When my abuser is welcome at the table, I am not.

It’s the cool thing in more progressive branches of Christianity now to talk about how EVERYONE is welcome at the communion table. I should be glad about that, I guess.

I mostly just serve communion to myself (sometimes a cat or two joins in) while locked in my bedroom nowadays. Not much of a “communion,” I know. I’m probably committing all sorts of blasphemy, but that’s the best I can do right now. Maybe if I swapped the leftover pizza that I use as the body of Christ for some Zoloft I’d be getting dressed for a “real” church instead of sitting here writing a blog post in my Mario Kart pajamas. Maybe going off my meds just made me paranoid. I don’t know.

But this trend in Christianity where EVERYONE is welcome scares me.

Maybe it’s because of the time when a former friend of Abe’s, who knew my back story, told Abe and I that we had to be grateful that Jesus forgives rapists. Who told us that because we could not see rapists as sinners just like us, we must not know Jesus like he does.

Or maybe it’s because of the people who cut off all ties to me because I’m not all that cheery and positive in my critiques of abusive systems and ideologies. Those same people who talk about how they long to sit down at the communion table with popular spiritually abusive leaders in a show of grace and forgiveness.

Or maybe it’s because of the way I see so-called progressive Christians in powerful positions react when my friends who are gay or trans* or disabled or people of color say, “Hey, this person/ideology is oppressing us.”

EVERYONE is welcome. But more and more it seems the “EVERYONE” that Christians are really going after is abusers.

And why not? How radical and Jesus-like does that sound? Abusers and survivors, sitting at the same table. Sharing the same bread and wine. The lion lying down next to the lamb.

Sure. That sounds great. Excuse me while I go have a panic attack or two.

I don’t know how to respond to this trend anymore. When I express discomfort about calling a rapist my “brother in Christ,” people accuse me of being a  bitter,  grace-hating person. When I say that I can’t get over the hurt my abuser caused me, people tell me to get over my “perpetual victimhood.” When I ask for a safe space, people tell me I’m acting just like the exclusionary fundamentalists, and that I need to learn that Christianity isn’t about being uncomfortable.

There’s no grace for me, as I try to work through all the festering hate toward my rapist that I don’t know what the hell to do with. There’s no grace as I try to figure out whether I ever want to forgive a man who hurts me more each day even though we haven’t spoken in six years. Maybe they’re right and I am the bitter, hateful person they think I am, but what about all this talk of grace?

Is progressive Christianity spending so much grace on abusers, in order to show the world how “radical” and “subversive” they are, that they have only scraps left for survivors?

I’m not really interested in asking for space at the communion table anymore. I’m welcome, I know, I know. As long as I check my much-too-strong  feelings about abuse and abusers at  the door, I’m welcome.

In other words, I’ll go back to serving cold pizza to my cat. The body of Christ, broken for us, Princess Buttercup.

 

[Note: this post was inspired by this fantastic piece by Toranse. Read it, please]

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  • http://www.dirtydiaperchic.com/ laura g

    “Forgiveness without justice grants evil clemency” Samuel Rodriquez

  • Andrea_Videographer

    This is beautiful. Thank you so much for exploring with such clarity the feelings survivors deal with when it comes to the blank stares and dumb looks from those people who should be more concerned about protecting innocents than integrating unrepentant, willfully evil predators.

  • Linda M. Fossen

    This is incredible powerful and spoken with such raw emotion! How well you have spoken for so many survivors who share the same confusion and are just as baffled as you. Thanks for sharing this!

  • forgedimagination

    That whole particular conversation was highly disturbing to me, and made me very uncomfortable. Grace and forgiveness are awesome– but consequences are necessary. Abusers only do what works for them– if you allow them to get what they want, then their abuse has worked exactly how they wanted it to.

  • Theo Darling

    THANK YOU <3333

  • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

    In communities where survivors live near the abusers, there will be a burden for someone. It should be on the abuser IMO. You can’t just require the victims to give grace, and let the perpetrator get away with nothing and be welcomed with a pat on the back. Someone will HAVE to pay, and if you make it be the victim, the hurt, the weak…. I don’t think that is what Jesus would do.

    • forgedimagination

      Consequences exist. When a grown man violates an innocent child, there’s going to be consequences for that choice for the rest of his life. End of story. Grace and forgiveness isn’t a removal of consequences. Grace isn’t a magical do-over button.

  • http://faithfulmomof9.com/ Sylvia

    Isn’t that disgraceful? I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can justify blaming the victim in sexual crimes. Most Christian men and even women are of the belief that such crimes are committed because of lust. They do not get it that sexual crimes are all about violence, control, conquest, and dominance. I actually know a man who thinks all victims including child victims and their parents need to forgive and move on and that if committed by church members it should all be kept secret so as to not blaspheme the name of God! Unbelievable!

    Other not well known “victims” of the church are divorced men and women. Ex-murderers are permitted to serve in an official capacity, but not divorced men or women, no matter what the cause of the divorce!

    Also, as the mother of a disable daughter, I am glad to see that you acknowledge the disabled as also being “dismissed” by the church. Very few churches take measures to include those with disabilities.

    • tedseeber

      Even when it is about lust, why blame the *victim* for lust experienced by the *perpetrator*?!?!?!?

  • http://www.bookwormbeauty.com/ Becca Rose

    The example of someone who refuses to speak to you, but wants to speak to famous abusers and be in communion with them, really hit me hard. The people in my former church still take communion from my abuser to this day, as he serves on the pastoral staff. But not a single one of them has spoken to me since I told the truth.

    If that’s true grace, if that’s what it really is supposed to mean to be a Christian, I want none of it.

  • Faith Newport

    My church is very progressive, and, yes, the pastor welcomes all to the table. She is a happily married lesbian who works as a hospice chaplain when not inviting everyone to take communion. Looking around our church on Sunday morning, you’ll see LGBTQ people, PoC, old people, very young people, married, unmarried, those with partners and those who are long-term singles, women who need to use a walker to take Communion and women like me who almost dance our way there. So, yes, all are welcome.

    BUT. The pastor also greets everyone at the door. If someone new is there, she immediately points out her wife from across the room, subtly making it clear what they can expect from this church. Why? Because if the person is going to react in offense, she wants it to happen while they are “outside”. She is protecting her people, her family. We’re currently planning to have a guest speaker from missionyear.org visit us in August, and one of the first things she told him was that we are LGBTQ affirming. Why? She protects her people. If there was someone in my life or my past who was a danger to me, who had abused or harmed in me in any way, the minute they walked in the door all I would have to do is tell someone in leadership, and that person would be asked to leave. They would not make it to Communion.

