Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

This bulletin insert for Safe Church Ministry includes a description of elder abuse, the consequences to the elderly, and Internet addresses for more information.

September 23, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Spiritual abuse is difficult to talk about because often those who spiritually abuse have sincerely held intentions. But as Jesus clearly saw, the cost of a faith that is driven by fear and legalism is too high for us to ignore.

September 20, 2016 0 1 comments
Q&A

I am looking to set up a protection policy in an older generation church that wants to focus more on youth. I'm looking to put a policy in place for programs running from nursery to high school. Any ideas? 

September 14, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

Safe Church Ministry is called to equip congregations in abuse awareness, prevention, and response. “It’s a ridiculous mandate,” I’ve heard myself say. It can be overwhelming, with progress slower than I'd like. 

September 12, 2016 0 4 comments
Blog

Be sure to check out the new resources on Safe Church's website, and see how you can be involved in the upcoming Safe Church conference — even if you can't come to Grand Rapids! 

September 12, 2016 0 2 comments
Blog

During the Rio Olympics, a disappointing report was unveiled, detailing years of USA Gymnastics ignoring allegations of sexual abuse of gymnasts by coaches. The report is a stark reminder that fighting for justice is never an easy task.

August 23, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Are you aware of all the resources Safe Church offers? Safe Church only works when we are well-connected, working with YOU, CRC church members and leaders.

August 16, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

What is trauma and how can the church better serve those suffering from it? Dr. Danjuma Gibson offers helpful guidelines both for understanding the nature of trauma and responding compassionately as a church.

August 8, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

When we feel safe, we can be curious, learn, and grow—attributes that we especially want to foster in our children and youth. As faith communities, we need to invest time and resources into safety. 

August 2, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

The Restorative Practices for Congregations Training helps church members and leaders better engage in conflict and build healthier, more restorative relationships in their congregations.

July 26, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

This anonymous reflection of a woman's ordeal addressing sexual harassment from a CRC pastor is an eye-opening account to understanding sexual harassment. 

July 26, 2016 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

Check out this powerful introduction to Samaritan Safe Church's approach to keeping children safe, written by Linda Crockett, a speaker at the upcoming CRCNA Safe Church Conference. 

July 19, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

How can the church do justice to the reality of abuse—which means we need to hear more allegations, not fewer—without being controlled by a fear of false allegations?

July 5, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Sometimes the work of Safe Church Ministry is heartbreaking. But I'm so thankful for my elders, for those who have come before me, giving me courage to continue the journey. Who are your elders? 

June 28, 2016 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Social media can be and is a powerful force for advocacy, but the battle cannot be fought solely there. The real battle is the day to day struggle to confront misogyny and deep-rooted injustices. 

June 14, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

When we tolerate subtle abuses of power on a daily basis, drawing a line in the sand once a situation has gotten out of control becomes incredibly difficult, almost impossible.  

May 31, 2016 0 6 comments
Blog

"Out of this one day of training, the Circle of Grace program is beginning to ripple through our community."

May 18, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Before we can prevent and respond to abuse we need a basic awareness of what abuse is. What are the dynamics? Are there signs that can help us recognize it? 

May 10, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

“You will never fully heal until you forgive,” is a phrase I’ve heard more times than I care to acknowledge. Is it possible that modern ideas about forgiveness do more harm than good? 

April 26, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

The most powerful agent for hope, healing and justice for abuse survivors in the church is something both simple and surprisingly elusive: people of compassion.

April 12, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Too often I hear from women who are hurting because of something that happened to them within the church family. Dare I hope that this can change?  

April 5, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

This bulletin insert includes a general definition of child abuse and a brief list of the common signs of child abuse.

March 23, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

In her recent book Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife, Ruth Tucker offers a compelling and harrowing account of the ways in which unchallenged assumptions about gender hierarchy can create a climate of enabling abuse within the church.

March 15, 2016 0 2 comments
Blog

What do you think of when you think of an act of courage? This article explores the necessary courage to leave an emotionally abusive marriage.

March 1, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

This bulletin insert for Safe Church Ministry includes a description of how abuse victims and offenders can experience justice and mercy, which can lead to healing.

February 23, 2016 0 0 comments

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Safe Church has resources about domestic abuse on our website, including a webinar that was produced in partnership with Safe Haven Ministries. We have these resources available, knowing that this issue is so prevalent among us, even though it remains dangerously hidden. 

Very powerful article, Monica. Thank you! 

 

Thanks for posting this! Safe Church recommends that churches regularly have their policies reviewed by their insurance provider, or professional legal counsel to be sure that they are in compliance with changing laws in their state or province.

thanks again.  . 
your words in 2013 meant a lot. they were honouring to me as a survivor.  those words did change something for me then - I didn't anticpate that.  so thank you.

this work being done does change the world for others, not only the children of today and tomorrow, but other survivors who today can feel like it's okay to speak up, and find support when they do (within their church family).  May the shame be eradicated through love. I believe in the power of love (agape).  

