Those of us who were raised in denominational religion or churches, as we look around at the condition of society’s morals, probably repeat on a continual basis, “This has to be the last days.” We see all the reports about 2012 being the predicted year for Armageddon. I’m not so sure I’m biting that hook, but it is garnering a lot of attention. It seems not a week or two passes there is not some article in the local newspaper or on national television regarding misadventures of clergy. I was watching an interview of a wise spiritual leader, known worldwide, and his observation was this: The church is hiding pedophiles in its pulpits, and damning homosexuals at the same time. This should not be so.
I realize promiscuity runs rampant throughout society. In the book of James, he states, “We who teach will be judged more strictly,” as he addressed the spiritual leaders such as pastors, evangelists and teachers of the Word, the Way. In 2010, not only did we see reports of the potential fall of a prominent pastor in Atlanta, but also the financial scrutiny of a mega-ministry here in the Tampa Bay area.
In the meantime, I spent many months counseling a victim of the clergy, and continue to do so. It was so difficult to have discussions with someone located in another state, much too far away to hold, embrace and reassure, that it would be alright. She had been seduced by her pastor. She went through depression so deep there were numerous times she called long distance, on the verge of suicide. I had experienced the same pit during my bouts with domestic violence. Death simply seemed the most rational way to escape the unbearable pain, not really comprehending the concept of being eternal and forever. No coming back to visit friends, smell a rose, sink your teeth into a creamy slice of cheesecake . . . you just want the pain to stop. With great apprehension, my friend chose to speak out. She was told she would be required to sit in a room with her perpetrator, confront him on site. The sexual abuse advocate rose up within me. This would result in her re-victimization.
With all humility I would suggest that the church, clergy, denomination, however you choose to address it, be trained and taught to understand the trauma of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Even Solomon, in his historically eminent wisdom told us this: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7 NIV); “I, Wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.” (Proverbs 8:12 NIV)
When I worked in the ministry, I observed this: Sheep bite, and the most mortal wounds within the church come from its own, against its own. Do not be deceived-church members nor clergy are immune from sexual abuse or domestic violence, whether as the perpetrator or the victim. It is imperative for clergy to gain knowledge, understanding and education to help their congregations, their own sheep, who may have been victimized by sexual assault, abuse or domestic violence, and learn how to avoid getting trapped in the cycle themselves.
And, for God’s sake, possess discretion. “Touch not my anointed.” Does God exclusively anoint only clergy, or are those wherein His Spirit dwells anointed, as well?
If those who are placed in charge of us either choose not to hold themselves at a high level of accountability, or their overseers fail to keep them in a place of responsibility, then who will?
- Women in Ministry: Healing the Wounds of Clergy Sexual Abuse (smearedtype.com)