    That’s the flip side that we don’t talk about enough. Want to have radical welcome? Good, that means everyone there is now your family–so you have to protect them. It means that the community is a safe space for the marginalized, so if you’re in the habit of marginalizing people it’s time for you to step aside. You’re welcome, yes, but only to the extent that you aren’t limiting the welcome of others.

    I wish I could wrap up this church in a gift box and mail it to you, I really do. I wish I could sit next to you in the back and watch with you in silence as everyone else approaches the table. I wish I could give you my hand to squeeze every time there was a twinge of anxiety or an old hurt was inadvertently triggered. You would be safe here, like all of the other people who show up because we have shit in our lives instead of because we don’t.

    I’m not even sure why I’m writing all this except maybe to let you know that some of us still care, and are still trying our damnedest to listen to the voices on the margins and make those voices front and center. I know that probably doesn’t mean much right now, but maybe it can be one little drop in the bucket.

    In the time I’ve been following your writing, I’ve definitely come to think of you as a kindred spirit as well as a sister in Christ. I love you, and you get to be the most bitter, hateful, angry part of the Body if you need to be. You really do. It’s okay.

    “And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.” –Anne Lamott

    ^You’re allowed to lie in the mud. Jesus is in the mud, too.

  • Stephanie Holderread

    As I read your title, I viewed it with the idea of family. “When my abuser is welcome in my family, I am not.” I couldn’t help but think of my own story where my abusers were welcomed even after some of the truth had been exposed. What most don’t realize is that while I may be physically present, there’s a part of me that is mentally gone. I am not fully present when my abuser is present; there’s a hole.

    • Kimberly Roth

      I, too, related to that perspective. I am one of those who speaks of an open table, who likes to think that I can extend grace in every direction. It’s easy enough (though still quite difficult) for me to picture myself physically present in communion with a narcissistic pastor – I have experienced the physical anxiety of being in his presence in the rare instance I run into him, I still get flashes from ptsd of “conversations” we had and things that were said – but I can imagine – I can imagine being reconciled.

      However, my imagination is a lot more stretched when I think of an uncle who molested me as a child/preteen. I was made to feel like the mean one by my grandmother at family gatherings because I would go out of my way to be nowhere near him, and would not speak to him. My grandmother internalized this as me being mean to her, as well. Only recently, after a big blow up at my grandfather’s funeral (I was by his side in the hospital, she and her son were not), did I discover I was not the only victim. But in her eyes – he should be invited to family gatherings, and I was the bad person for not being hospitable.

      When I read Sarah’s words, and I think of that second relationship, I grieve. I grieve because I DO believe in grace, I DO believe in an open table – and I also believe in my and other’s right to not feel victimized over and over again every time we gather together. I grieve because Sarah is absolutely right – and I don’t know what to do about it.

      I come back time & again to Madeleine L’Engles words on blessing & cursing & anathema (http://barefootbohemian.blogspot.com/search?q=anathema) – as well as her words of all things, even the most evil, being redeemed at the end of time. I want to believe that redemption, that reconciliation, is possible even for the vilist offender. But in the here and now – where we are living out the grace we long for – how do I do that when I can’t be in the same room with the person? How do I live as a peacemaker for myself and others who have been oppressed and violated and victimized – all the while holding out grace for the oppressor, the violator, the victimizer. I don’t know that it’s possible. Or maybe it’s what we do for one another. That person is anathema for me – I have to place them outside – and hope that someone else can be grace to them.

  • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

    Thank you for being brave enough to write about how hard this is for you, Sarah. I think it’s easy for people who haven’t been abused to make prescriptive proclamations about everyone eating at the same table without realizing how much that marginalizes the people who are recovering from abuse. I also think the metaphoric language of sitting together at the table, lion and lamb alongside each other, is often taken too literally, especially in the church when it comes to abuse of any kind.

    It’s important that we all focus on what we ourselves are capable of doing based on our own life experiences. I don’t want to hyper-individualize Christianity, but at the same time, what’s healthy and healing for one person is not always healthy and healing for another. So, for one person to say, “I need to sit down with this person and understand why they are abusive and maybe help them find the healing they need to not be abusive anymore” is good for THAT person, but SHOULD NOT be expected of the person that has been abused. I believe the Spirit can move people to reach out to the abusers and bring reconciliation and healing, but I also believe that the Spirit moves people who have been abused to have discernment and grace for themselves and seek healthy community, where they don’t have to constantly put themselves in harm’s way by co-existing with their abuser. And I think God would be the first to say that there are consequences for the abuser’s actions, that NO, he doesn’t just get to sit at the table beside whomever he damn well pleases.

    For me, that meant distancing myself from my father for about 6 years, who was verbally and spiritually abusive to me growing up. Eventually, through a lot of hard life circumstances and a lot of therapy on my part, we were able to reconcile and walk each other through my mother’s death, and we’re close now. But I would never tell anyone else that they “should” or “have to” reconcile, even if the circumstance was similar. By God’s grace, we are healing. His timing is different for everyone.

    There is grace for you to live out your healing in a real and honest way, Sarah. It’s okay that you’re not on the same page with someone that has never been abused. Do what’s healthy for you and we support you. And maybe this – this post and blog right here – is a way of communing at the table with you (metaphorically speaking, of course.)

    • http://christymcferren.com/ Christy McFerren

      Bethany, you are wise and gentle… as always.

      Sarah… you are beautiful and loved.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      I think you’re right. I’ve been able to reconcile with some abusive people in my life and not others. It depends on the circumstances and people need space to work that out.

      • Gerhard Mack

        I think the problem is that most people trying to help have no idea what being abused is like and even some people who have been abused pass on the bad advice because what they were taught.

        The problem with advice such as “just forgive” or worse yet “pray more”, or even my all time teeth grinding most hated phrase ever: “just give it to God” only adds to the problem when the recipient of the advice tries to take the advice and predictably fails. And of course when the advice giver or even the recipient sees the failure the thought is “didn’t try hard enough” or “not enough faith”.

        I’ve found books By Henry Cloud helpful in the past such as “Changes that Heal” or “Safe People” helpful since he tends to avoid victim blaming and outright tells the reader in advance that some things take time to deal with.

