Blog

What language and labels are we using in our churches? By our words, do we extend grace and mercy to all people? Or do we label them by what they have done?

January 3, 2015 1 5 comments
Blog

They wouldn’t want anyone treating one of their kids like a forgettable piece of furniture!

December 27, 2014 1 2 comments
Resource, Video

This video from Safe Church Ministry sheds light on issues of abuse. 

December 23, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

Wherever we find ourselves right now, we must keep the long view in mind.

December 19, 2014 3 2 comments
Blog

The opposite of living out of a blessed consciousness is living out of a cursed consciousness.

December 9, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Article

Are we able to see the evidence of abuse? Are those who suffer abuse in a relationship able to share what is happening without being blamed or judged?

December 2, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

Most people think only of physical abuse when they consider domestic violence, yet financial abuse happens in 98% of all cases of domestic violence.

November 24, 2014 2 9 comments
Resource

Bullying: A Fact Sheet for Teachers and Leaders of Children and Youth gives a brief overview of the problem’s prevalence, characteristics, and how leaders should respond.

November 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Our denomination and each of our congregations also have a culture. Is it a culture that promotes openness, or one that encourages hiding difficult struggles? What messages are implicit in our culture about disclosing experiences of abuse?

November 17, 2014 3 7 comments
Resource, Article

Find helpful resources related to domestic abuse. 

November 17, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Is our church body doing enough to advocate for our elderly, when they no longer have their voice and have become the “least among us”?

November 3, 2014 3 2 comments
Blog

One Sunday each year (the fourth Sunday in September) has been designated Abuse Awareness Sunday. The annual email goes out, “Tell us what you did for Abuse Awareness Sunday”. Here are some responses from 2014.

October 27, 2014 0 3 comments
Resource, Video

Check out these powerful video resources related to abuse by clergy or ministry leaders. 

October 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

In July, a news story hit the web about four male students who developed a fingernail polish that indicates the presence of date rape drugs by changing color after being dipped in the drink. While many applauded this invention, some saw negative implications.

October 21, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

The church, as a living, breathing organism, can be left in ashes and its membership spiritually wounded, if a report of sexual abuse is not handled properly.

October 13, 2014 2 2 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Designed for small groups, but also valuable for personal use, this 10-session guide uses Bible study, reflection, writing, prayer, and art to engage people in active participation with God on a journey of restoration and healing.

October 10, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar is designed to help us understand the problem of domestic violence, so that we can recognize it and respond in practical and effective ways.

October 1, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

While questions remain about the NFL’s handling of domestic violence among players, further questions arise regarding how our culture, our church, views domestic abuse.

September 30, 2014 1 1 comments
Resource, Article

Find resources from Safe Church Ministry related to pornography awareness. 

September 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

These websites offer excellent resources related to abuse by clergy or ministry leaders. 

September 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Abuse concerns us all and needs to be addressed by us all.

September 22, 2014 2 2 comments
Blog

I was sexually assaulted by a professor from my Christian undergraduate university. After reporting it to the university, I sought out my church family and other Christian friends for guidance and comfort. What I often received, though, were pointed questions and veiled accusations...

September 14, 2014 1 7 comments
Blog

Respect is the hallmark of healthy relationships in the home and in community. Expect respect to ensure personal safety and safe churches, homes and communities.

September 3, 2014 1 1 comments
Blog

Becoming a proactive community that prevents abuse is part of being disciples of Christ!

August 27, 2014 2 0 comments
Resource, Litany

The following resources from The Worship Sourcebook would work well for an abuse awareness service.  

August 15, 2014 0 0 comments

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 Well if that is his experience, so be it, but I don't see why this has to be an either/or proposition.  God may not have protected me from schizophrenia, but He certainly has protected me from other ills.  I find this to be a very selective reading of the Bible because there are plenty of passages that allude to God's protection of His people, especially in the wilderness where His presence as a pillar of fire at night protected them from the cold and predators like lions, and as a pillar of cloud during the day He protected them from the burning heat of the sun. 

In the times of the kings God also protected His people from invading armies as when King Hezekiah went to the temple to pray about threats from the Assyrian king.  

While it is true that God didn't protect his people all the time, especially when they had been unfaithful, we don't have to choose between believing in a God of protection or a God of presence.  I don't know why God allowed him to be sexually abused other than that the Lord didn't stop the Nazis from perpetrating their abominations.  I guess evil is part of the reality in this world, even in the church. Shame on the abusers.

