Thanks Cheryl Bowles Summers for sharing the video below. Scroll to halfway through the video to watch an encouraging, difficult, important sermon for those who have suffered sexual abuse. For all you pastors out there afraid to address this subject from the pulpit, it can be done with nuance and compassion. Here’s an example.
I’d also like to offer myself as a Sunday morning speaker about the evils of sexual abuse (one of Satan’s greatest weapons against humanity). I teach it with a high fidelity to scripture, hope for those who have been broken, and a prophetic call to the church to stand up, empathize, pursue justice, and do the right thing for the vulnerable in our midst.
Honestly? I can count on less than one hand how many times I’ve heard sexual abuse addressed from the front of a church. You know what that does to me? It makes me feel even more broken, more unseen, more crazy. Let’s stop the silence on this matter. It needs to be addressed.
I know leaders are hesitant to talk about this grievous subject because 1) it’s uncomfortable 2) It’s about sex (though I would argue that sexual assault is not about sex but about power and coercive control) and 3) Leaders are afraid that if they do address it, too many people will come forward for help.
As to the last issue, I say this: Aren’t we tasked with shepherding the body of Christ? Aren’t we supposed to be helping the broken in our midst? Is the church only for the strong and unhurt? There are ways to help people that don’t overwhelm the leadership. There are ways to help abuse victims be seen and heard. There are processes and ministries that can shoulder the burden (who, I would argue, WANT to shoulder the burden).
There are hundreds of millions of people who have relegated their suffering to silence and bearing the weight of sexual abuse alone. It’s time to lend our voices to their pain, to give word to their silent cries. Who, in church leadership, will stand up and boldly, humbly talk about this egregious atrocity?