I don't think I've ever sat in a circle with Christian survivors and engaged in that kind of frank and open discussion about the healing journey and what that was like (with the added feminist understandings dialogue.piece).  That piece in it was kind of cool for me. Empowering.   I understood the kinds of questions that came up for them and reflected on my similar questions (with the feminist awareness) that I worked through.  So much resliency came through in their telling of their journey. It was good to listen to. 

all of this matters- it makes for a better world.  (thumbs up for all this work being done and your response)

Thank you for your thoughtful words and for your encouraging affirmation Jennifer. It's not easy to go against the grain, to break the culture of silence and speak up. Yet I believe, as it seems you also do, that there is great value in the telling of these stories, and much to be learned in the hearing. So, thank YOU so much  for listening and responding to the recording.

I appreciated what you said that, "Shifting the shame away from the survivor is critical and validating when the unspeakable is spoken is so important." Yes, I agree. May our congregations, not only the CRC but all who claim the name of our Lord, Jesus, acknowledge the unspeakable that happens among us, and validate the stories of those who have experienced it. It's time to end the silence. Blessings to you in your own journey; may you have good companionship along the way.

I watched the conference video online, and appreciated the openness and frankness in the discussion.  Thanks much for posting it.  Interpersonal violence exists within the church and outside of the church, and is a social problem.  So much of the dialogue addressed questions that I'd also had.  I could relate to their process.   I also loved that it addressed the culture of silence that has existed for so long (in all it's forms).  I love that it is acceptable for survivors to speak out in this way within the CRC.  there is more work to be done, but the work already done is huge. 

DIM is good!  I thought perhaps that a B could be added (blame). 

I love the reference to the "unspeakable".  There are many levels in this.  The internal code of silence (internalized teachings that are shame based - self blame) and the external code of silence (DIMB) increase the level of trauma experienced beyond the actual events.  How it is dealt with has an impact on the scope of what one needs to heal from.  the depth of the trauma is increased when in a culture of silence that victim shames and blames. 

Shifting the shame away from the survivor is critical and validating when the unspeakable is spoken is so important.  Addressing the attitudes and beliefs that make DIM so prevalent (within the church and society at large) is huge.  It takes so much time for that kind of change to occur  because the beliefs are sometimes core social and individual beliefs, and reinforced in society.  Shifting that can mean shifting peoples' whole perception of the world and how they fit into it (eg. patriarchy and shifting thinking that marginalizes women).  For some people, they learned that this way of being was okay. 

I remember the headship issue and women's role within the crc (discussion topic when I was at college),  Headship was almost perceived as a God mandated edict tied into their identity and role in life.  Yikes!  Shifting that kind of stuff is huge, and takes a long time. Headship may have been a piece in that patriarchal ideology.  Addressing interpersonal violence to me seems even bigger than that.     . 

Thank you for your courage in tackling this stuff.  It is truly important work. 

I am a survivor who left the CRC, and you are receiving my thanks.  The work being done in addressing interpersonal violence is critical and watching this video left me feeling hope. Listening to the women speak was like hearing some of my own healing process relayed.  Somehow, it undid a piece of disconnection that I felt.  I could relate to their experience, talk, and awareness about the power dynamics built into our culture and how their healing journey reflected processing all that.  I would have loved to sit down and talk with them.  Hearing them speak gave me a feeling of hope and connection.   

Thanks you for posting the video online.  Thanks again for posting it online.  Even though, I am not a CRC member, I would have loved to attend your conference.  Thank you for honoring these women, and for the work being done to support and protect others from experiencing this.    

 

I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to say in your comment, Bill. Obviously, there is no blood with no cut. But in reference to abuse in our congregations, harm has been done, we're already cut and bleeding.

And dealing with the devastating aftermath of abuse is tremendously more difficult, time-consuming, painful, and costly than working to prevent that abuse from happening in the first place. It makes so much more sense to focus our efforts strategically on prevention. Let's work toward a day when there will be no more harm, no more abuse.  

 As DC Regional Advocate for Classis Eastern Canada and church advocate for my own congregation, I could tell you the problem is similar in that people assume that if I handle the case, they're off the hook and don't have to do anything to educate or sensitize themselves to the obstacles that people with various disabilities encounter in a church building where the only accommodations made are for people using wheelchairs to get around. And even then someone using a wheelchair who would like to participate in a service by doing a reading would not be able to access the stage because there is no ramp, and when I suggested one be built I was told, "What's the point?  We don't have anyone using a wheelchair in our church."  People who have never experienced abuse are as clueless as those who have never been sick other than with a cold, if that, to the needs of those who suffer from exclusion either because of abuse or disability, and the most frustrating feeling is that they don't even WANT to know.  Sometimes it feels like a slap in the face, or as if they told us to our face that they don't give a damn.  Maybe it's because the questions that people who have been abused ask make them anxious and to feel threatened (cf "Where Was God?), so they get knee-jerk reactions and run away to protect their feeble faith that can't handle challenges?  Whatever the issues some people resort to avoidance not to have to change their own attitudes, let alone doing anything to change abusive situations or situations that shut people with disabilities out of their buildings and faith communities.

