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We welcomed people as they arrived, while being hopeful that people would take time on a summer evening to come to an inspiring program. The featured speaker was nationally known Christian author, speaker, and licensed family and marriage counselor...

August 11, 2014 1 1 comments
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Website changes, your chance to vote, and events happening this fall.

August 6, 2014 0 0 comments
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In the last year or so, I have observed a disturbing trend: the introduction and acceptance of a mindset into our culture.

July 30, 2014 1 3 comments
Resource, Article

Are there warning signs in a relationship?

July 8, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Article

Recommended steps for child safety this summer.

July 8, 2014 0 0 comments
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The Circle of Grace curriculum teaches children and youth how to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.

June 30, 2014 0 1 comments
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If you think that sex trafficking doesn’t happen where you live, think again.

June 24, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

In a recent blog with Rhymes with Religion, Boz Tchividjian asserts the need for seminaries to provide formal training for church leaders in preventing and responding to child abuse.

June 13, 2014 1 0 comments
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Through any transition, Safe Church Ministry, in one form or another, will survive and grow. Why? Because churches need to know how to protect the children and vulnerable people entrusted to their care.

June 11, 2014 1 2 comments
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What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “boys will be boys”? What does it mean in our culture to be masculine?

June 2, 2014 1 4 comments
Resource, Procedure

The Advisory Panel Process has been put in place to support Christian Reformed congregations in responding to church leader misconduct.

June 2, 2014 0 0 comments
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Each ministry leader had 2 minutes to say something about the ministry he or she was involved in; who knows where this relationship could go? Here’s my Safe Church “speed dating” pitch...

May 22, 2014 2 1 comments
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There are many reasons to have safe church policies; for example, we want to provide a safe environment at church for faith to flourish. No one wants to believe that abuse could happen in church. The sad fact is that it does happen.

May 20, 2014 2 1 comments
Blog

About 60 people attended the Safe Church Ministry conference April 25-26. The conference included a wide variety of workshops for those who are new to safe church as well as for those who have been involved for many years. There were many “newbies” present from classes where there are no active...

May 13, 2014 0 0 comments
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Porn is here and it will affect the church.

May 5, 2014 1 4 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

Circle of Grace is a primary prevention program that trains children and youth to be an active participant in creating a safe environment for themselves and others.

April 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource

Preventing abuse takes bold leadership, leaders who are not afraid to talk about the issue and bring it out into the open.

April 22, 2014 1 1 comments
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Can a pastor deposed for sexual misconduct subsequently serve as an elder in a congregation?

April 8, 2014 0 10 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

This document shares the Christian Reformed Church's position statement on abuse as well as articles of the Church Order relevant to Safe Church.

April 8, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

How can a church maintain a safe environment and also welcome criminal sexual offenders? This webinar will help answer that question.

March 23, 2014 0 0 comments
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This brochure asks the question: "How can a church minister to those with a criminal sexual history and still be safe?"

March 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Check out these helpful websites to get a better understanding of child sexual abuse. 

March 23, 2014 0 0 comments
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This bulletin insert describes bullying, why it is so harmful in our church communities, and what we can begin to do about it.

March 23, 2014 0 0 comments

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thanks for being willing to look deeper, Robin... control is a huge issue (probably most abuse is about control) -and the control will manifest financially in different ways, as well as in other areas.  Control is not only an issue in relationships, but also in the Church...  it can be so subtle and hard to see...  and one struggles with is it real or imagined (spiritual/emotional abuse v physical/sexual abuse)...  a comment from an article on church abuse...

BOQ... But in the many many months I have spent on studying abusive churches and abusive tactics, there is a very common theme and many common words that churches use that are a substitute for "control". EOQ

if you've experienced it, you can discern the control lingo that's been spiritualized (which becomes spiritual abuse)...  here's an example this same person uses in another comment and her take on it...  the quoted part of the following excerpt is from a church website:

BOQ..."Finally, we understand that we will encounter some very significant challenges that may require the services of an outside trained professional counselor. If necessary, we can refer people to a trusted professional who employs a gospel-centered counseling approach, and who will work together with our community to help shepherd hurting people." In other words. If we decide you do need counseling, it will be with someone who we decide is appropriate. I've been around the block on that. I understand the wording. EOQ

I am amazed at those who have been abused/manipulated by leaders in the Church, how they pick up on this type of "control" and perceive it much quicker than those who have not experienced such abuse and manipulation...  the statements of leaders looks good, sounds good, but there's something amiss and those who've been on the wrong end of it, recognize the loopholes in it, while those who are in leadership often do not...  and that's why discernment is such a needed gift for the Bride of Christ.  hope that makes sense!

