Earle Fisher will note in a guest column this Saturday, “One of the most prevalent and plausible critiques of the faith community is that when it comes to matters of sexual abuse and domestic violence, the church practices ‘sacred silence.’ ”
Do you agree? What can we do to provide a safe place for dialogue regarding these matters? Please share any initiatives/programs your faith community is involved in to address these matters.
Dr. Fisher nails it when he writes about the church practicing “sacred silence,” though I would argue that the silence is anything but sacred. It is a profane silence.
Last year one of our associates, Anne Apple, preached a sermon on the rape of Tamar, something that most had never heard addressed from the pulpit. The pastoral response was immediate and stunning. It led to stories being told in the confidence of the pastoral offices, and of deep gratitude for opening up a biblical story that was their story. She helped us to see that up to 30-40% of girls (and 13% of boys) will be the victim of sexual abuse by the time they are 18. We begin the healing by giving voice to those who have not had a voice.
But there are more than just pastoral responses to be made. It surprised me to learn that the average prison sentence for killing’s one wife is 6 years, compared to 16.5 years for killing one’s husband. And yes, this is related to the erosion of women’s rights across the country.
We give voice to the voiceless, we speak the truth, we don’t hide behind scriptures for our abuse of women, and we engage in the political process. We attempt to do all of that at Idlewild.