Why Abuse in the Church Makes Me Crazy

You want to know what breaks my heart and gets me angry at the same time? Abuse. That’s it: just abuse. Domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse.

My stomach turns at the stories of what people have endured at the hands of their fellow human being, whether it’s a prisoner of war tortured by his captors or a vulnerable child preyed upon by a family member.

It’s what poet Robert Burns referred to as “man’s humanity to man,” in his poem Man Was Made to Mourn. Here’s just that stanza:

Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves,
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

Yep. Truth.

But just when I think my heart cannot break any more from the pain and heartache some of my fellow sisters and brothers have experienced, something even more awful occurs: Some in the Church—my beloved family—allow and even accommodate abuse.

for such a time as this rally

Click to learn more about the rally

This is on my mind today as the Southern Baptist Convention convenes in Dallas. I know a lot of Southern Baptists, and by and large, they are great people with whom I can easily fellowship. However, they have been plagued in the last few years with issues regarding leaders who overlooked or tacitly condoned abuse (e.g., here, here, and here).

So today as the SBC meets, they will be greeted with the For Such a Time as This Rally, a protest organized by people concerned about the way women and abuse survivors have been treated by church leadership.

But let’s face it: This isn’t just the Baptists. I’ve heard such stories from other denominations, and they include such actions from church leaders as:

  • Telling a victim they must forgive their rapist or abuser immediately after the crime
  • Stating or insinuating that a victim’s dress or behavior caused their rape or abuse
  • Counseling an abused spouse to stay in a marriage; in particular, telling wives their response should be to “submit to your husband”
  • Advising that abuse be kept quiet so that we won’t hurt the abuser’s family or dilute our witness to others
  • Not reporting abuse to authorities, which is against the law in the US
  • Explaining away abuse incidents in a leader’s past and allowing them to continue serving
  • Not fully investigating abuse accusations against a leader because “I know him, and he’s a good man”

God has a heart for the oppressed, and His people should take up their cause with fervor!

God has a heart for the oppressed, and His people should take up their cause with fervor! #ChurchToo Click To Tweet

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror” (Psalm 10:17-18).

Jesus quoted the book of Isaiah when He came into the synagogue:

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

“Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.‘”

And as Psalm 9:9 says: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” The Church should be the physical representation of that refuge.

This is a broken world, so evil people will continue to sin against their fellow humans. Man’s inhumanity to man will continue until Christ comes again and God delivers final judgment. Yet we have opportunities to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Man's inhumanity to man will continue until Christ comes again and God delivers final judgment. Yet we have opportunities to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Click To Tweet

We are not all church leaders, but at some point in our lives, we will be faced with seeing or learning about the abuse of someone in our midst. How will we respond?

I haven’t always responded the way I wish I had. In my younger years, I sometimes felt helpless and ignorant about what to do. Which is why I want to encourage all of us to do better — to think clearly about this issue before it happens, to know which side we will stand on, to vow in our hearts and before our God that we will defend the oppressed.

But why is a Christian sex author talking so vehemently about this subject? Well, abuse has always made me crazy. But since taking on this ministry, I’ve heard from many women, and a few men, who were abused. Some as children, some by a spouse, some by a stranger.

All of them were deeply hurt by their experience, but what seems to have really made the difference between those who still feel the wounds and those for whom the wounds became scars is the response to what happened. Were they surrounded by support?

Now, of course the victim has a part in recognizing and reporting the abuse — that is, getting help — but once they come forward, the reactions of others matter a great deal in whether they will be able to find healing and hope.

As Christians, we should be the best at embracing the hurting among us. Because that’s exactly what Christ would do!

I cannot in good faith come here and talk about how to have a great sex life in your marriage without addressing that some have abuse in their past, or their present, that makes this nearly impossible. How can you open up your body to someone in the most vulnerable way possible when your body was damaged and discarded by an abuser? Yes, you can get there, but you must first address the abuse.

