|The Huffington Post|
When I was a young woman I fell in love with a man who didn't know how to love anyone but himself. (The number of 'relationships' he's chewed through before, since... and even while we were married, bears out this reality.)
But I was young and trusting. I believed his lies. I married him.
And inevitably it ended in tears. Mine.
It was a long time ago, and I have long since found healing. The reason I mention it is because this morning I read yet another story of heartbreak and abuse in the church. The actions of the church sounded sickeningly familiar, and I wanted to shout out, "Church! Just stop hurting people!"
It seems that no matter what the specifics of the story are, the behaviours and attitudes are always the same. But as I thought about it, I realised how sharply that contrasted with my experience of dealing with aftermath of my abusive marriage.
Back then, the people at my church supported me wonderfully. They walked lovingly and patiently with me through the desolation and death of my dreams. They affirmed my feelings of pain and loss, and grieved with me. They believed me.
The love and compassion I received was life-saving (maybe even literally...)
During that time, I lamented the breaking of my trust, and nobody thought it was inappropriate that I felt betrayed. I protested my husband's abuse of me, and nobody told me to "just forgive and move on." I cried out in my pain, and nobody expected me to be pretend I wasn't hurting. I gave words to the betrayal I'd endured, and nobody tried to silence me. I told my story, and nobody shook their head and said, "There are always two sides..."
And yet, when someone stands up and says, "The church has hurt me" these things are what they can expect, and it's usually what they'll get.
The one who speaks up about the problem becomes the problem. Their cries of pain are ignored and their grievances dismissed. Submission is demanded of the one hurting, while the perpetrator is simply exonerated. The church rallies to the defence of its own reputation, at the cost of the victim's. People are shamed and silenced and shunned.
It's. Really. Not. Ok. Church, if this is the best we can do, then we're selling a lie. We're peddling power and religion, not the gospel of Jesus.
In fact, I'll say it... I believe we're betraying Jesus.