Can I be honest with you? I’m angry today. I’m sick to death of people equating exposing sin in the Church with slandering Christ’s bride. I’m sick to death of people equating exposing sin in the Church with hindering the gospel. I’m sick to death of people equating exposing sin in the Church with tarnishing our “witness” in the world.
I hate to go all cliche on you, but the people who say these things, frankly, don’t get it. They don’t get it. They are so awash in their ignorance of how the world really works, what the Church is called to be, and what unbelievers really think about and talk about that they actually think that silencing victims of abuse, protecting abusers, and refusing to publicly acknowledge harm done by institutional decisions is exalting Christ’s proverbial bride.
Right? Because if calling out criminal abuse and criminal church activities (i.e., not reporting abuse, which is a crime in many states, especially for clergy) is slandering Christ’s bride, then—at least for those who rail against us would-be temple cleansers—the opposite must be true.
Hiding/covering up pedophilia and abuse = building up the Church
Hiding/covering up pedophilia and abuse = advancing the gospel
Hiding/covering up pedophilia and abuse = increasing the effectiveness of our witness in the world
Now, no sane person of faith is going to look at the above statements and argue with me that they are true. And yet … every time they defend people who have covered up abuse, every time they accuse victim advocates of “slandering the bride,” every time they silence another voice or insist that their public sin is a private matter, they are proclaiming with their lives and their deeds that they DO believe the utterly asinine statements above. And if living out those toxic beliefs doesn’t actually in fact lead to slandering the bride, hindering the gospel and tarnishing the church’s witness, then I don’t know what does. And that’s the irony. These people simply do not get it. They do not get that they are the ones in sin. They do not get that they are the problem. They do not get that they shame us all. They do not see it. They do not want to see it. They are burying their heads and plugging their ears and still proclaiming in the face of all evidence to the contrary that the world is flat. They might be able to recite the Romans Road and the Four Spiritual Laws, but I doubt they’d know the transforming power of the gospel if it were staring them in the face.
These are harsh words. I’m aware that they are. But I am disgusted by those who take it upon themselves to “protect” God’s Church, when what they are doing is contributing to its decay with their black mold false beliefs and their termites of empty rhetoric. I try not to judge another person’s salvation. In fact, I am decidedly against the practice of sitting around and talking about who is in and who is out. The practice revolts me. But I confess that when it comes to these individuals I am forced to wonder.
I cannot say that I am convinced we serve the same God.
Because my God despises hypocrisy and hidden sins. My God despises pride. My God despises the harming of those who are vulnerable. He showed us over and over and over again in the Old Testament—in ways that are so vivid they make some cringe and look the other way when these stories are told in church—that He does not abide these things in His people.
He does not abide these things in His people.
So I will not be silenced. I will not be belittled as bitter or marginalized as divisive. I will not be quiet so that you don’t have to feel uncomfortable when you scroll through your Twitter feed. I will not be told to watch my tone with you, the patriarchy of fundamentalist evangelical Christendom, because too many of you are failing miserably at your self-proclaimed calling and it is time you listened to people who are not on your payroll. I will not stop talking, even though so few—so few—in the church will take the time to listen.
I will continue to warn you that His wrath is eminent. I will continue to warn you that you will be held accountable for both your actions and inaction.
And I will continue to pray that you will turn your face in humility and humble yourself before the Lord and His people and beg forgiveness—from all of us—for dumping your buckets of disease-ridden mud all over the bride and then pointing the finger at someone else.
Note: I am so pleased that a watch group for abuse in the Catholic church picked up this post. I feel a kinship with those who have been fighting (for so long) for justice in that arena. However, I thought I should mention two things to clear up any confusion:
- I am a Protestant, and this post was written in response to abuses at the hands of Protestants and subsequent victim-blaming/advocate-slamming by Protestants and Protestant leaders. Some of my most wonderful friends and many women I admire are Catholics, but I am not.
- I am so glad that the sentiments here are resonating with those who have fought for justice within the Catholic church. Protestants, former-Protestants, Catholics and former-Catholics … we should all be working together to end abuse, end victim-blaming, end abuse cover-ups in all churches. As I mention in a comment below, apparently this evil (pedophilia) did not pick a side after the Reformation.
- Maybe together we can end organized Christianity’s historically inadequate (and too often grossly amoral) response to the problem.
Thank you for being in this space with me and a bigger thank you to those who are in the trenches as survivors and/or advocates, no matter what your faith background.