 

 

 

 

posted in: Ties That Bind

Interesting point and interesting questions, John, “What is sometimes called financial abuse is often a result of the couple not being on the same page for priorities in spending.”  Still, to see that woman so easily reduced to tears and to hear the desperation in her voice when she said “I don’t have anywhere else to go” indicated, to me, at least the possibility of a pattern of abusive behavior.  Now, easily, someone could counter, “maybe the wife was just a crier or overly emotional”.  That might be the case, but, I do not know if that mindset gives equal weight or room to places where there is, in fact, a problem.

I once heard an associate minister advise a wife that she and her husband needed to talk about their finances and to come to better joint-agreements on how to spend their money.  That sounds amicable enough, right?  But, what prompted this advice was the wife’s comment that she and her husband both worked forty hours a week, outside the home, and that she still had to ask him for lunch money, everyday, and that he would never give her more than $5.00 or $6.00.  So, as I listened to this associate minister assure this wife that everything would be solved with her and her husband just having the “money-talk”, I also heard the need for a deeper concern.  And, internally, I actually questioned how responsible it was for that licensed minister to throw a fix-all-talk-it-out solution at that wife, without first determining whether or not her husband had violent tendencies (the husband did not actually attend our church, so I do not know if the associate minister had ever even met him).

As another example, a former co-worker, who was also a church elder, was very proud of the fact that he provided well enough for his family that his wife did not have to work, outside the home, even saying, “I never wanted a working wife.”  Nothing unsettling at all about that, right?  However, I also noticed that whenever his wife or their teenaged daughter would do something that displeased him, he would remove all of the landline telephones from their home (this was in the early 90’s, before everyone had cellular phones), to “teach them a lesson”.  He would adamantly state, “I bought the phones, so I can take them out when I want”.  Again, that behavior seemed more about control, than about being a good provider.

So, John, I can agree with what I think is your stance that not every financial dispute is, at its core, financial abuse.  The point of this blog, however, was to open a dialogue in our churches to identify when it is, or, at least to ask deeper questions.

posted in: Ties That Bind

Thank you, Bonnie, for this thorough insight and this very helpful link.  What a stimulating blog that was, especially where it said, “We need to create generous space where we can listen to the stories of women who have been told by the church and its leaders that their Christian duty is to remain in an abusive relationship.”

posted in: Ties That Bind

When my husband and I did pre-marital counseling, 36 years ago, we had a session on in-laws (you marry a family not just one person), we also had a session on finances to discover our differences around that issue. We had 4 other sessions, 6 in all. Our pastor was proud of the fact that over 50% of the couples he counseled broke off their engagement (better before than after you're married). But that's not what Robin's article is about. One session that was not covered in our premarital counseling was relationship abuse, how to recognize the signs, how to get help, etc. I wonder how many CRC pastors discuss relationship abuse in their premarital counseling? I wonder how many youth groups talk about dating violence? That's one thing that churches could do to prevent relationship abuse, which is what this blog post is about.

posted in: Ties That Bind

You may be right, Robin... this was a tv show after all, and 'set up' for maximum effect.  The guy seems to be an idiot and heartless.  There is no excuse for the profanity.   But in reality, it is often not so simple.  What kind of store were they going to?  How did the prices compare to alternatives?  How many clothes did the child have already?  Were they wealthy, poor, or average in income?  I know many average families who really spend a lot of time making sure they stretch the dollar by buying on sales, sharing clothes, passing down or receiving barely worn stuff from others.  On the other hand, some people seem to need the latest, most expensive, most faddish stuff, even when they cannot really afford it.  What is sometimes called financial abuse is often a result of the couple not being on the same page for priorities in spending.  Sometimes the spender is the abuser (think of a compulsive gambler).  This is why financial counselling before marriage is so important, just as important as counselling about sharing time, sexual needs, and priorities and methods for raising children, life goals for career or recreational activities, and how to handle disagreements.  Finance is still the number one cause of marriage discordance, as far as I know, so it is important to be on the same page on that from the beginning.  