So here we are: With an opportunity to reach out to hurting people, to mourn with those who mourn, to be a refuge in the storm. When it’s our turn to stand up for the oppressed or look the other way, what choice will we make?

Speaker Fee Waived for 2018!

35 thoughts on “Why Abuse in the Church Makes Me Crazy

    1. J Post author

      Oh my! My heart goes out to you, Andrew. You can heal, but you don’t forget — you still have scars. Blessings!

      Reply
  1. Courtney Tiller

    I am a member of the SB and am very concerned by this “movement “. It’s one thing to point out issues and want them fixed…..it’s another when you’re making other demands that are unbiblical (ie women being allowed to preach & not teaching submission anymore). I fear the direction of our convention if we let this feminism and liberalism walk right through the front door.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Well, that’s not where I am, and I don’t think we should fear standing together against abuse and arguing the theological issues separately.

      Reply
      1. Tammy

        I love your blog, and usually agree with you on most things, but I have to respectfully disagree with you here, as I agree with Courtney’s concerns above. The “metoo” movement, while starting out for good, has been politically hijacked now and perceived by most conservative Christians as achieving largely secular, liberal feminist goals that seek to create divisions between men and women. That may not be where you are, as you state above (and I believe you), but that IS where the movement is and how it is perceived, and perception affects real solutions. Christians are admonished many times in scripture about being cautious about our associations, especially ones that seek to sow discord (like “metoo”) and I believe this applies here. I think the solution lies in individual empowerment, though, not a herd mentality. Victims should absolutely be encouraged to speak out individually and survivors are brave and amazing, but the politicized movements that take advantage of victims for their own means can do more harm than good for both them and society and relationships as a whole. In short, I believe your heart is in the right place, J, and wholeheartedly agree with the majority of your feelings and sentiments expressed on this topic, but stop short of encouraging association with this movement as either a solution or the implication that if you choose not to support this movement that you are ok with women being abused or do not support them, sorry, as I believe that is conflating facts (abuse is a fact) with strategy.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          So I read your comment last night right as I was going out the door, and I decided to wait on it until this morning because I wanted to thoughtfully mull over what you said.

          I think the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements have taken so many different approaches with its various supporters. Full disclosure: I don’t watch news; I listen to select news podcasts and read articles online, so I honestly do not know how this is all playing out in the visual media. But I have issues with some of the statements supporters have made and certain people who have made them. I also think some of those protesting the errant SBC leaders have erroneously equated that abuse of power with men being the leaders in the church. Whereas I’d contend that even if you flipped it all and gave women the lead, errant women leaders would come up with their own abuses. So I really don’t think complementarian vs egalitarian is the issue, and I’ve tried to be uber-clear about that.

          All that said, movements do get things done, because the collective force is harder to ignore than the individual victim. That’s why we finally saw men like Weinstein and Lauer toppled. So to me, it’s a bit like the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s: How could I be a part of the MLK Jr. version but definitely not the Black Panthers version? Yes, I know that’s an imperfect analogy, but I think it illuminates the dilemma. I want to be part of the overall movement, to add my support to a group that can finally force the issue of abuse/harassment while also adding my voice to keep things reasonable as much as possible. Maybe that’s a miscalculation on my part — to believe that I can influence the movement to stay on task — but I’m hoping that having more considered opinions on the topic will help others to consider their own role as well.

          Reply
          1. Tammy

            I understand your point, and thank you for taking the time to clarify, J, as you made some good points. I think we will just have to agree to disagree on the means for real change here—while agreeing on the serious issue of abuse and the importance of encouraging victims to speak out. I agree movements get things done, but my issue is allying with highly divisive and already politicized ones—different from the civil rights analogy you used (although I understand your point about why you chose to use it) because civil rights was effective precisely because people perceived it as human rights—it transcended politics, and metoo just hasn’t. Also, every study I’ve read shows that people today are more politically polarized than ever before, so the environment of a movement matters. Anyway, thank you for a good discussion and thought provoking post.

