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Domestic Violence within the Hmong Community and the Response of the Church, part 1

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Fighting Words:[1]

The silence is deafening as the epidemic of domestic violence within the Hmong community continues to permeate at an alarming rate. Stories of brutality and murder-suicide flood the narrative which becomes anecdotal to the instability of marriage and, foundationally, the family unit. Consequently, these conclusions bolster the lack of development within our ethnic perimeters, and hinders progress toward communal fidelity. The shame-culture that undergirds the contextual framework perpetuates the pattern and allows for grievous deeds to linger while limited resources and accountability plague our communities. How does one address these devastating realities? What must the younger generations do to confront these travesties amid the hierarchal-cultural structure? How do we safeguard the next generation?


Though awareness is necessary, lasting change cannot be sustained by a sheer transfer of information. The deconstruction of cultural structures will not amount to anything if a reconstruction lacks any substantial transformation. As the Hmong people continue to assimilate toward the host culture, the embrace of individualism as well as a relativistic moral grid becomes detrimental to the fundamental search for change.

The Church—the Pillar and Buttress of Truth:


As the third and fourth generation moves toward individualism, how the church reconfigures the notion and significance of community will pay dividends in combating against the epidemic of domestic violence. Meaning, the establishment of the church—God’s covenantal people—has a grand opportunity to counteract the perversion that has infiltrated the institution of marriage (cf. Gen. 2:24; Prov. 31:10; Mk. 10:9; Rom. 12:10; Eph. 5:25-33).[2] The heralding of the Gospel not only brings about a salvific appeal (one that should not be minimized), but, also, inaugurates new affections which transform worldviews to temper perverse behavioral trends (cf. Rom. 1:5; 14:17; Eph. 4:1-2; 1 Jn. 3:8; Rev. 3:4-5).[3] The church, then, is not merely called toward sheer activism, but rather intentional engagement in discipling nations toward joyful obedience to Christ Jesus.


Discipling. What is needed amid such destructive times is not something new per se, but a grasp toward the divine mandate given to the church in making disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). The heralding of the Gospel, then, unites sin-ridden and guilt-laden rebels to the grace of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Meaning, the fuel for change is grounded, fundamentally, in the victory of Christ through the cross. Thus, the means to pursue and obtain transformation is mounted upon the crucifixion of our old-domestically-violent-self who has been raised to new life through the Spirit empowered resurrection (cf. Rom. 6:1-14). 


Therefore, discipleship is lovingly assisting persons toward Gospel saturated affections which are tethered to the renewing of the mind through the Word (cf. Rom. 12:2).[4] Meaning, the fundamental thrust of discipling is to "[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20a). This presupposes that our natural disposition—depraved and perverse creatures—are desperately in need of realignment. Realignment, in turn, assumes that the Creator God has designed the world to function and operate in accords with His created intent. Discipling, then, encompasses a redefinition of reality and the re-invigoration of heart-passions toward concepts like marriage and the complementary nature of roles as husbands and wives.[5]


Modeling the Mystery of Marriage. The household codes found within the epistle to the Ephesians is birthed out of a pure gaze into the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 5:22-6:9). Thus, the clear perspective on the kingdom will have an overwhelming impact upon the function and purpose of marriage in the life of believers (cf. Eph. 5:32). 


Moreover, the Gospel shapes how the regenerate believer will "walk" in the midst of a broken and crooked generation (cf. Eph. 2:2, 10; 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15). Concurrently, the church is called to live together in such a way as to safeguard against such perversions. The Apostle charges, "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members (mele) one of another" (Eph. 4:25). The Greek term mele which can be translated as member or limbs from a body, speaks to the covenantal body that Paul associates with as the people of God (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-31). 

The Little Things Make a Big Difference:


Though it is vital for the church to take notice of the rise in domestic violence, it will not suffice to merely make mention of such phenomenons. She is not called to engage in mere activism. To truly combat against the travesties of broken marriages, the church must take serious its biblical mandate in discipling young men and women to walk in the truth and vitality of the Gospel message. May our local church communities be lighthouses for young men and women to be nourished, challenged, and supported in the endeavor to live holy lives for the glory of God. Furthermore, the community of saints are not left to their own faculties in pursuing the mortification of sin. Rather, she has been sealed with the presence of Yahweh to combat against the dark forces of evil (cf. Eph. 1:13-14).[6] Through the in-breaking of the Holy Spirit, the church has been granted kingdom-resources to engage in the decaying war against sin. Let us, then, stand in the Gospel "[for] we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). Moreover, let the church embrace with joyful obedience the discipling of all nations for the good of His people and the glory of His Name. Soli Deo Gloria!

 

***footnotes***


[1] This article is adopted and modified with approval from http://mcyoungyang.blogspot.com/2020/04/domestic-violence-within-hmong.html.


[2] Dever rightly contends that the covenantal people of God, the church, "is a local collection of people committed to Christ, to regularly assemble and have His Word preached and obeyed, including Christ's commands to baptize and to celebrate the Lord's Supper." Therefore, the covenantal commitment to one another is fundamently built upon walking in the Gospel according to the apostolic witness of the New Testament. This, then, is the grounds for biblical accountability amid the institutional framing of the local church. See Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 157. See also Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 49-66.


[3] Michael Lawrence, Conversion: How God Creates A People (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 17-30.


[4] Mark Dever, Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 32.


[5] John Piper, "A Vision of Biblical Complementarity: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible," Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, 2nd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 31-59. See also Scott, Stuart. The Exemplary Husband: A Biblical Perspective, Revised Edition. Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2002. 


[6] See Packer, J. I. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005. 

 

McYoung Y. Yang (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; ThM, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the husband to Debbie and the father to McCayden (12), McCoy (10), McColsen (8), and DeYoung (5).  He is a Teaching Pastors at Covenant City Church in St. Paul, MN. McYoung is continuing his doctoral studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. His ambition is to use his training as a means to serve the local church in living life through the Gospel lens.


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