We would love more pastors to be interested in learning about domestic abuse
Pastors: we would love to have more pastors reading and commenting on our blog. So many of them are A.W.O.L. when it comes to abuse issues. And domestic abuse sees to be the worst. More churches have policies and protocols for child sexual abuse and clergy sexual abuse than for domestic abuse. (And I mean no offence to those valiant Christians who are trying to get churches to respond better to child abuse and clergy sexual abuse.)
Jeff Crippen discussed the issue of pastors’ lack of interest in a comment he wrote in December 2012. One of our readers, Summer, recently mentioned how helpful she found that comment of Jeff’s and how she wished it had more prominence on the blog. So — here it is again in a post all on its own. Thanks for prompting this, Summer! 🙂
Jeff Crippen says:
As a pastor now for 30 years, as a pastor who has studied abuse for about 4 years — more than studied it, I have lived and breathed it. I have spoken to a few churches. We have written a book. Barbara has written a book. We have emailed pastors and churches and para-church organizations. I have written an open letter to pastors that has gone round the web. I have announced to the fellowship of churches that our church belongs to that there is abuse hiding in our churches, that victims are being dealt horrid injustice, and that we have written books and I have asked these pastors and elders to read those books. We began this blog in February 2012 and I live for hours on it almost every single day. Today I went to watch the Hobbit and checked on the blog 3 times during the movie. Two days ago I spent over an hour on the phone with an abuse victim and that is a typical and frequent activity of mine. We write personal emails in response to those that are sent directly to us from confused, hurting victims. And I find this ministry to victims of abuse, especially Christians, incredibly rewarding. They are the most grateful bunch of people I have ever ministered to. YOU are the most grateful bunch of people I have ever ministered to.
But guess who I almost never hear from. Guess who, even within our own fellowship of churches, that I have heard virtually nothing from in response to the fact that we have written a vital, important book that affects every single one of them. Pastors. Ask Dale and Faith Ingraham about it in their ministry (Speaking Truth In Love) to try to expose sexual abuse in churches. What have they found? A giant wall. Denial. Hiding. Blowing victims off. That is why we are seeing victims starting to sue their churches. Because finally people are saying “enough!”
You see, we have tried to be heard by pastors and church leaders and denominational leaders. Oh believe me, how we have tried. And you know what we have found with very rare exception? (And there are some exceptions). We have been met with denial. With “hey, I don’t want to hear about that stuff.” Or, “Oh yeah, in the past 20 years I have had a case or two of abuse in my church, but we handled it just fine, no problem.”
So let me add this observation learned the hard, hard way — if anyone thinks that there are just tons of pastors and church leaders out there who are simply not knowledgeable about abuse and that they really would desire to know the truth if someone would just come along and tactfully and kindly explain the facts to them, then I have to tell you that you are dreaming. How many of our readers, having suffered terribly from abuse, went to their pastors and church leaders and sought help and found that all they needed to do was explain what was happening and here came the Cavalry with trumpet sounding the charge to their rescue? You know the answer. It is these victims, you see, that we speak for here.
What we are in this ministry for the most part is more akin to the Old Testament prophets going to the people of Israel and announcing “there is sin here among the people of God!” So perhaps one of the things we need to do is change our byline at the top of our blog page to “awakening the evangelical church to the sin that is hiding in the camp and calling for repentance.” You see, the pattern in God’s Word has always been, first repentance of sin, THEN instruction in the ways of the Lord. But where there is no repentance, neither will there be acceptance of God’s Word.
The fact is, as the experiences of our victim/survivor/readers proves all too clearly, that the Christian church of our day is in a sad condition. Many, many local churches are abuser friendly and even sin friendly. And the people love it so. That is why so many of you here are “outside the camp” when you finally step up and say “that is enough. This isn’t right.” So you make your exodus from abuse and you are put out of your church formally or informally as a result while your abuser remains a member in good standing. Do I exaggerate? No way.
So this has been my journey, you see. It has been Barbara’s and it has been Megan’s and Jeff Ss’ and Martin’s [and all the others that have joined our team and the blog family since these words were first written]. It began in most all of our cases with “surely these pastors and Christians and churches will listen to our case, their eyes will be opened, and they will wake up and do right.” Over time, we found that such is just not the case.
How do we proceed then? We keep crying for justice. Louder and louder and louder. We help abuse victims get free of the abuse that they are experiencing not only at the hands of a domestic or sexual abuser, but at the hands of their own churches. We validate and vindicate them. We say “you are right. You have been wronged. What was done to you should never, ever have happened. You are not crazy, and you are not damned by God for divorcing your tormentor.”
And if, along the way, we happen to find a pastor here or there or a Christian or a church elder or a seminary professor who will listen, who comes with honest questions (and we have a few of those right now that we are communicating with), then we praise Christ for it. We will honestly and sincerely and kindly deal with their questions and direct them to good resources. They won’t get hammered.
May the Lord bless and keep each one of you, and us, and guide us into His truth and His will. And may He work mightily to open the eyes of His church, of the true shepherds of His church. May He sustain the many, many oppressed victims who are suffering right now and lead them out of their Egypt. May He smite wicked abusers who will not repent and prevent them from hurting anyone else. And may He in His might and incredible mercy, even lead an abuser here and there to genuine repentance. Amen!