I Grew Up In Church And Never Heard Sexual Abuse Mentioned In A Sermon, That's Not OK

I Grew Up In Church And Never Heard Sexual Abuse Mentioned In A Sermon, That's Not OK

"It is everyone's job to be a spokesperson for the destitute."
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Like many other children in the United States, I was raised in the church. I grew up in small-town Alabama, so I was smack dab in the middle of the "Bible Belt" and was both homeschooled and in private Christian school, both with conservative Christian curriculums. My parents took me to our Southern Baptist church nearly every time the doors were open, and I loved it. All my best friends were there, I loved Jesus more than anything, and I was hungry to learn about God's character.

Those things still ring true for me today! I love my church family and am just as hungry for more of Christ. Much of what I believe today was passed down to me by my parents before I made it part of my own faith walk. I am truly thankful for my raising.

But, looking back, I put altogether too much trust in my church's own personal philosophies and ways of dealing with certain issues.

Something that bothered me then and still disturbs me now is the lack of discussion in the church about sexual abuse. I have heard thousands of sermons and Sunday school lessons as a child, adolescent, and adult, and not one of them has even alluded to the widespread epidemic of sexual misconduct.

I just don't understand how they missed it!

It's not like the church isn't up to date on today's culture! I heard plenty of speeches made on evangelizing "the homosexuals," Alabama football as an analogy for the Christian life, and why Miley Cyrus is a whore. (Yes, that was a real sermon.) It seems as though the church likes to pick and choose what they see in today's society.

But sex abuse is undeniably a part of today's society. Here are the facts:

- Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

- Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child.

- 9 in 10 rape victims are women.

- 1 in 6 American women and 1 in 33 men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.

- The majority of sex abuse victims carry other long-term effects (depression, suicidal thoughts, drug use, PTSD, social hinderances)

If these numbers do not stir up a righteous anger in the hearts of the church, then something is terribly wrong. These facts would say that there are hurting, burdened sexual abuse victims sitting in the pews of every church in America. But, even after being confronted with these statistics, some may argue that it is not the place of the church to discuss such things. Let's see what Scripture has to say about that:

"Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute."

-Psalm 82:3

"May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!"

-Psalm 72:4

"Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?..."

-Habakkuk 1:3

"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."

-Isaiah 1:17

God has charged the church with the task of bringing justice to the oppressed, being a voice for the voiceless, and to have compassion for the victims of wrongdoing! For anyone to say that this is not their job is heartless.

In ignoring sexual abuse and its victims, we as the church turn our backs on our own purpose.

It is everyone's job to be a spokesperson for the destitute. That kind of love is what we were put on this Earth to do.

Others might say that the "afflictions of this world" are brought up in a general sense in sermons to avoid bringing up more hard-to-swallow topics. Let this be a reminder that Jesus was incredibly up close and personal with the people He interacted with. When He spoke, He brought up the troubles of that time period (slaves, widows, certain illnesses, etc.).

Why shouldn't the church, as a reflection of Christ, be just as specific?

I cannot help but wonder how my own life would be different if I had heard sexual abuse mentioned in my church. As a victim of both child and adult sexual abuse, would I be more able to cope if I felt comfortable talking about it with my church family? Would my healing process be easier if I knew I and other victims were seen and heard by people of faith?

Talking about sexual abuse at church isn't a cure-all. It won't fix the problem, and it can't heal the broken hearts of those suffering. But, it's a start. It's filling a huge need felt by sexual abuse survivors everywhere to be accepted and heard by their faith families.

Church, I beg of you, listen closely to the voices of those in your community. Listen to their pain, their struggle, their story, and then help guide them to healing, restoration, and freedom in Christ.

Cover Image Credit: Ella Pitman

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A Letter From God To Help You Finish The Semester

God sees your struggles and He's here to give you strength and motivation.
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My Child,

The lack of motivation towards the end of the semester is normal. You are mentally and physically tired, but you are almost at the end. Don’t stop walking down the perfect path I have for you. When you’re going along and you come upon a speedbump, I want you to go over it and keep driving. The paper you have to write and the test you have to study for are just small speedbumps I have given you to make you wiser. You can write that paper and you can gain motivation to study for that test. I am here to give you strength, and am here to open up your mind and give you motivation.

