by Living Liminal cross posted from her blog Living Liminal
A few years ago, as a church leader, I experienced bullying and spiritual abuse when one man wanted to ‘lord it over’ his peers. When the oversight board was called in to help mediate, those men simply took the side of the bully. After experiencing further abuse and an incredible miscarriage of justice, I ended up resigning from leadership and later leaving the institution.
Just a few weeks ago, as an office manager, I needed to deal with a situation where one staff member had been trying to ‘lord it over’ her peer. When the boss was called in to help effect justice, he simply took the side of the bully. After the victim was further traumatised, and she and I were treated with nothing but injustice, I ended up with no choice but to resign from my job.
Two separate situations – one a church and one a workplace. So what did they have in common? Well, both times pernicious behaviour was ignored; both times justice and integrity were lacking; and both times the events occurred in places which prided themselves on being ‘christian’ organisations!
But to misquote Inigo Montoya, “They keep using that word ‘christian’. I do not think it means what they think it means!”
According to the online Oxford Dictionary the word christian, used as an adjective, means:
- relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings: or
- having qualities associated with Christians, especially those of decency, kindness, and fairness.
Now, there was precious little “decency, kindness, and fairness” on display in either of those situations. So I’m left with the question, “Does christian culture relate to demeaning and damaging others, and does it teach us to bully and abuse others?”
Whether you’ve encountered this reality personally or not, even a cursory glance online or through social media would certainly seem to indicate an affirmative answer is in order. There we find ‘pastors’ abusing people as well as their assumed positions of ‘power’; churches ignoring or defending this behaviour; victims being blamed and shunned; countless blogs detailing injustices perpetrated by ‘christian leaders’; and online ‘christians’ berating and belittling those whose beliefs differ from their own.
And it is true far too often. We are dangerous. Our culture is toxic. And we totally misrepresent the one whose name we bear!