This week was good for the internet. I’ve been anticipating sharing these posts for days, so enjoy!
“No More Silence: An interview with Boz Tchividjian of G.R.A.C.E.” via Rachel Held Evans
“The greatest failure of the church/Christian organizations when it comes to responding to abuse is institutional self-protection. Too often Christian institutions have been willing to sacrifice the individual human soul in exchange for the protection of their own reputation. What makes such responses even more heinous is that they are often justified in the name of “protecting the name of Christ”. Such a justification is nothing but a pious attempt at self-protection. It may come as a surprise to some but Jesus does not need us to protect His name! In fact, it was Jesus who sacrificed Himself for the soul of the individual. Tragically, in all of its attempts at self-protection, the Church too often completely misses this beautiful truth. As a result, many abuse survivors in the Church are pushed away from the arms of Jesus and prevented from experiencing glorious Gospel love.”
As a part of her series on abuse and the church, Rachel Held Evans posted a fantastic interview with a Liberty University School of Law professor, Boz Tchividjian, who is also the Executive Director of G.R.A.C.E (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). The interview highlights some of the church’s common failings when it comes to dealing with instances of child abuse, and explains how we can all be more vigilant in preventing abuse. It’s a must-read for Christian leaders wondering how their organization should handle abuse prevention and/or allegations.
“And Then the Conference Uninvited Me to Speak” by Jen Hatmaker
“With nearly 8 million people leaving the American church a year, we need some renegades closer to the margins, building bridges, creating safe spaces to question, wrestle, rethink. Plenty of churches exist to serve the 20 percent already connected. For them, I am grateful. Enough shepherds are on the ground for those sheep. They have a deep well of leadership, and my absence will not even be felt. They are brothers and sisters, and I’ll see them on the other side.
As for me, I’m throwing my lot in with the other 80 percent, the ones with their arms crossed, their hearts broken, their worth unrealized. The ones who shake their fists and shake their heads, but still crave hope and redemption, because we all do. Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some. He is all of our dreams come true. If you don’t believe me, start in Matthew and read until the end of John. Jesus is a hero, a brother, a Savior in every since of the word. He is everything good and gracious. His love for us is embarrassing, boundless, without standards at all.”
Reading this piece by Jen Hatmaker felt like breathing a huge sigh of relief. She writes beautifully about extending love to those with different ideas, about building bridges to the thousands of young people who have left their parents’ churches and never looked back. One of the most striking things about this post is that she does it all with love: to those on the fringes of evangelical culture, and those smack dab in the middle of it. She isn’t lashing out at the mainstream church, she is simply saying what needs to be said, which is that many of us need to be there for those who cannot fit within that culture.
“To the girl who feels guilty for sleeping with someone” by Lauren Dubinsky
“Forgiveness and understanding do not come only after you gather the healing and courage and strength to leave; they arrived and attached themselves to you the day you first asked them to. And they will stay with you every waking moment. You will find more strength in that fact alone than you ever will find within yourself.
God has not forsaken you and refused to return until you forsake That One Thing.**** It is in the deepest moments of questioning that you will hear Him, again and again, and get to know Him more than any other time in your life. Do not miss out on them simply because you think He has nothing to say until you can Heal Yourself or Change Your Ways. It is in our weakness that his strength is perfected.”
Lauren shares a beautiful piece of her heart here, speaking love and grace to the girl who is wracked with shame because of her sexual activity. Regarding the post, Hugo Schwyzer tweeted that if more Christians were like Lauren Dubinsky, there would be more young Christians. I’m inclined to agree.
“Dwayne” by Max Dubinsky
“I will find him dead on the sidewalk outside of my house a week later. I will think he is only drunk, or perhaps, at the worst of it, injured. Causing a scene. But there are too many cars and not enough commotion. I won’t be able to see his face, not from where I stand, but his red santa clause belly and blue pants will creep out from behind the white unmarked police cruiser labeled “coroner.” And his red Target shopping cart, parked and toppled over, spilling the purple sleeping bag I’ve come to recognize will tell me all I need to know. I will want to go inside, crumble to the floor, and tell myself it is someone else. That whoever it is isn’t even dead, and I can go about my day. But I force one foot in front of the other. I already know it’s him before the name, “Dwayne,” escapes from Officer Kim’s lips.”
“Dwayne” wins the award for this week’s most poignant post, about Max and Lauren Dubinsky’s friendship with a homeless man living in their neighborhood. It’s hard to describe it acurately, but trust me, you want to read it.
Next week I’ll be traveling to New York with my fiancé Michael and his Jewish side of the family to celebrate the Passover. This will be my first chance to take part in the beautiful celebration and remembrance and I can’t wait to share a little bit about it here. I pretty much failed at reading my Hebrew prayers at Chanukah, so hopefully I’ll do better with a Haggadah in front of me.