There was Abuse in my Church Today

laughing-people**I don’t write this to personally attack any single person, teacher or pastor. In fact, after approaching the teachers they were very understanding, regretful and open. I appreciate their efforts whole heartedly.

The grades 9-10 class, including three of my children, presented the sermon today.  It was a readers theater; a group chorus line type play, about Jesus healing the blind man. The play was great! All the kids did well. I was thoroughly enjoying it when… it happened. The ‘joke’, rather threat, about beating his wife and child if they didn’t shut up and obey him. I sat in my pew, as the church laughed around me. A few minutes later, the same child delivered another verbally and emotionally abusive line about how his ‘wife’ talks too much, although once again, it was far more degrading and rude then I am willing to write here.

And again, the church laughed.

I, and every victim/survivor present, had just been slapped in the face, by our church. Every woman and child had just witnessed abuse as the spiritual leaders around them laughed. As a whole, our teens just learned that threatening violence toward a wife and child is funny. The adults in the room reinforced violence as acceptable to the 1 in 3 women who experience it daily; and to the abusers sitting in our pews, they were validated. We put another nail in the coffin of the victim who is struggling to come forward for help, telling her that, in this church, we don’t take violence seriously. In this church, we laugh in the face of domestic abuse. In this church, we find it funny when a man threatens his family. In this church, it is acceptable to degrade family members. What I witnessed today was not a church of safety, a church that stands against the trends of the world toward violence, but a church where violence is accepted, joked about and even encouraged. We made a child, a male child, deliver lines that were inappropriate and hateful.

I know the boy who had to deliver those lines. He is a good friend to my daughter. He is a kind, caring and Godly young man. My head pounded as I looked at him and realized that this line, coming from his innocent mouth, written by an adult who thought it was funny, was never questioned by the teachers who made him say it and now was being applauded by the adults who heard him speak it. I realize that he too, is a victim. A victim of social conditioning, a church society that, instead of standing for what is right, goes along with what is popular.  A church family that chooses to ignore the issues of domestic abuse among us and therefore propagates the Abuse Culture. A church who is failing the children we are bringing up because we are not educating them about healthy and abusive relationships. A church who is failing to show love because it insists on ignoring hate.

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I am so ashamed. I am ashamed of our teachers and leaders who let this pass. I am ashamed of ever single adult in that room who found those lines funny. I am ashamed that I did not immediately do something, although even as I write this I don’t know what I could have done. So often when we stand up for what is right we are ridiculed. I expect that is exactly what would happen today. I would be told not to over react, not be so sensitive and make everything about abuse. So instead, I come home and talk to my children about how horribly inappropriate those lines were. I explain to them how sorry I am that they had to be apart of that. I encourage them to speak up in future, that they have a voice to change what is being accepted. Then I write. I cry a little and my heart aches.  I plan to talk to the teachers who put this production together. I know that even though the likelihood that I will be heard, much less understood, is very slim, I must try. I must speak up. I must attempt to educate others on the harm their idea of humor really does in our churches and schools and communities.

Today, I witnessed publicly accepted domestic violence. God’s Word turned into physical threats and degradation in the name of ‘humor’.

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Church, please listen to me! These are our children! We cannot teach love when we are instructing our children to hate. We cannot educate about relationships when we condone violence against anyone, by our laughter or by our silence. We cannot keep demoralizing another person and call it funny. The excuses are just that, excuses. The excuses are not enough to change reality for 1 out 3 women who sat in that room as victims/survivors. How can we stand ourselves when we are teaching our children that degrading your wife, threatening to beat her, is hilarious!? It is not hilarious, it is outrageous!

I am left wondering, am I the only one who felt the pain in that play? Is this young man’s mother incensed that he had to deliver abusive lines this morning in church? Am I surprised that the church as a whole, was totally fine with this? I am surprised. I shouldn’t be, but I am. I am disappointed  and I am hurt that not one single person in my children’s lives stepped forward to insist that those lines be changed.

Looking at ourselves is hard. Admitting to mistakes is hard. Changing the way we think is hard. BUT IT MUST BE DONE! We cannot allow violence any room in our churches. We have already given up many to this epidemic, and still we laugh.

I challenge you, please, revisit your belief and excuse system regarding how you react to jokes about domestic violence. I challenge you, open a conversation with your family about how God views violence toward women. I challenge you, do not remain silent in the face of wrong. There is risk, I’ve heard it all. I’ve been called too sensitive, that I have a chip on my shoulder or that I have no sense of humor….oh well. I don’t think beating family members verbally, emotionally or physically is funny. Ever.

This is the reason I am driven, daily, to educate our churches regarding Domestic Violence. I will not be silent. I will not condone violence in any form. I choose love.

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