Doing the Right Thing

Doing the Right Thing October 15, 2016

WhenChurchHurtsby Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts

“We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.  Sometimes we must interfere.  When human . . . dignity is in jeopardy . . . sensitivities become irrelevant.  Wherever men and women are persecuted . . . that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”  Elie Wiesel, The Night Trilogy: Night, Dawn, Day

Maybe it’s why I have often run headlong into trouble.

Because I don’t fear doing (or saying) “the right thing.”

Doing “the right thing” is “the right thing” so why should anyone fear doing it or need courage to do it?

I often do “the right thing” and it makes people mad.  Especially when “the right thing” sheds light on “the wrong thing” that needs to be corrected (intention being that it will cause others to do or say “the right thing”).

If you don’t have the courage to do “the right thing,” then you are either doing “the wrong thing” or you are doing nothing – which is, as Elie Wiesel points out, still “the wrong thing.

Take for example, a certain person in my church who wrote a couple of blog posts that were her take on the pastor’s sermon which he preached only two days after we were told to leave the church.  The sermon and the blog are all about extending grace toward the scandalous in our world.  Recognize that there was scandal when Mary, mother of Jesus became pregnant.  Recognize that the woman caught in adultery was scandalous and Jesus admonished the Pharisees that “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

What fascinates me about the sermon is that it speaks so directly to the “scandal” that was taking place at that time – the leadership finding out that I had “told” my life story – which included their part in my spiritual abuse.  Yet, while the pastor preaches about being “scandalous” as Jesus was by hanging out with and being “a friend of sinners,” they have not in any way attempted to reach out to us.

But this was common.  It is the main reason we stayed in the church – because what was being preached and how I was being treated were not the same – and I believed what was being preached.  I believed there is grace and forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration.  This is what is taught and I did my best to reconcile it with what was being done to me.

Even now, my heart is in my throat as I think about how much I want his words to be true – that he and other leaders, and my (former) friends would call, email, come knocking on my door.  Because the most scandalous action of all is to reach out to the one who created the scandal.

But my phone is silent. My email is empty.  As is my doorstep.

When I read the blog posts, I replied with: Perhaps the scandal would be in stepping between the men with the stones and the woman caught. That’s where Jesus would be. Of course, referring to my own ostracism.

The blogger replied: “I agree. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, ‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’ I’m praying for the courage and opportunities to be scandalous.”

And I’m just wondering . . . if you have to have “courage” to speak up (‘Silence in the face of evil is evil itself’) doesn’t that say something about those church leaders – pastors – you need to speak to?  If you are too afraid to do the right thing because you fear someone’s wrath or retribution or, heaven forbid, becoming the problem for pointing out the problem, could it be that the problem is not in saying or doing “the right thing,” but in those whom you fear should you do or say “the right thing”?

moreRead more by Ellen:
When Church Hurts

Ellen is a member of the SASBN and she blogs at When Church Hurts

More about Ellen:

Several years ago I was the victim of a most heinous form of abuse unlike anything I had ever thought possible. Not having been raised in a Christian home, my first experience with Christians and pastors had been one of joy, grace, fellowship, love, and delight. When faced with the horrors of having the very essence of who I was as a woman of faith stripped from me in what I can only describe as spiritual rape, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. This was church, after all, and I believed that everything works together for good for those who love God. Somehow, it didn’t make sense that everything was not working together for good. When I was finally able to resign myself to the fact that God was not going to “work this out,” I made my escape and sought a safe haven. 
Little did I realize that I was going from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Oh, how I tried to beat back the flames! Oh, how I prayed and pleaded for mercy, for grace, for a chance. “But hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will toward” Ellen. 
He who began a good work . . . had forsaken me . . . and the silence was more than deafening . . . it was defeating. So intertwined were we, that as God went missing, so did Ellen. But I am nothing, if not tenacious.

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  • Abigail Smith

    Amen! You are brave and courageous. Many, like the blogger you mentioned, will talk the talk but not walk the walk. You are giving courage to people you don’t know and may never hear from. The pull of the “church elite” is strong and powerful.

    I had to take a stand against my still verbally abusive parents (I’m almost 50) and my sisters. I have no contact with them mainly because of the self-righteous we are better Christians than you cr*p.

    It sucks to stand alone, but at least I’m standing! You keep on keeping on!