Didn't St Paul write, "Don't bleed before you are cut?" 

Great and timely article that is not about politics or the presidential election but about human dignity. Trump is simply the latest high-profile public figure that has been exposed as an abuser of the basic human right to dignity and the maintenance of proper sexual boundaries.

No women or man for that matter can, under Christ's Lordship be sexually trespassed against in word or deed. I have been involved in many cases as a victims advocate for the sexually abused by those who suffer at the short end of a power differential. Victims of clergy and church officer sexual abuse sit in our CRC pews by the hundreds in silence due to the power structure of the white male ecclesiastical oligarchy. Research statistic by Baylor University reveal that 1.5/100 members of the clergy (This goes across all denominations) sexually abuse women that are under their power as parishioners. This is a horrifying statistic that leaves so many abused women in our CRC pews without a voice to express their pain, receive proper treatment or find safety. As Michelle Obama so eloquently stated, "It hurts". These women and men, weakened and marginalized through church officer sexual abuse must stand up to the ecclesiastical straight-jacket that has been placed upon them, however they are afraid to do so because its not safe to do so. They will be shunned, ostracized and removed from their communities as temptresses, or loose. The voices of the 11 women who came forward accusing Donald Trump have been pretty much silenced, no charges brought, seen as slutty or even unworthy of Trump's advances. How shameful and despicable can a predator be?

The damage done to the psyche and spirit of the spiritually and emotionally abused is acute, tragic and often permanently disabling. Safe Church needs more teeth in the CRC, so that the real fear of God can be put into church officer's hearts if they contemplate crossing clearly defined sexual boundaries that must be respected by the people of God.

peace,

 

Kelly

Thank you for this beautiful testimony. If I had to write the piece over I too would adjust it to avoid implying the point was endorsing a candidate, so I too apologize for any misunderstanding. Your heart for justice in both the church and the political realm is so laudable, and those conversations critiquing both left and right are so needed, it just became clear this wasn't the best forum for that. What I was trying to hold up was the experiences of women and the gravity of such behavior, ideas which you communicate here so gracefully.

I agree that this was not the place to dive into politics and other issues. That made it more hurtful for those women who are already hurting and already feel unheard in their struggle against gender-based violence. I apologize for my part in getting "off topic" at times in my comments. I will freely acknowledge my own bias toward social justice, which doesn't always fit with the political right in this country. But I don't always fit with the political left either; I am a member of Feminists for Life after all. It can all be quite frustrating - but this was not the place for that, and so again, I apologize. 

What seems critically important to me is to make space to "hear and respect stories of experiences of life different from our own". I agree wholeheartedly that this can do a lot to heal perceived divides. Where are those spaces in our congregations? In our denomination?

I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; and I long for my grandchildren to grow up in a world where the value of each and every person honored; and where each person is treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve as image bearers of their Creator. That's what Safe Church is all about. I believe that the experience of women is not the same as that of men, we are less valued generally speaking (I realize that I don't speak for all women). There is much evidence to show this is true (if you doubt, read the book Half the Sky). I've prayed for many years and will continue to pray that my daughter and my granddaughter, and all of our daughters, will never have to go through the gender-based violence that I've experienced, that continues to impact my life. And I have prayed and will continue to pray that those who have suffered will find compassion and healing with the Lord and with his people; this includes so many women in our congregations who have suffered gender-based injustice. And I have prayed and will continue to pray that the Church, men and women together, can become a force for change, building a better world, a world where all people are valued and honored. And I pray with hope in the redeeming power of our Lord.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" Ps. 51:10.

Hi Ken,

Thanks for this comment. I think it gets at why this is a difficult conversation to have. I understand how hurtful it can be to be too feel one is too quickly labeled or characterized. And yet, I think we do have to acknowledge the difference in gendered experiences. I don't think it's labeling to acknowledge women as a group have experienced more objectification and sexual violence than men. It's not labeling to talk about the problem when many men don't seem to quite understand, and women shouldn't need to silence or apologize for their frustration and pain out of fear that some men might feel unfairly targeted by virtue of being male. If men are standing with women, hearing their stories, and not dismissing their feelings on this, there is no reason to feel shame or guilt. 

