I actually call forgiveness the "F" word for the evangelical community, because of how they use forgiveness.It's not that victims are against forgiveness.Victims are against forgiveness as the solution to the problem.Because the problem will go on and on and on as long as every victim continues to give forgiveness. The organization does not have to address the issues.
As you might have guessed I was watching All God’s Children on Youtube the other night, and the above quote I felt was very profound. The Video segment above has this quote.
Children of missionaries were placed in boarding schools while their parents served as missionaries – in this case in Africa. The children were abused badly by the caregivers, and as adult survivors they asked the missionary organization to start dealing with what happened. The organization threw out the ‘forgiveness’ card, and stonewalled with prevention of this from happening to other children. They wanted to blow it off as a ‘select few’ that I’m sure they wanted to treat as bad apples, but were overwhelmed with the numbers of survivors that came forward after the story went public.
What happened next was a show of fear towards the missionary alliance’s reputation, and self preservation. They attempted to ‘deal with it’, but you get the sense they did it more from pressure than from genuine concern.
Once the heat was removed (somewhat anyway) they were able to go on ‘doing God’s work’. What they failed to realize or face was helping these victims, and preventing future victims IS God’s work as well. They pretended their priories were not out of whack.
Sadly, what it shows is if other missionary children are abused? They have no hope of true support within their community. They will be set adrift. I pray that the links I supplied below will be of help to you.
As the men and women within this video documentary spoke of the triggers they deal with to this day? That doesn’t show a lack of forgiveness, but of struggle.
They are still struggling to learn to cope with their past, and superhuman type of forgiveness others demand of them is NOT helping them by any stretch of the imagination.
Its true that the faith community does tend to use forgiveness so they don’t have to address the problem or issues. Once the victim ‘forgives’ they move on as if nothing ever happened. Victims are left to deal with this on their own, and sharing the burdens that comes from healing is the ‘unforgiveable’ to ask for.
Today forgiveness is a tool that is used, so the church doesn’t have to deal with things that seem to ugly.
Forgiveness is suppose to be for us, and yet it is used as a ‘on demand’ concept for others. The forgiveness then turns into something for others, and not for the victim at all.
You see this way to often when dealing with emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse. Most of the time people that abuse others in this way? The victims are asked to forgive their abuser, and then sadly those victims must then find ways of forgiving those that counseled them (on forgiveness) because they would rather wipe the slate clean afterwards – then help them mend other aspects that go along with healing afterwards.
You see those cycle of emotions afterwards are used as ‘points of unforgiveness or bitterness’, and that is the big lie when it comes to support of abuse victims. Its laziness, unforgiveness towards victims, and fear of how this would impact THEIR circumstance and might bruise THEIR lifes or organization. It has nothing to do with smearing God in some way, but has everything to do with their fear of facing sin. Its self perseveration in the ugliest form.
Cycle of Healing – When do you face this?
They say its human to take the path of less resistance. Victims are easy to steam roll because they are in weaken state anyway, and sadly all too often the faith community takes the ‘secular’ path that is far from biblical.
People that are abused, and are allowed healing tend to have cycles similar to the cycle of grief – loss of a loved one. I remember when my father died they reminded me of these stages, and how they may not go in order – and you can deal with one cycle again and again at times.
- Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
- Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
- Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
- Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
- Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
They tell you these cycles are normal and healthy. In time you will reach the other side in which you learn to live with what has happened, and are able to go on with life. That doesn’t mean you forget about the death, and you don’t mourn anymore. It means that grief no longer overwhelms your life. Most people have dealt with a death, and you see the genuine support people need as acceptable due to this.
Sadly, that is NOT true for abuse victims most of the time. That seems especially true if those victims are within the church body – and the abuser is also.
It amazes me that people just ask this superhuman concept of others (instant forgiveness) when abuse happens, without having them process things that they have dealt with. Then you notice those that counsel this ‘instant forgiveness’ are the ones railing against some pet sin they are against, and then place this aura of how its ‘everywhere around them’. No, they aren’t ones that do the superhuman concept of instant forgiveness either. Sadly, they are in so much denial they can’t see it.
Transformation is what is truly amazing!
They say if you beat a dog long enough he will learn to bite you in return after a while. In softer terms if you torment a cat all the time you may get a good scratch or bite in defense as well. Most people can ‘grasp’ and understand these concepts, and most are NOT going to blame the animals for their reaction. If you take that animal and place it in better circumstances people are amazed at the transformation.
