The Church’s Contribution to Domestic Violence: Submission, Headship, and Patriarchy

  • Daphne Marsden
Part of the Religion and Radicalism book series (RERA)


In this chapter, Daphne Marsden considers conservative Christian understandings of gender roles and relationships, and the way that these are rooted in biblically based teachings on male headship and female submission. Evaluating both complementarian and egalitarian understandings of Christian gender roles, she explores the use of certain biblical texts by evangelical Christians to validate patriarchal patterns of male hegemony, thereby justifying spousal violence and preventing abused women from seeking or receiving support. Interspersed throughout her discussion are the testimonies of Christian women impacted by gender violence, whose words illustrate first-hand some of the consequences that arise from conservative Christian teachings about gender roles. They also serve as a reminder that the lives of real people can be impacted significantly by theological and biblical debates around these teachings. Marsden’s chapter ends with some practical guidance on what churches can do to begin tackling spousal violence and the patriarchal ideologies that underpin it.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daphne Marsden
    • 1
  1. 1.Project Esther TrustChristchurchNew Zealand

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