As a follow up to my post last week about the PSU sexual abuse scandal, I’ve been painfully reminded of how often we refuse to talk about things that really matter, things shrouded in secrecy that are just too uncomfortable for us to discuss without stepping on toes or seeming to be insensitive. Frankly, these are not topics of polite conversation.
But when we don’t talk about them, when we don’t bring them into the light, they continue to fester and breed like an untreated cancer in the clandestine shadows of secrecy. And people get hurt. Children get hurt. And none of us should ever be okay with that.
So we’re uncomfortable.
My first thought is: “I’m uncomfortable with it.” I take no joy in writing about this in a blog. I’d much rather be talking about last weeks Penn State football game with Ohio State than the sexual abuse scandal that still engulfs that campus.
My second thought is: “Too bad.” It’s about time we learn to deal with our discomfort and engage in the real battles for the hearts and souls of people who are at risk and being exploited. And if we’re honest, that means both the abused and the abusers.
And that makes me feel really uncomfortable. But that’s where people of faith are most needed to stand up and be counted as “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-16) in a very dark and unsavory place.
Sexual abuse is just one of those banned topics in church.
Several recent blogs highlight the trouble we’ve had in being honest with ourselves and dealing with our discomfort in speaking openly about tough issues. Dan Allender’s blog, JoePa and Sermon Selection, frankly brings to light how uncomfortable pastors have been and still are when it comes to addressing the issue of sexual abuse in church.
Thom Rainer, in his blog to Church leaders, Sex Scandals, Penn State, and Protecting Our Children, writes about sexual abuse and doing everything we can as a faith community to prevent it from happening on our watch as well as dealing quickly and decisively when it is exposed.
But sexual abuse is only one strain of the world wide epidemic of exploited sexuality.
Sexuality has been hijacked by the enemy of our souls. Satan, as part of his cunning strategy for defacing the image of God in men and woman alike, demeaning and defrauding sexuality in a myriad of ways. Remember, Jesus identified Satan’s lethal agenda as to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). Why would we not think that includes our sexuality?
Sexual exploitation, in all it’s forms–from advertising, media programing, the ever-widening spectrum of pornographic images, the vulgar and demeaning language that has become common place in music, social media, and on middle school campuses, sexual abuse, and the plague of human sexual trafficking–are a coordinated attack on the beauty of God Himself that He breathed into our sexuality.
I would contend that we have problems with sexual abuse because of the sexual tsunami that has reeked havoc on the world of gender, both male and female, in a post-Fall world. And this is nothing new.
The Bible records story after story of sexual exploitation (just to name a few: Gen. 19:4-13, 30-38; 38:11-26; Judges 19:22-30; 2 Sam. 11:1-27; 13:1-34; Luke 7:36-50; John 4:7-30; 8:4-11). These disruptive stories have all too often been ignored for the more palatable passages of scripture that are–shall we say–less disturbing.
But just stop for a moment and think about it.
Why would God intentionally record these stories of sexual exploitation in sacred text?
I can think of a few reasons why He’s not silent on this topic, and I’m sure there are more:
- Because He doesn’t want us to be silent on the topic.
- Because of His great love for victims of sexual exploitation.
- Because His intention is to bring healing and hope to victims of sexual exploitation.
If this it true, then people of faith can no longer remain silent on these topics. We must be at the forefront of addressing them. Instead of reserving that discussion for a counselor’s office or a courtroom, we must speak more openly and honestly about the destructive forces at work regarding the exploitation of both male and female sexuality on all fronts in our culture.
That’s my take on it all. How about you? Let me hear your voices. Speak up and let others know that it’s time to break the conspiracy of silence. Let’s join our voices together.