This present moment in America will likely be remembered historically for the many social justice movements springing up in response to the societal ills presently plaguing this nation. Black Lives Matter arose in response to the numerous documented incidents of police violence against people of color. The recent March for Our Lives came about as teens respond to the ongoing plague of school shootings across the United States. The Women’s March, #TimesUp and the #MeToo movement have brought the culture of sexual harassment and abuse into the light, as brave women (and a few men) publicly disclose their stories of being raped and sexually abused by powerful men in the public eye.
The #ChurchToo movement has also made it clear that these instances of abuse go far beyond the news headlines of the prior decades where there were scandalous accusation of priests abusing children under the cover of the Catholic church. No corner of the Christian world, it seems, is free from the stain of this sin. Likely, there are numerous stories yet to be told. As a therapist, I’ve heard many. Many churches have cultures where the stories of women are discredited, or where women are encouraged to stay in abusive situations. Other churches acknowledge the sin of sexual abuse, but emphasize forgiving the abuser more than seeking justice for the abused. Christians need to examine their hearts, church cultures, and church systems and make the needed changes in response to this cultural moment. And… there likely will be some people who will be swept up and falsely accused of sexual misconduct, but will be unable to document their innocence. These stories keep coming, and clearly the church in America is no different than the rest of society in having denied, ignored, or under-responded to allegations of sexual misconduct.
This is nothing new. Both the Old and New Testaments are strewn with stories of sexual brokenness, though typically these stories are also “under-reported” in the pages of children’s story Bibles – the same place where the typical Christian adult’s Biblical literacy often ends. All Christians, those leading churches, and those in the pews, are affected. Fortunately, our God is neither surprised nor unequipped to help us address this most historical and still contemporary problem.
Today’s episode comes to you from two prior guests of the Antioch Podcast: Pastor Joy Bonnema and Matt Krieg. This is a recording of a sermon they presented together at Madison Church’s North Campus entitled “Resurrection Matters for Healthy Sexuality.” This is an excellent example of how to talk about this most delicate of topics scripturally and directly, without running the risk of being graphic or overly descriptive. At a time when so many leaders are falling due to allegations of sexual abuse, this message is all the more timely.