      2. Wayne

        I’m with you 10,000%, J, extra zeroes intentional. I could easily get on a soapbox about it myself, but I’ll just keep it to this:
        I really think many women have no idea the good relationships and marriages they’re missing out on, by continuing to insist their abusers are “good men”. (What does that make us non-abusers? Bad men?)
        I also think many self-described conservative Christians have no idea how many people, who were willing to listen, hear words like “liberal” and “feminist”, say to themselves “never mind”, and walk away. Perhaps missing a golden opportunity to hear the Word.
        For the record, I speak out against abuse whenever I hear about or encounter it, and my wife counsels couples going through it (from either side). I advise help, for the abuser and the victim. It’s not a game, and it isn’t politics: people’s lives are on the line.
        That’s all I’ll say, but just kmow I agree completely.

        Reply
        1. Tammy

          And my point is that you have no idea how many mainline Christians you are ostracizing by aligning yourself with a movement that is perceived by many exactly as I mentioned it. You may not like the perception, or even be aware of it, but it is there nonetheless, as studies show. Just because you don’t see it as political doesn’t mean the majority perceive it that way—which affects the goal and outcome. You misunderstand my point here and context matters, as does the audience—I am not addressing witnessing opportunities, nor victims speaking out, which I always encourage and have said so—I am addressing J specifically about the idea of aligning or encouraging others to align with an already very secular politicized movement or group as a Christian to achieve a solution. I am addressing perception, and I did not invent the words “liberal” or “feminist” and they have an identity on their own, like it or not. I was molested myself, and am well aware victimization is not a game, which is exactly why I worry that many victims will get used and revictimized by this movement and the backlash. And like I mentioned before, just because you are unaware of the politics surrounding it does not mean it “isn’t politics”. You’re correct that people’s lives are on the line, so let’s get it right by empowering and supporting those individuals and support organizations, not aligning ourselves with already polarizing, politicized movements whose direction we largely cannot control.
          Here are some surveys that illustrate my point:
          https://www.vox.com/2018/4/5/17157240/me-too-movement-sexual-harassment-aziz-ansari-accusation
          http://www.newsweek.com/survey-finds-few-americans-are-changing-their-behavior-workplace-even-after-858640
          http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/stevens/ct-life-stevens-thursday-me-too-opinions-0405-story.html

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            “And my point is that you have no idea how many mainline Christians you are ostracizing by aligning yourself with a movement that is perceived by many exactly as I mentioned it.” You know, I take unpopular positions sometimes: Some were upset with me for calling out Roy Moore and President Donald Trump for their mistreatment of women, and I’ve also been criticized for saying that President Bill Clinton behaved abominably toward women. I personally get a bit frustrated because I feel like I’ve been consistent all along. If someone else wants to assign political motivations, I don’t know what to do about that.

            I see that your complaint is me aligning with the #MeToo and/or #ChurchToo stuff, but I guess I see this movement as an opportunity to talk about what I’ve always believed based on my faith in God and my study of His Word: We must treat God’s other sons and daughters as people, not sexual objects. And when we don’t, as individuals and as a society, the consequences are widespread, lasting, and heartbreaking.

        2. Tammy

          And I would add a philosophical point to my earlier reply here as well—joining a movement that encourages calling out and focusing on the problem and/or dwelling on victims’ past negative related experiences and perpetrators as a collective thing is not necessarily the way to accomplish healing for victims or lasting change to society as a whole—though I am no expert on the matter. For example, If you’ve ever read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by noted psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, he found that in the survivors he counseled (and in the book he details some truly horrific experiences, as one would expect from the Holocaust) and in his own life, dwelling on their/his actual experiences, the problem of evil, or the past did nothing to provide healing and closure to these victims and survivors, which is why he founded logotherapy and had so much success. Logotherapy, as he explains in his book, taught survivors to look at their experiences in light of finding meaning in our lives and in our suffering, that we can choose how to respond and cope, and to move forward in the individual purpose and pursuit of meaning we have found. Again, I am not saying I know what the answer is here to affect real change and promote healing—just pointing out that, for various reasons mentioned here, the me too movement might not be the best vehicle to go about achieving those goals individually or collectively.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            I really see the #MeToo movement as bringing awareness to this way-too-prevalent issue and holding perpetrators responsible for their heinous behavior. That was its original goal, and I hold to that. What I do have problems with is some people using it to promote their own political crusades (but honestly, if you look at history, you see that happens with every movement), those who would equate offhand comments and the like with sexual assault, and the few who seem to think the problems will be alleviated if we simply replace men in power with women in power — as if our gender would never abuse power. (See Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)

