Home Should Be Safe


Another one bites the dust// And another one gone and another one gone// Another one bites the dust (Deacon, popularized by Queen) That sentiment sounds so harsh and uncaring but it has floated and flitted through my mind this last month as I mulled and contemplated the results of the independent study conducted about a prominent apologetic speaker and leader in the modern evangelical world, Ravi Zacharias. You can google all the gory details if you want but it is the exact same story line we've seen and heard repeated ad infinitum -- ever since I can remember-- when this type of thing occurs. The patterns are so obviously identical that no excuse rendered as an explanation means anything.


Money and fame bring a man shame// Ain't' no doubt about it (Rinehart, Rinehart & Tozer, popularized by NeedtoBreathe) That song lyric has also echoed in the recesses of my brain as I have thought about the predatorial actions of one 'religious' man, the abjection of duty that his two religious governing bodies provided (over the ten plus years that he allegedly abused) and the modern evangelical Christian & church movement's response and reactions.


I've thought about 'it' every single day for 28 days. I've read all the articles. It's haunted my sleep, brought up my own memories of rankling with Christian institutions and reminded me that the universal or local Church Home that so many abuse victims wish to turn to and be comforted by is simply not safe.


And that is simply a crying shame, if you are prone to crying any more about these issues. Which I'm not, but Home should be safe. The gathering of two or three should be where Jesus is--not where powerful over-sexualized and underdeveloped men go to harness and monopolize their power.


Some people were surprised. I was not. Some people erroneously thought it was only about sex and advised dialing back to an overzealous purity culture. I did not. These actions on the part of a celebrity, this celebrity among a long list of celebrities, was and is about power. He got away with it because he could. He got away with it because no one was paying attention, and to those that were--they were maligned and tamped down by a culture that must keep their celebrities famous at the cost and expense of the will of God. 'For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;' (the apostle Paul, popularized by the Bible)


I've been around the block. Born into a church-going family, I remember being carried around the church as a toddler to sing 'Zacchaeus' to the after-service crowd. I was dedicated, baptized, and called to a life of ministry in the church. There was Sunday School, youth group, Christian camp, Christian high school, Christian college,

missions trips and Christian homeschool groups. For sixteen years, I labored alongside my husband as a pastor's wife. We faithfully and joyfully served 4 congregations and were forever impacted positively by Bison Hunter and White Hair, Grandpa-ish and Little Doll. We attended conferences, denominational meetings and learned all the inner workings of it all. I've eaten my share of potluck dinners, carry-ins and meal trains. (I can still taste the homemade noodles and sugar cream pie) I've led Vacation Bible School, the church nursery, Bible Studies, kids clubs and small groups. I've sung in the choir (and the fat lady did sing). I've had a front row seat to para-church ministries and have volunteered regularly on their behalf. When it comes to resumes about church work, I have some street cred.


And, I've been around the block. Mr. Magoo was a Dr. 'Of Something Religious', a Christian school teacher, a pastor, a camp director, a missions board director and identified as a christian. Small c. He groomed me in the context of Christian environments and institutions and sexually harassed & abused me over 3-5 years as a vulnerable teenager. I am grateful it stopped when it did. I don't want to discount my story, but in reality it was a more easily treated cancer than the horrors of my sister & brother survivors in the Southern Baptist Convention, Sovereign Grace Ministries or Mamou. The cancer in those places has utterly ravaged its victims and the true stories will keep you up at night. On the heels of that, (Un)incredible Hulk violently abused me on a Christian college campus re: intimate partner violence . He graduated with a Youth Pastor Degree while I was sitting at home, encouraged by leadership to drop out and stay out of two semesters of college to give him the freedom to graduate with a ministry degree. That fact alone still makes me crazy. He, too, identified as a christian. Small c. I've had a front row seat to my own abuse and have listened to the stories of the sisterhood, too. When it comes to resumes about abuse in Christian environments, I have some street cred.


Why care // Because obviously you don't (Sadie Speaks, popularized by the indifference in the Church, universal and local) Yeah, I said it. Because I felt this sentiment this past month. I felt it in my bones.