  • A Sinner Saved By Christ

    Sarah,
    I’m really sorry to hear about your trials…this life can be so hard. I know that women often express their hurt and pain, but are not looking for a solution….they just need to speak it. So, as a man, I apologize for this advice, if advice is not what you are looking for. Let me suggest that what you are confronting is the inherent legalism in Progressive Christianity, it may not look like conservative fundamentalist legalism, but it is legalism nonetheless, because it’s all about what you need to do rather than what Christ has done. Run as fast as you can from it…not out of Christianity, but to a genuine Christian community that preaches sin and grace….repentance and the forgiveness of sins, not just one or the other. Let me also suggest that this might mean going to a more conservative confessional church. I’ve especially found the Lutheran Missouri Synod Churches have a really great handle on both sin and grace, instead of turning grace into just another form of the law. I suspect, for time, this might mean ignoring some of their conservative beliefs with which you don’t agree, but I would give it a shot, because the grace offered by Christ on his cross is for the sin of victims and perpetrators, but legalism will always pick favorites.
    A Sinner Saved By Christ

  • Eric Weiss

    Sarah Moon:

    You wrote:

    Or maybe it’s because of the people who cut off all ties to me because I’m not all that cheery and positive in my critiques of abusive systems and ideologies. Those same people who talk about how they long to sit down at the communion table with popular spiritually abusive leaders in a show of grace and forgiveness.

    Or maybe it’s because of the way I see so-called progressive Christians in powerful positions react when my friends who are gay or trans* or disabled or people of color say, “Hey, this person/ideology is oppressing us.”

    EVERYONE is welcome. But more and more it seems the “EVERYONE” that Christians are really going after is abusers.

    A friend and I aren’t in agreement on what you mean by the above.

    Are you saying that you as a rape victim as well as your oppressed gay/trans/disabled/people-of-color friends are told by these “progressive Christians” to get over y’all’s “perpetual victimhood” and join the abusers/oppressors at the communion table, since “progressive Christians” extend forgiveness and the Lord’s Table to abusers/oppressors?

    Or are you saying that these “progressive Christians” positively respond to your gay/trans/disabled/people-of-color friends when they say, “Hey, this person/ideology is oppressing us” – but they ignore your discomfort with their extending forgiveness and the Lord’s Table to rapists/abusers, and just tell you to get over your “perpetual victimhood”?

    • sarahoverthemoon

      Good question! What I meant was the first thing you said–that I see friends who are oppressed in other ways than me being told they need to “get over it,” and am frustrated on their behalf.

      • Eric Weiss

        Thanks!

  • Alice

    I am so sick and tired of Christians constantly telling people they need to forget about the past, to “just forgive” those who have hurt them as if it’s so easy, and that it’s not okay to be angry at God. Triple bullshit. Those who know nothing about healing should not give advice.

    • Penny Howington

      It isn’t Christians that say that, it is Christ. However, it IS for your healing…not the abusers.

      • Alice

        I have heard that said to abuse survivors a million times too. I have never been abused, but I feel empathy for those who have, especially when the church adds to their already heavy burden. I have forgiven the people who have wronged me, but it was a long process even though they were not abusers. If people had pressured me and told me forgiveness is easy, that would only have made the process longer. I cannot imagine how hard it is to forgive an abuser. Can you?

        The Christian culture pushes people to keep suppressing their anger and pain until they either explode or implode. You will say that is not what the Bible teaches, but that is still what happens all the time in the church. No one can forget the past, abuse survivors especially. Telling survivors to forget the past when they’ve spent their entire life trying to forget is really saying, “Your story makes me uncomfortable because I can’t throw cliches at it and make it go away. So don’t talk because my comfort matters more than you.”

        Christians need to listen to suffering people and support them, NOT pressure them into denial and emotional repression. We need to respect that everyone is on their own journey, and they can only walk at their own pace. Even if we wanted to, we can’t force each other to go faster or take a different fork in the road. Telling people the same thing /over and over/ doesn’t change anything. It can take months, years, or decades for abuse survivors to be able to forgive, and that is okay. I also respect the survivors who cannot forgive.

        IF forgiveness is REALLY for the survivor’s healing, and no one else, then why does the Christian culture put so much pressure on them? You will say it’s because they care about the person and want them to obey the Biblical command to forgive, but I am not convinced. There are lots of commands in the Bible that the Christian culture never pressures people to follow.

        Yes, they usually care about people and want people to follow the Bible, BUT they also don’t want anyone to rock the boat. They want to stay in the shallow end where everyone smiles and pretends to be perfect. They want absolute control, and real problems are too messy and complicated to control with cliches.

        • Penny Howington

          If you are suppressing your anger you are not releasing it. Forgiveness doesn’t me forgetting. It means that you recognize the forgiveness that the Lord has shown you (and we all are sinners) and you are simply acknowledging that your abuser is too. If your experience was what you described I would suggest finding a different church!

          • Anonymous for a Reason

            I’m pretty sure Jesus calls for us to repent as much if not more than he asks us to forgive.

          • Alice

            I agree that suppressing anger is not releasing it, and that forgiveness does not mean forgetting. My point is that many people in the Christian culture do not recognize this. They want the anger to disappear on their timetable, but it doesn’t work like that so angry people either have to suppress it or be ostracized. These people get angry when someone’s past is brought up at all, even when it is done out of legitimate concern.

            These posts address these two topics:
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nakedpastor/2013/08/the-anger-clock-time-to-stop-being-angry-now/
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sarahoverthemoon/2013/09/hugo-schwyzer-christianity-abusers/

            It is also very troubling when the Christian culture talks about all sins as though they are equal. All sins are wrong, but not equal.

            My current churches are wonderful. One of the pastors spoke against abuse in a sermon recently. I am talking about what I have seen in the past in other churches and what I have seen in some Christian blogs/books/online discussions. I was not abused, but I have observed these things.

          • Penny Howington

            Some sins are worse than others. At the same time, in regard to both eternal consequences and salvation, all sins are the same. Every sin will lead to eternal condemnation (Romans 6:23). All sin, no matter how “small,” is against an infinite and eternal God, and is therefore worthy of an infinite and eternal penalty. Further, there is no sin too “big” that God cannot forgive it. Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin (1 John 2:2). Jesus died for all of our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Are all sins equal to God? Yes and no. In severity? No. In penalty? Yes. In forgivability? Yes.