            But I have heard from women who, because of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, finally told their stories and then went and got help to heal from it. THAT, I believe, is the goal: Break the silence. Get help. Hold the perpetrator responsible.

      1. J Post author

        So I’m approving this comment, but I really don’t want this conversation to continue. Not that it isn’t important for Christians to discuss, but that’s not what my blog is about and a debate about women’s role in the church is fraught with biblical exegesis, doctrinal deep-dives, and strong feelings. I’m just hoping that wherever we are on this question, we can agree that mistreating women (and men) is against God’s will.

        Reply
        1. Dan

          Fair enough and thank you for putting uo. I’ll put us back on topic. More women in leadership would be helpful in fighting abuse. There are still many cultural biases in regards to woman. If a woman is raped, male leaders (church and secular) say what was she wearing, why was she out late. Same with abused, she should be submissive, was she asking for it, and so forth. We have so many culture biases that we sometimes can’t see what God is saying to us.

          Reply
          1. Amy

            While it’s a good sentiment that more women in leadership positions within the church would somehow be helpful in fighting abuse, I don’t really see this. Perhaps, but not necessarily.

            In my personal experience, I probably had more women than men come down on me for not being submissive enough or respectful enough or else he wouldn’t have treated me the way he did.

            More education about the dynamics of abuse for all people is what will work towards dealing with abuse and helping victims. 🙂

  2. mepharisee

    This is a symptom of success. We see it everywhere humanity goes. While we are hard at it fighting our way to the top we have a more strict, stick to the basics, way about us. Then, when we achieve law making status we change. We no longer have an enemy to fight so strict rules become soft guidelines. There’s no one for those on the watchtowers to see, so we get bored. Part of that is we start focusing on what should be changed WITHIN. We lose sight of our first love. There is no real enemy that needs ALL our effort to defeat, so we are ok with dividing. We’re the lawmakers now, so we create this bubble of security that keeps the riff raft out. We lose our edge because we create this comfort zone. We’re all Christians so we can all be trusted, right? And there you go. Satan has civilized us out of being servants & into being the served. We got domesticated. We are no longer servants applied like salt infiltrating any kind of society & shining in that dark place. We traded that in for pensions, vacations, & no fault divorce. We gathered ourselves together because we are not strong enough to be sent anywhere. We are so weak now that a our country we created has been highjacked. We’re no longer created, we’re evolved. We pay for our murderers instead of them paying with their life. Abuse goes unpunished so even church leaders believe they have a chance to go unnoticed. We are the image of the world. That’s why the world doesn’t see us. The image of Christ is in our unity. You may not want to believe it. You may not want to post this reply, but we reap what we sow. The 1st church assembled on the first day of the week to break bread, but we are hard pressed to serve communion on Easter. Scripture is the answer that will save the abused & make the church a refuge. If we don’t unite we are left like a school district trying to keep a school shooting from happening to us. Divided we fall. We are on our own when we divide from God’s scripture. God works in our humility, surrender, & obedience. He is strong when we are weak. He makes first those willing to be last.

    John 17:20-23 (ESV) 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.“

    Reply
  3. Pastor Eric Durham

    As an SBC pastor I can tell you that we do not tolerate abuse. Married couple who I find out are going through domestic abuse, we provide outside professional counseling and encourage the couple to live separate until the counselor clears them to live together. We certainly report all sexual abuse of all types. I have actually seen more issues with pressure from lay leaders not to report and been fired for reporting child sexual abuse. Often times as a pastor you know reporting means you will be fired, but normally you will be fired either way because you know to much. It is very very ugly for all involved.