Discussing the dynamics of abortion, etc., are valid conversations, but the post was in response to a staggering lack of sensitivity from many men in response to the misogyny so prevalent this campaign. The men I've heard make hurtfully dismissive comments in regards to Trump's words and behavior towards women, which I still can't talk about without starting to physically shake, did not seem to understand what it like to be a woman and how serious such behavior is. That doesn't make them villains, but it does mean it's valid to talk about this. In such an atmosphere, a call for men to stand with women, to hear their stories, and refuse to engage in conversation that minimizes the character implications for who Trump is seems valid to me. Comments like "it's not that big of a deal," "he apologized," "it was 10 years ago," all demonstrate ignorance of the dynamics of abusive behavior and the connection between the blatant misogyny Trump shows on a daily basis and the abuses he speaks of and seems very likely to have committed.  "Forgive and forget, he apologized," in particular, a line I heard quite a few times, is the same kind of logic regularly used to silence abuse victims after their abuser makes any sort of apology, however surface level. Again, this doesn't suggest that all or even most men are making those kind of comments, but they have been happening pretty regularly, so it's not inappropriate to appeal to men in particular to use their power to oppose such statements, and to listen to the stories Trump's words are reopening from women, instead of immediately pivoting to the flaws of the other candidate.  

I think you're right that race, immigration, and shifting views in the CRC are too off-topic to really dive into, but I think on each of those issues making space to hear and respect stories of experiences of life different from our own can do a lot to heal perceived divides. 

I'm disappointed that this has become a "men-vs.-women" discussion. Unfortunately, that feeds into the perception suggested in the title of the topic.

It's also unfortunate that some have resorted to the labeling that has become a strategy at even the administrative levels of CRCNA. Should we ban such labels as anti-immigrant, anti-women, Christian right, and others that unfairly characterize individuals, and are just as hurtful as ethnic slurs, labels referring to sexual orientation, or disparaging references to one's religion? Such labels and the half-truths they convey are used by some politicians, but why here?

As the husband of a terrific woman (my dear wife for 57 years) and the adoptive father of two sweet babies who now are wonderful wives and mothers, I respect women. Participating in a discussion such as this one as I have shouldn't make a man feel obligated to say something like this, but I suspect that such participation may leave me indelibly labeled as one of the bad guys.

Does anyone wonder how many faithful, long-time CRC members feel that their views on issues of the day are not Christian from the perspective of the denominational leadership? I do.

Sorry if this is off-topic.

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ" - Ephesians 4:15.

Missing in some of these posts and in this presidential election cycle is speaking the truth in love. By speaking in truth, we build up one another; it is how God gives grace to others through us, and builds unity.

It is my fervent prayer that we speak the truth in love to one another so that we will grow to a strong maturity to do the work God has appointed us to do.

God is in control.

Thank you Nancy for your encouraging words.

Monica thank you for a thoughtful, timely, and much-needed article and your responses to the comments here. Bonnie thank you for your contributions to the discussion. Clearly, the topics of sexism in general and sexual assault/abuse in particular need much more attention in the CRC. There is much ignorance out there concerning these subjects. Blessings on the work you do in educating the church!

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ" - Ephesians 4:15.

Missing in many, many of these posts and in this presidential election cycle is speaking the truth in love. By speaking in truth, we build up one another; it is how God gives grace to others through us, and builds unity.

It is my fervent prayer that we speak the truth in love to one another so that we will grow to a strong maturity to do the work God has appointed us to do.

God is in control.

Hi Joe,

It doesn't sound to me as if you've heard the message that we were trying to convey. Perhaps after the election is over, we can engage in reasonable conversation around some of these important issues, including a sanctity of life ethic that extends beyond the womb. But that's a different topic.

 

In parading Donald Trumps' shameful sayings you say Evangelicals are wrong to support the Republican nominee.  Hence, that means Hillary Clinton is the better choice.  Surely, you must be fully aware that Hillary is pro-choice and has no problem with the killing of millions of unborn babies - even in the ninth month. That's apart from lying to congress, the FBI and the general public. That's the president you'd prefer in the White House? I've read the comments - and yet the key factor is mostly ignored. We are Christians. Our first obligation is to follow Christ, not the secular world's view. Trump has a lot of faults however, he's pro-life and wants to protect the Christian faith. As a believer, when all is said and done, that's what really matters to me. .

As I pointed out in a previous post - we have talked about this a lot! For a long time, unrelated to the U.S. election. 

The topic is how women are disparaged and devalued in our culture; one evidence of that is certainly that they are not equally compensated for their work. Another evidence is the way that they are treated, and also the way people talk about them. Women are not treated the same, or given the same value and respect as men - That's a problem. 

Hmmm.  Seems now that you are off topic Bonnie, having expanded the conversation it to the Paycheck Fairness Act and Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  :-)

The topic is women, how they are degraded and devalued in our culture. So many women are hurting in our congregations and in our communities because of unjust patriarchal systems that have been in place for so long. I encourage you to listen to their stories!

