Readers comment on column on transparency
Abusive men can be charming, manipulative and secretive. They create a false persona and need to be called to account by others. Abusive ministers are even more difficult to hold accountable because most of us believe that they are the mouthpiece of God.
Unfortunately, the faith community has been extremely lax in addressing intimate partener violence and even worse in supporting those who are victims of this abuse. This makes it even more difficult for thos who are oppressed to ask for help. They feel that they must be the only ones being oppressed. They feel that they are to carry the burden and make things better.
RON AND LORI CLARK
Greetings from the Fishbowl! Forty years of marriage to a minister have provided me with many opportunities to test the desirability of being open with the congregation about personal issues.
We discovered that, even though we had raised our children side by side with people we considered our friends, we were still actually “employees” of the church.
While teaching a weekly ladies class this spring, I broached this topic of Christian women being able to share their struggles and pain with each other. In preparation for the last class, I was preparing a lesson in which I planned to share some of our family’s recent secrets which had saddened and dismayed us. My husband brought me your column about being transparent, and it encouraged me that this is the right thing for us to do as Christians and as a church.
Sexual misconduct coverage raises concerns
I was sexually abused as a teenager in the Church of Christ by my minister in 1972, who at the time was 30 and married with two children. It would be 32 years before I would have the courage to face him and hold him accountable for what he did to me.
A minister who has committed adultery, betrayed his ordination vows, disobeyed God, abused his trust and intentionally harmed another is still a person who can be restored and forgiven, but he is no longer qualified to be a minister. (See “Sex crimes: Abrupt, shocking and increasingly common in churches,” Page 1, June.)
These men deserve all the love and grace God gives to all of us, but they deserve that love and grace sittting in the third row of the church, not standing in the pulpit.
Of course, education is vital for our children regarding sexuality. But many churches fail to address sexual issues until children are teenagers. What we need is to effectively teach children to differentiate between appropriate touch and interaction and what is inappropriate.
One incredible resource I know of that does just that is a coloring book by Dr. Beth Robinson. Our home congregation is planning to order one for each child in our congregation. I truly believe it will make a difference in educating our children — even at a young age — to understand what is appropriate from others and to see their worth in being created by God.