Balderdash and the Church

Maybe you’ve read the articles. The world accuses the Church of fostering a culture of sexual abuse.

Balderdash.

Millions of Christians worldwide daily pursue justice and mercy, goodness and truth, and love for neighbor within their marriages, in their parenting, at work, in church, in their neighborhoods, and in charities and social organizations, quietly modeling the character of Christ day in and day out. Their conduct never makes the news. Christ-like behavior is not nearly as sexy as one Christian whose conduct denies his profession of faith. Scandal sells.

Every day faithful churches deal carefully and biblically with cases of abuse, cooperating with law enforcement, caring for victims, and pursuing justice and accountability, quietly and faithfully. But that’s not newsworthy. Scandal scintillates.

For two thousand years the Church of Jesus Christ has inculcated the virtue of self-control (Titus 2:11-12), the importance of love for neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40), and the necessity that men treat women as sisters in Christ (1 Timothy 5:1-2). The Church has been teaching men and women to conduct themselves with sexual integrity since the days of Moses. But that’s just a killjoy. Scandal is so much more intriguing than obedience.

The world expects, nay, it demands, that the Church share its outrage against sexual sin, which is the sin de jour. If a church instead chooses simply to live in fidelity to the truth and in sexual integrity, rather than to make showy, toothless, public proclamations, then that church is—according to the world—complicit. Phrases like “silence is consent” bandy about as the world shames the Church. But if the Church does rebuke sin, and if that sin is not the sin de jour—or if it is a sin that society refuses to call sin—then the world denounces the Church as hateful or racist or misogynistic or any number of other derogatory labels of contempt.

Remain silent and be hated. Speak and be hated. These are our choices.

I reject the construct.

I affirm that individual professing Christians have been guilty of sin and abuse. I reject the idea that an entire institution is guilty for the sin of an individual.

I affirm that individual churches have mishandled abuse cases, and in so doing have wounded the abused. I reject the idea that every church stands guilty for the sin of one church.

I affirm that entire denominations have failed to speak or have actively covered up sexual sin. I reject the notion that every denomination is thus a nursery for abuse.

I affirm that the Church must balance justice and mercy, giving appropriate weight to each when dealing with sin and abuse. I reject the intimation that world knows best how the Church should deal with sin.

The world understands neither justice nor mercy, and it certainly knows nothing of how justice and mercy meet in the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.

I reject the hubris of the world in presuming to tell the Church what it should or should not do and say.

The Church of Jesus Christ—with all her warts, flaws, sins, shortcomings, baggage, failings, and weaknesses—is still the beautiful Bride of Christ whom He will deliver blameless on the last day. The Church still binds and looses, opening and shutting the Kingdom of God through her preaching of Good News. To the Church Jesus has given the oracles and ordinances for the gathering and perfecting of the saints. With the Church He is battering down the gates of hell.

The world is in no position to bad talk the Bride of Christ.

In fact, the world might find that the Church’s husband has been keeping score, and He is jealous for His Bride.

6 thoughts on “Balderdash and the Church

  1. On conviction, I fully agree with this post. Although, in reality, I have found your stated affirmations sorely and quietly lacking in the Church and within its constructs, many of the latter I have personally experienced, thereby, seemingly leaving your rejections inadequate also because the pain just doesn’t go away. Your defense of the Church Universal, true and justly required, doesn’t do much for the abused, in my experience. They are, the abused, too busy getting therapy and trying to cope with life and the obsequious daily (hourly) pain and guilt. And, “abuse” posts like these, if read, can leave the abused and those who love them, confused and wanting, and…silent.
    Sometimes it pays to listen to whomever may be talking, even the world at times. (A wise man recently reinforced this for me).
    Jesus, the Christ, help me to discern.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I debate nothing you’ve said. I debate only the look down the long nose and the pointed finger the world often offers to the Church. There are–no doubt–churches that have failed the abused. There are abused persons who are hurting in silence. And there are also faithful churches actively caring for abused persons. My post seeks only to balance the narrative, not to re-wound the wounded. When Harvey Weinstein is a memory, when #metoo has faded, and when the sin de jour that rouses the world’s ire has changed, who will continue caring for the abused? Pastors, counselors, and faithful churches. Christlike pastors and churches will quietly and without fanfare continue to walk with and minister to the abused. May God help us help and love them.

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    2. “Your defense of the Church Universal, true and justly required, doesn’t do much for the abused, in my experience. They are, the abused, too busy getting therapy and trying to cope with life and the obsequious daily (hourly) pain and guilt. And, “abuse” posts like these, if read, can leave the abused and those who love them, confused and wanting, and…silent.
      Sometimes it pays to listen to whomever may be talking, even the world at times. (A wise man recently reinforced this for me).”

      THIS.

      I am making a very, very extensive post based mostly on this entire blog post.

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  2. You should listen to Z, St. John. They’re honing in on the fundamental flaw with your argumentation.
    You deal in straw men portrayals of the ‘world’ to give you an adversary to prop up & in no true scotsman arguments with people who happen to disagree with you, both of which are fallacious and unhelpful. The Church is at a turning point in dealing with systemic issues, and you’re crying, “Not all churches…”. That’s tone-deaf, frankly.

    Z said it pays to listen to whomever may be talking, and there are LOTS of us in the Church talking about how to root out predators who have positions of power and to support and listen to those who have experienced abuse. Maybe if you showed an inkling of *wanting* to listen instead of defending yourself and “not all churches” you’d realize that.

    This is not a sin de jour fad, and this isn’t going away. We’re not stopping till the Church stops shielding powerful men from the consequences of their (criminal, not just sinful) actions. It would mean a lot more to see someone like you use their voice to affirm and champion the cause of the neglected (in this case those who have been silenced after experiencing abuse) instead of complaining and lamenting that churches who are doing the BASELINE RIGHT THING aren’t getting attention.

    Would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

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