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Sanctity of marriage – Not at any cost

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Churches in St Vincent and the Grenadines are committed to the prevention of domestic violence. The sanctity and permanence of marriage is still exalted, but not at any cost, some church leaders say.{{more}}

“If you take just a passive view and be an extremist – marriage saved at any cost, it could be a gateway to a lot of abuse,” said Sonny Williams, the presiding Bishop of the St Vincent and the Grenadines District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT from her Trinidad office, Psychologist Dianne Douglas said that it was important that the churches assist people to be safe when ever there are instances of abuse.

“Sometimes the safety will never take place unless the couple is separated for a while,” said Dr Douglas, who was the feature speaker at a recent Gender Affairs Division, and Caribbean Development Bank panel discussion on domestic violence.

“I would never tolerate abuse in any marriage. I make myself available for counseling, but if there is no change, sometimes you have to counsel them to separate, lest they stay together and someone gets their death,” said Rev Victor Job, President of the Southern Caribbean District Council of Methodist churches.

“The church looks out for the well being of each person,” said Bishop Leopold Friday, Anglican Bishop of the Windward Islands.

Bishop Friday said that while in the past churches and church leaders may have been so passionate about keeping families together, that the individual well being of persons may have taken a back seat, that has changed.

“With time, and as God has revealed himself more, we see how much he is concerned about an individual’s well being,” Bishop Friday said.

He, however, emphasized that the importance of marriage is still stressed and every effort made towards the healing of the relationship, and this should not change.

Bishop Williams, who is currently reading for a Master of Science degree in Counseling at the University of the West Indies, added that sometimes the healing process can only be worked on from a position of separation, because of the danger associated with some couples co-existing, when going through issues of abuse.

The representative of the Bishop to St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Catholic Church, Father Pio Antonio, told SEARCHLIGHT while every effort has to be made to save marriages, the Catholic Church will never willingly advise someone to stay in a dangerous situation.

“I remember one occasion that I had to agree to let a woman separate from her husband for her own safety,” Father Pio said.

Meanwhile, as figures show that domestic violence continues to be a scourge to society, Dr Douglas says that it is important to know that the church has a very powerful part to play in the lives of its members.

She said that it is important that members be taught respect for each other. She also noted that women strive in an atmosphere of love and affection, while men strive in an atmosphere of respect – this, she says, must be forever emphasized by church leaders.

Meanwhile, Rev Job also pointed to the importance of pre-marital counseling to help identify certain tendencies even before a couple gets married.

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