The following is a link to an excellent article by Carolyn Custis James: http://www.whitbyforum.com/2013/06/this-can-of-worms-must-be-opened.html
In her post, “This Can of Worms Must Be Opened,” James says:
“We get all worked up (as well we should) about bullying that takes place among school children. But are we as outraged about the bullying that is inflicted under the guise of spirituality by Christian leaders within our ranks?”
James, the first female graduate of Dallas Seminary, references recent public statements by Christian leaders who support C.J. Mahaney (Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition) in the midst of sexual abuse allegations against Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) churches. Mahaney is accused of covering up some of the abuse. James notes:
“Some of the patterns I’m observing are:
- Exploitation of the power disparity between the abuser and the abused
- The use of scripture or spiritual platitudes to manipulate, control, silence, and shame
- Demanding unquestioned loyalty
- Misperceptions of female submission and godliness exacerbate the problem
- Dismissal of legitimate concerns
- Blaming the abused for what someone else (often the abuser) has done
- An environment where simply speaking up or voicing a point of disagreement causes disapproval and possible dismissal
- The impact of abuse intensifies if a person has experienced abuse in the past”
I encourage you to read the rest of James’s well-written post.
What do you think? Do churches today misunderstand the role of grace and forgiveness? Do victims need to work within the church to address abuse issues, trusting that their spiritual leaders will do what is right? What is the role of spiritual shepherds, and what is the role of civil authorities? And what do you think of public statements of support by well-known evangelical leaders for another Christian leader accused of covering-up sexual abuse in a church–while the criminal investigation continues? What is the role of a friend in a matter like this? These are questions that many evangelical leaders seem to be wrestling with–or not–as the case may be.
Note: Look for a future post here about the “Don’t Talk Rule,” a technique often applied by abusers to victims of spiritual and sexual abuse.