  • tedseeber

    Thank you for this. I think part of the reason I’m a conservative Catholic who struggles with the idea of gay marriage is because I see homosexuals *as* abusers. I never was attacked by a priest- but I was often hit on in high school and college by gays who mistook my autism and autistic behavior for homosexuality. Wasn’t until I began putting on weight that the attacks stopped.

    I wonder, with the way my asperger’s brain seems to work, if that is part of the reason I weigh in at 311 today?

    • zhangcxi

      Really? Gay people who might have hit on you are abusers? And you label all gay people this way? So if I were hurt by someone with asperger’s syndrome, I should blame them all? No, that is bigotry.

      I am not saying it was appropriate but what your comparing what this woman went through is pure hogwash.

    • http://faithfulmomof9.com/ Sylvia

      I’m sorry you were a victim of the attacks and now have a distorted view of all homosexuals caused by some incidents in the Catholic church and at school. I have a son and daughter who have autism and I worry about them because they are at a high risk for being abused and bullied. No one deserves to be abused like that. Unfortunately, many churches teach that all homosexuals are deviant sexual predators praying on children. I’m sure that some may be, just as there are also straight deviant predators preying on children. I am a firm believer that there are still more good people in the world including homosexuals who just want to be left alone to live their lives with the same rights as everyone else!

      • tedseeber

        The one difference of course, that I learned the hard way- homosexuals are allowed into locker rooms of their attracted gender.

        Not that that keeps the funny uncles out of the rooms of young girls either.

        Doubt strongly there’s anything anybody can do about that. In either case. Given the opportunity, abusers will attempt to abuse.

        I’m all for *equal* rights- I supported the civil union law in my state, and was working to get it expanded to other non-traditional households, when three county commissioners in a neighboring county decided that civil unions were not good enough, and overnight I went from being a progressive liberal dissenting-on-some issues Catholic to an evil Catholic ultramontane bigot wanting to keep marriage away from “those people”- without changing a single belief on my part. Suddenly I knew how the congregation of Holy Redeemer in San Francisco must have felt during the Prop 8 battle when after two decades of supporting the gay community through the AIDS crisis, they were suddenly attacked for being Catholic.

        If it wasn’t for the Asperger’s diagnosis a couple of years before that and a touch of Adams Family Syndrome (I’m normal, it is the rest of the world that is weird) I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle it. But with the diagnosis (which didn’t come until age 30 for me) I am able to psychoanalyze myself somewhat. And forgive rather than seek revenge. Plus, all of the incestous and Mormon polygamist families still deserve to have civil unions too, don’t they?

        But I completely agree with Sarah Moon- tolerance and forgiveness is all right in its place, but trust after such incidents comes hard- include my abusers, and you’ll be excluding me.

        • http://faithfulmomof9.com/ Sylvia

          I can certainly understand how you must feel betrayed and find it hard to trust. I certainly don’t condone tolerance for abuse of any kind or mean to downplay or make light of what your experiences. I only wish you a happy, fulfilled, and safe life!

  • Tom Paine

    Sarah, thank you for your essay and highlighting a real, and not esoteric, theological issue. All I would encourage you with is to concur with some other comments below – find the right Christian community for you rather than going it alone. Healing from evil and the response to it best happens in community. Grace is a part of Christian theology, but so is judgment. Jesus teaches that in the end, everything will come out into the light. I pray your path ahead is better than where it has been for you. And I hope that whoever caused you harm has to answer for the harm he did.

  • xiola17

    “You should” is advice given by those who haven’t, themselves.

  • Adele Henderson

    As a survivor of abuse myself I think you have a right to be bitter and angry and I am sorry that the church has not extended grace to you. Last time I checked grace for for everyone. Somehow the church still struggles with that.

  • Plutosdad

    There is a scene in the movie Bully where a teacher tries to make a bully and his victim shake hands. The victim wants to get out of it and not do it, fully aware the bully is only acting for the teacher.

    Afterwards the teacher told the victim how “disappointed” she was in him, and “you’re just the same as him” and other completely ridiculous stuff that made me want to throw something at the screen. poor kid, with clueless adults who refuse to protect him.

    I think the lion and lamb analogy is perfect. Lions and lambs can lie down together in heaven. Here the lambs need protection from lions, for indeed abusers are like lions – devouring and treating other people like prey instead of like equal people.

    • tedseeber
    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      There is a scene in the movie Bully where a teacher tries to make a
      bully and his victim shake hands. The victim wants to get out of it and
      not do it, fully aware the bully is only acting for the teacher.

      And will take it out on the victim as soon as they’re out of the teacher’s line-of-sight.

  • Jen H.

    If you are willing, would you send this letter to John Shore? http://johnshore.com/

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    Do these people who demand forgiveness for rapists and other abusers even mention genuine contrition and deep shame as necessary conditions for forgiveness? Do they understand forgiveness is the victim’s to give or not, rather than something the wrongdoer is entitled to? Survivors do need to move on and let go to heal, that does not mean they need to forgive.

  • tanyam

    You know, its hard to respond when there are no specifics –no specific instance of wrongdoing, no specific people who are being called out, no specific situation or quotations. How to apologize on behalf of all “progressives” ? More importantly, how to construct a theology that makes sense.

    I’m sure many of us are ham-handed about our “welcome to the table.” But if we study the people who are really good at this — let’s say, Desmond Tutu for example, there is forgiveness, a welcome to the table for abusers and their victims, — but the expectation of truth-telling as well. It does not happen easily, it doesn’t happen in an instant. It is hard work, the work of “restorative justice,” but it seems important work for us to take up. Tutu was adamant that the victims’ injury be recognized.

    I don’t think this is a particular problem of “progressive Christians.” I think Jonah was reluctant to preach to the people of Ninevah because they had done terrible things to his own people. The tension is at the heart of our tradition, isn’t it?

    Maybe we need a dialogue between what our tradition teaches us about forgiveness and welcome, and also what it teaches us about the safety of the community, and of the vulnerable. (See buried in the Old Testament specific lawas about welcoming the stranger that protected the whole community.) I think there are valuable resources –
    I suspect we don’t throw a child in with his abuser and sing Kumbuya. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to live toward.

