I really appreciated this blog post, “Destroying the Message of Guilt and Shame.”
Click to read it, it’s very good. What he did quite nicely was to lead us back to the cross, to the guilt, the shame, the humiliation, the condemnation, the sexual abuse, Jesus suffered. They robbed Him of His dignity, they mocked, ridiculed, tortured and executed Him. It was a horrific violation of a human being, cruel on every level, so the one person who understands abuse better than anyone else is actually Jesus Christ Himself.
Perhaps that’s why my eyes are fixed so closely on the #churchtoo movement, on those disclosing and addressing abuse within the church, on all those silenced voices suddenly confronting what has long been a raging infection of toxic shame. While I certainly empathize with those who have been silenced for so long, while I just glorify in the healing that can now come, it’s the church’s response that fascinates me.
That is just like a roller coaster of highs and lows. I’m like, praise the Lord, these brothers and sisters really get it! And then sometimes I’m like, just sinking in despair, as if to say, I cannot believe anybody in the Body of Christ can be this bloody stoopid….
I’m not apologizing for that at all, some people are just bloody stoopid, unkind, hurtful, and pathetic in their response to those who are hurting. But yesterday I read of two churches who responded just beautifully and I almost fell off my chair. “We believed the victim, reported it to the authorities, and are now lifting everyone up in prayer.” Wow. How simple. How totally appropriate.
Really incredible, I know of a group of elders who actually repented of their failure to see what was going on, their inability to protect someone, their failure to provide cover and safety for her. Whoah! I really did fall off my chair, because there was a group of guys totally Spirit led, pouring healing all over someone, soothing wounds and restoring a victim, rather than restoring a perpetrator.
I’m not tossing perpetrators out beyond the blood of Christ, outside the walls of grace, I’m just saying that far too often we see the wounded before us, lecture them about the dangers of unforgivness, and than rally ourselves around the perpetrator’s struggles. Like hello, if your house is robbed it would be nice not to go to church and have everyone stand and applaud the thief for his bravery during this difficult time of personal persecution. Sheesh.
So, I watch with interest, with celebration, with joy even, because the Body of Christ, as dreadful as it can be sometimes, is also quite beautiful in the way it can work together responding to people’s needs, walking calmly through the culture’s storms, improving it’s triage skills. Doing what we are called to do, which is to bring the good news to a lost and hurting world.
I’m chuckling here but I have an image of what it looks like to make bread. You have to thrash the wheat, grind the seed, beat the dough, let it rise, punch it down, kneed it some more, repeat the whole process, before baking it all in a hot oven. Then and only then do you actually have bread anyone would ever want to eat. That’s the church alright.
“Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” He also said, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I am not the least bit worried about the “well being of the church,” I’m actually quite delighted to see the truth being spoken, wounds being healed, hypocrisy being called out.
Any abuse victim who has ever heard, you can’t say anything, you’ll hurt the church, you’ll hurt the ministry, pffftttt, the devil is a liar. YOU are the church. I am the church. We are the church. At the head of “the church” is Jesus Christ, a victim of some atrocious abuse who once endured the shame on our behalf and is now seated in victory at the right hand of the Father. To draw close to those who have been abused, is actually to draw close to Him.