One of my recent counselors listened to my whole story and concluded: "I'm surprised you are still in church." Some Sundays, I am surprised too. Every new instance when a modern evangelical story of abuse makes the headlines, survivors know there are many who don't. For every prominent modern evangelical man idolized for his false spirituality that people race to buy his books, get his autographs and post selfie photos, there are less prominent abusers waiting in the wings sipping a cup of coffee before the sermon. For every victim brave enough to be unbelieved, unheard, untrusted, marginalized, maligned, and ignored after coming forward, survivors know that there are less brave victims waiting in the wings sipping a cup of fear before the reporting. The Catholic community with all its missteps, criminal behavior and hiding has nothing on us, folks. We are contending for a first place trophy in the 'Devastatingly Mishandling Abuse' category in our evangelical movements.


I was brave. Sometimes, less brave. But, I reported because I believed it was happening to other teenage girls. I reported discreetly to the proper authorities, asking nothing in return except a recognition of the truth. In an unnamed Christian environment, I was ignored for one year. I persisted, Following that, I was insulted, lied about, disbelieved, character assassinated and had personal information revealed about me in the court of public opinion on a FB forum. I was harassed on my parents' home phone, at my husband's work and by handlers trying to 'fix' the problem. Then, I was sued for defamation of character. To be clear, anyone abusing others for their personal jolly ruins their own reputation and defames their own name and character. Properly reporting their indiscretions and crimes certainly doesn't put the onus on the victim. Had things gone differently, we could have lost it all--our home. our meager ministry salary; our courage. Instead, he walked away with $10k and I walked away with my voice. I walked away knowing that I did not abdicate my duty to the other teenage girls he was influencing. I walked away a much wealthier woman in faith, but much poorer in trust. My church home, local and universal --a sort of alma mater if you will, was more unsafe. And Home should be safe.


I was brave. Sometimes, less brave. After the abusive relationship with (Un)incredible Hulk ended, one of the first places I attended for solace was Sunday School and Church. I was a broken soul looking for a place to heal. I carried my Bible in. I carried myself in, shrouded with shame. This time I entered with all the street cred I could possibly muster-good church girl broken by abuse. Not one person spoke to me for those three hours of religiosity. I can easily say that it is one of the defining moments of my life. To be able to separate the institution of church from the Jesus Christ in my soul was to meet him personally as the good God who loves and gives that love generously. Home should be safe, yes but Jesus IS the safest place on earth.


I penned this song:


I'm Looking for Love Here


I knocked just once at the front of the door

The church bells rang

And communion was poured

Those stained glass windows really look fine

But the stain on my heart ain't a pretty design


They opened the door just to stare out

Their hearts were closed

And their eyes spoke the doubt

Before they could ask why I looked so confused

I spoke these words so that they wouldn’t accuse


(Chorus)

I said, ‘I’m looking for love here

Can you find it for me?

I am looking for love here

It’s supposedly plain to see

Please open your heart; I want a brand new start

I’m looking for love here.

I’m looking for love here.’



I knocked just once

At the front of the door

The band struck up and the liquor was poured

Those happy hours just aren’t the key

To rid my heart of its sad misery

They opened the door just to stare out

Their red swollen eyes spoke the doubt

Before they could ask why I looked so confused

I spoke these words so that they wouldn’t accuse


(Chorus)

I said, ‘I’m looking for love here

Can you find it for me?

I am looking for love here

But instead I find mockery

Please open your heart;

I need a brand new start

I’m looking for love here…’


(Bridge)

I was tired of knocking

Tired of searching

Tired of crying out

So instead of me knocking

I lived in my restless doubt


And Christ Jesus said,

‘I’ve knocked dear one

At your shut tight door

You’re all locked up

And your soul is at war

Those bars and churches can’t understand

That the love that you need is at high demand

Please open your door

Just to look out

At the Light and the Love I am talking about

Before you can say that you’re so confused

Just let me explain the truly Good News.’


Jesus says, ‘I’m giving My Love here

Will you take it from Me?

I’m giving My Love here

It’s pure and it’s oh so free

Please open your heart. You’ve got a brand new start

I am giving My Love here, I’m giving My Love here…

I’m giving My Love here.


CJM

Summer 1989


The way that leadership structures in denominations, churches, Christian institutions and organizations have treated victims has only added insult to injury for abuse survivors. The indifference screams in places we've already been screamed at. The fist of ignorance pounds like a judge's final judgment--there is no recourse left. The bravery we mustered is slapped back by a much stronger tenacity to preserve reputations and to protect the cleric brotherhood, The attack on our characters--when reporting offers us NO benefit expect the protection of other victims and the freedom of TRUTH-- completely dissolves our will. The message is clear. You are a lesser part of the Body of Christ. Your experience doesn't matter. Your discernment doesn't matter. Your prophetic voice doesn't matter. Your wisdom doesn't matter. Your ministry to others wounded by the ravages of abuse doesn't matter. Crawl back to the lonely hell-hole Jesus rescued you from, be quiet; be still. You don't matter.