    • Alice

      Yes, it certainly is a tension, and there’s also the issue of repentance. God told Jonah to tell the city to repent or die, not to tell them they could keep doing what they were doing. One problem with welcoming abusers to the table is that they may not have admitted their guilt and taken full responsibility for their actions, especially in churches that cover up abuse. Also, many claim to be repentant, but never change. Apologizing and vowing to change but never following through is textbook behavior for an abuser. They should do those three things before the church even /begins/ to discuss whether or not to allow them at the table.

      I am torn too because I think people really can change, but it is very, very rare for abusers to permanently and sincerely change. Also, if they really have changed, then they should be considerate and go to a different church to spare the victim from the constant reminder.

  • pinkjohn

    You are so right on here, Ms. Moon. This tendency epitomizes cheap grace. I am one who believes in the radically inclusive table, but I am under no illusions about what that means. If an abuser’s presence means that their victim is not safe there, then there is no true inclusion. While I have never been the type of abuser you describe here, I have certainly done things in my life that I am ashamed of, and which hurt people. What I can do in these cases is pray to take responsibility for my actions in ways that do not further victimize anyone, particularly not the people I have hurt. The radical grace of God actually convicts me of my actions, forces me to own them and to make reparations where possible no matter how uncomfortable. My hope I guess is that a radical welcome will convict abusers and help them take responsibility. But that CANNOT be done at the expense of the victims.

  • Ryan Johnson

    I know that I am completely missing the point of your post with this comment, but I am totally jealous of your Mario Kart pajamas.

  • http://lovingfromtheinsideout.blogspot.com Connie

    Bravo, Sarah, for bravely speaking your truth. My heart is with you. xo

  • margot morency

    I understand so well how you feel….. A few people told me to stay in touch with the man who abused me because he was in my family… I didn’t… funny thing is it pissed off the people who were not close to the situation…. most understood… stay safe and find a place to worship that is safe….

  • Mike Mayer

    I am a member of a congregation that clearly states that we welcome everyone to the table. I was on council a few years back when we need to address how we would handle a someone similar situation. Without going into too much details, one of the men in our congregation violated trust with his family to an extent that the courts granted his wife a restraining order against him and barred him from having any contact with his children. The fact remained that both he and his family were both members of our congregation. We had to reconcile our desire to be open to everyone and our desire to protect the victims.

    Our resolution was fairly simple. He was barred from setting foot on our property as this could result (at any time) a violation of both the legal and moral separation he needed to keep from his (former) family. Our pastor continued to meet with him off property (which later included in jail) and continued to be a spiritual councilor for him. It was made clear to him that he had done irreparable damage to his relationship with his family and with our congregation as a whole… but that he was not cut off from God.

    I have lost track of what has happened to him. I do hope he has found a community that knows of his past and is in a place that is capable of welcoming him without fear of estranging others in their midst.

    I offer this up as an example that it is possible (albeit painful) to recognize forgiveness of the sinner while setting up a safeguard perimeter to provide both physical and emotional safety for the victim.

  • jrieves

    The first thing I thought when I read this is that we good, progressive Christians are just as fucked up as our evangelical brothers and sisters. I find it astounding that intelligent, thinking people believe it’s any of their business when someone else forgives a person who’s hurt them. Forgiveness is extensely personal and you get there when you get there. And, calling you an “exclusionary fundamentalist” because you don’t want to be around someone who something so odious is just mind-boggling. What the hell are they thinking? Holy crap, this is just as bad as telling a gay person that they’re an abomination and will burn in hell for all eternity all because they live as God created them.

    • ccaffrey

      One could always just turn to them and say, “Let ye who are without resentment give the first advice.”

  • Eric

    Next time someone, “accuse[s] [you] of being a bitter, grace-hating person”, grab a weapon and break their arm/jaw/leg or stab them.

    Then say:
    “When you’re ready to break bread with me again, then I’ll *consider* breaking
    bread with my assailant. Otherwise, don’t tell me how to walk a path you haven’t walked yourself. And, don’t you force me to forgive, when I’ve been forced to yield to other violence. Shame on top of shame ain’t the game.”

    And:
    http://www.christenacleveland.com/2013/06/why-reconciliation-needs-justice/

    • Eric

      Encouragement to forgiveness (which can happen if that person remains at a distance, and even that needs time) is one thing, but anything that forces reconciliation (i.e., being in a closer relationship, including sharing the same space frequently) is completely off-base.

  • Kathy Verbiest Baldock

    I had a relentless cyberbully who tormented me with a hidden identity for the work I do as a LGBT advocate. I finally found out his identity–a PASTOR. His senior pastor told me essentially to let it go and stop being hysterical because the bully had agreed to never make another video.

    I wanted that man to see my face and take responsibility directly and not just skulk away. As the victim, I was made to feel like that should have been enough. How convenient to ignore Matt. !8 when a pastor is involved.

    So I went to his altar and confronted him. Victims are often ignored in the church and told to “make nice”.

    I LOVE one of your posters quotes “Forgiveness without justice grants evil clemency” Samuel Rodriquez

    http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/confronting-my-cyberbully-pastor-in-a-texas-church

  • Pauline Hogan

    Sarah, no theological comment, just a hug for your pain.

  • Eric Weiss

    Sarah:

    I am basically clueless about “Progressive Christians.” Is this who you are talking about: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/10/the-heart-of-progressive-christianity-a-qa-with-marcus-borg/

    The Heart of Progressive Christianity: A Q&A with Marcus Borg

    Excerpt: So it was with great excitement that, several weeks ago, I found myself
    meeting Borg, for the first time. He was in town at the invitation of
    the Progressive Christian Alliance of Colorado http://progressivechristians.org/,
    a relatively new organization of Protestant churches in and around
    Denver who share a passion for a progressive expression of faith in
    their communities, the state, and the world. Borg’s topic was simply (or
    not so simply): “What is Progressive Christianity?”

  • Hilary

    Am I missing something? All these Christian conversations I’m reading on blogs on the web about forgiveness, about the person hurt forgiving their abusers – doesn’t repentance come first? I mean true repentance, change of heart repentance, ACTION-BASED DO SOMETHING TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE OR PREVENT FURTHER HARM repentance. Like, you know the person has truly repented when presented with the opportunity to sin again, and doesn’t. Rinse, wash, repeat several times.

    The ONLY way you should even be within 100 miles of considering forgiving someone who raped you is if the person:

    1. Completely recognizes the full depth of what they did.

    2. Changes their behavior. Not a one-off show for the cameras, but full-life changing walking away from the life and mindset that brought them to rape. Maybe include therapy for their own issues. When faced with the opportunity to sexually assault again, WALK AWAY and make a different choice.

