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Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

by Jim Gordon

Continuing on the subject of church and abuse, we know many people have been abused and treated wrong within the system. Some more severe that others, but none of it is good.

I think one of the groups that seem to be affected most by this are those who are LGBTQ. I have seen this group of people treated rudely and like second class citizens in the church where they should find love and acceptance more than anywhere else. God said to love our neighbors, he did not say to love only those we agree with.

Even in the churches that are actually accepting, LGBTQ people are often not allowed to participate fully within the organization or hold certain positions.

GodsDoorsAreOpentoAll

Christian people will deny rights and services to LGBTQ people based on their christian beliefs and that even includes fellow christians who are LGBTQ. Even government office holders can refuse certain services and basically get away with it because they say it goes against their christian morals. As as christian I say these things should not be.

Labels are placed on many people, gay/straight, black/white, male/female, christian/atheist, American/foreign. Yet behind those labels are human beings who were created in the image of God. They are loved and accepted by God and we are told as followers of Christ we are to be known for our love for one another also.

I feel for those who are LGBTQ. It hurts to see people who were created and loved by God be rejected and abused by his followers. I think it is time to look past the labels, look past your personal feelings and accept people just the way they are….created and loved by God.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you been hurt by the church? Have you been abused within the church? I know many have and that is terrible, but there are many more who have not. My wife and I are a couple of the many who were never abused or hurt within the church but we still left. There are many of us who have left the system, not due to abuse or hurt but we have come to see the system as flawed. We have come to find a better way to express our love for God and for our fellow mankind. For us it is walking outside the walls of religion yet following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving people, all without an ulterior motive of getting people to church. Do you have a similar story? If so we would be glad to hear about your steps to leaving the system. Feel free to post your comments below.

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by Cindy Felkel, Guest Blogger

A friend sent me a picture (of a little boy praying in front of pictures of missing children) this past Sunday morning. When I saw the picture, I burst into tears.

See, all week, I’ve been processing information I heard at a seminar put on by the Underground of Ct., where they talked about the realities of domestic minor sex trafficking.

In this seminar, they covered statistics about how much it happens in Connecticut. One of the speakers drove home the point that the men who are paying tons of money to abuse youth in our neighborhoods are mostly middle class white married men with good jobs. They are our neighbors and leaders in our communities. They are hiding in plain sight because no one is suspicious of them.

Another speaker at this seminar was a survivor of sex trafficking. She spoke about the importance of being seen. She said that when she was trafficked, she only thought of herself as a body, an object to be used. It was being seen as a whole person of value that led her out of the abuse.

This beautiful young survivor sells t-shirts which say, “You are seen”.

With each t-shirt, she gives people a postcard which says, “Whether you got this t-shirt to remind yourself you are not alone, or to remind others, both are equally important. Darkness thrives in its ability to hide, but you have the ability to acknowledge that it has been seen and the power to not walk away. As a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, I wear this shirt in remembrance of one simple healing truth:

If there is only one thing you could offer someone in need, let it be your willingness to stay.

The glaring message that I walked away from this seminar with was the need to really see the people around me.

praying for missing children facebook

I also left with a nagging sense of the reality of how much the two biggest so- called Christian institutions in our country, the Catholic church and the Southern Baptist convention, have perpetuated systems of covering up abuse*.

The very next day, I read this quote from Brené Brown’s book Dare to LeadPerhaps the most devastating sign of a shame infestation is a cover-up. Cover-ups are perpetrated not only by the original actors, but by a culture of complicity and shame… When the culture of a corporation, nonprofit, university, government, CHURCH, sports program, school or family mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of that system and those in power than it is to protect the human dignity of individuals or communities, you be certain of the following problems:

Shame is systemic
Complicity is part of the culture
Money and power trump ethics
Accountability is dead
Control and fear are management tools
And there’s a trail of devastation and pain”
pg 135

Sadly, this describes much of what has been happening in American church culture a little too well. I know so many of the stories of people who have been hurt. As sickening and devastating as those stories are, I also know that they represent only the tip of the iceberg.

