Category Archives: Christianity

Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 3

“Healing of the Blind Man” by AN Mironov (2009), Author Andrey Mironov (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“…He [Christ] spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.  And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’…So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9: 6-7).

The miracle of the blind man is recorded in the Bible to teach us that infirmity is not necessarily the consequence of sin.

Certainly, as the victims of child abuse, we did not, ourselves, sin.  Trauma, however, lefts its mark on us.  Among its scars is the tendency we have to seek out and return to dysfunctional relationships.

What Christ’s love does for abuse victims is heal (or reduce) those scars, and cause the scales to fall from our eyes.  We can see the world more clearly, undistorted by the lies we were told by predators about the nature of love and our own supposed lack of value.

Christ’ love for victims is tender.  “A bruised reed He will not break…” (Isaiah 42: 3).  Rather than inflict pain on us, He grieves over the pain we have endured.  That tenderness restores our self-worth, eliminating the need we feel to return to toxic relationships, and making us again whole.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

Advertisements

14 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Systemic Evil

  • Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on YouTube. A large volume of child erotica is being monetized on YouTube [1].  The YouTube algorithm unwittingly works to favor child sexual abuse imagery.  Disney, AT&T, Hasbro, Nestle, and McDonald’s have pulled advertising over the fact their ads are running on videos of young girls which pedophiles have sexualized.  YouTube is blocking predatory comments, but not taking down these videos though social media is often used to facilitate grooming.
  • Violation by Labor Secretary of Crime Victims’ Rights Act.  Judge Kenneth Marra has ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he arranged a plea deal for multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein without informing victims [2].  Despite having engaged in human trafficking and the abuse of more than 80 underage victims, Epstein was sentenced to a mere 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail.  Acosta, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, not only failed to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, but denied victims their opportunity to oppose the plea deal in open court or appeal it.  Moreover, the secret plea deal shut down an ongoing FBI investigation, and guaranteed Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.
  • Known Sexual Predator on Government Payroll for Decades.  Investigation by Frontline and the Wall Street Journal confirms that Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber was moved from reservation to reservation by the US Indian Health Service (IHS) for over twenty years despite allegations that he was abusing Native American boys [3][4].  The IHS serves a largely impoverished population with little or no other access to health care.  Weber supplied victims with money, alcohol, and opioids.  He was finally convicted in 2016 of assaulting two Montana boys.  Many of Weber’s victims have spent years in and out of prison and/or struggling with addiction.  In its defense, the IHS indicates it was desperate for medical staff.  Other physicians have been hired with drug problems, criminal convictions, or a history of violence.
  • Catholic Church Sex Scandal.  Although widespread clergy abuse has been uncovered in the United States, Chile, Ireland, Germany, and Australia, there is little hope that the current Conference on the Protection of Minors will result in genuine – and long overdue – reform by the Catholic Church [5].  Clergy abuse in India, Africa, and elsewhere in the undeveloped world has yet to be addressed.  Pope Francis attributes abuse to clericalism, i.e. an excessive deference to clergy and the assumption of moral superiority on their part despite all evidence to the contrary [6][7].  However, the failure to put universal mandatory safeguards in place has played a large role.  Recommendations by the earlier Commission for the Protection of Minors were approved by the Pope, then ignored by the Curia. Subsidiarity allows the bishops in each country to make their own decisions about reform.  Meanwhile, the rape of nuns by priests and bishops has been reported to church hierarchy for 25 years, but is only now coming to light [8][9][10].

Whether corruption is governmental, ecclesiastical, or otherwise, it can become so blatant and pervasive as to undermine any good that may be accomplished by an organization or institution.

But victims are not without recourse, in the face of systemic evil.  Public outcry in the form of protest and boycott can be extremely powerful.  The only question is whether the public will can be marshaled.

[1]  USA Today, “AT&T, Disney, Epic Games drop YouTube ads over concerns of pedophile comments on videos” by Mike Snyder, 2/22/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2019/02/22/at-t-disney-epic-games-pull-youtube-ads-child-exploitation-concerns-pedophiles/2948825002/.