    3. Speak out against rape, to try and stop it before the whole cycle happens again to other people.

  • Y. A. Warren

    I feel your pain. It is not anyone’s right to forgive another for hurting you. Matthew 18 says that the abuser must ask for your forgiveness. You are expressly given permission to treat an abuser who is not repentant as a heretic.

    The follow is from my blog OneFamilyManyFaiths.blogspot.com

    Resurrection and Relationships
    I wish I could say that yesterday, I nailed my selfishness to the cross and that tomorrow I’ll be a Sacred Spiritual being without a body to keep leading my spirit astray. I wish that all the scars on my psyche would only be a memory, and that all the wounds I’ve inflicted on others had simply disappeared, leaving in their places holy communion with all whose lives I’ve touched and by whom I’ve been touched.

    Perhaps if I had died physically yesterday, this may all be true, but I am still a physical being. It matters not how much of The Sacred Spirit I have in me; I still have human needs. Even Jesus, who had a huge amount of The Sacred Spirit in his human manifestation needed food, drink, friendships, and time to himself. And Jesus made it clear that while he was willing to suffer and die with us for the resolution of the sins we commit against The Sacred Spirit in physical manifestations, he also made it clear that we owe each other healing of wounds that we have inflicted. He did not remove the thieves from their crosses; he allowed them to make restitution to their society by their deaths.

    How do we go about resurrecting relationships that have been mortally wounded, other than by withdrawing our physical selves and hoping that The Sacred Spirit that we’ve shared eventually overcomes the pain the the relationships produced. There is always an empty spot in a soul that loses the physical presence of a deeply loved one in this earthly life. We seek to fill the emptiness with something; we often fill it with anger or even hatred. The struggle is to lose the physical pleasure of the person and to consciously focus on filling the soul with The Sacred Spirit of the person that you’ve so loved and by whom you’ve been loved.

    Imagine the strength of The Sacred Spirit Jesus shared in his lifetime on earth that when he asked his friends to keep his spirit burning in their souls and lives to share with others, The Sacred Spirit is still growing over two thousand years later. I hope the strength of my shared spark of The Sacred Spirit can salve the pain I’ve caused. I will probably miss the physical presence of many of my most loved ones, as long as I inhabit this body, but never will I lose The Sacred Spirit that they shared with me.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Fight to Make It Right
    Things we can’t talk about are things “polite” society rejects;
    This is the reason we have been forbidden to speak of sex.
    But in all the history of the animal kingdom, including humans,
    Sex has been the strongest force in The Sacred Spirit’s plans.

    What a travesty of The Spirit’s source to deny spiritual sex
    By taking the power of the physical out of the sacred’s context.
    By being taught to be ashamed and afraid of our animal natures,
    We have become less noble than other living creatures.

    We were given free will in order to make responsible decisions,
    But the religious leaders have treated individuals with derision.
    Couples were robbed of authority in defining limits of their broods
    Based on what, for their union, were considered, by them, good.

    There should be no more sacred bonds upon the earth
    Than the unions of man and woman in order to give birth.
    Because our religions have long-since become civil institutions,
    They have perverted the privileges of family solutions.

    The house divided against itself has always been doomed to fail,
    Like that of religion and government, against which we should rail.
    Domestic partnerships, designed only to protect property,
    Should never have been accepted as sacred marital unity.

    The churches wielded such influence over government,
    We forgot the reasons for our ancestors commitment.
    We must insist on actual division of state and church motives;
    One seeks to take and the other is created to give.

    Religions set parameters on behaviors they will support;
    The “charity” of government is evil’s power resort.
    Religious charity is a system of personal accountability,
    From which our country’s enforced giving is free.

    In days of old, charity was the responsibility of community,
    Not something handed out with complete anonymity.
    When a small group knows and vouches for an individual
    The whole community, on the recipient’s action, has some pull.

    We must stop funding individual “charity” with anonymous taxes;
    With this system in place, all justice and conscience relaxes.
    Even Jesus, our guiding Jew, said, between Caesar and our religions,
    We should always recognize distinctly moral divisions.

    Did he not preach limits to the amounts workers should give
    To the poor and downtrodden to help them to live?
    He did not say, “Plant, harvest, and cook it for them.”
    This, in truth, takes away the dignity of the human.

    And when he died upon the cross, as an innocent human,
    He didn’t take off their crosses those who’d sinned against man.
    He recognized that there were two steps to true repentance
    The first was to satisfy the human wrong, in the present tense.

    Their are so many who want to deny responsibility to humans
    As part of our inclusion in The Sacred Spirit’s redemption plan.
    Only those who accept The Sacred Spirit and live accordingly
    Can recognize and honor all life’s appointed sacred dignity.

    Their are laws deemed by humanity seeking earthly peace;
    These have been instruments for some worldly wars to cease.
    If warring nations agree to honor cease fires and truces,
    Don’t we see that humanity, to pawns in games, this reduces?

    I, as a mother, put my body and my soul at great risk
    So that my husband’s spirit and mine could, in new life, exist.
    There is no power on earth that could make me send my son
    To save the greedy values that my nation and religion have become.

    Neither sex nor war should be inflicted on the innocent,
    But this is how the energies of the supremely powerful are spent.
    Domination is the game for which they set the rules;
    All creation is simply treated as their power game tools.

    In my lifetime, there has never been a war to protect our land;
    The definition of “just war” has been in corporations’ hands.
    I will not only not send my sons, daughters, and granddaughters;
    I will also fight to defend any innocent person’s slaughter.

    Until the leaders of our nation are prepared to be just and brave,
    Instead of living by the rules of power that protect the depraved,
    I will continue to promote the destruction of their power bases,
    Hoping that their fall, eventually, corporate power erases.

    I have very little hope that, in my lifetime, religions will lose power
    Or that our less-privileged will, at their commands, fail to cower,
    But, my great hope for the future of all humanity
    Is that the generations coming after us are Divine Right of Kings free.

  • Y. A. Warren

    That Good Example Garbage
    I stopped believing in the authority of religion when I was six years old, but had to pretend to believe until I was twenty-four. This was simply survival, a hypocrisy for which I felt guilty. I pretended in order to protect myself, but I felt until today that this left my little brothers and sisters to seek anarchy.