 

So David got it wrong in the 23rd Psalm? This concept is as goofy as "God answers all prayers because "NO" is an answer." Theologically, it gives God a free pass. God tells us that he creates evil so why does "official" Christian theology give God a "get out of jail free" card?

Thank you, Bonnie!

posted in: Unbalanced Power

This is such a good point, Reverend Shannon!  Years ago, I was participating in a group presentation on the Gospel of Matthew and we were looking up artwork for our PowerPoint.  We wanted to highlight the four women referenced in the genealogy of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.  As we were looking for artwork, one of the things that struck me was, like you said, all artistic renditions of Bathsheba depicted her as a seductress.  Rahab was the woman actually identified in Scripture as a prostitute and Tamar presented herself to Judah as a temple prostitute.  Yet, neither of them are drawn like that in paintings.  It is like Pastor Arbogast stated, that is how we have been "acculturated".  Thanks for sharing!

 

 

 

 

posted in: Unbalanced Power

Safe Church Ministry has sermons posted on our website regarding the relationship between King David and Bathsheba that acknowledge the power differential involved. They can be found here, under Sermons (http://www.crcna.org/SafeChurch/resources-abuse-awareness/safe-church-mi...)

posted in: Unbalanced Power

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Robin. I really appreciate Pastor Arbogast's sermon. I have been researching for a Bible study that I am leading this summer on women in Scripture, and have been astounded by the number of commentators who depict many of the women in Scripture as seductresses. While there are some like that, most of the women in Scripture are not. I am grateful for other pastors who are faithful to the text in pointing that out. The gospel is good news for both men and women!

posted in: Unbalanced Power

Thanks, Kim!  It is amazing what encouraging messages we can glean from wholesome television!  

Great post with a great message, Robin!

Thank you, Bonnie.  I thought Philip's experience was very compelling, as well.  We so need that reminder of God's love for us and that all that sin, all that shame, was handled on the cross.  And, you are right, it is important for our congregations to prayerfully begin opening those "safe places" to experience His grace.

 

 

posted in: In Thy Presence…

I love this story; it's such a good illustration. All of us are dependent on God's grace - and we can also reflect that grace to one another. What an amazing blessing that is!! It begins with honest confession of our brokenness. We can never move to grace when we hide and pretend nothing is wrong. Where in our congregations and communities are those safe places, where we can be open, honestly sharing our struggles with sin? It's there where we can find grace and healing. We must work to create spaces for openness and honesty - that's where it all begins.

posted in: In Thy Presence…

Thank you for your comment, Staci!  You are so right, we do need to remember that our just God is also a loving Father.  

posted in: In Thy Presence…

Thanks for sharing! I'm humbled and amazed by how God loves us in the midst of our sinfulness. 

posted in: In Thy Presence…

Another very helpful website that is specifically designed to equip Christians and congregations in understanding and responding to domestic abuse is the Religion and Violence E-learning or RAVE - http://www.theraveproject.org/

 

posted in: Out of the Ashes

Thanks for this comment, Colin!  Those are some great suggestions.  

posted in: The Signs

Very helpful video, puts this area of abuse in the language of the main target audience and allows us older folk to effectively hear it too.  We are embedding a Safe Church awareness service in the midst of Lent in a few weeks.  The list of signs of abuse would be handy in print as well for people to take with them or download somehow if this is used in a church context.  One idea someone gave me a while back was to put such info in the women's washroom at church so they can get it apart from the guy.  Think we are going to include some of this info.  Thanks for posting this!  Keep it out loud (in opposition to the silence). 

Colin Vander Ploeg

posted in: The Signs

Sexual assault on college campuses remains a huge problem. The White House has recognized the problem in a report and also by launching the "It's on us" campaign. Find out more about it here . A film about sexual assault on college campuses entitled The Hunting Ground, was one of the top ten buzzed about films at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Find out about the film here.

posted in: Crying Rape

Not withstanding the fact this is a troubling societal issue, it is even more troubling when the courts need to enter the dialogue to ensure justice is done. 

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/15/00/2015BCCA0047.htm

and 

http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/12/b-c-man-wins-right-to-sue-rape-a...

