A Tribute to the Good Men in My Life, or Why I’ve Had a Hard Time Coming to Grips With Sexual Abuse in the Church
Oh, what a time we're living in.
I suppose that statement has rung true since the beginning of time, but I know you know what I'm talking about. The men: They're falling like dominoes. The women: We're not taking it any more.
So let me back up a bit in my own story.
Born to really great people (not perfect, but not swindlers, cheats, and liars), I was raised in the American evangelical church. That makes many of you cringe, I realize, but please generously recognize that for many of us kids growing up in that environment, life was pretty cheery.
Hypocrisy, you say? Well, of course. Hypocrisy abounds, friends, and the church doesn't own the corner on that market. But I recently heard someone wax poetic about how Hollywood had it coming because of the smut they espouse, and I thought, "Yeah, well, at least they aren't hypocrites." You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Anyway, I had the unbelievable good fortune (which I like to call Providence), to be raised by a man who was not one of them. He never (and I mean, never) made lewd comments about women. He never (and I mean, never) cheated on my mom. He doesn't have a porn problem, doesn't think sexist jokes are funny, and he taught my brothers to honor every female they came in contact with. When he sent me off to college to study a subject that is not anywhere in the realm of his own gifts and interests, he supported me with gusto. He's one of the good guys.
But what about those evangelical churches I grew up in? Well, at church number one, the larger-than-life narcissistic head pastor had an "inappropriate relationship" with a woman and the congregation rolled over. Except my parents. When I was in the 3rd grade, we were out of there.
I spent most of my formative years then at a Presbyterian church with a humble, kind, theologically balanced pastor, but when I was in college, a woman came forward to expose the affair they had been having. And then another. Good god.
It should have wrecked my faith.
Except, right about the time all of this was coming to light and the man I thought that pastor was wasn't the man I thought he was, I met my husband Fletch. He was one of the good guys. Like my dad, he never (and I mean, never) made lewd comments about women. He never (and I mean, never) has cheated on me - 28 years and counting. He doesn't have a porn problem, doesn't think sexist jokes are funny, and he teaches our sons to honor every female they come in contact with.
This has been my intimate, personal view of men. From father to husband to brothers to uncles, I have been surrounded by good men. And not just a few.
And so when my sisters in Christ began to open up about the abuse the've suffered at the hands of many a puny man, my little white bread world began to shake off of its evangelical foundation. I realized sometime during college that only one other friend and I were the only women I knew personally who had not been molested, raped, fondled, stalked, or coerced. And it made me sick. Look, I know that writers can tend to over-state, but this is no exaggeration, and if you don't believe me, you haven't been paying attention.
Let me get to my point.
It's time for the church to come to grips with sexual abuse. It's time for Christian churches and universities to call out the sick and the sinful within their ranks and remember that this is why the gospel is so penetratingly powerful. It exists for porn addicts and philanderers and sick, sick, men like you. And me. You aren't Jesus. You are why He came here. In the meantime, step down. Get out. A ministry platform isn't where you should be if abusing women doesn't shock you.
It's also time to recognize, in the midst of the profligate, abhorrent abuse of women in our culture, that there are good men. We need to applaud them for their choice to swim against the tide of lewd and inappropriate and nasty locker room banter and for keeping their hands to themselves. And this is what we teach the future men we are raising: protect, defend, uphold, and honor.
And if you can't keep it in your pants, go take care of it in the bathroom. Seriously. But in the meantime, at the very least, recognize what Jesus recognized: That women have inherent value, purpose, worth, and significance because they are created in the image of God. So do you. So. Do. You. You can be one of the good men, but it will take the Savior to make it so.