Trigger warnings for rape, abuse, stalking
I believe in a thing called grace.
Really, I do. I believe people can change, and when people change, I believe in giving those people a second chance. But here’s the thing.
Because, sometimes, showing “grace” to one person means denying grace from another.
Here’s an example: You have a child molester who has raped and abused young children. This child molester meets Jesus. Jesus changes said child molester.
But what if this child molester decides he wants to start coming to church? What if he decides he wants to work in the church nursery with children?
Do you show him “grace” by forgetting his past and letting him do so?
I think you all know the answer to that question.
Now, hypothetical situations aside, we need to talk about Relevant Magazine and Hugo Schwyzer.
Relevant Magazine, a site that claims to herald progressive Christianity, recently published an article by Hugo Schwyzer. You may not recognize that name, and I doubt Relevant did either when they published his article. But a quick Google search will reveal his disturbing past.
According to Grace from “Are Women Human?:”
Hugo Schwyzer lied for several years about his attempt to kill a woman - on one occasion, falsely describing his attempt to kill his girlfriend and himself as only a suicide attempt that “accidentally” endangered her.
Grace explains more (and provides documentation) in her article here (which I encourage you all to read).
So, our pal Hugo is a repentant abuser.
Now, let me repeat, I BELIEVE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE, and if you skip down to the comments section without reading this whole post and leave me a pat answer like, “God changes people!” I may just have to cry.
But Hugo, a man who has committed very serious crimes against women, is now writing articles at Relevant Magazine about women’s issues. And there are some problems with that.
The first problem is, Relevant refuses to disclose Schwyzer’s past. There was no disclaimer on the article, no mention of his abuse in the article.
Not only that, but Relevant actively silenced voices that informed readers of Schwyzer’s past.
My friend Dianna Anderson, from diannaeanderson.net, posted a comment that was deleted.
I posted the article by Grace (above) on Relevant’s Facebook page. Not only was my comment deleted, but I was blocked from Relevant’s Facebook page, even though my post containing the article contained no profanities or hateful words.
Several of my twitter friends then tried posting the article to Relevant’s page. Their comments were also deleted.
If you can’t see why this is a problem, let me remind you of the hypothetical scenario that I mentioned above–if there was a repentant child molester working in your church nursery, wouldn’t you want to know about it?
Similarly, I, as an abuse survivor, would like to know that the man writing articles at a once-trusted Christian website is a former abuser. I would like to know so that I can be cautious about the comments I leave on his article. So I can be cautious about linking my blog to the article. So I can be cautious about following this man on Twitter.
Yet, people like Relevant writer Max Dubinsky can’t seem to understand this. Dubinsky stated in a conversation on Relevant’s Facebook: “How would everyone here like it if every time you spoke or wrote something, you had to disclose the worst thing you’ve ever done for everyone to hear and read?”
Dubinsky’s comment considers only the feelings of the abuser, and not the feelings of survivors.
And here’s where MY question comes in to play, for Relevant, Dubinsky, and all other Christians who would ignore the concerns of survivors in order to defend former abusers: Who gets your grace?
Because if you can’t see why former abusers should have to disclose their abuse before having an article published on an interactive Christian website, then you have no grace for abuse victims.
Secondly, this argument isn’t just about Hugo Schwyzer’s past. He continues to write articles that make even a sex-positive feminist such as myself a bit uncomfortable (here’s one entitled ”He Wants to Jizz on Your Face, but Not Why You Think” written in January of 2012).
And, the man has no sense of boundaries. None, whatsoever.
I spent last night in an impassioned Twitter discussion about the recent Relevant Magazine article, and how uncomfortable it made me feel. Several of my Twitter friends joined in to express their discomfort as well.
And as we talked about how nervous Schwyzer made us…
Schwyzer tried to follow some of us on Twitter.
He even “favorited” a tweet of mine in which I was talking about how uncomfortable he made me. It was as if he was saying, “I’m watching you. I see what you’re saying about me. I see how I’m making you feel. And I like it.”
I had a panic attack upon seeing that he’d favorited my tweet, and I cried for about 20 minutes.
And I still wonder, why? Why would a man who has completely changed “favorite” a tweet by a woman that felt uncomfortable reading his articles? Why would a man who no longer wants to hurt women attempt to force his online presence upon women who clearly did not want that presence?
The answer is, he wouldn’t.
Hugo Schwyzer may not be trying to murder women anymore. But he is still deliberately attempting to make them feel uncomfortable. He is still relishing their discomfort. Admitting, via Twitter, that seeing these feelings in women is a “favorite” of his.
Yet, Relevant refuses to inform readers of this man’s past. Relevant continues to give this man an undisputed platform in progressive Christianity.
They do this in the name of grace.
But again I say, who gets your grace?
“Grace” to abusers at the expense of survivors is not the grace of Jesus.
“Grace” that allows abusers to continue to harm women unchecked is not the grace of Jesus.
This “grace” that Relevant claims to be giving Hugo Schwyzer by publishing his articles and refusing to include a disclaimer about his past is NOT grace to survivors. It is NOT grace to women. And, really, it is NOT grace to Schwyzer to allow him to continue to participate in circles where he is working with the people he once abused without holding him accountable.
Check your idea of grace, Relevant Magazine.
It’s not the grace of Jesus.
If you are as bothered this whole situation as I was, please sign my petition asking Relevant magazine to include a disclaimer about Schwyzer’s past with any future articles by him. I think it’s a reasonable request that would show grace to survivors and commenters who might be reluctant to have Schwyzer know their information. I also think it may help keep Schwyzer accountable and may dissuade him from further Twitter-stalking episodes like the one described above. The link to the petition is here. Thank you very much.