    Reply
    1. Amy

      “Married couple who I find out are going through domestic abuse, we provide outside professional counseling and encourage the couple to live separate until the counselor clears them to live together. ”

      If you are talking about marriage counseling for abuse, then that is your #1 mistake. Possibly individual counseling for each spouse, but not joint counseling at all, ever, for cases of abuse. At least not until, if ever, the abuser has repented of their sin and made a real effort to change.

      Second, encouraging a couple to seek counseling is wonderful advice, BUT, not someone YOU choose. A counselor needs to understand abuse, all kinds, including psychological abuse, not just physical and sexual abuse. Preferably, a Christian counselor who can lead each person in biblical counsel, but not all Christian counselors understand the dynamics of abuse and also counsel under the same warped views of scripture re: divorce, separation and remarriage.

      Third, it is not ever up to another third party to tell an abused woman (or man) they have the green light to go back to a marriage. That is only up to that person and God. This right there shows that you have no idea about abuse and to suggest that someone else tells the couple they are all healed and the abuse is over, just terrible advice.

      When my abusive ex walked out in ’09, the church I attended at the time surrounded him with sympathy and supposed ‘help’, while I was told how much God hates divorce and cares more about marriages staying intact no matter what and how I needed to forgive and forget and reconcile, because we are all sinners after all. Thank goodness I turned a deaf ear to all of that nonsense and listened to God and God only.

      To say that a third party should be the ones to give the green light to going back into a marriage where abuse had occurred makes very angry. Very angry.
      The pastor of my former church once told me, a few months after my ex walked out on me and our two boys, that my ex was trying to change. Huh? I don’t think so, while behind everyone’s backs I was receiving nasty emails from him and he was spreading vicious, hateful lies about me around our little town.
      I shudder to think where I’d be today if I had listened to and taken the advice of such misinformed people who had absolutely no idea what occurred in my marriage.

      Good for you, sir, for being a pastor who does not tolerate abuse. But I would ask yourself, exactly what does that mean to you? How easy it is to say those words which we are now hearing over and over in our society. Zero tolerance for abuse. Okay, but unless you really understand the dynamics of it, abused women will continually be pushed back into something in the name of Jesus.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        I paused over that advice too, Amy.

        As I’ve researched domestic abuse, I’ve come to believe that there are different kinds of abusers. Some will never change, and the sad reality is that an abused wife tries to leave seven times before it takes. I can only imagine how difficult that would be for a wife who has been repeatedly told that divorce is never okay or, even more specifically, that Jesus wants her to stay in the marriage. No, Jesus doesn’t want you to take blows for no good reason. He certainly didn’t. (See John 8:59, 10:39.)

        But there are different kinds of abusers. One type is coercive controlling violence, which is what we tend to think of as the domestic abuser. This person controls so much of the relationship, through physical and verbal abuse, gaslighting, isolation, etc., that couples counseling is likely to go nowhere. The victim will not be able to freely express what’s going on, and the abuser often has a way of explaining away what happened or casting doubt on the victim’s reports. The hard-core among these are extremely unlikely to ever change, and the only option is to GET OUT NOW.

        But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud,

          abusive

        , disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control,

          brutal

        , not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

        Another form of domestic violence is situational. These abusers are far more amenable to rehabilitation, because they are temper-losers who’ve typically had poor role models and experience real remorse over their actions. They know they’re out of control and don’t want to be. These are often the couples who fight and then something gets thrown and then suddenly one of them shoves the other against the wall, and it’s all just been a crazy escalation that they’re shocked to have participated in. Couples counseling can actually help them, as well as individual — which should probably be part of it to deal with the sources of temper issues — because it’s more about learning how to maintain control in the face of conflict.