 

 

 

 

posted in: Crying Rape

Why are 25% of young girls sexually molested? The power of advertising? is there a large sub rosa US population which approves of this custom? Some claim that circumcision of boys is child abuse. Then there is our growing religious population which may approve of the same sort of female mutilation.  The problems of "law and custom" are even goofier than "law and justice." No one seems to complain about "custom and justice." Logically, in those three  phrases, "and" should be replaced by "or."

posted in: Crying Rape

I appreciate this article and also agree with Bonnie's comments
I am not sure how to encourage congregations to talk about these topics (much less become involved and supportive).
Outside of church culture it seems much easier to discuss abuse issues, rape, domestic violence etc. 
Within church culture many are embarrassed to use words that could refer to anything about any type sexual activity. There is  the fallacy that nothing 'like that' could ever happen in our congregation. Add to this the tendency to blame the victim in so many ways and  the easy lie that survivors just need to forgive the abusers and everything will be okay!
I would like to see our churches get to a place where they can say first.
"I am so sorry this was done to you"
"What can we do to help?"

posted in: Crying Rape

The number of people who have been sexually abused is huge (1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys by the time they reach 18 years of age). There are many people in our congregations that have experienced abuse, though it remains undisclosed. How do we create safe places in our congregations where survivors can talk about issues of faith and how they've been impacted by their experience of abuse? How can we support those who have survived abuse in their healing journey? It won't happen as long as the culture remains likely to blame the one who's been victimized. We need to understand abuse dynamics, so that we can be the walk-alongside community that a survivor needs.

posted in: Crying Rape

There is very little reporting in the press these days. Most of the stories are gossip. Public TV is as bad as the rest. Their "Nightly Business News" is still tolerable. We read the Wall Street Journal for national and international news. I don't think anyone reads our local newspapers before the edition is put to bed. We are seriously planning to drop the cable and watch old movies on the net.  

posted in: Crying Rape

Currently, I believe that most child protective service agencies work to keep families together when possible, balancing the benefits of family with the need to keep children safe from abuse. Often wrap-around services are involved to provide various interventions for all members of the family with the goal of better functioning as a family for everyone's mutual benefit. As damaging as emotional abuse can be; it's often harder to define and acknowledge. And deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and relating to family members can be hard to change. Change involves unlearning old ways and re-learning new ways of interacting.

To comment further on this matter, I know that for a long time, even when they did believe the victims of incest or child sexual abuse, those same victims would be removed from their families and sent elsewhere to be protecting.  I know that society was still doing that into the 1980s because my mom who was a professional social worker worked in detention centres for girls back then, and most of the inmates were victims of incest.  Now, if I've heard Dr.Phil say even once that when there is trouble in the home children will believe it's their fault, I've heard it a hundred times.  And they would certainly be even more convinced of it if they were sent to a detention centre while the abuser was allowed to stay and continue with the other children!  I wish I could say that it never happens anymore, but I'm not sure. Batshaw's track record in this matter is far from spotless.(It's the child protection agency here in Québec.) They've been known to make very dubious decisions about whom to give custody of children to in cases of divorce for example.  It certainly is far less tolerated, and now the spouse of such an abuser is more likely to be told to "kick the bastard to the curb" than to send the child away.

You have raised some very important points, Elly.  In my mother's generation, and even in mine to some extent, subjects about abuse were just considered taboo.  It seems some churches, in general, are reluctant to talk about abuse and I wonder if it is just because they feel ill-equip to handle it.  The problem is that, along with silence, comes shame.  Thankfully, there are resources and advocates, like our Safe Church Ministry team members, who can help open the avenues of sharing and talking.  Great suggestions, Elly!

Thanks for your comment, Reverend Shannon!  In doing the research to write this blogpost, I was startled to find the statistics about the impact of emotional abuse.  That can explain so much, when we see wounded adults.

So glad that more and more churches are addressing abuse prevention. Having a safe church policy is one way to make our congregations safer places (we're up to 64% of CRC congregations that have some kind of abuse prevention policy - I would say that's not enough, but at least we are moving in the right direction). As the story points out, abuse doesn't only affect children and most abuse doesn't happen in a church context. I think we have a long way to go to make our congregations safer places to disclose abuse that has been experienced. Sharing a story of abuse is difficult for many various reasons. Yet when someone is able to share his or her own story in a community of people who listen, believe, and offer support, it becomes that much easier for the next person, and then the next, and so on. And healing can begin to flow with the Lord and with his people. May it be so among us.

I'm not sure that ALL CRC congregations are reluctant to address this sort of problem. My church here in Montreal has had an abuse policy since 2002 at least, and all the doors have windows in them so someone passing by can see what's going on in the room.  And adults wanting to work with children have to undergo a police background check first. So let's avoid generalizations and blanket statements please.

That's sad. 

