This month’s synchroblog calls on bloggers to address the subject of handling spiritual abuse so the Christian tenets of justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption are honored.
Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people’s pain as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It’s a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It’s the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It’s theirs to take or leave.
Sorry means you leave yourself open, to embrace or to ridicule or to revenge. Sorry is a question that begs forgiveness, because the metronome of a good heart won’t settle until things are set right and true. Sorry doesn’t take things back, but it pushes things forward. It bridges the gap. Sorry is a sacrament. It’s an offering. A gift.
― Craig Silvey, Jasper Jones
At first I had a very difficult time imagining what the path to restoration would look like for a religious leader who had committed spiritual abuse.
My difficulty comes from the fact that far too often spiritual abusers aren’t held accountable for their actions because they hold too much power or celebrity and the abuse is ignored and goes on without being confronted until it becomes normalized. Too often the abused are told that they are the problem and their perspective is wrong.
If the abuser is not held accountable and doesn’t take personal responsibility I can’t imagine a way that the Christian tenets of justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption can be honored.
But, if the abuser is held accountable for their actions, is willing to take responsibility and is sincerely sorry for their actions and the harm they have done I believe there is a way for us to honor the Christian ideals of justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption; and I believe it can be done by practicing a form of restorative justice.
In my opinion the process would need to emphasize repairing the harm caused by the abuser and would include:
- Creating opportunities for victims, offenders and community members to meet and discuss the abuse and its aftermath.
- Allowing those who were abused to participate in determining the resolution.
- Having offenders take steps to personally work towards repairing the harm they caused.
If this sort of process is practiced I believe that there is a way the offender could be restored to a whole, contributing member of the Christian community. However, I think we must be cautious about setting that up as the goal. I believe the goal of the process should be to seek the justice, protection and restoration of those who have been abused.
I believe that when offenders are truly sorry about their actions and the harm they have caused and are more concerned with the well-being of those who have been harmed than their own self the possibility of their redemption and restoration become real.
Sorry is the necessary sacrament, the imperative offering, the essential gift.
Be sure and check out the other contributions to this month’s synchroblog:
- Justin Steckbauer – The Servant Leader: A Radical Concept
- Mary – Can I Get A Doctor?
- Glenn Hager – The Man Of God Myth
- Lisa – Forgive
- Jeremy Myers – Reconciling Mark Driscoll
- Peggy Brown – Abi and November’s Synchroblog: Spiritual Abuse and Redemption
- Edwin Pastor FedEx Aldrich – Shooting Stars: Of Scandal, Abuse, Restoration, and Systematic Failures
- Tara – Forgive Us Our Sins As We Forgive Those…
- Liz – Sorry