But you know what? Leadership structures are led by real people. And it's the real people at Church, universal and local, who continue to wound because why care // because obviously you don't.


Abuse survivors are the appendix of the Body of Christ. No one knows what purpose the appendix serves in the physical body. Many think it houses good bacteria and is inextricably linked to the digestive system. Others believe it has no value, no contributing worth. Useless. In or out of the body, it doesn't matter. Though when the appendix is diseased, you know that you know. Sudden pain, doubled over. Untreated and ignored, the appendix bursts---all the tell-tale signs of infection wrack the body: fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal tenderness, and more. Left alone, the body becomes septic, gangrene sets in and the body can die from untreated infection. The solution is surgery to remove the diseased appendix and people without an appendix have no known residual effects to being without it.


The Bible says that the body is fearfully and wonderfully made. The New Testament repeatedly describes the value and worth of each part of the Body of Christ, working together for the common good toward brotherly love and a witness to the nations. There are no useless parts. Parts is parts. Some are given to noble tasks; some, not so much.


The appendix is attached to the lower end of the large intestine. It must have some purpose in removing waste effectively. So it is with survivors in the church, the Body of Christ. Appendicitis is warning the body that something is wrong. The sudden and acute pain continues to be ignored. Over and over, we are dealing with the aftermath of burst appendixes that went ignored and overlooked --risking gangrene and a body rife with infection in our blood. We are septic and in grave danger of losing our life. The solution, often, is to cut us out. The Body will never know the difference. But God’s Body economy is different than modern medicine’s. In God's economy, the appendix has purpose; it matters. Removing the appendix without addressing the underlying problems of intestinal waste solves nothing. Removing an organ that houses good bacteria ultimately matters. The appendix must be a part not given to nobility, but it should be given to honor. (1 Corinthians 12) The Body of Christ is not better off by cutting us out with surgical hands of indifference. In fact, the Bible says that if these parts suffer, we are to suffer alongside them.


Interestingly, the only parts of the body that Jesus suggests cutting off are the hand and the foot, if it causes you to sin or gouging out the eye, if it causes you to sin. Because you've made a little one to stumble!

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Matthew 18:6-9

Whereas the Body should be walking around with fewer hands, limp-legged and one-eyed congregations, we are removing appendixes instead.


This poem identifies my inner belief better than I can't explain otherwise.


POEM

If we're honest

There's no place for 'us'

In the hallowed halls

No place for us

Within the Church's walls

The Holy Book written to men

So under their tutelage

At home, we could depend

Tell me if you read it differently

Show me if it will ever be

A heaven on earth

A Body, whole

Where in Christ there is no male

Or female role

But joint heirs with Jesus

As we travel this sod

Truly a part of the family of God

Where daughters will prophecy

Just like sons

And the Spirit poured out on,

Everyone

It's easy to say

We're equal like you

But you get to speak

At the pulpit, in the pew

And you get to decide who prays

And well, who doesn't

It really shouldn't matter to me

I have been made equally fearfully

And maybe it's just a jealous streak

Maybe you'll think me a zealous freak

Femininity's ‘more masculine’ Spirit-gifts gather dust

They sit as figurines on a shelf

It seems a must

Waiting for man's permission

Approval, head nod, consent

--Instead aprons --

Send in the aprons

Is that not what you meant?

Don't worry they're here.

I'm certain the personal reasons why--

I need to learn humility

Patience, kindness, and a bondservant's cry

It's me who has to bend the knee

Practice gifts in secret and in the closet of prayer

Learn the way of the Master

And the Spirit and the Father

And even this burden, bear

It gets lonely being woman

In these hallowed halls

Oh that the weary would believe

An Honest Savior

The God of Truth

Who blessed the woman

And offered her great mercy

And promises a place at His table

In Christ

Fully Free

cjz 2:45am

9/12/2017


Why do I write this? Because I want to persuade you to love and good deeds toward your surviving brothers and sisters in Christ--many of them pushed out of church pews because we are misunderstood, marginalized and maligned. I want you to care. 1 in 4 women in congregations have experienced abuse; 1 in 5 men. New statistics coming out in the pandemic say 1 in 3 people (overwhelmingly women) are experiencing intimate partner violence in their homes. This is happening in your church, in your Christian environment, in your neighborhood, in your family, in your work and in your sphere of influence.