posted in: Ties That Bind

Thanks for this blog that helps us think about the impact of finances in the broader issue of relationship abuse. It's certainly one important barrier to leaving the relationship. There are many other barriers as well: it can be very dangerous to leave, many of the deaths attributed to relationship abuse happen when the one being victimized tries to leave. Also, "hope springs eternal". There are many positive things about the relationship in spite of abuse. There are the memories of a more loving time, the hope that the apologies and the promises that it will never happen again are true. And if children are involved that adds a whole new dynamic. It's not easy. It's good to think about the complexities of the issue, including the impact of finances. When we, as the church, truly understand the problem, we are better able to offer a helpful response. For another take on this theme see the following article from ReFrame Media: http://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/scandal-whyistayed-and-standing-a...

posted in: Ties That Bind

This is some fascinating insight, Bev.  I might need to try and find that book!

Such thoughtful and true words, Shannon.  

Thanks for the good words from Marie Fortune, who has worked extensively at the intersection of faith and abuse. Truth telling and acknowledging the wrong are difficult and absolutely necessary first steps. I wonder why that's so hard for us. As Christians, who stand by the grace of God forgiven and loved, it seems that we should be able to do this with one another. What is Christian community without that?

the following is an excerpt from the hope of survivors website which is about abuse by spiritual leaders (those who have authority/power in the Church):

To summarize what Marie M. Fortune wrote in her book, Is Nothing Sacred?, the proper steps to take when implementing justice and mercy (based on Micah 6:8) include:

1. Truth-telling (breaking the silence of the abuse)

2. Acknowledging the violation (in hearing the truth, the church acknowledges the violation)

3. Compassion (means to “suffer with,” to be present, acknowledge and listen, even when you can’t solve the problem)

4. Protecting the vulnerable (prevent further harm)

5. Accountability (based on Luke 17:1-4, it begins with confrontation and should end in repentance)

6. Restitution (making payment for damages is a concrete means of renewing right-relation)

7. Vindication (for the victim, it most often means exoneration and justification)

The bottom line: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY–DON’T HIDE!

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Bonnie. They challenge us as the Church to have the courage to confront injustice and hurt. May we follow the Spirit's prompting to do so win spite of our fears.

Thank you, Shannon!  I am so glad you found this useful.  It gave me a lot to think about, too.

Thanks for sharing this piece, Robin. It gives us a lot to think about as church leaders. 

Hmmmm, “…human memory converts negative thoughts into positive thoughts…” is an interesting application, in this context.  When I have read those same reports, their focus and goal were to help people overcome depression and rewiring ones brain for positivity and happiness, not as someone using it as a way to validate his/her abusive behavior.  But, as we live in a fallen world, anything can be twisted when someone really does not want to come to terms with his/her actions.

Nevertheless, our churches and its members do not need to “sleep in” on issues of abuse, when we could be doing more to help.

Rather, our churches should be an active, living, breathing organism, with immune systems and bacteria fighting properties intact to promote healing.  When one part of the Body of Christ is hurting, we all should feel it.

So, in effect Abuse Awareness Sunday serves the same purpose as your “Be a good neighbor” Sunday suggestion.  Both serve the greater purpose of us walking alongside each other, through the good and the bad.  Part of the Love in Action instructions we are given in Romans 12:15 is that we should “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

So, if you “sleep in” on Abuse Awareness Sunday, I am sure that someone would miss you in your church family, the same way that someone trapped in abuse would miss having light shed on their dilemma.

Many, many of our neighbors have suffered abuse. How wonderful it would be to welcome neighbors into a congregation that could offer understanding, compassion, hope, and healing. We simply can't do that without first building awareness about the issue of abuse.

If I thought we were to have an "abuse awareness" church service I would sleep in.

I have read that the human memory converts negative thoughts into positive thoughts so "stop beating your wife" is remembered as "the wife needs to be corrected, again." Maybe better to have "Be a good neighbor" Sunday. 

Thank you, for providing this additional information, Carol!  It will be very helpful to our churches as they seek to create Safe Church policies.