        Too often in the Church, I’ve heard the argument that God can change anyone, and so we think the abuser is more like the situational violence. But if you’re dealing with a controller, then the only hope is getting out, forcing real consequences on the abuser, and having him repent fully before you reintroduce him into relationship. God can change anyone, but they have to WANT to be changed. Moreover, God is often quite willing to make someone suffer for their choices for a while to wake them up to the damage they’ve done. But most of the time, a controller won’t change — their hearts are already hard — and we need to recognize that.

        Regardless, we must prioritize the victim in these situations. It is never, never, never okay to be someone’s punching bag, physically or verbally. That’s not the suffering the Bible talks about as good, because it serves no higher purpose. If I die for defending my faith, I might be a martyr. If I die for staying with a controller, what testimony have I given? How has the Gospel been furthered? It hasn’t.

        Anyway, I hope distinguishing these two forms helps somewhat. And a final word for Amy: I’m so sorry for what you went through. You are a brave woman, and I am glad you got out. Blessings!

        Reply
      2. Eric

        AMY – I hear your pain, but you make many assumptions in this situation and counseling that are not true in our case. First we recommend counseling, but from the first visit or time when we discover abuse, we recommend that they live apart and get counseling. We do not recommend the type or counselor. That is totally up to the couple. From that point forward, they work with professional counselors of their choice. All decisions from that point forward is done external to the congregation or church. We will be happy to pray with them or for them, but we do not get involved in the process since it is a professional clinical process. We do refer women and men who are fleeing to a abuse center that is in a secret location and provides all their needs for up to 45 days once they come into this safe location. The church teaches Christian values and the Gospel. We are charged with the Great Commission and must always limit our travel down roads of social issues. We provide assistance and do ministry that at times impacts social needs, but it is never our main purpose. Their are men and women who work in the medical profession and at times even do medical missions in counties with great needs. We often send people along to share the Gospel as a part of that mission trip, but our people do not treat people medically unless possibly one of our members is serving as a medical missionary. Even then for the church to participate we must have people involved sharing the Gospel. The Great Commission is our primary purpose in every endeavor.

        Reply
        1. Amy

          Eric,
          I appreciate you taking the time to clarify a little more what you and your church do to handle cases of marital abuse within your church.
          While I should not have made assumptions about you or your church in particular, I do still stand by my comments from both a personal viewpoint and one I hear often re: churches and abuse.

          “…we do not tolerate abuse.” And I still ask the question, how do you not tolerate abuse? What does that mean to you and your church body as a whole?
          Just to say you do not tolerate something doesn’t hold a lot of water with me. We can all say we wouldn’t tolerate something but how we actually deal with a situation speaks much louder than words.
          If you do not tolerate abuse in a marriage, what does that look like aside from encouraging a couple to separate for a time and to get counseling. Do you put the abuser out of the church until there is true repentance and a true lasting change? Or is the abuser allowed to continue sitting in the pews along with the victim?

          And what type of counseling do you recommend since you did not clarify. Do you educate the victim on the fact that joint marriage counseling does NOT work in cases of abuse and often only serves to mask the real problem? Abuse, like alcohol and drug addiction, is an individual problem, not a marriage issue and therefore, true recovery requires the individual to get counseling and help alone, at least initially.
          And the victim will likely require individual counseling to learn how to identify the abuse she (or he) has endured and how to recover from the effects of it.

          And you do not mention what happens in cases where a counselor does not give the green light for a couple to resume living together, and surely that has happened?? It’s sad but true that a majority of abusers do NOT change and no victim should ever be told to go back to something which is destroying them. I still stand by the fact, that it is the victim’s decision whether there is true change in their abuser and whether it is safe for them to re-enter that marriage.

          Reply
  4. Anthony

    So in a sense going into a Church that was divided is like going back into any trauma of separation whatever, divorce but survivors of sexual abuse is uncomfortable and Sitting at. The back in that Fear abuse could happen again. What Does One do who loves Christ. First impressions are of a lastning kind and trauma survivor Christians Feel alone in this and very unsure to discuss with the Pastor who could be one such man like your man or men u have received abuse or seen men committing it. My wife wouldnt Feel this as men lead most Churches but not generalising Women leaders are not immune.
    This will always be a dilemna for a survivor of sexual abuse as a Malé we hear of iin the Church. I want to Run away ad it feels like Red Light spells danger you don’t Feel Love coming to you in a building thats a church. What Does One do- start their own small church in the Home as its your Home you Feel most safest?

