I am very grateful for the church I grew up in for many reasons. It is a place where I felt loved by a community and found friendship during times of being bullied at school. It is where I came to understand Scripture and the idea that God is relational. My mom was on executive staff for most of my youth, so I spent a considerable amount of time immersed in the culture of my church.
And yes – yes that was me (regrettably) passing out Tracts at the Stanford football games.
And during our family’s years at this church – three male pastors left quietly under the shadow of whispers of indecent conduct with women – our youth pastor blatantly running away with one of the female students.
Our church never talked about it.
The staff never explained what happened.
There was no remorse, no apology –
besides maybe a passing comment that something had happened so let’s all welcome the new replacement staff member with open arms and warm, grace-filled hearts.
And even as I write this I feel extremely nervous because I have been conditioned to believe that I am being unfaithful and ungrateful to my community by sharing this here – even if it is 20+ years later.
And the fallout was and is heartbreaking.
I, too, am a survivor.
I was date raped by a youth pastor boyfriend who did not believe in sex before marriage, but did believe in psychologically feeding off my fears by telling me that his roommate was a predator in order to get me to stay with him overnight where he was housesitting, then coming to the separate room where I was staying and proceeding to hold me down against my will, molest me, and then ejaculate on top of me.
I also have a grandfather who was a charismatic baptist preacher
and also an incestuous predator.
And I have a half uncle from the “affair” he had with the au pair living with my grandparents’ close friends.
I have been able to forgive
not because my predators deserve it
I am a survivor.
I am a mother to daughters.
I am a wife to an immigrant (who thank God is a feminist!).
I am a mother of a daughter of color.
and I am exhorting all
get your house in order.
As a woman of faith and a survivor,
I believe with all my heart that God is powerfully transformative.
I believe that nothing has to remain as it is – NOTHING.
I believe that humility and self-reflection -when the very foundation of a nation, especially right now, is designed to keep one in power and benefit so lavishly from it – is unbelievably courageous.
Oppression is not merely a result of the behavior of a perpetrator.
It is more often the result of
So, dear white male leaders of faith –
time to do some self-reflection::
Look at your staff – how many are women, are their roles only supportive, how do their salaries measure up? How about the offerings to all the women in your church? Is there anything beyond a women’s retreat and a women’s bible study during the day/during the week?
Diversity – does it exist? Where? How? Is it relegated only to those receiving missional funds? How about in your personal life and relationships? Are you in any scenario under the leadership or teaching of a person of color?
How will you relinquish your power?
Because unless you do-
unless you refuse to do nothing and thereby refuse to be complicit –
the Weinsteins of this world will continue to go decades unaccountable for their actions.
I can guarantee it.