Thank you for this important reminder, Robin! We are always happy to help churches with their "fire drills" and developing safer environments for all church members, staff, and visitors. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Contact us at (616) 241-1691 x2193 ~ Carol, CRC Safe Church Ministry

Hi Harry,

Thank you so much for sharing your concern about the expense of flyers from Safe Church Ministry. I share that concern. Especially in these days of tightening budgets, we need to be strategic and wise in our use of funds as well as other resources. For that reason Safe Church does not send our bulletin inserts to all CRC congregations for Abuse Awareness Sunday each year. We have created bulletin inserts on a variety of topics to fulfill our mandate to increase awareness about abuse. These are made available to view online. Churches who want to use the inserts place orders for them through Safe Church or directly from Faith Alive. It is not the policy of Safe Church to send resource materials to CRC congregations that are not specifically requested. Making the majority of our resources available online helps us all avoid the expense and use of resources involved in producing hard copy. We believe that these bulletin inserts pack a lot of good helpful  information into a small space are are an inexpensive way to help build awareness about key issues that affect our congregations. But we will only send them when specifically requested. We are very thankful that congregations choose to partner with us in increasing awareness about abuse and usually request around 20,000 Safe Church bulletin inserts each year. In addition we are beginning to offer these inserts for a fee to non-CRC organizations who have shown an interest in purchasing them. This perhaps has potential to offset some of the costs.

 

 

 

We received in our church mailbox two 4x6 flyers from safe church ministry. If they were meant to reach all members of the CRCNA some 600,000 of these would have been printed.  At 5 cents each the cost of printing would have been $30,000 and shipping to 300 churches another $3,000

In fairness I should mention that at the same time the same size flyers arrived from world renew, world missions and disability concerns. A total cost of $82,500.

Surely we can find a more responsible way to allocate the churches resources.

To learn more - sign up for the webinar TODAY! Domestic Violence and the Role of the Church. Go to http://www.crcna.org/webinars for more information.

All these are good things to do.
Breaking the silence is the most important. It makes all the rest possible.

I think one of the problems about talking about abuse issues or at least sexual abuse issues is that to talk about it we have to talk about sex. In our church culture we generally do not talk about sexual intercourse, Even normal, heterosexual intercourse within marriage is not discussed. It is considered too private and therefore appears shameful. We do not talk to our children about the joy of sexual intimacy within marriage, or about masturbation, homosexuality, sexual arousal, how to say no to ones self or others,  pornography etc.
All is silent

So children, teens and adults keep on struggling with all these issues.
Children keep on getting molested, raped, exposed to sexual deviancy . . .
Abusers keep hiding in our churches
Survivors keep suffering in silence

All of us say we care and do not want abuse but I don't think that is true anymore.
If we really cared we would do something real about it

When will this change?

Rachel,
I just want to join the chorus and say Thank You for being the guide on this forum. Your work is very much appreciated! I do more reading than posting, but have been following along on this topic as time permits. May God bless and guide you as you move on to other things to write about.

Thank you Rachel for your wonderful work being the Network guide for Safe Church Ministry, especially for your very informative and helpful posts to this site. It's been a tremendous blessing to have you in that role, and you will be missed. I agree with your assessment that we can't prevent abuse if we can't talk openly about it. And that abuse prevention needs to be owned not only by a few people, but by entire congregations and by denominational leadership. I echo your hope that the Network will continue to be a place where people can find "helpful information and resources for support and guidance". THANK YOU RACHEL! Blessings to you.

a quote from the following website dealing with abuse in the church:
http://globaltraumarecovery.org/
It is a sad fact that many organizations, when faced with the choice of protecting an abusive leader or victim, choose to protect the leader (and thus the organization) rather than the victims of that abuse. All too often, victims report that the failure of the system to respond well to their cries for help cause more harm than the original abuse.

The stupidity of some council members, in the case of Ryan*, absolutely blows my mind.  Why did they expose the whole family of a man to shame, when it was the father who was guilty of looking at pornography? And even then indulging in pornography may be a sin, but addictions are considered a mental illness and listed in the DSM-IV.  I don't know about the DSM-V, I've never looked at a copy of the latest edition.  But this was a gratuitous humiliation of innocent people, and the Council should apologize to their victims and ask for forgiveness for the way they were treated.

As for criticizing a woman for having been assaulted by one of her professors, and implying she was at fault ; feminists call that blaming the victim.  Are there still people in our denomination stupid enough to blame children who have been molested for being victims of child sexual abuse? Why do we automatically assume that a female university student--or any other woman for that matter--tried to seduce her aggressor and got raped because of it?  Since when do we believe that men are poor innocent victims of sexual temptations who can't help but give in to them?  Adam in Gen.3, tried to blame both God and Eve for his disobedience, but God didn't buy it and cursed the ground because of what the man did.  We're supposed to show compassion to those who suffer, but I didn't see much of it in those cases.  What will it take for people who claim to be Christians to smarten up?