[2]  Slate, “Judge: Alexander Acosta, Now a Trump Official, Broke Federal Law in Brokering Jeffery Epsteing’s 2008 Plea Deal” by Molly Olmstead, 2/21/19, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/02/jeffrey-epstein-sex-trafficking-plea-deal-alexander-acosta.html.

[3]  PBS, “A Pedophile Doctor Drew Suspicions for 21 Years. No One Stopped Him.” By Christopher Weaver, Dan Frosch, and Gabe Johnson, 2/8/19, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/patrick-stanley-weber-sexual-abuse-pine-ridge-blackfeet-reservation/ .

[4]  PBS, “Predator on the Reservation”, 2/12/19, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/predator-on-the-reservation/.

[5]  The Atlantic, “What to Watch for During the Catholic Church’s Sex-Abuse Meeting” by Rachel Donadio, 2/20/19, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/02/pope-francis-hosts-catholic-church-meeting-sex-abuse/583129/.

[6]  Vatican News, “Protection of Minors: Card. Salazar says bishops’ responsibility ‘inescapable’ ” by Linda Bordoni, 2/21/19, https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2019-02/protection-minors-meeting-abuse-cardinal-salazar-vatiab.html.

[7]  Aleteia, “What is ‘clericalism’?” by Nicholas Senz, 8/23/18, https://aleteia.org/2018/08/23/what-is-clericalism/.

[8]  CNN, “The abuse of nuns is ‘going to explode’ ” by Christiane Amanpour, 2/22/19, https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2019/02/22/marie-collins-child-sex-abuse-survivor-vatican-summit-pope-francis-amanpour.cnn .

[9]  NPR, “ ‘I Just Froze’: Former Nun Talks About Experiences of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse”, 2/9/19, https://www.npr.org/2019/02/09/693062479/former-nun-talks-about-experiences-of-abuse-in-germany.

[10]  AP News, “Nuns in India tell AP of enduring abuse in Catholic Church” by Tim Sullivan, 1/2/19, https://www.apnews.com/93806f1783f34ea4b8e9c32ed59cdc06.

The series Returning to Toxic Relationships will resume next week.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

17 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Justice, Law, Rape, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault

Unbiblical, Part 6 – Forgiveness v. Victims’ Rights

“ ‘And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us’ ” (Luke 11: 4).

As I have said elsewhere on this website, forgiveness is a personal matter between abuse victims and their God.  Urging forgiveness on victims prematurely ignores the gravity of their trauma, and the depravity of the sins committed against them.

This amounts to a further violation.  Victims will necessarily feel that Christians are siding with the predator…even condoning the abuse.  Shockingly, in some cases Christians have been guilty of this.

Witness the Catholic Church sex scandal.  This was, at best, a product of poor judgment, and a distorted view of Scripture.  At worst, it was a cold and calculated attempt to avoid corporate responsibility, while facilitating the most heinous of crimes.

Detail from “Christ before the High Priest” by Gerar van Honthorst (1617), National Gallery (Accession No. NG3679), London, Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

Either way, church hierarchy applied precisely the same rationale to young abuse victims, as the high priest, Caiaphas, did to Christ:  “ ‘…[I]t is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’ ” (John 11: 50).

To be clear, forgiveness is not a “warm and cozy” feeling, on the part of victims.  It is a deliberate decision by victims to leave the harm inflicted on them behind, and instead move on with their lives. Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Unbiblical, Part 5 – Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence

Sketch for mural “The Spirit of Self-Sacrificing Love” by Kenyon Cox at Oberlin College, Smithsonian Museum (1983.114.15), Source https://americanart.si.edu (PD-Art, PD-Old-95)

“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.  We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

– Mother Teresa

Self-sacrifice is natural to Christians, and encouraged.  Christians are to put the legitimate needs of others ahead of their own, in imitation of Christ.  Mother Teresa was a shining example of this.  For abuse victims, however, self-sacrifice can become confused with codependence.

Codependence as an After-Effect of Abuse

Individuals suffering from codependence will allow the emotions and behavior of others to dictate their view of themselves.  Those with codependence will tolerate – even, unconsciously, seek out – relationships that are “one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive verbally or physically” [1].