    Today, I set myself free from all the pressure to “be a good example” to my little brothers and sisters, and to the rest of the world. The fake “Christian” thing just isn’t working for me in my life. This is because too many “Christians” love to lay their sins on the alter of the cross of Jesus without understanding that his very human sacrifice of himself was to absolve us from the sins we didn’t commit. It was to absolve us of the sins our ancestors committed.

    We who are under the new covenant, are told that there is no peace with The Almighty without peace with creation, especially other humans. Those that hurt me, and refuse to talk it through, obviously would prefer to have no relationship with me. According to Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, I may now treat them like heathens and tax collectors.

    I don’t want to kill heathens and tax collectors; I simply want them to leave me alone.

  • travismckee

    Forgive me if I’m stepping into a place I’m not supposed to be (but a public forum kinda invites that).

    This sounds like a context issue. Theology offers forgiveness, and it would be nice if we could all live together in one big happy family. But it doesn’t take too long in that fantasy to realize that can’t happen.

    You exist in a specific community, and the rapist does, too, it sounds like. One has to leave. If you aren’t comfortable leaving, and the church isn’t comfortable asking them to leave, then is it really a place you want to be? (your post indicates that it isn’t). And, if the congregation is unwilling to confront this situation, then they are simply living fantasy lives.

    Jesus wants us to be one body, but not all one part. Denominations and congregations exist because of differences and the reality that not everyone wants to worship in the same place at the same time. Sure theologically, there should be room. But pastorally, there is not. So, ask them to leave, or recognize this is a congregation that won’t recognize your need for healing and space.

  • Hilary

    I recently found these podcasts – I think they are funny, well done, and very interesting. Sarah, I think you might enjoy them; even if you don’t agree with everything you might still enjoy looking at the concepts of forgiveness, apology, gratitude, love and fear from a different pov.

    http://jewishfoodforthought.com/

    Hilary

  • http://mittenatheist.blogspot.com/ Kari Lynn

    I hate it when people give me variations of this. “Don’t take it personally! You should just forgive them! Why do you care anymore?”
    What you are saying is that I am not entitled to my feelings. I have gotten to the point where I can be in the same room and even hold a conversation with my rapist, but I am still very full of feelings about what he did to me and those feelings will not ever go away.

    I understand that progressive Christians are trying to work toward a fluffy, harmless perception of Christianity by saying that everyone is welcome. That being said, there are certain people that should never be welcome around other people. When you say that everyone is welcome, do you mean serial killers and child molesters and genocidal maniacs? No? Well, not everyone is welcome, and you should change your sign/motto/etc…

    • Martin Browne

      Why should serial killers not be welcomed if they have stopped and repented of their serial killing? Is this not Christianity we’re talking about?

      • Terri

        She’s hitting on two points, neither of which you addressed in your comment.

        First, she’s talking about how there seems to be *more* compassion, understanding and acceptance for abusers than for their victims.

        Second, she’s talking about how she and other victims are being scolded and not accepted for feeling pain when they were abused and for feeling anger at their abusers. Pain and anger are normal, appropriate reactions to abuse, and the emotional scars of abuse may be permanent even after a person works through the pain and anger (which can take many years). But in many churches there is, yes, an annoyed reaction to victims and a deliberate reaching out to and empathy for abusers.

        So I’d say to a church, Sure, if no one in your congregation has suffered at the hands of a serial killer, then welcome them. But if there are people in the congregation who have been victimized by a serial killer in the congregation (a direct victim, family member, friend, etc.), you have to seriously question why the serial killer wants to be a member of *this* church where a victim attends. If the serial killer has truly repented he will understand perfectly that he should not go where victims of serial killers are and will seek a different congregation on his own.

        Isn’t it interesting here that by this line of thinking, you’re questioning the motives of churches and assuming that the repenting serial killer’s motives are pure?

        Abusers and victims should not be attending together, and as abusers look for a church family, preference should be given to victims. It may seem harsh to draw that line, but then it’s even more harsh to behave as churches often do toward victims.

  • Hilary

    Sarah, I have a technical issue with your blog. I posted something two nights ago that took over a day to show up, and I don’t think everything I said made it to the blog. I psoted something last night that still isn’t up, while Kari Lynn’s post was an hour ago. I get it that you want to keep close tabs on what is said here, but is what I’m posting that bad you have to wait on it? If so, could you let me know – I’m not trying to be offensive, I’d like to know if I actually am.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      No! You’re not being offensive. Disqus just sends some comments to moderation and not others and I’m really not sure why. I’ll see if I can figure that out for you!

      • Hilary

        Thanks – I think the whole internet hates disqus, maybe it’s personal between them. I do hope you try the podcasts, you can just watch them as animated shorts. I really think you’ll like them, and enjoy the discussions.

        • sarahoverthemoon

          I’ll check them out this weekend! And, I can see why the whole internet hates disqus. It’s still sending your comments to moderation even though I’ve approved them several times. You think it’d get the point. And then other commenters, even new ones, don’t go to moderation at all. I don’t even know.

  • Tanya Bouwman-Wozencraft

    As I read your article my heart ached for you and your pain. Yes, God’s grace is for everyone, but….we should not hurt another person in the process of extending grace. You are still trying to heal from a horrific event, and everyone heals as they are able. Yes, forgiveness of your abuser is the ideal, but it’s okay that you aren’t there yet. Pushing you to that place before you are ready is wrong and will only make your healing take longer. It is okay that you speak out strongly against abuse and abusers! If people never speak out strongly against it, it will never stop. Please do not let the foolishness and insensitivity of some drive you from God’s loving grace. I hope you can find a place that welcomes you, supports you, and will help you heal.

  • Kagi Soracia

    Sad to hear the welcoming of and excusing for abusers is just as much a problem in progressive churches as it is in fundamentalist ones. You would think they’d be a little more self-aware and recognise it’s the victims who need their support the most.

  • Susan Gerard

    Sara, because I can’t figure out how to post anonymously, I will keep this post short.

    Have you ever confronted your rapist? Asked for a meeting in a safe place, with a (quiet) supporter?

    No victim should be denied this opportunity to tell the guilty party all the hurt they have caused you in this life, and to possibly get a sincere response of apology and request for forgiveness. If you are in a situation with a SGM mentality, you might want to leave and start over in a community of sane believers.

    I know this person hurt you deeply. You should not be expected to embrace this rapist as your brother unless you have forgiven him after a sincere apology and restitution by anyone with half a brain, let alone someone in authority in your church. But you must know also that your hatred hurts you more than it does anyone else.

