Archives For sexual abuse

In speaking to hypocritical religious leaders who were accusing Jesus of doing his miracles by the power of Satan, Jesus says:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (emphasis added)

A person can’t be divided from what they say and what they do.  In Jesus’s case, his actions were good, and they were coming from a good heart.  He was consistent.  The religious leaders on the other hand were branded a “brood of vipers” due to their ability to say “good things” while being evil people.  With the opposite also being true, saying evil things, while claiming to be good.

This is a very relevant message for today.  No one wants to be called “evil,” but does that mean evil people don’t exist?  When a person says evil things (over and over again), what is the logical conclusion?  Continue Reading…

I’m the dad of 3 girls and am afraid of the world of sexual harassment and abuse my daughters are going to have to navigate.

I’m also the author of Beyond the Battle: a man’s guide to his identity in Christ in an oversexualized world, a book that, among other things, helps men rewire their minds so we don’t become sexual harassers or abusers.

Needless to say, I think (and write) about this subject a lot.  I also live in Lansing, MI, where every day there are new headlines in the paper about Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics’ Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of hundreds of girls and women athletes over a span of decades.  Those could have been my daughters had things been off by a few years.

I put the phrase “an oversexualized world” into the subtitle of my book very intentionally.  No one can argue that our world isn’t oversexualized.  My question is, why aren’t more people doing something about it?  I’m convinced that as a society as a whole, we want the best of both worlds.  We want to have our cake and eat it too.  We want to do whatever we want sexually: have sex before marriage, have casual sex, have porn in our popular movies and Netflix shows, look at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and have a general culture that “if you want to have sex, then have it.”  To argue against this puts you in what feels like a small, unpopular minority.  But when this mindset toward sex produces its inevitable result: broken hearts and broken spirits, let alone sexual harassment, rape, and sexual abuse, we are all dumbfounded as to where these things came from. Continue Reading…

My latest post is up on the Covenant Eyes blog: #MeToo and the Deep Cultural Concerns it Highlights.

#metoo

Posts like this are hard to write.  Hard because they are humbling.

I started reading through the #metoo posts on Twitter, at the request of some women in my church.  It’s hard to organize my thoughts so I’m just going to put them out there:

I was wrong.  I do a lot of work around racial reconciliation and talk and preach a lot about racial inequality and the oppression of people of color in America.  When women would talk to me about the oppression women face, and how it should be included in the conversation of oppression, I’ve always resisted.  With race I say, “How can a white person tell you what it’s like to be a person of color in America?”  They obviously can’t, but they try to over and over again (while not listening to people of color’s experiences).  Meanwhile the same applies here, “How can a man tell you what it’s like to be a woman?”  We can’t.  I can’t.  But that’s where I’ve been living.

The response of some men to #metoo is sickening and sad.  The men who are mocking the #metoo movement are sickening to me.  It’s also sad to me the men who feel defensive over this.  How can you feel defensive over this???  Yes, men and boys are sexually abused as well, that’s not the point of the #metoo posts from women.  It’s not a contest!  It’s about giving a voice to a demographic that has been shut up for ages.  Men have never been shut up.  While yes, the male victims of sexual abuse need to share their stories, and those stories are welcome, this is much bigger than that.  It’s about an entire gender that’s been silenced in almost every area of society; the sexual abuse is the tip of the iceberg to the feelings of inferiority women are carrying around with them.  Whether it’s in racial injustice or in these conversations about gender injustice, I will always struggle to understand the response of the white male who feels like they’re being attacked when these important oppressed voices speak up, and then use that feeling to miss the whole point.  This isn’t about you, it’s about the person that’s been oppressed by our society.  Yes, a society that benefited you (and me) at their expense.  But don’t make it about you by feeling attacked or defensive.  And if you’ve been a part of the problem, own it.  Stop acting like you’re innocent of everything; none of us are.  Own up to your part.  Continuing in obstinate pride isn’t going to help anything or change anything.  Why not be a part of the solution? Continue Reading…

At church growing up, they would always have all moms stand up and then ushers would walk around and give each mom a carnation.  While I understand the heart behind this, there are several significant reasons this and other Mother’s Day observations / celebrations should not be done in church:

proverbs 31 29

It’s hard to read but Proverbs 31:29 is written at the bottom of this flier, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Imagine how this sounds to a woman who can’t get pregnant.

1. Many women have had miscarriages or are infertile.

The burden, shame, anger and envy that goes along with a woman not being able to get pregnant, or with a woman who has had a miscarriage, is something that as a man I cannot fully relate to.  I do know these are very strong feelings though and things we need to be sensitive to in ministry.  Having moms stand up and get flowers handed to them, or even having them be applauded, or any other type of special attention given to moms on Mother’s Day is like fiery salt in the wound to these women.  Salt that they don’t need to experience at church.  A reminder of what other women were given from God that they weren’t given.  A reminder they don’t need rubbed in their faces.

2. People have been abused by their mothers.

A friend of mine will never attend church on Mother’s Day because they were sexually abused by their mom.  Mother’s Day is the day the church tells everyone to be so thankful for their moms, as if everyone had a perfect mom given to them from God.  Being reminded of a sexually abusive mom and all the scars and emotions this churns up is not something someone needs at church, let alone the theological mess it puts someone in wondering, “Why did God give other people good moms but not me?”

3. People whose mothers have died prematurely

“Why did God take my mom from me when he did and the way?”

4. Mothers whose children have died prematurely

Again, is the pain and emotional/spiritual upheaval caused by the forced reminder of their greatest loss in life worth it?

5. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime

Picture that 1 in 3 women in your congregation have had an abortion and walk around with its shame, most of them having no one in their lives who even know about this.  If you have all the moms stand, should they stand as well?  Many of these women have repented of this, but still live with its reality.

6. Women who legally have had their children taken from them

 

How is the devastating pain inflicted to the above six individuals worth the nominal encouragement a flower will bring to a mom attending your church service?

I’m not bashing Mother’s Day or moms, I just don’t think it should be a part of a public church worship service meant to be a sanctuary for the hurt and broken.  Let families honor their mothers at home and let the church take extra care of the hurting and vulnerable in their communities.  The appreciation moms might feel from a carnation is not worth the devastation an infertile woman, abused child, or a woman who had her children taken away legally will feel from being reminded of motherhood on a day that is already almost unbearable.  After all, a person decided to get out of bed and come into community with other followers of Christ this Sunday morning to exalt God, not motherhood.  To find hope, not shame and pain.  They should be able to worship the Lord without having their deepest wounds and pain rubbed in their faces.  While the tradition of “honoring mothers” on Mother’s Day comes from a good place, it does much more harm than good and is a tradition that should be ended.