Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mea Maxima Culpa: The Cover-up of Sexual Sin In The Church

www.thevirtualpew.comI just finished watching the HBO Documentary, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.  Let me be clear from the start, this is a must view for all people of faith, especially those who believe in keeping the deepest and darkest of sins secret, but also for those who believe that wrongs should never be confronted publicly and directly. 

My own life of abuse has been chronicled over the years via television, radio, a movie and my book The Keystone Kid. I know all too well the reluctance of many, even within the religious community to confront the sin of sexual abuse. Silence in the House of God (SITHG) addresses sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and the massive cover-up they present goes all of the way to the top. They chronicle abuse that has gone on for going on 2,000 years among the papacy and yet, covered up. I challenge from the outset, abuse within all religious organizations, not just the Christian Church has been going on since the conception of religion and unfortunately, has been covered up, and/or not spoken about or addressed within those organizations since its origins. Unfortunately, that concept still continues as it is my observation from research, and personal experience, not just in the area of sexual abuse though, but in any area which has people from within those religious organizations encouraging others to not speak up, to let things be, and to let the sins of many go unpunished and dealt with between the individual and God. What these people and the organizations that have let this go on for so long have either forgotten about, or simply don’t care about, is the lasting damage within the lives of those impacted by sin. This is certainly true in the areas of sin that so drastically impacts the lives of the innocents, such as sexual sin. 

www.thekeystonekid.orgWhile this is not per say intended as a review of SITHG, I will say this, this is a terrific documentary and just as I begin to have some concerns with the twists of the documentary, as to if it is showing ultimate compassion towards the victims, we are hit with a hard hitting reality of the damages and impact on the victims in a powerful conclusion. Neither though is this documentary an attack on all religions, or even for that matter, The Roman Catholic Church. We see throughout heroes who have taken to the cause of listening to, believing, trying to help the victims, even within the church. We also see though a poison within the hierarchy of the church which for many years tried to prevent the knowledge of these abuses and refused to speak out for or understand the victims of abuse. Just as within all religious groups, and frankly, all walks of life even outside of religion, there are those who would prefer to keep ones “dirty laundry,” (a term I have personally heard within my own family), within their own inner circles. SITHG does a wonderful job at showing the heartfelt impact of this mentality and the ultimate danger that comes about because of this mentality.

One of the things I often hear from those within faith circles is the need to deal with things in a certain way, or to never address sinful acts face to face and head on, even in a public way. In this regard, I will willingly admit there is a time and a place to address sin. There are specifics within the church hierarchy of Christianity as outlined in Matthew 25. It is debated though within many theological circles as to how those directives apply and if they are in fact intended as a method of addressing conflict between Christians and Non-Christians. In this regard I will state that there should be little debate as to the need of the person engaged in sinful activity to turn from their ways, to if you will, repent which implies and requires a change of behavior, a 180 Degree turn. If that does not take place then there are certainly actions which should not only take place, but be done so in a public way.

There are those who sometimes even have issues with the above mentioned methods, I will remind you, the Bible has numerous incidents of people being called out for their sinful behavior, some with specific names being listed in a scripture that is recorded for all of eternity. There is for example, no hesitation about calling out Ananias and Sapphira in Acts Chapter 5, then there is 3rd John where John addresses the attitudes and sins of Diotrephes.  These are but two of numerous examples of individuals being called out by name as to their actions and deeds. While we must make sure we are correct in our assessment and comments about others, there is a time, that if one is unwilling to walk in the correction of Christ, or in the ways of Christ, that we are to call them out, especially if what they are saying and doing is contrary to the nature of Christ and the faith of Christianity. I challenge, the lack of doing this is one of the reasons so many have turned from the church and the teachings of Christ. It is because we hide our own sin, and are so often unwilling to address the areas of sin. This should, especially at first, be done in a loving way, but it must also at times be done in an emphatic way.

One of the people I love from a historical perspective is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I love him in part for many reasons but one of my great admiration's of him was his willingness to accept the consequences of his actions, even if those actions meant spending time in jail that he was just and right to stand up for, even though it may have broken the laws of the day. We within the church and society must be willing to understand, that consequences for actions should be expected, even for those within the church or those presenting to be from the church, even in some cases, where repentance may have been made. An example here, which I write about passionately in my own book, is the consequences that come about for sexual sin.

www.thevirtualpew.comUnfortunately, in our society, in many locations there is a statute of limitations on certain aspects of sin, including sexual sin. This is sad to me because I know all too well of the lasting impact of sexual sin on an individual. Even though I am approaching 60 years of age now, the impact of the sins perpetuated against me in my very young life still linger.  They will linger in all likelihood for the duration of my life. Unfortunately, and ignorantly, many Christians say God will deliver me from those nightmares, those confusions and pains, it is my experience, that in many a God loving, fearing, and faithful people that does not happen in most cases. Yes, we get to the place we can endure, and even thrive, but that doesn’t mean the pain or memories mysteriously disappears. The thoughts and impacts on us are always there. Thus a reason to make sure that we address the sin, straight on and without compromise.  I think this is one of the reasons Jesus so strongly referenced his love for children.

There will always be something that causes people to sin. But anyone who causes them to sin is in for trouble. A person who causes even one of my little followers to sin  would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their neck.
 So be careful what you do.
~ Luke 17: 1–3a  

So Jesus called the children over to him and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.  You will never get into God’s kingdom unless you enter it like a child! Luke 18; 16,17

www.thevirtualpew.com For me the question is simple; will we as people of faith stand up for the victims of such things as sexual sin? Or, will we let the sin continue giving ever justification as to why we shouldn’t address the sin, meanwhile allowing the pain and suffering to continue among the victims, even allowing the likelihood of additional victims? We can’t be afraid to call out sin! Yes, it must, especially initially be done in a loving way with the intent to help, but our first offer of help must be to the victim of sin. It doesn’t mean we don’t love the perpetrator, but they must be, no matter what the circumstances be held accountable for their actions, especially in issues such as sexual sin. Jesus was about showing compassion in many ways, thankfully He shows the hurting, the small ones, the outcast and I could go on and on, compassion when the religious community turned their backs on those individuals. How easy it is to forget the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, or even the multitudes around Him seeking to just touch Him. Jesus was all about compassion to the hurting, for many of us, it is that compassion that drove us to His wide open arms, unfortunately, many who say they love Him cast aside the hurting, and often times the victims of abuse. I assure those victims, the rejection often felt by many who say they love Jesus is not the act or heart of Jesus, He loves you, He cares, and many who have chosen to follow Him, even in the hard things, feel the same way. Just as in the movie SITHG, there are many of us who will huddle with you, join hands and fight alongside you the injustice within our society on this issue. We know, because we know and have experienced, that Jesus would have no one cast aside that small child we all become, and remain, once abuse has entered into our psyche and life. While there are those who would not address the issue, would prefer to keep secrets, some of us know a loving and caring Christ who would have us receive the glories of His love, and experience the consequences of our actions. It is high time that many within the church, realize, that being a supposed follower of Jesus does not give us the freedom to escape the consequences of our actions, especially when they are criminal. If we allow that mentality of not addressing and experiencing the consequences of sin, then we will continue to allow perpetrators of sexual crime and sin to continue to practice and continue in that behavior. God forgive those who would do harm to a child by allowing this behavior to continue.

The following is my recent appearance on the television show Real People, Real Life where I discuss in part my own abuse and also with a guest, marital rape.  Watch it and as always, feel free to share.

To see the video simply click on the vid, if the vid isn't working, click on the following link:


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