We're Being Watched: Fallout from the Kavanaugh Hearings

America clearly views congress this way, I'm afraid trust in the Church has become just as distorted.

I am not a victim. As a boy I came into rough contact with a few kids on the playground, but never in my life has my body been violated. I just don’t know what that would be like. And so I venture into this blog feeling rather small. Who am I to write about this topic? I therefore have sought to write with a great deal of sensitivity to the fact that this issue is not, for me, rife with personal turmoil.
My ears have, however, heard frightening firsthand accounts from victims; tales of a young boy whipped and sexually wounded by a trusted neighbor, a young girl left alone weekly in the care of a violent uncle, or a woman left bleeding after an initially consensual encounter with her husband.
Their stories, whispered through tears in the sanctity of their pastor’s presence, stick with me. All of these people never sought legal action. They were too afraid in the beginning and now want desperately to move on with their lives. They’re strong, remarkable people, who’ve clamored together a peace in the arms of Christ, though their wounds remain tender.
I think about them now, as they peruse Facebook or Twitter reading the comments in regard to Dr. Blasey Ford versus Judge Kavanaugh (If you’re not up on your politics and therefore have no idea what I’m talking about, click here to come up to speed). I wonder if I could compel you to think about them too.
First, I encourage you to not presume to know why people may or may not choose to wait, even indeterminately, to accuse their abuser. I promise you that the trauma wraps around victims like a mighty chain, dragging them to the depths of despair. Removing that chain, choosing to fight that chain, requires a heroic effort.
Now, I’m not telling you what you must think about the tragedy that has been this judicial hearing. I personally don’t know how so many are so certain. I feel far removed from the ability to stand over the conflict and declare myself able to decipher truth from fiction. I only feel certain about what I’ve witnessed.
What I can tell you . . . what I beg us to see, is that our conduct now is being watched. Watched by victims wondering if their brothers and sisters in Christ will listen to them, even decades after the tortuous ordeal. Perhaps they were just on the cusp of resisting their chain with you. Will they now?
Also, our young people are watching. What kind of conduct do we as a Church condone? I’ve heard and read too many Christians say that even if the accusations leveled at Judge Kavanaugh are true, it’s no big deal.1 This is more than disheartening. If we indeed believe that it is okay for a young man to attack, tackle, muzzle, laugh, and press his body against a young woman, then we are no longer the church that belongs to Jesus. We’ve sold our inheritance of good news for something else. And be sure, the voices that have excused this behavior have been heard.  
I wonder too what redemption looks like for abusers. How does our public furor in this case affect hope for a person longing to free themselves of their guilt, seek forgiveness, and find a new path? I don’t have the answer to that. I worry that the Church might lose opportunities to walk in the restorative grace of Christ with perpetrators. I worry that our reactions have and are driving a wedge between us and people in need. On the day they wake up longing for a changed life, the Church may be the last place they’d turn.2  
Most of all, let us hold victims in our prayers. I imagine their chain feels very heavy after recent days.
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1 You can read Dr. Blasey Ford’s description of her abuse here (Her account begins at the bottom of page 2).
 2 On the other hand, it is also true that in the past (and probably present) churches have been safe havens for predators. That always worried me as a pastor and continues to worry me. I'm not sure what the answer is to that. How do we keep our communities safe while also holding tightly to grace? A very difficult question that I'm not sure I have the space or the expertise to write about just now. 

Comments

  1. "How do we keep our communities safe while also holding tightly to grace?" This question eats at me too. I'm glad you asked it, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.

    "On the day they wake up longing for a changed life, the Church may be the last place they’d turn." This is why I pray -- *I* can't imagine this day coming, but God can.

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  2. Great post, Matt! This is one of the rare, thoughtful posts that I have read on this current topic.

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