I am going to write this piece and then take a break for awhile. I have been taking on a lot of pain lately. What many of my friends do not know is how closely I have been watching the SBC on Twitter. I have been investigating, because the amount of abuse that has come out of their organization (as well as the Catholic Church) should have us on our knees in mourning, but it isn’t happening. Abuse apathy is something I noticed in church in 2016, and what almost sent me away from church forever.
Something that has bothered me in church is our inability to go all in with the truth. We think there are always two sides, and if we are angry then we are unforgiving and not extending grace-or we may become what we fear. I agree all of this can happen, but let me tell you this – I am not worried about that for me because my focus is on my faith in Jesus Christ, not being right. If I err, I am more than willing to apologize. I have laid myself out there to make mistakes, but I have also built a reputation of one who is seeking truth. I am not looking to tear down because my feelings were hurt. I worked years through my pain to get to this point.
There are some things I am going to work on in my break. I am going to explore ways I can call out abuse in organizations without making generalizations. What I would like from my friends who know me is to explore maybe untangling ourselves as being accused because we were-or are- a part of that organization. I lament church all the time, but I am still a part of her. I believe in her, and I know who she could be. I will call her into account when she is harming people. In the same way I expect to be called into account if I am causing harm. That is what living in community is all about. But I hope that we are more of encouragement than calling into account people. That is another downside to church in America as well. We do not build people up. Wilshire is the first place I have experienced such encouragement.
The SBC – we cannot overlook it. What they have done is organized crime. This doesn’t mean nothing good is coming out of the SBC, nor that lots of good has come out in the past. Of course good has come. The Bible is full of problematic stories, but love still finds a way. But right now the SBC is in a state we should not be defending in any way. And those a part of the SBC – I am asking you to call this organization into account. We aren’t calling out people, but powers and principalities. Women, children and men have suffered so much abuse. Abusers were moved around from church to church – using church autonomy as a way to avoid accountability. It was a good-ole-boy system. Loyalty got you everywhere. If churches affirmed women or gay preachers – church autonomy was not ok. They have a creed called the BFM2K in place to call everyone to uniformity in these cases.
Calling out crime doesn’t negate all the good that has happened. I am going to say this again. But Spirit isn’t having it anymore. The SBC convention proved they are not taking the abuse seriously. Their language on women and LGBTQIAPLUS is getting worse. They used a gavel to open the convention that was a gift from a slaveholder. And they have not appointed a minority leader yet. Plus, the BFM2K does not have Jesus as the hermeneutic (lens to read scripture), and they are calling themselves a christian organization. They have made Jesus a mascot, and that mascot is hurting people. We need to be aware of what is happening in our faith when people say they are hurt, but we see the abuser get the benefit of the doubt time and time again. Once again, I am calling out power and principality – not people. I believe tons of faithful people are in this organization. I can’t say that enough. Many are my dearest friends.
Many are unaware how rare it is to hear a woman’s pain spoken in church. This is why Wilshire was a balm to my soul. My pain mattered.
We cannot reconcile if there is no repentance. The Jewish faith has helped me understand christianity’s weak posture on repentance. I am going to link Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg’s article explaining repentance from a Jewish tradition. Christianity (and I hate to make generalizations, but what do you do when this seems to be the overall experience of the masses) tends to skip right to forgiveness. The one who does harm gets a pass, and the harmed continues to hurt – and their pain gets re-traumatized by the church not weeping with them/us. “You just need to forgive” “He did not mean it that way” “This happens everywhere”…the list goes on. These are hurtful statements people who have experienced abuse hear.
I know we are still in the infant stage of christianity. Our faith isn’t that old. This is why drawing from other faith traditions would be wise. We have a problem in our family, and we need outside help.
There is no reconciliation without repentance.