My Siamese cat died in January – he was 17 years old. He was rescue animal, and you could tell something had happened in the past due to his fear towards things that most cats would not be. He never lashed out, or would bite. He was just full of fear. He was a young cat, and we used plenty of love, patience, and fun to help him come out of his shell. In time he slowly came out, and he learned that not everyone/everything around him was worth fearing. Those fears would pop up from time to time, but they lessoned as he enjoyed being spoiled with praise, kisses, rubs and plenty of kitty treats.
He learned to trust us, and knew we had his best in mind. When he was older we brought home a puppy, and at that point our cat was strong enough to show him (the puppy) WHOM the top dog was in the house. Our cat also was secure enough in his position within the family to learn to love the puppy, and in return the puppy had a healthy respect for that ‘old man’. My Siamese didn’t fear him as he would in the past, and after the patriarchy was established (if you will) he truly cared for his new pup.
Towards the end of his life I think he sensed my fear of losing him, and he just lovingly endured things as we tried to save him with genuine affection in his eyes. The day I put him down he was not afraid either, and he almost gave me one last smile as he fell asleep for the last time. The transformation in that cat was amazing.
I think it is the same with people that are hurt and abused. They need love, patience, grace and loads of support. Fear hurts, and is NOT a comfortable state of living.
Asking victims to forgive is all well and good, but telling them NOT to process their grief, fear, and the other host of emotions? Its not healthy nor is it normal way of dealing with things. People are big on saying love is not an emotion, but an action. Sadly, the actions are not there with most abuse victims. Using forgiveness as a tool to wipe the slate clean instead of helping them process what happened to them? That’s not love its fear.
Avoidance is fear – not love!
On the one hand I can understand and empathize with this fear, but on the other hand I can see the terrible effects not facing those fears have on life. The instant forgiveness crowd may not realize they cement belief systems in victims when they can not do as God would have them do.
You learn to NOT trust an abuser, and you learn NOT to trust counsel as well when they also aren’t safe to help them process things. That isn’t being a perpetual ‘victim’, but common sense towards the human nature. Its like learning to speak ‘cat’, and telling my old pal he didn’t need our love to move past his fear. It’s unrealistic, and spiritual pixie dust to expect it.
When you read Psalms you hear similar cries of pain and anguish, and yet Psalms is NOT used to show you how NOT to deal with injustice, abuse and neglect. It doesn’t tell others to have this superhuman forgiveness, so others can wipe the slate clean because they are afraid of dealing with reality of circumstances. Instead it shows the pain and reality of life at times, and does NOT encourage people to stuff things down because those around them are to afraid to help.
Its sad that people can show MORE compassion towards the death of pet than they do the destruction of a person.
The church sadly is no different than the world when it comes to injustice within the church. They just have their unique way of NOT dealing with it. The abuser tells you that its all your fault, and the quote ‘healthy’ ones within the church tend to send the same message once the abuse surfaces. Telling them to forgive where the church can forget! Yes, it’s the same as telling victims its their fault all over again.
It’s a sick mindset. The denial is also very strong, and you could see this within the IFB community when the Tina Anderson story was exposed. They just were plain unable to to understand WHY people were against Chuck Phelps being a board member afterwards. They didn’t conceive the reasons that others didn’t accept their ‘authority’ to hound, manipulate and bully those that cried foul. The organization called, Do Right BJU was started and BJU felt they were right – and they showed the world how sadly they do not have good grasp on reality nor scripture.
We had a person on a faith board that used to be in existence that loved to use manipulative statements of forgiveness towards other hurting people. He or She would say something along the lines of, “I’m glad MY God forgives me better than you can forgive others!” Why people think that type of statement is anywhere near helpful towards anyone just boggles the mind. Yet this statement reassembles the attitude towards victims of abuse completely.
When it seems forgiveness is more for them than for you? Its okay to cry foul, and please continue to reach out and find those that do understand what God asks from them towards your pain.
Victims are against forgiveness as the solution to the problem.
Forgiveness isn’t the solution to the problem of denial – its just one step of many towards healing. It’s the scapegoat of the church uses to NOT do what God asks of them. You can’t share in each other burdens when you pretend those burdens no longer exist.
The church sadly in most cases are more hurtful than secular society when dealing with sin within their own circle. I’m so thankful for those individuals, organizations, churches and leaders that live out Christ like Love towards victims. I just pray that some day they aren’t so few and far between.
Please accept the following links if you also need support:
MK Planet online community for current MKs and Adult MKs (MK=Missionary kids)
The Hope For Survivors Ministry providing support for victims of clergy sexual abuse
In the links section at the top of my blog is other types of support and missions to help you with your faith towards healing.
My prayers are with you, the faith community, and lastly the abusers themselves.
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