#ChurchToo Wake-Up Call

We must apologize,

PROTECT, DEFEND AND SUPPORT

women who have been re-victimized by the very churches they counted on for help and support.

Jesus calls us to put our love in ACTION. Let’s end rape culture in the church by admitting our sins and purposefully ACTING like Christ – lets join, celebrate, uplift and love our marginalized siblings. 💙💜💚💛 Get to know by spending time with them like Christ did. #ChuchToo

My Hubby’s post from his blog on the Unexpected Pastor

Nassar Survivor’s Wake-up Call to the Church

A couple of days ago I read a Huffington Post article about the first woman who had the courage to step forward and publicly accuse US Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of abuse.

Rachel Denhollander, one of 150 survivors who testified at Dr. Nassar’s trial, is quoted in the article saying, “Church is one of the least safe places to acknowledge abuse . . . It is with deep regret that I say the church is one of the worst places to go for help.”

Denhollander describes the shame-provoking assumption among congregants and leaders in her church that she had done something to open herself to abuse, as well as the implication that she should have forgiven her abuser more quickly.

Ashley Easter, an advocate for abuse survivors is also quoted in the article:

Many churches hold poor interpretations of Scripture that imply the victim is somehow at fault for dressing or acting a certain way ‘immodestly,’ that speaking up about abuse is ‘gossip’ or ‘slander,’ and that forgiveness is moving on without demanding justice for the victims. These stances are a stark contrast from Jesus’ ministry to the marginalized.

We have to do better.

First, we who are the church must confess that we have often missed the mark in the past. Not only have we held women complicit in their own victimization, we have been too focused on reconciliation and rushing survivors to forgiveness that will make us more comfortable, rather than acknowledging and sitting with the pain of women who have been victimized.

We must apologize to women who have been re-victimized by the very churches they have counted on for help and support.

It is essential that we acknowledge the ways patriarchal systems of “male headship” within churches and families have given men license to mistreat women.

Finally, we must care for survivors of abuse the way Jesus responded to marginalized individuals he encountered (see especially the Samaritan woman at the well) – with empathy and unconditional love.

Advertisements

Sympathize: Understand My Tears

Empathy when our sisters of color cry

Anger when our sisters’ head cover is ripped off

Tears when our lesbian and Tran sisters weep

Mourning the loss of our health care

Afraid sickness and dying

Concerned about our future citizens being torn from our arms and cast into the darkness

Sympathy

One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL

Please Blink for Children

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12 

When his child is hungry

Does Jesus give him something to eat, or

Starve his family so there are less poor people? (Tax cuts for the rich)

 

When his child is thirsty

Does Jesus give her something to drink, or

Pollute her water supply? (Keystone)

When his child is an immigrant (DACA)

Does Jesus invite him in, or

Deport him to land he doesn’t know?

 

When his child needs clothes

Does Jesus buy her clothes, or

Leave her naked in the street? (#MeToo)

 

When his child is sick

Does Jesus make sure he gets proper healthcare (CHIP and ACA)

Or leave him to die?

 

When his child is in prison

Does Jesus come to visit her, or

Forget his child? (criminal injustice)

Matthew 25:31-46

Come Worship Our Savior

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and the shepherds were terrified. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is our Messiah, the Lord.  

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:8-14

Come worship God’s Word in flesh. 

Christ welcomes all from every tradition, and people new to faith.

Christ welcomes new friends and familiar friends.


Christ welcomes every age and every size, tone and culture, every sexual orientation and gender identity, every socioeconomic station, relationship status, political belief, ability and challenge.


Christ welcomes believers and questioners, and to questioning believers.


All are welcome to pray and praise, celebrate and sorrow, rejoice and recover.


God nurtures us in love and we are made whole. 

  Christ welcomes you to worship.  Amen.

The Color of Hope is Blue


Many people are sad during Christmas. They grieve and hurt and even groan as the people around them sing carols, exchange gifts, laugh and  seem completely unaware of their pain.

Are you blue this Christmas? Does your heart feel torn apart?

Did you notice the season of advent is blue?

Advent is the season of expectant waiting. The world waits with anticipation the arrival of a savior to free them from sadness, illness and death.

Let’s take a moment to study two very different biblical sisters at the heart of Christmas in Luke 1:

Elizabeth Pregnant with John the Baptist

Elizabeth (well along in years) became pregnant (with John the Baptist) and for five months remained in seclusion.  “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” (v. 24-25)

How would you feel if you became pregnant long after child-bearing years?  Would you be joyful?

Last night at Bible and Beverages, we talked about another sister whose pain often gets overlooked. 

Mary and the Birth of Jesus Foretold

(v. 26-38) In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

How do you think you’d react if an angel appeared to you? Would you feel blessed or be worried you were crazy?

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”

Do you find these words comforting?  Can you imagine being the mother of GOD?

How does the church treat unwed pregnant teens? What are your thoughts? 

How can you help Mary this Christmas?

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Wow!  Even before he was born, John the Baptist announced the arrival of Jesus. The Holy Spirit came upon both of these women to proclaim our Lord’s arrival. 

Incredible biblical women!

I love reading these passages at least once a year before Christmas to remember that Jesus is the greatest gift.  

Are you feeling blue this Christmas? Are you grieving or sad during the holidays?

If even the mother of our savior was troubled during this time, then it must be okay for us to have questions and fears as we await his return. 

These verses remind me that God has a plan, the Lord will fulfill his promises and his kingdom will reign forever.  