    Reply
  5. Anthony Innerd

    This indeed drives you crazy. There are many victims of being wounded in the House of our Lord. Survivors of abuse are in many forms but sexual is most numbing when comes to Church. What does a believer in Christ who has this fear of lost connection as in some cases as mine, very young when their childhood was captured in this trauma. A church one comes to, in what is established we can feel connection but if like my family emigrate to another land, enter a small village and one of its denominational churches, it never expects but a warm welcome – first impressions of a lasting kind. First problem is different language, and who is the first person to we connect – usually the Pastor or someone on its Steering-Board. We expect to get at least humility being now foreigners but wonder if in my case we get the opposite of what we expect – a humble meeting. Now the Church not knowing was recently divided and now another trauma, sex abuse is a loss of childhood innocence and any trauma is God working it out but the fear of another lost connection in Gods house – drives you crazy.
    Having lost connection as a child with sick parent, not close to a father – we now have been saved by the Spirit but our Souls and Body also a big part of Gods creation in us. We thus in all this division of Churches, abuse in the Church retreat a little – man usually is the Pastor, and man is the usual offender but not generalising it could be the same for woman and woman Pastor, but the latter is unbiblical. Having loosing connection before 5 years old from parent/mother and father stationed overseas on military duty – I now must turn to the FAhter – The Lord to understand my fear. When a Church divides it is like a marriage that separates and if any one has been through that, it is also a trauma as in child abuse loss. These losses are hard to bring to a Church that is traditional in its approach and not pointing at the Southern Baptists, the Church per se (was saved in Baptist Church) its is us survivors sit on the fence of the towers of our community and can only interceed if fear of Church abuse is there and hidden – I would one know, risk abuse again or being hurt in the House of the Lord. I am not advocating one should not go to Church but this issue is a dilemma. Where can I go for secure feeling – only to God as triggers of abuse can appear randomly either from person verbally, and all over the media with images through TV and internet.
    This is how a person survives with Complex traumas with God.

    PS: I reached out to God and met a Charity when in my own land -UK last year and joined a Charity that formed a group of Christians who do not have a Church or members of one – called thefillingstation.org.uk ….search there for Fillingstations and we are under Sweden – Lapland. I felt God reached out to me, to start this group in my large Culture House – Cafe area, and we meet once every month. I feel secure.
    Bless
    Psalm 50.15
    John 17:20-23; Psalm 10:17-18 and Psalm 9:9

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  7. mepharisee

    In 1Cor we learn of a son having sex with his dad’s wife, & was boasting & getting approval from others. The instruction from Paul was to oust the son. Disassociate with any believer in cases like this. In 2 Cor this Son is repentant & Paul says to welcome him back. The biblical outline in Matt is the same. The unrepentant get cast out of the church. This scenario is hard to enact today.

    1. Back then church body life was a full time all in want to be it life. It actually hurt to be kicked out of church. Today church life is part time at best. Revolving doors turn. We find one that fits our busy schedule. That’s the criteria.

    2. Back then church was something you wanted back into if kicked out of. The love of Christ was a hot commodity that people needed in contrast to ruling governments & society. The truth set people free. Today, we can sit at home or go boating & feel close to god.

    3. Scripture doesn’t make a distinction of what sin is forgivable, or what accepted sins you can repent of. Jesus touched lepers. Today we have lost our backbone to church up & wrestle the sin to the ground. Nepotism & tradition rule the church. If God says to be an image of Him, we should be. We take our lumps. Jesus did. Be vulnerable. Jesus was. The only membership criteria is the repentant heart. That’s who gets in. Even the most heinous sinner. That doesn’t mean let our guard down. Guarding the treasure is a part of it. If that means the church closes down & becomes a home based church, then so be it. Mordecai would not bow to Haman.