Codependent characteristics include low self-esteem; fear of anger; denial of any problems with the relationship; and an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the feelings, choices, and actions of the loved one [2].

While on its face, codependence may resemble Christian self-sacrifice, there are distinct differences between the two.

The codependent individual may forego his/her goals and desires to meet the perceived “needs” of a loved one.  But the underlying motive for this is not the welfare of the loved one.  It is fear.

Actually, the codependent individual is attempting to shore up his/her fragile sense of worth, strike an unspoken bargain for love and affection, and maintain the relationship at all costs (however abusive or unsatisfying it may be).  An overly solicitous mother might be a crude illustration.

By comparison, Christian self-sacrifice is not the attempt to manipulate (or placate) an individual perceived as more “important” or powerful.  It is, or should be, truly selfless.

Clinging to an Imitation

None of this is meant to imply that abuse victims cannot love and love intensely.  The problem lies in the fact victims have not seen healthy love modeled.  What feels familiar is a flawed version of love, an imitation.  The real love and support victims need seem out of reach, so we cling to the imitation with all our might, confusing pain for passion. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Unbiblical, Part 4 – Trusting God, Self, and Others

Detail from “A Girl Comes to Christ” by Fritz von Uhde (1884), Museum der bildenden Künste (Accession No. 550), Germany (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

Trusting God v. Trusting Self

Christians talk casually about God’s plan for their lives and the lives of others.  This can be grating to the ears of abuse victims (especially those new to, or unfamiliar with, the faith).

As victims are inclined to see it, God’s plan for them included abuse.  Whether He caused that abuse or merely allowed it to occur, He failed to protect them against it. And they have the scars to prove that.

The issue of innocent suffering is a profound one, and cannot be papered over with a handy Bible verse.  For abuse victims, coming to terms with it may be a lifelong struggle.

Trusting themselves can be as great a challenge.  Abuse has effectively “taught” victims not to rely on their own judgment, their own instincts.  This is something they must unlearn.

It is not helpful for Christians to urge victims to trust in God, rather than themselves.  Such trust will come with time.  It cannot be rushed.  There are deep wounds which must be healed first.

Trusting Others

Christians should be sensitive in the language they use around abuse victims.  To victims of incest, even the term “Father God” can sound disturbing.  To those who were sexually abused or tortured by siblings, the term “brothers and sisters in Christ” may be equally threatening.

Christians should not pressure victims to drop their defenses, and should not hug or make other physical contact with victims without their permission.  Victims may experience either as invasive, and shy away.

Christians should allow abuse victims to take the lead, insofar as relationships. Friendships should not be forced.  These will develop as victims gradually come to see they will not be harmed.

Originally posted 3/29/15

This series will continue next week with Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

25 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Unbiblical, Part 3 – Humility v. Lack of Worth

“Eve” by Auguste Rodin, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Author MicheleLovesArt (MIchele Ahin at https://www.flickr.com/people/39627257@N04) (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Many, if not most, victims will conclude from the abuse inflicted on them that they have little or no value.  They are likely to view God as angry and withholding, unconcerned for their welfare.  This applies whether the abuse is emotional, physical, sexual or in the form of neglect.

When in all humility Christians describe themselves as undeserving of Salvation or compare their righteousness to “filthy rags” (Is. 64: 6), abuse victims can readily identify.  However, abuse victims are inclined to view themselves as irredeemable.

Having been treated like filthy rags, having been taught that love must be “earned” – and never is – victims may, even as adults, wrestle with shame and believe that they are worthless.  This can drive them toward legalism (Christianity as perfectionism), in a frantic attempt to obtain the love they have been denied.

But God values every life.  His love is freely given.

Christ said:

“ ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ ” (Matt. 5: 5).

He said:

“… ‘Whoever receives this little child in my name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great’” (Luke 9: 48).

Christians must, first and foremost, demonstrate God’s love to abuse victims.  If they fail in this, the shame is theirs.

