It is good that so many women are not keeping silent any longer. They have emboldened other women to have the courage to tell their own story of harassment, abuse, and/or assault.
One of the temptations for some churches is to think the problem of violence against women happens in other places, like Hollywood, but not in their own little corner of the world. But that would be a faulty assumption. At best, it’s ignorance; at worst, it’s denial.
I have ministered in all kinds of contexts: big and small churches; rural and city churches; churches with a diverse congregation, and those which are very homogeneous. And in every one of them there were situations, some of them chronic and pervasive, of openly bullying, demeaning, and discounting the ministry, gifts, and wisdom of women. There were individual instances of outright violence. A man in one of my congregations came home every night and got drunk, harassing his kids, and abusing his wife. Another man, and elder, constantly put down any woman with an opinion, but attentively listened to any man who had a thought. Yet another man had the habit of heaping attention upon women and giving them unwanted touch. I could go on and on….
Yes, it is a problem in every church, at some level and to some degree. Attention needs to be given toward that problem. Recently, I participated (as the only male) in a webinar with women leaders from various churches and ministries who shared their stories of abuse which occurred within those places. I applaud their bravery. I lament that, in many cases, there were no policies, procedures, and protocols in place to help them.
Earlier this week, I posted an article concerning this issue of violence against women with some definitions, statements, and other links which may be useful and helpful to you. Rather than reproduce that information here, I simply provide for you below the link to that article with the hope and the prayer that more and more women will find a safe place to share, grieve, and reconnect with others without fear; and, that more and more good men will have their eyes opened to the plight that so many women have been through – and grieve right along with them.
It is my belief that the church ought to be the safest place on planet earth for all people. Yet, the reality is that many are not. Let’s together work to change that reality and usher in a sacred time of emotional health, spiritual stability, and ministries which continually honor God and are safe for women.