Remember our tears are a testament of our love and our need for Christ. You don’t have to hide your pain. You are not alone. Tis the season to be blue.

Amen

Parenting, #MeToo and Family Values

“Boys will be boys”

This statement explains why boys sexualize girls and blame women for being assaulted.

How did your parents or caregivers prepare you for the #MeToo reality?

Every day another sexual predator struts into the news and the public debate begins whether they are innocent, guilty, framed or simply ignorant.

Even when the abuser admits their horrendous behavior, their family, friends, high school teachers and selected co-workers rush to their defense by loudly blaming the victim, minimizing the allegations and questioning the victim’s attire, motivations and timing.

As a #MeToo survivor, I am grateful for the new wave of supporters who believe the victims because they understand there is absolutely no benefit in lying about being harassed, assaulted or raped.

However, the risks of being ignored, shamed, blamed or called a liar are real.

It takes courage.

There is way too much responsibility and blame placed on victims who are primarily female. Blaming the victim gives predators a pass to continue to assault other victims. And this is terribly true in the church.

The church and their families have very different expectations of men and women in their ability to uphold traditional family moral and ethical principles of honesty, loyalty, purity, and faith.

The burden of family values fall heavily on women. While boys are raised to simply police and test girls’ ability to uphold these virtues.

Girls can’t protect themselves if boys are given a pass for self-control.

This culture has existed since the dawn of time so one post isn’t going to change all that but let’s talk about something very basic and teachable yet missing whenever someone is assaulted or raped.

Consent

It is never too early or too late to talk about consent.

Consent may seem like a new concept but it’s not. Parents expect children to ask permission (consent) for a snack, to go outside, stay overnight at a friend’s house or borrow the car. And if they don’t ask for permission, there are consequences.

We also teach consent in school when we expect children to ask permission to get out of their seat to throw something away, ask a question or go to the bathroom.

Consent is power and control that can be abused.

Children are easily preyed upon by adults because almost all children are taught to respect all adults.

Assault at its core is about boundaries.

Consent is as simple as “yes” or “no.” Some make it more complicated than it needs to be.
Teaching consent begins by giving children control over their own bodies and teaching children the proper words for their body parts.

At fifteen months, children become naturally fearful of strangers. Children should be taught to trust their feelings and that they have control over their body by allowing them to choose who holds them or kisses them.  This lays the foundation for learning to check with their parents for assurance and not to getting into cars or walking off with strangers.

By age two, children have heard “No” so much they say it all the time. We teach consent by respecting their choices about their bodies and belongings.

As noted earlier, children learn consent in relationships when we teach them appropriate boundaries such as asking for a toy instead of grabbing it out of someone’s hand. They learn consequences when they have a time out for hitting someone.

It is also important to teach boys and girls that it is never too late to change their mind and to respect their friend’s choices.

As children grow, parents use teachable moments to begin teaching children the value of their bodies, respect and compassion for others, responsibility for their actions, accountability, and admitting hurt, and seeking help.

Some loving parents teach their daughter’s self-defense to help boys respect their choices.

 

I admire parents who teach their daughter’s self-defense and brag about how their daughters can surprise any would-be villains by swinging into action like the tough super hero they’ve been trained to be.

I cheer for those girls. I applaud their parents and their instructors.

It is very important to teach children to say “No” and have their choices respected. We teach this by respecting their choices when they are young. Children must be given permission and tips to defend themselves.

All of these lessons lay the foundation for deeper discussions about relationships with the opposite sex which should begin before children begin middle school. The key is to keep communication open.

Their interactions with other children, adults, and authority figures provide lots of opportunities to discuss power and control, bullies, and consent.

Having this type of dialogue with children when they are very young keeps the discussion open for them to discuss relationships, things they saw on television, heard or saw their friends do, or even things they said or did.

These discussions help children develop empathy and the value of others.

Their lives offer many teachable moments to talk about sex, love, assault, rape. Teach them how to de-escalate situations, as well as the importance of intervention if a situation wasn’t safe or someone was in danger of hurting themselves or others.

All children mess up sometimes and fail to respect someone. When they mess up, they should expect consequences for their behavior and understand the importance of apologizing to the satisfaction of the harmed. They should seek forgiveness, but can’t force forgiveness.

Unfortunately, no matter how well we train our children, they may still encounter bullies and predators.

We hope they are successful in defending themselves.

And if they are successful, we need to be available with open arms to wrap them in comfort after they stood up to the beast.  We also need to support and encourage them to share their experience to protect others.

I wish self-defense was the answer to prevent being bullied, assaulted or raped.

Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. I tried to fight. I didn’t win. I was outnumbered. I was drugged. And I was raped.

Therefore, parents must also be prepared to wrap our daughter’s in the courage to know that even if she encounters a bigger, stronger offense trained villain, she is not at fault if she is wounded or outnumbered by the beast(s).

It is NEVER the victim’s responsibility to prevent rape or any other assault.

It is very important to teach our children to stand up for themselves and recognize times to fight.  It is equally important to learn when to run if able or when to remain still and quiet to survive to tell your story even if you wished to die. All equally noble and wise choices (opportunities).

Victims can’t prevent what someone else does because being a victim is being stripped of choices.

It is important to continue to discuss teachable #MeToo moments as they pop up in the news.  Talk about how to process who to believe, rape myths about drinking, the good guy who is well liked, whose life was messed up and how to determine if it was consensual. 

And whether we are in a position to judge the truth.