Shooting Our Wounded

So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.

1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT

I don’t know who said that the Christian army is the only one that shoots their wounded, but I’m watching it happen now and I pray to God it’d stop. I have been so disheartened reading in the news that one of my favorite radio personalities, Steve Brown, according to the Christian Post, covered up Tullian’s inappropriate relationship with a member of his congregation.   It shook me up a lot and has caused me to question so much that I’ve believed.

I read a lot of blogs written by people who are working diligently to expose abuse in the church and to help victims.  I greatly appreciate their work and am very grateful for these people. GRACE is one of the major ones, and Tullian’s brother, Boz, is actually the founder of this organization.

GRACE came alongside my previous church to assist in my own abuse case. However, the pastor I confessed to spoke directly to Diane Langberg of this organization on how to help me. She mailed the church CD’s explaining spiritual abuse and the destructive system behind it. These were powerful CD’s that greatly encouraged me and my husband and cleared up so much confusion,  yet the church leaders disregarded Dr. Langberg’s advice and still chose to downplay the abuse that had occurred. The four elders in my church also had me agree on a conference call between them, my husband, myself and my counselor to have my name given to the congregation exposing the former pastor’s sin, ONLY with the understanding that spiritual abuse would be explained, my letter read in it’s entirety, and the church would be educated about spiritual abuse, but my leaders lied.  They edited my letter and held the meeting exposing the pastor and me when my husband and I were out of town receiving intensive counseling in another state.  Only when we returned to town did I realize that my voice was taken from me when other members in the congregation came up to me saying they forgave me and there was no mention of abuse.  When I confronted the pastor and the regional head of our denomination assigned to handle things, I was told the circumstances involving the former pastor and myself were not presented as abuse or an affair and that they’d edited my letter.   It was clear to me that my voice had been stolen from me and an opportunity to educate others about spiritual abuse was lost.  My husband and I called a meeting with the four elders,  we screamed,  we cried, and they only gave us a half hearted apology for lying.  Dr. Langberg had advised them early on to make sure that I as a  victim had a voice, but they’d disregarded this advice and we as victims were too exhausted to fight.  When I reached out to GRACE telling them what happened they emailed me back saying they understood that my case had already been handled.   It was obvious that as far as they were concerned they’d done all they could. They’d supported my former pastor, but there was nothing else they could do when my case of spiritual abuse was not handled correctly. I also had sought out an attorney in another state that GRACE had provided me with before I said it was OK for the elders to give my name at the meeting and could not find any support for a victim of clergy abuse unless they were a minor. He was a very helpful attorney, but he did not handle cases in our state, and I later determined that clergy abuse was not addressed clearly as illegal in my state. I was unsuccessful in getting ahold of an attorney who would even help in my area, and we were exhausted,  so my husband and I determined our hands were tied and that we had no choice except to trust our elders to help us, and that ended in disaster.

We’ve since that time moved away from that church and our hometown where my husband and I lived our entire lives to start over somewhere else. We withdrew our membership from the church.  Somehow we’ve managed to make it day by day, but there are some days I wonder if we will.   Were it not for our counselors I’m not quite sure where we’d be. We suffer with PTSD when we attend church and we are finding it almost impossible to build a church community.

Keylife ministries, founded by Steve Brown, has been our spiritual food.  I don’t know that we’d still have faith if we didn’t listen to his daily teaching on the Internet.  He’s been there day in day out faithfully teaching the Bible, faithfully telling us not to live in shame, guilt and fear,  that God’s not mad at us, that God still loves us.  When ministries like GRACE were unable to help us anymore,  Steve did.  I have never met him personally,  but I consider him a friend. We are also contributors to their ministry.

So before anyone jumps to worse case scenario about Steve Brown,  I think the facts need to be heard.   There is always more than one side to every story.

But still God has allowed this exposure to happen, just as He wouldn’t let me sleep at night until I told the truth, so I recognize I have to trust Him with it.

But can I just say this? Things would have been much better for my family and the church had my pastor confessed to someone, truly repented,  and stopped his relationship with me early on. But he didn’t.  And the abuse, secrets and cover ups went on for almost ten years.  It was a cancer that ate away at my soul until there wasn’t much left. And it damaged so many others. So maybe rather than placing a pastor’s head on the chopping block immediately we could provide more support for pastors and make it easier for them to confess or get help before anymore damage is done. Every situation is different and every situation deserves to be heard fully before we judge. Everything is not black and white.  However, I will state firmly in cases involving children there should not be an opportunity for the pastor to be in ministry again.  They need to go to jail. This is the law.  Pastors are not by law to even cover up any abuse that they hear of that involves a child. And maybe every adult case of clergy abuse needs to be treated the same way, but the law is not there yet every where, so there’s lots of work to be done there, too. Also, there needs to be a much better process in helping victims of abuse.  Too often pastors get help while abuse victims don’t. In my own situation I did not talk to Dr. Langberg, the pastor did.  It seems to me it would have been helpful if my husband and myself had been a part of those conversations.

In an ideal world,  there wouldn’t be any cover ups, we’d all be able to see one another’s hearts and know when someone is sincere and when they are not.  But we aren’t God.  We are broken, blinded by our affections, and often in difficult places where we don’t make the best decisions.  All along the way we are learning and being prepared for a place where we won’t have to weep anymore,  where the lion will lay down with the lamb and where there will finally be peace.  But until we get to that place, can we please not pick up our guns and shoot one another when there is already enough blood, can we show one another respect and love and work on this problem together? No one except God has this thing completely right and our mistakes are His most powerful tools in teaching us a better way.   Please,  dear Christian family, let us speak the truth in love and show one another grace!

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