This may not be a university student related issue. Most universities have extra support systems in place for students that could make it easier, rather than more difficult, for a student to report sexual assault. Research shows that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes of all. And on top of that, the conviction rate is also very low. There is a tendency for people to blame the one who has been victimized and there is a very real risk of being re-victimized throughout the criminal justice process. Unfortunately, in our culture, the most "normal" thing for someone who has been sexually assaulted to do is NOT report it to the police. Those who have survived abuse most often seek support apart from the criminal justice system. And this is an opportunity for the church to fill an important role in the life of people who have been hurt and who can benefit immensely from the love of our Savior.

Thank-you for writing this article.
So good to hear that Pastor Willis* changed his tone when you called him on it.

It is my experience that my close friends at church are supportive in my struggles with abuse issues and PTSD.

However my church in general could use more education about it. I think that most people care but they do not know what to do.   There is embarrassment because they are not sure what to say so they say nothing  or don't meet your eye or shun like Ryan said. Others believe that such topics should never be talked about.   
Most elders care but they have no idea what to say if my husband or I bring it up at visits. I was once told by an elder that if I had grown up in our church the abuse would not have happened! One elder did some research and got back to me with a book and he was willing to listen and learn. Two of our pastors have been very helpful.
Some people who hear me speak about it avoid me and I later discover that this is  because I have triggered their own pain.

When I first started looking for help to deal with the abuse issues I was re wounded many times by well meaning people who had no idea what help should look like. The best first response is "I am so sorry this was done to you".
A bad response is "You just have to forgive them and forget about it!"
I don't know any survivors who would not choose to forget if they could. We do not deliberately remember. We are haunted.
Thankfully I have received much healing from our precious Lord, and with the help of caring people and counselors and my splendid husband. I am thankful and grateful for this journey to wholeness.

I would like all our churches to make a choice to care about abuse survivors and perpetrators too, to read the books, listen to the teachings and become educated.
I am not ashamed anymore of what was done to me. It is not my shame. It is the abusers shame.
I had better get off my soapbox here.
I appreciate this opportunity to talk about a long neglected topic.

Why don't university students report sex crimes to the police as "normal" victims do? 

Thank you Robin, for your courage, openness, and honesty. May the Lord give us ears to hear.

Thank you for sharing this beautifully written and transparent piece, Robin. It serves as a good challenge to all of us to be the Church God has called us to be, where reconciliation and restoration are the ultimate goal.

This is very helpful. I think we need to be having more conversations about treating others with respect in our homes and congregations. It is such an important practice that can have a huge impact on the Church!

Thank you for your wise comments Pam. A power imbalance in the relationship must always be considered in determining abuse. Consensual sex assumes an equal-power relationship. It is always the responsibility of the person with the most power in a relationship to maintain and to guard healthy relational boundaries. That is the responsibility of the pastor or church leader in the context of the church community. It's important to place the responsibility where it belongs and hold those with sacred power accountable for their actions.

posted in: Is It Abuse?

Actually, John, I think you have to be careful about a focus on the wrongness of sex outside of marriage - then the focus is on the guilt of both parties.  A sexual relationship, even one where the young person feels they are "in love", between a young person and an adult church leader is abuse -- a mis-use of power.  That leader has ABUSED their position of power and ABUSED the young person sexually.  A focus on the wrongness of extramarital sex in general leads to blaming the victim. 
 

posted in: Is It Abuse?

Good article.   But it doesn't go far enough.   Sexual activity outside of marriage is fornication, and therefore immoral for christians.  So even if it was consensual and of a common age, it counters the leadership principles and ideals of all involved members of the youthgroup.   Yes involvement of minors with majors is inappropriate.  But casual sex is inappropriate regardless outside of marriage.

posted in: Is It Abuse?

Thanks for posting about this excellent resource. We believe it's one of the best tools available for equipping children and youth with the skills they need to actively participate in creating a safe environment for themselves and others. It will help build a culture of respect and healthy relationships for the next generation in our churches. Now is the time to get ready for Fall and plan on adding Circle of Grace to your church school curriculum.

