Sexuality and the Church

I often have people send me links to articles and blogs, and here are several that deal with different aspects of sexuality in the Church.

Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University, by Brandon Ambrosino

A very candid personal story of a man who struggled over his homosexuality, yet found friendship as the Christian community at a leading conservative university expressed love and grace while remaining faithful to their Biblical convictions.

You Cannot Heal What You Cannot Talk About, by Survivor Girl

Survivor Girl is a frequent commenter here, and this is her very personal story about sexual predation in the church. Please, read this. When a leader uses his position and spiritual gifts to prey on women in the church, it is not an affair, it is sexual abuse. This article will help you understand how sexual predators groom their victims, and also provides links to good resources for dealing with these issues.

Predators in the Pulpit, by Susan McKenzie

Another first person account of sexual predation and grooming in our churches. This too provides good background on how this happens, so we can be on guard and protect others.

Sexual Sin is a Corporate Affair, by Harry Schaumburg

“When we take the gospel seriously we not only correctly understand the nature of sexual immorality, we must become proactive in taking corporate responsibility for the sexual maturity and sexual problems within our local church.”

~ Jim

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8 responses

  1. Jim,

    I’m honored that you would include my link; thank you so much. Unfortunately, when I click on “You Cannot Heal What You Cannot Talk About,” it goes to Harry Schaumburg’s article instead of mine. Would you kindly redirect? Thank you!

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  2. As I have read and followed the various stories of CSA, one thing jumps out at me – the position of power that a pastor holds (is given?).
    From the bible it is clear that God will hold those in positions of influence over others to account for their actions.
    However, my concern is this – why is it that many, if not most people, hold those in leadership in a higher place in their mind? Effectively putting them on a pedistal – and in the process setting a huge target on their back, as Satan knows that getting anyone on a pedistal to fall in some way will help destroy many others.
    I digress, my real concern is for members of any group of people that meet together in the name of Jesus.
    Before God we are all equal.
    God does give different gifts to each of us, and just to make things more difficult he also gives different measurs of giftedness (1, 2 or 5 talents) – however none of this makes them any more favoured by God than you or I – just different.
    My reading of scripture suggests that I am to honor all, – equally. Thus if I now treat the pastor (could be any other position or gifted ability holder) as someone special and worthy of higher honor, I am making a judgment about them and by implication putting those with other gifts and callings in a lower place. May I suggest this is idolatry.
    Thus we have created a hierarchy in the church, and in the process created a whole raft of second class citizens in churches – what a travesty!
    I think part of this is due to the mistake of thinking that some things are secular (i.e. my employment) and other things are sacred (working for God in a vocation that is aligned with the five fold ministry and pays me) – let me further suggest that for a Christ follower – EVERYTHING I DO is sacred. There is no such thing as secular for me, everything I do, I must do as unto God and for His glory and constitutes an act of my worship to Him.
    Thus, if I am called to be a teacher, my response to God is to obey and operate in my calling. If then, others put me down, or what is more common, elevate others by their speach and actions – we are committing an act of judgement – lets call it sinning.
    To summarise – we have incorrectly given power to others that is not biblically based. I am not talking about giving honor, however we need to honor all, we ALL with unveiled faces carry part of the image of our maker.
    I think that this incorrect giving of power to others, then sets up situations where CSA can occur.
    Let me be abosulutely clear, I in no way excuse the abuse of power, or suggest that the victims are in any way culpable for the abuse that was given.
    Sorry, this has turned into something rather long – I do think God is addressing this imbalance, and suggest that we may see a quite different church emerge as we evict corporate practices from His church.

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    • Rob, thank you for sharing your insights. You are correct that a major “theme” in CSA stories has to do with people placing faith leaders on pedestals. This is also a theme in the stories of those abused by their physicians, teachers/professors, therapists, attorneys, etc. We seek out those who have more knowledge and experience than we do, effectively putting them “above” us. The power that such professionals are given in this knowledge/experience dynamic is intoxicating and subject to abuse. Dr. Peter Rutter, a psychiatrist, did a great amount of research into this phenomenon before publishing his book “Sex in the Forbidden Zone: When Men in Power – Therapists, Doctors, Clergy, Teachers & Others Betray Women’s Trust.” I think it should be required reading of all those “in power” positions/roles. Women, especially, have historically been put in “lower” positions than men – and by men – across the board, and that has been an unfortunate segue into power abuse. (I’m not a feminist, so please don’t misinterpret what I’ve written! I assure you I don’t have a feminist agenda in any of this). In 2009 Diana Garland, Dean of the School of Social Work at Baylor University, published a paper on her extensive research into clergy sexual misconduct and its prevalence in congregations based on this power dynamic. It’s very worthwhile reading: http://www.baylor.edu/clergysexualmisconduct/

      So, yes, your statement, ” I think that this incorrect giving of power to others, then sets up situations where CSA can occur” is spot-on. Hierarchical systems give birth to this abuse, however, so something therein needs to change.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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      • Thanks, Survivor Girl. I held back on responding, hoping that you or another woman would do so.

        I simply want to add that some churches think they are not hierarchical, and thus are immune from this. But that’s often not true. Even in the organic or simple church community, of which I’m a part, I’ve watched fellowships and individuals put others on a pedestal. For example, there is a guruism surrounding some who see themselves as apostolic “workers”, and we are dealing with a issue of a sexually exploitive “worker” now. He claims to be against hierarchy, but in fact has a history of exercising undue influence and control – which he’s used to find and exploit others.

        We need those who are gifted in certain areas – like counseling and teaching – to be available as a help and resource for others, but must have zero tolerance over using that influence to exploit and abuse others.

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      • Jesus speaks very specifically about this, the lording it over others – and clearly demonstrates that our way of living MUST be different – we are to serve all, to honor others, to walk in humility. Thus when ever we see folk that posture themselves as something “special”, “unique”, “gifted”, possessing greater wisdom. knowledge …..etc. and thus displaying a lack of true humility – stay clear. This actually applies to all spheres, not just the church, however we kind of expect it in the secular where folk are without God and are thus maybe more on guard.
        The kingdom of God is not a hierarchy in the sense that we see in the corporate world or in (sad to say) many churches. Obviously our Father is over all, and in Him we move and have our being, all is held together by Him – the word of His power, and He has the dominion and ALL authority. The rest of us are all equal – equally sinful – equally in need of His grace, His forgiveness and the list goes on.
        I do believe that this area of imbalance is being addressed in many places where the Holy Spirit is welcomed. My reading of scripture shows that any abuse of power, any ignoring of the plight of the weak, down trodden and powerless is seen by God and He views this VERY seriously.
        Also, I am thrilled by the amazing grace and love of God that is working to restore and make whole again, so many, that have been victims of abuse – we truely have an awesome loving Father!
        As more of these stories of inner healing, restoration and redemption are told and brought to light, the work of the enemy will be exposed.

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  3. Rob, I love your last paragraph about how sharing our stories of inner healing, restoration, and redemption are bringing to light the work of the enemy, exposing the darkness. I believe that this difficult, painful process is part of the Bride being groomed for the Wedding… without stain, spot, or wrinkle.

    Jesus spoke mostly in the form of stories, to bypass the mindset already set in stone… and I believe He wants us to share our stories, as well as teaching.

    Thank you, Jim, for sharing the stories here, including my own. The Church is waking up little by little – do you sense it?

    SurvivorGirl, I would love to get to know you better!

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