And if you must be political, then let's discuss what can be done to change this culture. Perhaps we can begin with equal pay for equal work  (As a Senator, Clinton championed the Paycheck Fairness Act and cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in an effort to achieve equal pay and help close the wage gap)

What about acknowledging that this is a real problem (As Secretary of State, Clinton created the first ever Ambassador-at-Large for global women’s issues, which has become a permanent position. She also helped launch the first U.S. strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally.)

Where women thrive, societies thrive. There is a lot of evidence to back that up. Yes, it's a political issue, but it's it's so much more. It's also a kingdom of God issue.

 

John, see above responses for my response to this comment. 

Hi Doug, 

Trump's recent statements bring up the issue of the abuse of women because they are, as I opened the piece, painful and difficult words to hear, trigger words for women who've been abused in just the manner Trump describes. Check out the hashtag #notokay to read some of the millions of stories those words provoked. http://www.refinery29.com/2016/10/125801/twitter-trump-women-not-okay-ha.... If an honest conversation about how painful those words are is taken as a "political pitch" I think that's a risk we need to take, because women need to talk about how these words affect us. 

Even if you ultimately conclude, given your political convictions, that a Hillary presidency is one you cannot support and you think a 3rd party vote is wasted, a person running for president who openly disparages women on a regular basis and shrugs off his sexual assault comments as locker rock talk is a serious situation that should be discussed as such. It is a serious situation if we've had people with similar character in the White House in the past as well, and I think it speaks to  the success of abuse awareness that we're having this conversation surrounding Trump's comments today.

We are trying to avoid this descending into a discussion of Hillary's flaws, because although you're right that a piece critical of defending / supporting Trump will provoke such questions about how we should vote, this forum isn't the best place to sort through those questions. There are lots of good resources to assess the strengths and flaws of each candidate outside of Safe Church, and we dont' have the capacity to respond to all such questions/concerns. 

You say that no Trump supporter defends the comments - that just isn't true. That was in part what prompted the post, the pain I and other female friends of mine have felt at hearing people in our lives act like it isn't a big enough deal to merit a serious conversation about the implications of his character. In my own (Christian) circles, I've heard several people defend Trump's comments, literally saying they didn't think it was "that big of a deal," that "he's apologized; we need to forgive and forget." Those words were used. Others have tried to say Trump is a baby Christian whom we "must" forgive despite any apparent change of character. Christians are saying these things. That is what troubled me, our sudden abandonment of any honest moral assessment of our candidate just because he's a Republican, and what I was responding to. 

I don't know that I'll have time to continue to respond to comments today, but I hope that's helpful in clarifying. 

A number of comments have been made.  But we need to realize that the only reason we are talking about this, is because of the election.   If Trump was not running for pres, this article would not have been written.  The reason why Trumps liabilities are discussed and not Clinton's?   who knows.   There was trial and investigation regarding Clinton's behaviour, none that I know of with Trump.  Could Trump have changed?  Possibly.  Could Clinton have changed?  Possibly, but less likely.   She has less regard for life and for people, as evidenced by her lack of concern for the most helpless.  She appears to be more concerned about her reputation and image and vote gathering power than any other principles, that I can see, and that has me concerned.   Trump bucked the trends, and many people responded.  Sure he is rough around the edges.  He is rich and in that sense elite, but not politically elite as evidenced by how many of the politicos whether in either party, or in the media, do not like him.  Yet it is the politically elite who continually refuse to protect the preborn, who continually add to the monstrous debts that future women and men, our children and grandchildren will be burdened by.  How will that be paid?  Eventually by taxes.  How will the taxes be paid?  By virtually forcing all women to work, to reduce their attention for their children, perhaps to abort unborn females, because they feel they cannot afford children.  Simplistically thinking or saying that only crass remarks are most vile, is missing the bigger more complex issues of caring for society as a whole, and protecting the most vulnerable as captured in the plight of the unborn. 

There is nothing in your above that I would disagree with Bonnie.  But when you say that Trump having said and did what he said/did "gives us a timely reason to talk about it yet again," and on that basis suggest that more political responses are "off topic," you ignore what others' clearly saw in the main post, which was, among other things, that the Clintons (both of them) engaged in pretty similar stuff (Bill the actor, but Hillary the defender/enabler) but that doesn't get comment in this article.  Hmmmm.  

When that happens, and when we are weeks before an election (especially like this one), readers will reasonably read an article like this as a political pitch, intended or not by the author, because it actually is (again, intended or not).  And in that case, political responses are simply not "off topic."

Monica: Thanks for your reply -- I appreciate your willingness to dialog with your commenters (which is not common).  

I would suggest though that excepting those few Christians who think they have the job (or "job") of doing what they can do to get Trump elected (in which case their real purpose would be to put the Republicans in greater control of the federal government than Democrats, and not to elect Trump as president even though the latter must happen to make the former), none of these Christians "support" or "shrug off" Trump's statements about or treatment of women.  Literally, none.