Because we believe in it so much, Safe Church Ministry is supplementing the cost for this program - it's available from Safe Church Ministry to CRC, and and now also to RCA congregations, for only $25. (The information on our website has not yet been updated to reflect this - 50 churches received the program free of charge to pilot the project - that phase is now over). Here's what one CRC had to say about Circle of Grace, "The program is very good. It ties in well with what the kids are already learning ... The program is easy to adjust for a small church. We did not have any difficulty combining the classes and using lessons from multiple grades ... The parent information was a good addition to send home as well ... I would say it was a success."

 

 

I agree that it's so important to keep Safe Church and the topic of abuse visible, out in the open, where we can talk about it. That's a key for prevention. Thanks for your words of encouragement Elly - and for your prayers.

Yes, Safe Church Ministry will continue because of people like you, Bonnie, who put stock in the statistics and care so much about those who have been abused by members of the church.  Because you and others know that the CRC church is not immune to the sin of abuse, and that it is so important to prevent it rather than deal with it once it happens.  Because we know that abuse tends to occur in situations where there is secrecy, and therefore it is so important that keep the topic of abuse out in the open and that we all be able to recognize if abuse is possible occurring.  Finally, it is my prayer that Safe Church Ministry will expand to protect and deal with abuse to every member of the CRC, even its leaders, because it is needed here as well. With God's help we will keep everyone safe.

Thanks for posting. This blog was written as a report about a recent community event sponsored by Safe Church Ministry. Though I wrote it, the ideas expressed are those of the two presenters, who were men. They also reflect the views of many other men, including two men, who have done a lot of work and research with men, and wrote the book, Mascupathy:Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood, which was recently released (see www.mascupathy.org). So, just to be clear, this is not a feminist viewpoint, the source is very masculine. One of the main tenants of the presentation was that men and boys are socialized to minimize feelings, and that that can have very negative consequences in life. I wonder if most would agree with that assessment. It's not that masculinity needs to be overcome, rather it needs to be realized in all it's fullness.

Personally, I long for a world where all people are valued and respected and are free to be all that they were created to be - male and female. Both were created in the image of God and given the mandate to rule over creation (Gen. 1:26-30). Ideally it's a partnership. I could give you my take on what happened between the sexes in Genesis 3 and how that fallenness continues to affect gender relationships. But that would be a completely different blog (maybe another day).

posted in: Boys Will Be Boys

Thanks for posting - I think part of the problem is our inability to handle difficult conversations, about lots of things, not just masculinity. I believe all of us need to continue learning about how to value differences and honor one another.

posted in: Boys Will Be Boys

Thanks for posting on this subject. It's needed. But let me offer some critique. "Sacred masculine" is may not be the best way to avoid all the 'role fright' or patriarchal mantras that lay in the background of these discussions, for Christians, too. As a Bible Professor, I understand that 'biblical' really doesn't clear things up. Avoiding all these terms doesn't change the fact that there is so much confusion about what masculinity means. Rather than just say "requirement that honor the Lord," use Scripture that Christians claim as sacred. We need to learn from Scripture on sites like this, do we not?

Secondly, the reference to "emotional intelligence" seems underhanded. With Father's Day approaching, is there a way you could have constructed the strengths of masculinity, rather than closing with the learning curve. M. Volf is correct when he writes that masculinity no longer has anything to accomplish (that's the brute!), instead, masculinity must be overcome.

Avoid any debate all together--this issue has been torn apart enough--and have 2-3 male leaders or elders from you church give their view of masculinity.

Thirdly, would you let a male author write a corresponding piece on femininity? 

Just wondering, Andrew

posted in: Boys Will Be Boys

I think our church has a long way to go to even begin talking about sacred masculinity. Never mind bringing up the difference between sacred and cultural. I wonder how other churches have gone about this.

posted in: Boys Will Be Boys

Hi again Bev,

There are no easy answers here - rather we must learn to live in the tension of truth and grace, judgment and mercy, consequences and forgiveness. It's not an either-or proposition, it's a both-and struggle to find the best path. None of us are holy, yet we are called to be the church, Christ's body in the world. And I believe that church leaders especially need to be held to high standards to honor the great and holy name of our Lord.

