It’s been a rough year and a half for the church in America. Over the past months #metoo and #churchtoo has entered our common vernacular as we watch one leader after another fall. For many, this has come as a shock. But if we look at research, what is occurring shouldn’t surprise us. Research has shown that most pastors have struggled with porn, one way sexual immorality manifests itself. It’s not necessarily that more sin is occurring, but rather that sin is being exposed.
As managing editor of The Exchange, when Ed shared with me the latest article on Paige Patterson, my reaction was pretty simple: “This is getting really old.” Two weeks prior, when Ed wanted to post on moral failure among Christian leaders, he texted me as I was leaving from dropping off lunch to a woman who has been the victim of trafficking and her life nearly destroyed. My reaction then was also pretty simple, “I’m really angry. So many lives are being destroyed.”
My reaction within a two-week timeframe had swung from rage to apathy. This, I think, is how many women, and many victims of sexual assault and abuse, feel inside the church today.
The need for change
So if we were to say that being a woman in the church today isn’t easy, too many women would unfortunately resonate with that statement. But this kind of sin inside the church is likely not new. What we are witnessing is simply what has already been happening coming into the light. John Richards, my direct boss, recently wrote an article on Being Black and Tired—Yet Hopeful. In it, he both challenged his fellow black Christians to keep up the good fight and he gave an insider perspective that is helpful to those of us who are not black. This is similar to what Beth Moore did last week when she wrote “A Letter to My Brothers” on the topic of being female in the church.
Like Moore, I have experienced ignorance, disregard, condescending remarks and attitudes, and inappropriate comments. But, like Moore, I have also experienced the kindness and genuine goodness of so many men that it far outweighs the ridiculous attitudes and gestures of a few too many. (I highly encourage you to read Thabiti Anayabwile’s apology to Moore and other women. It serves as an excellent example of humility and kindness.)
As a female, and one who has experienced both sexual assault and disappointment at the hands of others, I can stand with the countless women (and men) in the church today who are scratching their heads as God cleans out his church. We are silently (and sometimes not so silently) praying for a deep-seeded change that would result in all of God’s people to acknowledge their sin, repent, and seek restoration and healing.
Any platitude of creating ‘boundaries’ for men and women and similar statements (no matter how helpful they may seem) are quickly falling on deaf ears, for we know that Band-Aids are not the answer to the infection of the sin of sexual immorality. Only a deep change of the heart can turn the tide that is raging through our churches.
So, how can women and victims respond?
But many have written on this issue, and many more will—including us here on The Exchange. My goal in this article is simple: to speak to the women and victims who are feeling disappointed, angry, or apathetic.
For all those who have been victims at the hands of others in the church, I would like to suggest three concrete ways to move forward. (Note that any form of sexual assault should always be reported to church and other authorities. The below items are meant to serve in tandem or after that critical first step.)
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Source: Christianity Today