Forum Confronts Men's Issues
The Forum on Domestic Violence and Men’s Issues was held July 16–17 at the Upper Columbia Conference (UCC). The forum was sponsored by the UCC family life department to: discuss the causes, effects, intervention strategies and treatment for abused and abusive men; outline an educational program designed to help Christian men understand the dynamics of domestic violence from a male perspective; develop a mentoring program to help men maintain healthy relationships with others; and plan a men’s conference in conjunction with Being There, a women’s conference on domestic violence that will be held April 1–2, 2005, in Ohio.
The experience was exciting, yet some of us felt vulnerable because of the uncharted territory of abuse issues that are not normally explored when men come together. In our exploration of relational development, we recognized that these issues and other areas of our lives in need of healing and renewal must be addressed.
On Friday evening Steve Nelson, Hope For Survivors president, shared a devotional thought from the life of Joseph. Nelson emphasized that God is bigger than any tribulation in our lives.
The first presentation was given by Colin Dunbar on "Causes, Treatment and Intervention Strategies for Abused and Abusive Men." Dunbar pointed out that the church runs the risk of being irrelevant at times or failing to meet the needs of its members. We need to be more equipped to address addictive, irrational and dysfunctional behaviors; feelings of inadequacy and lack of self-worth; drug abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence; and more.
On Sabbath morning the forum continued with a devotional talk and prayer with Gerald Hudgens, the men’s facilitator for Polly’s Place in Seattle. He emphasized that in order for us to effect change, we must maintain a deep relationship with Jesus Christ and rejoice in service, for our ability to reach those in need is based upon the Lord working in us and not the work itself.
Keynote speaker Doug Ammon, Pacific Union College counseling center director, stated that Jesus demonstrated His love by spending most of His time healing. He went on to say that society has an erroneous belief system that affects our thinking toward the role of men and women, which in turn determines our thoughts, feelings and behavior.
The forum then separated into three groups to discuss the process needed to educate men to form healthy relationships. They discussed the five ways that men learn: apprenticeship/hands-on instruction, modeling, hitting bottom, experiential (trial and error) and repetition. They further explored Christ’s model of education, which includes unconditional love and acceptance, instruction, and modeling His relationship to God through selflessness and intimacy with both genders.
Some of the suggestions made for developing a men’s program included developing corporate vision, sponsoring a core of 40 men to attend a Wild at Heart conference or Promise Keepers, establishing radio programs and a Web site to address men’s issues, planning a follow-up meeting for this fall, attending a January 2005 meeting in Idaho, and participating in the Being There conference next year.