I also believe that abuse thrives in silence and secrecy; therefore, we need to create a culture where struggles with sin are shared and not hidden. There is a tension that must be maintained, lived through, and wrestled with. We may not all draw the lines in the same places, but to keep it all hidden is not a viable option for a healthy church.

posted in: The Price of Porn

I know it's huge... and definitely not victimless...  just the tip of the porn iceberg is horrific... a friend recently shared Mark Driscoll's book "a call to resurgence" with me, and in it, he gives a list of some of the consequences which include the ones you mention, and again, this list is just the tip:

 

Objectification of women

lack of intimacy with spouse

no need to marry

couples who watch porn together and each fantasize about other people

promotes sex trafficking and abuse, especially of women and children (I would hope this would appall anyone enough to be so horrified that they would never want to view porn again, they are all horrible, but I would pray no one would want to be connected at all to this type of evil)

contributes to sexual sin in ALL forms

downplays severity of sexual sin

deteriorates ability to be faithful and content in marriage, which opens the door to lots more issues with children, relationships, etc.

corrupts relationship between parents and children

(paraphrased list from A call to Resurgence; mark Driscoll; 2013; Tyndale; p54-57

 

What do you mean by OK?

so does having a culture where it's OK for pastors to be honest about their struggle with porn, mean that we are saying they don't have to worry about losing their job, that we will be ok with leaving them in leadership? do we really think it's ok, for our spiritual leaders to stay in leadership if porn is an issue for them?  do we think they are still qualified to lead?  is that biblical?  Do we not view porn the same as adultery, even though that’s Jesus perspective in matthew 5?  Why or why not?  Why are the leaders so fearful?  are they fighting tooth and nail, like the Catholic church to keep it covered up, because it's so pervasive? is it possible we could have half (or more) of our leaders that should consider stepping down from leadership if the statistics are at all accurate? ... is this issue so HUGE, that’s why leaders are afraid to even begin to address it, because it would mean that maybe 50+% would lose their positions of leadership, including themselves?    are we downplaying how horrible porn is?    I'm asking, because I'm stunned at how poorly the church has so far addressed this and would like to understand what is going on that this HUGE issue keeps getting covered up by the Church leaders…  Do we think God is ok, with how the Church has responded so far?

 

...because at this point, doesn't it seem we are helping the enemy out because keeping it secret and hidden, in the dark – including through lies and deception, which is in agreement with the enemy's ways, (John 3 & 8) but God's way is bringing sin into the light, transparent truth (Eph 5), which doesn’t seem to be what we are doing?  Am I wrong?  I really struggle with understanding the fear, why are they so fearful?  that indicates a number of things, including lack of trusting God with His ways, and much worse...

 

Again, we all must be willing to lose our life/job/reputation for His sake, then we will find it... that's God's way...  hard? yes, but spiritually healthy per scripture!  One article says statistically, only 1% voluntarily share their struggle with porn, the rest get found out.   here's the link to a disturbing article on that...  I think i've posted this one before on another response... but it's worth a re-read...  http://blogs.christianpost.com/guest-views/sexual-sin-in-the-ministry-8613/

 

if it's child porn they are looking at, then they are definitely beyond any question not qualified, and I hope that would not even be a question...  even the secular world, thank God, recognizes that as very sick and very wrong...   so don't we see that when one is into porn, they are going to get more and more depraved and it tends to suck them into illegal child porn?  That will ruin your very life quickly, when it's found out...

 

http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/dozens-charged-in-child-porn-case-in-n...

again, I will add a warning, the reading the article could trigger responses connected with abuse... porn is evil, and especially horrific when kids are involved... and so the related articles are tough reads...

 

God help us, His Bride, to be holy as He is holy...

posted in: The Price of Porn

"Jesus’ way is the exact opposite of abuse." Amen, preach it sister... that line made me cry, because I've made a similar statment: we/the Church are doing exactly the opposite of what the Bible tells us when it comes to abuse and sexual immorality... I pray for the Church to step up and out, to walk in the potential God designed for her... being transparent and open, and humble, and honest, then, He will open the doors to bring healing through the Church...