    It is possible to move on out of this.

  • BrotherRog

    I’d say that from a pastoral perspective, it would be for the best if
    an abuser and their victim attended different congregations — at least
    until full justice, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation take
    place — which may never happen.

    ( ..then again, IMO, it’s high time to end the situation in many southern
    states where there are separate white and black congregations of the
    same denomination right across the street from each other.)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    And why not? How radical and Jesus-like does that sound? Abusers and
    survivors, sitting at the same table. Sharing the same bread and wine.
    The lion lying down next to the lamb.

    All that’s missing is joining hands and singing “Kum-Ba-Yah”…

  • http://www.mimsycally.blogspot.com/ AJ

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I’ve echoed some of the same thoughts you’ve expressed so well. Sending you hugs!!! You are brave, courageous, tough and strong. You make your voice known, and I admire that. I’ve been a victim of abuse as well, and have sought out help from several Christian pastors and counselors, both male and female. It felt like a slap in the face though because the recurring message I got from them was that it was my fault that I was hurt, and that my apparent lack of forgiveness was the issue more than what they did. They had zero empathy, compassion, or love for me… just irritation at me for not being more forgivng and judgement on me because I wasn’t trying hard enough. Each time, I was the sinner and nothing was said of the abuser. Where is the love, right? There’s something wrong with modern day Christianity when it judges innocent females and pardons abusers. So recently, I started turning to “worldly” non-Christian, non religious people for advice and was recieved with open arms and showered with love. I gained new perspective and feel so understood and so loved, which is big compared to how messed up I was before. I feel like it’s the normal, unreligious folk in this world who examplify what Jesus taught more than mainstream evangelical Christians do. Much love to you!!!

    • Iseebetternow

      AJ, your post hits a familiar nerve with me. You describe so well what I went through when my son-in-law, who is a preacher (HA), was exposed as an abusive husband. He even admitted to it, yet was IMMEDIATELY and EFFORTLESSLY welcomed back, never having lost his job or suffering any serious repercussions. My daughter, on the other hand, had so much pressure put on her by the elders and women in the church where they were to come back, pray harder, be a better wife, don’t talk to your mother about your marriage, etc. Everything was swept under the rug very quickly; he, along with everyone else behaves as though NOTHING ever happened. My husband, family members and I are still seething and are in disbelief. My daughter has distanced herself from us somewhat. People who KNOW what he did have completely accepted him in ways that are too unbearable and unfathomable. Our daughter too! We have had to jump on board with this and give the appearance of acceptance if we want to see our daughter and grandson. I feel so hypocritical, but as of yet, haven’t figured out how to balance our feelings, the pubic response, and keeping lines of communication open between our daughter (and grandchild) and our family.
      I appreciated your post so much, because it exposes my own ignorance and misapplication of scripture I’ve had toward people’s lives. I have, in times past, been too judgmental and not understanding enough, though in my heart I believed myself to be a good christian. I’m not glad this has happened to my daughter, but I am grateful I have been awakened to my ignorance, pride, lack of compassion and empathy, hypocrisy, etc. It has been very humbling, and I want to continue to seek the truth and do the right thing. I want to learn better how to love those in my life and not pretend to do so. I just want to be genuine. I don’t want to be like the Pharisees in John 9 who were blind, and did not even know they were blind. Thank you for your post. It has helped me.

  • Annika Halvari

    thanks for helping me clarify why it is harder and harder to yank myself out of bed on Sunday mornings….there is a resistance there that I haven’t been able to wrap words around whatever it was.

    “EVERYONE is welcome. But more and more it seems the “EVERYONE” that Christians are really going after is abusers.”

    The more I try to talk about these issues at church the more distance people seem to put between me and themselves. I refuse to sing ‘it is well with my soul” when I know there is nothing even resembling wellness within me or the culture that I live in. And in the back of my mind I wonder ‘what’ not ‘who’ is really being worshipped here?

    You linked to a story in The Nation about racism and remarked:

    “Not every white person is a racist, but the genius of racism is that you don’t have to participate to enjoy the spoils.”

    I am beginning to have the same suspicions about ‘church’ and ‘christianity’.

    My mere presence in a community (liberal or conservative-doesn’t matter). When acting as “the church’ they almost invariably cause more harm than good’ at best it’s a wash and there is no Grace or Good News to be seen or heard.

    Am I reaping the spoils, getting my spiritual aches massaged and soothed at the expense of those who are starving for Truth, for Justice and the abundant life and freedom that Christ proclaimed?

    Thanks for giving some direction to my ‘sunday, not going to meeting’ angst.

    For me it me and my service dog who commune on those mornings…and of the two of us, he probably knows more and does better when it comes to following in the way of Christ.

    And your right, I hate the thought of having to medicate myself into a state of mind to be able to hang out with the ‘good’ christians. But sometimes the isolation and loneliness temps me to reach for some conscience numbing pharmaceutical.

  • Anonymous for a Reason

    All I can say to this is AMEN, SISTER. And Amen to that wonderful post you linked to. I left my church because not only did my abuser continue to go there, but my pastor strongly implied that I was lying about it when I told her. Oh yeah, that whole “think about how your sin contributed” was in the conversation too. Survivor Assistance Epic Fail. But I have found a wonderful new church home, and a wonderful spouse, in spite of having to move halfway across the country to find it, even if I haven’t found forgiveness or total peace. I pray that you are able to find both peace and justice.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Suicide is sanctioned by Jesus when a person rapes your Sacred Spirit, the source of your faith, “like that of a child.” New Living Translation Luke 17:2 “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.”

    Jesus also said that those who don’t attempt to make peace with us when they have harmed us are not welcome at the altar with us. Matthew 18:15-18
    15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

    18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e]loosed in heaven.”

    Jesus was very clear that to be a branch on his vine, we had to be good to each other. The churches have taken away the actual reconciliation pieces between the branches in favor of their own power to “forgive” us our sins against “God.” Even if they had this power, they don’t have the power to make right what is wrong between people who are not wanting to make peace in the community that they have helped destroy.

    I, too, am an outcast because I continue to tell the truth about those who continue to hide behind the “Christian” church as they abuse the most vulnerable people in the community. Blessings to you, Sarah.

  • Greg Colby

    As a survivor of rape myself I can agree with what you write

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