Posts Tagged ‘Institutions’

Ah, it has been a time of further exploration on newer church thought around abuse, especially in the time of the evangelical melt down. The reading journey brought me to Langberg’s (2020) Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church, which honestly is a good primer for folks new to the work and a decently updated resource for those of us coming up for some air from the trenches. This isn’t going to be touching on much from this work, rather it has catapulted my mind to thinking about our current existence. The alleged growth of reports from all quarters of institutions that give folks access to victims, and away from healthy supports, allows for grooming and abuse from the emotional/spiritual to the physical/sexual (and yes, Langberg’s work outlines clear definitions to work from)

BUT, we have been at distance for almost ten months, in a scant less than 3 months it will be a full year. What does it mean for someone who may have been currently/historically abused by a close family connection/relative/friend? Within the scope of religion, school or extracurricular activities? Our world, has come to a health space (yes there is still work to do), where we can openly speak of abuse, and affirm the abused’s truth.

This is where this disruption for the abuser. It breaks the narrative, it disrupts the frequency of contact, not out of “love” and “care” but to impose fear, fear that see how easily I can step in and violate your boundaries, or excessive gifting of money or things (merch/swag) to buy your silence, you have the ability to say something, but we both know you like it…kind of creepy vibe. It is disrupted, it has been down time. Down time opens up the soul to contemplate, to the subconscious to wrestle with what has been experienced, maybe re-discover safety.

In the newly discovered safety, things will bubble up. It may be the body creating conversion through other manifestations of neurological or physical health because they are still unable to find the words, it may be with a verbal disclosure. It is now on the safe ones, to affirm the disclosure, and work to make the disruption permanent.

For the only way to truly disrupt fear and abuse, is with the simple act of affirming kindness, hope and love. I do not know if this hypothesis will be proved out, I do not know what it will me in quantitative statistic analysis, but even for the one that is heard, affirmed, and now safe. For that one, it is worth it.

For that one,

to finally breathe



New King James Version:

Genesis 18          Genesis 19

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the ancient legends of Genesis has been one of the texts of hate and destruction for too long. It is used in the us/them dichotomy of hate spun on one extreme against homosexuality. On the other extreme it is reduced to an argument about hospitality.

The point of this ancient story has been missed. In the modern times of Truth & Reconciliation; #MEtoo, #Timesup, #Riseup, #Resistance, and the knowledge of inter-generational trauma it astounds that the resonance is not noted.

Before I share my thoughts, enter into the text freshly as a hearer. Inwardly set aside what you have learned before.  Get comfortable, breath in deeply, enter your contemplative breath cycle:

  • Upon the first hearing focus on this question: What emotions come through? Let you rest with those emotions.
  • Upon the second hearing focus on this question: What memories come through? Stay with the one that is the most vibrant.
  • Upon the third and last hearing, focus on this question: What is the soul learning that you have discovered?

Now here is what I have heard when contemplating this ancient story.

It opens with Abraham bartering with God (Genesis 18:16-33) to spare these cities. He focuses on the many holy, and some say in the “God in the sky/Zeus in the throne” imagery of YHWH that Abraham did not need to barter but just appeal to God’s divine essence to spare his creation. I challenge that, it is the Holy Mystery moving and challenging Abraham’s conscience that change needs to happen for the destructive actions unchecked. The abuse of power seen through many means of molestation, rape and other forms of violence. The living out of Us seen as full people over those people seen as property to do with as we please (anything resonating yet with current life?).

The Holy Mystery was attempting to see if Abraham could comprehend reform, Abraham was wrestling with the concept of “whistle blower” the ones brave enough to stand up against the wall of destruction, devaluation of life. But were any to be found?

Then becomes the destructive visitation, as Messengers (Angels) visit and a rape gang descends upon Lot’s house (Genesis 19:1-11) demanding that the visitors be turned over to them. Rape was used as a right of passage in many armies for fellow soldiers, but is was also used to show superiority of one’s self and deity over an invader. Forced sodomization/forced sexual intercourse not wanted, against one’s created nature (wherever they fall on the spectrum, if it is not consensual, it is not within one’s nature). This is what the mob delivered to Lot’s house that night, NOT rampant homosexuality as some would claim; but power abuse and rape anger.

Lot defends the visitor’s but then shows the anti-Holy Mystery vein of creation at this point where he offers up his daughters. For even he sees them as nothing more than vessels with no consent in them. Lot’s own depravity is revealed. Some would defend this saying he was showing hospitality to the visitors by defending them. That the sin here is in-hospitality.

Nope. It is against Day 6. The Holy Mystery breathed into both male and female creating them both. Equal partners, in Genesis 3 blessed and sent out into the world in the throes of adolescent discovery to care for it and one another. On the doorstep, Lot is showing this is not the case, his defense is destructive actions of his daughters.

This is what the messengers saw and heard. Why then was Lot’s family spared destruction? For the story resonates more truths to be seen.

Genesis 19:12-29 is when destruction rains down, and Lot’s family flees, warned not to look back for the destruction will consume. Think of someone in trauma recovery and the cycle it creates the impetus of one little blink of the past drawing them into a flashback that freezes one, almost like a pillar of salt (Lot’s wife, 19:26). A traumatized victim of society, unable to move forward because the healing path was not laid out, they saw no different way or way out. Well, there is a way, ending the pain once and for all…. The story of Lot’s wife, is the story of an abuse survivor who can only imagine the pain ending with their life and so for all eternity the story was laid out for us.

Hiding in a cave the cover up continues. Are you beginning to see the futility of Abraham bartering with the Holy Mystery within? Locked into the trauma-abuse-other paradigm was this ancient world that he could not see that sometimes an institution needed to be burned down. Sadly, these stories do have quite a bit of blood letting when it comes to purifying, but one does know when culture shifts there is old ways and old powers that are shunted out to allow for the growth. Or as Brother Jesus talked about pruning the vine.

Yet the patriarchal control system was not done. To continue to hide the meaning of this ancient story those who are without voice, standing or power in their own world are now presented as the perpetrators of violence and gang rape. The discrediting of the victim is not a new tool. For the story in 19:30-38 presents Lot’s daughters fearful of not fulfilling their trained duty as property of producing children scheming to get their father drunk and have children with him.

Yet I challenge this reading. Think of how many times the rapist will say, I was drunk or they seduced me. I believe and hear this as a generational abuse story, where Lot abused his daughters. How do I stand on this reading? For the children that came from the rape were those that would need to be cleansed from the Promised Land for the fresh start promised the Children of Israel after the Exodus. Even in the story, clues were laid that the presentation was skewed to a Patriarchal power-abuse structure, and if read literally will still produce that. We have seen that pain as it has been used as a text of hate for our LGBTTQ2+ family members, or reduced so simply to a hospitality question it makes the Holy Mystery look like a blood lust monster (which then can be used to fulfill the call for the blood of his child to make things right later).

Yet, I stand here to point to another understanding. An ancient text that spoke out about abuse of all kinds, the trauma caused, the inter-generational trauma continuing beyond, victim grooming, and the dangers of the us-them dichotomy. The story that shows turning the ship around is not always possible, sometimes the ship needs to be scuttled and something new built.

As you are in your country, city, community, church or organization when there is darkness—will you be the light that burns it away? Or the bushel that snuffs out the light?