Listening to Chellee Taylor last night at the SBC Voices breakout session on Adult Sexual Abuse in Churches, put together by Todd Benkert, I was reminded of how important this subject is.
I sat as she told her horrifying story of abuse in an SBC megachurch, as one of her pastors groomed and then abused her in ways that are horrendous. I read the full story online while she talked.
Then, her husband (I think his name was Peter) got up to speak and he said something that I’ve heard other survivors say. He said that the abuse, as awful as it was, wasn’t the worst part of their trauma. It was the response of the church. The cover-up, the denial, the DARVO, the blaming of the victim, the loss of friendships because they told the truth about what was happening.
We cannot continue to call ourselves shepherds if we abuse the sheep. Our churches must be places of hope, healing, and safety for women, children – for everyone.
As the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force gives its report, we must support them. We cannot back down or back off. There are voices in our convention practicing DARVO, as if those shining the light on abuse are the ones causing the problem. When you expose abuse, there is going to be trouble. It hurts. It shocks us!
Remember Ahab, who saw Elijah and accused him of being the “troubler of Israel!” No. The idolatrous sinner was the one who troubled God’s people, not the prophet. It is time to move forward, not to step back.
Extend the task force and support their work. Now is not the time to back off.