It is no wonder we have a culture of middle-class white men committing unspeakable abuse against our children and supporting a $10.5 billion industry. When our church culture became about building the individual kingdoms of dynamic leaders, the religious culture of America made shame so much the norm that I doubt there is any life in America right not that has not been negatively impacted by it.

And those perpetrators? That’s totally a result of shame and inadequacy in their own lives. No one abuses others without dehumanizing them and without a need to use others to fill voids in their own lives. It’s a shame cycle that is devastating our country.

As I processed all of these things, I felt like I was almost in a state of shock. The reality of what was happening in our country,

Then, on Sunday, when my friend sent me that picture, I was also listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley where he said, “When what’s best for people is no longer what’s most important to you, you are at odds with God.”

As I sat there crying, ridiculously, it all came together for me.

If we don’t care about the healing of the individuals who have been abused by and because of church culture, and the shame culture so prevalent in America, I completely believe that we are at odds with God.

Our young people don’t need us to get better at sharing our theology or making sermons more attractive. They don’t even need us to pass more government programs or less or whatever politics you fool yourself into believing is going to change things. Nothing can bring people out of the darkness except seeing them.

They need to be seen. They need to be cared for.

That is the job of people who are following Jesus. That is what Jesus taught.

Forgive me for all the times I don’t see.

Blessings,

Cindy (rumandcolaforthesoul.com)

*I’m aware that there is abuse happening in other denominations and religions. I have only witnessed the abuse and heard the stories from these two cultures. I grew up going to Southern Baptist churches and I live in a predominately Catholic area. My adamant belief is based on anecdotal evidence and informal research into what others have written. However, I stand firm in that is obvious when leaders cover up abuse and allow victims to be shamed, the influence of the shame culture they model extends far beyond the incidents we hear about in the news. It impacts every person in that church and all the people the religious elite have labeled less important than their vision.

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Many times when I mention that my wife and I have left the organized church, people assume something happened to hurt us or make us mad.

Just to be clear on this subject, neither one of us have ever been abused or hurt by the church. Neither one of us are mad about some event or some person at church.

After nearly sixty years in the organization, and after the last ten of those years feeling that something is not right with the system, we made the decision to leave and follow Christ outside the walls of religion. To be clear, that is our decision and we certainly do not expect everyone to agree and do the same thing. Many people are part of the organized religious system we know as church who truly love God and want to serve Him.

We believe the Church is a community of people and not a building nor a service held one day each week with paid professionals leading the service. We believe the Church is each of us who follow Christ and see him as the head. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and each of us are equally functioning members making up his body.

We believe forsaking not the assembling of yourselves means we need one another. We live each day having fellowship with those God brings us together with, no matter where it happens. We never truly found real fellowship when we sat in an organized service for an hour looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us. We believe true fellowship is not just sitting together with other people in a room, but it is daily loving, encouraging and praying for one another and meeting the needs of those we are able to help.

Church

The temple in the Old Testament was only a shadow of what was to come in the New Testament. God now lives in us as his temple, and he is our leader rather than another human being we call pastor. There is no hierarchy in the Church today. Each of us are equally important parts of the body and able to teach, encourage, build up and pray for one another. It is truly a priesthood of all believers, not a one man show. Those with specific gifts for helping the Church are not better or more spiritual than the rest. They are brothers and sisters who walk along beside those who need encouragement. They are those who have learned a spiritual lesson and are there to help those who are still learning. They are servants more than they are anything else.

So when I say that we have left the church, it is only the building and organization I am talking about. We left, not because we were mad or hurt but because we believe the religious system most people call church is far from what God is building. He is building a group of people who will daily follow Him outside the walls of religion and organizations of men, loving God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, loving their neighbor and accepting all they meet along the way.

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My Journey

Welcome. My blog is a place where readers will find writings of personal experiences, thoughts, and the peace that the Lord provides throughout my walk. I intend to bring inspiration and insight, as well as providing a very personal and transparent view into my life, in order to help others see their own lives in a different perspective. I strongly believe that we all need a different view at times, in order for our own personal growth to take place.

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