Thankyou so much for sharing your story, Robin.  I wonder if you have identified why CRC churches are so reluctant to talk about abuse and promote Safe Church Ministry.  Maybe there are too many adults among us who have experienced some sort of abuse, including emotional/psychological abuse, that are not ready to face our demons.  Maybe we are reluctant to face up to the fact that there are leaders or parents among us who are responsible for those demons.  Maybe by speaking about the abuse we have endured we fear risking ruining the reputation of someone that others in the church have always looked up to, admired and respected.  Maybe in sharing our experiences we fear not being believed.  It's time to start talking about our experiences so that there can be healing for all, both victims and perpetrators!

The question you pose is an important one, Robin, "What are our churches doing to walk with not only our children who have been on the receiving end of any type of abuse but the adults among us as well?" There are many adults who carry the scars of abuse, which is why it is so critical that our worship, adult discipleship activities, and education programs are at least cognizant of it, if not addressing it directly. Thank you for sharing this story, and the link to the Faith Alive booklet! 

Brilliant response, Angela!  You are right, it is good to acknowledge areas in which our churches still need growth.

posted in: Is Someone Missing?

Thank YOU Angela, for your supportive words and also for the good work you do to make churches safer for everyone, including those who have experienced abuse.

posted in: Is Someone Missing?

Thank you for bringing this topic to the forefront of our discussions. I have felt from the very beginning of my safe church involvement that the church of Christ is called to minister to victims of abuse. We know the source of all healing, Jesus Christ. How can we not reach out to those who are so terribly hurt and bruised. We aren't there yet. At least we've gone beyond children's ministries to including vulnerable adults. We're a long way from truly being a safe church where disclosure of any kind of sin is accepted and safe to do.

posted in: Is Someone Missing?

Great comment, Rev. Shannon!  So glad to hear that some of the CRC ministries are already addressing this issue.

posted in: My Daughter!

This is a very timely piece, Robin. Thank you for sharing it. Some of us who are involved in the CRC's Discipleship & Faith Formation Ministries have been talking about the possibility of creating a workshop and maybe some tools for Christian parents. I think this story demonstrates how many Christian parents feel--ill-equipped to discipline their children as they grow. As congregations, I think we could be doing so much more to support parents in raising Christian children. 

posted in: My Daughter!

You're right Bill. That's what I meant when I said that there are consequences for sin. Safe Church would recommend, for example, that one of the consequences of having a criminal sexual offense on your record is that as a result, you are unable to serve the congregation in a position of responsibility with children and youth. There are many other ways to serve that would be more appropriate. We need to be wise and also diligent in our responsibility to protect those who are most vulnerable among us. The Lord has entrusted them to our care. Safe Church Ministry has resources on our website that address returning citizens who have a criminal sexual history. They can be found here.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

There is also the problem of putting people into harm's way aka temptation. I one talked to a person who said he would not object to having a repentant thief as his church treasurer. Why would a person who knows he is tempted to steal want to be a church treasurer? Neither would I want a "reformed" porn addict working with children.  

posted in: What’s in a Name?

There is a difference between acknowledging sin and holding someone accountable, which I believe is something that we need to do much more than we do currently in our churches - and offering grace and forgiveness. Offering grace and forgiveness does not mean that there are not consequences for sin, there may still be consequences. And we are called to be holy, so we don't have permission to continue in our sin. Yet our sin does not define who we are. We are defined by our relationship with our Father, who pronounces us his own, blessed and loved. And as Robin points out his grace is meant to lead to a change of heart, we are in the process of being sanctified, a process that will not end until we dwell in heaven with him. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1) Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). We need to reflect that as his people.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

What a challenging assessment, Bev.  Thank you, for helping us to think deeper about this subject.  I would add, though, that the theme of the blogpost was not about political correctness; rather, it was about extending grace to others.  Also, in the passages you mentioned, Paul’s and Jesus’ words were advocating for, and a message for, change.  That labeling was part of the teaching, part of the correction.  I intended for my blogpost to make the distinction between correcting and condemning.

Conversely, the movie antagonist I referenced, Javert, and as I said, sometimes represents certain sections of society, used labeling as a way to shame and condemn Fantine and Jean Valjean.  Javert offered no hope, no message of redemption.  To Javert, what they (Fantine and Jean Valjean) were, was all they would ever be.  That is why Javert pursued Jean Valjean so doggedly, right?  Javert wanted to continually hold Jean Valjean under the banner of the sin he had committed.  That is what people do when they do not have the hope of the Gospel.  But, we have that hope, right?