I agree there is much potential, but we have to be willing to lose our lives (taking the risk to confess, repent, be honest and open, etc. ) first... and that's where it seems we get stuck... we don't understand and/or we refuse to acknowledge/recognize/admit it's the only way we can move forward... when in God's greater reality, it's the safest thing we can do, because it's God's way... He promises when we confess our sins TO ONE ANOTHER, that opens the door for healing (James 5)... and I have witnessed that and read testimonies that affirm that... it's a step of faith, and might feel like we are stepping off a cliff ( think of Indiana jones when he's going after the holy grail and he takes the step out into thin air, and there's an unseen rock bridge that blends in and so is invisible, but it's there!)

anyway... until there is significant, specific, transparent repentance (not some fairly safe, controlled, generic blanket statement acknowledging that we've messed up here and there, that just doesn't cut it or even come close)... I think the healing we experience in the Church will be limited... are we willing to lose our lives/reputation? are we willing to lay down our lives for those who have been hurt by/in the Church? somewhere I read, God's not worried about His reputation... the excuse of protecting reputation is a cop out by the leaders to justify cover up for each other... and it's the opposite of what Jesus did!

Thanks for your post Bev - great article. Pornography is often referred to as a "victimless crime" - it's not! In addition to those caught up in producing it, it causes devastation in relationships, marriages, and families. We need to consider what kind of future we are creating for our children. This is a HUGE problem that needs to be addressed!

I am also aware of many pastors who struggle with pornography, but are very afraid to be public about it. We also need to think about creating a culture where it's OK to be honest and to seek help. There is help available - but not as long as we refuse to acknowledge the problem.

Safe Church is supporting the efforts of "Shore 2 Shore With a Roar"  - a motorcycle ride to increase awareness about pornography. There are people in this group who have faced the issue head on, and have grace-filled stories to tell. Find out more at www.shore2shore2014.com.

posted in: The Price of Porn

here's a recent article (warning: possible trigger for those who have been abused or affected by porn)...

there's a lot of work that still needs to be done by the Church in this area.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tmatt/2014/05/porn-again-facing-denial-in-c...

very disturbing quote from article:

But while the culture wars rage on and draw the most attention, Lambert argued that the greatest moral threat to the church today is “the Christian pastor, the Christian school teacher, the Christian Bible college and seminary student, who exalts sound theology, who points to the Bible and then retreats to the basement computer to indulge in an hour or three of Internet pornography.”

and some of the comments are also very disturbing...

posted in: The Price of Porn

here's a recent article (warning: it's long and a tough, heavy read, with possible triggers for those who've been abused, so read only when you are at a healthy emotional place/time) about Boz Tchividjian (Billy Graham's grandson) and the ministry of GRACE he's involved with...  (I also posted this link under the judicial code thread)

http://prospect.org/article/next-christian-sex-abuse-scandal

here's a quote from the article that made me think about posting it on this forum:

BOQ “I want the church to become one of the safest places for children and abuse survivors,” Tchividjian says, “and sadly today, it’s one of the least-safe places.” EOQ

it's interesting to me that the verse used for safe church is in Ezekiel 34, the chapter on irresponsible shepherds/spiritual leaders...

and some of Boz' thoughts on transparency in the church (#4 on the list)...

another quote from the end of the article:

GRACE is challenging Christian institutions to live up to their teachings, to “expend themselves, even to the point of death, to demonstrate love for a very hurt soul,” as Tchividjian says.

“If you think about it in the Christian context,” he continues, “God did his most powerful work when Jesus, his son, was at his most transparent and vulnerable, on the cross. So why do we approach all these things differently? If I’m a Christian, why am I not driven by the fact that if we mess up as an institution, then when we’re most transparent and vulnerable, that’s when God can do his most powerful work? I’ve seen that in churches: When they do respond that way, it’s pretty powerful what results in the lives of survivors.”EOQ

and I would add, most likely in the lives of all involved, including the perpetrator

 

Part of a toolkit for prevention is paying attention to what we teach our children about themselves, about their relationship with the Lord, and how that affects their relationships with one another. With just a few lessons each year, for each grade level - K-12, the Circle of Grace program helps children and youth understand God's presence with them always, the sacred nature of all relationships, and how to talk to a trusted adult when something doesn't feel right. More information can be found on the Safe Church website www.crcna.org/safechurch - click on the left side bar, "Education is the Best Prevention."

 

You make a very good point Ron. I think we, as the church, tend to minimize our legal liability in situations such as this. Abuse by clergy or a church leader is the number one reason that churches end up in court. And scandals in churches and organizations (think Penn State) have shown us that attention must be paid to those who knew about it and did nothing. It's not only the one who perpetrates the abuse that is held liable; those who know about it also bear responsibility.

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