You are so loved. You have such a beautiful mind. The light of Jesus shines through your eyes and your smile brings comfort to the world. There’ll be times you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. There’ll be times you feel like the task I have given you is impossible to perform. But remember this: I would never put anything upon your shoulders that you cannot carry. If I put you in a certain situation, it’s because I know you are strong enough to go through it.

When you feel like crying, cry to me. When you feel like a failure, remember how much I love you. You are not a failure and you are not going to give up. I will hold your hand through every second of your life. I will seek your heart through your darkest moments. I see you, I see your heart, and I see your burdens. And remember that I have your heart which means I also have your burdens. Follow my footsteps and you will be free from the doubt. Remember Mark 4:40-41: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I have the power to calm any storm and wave. I have the power to calm YOUR storms and waves. Set your doubt, anger, and tiredness in my hands and simply be patient.

Romans 8:14-15 says,“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Nothing can separate you from my love. Not even your lack of motivation. You have no motivation because you do not feel good enough. You are more than good enough. You were perfectly made by me and when I look down at you, I think of how proud I am of your heart.

Throughout the last few weeks of this semester, you will stumble upon speedbumps. But hold the hand of my son Jesus and you will be able to go over that speedbump with ease. Go write that paper, go study for that test, and go get an A in that class. I know you can because I have given you power.

Love,

God

Cover Image Credit: Margaret Carnes

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Solidarity for OUr Campus

A protestor in the South Oval that visits OU every year

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Warning: This article contains sensitive language.

This is stupid.

I don't know this man (and I don't want to know him), but I wonder whether he has a conscience or a sense of dignity. Calling random female student "thots." Telling them to repent or they'll go to hell. Saying that they will be raped because they wear leggings. Calling gay rights "fake news." Telling all who oppose him that he is a "righteous man under God." A guy told him that "God loves everybody"; the man asked, "When was the last time you did pornography?" He comes every year to the South Oval, with a billboard of insults against students, a camera on his chest in case anyone would do harm to him. It's a form of cowardice that promotes his pride for being an asshole. Anyone with a sense of respect for one other would know that this behavior is completely unacceptable.

In big red letters, he wrote a reference to the Biblical verse, "John 3:36" which reads: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." In the context of this man's speech patterns and writing: submit, or be damned. The Bible, the oldest book in our history, is a piece of literature used to inspire and teach people through religious lessons and history. And yet, it disgusts me when people distort the religious text in order to accuse, demean, or condemn another person who do not follow "God's teachings." It's hypocrisy at its finest.

One quote that I would like to quote myself is "Philippians 2:3," which reads: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, value others above yourself." If this man claims that he is a "righteous man," he is blind to the truth. Using religion to sexually harass female students and condemn the LGBT+ community is self-righteousness. Acting in a manner such as this is not Christian. Perhaps he should devote his time to "Introduction to Human Relations" to learn something useful: like being tolerant to people different to him, instead of being an asshole.

Under the 1st Amendment, a permit, and identification, he is within his rights to spout nonsense to our community. The OU campus is public property and he technically has a right to be here. The only limitation I have heard of is that he cannot be here past 4:00 PM and cannot physically harm anyone. It may seem unfair, but it is his civil liberty to the freedom of speech. That being said, we, the OU community, have this freedom as well. I applaud those who created a prayer circle in unity for forgiveness and respect. I smiled when I saw other students support one another against the yelling of this preacher. I found it awesome that students proudly held signs of unity and love in the midst of hate.

Also, shout out to Georgia, the one who I took a picture with. Congratulations on a job well done!

It's not right for others to use prejudice and propaganda to condemn others, especially our community, for personal satisfaction. However, it is right when we work together as a campus to do the right thing and stand for what's right and know what's wrong. It's this form of solidarity that makes our campus so great. By working together, we can make a change.

Boomer Sooner.

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