Therefore, the impetus of the labeling is from a place of loving correction and is a precedent for change.  And, you are right, Jesus does refer to Judas as “a devil” in John 6:70.  In Matthew 26:50, Jesus also calls Judas “friend”.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

Les Mis is one of my favorite stories...however, this is making me go hmmm... I get the concept and it sounds nice and very politically correct, so we aren't "sinners" anymore, instead people who make poor choices/mistakes sometimes...  and yes, sometimes the scripture lists it as those who do certain sinful things....  ie those who are greedy or see Galatians 5:19-21 for a list of sins.

also, I do struggle when people quote that all our deeds are filthy rags, and every intent of our heart is evil, instead of giving Jesus the glory for giving us, as believers, a new heart and making us a new creation in Him, and through His blood, cleansing those filthy rags into fine linen worthy of His Bride (Rev 19:8).. absolutely, we have a new identity in Christ.

but Apostle Paul uses all kinds of labels (I Cor 5:9-13)... Jesus did too...  "brood of vipers" =( ouch! not exactly PC... He didn't say "oh you people who act like snakes sometimes"...  and "blind guides" - not, "these people who don't see clearly all the time"...  He called Judas a "devil"...  He called people wicked and perverse... definitely not "nice" or politically correct, it's part of what got Him killed...

I know it seems harsh in our politically correct culture, but unless we have been translating the Word of God wrong, there is biblical precedent for "labeling" in scripture... it seems, particularly for those who were expected to be spiritual, but were actually walking in sin and un-repentance.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

Thank you, for these helpful suggestions, Mark.  We can all participate better, when we are better informed!

Robin, thanks for this! Here are three ideas to get people started on a road toward fully engaging kids with disabilities at their church:

  • Treat him or her, as much as possible, like you treat the other children.
  • Don't assume what the child can or cannot do, but learn by interacting with him or her and by talking with the child's parents/guardians.
  • For more information, see the Resources for Church Education from Disability Concerns, and Church Services from CLC Network. 

I was not familiar with this report, Bev.  Seems like there was a lot wrong with how they initially handled issues of sexual abuse.  Glad they sought out ways to correct and remedy that.  I was particularly moved by the comment, "Some participants noted that chapel sermons on forgiveness had pushed (those who experience abuse) to forgive quickly, bypassing (those who experience abuse)'s need for lament".  Thank you for sharing this!

you probably have already read this... but just in case you haven't and have some time to read it (even if just the introduction of the report)... the link includes a link to the 300 page report that came out of the independent investigation....  I give Bob Jones considerable credit for carrying through with this investigation on their culture regarding sexual abuse... 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/12/us/bob-jones-university-sex-assault-victim-study.html?_r=1

I wrote this a few nights ago... the idea started after seeing the warning at the beginning of a movie... "piracy is not a victimless crime"... then later when i went to bed, the idea expanded into this telegram format... I put the original text of the "message" in the old fashioned courier style which did not copy to this comment...

TELEGRAM

URGENT

Pornography is not a victimless activity (Stop)

It hurts God (Stop)

It hurts you (Stop)

It hurts your family (Stop)

It hurts your friends and associates (Stop)

It hurts those who are involved in making the pornography (Stop)

It hurts the women and children enslaved in sex trafficking due to fueling the lust for selfish pleasure (Stop)

Please (Stop)

 

 

 

 

Great comment, Shannon!

This is beautiful, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing this meditation and challenging us to keep the long view in mind.

And, bless your heart, Bev, for helping to shed more light on this issue.  You have really helped to enhance this blogpost and this conversation.  I should have asked you to co-write this with me!

posted in: Ties That Bind

bless your heart, Robin, for being willing to speak out here =) 

here's a comment I found while reading a blog last night...

BOQ...Financial security is usually an issue in abusive situations, especially if there are kids involved. ... - abusers usually control everything, including the finances. Threatening complete financial abandonment if not compliant, and dangling "carrots" like trips, jewelry, etc. Both manipulations designed to make her stay, and stay in the fog of confusion. EOQ

and there is a big difference between self control (fruit of the Spirit) and manipulative control (fruit of the enemy)...

 

posted in: Ties That Bind

I really appreciate your input, Bev!  You brought up a good point about leader abuse and spiritual abuse, within the church.  Those are some other issues we need to talk about, as well.  Additionally, your comments on perception and our pass experiences, “…if you've experienced it, you can discern the control lingo that's been spiritualized (which becomes spiritual abuse)...” were also very valuable.

posted in: Ties That Bind

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