Still, while I am abundantly on record as having absolutely nothing good to say about Trump from the time he began his primary campaign until now, I have always said I will yet vote for him in the general election (certainly, not in the primaries).  Why?  Largely because if Trump is elected and Clinton is not, the constitutional perspective (from 'originalist' as was Scalia to 'living/breathing document' as are some others) of one to three Supreme Court Justices will be VERY, VERY different, and that difference will  be more impacting to the United States (for good or bad) in the next multiple decades, or perhaps forever, than will be the presidential terms (of either Trump or Clinton) for the next 4 or 8 years.  For the same reason, I would vote for Trump over Bernie Sanders had he been the Democratic nominee, even though I thought and think Bernie is a pretty honorable guy.  Yes, this is complicated.

Back to the abuse of women issue:  that issue has existed and still exists, whether or not Donald Trump said or did whatever, candidate or not.  So why does Trump's recent statements somehow bring up the abuse of women issue?  The only possible answer to that question would be one that relates to politics and this election, not?  Which is why I'm suggesting that comment responses that address the politics brought in this article are not "off topic."  

The Trump comments brought this issue to light, again, making this article timely. As we've said, the issue goes far beyond this election, and this country. I'd say it goes back to Genesis 3 - see v. 16 when God says to the woman, "your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." That's not God's original plan, only a sad descriptor of fallen humanity. Thank goodness we've been redeemed in Christ, able to be restored to God's original intention, men and women as partners in the mandate to steward creation, men an women as joint heirs in Christ and members of his One Body...  There is no place in Christian community for devaluing and denigrating women; and yet it happens, even in our congregations. Other articles have been posted here on the Safe Church Network focusing on this topic; and they've been posted completely apart from this election moment in time. Please see: 

Teaching Boys to Respect Girls: Why it Matters

Where is the Church

What Would Jesus Do?

Hoping for Change

Football, Gender, Rape Culture and the Glory of God

And there are many, many more. All of these articles speak to the topic at hand. Trump only gives us a timely reason to talk about it yet again; and shows us the need to continue our efforts.

Thanks, Doug - I can understand why, given the timing, some readers would feel I was suggesting an implied vote for Hillary, but that was not at all the intent of the article. Perhaps I could have made that clearer in the initial blog, but I thought I was writing to an audience of Christians, who, whichever way they vote, are regretful that a person of his character is the Republican candidate.The issue was raising awareness of how painful his character issues and treatment of women is for women such as myself, and for conscientious Christians, whichever way they vote, to not shrug off his treatment of women. I was responding to the phenomenon of Christians we've all heard saying things like the words and behavior is "not that big a deal." My disagreement isn't primarily with those who vote Trump, but those who shrug off his behavior toward women. Saying we cannot talk candidly about how a politician's words and actions affect women because that might be interpreted as supporting the other candidate is troubling to me. Hence, using the comments section to discuss the alleged flaws of Hillary is missing the point. It was important to avoid the comment section becoming a prolonged debate about the morality of a Hillary or Trump vote. 

I smile about the "off topic" complaints.  This article tightly wraps two subject matters: assault on women and why folks should abhor and impliedly vote for Trump (no, the second is not so explicit but a crystal clear implicit message).

Given the tight wrapping of the two subjects, I don't see any of the responses as off topic.  You can't talk about assault on women by launching directly off of statements made by one of the major parties weeks presidential candidates weeks before the election and expect responses to not talk about the politics of the election, because those responses relate to the topics raised by the article.

 

Thanks, Bonnie. A good reminder to keep comments related to the original post per The Network's Comment Guidelines

This comment is off-topic, please read the original article that was posted.

This comment is off-topic, please read the original article that was posted.

This comment is off-topic, please read the original article that was posted. 

I don't know why you make his comments of 11 years ago such a big issue when he has apologized. Look at the bigger issue of how many Supreme Judges will be chosen. They will serve for decades. If you think what he said is unforgivable you haven't read all the things Hillary has done in her years of government.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture not just one issue. Is Trump the man we want in the White House? Nope! But is he a better choice that Clinton? Yes! Is a vote for a 3rd party candidate a vote for Clinton? Yes. Is Trump the same man he was 15 years ago? Probably not. Hopefully, we all grow and mature as we go through life. I believe Clinton to be a less moral person than Trump. Listen to what her former secret service agents have to say about how she treats her help. She is awful! But you will never hear about her faults in our liberal press. So the press emphasizes events that took place 15 years ago to discredit Trump but ignores completely thing that Clinton has been accused of in recent months. Neither of these are good moral people, so I will vote for Trump because there is a chance he will appoint quality judges to the Supreme Court. With Clinton there will be NO chance of that happening.

Since abortion has been brought up here, we might note how often that is an assault on women. Sometimes done in facilities with less safe conditions than a veterinary clinic because pro-choice politicians do not want any restrictions on access, abortions often do not actually involve "choice" because they are coerced by boyfriends, husbands, or even "grandparents". Moreover, approximately half of the victims of abortion, the little ones, would become women if allowed to continue to live and grow, so we could call this an assault on women-to-be. (The women who abort them are often victims in various ways, too.) And Mrs. Clinton has stated that abortion should be legal right up to birth, so no ban on partial-birth abortion or anything like that. Doesn't that give you nightmares?