    4. Practical solutions would be; parents of the child be active in the youth group of the child/ have a counsel of 2 or 3 married couples oversee different activities like choir, nursery, or drama theatre/ create a safe place where anon members can voice concerns to a council of members that are not connected by clicks.

    No matter what we do we have to be transparent. No closed doors. Hiding anything is a crime that gets punished openly.

    5. Let scripture lead. The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible. Unite with God & allow Him to have control. Here’s a novel idea:how about we as Christians have one path to salvation. I think that would be the best place to start. Starbucks shut down all business to iron out race relations, I think we should shut down & iron out our steps to salvation. But that would mean admitting fault. But wait, God was more than willing to chuck all of it & start over with Noah, or Moses.

    When Christ comes back, will He find faith on the earth?

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  8. Happily Married

    Thank you for your clarification above. I’ve always wrestled with why you supported the “metoo” movement. I have just about always agreed with you except in this area. Your explanation really helped. I appreciate your balanced view and totally agree with where you’re coming from. I think the media really abused it and took advantage of all the hype on the social media side of things and I felt it got way out of hand—to the point I couldn’t, in good conscience, support the mainstream movement anymore. I think it started off well, but ended terribly after being hijacked.

    My heart breaks for those hurt, especially in the church which should be a safe and welcoming place. Thanks for a great article and for doing your part to keep the movement balanced.

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  9. Chris Taylor

    J, I am so glad you wrote about this. It has been on my heart so often during the past months. I’m disappointed by some of the comments here–so I hope you let me get on my soapbox and rant for a moment.

    If the church did a better job of standing up with and for women, there wouldn’t be a need for any movement at all. It’s great to talk about encouraging women to speak out individually, but we need to make sure these women aren’t alone in doing so. That means that we as individuals need to offer to sit with a survivor as she tells her story. We need to help her find the support she needs to heal. We need to do what is necessary to provide a way for her voice to be heard, and we need to make sure we are not adding new pain on top of what she has already experienced.

    If Christians are unhappy that liberal and feminist perspectives are taking over the #MeToo movement, then we need to be better than they are at fighting abuse and assault.

    And quite frankly, part of why this movement has become politicized is because so many Christians have decided that all feminists are evil, hate men, and support abortion. Yeah, some are like that–but many are Christians who support traditional marriage and oppose abortion. Rather than seeing feminists as people who want to support women’s efforts to live better lives, we lump them together and consider them to be lesser than us. The way Christians often talk about feminists and liberals shows a poor example of Christian love. And when we distance ourselves from the movement out of fear of how others perceive us, we miss wonderful opportunities not only to help survivors but also to witness to others about what it means to walk with Jesus and to serve those in need.

    Christians should have been the ones to lead this effort. Shame on us for not having done so.

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  10. Mark

    J,

    What is upsetting about the abuse going on in churches is what it does to the mind of those being abused.

    I myself need to pinch myself because I didn’t except 5 Point (TULIP) Calvinism by a New Calvinist who was purposely hiding his doctrine while trying to covertly indoctrinate the Non-TULIP church I was attending. The heavy handed verbal abuse he dished out in intellectual form divided the church.

    But the greater forms of spiritual and physical abuse in the blogs I visited, I’ve noticed has created a newer form of abuse, where the ones with abused wounded hearts have essentially verbally abusing those that don’t agree with how others who have been abused, even though circumstances are different.

    I know I had a little chip on my shoulder and not a pleasant person to be around when both my wife and I were spiritually abused, for not converting to TULIP.

    To simplify it, I’m witnessing that “some” (not all) of the severely abused are becoming verbal abusers and unconsciously spreading some of the poison they endured.

    It is like we have lost our innocence and forgetting that how we communicate with each other matters. 1 Corinthians 13:13

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Since I don’t know what TULIP is, I’m hoping this comment is okay. I think your underlying point is intriguing.

      Reply
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