Remarkable things are happening in our country. Suddenly, character matters. New reports appear almost daily:
- Urban Meyer: He was held accountable for his knowledge of an assistant coach’s domestic abuse.
- Harvey Weinstein: His sexual misconduct against women propelled the #MeToo movement into existence.
- #ChurchToo: Scores of sexual abuse cases and their coverups have been brought to light, both adult and child sexual abuse, both in Protestant and Catholic settings.
We find ourselves in a unique position, and what is unique is not the sin, but that culture is standing up against it in force. The Church finds itself on the same page as culture, and, sadly, culture has led the way.
A strange partnership, but what an opportunity!
A strange partnership, in that the culture has only a partial grip on the issues. Consent appears to be the main focus (at least for #MeToo), rather than the issue of sexual conduct outside the boundaries presented in Scripture. Also, other issues with huge effects on women like abortion go without mention.
Opportunity, in that the Church has a unique chance to link with culture while building bridges to faith, even as its own sin is exposed.
Bridge 1: We’re on the same page. The Bible has long recognized the sins of violence and abuse. Yet for culture to recognize it too? That recognition that has to come from somewhere—or Someone.
“They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” (Romans 2:15 NIV)
Bridge 2: For victims of abuse, Christ offers healing. Are we taking seriously the cry of the abused? Are we stepping forward with practical solutions? Safety, shelters, counseling, freedom ministry, referrals for legal services, employment opportunities, etc. Are we willing to get involved?
“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.” (Psalm 10:17-18)
Bridge 3: For the abusers who are ready to receive it, Christ extends the same offer of healing. While abusers should receive appropriate consequences for their sin, including criminal prosecution if they have committed a crime, the Church should be ready here as well. Though justice should be served, the Church should be willing to walk with the repentant sinner through his consequences while offering the same message of hope and healing.
“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
Bridge 4:The root problem of abuse is sin—and the Church has the solution. The culture could benefit from a forthright discussion that examines the brokenness that exists in all men, a brokenness only made whole in Jesus.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Does the Church need to clean its own house first? Absolutely. Ungodly behavior will undermine our testimony for Jesus every time. Yet, the testimony of grace, mercy, forgiveness, hope, healing, and freedom needs to be heard by both the abused and the abuser who have yet to meet God and experience His love—and sin in the walls of our churches should not silence us from offering hope to others.
Let’s link arms with our culture and start a building a bridge. We’ll explore how over the next several weeks.