But wait, there's more. We often get a twofer on abortions because along with infanticide there's something else. I don't know whether to call it genocide or simply racism. The abortion rate is highest among African-Americans, and in some American cities, more black babies are aborted than are born. You can read the shocking statistics here:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/21/j-kenneth-blackwell-blac....

What kind of nation have we become when we think something like this is a good thing? It reminds me of the people in the Bible sacrificing their children to Moloch! But a friend of mine at church says abortion is just a "wedge issue" in the political discussion.

Hi Edward!

Thanks for interacting here. 

I know many people who, like you, feel Donald Trump is the lesser of two evils in this election. Obviously my blog makes it clear my assessment of his character, but I understand Christians have freedom to disagree about this. And I too have concerns about Ms. Clinton. (I may vote 3rd party this election.) Ultimately, my goal here is to highlight how shocking the words and attitudes toward women have been in this election and help readers understand how painful his words and treatment of women are. Even if we cannot agree on his politics, I would urge for more concern and compassion for how his behavior and words about women affect women, and at least more understanding for why many women will not vote for Trump. I would like leaders to understand why a lot of women, like myself, are in pain because of how regularly he demeans women. The tape just confirmed for many of us what we suspected. Obviously, I am not God and cannot ultimately determine whether his life has or has not changed since that tape by God's power, but the track record of his comments in this election alone has given me sufficient reason for doubts. Indeed, when asked about his faith, Donald Trump said he does not need to ask God for forgiveness, which seems pretty fundamental. 

In regards to "crude statements," -- the issue here isn't the crudeness of the language, but bragging that power and fame allows you to not wait for consent, allows you to assault. That is unusual, even for "locker room talk." I'm aware that men brag about sexual conquests; I believe significantly fewer of them brag about assault. 

In regards to our forgiveness of Trump: I'm not sure that's relevant here. Donald Trump has not asked me for forgiveness, and has not personally wronged me. I don't feel I need to forgive him any more than I need to forgive Hillary Clinton (who also professes to be a Christian) for her poor decisions regarding email servers. It is up to his alleged victims to forgive him for misconduct, and up to voters to decide whether his character is trustworthy enough for the highest position in our country. What we are highlighting here is a troubling pattern of misogyny, and our culture's seeming willingness to not take that seriously. Vote where your conscience leads you, but I'd also urge an openness to the wounds his words and behavior have opened for many women, as Bonnie's comment and link highlight. 

 

 

Hi Monica

I doubt the ability of anyone to differentiate between an “apology” and a “sincere apology”. There is only one who can make that judgement. Something I do not see is the word “forgive”. If anything is evidence of faith in Christ, it is the ability to forgive, not just once, but seventy times seven.

 

Yes, Trump made crass remarks when he was a Democrat, just like Bill Clinton. But since he was “converted” he has apologized and I for one can forgive him. He has promised to clean up the ghettos, end the massacre of Christians and improve the economic conditions in this country. He has pledged to root out corruption in both the Democratic and Republican establishments. He may not be the first choice for Sunday school teacher, but he certainly has his heart in the right place.

 

On the other hand, we have a candidate who has reveled in an avalanche of corruption, lies and destruction that makes Tammany Hall look like child’s play. Someone who is dedicated to killing babies, undermining our constitution and using the office for personal enrichment without any thought about who or what gets destroyed in the process.

 

Even more appalling is the public stance of our denominational leaders in support of this corruption. We have lurched so far to the left that most Republicans have left or are leaving. We got rid of about a third of our conservative members about 15 years ago. Since then we continue to work to drive the remainder out. Evangelism has become a sham. We have hung a shingle over the door that only Democrats need apply. We need to convert potential members from Republicans to Democrats before they make profession of faith. Otherwise, there can be no communion of the saints.

 

As a denomination, we are guilty of bigotry, discrimination and racism, not in terms of ethnicity, but in our treatment of fellow Christians who are Republicans. Our leaders disparage them every chance they get. After more than seventy years in the CRC, I find myself praying for the early demise of our denomination so that individual churches can work at the much greater tasks that Christians have in common – that of building the Kingdom.

If you'd like to hear the stories of two courageous women, who have suffered gender-related violence, please attend an event sponsored by Safe Church Ministry and the Calvin College Sexuality Series on Nov 4th 7-9 pm at the Chapel at Calvin College. More details are available on the link below. The event may also be seen and heard by video live or after the event using this link. We gain understanding as we listen to others; it's such an important first step.

A Conversation: A Church Response to Interpersonal Violence featuring Ruth Tucker and Ruth Everhart; both have written memoirs about their experience.

