“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce
As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.
For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”…
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.
Word choice is important.
But so are pauses.
So is silence.
And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–
Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.
When we give words–
When can shift importance and weight.
When we withhold words–
We can deflect importance and weight.
I am hesitant to share this post, but feel it’s necessary because of the current silence.
It’s not that I have all the facts sorted out completely, nor is there any sort of delight (rather sorrow and sickness) over the accusations.
But– I have close friends who were abused as children and this week more allegations were filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries.
And they are horrible.
And they deserve more than silence.
First let me just say a few things…
1). Biblically, we know that “the one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).
2). And that every charge must be established by 2 or 3 witnesses giving evidence (Matt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1, and 1 Tim. 5:19).
3). We also must be subject to our governing authorities (1 Peter. 2:13, Romans 13:1).
4). We should assume the best, dealing with all in long-suffering-love (1 Corinthians 13).
5). And there is often wisdom in holding back words (Proverbs 17:28).
But, when The Gospel Coalition published an article about the Penn State Child Abuse Scandal titled “Love Notices Wet Hair” back in November 2011,
I shared it.
Because they were words that needed to be shared:
“Jesus said the most fundamental responsibility we have is to love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In light of this he was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” which is another way to ask, “Whom am I obligated to love?…
To the extent that fact penetrates your heart, it will transform you and make you love better. It will give you not just the affection of love, but the courage of love. A love that moves to protect. That moves into danger. A love that doesn’t measure obligation but suffers so the beloved won’t. The kind of love that would notice wet hair and respond immediately.”
I don’t have any deep personal ties to Penn State or Sandusky.
But I have grown personally through by-proxy-connections with C.J. Mahaney and in a round-about-way, SGM.
I am so thankful for The Gospel Coalition (which Mahaney was foundational in starting) and also for one of his wife’s books, that God used in my life.
So why even comment on this?
Because while we must wait for our legal system to evaluate all the evidence, the children affected by these allegations, who are willing to use their real names and share details that should bring horror and sobs to every single one of us, are numerous.
They more than meet the biblical guidelines established.
And because silence speaks volumes.
I have close friends who were sexually abused as children–
Who brought their pain into the light, where even after their vulnerable courage, the evil was covered over in darkness and hidden in shame by those who were supposed to be their protectors.
As a community of Christ followers, we should be calling for– Light.
For the truth to come into the light and for the truth to be exposed.
Not filling the void with words that jump ahead of legal proceedings, but with words that show a clear commitment to hearing the pain of the defendants and supporting the process of truth-seeking.
With words that show a resolve to see any exposed evil brought to justice.
Because God’s “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
Because God “is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
Because God wants us to live “blameless and innocent, (as) children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom (we are to) shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:5).
Because God says “when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible” (Eph. 5:13).
Everything in me would love to see these charges explained away.
To see those involved, exonerated.
To learn that the evil described did not, in fact, take place.
I don’t want it to be true.
But–above and beyond and more than all that–
I want to see the truth come to light.
And for those children (many now young adults), I want them to see Christ-followers pursue justice, with humility, standing in the gap for those who could not (and can not) protect themselves.
…a filling of the silence with a prayer to our God to reveal the hidden things and bring forth light.
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.”
For more reading about this case:
Practical Theology for Women– Wendy Alsup
Thinking Biblically About CJ Mahaney and SGM– Tim Challies
The Elephant in our Own Backyard– Wendy Alsup
Where are the Voices? (G.R.A.C.E.) — Boz Tchividjian
Why We Have Been Silent– The Gospel Coalition
Answering Some Objections– Matt Redmond
A Few Thoughts on SGM, Silence, & Sayable– Lore Ferguson
The Sad Case of Ignaz Semmelweiss– Wendy Alsup
From Justin Holcomb (executive director of The Resurgence)
The Relgious Leaders and the Least of These– Matt Redmond
Breaking the Silence– Kristin Rudolph (The Aquila Report)
An Alternative to TGC response– (an excellent post and what I would’ve want to hear, by David Murray)