Men Hitting WomenFor the purposes of this discussion, I’ll assume I’m talking to the fellas on this one. (But the ladies are welcome to eavesdrop.)

Have you ever had the urge to hit a woman? Most of us were raised with a mental line in our behavior code. Hitting females is over that line. But truth be told, the notion lurks stealthily beneath the surface. The mental picture that forms in a man’s head just before the cowardly deed tends to bubble up in times of stress. When a man feels powerless, he can always fall back on physical force, like a scared dictator with armies at his disposal.

Most men never give that stupid urge a second thought. It was scrubbed out of their behavior set, out of their psyche at a very young age. For some of us who are pursuing a practical, living Christian faith, the practice of self-control enters in to keep us from transmitting domestic abuse to another generation. Surely other faiths have a moral code that keeps men from violence against women.

The recent beheading of a Muslim woman in New York raises serious questions for the Islamic community, struggling with both the reality and the image of their treatment of women and Sharia law. (See this commentary by M. Zuhdi Jasser at The Christian church also has a notorious record when it comes to denial about domestic violence. Too many Christian churches and individuals distort the Bible’s teaching and conflate male headship and female oppression. Steven Tracy’s Feb. 2003 article in Christianity Today lays out the theological issues. We expect more from the “religious” community.

Young pop singer Chris Brown has been upbraided for his alleged role in the injuries to his girlfriend Rihanna. At, Howard University Law professor Lisa Crooms offered an insightful commentary about Brown’s situation from the perspective of a mother trying to teach her son proper behavior. As Crooms asserts, raising our young boys to understand that it’s never acceptable to hit a girl is critical.

Domestic abuse is often a manifestation of generational dysfunction, where a parent passes the violent behavior down to his or her offspring. It isn’t surprising at all, then, that Chris Brown himself was raised in an abusive home, according to media reports. As a child, the singer said he witnessed his stepfather beat his mother.

Men, the cycle of violence that decimates families stops with us. Let’s deal with our anger-management issues. Let’s get a handle on control issues. Let’s deal with the matter of respect — for self and for others. Let’s set our children free from these chains that bind.

For help or more information, check out the website for AMEND (Abusive Men Exploring New Directions). Or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.

Even if you’ve only struggled with rage internally, talk to your pastor, a counselor, or get with some men you trust who can help you tame the beast. We’ve got to get this one right, brothers. And in this generation.

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