One of the things that makes America great is that we have religious freedom, not only for Christians, but for all religions. Another thing that makes America great are the freedoms that we have, freedom to disagree, as we've seen in these many responses. And we are greatest when the freedoms we share as Americans are extended to each and every person, equal rights for all people. The concern expressed in this article is the degradation of women in our culture. This is more than locker room talk, and it extends far beyond Donald Trump - his comments only served to bring to light something that was already very present in our culture. Women are not treated as equals, as people created in the image of God, and in our Christian communities as fellow-heirs with Christ. Safe Church Ministry's concern is abuse. This devaluing of women, or indeed the devaluing of any person or people group, can often serve as a backdrop or provide a context for abuse. The first step, which can lead to abuse, is seeing the other person as "less than". The results of  being considered "less than" are cumulative, and so harmful to women and others who experience that. And the effects of abuse can be devastating to individuals and communities. That's why this is so important. We would like to continue this conversation - but it would be most helpful if we could take it beyond this election (as important as this election is) and focus on the theme of how women are valued and treated in our culture. 

One person I know, as a result of the publicity surrounding Trump's comments, posted on Facebook several painful incidents that she's experienced, simply because she is a woman. It led to an outpouring of support, and other stories. She's not alone. What can we do to make sure that as Christ followers, we reflect his love and value to ALL people? How can we bring healing to those who have experienced the deep pain and humiliation of abuse?

Again, let's continue the conversation - but let's move it beyond this one election to our present culture that has produced it.

Hi Joe,

Trump has not taken real responsibility for those words or behavior. "I apologize,  but this was locker room talk" is not a sincere apology. I also see little to no evidence of faith in Christ. He continues to mock, belittle,  and lie, and rarely if ever apologizes for cruel comments. He has since mocked the appearance of one of the women accusing him. Jesus said we guage true belief by behavior. I do not see any evidence of following Christ in his behavior. His comments on that tape, made as a married I believe close to 60 yr old man, are completely consistent with how he's talked about women throughout this campaign. 

This post wasn't about Hillary,  it was about taking these words and his many other comments about women seriously. Even if that means there's no candidate you can support.  

 

 

 

 

 

  The first thing that struck me is that there is no mention of Trump's apology for what he said 11 years ago. And there is no mention that  that being born again Trump is nevertheless guiltless and perfect in the sight of God who remembers his sins no more. And neither should we. We are one body in Christ.  I'd rather have Trump  with all his faults who promises to protect all Americans from radical Islamic terrorists and put a stop to the crucifixions and beheadings of Christians by ISIS, than Hillary Clinton's same sex relations and pro-choice agenda.     

I especially appreciate the opening comment from the article you link: "As a black Christian in an urban environment, I consciously struggle to give my allegiance to either political party. In this way, this election gives many white evangelicals a sense of what it’s like to be a black believer in America today."

Thanks for providing that link, Jane! Yes, there's a deep need for such a movement of coming together towards a more holistic ethic of life. 

Sho Baraka, Christian rap artist, writes an excellent article in Christian Today titled Why I Can't Vote for Either Trump or Clinton (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/october/sho-baraka-why-i-cant-v...). He comments that As an African American, I’m marginalized by the lack of compassion on the Right. As a Christian, I’m ostracized by the secularism of the Left.

Mr. Baraka clearly articulates a biblical perspective when he states that he wishes that soon there will be a movement of folks who protest both police brutality and abortions without feeling disloyal to one party or the other. These Christians comprehend an unabridged concept of life, that it is to be protected from the cradle to the grave. This is a comprehensive outlook that seeks justice in community development, education, prison reform, and job creation. These people recognize honoring humanity is a service to God and not a partisan policy.

God is in control. I pray that we have the faith and strength to live this out everyday and especially in the voting booth.

I have many feminist friends who don't like Hillary because she stayed with Bill. Was she weak? Or was she strong? She chose to faithfully stay with Bill, despite his unfaithfulness. And she lived through it all in front of the public eye. I can't imagine being in that position, or how I might respond. Marriage is for better and for worse, right? What does her faithfulness to Bill say about her character? How does that compare to her opponent and his faithfulness? These are the two we have; one will become president of the United States. Bringing others into the conversation is a distraction, a smokescreen. The choice before us stands.

A sanctity of life ethic must extend beyond the womb as well as inside it. I'm a member of an organization called Feminists For Life. They show a consistent sanctity of life ethic focusing on the underlying issues that cause so many women to choose abortion. Some of those issues are poverty, health care, education, child care, etc. Consider the issues of healthcare (how many people die of preventable diseases?) or immigration (how precarious life is for displaced people) - then which party better reflects a sanctity of life ethic? It's not as simplistic, or black and white as we make it out to be. And we can't have meaningful conversations about these important issues if we're not willing to look deeper and see the much bigger and more complicated picture behind the sound bites.

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