With all of the news recently of sexual harassment and sexual assault and all manner of horrific things, I’ve had so many things to say and I just haven’t quite known how to say them.
Or maybe I haven’t been ready to say them.
I’m sure I’m not the only woman who is terribly unsettled by this climate.
Every day it seems, there is some new, awful story breaking.
But the thing that has finally brought me out of my quiet is actually this:
When I read Rachael Denhollander’s op-ed piece on all of the things that have happened to her since she came out with her story, of course, it just ripped my heart out.
And made me so angry.
But one line has stayed with me, even more than the others: “I lost my church.”
That has come as I am still just absolutely sick over a church giving its minister a standing ovation for “apologizing” for a past sexual assault as well:
While all congregations are certainly not guilty of this behavior (and our pastor just addressed those issues openly last week), the behavior of “the church” as whole towards victims of sexual abuse has been truly heartbreaking at times – and certainly not reflective of the heart of Jesus.
Whenever a pastor – or any other individual – is protected and “forgiven” within the church, rather than forced to face justice for what he has done, a terrible wrong is done to the victim – and there will likely be more victims in the future as the perpetrator has gotten away with it once.
As Ann Voskamp says, “When the prevailing thinking is boys will boys. . . girls will be garbage.”
The victim leaves this situation hurt not only by the abuse, but also by the church that should have protected her and helped her find healing.
This is so incredibly damaging.
And to see that a woman who came forward many years after her abuse still “lost her church?”
When the “me too” movement started showing up on my social media accounts, I didn’t feel compelled to add my name. A personal choice.
The majority of women I know and saw online have experienced some type of sexual abuse or mistreatment at some point in their lives.
That was just my observation.
I’m not surprised. It is the culture we live in.
And, in responding to that culture, the church should be the first to reach out in compassion to victims, to promote healing, to offer love. It should also be the safest place to be, where NO abuse is tolerated.
The church can, and must, do better.
This is the heart of God.
Be well, everybody.
Grace and blessings.