone who knows me well knows that one of my favorite colors is purple. Purple has a special, almost sacred place in nature: lavender, orchid, lilac and violet flowers are often delicate and considered precious. A purple room can boost a child's imagination or an artist's creativity.

Purple was the favorite color of Egypt's Cleopatra.  Purple has been traditionally associated with royalty in many cultures. Purple robes were and are still worn by royalty and people of authority or high rank, even in the church. The Purple Heart is a U.S. military decoration given to soldiers wounded in battle. I love purple.

The Color Purple is also the title of one of my favorite novels and movies. In the movie, Celie and Sofia, the main characters, go through life having a hard time noticing the beautiful aspects and appreciating them. Celie had a difficult life and was abused as an adolescent. In the movie, the color purple is continually equated with suffering and pain. The character “Mister” has battered, bruised, and broken Celie. And Sofia's swollen, beaten, further darkened face is described as the color of "eggplant.”  Purple is even the color of Celie's private parts: the site of her sexual violation. 

And purple is the color of the ribbon worn, especially during October, to represent domestic violence aware-ness. During October, there is much attention given to breast cancer and pink ribbons are seen everywhere. But purple ribbons ought to be as noticeable, because there are more victims of domestic violence than there are of breast cancer.

Since the rise of the women’s anti-violence movement in America in the 1960s, the true horror of domestic violence has begun to be looked at in earnest. Before that time, it was considered a “private affair.”  No one wanted to get involved in a “domestic” affair, so to speak. Even the police in Britain, before that time, had a policy of non-interference, even though domestic violence was deemed a crime since 1891. Indeed, up until 1861, it was still “…legal to beat your wife before dusk, after which it might disturb the neighbors.” Christians and ministers, though, need to view domestic violence as more than a crime and label it as it is – sin.

Domestic violence is equivalent to “brokenness.” Broken bones (physical abuse), broken spirits (emotional abuse), broken truths (misinterpretation of bible passages on the roles of men and women in society, church, and the home), and broken communication (verbal abuse) are evident in many problematic domestic relationships. Women and men are abused daily and these abuses need to be reported immediately.

It is time for the Church to face the issues of domestic violence in the Church and not brush it all under the carpet. If we continue to do this, we may find ourselves constantly tripping over the lump that is left. The issue is hardly likely to go away, but we can at least expose it as totally unacceptable beh-avior in Christians.

Perhaps by exposing it, we can make a difference in the lives of so many people, particularly women. With God’s help, we can alleviate their suffering and perhaps deflect the violence from others in the future.