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Some Thought on Sexual Abuse | Classics Series

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[6 MIN READ]

The following blog is the newest installment in our Classics Serieswhere we revisit posts from days gone by. This blog was originally posted in January of 2020.


 

When it comes to the arena of sexual abuse or assault, we as the church need to listen better to survivors and then speak more. The trauma suffered whether once or multiple times among many other things robs the victim of their ability to voice their pain. But even getting to the point of listening may take time and lots of trust built up over time.

Not for a second do I pretend to understand what a sexual assault victim has endured; nor, do I assume the seat of the various other professionals who are poised to help these silent sufferers (like case workers, therapists and attorneys). However, I am learning that Jesus’ church has a place in offering the redemptive healing power of the Gospel for the sexually violated. 

Here are some follow-ups to last Sunday’s talk on sexual abuse:

  • Listen and believe. I mean, why should an abuse survivor believe that anyone will listen? They’ve probably been shut down before. Andrew Schmutzer, a survivor and advocate writes: “Unbelievable experiences tend to create unwanted testimonies.” In other words, people who can’t be believed will not be wanted to testify.

  • Listen more, believe and weep. Often what you initially see or hear is just the tip of the iceberg. This may come more naturally for some than others, but being so moved in mind and heart that you can cry for them— while it won’t change the past— will communicate redemptive empathy. 

  • Believe (genuinely) and become an advocate, a voice, for the person. This is where the “speaking more” part comes in. With the survivor’s permission, you should take up their cause and even stake your own reputation on what is right. This is true especially where children are concerned, but the sad reality is many abused children don’t give voice to their own trauma until they're  much older.

  • As of the first of the this year (2020), the Illinois statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases has been lifted. That is a right weapon of justice for those on whom the legal time clock and possibilities for reparation and justice has past.
     
  • Christians and churches aren’t immune to this evil and need to face the music. There shouldn’t be “even a hint” (Ephesians 5:3) of ANY sexual deviance in Christ’s church. When there is, the church must deal with it. If it’s criminal and illegal, they must swiftly report and work with local authorities. 

  • Cultures of male dominance whether or not they existed during biblical epochs have almost always lent toward the minimization or abuse of women. Therefore, they are wrong. For a Gospel corrective to cultures of dominance, check out Jesus in Mark 10:42-45. 

  • Though the abuser statistics sadly skew heavily male, women can abuse, too. Think of the classic case of a high school teacher who grooms one of her unsuspecting, male students. Or, for a sordid biblical example see Genesis 19 of adult daughters to their father.

  • Abusers tend to be skilled manipulators. 

  • Sexual abuse is not just body, soul and spiritual. It’s an attack on gender. This is what Robert Kelleman says: “We are female or male not only in our bodies, but also in the essence of our souls, our selves, our personhood. Sexual abuse abuses the female soul and body or a male soul and body.” 

  • Sexual abuse survivors may have future trouble on what Schmutzer calls “the intimacy spectrum.” That is, “what is awakened in the arena of terror is not easily transferred to the realm of delights.” 

  • Forgiveness and justice are two different things. If we were to look back to the example of David and his sin with Bathsheba. God indeed forgave him, but David still had to endure the consequences of the sin. See the end of 2nd Samuel 12.

  • Forgiveness and reconciliation aren’t mutually exclusive. Just because a victim may forgive their abuser doesn’t mean their relationship is automatically restored. It won’t ever be the same. And, as Schmutzer wisely points out: “Christian organizations have been the most reluctant to accept that a confessing abuser doesn’t heal the abused.”

That’s enough for now. It was random, I know, but the conversation MUST keep going and our consciousness ever awakened. May God have mercy on us all.

Posted by Will Pareja with

Christian, Bring Your Bible to Church | Classics Series

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[5 MIN READ]

The following blog is the newest installment in our Classics Serieswhere we revisit posts from days gone by. This blog was originally posted in November of 2019.



Employees carry badges.

Students bring their protractors to geometry class.

Fans wearing the team gear to the big game.

The artist always carries a pad to doodle on. 

Powerlifters always have a big belt in their gym bags.

You get the picture: People prepare themselves for the right occasion. 

Now, this isn’t where I’m going to say that a certain dress code for Sunday worship should compete with a funeral or black-tie event. No. Nor am I going to codify a new statute for ASCC members. 

But I must say, the number of Bible-less church attenders is staggering— and disconcerting. One wonders if there’s a correlation between that and the rise of nominalism in American Christianity. It’s not that they don’t own a Bible. In the age of the printing press and digital content, we have access to multiple copies of the Bible. My guess is that there are probably about 10 Bibles in my house right now. That’s an average of two per person. So, need isn’t the problem. Is it that church attenders just want to be free of carrying anything on their commute? Have they gotten into the mentality that the church will provide everything when they arrive there?

“Old” churches used to be equipped with pews which had racks to hold Bibles or hymnals. Now, since many churches are projecting songs and sermon notes on big screens, the participation factor seems to have significantly waned. You can come to church and just watch. You can just use a pew Bible. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a good thing to provide copies of Scripture around the seating in a church worship service. But those Bibles aren’t replacements for your own Bible, and they are more often there to help the unchurched who attend connect with what we’re doing and not feel more strange or left out than they already do. 

There is nothing magical or extra-spiritual in bringing a Bible to church. There’s no direct command about it in the Bible itself. In fact, there were periods in Judeo-Christian history when they didn’t have access to Scripture. Sometimes, a town’s only copy was locked up in a church. 

But, nor is there anything less spiritual in using a mobile device to read from at church. In fact, sometimes—yea, often— appearances can be deceiving. This isn’t about maintaining an appearance. Some who tote their Bibles to church hardly live by it, and some who don’t bring a physical copy to worship might be very studied in the Word, close to the Lord and loving others. 

My hunch is that Christians who really are growing in love with God’s Word and are in it during the week willingly or naturally carry their Bibles to church as they would an inhaler or a diaper bag. Bringing a Bible to church—and using it!— can be a visible sign that you are spiritually attentive. You want to have the copy that you spend time in during the week with you in Lord’s Day worship so that you can mark it up and make connections all in one place. There are multiple good reasons. But showing off or getting a monkey off your back isn’t one of them. There are no Bible “police” at ASCC, and you won’t be judged. 

What’s more important than bringing a Bible to church or even opening the pew Bible up to follow along with the preacher? It’s bringing God’s Word home, in your heart. 

This is exactly what Colossians 3:16 directs: “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you…” So, whether it’s your copy, a church copy or a screen, Christian, bring the Bible home in your heart and let it have a comfortable residence. 

Posted by Will Pareja with

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