I write this because I want you to be brave. Sometimes, less brave. And I want you to educate yourself, hold your governing leadership in your denominations, churches, Christian schools, college campus' and parachurch ministries one hundred percent accountable for their action, inaction and responses. I want you to properly and discreetly report abuse. Godly Resp0nse to Abuse in the Christian Environment is your first stop. GRACE at netgrace.org is your first decision to be brave as a pastor or parishioner, board member or nursery volunteer. It is your guidance to be brave if abuse is currently happening to you in a Christian environment.

I write this because I am going to walk in to a church this Sunday--wearing my Sunday best--and I want to feel safe because Home should be safe.


If anyone forces you to go one mile// go with them two miles. (Jesus, popularized by the Sermon on the Mount) I write this because I want you to walk around the block with me. I want you to get some street cred. I want you to walk a mile in the shoes of abuse victims and survivors. My overwhelming experience has been that it is a mile others refuse to walk. And I'm not forcing, I'm asking.

The Mile They Refuse to Walk


There is a mile

They refuse to walk

No matter how easy the stroll

Men with accolades, or not

Encouraged only to be bold

And state loudly their protest

Undermine femininity’s request

To walk the mile in our shoes

To feel feelings of abuse

And to walk the second mile of fear, shame and loss—

Rape, indignity and cost

When a man, one of their kind,

Has stripped away virginity’s sublime.

Who steals and snatches and shames away from our hearts

The comfort of the Father, He

I’m not ‘one of them’, they squee:


‘it’s not that bad’

‘get over it’

‘you misunderstood’

‘forgive already’

‘give him more sex’

‘you were made for men’

‘don’t take a victim mentality’

‘well, you’re a battle axe’

‘stop complaining’

‘be grateful it wasn’t worse’

‘crude words’

‘locker room talk’

‘mansplaining’

‘submit’

‘attend church with the perp’

‘don’t tell anyone else’

‘respect his privacy’

‘guard his reputation’

‘how could you think that of him’

‘why would anyone grope YOU?’

‘crickets’ as in

‘silence’


And the mile takes two steps back

Maybe more, Satan’s attack


The verses to ‘submit’

One to Another

Fall deaf on the ears

Of our Christian brothers

In Christ, there is

-no-

Male or Female

We are One

Hikers, we must become.


Walking a second mile for ‘us’

Those victims of sexual assault, affairs, mistrust, lust

It’s sometimes above

What you’re willing to do—

Walking a mile in our shoes,

You refuse.


So please, take steps with Jesus

Learn His gait as you walk the narrow way

For He:


Saw Hagar

Made Bathsheba a Queen

Honored Rahab’s faith

Purposed Esther to petition the king

Gave a son to Tamar

And a kinsman-redeemer to Ruth

Raised Mary with gratitude’s myrrh

He spoke to Mary Magdalene as a dear and close friend

And to the woman at the well He was love and kindness without end


He championed women

Listened carefully to their heart

And set them to mission:

Deborah

Hannah

Abigail

The Shulamite, dark

Mary

Martha

Priscilla

Dorcas

Lois

Eunice

The barren, the battered, the bereaved, the Bride

Praising their Kingdom part.


Jesus walks beside each broken one,

Every mile that they trod

Bringing them to healing

Leading them to the Face of God.


So when a weaker vessel asks you

To walk a mile in their shoes

Please walk in a manner worthy

And the second mile, don’t refuse.


Sunday, 2016 November 13

Before church waiting to hear if it was ‘safe’.




You matter.

I hope you care.

I hope people find the love of Jesus in your church pew.

I hope there is a place for abuse victims in your place or worship.

I hope you are willing to walk miles and miles on behalf of survivors.


I hope you cut out eyes and cut off feet and hands from your Christian environments.

I hope you save the Body of Christ from sepsis.

Home should be safe.




Recent Posts

See All

Buried

 

Sadie Speaks


Subscribe Form

©2019 by Sadie Speaks. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • Facebook
  • Instagram