What Silence Says…

silence

(updated links at end)

“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.

Because silence can also speak volumes.
An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle.
Or not.

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.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image20918203

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.”
~Daniel 2:20-22

For more reading about this case:

Charges against Nathan Morales news article

Another news article about Nathan Morales indictment

Practical Theology for Women– Wendy Alsup

The Grace of Scandal

Thinking Biblically About CJ Mahaney and SGM– Tim Challies

Most Recent Allegations Court Document

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

From Brent Detwiler

Statement from Together for the Gospel

The Sad Case of Ignaz Semmelweiss– Wendy Alsup

Public Responses to Allegations by Friends

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)

Amended Statement by Together for the Gospel

Boz T. interview on the Mefferd Show

An Alternative to TGC response– (an excellent post and what I would’ve want to hear, by David Murray)

Nathan Morales Convicted (UPDATE 4/15/14)

Some Thoughts on Tullian, the SGM Scandal of Child Sex Abuse, and Our Critics– Matt Redmond

Searching for Jesus in Today’s Church– Boz Tchividjian (5/29/14)

 

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Comments

  1. Wow! We must be willing for the light to shine. Yes. It is painful, but healing.

    • Thank you Bernadette…
      I know this is a wrestle-with-post…it wasn’t easy for me to write or post because I am so thankful for The Gospel Coalition and also what I know of Mahaney. BUT–there is so much evidence here and my heart breaks for the victims and while we, as Christ-followers, hate to see anything like this in anyway connected to Christianity…God is not honored by the covering of evil. He is Light. He overcomes the darkness.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment… Love, K

  2. Thank you for lending your voice to this, Kara. So needed.

    • Thankful for you Mary…so thankful God allowed our paths to cross. Your courage to “walk on the field” and share your heartache and also your hope has taught & inspired me. Love, K

  3. As an adoptive mom, and a Penn State alum, I am grateful for your words here–encouragement to speak words of healing and hope and to defend the defenseless. Stopping over from Laura’s place. Blessings.

  4. I’m so glad you are standing up in an effort to get the rest of us to “stand up an speak out” for the abused and defenseless, Kara. We are called to be truth-speakers and to fight for justice. It’s not an option. Thanks for your courage and compassion.

  5. LeAnn Williams says:

    Thank you for a thought provoking post. I do think that we should not be silent when there is an injustice. I have a son right now that is in the middle of a similar situation.
    This was well written and one to ponder upon.
    Blessings!

  6. I found this from Elyse Fitzpatricks tweet and I’m so grateful to you for writing this. Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for being vulnerable and open which takes great courage.

  7. This is a brave post. And so, so hard. I think it is that desire to believe these kind of things can’t happen that keep it in the dark. And the silence. And the older I get, the more I realize that sexual abuse is much more common than we think. And it scars so deeply…Thank you for this, Kara. Thank you.

  8. This is such a difficult topic and you wrote it with grace and truth. Having worked with victims of abuse, I know that silence shouts louder in their heart than anything. Thanks for your courage here.

  9. I have been heart sick over this, and the silence from SGM. Whenever men give statements in groups, “packs”–I cringe. Be a man of God and stand up and say “Wrong is wrong and we will do what is right!” —and stand alone. Interestingly enough, many who are in SGM churches, came out of fundamentalist institutions where this kind of authority was rightly seen as above the rest of the church and above scrutiny. History repeats, and they are now in churches where the same type of thing occurs and they seem to be “drinking the Kool-aid” when it is so obvious that abuse has occurred and a misuse of leadership has also occurred. My takeaway: Do justly–even if it means your pastor goes to jail due to foolish choices. Sigh.

    • I have felt the same way Sarah. Just heartsick.

      And I don’t want to jump to conclusions and my heart is really full of wrestling right now because I respect many of these men greatly and I’ve tried to imagine how I would feel if the accusations were made against someone I just “couldn’t believe would be involved or would try to hide something this horrible”.

      But today’s post/response on the FB page of Together for the Gospel was misleading. And even though I didn’t want it to be true…there were inaccuracies in the statement that was made there. And then within a few hours, they deleted the statement. Ugh.

      After many comments were written disputing the accuracy of the post showed up…then to have it all deleted…it just fuels the fire and doubt for so many.

      I appreciated the response on The Gospel Coalition today and I am thankful for the Gospel Coalition (I share their posts all the time)…but again…one portion of it felt misleading. They quoted one victim’s horrible comment about wanting to see SGM ruined etc. It was taken out of context and was written by a girl who was 13 when she was sexually assaulted and written in ANGER at those she claims hid the abuse.

      Even as a reader who wanted to love their explanation (I wanted to read it and say…”yes…now I understand”), I felt including that comment, without explaining the reason for her venom, characterized those questioning SGM as vindictive and unreasonable. Not that her comment was okay…but it helps to know that she claims she was abused by someone on staff at the age of 13…so there is much anger behind her words.

      I understand, in part, why they didn’t want to speak out during the case, but they didn’t have to speak in detail about CJ or even the case…

      All I wanted from those in TGC was for them to clearly say…in the midst of all this…we care more-MOST about seeing evil exposed and the truth come to light AND these victims (because there are documented cases) should have been treated differently and we will stand against any attempts to cover evil. And any abuse or covering up of abuse should be met with severe consequences both in the church and in our legal/court system.

      …And in the church where a known pedophile (he served jail time) was allowed around children and parents weren’t notified….that was absolutely WRONG and those in leadership who knew about that scenario and did nothing…should at the very minimum, acknowledge how wrong that was. And none of that even has anything to do with the many, many others victims and cases…

      Just for the world to hear them express a commitment to exposing any abuse (or cover up) that did occur. Anyway…enough about this today…

      • Yes, and the terminology on the deleted FB post seemed to claim that the only charge against CJ is the he started this great movement. The removed statement is here in full: http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/24/just-like-that-t4g-statement-of-support-for-mahaney-is-removed/
        Also, it seemed to me to be saying that since legally the “time frame” was expired, that it was a done deal. Instead of worrying about loopholes in the law, perhaps we should worrying about the victims and about getting to the bottom of this mess. Truth in the innermost parts. I wanted to believe the best about these men, as well. I think we all cringe when this kind of scandal comes to light, but it is an even a more egregious scandal when the church leadership ignores those who don’t have a voice. Blessed are those who consider the poor…the widow…the orphan…the oppressed. It means that those with a voice, (church leaders) or those with the power to do so take action because nobody else is going to. And, in high control organizations, nobody makes a move (public statement) w/o a nod from a higher up…which is what these two seperate statements in the last 24 hours signals to me. Maybe I am becoming a cynic? Sorry for the novel. Just trying to sort out my crazy emotions right now. Praying for the oppressed, and knowing that God will bring all of these wrongs to light. Love you.

  10. Paula Coyle says:

    Odd that I posted a comment over at TGC blog on the “wet hair” post. It said something like “does love notice a child being abused at a friend’s church under his jurisdiction?” And that didn’t get posted, but someone else posted something about probably killing anyone he caught raping his child. And that got approved. Wow. The ethical disconnect at TGC is stunning.

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