I speak of Jeff Crippen, a Cry for Justice, my ongoing frustration with the heart and attitude that requires us to “make enemies,” to label people evil, mostly men, to blame the church, to blame scripture,to perceive some kinds of sin as beyond all redemption.
So, “Standing Against Abuse Requires Making Enemies,”, while true in a literal sense, standing up for what is right is always going to rattle some cages, the call to perceive all others as enemies is just all wrong.
I don’t like a heart that insists we’re at war with people themselves, that seeks to label others as the enemies of our own personal crusade.
“If they are teaching unhelpful stuff about domestic abuse, we must compromise, we must tolerate it, we must help them along and not be harsh on their ‘minor’ mistakes. But the thing is, when we try to teach such folks, they don’t want to learn, they bristle, and sometimes they even start spreading false reports about us. Here at ACFJ we reject all of this ‘compromise’ thinking….”
Another way of saying that is, “my way or the highway.” So someone like me who simply believes scripture has some real treasures for healing, becomes a “compromiser,” the “enemy,” an “abuse enabler.” Talk about spreading false reports. I mean, come on.
There’s another reason why shutting everyone out and designating nearly everyone “the enemy,” is a real problem. Domestic violence, abuse, the health and well-being of our families, requires teamwork, a community wide response, support from our churches and the people within them. In fact, that alone has a whole lot to do with many of the problems we’re seeing in our world, we’ve destroyed that sense of community that use to support families.
So someone like me who spent years working with victims, is suddenly dismissed, transformed into a compromiser, an abuse enabler, labeled “the enemy.” Do people honestly believe I condone abuse? Cover it up? Compromise on prioritizing safety? These things are all false and untrue.
I simply insist on saying, scripture does not condone abuse, in fact the precise opposite. Christian marriage is not a vehicle for women’s oppression, in fact the precise opposite. And in order for victims to heal properly they have to get into The Word, and horror among horrors, begin the Christian process of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not about condoning abusive behavior, it is about setting captives free.
Creating an attitude, a culture that suggests you’re with us or against us, the church is your enemy, your circle of support is very small, is actually more like taking hostages then it is about setting captives free. It’s very isolating, it insists on demanding people perceive others as evil, and it does nothing to support healing. In fact, it feels very exploitive. Whose needs are actually being met there? Surely not those who need to find healing from abuse.
In fact, I’ve actually found a much more enlightened attitude of service, a more generous heart, a stronger desire to see people truly heal in some of those pastors you put on your “naughty list.” I actually go forth and speak with some of them, get a feel for were they are coming from, check out their attitudes towards women, towards marriage. Ironically, I’ve yet to have one label me the enemy or shut me out. In fact, some of them have led to some very fruitful conversations, eye-opening on both sides. I have a hope that these efforts and discussions will help us all to respond to victim issues with greater wisdom and sensitivity.