Originally posted 3/22/15

This series will continue next week with Trusting God, Self, and Others

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

14 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Unbiblical, Part 2 – Sin Nature v. Abuse-Related Guilt

Woman with a broken heart, Author Nevit Dilmen, Source Sunset 02459.jpg and Broken Heart symbol.svg (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christians speak regularly about the “sin nature” of mankind, the inclination by human beings to do wrong, as illustrated by wars and crime.

The following verses on the topic are typical:

“…[T]he imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen. 8:21).

“ ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…’” (Jer. 17:9).

“ ‘Then I will…take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in My statutes…’ ” (Ezek. 11: 19-20).

“ ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’ ” (Matt. 15: 19).

If anyone has experienced that sin nature, abuse victims have.  Victims, however, have been more sinned against than sinning.

Unfortunately, the continuous emphasis on sin is likely to sound like condemnation to victims, when what they need is love, encouragement, and hope.

Christians should remember that abuse leaves behind deep scars.  Victims of abuse may struggle with gender identification, sexual addiction or dysfunction, self-neglect, anxiety, depression, dissociation and related amnesia, drug or alcohol addiction, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, binging, and other issues.  The majority of prostitutes are thought to be runaways, with a history of abuse.

Dealing with major problems like these is not for the faint of heart.  Nor is it for the self-righteous.  Merely living ordinary lives can take enormous effort and enormous courage by abuse victims.  That victims, for the most part, accomplish this is amazing.

Victims should not be made a topic of gossip.  Nor should they be subjected to snap judgments, whether about their morality or mental state.

Above all, victims should be reassured that they were not the guilty party in abuse; that, as children, they were wholly incapable of consent to whatever was done to them; and that God still loves them, despite all they have been through.

Originally posted 3/15/15

This series will continue next week with Humility v. Lack of Worth

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

19 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Unbiblical, Part 1 – Submission v. Self-Defense

In a misguided effort to provide comfort and direction to abuse victims, well-meaning Christians will often quote Bible verses out of context or cite biblical principles which do not apply to abuse, thereby actually exacerbating the pain victims feel.

As a result, victims may turn away from the real comfort they would find in Christ.

This series of articles is intended to clarify – both for Christians, and abuse victims interacting with them – certain Scriptural passages and principles that could otherwise be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Submission v. Self-Defense

Perhaps the most damaging is the principle of “headship”.  The basis for this can be found in Chapter 5 of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, among a set of instructions on holy living for both men and women.  The entire chapter speaks of Christians loving and being “submissive” to one another.

The frequently overlooked instruction to husbands (highlighted below) is an integral part of the principle:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her [Emphasis added]…” (Eph. 5: 22-25).

God alone knows how many battered women have lost their lives on bad and unbiblical advice from a priest or minister that they return to a dangerous household, and submit to the will of their abusive, alcoholic, or drug addicted husbands. Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

“Domestic Violence in the Church” by Stephanie Jafta

First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI, Author DavidCrumm (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

I have discussed elsewhere the Scriptures clergy mistakenly use against victims of domestic violence.  This post by Stephanie Jafta addresses the responsibility of the church toward such victims.

“The words ‘domestic violence’ and ‘church’ do not belong together and do not exist in the same context.  To deny this would seem traitorous and unfaithful, and yet, to ignore it would bring into question our faith, values, and beliefs as Christians.  Domestic violence is alive and kicking in the church, and turning a blind eye to the plight of women, children, and men will only strengthen the excuses made for the abuse…[Continued at https://godinterest.com/2018/08/08/domestic-violence-in-the-church/ ].”

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

1 Comment

Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Religion, Violence Against Women

Sex Tourism

Detail from painting at Casa del Centenario, Pompeii (PD)*

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was known for its hedonism.  Archaeologic evidence has been found of numerous brothels.  Erotic art was common in homes.  Phallic symbols were used all over the city, as signs of fertility and good fortune [1].

This may sound titillating to us.  We have not though progressed far, in the centuries since.  Sex tourism is widely advertised today.  Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia are among the countries that derive income from it [2].

Those who plan their vacations around the sexual activities – legal and illegal – available in foreign countries are unlikely to consider their impact on the local men, women, and children selling their bodies (and souls) to survive. Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Slavery